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.