Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

If I said to you how you identified yourself, what makes you “you” what would you say it was? For some it’s their dogs, cats, their signature jacket, their car, their job etc. These are all items that you identify as you, they are external items that you couldn’t be without. Probably an item that makes you feel like you belong to a group or perhaps stand out from the crowd.

My wife, worked hard to accumulate her jewellery, over the years after we achieved a level of financial security she gradually acquired items, putting them on weekly payments, once one item was finalised, she would run out and put another item on payments. She bought items to celebrate her 40th birthday and only just recently she bought a bangle to celebrate losing a significant amount of weight. She wore them with pride. She tended to them cleaning them regularly making sure they always looked pristine. She loved them. I remember every morning she had her routine as she put on her jewellery to go to work.

Picture from her 40th birthday march 2009

We had a little personal valuables insurance (I know I work for the insurance company) but not enough to cover it all if it all got stolen all at the one time. I talk insurance all day so I guess I failed to update it, check it, get it changed to include all the items. For this I am feeling a great amount of guilt at the moment.

Sadly on Monday on the way home from a difficult day at work, I was home for the night as I was rostered off, she decided to go straight to the local gym which her work pays for. Lisa always wears her jewellery to work so she decided to store her jewellery in a locker which is supplied by the gym which you set your own code and according to the instructions it is a 4 digit code.

Anyway she made sure it was locked before she left to do her workout.

When she came back she grabbed her stuff, she wanted to go home and have a shower so she didn’t check her jewellery as she didn’t want to put it on before having a shower. she can’t remember if it was locked when she returned, she put in her code before opening it, not checking to see if it was locked or unlocked before opening it.

When she grabbed her keys she noticed a compartment which she never opens was opened but at the time didn’t think anything of it.

She got home and had her shower and was getting ready to have an early night, she went to take her jewellery out and put it in her container on the dresser…not there. She freaked out, ran to the car which is the only other place it could have been. Purse gone too… Oh dear, major sinking feeling.

To Be Continued

Monday, June 28, 2010

My dubious claims to fame

This letter is inspired by Thea’s blog where she chronicles her dubious links to famous people.

I firstly should say I need to break these down into a few sections.

I am related although have never met Jo Silvani (Bailey) (wife of Carlton legend) and I understand there is also a link somewhere to Kevin Rudd although that family link is not quite so salubrious after last week.

Well you know how twitter goes, you start off wondering what out is all about, then before you know you are addicted to it. When you start you follow famous people, then as they reply to some people you follow them. I know @Carolduncan and @Aaronkearneyaus don’t see themselves as celebrities however they are well known and well respected in Newcastle, I have met both they are as you would expect, down to earth and friendly.

It’s funny twitter Is a community In itself, and I have met so many conversationalists and bloggers and authors.

Other twitter moments, I actually delisted many of the famous people as they tend to prattle on and some even put on their websites they don’t respond to tweets. I have had a couple of responses on twitter, on was Robert Llewellyn who played the android Kryten on Red Dwarf a British scifi comedy series.

Robert has an interview series of car pool which I follow, he even responded to 2 tweets many months ago, I made a suggestion of possible interview subjects. I was so excited to get a response.

I have also had non responses include when Martha Stewart made a comment about rubbish dumped on the roadside, I mention cleanup Australia and she tweeted back tat she had had responses about having suggestions about community run cleanup programs, I checked and mine was the only one who responded.

My last one was levar burton who played geordi in star trek the next gen (yes I know I’m a trekkie) posted a tweet, I was watching start trek first contact.I just asked him if he watched himself. He responded by saying that anyone watching first contact - the vulcans did it. Im sure he thought he was funny.

Well when it comes to sport, I have an admission, when I was young I just happened to join the Nunawading swimming club, I swam with many people over 7 years, some of those were spectacularly fast and yes very successful. Not wanting to name drop, because most would probably not remember me. People such as Rob Woodhouse, Rod Lawson (Olympians) as well as Leigh Nugent (now head coach of national team)

I have also made face book contact with other swimmers such as Adrian Radley and Brooke Hanson (I swan with her husband and his dad ran a lot of club events).

One thing that suprises me is as with the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon, i am only a few degrees of seperation from most sports celebrities,not that i can say they know me or have even met me.

Working in a petrol I served the likes of Dennis Pagan (AFL Coach), Gianne Rooney (swimmer) Killing Heidi (Band) and last but not least Carl Williams and Benji Venjamin of Melbourne underworld infamy.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Special Powers

Superman can leap tall buildings, wolverine can rejenerate quickly and I have a speial power myself. Perhaps I should join the x-men, I'm not sure how my spcialpower will help others.

You see from as early as i can remember whenever i hop in a car, it doesn't matter how new or old it is, the trip starts normally until the windscreen starts to fog up. I don't really notice it myself as i generally travel with the window down or the airconditioner on.

I remembred it as i was riding in my father in laws car the other door and he doesn't drive with the door down and never has the aircon on. I get a little embaassed when this happens as i have to explain to them that i steam up cars.

I used to laugh at it because you know there's the usual joke about fogging up cars, definitely nothing happening insde.

Perhaps i always seem to be warm, i never really feel the cold.

Do you have a speial power that needs to be declared?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Power of Twitter

Would you call me a recent convert to Twitter. I have been tweeting since late 2009. I at first didn’t know what handle to use, I have had a couple of which over time I think I have settled on the_green_egg which is a reference to my daughters name she has given herself. I have written previously in a Blog Post.

I at first was curious about Twitter, it didn’t seem to have a purpose outside my Facebook, but over the time I have been able to network especially with other bloggers, and there always seems to be someone on twitter especially at the late hours I am on it.
Through twitter I have been able to connect with people I would never have been able to connect, as being a recent (5 years now) arrival to Newcastle I have few Novacastrian contacts, my social base I left in Melbourne when we moved here. In a way it is an unobtrusive way of connecting with others in the local community.

One handy use for Twitter I found was very early in the peace I connected by following my local council and they eventually followed me. By them doing this I was able to advise them of an illegal rubbish dump site. Being someone who doesn’t like calling in things, I just used Twitpic by uploading a photo of the offending dump site. I then tagged @lakemac with the location.

Lakemac then responded very promptly by thanking me and gave me a reference number. That was on the Monday I posted the photo and by Friday the mess had been cleaned up. Needless to say I was supremely impressed. Was it the fact that my council was responding so promptly to my notification, to the fact they are connected and “up with the times”.
And to be truthful if it wasn’t for twitter I probably wouldn’t have notified the council, probably I wouldn’t usually make a fuss about something like that. Plus I might think to myself, “Oh someone else will tell them” or perhaps someone else from the council would have already notified them.

It was a legacy from a recent council cleanup where the kerbsides fill up with rubbish.

How to Make a NSW Quilt

Take a NSW Road, probably not a Federal road, Definitely not on the way to work for a Minister or the Premier. Probably not a Sydney street, or in a marginal seat, but it’s a road used daily by locals and tourists alike.
And just past the entrance to the country club.
It rains
A hole is born
The hole is patched
It rains again
Another hole is born
This hole is patched
It rains again
Another hole is Born then patched
It Rains yet again, a hole is born then patched
Repeat for 5 years, just patched, never resurfaced
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
Bump Bump
No road left, just patch on patch on patch.
Speed limit reduced because of the state of the road.
Will it ever get fixed?
How bad does it have to get?
Does a serious accident need to occur to get something done to this road?
Too bad for your tyres or suspension,
Too bad state taxes increase to improve roads, where does the money go?
You know this road, it’s somewhere you’ve been, that’s’s if you travel through NSW
Inspired by driving near Halidays point and driving through hunter valley vineyards

Friday, April 9, 2010

One Sunny April Day Part 7

Continued from One sunny day part 6

Funerals, well I've been to too many.

Mum's was different, I find that in the past many celebrants and priests are distanced from their subject. Sometimes it feels like "insert name here". My aunty gelnda ran the sevice so she even teared up through the service for she had known mum since they were all young, they themselves had been through their own journey together, countless time my aunt had visited to see her, in someways as a bit of friendship, a bit or counselling as well as she was a practicing reiki master so she benefited from their visits in so many ways.

As far as funerals go mum's funeral was a real tribute to her effect on others though her nursing and geneology work. The place was packed out to the rafters and out the door, and I',m not talking a little place.

We had a laugh or too, there were many happy stories. I even managed to got up the courage to say a few words, i recited a story from a book that explained that like the lamplighter as he worked his way down the street in the dark, you couldn't see him any more but you could see where he had been, in a way mum was no longer around but you could see those people she had left a little light in their heart.

It was soon after the funeral, once i had picked up mums ashes i headed off north with my grandfather to Gladstone. The first purpose was to transport him to my aunts place as his eyesight was no longer safe for him to drive and then i was to head further nort to take mum to cairns where she had enjoyed a great time just after she found out she was ill.

So I headed north, not really knowing anything, or where to spread mums ashes. I made it to port douglas, it was nearing mum's birthday 23rd may. I arrived late so i just found a camping ground and set up camp.

In the morning i got up and was chatting to a group of backpackers (as you always seem to find). One of the local campers was a lady named betty, she was from melbourne too and spent her winters there, she told me she had cancer and was just living the best she could. She asked me if i'd seen the beach.. I said I hadn't so she said come and she grabbed me and we walked to see port douglas beach. You haven't seen a more beautiful beach, it sweeps into the distance, gorgeous. She thne asked me if i'd seen the Sheraton, I said no so she took me there but i think that's as far as i will go there. She did explain that people there pay hundreds of dollars to get to use the same beach i was using and it only cost from memory $20 for the site.

Anyhow I went as far north as the daintree and could not find a location that suited, it just didn't feel right, sure there are plenty of beaches, very nice ones, but not waht felt right.

I was desperate to find a suitable place, it was mums birthday and i wanted to do it then. Problme i woke up that morning and the weather had turned, the waves were choppy, dark grey clouds hung above. I packed up and headed south, as i was driving south i saw some beach signs.

I pulled into one but it didn't feel right, i pulled into another one and i really had a strange feeling about it. i got out of the car and walked over to the beach and, i know you think i'm crazy when i say this, I asked mum if it was the right place, Now I am serious when i say this the clouds broke slightly ans a stream of light came down over the sea. Now i'm not one to believe all this but it happenend. i have to say i was emotional at that moment. I lost it, i went back to the car and got mums ashes out and walked down to the beach.

I wanted to do it a bit further down as i didn't want everyone walking through her ashes. To my suprise I found a little creek flowing into the sea further up the beach.

As per mums instructions i spread mums ashes where the creek and the sea meet. It was an emotional event for me, I was alone, the rest of my family would do the same at Inverloch in Victoria. I kept some ashes for myself and gave some to grandma when i returned as she wanted to keep her Merry (middle name joy) as she always called her close by.

So it's 11 years and I just wanted to honour mum by explaining the story of the last week of mum's life. She touched everyone. I'm sure you own mum has touched others as well. i don't wish to turn her into a saint, that was not her. She was just someone who cared for others unconditionally. Not a day goes by when i don't think of her.

Thankyou for reading this story.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

One Sunny April Day Part 6


As in part 1 the phone rang and we were awoken to hear mum had passed. It's strange the feeling, in a sense there was a tinge of sadness for the feeling of loss but followed by a sense of relief and dare i say happiness that she was no longer in pain.

The next thing was we drove to my grandmothers house and woke her up to the news. Mum wouldn't have let her be alone when she found out. Not that this was a suprise, we had all accepted the fact we would lose mum. She was given 12 months and we got 3 years. Mum had outlasted all expectations.

One thing that struck me was how beautiful the morning was, the air had that hint of chill that tickles you nose, the trees were beginning to change colour and the sun had just risen, it was going to be a nice sunny autumn day. Perhaps over the events of the last week i hadn't noticed the weather, in fact i don't think i had noticed much those past weeks,

We then as a family proceded to the hospital to see mum's body, it's a weird sensation. Mum's body was there but that was all.

I don't think i really wanted to be there. She was gone, i was numb.

When we got home, after that visit things were strange, my eldest sister decided to go through mums wardrobe.

Now it was time to plane mums funeral which my aunty glenda came over to help plan the funeral.

One Sunny April Day Part 5

Continued from Part 4

I arrived again as usual, said hello to the doorman john and headed to visit mum in her room.

Mum was deteriorating further, she was there but not there. Her breathing was more sporatic, deep. For pretty much most of the day she would breath deeply, then a pause. You though "ok i this it," then she's start again.

For everyone else in the room we wanted to give mum the chance to fade away peacefully, unfortunately there was a visitor on the final day who talked continuosly. This i believe didn't allow mum to just fade away. It must have been her way of dealing with mum passing, like always i try and keep the peace so i didn't say anything. Also I didn't want a fight in the room.

It was hard because you don't want to prolong the suffering but the visitor never left that night, talking away, mum still hanging on. She was fading, the pauses in her breathing growing long.

Another friend of the family(another aunty) who is also a celebrant came to help us with a few little ceremonies to let mum go (more for us than mum i think but it felt good). We did leave that night with the visitor still there. We said our final goodbyes and went home.

Contineud in Part 6

One Sunny April Day Part 5


I arrived in the morning and mum had had a rough night. She had felt comfortable that night sleeping in her recliner in her room, but overnight she'd become more uncomfortable, her pain was growing. They had to get her in bed and as she was bed bound they had to put in a catheter.

Mum said to me to get the rest of the family, mum wanted to say goodbye to everyone. I got in the car and ran up to my grandmothers home, but she wasn't there, she was at church. I went to the neightbours house, another adopted aunty (Alice) and waited for her to return.

When Nana got home we called around and then made our way to the hospital, there were so many people there to see mum. It was a very pleasing sight to see all those close to mum gathering for a bedside get together. Not being a strongly religious I know mum had struggled with faith but i think she felt omfort in my nanas priest coming and he issued her last rights.

It was a very draining day, it had taken it's toll on her, as being a nurse she had seen many people pass away, and her experience was it was those moments when they were alone that htey drifted away. Mum had had her goodbyes and wanted to drift away, it was just us kids and dad in the room. She asked to be left alone for a while.

We filed out, saying our goodbye's on our way. I was the last to say goodbye, as i came closer i asked mum if she wanted me to removed her oxygen which she was hooked up to. She said yes. It was the next thing which i think effected me the most, she said to me, "what do I do now?" How is a son supposed to advise his mum to let go, I don't know. but i couldn't say that, mum was asking me what to do. When you are a kid, your parents are larger than life, immortal in a way. i think you assume they will be around forever. i was dealing with my own faith, i had no experience in advising the dying.

I think i said "we love you, let go and Your dad and grandmother will be ther waiting for you". You hear stories of people seeing family members at the end of their bed, hearing voices, all that. Mum didn't have that, perhaps she was expecting some of that. Unfortunately birth and death we do alone.

I left her and sat outside with the rest of the family for about 15 minutes. We then came back in and mum was much less alert, fading. I put her oxygen back in but then we decided to leave as it was going to take another day at least.

One Sunny April Day Part 4


It had sunk in..mum was going to die, and soon. Rest assured she was not in pain, she was comfortable. Mum was slowly going downhill, not that she ever complained, she never once complained about her struggle. She was still eating and drinking although not lots.

I think i pretty much stayed with mum all day, being a nurse meant she had a steady flow of friends and coworkers.

I remember one conversation about where mum's ashes were going. Mum had a plot in the wall at Templestowe cemetary however from our experience there are usually more ashes then will fit. So mum said all she wanted was for her ashes to be spead somewhere peaceful, perhaps where a creek meets the sea.

I really had no idea, but it was my intention to go to queensland to see if i could get some work in my field of study.

Mum and i, i think had a special bond, it's hard to quantify, not sayng she loved any other of my siblings less, but there was something. perhaps it was the journey we had travelled of the past years through her treatment.

I know mum lived a few days more but it was this night i said goodbye to her. I think it was we were alone, we'd chatted all day. I had to say goodbye to go home and get some sleep. I kissed her and gave her a cuddle(it was one thing she always great cuddles). As I left her room i turned around. She was waving goodbye with a smile on her kind face. It is this image in my head that i remember.

I waved back, holding back the tears until i got into the lift where i lost it, thankfully i was alone. i went home and slept.

Monday, April 5, 2010

One Sunny April Day Part 3


Mum had been in hospital since Monday, life was relatively normal, well as normal as things were with a mum who was in hospital. Mum had had her regular blood transfusions on the Monday but as it was Thursday it was her regular time for her topup for the weekend to get her through to the next Monday.

I arrived at the hospital for my regular visit, i visited her every day. we would just sit and chat, I would rub her feet(this is one of the reasons i would eventually get into massage). I found through many visits that most visitors sit at the end of the bed with little human touch. I was determined that I would hold her hand, touch her feet or from time to time sit on the bed.

We had been through so many ups and downs in this fight against cancer that what was to come next came as no suprise, mum had given such a good fight.

Mum had had enough...yes she decided to refuse further treatment in the way of blood transfusions. In a way it was a very empowering thing, there aren't many who can do this, to choose your own end. Mum must have toyed with the idea for a while but what happened on the Monday must have crystalised her thinking. When she broke the news she was resolute, I told her i supported what she was doing.

In a way we knew it was coming, it just finalised things, we knew it would take less than a week for the inevitable to happen. It wasn't an easy thing to go through i can tell you though. Saying goodbye to your mum for good is hard, but you can't be selfish and hang on when she was in such pain, her quality of life was still not dire.

We all must accept that death is a part of life. I have always been an advocate of choosing your own end if you are severely ill and there is no quality of life left.

I can't remember if it was a family meeting, i can't remember who was in the room when mum told me. Mum was calm, probably with a bit of a relief on her face but also a bit of concern about how her decision would effect us all. It is a sort of no turning back, a point of no return.

I do remember mum speaking to the doctor and signing the DNR (Do not resuscitate order). The doctor had to sit down and explain what that meant even though with she knew full well what it meant.

I can't remember what i did that night when i got home. The events do tend to blur with it being almost 11 years ago.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

One Sunny April Day Part 2


The phone rang, it was my friend who had called for me. In most circumstances mum would have called for me as the phone was set up in her room. This time though she got disorientated and got up out of bed and came into the kitchen where i was with my grandmother who had come to visit for the day.

I was suprised as this was the first time mum had seriously got out of bed in months, she had been bed bound for quite a while. Little did I know that this was the straw that broke the camels back. I followed mum back to bed and made sure she got back safe.

The phone call was something trivial as most things are in th ewhole scheme of things. I was looking forward to a visit out to see Craig cahrles at the Melbourne comedy festival. I was also my dad's birthday so the day was already set to be a busyt one.

Problem was mum had overexerted herself and she started to shake uncontrollably so we called her GP who luckioly did house visits.

It was mum's GP's advice that she should go into hospital and that she was too frail so it was best to be transported by ambulance into the hospital...for someone as strong and proud as mum it was rather humiliating to be carted out infront of all the neighbours and loaded up into the ambulance.

In hospital mum would receive her regular blood transfusions to sustain her.

That night was a bit of a fizzer as far as celebrting dad's birthday, I went and saw Craig Charles which was great fun but my mind was on mum prety much all the time.

To be Continued

Saturday, April 3, 2010

One Sunny April Day Part 1

The end came one peaceful April Morning, it was the 27th day in 1999..I remeber the phone call waking me up at about 5am.

It's Ok, we were expecting the call, I often thank that there was such a lead up, time to say our goodbyes, say everything we might have to say...well I have to say there has much happened in my life since then that i would have given everything to get my mums advice or her ear.

Truth is i miss her Dearly and pretty much not a day passes that i don't think about her.

Mum was born Marilyn Joy Coffin in Coburg, a suburb north of melbourne, daughter to Milton and June and younger sister to Margaret. When she left school she became a trainee nurse at Box Hill hospital. It was a chance encounter that she met my dad, John Mapstone who was visiting my uncle (adopted) Bill Snoek who had had a severe motorbike accident.

My understanding is things moved quickly and before you know it they were married and moved in to a reasonably new outer eastern suburb call ed Bayswater (nowhere near the bay or water, only the Dandenong creek). They had three children with me the middle child so i have the complex.

Many years ensued, mum worked night shift, dad worked days but we coped and got to see both parents. As we got older and better able to look after ourselves mum studied and later became a midwife, one thing she was very proud of. For what i understand she was a good at her job and loved it with a passion.

She was 41 when she found a lump in her right breast, she had a mammogram but nothing came conclusive. Mum persevered and they found a malignant lump through biopsy. Mum did'nt want it known so she went to a different hospital to have her breast removed and then she had treatment(she had accrued 6 months of sick leave). I really don't remember much of her symptoms then apart from the obvious hair loss, i ws in the grips of my VCE.

We almost made it to 5 years, mum was not well, just a bit unwell when she was turning a bed down at work when she collpased. This time it was serious, the cancer had spread to her bone marrow especially inher lower spine....innoperable and terminal. I remeber the day mum sat us down and told us. I have never felt so numb, I mean life is finite, but when the doctors say you have 12 months and that's it.

The drugs used to treat mums cancer meant one major thing, to stop the bone marrow working her body stopped making blood so twice a week we went into the hospital for blood transfusions. Most weeks it was 7 units to keep her alive. She frequently got ill because her immune system was vulnerable. And whenever she ended up in hospital she would catch something else to keep her there longer.

New and improved drugs meant mum's live was extended, she overtook her 12 month deadline and she even managed to get 12 months of success. Her symptoms even diminished and it almost seems like she was back in remission.

I was with her that day though when her oncologist broke the news that the fanstastic drug that had extended her life was no longer working. It was another hard day on the cancer emotional rollercoaster.

Another hard day was when i came in to her in the morning and she was in the foetal position, in excruiating pain, the tumor was pressing on her spine, sending pain throughout her body. I have never felt so completely helpless (only except for whne seeing my wife going through labour I suppose). I managed to get her to the hospital where i got her straight into the oncology ward (as a patient you do have some privelages) but then waiting for the registrar to come up and prescribe what the nuses knew what she needed..morphine. You see until this point mum had only goine as strong as panadeine forte. She would only ever take panadol for most things.

Anyway from that incident she started taking a small dose of morphine in a solution but it wasn't very powerful, but it worked.

Over the full term of mums treatment she undertook 7 treatments, some proper treatments, some were trials. She saw the benefit to the medical community of taking part in trials. Her last one was however one of the worst. She had to taked a number of horse pills and one side effect was they made her hands and feet rd raw. When this happened she made the decision to end the trial.

To Be Continued

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One of THOSE Mornings

Well I had one of those mornings today.

I knew it was April Fools day this morning as I knew I got suced into Aaron kearneys renaming of Maitland to Mate Land, I made the effort to be up early and alert in time for his April Fools Joke.

I just laughed when he started talking about fencing off the beaches and puting in trunstyles. i thought, "yes I'm not getting sucked in to this one."

I thought I was clever, and all would be good for me today. Hey we even prepurchased an easter bonnet to avoid having to make one (last year we made one and other kids stole the easter eggs mounted on it so we decided not to do that again)

Like with a strong Headwind, the harder you try to force your way, the more resistence you get, especially when you have kids. I'm sure most parents can relate.

My Plan for the morning
  • Get kids breakfast, dressed and ready for school
  • Write up the lunch order
  • Drive the eldest to school
  • come home
  • wash and hang out kids clothes
  • Iron about 2 loads of ironing

WELL, things never seem to go as planned do they???

  • Firstly i only realised until 5 minutes before that i had forgotten that i prmoised to pick up my daughters classmates and take them to school.
  • So i rushed because it was about 15 minutes before we usually leave.
  • I grabbed the camera as i wanted to take a photo of some rubbish dumped so i could post to Lake Mac Council but the batteries were flat, scrounged around for some batteries and it seemed they were fine and charged.
  • Picked up my daughters classmates then got them to school YES, Right? NAH as we forgot to pack the lunch order D'OH
  • SO left my daughter to go to class, and rushed off back home
  • When i returned i took the green egg into the school to take the lunch order to canteen
  • When i got to the canteen i realised they have emptied all their recess stock for the easter break so she wouldn't have anything for recess.
  • So I regettably had to go to the shops, you know the day before a public holiday..really bad decision, the carpark is absolutely packed so i went right down the back and walked to Coles which is the quieter of the two supermarkets. I might add every time the green egg and i got anywhere she must take a green pillow with her, and she has to help push the trolley so it's never an easy task going anywhere with her.
  • When we got in there i just wanted to get 2 things, Chicken Jumpies (a recess favourite on lunch order days) and some muffin bars. The green egg proceeded to put other things in the trolley because she wanted them, like apples, chips etc.
  • Problem was the chicken jumpies weren't there!! and that was my reason for being there. So I emptied the trolley much to the green eggs disgust and yes a tantrum ensued. So i put her in the trolley even more to her disgust. If your kids having a tantrum at least you can take it with you when it's a portable tantrum. You get the looks regardless from those without kids.
  • Dread of dreads i had to wheel the tantrum along a footpath, up a ramp and up the other end of the shopping centre to Woolies, which she did eventually calm down, we even got out of the trolley.
  • Then she thought she saw her Nan which i couldn't see. She wanted to go home with her. BUT she wasn't there. So we returned back to the tantrum again
  • So here i am walking through woolies, aisles packed, people seem to go extra slow, they block your way which is really hard with a kid screaming for her Nan, wanting to go with her.
  • Somehow I managed to spend $30, and yes i did buy the Chicken Jumpies. The green egg did calm down eventually.
  • I then had to Manoevre the trolley back because i had parked farthest from Woolies, loaded up the car and drove home to get the lunch box and freezer block.
  • FINALLY i got to school, Green egg in tow and delivered my eldests' recess food
  • On the way back I stopped to take a photo of the rubbish dumped so i could notify Lake Mac council but the other batteries I put in were flat as well. Hmmmm

Now i am at home and wondering if I can get away with not doing any work at all, the batteries are charging so will probably take a trip soon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Names Names Names

It's not the coughin that carries you off in,
it's the coffin they carry you off in.

I wonder what would have happened if my grandmother (Taffy Nana) had followed through with her threat to call my mum Lydia. She was happily named Marilyn, most likely after Marilyn Munroe.

Sure the name Lydia is an old name and you don't hear it much these days, but the joke was in her surname, you see my mum was born a Coffin...Yes her family name was Coffin.

Put it together and you get Lydia Coffin..HA HA

We even had relatives who hyphonated their other surname Pyne, Yes the Pyne-Cofffins.

Whenever you got a shocked answer, "what did you say" , you would reply "Yes as in pine box"

I'm sure there are a lot out there with curious and strange names, some due to parents not really thinking through the names given to their children, I remember agonising over names, hoping that your children won't get too much flack.
I worked with a Richard Hunt, my wife went to school with a Teresa Green and a Teresa Hill. A workmate told me he went to a church where the Bishop who became a Cardinal, problem was his surname was Sin.
As for Mapstone, well it looks like an easy name to spell, but then again i've had every possible misspelling under the sun like
  • Marstone
  • Manstone (hmm interesting)
  • Madstone (love that one)
  • Maplestone (very sweet)
  • Kapstone (no idea how)
  • Napstone (zzzzzzzzzz)
  • Matstone

So I wonder if you have an interesting names story to tell, do tell.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Water Question

In times of flood we need to plan for times of drought,

In times of drought we need to plan for times of flood,

I would like to pose a question, I am not completely knowledgable about
the transport system of the hunter valley but my engineering background makes me want to ask some questions about water. This may become totally impractical or too expensive or too inconvenient, but i have had this question running around in my head for quite a while.

When i first arrived in Newcastle in 2005 the hunter valley especially the upper hunter valley was in the grips of a major drought. Since the June 2007 storms where the hunter valley got sufficient rain, I think the talk has shifted to the tillegra dam and I haven't heard too much about the water situation in the upper hunter valley and what measures are being made to secure the water security to such a vital part of the state.

There are a few things i can state
  1. Coal trucks take tonnes of coal a day down from the mines full to the Port of Newcastle
  2. Coal trucks return back to the hunter valley empty
  3. The upper hunter requires potable water for drinking especially during times of drought
  4. The upper hunter could also use recylced or storm water if collected in water plentiful newcastle city.

Even in the grips of water shortages throughout NSW, Newcastle wasn't subjected to any water restrictions.

The question i pose is has there been an investigations either governmental or even a university project to

  1. see how possible or practical it would be to retrofit to coal trucks to carry water either fresh for drinking or recylced water to be used on crops or for process water for the mine's or power stations
  2. see the added costs of fueling the trains to carry the water
  3. see the logistical implications caused by possible delays in refilling the coal trucks
  4. see the infrastructure costs of transporting water to, and from the rail line, filling and offloading the water
  5. see the suitability of the water transported for use at it's destination

If you have any comments please do, I'd be interested to know your ideas/ opinions.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Nanas and the Papas

George, Olive Mapstone, Mum and Dad, June and Milton Coffin

I almost envy friends from ethnic backgrounds who had Nonnas, Nonnis, Opas and Omas etc. It sounds so cultural, almost romantic.

I don't know why but my parents chose Nana and Papa as the title for my grandparents and great grandparents. For which I still hold a fondness for that title.

In my own situation there are only a few grandparents for which my inlaws were already Nan and Pop so we went along with those titles. My side are Granddad for my father and grandma for my now deceased Grandmother (my mum never had the chance to get a title)

We did have a curious situation in our family as for a little kid there was a lot of confusion with so many grandparents and great grandparents. My parents chose an interesting way to make it clear who was who.

My parents chose to link the grandparents with their pets to make it easy, so this was the situation

on mums side
her parents Milton and June Coffin (I will blog more about the names)
( just imagine calling your grandmother Nana Coffin)
their dogs were called Taffy (welsh corgi)

so they were Taffy Nana and Papa

my grandmothers Mum and Dad- Eliza(beth) and George Bailey

they had a bird called Georgie

so they became Georgie Nana and Papa

on Dads side, his parents George and Olive Mapstone

they originally had a dog called Peppie, then later a dog called Dinkie

so they were orinally Peppie Nana and Papa then later Dinkie Nana and Papa

my grandfathers Mum Elizabeth was only ever known by us as Gran

So how do you as a parent choose the title of your childrens grandparents? Are you still formal or do you just use names etc? i'd be interested to know.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Green Eggs and X's

This conversation came up recently, and i feel I need to explain the Green Eggs specialness.

No this is nothing to do with Vin Diesel and definitely nothing X-rated.

When we became pregnant with the Green Egg, my wife was concerned about our child having genetic issues. You know they hit you with all the problems that can/may happen with a pregnancy closer to 40. It almost seems just to unsettle you but I suppose disclosure is important in the medical profession. We had the preliminary ultrasound which came back inconclusive so further investigation meant an Amniocentesis where they use a very very long needle to take a sample of the amnionic fluid, not for the faint hearted.

At the end of the amniocentesis, the doctor said that it would take 2 weeks for the result and he also said if we heard from him there would be an issue, if nothing then they would hear from his staff.

It took 3 weeks to get back the results!!!

By that stage we were at 19 weeks, my wife was more than a little concerned, she rang and rang and finally got a return call, not from the doctors staff, but the doctor himself. My wife was beside herself, very very upset to say the least. Imaginations go into overdrive when you are waiting for such news. One of the concerns were that if the baby is not "viable" due to genetic problems then the unthinkable must happen, delivering a baby that is not going to survive.

OK the doctor firstly said to my wife that there was a reason he had to talk to her, our daughter's condition is not life threatening, it's not a severe condition. The condition is called Trisomy X or Triple x syndrome.

He said to Google it but be careful not to enter XXX as it might produce the wrong result.

What it is
As you would be aware the Sex Chromosome pair determines who is a girl or a boy, XX for girl, XY for Boy. My daughter has three X sex Chromosomes that's right XXX. So she is very much a girl, even more than most.

How does it happen
Unknown, just happens in 1 in 1000 girls. Can be from either mum or dad. This means it is quite prevalent.

Major Side effects
Increased size (the green egg is 3.5 but towers over 4 and some 5 year olds)
delayed development (not really noticeable, she is about 6months behind her sister but that doesn't say much really. each kid develops at their own rate)
As a result of poor development there is the chance of social issues, early pregnancy etc. This is not definitive, I suppose any child could develop learning problems, genetics are just part of the puzzle.

To find out more information about Triple X

In conclusion we give the green egg all the support we can, she is a delight if not a little cheeky. She is recently out of nappies, her speech is coming along well, we are having conversations and she is able to express herself reasonably well. She has a temper but what 3 year old doesn't have?

Friday, March 5, 2010

A good Deed

As we came around the final bend, I saw him standing at the corner of his new street. I had only spoken to him just a few minutes before where he had given directions to get to his place. He saw us and waved us through.

Lets call him Mr A.

Taking a quick look at him you see a tall stoic man standing I'd say 6ft 4, his face weathered with a hint of the world on his shoulders, vanity is the least of his worries but don't judge him. His clothes are hand-me downs from goodwill donations which means they are tired, faded and well worn.

This man came close to losing everything, his life a mess but he stands strong, his main concern his girls and how they are coping.

A mistake/ an accident caused the house to burn to the ground taking all their material possessions with only their clothes on their back.

You might think this is bad enough a situation but when you talk more you actually discover that he is a grandfather and guardian to two teenage girls who were orphaned (I dare not ask the circumstances) and Mr A is also a carer to his wife and on a pension.

He mentioned how his invalid wife only just managed to escape as the fire ripped through the house so rapidly. Saved by some locals who risked their lives. He laments how much he wouldn't have coped without his wife.

Through circumstances my wife found out about Mr A's predicament, we had a computer desk and a tallboy we could donate, she also put the call out to her workmates and we were able to russle up more donations of bed linen, towels etc. We were even suprised that Kennards Hire donated a trailer so we could get the items there.

His appreciation was evident, it must be hard to rely on the kindness of others, especially someone proud. Being on a pension, finanical pressures had meant he could no longer afford contents insurance (which pains me so much as I work in the industry), his main concern in life was to support his two girls through school and get the best life for them. He has sacrificed a lot to help them. As i suppose any parent would.

What stands true with him is a strong sense of right and wrong, he said to us that he was completely honest with the circumstances to both the police and the insurance company. It shows his integrity and obviously a strong core belief that you don't compromise.

Many (including myself) would have already crumbled under the burden that he bares, I'm sure he hesitates to ask "what next". He said his family has been full of bad luck.

He bid us a heartfelt farewell and a handshake, I offered any help he needed and to call.

We got home after dropping off the trailer and I just said to my wife, "we did a good thing"


He still needs some help, as they were based in Fletcher (schools) and he doesn't want to change schools as the eldest is in year 12. She has just got her licence and has a car but can't afford the Third Party Property Insurance (and he doesn't want to try his luck). They are living in Tanilba bay and are doing a huge amount of travelling in the larger more expensive vehicle(about $40 a day for petrol).

They are also without computers/ peripherals which are essential for HSC, they are also in need of a lawnmower. If you know someone who could donate one of these items please email me or. We would also like to maybe raise the approx $300 for insurance on the car.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Head in the Sand

Sorry it's been a little time between posts.

Monday came an inevitability, one I had been dreading for ages.

I needed to see the Doctor. No not David Tenant, the real doctor, one who was going to tell me off for being bad and not looking after myself. I have not been looking after myself... I couldn't correct things as I needed to get more scripts.

The day started as my wife wasn't well and needed to arrange a doctors certificate. I was hoping to just totally avoid going there by dropping her out the front and coming back later. It was a monday and the only day I have truely free from kids. It's my opportunity to get the housework done.

HOWEVER my wife knew I needed scripts so my get out of jail card was invalid. I had to front up to the dotors.

I was super cranky, fowl really. I got completely stressed. The Doctors clinic is one of those where you put over your details and have to wait about 3hours to see a doctor so needless to say it was going to be a long day. When we first moved to newcastle we did try and get a regular doctor but all the local doctors had their books closed.

We did fill in some time by going down to Charlestown Square and get even more stressed at the cost of the new car seat requirements for the green Egg. But it has to be done.

Anyway we returned and the doctor called us in....blood pressure rising. 198/98 no good at all to be exact.

In a previous visit My confidence had been shaken as that doctor went straight into judging me. I wanted to turn myself around, I already felt like a failure for not being able to get my blood sugar down, I felt judged, panicked as I couldn't seem to get it down. I think I pretty much gave up. Hopefully I haven't done too much damage.

This doctor however didn't seem to judge me, sure he said my Blood Pressure's not good, but he started me on a care plan and referred me on to a dietician as well as eye specialists. Diabetes is a lifelong thing, and maintenance is hard.

So I got home feeling less stressed, although i have a monumental task ahead of me. Weight is one thing, I can do that but I no longer feel so confident about my Blood Sugar. It's been a few days and i still can't get it down. Looks like a change in my drugs, perhaps even insulin.

Wish me luck

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chocolate Pizza

Ok was chatting with Kerri Sackville on twitter and tried to link something, but this didn't work, this is a direct copy and paste from

yes it's a chocolate pizza. Insuline needle on standby

•1 pound homemade pizza dough, or purchased pizza dough
•2 teaspoons butter, melted
•1/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
•1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
•2 tablespoons milk chocolate chips
•2 tablespoons white chocolate chips
•2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts, toasted
•Pizza Dough Ingredients Follow...(If you choose to use home-made):
•1/2 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
•2 teaspoons active dry yeast
•2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
•1 teaspoon salt
•3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl

1.Position the oven rack on the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450.
2.Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.
3.Roll out the dough to a 9-inch-diameter round.
4.Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.
5.Using your fingers, make indentations all over the dough.
6.Brush the dough with butter, then bake until the crust is crisp and pale golden brown, about 20 minutes.
7.Immediately spread the chocolate-hazelnut spread over the pizza then sprinkle all the chocolate chips over.
8.Bake just until the chocolate begins to melt, about 1 minute.
9.Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the pizza.
10.Cut into wedges and serve.
11.Directions for home-made pizza dough:
12.Mix the warm water and yeast in a small bowl to blend.
13.Let stand until the yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.
14.Mix the flour and salt in a food processor to blend.
15.Blend in the oil.
16.With the machine running, add the yeast mixture and blend just until the dough forms.
17.Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. T
18.Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat with the oil.
19.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draft-free area until the dough doubles in volume, about 1 hour.
20.Punch the down dough and form into ball.
21.The dough can be used immediately or stored airtight in the refrigerator for 1 day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I Survived

Well, have you ever felt the planets aligned for you, well it seemed to happen Wednesday. As my previous blog said i was being interviewed by Carol Duncan on 1233ABC Newcastle about why I blog.

I wasn't at all sure how it was going to pan out as the Green Egg has a tendency to put on a show the moment the phone rings. Carol had told me to expect a call at 1:30. I can't believe how nervous I was getting, not about talking on radio, I had been interviewed before by Aaron Kearney before Trailwalker. What I was worried about was how the Green Egg would react.

Well as time got closer I was trying to work out my plan, I hadn't organised with the inlaws as they wouldn't understand, but something else happened. A real estate agent called telling me he had gone to another real estate agency, the Green Egg didn't notice.

About 5 minutes later the other real estate agency rang wanting to advise me that their rep had left, i pretty much said ok and that was the end of the conversation. This was a short conversation but the repercussions were monumental. I hung up and the Green Egg started a massive tantrum, she wanted to talk on the phone. Nothing would settle her so i rang her pop.

Pop was no good, Pop decided to come over and take her to Nan who was good enough.

Bonus, empty house for the interview, although i did fear her coming back in the middle of th interview.

Well the phone rang at 1:30 and i I was on. We talked for ages, Carol is so easy to talk to. I almost forgot I was talking on the radio. I hope I sounded alright, always worried i might sound like a tool. We covered using twitter, trailwalker, pretty much all my blog posts from my mum, my experience with taking my daughter to the toilet, then the main topic- Sci Fi.

Thankyou Carol for an enjoyable interview you are a true professional and it was a pleasure to be on your show.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Recipes Part 1

One of my loves is cooking. I have cooked for years, ever since high school. I'd like to share with you some of my family favourites

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (Green Snakes 1)

This is an oldie, but a goodie. My eldest used to call this green snakes from when she was able to firstly speak. She would eat this even when she was going through her fussiest stages. The ingredients are simple.

1 tub of Ricotta Cheese
1 packet of frozen spinach defrosted (or a bunch of english spinach washed, chopped and wilted)
1 packet of home brand cheese sauce made up to instructions (or if you have the time make your own bechamel sauce)
grated cheese to taste
1 packet of dry pasta canelloni or 1 packet of fresh lasagne sheets

  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Spray Pyrex dish with cooking spray
  3. in a dish combine the ricotta with spinach and grated cheese(about a handfull or to taste), mix well so no lumps of spinach ither
  4. fill dry pasta canelloni with mixture, or cut lasagne sheets in half, fill one end with mixture and roll like a sausage roll
  5. Place canelloni into pyrex dish, side by side. May need to do 2 layers
  6. Top with cheese sauce so all pasta is covered.
  7. Top finally with remaining grated cheese
  8. Cook for approx 30 minutes
  9. Enjoy
Meat Sauce

Never fails, this can be made in bulk lots and can be precooked and frozen, used in both lasagne or spaghetti bolognaise

500g of beef mince
1 clove of garlic or 1tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp of Tomato Paste
1 tin of Tomatoes or fresh is better(i still have frozen home grown tomatoes)
Vegetable stock to taste
swig of balsamic vinegar (don't knock until you taste it with this in it)
shake or 2 of mixed herbs
  1. Brown mince making sure no large lumps
  2. once brown combine all ingredients
  3. add water and simmer until all combined and uniform colour
  4. serve on top of cooked pasta or add to lasagne

Lasagne (Meat or Spinach and Ricotta (Green Snakes 2))


Pasta sheets (either dry or fresh)

Cheese sauce (packet or home made)

Grated cheese

Filling- either spinach and ricotta or meat (see above)

  1. in a pyrex dish add meat sauce or spinach and ricotta
  2. top with pasta sheets
  3. add cheese sauce to coat pasta
  4. repeat 1 to 3 until run out of ingredients
  5. top with grated cheese
  6. cook for approximately 30 minutes
  7. Enjoy

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Carol wants to know why I Blog

twas the night before I speak to carol
when all through the house
not a creature was stirring
It's just my keyboard and mouse
Carol Duncan has asked me to discuss why i Blog and will be talking to me at 1:30pm Wednesday.
To give a bit of a background I am married with 2 lovely girls, my wife works full time at the local energy company in their call centre, I work part time nights in a call centre and finish at 11 at night as well I am a part time therapeutic and remedial massage therapist to some private clients.
During the day I am a "stay at home dad" where I care for my youngest (the green egg- see earlier post) as well as general duties around the house which consisits of forever cleaning, resolving arguements between my two girls as well as tantrums, cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing, you know the drill and then in my spare time i get to do the outside jobs as well.
After work is my sanctuary, the whole family is asleep, I have talked non-stop for 5 hours and it is time to take stock, it's not easy to go straight to bed as i am still wide awake until about 1:30am. It's also "me " time which i don't get during the day. All those creative juices come out when I have time to think. I am not a professional writer so excuse the occasional spelling mistake, I am not being paid for my posts (not that that is a bad thing) and I'm not here to push products or services on you.
I originally started up this blog over 12 months ago, but didn't have any inspiration to do anything with it. It was only just recently that i found the inspiration to start blogging. It was the impending anniversary of the black saturday fires. I wanted to put up a tribute to a lost friend, Nicole Jefferson.
This has inspired me to post more and more. I have so many posts on the go, some on the way, some just ideas just in my head. These are mainly observations, family things, parenting from a dad's point of view, opinions and also memories. There's no specific topic I am talking about.I have much to get out so give me time, give me time.
I am also inspired by all those bloggers out there, through twitter and listening to the ABC I have come to find other bloggers. There are so many stories to be told, some heartwarming, some informative, some funny and then there's the truely sad stories. It takes courage to open up so publically.
I write because i have something to say, If you like what i have to say, please pass me a comment, I welcome it. I feel I need to get it out there, whether anyone reads it, I am not concerned.
I hope you enjoy my blog, i hope you find something that you like. I hope i don't disapoint in today's interview. We will also be talking about an earlier post, why i love Sci Fi

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Melburnian in Newcastle- a guide

When i met my wife who was from Newcastle we made the decision to move here eventually. As our daughter was about to turn 3 we finally made the decision to make the move, not an easy feat as it's a move of over 1000kms.

While both newcastle and melbourne are both part of australia, i thought i might mention a few differences that struck me and i had to make some adjustments.

These are not complaints, just observations. As the phrase goes, when in rome, do what the romans do. I love this city, and not it's not sydney.

Place Names

  • Victoria has Pakenham Upper and Launching place but NSW has Tumbi Umbi and Kangy Angy.
  • NSW says Castle as if it was Carstle unlike the castle in Castlemane
  • Places like Merriwa is pronounce merri-war, or Wauchope- war-hope. Then there is the "i" in pace names is pronounced as eye not like in victoria which you would pronounce as a "ee" sound.
  • People living in Newcastle call themselves Novocastrians
  • When they say the Bay they mean Nelson Bay
Other curiosities

  • there is no compulsory or structred preschool program, what is called Kindergarten in Vic is called preschool here but you have to pay for it as childcare.
  • What victorians call Prep is called Kinder (the first year at school) which is really confusing when having an interstate conversation.
  • Primary school is called Public school and Secondary college is called High school and year 12 still does the HSC here.
  • the equivalent term for a Divvy van is a Paddy Wagon
  • when pulled over by a police officer, no it's not the police officer from the village peopl, the leather cap is a serious, official peice of uniform.
  • In melbourne the beaches are, well lets face it flat, most beaches here face the ocean which means they are equivalent to a back beach, Lake macquarie the water is similar to the bay beaches.

Food and drink

  • Don't ask for a potato cake, they are called scallops (my wife once ordered a scallop in melbourne and she got a real one much to her horror)
  • Also on fast food, being a fan of steamed dim sims, I was disappointed as there are only the fried variety available.
  • You can't buy flake in NSW
  • Safeway (which is on it's way out in Vic) is owned by Woolworths(since the 1980's) and here it is referred to as Woolies.
  • Beer here is sold in cases, not slabs and obviously.

Roads, Rules and Registration

  • You may notice there seems to be so many different types of number plates out there. Whereas in Vic there are just the Green and Blue formats(i have heard there are also now the Euro plates as well).
  • Registration seems to be so complicated here, every year you have to go and purchase you CTP insurnce as well as get your mechanic to approve your car. This is such a much more complicated process compared to in victoria you just receive you rego papers, pay them and all is done. not to mention how much more expensive it is.
  • Professional drivers are speed limited, for red P's they are only supposed to drive at 90kph and Green p's are allowed 100kph which i think at time they take that literally no matter about the speed limit.
  • Learner drivers are only alowed to travel at 80kph which becomes a bit of a hazard on open roads with 110kph zones. I remember when i learnt i drove to QLD at the speed limit which gave me experience at speed which was invaluable.
  • In NSW you aren't allowed to do a U-turn unless you are told you can as apposed to in victoria where you are told where you can't.
  • Many people who have never been through Melbourne give you stick about doing a hook turn (which is a logical turn when you have trams) NSW has a curious rule, being able to do a left turn on red which can be a bit scary seeing someone pull out on you when you have a green light.
  • Also road conditions are at time deplorable, some roads are just patchwork quilts, there is no more road left, just patch over patch over patch.
  • One thing I have always found amusing is the massive signs telling people about the location of fixed speed cameras, they say "Speed Camera Ahead", no hidden cameras. I love the revenue rasing argument here.
  • Roundabouts, what's with roundabouts, they do this crazy indicator thing when entering which gives no actual indication of where they intend to turn at the roundabout...scary


  • Enough said


  • Newcastle Knights, League league league.
  • they call AFL aerial pingpong, they don't understand it

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Green Egg's got Ingrings

Firstly whenever you ask my 3 year old what her name she says she is a Green Egg,

I have no idea why, but she is a green egg apparently, and everyone in the family has a coloured egg assigned to them. Her favouite colour is green and she has to carry with her a green pillow which is painful as there are very few bottle green pillow cases out there.

Here is a conversation we have

what are you--a green egg
what about mum- a blue egg
what about Dad (me)- a green egg
what about your sister- a pink egg
what about nan- an orange egg
what about poppy- a blue egg
what about your aunt- a red egg
what about your uncle- a black egg (blows raspberry)
what about you- a green egg
are you a furry egg- I'm a green egg
are you a scrambled egg- I'm a green egg

This conversation goes round in circles but we get the same answer, she is a green egg.

Needless to say there is no question what type of egg to get her this year for easter.

So we were at shopping a couple of days ago and she started asking for ispeerse and ingrings. It took a while to work out it was earrings she was asking for.

So my wife took her off to get earrings and aside from the initial cry, she is happy, showing off her new Ingrings. She even turns them everyday although she doesn't like the spray.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Toilet Break Dilemma

Firstly I want to congratulate all the new shopping centres for acknowledging that parent room CAN also mean dads take their kids shopping.

I am a stay at home dad (or at least during the day, i work in the evening) hence I am the primary carer of my 3 year old.

Unfortunately some of the old shopping centres were designed in the days when it was assumed that mothers were the only ones who take their kids to the shops.

I was out shopping in coles at a local shopping centre (no my usual one) when my 3 year old told me she was busting. For those with young kids that means its a case of drop everything and make haste to the nearest toilet, don't pass go, don't collect $200.

My daughter has just recently decided she doesn't mind pooing in toilets which is a milestone as it means no more nappies which we are ecstatic about.

Anyway we made it to where there were the toilet signs, Male, Female and the baby sign (which usually means parents room). So i made my way down the hall only to find there were only 2 doors, Male and Female. So safe to assume the the parents section is in the ladies toilet. SO I am left with the dilemma of what to do. I can't send her off alone into the ladies toilet alone yet so i am having to take her into the men's toilet, not the most ideal.

We went in and she went into the cubicle and did her business and all was fine. We had high 5's when she proudly showed her poo in the toilet, wiped flushed and hands washed.

The thing that concerns me is the perception that others might have about a man taking a child into the men's toilet (after recent child molestation cases).

It doesn't look good or is that my own self consciousness showing?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why I love Sci Fi

Inspired by the conversation on ABC radio today I just wanted to show my appreciation for all things Sci Fi and make it known it is not mindless rubbish but a thinking persons genre.

I was having a "conversation" with my wife about my fondness for Star Trek (well she was having a swipe at me really) and I was trying to raise the argument that you have to look beyond the funny costumes to appreciate it.

For many people Sci Fi is just fantasy, an imaginary world where you can escape into, that is why sci fi and fantasy seem to merge into one genre at times.

I am of the other view that sci fi takes a future which is not written yet, there are possibilities, unknowns, new inventions new worlds, new life forms to come.

Take for example in 1987 when Star Trek The Next Generation was created there were devices similar to the newly released iPad, it was called a PADD. Perhaps it was the inspiration for such a device. Flat screens were used on the enterprise long before they were in use and isolinear optical chips could be seen to be similar to flash drives.

The creators of the show created a possibility and inventors inspired by these ideas brought then to life.

Star Trek was a revolution in tackling issues such as interracial marriage in a time during the civil rights movement. It has also tackles issues such as euthanasia, death, love. Start Trek also poses moral questions such as torture and how it is unreliable.

What comes across from the show is a deep sense of integrity, strong values and a firm belief in right and wrong. The Prime directive is similar to a Doctors oath to "do no harm" or interfere with societies that are not ready to develop technology.

And yet through all the advances in technology it accepts the frailties of life and death is still a companion to all although without any religious overtones which is refreshing.

It also poses technical and physical questions like how to travel faster than light, how time travel would effect your past and future. Some can be real brain teasers, they may be founded in fantasy, but there were a lots of scientific terms that would only be heard in a physics class at university like neutrinos and multiple dimensions.

Yes i know many wore strange headpieces but perhaps the Klingon's represented our fighting side as opposed to the Vulcan's out logical side(who deeply repressed their emotions). Or perhaps acceptance of those who are different from us.

I know they always save the day at the end of the show but if you look at it in it's original context in the 1960's, the world was going to come to a horrible end, it was almost an inevitability that we would suffer mutual destruction at the strike of a nuclear bomb. It showed that even after such horrific destruction, the human spirit would survive, and would eventually prosper.

And yes before you ask, i have been to 2 star trek conventions, but no i didn't wear any uniforms.

And that is just one show, many scifi programs have been blended in thriller or horror genres as well such as alien, or event horizon but then there were films such as GATACA which posed a question about a society where to get ahead you have to be genetically engineered or chosen. There is a class difference based on your genes. It was I think a warning of where we are headed as well.

Sci fi is a thinking persons genre, one that is forgotten because some people can't get past the clothes and the face masks, but whenever you see a Jane Austin film they dress up and talk in a funny way too don't they.
Unfortunately Sci Fi is not regarded highly by Production Companies, they can be expensive to produce as they do involve special effects etc and Television stations usually treat the fans with contempt (cancelling without notice and moving time slots etc). But as a fan we suffer for our passion. Then there are the B grade, low budget programs that do give Sci Fi a bad name.

Gene Roddenberry's world lives on, his vision still a positive one.

By the way guys I pretty much know Star Wars (yes that's what we used to call it until it became episode 4 a new hope) word for word.

Just a quote that was mentioned on the radio

Han Solo "..that's because a droid don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose."

C3PO "I suggest a new strategy R2, let the wookie win."

I think in 1982 we got our first VCR and that was the very first thing we recorded and EVERY time my cousin came over we watched Star Wars.
To finish this rant i have to say it comes
Peace and Long Life....Live Long and Prosper
My favourite Sci Fi Shows/Movies
Star Trek- all series and movies
Star Wars- all movies
Alien Movies
Red Dwarf (comedy Series)
Dr Who

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Leave a Legacy

The recent passing of my aunt, my mums sister, prompted me to think about something my own mum never had the managed to complete. Life is so temporary, can end all of a sudden leaving a vacuum.

Even though mum knew that she had a terminal disease, her health deteriorated very quickly and she was unable to complete what she set out to do.

What she wanted to do was write us each a letter explaining who she was, her history, some advice and just some words.

Other items that she managed to arrange was birthday presents, weddig presents and a present for each of our first child.

Unfortunately mum was not able to complete everything she wanted to do. She was only able to get one letter written for my eldest sister. All i have is video footage and her handwritten recipes, they are her legacy for me. At times when i miss her I miss the fact she didn't get everything down. There's so much i would love to ask her, especially as I now have a family.

So stop now, write down a list of what sort of legacy you want to leave. Make sure your family are aware you love them. Remember you life could end tomorrow.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A message for Nicole Jefferson

Dear Nicole,

I have much to say, it's been almost 12 months since we found out we lost you. I was shocked to hear you had been taken in such an horrific event. Along with your Jamie and your unborn child in the firestorm at Marysville.

I apologise for losing contact with you following me leaving school. Life took over i was studying engineering then looking after mum then getting married and eventually taking my family up to Newcastle.

I was in massage clinic that day, I never turned the radio or the TV on that day. I felt so guilty for not knowing what had happened. It was only the Sunday that I turned the TV on and they said Marysville was Gone....not just burnt but GONE.

It was such a beautiful place. I'm sure you fell in love with the place. I remember driving up the Black spur looking up the cathedral high trees up to Narbathong then taking that turn to Marysville. You were greeted by and avenue of gorgeous tree as you entered Marysville.

It was all of a week later that Roni rang me to tell me we had lost you. I was shocked, so shocked.

One thing that dismays me the most was that i was just weeks, really weeks away from making contact with you. After much hassling from friends I had started up my facebook account and was eagerly making contact with our friends, including the other 3 Nicoles in our group (It was funny how at one stage we had 4 nicoles and 2 nathans), you were one of the next people I was looking for. I don't have a photo of you, Nicole in germany has one, I must get her to scan one in for me. What I remmeder of you was your kindness, your quirkiness and you passion of Doug Anthony All Stars.

I had 774 Streaming for about 2 weeks. Distance made it so hard. To many people in Newcastle the place names were just names, but they were a place i lived, loved or had taken a drive through.

Being so far i couldn't make it down for the funeral unfortunately. I have kept in contact with our friends and promise not to let a few kms get the better or me.

I will remember you this coming weekend. I will Light a candle for you.