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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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Charlie is now SIX !

It’s a few weeks ago now, his birthday is actually June 28th – but it’s been a busy few weeks in our household (when is it ever NOT !?)

It’s actually mid-July now, and I’m typing while watching the Tour De France – and have a bunch of photos to share, and celebrate Charlie going “double hands” (needing two hands to show his age !).

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

Charlie has started school !

While finishing up at kinder in late 2014, Charlie began doing some ‘transition classes’ at school.  With two big brothers already at school (Knox Gardens), it was a very familiar environment for Charlie, so he took to it like a duck to water.

Seeing him in his school uniform, with a big school bag, was lovely to see – and a few (proud) tears from Mum.

It was great to be able to take the morning off work, and see his first day with his new classmates, and Mrs.Marletta, a great FIRST teacher.

The first few months were tiring and difficult for him, but he soon found his place, and the routine of school days, and special fun like ‘lunch orders’.

He’s doing great at reading, and very excited to learn more words – and has had some great fun with his “word pockets”.

Dressed and ready to go !

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Proud brothers – and Mum !

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Family selfie !

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Large, medium and small – ready for school…

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First day for Ashie too – best friends !

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Starting school with a puzzle activity

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Having fun at the school sports night – check out that happy smile !

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Best Friend : Ashie

Charlie has a wonderful best friend, who he’s known since activity group + kinder.  During school pickup for their brothers, they’d often hold hands walking to/from the car – talking away to each other – and they would even write notes to give to each other.   Hopefully their lovely friendship continues, and survives through primary school…

Holding hands walking to school/kinder

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Snacks during a working bee at kinder

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Happy faces drawing, note from Charlie to Ashie

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Playing MineCraft, sharing a chair – LOL !

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Easter hat parade at Knox Gardens

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Charlie and his brothers

As the youngest of the family, Charlie gets to experience some great conversation, and awesome games, with two BIG dudes to look up to, and laugh with – and fight with (sometimes).  

They are a close bunch of lads – we couldn’t be happier at the way our family is growing together.

Cameron and Liam play a lot together, and they still share a bedroom – and Liam often reads a bedtime book to Charlie, tucked up in bed together.

They play a lot of video games together – MineCraft, Terraria, BattleBlockTheatre, Skylanders, Mario Bros – and Charlie loves the Kinect Sports, and Fruit Ninja on the XBox.  

He’s also getting VERY good at playing UNO – and often wins – much to my surprise !

Playing in the cubby house – which is now gone – replaced with a basketball court.

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Three brothers, ready for School Sports Day – L for LAWSON !

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Hugs for big brother Cameron, who turned 10

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Playing games on the iPad + iPhone – snuggled together !

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LOL – there’s TWO empty couches too…!

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Chatting to a goat at the Collingwood Children’s Farm

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Laughing like a crazy man, in the mirror at Pancake Parlour

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PJ shenanigans with Liam

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Liam reading a story to Charlie – such great friends…

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Happy smiles at Christmas – such a lovely trio…

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Fun with family

We’ve had a lot of great activities and family outings over the last year or so – camping, zoo/s, aquarium, footy, Christmas lights, movies, country holiday in Avoca, play days at the beach – and lots of board games.

Charlie kicking butt at UNO

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Riding the skim board – getting a tow from Dad

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Reading a storybook with Nanna

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Crazy selfie photo on Father’s Day

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Comparing EYE colours with Mum and Dad (Mum wins this round !)…

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Playing Snakes & Ladders on the patio (Avoca)

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Selfie pic with Dad – out to see THE BOXTROLLS

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Family photo with SANTA !

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With Mum, on a Melbourne city tram

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Fish & Chips while camping

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Flying a kite on the beach

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Watching a helicopter taking off, on the way to….

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…Melbourne Aquarium – with the penguins

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Charlie’s Activities

During 2014, Charlie was doing regular swimming lessons, and progressing very well, with great confidence.  Over the summer period, he enjoyed a few swim days at friend’s houses – great to see him enjoying the water.

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He also finished up at AusKick after one year – Liam completed three years at the end of 2014 – Charlie just wasn’t as keen, and so he didn’t sign up for 2015.

With Charlie commencing school, we skipped any after-school activities, just to make sure it wasn’t all “too much” for him – but he’s now started doing Karate – and having his first grading in a few weeks.  

Charlie loves DressUps !

Like his brothers, Charlie loves to get a face-painting, or into a costume for a school disco, or crazy-hair-day, or halloween !

Dressed as a ZOMBIE for Halloween + trick-or-treat

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Crazy hair day at kindergarten

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Not sure what this is !   SpongeBox ?    LOL !

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Dressed up as dragon from “How To Train Your Dragon”

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Ron from Harry Potter – for the school disco

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Charlie loves riding bikes

Over the summer, we were able to go riding a LOT – either on the back of the half-wheeler (double-decker, as Charlie called it !) – or with his awesome black BMX that we got for him just before our holiday in Avoca.

Ready to go – before *I* am !

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Half-wheeler stop-off at Jells Park

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Smiling away, and pedalling fast !

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Charlie’s drawing for show+tell

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Charlie’s awesome new BMX – was a $40 bike, on GumTree !

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Riding the bike path near home

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Stopped for an icy pole, with brothers, and cousin Michael

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Riding at the Lewellyn Park hill

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Bushy trail at Lewellyn Park – known as “hidden track” (LOL)

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Charlie brought a notepad, and stopped to do a drawing of a rock – LOL !

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Riding the trail at Avoca – that *WE* created – Geronimo Swing Dipper !

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He’s just awesome

There’s not much else you can say really – Charlie is an amazing little guy, with lots of laughter – and a developing personality – school is doing him well…!

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Sausage sizzle at Bunnings – it was a HEAVY trolley to push !

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At the Tiger enclosure at the zoo…

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Lovely drawing for Mum – aaawww….

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Charlie told me it was from an “evil man” saying this – not HIM !    Phew…

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Butter would not melt !

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Happy 6th Birthday Charlie !

Congrats to you buddy – for turning SIX !    (amazing to see – he grew 9cm !)

We love you very much little buddy – thanks for all the laughs, cuddles and great conversations and story cuddles…

Love you, matey…     X      Mum & Dad.

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Smile

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 !    

🙂