Monday, 31 March 2014

Videos of Penelope!

I figured out how to actually get videos up so here you go! A few little videos of Miss Penelope just being Miss Penelope!  I know there's lots of family wishing they could see her grow so maybe this will make you all smile. :)

(Don't mind the little bits of upchuck at the end of the second and third vids. She's just a spew machine some days!!)














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Monday, 24 March 2014

An Open Letter To Book Lovers Across The World

A little note from my Dad......


We all stand on the hands of the clock face of time. At first, when we are young the hands moved slowly, then as the dramas of our lives unfolded, the hands of time seem to speed up and there never seemed to be enough time to do all of the things that living a life requires in this crazy world. Every now and then we took a moment to reflect on the things that have happened in our own little world, we watched as our children grew from babies to adulthood, and we wondered where the time had gone, and this is the place that I find myself in now. The doorway has opened to the autumn of my life. I look back through weary eyes, and I reflect on the things that were, those that I knew, and those whose lives were never fulfilled. I am at the final fork on the road of my life and I wonder as to where it shall lead me.

I recently wrote a book about my journey through life. It starts out with me as a child in an orphanage in the 1950's in Australia. The road that I travelled as a child along with other orphan children was littered with pot holes of despair and caverns of darkness. From my earliest recollections I was searching for a father who had once loved me, but had left me when I was three years old with no explanation. The authorities said that I had no right to any information about my family. I was 16 when I asked for their help. It would take me another 31 years to find out the truth. I spent 47 years of my life in total trying to find out the truth about my fathers death and where we had come from, and who I was. Along the road I was involved in the death of a young policeman. The death of that young man played an important part in me finding what I had been been searching for, for so many years, and I dedicated my book to his memory. My search took me across the world to Ireland and to the land of my family who I had never known.

My book is called  A Long Way To Goulacullin.  Goulacullin is pronounced Gill A Cullin. It is Gaelic and means River By The Glen. It is a place that is dear to my heart and on Sunday the 30th of March I will be travelling back there. You can follow my journey over the following two weeks on my Facebook page. John Kingston McMahon. I live in a small town called Gordon in the state of Victoria, Australia. Now the reason that I'm writing this post is to promote my book. It was released on December the 5th 2013. Just 15 weeks ago. It already has some good reviews, two from newspapers and one from that eminent book review company Kirkus. There are also some good reviews on the Amazon Kindle site. So far people in New Zealand, Italy, America, Ireland and Australia have read my story. I am very gratified by this, but a book is a commodity like any other product, and if the commodity is not marketed then hardly anyone will hear about it.

So I am asking book lovers and people from around the world if they could please share this post even if they don't want to buy and read my story.

I would also love to hear from anyone that has read my post, and, or my book and if you could email me to let me know what country that you live in, that would be great. I will reply to your email. I'm an old bloke who is trying to keep up with the technology that seems to change almost every day. So I thought that if I used the internet to promote my story, I could also see if this technology does connect people from around the world.

My email is goulacullin@gmail.com and my name is John.

Writing my story was emotionally very hard for me, for it is a sad story, and those of you with a soft heart may cry a little when you read it, but that's okay, because if you read my story and you shed a tear, then you shed tears for the children in my story that had no one to cry for them, and that can't be a bad thing. But as hard as it was to write this story, it pales into insignificance in trying to get a book published. I don't have the time to wait months, or possibly years for a mainstream publisher to decide if they wanted to publish my book. So I took the bull by the horns and self published my story.

All that means is that I paid for the publishing costs and in doing so, it allows me to get my book into the market place sooner. But like all amateurs  I had no idea on how to market my book. But I'm getting there, and with your help I can promote it more. I don't have a publishing budget like the big publishing houses, in fact, I don't have a budget at all. I'm not a wealthy man, I just had a need to write this story, and it seems to have struck a chord with people who have read it, so I am grateful for that. You can buy my book on lots of internet sites, for a variety of prices. I found that Amazon Kindle is about the cheapest place to buy it from, either as an Ebook, paper or hard back. But recently I was invited to sell my book with an American magazine company. The company is called Focus on Women and you can see my book on their web site http://www.focusonwomenmagazine.net/books-fowm.html. I was happy to become involved with this company and 15 per cent of every copy of my book that they sell goes to the Afghan women's charity that assists abused and mutilated women, so if you have a mind to buy my book, you may pay a little more, but if it helps those who need a helping hand, then that can't be a bad thing.

In this so called enlightened world that we live in, there is still so much suffering and hardship and I wonder why. The picture on the cover of my book is me with my Teddy bear. I was three years old when the photo was taken, probably at the orphanage. My old Teddy is still around, he seems to have worn the years better than I have.

So book lovers from around the world can you help me promote my book, purely as an act of kindness for a stranger? Will you all share my post and let me see as to how far it will go?


You can see the video trailer of my book at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aqosk8-vBPs and the Kirkus book review is below.  Thank you all for reading and sharing this.

A Long Way To Goulacullin  by John Kingston McMahon




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Saturday, 22 March 2014

In A Hurry To Grow Up.....

Noooooo!!!!! It wasn't supposed to happen. Little Miss Penelope was supposed to stay a baby for as long as absolutely possible. She on the other hand, doesn't agree with this prospect and wants to get bigger as quickly as possible!

She's been crawling properly for a little over two weeks now and she's a maniac about it. It's so funny how one minute they can still be figuring it all out and the next minute they're zooming off around the floor like there's no tomorrow at breakneck speed! Well, this Tuesday just gone she decided she would stand up. I was not a happy camper let me tell you! She did it a couple of times, pulling herself up on the furniture, being all wobbly and then falling down. But then she didn't do it for a couple of days so I relaxed a bit.

Then yesterday she decided "bugger this, I'm going to be a big kid!". And she stood up several times over the course of the afternoon and evening. She thought she was the bees knees, absolutely loving it. I cried. She's not supposed to do everything so fast! She's supposed to take her time! She's just a little too smart for her own good I think. She is eating proper food now, stuff with big chunks and she chews them up like a proper person. It's so funny to watch her eat her new favourite thing. There's these surfboard shaped rice rusk cracker things. They say 12 months on the box, but it also said they are suitable from when your baby could chew and swallow food properly. So I thought I'd give them a go and she loves them! They dissolve pretty well which means if she happens to bite off a bigger chunk than she can chew it's ok, but she eats one in quite literally a minute or two now.

The little Miss is also very vocal, chatterboxing away all day, usually very loudly, and she has learned to wave goodbye a little bit now too. She got her first tooth in the last week, and then yesterday I discovered the second one has just popped through as well. No wonder she's been cranky - 2 bottom teeth in the space of 4 days!!

So last night when she was standing at the footstools blocking off the kitchen it occurred to us that she is just desperate to be with her siblings. They were in the kitchen cleaning up and dammit, she wanted in as well!! So her determined streak (that's really rather dominant), saw her standing up wobbling like crazy, yelling at them while she banged one hand on the stools. That then meant she wasn't stable enough to stay upright and she'd fall down. Up she'd get again only to do it all over!

She's the earliest out of all five of them to crawl, babble, stand up and get teeth. I think she's going to follow the trend and walk well before any of the others did too....  *sigh*.......


 This was actually the second time she stood up on Tuesday. I wasn't quick enough to get a photo of the first time because I was standing there gawking in absolute shock!


 She's so happy though to be able to crawl around and get her toys. I just love playing with her during the day.


 So this was yesterday after school and she was trying to get to one of her siblings...


 Then playing on her rocking moose last night. She absolutely loves it!


 She thought she was so clever......


 Even when she fell down, she just got right back up again.....


I must admit though, that while it's a bit sad she wants to get bigger so quickly it's amazing watching her play with her brother and sisters. She just loves them so much, so I guess it's only natural she wants to be with them all the time!




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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Liebster Awards, and Some Penelope Photos!

There is apparently this thing called a Liebster Award in the blogosphere: It's not really an award, I think it's more like a bloggy online version of a get-to-know-you lunch.....or something.....

Anyway, I've been nominated for this twice in the last month which is pretty cool I guess. You're supposed to answer questions that have been set for you, then nominate a bunch of other bloggers and ask them similar questions. The concept seems a little random to me, so I'm going to answer the questions but I'm not going to go through the whole nominate and ask others stuff. Who knows, you might just learn something about little old me that you never knew!

Jules over at Life Through A Lens, and Asha from It's Just Asha have both set questions for me. Some overlap so I'll just answer one version of each!! BTW, if you're into beauty blogs go see Asha, if you like lifestyle/photography definitely check out Jules!

Ok, so here goes:

1: What is your favourite month of the year? Why did you start blogging?

Hmmm, I don't really think I have a favourite month honestly. If I had to pick though I'd have to say November cause taking the kids to America is going to be amazing!
I initially started blogging over @ Given To Art when I was studying for my art degree, but then started this blog last year because I wanted to be able to update our family both here and in the States on what we were up to!

2: If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would it be and why? Are you still in education and if so what are you studying. If not, what do you do?

 I love animals but I'm going to be boring and stick with a dog. The reason for this is because I absolutely believe wild animals should not be kept as domestic pets.  I'd love to have an Old English Sheepdog, and The Awesome One really wants a Husky..but for now I guess we'll have to make do with Rex and Veronica, the Border Collie and Border Collie x Kelpie who are very much loved!
No I'm not still studying, I finished my art degree in 2012 and I'm trying very hard to 'make it' as an artist. I also teach after school art lessons for kids which I love,  and that's part of the reason that I'm considering restarting the secondary teaching and art degree that I was originally doing before I switched to just art. We'll see, but it's definitely something I'm considering.

3: Who has inspired you lately?

My husband. He has this unshakeable faith in me and my abilities. I've been a little down in the dumps, partly because of chronic lack of sleep thanks to Little Miss P, partly because sometimes it's easy to lose sight of what you are trying to achieve when things don't quite go to plan. The Awesome One has yelled at me, encouraged me and generally inspired me to keep getting there. He reminds me that he believes in me constantly and lets me know that no matter what it'll all be ok in the end.

4: What is your favourite childhood memory? What makes you 'you'?

I had a great childhood so there are a few favourite memories. Mostly they centre around playing and roaming free when we lived in the country: spending all day outside fishing for yabbies in the dams, swimming in and exploring the creeks, bottle feeding baby goats, milking the cow, running through the orchard.....and the other favourite memories usually centre around my Dad. Sitting on his lap laughing as I poked his belly and he likened it to jelly, or when he'd come home from work when I was little and his response to what was for dinner was "yum, yum, pigs bum!!". Or laughing at him pushing his nose down so we'd say he looked like Gonzo from the Muppets, or watching him laugh so hard at something that tears were rolling down his cheeks. No one else would get what he was laughing at, but we'd end up laughing with him. It happened often, my Dad has a rather wonderfully warped sense of humour!
What makes me, me is my personality I think. My belief that you have to be yourself regardless of societal expectations. The way I am overly emotional and my own reasonably warped sense of humour (yes, definitely inherited from my Dad!). And all of the life experiences that have happened up to this point have all gone into shaping who I am as a person.

5: What's your favourite colour? What's your favourite make-up brand?

Hmmm, I love rich purples, warm reds, cool blues and calming greens. I love pink but I am inexplicably drawn to orange and turquoise so I guess those two would be my favourite colours if I really had to choose.
I don't really wear much makeup so I don't really have a favourite brand. I love Kohl black eyeliner though.

6: If you were trapped on a deserted island what three things would you want with you? What book would you recommend to your readers? 

I'd want my family with me, an ipod and headphones stocked with music and an unlimited battery life, and a sketchbook and pencil. I'd be pretty damn content if I do say so myself. :)
I have to recommend my Dad's book, A Long Way To Goulacullin (link below signature). Aside from being a wonderfully emotional read and a true story I'd want as many people as possible to be able to say they have a first edition of this book! He's going to the London book fair and the Frankfurt one this year in support of it, and has had interest from America as well as all around Australia. So watch this space for news of how amazingly successful this book becomes!

7: What's your favourite tv program? What would you like to do that's adrenalin filled or outrageous?

Currently I am loving Love Child, which revolves around a group of pregnant teenage girls in Sydney in 1969. It looks at the horrible process that was standard of 'hiding' pregnant girls so as to not embarrass their families, then almost forcing them to adopt out their babies so they could return to normal 'life'. Being set in Australia in 1969 it's a great look into our culture and society as it was then, rather than looking at English or American culture from the 60's and 70's which is what we usually see on tv.
I'm probably the least likely person to do anything that adrenalin filled. I'm a bit of a wuss and I'm happy to stay that way. The skydiving and bungee jumping can be left to someone else, thanks very much!

8: Favourite actor and favourite food?

Mmm...Johnny Depp. That's all.
Chocolate and Corona count as food, right?

9: What hair cut do you have now and why? Do you have pets and if so, what are they?

My hair is long. It's been it's longest ever in the last couple of years and I think I'll be keeping it long for a while yet. I'm really too lazy to have a short style because I wouldn't style it, so long is better.
See question 2.

10: What place in the world would you like to visit? How tall are you?

I'd love to see the Pyramids in Egypt. I would love to go to Alaska and Hawaii and I definitely want to go to Africa and see safari animals in their natural habitats.
I'm 160 or 162cms tall, I can never remember which. I know that's weird but I can't it's like some sort of mental block. So that's like 5'1 or 5'2, something like that. Short....but not too short!!

11: Favourite ice cream flavour? Country you want to visit?

Cookies and Cream or Mint Choc Chip. Or maybe Butterscotch......mmmm
See question 10 above.


So there you have it. Maybe you've learned something about me, maybe not. Thanks Jules and Asha for asking me those questions, I've had fun answering them!

Now onto a few gratuitous shots of the 8 month old Little Miss,.  In addition to crawling like a maniac now, she is also still not sleeping *sigh*, got her first tooth the day before yesterday, says Mum-mum all the time and pulled herself up to standing today *sigh again*......and just seems to love the little music box her Grandpa sent over! Her little face just lights up when she hears the song (It's a Small World) - I'll try to get a photo because it is amazingly adorable! If she could talk (and it won't be long :/) I'm sure she'd say "thanks Grandpa, I love listening to it!!!".


 Ok, so this isn't my photo - the eldest one actually took it on her phone but I just love the pout! This is pretty much her everyday face...as opposed to her surprised face, or smiley face or whatever. She so has her Daddy's lips (and his beautiful eyelashes too!-).


This was our attempt to get a photo of her 'old man' hair. Didn't work very well but you can kind of see it. It was very cute regardless.


 Apparently learning how to take 'selfies' on my phone, with the social one!!! Hmmm.....


 Food, Mummy! Food time!!!! And then the photo below is the weird but of course adorable face she pulls a lot these days. She makes this face kind of like she's trying to blow something to cool it down, but she makes a "ooooooohhh, ooooohhhhhh" sound at the same time. No idea what she's trying to do or say, but it's very cute.


 And then this one I love. Playing video games with Daddy. I'm not sure who had more fun just quietly.....









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Saturday, 15 March 2014

Little Dude Turns 9!!

So I got yelled at a little bit after the last post. The Awesome One was reading it and turned to me and said two things.....

"You do realise how crazy you are, right?"

and

"Not even an obligatory random cute picture of Little Miss P?!"

So in response:

"I don't care how crazy I sound, that's just me. Take it or leave it."

And included in this post are a couple of random obligatory pictures of the Little Miss. Except they aren't really random.....

Anyway, yesterday was Little Dude's birthday. He turned 9, which I just can't quite believe. We got him this giant 1/10th scale model T-Rex. BEST PRESENT EVER apparently. High praise indeed!!


 He's been so excited, counting down for weeks now till his birthday.


 Little Miss P was very interested in what was going on!


 The box was huge! Bigger than he is, he could barely extend his arms all the way to unwrap it!


 Don't mind the blurriness, I just love the expression on her face!


 She wanted to investigate what her big brother was looking at!


 When he went to pack up his lego and take everything to his room, she just wanted to follow him as she does with everyone now. Hence the footstools blocking off the doorway to the kitchen. She does get very frustrated at not being able to escape the lounge room!!




 He chose chicken safari snacks, curly fries, corn on the cob, peas, carrots and broccoli for dinner and then Freddo Frog icecream cake for dessert. Random, but that's what he wanted!! 

In other news, I met with the Arts Director at Rockingham City Council yesterday. I have been offered a two week major solo exhibition, funded by the City of Rockingham and will be paid to run a three hour mixed media/art journalling workshop! He said the City was excited to be working with me and he thinks my work is fantastic and unique to the Greater Rockingham area. It's really exciting, and just a little bit surreal as well. 
The exhibition will be held in the Rockingham Arts Building Gallery, and will run for the second two weeks of September this year. I'll have a proper official opening that will include such dignitaries as the Mayor and Councillors! 

So now I just have to get painting! 





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