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Charlie is now 8 ! (and a 1/4)

In the increasing trend of LATE blog posts, it’s now mid-October, and Charlie turned EIGHT in late-June…    (!)

It’s been a busy few months, I’d worked my butt off on project work before ~3 weeks in Europe – and then busy after returning.  

And – a new car – and lots of work with plans for a new house extension – but…

We’re hear to talk about CHARLIE – Happy (belated) Birthday to you, buddy !!

Have a look here for some blog posts for his previous birthdays : ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX and SEVEN.

School

Charlie’s teacher is a wonderful supporter of our little guy – Mrs. Loonstra – had some great things to say about him at the parent-teacher interviews earlier this year.

In grade 2, he’s been loving his Maths, and lots of Reading – and he’s always writing too – little notes, or letters – or inventive stories.

She’s impressed with how he’s come out of his shell – and developed a wonderful personality – and a nice set of friends.

His main buddies are Ashlee (of course !) – and Tai, Aquila and Suha.

Mrs Loonstra, and Charlie – she even gives DONNA a hug when she sees her !

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Off to school with his brothers

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I always love his happy smile when they strut off to school

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Getting an award at assembly : for…?

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School sports day – GO LAWSON !

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Family

During the September school holiodays, we had a wonderful family holiday to Queensland, with some visits to theme parks, and then a few days in Noosa to splash & rest.    Charlie was too small for many of the big rides (at theme parks), but he still had an awesome time.

When we were leaving from home, he nicked out to the letterbox, and was sneaky/suspicious – he’d left a note in the letterbox for the whole family – to read when we got home, saying “I hope you had a great time in QLD” – just lovely, thanks Charlie !

The view from our balcony in Surfers – checking out the beach & morning sunshine

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MovieWorld – getting away from Wile.E.Coyote

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MovieWorld – waiting for the parade

Charlie had gotten wet on the flume ride, and so we got him a Batman T-Shirt – and he was wearing it as the parade went past – and the Batman character pointed at his chest and said (in a big deep Batman voice)…    “I LIKE YOUR SHIRT….”

Charlie was bursting with excitement – the highlight of his holiday, I think !

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Road Runner 4D cinema

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SeaWorld – flume ride – despite the look on his face, he loved the ride !!   (LOL)

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He loved the penguins, we made a 2nd stop in to SeaWorld, as Charlie’s choice

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SpongeBob Squarepants Roller Coaster, with Mr.12, happy to just do a ‘gentle’ ride

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Being a tough Ninja Turtle – at SeaWorld

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Enjoying the walk in the rainforest

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Trying to lick his elbow (!)

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Ready for the pool – goggle on from before-we-left-the-apartment (+ goon Cameron)

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FaceTime video to his friend Ashee, to show her around our apartment

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And – we were across the street from Thompson St !   (Ashee’s surname)

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Great to spend time with Dad, while on holidays

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And even got Mum in the swimming pool for some fun !

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Charlie woulda swum all day if we let him – he just loved it with his pool noodle

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Family

As you can see, Charlie is a wonderful happy dude – he gets along great with both brothers – most of the time !   But, often the first one to get hurt – the others forget how little he is, sometimes !

We have a great time together – he’s always dealing out cuddles & hugs – and Mum gets 20+ kisses on the cheek when we tuck him into bed.  

There’s a few nicknames that he gets – usually Chaz – but I mix it up a bit with Magoo (Chazz-a-magoo), and MonkeyMan, and SuperDude – basically, any cool name – as he’s a cool little guy !

When I took off to Europe for a fortnight, I’d left a note for each boy – and I had a note under MY pillow when I got home – from Charlie.   Such a lovely thought – I’ve kept this letter, and use it as a bookmark.

Out for a movie with Mum

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Playing Lego with Liam

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Family day trip – fun to have a family selfie (felfie !)

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Cracking up laughing at the goofy mirror outside Pancake Parlour

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Family out for dinner – Dad’s birthday, this time

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More hugs for Mum, always more…!

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And a hug+chat with Nanna

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Another movie day – selfie pic with Mum

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Hugs with Dad this time – and cookies

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Riding the new car – Charlie loves the back 3rd row – LOL !

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Fathers Day evening with school chaplin (Church Group)

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No dress-ups for Charlie – “that’s too silly, Dad”

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The face says is all – Daaaad !

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Getting down to work, gloves on, smashing the letterbox (!!)

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Charlie enjoying the sledge hammer – a bit TOO much (LOL !)

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Macca’s lunch with Dad

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Checking out Liam’s game on the iPhone

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Merry Christmas, Mum !!

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And Merry Christmas to you too, Dad !!

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Activities

Charlie has been amazing at Karate – the focus & determination when he’s training is wonderful to see.   This past 6 months, he’s be doing both karate AND basketball.

He’s started in U/10’s basketball – missed on U/8’s by only 3 days.   But, he has a great coach – ME !   And he was loving having DAD as coach since before the first game.

The team did great, almost making finals, but Charlie was so little on the team, he didn’t get much of the ball.   But – he scored his first goal, and was overjoyed (but I missed it – as I was overseas for a few weeks).

Soon – he’ll have to choose which sport to continue – I think he’s SET on basketball !

Karate grading

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With his sensei Lindel – and Brett

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His friend Ashee came to watch him get his belt

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Ready to rock – look out !

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First game – he had the same number as his brother Cameron – awesome !

Fun & Games

Again, like his brothers, Charlies loves playing video games – often he’ll play on his own, but lately, has been joining online games on the PC.

Usually MineCraft, or Roblox (he had that for a cake for his 8th birthday).

He loves the Lego Star Wars games, and was getting good at Halo – but they don’t play that so much anymore.

And, of course, Lego !    (and recently picked up Loom Bands again)

Outside, Charlie will be playing basketball, or on the trampoline – or having a nerf gun fight – or, bike riding, if he doesn’t crash (trying to keep up with the big kids !)

Pokemon !

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Bike Ride with Dad – we went all the way to Knox (and back !)

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Gravel road biking – near Nortons Park

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BIG CRASH – he skidded on gravel, and lost the front wheel – we had to call Mum

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Growing Up Fast

Sometimes, Charlie can come out with amazing words & insights, and he shows his awesome little brain for all to see.   Hearing him use a word like “phenomenal” always makes me smile – and often – perfect context.

When coming home in the new car, he had the rear heat seater on – and when we got home, he exclaimed “my butt feels phenomenal !”    (LOL)

Of course, part of growing up, is losing a few teeth – and a visit from the tooth fairy.

Charlie had BOTH front teeth loose, and wiggled, and got them both out, in less than an hour – it was an expensive visit from the Tooth Fairy that night !

Two wobbly front teeth

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Both teeth gone !

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Double $$ from the Tooth Fairy that night

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Goofy Fun – aka, happy, lovely FUN

What would a birthday blog post be, without a few smiles & funny pics !!?!

He really does have a wonderful happy face – and smiling eyes…

Scoffing marshmallows

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The shirt says it all !

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Out the sunroof, in the new car – our Kia Sorento

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Concentration – playing MineCraft or Roblox

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Listening to some music – Black Sabbath !

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Playing loom bands – with a YouTube lesson

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Gotta love ice cream – it was mid-winter, and freezing cold that day !

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Playing Guitar Hero – on a coffee table, of course !

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Pokemon cards – spread out in 5 seconds – food court at Knox

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Cuddles with Dad, and our lovely dog Chloe (RIP)

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Sparklers for New Years Eve – he made it till almost 1am !

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Ropes & climbing – he’s quick & agile – and fearless !

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Trying out Dad’s new car – BEFORE we even got it home !

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FAIRY FLOSS !!

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New T-Shirt for his 8th Birthday

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Happy Birthday !!

Such a glowing, and happy, smiling boy – we love you so much Chaz !

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Cameron has turned 12, a few months ago

Yep – well, this is my most OVERDUE birthday blog post ever, it’s late-May – I guess 3 months late is better than never.   I was worried it would be after Charlie’s birthday in June – LOL !

Suffice to say, it’s been a crazy busy household, now that Donna has started back at work – and – my work has taken over a number of evenings, but, I always intended to get to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY for Cameron.

We’ve talked as a family – and this might be his LAST birthday blog post – next year, he’ll be a teenager, and he can write his OWN blog post perhaps !

You can see the previous birthday blogs for Cameron : 11th, 10th, 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, and 3rd birthdays (not for his 1st or 2nd – doh !).

School

Cameron was in grade 5 last year (2016), and now in grade 6 with Mr.Grimwade. 

He’s been enjoying the garden club, and is the “PA monitor” to set up the speakers & microphones for assembly.

His year in grade 5 was awesome – he’s advanced a lot with his Maths, and enjoyed preparing speeches for school – including a “be a famous person” speech in which he chose ELON MUSK and spoke about PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla and so forth – awesome !

Cameron also did a speech for school captain, and put a lot of himself into – but was voted into 2nd place, a blessing in disguise, but still a bit emotional let-down after it all.

There’s been a big change in all the kids, as they’re starting grade 6.  The teachers give them more responsibility, and self-management – and fun stuff that “only” the grade 6’s get to do – like dress up day.

He’s had some great fun at school camps with a three-day stay in grade 5 (Sovereign Hill, Ballarat) – and then grade 6 was a full week in Coonawarra, near Sale.

We’ve signed Cameron up for “Wantirna Secondary College” for 2018.   We did a tour recently, and he really enjoyed it – and looking forward to it.  He’ll be attending with his good buddy Callum (“my best friend”) – and Josh + Luke too.

School-Cameron

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Homemade board game – gold rush theme

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Off to school camp, on the gold bus !

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Basketball

It’s been amazing to see Cameron’s skill level improve over the last year or so – his coach Kat has been wonderful, and got them to a Grand Final, and a premiership !   An amazing dream-season, with a great bunch of kids.   His next season with her was harder, with some changed players, and they didn’t make the finals. 

But, Cameron was the 2nd highest goal scorer for the grade – amazing !

He’s now into U/14’s – and had his first game today – and it’s a much higher grade of gameplay & skill – it will do him well to push the level…   #NextLevel !

Backyard practice – the home court gets a lot of use !

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Great team of kids – they won a flag !

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After party at Macca’s – good friends…

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His cousin Michael also won a flag, on the same day !

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Bikes

For his 11th birthday, Cameron got a “gears bike” and has been able to ride further, and faster, and we’ve been mountain biking a few times already.   He entered the club race too, on a Friday night at Lysterfield (FFLL).   He’s been regularly riding to school, and is a great ‘shop-rider’ in case we need a loaf of bread, etc.

Ready for his first ride at Lysterfield

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First RACE at Lysterfield

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Computer Stuff

Cameron’s greatest past time over the last year has involved a screen in one or more ways.   Either playing XBox, or PC games (Terraria, MineCraft) – or using the iPad to create an iMovie – or his new birthday gift of an iPod Touch (he was super excited).

He began recording his own gameplay videos, and uploading to YouTube – we bought Camtasia, and he’s now a master of video editing – so much so, that he’s keen to look into this further at high school – and perhaps as a career path.  

I’m assuming he’ll move into something ‘tech-related’ – he just loves it.

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After recording his clips, and editing, he uploads to YouTube.   He has 30 videos, as of today.  

His channel is “LegendBuilding” – this is his ‘intro’ :

Video games are just great, aren’t they?
Join me and my friends with action packed adventurous content such as pvp on Minecraft or boss battling on Terraria. So go on click or tap on one of my videos and well sit back, relax and enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmU40wdVRP2B4_9ZwOwrsAg/videos  

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He has a few ‘subscribers’ – mainly friends at school – and excitedly tells us about other YouTuber’s like DanTDM – especially if someone responds to a comment of his.  

He had a few friends doing videos also – but one kid “unsubscribed” to his channel, and Cameron was devastated.   I guess it’s the beginning of the ‘cyber’ stuff – we had to explain that video editing was for HIM, not others – and to not worry what people think or say.   He’s recently made a few videos for the “fun of editing” as opposed to wanting subscribers, or comments.

Video Games

Of course, Cameron still loves MineCraft – but it’s the extension packs that he loves these days – such as “EggWars” – and “PixelMon”.   Most of these are run-around-and-shoot-each-other games, and so I introduced him to HALO, and STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT.   He played some TOMB RAIDER too – which was great fun.

And – Santa brought him OVERWATCH – but, he didn’t really get into it very much.   

However, he has been bitten hard by the CALL OF DUTY bug.   This is his favourite game – by far – although, we have had to restrict him a little.   He’s very good at it, I can’t actually keep up with him these days – I recently had a hissy fit after he wiped the floor with me – I could barely get a kill !    

Family Holiday

Last September, we had a great time as a family unit, with a trip to Queensland.   We’ had some days at theme parks, before a more relaxing stay in Noosa.

I’d assumed Cameron would be the daredevil on roller coasters, but he got scared on the first one (Scooby Doo Coaster) – which went backwards, in the dark – and he didn’t want to go on anymore !    We had a blast at Wet-N-Wild – he loved the waterslides.

And – he went on the JetSki ride at SeaWorld – we all had a great time…

Heading off to Queensland

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Family selfie (felfie) at MovieWorld

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Waiting for the parade at MovieWorld

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Another family pic – SeaWorld this time

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Goofy fun with Dora – LOL !

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Sandbed – he looked so comfortable !    (Surfers Paradise beach)

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Rainforest walk in Noosa

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With Dad

It’s been great to get out for some more bike rides together, and have some 1:1 chats together.  As he grows into a young man, his Dad is an important part of a boys life – and I’m making sure to keep in check with him, we have a great relationship.

There are a heap of fun gags & jokes that only a Dad+son can enjoy – often something gross, or related to farts, most likely – LOL !

We’ve been to see some great movies together – JURASSIC WORLD, GHOST IN THE SHELL, and I sat with him and watched THE MATRIX – which he loved (no surprise !)

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After a bike ride – 7-11 slurpee

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And – to Jells Park for an ice cream

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Heading off to the Glen Waverley swimming pool – goon face !

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Out for his 12th birthday – I’d got his T-Shirt on my trip to NZ

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Christmas photo shoot – nice one of Cam & I

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With Mum

Of course every kid needs his Mum – and while Cameron and Donna ‘clash’, they have a great friendship.  She has taken him on a few ‘dates’ including the surprise movie to see the final HARRY POTTER movie – he was overjoyed !

It’s amazing to see/read some of the cards he’s done for her recently – including a home made ‘massage voucher’ which he gave her for Mothers Day.

Before-The-Movie selfie with Mum

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Christmas Photo with Donna + Cameron

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Family

Cameron is an amazing big brother to Liam & Charlie, but he can sometimes get very frustrated and annoyed.  Especially if he’s getting hangry, and needing to eat.   Again, getting older, he needs some space, and often retreats to his bedroom, or the computer, and enjoys some chill out time on his own.

But – we’re a wonderful family – we have a lot to be thankful for, and it all started with our first-bubba Cameron.

He loves to talk with Auntie Kath – and also has a lovely soft way with Nanna, and understands that she likes to talk slowly & just hear about his life.  

The recent ‘family fun’ has been to play Nanna’s favourite – Scrabble !

O’Connor Family Christmas

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Goofing at Pancake Parlour

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Saying goodbye to our Holden Commodore – Cameron was 6 mths old when we got it

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New car !   Kia Sorento – they love riding in the back seat

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Playing in the pool at Uncle Marks – with Millie & Micheal

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Out to see the basketball (NBL)

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Another Macca’s lunch – just me & the lads

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Other Random Fun

There’s never a dull moment with Cameron around, he has a great sense of humour, and loves to do goofy faces & noises – he’s a delight to hang out with.

Cameron had a comment from “HEX” after my Instagram photo of him reading their new book

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Demolishing a “fan feed box” at Macca’s

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Yummy bliss with a chocolate sundae

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Groucho Marx, with a KitKat cigar

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Sparklers on New Years Eve

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Turned 12, compared to the day he was born

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Sticky-tape and foam – being a goon (again !)

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Cardboard cutouts – some of these are hilarious !

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Happy Birthday

Dear Cameron – you’re growing into an amazing young man, we’re very proud of you.  

I love to hear about your day – good, bad or otherwise – and to discuss/support you – especially as the next year brings newer & bigger challenges.   

You’re becoming a basketball star, it’s so awesome to watch you play – and hopefully we get out for some more bike rides soon !

Thanks for all the LOL’s, LMFAO’s, FAIL’s, TROLL’s, and OMG’s.   We love you !

Mum + Dad…     x

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Goodbye to 2016

It’s the last day of the year – has been an amazing year actually.  

There has been a bunch of social media stuff saying “worst year ever”. 

Yes – it’s been sad to say goodbye to so many celebrities – notably, David Bowie, Prince, George Micheal and Carrie Fisher.   And – yes, the year of BREXIT and TRUMP – it will be curious to see what changes happen in 2017.

For me, personally, 2016 has been a BIG year – starting out as my own sole operator, initially as a contractor (and sub-contractor), and then more freelance work.

I’ve managed a full year solo – and I’m doing rather well, IMHO.

Anyways – it’s time for a 12-month wrap-up and look back at the year that was.

I’ve been doing this for a while now – check out the same wrap-ups for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

It’s hard to know where to begin, with a BIG year of activity.  

I ended up looking at the calendar, and photos on FaceBook and Instagram.    It’s a lot of ‘family’ and ‘bikes’ and ‘music’ – that’s life these days !

Family

As our boys grow in age, we can do more and more amazing activities with them – as well as a variety of school related fun (and friends) – as well as sport – basketball and karate.

Donna is (as always), the lynchpin in the household – we couldn’t do it without her.

Here’s a quick memory list of some fun we’ve had through the year :

  • Took the family for some kayakking fun at Lysterfield Lake
  • Liam won a pancake parlour voucher – nice to go with him for a ‘dessert’ treat
  • Invited to a 40th party in Wodonga, took the whole family for an overnight road trip (Anthony Cheesman’s house)
  • Donna completed her course in Education Support – lots of study and reading/writing – and then placement, graduation, and starting work soon (early 2017)
  • Had a camping trip to Inverloch with the Lowes – Big4 caravan park, with swimming pool, and close to the beach
  • Another voucher, had me out on roller skates with Charlie
  • Went to a school information night about China, for Cameron (!) – but ended up that it clashed with our family holiday – will be other opportunities in high school
  • Easter time fun, took the boys to a tree top maze in Red Hill
  • Had fun with ex-OBS people at Andy’s 40th
  • Many (MANY) games nights with Thompson’s + Stella’s
  • Friends night out to a Trivia night, in Ringwood (Church fund-raiser)
  • Fancy-Schmancy-Dressy-Uppy dinner in Brighton
  • Great evening with the ‘mums group’ friends at Nicky’s 40th
  • Chris & Flip’s boy Aiden had his Christening – and recently 1st birthday
  • Family fun with a casino night at Martin’s 40th
  • Great house party to celebrate Sarah’s 18th – eldest daughter of my buddy I’ve known since high school – we were 11 when we met !
  • Did a high school tour at Highvale – Cameron will be in high school in 2018
  • Coached Liam’s basketball team – 2nd season – and then handed the reins to another Dad – helping, at arm’s length (assistant only)
  • “Tried” to complete the survey on Census night – along with all other Australians – as an IT person, I was embarrassed and angry at such a stuff-up
  • We got a new car !    Goodbye to Holden Commodore after 11 years, and a 3-yo Kia Sorrento – Donna is very happy, and sometimes lets ME drive !
  • BIG family holiday to Queensland – 4 days in Surfers, and went to Theme Parks – MovieWorld, SeaWorld, Wet-N-Wild, and then four days in Noosa, with some friend visits to Mark, and Sarah.   And – I managed to go MTB’ing in Noosa, dodged a magpie – and – grew a beard !
  • Home in time for Grand Final day at Nathan & Tracy’s – great win for the Bulldogs !
  • Bought ourselves a Table Tennis Table for Christmas – has been getting lots of use on the back patio – summer arvo’s + evenings
  • New Star Wars movie !    Rogue One – went to see it in Gold Class, and the again with the whole family – greeaat movie…
  • Cameron had a basketball Grand Final – and won !

The year was not without some sadness – we said goodbye to my sister Kath’s cancer (thankfully), but poor Uncle John fought it too – and lost.  

My Dad’s brother John, who he was very close to – it’s been a tough few months – and then, arranging funeral, and house auction, and all the paperwork, etc.   It’s been tough for Dad – I think Christmas was hard for him – I need to keep in touch with him to see that he’s OK.

For 2017 : enjoy the wonderful fun & games that our growing boys can bring, support Cameron through grade 6, and prepare him for high school.   Assist the household where I can, while Donna is doing more work – and needs more help at home.   Re-commence basketball coaching, and help Charlie with his first season !

Bikes

With my new business venture taking off, I had assumed (and allowed) myself to take the focus off cycling, after a massive 2015 – with 6,000km.   A lot of this was via commuting km’s – and the uncertainty of work placements would mean less consistency.    I was super bike-fit earlier in the year, but that waned off after mid-year – with winter time, and no regular work placement (bike parking/showers).

Also, I skipped a few MTB events, knowing that I was less practised – some months were less than 100km – as opposed to 100km a week…  

As a brief-run, here’s some highlights :

  • Had a split frame in my mountain bike, and needed a new rear triangle.   So, had a lot of work done – fully rebuilt suspension, and running gear – like a new MTB !
  • Went to a Specialized Demo Day at Lysterfield – Enduro, Epic + 6Fattie
  • Went to watch the National Road Race with Dad in Ballarat, was a regular event for my Uncle John, but he was too sick to go.   I’ll go again with Dad in early Jan 2017.
  • Did an ‘after work’ ride to Sky High with Dave Biggs, during summer, after realising we were both working close by
  • Stopped off in town to watch the opening section of the HeraldSun tour
  • Cameron turned 11 – and we got him a MTB !    Trek 27.5 hardtail
  • During April/May, was riding to work lots – BEST parking area ever, at Kiandra…
  • You Yangs MTB race – did 136km in 6 hours – felt great, best MTB race ever
  • The following weekend, did the Otway Classic 205km – tough conditions, and support vehicle (Dad) had to take a few riders who had DNF’ed
  • Did the Vic Enduro Series race at Lysterfield – met up with John Lazzara from High School days – now a regular riding buddy, better friends than 20 years ago
  • Watched the MTB DH – LIVE from Cairns
  • Rode MTB’s at Wombat State Forest – cold !
  • After not much riding, took a ticket for Ol’ Dirty in Marysville.   I’d needed a bike adventure, and suffered+sweated+swore, but regained a piece of joy – after not much riding.   Was a GREAT day out, in hindsight !
  • My buddy Jimmy & Christian both got new MTB’s – we have a good crew of riders, as well as Jake, Haider, Lawrence, and others – good to have a chat group using WhatsApp
  • Plans booked for a Rotorua MTB weekend’er in January – will be great to go back to NZ
  • I got a new bike – S-Works !    I’d promised myself a ‘carbon road bike’ as a present to myself, for starting my own business – and had a good deal with a friend who works for Specialized – thanks Matt !   
  • Rode the “Around The Bay” 135km from Geelong – and had baaad headwinds !    Great day with Jimmy & Dan – but hard work…
  • Melbourne Cup Day, did an MTB ride day at YouYangs
  • LDTR club ride at Plenty Gorge
  • Also, went MTB’ing at RedHill – first time riding there – short trails, but good fun
  • Has been great to ride Lysterfield on a regular basis – looking forward to more ‘crew rides’ in 2017 (Gentlemen Of Lyster Dirt – GOLD !)
  • Cameron did his first MTB race at Lysty – Friday Fun Lazy Loops
  • Santa got me a new Garmin for Xmas
  • Went for a Dandenongs ride with Bianca, Denis and Ben – after Christmas

For 2017:  I need to shape-up a little, and do MORE riding – make sure to get fit again, and ride the Otway Classic again – as well as enjoy riding in NZ.   And – there’s a Otway Odyssey in March – which will be a great camping weekend, but some hard hills and MTB trails.   And – I’d like to re-hit some of the VES 6-hr races.

I need to get outta bed earlier, do some local laps, and keep doing YOGA (had done a one-month trial in Glen Wav – and now found a better/closer group in Scoresby).

Music

Like my cycling in 2016, my exposure and attention to music has taken a back seat.   Rather than listening to music at work (a lot), I would often go a week or two without any ‘metal’ in my ears.

I still managed to get to a few gigs, and enjoy some new artists/albums.

  • No SoundWave – it was weird to NOT have a big event to prepare for, with Spotify setlists, and excitement on the day – it was a noticable omission in the calendar !
  • Went to see Fear Factory – as well as a pre-show backstage pass !    Very cool to chat to Burton and Dino – and get photos
  • Got a ticket to see COG – although my other friends missed out – doh !   I enjoyed the show on my own, and loved the support band/s.
  • Shihad – happened to be a few days after COG – I took my bro-in-law Mark as a birthday present
  • SleepMakesWaves – I went to see them in a headline show, after the support for COG
  • Baroness – one of the best shows all year – at a small venue
  • New album for Metallica, after 7 years – some good, some bad
  • Also – new album for Gojira – can’t wait to see them again

I’ve decided to NOT go see the big GUNS N ROSES show in February – I saw them back in 1993 – and keen to keep the old memory.   Also – it’s Cameron’s birthday !

For 2017 : Make sure to still enjoy some music, and metal – I’ll be getting some NURA headphones in April, which will change my listening – I’m already thinking of some bands/albums to try.   Also – WACKEN !!    I’ve already been loving the discovery of bands, and tunes – and will travel to Germany with friends, in August, for a four day camping trip – awesome !

Other personal stuff

On reflection, there’s been a heap of stuff that I’ve done – in/around the busy household schedule and work activities.   Sometimes, I dunno how I’ve managed the time – when you see a list like this :

  • Been to a HEAP of movies with Luke – we loved the Revenant, Jason Bourne, The Accountant, DeadPool, Independence Day, Captain America – and a whole stack that I can’t even remember
  • Attended the JetBack Coaches meeting – did a 2nd season of coaching for Liam’s team – but taking a break over the current summer season
  • New Lego Millenium Falcon, and Boba Fett Slave 1 – and a new display cabinet – I still need to get some new lamps for the display
  • Went to see Kevin Bloody Wilson with some buddies – an evening of severe wrongness and political incorrectness – but damn funny.  
  • Helped a few friends get a new job – with Mark from Freedom looking for a new Mortgage Broker, and I suggested Sean.   As well as George, to hire Matt Y (PAN).
  • Tried a session of Cross-Fit, but suffered for about 10 days afterwards, and realised that gym-training is beyond me (at the moment) – I’ll stick to Cycling, and Yoga for now.
  • Got some new glasses – thanks to SpecSavers, to get prescription glasses, and new prescription sunnies – and then my OLD sunnies got yellow lenses for riding.
  • Test drove some cars – Skoda Octavia VRS, and then later, VW Passat 206
  • Did a River Rafting trip with Matt Y – was a gift voucher from coaching basketball – and went on the Yarra River – great fun !

Video Games

Last Christmas, Santa got us an XBox One, and so I’ve been able to play a heap of great video games – as well as the kids playing lots of new ones.

Here’s a list of the highlights for me – and the TOP games I’ve enjoyed :

  • Rise Of The Tomb Raider – one of the main reasons I wanted to get an XBox One – amazing storyline, and graphics
  • Unravel – small indie game, platformer
  • Inside – sequel to Limbo, dark & brooding, challenging puzzles, and a big WTF ending
  • Quantum Break
  • Star Wars Battlefront
  • Doom
  • Halo Master Chief Collection – great old-school FPS fun
  • Call Of Duty Black Ops 3 – the kids have gotten into this one – as multi-player – and they’re all better than me !
  • Forza Horizon 3 – amazing car racing game – set in Australia

For 2017: I’d like to finish off a few games – including Quantum Break, and then get back to play The Last Of Us, on the PlayStation 3.   Beyond that, perhaps get the re-mastered BioShock collection – and try out Deus Ex (loaner from my buddy Mark)

Work

WOW – this has been the big stand out for 2016.   I’ve worked on my own with different projects/clients in the past, but now it’s entirely “all me”.   Including invoicing, payroll, and motiviation and feedback and so forth.

I’ve had a few moments of “holy crap” – and needed to prop myself up again – but it’s all gone fairly well.

I’ll write up a KACHIHRO blog post for 2016 – suffice to say – it’s been big, and “all good”.

For 2017 : Keep the magic alive, and don’t stress the small stuff.   Continue to delight customers, and enjoy some days to train, or attend a conference.   PauseFest and the SIY – two that I’ve earmarked for the new year.

Reading

With some train travel to/from town, I had a few books that I chugged through – some were work related, as well as biographies – which is my favourite these days.

Also – on holidays in Queensland – I took a few books – but didn’t read as much as I thought, I was tried most nights, and crashed out asleep !

If you don’t use GOOD READS, you should – here’s some links to a few of my faves through the year…

Also – I’ve finally got the ‘hang’ of using PodCasts – I’d tried a few times in the past – but never made it part of my routine.   And now, I listen in the car a LOT – and on the train to work.  

My main faves are THIS AMERICAN LIFE – and MICROSOFT CLOUD SHOW.

For 2017 : Get through a few more books – I’ve got a biography of Springsteen, as well as some other business related books.    And – the Masters Of Doom, about the creators of ID, Doom, Quake, etc.

Close out on 2016

So – there you have it.  

Was a damn GOOD year for me !     Aside from the loss of my dear Uncle John.  

And – I’m (sadly) preparing myself for some heartbreak again in 2017 – with our aging Chloe likely to find doggie heaven before long – she’s almost 14.5.    I don’t want to think anymore on that, not yet.

As for “good stuff” – I have a trip to NZ for mountain biking, and then Germany for a heavy metal festival – that’s a damn GOOD year ahead already !

It will be good to determine some funds/budgets and work out plans for a house extension – and perhaps consider a new car for ME – as a company car.

For YOU :

Hope you had a great year in 2016 – some ups and downs – that’s the way of it – but hopefully more UPS than DOWNS.

All the best for a wonderful start to 2017.  

Happy New Year – friends, family and everyone.

Smile

~wookie

Liam turned 9 !

Firstly to Liam – Happy BELATED Birthday !

We actually *DID* celebrate his birthday on the day – October 25th – and I normally try to do a blogpost with photos, shortly after.

Suffice to say, we’re a busy household – and time has gotten away – and this is the ‘latest’ blogpost ever – only taken me six weeks to get to it – LOL (sorry) !    

Hopefully, it was worth the wait.

Smile

Here’s the posts from his 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th birthdays…

School

Liam is really getting BIG now – we measured him for his birthday, and he’s actually the same height as Cameron was at age 10 (Liam is a full year ahead) !

He’s into grade 3 this year (2016) and his teacher is Mrs.S (she had a big long surname – and so she’s just known as Mrs.S !)

I asked Liam about his ‘crew’ at school – and he reeled off a big list of names – Alex, Jason, Alex (there’s Alex L and Alex P) – and then Daniel, Dylan, Jarrod, Jayden, Tim, Steven, Chris and Josh !   

They all play “6-square” at school – he’s in a really good ‘place’ with his group of friends – he’s such a nice boy – even the girls want to be friends with him.   His ‘girlmate’ at the moment is Mia – he told me with a blush.

On weekends – he & Alex always connect via Skype, and play MineCraft.

One of the highlights of the school year was the 3-day school camp – at “Camp WeekAway” – which I joked should be “Camp ThreeDaysAway”…

They did some awesome activities, including canoeing, bushwalking, flying fox, hut building – and slept in cabins – and came home exhausted – but happy.

Grade3, Knox Gardens Primary School

School-Liam

Off to school with his brothers – in Grade 5, 3 and 1.

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School excursion to Melbourne Museum

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School sports day – go Lawson !

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Sleepover at school – with a minion – and next to Alex

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Fun Activities

Liam has really gotten involved with all manner of video games – the main one is still MineCraft – but this is now on the PC-version, and he plays online – in EggWars, and Hypixel, and Roblox – and he connects to Skype on his old iPhone – to chat to friends.

He also follows along with Cameron, in the YouTube world – to see what other people are doing with MineCraft.

They also play the XBox – we’ve recently started playing Halo with four-player (Dad, Liam, Cameron & Charlie) – but they’re all too good for me !   

It’s great fun to hear them laugh as they shoot me with a rocket launcher, or drive OVER me !   (thanks Liam).

Aside from video games, he plays outside with his basketball (more in a sec) – and his love of soft toys remains strong.   He got a few new toys when we visited Queensland (MovieWorld) – with a Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants, and a Sylvester cat – and recently got a Torchick Pokemon soft toy.

We love that he’s still such a soft-natured boy (no pun intended) – he must have over 50 soft toys now – we find him in bed with an army of felt monsters – LOL !

And – he’s hugely into POKEMON…    

Smile

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LEGO is still big in our house – Liam helped me build the Boba Fett Slave 1

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Zooming on his bike at the skate ramps, Avoca on Christmas Day

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Great to see kids having fun on bikes – Liam loves it

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Movies + TV

We go to see a bunch of movies as a family – and has been a few over the last year or so.   The Good Dinosaur, Pete’s Dragon, Pets, TMNT2 (which he nagged about for ages !), Kobo and The Two Strings – and there must be a few more I can’t recall.

He watches TV shows on Netflix, or recorded from TV – including AdventureTime, and Teen Titans – as his favourites.

He also still loves Minions (how can you NOT) – and into the Marvel arena – with Thor, Guardians Of The Galaxy, IronMan, Captain America, Avengers – and we recently watched the first 1989 Batman movie – which he loved.

He’s seen the first four of the Harry Potter movies, and really loving it – following in the footsteps of his HP-addict brother Cameron.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 – with Cam, Matt and Luke (Thompson)

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Basketball

Liam swapped from KARATE to play basketball, and is now in his third season.   I was the team coach for his first two seasons, which was great for both of us.

We have a concrete patch in the backyard, and Liam practices a lot – and takes his ball to school.   He recently scored 14 points in a game – and was leading the point scoring for his grade/division.

When he first started, the whole team was learning some techniques – such as my standard 3-choice : dribble, pass, shoot.   The ability and skill grows FAST in young kids – and Liam was soon doing full-court lay-ups.

And – it helps that he’s TALL – the tallest in the team – and still has another season in U/10 !

He really enjoys basketball – it’s so great to watch him play – and to have some fun at training together – and in the backyard.

First ever game of basketball – with Dad as coach

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After their first win – took a few months, and then they were firing !

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End of season with the team – great set of kids

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On the way to basketball – Charlie is excited too !

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New season – some different team mates – still with Dad as coach

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We didn’t make the finals, but they learnt a lot, and had fun

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Queensland

We had a wonderful family holiday in the September school holidays.  Liam was keen to try out the roller coasters, and loved the first “Scooby Doo” coaster – more than his big brother – and so I took him on the “Superman” ride.  

He’s tall enough, but was the youngest in the long line – and I kept checking to see “are you sure !?!”    This coaster goes to 120kmh in 2 seconds – it’s Formula 1 fast – and he loved it !   I was screaming in delight, and forgot he was next to me – but he was hooked !

We went on the Green Lantern – and then the Arkham Asylum (the old Lethal Weapon) – that was the limit – he’d had enough by then !   

He loved the shops there (MovieWorld) – and bought a Sylvester stuffed toy.  When it was time for the parade at the end of the day, he was amazed+excited when the Sylvester character pointed to him, and then at himself (“that’s me !!”).   He also got a “Patrick” from SpongeBob SquarePants – to add to his soft toy collection.

One morning, I was wanting to go for a beach walk (6am) and Liam and strolled along and chatted – and splashed in the water – he’s a nice walking companion.

We had a few other great days together – at SeaWorld, and Wet-N-Wild – and then went to Noosa.

When we got to Noosa, Liam and I took off one morning while everyone else was still lazing in bed – and we walked through the National Park headland – just the two of us.   We saw some WHALES off the coast – amazing…!    It was nice to share that with him.

Morning walk in Surfers Paradise

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Waiting for the parade at MovieWorld

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Tired but elated after a big day at MovieWorld – dinner at Hog’s Breath (Surfers)

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Checking out the view from the balcony in Surfers Paradise

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Screaming in delight on the “Flume Ride” at SeaWorld – Charlie looks scared too !

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Hanging out with Dora The Explorer (SeaWorld)

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3D movie at SeaWorld – SpongeBob SquarePants

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Caught by the giant squid – great faces !

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Bushwalk in the hills, on the way to Noosa (Take a photo, Dad !)

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Ready to go to the pool – and patiently (!) waiting for everyone else

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He built a stone tower, on the walk at the Noosa National Park

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Whales – in the distance – amazing to see them !

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Loving the swimming pool – the kids swam for at least 3-4 hours a day

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Our last day of the Queensland holiday – dinner in the RACV resort

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Family

Being the ‘middle child’ can be hard sometimes – Liam has a few run-ins with Cameron from time-to-time – often when a game has started out well, but it always “ends in tears”.

He’s still much closer to Charlie – they share a bedroom, and they often play similar games.   Cameron is getting close to high school age – and the ‘gap’ seems larger sometimes.

Liam is lucky to have a great friend with Charlie – they’re good pals.

In this next photo, I’d ordered McD’s for Cameron & Liam (and me) – and gone with Charlie to get KFC.   I came back with Charlie, and Liam had “set up” my Macca’s into the burger lid – ready to go – thanks buddy !

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Hanging out in the hammock at Auntie Kath’s – very comfortable !

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Easter Egg hunt with Charlie

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Crazy fun in the mirrors at Pancake Parlour

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On the way to pick up our new car, Liam was teary to say goodbye to the Commodore

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Walking with Nanna in Castlemaine, he went walking with Rachel, and Jem also

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Goofy selfie faces, while waiting for the movie to start – LOL !

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Date With Dad

Liam had a voucher for Pancake Parlour, for a free double-stack – and so we headed there after dinner one evening for a special dessert – we were both sooo full afterwards…!

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Cousins

Liam is the same age as Jasmine (Jazzie) – they’re best of friends – and always playing together when we get the families together.

I think he secretly would have liked a sister – and she’s ‘close enough’ to that.

Playing table tennis – we’re getting a new TT table for Christmas !

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Acting out a Star Wars play – Luke, ObiWan, Chewie and Han Solo

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Goofy Fun

Liam is the FIRST to put his head in a cut-out, for a photo – whether it’s Angry Birds, or some other movie character, or these ones at the adventure park in Red Hill.

He always (usually) having a good laugh at himself, or a funny situation.

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Springing into action at The Good Guys Superhero Games Day

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And of course – cake – yum !

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Some other photos of our “lovely Liam”

Cool dude – all dressed up for an outing + cool glasses, buddy !

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Ice cream !

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Christmas presents – happy indeed !

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Aaaand – Christmas eating – yum…

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Holding little Aiden + happy with new onesie – made by Donna !

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Happy Birthday

Thanks for being such an amazingly fun & caring little guy – we love your goofy outlook on life, you certainly know how to have fun, and wear your heart on your sleeve.

And you love your friends, and basketball – and soft toys !

Happy Birthday once again, love from Mum & Dad.   X

ZZZZ_LAST

Smile

Charlie’s 7th Birthday

As with previous years, I’m almost a MONTH late for a blogpost for Charlie’s birthday – LOL !!         His birthday was June 28th.

June/July is always a tricky time of year – end of financial year, with added work pressures now that I’m a sole operator, as well as family sadness, with Uncle John’s passing, and funeral.

But – this is a happy blogpost – HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHARLIE !! 

Charlie has some blog posts for his previous birthdays, check them out here : ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE and SIX.

Amazing to see how much he’s changed – even in a year – after just looking at his “SIX” birthday blog post…

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Great gang of friends for his birthday party !

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School

Charlie is in grade 1 this year – with the lovely Mrs.Loonstra – she was Liam’s teacher in grade 2 (last year).   She has been so great for Charlie – and a big factor in him “coming out of his shell”.  He has new found confidence in the classroom, among friends, and around the house/family in general.

He won a ‘student-of-the-week’ award a few weeks back – and stood in front of the whole school assembly – his certificate said that the award was for “Improving his confidence when speaking in front of his peers”.

His favourite is sport, but he also loves maths, and reading – his daily readers are getting better – wonderful vocabulary, and he’s kicking butt at spelling.

But – it’s his maths calculations that make us go “wow” – including when we were asking him by 12’s – eg. what is 3×12, and then 4×12 – and he thought, processed in his head – and got the answer right – all the way up to 120.   Not bad for a 6 yo…!

I just asked him “who are your best’est friends at school” – and he answered Jenny, Tristan, Neeko and Ashely.    They all came to his birthday party at the end of June.

School photos 2016

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Fathers day brekky – September (in Prep Room)

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School activity night – with his best friend Ashley

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School sports day – go LAWSON !

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Off to school with his brothers

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Charlie & Dad, at parent games night at school

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Activities

Charlie loves playing video games, like his brothers (no surprise) – he’s just gotten hooked in PokemonGo – but also loves the Lego Star Wars Force Awakens game.   He’s great at Doodle Jump, and MineCraft – although he had a recent hissy fit in a game of MineCraft (“everyone was killing me !”) and he threw the controller on the ground !   

It’s got a broken hand grip now – and has a “Charlie” sticker on it – to remind him whenever he plays – LOL !

He has one of our old iPhones, and chose a THOR cover, and plays a few games on it, whenever he can.   And – he was asking me to get his own Spotify account – so he can now have a playlist of his own.   He got some new headphones for his birthday too – nice !

LEGO – Charlie is probably the king of Lego in our house, after the obsession from Liam & Cameron has pegged back a little.   He will often be found in his room – putting together some creation – sometimes in the total nude !    (after starting to get into PJ’s, and getting distracted – ha ha !)

Charlie and I spent a wonderful day together a few months back – and built the LEGO Millenium Falcon that I’d gotten for MY birthday.   We even put Star Wars on the the TV, so that we could listen while we built.  

Just Charlie and me for the day – was a nice time together…

He’s into the new NEXO KNIGHTS theme – and had a birthday cake designed by Donna.

Nexo Knights Birthday Cake

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His choice for birthday treat – he wanted to make Lego, and watch Star Wars

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The day after his party – straight from bed, to the Lego table

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With some help from big brother Liam

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More Fun Activities

When Cameron had a birthday recent, he went to the TunzaFun indoor climbing centre, and we were surprised to see how well Charlie took to it !    Just fearless, and keen to succeed – he was the only one of the kids to make it up this tricky one.

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We had a fun day out with Auntie Kath to the “Enchanted Garden” tree climbing and ropes course – she and Charlie went on the ‘low ropes’ – he just loved it !

I can’t wait to take him for some more rock climbing – perhaps the ‘Hard Rock’ climbing centre in Nunawading…

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Goofy fun in the gardens area afterwards

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Charlie is continuing with Karate – the other boys are doing basketball – but he’s still enjoying it – and has had a few gradings, and new belts.

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Family fun

Over the last year, we’ve had some great times together – including a holiday in Avoca, and re-building the bike track, and a day out to The Grampians, boating fun at Lysterfield, as well as many movie outings as a family – Star Wars, Zootopia, The BFG and many others.

He’s lucky to have to big brothers, who encourage, and challenge him with new outlooks on activities, as well as frustrate & upset him sometimes…

He has a wonderful giggly laugh, and a constant source of fun in our house !

Lookout from the top of The Grampians

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Super Charlie, king of the world

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Avoca : “Geronimo Swing Dipper” track, before trail maintenance

 

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Family picnic, and boating fun at Lysterfield Lake – cool sunnies !

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Charlie having an OARsome time

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“Paddle Faster, Dad !”

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Family outing – headed off for Christmas Carols.  

When Charlie saw our trolley with chairs, esky, and bags – he asked “Are we camping here overnight !!?!?”   LOL !

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Christmas morning in Avoca – making sure Santa + Reindeer could find us

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Visiting Santa – always great fun…

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Fun with cousins – this was a Star Wars play – Charlie was CHEWBACCA (LOL !)

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Fun with his brothers, at the SuperHero show

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Bike ride with Dad+brothers, for an ice cream at Jells Park

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Bunk bed for THREE !    He was excited to have a window right beside his bed.

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Ice cream – yesss !

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Hammock shenanigans – ha ha !     (love Cameron’s expression)

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Out for a hot chocolate with Dad + Liam

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Happy #3

Despite sometimes getting lost in the shadow of his big brothers, Charlie is forging his own path, and being his own boss – when he can.   

As the third kid, he often has to stand his ground, to be heard, or have some control – and we face his stubborn streak a few times, but you gotta admire that, somehow.

But usually, he’s just a big barrel of awesome – such a dude – he makes us laugh a LOT.

Water park play fun – no, I’m NOT cold !!!

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Table tennis crazy fun – he was wild with the bat !

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I opened the door after getting home, to face Boba Fett with a light saber – for someone who says “I love you, Dad”, he sure tries to kill me a lot…  

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Lost his first tooth !   And a certificate from the tooth fairy.

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Roller skating – took him a few tries, but he loved it…

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Hair to match his icy pole – LOL !

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Rockin’ the cool sunnies at the dentist

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Happy Birthday little dude !

Thanks Charlie for your amazing happy face, and wonderful spirit – it’s amazing to see you grown into a SEVEN year old – growing up so fast !

Love always,

Mum & Dad.    x

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