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Today is the 19th January 2011. A day which began with Black Caps captain Daniel Vettori and my better half, Mr Mandias, looking to create history. Vettori was looking to get ten Pakistani batsmen out while Mrs Mandias was hoping to get her overdue baby out.

In the end only one was able to perform under pressure and create history. Vettori started well and by midday had 3 Pakis back in the pavilion. Mrs Mandias on the other hand looked like it would be another day until her baby would enter the world. However, things changed markedly in the afternoon session. Vettori was unable to find that elusive, wicket taking delivery while Mrs Mandias produced one of the greatest deliveries of all time.

Two things must combine for a perfect delivery. Speed and direction, and while Vettori’s men couldn’t find either of these attributes, Mrs Mandias showed that she had both of these qualities in abundance. Direction wasn’t really a problem for Mrs Mandias. However, she showed her skills by transforming the Tauranga Hospital’s main corridor into her own ‘corridor of uncertainty’; that perfect line needed for any great delivery. This was especially evident for the numerous onlookers that seem to flock to watch her two pit stops half way down.

While her direction was predictably superb, it was the speed of her delivery that really impressed the onlookers. With Shane Bond like pace, she went from watching the Black Caps at home to delivery at Tauranga Hospital in a matter of 2 hours. Within 32 minutes of entering the Tauranga Hospital, Milli Banbury had entered the world.

Such was the impressive nature of the delivery that new Black Caps bowling coach Allan Donald has contacted Mrs Mandias in a bid to use some of her skills at the upcoming World Cup. At this stage Mr Mandias has yet to reply but if conditions are good there are no reasons why this couldn’t be a profitable relationship for both parties.

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Well the big news of the day is that Mrs Mandias is pregnant. Yes, yours truly, has managed to do something the All Whites couldn’t, and has casually slipped one past the goal keeper. Due date is the 17th January2011.

We had the 12 week scan today and it was an interesting occasion. My first concern had been that there would be two of the little ones as statistics show that 1 in 33 babies born is born with a buddy. Thankfully this wasn’t the case with us. My next concern, as I highlight in this post, was the fact it could be Chinese as 1 in 3 babies now born is Chinese.

The lady seemed taken back when I asked her if she could determine the ethnicity but said this is something that her high powered x-ray couldn’t pick up. However, using my excellent eye sight I think we have beaten the odds and we will most probably have a little New Zealand European child.

The sex of the baby is also rather important and this was another question that I asked during the 20 minute scan earlier today. The lady once again replied that at this early stage it is not possible to determine such matters. My reply that if it was my boy, you would easily be able to tell.. wink ..wink. By this time the nurse was already visible sick of my attempt at humour so from that point on I restrained myself. I suspect she gets that joke with every scan. However, I have taken a detailed look at the scans and I think the nurse is correct, it is hard to tell. The first picture above looks like a boy but the one below it looks like she is holding a broom, which would indicate a woman cleaning. Suppose we will just have to wait.

Hugging world record tempts Ozy

I dread the day when someone in my family suggests we dress in denim and take a photo like this.

Those close to me, and that is many of you, will know that I am not a hugger. I don’t know why I am like that but for some reason I am not a fan of the hello hug, the group hug or even the side hug. Perhaps it stems from having 4 males in my family or perhaps I have a deep seeded phobia for close contact with people. What ever the reason, I was disgusted to read that an American man has set a new world record by giving 7777 hugs in 24 hours.

Jeff Ondash from Ohio, who sought the hugs under the alter ego Teddy McHuggin, broke the record on Saturday night  on the Las Vegas Strip. While I think the record is impressive, when you analyse the numbers, I can’t help but think he has found the easiest record in the Guniess Book of Records. Break the final total down into hours and he only did a smidgeon over 324 hugs per hour which equates to 5 hugs per minute. Break this down further and he is a only a 15 second hugger with a 5 second rest preiod. Even someone who hates hugging, like me, could do better than that.

The reason I can boast is that I am the master of the quick hug. This is especially so when we have distant relatives arrive or I am visiting the other side of the family. You know the ackward situations I am talking about. You haven’t seen them in 4 years, you are related by marriage and then they waltz  into your life for Sunday lunch. I usually try and position the dining room table as a ‘Gaza Strip’ and lean over for a hand shake. If for some reasonI have been caught in the ‘Demilitarized Zone’, aka the lounge, and no barrier can be formed sometiems a hug is called for. If this is the case go in and out quicker than an Isreali air strike and get the deed done and dusted. For me 3 seconds is an eternity and that level of hugging is reserved only for Mrs Mandias.

Therefore I think, if I really wanted, this could be a record I could accomplish. Even if I averaged a mammoth 4 seconds per hug that would give me around 900 hugs in the hour and over 21,000 for 24 hours, smashing the current World Record. Trouble is I don’t have 7778 friends, let alone 21,000, so I will just have to put this record on hold until something better pops up.

Disappointing Wedding Kiss

oh dear!! This was similiar to the kiss at the wedding in the weekend.

Another wedding in the weekend and the pressure builds for Ozy Mandias to write another blog on the event. At yesterdays traditional ‘post wedding BBQ’ I was fielding calls left, right and center about my impending article. Talk about pressure. However, I rest in the knowledge that when you have two people like we had in the weekend getting married material is never hard to find.

Right from walking into the beautiful St Mary’s church this wedding had a special feeling. Officiating proceedings we had a tag team of ministerial powers, something which seems to be common nowadays. First into the ring was Leo the Lion dressed in the shiniest suit I have every seen. He opened proceedings well and then tagged in his partner. Immediately I could tell this was a woman not to be messed with. You don’t wear rainbow colours like that and lack self confidence, nor a sharp tongue. She concluded the service nicely, taking a record 15minutes to complete the signing of the registry. I think she included her skype username, facebook address and twitter account details!!! However, she did blot her copy book slightly by forcing Jason the groomsman to clean up the pool of sweat that he left on the alter following the service.

Most of the crowd actually missed Jason sweating during the service as he pretended he was crying, but he didn’t fool me. Talking to Jason afterwards he had this exclusive comment to the Ozy Mandias Warning Blog;

“The vows were so moving I actually felt a tingle down my spine, I then realised it was sweat. I don’t know about the other men in the wedding party but it was a strange experience. I could feel the bead of sweat being conceived at the top of my neck, slide down my back, negotiate my crack, progress down my left leg, pick up a few friends behind my knee and almost be a torrent of salty water as it pooled on the floor.”

One more comment needs to be made on the service and that was the first kiss between the happy couple. The first kiss is the pinnacle of any wedding ceremony. The formalities are completed, the legal requirements ticked off and everyone is ready to relax and celebrate. The kiss symbolizes the first connection between the married couple.  I will attempt to recreate the situation and paint the best possible picture for those that weren’t there.

Reverend Rainbow had just finished writing her details in the registry. The bridesmaids were back in place and the groom and bride where now centre stage holding hands. Jason shuffled awkwardly in the background as another bead of sweat headed southward. The congregation waited in anticipation as the Rainbow Reverend put aside her book and tried to smile at the young lovers.

“Now the time you two have been waiting for.”

The music started to play in the back ground as the lighting was lowered. Amazingly, a single, golden ray of Christchurch sun shone through one of the many stained glass windows illuminating the couple. It seemed as if God himself had broken into the world and orchestrated this moment with his own hands. Perfection.

“You may kiss the bride.” Were the words uttered as Reverend Rainbow stepped back to shun the limelight for the first time since Thursday night. Women gazed, anticipating the connection of lips, many starting to shed a tear, happy to be part of such a spiritual moment. Men nodded with sly grins, watching, hoping, and remembering their own marriage kiss.

The bride leaned forward, eyes closed…anticipating. The congregation leaned slightly forward, joining with the bride’s anticipation. The world was in slow motion and then the groom started his move. Slowly he tilted his head and bent down towards his beautiful bride savoring this God given moment and then out of the blue he just opened his eyes and gave her a peck on the lips.

Reverend Rainbow and Leo the Lion were both gob smacked. I was equally baffled as I see more action doing my lunchtime duty at my coed secondary school than I just witnessed with my own eyes. The congregation looked around, speechless. Jason used this brief uncertainty in the crowd to adjust his sweaty nether regions.

To be honest the rest of the day was pretty much normal wedding fodder. The function, held at Annies Wine Bar, was sensational. The evening was expertly developed by a Shem Banbury who held the evening together like superglue. He was everything a MC should be funny, compassionate and friendly. I would recommend him for your next wedding.

Another highlight was an innovative lollie bar that the bride had developed for the reception. Imagine your own personal pick’n’mix without the horrendous pricing and this is what we had. It was fantastic and the only problem was half the people at the reception were Dutch. Nothing wrong with Dutch people but given the opportunity to take anything for free and they are like dogs with a bone. When I finally got to the lollie bar it was a bare tree stripped of all its leaves.

It would be remiss of me not to mention one final point in this written dribble. I am actually related to the groom and so therefore I would like to comment briefly on the family that he is marrying into. You will have heard of the Dutch Dirkzes family from Christchurch. I can state this without hesitation because they are without equal the loudest family in Christchurch. You may not have meet them but you would have heard them. They are so loud the Christchurch City Council has a bylaw require they family to live beside the railway line so they at least have competition 7 times a day as the train rumbles passed.

So it will be interesting to see how our wee groom handles life in such a noisy environment. My advice would be at any further family functions to mix with the Bride’s Papa who at 96 years of age was a breath of inspiration at the Sunday barbeque. His beautiful GRACE was moving and capped off a great weekend. Furthermore, at 96 years of age he still drives a manual and most importantly he does mind a minute or two of silence in between the trains rumbling passed.

Should we have a Third Child???

baby_htmWithout doubt one of life’s biggest decisions is whether to have a third child. Currently that is something that my wife and I are thinking about. Having children is an exciting roller coaster ride. There are the highs of major personal milestones and enjoyable family times. There are also the lows that sometimes feel like the dripping water torture the Japanese used to use in the war. Without doubt parenting is a little more hard work than I thought it would be.

For me having children is like running a marathon. Like a marathon having children is just plan hard work. The daily, uninterrupted, constant grind of child rearing is similar to the non stop grind of running for an entire 42km. In both parenting and running there are times when you just want to stop and times when all you want to do is curl up and lie down. However, despite this when you finish a marathon there is immense satisfaction and joy. A real sense of accomplishment and pride in what you have achieved. The same is the case with having children.

Currently we have two great boys but as I have alluded there has been recent murmur in our family of increasing that number. For me, bringing it back to the marathon, it is like someone asking me to do another. Sure it would be good, but can I hack the training, the early mornings and the share hard work. Prior to any big decision you need to weigh up both sides of the ledger.

The first considering in our day and age must be financial and the cost of children is a biggie. A quick search on the net reveals some startling facts. The United States Government estimates that it now costs $291,570 to raise a child in America t the age of 18. This compares to only $25,000 in 1960 when the yearly figure started to be published. Convert that to New Zealand dollars and you are looking at over $500,000. Prior to having kids I would have thought that those numbers were often extremely high. Having two kids I now consider those statistics very conservative. Children are like weddings. A mere mention of the word doubles the price without question. I personally believe when you add together everything, including the loss of income, the cost of caring for a child to the age of 18 would probably cost around $700,000. The fact that now most people raise their children until they are 21, and university fees could be included, it probably puts it over $800,000.

The next problem for me is one of race. I am not racist but there are some vital statistics which must be examined prior to thinking about a third child. Apparently, in recent years China’s population has exploded like a giant teenage zit. This effectively means that now every third child born into the world is Chinese. Because our next child would be our third, this means there is a high probability our next child could be Chinese. I have nothing against the Chinese, they put on an excellent show at the Olympics, but I see two problems. Firstly, I don’t know how to speak Chinese as there are so many sub languages I could end up with a child that speaks some remote pigeon mandarin. This would cause problems with his/her schooling as very few schools cater for Chinese speaking children. Secondly, I haven’t found a Chinese first name that matches my last name.

Finally we have the problem of the babies’ gender. We currently have two boys, which means we are then only 50% away from having 3 boys. Now I came from a family of 3 boys and realise the blessing they are. Unfortunately, I don’t know if my wife is that enthused about the possibility of being the only woman in a 5 person family. The upside is that boys are much easier to raise and live with than girls and cause far fewer problems. But hey I already knew that.

So you can see there are some big decisions to be made in this household. None of them will be easy and all of them having rather impressive consequences. Really I see that it boils down to a couple of things. Do we stick with the status quo and leave it at two great boys? Or do we take a punt and effectively spend $800,000 on something that might turn out to be both Chinese and male? Guess we will have to just wait and see.