Thursday, December 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
It's funny... I haven't been the movies for well and truly a year. I was trying to remember the last time we went to the movies and it may have been for the last James Bond movie or X-Men Wolverine. I really can't remember!
I've been a massive fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion since the 1990s when SBS first screened it. They screened anime in prime-timeish... Monday nights at 9:30. I was working a split shift and I'd be in bad by 8:30pm most night. But Monday nights I'd stay up to catch Neon Genesis. Fanboy/Geek/Nerd... that's me ;)
Then fast-forward to 2009 and I discover (rather belatedly) that there's been a remaking/re-imaginging of Neon Genesis. I hunt high & low for the DVD (well I fib I looked on ebay) so I got Evangelion 1.0 and I was blown away. I was back to where I was when I first saw Neon Genesis Evangelion all those many many years ago ;)
And as I follow madman entertainment on twitter - I found out that Evangelion 2.0 was part of reelanime (an anime festival) so I then proceeded to debate about whether to go or not.
Couple of problems:
Time. When? Trying to coordinate a time with Larry who's travelling a bit with work. The nanny and when she works. Trying to find a baby-sitter. It was almost too hard.
Did I really want to drag Larry to something he has no interest in.
So I decided to basically just get a ticket for myself for this Thursday. I have no problems going to the movies by myself - always have done - quite comfortable with it :)
So this Thursday I will be geeking out and since the nanny started a couple of months ago I will be doing something for myself... I will be doing something not baby related... how odd...
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
September 1, 2010
I recently met a family in my local electorate, Balmain. As in many
families, both parents work and go to playgroups and weekend sport. Their
cupboard is full of prepared gifts for the endless cycle of year 1 birthday
parties. They are expert in keeping the peace between their bossy daughter
and her baby brother.
The difference between this family and most others is the parents are gay.
Both men have the telltale bags under their eyes that come with juggling
work, raising two young children and trying to remember what a social life
was like. These are decent people who clearly have a deep love for their
kids and strong commitment to each other.
They came to talk to me about the inability of same-sex couples to adopt in
NSW. The issue affects their family directly. Despite raising children and
sharing their life together, only one is a legally recognised parent of
their children. The other has a parenting order, conferring many of the same
legal responsibilities, but there is no legal mechanism allowing his
parenthood to be properly recognised.
I left the meeting with two lasting impressions. The first was an easy
recipe for a bechamel cheese sauce to make recalcitrant four-year-olds eat
their veggies - which proved successful with my daughter. The second was a
deep sense of injustice about the existing adoption legislation.
Many arguments against same-sex adoption stem from a belief children have a
right to, or are best served by, a mother and a father. For most of us who
grew up with a mother and a father, perhaps this is an understandable
reaction. But it fails to acknowledge that many children grow up with single
parents or grandparents, in joint custody situations or with gay and lesbian
parents. When we deny these kids and their families legal rights, we are not
protecting children, we are punishing them for their family not resembling
the nuclear ''ideal''.
Research has repeatedly shown that kids growing up with gay parents are no
more likely to be gay, suffer from mental or physical illnesses or be
unfairly disadvantaged. In fact, one recent study suggested kids with two
mums were more likely to be well-adjusted and have higher self-esteem.
In 2008, I proudly supported the NSW government's recognition of lesbian
co-parents of children born through assisted reproductive technologies such
as IVF. The government has now removed every piece of discriminatory
legislation against lesbians, gay men and their families - other than the
The member for Sydney, Clover Moore, has introduced a bill to Parliament
seeking to remove adoption discrimination. I applaud her efforts. Both the
main parties have allowed their members a conscience vote on this, and it
looks like the vote will be close.
Adoption is not a right. Making same-sex couples eligible would not entitle
them to adopt children.
But reform would provide a mechanism for same-sex couples to have their
parenthood recognised, and to expand the pool of potential adoptive parents.
Currently, lesbian and gay step-parents and foster parents caring for
children across the state are unable to formalise that relationship.
Allowing adoption would provide these children with the legal and emotional
certainty of two legally recognised parents able to make medical decisions,
sign notes for school and ensure the children were protected if one parent
Adoption equality is not just about substantive rights and legal
protections. Removing discrimination is about respecting human dignity and
ensuring everyone has the best possible opportunities in life, regardless of
their sexuality or that of their parents.
I was about 14 when it dawned on me that everyone should be free to love
whoever they fall in love with, and that a civilised society would never
stand in the way of something as giving and fundamentally human as this.
It is my firm belief same-sex couples and their children should have all the
same rights, responsibilities and protections as heterosexual couples and
their families. Discrimination on the basis of sexuality is completely
unsupported by any evidence, and more importantly is unjust.
I am proud to be supporting Moore's bill to remove the last piece of
discrimination against same-sex couples and their families. I look forward
to a day soon when unjust discrimination is a thing of the past.
Verity Firth is the NSW Labor state Minister for Education.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Ok, for those who don’t know, I’m an amateur photographer, quite a keen one and also it seems quite a good one (but that’s entirely subjective) – I still have so much to learn and much further to go. Anyway, I’ve had work exhibited both here in Melbourne on numerous occasions and also once in New York in an interactive exhibition (that was very exciting!). I’ve also had a couple of photos published - which was also very cool.
So I was thinking that it might be a good idea to compile a tips & tricks document that will hopefully become organic in nature. I’m not the world’s best photographer and I don’t claim to be.
For those who haven’t seen them:
My two flickr sites
My own -> http://www.flickr.com/photos/nettsu/ (which pretty much has everything I do in it! The good & the bad!)
My family photostream -> http://www.flickr.com/photos/larryandmichael/
Now down to the nitty gritty…
Your equipment shouldn’t matter (how many times have you heard this line!). You should be able to achieve good photos with any camera. Better cameras don’t make better photographers. Please don’t even think that to take good photos you need to spend the money on a dSLR. Learn what your camera can do. Read the manual (I don’t think I’ve ever read a manual start to finish to be honest). Learn what each mode does and what you can achieve with it. Find what you like and run with it :) Or basically play. Select the mode, shoot a couple of snaps and see if you like the result.
Take multiple shots. Memory is cheap – buy multiple memory cards. I suggest multiple shots for a number of reasons, children move fast! I’ve learnt this. Also I think its better if your shots of people with their eyes open rather than their eyes shut.
Auto. This can either be a bug-bear or a saviour. Most “real” photographers will tell you not to shoot in Auto. Ignore them – as a friend of mine said – camera companies have spent millions on developing these modes, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t use them. I personally will only use Auto when I can’t the image I want to work using my presets (normally shooting in full sun).
Flashes… well yes. Not a fan. I think in the nearly 11 months plus of the girls life I have used the flash maybe 3-4 times. I really try not to use the onboard flash as they are incredibly bright and while I may be over-reacting I am concerned about the potential damage that incredibly bright light can do to little eyes. This is entirely personal choice! But this ties into my next point.
Be aware of light and where light is coming from. Use it to your advantage. This is one of the things in my mind that takes a photo from ordinary to extraordinary. Be aware of the direction of the light and what it’s going to put in shadow. Also keep in mind you are much better taking photos in the shade/indirect light then you are taking photos in full sunlight. Now post-processing can help (I use CS3 but I don’t know nearly a tenth of what it can do) some images but the old adage is really true – crap in, crap out (or garbage in, garbage out). iPhoto from what I understand also has some pretty powerful, basic photo editing tools. Not sure about PC based programs sorry – I haven’t used a PC in a number of years.
Composition (or how you frame/shoot your photographs). At the end of the day this is what makes or breaks a good photo. A badly composed photo is a badly composed photo. We’ve all seen photos with people’s heads cut off etc… this isn’t really about that. This is more about space and negative space. Be aware of negative space and how you can use it to your advantage. As in if you have a child up against a wall maybe move back a bit to make it more interesting. Be aware of background elements in the photo you are trying to take as they can detract or add to a photo. Also don’t feel constrained to shoot in either a horizontal or a vertical mode. Mix it up a little, shoot on an angle. Get closer to your subject, get further away etc… again just play and have fun with it. Another idea is maybe try to get candid shots of people with your baby/babies. I think we’ve all seen the overly forced smile photos – you know the ones I mean where people either look constipated or in physical pain – a lot of people don’t like having their photos taken so try to be more obtuse about it and there is a certain sweetness or elegance that come through candid shots.
iPhone apps – there’s a number of iPhone apps that can be fun to use to create interesting and quirky pictures. There’s some for android equipped phones again but as I’m an apple fanboy, I have no idea about these things ;)
Amongst my favourites are hipstamatic for that wonderful toy camera feeling and Best Camera which allows a number of different treatments (fake polaroids for example). Cameraphones are very good for having on you at all times as you never know just what’s going to happen. I shot mostly with a dSLR but I have a point & shoot in the nappy bag and I always have my iPhone with me.
MIT has a bunch of photography related courses online -> http://www.petapixel.com/2010/02/16/mit-photography-courses-online/
The Melbourne Camera Club in South Melbourne has an introduction to photography course that we (Larry & myself) found quite educational -> http://www.melbournephoto.org.au/introduction-to-photography-course.html
The classes go very fast though! I think it’s $250 for 8 or 10 weeks from memory.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I really didn't like Mumbai.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
24 hours roughly of travelling.
The girls all things considered actually did really well. There was no major meltdowns. Louise didn't sleep much as she had to know everything that was going on. So she'd be asleep and someone would come talk to us about the girls and up would pop her cute little head - get a cheeky smile. It really is very, very cute.
I got the chance to watch 2 movies!
Which for a 15 hour flight is a scream - got to watch both Clash of the Titans & Alice in Wonderland, broken and interupted quite a bit but did eventually get to watch them. Enjoyed both of them.
Qantas I love you! The staff were awesome. The passengers were pretty good (better than our connecting flight). We were waiting for everyone else to get off the plane when we landed at LAX and we were getting congratulated on being able to deal with the girls as well as we did (which was a bit weird). Got patted on the back by a drunk bogan and got a resounding "well done mate". American Airlines - you suck. Larry and I get split up (nothing new for them) and we get put in seats that are nowhere near an aisle... yeah smart move with babies. I could have done with the smartass behind me though who quite loudly said great and rolled his eyes when he saw me with Olivia. I know travelling with babies is an imposition on a lot of people - but my girls are good ;)
We had a really nice moment at LAX when we were going through customs. My surname is different to everyone else in my family and the customs officer was a bit taken aback by that! That struck me as really quite sweet.
Oh and hire car shennigans! I wanted a Ford Fusion - you know a nice mid-size sedan. We got a bonus upgrade to a Saturn Vue. Which is a Holden Captiva in Australia which we looked at getting at one stage. Larry's impression of it - it's a boat! *giggles*
Oh and the internet is so fast here!
Friday, July 23, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
So my friend Elli made Nigella's donut french toast. The idea being that the french toast was based on a powered donut... Which got me to thinking - what if you made french toast out of donuts. So I set myself a mission to make french toast using donuts. Originally I thought Nigella would be proud. Now in hindsight I'd think Elvis would be proud...
Elli's effort and how the damn thing is actually meant to look - http://www.flickr.com/photos/1773/4765975036
Donut French Toast
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
60ml full-fat milk
4 slices from a small white loaf or 2 slices from a large white loaf, each large slice cut in half - this is obviously where I chose to use Cinnamon Donuts
25g butter, plus a drop of flavourless oil for frying
50g caster sugar
Serving Size : Serves 2
1.Beat the eggs with the milk and vanilla in a wide, shallow bowl.
2.Soak the bread halves in the eggy mixture for 5 minutes a side.
Problem 1 - I soaked the donuts for a little two long and one split (you'll see in the next photo)
3.Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan, and fry the egg-soaked bread until golden and scorched in parts on both sides.
4.Put the sugar on a plate and then dip the cooked bread in it until coated like a sugared doughnut
These actually taste better than you'd think... they are incredibly sweet though. Disgustingly sweet. Would I make them again? No. Was it fun? Yes. I have any number of giggles about this over the past couple of days. Just the idea and then the execution. It's fun to play with food every now & then ;)
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Most of my therapy to date has been about my relationship with my mother. I have been in therapy for excess of 3 years. We had a break through this year – I admitted that I hated my mother. Now this is a pretty big step… I will have to venture in the deep murky depths of what my mother was/is and what it all means to me.
My mother left when I was 10 years old. She ran away with the man across the road in a tacky middleclass melodrama. I was very much a mama’s boy – I will admit that – I felt closer to my mother than I did to my father. And when she left I felt completely and absolutely betrayed.
It’s very clear in my memory. I woke up one early one morning and walked in her and Dad’s bedroom, she had packed all of her clothes in her suitcases. I asked her where she was going – she said on vacation. I asked her to take me with her and said no. I went to school thinking everything was ok. I got home from school to find my father sitting on the couch absolutely devastated. Mother had left – packed up all her belongings and left her husband and her two kids to run away with a younger man from across the street. This man eventually became my stepfather. This is also the day that pretty much changed your Opa forever. He loved your grandmother, I don’t think she quite released how much. European men have great difficulties expressing or showing emotion and your grandfather was definitely one of those kind of men.
There’s very much a history of your grandmother and I have problems. She’s had periodic contact with me through most of my life since I was 10. I went years without contact from her or contact with her.
One point I will make and this shapes a large part of my relationship with your grandmother. I was abused (she denies it but that’s to be expected) physically and emotionally. And those scars run deep! If you ever need confirmation just ask your Uncle Eddie he’ll tell you. Now a large part of the problems that I have with your grandmother stem from this abuse. We’ll get back to this.
So anyway through most of my teenage years I didn’t really have much to do with your grandmother. I think I got back in touch with her when I was 18 or 19. I seem to remember driving out to see her and my stepfather when I had my first car. Not long after that they moved to WA. I didn’t really have much contact with them after that.
I eventually got back in contact with her. I always felt like I needed my mother. I should have realised that my mother and I really don’t have anything in common apart from a blood connection and to be honest – that’s really not enough.
At the end of 1996, I moved to Western Australia. My then partner and I had split, were having huge problems and I thought why not! This is actually the first major mistake I made with your grandmother. I should have stayed in Brisbane. I was with your grandmother and stepfather for 2 days before I was in my own apartment in Rockingham some horrific little town about 90kms south of Perth. Your grandmother and I fought – a lot! She also threatened to hit me at one stage, which was when I decided I would move back to Brisbane. In the space of 24 hours I had sold up everything and I mean everything! What I couldn’t sell I donated. I bought a bus ticket back to Brisbane and I spent the night in the grounds of the Casino in Perth.
This is probably one of my regrets and a bit of a low point. I was a bit mean to your grandmother at this stage. Her and my stepfather did buy me some furniture and had set me up in the apartment with the bond and everything else. I did resent them because I didn’t feel particularly welcome. And also I suspect your grandmother wasn’t expecting to deal with an adult – I think she wanted the 10 year old back or she was at least expecting the 10 year old. Somehow I went from being 10 to be being 24. So anyway that went badly and ended badly. My mother and I didn’t speak for a good long while.
So eventually when I was talking to your Uncle Eddie he asks if it’s ok for mother to have my email address. I think sure why not. What’s the harm? If it will make her feel better that she’s back in contact with her two sons – then why not? So mother and I communicate by email for years. It’s nothing – it’s gloss, nothing really deep or personal is ever revealed by me at least. I think mother revealed more but I didn’t really care. I found it all a bit trivial and boring to be honest.
It all kind of changed with your father. Family is very important to your Dad, so I tried to repair my relationship with my father and improve my relationship with my mother. My father unfortunately was a lost cause (I may explain that much later). My mother was thrilled – she was so excited when your father and I committed to each other. She was also very excited to find out that we were trying to start a family. The starting a family came before the commitment – if your father and I were going to have a family then I wanted a commitment between ourselves (this at times proves to be a real challenge though – I do love your father so very much but we have our problems). I was joking for a while that it was a shotgun wedding.
This is about where the story starts to turn back to the darkside…
So anyway, my mother and I are getting on ok. I’m uncomfortable and awkward talking to her on the phone. I don’t like it – I didn’t like sharing things with her it just didn’t feel right to me. It really didn’t. She was missing for so much of my life – she missed all the important things and she didn’t care. Mind you the opposite was also true I missed so much of her life and I just didn’t care – at all. I realise how horrible this sounds – but getting over the betrayal of a parent leaving you is hard (if not impossible).
I was trying.
Maybe not particularly successfully but I was trying.
So back to where I was. We found out that our surrogate had miscarried. Your father was in London and I needed someone to talk to. I rang my mother. I really, really, really, really, really, really, really shouldn’t have. It gave the signal to my mother that everything was ok between us. It wasn’t but I felt I had done the wrong thing by ringing her and I wasn’t sure how to fix that.
My mother and stepfather had planned to come visit us in May 2009 (largely to meet the original set of twins) and they stuck to that after the miscarriage. The reunion with my mother was awkward for me to say the least. By this stage mother and I hadn’t seen each other for over 12 years. She was very touchy-feely and physical and I wasn’t comfortable with that. She was also a bit too curious about things that I felt she had no right to ask questions about:
- how much your father made
- how much I made
- how much the house in the city was worth
- how much the house in the country was worth
I just felt they were really inappropriate questions to ask.
There was a couple of defining moments though. She had known your father for less than an hour and she called him a snob. That just really set my teeth on edge for some reason. I just didn’t really think it was appropriate. The other was – we were meeting your Uncle Mike for dinner – I think he was curious to know what my family was like. So we’re walking past an aboriginal art gallery in Flinders Lane in the city and she’s telling me all about the darkies & the abos in Western Australia (these are two terms you should never use when referring to aboriginals) and I found it really surprising that my mother – who’s a migrant would use these terms at all. I was also really quite surprised that she was that much of a bigot and a redneck.
So the happy reunion was a miserable failure. I was happy to see the back of them to be honest.
She wanted to come back and visit after you guys were born. This concept freaked me out – mostly because she wanted to stay with us. I have not shared a roof with your grandmother for more than 2 days since 1996 and before that it was in the early 80s. This completely and absolutely stressed me out. I managed to delay her visit until late January 2010. And as the date was creeping closer I was freaking out more and more. So I rang her. I asked her not to come. And I have no idea of what happened from that point – it became a whole series of other people’s dramas. I will never speak to your grandmother again based on her behaviour from when I asked her not to come – I asked her to understand that it was what I thought was best for my family, a concept that I will admit is completely alien to her, and I didn’t mean for her never to come (on some level I did I’ll be honest).
There is more to this story but I will leave this here. It will get mired in the pettiness otherwise and this is a situation I need to move on from. I regret that I don’t have a relationship with my mother. But I am also relieved that I don’t have a relationship with my mother (if you get the gist of the catch22).
My sincerest and deepest hope is that I will be a better parent to you both than what my mother was to me. I don't ever want you guys to go through the pain, misery, hatred and agony that your grandmother has put me through.
My final comment on this - I was walking with your grandmother down the street we used to live in Trentham and she asked me if I had any happy memories of my childhood with her. I don't. I've searched for them. I don't have any. And that saddens me...
Thursday, June 24, 2010
So where we…
That was a bit of diversion really!
We will be back to me trust me. It generally works like that…
So anyways… we’re in early 2008. You’re father has just gotten back from the trip to London and he’s pointed out this article in the International Herald Tribune. So we start investigating whether or not we can do it. Financially, it’s much more viable for us (as surrogacy in India is considerably cheaper than the US). So we we start to investigate the possibilities. Now at this point your Dad is working in Singapore for 3 months (I did say he travelled a lot).
So while we were talking about and investigating the possibilities for us to create a family your father had the ability to fly from Singapore to Mumbai. It’s a 9 hour flight – which doesn’t seem like much really.
So your father was investigating two options.
One was with Dr Patel in Anand. She normally doesn’t deal with single men but she made an exception for your father. This is where your father and I had a bit of a heated discussion. I was also moderately offended that he was approaching her as a single man – to me it felt like he was creating our family based on a lie and I wasn’t really that important in the grand scheme of things from his perspective.
The other was with Rotunda in Mumbai. This clinic also had it’s own challenges. When your father went to sign up with them – they sent him home with his file cover sheet, which was what meant to identify him… so they lost “us” for about 9 months.
So as Rotunda didn’t seem particularly keen to begin with. We decided to progress with Dr Patel – we were very lucky and our surrogate got pregnant after the first transfer. We found out a couple of weeks in that it was twins! We were excited – your father and I wanted twins – I’ll explain that in a later blog post. We then found out it was in fact triplets. The third foetus was hiding behind one of the other ones. We were informed that at 12 weeks our surrogate would be undergoing a foetal reduction. A rather barbaric practice in India where one of the foetal hearts is injected with a solution that forces the heart to stop. The surrogate’s body then eventually rejects the foetus – this also potentially increases the risk of a miscarriage of all foetuses. When our surrogate was pregnant at 15 weeks, I get a phonecall from your father who was in London at the time – our surrogate had miscarried and lost the remaining two foetuses.
I had never in my entire life felt so devastated or crushed or alone. And your father was half a world away. I really didn’t know what to do. I have never before in my entire life just crumpled. After I got off the phone to your father I did just that – I crumpled. I cried for about 2 hours and then on and off for the next 5 days… The following day I also made one of the biggest mistakes of my life – I rang my mother. I’ll explain that in my next blog post.
So when your father came home from London we discussed options. Where did we go to from this point. We finally got Rotunda to realise that we were supposed to be doing something with them and they started the process of for us.
Your father heard my concerns about going through Dr Patel as a single man. Mostly how we would explain that we were both there at the birth to eventually pick up baby or babies. That I really didn’t feel comfortable starting our family based on a lie. I still will occasionally have my gay activist hat on.
So we had another 3 attempts – 1 with Dr Patel and two with Rotunda… I’ll be honest. Your Dad and I were running out of money. We didn’t know if we could afford any more attempts. We decided to give it one more try (which actually became our most expensive attempt to date! But I’ll explain in the post following the one about my mother – it’s the trip to India!!!).