Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Today is Wednesday

On Monday evening I had a migraine & I still have a headache today. Its kind of the equivalent to a really heady hangover. I've had migraines since I was a teenager, a gift from my parents I guess as my father was a chronic sufferer & my mother also experienced them. On average I would estimate I get twelve per year (1 per month) of that twelve I would put mine into 3 categories.

The first category is when I am able to spot the symptoms & "Catch" before its too late. I can usually spot the signs that one is coming. For me its patchy/blurred vision & strange affect on my depth perception. This is is called the "aura" and can make the most medial of tasks like driving rather difficult. If I medicate at this point my eyes usually clear up, there are no further symptoms and I can go about my day.

The second category is when I am not able to catch the migraine at the point of the visual aura, usually its because I'm doing something that doesn't make me notice the visual symptoms (working at my desk with my glasses on or sitting in a movie theatre are both good examples). For these if I am able to medicate at the onset of the headache & other symptoms and put my self in a dark quiet room & fall asleep I can usually avoid the brunt of it by sleeping it off. I put Mondays incident in this category, I will still wake up feeling like I have had too much to drink and have a dull headache for 2-3 days

The final third is where I do not catch it at the first 2 stages. For it to get this bad for me its usually BAD. I need to be home, I need to be in a dark room & I need silence (always a challenge with 6 children). I've been caught out at work once & had to be driven home, so usually when I am at the second stage & know I cannot avoid what's coming (ie no meds) I leave wherever I am. I then have what I call a "full Blown" migraine I liken it to a constant pounding pressure in my head, a high sensitivity to light and sound and with nausea & eventually vomiting. It feels like your head is slowly blowing up like a balloon that never pops, I tend to thrash around in bed as no position is comfortable. I find an ice pack or wet towel from the freezer for my head is about all that will help once I'm past the point of my meds working. One of my most severe migraines got to this point & I managed to crawl into the shower & turn on the cold water before passing out, mamma bare found me half frozen and I ended up getting hospitalised.

When it finally subsides (usually after I have thrown up or passed out) I will generally sleep for 24 hours and be pretty much a write off for another 48 hours after that. I'll usually have an "after headache" which feels like a hangover and I'll also not be thinking straight for a day or so.

After many years I know my triggers. For me its a combination of dietary & emotional. If I combine any one of a number of foods when I am tired or stressed it will usually end in a migraine. I have had the odd occasion where a knock to the head has also caused one. On my naughty list of foods are onion (in particular salad/Spanish onion), dark chocolate corn chips (Have onion powder) & a few others but it will usually only affect me if I eat the food on an empty stomach in the afternoon when tired or stressed I can happily eat chocolate of an evening after dinner or even for breakfast and be fine. However on Monday I got home from work, had 2 pieces of chocolate from a block and within 90 minutes was suffering migraine symptoms, I was tired (after a big weekend) and hadn't eaten since lunch time. That was all it took.

I used to take pretty strong medications that would leave me groggy and pretty much useless for the rest of the day. It was also very difficult to keep down a tablet when you are feeling nauseous. This meant no matter what stage I caught the symptoms at I would still not be able to function for the rest of the day. It also meant if I was later in the stage of pain I would throw up the tablet and have no relief. Luckily when Mamma Bare and I married I switched to her GP I raised this issue with him and he suggested I try over the counter aspirin (in a higher dose of 3-4 dissolved tablets) as many believe migraine is a issue with blood pressure in the brain and because of its affects on blood clotting and blood thinning it help areas that have too much blood (aka my skull). I have used them ever since, I realise there are probably other issues associated with taking so many tablets a year but they work better for me than prescription pain meds.

I hope none of my children have the same issue. Migraines are apparently equal in numbers amongst children but increases with girls in their teens and adulthood resulting in something like a 75/25 female to male ratio.

Until next time I'll continue to pick onion out of my food and wait till after dinner for chocolate........

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another Day, Another Birthday - The Wet Weekend

Mr T turned 8 while we were on camp so we threw a party yesterday. He wanted to have it at our local swim centre (where we spend every Saturday). The added bonus & main reason for his decision was that when having your birthday there you get to play on an inflatable jumping castle that floats on water, this is a big hit with the youngsters.

It was already a busy weekend for us, we like to have one thing planned per day we spent Saturday morning as usual swimming and followed up with T's friends 8th birthday party on Saturday evening. Among other things C managed to eat until he threw up, I fell in the Yarra trying to rescue a baseball & we ended up making it a rather late night of cake baking and "Happy Face" making.

T wanted an ice-cream cake but as the drive to the centre is not exactly quick and we would be having the cake later in the party it was agreed that mamma bare would work her cake magic. As a substitute to ice-cream we also made these happy faces. You basically ice a biscuit any desired colour you like, dip the top in 100's & 1000's for hair then add a jelly bean for the mouth, a musk for the nose and round coloured choccies for eyes. They were a big hit and devoured in minutes.

Sunday morning we all rose fairly early and mamma bare iced the cake & made up a fruit platter. I made fairy bread and prepped a nice big cooler of cordial and then we loaded up the bus and made our way to the centre. Things kicked off about 15 minutes late as none of our guests had been out to where we live since we bought our land a few months back. The children (aprox 13 kids made up of friends and family) played games like scarecrow tiggy, treasure hunt & noodle races in the medium pool. Both myself and my brother in law & father in-law also got involved - a great time was had by all. We then progressed to the large pool for floating inflatable fun. Here are some of the 100 or so photos:

Now strictly speaking the inflatable is for children aged 8 and over. Out of 13 children 4 were aged 8 or over so we bent the rules slightly, the hostess was cool with this as we had 2-3 adults in the water and 1-2 out helping the children onto the first obstacle. I tried stepping on the start and fell straight in the water, it was softer than I expected, I would have loved to have a go though. 3 out of our 5 swimmers had go, Miss L and Mr C aren't really that confident at the deep end so they watched happily. I was most impressed with Miss P our 2 year old who gave it a go, assisted by her big brother.

After the inflatable fun we sat the children down for food and did the cake:

A first for us was that all the food & snacks eaten & no children came back with the usual "I'm huuuuuuungry" so we judged the numbers well. After polishing off every last skerrick of cake the kids enjoyed some wrestling fun in the pool with their uncle, which was good for me, normally its me being beaten up so I was able to relax in the pool. I felt for mamma bare who had miss H in arm most of the time and couldn't swim, despite being a cool day the heated pool creates a sort of greenhouse atmosphere so it was really quite warm for the non swimmers.

We ducked out to our land to show our friends where the future house will be built and then headed home for much needed rest, I have to say I slept like a log last night. Everything hurts this morning though.

Until next time.......

Monday, March 22, 2010

What Did I Learn On Homeschool Camp?

It was reaffirmed for me during our week away that some of the things we do differently are working well for us, I also learnt some new ones.

1) Attachment Parenting Is Awesome.
Miss H was always in a sling, or in our arms. Despite teething and having a slight cold miss H was a dream to have with us, be it hiking up to the archery course in the blazing heat or washing the 30+ peoples dishes. The great thing about using the AP style & approach with our children (especially the youngest 3 who have been parented this way since birth) is that we see more and more how independent they are & how well they interact with others, this is a direct result of the gentle and nurturing way in which we treat them.

2) Walkie Talkies.
There were 2 other large families on the camp both rocking the walkie talkies, definitely on my shopping list for next time.

3) Co Sleeping.
We didn't pack a portacot (ours hasn't left the garage in about 5 years) I slept in one double bed with Mr C, Mamma Bare slept with Miss H & Miss P and the eldest 3 all shared rooms with us. I think the strenuous days helped with getting a solid nights sleep because even the sand in the bed didn't phase me.

4) Baby wearing.
I have thoroughly enjoyed wearing all our children, we have progressed from Baby Bjorn many years ago (shudder) tried the mac pack, ergo & now rely on the kozy carrier and mammas storchenwiege wrap (I'm soon to order my own in cammo). Having bubs on me allowed me to photograph the other children in their activities, free up both hands to eat a meal, free up mamma bare to eat a meal & most importantly give miss H a chance to sleep wherever we were. The stroller was there for Miss P when she needed to crash but most of the time it was our clothes/hats/sunscreen/water bottle trolley.

5) Home schooled Kids are great.
They instantly treasure the relationships they make and are not forced to "get along" with other children like @ school. Our boys met friends their own age & by night #2 were the best of friends, its a shame the reside a state away.

6) I really need to do more interesting things with my children.
MR B did some electronics kits, sure I was a little nervous and maybe got a few singed knuckle hairs from B's efforts with the soldering iron but I had a ball and was mesmerised with the look of concentration on his face and also the attention to detail it put into creating his LED "Man & Dog".

7) One of the most useful skills any child can learn is the ability to swim.
I rate it higher than reading and writing for anyone under 10. Spending time in water safely is a treasure, our numerous moves have made lessons hard but for almost a year now we have spent every Saturday swimming (lessons + play time). Its really showing in the children's abilities in water now.

8) Meltdowns are inevitable.
They are, you cant plan for everything. You cant keep everyone happy all the time.

9) Owning a Bus is great.
We had Um'd and Ahh'd about the purchase of our bus, particularly with the $1200 service bill prior to our week away but I cannot praise it enough now. Its actually our 5th vehicle since having children and our second people mover. I managed to fit a large esky, 40lt tub, 3 suitcases, 2 back packs, 6 doonas, 8 pillows, stroller, 2 camp chairs, a million pairs of shoes. It got around 800km to a single fill up and hapily sat on 110kph with the A/c pumping all day long.

10) Going Tech Free.
While the children are already commercial TV free a week away from computers, Internet, email, my iphone etc etc was sooooooo good for me. I'm thinking of making 1 day a week tech free, obviously week days are hard at work staring at 3 screens but who knows - stay tuned on that one.

11) Sooner or later you have to come back down to earth.
In our case it was with a rather large bump. Amongst the mail, mag subscriptions and bills was a letter from the Children's Hospital - Mr C's next round of tissue expander's will be put in in just under 7 weeks.

Until next time........

Sunday, March 21, 2010

31 Years Young

Mamma Bare Turned 31 Yesterday

We started going out back in high school in the middle of year 10, we were both 15

I had never had a real girlfriend and was very nervous in the early days, we barely touched one another for the first few months, we went out to movies and road trains & buses around to kill time, it took me weeks to get enough courage to hold her hand. Luckily hand holding lead to kissing, kisses lead to proper kisses and so on. But looking back I always feel that I fell in love with her before our first kiss.

We grew up together sharing many teenage milestones along the way, she helped me shave for the first time, bought me my first pair of Oakleys, wrote messages inside my school books, taught me about the ins and outs of 70's model ford falcons etc etc. We always respected each others space, we would spend recess and after school together, but lunch was for our friends. Before graduating high school we new we were soul mates.

It was however really hard in the early years, being 17 and knowing you want to spend your life with your best friend can be frustrating when you have to say goodbye at the end of each day as opposed to goodnight.

Looking back it seems like decades ago, we soon got engaged moved in together, had a baby together, bought land, got married, sold land, bought a house had more babies and fast forward 17 years and here we are.

Its funny because on paper we have little in common, sure we have a few television shows we watch together and we both love the Beatles, but that's about it. I cant stand her radio station nor her mine. I have a place for everything yet she continues to find new locations to store the car keys or her purse. I like horror movies she likes rom coms, I wake at the crack of dawn she sleeps til midday. Although there are much more opposites it really is irrelevant and that is the way we like it.

We do however share a common outlook on life and the same goals for what we want & also how we raise our children. She has taught me that just because our parents did something doesn't mean we have to follow suit, she has introduced me to home birth, homeschooling, and gentle parenting techniques. I learn from her every day and even though my face has aged and although I now have grey hairs and thick whiskers I still look upon her with school boy eyes & the crush I've had since since we were 15.

I could die tomorrow happy that I have shared half my life with her, she is my equal, my best friend and the reason I am the man I am today. I'm proud beyond words at the fact that she has carried and birthed our 6 (abnormally large) children.

With her holding my hand I have no weakness & together we can achieve anything.

Happy birthday my love

Short Hiatus

So cool and the gang have been off for the past week in rural NSW on homeschool camp. Just one of the many ways we shake the normal trends.

It was great to have a weekend away with like minded parents and their awesome children.
Some activities included:
rock climbing
ropes courses
sand pittery
bouncing pillow
Face painting

Some of the 300+ photos we took

Mr C disco Dancing

Dad Slingin'

Mum slingin

Miss P and I crashed every night

Miss H having a ball

Miss L after face painting

Mr B Rock Climbing

Mr T Rock Climbing

Mr C ready to rock (climb)

Into it

Miss L also gave it a shot

The sandy play area was a hit

Chillax time

smiles all round

Tennis tournament

Final night sunset

We are now eagerly planning our next camp.

Until next time.........

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More House Stuff

So Mamma bare and I have been doing a lot of soul searching with house designs, what to do, keep renting, live on site this design versus that etc etc.

We pretty much agree that we want a bespoke design that is both environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing, we also want to be able to complete as much of the house ourselves as possible some designs allow for more or less of this. One such style that I touched on in my last post but wanted to talk more about is straw bale.

Strawbale houses aren't just made out of straw, if they were the wolf would blow them down. The secret to the effectiveness of strawbale is in the simplicty of construction. The bales do not hold any load and as such really ar only fill in the walls, once assembled they are rendered on inside and out with one of many options including lime, adobe, cement etc. The end result is a wall that is about a foot thick, meaning the house will maintain temperature.

In thi shot you can see the frame is already erected, a moisture barrier is then prepared for the first course of bails (the gravel bit).

From here its realy just a matter of stacking your courses of bails, then preparing them (with a mesh barrier) before render.

There are many options for render, this lightr colour is lime rendered
Different option for colour

Yo can see this desgin allows for all water cought from the roof to route to one tank at each end.

Render can either be sprayed on, trowled on or even hand rendered like this shot

One of the great things about having thic walls is doors and windows can be sunk into the structure.
The sunk in windows and doors carry to the interiors which have such a warm and "hand made" look about them, I like this the best with straw bale construction, not the windows also allow for the construction of window seats.

Windows can be made into any shape, I particularly like the reclaimed timber window sils.

The sky is the limit design wise, this homestead style post and beam is a good example, very simple.

Mmmm Thick walls
Again, windows can be made in any shape

Exposed beams and cathedral ceilings really set of the interior

A little out there, but still what you can do wth render is really only limited by your own creativity
Until next time........

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Not Fussed Really (or was it real fussy???)

Confession time..........

I wouldn't say I have OCD, I usually open and close a door twice before walking through it but everybody does that dont they? No I'm just overly fussy, I like certain things certain ways.

Here are a few:

Mash potatoes - While they are still hot I have to put butter in them and white pepper on top. It has to be while the mash is still hot so the butter melts. I always serve mine, get it perfect, then serve everybody elses.

Socks - I only wear 2 types of sock (multiple pairs). "All Day Socks" for in the office and Bonds Sports Socks (ankle height) for anything else.

Shoes - There was a time where the only casual shoes I would wear were Converse Chuck Taylor Allstar lows but I feel i've made progress in this area. After wearing ADIO footwear skate shoes for the past year the Hamilton V2
is officially THE MOST COMFORTABLE shoe i've EVER worn. (hmm 2010 colours are cooooool)

Undies - Bonds Trunks - I have worn nothing but these for going on 10 years now & hope I never have to change. The thought of switching styles let alone brands its too much to comprehend right now.

Glitter - Ok this one is just a hatred thing.... Is it not the most awful substance on the face of the earth?? It gets into everything, dont get me started on giftmas.

Alcoholic Drinks - Not that I drink it often but I can tell when beer is past its shelf life (90 days??) by the taste & will usually tip out or (to be polite) finish the one I have then have no more. Similarly red wine is a favourite but has to be a few degrees cooler than room temp (but not chilled) my tip is to chill the glass ;)

Strange Food Combinations #1- I hate banana, with a passion, the smell of them makes me dry reach, and the look of one with a bruise brings back memories of my Mother making banana cake using horrid black soft banana. I'll eat those lollie bananas though.

Strange Food Combinations #2 - I will only have my usual cereal (all bran) with low fat milk, but I only have full cream on any other cereal (Vita Brits & Porrige).

Clean Butter/Margarine Tub - This is a hard one in a family full of vegemite animals. There is always lots of colours in our marg tub - I keep my own hidden at the back of the fridge. Actually I also keep a hidden sauce bottle up high in the pantry. I only have sauce on sausages and hamburgers but the other members of our clan have it on everything from veggies to roast lamb so its a real pain when we run out on the night I cook sausages and hamburgers.

Glasses - I only wear Oakley for sunglasses & reading glasses. I update my sunglasses every 18 months to 2 years. I think i'm on my 12th pair now. I'm also fussy about the lenses, they must always be completely clean before use and preferably polarised.

PC screens - I always have to have an imaculate screen on both my personal and business laptops. My car windscreen is also similar to this.

People who screw both screws on the monitor cable plug all the way in - WHY?? may you all rot in hell.

Bike Gear - I have 4 jackets, 4 pairs of gloves, 2 pairs of boots, 4 pairs of pants all adding towards a "perfect" combination for any given weather situation.

Thats just a snapshot really, just what Mamma Bare and I could think of. Its not all bad, I'm easy going in just about every other way honest I am!!! My Father was the same about certain things and now my eldest is shaping up the same also.

Until next time..... (I need to go rescue my tub of butter from the children)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Potential House Designs

So there hasn't been too much movement on the new house front, which sucks as every month we spend renting is another month away from our dream.

We do have a list of designs we like, the first is a style thats Classic Federation/Early Victorian. They look like 1900's farmhouses - Mamma bare really likes these.

The next on the list is strawbale (one of my favourites) I really like what you can do with a strawbale yourself (pretty much all of it)

We are also really liking timbercrete, this pic is a simple post and beam design with loft.

But My favourite of them all is the Ral

These are basically a modular design where the wall and roof are one, constructed in 8 segments, the result are these 'tunnel' style houses.

The tunnels comprise of 2,3 & 4 way intersects with open ends that are then glass filled.

The foundations can be slab but we really like stumps with a suspended floor, this allows for ample outdoor decking and entertaining.

As well as storage underneath for rainwater tanks. The Ral's roof design allows for all water to be caught and the guttering system is under the roof meaning leaves are not an issue.

Inside the dimensions are 3063mm in the centre & 6126 across the base (more than enough room for our giant children).

None of the internal walls are load bearing meaning you can do your floorplan any way you like it. We want our kitchen/meals to flow out onto the deck.

In A time where water is scarce and the cost of everything is going up, we really want a sustainable house that can be self sufficient with water storage, energy efficient (so its easy and cheaper to heat and cool) and hiopefully have solar power s we can feed back into the grid. At the end of the day I'd hope to just have a phone bill, nothing more.
Some of these designs are easier to do more work yourself when you are living on site, we are currentlyexploring this but ultimately may just get the majority of the external shell done to lockup and finish the interior ourselves after we move in.
The next steps for us are to get a couple of dead trees on our land removed (ringbarked by the previous owner) and then a bush fire assement done.
After that we are planning on a trip to Ararat to check out the RAL display there and hopefully we can decide on a design and really start making things happen.
Stay tuned.........