Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Here's Hoping

I went and viewed 5 properties in the near vicinity of where our land is today. This was partly to get us closer so we can get the wheels in motion regarding the building of our new house and mainly because our current rental sucks. Its also because our weekend life centres around the community we are building in. Like Saturday swimming for example. Who would have thought that moving into a new house 11 months ago would present with so many problems.

Our dramas started in the first 2 days, both towell racks and one toilet roll holder literally fell off the walls. This was due to poor mounting, the plaster was repaired but none have been re-hung. A year without towel racks was a pain.

We then had issues with both side fences falling over, well they never actually fell over to flat but developed severe leans to them, several months of persisting with the agents and arguments between the builder and the fencer finally had them rectified.

Next up is the natives, man there are a lot of hoons in load cars, yes I know that makes me a hypocrite as I used to be a hoon in a loud car but i'm older and wiser now (I have a loud motorcycle)

The next isse which is also ongoing is the paint. The house was sprayed (as opposed to painted with brush and roller) meaning all the walls have a very chalky surface that is impossible to wipe clean, let alone keep clean when you have 6 sets of little hands. We have done our best to maintain it but when you clean off a hand print and the paint comes with you it gives you a good idea of the quality.

Next up is drainage, its quite clear the house was designed to have an outdoor area but as a cheap measure the whole area has had this gravel mixed with clay layed everywhere. The problem is that the two storm water drains were just piped amongst this clay/gravel. The first time we had decent rain the storm water covers floated away and the 2 storm drains filled with mud blocking them. I actually had to use a shovel to stop the garage from flooding.

The next issue is the grass, this land was obviously paddocks before the estate was built meaning there are existing plant systems. The back and front yards were simply covered with wood chips with no means of keeping already existing weeds at bay, you cant mow it, you cant whipper snip it either so despite several sessions of back breaking grass removal I still haven't been able to remove them all. They will be getting dosed with poison this weekend.

The one problem we expected has been the fact that when we moved in there was only one other house built beside ours, since then the house across the road was built and now the uphill side and 2 more across the road have commenced construction. This has meant builders and mud and building material strewn everywhere, agaain we sort of expected this so its sort of a moan rather than a problem.

It has been a great house though, I really like the floor plan (sans kitchen) I love that our youngest daughter was born there in water. Its house 2 cars, 3 motorcycles and a bus and been a source of many memories.

But will I miss it??

So heres hoping my application for this new place gets accepted, stay tuned.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Update on Tissue Expansion

Busy Busy the last few weeks, for some reason i've started getting quite a few migraines, i've managed to stop them from going full blown by medicating and getting sleep but in the past 2 weeks i've had suffered from the onset 6 times, each time its been a food triggering it.
Anyhoo onto tissue expansion
Its now been 6 fill ups, if I remember correctly:

C is really looking quite…………how should I put it?? Freaky??

Its hard watching him run and play and jump and be a 4 year old boy without worrying about it. We had a great day out in Ballarat a few weeks back with Apwool & co. and I couldn’t help but notice all the stares he was getting from other people, both parents and children.

He noticed it for the first time on the way home from the hospital. We were parked at the lights next to a bus stop full of teenagers and C said from the back seat “they’re looking at me” I didn’t know what to tell him, so I said “wave a them, if they don’t wave back poke your tongue out”. We took off before we could test this but its there for next time.

Our only regular family outing is swimming on Saturdays which is great as we have been going there for a year now, everyone knows us and people don’t really pay much attention to C.

I have pre-booked the next 5 sessions, I hope they don’t put 100+ml in each time as his head will be huge, dressing him is tough now, we bought lots of button up shirts but he insists on wearing t-shirts. Getting his head in is like trying to put the tshirt over a head then over another head.

He has been great with the fill ups though, no tears or getting upset, I think it’s the combination of the great staff and also the many distractions they have for children plus he knows we always get an ice cream when we are done.

Some weeks we are in and out in 10 minutes like yesterday. Other weeks its 2-3 hours which can be draining.

I wish the end was in sight.

Until next Time…..

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Head Shavin Sensation

Slightly Belated

Did the round with the clippers (myself and the boys)

And the girls wanted in too.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Forty Before Forty

So the beautiful wife dobbed me in for a bit of a list, not a bucket list just somethings i'd like to do before i'm forty. So in no particular order here they are.

40. Learn the piano. (Oh man I can see how corny this list is going to get) I have always wanted to play an instrument (I don’t count the recorder) and I think the piano is probably my favourite sound and hell it might help me with my touch typing. Hoping I can squeeze this in with one of the children learning.

39. Read one book per year. Sad I know, unfortunately my reading is mostly motorcycle & home building magazines with the odd technical book thrown in. I am already 3 books behind (Richard Hammond’s auto biography, Sydney Poitiers auto biography & the Ducati story) from consecutive birthdays so I better get started.

38. Buy a welder. As A child I grew up watching my father making all sorts of things from trailers to sidecars in our garage, I have always loved working with metal and would like to buy a MIG and possibly do a short course or two and make useful things for the new house like a fancy front gate.

37. Grow A Full Beard. I'm facial hair inept, I have tried growing a beard several times but I just cant seem to shake the 3-4 week mark, the itchyness drives me nuts.

36. Buy a kayak. I grew up canoeing up and down the ovens river and have always wanted a kayak. I hope as the children get older and their swimming is up to scratch it could become something we all enjoy

35. Organise my tools. Moving house and not having decent storage is partially to blame but it’s still a worthy “to-do”. I have all my tools spread across 3 large chests so I’d love to be able to organise them in one easy to access spot.

34. Speak Publicly. I’ve done numerous presentations in front of CEO’s and entire departments at work but with the exception of a wedding speech I’ve never spoken publically outside of work. I would love to do like a guest speaker talk, not sure what on though. Maybe first time dads.

33. Go back to school. I’ll never go back to the field I originally studied in but I would like to do some further studies, maybe business or accounting. Or maybe even something that sets me up for a career change when the house is completed and I want to be closer to home.

32. Go camping at least once a year. To date its been once with Mamma Bare EVER. I miss around the camp fire under stars with no sign of civilisation, I used to camp and hike and have all sorts of fun in scouts and would also camp for 6 weeks at a time with my family every Christmas - maybe when the children express interest in it (I know mamma bare probably wont).

31. Buy motorcycles for my children. It pains me that B is 10 and hasn’t ridden. By age 10 I was on my second bike and had been riding for 6 years. Granted this has been hindered by not having anywhere to ride; this will change when we build our house.

30. Shirk Technology. Not fully, just a little bit each day. As much as I’d love to go feral I still gotta pay the bills. Obviously in today’s world it’s near impossible not to be connected but I can see myself in the new house in a room only lit by open fire with a glass or red chatting with friends and family. No technology in sight.

29. Save & Restore something. It may be an old car at the wreckers or a piece of furniture left out for hard rubbish collection. I’d like to take something that someone has or is about to throw away and make it useful and appreciated again.

28. Repay my wonderful In-Laws. They own a butcher shop and in 10 years of marriage we have never had to pay them for our meat. Its such a saving and I really appreciate it. I have taken off a week in December this year to help out at their shop. It’s the busiest time of the year in the week leading up to Christmas and they don’t know that i've booked holidays to help out. I may not be able to do it every year but its something.

27. Do a track day down at Philip Island. Hearing my Ducati at max RPM without fear of a speeding ticket, need I say any more?

26. Lose some more weight and get fitter. I’m sticking 6 months on this one. I hate how unfit I am at the moment and need to do something about it.

25. Take up a new sport. Following on from #26 I’d really like to get more flexible, I have been over 6’7 tall since I was about 16 and cannot remember being able to touch my toes since primary school. Something like Brazilian Ju Jitsu would be awesome but who knows, I’ll re-address this when I’m closer to my goal weight.

24. Catch up with my school mates more. I see my three oldest school friends on average once a year. It would be great to make it a little more regular. They are several years behind on the whole “married with kids” thing so its honestly my fault I don’t see them as often as I’d like.

23. Practice patience every day. I work in a stressful job but always keep my cool. I deal well with the chaos of 6 children but often feel its at the side effect of having less patience for them. I hope to be able to take a deep breath and not lose my cool (even if it’s the 15th time I’ve been told a fact about Lego, or Star Wars or Harry Potter)

22. International Travel. Ok just an NZ ski trip for starters, we want to do a trip with the whole family in a few years. Other international destinations can wait.

21. Go to Tasmania Twice - First with the family (driving), then again with mates (riding).

I’m impressed that I am half way already. I was stuck at 37 for like 2 hours

20. Get Some Pets. Firstly a dog, I always had a dog growing up, it hasn’t been feasible for us to date as we were always either fixing up the house or moving. Hopefully soon though, I don’t want an average dog, it has to be me-sized so it will be a great dane. I’d also like chickens. But definitely not cats, I’m allergic.

19. Renew Our Wedding Vows. I wonder if she wants to do it at the same kind of place I do though? On a beach with our children present. (Hint - Cape tribulation)

18. Swim in the Crystal Cascades with my wonderful wife. These are a series of rock pools that a river flows through in far north Queensland at the base of the Kuranda ranges. We both swam there at different times in our high school years but I’ve always wanted to go back there together. Possibly at night, and hopefully naked. ;)

17. Nude up (Building on from #18). Maybe not pose for an art class or streak at the tennis but do something in the nude. I don’t know why, I cant see Spencer Tunic coming back to Melbourne anytime soon so I’m open to suggestions. I once skinny dipped in the main beach at Noosa under full moon light. The water was so clear and it was awesome, it could have been romantic but I was with the 3 mates mentioned in #24 (read male) so although strictly non-sexual it was still invigorating. Maybe a nude beach perhaps….

16. Complete My five bike dream garage:
Primary Bike – Aka my Ducati Hypermotard
Sport Bike - Paul Smart LE My Favourite bike ever
Trail Bike – Something like a husky 610
Cruiser – Some sort of Harley tourer
Chopper – Oh where do I start, I hope to integrate this with #38 & #29

15. Complete a straw bale house building course & build our dream house. I’m keen to do as much as possible with our dream house and really get a sense of building it with my own two hands. While I’ll probably leave the frame, roof & electrical to the professionals I want to do the straw bale walls, carve out niches, integrate reclaimed timber myself. In 20 years time I want to see my finger prints in the render and remember the work and perspiration and the jopurney our family took to get there.

14. Attend both Moto GP & World Superbike Races at Phillip Island – Not necessarily in the same year, I was suposed to do one this year but time ran away from me, I’d love to do the Ducati experience where ui get to sit in a special marquee and go through the pits.

13. Tattoos Tattoos Tattoos – As mentioned by Mamma bare we have talked about getting matching tattoos for years. I currently have an arm band and the children’s names up my inner forearms but I’d like some more. I’d love a full sleeve but it might not be feasible in my white collar workplace. All my current tatts are black so I’d like some colour too.

12. Build my own spit roaster. Again tied in with #38 this would allow me to do more catering gigs and not borrow the father in laws. And have one at home for use whenever I see fit.

11. Volunteer for a charity. Corny I know but seeing Mamma Bare rally for birth choices inspired me. I am not really passionate on any political issues so the next best thing is helping a charity I’m interested in. Not sure which, maybe I need to also put “Get interested in a charity”

Wow top ten already, I did from 20 to here in like 5 minutes

10. Take better care of myself. I plan on being here for my great grand children, while I have never smoked and I drink probably once in 6 months unhealthy snacks and coke are my enemies. I do not like my current size and realise staying at this weight will shorten my life.

9. Build a gaming PC. I know at #9 this seems sad but this is in no particular order so I have put it here. I used to play Call Of Duty and thoroughly enjoyed it but blew the video card in my laptop twice so I have stopped for about a year now. With so many cool games out I really need a decent PC with at least a 30’ hd screen. I plan on involving my oldest son B in the build as he is very tech-savvy and would benefit from it immensely.

8. Get a helmet cam. 6 children doesn’t allow for all that much seat time on the bike so I’d like to get a Go Pro and start recording some of my misadventures. I enjoy editing videos, adding music and the like so it would tie in nicely with #9.

Ok I’ll admit I got stuck here and almost emailed the list home to continue filling it

7. Stay overnight in the city in a nice hotel with room service. Believe it or not we have never done it, We have stayed in motels and hotels around the place but never gone into the city child free and stayed in posh hotel. If there is a pool and health spa this is also an added bonus

6. Get Mamma Bare Drunk. In 16 years together I have seen her tipsy once and drunk once, both were at least 15 years ago. It’s a small hurdle that she doesn’t drink, but I’m sure I can over come this with the right choice of alco pop.

5. Try new foods. I tried pickled chickens foot last Friday, it was positively disgusting, it tasted like cleaning products. I washed it down with durian ice-cream which was as expected (I had Durian 15 years ago and hated it) also equally disgusting, but at least I tried them. There will be more of these tales to come

4. Get back into swimming. I used to swim at district level, I mainly stopped to focus on basketball, which was inevitably ended by breaking both my arms so I have always missed it. I get a fix each Saturday at the pool with the children but I’d really like to train and be at a point where I could compete again in events like the Lorne pier to pub or something similar, hold off on the English channel just yet.

3. Learn to play poker. I don’t know why, it could be fun, I may even hate it. At the moment my card repertoire is pretty much Uno & skip bo so a traditional card game would be a welcome addition

2. Introduce as many of my childhood interest to my children. We already do this with movies but there is so much more out there, I hope living in the country serves as a doorway for them to enjoy their childhoods as I did.

1. Spoil my wife more. She is without a doubt the most selfless person I know and is so easily pleased. She always puts other before herself. If putting up with my motorcycle habit isn’t enough there is the countless bike gear I have occupying the entire spare wardrobe not to mention the fast cars (2), 4x4’s (2) that I have had over the years and the added costs of building & maintaining them. She has put up with my expensive clothes (its not buy choice though - you try finding nice shirts with French cuffs for a 1 meter long arm under $180) yet is content buying a $20 pair of trousers from an op shop or waiting a “few more months” for that digital SLR she has wanted for years.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Simple Things

Who would have thought such trivial things would bring such delight.

The Old

The New

My old work keyboard has served me well, going on 5 years actually. In that time its seen anywhere from 20 to 100 emails a day, has helped me execute millions of database queries, run countless command line scripts not to mention pump out hours of Im chat with colleagues and draft up functions specs, training material and much much more.

One of the curses of knowing your way around a computer is that people usually ask you for help or to fix their IT problems. In the office this can work in ones favour.

There is currently a hardware rollout of new desktops & laptops for all staff. A select few of the new laptops come with this very slick multimedia keyboards. I had previously upgraded my hardware before the rollout so knew I wasn’t getting anything.

I was asked as a favour to look at some database connectivity issues with one of the new build laptops (which I fixed) and in return (I’m all about earning and owning favours in the work place) scored myself a nice new keyboard. I have like 3 spare already but this keyboard is heaps good in comparison and slick to type on. It may seem insignificant but for someone who spends hours on end in front of the nerd screen something that is a pleasure to use and enables better productivity is welcomed.

I also reached a point in my life at aged 31 where I realised I needed slippers. "Old Friend Loafers" to be exact. Unfortunately I had to get them from a little shop called Rosenbergs that specialises in large shoes so they cost me about $70 but its a price i'm prepared to pay for warm feet.

Until next time......

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

For MB

I saw this and thought of you.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Importance Of First Aid - Would You Know What To Do?

I’ve been a first aider for about 12 years. I originally did my certification as part of my nursing studies and then later through various companies I’ve worked for. You basically re-certify every 3 years and refresh your CPR and de-fib every 12 months.

Having first aid skills is a vital asset, all parents should know what to do in a crisis. At worst it could be the difference between life and death. In the least it could just mean keeping a level head in a stressful situation.

I say this because I’ve seen many situations where first aid was required over the years, I’ve seen people pass away in front of me, I’ve seen life and health at both ends of the spectrum.. The one that is etched in my mind was 5 years ago when Mr T (just 3 at the time) had a seizure.

We had not long arrived home from a birthday party held at our local adventure playground. It had already been a day full of fun and lots of energy was burnt by all. We were gathered around the kitchen bench finishing off the party food when T dropped from standing to sitting rather awkwardly.

He then stiffened up and fell onto his back. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was going to have a seizure, I’ve seen many patients in my nursing days do this as well as another family member so when its happening you know. 5 years later I can still picture the look on his face as if it were 5 minutes ago. He looked frozen, trapped inside a body that would not work, his eyes said “help me daddy”.

I had been standing beside him when he dropped to the ground and was already crouched beside him as his hands began to spasm. I knew what was coming so I called out to mamma bare (who was on the other side of the bench holding B) to look away, I didn’t want the memory of this to be suffered by her and B. They were already distraught enough at this point. Seeing an innocent child in a grand mal seizure is not something I’d wish on my worst enemy let alone my wife and son.

T’s body began to shake in repeated motions (aka tonic clonic). Time stood still at this point, what seemed like an hour would have been seconds at most. He had been eating when he dropped to the ground. In first aid training they warn not to put your fingers or any objects in the mouth of a person during a seizure as they bite reflex could see them damage their mouth or you lose a finger. The thought of losing a finger vs a child choking saw me quickly feel in his mouth for food, which was clear. I held him and he convulsed and kept saying in his ear that I was there and to not be frightned and that it would be over soon.

The seizing motions began to ease so I placed him in the recovery position, checked his breathing, mouth & airways again before quickly grabbing my keys and then carrying him to the car. We were at the hospital within minutes and by that time he had already re-gained consciousness so I knew we were out of the darkness. Mamma bare joined us and after a well deserved sleep T was completely fine and has been ever since. The doctors put it down to him having chicken pox weeks 2 weeks earlier and attained that it was still remnants of the infection causing his brain to do a sort of perform a power reset of sorts.

I still look back on that day and tear up, I have as I’ve been writing this. I was a mess for days afterwards and couldn’t even go to work. I couldn’t stop picturing the the visual of him and the look on his face. It was a horrible thing to witness but I am satisfied in the knowledge that I did the right thing and kept my cool.

Would you be able to do the same? First aid training can be a great step towards it.

Until Next time…..

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tissue Expansion Update

Its now been a month since C had is expander inserted.

In that time we have had 4 visits to the RCH, 3 of them for fill ups. 40ml on the first, 100ml on the second and 120ml just 2 days ago.

Combined with 80ml (done in theatre) brings us to 300ml and equates to this:

As I've said before I was dreading it this time around but he has been a real inspiration.

We have standard a booking at the hospital so our weekly routine is spot on and consists of me waking him up, having breaky, then applying angel (EMLA - Numbs the skin) cream to his port, placing a piece of glad wrap over it then bandaging it in place. I also put on his special hat to cover everything and prevent curious fingers then we head off for the hospital, its about a 90 minute drive give or take, time is usually spent chatting, listening to music or playing games on my iphone.
NOt every morning has been smooth sailing, try waking anyone 2 hours earlier than normal on a cold morning and they would be grumpy.

I try to make it as positive as possible, talking about how cool his balloon is and how it's going to get bigger then in "a few weeks" be gone forever. He has shown a little anxiety towards seeing the doc but usually forgets it when we hop in the car and I hand him the magical iphone. The ballon its self is much larger than his last expander and softer (well there is more space) he slept in my arms the otehr night and I just stroked it for an hour.

So far the angel cream has worked well, he hasn't flinched or felt pain when the needle has gone into the port, the doc usually injects saline until C shows discomfort or the skin tightens. On the second occasion we were in and out in 15 minutes. This weeks visit was an hour and a half so it is hit and miss i'm afraid. I cannot praise the staff enough, they are always friendly and happy to see him and also lend a hand hen he needs entertaining during the fill up.

As i've mentioned in my last tissue expander post there are apparently 5 other children going trough tissue expansion at the moment (normal its just one). So far I have seen a little boy with what i'm guessing is a bathing trunk nevus (covers the back) with an expander across his shoulders. I've also seen a little girl with a cape nevus (covers the back and head) with an expander on top of her head and another on her cheek.

Its amazing how resilient children are. mHaving a water balloon on top of his head hasn't slowed C one bit, he still swims, runs & jumps just like before, its his poor parents who cringe every time he trips or bumps his head.

Hoping it continues going as well as it has been.

Until Next time..........