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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

School-Charlie 

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…

Santa

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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Turned up to ELEVEN – Cameron, that is…

Well, as usual, I’m late with my annual ‘birthday blog’ posts – was a very busy weekend for Cameron’s 11th birthday – and then we were off to Wodonga for a 40th the following weekend.   Anyway – here we go !

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

It’s sometimes amazing to remember back to when Cameron was first born – we were looking at birth photos – 11 years ago – he’s been with us for 1/4 of our lives (Donna and I).   

School

He’s now into Grade 5 – we’re realising that it won’t be long until we have to look at HIGH schools – most likely to be planning on sending him to HighVale, in Glen Waverley – but that’s only a hunch, we need to check out a few schools.

This year, he chose to run for sporting vice-captain, and did a class speech – but was convinced he would get thrashed, and didn’t want to go ahead with the speech.  We worked on it together – and he enjoyed it – but still got beaten.

He also missed out on environmental monitor – but ended up as being PA-assistant, helping to set up for school assembly and such.   He’ll enjoy this – technical ‘roadie’ job – but doesn’t need to get up and do speeches, etc.

We hear a lot about school – often troubles, and his bad-days – but he really does love school – and doing great at maths !    And his reading too.

Last year (grade 4) he had some wonderful help from a school chaplain, after some friendship troubles and arguing, and coping with his concerns about his Auntie Kath (who had cancer during 2015 – more in a sec).

One of the biggest highlights for the year was his “Camp Wurrabinda” – which was a few days away in a bush retreat.  They did nature walks, and fire making, and camp cooking, and flying fox – we heard soooo much about it in the 2-3 weeks after.  It was a great experience for him – the best for the year, for sure.

He had another school camp to Philip Island, with the entire class (Wurrabinda was a smaller group, and kids from other schools).   He enjoyed the 2nd camp also, but with different friends, and more fun+play, than learning+experiences.

Starting Grade 5 (2016)

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School concert

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Off to School Camp

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Crazy Hat Day

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School sports day

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Selfie with a buddy on camp

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Sport

Cameron is progressing well at basketball – he’s into U12D – and is a great team member.  Very keen at training, and works hard – and also practice+shooting in the backyard at home.   He’s able to get amongst the crowd, and plays some basketball at school too.  

It’s funny, I found an only basketball pennant from my first season – in U12D as well – in 1985.

Scored a GATORADE for the basketball final (I ended up buying one for the whole team in the end – when they made the Grand Final)

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Runners-up – was an awesome achievement to make the Grand Final !

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Action shots from the game

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Lachlan R, Lachlan J, Hayden, Sebastian, Gavin, Cameron & Daniel

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Bike Riding

He loves riding his bike – it’s the normal mode for school each morning now – and especially since he got a cool new MTB for his 11th birthday.   I’ve taken him out to Lysterfield once already – when he had his BMX – and he loved it.  We’ll go out there on his MTB in the next few weeks (hopefully !)

For his new MTB, I even signed him up to Strava – it won’t be long before he’s as fast as me (or faster !) – and we can go riding LOTS together.

Off to school, BMX’ing

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First ever ride at Lysterfield – we only did about 8km

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On the skate park in Avoca – Christmas morning !

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Park riding with the brothers

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New mountain bike – first GEARS bike – Trek Marlin 5

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Activities

If you asked Cameron what he MOST wants to do, it would be video games.   He just loves his TERRARIA and MINECRAFT games, and can lose hours upon hours.   And even when NOT playing, he’ll be talking about it – or doing games on the trampoline about something related.

He’s gotten into PLANTS vs ZOMBIES GARDEN WARFARE too – and then only the bigger action games like CALL OF DUTY and has even started playing through TOMB RAIDER.    We recently got an XBoxOne, and so he’s enjoyed some action with STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT.

Suffice to say – he’s a gamer – and loves it !

Another great passion is HARRY POTTER.   Passion is probably not enough – it’s more of an obsession – LOL !

He can now recite sections of the movies – and has seen all EIGHT films a number of times through.   He has some great costumes, and makes wands out of sticks.

I sat and watched the last three movies with him recently, after much pestering, he’d actually seen them, but wanted ME to see them (with him).

For his birthday, he had a ‘Deathly Hallows’ theme – and opened a present with a necklace of the triangle symbol – and just said “oh, I love you” to Donna.   AND – he got an elder wand too !

Dressed up as Harry Potter – disco night, Halloween, ANY occasion !

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Used a ‘temporary tattoo’ from SPECIALIZED as a lightning bolt – LOL !

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With regard to other movies, he was very excited to go see “Jurassic World” with me (Dad), and sat on the edge of his seat for most of the movie.   We got to the end, and his ice cream had melted, he forgot to eat it !!

But – nothing was as great as taking him to see the new STAR WARS movie in December – we had a special Gold Class surprise, along with his friend Matt.   It was all a big secret – which made it even more amazing.

We went as the whole family not long after – but was a great “special treat” for him.

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Family

We had some good and bad times over 2015 – the worst of which was his Auntie Kath having cancer.   It was hard to tell the kids about her – I even had a pamphlet entitled “talking to kids about cancer”.

The simple message was (which was the truth) that “she’s had an operation, and now chemo for six months”.   Cameron was worried at first, mainly unsure of what it all meant – and his words of “I’m worried about you Dad, as she’s your sister, and I’d be worried if it was my brother”…    (that was amazing to hear).

We spoke to her lots, and the kids drew her letters & cards – and Kath sent photos from chemo, and we saw her a few times too.   In the end, he was OK with it all, but spoke with a counsellor, just to avoid any further upsetting times.

Otherwise, we had a great year as a family – including some camping trips, and a great getaway to Avoca, and hiking in The Grampians.

He loves it at Avoca – and asked if he might be able to take his kids there one day.   We have open fires, and dig + ride bikes – and just enjoy the peace & quiet.

Grubby but happy – making food parcels for the fire

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Grampians – Cameron sprained his ankle, but kept going

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Top of “The Pinnacles”

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Back in Avoca – chess alfresco

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Doing laps – Geronimo SwingDipper or Express – counting laps !

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Ice cream with Dad (beer for Dad – after a day of digging)

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A few months later – Christmas time in Avoca

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Other trips + family outings/activities

Hanging Rock

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Cold walk in Warburton – warm hugs from Mum

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Thumbs up with Dad…

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And – a peace symbol too…

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Go-karting – excited, much !?!

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Superhero day (Rowville)

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New reading glasses, during 2015

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Ice cream with Dad – after a bike ride

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Ice cream with Charlie too !

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Goofy Camo

We always end up with some wild/crazy pictures – when he’s not driving us loopy, he’s making us laugh – loads of fun !

And – this is only 1/2 the ones – and not forgetting the video clips – and some wacky SMS messages I get from time to time.

Say CHEESE !   With the penguins, at the penguins

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Too cool for photos – crazy smile

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Riding a seal at the zoo – WTF !?!

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Goofy selfie – in the car (?)

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Clapping along at the basketball (NBL)

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Found this selfie on my iPhone – nice one !

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Zombie ??    I dunno WHAT this is – LOL !

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Looking ahead

It’s going to be a tough year I’m sure, with hormonal changes, and clashes with Mum, and brothers (and Dad !), but Cameron is on a good path – just testing the edges, and working it out.

We have all realised that he suffers from “the hangries” (hungry+angry) – and we need to make sure he’s well fed, or risk the wrath/angst…

He had a great birthday party – with his good friends Cooper, Matt and Emma – we took them indoor rock climbing (TunzaFun), and then home for MineCraft, and Pizza – that was his choice for a party !

Happy Birthday Cameron – we love you SO much – never forget that – we’ll help you get through this crazy time (together).

Love from Mum+Dad.    X

Family portraits

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Such a cool dude

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What an awesome little guy…   

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Smile

Seven Days of Music

After seeing a whole lot of CRAP on FaceBook recently (Be Like Bill !?), I was thinking back to when I’d done the “7 songs in 7 days” post series – just before Christmas.

I really enjoyed thinking back to my favourite songs, bands, and which ones to “limit myself” – only SEVEN ?

As it turns out, I hadn’t realised I’d done day #3 – so it’s actually EIGHT posts – oops !    I could have gone for TEN, or maybe more…     LOL !

I wanted to capture them here – easier than trawling back through FB !

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Day 1

Thanks Andy Neumann for the nomination in the "7 songs in 7 days challenge".

I listen to a LOT of music – varying from ‘Sinatra’ to ‘Slayer’.

My main genre is METAL – and I guess the defining band for me, from teenage days would have to be METALLICA.

I remember getting a C-90 cassette in high school, with "Kill Em All" on one side, and "Ride The Lightning" on the other. And I was hooked.

And then "Master Of Puppets" – and "Justice For All" – all of the above in the space of a few months.

I remember going to BRASHS (!) to get the new BLACK album the day it was released – having to ask for it, and they opened a box to hand me the first copy – Brandon Park, 1991.

My favourite song by Metallica would have to be FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS – I love the rollicking riff, and percussive hits from Lars – and who can forget lyrics like "take a look to the sky just before you die, it’s the last time you WILL !"

The classic line-up too – James, Lars, Kirk and CLIFF BURTON.

\m/

** Nomination to Ben Sartori – who I first saw Metallica with in 1993 – on the floor at Rod Laver – we were 2 people from the barrier – and could hear Jason Newstead yelling at us "cmon MF’ers !!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdlQyNe_9tE

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Day 2 of "7 songs in 7 days".

I’m treating this challenge as more of "7 BANDS" in 7 days – and want to call out MOTLEY CRÜE.

The year was 1989 – high school, year 12 – and I was discovered many MANY bands.

LA glam rock was the flavour of the time – pre-grunge – and it was MOTLEY CRÜE who started it all.

Then came trashy bands like Poison & Warrant – who I saw live in 89/90 – as well as Ugly Kid Joe, Skid Row – some amazing live shows.

By far – the best live show – was Motley Crüe. The lights & pyro – and Tommy Lee’s drum kit.

This was their "heyday" – excesses of sex, drugs & rock-n-roll – pretty amazing to an 18 year old.

I had cassettes of SHOUT AT THE DEVIL, THEATRE OF PAIN, GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS – and DR FEELGOOD.

I’ve since read the biographies from Nikki Sixx (brilliant) and Vince Neil (meh).

Laugh at the LA glam scene, if you must, but from early 80’s until early 90’s, it was fantastic – a pivotal scene in heavy metal’s evolution.

Hard to pick a best song by THE CRÜE – another option was "Kickstart My Heart"…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGMugNs4ZiM

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Day 3 of the 7-day music challenge

It’s time to talk about HELMET.  

A band that is hard to tag in a genre – neither metal, or grunge or punk – and not really New York hardcore.

PAGE HAMILTON’s voice is very unique, and I love Helmet’s chunk/chug riffs.

I first discovered the album MEANTIME – and classics such as "Unsung", "In The Meantime" and "Ironhead".

And then the amazing BETTY album – with strange samples & distortions – love the songs "Milquetoast" (was in THE CROW movie too) – and "Wilma’s Rainbow".

I saw them live a few times – recent tour was just Page Hamilton + band – he stayed on stage after the show – and spoke to EVERYONE 1-to-1 – shaking hands, posing for photos – a genuine NICE BLOKE of rock.

Thanks HELMET….!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBfygUiS50g

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Day 3 of the 7 day music challenge

I’m going to lump FOUR specific bands together; today is about GRUNGE.

[oops – I’d already done Day #3 !]

The Seattle sound that exploded onto the world in the early 90’s was a dose of rock, metal and angst – perfect teenager/20-something fodder.
It was nihilistic, distorted, and great to sing loudly. Hardly refined, or musically creative, far from polished – but that was the point. And – I loved it.

Pearl Jam’s TEN, SoundGarden’s BADMOTORFINGER, Alice In Chains’ DIRT, and Nirvana’s NEVERMIND – all of them – classics, and fantastic.

Pearl Jam had more melody and soul/heart – so many great songs. Alive, Jeremy, Once, Even Flow – all stand outs. And the talent within this band is staggering – Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard – each are masters in their own right. Sadly, PJ are one band I’ve never seen live.

Alice In Chains had some fantastic fat riffs, DIRT had classics like Rooster, Them Bones, Angry Chair and the all time classic WOULD? And then some great acoustic tunes – I Stay Away from JAR OF FLIES is hauntingly beautiful – Layne Stayley’s unique voice has so much soul. I saw them live in late 93, just before moving to Cairns. I crowd surfed, and stage dived – with a gentle PUSH off stage by Layne. (LOL)

Nirvana became a huge obsession for me – I remember buying the NEVERMIND album having heard the buzz online, via chatroom and newsgroups at Uni. This was the early “internet” before WWW days.
I hadn’t even heard the track “Smells Like Teen Spirit”- the first time was when I played the album, bought at Brash’s Chadstone.

I bought BLEACH the following weekend – and was lucky enough to see them live in early 1992. Nirvana’s only Australian tour was booked before they even finished NEVERMIND, and the album hit #1 in the USA as they were arriving down under. It was the calm before the storm for the band, and they played THE PALACE in St.Kilda – a tiny club venue – totally chockers. They also played the first ever Big Day Out, which was a Sydney only event, in it’s first year (92).

I’m sure some of my music friends will have a giggle of derision at the talent of Kurt Cobain (haters gonna hate) – he may not have been a wonderful muso, and a bad druggie, and the band only made a few albums, but they’re all STILL fantastic today, 20 years later. Probably the BIGGEST grunge band – a household name in the genre. I really loved Nirvana, and still do.

But, in my mind, it was SoundGarden who were THE original grunge band – songs from BadMotorFinger like Rusty Cage, Outshined and Drawing Flies are brilliant – wonderful LIVE.
I really (REALLY) loved SUPERUNKNOWN when it came out – when I was living in CAIRNS. SpoonMan, Superunknown, Limo Wreck – fantastic – but I never really liked Black Hole Sun.

Anyway – I could go on-and-on about grunge, but I’ll leave you with one of my favourite songs from the genre. That fat groove sends chills down my spine – sheer bliss – even today.
And then the break-down towards the latter section of the song, those power chords are just wonderful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14r7y6rM6zA

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Day 4 of the 7 day musical challenge.

PANTERA. This one word brings a smile to every fan of heavy metal.

I first grabbing the COWBOYS FROM HELL (CFH) album when I’d just finished university, it was just before the grunge era broke, and the CFH album scared the pants off me.

Coming from listening to LA style music – where GUNS N ROSES were "heavy" – PANTERA had amazingly fast drumming, and groove-laden riffing from Dimebag Darrell, and the snarly agressive tones from Phil Anselmo – it was something else, for sure !

Primal Concrete Sledge, Cemetary Gates, Domination, The Art Of Shredding – fantastic.

Then, the almighty VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER (VDOP) came out – OMFG. This is a landmark heavy metal album, for the ages.

Quite possibly THE best metal album of the 90’s.

Mouth For War, A New Level, Walk, Hostile, This Love, Rise – the opening 6 tracks are ALL brilliant.

I was in America in early 1994 (a few weeks after Kurt Cobain died) and bought FAR BEYOND DRIVEN (FBD).

The opening song is flat-out speed instantly – incredible.

When I was in New Orleans, I had my wallet stolen, and I recall listening to FBD on repeat, and challenging my anger and frustration into my portable CD player.

Even today – PANTERA is a wonderful anger release for many people I know…!

"The releasing of anger can better any medecine under the sun…."

The next albums from PANTERA were not so appealing for me – I’d progressed to other bands like SEPULTURA, FEAR FACTORY and MACHINEHEAD.

"The Great Southern Trendkill" (GSTK) – I’ll have to listen to this some more, but I think the turmoil within the band was obvious. Vocals were recorded separately, etc.

The band split soon after, and then the guitarist DIMEBAG DARRELL was shot dead on stage in a show with his follow-up band (Damageplan). WTF !?

DIMEBAG entered folklore and legend, for all heavy metal fans – in the worst way possible.

But for now – let’s remember the glory days of PANTERA… (the song that saved me, in New Orleans ’94)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss-SUz3163U

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Day 5 of 7 days of music…

Today’s song is from one of my all time favourite bands – certainly the greatest metal band that *I* personally loooove.

My journey with MachineHead began back in 1995 when I bought the “BURN MY EYES” album – based on the cover. A classic set of power/groove-metal tracks, post-grunge, when metal was “on the nose”. Davidian, Old, A Thousand Lies – wonderful pinch-harmonics & riffs, and driving double-kick drumming. Awesome.

The next album “THE MORE THINGS CHANGE” had a few classics too – with Ten Ton Hammer, and Take My Scars.

The follow-up period for MachineHead was dire – with line-up changes, and the new rap-metal such as Korn and Limp Bizkit were on the rise. MachineHead’s album THE BURNING RED was ‘ok’, but the follow-up SUPERCHARGER was a little to much of the “trying to fit the new scene” – and a bit of a flop. The band was dumped from the label, and close to being finished.

Then, the amazing THROUGH THE ASHES OF EMPIRES – and then a true metal classic THE BLACKENING. This album won them many KERRANG awards, a Grammy nomination, included on Guitar Hero (!) , a tribute song to Dimebag (Aesthetics Of Hate), and they have been being hailed as “one of the pioneering bands in the New Wave of American Heavy Metal” (Wikipedia)

Another brilliant album to follow – UNTO THE LOCUST, and more band troubles with ADAM DUCE leaving, with lawsuits, and nasty lyrics about ‘this is a friendship broken’ on last year’s BLOODSTONE & DIAMONDS.

I’ve seen MachineHead live on 6-7 occasions – and they’re spectacular.

So – here’s one of the best ‘opening’ songs on a album, and live show – IMPERIUM.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wKGkrZJHIc

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Day 6 of 7 days of music, and I’m not ready to stop yet !

I love discovering a band by seeing them live, and then getting the CD or listening on Spotify, and then getting excited to see them live AGAIN…

I saw KYUSS as the support band for METALLICA in April 93 – excitedly waiting for the main band (first time seeing Metallica), and I couldn’t get over the down-tuned fat bass and grungey metal riffs.

It wasn’t metal, and wasn’t grunge – it was "stoner".

They are the standout pioneer band in this genre – most would say. Certainly, the most well known.

Around the same time, I was working at FoodPlus (LOL!) close to the end of University days, and the the JUKE magazine had a competition saying "who supported Metallica ?" and I won their CD…

BLUES FOR THE RED SUN (BFRS) is an epic album – Thumb, Green Machine, Allen’s Wrench – still classics.

I then went to find their prior album WRETCH – not their best work – but good to see them ‘growing’ into their sound.

The followup to BFRS was WELCOME TO SKY VALLEY – this was brilliant !

I loved the way they had a 10 song album, but only 3 tracks on the CD – to mess with people clicking ‘random’.

Demon Cleaner, Gardenia, Space Cadet and 100 degrees – I could imagine them in the middle of the desert at night, with an open air concert for friends, with beers, bourbon and weed a-plenty.

The next album AND THE CIRCUS LEAVES TOWN was their final album – only three months before they broke up, with great tracks such as One Inch Main, and Hurricane.

Only together as a band for 4-5 years, some members went on to form QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – I liked their first few albums, but not so much lately.

I recently saw KYUSS again – and they were fantastic – such great songs.

One of my all time favourite bands – so many good songs to choose from.

I love the riff on this track – quick LOL at a drunk sounding dude as intro – and then a fat (FAT !) sludgy riff – turn it up LOUD…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86Xhc-s00xk

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Day 7 of 7 songs – last one !

When I was a big Metallica fanboi, part of the fanclub, and met Hetfield and Newstead, I thought I’d reached a peak of my ‘fandom’ in music. But, somewhere along the way, Metallica dropped the ball (ahem – Load, ReLoad, Lulu) – and I was disappointed, cancelled my fan club membership – and they were just "another band" in my rotation.

Around the same time (1999), I’d been listening to ALTERNATIVE music as well as metal. THis was the era of White Zombie, Korn, Limp Bizkit – and other surprises such as Slipknot. Metal was in a wierd place.

I’d been listening to other alt.bands like Filter, and Nine Inch Nails – who I’d seen in 1995 at Alternative Nation. I didn’t fully appreciate them back then – but I soon would.

I’d listened to THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL, and loved the heavier songs, and distortions and angry lyrics. But it was THE FRAGILE that really cemented my love of all things NIN and Trent.

A double album, with amazing production, and a bunch of stand out tracks – they were my new favourite band.

I saw them on the WITH TEETH tour, an album that I didn’t mind – but not as good as previous.

When it came time for YEAR ZERO, the band did one of the best viral marketing campaigns ever – I even did a workplace ‘public speaking’ session about it (see link below).

And then – May 2007 – I saw them twice at The Palace nightclub – still one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. (blog posts below)

The surreal GHOSTS album of just acoustic sounds was after that – some wonderful ‘thought voyages’ while listening to that.

And then – an album for free "this one is on me" – with THE SLIP. And the incredible "lights in the sky" tour. I have my name on the liner notes for the fan-produced "this one is on us" DVD recording.

The band split for a long term hiatus, after touring with Janes’Addiction – I was at TechEd on the Gold Coast in 2009, watching the live-tweets on their final show. *sigh*

Reznor then did some music soundtracks, and then a remarkable NEW album – HESTIATION MARKS.

I got to see them again, on the tour for that album – expecting that it might be the last time. Incredible light show, and I knew every single song… EVERY song.

I also have a NINE INCH NAILS *tattoo* – so yep, no surprises, that I’m posting a song from Nine Inch Nails.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Qy59hKIc4A

https://grumpywookie.wordpress.com/2007/05/15/nine-inch-nails-again/

https://grumpywookie.wordpress.com/2007/05/16/review-nine-inch-nails-x2/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtlw7uD2hyo

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That’s it !    Some awesome bands, and great memories of live shows….

Smile

Welcome to 2016

It’s now a few days since the calendar ticked over to 2016 – a leap year – and (ironically enough), I’ve taken a leap myself.

More of that in a sec, but it’s time to have a quick glance back to 2015 – and the year-that-was.

I like to do a blogpost on NYE, or close enough, here’s some entries from previous years….      

End of 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.  

This is my TENTH year doing a end-of-year blog – nice !

This time last year, I’d completed a tough 6-8 months of work (the toughest I’d ever weathered), and had “lost a piece of myself” along the way – and so the start to 2015 began with more of a FAMILY and BICYCLE focus, with WORK plans as secondary.

Cycling – I set myself a goal of “ride 100km a week” (and/or 500km a month) to beat the 5000km a year barrier that I’d narrowly missed in past years.    This meant some ride-to-work commitment, through the tougher winter months, with most weeks riding 3-4 days, only NOT riding on Tuesdays, with commitment to basketball – as a coach of U/12 and then U/10.

A new winter jacket, and a ‘park n ride’ strategy – where I’d drive with my bike to a football club in Burwood, and cycle back roads, and bike paths – around 15km morning and night.   This did me ‘wonders’ for physical and mental condition – and I began to find some clarity.

(In the end, I rode over 6100km for the year – avg. of 117km a week – amazing !)

FVCK CANCER

Not long after I was into the happy vibe for the year (April), we had a family shock – with my sister diagnosed with Ovarian cancer.   She had an operation to remove it, and full hysterectomy, and we all went into ‘support’ mode to help her.   I made sure to phone her every week, and to talk about “fun stuff”, and to send SMS’s such as her chemo days – to make sure she had “chemo cake” (coffee & cake !).

It was a nasty surprise for our kids also – who know of “Auntie Kath” – but it was a new discussion – I had a pamphlet entitled “talking to kids about cancer” and told them that she was ‘sick’, but had an operation, and now some special medicine for 6 months, and then she’ll be all better – by Christmas !

Mr.10 blew me away, he floored me with a comment saying “I’m worried about YOU too Dad, as it’s your sister, and I’d be upset if one of my brothers was sick like that”.  

Such amazing empathy and deep hearted sentiment – he’s a treasure, for sure.

The great news – to close that chapter – is that she is in remission, and finished chemo, and her hair is growing back – and life is starting to get back to normal – although she’s still very TIRED – more than she thought.  

A silver lining, is that I’m closer to her now than I think I’ve ever been – probably since teenage days of living in the same house…

My uncle John is also battling cancer this year – only a few months after my sister was diagnosed – another blow to my FATHER who is supporting his daughter, and wife, and now brother….

MUSIC

To change it up a beat (no pun intended), it’s been a great year for my ears, with some great concerts, and lots of Spotify.

SoundWave is always the biggest festival of the year – and 2015 was a two-day event.   A massive line-up, soooo many bands !

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On the first day, there were some memorable bands – KILLER BE KILLED – with the supergroup line-up – I video’ed their first ever song, for their first ever show – and had the YouTube clip picked up on Kerrang, and many other metal news websites – and over 50,000 views….

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GODSMACK were a band that has never toured Australia – they were brilliant – I’d setup a setlist via Spotify, and knew a lot of the show – and they rocked !    It was my most played band on Spotify for 2015 (!)

On the 2nd day, I got there late, and skipped past STEEL PANTHER (who were in the process of asking girls to raise their hand if they like the taste of cum – classy) – and got to ~10 ppl from the front as FEAR FACTORY started !

Then MINISTRY, SOUNDGARDEN, FAITH NO MORE and LAMB OF GOD – what a great way to close out the weekend….

I usually try to get along to a ‘SideWave’ show as part of the tour, this year it was actually AFTER the two-day event – was a struggle !    Killer Be Killed and Lamb Of God – awesome …!

Aside from SoundWave – I also got to see my favourite metal band MACHINEHEAD – at a crappy venue unfortunately – but I knew every song – great show.

MEGADETH were  dropped from SoundWave last year, and I was pretty disappointed (I’d just finished reading Dave Mustaine’s biography, and had been really keen to see them) – and so I got a ticket to see them at Festival Hall – along with CHILDREN OF BODOM.    A parma, and some beers before the show, with great mates – and an awesome concert.

Another comment to note, is that I’m actually listening to a lot LESS music – and been into the habit of podcasts, after about a dozen failed attempts to made it a routine.   I listen to either the Microsoft CloudShow, or O365Dev podcast while driving to the ParkNRide footy oval – or maybe ThisAmericanLife.   And on some longer country drives, for the VES races – have gotten through quite a few !

FAMILY

It’s been a wonderful year for the O’Connor family (my own party-of-five) – we have some great laughs together, and the boys are growing into amazing little dudes, with unique viewpoints and observations – and some great friendships.

Charlie – started PREP in 2015, and it was a little tough for him initially, he didn’t take to it like a duck-to-water, as we’d expected !    After the first term, he got into the routine, and he then began to really love school.   Lots of good friends, and an awesome teacher, and his reading is amazing…    He’s into grade 1 for 2016.   He’s been doing wonderful at Karate too – very cool to see him in action.

Liam – into grade 2 for 2015, Liam has been a delight for his teacher – he’s a wonderful assistant, and always enthusiastic, and has made lots of friends.   He’s a very popular kid, he just has a natural “nice” way to him.   He’s been continuing with his Karate, and started basketball in U/10 – I’m coaching the team, we haven’t had a win yet – but very enthuiastic bunch of kids !

Cameron – was in grade 4 for 2015, and been suffering some hiccups with friends along the way – he saw a school counsellor after some troubles in and out of the class, and coping with his Aunties cancer, he was just anxious and upset.   Some growing pains, and hormone changes, no doubt !    He’s doing great at school – maths, english and computers – and he just loves his video games (Terraria addict !), and basketball – I coached the team un U/12.    

For 2016 – we’ll hopefully get him an MTB with gears, and he can come to Lysterfield with me – he loved it the one time we went, on his BMX…

Friends – the kids have enabled *US* to make some great friends, with parents of kids’ friends – we’ve had some fun times with the Thompsons, and Lowes – and Luke has become my ‘man-date’ friend for movies – a beer, popcorn, and action flick – Mad Max, Mission Impossible 5, FF7, and a bunch more…   

As well as basketball coaching, and we took our sons to the new Star Wars movie !

Donna – every time I write my NY blog post, I’m amazed at what my darling wife manages within our home – almost all of the cooking, and washing – I seem to be a ‘part time’ help with some dishes and vacuuming – she does the rest !    I’m in awe of her, and love the life we have made for ourselves.

As well as the household, Donna has done some great things for HERSELF – with a new training course commenced – to become a Teacher’s Aide – as well as playing tennis (fill-in + training with her Dad) – and she had a weekend away with some girlfriends – two nights !    They had a great time, we all survived without her, and she enjoyed being a “woman” and not just a “mum” for a weekend.   

We’ve had some date nights together, or lunch + movie (The Martian) and an anniversary dinner at TGIF – and another movie…

Chloe – our aging doggy had an emergency vet trip this year, after we thought she was having a stroke, she couldn’t walk, and was looking all around and panting fast.   She’d had a “geriatric vestibular” condition (seizure) – she’s had TWO now – a month apart.   And getting older day-by-day.   She’s pretty deaf now, and hard to get up off the floor some days – especially during the heat of summer.

I’ve been making sure to give her lots of pats & cuddles, and make her last days with us a joy.   She’s 13.5 – they don’t live forever – but I’m dreading the day that she leaves us – it was hard enough taking her to the vet, with a ‘seizure’.   I broke into tears as I was talking to the vet – sooky la-la…

Let’s not talk about that anymore…

Activities – as a family, we went along to the basketball, thanks to some tickets for Christmas – the NBL was great !   Melbourne United vs Sydney Kings – amazing to see the razz-a-ma-tazz of the big game – and great skills and talent on-court.    (I had to race off from there to day #2 for SoundWave – LOL !)

We had a family day to the zoo (with Empired), and went for a city-walk-tour, and the acquarium, and had some holiday fun too – camping with Lowes at Anglesea (kayakking and market), and a week in Avoca (building bike track, hike in the Grampians, wood chopping, cycling, and some reading)…

The kids had fun preparing for the school concert this year – Donna made 24 ‘lab coats’ for the performance – it was a science theme.   The school is amazing at the way it all came together…

They also did an athletics day – was great to see them running as fast as possible !

And – we did a day out for the Christmas carols at Jells Park – phew !

(So – yes, it has been an awesome year with family)

Other fun through the year, we attended a wedding for Paul & Sara’s, Chris & Flip had a baby in mid-December, and we went for a 25 year anniversary dinner with friends from end-of-high-school days – lots of old photos and great chatter, at a fancy restaurant – it was awesome fun – amazing that we’ve been friends for 25 years.

For this year (2016), the boys are into grade 1, 3 and 5 – we’ll need to look at high schools before long.   We have a family holiday booked for Queensland in September – Gold Coast theme parks, and then resort chill out in Noosa.   

Family will tick along as it always does, I’m hoping for no BAD news like we had in 2015, and need to keep in touch with Mum & Dad, not getting any younger.  

But for me, just keep on Dad’ing – and enjoy our wonderful home – and some great times with my darling Donna.

PERSONAL

As well as getting myself out cycling, and losing some KG’s in the process, I’ve also made sure to take some time to do some reading.   One book in particular was a great influence on me, at the start of the year – entitled “Search Inside Yourself”.   A self-help book of some sorts, about emotional intelligence, by a guy at Google.   Being able to recognize stress feelings, and anxiety was a great help – it changed my outlook on a few things.

Another great discovery was the site/app called “Good Reads” – able to track books and reviews, and “to-read” books – here’s a few that I’ve gotten through this year.

A mix of adventure, fiction and biographies – my main topics of interest :

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Earlier in the year, I had a meetup at Swinburne, with a bunch of people from my IT degree, who I hadn’t seen in 20+ years.   Was great to chat and hear about different life journeys – mostly still in IT – but some had quit to be a teacher, or sold out (one dude helped create the FAST search tool, acquired by Microsoft !    He was always destined for great things, top of our class, etc.)

Also, on the topic of ‘meetups’, the old MSPUG SharePoint User Group was folded into the O365UG in Melbourne – and I’ve been helping to organise meetings, and present some topics – as well as a session at the SharePoint Saturday (O365Sat) in Melbourne.

Cycling – I’d mentioned that I needed my bike as a carthatis/coping – but I also had some great adventures during the year, as well as the fittest I’ve been since high school – and under 80kg for a while – Xmas eating has pushed me up again (LOL!)

Lots of MTB’ing – including a day out at Mt.Buller to ride the EPIC trail – and I raced the series for the Vic Enduro Series.    I missed TWO events – but had a great result at Lysterfield, and Albury – and had a great time with new friends, and repeat chat/ride buddies.

I also joined in the fun of the Lysterfield FFLL Friday races – just a good way to get out riding – bunch rides, with a numberplate, really !

My MTB is out of action at the moment – with a broken chainstay – might be a month or two of no mountain biking – doh.

Road riding – I did a few big rides, including a double-hit of DonnaBuang, while there was a group of female riders doing an Everesting – I managed 2150m – about 1/4 of their tally !     I did a ‘dirty donna’ ride as well – very VERY muddy – bike needed some work after that.

And – there was the BIG bike tour – four days with tents, and sleeping gear, all loaded up – 350km over four days, around Seymour, Eildon, Mansfield.   A great highlight to 2015 – hopefully another #seekandenjoy tour in 2016 !

Over the Xmas break, I did a ride to the Dandenongs, and almost beat my time on 1-in-20, and smashed it on TheWall – and also did a LakeMountain ride with some buddies – good times…

** gotta love some stats – thanks VeloViewer !

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Lastly, I’ve really enjoyed being a basketball coach.   Initially, I was pretty scared how I’d go on my own, at the start of the U/12 season – with some unknown kids – but we had a wonderful team, and they all worked SO hard – and we made the Grand Final !   (I had made a promise to buy them all a Gatorade – and stuck to the promise)

It was a real shame that we got steam rolled in the GF – we deserved a better chance, but the other team had a ring-in A-grader, and he was a one-man team.   Oh well.

I then turned to a junior/beginner team, with Liam’s U/10 team – only 2 of the 8 had ever played before – so it’s back-to-basics – and a main focus on enjoyment.   We haven’t won a game yet !    (and didn’t even score in the last game – doh)

For this year, make sure to retain some time for SELF, with reading, and XBoxOne fun (new TombRaider game), and be OK with ‘less’ riding this year.    New work will mean less opportunity to go cycling – but then again, need to train for the 200km Otway Classic – so better do some practice !

Keep having fun as basketball coach, and do some presentations at the O365UG, and Azure UG – already have a slot assigned for the new DWC conf – the re-branded SharePoint Conf – in April.

WORK

Has been a very interesting year for me with work, after the need to regain my love of IT, and ‘work’ in general.   I did some great project work with a team of dev’s – learning AngularJS and a bunch of Azure development, PowerShell and Office365.

Some wonderfully technologies – I was head-down into it – flying under the radar, while the consolidation of OBS+Empired (and Intergen) was bedded down.

I was pretty excited to see the new branding, with the bright yellow colours, and penguin logo’s, etc.   And from July 1, we’d be all A-OK and a new beginning.

Only, it didn’t quite hold true, and it was around late-August that I realised I wasn’t enjoying the direction of change, and the culture “feel” of what used to be a great company.

I’d realised that I didn’t want to progress my career (‘role’) to a team leader, or practice leader – or change entirely to be a PM, or sales – and it was the opportunity to move to a Seattle based dev team (within Empired) that made me realise I was actually wanting a BIG change.

America would have been a great move, but too big for our family with kids in school, and a very old dog who wouldn’t handle the move very well, and we wouldn’t leave her behind – and Donna didn’t want to leave her Mum – and sister with cancer – so it all just “stopped” (the idea to move to Seattle).

But – I continued looking outside of OBS – I could go work for a similar consulting company, in the same sort of role – or I could ‘work-the-network’ and go out on my own !

So – that’s what transpired – over the course of 2-3 months, I talked to lots of people, and resigned in early November, and established a new company entity.

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I’d been close to resigning before I had my two weeks leave in early October – Donna was suggesting I quit, and could go on holidays with a happy vibe – but it worked out best to ‘see out the year’ – and it turned out that FOUR other people finished up on the same day as me – Dec.18th – as the company closed up for the Christmas break.

For 2016 – I’m excited to see what happens – I don’t KNOW for some of it – which is exciting.   I have my first contract for 3 months, and already have people asking me to work with them beyond that timeframe.

So – hopefully my blog post in 2017 will be full of wonderful memories and great experiences.

For the year ahead, make kachihro my prime focus.   Enjoy the highs and lows, ride them out if necessary, and don’t “second guess” myself.   Back myself and be confident/strong in my opinion of self.

Enjoy some technical learnings, and more PluralSight – and perhaps develop a course as a PluralSight author.   Consider a product/utility to assist my backetball team (club) with managing players – and see if there is the potential to create a product/service – and make sales.

Welcome to 2016

So – there you go !   2015 began with a whimper, had some struggles and heartache, and finished with a bang.

Hopefully YOU had a great year in 2015 – and a wonderful start to 2016 – all the best to you and family – and good luck in whatever may come your way – cheers !

Smile

Liam is now EIGHT (and three weeks)

As usual, I’m late with a birthday blog post – doh !  

We’ve had a busy household over the last month – including a big party for Liam’s birthday – with family, which was the same day as a vet-emergency trip for our dog Chloe – and then Liam’s party with buddies at home – and a hospital visit for Charlie (!)

Add to this, normal school & work life – and a MTB race for Dad (me) – and starting basketball for Liam – and new school course for Donna – and job resignation (me again !) – and you can understand that it’s been BUSY !    More than normal.

Anyways – HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Liam !     ….for October 25th.

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

School

Liam started grade 2 in 2015, his teacher is Mrs.Loonstra.   She just adores having Liam in her class – he’s a very happy & caring student – and friends with everyone.

His main play buddies are Alex L, Alex P, Lucas and his girlmate Sarah.

Ready to rock for the 1st day of school – Feb 2015

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School sports night at the oval – inside the inflata-ball

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Having a snack with his ‘betrothed’ Saachi

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Riding to school !

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Fun Activities

When it gets to the weekend, Liam is desperate to play video games – like his brothers !    They play a lot of Terraria, and some MineCraft.  

And we’ve recently gotten a 2nd-hand old model PlayStation 3 – and so we’ve played Ratchet & Clank, and Little Big Planet.

Liam still loves Lego – and he’s becoming a master CHESS player !

We love other board games – such as Uno, and Connect Four (he’s a gun at that !)

Movie Fun

We’ve been to see some great films this year – including “Big Hero 6”, “Paper Planes” and “Minions” – and the new Pixar “Inside Out”.

It’s fun to take a photo with the cardboard cutout – Liam isn’t shy for that at all !

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Silly photo at the Pancake Parlour, Eastland

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HOWZAT !   I don’t think Liam even knows what it was for – LOL !

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Sport – Karate

Liam has reached ‘Yellow/White’ in his gradings this year – and gone up to JUNIOR DRAGONS.

It’s been wonderful to see his progress.   He had one session where he was the eldest to be grading, and did a lot of the session on his own.  

Just amazing to see his speed, accuracy, control and discipline – he’s fantastic…!

And – to top it off – he won an award at the end of the year, for “Most Spirited” in class.

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Basketball – Wantirna JetBacks

Liam has now started playing BASKETBALL – only two games into the season so far – I’m coaching the team, but they have a lot of learning & experience ahead of them.  

We’ll most likely drop from “D” to “E” grade – after some 20 point losses – and we only scored 1-2 goals !

First basketball training at the Junior Jets program

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Lovely Mum

Liam has a great friendship with Donna (Mum) – he’s always giving her back scratches and hugs – and he & his brothers drew a poster after she had been away for a weekend with some girlfriends.

Getting a haircut from Mum

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Nice job Mum !

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Welcome home Mum !

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Family Fun – Camping

Earlier in the year, we had a family camping trip to Anglesea – with another family from school (Lowes).   A great family getaway – lots of bike riding during the day – and some fun in the swimming pool – and games at night.

Liam is a grand wizard at Connect Four !

Fish & Chips outdoors – camping fun

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Liam checking out the kangaroos at the golf course nearby

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Serious gameplay – Connect Four !

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Fun With Brothers

Liam has a great time with his brothers – sometimes clashing with Cameron – but usually best buddies with Charlie.   They’re closer in age – and share a bedroom – so they’re often inseparable.

But – all three boys are usually playing SOME game or other – on the XBox – or the trampoline – or bike riding – or shooting hoops in the backyard.

Melbourne aquarium

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Taken their penguins to see the penguins

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Selfie on the train, heading in to the city to see Dad

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Out for a bike ride on the local paths

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Ready for bed on Christmas Eve (Cameron had sun in his eyes)

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More bike riding – up to the park this time

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Cold Winter

We had some very VERY cold days this winter, and I called out to Liam one morning to “come and check out the white grass !!”    He was walking around, LOL’ing at it was crunching below his feet.

We discovered that there was a puddle on the basketball stand that had frozen overnight – Liam pretended that it was an icy pole !

Crunchy grass in the backyard

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Frozen chunks on the basketball court

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Even the basketball had ice on it !

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Liam was amazed that there was ICE on the window of the car

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We had a family day out to the snow at Mt.Donna Buang – although the roads were iced over, and we couldn’t get there – so we went for a walk along the trail next to the river in Warburton.   It was lovely – but damn cold – as you can see from Liam !

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Avoca holidays

We had a great time at AVOCA again this year – during the September school holidays.   Liam rode his bike lots, and helped with the building of the new ‘Geronimo Express’ bike track – and had a few crashes – one time he held his knee screaming “aaaahhh, I’ve broken my LEG !!!” – LOL !

We had a great day out to The Grampians – and did a hike to The Pinnacles – lots of rock scrambling, and great views – and some cool photos.

Next year – we’re doing to Queensland for school holidays !

Doing some drawing + reading on the patio

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Liam spotted this burned out tree, and wanted a photo – LOL !

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The Pinnacles – at The Grampians

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Photo Shoot

We had a family set of photos – was the same damn that Liam was suffering a fever, and he was hot with a temperature.   We had a delay in photo booking (someone jumped the queue !) and Liam ended up being sick into the rubbish bin.   He was a real trooper – and had a smile when I said “maybe we’ll give you $1 for every photo !”

Some wonderful shots of him – amazing to think that he’d just had a spew only 2 mins before these pics !

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Dressing Up

Of all our lads, Liam is the one who’s always keen for some dress-up fun.   He dressed as Harry Potter for Halloween (last year) – and for the school disco, he went as a Ninja Turtle – and was a dracula/vampire this year – for his “spooky disco” birthday party with friends.

Halloween, October 2014

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School disco night as a Turtle – Charlie is dressed as “Ron” from HarryPotter !

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Liam’s 8th Birthday – with some of his friends from school

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Christmas Fun

We had some great fun at Christmas – we try to do a photo of the kids to send to friends – and Donna ended up having to leave the room – due to the amount of giggles and laughter.

You can see the delight and laughter on Liam’s face – he’s got the giggles !!

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But – we ended up with some great photos – such awesome lads !

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Turning EIGHT

Liam is definitely going to be a BIG boy – he grew SIX centimetres in the year from 7–8, that works out to HALF a cm every month.    He’s the same height on the measuring chart as Cameron, at age NINE…    (a year ahead)

Liam got some cool presents – he loved the Star Wars Chess set.

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Pretty cool cake by Donna – Minion Haunted Castle

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Other fun

With all the fun activities we do – and busy weeks and weekends – it’s hard to keep track of EVERYTHING.   Here’s a set of some cool LIAM photos – in a variety of settings, and experiences.

Swimming at Phillip Island, after a day trip to visit Nanna + GrandDad

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Walk up to HANGING ROCK

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Chocolate milk and a cookie – at his favourite “Bat Cafe”

(he had a bat cookie around Halloween – and the name just stuck – ha ha !)

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Earning some pocket money – mowing the backyard

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Sparkler on New Years Eve

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Lunch time fun at Yum Cha

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Patting our dog Chloe

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Goofing around at the Melbourne Zoo – great face !

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Another happy customer – hot chocolate and a cookie !

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Hanging out with Dad – selfie !

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Happy Birthday !!

It’s always amazing to look back on the year – and see what has happened in the world of LIAM.  

We’re so proud of the way you approach life – with such joy & enthusiasm – and making friends where ever you go.  

Good luck for a new season of basketball – I’m sure you’ll do great.

And – Happy Birthday – love always, from Mum & Dad.    X

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