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Cameron has turned 10 – double figures !

Well, it’s just over two weeks since the day – but WOW – Cameron is TEN !  

We were VERY busy on Cameron’s birthday weekend – and then it SoundWave weekend to follow.

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

I can still remember the day that Donna and I went off to the hospital, and we became parents – meeting our special little guy for the first time.  

We joked that Donna is due for ‘long service leave’ – after 10 years – and she’s arranged a weekend away with some other mum’s who met when Cameron was only a few weeks old (Mum’s Group)….

Anyway – this is about Cameron – aka, Cam – as he’s usually called these days.

School – Grade 4

In 2014, Cam was in grade 3, and now into grade 4 for 2015.   His brothers are in grade 2, and prep – so they’re ALL at school.  

Cameron has been enjoying his maths most of all, learning lots of calculations like long division and multiplication, and he’s constantly amazing us with his ‘in-mind’ maths skills.  

He’s also been enjoying writing, and spelling – and did great with his NAPLAN tests during grade 3.   One of the stand-out things was his ‘persuasive writing’ in which th kids had to write about “a law they wanted to change”.   Cam chose to outlaw ‘smoking’ – as it’s bad for people’s health, and would be better for them.   (!!) 

During the year, the kids had a great time with some excursions – to the Melbourne Museum, ScienceWorks and Healesville – as well as a 3-day camp at “Camp Week-Away”.    Cameron just takes it all in his stride – amazing, really.

He does have some trouble with the nasty girls at school, they call the other kids stupid, and “we all hate you” – poor Cameron doesn’t understand WHY they’re like that – and that can be upsetting.

But, he has some great buddies – and recently had a great birthday party at the TimeZone, and Laser Tag.   His best buddy is JETT – followed by MATT – and his other friends are Josh & Luke S, as well as William, Brandon, Andy – and still great friends with Sebastian.

Off to school – start of grade three (Feb 2014)

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Crazy hair day !

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With his buddies – heading off to school camp

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Ready for the athletics day – “L” for Lawson (Blue)

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Ready for a new year of school – grade FOUR (Feb 2015)

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Off to school with his brothers !    Proud !

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Sport + Activities

2014 was the year that Cameron discovered a great love of basketball, with a 5-week ‘learning’ training session, and then being placed into a team.   He was the youngest of the bunch, but had a great coach (Nick) – and started to get more confident in his ability, and gameplay – and scored a few goals during the season.

The team was getting beaten at the start, but the penny dropped, and they WON a game, and then didn’t lose again – all the way through finals, and the grand final !

(That was a tense+close game – I’ve never been so nervous watching sport !)

The next season (current ‘summer’ season), the winning team was split up, with Cam staying along with 3 of the team, and a new set of 4 player – for 8 in total.

This year, Cam has been the eldest of the bunch, and has had to “step up”, which he has done amazingly.   Also, *I* have been helping coach, and running the ‘subs’ on game day – along with my good buddy LUKE, who is Matt’s Dad.

We’ve had some close games, and a few losses, and even a draw !    Hopefully we’ll make the Grand Final this season – it will be a hard fight to win this time around.

It’s helping Cameron to have somewhere to practice – I’ve dug up a section of the backyard, and had a concrete slab poured, and Cam (& Liam) have been enjoying bouncing, and passing, and doing lay-ups.   Liam is showing great potential, hopefully he’ll be able to join up this season.

(We also took the whole family to see the NBL last weekend – what a great atmosphere !!    Melbourne United vs Sydney Kings)

Cameron has lost most of the love for footy – although we got along to see a few games with the Richmond Tigers – we’ll have to see what 2015 brings.

Hanging out with his brothers, doing AusKick

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Off to the Richmond family day – GO TIGERS !

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Ready for his FIRST game of basketball

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McDonalds after they won their first game

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PREMIERS !!

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Fun Stuff

Cameron actually made a list of all the things that he loves to do – and it’s mainly ‘video game’ related – LOL !  

MineCraft, Terraria (new addiction !), Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare, Battle Block Theatre, Trials Evolution, Skylanders, Splosion Man, Rayman Legends – to name a few !

He’s also (still) loving Lego – with a new TECHNIC kit for Christmas – he spent a few days assembling, enjoying the challenge of a different type of Lego.   He wrote on a note (for this blog) that he likes to make “oun creashons”, ships, rockets, cars, boats.

He has a great knowledge of Harry Potter – amazing to hear some of the trivia and bits & pieces that he knows !   He hasn’t seen the final “M” rated movies – but will be allowed to watch them once he’s finished reading the book (Deathly Hallows).

He had some birthday money, and bought a Harry Potter poster for his bedroom wall – his choice !

As well, Cam and I went along to the “Star Wars Day” to see ANH, TESB and ROTJ.   It was a looong day – but we both loved it.

Another movie trip with his friend Matt, and Dad Luke was to see the new TMNT movie.

And we’ve recently watched some superhero movies – Thor, Guardians Of The Galaxy, IronMan and The Avengers.   The best one was IronMan – the kids all loved it 1– even Charlie, who is only five…    (eek !)

And Scooby Doo !

He’s been reading lots – not just Harry Potter – but even gotten into TINTIN !   And, I completed a chapter-by-chapter reading of a classic from when I was a kid – MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN (Jean George).  

His favourite book series – the 13 story tree house – and 26, 39 and 52 !

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Deep into another TINTIN book

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Star Wars Day – May The 4th !

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SubWay before the movies

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles !

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Cameron the BOX TROLL !

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Lovely brother

Cam and Liam often clash, and I think Cam gets annoyed with his little brother sometimes – but Charlie seems to be the neutral party – and not often that Cam and Charlie are fighting (except when Charlie gets too rough).

For the most part, they play together very well – more than not.

One night when Donna and I were out to dinner, and had her father babysit (Grandpa).   They watched a movie, then stayed up watching the footy with him – when we got home, Grandpa was passed out asleep on the couch.  

It turns out that he’d dozed off, and the kids didn’t want to wake him – and put themselves to bed – led & organised by Cameron.  Grandpa had woken up to the lights all out – and the kids gone (to bed) – LOL !

In the morning, Cam told us that he’d sorted his brothers out – to get into PJ’s – and then made sure that everyone did their teeth – and – he even read a story to Charlie…!   

It’s little stories like this that give me a ‘glow’ in my heart, that we’re raising a lovely little boy – with maturity, responsibility and consideration for others.

Cool dudes at the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

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With his brothers at Christmas (2014)

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Christmas Day at Auntie Kath’s

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Playing Cluedo with Liam

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Hanging out with Dad – and yep, fingers up – LOL !

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Comparing EYE colours – Cam & I are very similar

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Out to YumCha with the family

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Flying a kite – such simple pleasures

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We lay on the grass, chatted and stared up at the kite – for over 1/2 an hour

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Cameron hurt his ankle at “Jump Factory” (outing for Liam’s 7th birthday) – he didn’t want his brothers to see that he was injured, he didn’t want to worry them or spoil it for them.   I said “sorry you’re missing out !” but he replied “it’s OK, at least I have some music to listen to…”     (aawww – and a brave smile too !)

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Riding bikes

It makes me very happy to go riding with the lads – we’re starting to go for longer rides – and Cameron is keen to try out trails at Lysterfield…

It won’t be long till we’re off to an MTB race together, or AroundTheBay – and he’ll beat me !   

Avoca – Geronimo swing dropper

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Riding the park trails at our local (Llewellyn)

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Our happy lad is growing up

I love to chat to Cameron on the phone, when ringing to say I’ll be coming home – I get a “hey, hello Dad-dad-daddy’o” – and once drove in the driveway to hear a “yo, what’up Dad !”    LOL !

We have a great friendship – and enjoy lots of laughs – and he’s still OK with hugs and holding hands – although I’m wondering how long THAT will last.

He’s growing up fast – not just the fact that he’s now TEN – but he reminded me that it’s only 6 years till I have to teach him how to drive !

I’m sure there are a lot of other things to learn in the years ahead – we’ve had one “birds & the bees” chat – he looked kinda terrified, hoping that the stories he’d heard in the schoolyard were NOT true !    We’ll help him with any questions along the way, of course – he hasn’t asked again since…

And – the age old question of “Santa” too – he wondered the other day why Santa wouldn’t bring presents to poor people – either it’s really “Mum & Dad” who are Santa – or he’s kinda mean…     (wow – amazing thought process – very empathic)

He has a grown up soul, that’s for sure – without losing his boyish ways.   

One of his big accomplishments for the year was to be allowed to run down to the shop to buy a loaf of bread – he was so excited to be allowed to go !

The next trip, he rode his scooter – and has even ridden his bike once or twice.   He likes that we’re letting him go – good test of self + responsibility.   (It was a nervous 8 minutes the first time he went !)

Back from the shops with a loaf of bread

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Other family fun

We had a great camping trip to the Big4 Bellarine, with another family – Cameron & the other kids were running, riding, jumping and swimming all day.   He woke the next day, and said that he remembers closing his eyes, and then it was morning – slept like a log !

We had two trips to Avoca – once for a two-night quick visit (Queens Birthday) – and we’d enjoyed it so much that we went for a whole week in September school holidays.

Cam and the lads helped me build a bike track, which they christened as the “Geronimo Swing Dropper” – and rode bikes up+ back, and up+down – and then finished the day with a campfire, and toasted marshmallows.   Nice !

Family fun on the beach – near the Big4 Bellarine

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Patting a goat at the Collingwood children’s farm

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Crazy fun

Yep – Cameron loves to have fun !   

Here’s just a FEW of the crazy pics I found of him – he’s a character – and always making us laugh – and himself too !

Watch out for “CORNETTO MAN !!”

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Harry Potter – and a crazy CAM…

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EVERY birthday party with cousins, Cameron gets the newspaper from the pass-the-parcel, and stuffs it in his t-shirt…    No-one ever told him about it – but it’s become his thing – LOL !

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Zombie !

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Face painted as another creature of the undead (I think !)

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After washing off the face paint – an impersonation of Ozzy Osbourne (?)

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Grim reaper dress-up for Halloween

There’s a recurring theme to these photos – LOL !

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He does a damn GOOD scary face !

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At the basketball – clapped out

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After a slurpee at 7-11 – blue tongue lizard

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Dance Party for New Years Eve

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And yep – sparklers to welcome 2015

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HOWZAT !!

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Happy 10th Birthday !

Welcome to double-figures buddy !

Run outta fingers – what will he do for ELEVEN ??

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With his new MIAMI HEAT cap – and a KANO computer !

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Happy Birthday from your brothers too…!

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Scored BIG on the cashola for his birthday !    (look how HAPPY he is too !)

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We love you matey – thanks for being such an awesome little guy – with incredible ideas, thoughts, dreams, goal and plans – love from Mum & Dad.    X

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Merry New Year – yay 2015 !

After a big night with a back-yard-party at our house, the kids are playing video games, and the wife is reading a book – so I figured I’d do a look back on 2014.

I did a similar blogpost last Jan 1st – I just re-read that to see what I’d done in 2013, and the goals for 2014.

Like before, it’s good to view my life in three separate areas – usually with a lot of overlap – friends & activities and so forth.

WORK

I had some big plans and goals for my career path for 2014, with the extension into an “architect” role.  I was fairly excited to be involved in a massive SharePoint upgrade, which I’d been warned would be a trial-by-fire.

Well, I ended up with 1st and 2nd degree burns (metaphorically), and nearly drowned in the lava – and it was fvcking miserable, in retrospect.  

I handled it badly, and got out of my depth quickly – and it was a real struggle.   We re-structured the team, and I basically “quit” the architect role, feeling beaten, with a “fail” level state-of-mind – and almost a little embarrassed, to boot.   This was a 3-4 week period, and I lost my mind a few times.

But – the project still needed some technical depth (me), and we slogged on.  It ended up being the toughest project I’ve done in close to TEN years – in all honesty. 

Since I’d worked for the “Connex FMP upgrade”, I haven’t had such a horrible time at work.

It’s hard to work out how / why – through July, August, September and October, there was a massive effort from lots of very talented people (three MCM’s !) – and we were doing 60-70 hour weeks.   And it wasn’t just ME who was suffering it.

It was one of those I’m glad it didn’t kill me kinda projects – good riddance !

Other work during the year kinda blurred into the background – I don’t even remember what I worked on, back before April/May.

I’ve picked myself up off the floor recently – and ready to face some new challenges in 2015 – hopefully lots more technical in nature, than people/project challenges.

As for the wider OBS story, we moved offices into an amazing new floor overlooking Collins St.  This has meant more integration with Empired (parent company) – and another company joined as well – Intergen.  

I was VERY excited by this news, and I think it gave me a ‘boost’ after the tough winter months.   There are some changes ahead, with the new company structure, which will bring some opportunity – yet to be seen which/what – but I’m in a good place.

We had a bunch of people leave OBS through the year, but hasn’t detracted from my friendships with folk (Hi Ben !) – and my role/team is still very strong.

“Work Related” stuff such as user group + community was great in 2014 – with the opportunity to present TWO sessions at the SharePoint Conference in Australia (Sydney) and New Zealand (Auckland).

One topic was a co-present with Elaine, about YAMMER – which was some cool technical JavaScript bits & pieces – as well as THE FUTURE OF FORMS – one of my pet favourite topics (forms/workflow).

The session in Sydney was amazing, with standing room only – and people sitting on the floor – was over 120 ppl – the biggest audience I’ve ever presented to – and I spoke for an hour – and all demo’s went seamlessly.   A great moment in 2014.

New Zealand was amazing, with a very-different-vibe to the crowd and attendees – and had an awesome closing night with a bunch of technical folk from around the globe – with the now memorable “council of dudes” (you had to be there – LOL !)

And, I took a few days after the conference to go Mountain Biking !   (more in a sec)

More recently, and closer to home, we’re changing + merging the user groups to be the Melbourne Office 365 User Group – an evolution from the Melbourne SharePoint User Group.   And will be “Office 365 Saturday” moving ahead.

For 2015, get cracking with more Office365, and Azure project work.   Align with the Intergen folk, and get involved with R&D, product development and assisting the new “CNO” platform via Andy.

Learn some new topics to present more sessions at O365Sat, and user group – and do some more blogging & tinkering.

Enjoy the ride with OBS / Empired, as more changes take hold.

FAMILY

My quote from end of 2013 was >

I’m constantly amazed with how lucky I am, with three amazing young lads, and a darling wife – I have such a great family – and really love the ‘home’ we’ve built together.

I think this year, I only have to add that “I’m so lucky that it’s continuing”…!

We really do have such a great time together, and I’m so proud of my three sons, and the lives they’re building with friends, activities, interests and likes / dislikes.

Cameron turned 9 in February, and had a MineCraft party.  I heard someone refer to it as MineCrack – only that’s it more addictive.   He just loves it, and it provides so much creativity, and experimentation.   He’s progressed into the PC world of MineCraft, adding mods and expansion packs – he just loves it.

At school, Cam has been loving Maths, which fills me with great joy – and he has some great friends – Jett & Matt for a start – and I’ve become great friends with Matt’s Dad (Luke).   We’re now coaching the kids basketball team.

Cameron had his first season of basketball – and they won their grand final !   He’s now in his second season, and some of the older + more experienced kids have gone up a grade, so Cam has had to step up – and he’s doing so – so awesome to watch.

We had a fun day for “May The 4th” (Star Wars Day) when I took him to see StarWars, Empire and Jedi at the Village Cinema – lots of people were dressed up for the day – and I got force-choked by Darth Vader – LOL !

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Liam has been a delight through out 2014, with his (mostly) positive and joyous attitude towards things – I lost count of the number of times I heard “This is the best day ever”…!   

He turned 7 in October – and had a party with two buddies at the Jump Factory.  

He’s been great in school, as a Prep/Grade1 composite – and being one of the older kids – he looks out for the others, and helps the teacher and even had a student-of-the-week for his help in the Computer Lab.  

We had a great father/son night at school, during the week of Father’s Day.

Apart from MineCraft (as well !), Liam has his Karate once a week, with a few gradings during 2014, and new belt colours.   He even got a end-of-year award as one of the “most spirited” in the class – a great reward, for a great attitude.

He played AusKick during the year too – but wasn’t so keen/interested – and has almost forgotten all about it – he’s not really interested.

Charlie turned 5 in 2014, and has totally pwned his kinder group – with some great friends, and Donna helping to run the kinder committee. 

His confidence and approach to things is just “go in head first” – and I can’t wait to see how he goes at school.   He’s going to be amazing – and has his special girlfriend Ashee along for the ride.

They have been great for each other – writing notes & drawings, and walking along from school pickup chattering away about something-or-other.  

Charlie has gotten more and more interested in writing words and sentences, and often gotten straight outta bed, and to the table to start drawing.

He did AusKick as well in 2014, but only just learning to kick / handpass – we’ll see if he wants to do it in 2015 – I wouldn’t be surprised if he skipped it.  

Charlie’s other activity was swimming – he’s gotten great at it – and very confident jumping in+out whenever we go swimming at a friends place.

Donna has – again – been the family manager with the most-est.   She sorts out all the kids meals & washing and such – and still has time for the kindergarten committee, and lots of time for herself to read, or watch her TV shows.  

I’ve often found her dozed off in bed, with the remote in hand – just exhausted !

We had a great wedding anniversary – with a “padlock” on the bridge over the river, and then Yum Cha – and out to see Les Miserables.

Like last year – we struggled to get some time for “us” – but a busy household takes priority – and we both have the view that “us” actually means the FIVE of us – more so than the TWO of us.

We had a few awesome family get-aways through out the year – starting with an Anzac Day camping trip to Bellarine Big4 – with Sean+Ally (Lowe’s) – with kids charging about aaaall day – and then sleeping very well – with the adults playing Yahtzee + drinking home made Baileys.

We went away again in June (Queen’s Birthday) to my parents holiday place in Avoca – but realised that two nights wasn’t enough – with only ONE day there, other than travel up/back.

So, we went for 8 days in September school holidays – which was one of our family highlights for the year.   We played board games, went for walks together, and we built a bike track (!) into the side of the hill.   Nicknamed as the ‘Geronimo Swing Dipper’, the kids had a great time on their bikes.

Charlie got a new bike just before we went away ($40 on Gumtree !), and was so fast and confident.  

We had some friends come to stay for Grand Final day – with a winery stop off, and lookout – and then and a nice Sunday morning ride with the kids.   Another favourite memory for 2014.

We took the kids to the footy a few times in 2014 – completely decked out in Richmond Tigers gear – including a day out to the Richmond “family day”.

Other fun times with the kids has been to take them to the park with the dog, to ride bikes, or (my other passion) flying my kite.   One time, Cameron and I launched the kite, and lay on the ground watching it in the blue sky above – for 40 minutes.   I have my stunt kite too – with dual lines – great to carve it across a windy sky.

And, only recently, completed the creation of a concrete slab in the backyard, for a homemade basketball court – which is getting lots of use.   We sold the cubby house, and have a new chapter of back-yard fun in store.

We also got some new carpet in the back room at our house (June).

For 2015, continue to support Donna in all our family activities, especially as she starts to get back to work again, after 10 years.

Help the kids with school work – reading, maths, writing – and prepare to be blown away by Charlie’s first year at school – so proud !

Have fun with the incredible family I’ve created – and enjoy #DadLife.

PERSONAL

You’d think that I wouldn’t have much time for myself, after a crazy work schedule, and all the activities with family, but this year was a big fantastic year for “self”.

My cycling obsession was still fair high-on-the-agenda, but suffered a little through the winter months, with project work killing motivation and energies.

Earlier in the year, I did some of the “7 peaks challenge” and cycled up Lake Mountain with Nate – and then a few weeks later – cycled up Mt Buller, and Falls Creek (in the same day) – and then Mt.Buffalo, the next day !      (Three peaks in two days)

Having never done an ‘alpine’ climb, I ended up doing FOUR in a month.

The mountain biking race series was great in 2014, after a bikefit at the end of 2013, I was in a better place physically, and enjoying the atmosphere and people.

I rode 120km at the You Yangs race – in six hours – a new record for me (distance). 

I skipped a few races due to family activities or travel – but raced at Officer (wet/muddy), Castlemaine (tyre troubles) – and then Barjarg (incredibly tough !).

After only doing four events, I actually finished better than last season – was 9th out of 72 riders for the season – top ten !!

My cycling ended up as 2,900km for the year – less than previous years – but a healthy 40,000m of climbing – maybe I’ll aim for 50,000m in 2015.  

I also had fun with the LDTR (Lysterfield) club race series – helping with volunteering one night, with Cameron along to assist – and the next week – racing the laps with a pink afro wig on my helmet !    Many LOL’s, and great fun with new friends.

(And I grew a “MO” in November – lots of good+bad comments – Donna was very VERY happy when I finally shaved it off !)

I’ve been doing YOGA once a week (at the local gym), which is helping me greatly, and dropping a few KG’s – with thoughts to do some great races in 2015.

I got to do some Mountain Biking in New Zealand as well – with a day in Auckland, and then two days in Rotorua, riding with a good buddy from Brisbane (Mark). 

Rotorua had some of the best trails I’ve ever ridden – anywhere – and a really enjoyable trip.   I just wish we could have stayed longer !

Another BIG biking event was my two-day bike camping on the GoldFields.   I’d researched off/on for months – and picked the Melbourne Cup weekend to take off.   It was ambitious, and a long way out of my comfort zone – but an amazing trip.

Another FIRST for the year was my decision to get a tattoo – as part of my celebrations-for-self as I turned double-21 (yes – I’m 42 now !)

My tattoo was a combined logo from some Nine Inch Nails songs – without being a band “logo” as such – it has meaning to myself, which is the main reason, right ?

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There’s a DOT in the middle (which is ME), with FOUR WALLS closing in around me (sometimes) – but there’s always a way out in the corner – and then, there are four spikes spinning & protecting me around the outside – Donna, Cameron, Liam and Charlie.   Something like that anyways !

MUSIC during 2014 was great, with a few awesome concerts, and lots & lots of Spotify.   The kids even have a playlist each, and so they don’t even know about MP3’s, let alone CD’s, or vinyl, or cassettes – it’s all ‘streaming’ now-a-days.

SoundWave was brilliant, with a side wave show of BARONESS, GOJIRA and MASTODON.   And a late ticket to see BIFFY CLYRO – always impressive.

On the day of SoundWave, I had a few 10am bourbons and then got straight into some Swedish death metal with AMON AMARTH.   

I saw many MANY bands – some for a few songs – and some FULL sets.    FILTER were great – and GOJIRA (again).

Here’s the bands I saw in parts or entirety – amazing list !

The next show I went to was NINE INCH NAILS – along with QOTSA.   I can still see/hear it in my head – what an incredible show – I was ecstatic + delighted.

Not many other shows through the year – not that I can recall.    SEPULTURA was the next show – brilliant live set – and an awesome fun evening with good friends.

I also got to see DREAM THEATER – as my friend Mark was unwell, and couldn’t travel to see the show.   Not my cup-of-tea – but a musical tour-de-force – and great to see / hear it.

I have tickets for SOUNDWAVE 2015 – which is a two-day show !    And, the new MACHINEHEAD has grabbed me by both ears, and I can’t wait till they tour Oz.

On the ‘quiet’ front, I’ve been reading lots of great books – and even joined the Melbourne Library, as it’s directly behind the new OBS office.

I’ve completed two books by BEAR GRYLLS (Everest + Arctic Ocean), and a book about a guy who cycled from Alaska to Argentina.

I emailed him (Dominic) to say hello + thanks, and that I was inspired to do a bikecamping ride – and he replied an hour later with a long letter – was great to get a response !

After that, it was the STEVE JOBS biography, and also another book by SCOTT WIELAND – and now reading one about ICE-T.

I’m finding that my favourite style these days is biographies, or real-life adventures – no fiction for a long time – the last one was a ‘Jason Bourne’ book.

In other down time, I’ve played a bit of XBox – once the kids are in bed !

I’ve finished the newer Tomb Raider game (100% !!), and have begun a few games that are “in progress” – Wolfenstein, Bioshock Infinite, and now playing CallOfDuty:AdvancedWarfare (was a Christmas present).

For 2015, make sure to get out riding regularly, and drop more KG’s before the next race series.   Perhaps do the Alice Springs race in July – and do some Mt.Buller MTB’ing – and a few Alpine Climbs.

Play some XBox, read some books, fly a kite, and go kayaking !    (new Christmas present).

Look at finances, and see if we can manage to stretch to get a new car – we need a 7-seater – been looking at a Kia Sorento – very nice car !

That’s it for a 2014 wrap-up – pretty good ‘score’ in most departments – I’m glad I don’t have any massive ‘bad’ things that make me want to slam-the-door-on-2014 – some lessons and learning in my career – I got schooled, I guess is all.

I’m in a great place in life – and enjoying it – hope it continues “the same” !

Merry New Year to you !    

:-)

Solo Epic – BikeCamping on the GoldFields

We’ve all seen those great video clips of bike touring adventures, like Matt Hunter in LONE WOLFE – so, how about I give it a try ?

I’ve ridden a stack of 6-hr Vic.Enduro races, and ridden Mt.Buller a bunch of time, and have clocked up many, many laps of my home ground at Lysterfield, but I began to wonder what it would be like to load up, and ride+camp overnight.

Over a few months, I looked at maps and researched on Google Maps and Strava, and decided to try to ride the length of the “GoldFields” trail in Victoria.

The GoldFields trail is advertised as a hiking & mountain biking trail, so I assumed it would be reasonably accessible for my XC 29er, some singletrack hopefully, and some forest roads and railtrails.

Also, I could catch the V/Line train to Ballarat, and then home again from Bendigo.

I was looking forward to a BIG ride, away from my local trails, and riding solo – to escape some recent bad weeks at work, and the chaos of a homelife with three kids.

The plan was simple – catch the train to Ballarat, ride to Creswick for lunch, and then ride to Daylesford and camp overnight.

About 70km on day one, and then ride the remainder the following day – about 60km to Castlemaine for lunch, and another 60km on to Bendigo, and get the train home again. It seemed ambitious, but achievable as well.

Planning ahead

I was wanting to ride fairly light, but I still had to pack a sleeping bag, a roll-mat, and a tent of some sort. My mountain bike doesn’t have mounting brackets for a packrack (carbon frame), so I bought a removable one on eBay, and loaded a bag on the bag, with an octopus strap.

I also had a rollmat, which was strapped under my handlebars, and an inflatable pillow. My shelter really just a space-blanket – it was only $7 on eBay – it was listed as an “emergency shelter” – but it would suffice.

On my back, I would have my 3 litre CamelBak, and some spare tubes & tools, and muesli bars and other food bits.

I’d purchased some maps from the website (http://gdt.org.au), and familiarised myself with the route via Strava – there are some great mapping tools, and you can work out distance, and elevation and so forth.

I loaded my bike the night before, Saturday night, with the ride to take place over the Sunday and Monday of the Melbourne Cup long weekend.

Setting off

After an extra early 5am wake-up call of “help, the kitchen is flooding !!” (burst water clamp on the dishwasher – quick fix, thankfully !), I had brekky, and then loaded up my mountain bike and began riding for my local train station.

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I had to turn back after 5 mins, as my back wheel was rubbing on the pack rack. It has some bolts onto the seatpost, so I just moved it a little higher – and continued.

I caught the train to the city, and got the 8.30 V/Line train from Southern Cross, for a two hour trip to Ballarat – only $6.80 !

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Starting the trail

When I arrived in Ballarat, it was pretty cold and a little hazy, I was hoping the drizzle would stay away, and began to look for the signs for the GoldFields trail.

The initial trail was just a gravel bike path alongside a river, some other riders and joggers out as well. I managed to get lost within 15 minutes, due to the lack of sign-posts, and then followed another rider onwards, missing an arrow for the GoldFields trail, was another 3km before I realised.

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When I finally got myself sorted out, and began looking for the yellow topped posts, I was onto the proper trail. There were some alternating fireroads, and gravel paths – fairly rough compared to what I’d expected – so it was slow going.

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The trails become more mountain bike friendly, and I rode through the Creswick Park region, and onto the main road into town. It was time for a brunch stop (bacon/eggs), and to check the map before the main section towards Daylesford.

Creswick to Dean

After the lunch stop, the trail in Creswick was diverted around some roadworks, before some awesome singletrail flow for about 4-5km. I was really enjoying the trail, even with the heavy backpack, and then the trail ended, and it was back onto gravel roads.

There was about 10km of open fields, and farming roads, with no cars at all, and amazing red earth fields and machinery. I was enjoying the solitude, and finding it fairly easy & cruisey – bike touring !

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Blackfields Trail

It was into the forest again, but there had been a controlled burn through the region, and it was eerily quiet, and all black. I had to simply follow the only un-burnt sections, and look for the yellow-topped signs, and I soon made it out into the next forest section.

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I heard a scurrying noise in the bush to my right, thinking it might be a snake, but it was a scared little echidna – always amazing to see them in the wild.

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I must have missed another signpost as I rode on, and got to a gravel road where some confused dirt bikers rode past and LOL’ed at me. I back-tracked, but couldn’t work out which road I’d come along – this was bad !

I went back to the gravel road again, and decided to follow towards the direction I’d been going, and see if the trail would cross the road. I came to an intersection, and checked my phone and the GPX map I had, and realised I would be on-track again soon.

There was also a sign to a yoga retreat (Satyananda Yoga !), I could always stop in there to check directions if I couldn’t get myself sorted.

Back On Track

YES ! There’s some of those yellow topped signposts – and a rest shelter, complete with a map and some distance signs. It was now only 20km to Daylesford, and some great trails.

I should be OK for a dinner stop in Daylesford, possibly by 6.30 or 7pm.

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I came across a few family camping groups, just beside a river, and waved and said hello to a few kids. Mums & Dads were around the campfire, doing “not much” it would seem.

Into Daylesford

After about an hour and a half, I came into the Central Springs area, and mineral water park just near Lake Daylesford. It’s a very pretty place, and I have some great childhood memories of weekends filling bottles of mineral water. I topped up my drink bottle, and pushed up the main street to Daylesford – and found a spot at the front of the pub.

I’d made it !

I ordered a big parma, and a beer (make it a BIG one), and phoned the wife to let her know.

After dinner

The plan following dinner was to push on for another 10km to a camping ground at Mt.Franklin. There are toilets, and fireplaces there, in an area that is an extinct volcano.

I had my helmet light, and was looking forward to ending my day with some night trails. I had to get through to a main road, and then follow it up to the camping area.

The Goldfields trail goes west out of Daylesford, and loops up and over the top of town (Hepburn Springs), but I decided to head along the bitumen road north – and shortcut the trail, rather than ride the extra bit.

I was onto some great singletrack, with my head torch lighting the way, until it suddenly went OUT.   Uh-oh !   

I wasn’t sure how much further until the campsite, but I couldn’t continue much further without proper lights. I put on my camping headlamp, but I couldn’t see enough ahead, so I pushed my bike for a while, until I could ride along the main highway road.

After about ½ an hour (it seemed), I wasn’t seeing any roads, and it was getting very dark. I’d done almost 100km for the day, and was pretty tired – and getting anxious/distressed – and finally had to concede defeat.

Camping By The Trail

I simply couldn’t go any further, so I found a flat section of grass that was beside a babbling river – at least it would sooth my nerves, and I could get a good night’s sleep.

My rollmat was self-inflating, and I unpacked my sleeping bag, and put on my thermals for a cold night. It was then that I realised my sleeping bag was the ‘summer rated’ one, that had been put in the ‘winter rated’ cover bag. I was glad I had my thermals !

The shelter tent is designed to be held up with ropes, but I had to tie it to my mountain bike handlebars, with the bike laid on it’s side.

The rollmat slid into the shelter tent, and then the sleeping bag. I blew up my inflatable pillow, and got into bed – fairly comfy and warm.

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It was a little disconcerting hearing some animals crashing through the bush, probably a hundred metres away, but sounding a lot closer. I lay on my back, and looked up at the stars, tired and a little sore, and feeling a bit bummed out that I’d gotten lost, and not reached camp – but at peace, and a sense of “a million miles from anywhere”.

I’d ridden 101km, and 1800m – no wonder I was knackered.

I drifted off to sleep, and woke up to birds and some light from over the hillside.

Back into Daylesford

In the morning, with a clear head, it was easy to see how I’d gone wrong the night before.

Being tired and a little delirious, I’d taken the wrong turn out of Daylesford, and instead of heading north, I was actually looping back east, and heading back to Daylesford !

Camp spot is marked by the checkered flag dot.

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The map made sense to me now, but I was needing to grab brekky, and notify the wife that I was alive and well.

I slowly packed up my camping spot – in no great hurry to leave – realising that I’d actually chosen a pretty spectacular spot to camp – with great views that I couldn’t see the night before (obviously).

It was only 5km back into Hepburn Springs, and I quickly found a café, and commenced munching on (more) bacon & eggs and a coffee – and worked out the map/route for the day ahead.

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To Castlemaine

The next section was 60km to Castlemaine, and I had originally figured I’d be able to do that by lunch time.

Bendigo was a further 60km – and that should take me until dinner time, or shortly after.

But, I began to realise that it would be a tough ask – and I wondered if I might actually consider finishing in Castlemaine.

The V/Line train comes through there also, and my sister lives in town, so I planned to finish with a late lunch, and head home.

The trails were less groomed than I’d imagined they’d be – no rail trails ! – and it was actually a some sections of hike-a-bike in parts.

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After an hour, I made it to the turn off to the camping ground I’d been aiming for the night before. I don’t think I would have made it there (the night before), even if I’d gotten my directions correct – but still, I’d had a great camp-out – sometimes plans go awry for a good reason.

The descent down to Mt.Franklin was pretty awesome, rocky & flowing – but hard to go too fast with 10-20kg of extra weight – I really don’t know how much extra I had – but definitely a LOT heavier than normal.

The next signpost said 39km to Castlemaine – and 99km to Bendigo – yikes !

Yep, I was definitely going to bail in Castlemaine.

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The sun was warming up, and I was enjoying riding, and stopping for a few photos along the route.

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Water Stop

After about 2.5hrs, I went to get some water from my CamelBak and realised that it was empty !

I hadn’t filled up in the morning, it was full from the overnight stop at dinner, but I’d drank a lot overnight, to re-hydrate. It was a fair way until the next town – I was going to have to call in to a farmhouse to ask for water.

I nervously rode into a driveway, ignoring the KEEP OUT sign, and called out “hello !??!”. A friendly happy dog came up to me barking, and I called out again. I could hear some jazz music playing, as I knocked on the door, but no answer.

I saw someone through the window, playing on a saxophone (!), and waved to him. An old dude about 75 years old came out, saying “the missus has gone inta town, so I can blast away on my old sax, it keeps going outta tune, anyways, what can I do for ya !?”

We chatted for a minute, and I asked if I could fill up my backpack – and he asked where I’d riding from, and where to. I mentioned that I was from Melbourne, and worked in IT, and he said “blah, gotta stay away from them computa things !” (LOL !)

I thanked him, and thanked my own lucky stars, and rode off.

Riding Blind

Not exactly, but ½ an hour later, my Garmin beeped a few times, and gave up – battery was flat ! That’s never happened before, but it had run for ~16 hours by then – after a huge day before, and a few hours in the morning.

And so, I couldn’t work out the time of day, or distance travelled, or average speed – and so it was a simple case of “just keep riding”. So I did.

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I made sure to keep track of the yellow guides for the GoldFields trails, and was happy to see them each time, telling me that I was on-track.

I keep plugging along, with some trails a little tricky & rocky – and then some forest roads to mix things up a little.

I could imagine the gold diggers of the 1850’s, and how tough it must have been for them. It was hot & dusty, but only 25 degrees. Summers in the Aussie bush must have been brutal.

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I made it into Vaughan Springs for a snack stop. A lovely oasis in the bush, with people swimming, and some picnickers setting up for a day – complete with BBQ’s and frisbee’s.

I watched them as I collected my thoughts, chomping on (two) muesli bars, and sat to rest for a bit.

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Home Stretch

After Vaughan Springs, I rolled through a tiny town called Fryerstown, and then into the Dry Diggings area surrounding Castlemaine. There were some big uphill sections, and I ended up pushing the bike a few times – before cresting the hill, and seeing a sign for 10km to Castlemaine.

The final section follows a ‘water race’ down the ridge line – would be awesome to charge down, if only I hadn’t been so overloaded, and ridden 150km already (100km on day one, and 50km for the day so far).

My phone battery had run out too – no more photos – and my water pack was empty (again) – I calculated that I’d drank over 10 litres of water over the two days.

By the time I made it to Castlemaine, I was exhausted, and so glad to get to the end !

Finish Line

I had to use a PAY phone (WTF !?) to ring the wife, and let her know I’d finished, and was planning to get the train home after a quick stop in to SubWay.

Luckily, I bumped into my sister, who took me to an awesome souvlaki place – and we chatted about my trip.

It was a well-needed finish to a tough few days of riding.   My body was exhausted, and my spirit/soul was a little deflated & beaten.

I’d done 160km in two days, and about 3,000m of climbing – if only my Garmin hadn’t died along the way.

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After a feed, I rolled off to the V/Line train, and headed back to Melbourne. I think I slept most of the way on the train.

Lastly, I caught the Glen Waverley train home, and was met by my adoring wife and three kids who gave me big hugs & smiles.

It was only an overnight’er, but felt like I’d been away for a week.   And glad to be home.

Do over ?

If I was to consider re-doing this ride, or “what would I do different next time”, I think I’d make sure I didn’t get LOST as many times.

Just because you have a map, doesn’t mean you won’t get lost.

Maybe I need to invest in a Garmin with a mapping system – not just a recording device (Edge 500).

I should also see if anyone else wants to come along for the ride, instead of a solo ride.

I had to take it fairly easy in many ways, being on my own, and not many people around. If I crashed, or got bitten by a snake, it woulda been really bad.

Thankfully, I had zero mechanical problems – and no punctures either !

Perhaps I should have considered a hotel room in Daylesford ?

I had planned to camp, and ridden all that way with the camping gear, so I couldn’t NOT use it !

And – maybe I should have checked the gear more closely – I couldn’t believe I took the ‘summer’ sleeping bag – oops !

In the end

Sometimes you have to venture outside your comfort zone, and see how far you can go.

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I think I enjoyed the adventure aspect as much as the riding, and it would be great to plan the Bendigo segment for next time – and take an extra day/night.

The GoldFields trail has some great MTB sections, and some boring roads as well – but then there are some bits geared more towards hikers.

If you’re keen to try something different with your MTB, more than just shuttle runs, or local bike parks, then you should have a try at #bikecamping – it was a great trip !

Liam has turned SEVEN

As with previous years, it’s taken me a few weeks to get this blog post sorted out – has been an action-packed few weeks.

Liam’s birthday weekend was particularly busy with his brother Cameron in a basketball Grand Final (they won !) – as well as Liam’s party with family – and then Donna and I went to the city for a wedding anniversary day out.  

Our anniversary is the same day at Liam’s birthday – Oct. 25th – we went for Yum Cha in the city – and then out to see LES MISERABLES.

Anyway – this is about Liam – Happy Birthday buddy !

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

School

Liam is now close to the end of Grade 1 at Knox Gardens – it’s a ‘composite’ prep+grade1 class – their teacher is Miss Hayes.

Heading off to the start of school – Charlie was excited + proud of his brothers !

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His friends at school – as he’s just told me today – are :

  • Alex Lowe **
  • Daniel Wang **
  • Jerry
  • Dylan
  • Daniel Lee
  • Sachi – Liam has said he’s going to marry her one day – LOL !

** These two boys were Liam’s special invited friends for his 7th birthday party – they went to JUMP FACTORY together – and then home for food, drinks + XBox…

School Activities

Liam really loves going to school – his teacher Miss Hayes is lovely – and they’ve done some fantastic activities through out the year :

  • Excursion to ScienceWorks
  • Excursion to The Zoo
  • Spooky disco
  • Crazy hair day
  • Kids & Dad’s night
  • School sports day

Liam told me that he’s enjoying learning about space w/ Miss Hayes – and his favourite subjects at school are art, LOTE, music & reading.

His reading is amazing now – he’s currently reading “The 26 storey tree house”…

Student of the week award – Dad was proud !

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Crazy Hair Day

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Kids & Dads night – fun & games, creating some great memories together

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Sports & Activities – Karate

Liam has been continuing on with his Karate, and had gradings to become Blue, Red, and then Orange belt – and next weekend – will be going for his Green belt.

He’s amazing to watch, with his kicks & punches – and the way he stands, and concentrates to do the moves.  

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Sports & Activities – AusKick

Liam and Charlie were both doing AusKick this year, but neither of them were super-excited about it – in the way that Cameron was.

It’s been enjoyable – and they have an understanding & appreciation of football – but I don’t know if they’ll do it next year.   Liam is already talking about trying SOCCER.

Liam won “The Golden Boot” – Charlie was proud + excited !

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Graduation Day – they each received a trophy !

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Family Fun – Camping

We had a great long weekend away with the LOWE’s when we went to the Big4 at Queenscliffe.   Liam’s best friend ALEX was there – along with his brother JACK – and Mum & Dad (Sean+Allison).

The park is great for kid’s – with pedal cars, and a jumping pillow – and we had some fun on the beach, with fish + chips – as well as some goofy family fun.

And, after the kids were in bed, it was Mum’s & Dad’s turn for fun – with a world-class battle of Yatzee – LOL !

Liam loved camping – and said that we should do it every year…!

Having fun in the pedal cars – even in drizzly rain…

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Fish & Chips – on the beach !

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Brekky while camping – great fun with the LOWE’s + Goofy Family shot…

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Family Fun – Werribee Zoo

Liam loved a family day out to Werribee Zoo – he got to see some Lion’s and Zebra’s – and his favourite – Giraffe’s.

And of course – an ice cream to finish off the day – great day with the family.

Hijinxs while waiting for the bus / Sitting next to Dad.

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Checking out the LIONS / Playing under the water in the hippo play park

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Having an ice cream – sitting next to Dad (again)…

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Family fun – Collingwood Family Zoo

Crazy family day out at the “other” zoo – FARM in the suburbs

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Patting a goat – Liam was laughing lots at the goats…

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Fun with the brothers

Liam is lucky to have a BIG brother and a LITTLE brother – which can be good and bad…    He clashes with Cameron a lot – they’re often yelling at each other, or come running up to say “He did thaaaat to me !!” (in a whiny voice).

But – they really do have a great time together – mostly !

Liam is closer in age to Charlie – and they play a lot of similar games together – such as the Wii / XBox – and on the trampoline or swings.

Sitting together playing, when there’s a whole couch to use !

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“The dudes” on the train tracks at Avoca

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Reading a story to Charlie, when he was sick (aaawww)

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Christmas time – the best time of year for kids (and parents WITH kids) !

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Riding to AusKick with Dad

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At Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

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Last playtime in the cubbyhouse, before we dismantled & removed it.

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Father’s Day, fun with all the brothers

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Family Holiday to Avoca

Nanna and GrandDad have a holiday house in the country, and we’ve been there TWICE this year – Liam loved the country life, with a campfire for marshmallows, building a bike track, riding bikes, ice creams at the shop, and a walk to the look out.

We’ll hopefully get there more & more, now that it’s easy to do so.

Playing board games together – Game Of Life / Connect 4 / Snakes & Ladders

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Campfire – for toasting marshmallows

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New bike track – Geronimo Swing Dipper !

We all built a bike track on the grass at the AVOCA house – Liam helped with digging and cutting grass.

We even made a GoPro clip of him riding – you have to watch it, he gives a great commentary – LOL !

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Bike riding with Alex & Jackson – lovely sunny day in the country

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Comparing eye colour with Mum – they’re identical !

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Other fun times

Liam has mastered riding his bike – although he managed to have a decent crash when rolling downhill – with feet OFF the pedals !

Check out the video clip :

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Liam and his bike – this is one of my recent fave’s :

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Finishing the ending of SUPER MARIO GALAXY 2

Liam also loves playing MARIO KART, SKYLANDERS – and MINECRAFT !

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Playing with Lego – cool MAZE that he created

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Liam has the BIGGEST collection of soft toys…!

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Stories with Nanna

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Overnight’er at Auntie Kaths

After GrandDad’s 70th, Liam went home to Castlemaine with Kath, and stayed overnight.   He got an egg from the chook shed, and went to the coffee shop with her – they had a great day. 

I was racing MTB in Castlemaine, and they came to see me – and then I went home for dinner, and to pick him up.

He was pretty tired, and missing Mum – crying that he had been away from her for so long – and wanted to hold a picture of her while we drove home.  

Such a lovely adventure with Auntie Kath – and a lovely hug for Mum when he got home.

Drawing & writing in front of the fire

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Richmond Supporter

We’ve had a few days out to the city to watch RICHMOND, to the ‘family day’ – as well as a game between Richmond v. Melbourne.   Liam got a little bored, but was more than happy to cheer + yell when Richmond kicked a goal !

(We got beaten that day – but was still lots of fun)

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Fun with Dad

With a busy work life, and cycling on weekends – I make sure to have some one-on-one time with the lads.

Liam and I have been on a few coffee “dates” – and it was nice to just lay on rug and watch the clouds together.

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Face Painting

Liam is a BIG fan of getting his face painted – check out this master piece as “a snake” – with his eyes closed – and dinosaur mouth :

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Happy Birthday !

Liam had a great time for his party – he chose a CHESS BOARD for a cake !

His favourite presents were the big LEGO kit/s he got – and also the WundaBubble – and he scored lots of ca$h in cards.  

He was excited to buy a new video game – SKYLANDERS TRAP TEAM.

I’m now SEVEN !

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Playing with the WundaBubble

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New Lego Kit – awesome !

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Chess board cake

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Love from Mum & Dad

Happy Birthday buddy, you’ve grown into an awesome little guy, who loves karate, and bike riding – and we’re so proud of how well you’re doing at school.

We love you mate – Happy Birthday !

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Charlie turned FIVE (*a month ago)

First off, sorry Charlie for taking so long to do a blog post !  

I’m writing this while on a plane home from New Zealand – July (and June) have been incredibly busy months.   

Work has been busy – big work days + evenings, and ‘prezzo-prep’ for the SharePoint conference in Sydney (last week) – and then Auckland conference THIS week – and then three days of mountain biking !     

Phew !

In case you’re interested, take a quick look back – Charlie’s blog posts from age ONE, TWO, THREE and FOUR.

Charlie had an awesome 5th birthday (his birthday was on June 28th) – including a party at home, and a McDonalds party with his special friends, and then a family party combined with his cousin Nicholas.   

This year, he received a LOT of Lego, which he has been assembling at a great rate of knots – kits that are for age 7 and up – he has no trouble with !

The last year

Every time I sit down to do a blog post about Charlie or his brothers, I look back at all the photos through out the year – and the crazy & fun things we’ve done together.

The first pic I found was from his ‘passport photo’ – with plans for a trip to Fiji.  

He had to sit still for this photo, and sat bolt upright, rigid, and a stern facial expression – I had to turn away to stifle a laugh (!)

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Amazing personality

Like all our lads, Charlie has an amazing little brain & heart – often making us laugh in delight & pride – as well as frustration at his stubborness (it has to be HIS way !)

When it’s time for a kiss good night & tuck-in, Charlie will often (less recently) want to have a tuck-in from Mum, but not from me (Dad).    Or – he’ll say “no, Mum do it !”

You can’t argue/reason with a tired 4 year old – but it’s silly & annoying sometimes !

And then – he’ll have days when we go to the shops, and he only wants to hold Dad’s hand – and has to sit next to Dad – and sits on Dad’s lap when we watch TV.

Only last week when I had a work trip to Sydney, I got home late and the kids were all in bed.  The following morning, Charlie was the first awake, and he ran to give me a hug and said “Daddy !   I very missed you” (aaawww).

He has some pearls-of-wisdom too – and I love the way his brain works.   On the same Sydney trip recently, I was using FaceTime to show Donna & kids the view from my room, on the 28th floor.   As I was pointing it out the window, I heard Charlie say “Careful Dad, don’t drop your phone !”    (good advice !)

Activities

Charlie has been continuing with his weekly swimming lessons, and he just loooves it.   I’ve been a few times, and it’s like watching a smiling, floating head.   He always has a hug grin on his face, and loves the jump-in-the-deep-end at the end of class.

When we went to Fiji, he spent most of the day (every day) in the pool – jumping in, and getting out – and jumping in again.   He had a float-belt – but otherwise – he was self-sufficient – very strong/confident in the water.

Loving his swim time

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Crazy face OMG !

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Jumping in – this is jump number SIX, Dad.

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He’s also a speed demon on his balance bike, as you can see in these short clips from Instagram.  

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He’s had a ride on a proper pedal bike, and mastered that too – but he can’t go as quickly on that (yet)…!    He actually had his first up/down the driveway on a pedal bike on Father’s Day (September) – that was a nice gift to Dad !

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Charlie has started playing AusKick, he’s just starting to work out what to do – he gets a little frustrated at NOT being able to kick, but he’s learning !

He sees his big brother Cameron, and wants to play like him – we’ve taken him to a few footy games – and he loves “Tigers” (as if he had a choice, eh ?)

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Watching his brothers do AusKick, Charlie found a puddle (can I go in there ?)

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Such a happy kid – and no, he didn’t fall over, just sloshed up / back.

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Big brothers

Charlie adores his two older brothers, they’re always playing XBox, Wii, or a Lego game – or some make believe alien vs robot game.  

Charlie loves the sword play, partly from the Ninjago episodes – and also Star Wars (I think).  He got a lightsaber for his birthday – as he was un-wrapping it, he was saying many “Oh Mi God, Oh Mi God”’s…!

Liam and Charlie are closer in age, but there’s a special bond between Charlie and Cameron – I’m sure Charlie adores his BIG brother, and wants to be just like him.  Similarly, Cameron looks after Charlie, and helps him get dressed, and shoes on, etc.

Next year will be interesting, when Charlie is at school – and I’m sure Cameron’s protective instincts will come alive even more.

Three cheeky lads at the playground

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Hanging out in the car, waiting for Mum in the shops (?)

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Lots of thumbs-up – in fact, often TWO THUMBS UP (#TTU)

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Liam & Cameron off to school concert – proud little brother

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Cameron & Charlie in Fiji – best bud’s

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Christmas fun – love the Santa hats !

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And – playing a video game while the dog wants a pat – so he used his foot !

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Activity Group + Kindergarten

Charlie has been thriving through his first year at “Activity Group” (2013) – and now into Kindergarten/Pre-School (2014).   His confidence & enjoyment has grown tenfold, and he has some great friends – his favourite is Ashy – she is the younger sister of Cameron’s friend Matthew – and we’ve become great friends with the whole family.

Charlie & Ashy talk away to each other, walking to the car after school pick-up (holding hands usually) – and at the footy, or McDonalds after Cameron’s basketball.

When it was time to choose people for his birthday party, his response was “well, Ashy of course, and then ummmm” (and began to think of people).

I hope they continue to be friends at school – they both start prep in 2015.

NH Haynes Activity Group (2013 calendar year)

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Christmas + graduation from NG Haynes 

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Certification of achievemnet from NG Haynes

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Official photographer pics from NH Haynes – having a great time !

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Starting “big boy” kinder – Knox Gardens Pre School (2014)

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With his best friend Ashy – at her birthday party – PRINCESS + SPIDERMAN !

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Photos : thumbs up – or tongues out

Charlie will always be our ‘cheeky monkey’ – no matter what nickname we drop on him – he gets called McGubbins, Chazza, Charz – he usually answers to all of the above – but sometimes he replies “NO, I’m Charlie !”

And so – when a camera is pointed at him – it’s hard to avoid a thumbs-up, or a goofy tongue hanging out – so funny – the twinkle in his eye, and the giggly laugh he makes.

At Australia Zoo – getting a sneaky kiss from Mum

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Waiting for the safari bus – crazy family photo – love it !

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Christmas time at Mark & Mandy’s – tongue out

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Getting a haircut – tongue out !

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One of the MANY photos I found on my phone– kids taking SELFIES !
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Look Dad – marshmallows !

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Family holiday – Bellarine – thumbs up from Charlie !

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Pull a crazy face !    (I think Cameron just got sand in his eye – doh !)

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Hanging out with Dad

Charlie and I have a great friendship – it’s hard with such a busy household to make time for 1-on-1 with each of the lads – but we always have a great time.

When I’m attempting to get the kids to bed, Charlie asks me to do the ‘teeth-and-bed’ dance which is hard to describe, but always hilarious.    It’s a made-up song (of course) with a goofy dance – and me singing “teeth and bed, teeth and bed, teeth and beeeed” (to the tune of “here we go, here we go, here we go”)…

And, when we finally get Charlie into bed, it’s time for a ‘story cuddle’ – which consists of me lying down with Charlie – and his head under my arm – as I read a story to him.   Such a nice way to go off to bed – we BOTH look forward to a ‘story cuddle’ !

When I give him a kiss on the cheek, I expect the usual “you need a shade” (meaning ‘shave’) when I have prickles after a day or two without a shave.   So – he loves to give me a kiss on the cheek after I’ve shaved – a soft little peck – so cute.

Brekky together on a Sunday morning (judging by the hair)

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Tired lad, watching TV – with our lovely dog Chloe as well.

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Another tired Charlie – at a friend’s 40th – this was about 10pm !

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Goofy selfie fun – LOL !    Lovely little smile.

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Happy face out the window, with Dad working at home.

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Dad’s birthday – having out with the lads

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More awesome photos

I’m sure I could overload the internet with the many MANY awesome photos of Charlie – I’ll close out with a few great pics, from the last year with Charlie.

He’s become such an amazing little dude – I can’t wait to see what NEXT year brings – when he starts school (!!)

Gotta love his awesome sunnies – we got these for our family trip to Fiji

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 Charlie made a car for his buddy MR MURPHY

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Playing Lego – making a new Ninjago kit

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Sparkers on New Years Eve

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Playing video games with Liam – I don’t think he realised there’s a whole COUCH !

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Cool dude on Australia Day

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Dressed up as a pirate for a birthday party

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Happy boy, with a happy smile

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Happy Birthday Charlie

Congratulations little guy on becoming a big boy – and for giving up the dummy in bed – that was a great achievement !    (yes – he got a Lego reward, for the dummies being thrown in the bin).

Charlie – you make me laugh so much, and I adore your little cuddles – you’re too awesome for words – and we love you very much !

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On the beach in Fiji – one of my favourite photos of Charlie

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Happy Birthday Charlie

Dear Chazza, thanks for being such an incredible

– we love you (so much !)

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