Felix and Harriet, circa 2009

It was warm here yesterday and the day was a bit topsy-turvy with little boys out and big boys here and me almost forgetting my shrink appointment and mum taking my niece to the movies.

Long story short.

RIP Cocoa Taco Powder and Harriet. Two of the greatest guinea pigs a family could ever neglect/showerwithloveandaffectionoutofguilt/neglect/love!/neglect/ADORE! had died from heat-stroke.

Cocoa was already in GP Heaven by the time my niece found her. Harriet was clearly almost touching the light but we brought her back with a (very) cold bath.

What ensured was me trying to cool her down but not shock her, trying to re-hydrate her but not too much as water would get into her lungs and cause pneumonia and so on and so forth. It was so tenuous we were all holding our breath for hours, willing her to live.

We had her wrapped in a damp towel resting on a bed of straw in a box and took her with us as we went to my in-laws for dinner.

Felix and I remarked that she had picked up! just as we were turning onto the Wakehurst Parkway but barely two kilometres later I looked at her, looked at Felix and said, ‘is she OK?’ and no, she was not. He couldn’t feel her heart beating. We pulled over just near Oxford Falls and checked. Harriet had succumbed.

At my in-laws I prised the two little fellas away from Wii and explained to them what had happened. As I did Jasper’s arm around me got tighter and tighter. And as I quietly told them that Harriet had died in the car on the way there, Jasper said, ‘we’ll have to go to the shops and buy two new ones and call them the same names now.’

That’s right son, because nothing overcomes grief quicker than some retail therapy seeking immediate replacements.

Jasper and Harriet c 2009*

Grover’s initial concern was more about ‘his’ one, Matilda, the runty little guinea pig which was Harriet’s sister, replete with mutant extra toes and a wily nature that always sees her as the one who escapes. ‘But what about my one? what about my one? is it dead? Did it die?’ No, she’s fine. ‘Oh, phew,’ he said, ‘that’s lucky. But that’s sad isn’t it. That Harriet and Cocoa are dead.’

Yes son, yes it is.

Two graves dug. Two burial ceremonies held.

Now the eternal vigil that the chickens don’t dig – or scratch as the case may be – them up.


*sadly there seem to be NO pictures of Cocoa, despite her being with the family for a year. Or more recent shots of Harriet. #telling


PRIOR to the guinea pig massacre of 2012 I had commented to my MIL that one of the fish was on the out. It had been coming – I’d noticed a ‘sore’ for want of a better word on one of its sides a few weeks back and thrown in some outrageously priced special stress-relief fluid that does actually seem to perform miracles on our marine pets.

She (he?) had put in a good innings for a gold fish, ableit she was white with orange spots on her head. What? My boys have a penchant for choosing the ugliest fish in the pet shop. It’s a gift. But I think she was at least three years old, maybe even older. Pretty good huh.

Then yesterday she was gawping at the bottom of the tank rather than frantically waving at me from the top corner desperate to catch my attention to feed her again (seriously, fish can turn a ‘look’ at you more heart-melting than a dog pleading with you for some of your dinner rather than the chicken beaks and arses in a roll you normally serve them.

It prompted me to *finally* clean the tank, all the while reminding myself that this process would undoubtedly have the equivalent effect as Neil’s punching a fish to death in The Inbetweeners it was long overdue.

Sure enough, post cleaning there she was, gawping at the bottom of the tank but now upside-down.

Yeah, you were a good fish. See ya.


Between the fish death and the guinea pig disaster Felix went off for a bike-ride. Some of the first physical activity he’s done since school broke up WEEKS ago. He was back sooner than expected and just as I went to give him a hard time I saw the red face, the sweat, the tears and then the blood.

Poor kid had GONE OVER THE HANDLEBARS on his bike going down a hill near our place.

Bad grazing on elbow, shoulder and hip, sore wrist and a MASSIVE chunk out of his helmet.

It *could* have been so.much.worse.


So excuse me while today I do very little and achieve absolutely nothing.

Give Ability wrap up

Sponsored by Nuffnang – well, the Westfield part, not the guinea pig part. Or the public displays of human torment at the hands of your siblings.

Saturday saw me and the boys head off to Westfield Hornsby to support the inaugural GiveAbility day.

I was travelling so well in terms of getting the children fully clothed and shod in a timely manner and we were about to set off when Mum called to me from the backyard that the pigeons* had escaped again.

You see, the day before the girls had discovered that while the grass is not necessarily greener** on the other side of the small-fence-remaining-from-a-pre-existing-garden-bed there is a definite sense of more space and freedom.***

This, in and of itself, is not that bigger deal, except for the fact our beautiful neighbours on the southern side have actually been getting a bit sick of three guinea pigs appearing in their backyard and mowing their lawn and pruning their plants.****

So instead of herding my own children out the the car to go and experience and then report back on a day of helping raise funds for children with disability, I was out in the chook pen digging up heavy cement pavers I had very very firmly embedded along the fence***** to give them a tunnel to come back through because what guinea pigs have in cuteness they lack in intellect as clearly displayed by their complete inability to come back the way they went in.

Tunnel dug it was a waiting game for their return, featuring some finely tuned prancing on my part to rush fill the hole once they were back through. Then I had to catch each of them and relocate back into their cell prison cage.

By now the boys had their shoes off and were engaged in some round of wrestling warfare that was less wrestling and warfare and more torment and torture through a sustained attack of name calling and taunts as is their current favoured form of attack.

And I was sweaty.

Then the boys expressed hunger and came at me with packets of coke****** for me to cook up for them.

I rang my contact at Westfield to let her know that we were running late and would be there at around 1.15pm, which was actually only 15 minutes late but I was trying to be professional ‘n that. I got the stomp on with the boys while noticing quite the headache simultaneously forming behind my eyeballs and at the base of my skull.*******

Remarkably we did actually arrive at 1.15pm and met the local manager of Northcott Disability Services, the local charity receiving all the money raised at Westfield Hornsby throughout the day. It was pretty awesome seeing many staff from Westfield Hornsby donating their time to the event by donning the yellow shirt and carrying around the tins to collect funds. Staff from the corporate office had also volunteered to help out at their local centre including the head of HR who was helping out at Hornsby.

The boys were sedated inhabited by some other life force remarkably well behaved and endearing before we headed out to check out the activities and meet some of the fundraisers. Students from a local high school were involved as were many staff from Westfield head office, who had nominated which centre they’d like to help out at. Decked out in bright shirts and carrying donation cans many reported the day as being ‘awesome’.

The boys, previously a cohort of eye-rolling conscientious objectors were now well and truly on board due to the presence of what to a child is the promised land:

the fairy floss stand.

With sugar coma on a stick in hand Jasper was in face painting heaven while Oscar satisfied himself by asking anyone in a yellow shirt ‘what now?’ and Grover just getting more and more outrageous due to a brand new audience finding him hilarious and adorable (warning warning!).

I can’t tell you how much I get off on this sort of thing when the money is going to a cause. Northcott has been around for more than 80 years and provides services and support from diagnosis through to job placement. These organisations have to waste far too much time securing funding and so as far as I’m concerned any way we can help lighten their load is a win win.

I think this event will only get bigger – I mean, a national juggernaut of the size of Westfield running an event in every single centre supporting local services? It promotes awareness and fosters a sense of community AND raises money. There’s a reason I agreed to do this sponsored post and that is that supporting services for kids with disability is something I am incredibly passionate about. As you know.

I’m busting to know how much was raised nationally to help children with disabilities – I mean 100% of all money raised is going to the local charity of each centre, in our case, Northcott.  These guys support 10,000 people with disabilities, from diagnosis at birth through to work placement.

We headed back to the office where the boys devoured some cupcakes I could tell it was time for us to make a break for it for no other reason than I could see the time of day combined with a sudden massive sugar ingestion along with some stunning sibling bating was seeing my boys move from delightful to demonic in a matter of minutes.

We bid our farewells and not a moment too soon as Jasper and Felix embarked on duet of torment and taunt and screamy outrage over, wait for it, Felix not making a paper plane for Jasper exactly the same as one he had made for himself. Good times.

By the time we were at the car both were getting a complete dressing down by yours truly and then there was a debacle about a missing carpark ticket and the return of that headache, but hey, money was raised and fairy floss inhaled.

A good deed indeed.




* more commonly referred to by the general population as guinea pigs. Sometimes she calls them gerbils. Just to mix it up.

** aka there being no grass whatsoever.

*** aka finding a gap where the horizontal wood beam on the boundary fence with our eastern neighbour meets the boundary fence of our southern neighbour.

**** I really wish that was a euphemism for something far more sordid but alas, no.

***** to foil any further digging tunnels under the fence because these girls were by no means getting rice custard, chocolate custard or strawberry shortcake or going roly-poly, pell-mell, tumble-bumble into anything except the next Argentinian BBQ such was my feelings toward their regular escapes.

****** aka Maggi 2 minute noodles.

******* probably a tumour.

Today is Tuesday

I have this post written in my head which is quite serious and weighty but today, after a shocking night of little sleep due to the weather not children (February, you are SO fired) I am feeling abnormally chipper and frivolous. Lucky we’re stony broke as otherwise I’d probably be at the fabric shops and the bookshop spending up b.i.g.


Did I tell you I’ve started swimming laps again? Man it feels good. And bad in that ‘so this is what having a heart attack feels like’. Last week I got up to 40 laps in the 25m pool which would have been awesome had the day before I’d been swimming in a 50m pool and could barely muster f.i.v.e. paltry laps without my heart simultaneously bursting out of my chest and liquefying out my mouth. It wasn’t that I was stopping at the end of each lap in the 25m pool, I was doing blocks of 10, but there’s clearly a difference when you get a micro-stop at the 25m than just having to slog it out to 50.

Today I did 50 laps in a 25m pool. You know the first 20 laps were hard and then something just clicks and I kind of feel like I could just become a swimming Forrest Gump. The water doesn’t resist me anymore, it sort of carries me along, I feel it rush over my lips as I exhale with each stroke. Bubbles rush down the length of my body as my hands push through the water and I just keep going, lap after lap, breathe one two three, breathe two two three, breathe three two three. . .  

Anyway, I’ve decided to invest in some short fins because, according to she-who-knows-everything-about-endurance-swimming Fifi LaStupenda, they are good for building up your fitness.

She has also made me do something really stupid. I’ve said that I will swim the Curl Curl to Freshwater ocean swim in April. Being the type to barrel into things without clearly thinking through the ramifications I said yes before really thinking about what would be involved (swimming! in the big blue ocean! with the sharks! and a gagillion other people who have been training! with a swell! and waves! no ends to rest at! and oh man I’m screwed!) or the cold hard reality that it’s 2km. TWO FUCKING KILOMETRES! See you in May! Just look north for the Rescue chopped hauling me out of the water in a big net. OH THE HUMANITY.


So I’m enduring Eddie McGuire interviewing Wayne Gretsky (at one point Eddie refers to the puck as a ball. God help us all) and I ask Chef, ‘so who’s Wayne Gretsky?’ and Chef, being a bit of a die hard baseball and ice hockey fan (I know, if someone wants to sponsor us to move to Canada or the US just call me) does the whole wide eyes and head shaking caper and just says more slowly, ‘Wayne Gretsky, Poppet, Waaayyyne Gretsky’.

I point out that saying his name slower is not actually revealing any more detail to me about who he is so he tells me he’s simply known as ‘The Great One’. OK, but why? WHY?

Then he tells me in language I understand, ‘He’s like the Gary Ablett of ice hockey except without the dead hookers. Or Tiger Woods without the mistresses‘.

That man of mine, he cracks me up.


I just watched Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir score 110 something in the most beautiful routine AND she was wearing what can only be described as a gorgeous classic costume. Apart from being a classical beauty she skated beautifully and Scott Moir – man, is he the only clean shaven male partner? He is a total package.

I think I missed the Russian (?) couple doing the Aboriginal dance, which might have been a good thing. Putting the whole cultural insensitivities to one side, by all accounts it took the concept of  a nude body stocking to a whole new level. And not in a good way.

The Americans are on now and are dressed to do a Saturday Night Live homage to John Travolta but Ave Maria is playing! They seem to be handling the monumental stuff up well and the routine seems to fit to the … wait. They’re meant to be dancing to this? Then what the hell are the costumes all about? In the kiss and cry and MAN someone attacked them with the Bedazzler.

Oooh, here are the Russians. She looks like she’s got a bad case of varicous veins while he’s come off second best from a battle with the American Werewolf in London, which the music seems to confirm. Their costumes are very distracting. And I’m with Belinda Noonan, the best commentator ever – perfunctory at times, incredibly knowledgeable, sometimes scathing and occasionally generous with the praise –  the whole routine seems slow.

And the Canadians win it!!! WOOT!


You know how Felix bought his own guinea pig from the boys across the road? Well the other two babies died – well, one died overnight after falling ill during the evening (they think it was a tick although couldn’t find one on her) and the other is missing so there’s a happy cat or dog somewhere in the neighbourhood. Suddenly CocoTaco feels very special indeed. Photos to come.


We had a conference call w/ the physio and OT of The Spastic Centre and the physio and OT of Sydney Children’s Hospital to discuss all things OO (Oscar’s Op). You know, the closer it gets the less anxious and stressed about it I am. I’m sure it should be going the other way. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve known this was coming since your kid was 18 months old. Oscar was there for the tail end of the phone call and the girls at the hospital wished him a happy birthday for Thursday (I KNOW! 12 on Thursday!) and asked him if he had any questions. And bless him if he didn’t ask about what he’d get to eat when he was there! The fact it comes around on a trolley was a winning answer!

Surgery is tentatively Tuesday 20 April. In for a few days until pain management is under control. In old-fashioned casts from knees down to toes for three weeks then back to outpatients to take them off, do castings for new AFOs (aka super legs) then new casts (the more lightweight fibreglass variety but still not waterproof due to there being wound sites) back on for another three weeks. No weight bearing whatsoever during that time. At all.


I’m organising our 20 year school reunion and today saw me bed down the date after some discussion with friends – the last weekend in October will see many of us to gather and be totally weirded out that we left school 20 years ago. Crikey.




– I didn’t go for a walk
– I did get the boys to school on time
– Making lunches after six weeks of not making lunches is really hard
– Standing at a kitchen bench staring at lunch boxes does not magically fill lunch boxes
– We essentially moved house except didn’t
– There were bookshelves relocated which meant piles and piles of books being relocated
– I cleaned a wall
– It was surprisingly filthy and now I look at it and think, wow, that wall looks amazing
– After moving everything around the back room is now in exactly the same layout as it was before
– I asked Chef to do three things, one of them was really really important while the other two were necessary
– He didn’t do any of them
– I was steaming about it for pretty much the entire day
– I had my haircut this morning for the wedding next weekend
The wedding features two of my lovely friends and I am so excited – for them and for the chance to get frocked up and all that goes with a celebratory affair
– I had to mop the bathroom floor because it smelled like a public men’s toilet
– No really, it did
– I gagged when I went to the loo such was the stench
– It appears the Turdinator (aka Grover) likes peeing on the bathroom floor now, as well as under the dining room table, on the back verandah, on the back tiling, up the side path, on the front porch
– The new fridge arrived
– A large box arrived from my friend K
– In that large box was a gift to lift my spirits in the difficult months ahead
– That box contained a 28cm apple green Chasseur French oven
– Oh yes there was
– I cried at being so blessed to have such a friendship in my life
– I felt honoured to receive a gift of such generosity
– The new fridge arrived
– It is very pretty
– It does not fit in our kitchen, the size fridge we needed never was going to fit in our kitchen so it is living across from our kitchen, which works quite well except as it is rather large so I have become quite partial to thinking of it as a modernist art installation that keeps on giving
– I had a quiet chat with it during the hours before I was allowed to turn it on that while it was very pretty it better get over any notion of relying on its good looks toot sweet and that it would be expected to pull its weight around here for the next ten, ideally twenty years.
– I have workshopped my emotions regarding this fridge. This fridge that has maxed out our credit card and will swallow any form of financial return we get from our taxes this year.
– I mean, how freaking exciting to get a brand spanking new appliance – an appliance whereby the fridge side alone is ONE HUNDRED LITRES bigger than the entire fridge we’ve had for the last 15 years. An appliance where I could easily fit a small human body in the freezer side. I mean, not that I’ve tried.
– Put the girls, Matilda and Harriet (the guinea pigs) outside for some rays and grass grazing
– Caught Matilda after Jasper accidentally let her out while he was trying to catch Harriet – he calmly came inside and told me that she had got away and there she was, plotting her latest escape in the garden
– I bought the boys new school and PE shirts because apparently they both grew TWO sizes over the summer break
– The price of school shirts is FUCKING HIGHWAY ROBBERY
– I called in to the supermarket to pick up some treats for Friday afternoon tea, coriander for dinner, cherries because OH MY GOODNESS how good are cherries at the moment and breakfast cereal
– Picked up the boys from school
– I made my ginger sesame rice with chicken for dinner
– It’s Day 3 and MY GOD have I been one narky old hag
– Cleaned the girls’ cage and then watched them burrow and run and squeak in delight with their new hay
– It is pathetic how enarmoured I am with the girls. I adore them. Best pets ever. AND they’re still alive. Talk about a win win.
– I watched Blackadder with Felix and got as much delight from witnessing Felix’s first exposure to Blackadder as I did from watching it.
– I watched Ghost Ship and realised right near the end that I had indeed seen it before and that it really wasn’t a movie worth of a second viewing.
– Watched the beginning of Rage and the first song off the rank tonight was the following tune from Mumford & Sons. I realise it is so naff to love Mumford & Sons at the moment because everyone loves Mumford & Sons, but luff them I do:

Stuff and Nonsense

These two galoots have become firm friends over the last few weeks – it warms the cockles of my heart it does.

I’m saying this because today I seriously would have sold both of them on ebay for a buck fifty.

Dear ME were they in some tag team whingy mcwhingy fest. Mind you, I did find some time out by cleaning two bathrooms – didn’t they all just leave me alone during that fun activity. HOLY CRAP people this family is clearly genetically not that far from swine because sure I don’t do the full bathroom clean that often but even I was shocked, SHOCKED I say, at just how long it took me to get our two small bathrooms back to a level of sanitation which would be acceptable to the World Health Organisation. There was that time I had to lock myself in the bathroom to keep Grover out though, seeing as I told him I was using yucky chemicals and they’d make him sick so he kept patting the bleach on the tiles, looking at me with that, ‘but I want to play with the yucky chemicals and really how bad could it be and I’m just going to keep doing this and grizzling a little ‘no’ at you just to really piss you off and WHAT THE HELL WOMAN YOU’RE LOCKING ME OUT OF THE BATHROOM????’
So once I’d finished with the bathrooms I had a moment of spontaneity and took the boys over to the beach. It was GLORIOUS in Sydney today – blue skies, lovely onshore breeze, lower humidity than normal. We had been there for maybe 20 minutes and Mum is on the hill screaming at us to come home – Oscar had lost one of the guinea pigs. Apart from anything else I was all, ‘what the fuck, Mum must have RAN to get us’. Naturally Jasper cracked it about having to walk up the incline mountain pass so I had to carry his sandy arse. It then stands to reason then that as we were crossing the road and as we got half way (to the traffic island) I told Grover to hold my hand the rest of the way he protested quite defiantly and set about walking back into oncoming traffic to walk the other half of the road on his own thank you very much. It was one of those rare moments where a look was enough for him to get it together and race home.
I could hear Mum barking at Oscar about where did she go, where did he see her go, where did he drop her, why did he run off to his room to cry rather than staying and seeing where she went and so on and so forth.
There I was, in my cossie in our nextdoor neighbours scrummaging around their backyard looking for a tiny mutant* rodent.I kinda yelled at Mum about why the hell was she moving them anyway and why would she get Oscar to carry one of them when Oscar can’t carry or pick them up**.  That was nice. Anyway, I’m digging around in big piles of vegetation waiting to be bitten by a spider and getting a bit worked up that one of my girls is so going to get eaten by a dog. When I give up and head home I’m at our front gate and there’s this flurry of activity that they’ve found her and she’s just gone under the fence into the neighbours. So back I go. This is scintillating isn’t it.  Just remember this is all transpiring with me walking around in what is a really crap swimming cossie.
After a minute or so of panic and diving and ‘have you got her, have you got her’ I had her. Poor little thing I thought she was going to cark it on me right there purely from fright. Jasper wanted to carry her home but seeing as he was a) wet, b) sandy and she was a) about the have a heart attack and b) about to have a heart attack I told him that I was carrying her home and once he had his clothes back on he could have a nice long cuddle and give her some carrot.
CUE: meltdown magnitude TEN.
I did the whole stay calm thing, getting down on his level, telling him we were all worried about Matilda and had all been scared she was lost but that she was very stressed and he needed to get all the sand off him and not be wet.
Let’s just say it ended with me physically carrying him into the shower, holding him under the shower, soaping him up and desanding him, wrapping him in a towel and throwing him onto his bed (which I totally forgot has a completely crap foam mattress on a futon base and I think he hurt his hip when he landed). By which time Grover was cracking it over something like the sky being blue and Oscar was hiding on his bed sobbing his eyes out.

But where was I? These little guys becoming best mates. This is new for me you see, I mean Oscar and Felix were close in age but any of that mateship was more playing alongside each other or Felix instigating a game and Oscar just following along. This is real interaction and games and role playing and then driving each other totally nuts and someone getting hit/shoved/slapped/bitten.
It’s wicked.
Yesterday’s highlight was taking the boys on a ferry ride from Manly into the city and back again, then an ice-cream at Ben & Jerry’s, then dropping dad at work, then picking up some hot chips (SO MANY TREATS!) and then having dinner with my uncle. Funnily enough, none of that was a highlight. All of it was just a new arena to whinge. The ferry became a whinge-a-thon because it was taking too long and then I wouldn’t buy them anything from the shop on the ferry and then we didn’t get off the ferry and have an ice-cream in the city (no time as Chef had to be at work by 2pm) and then [insert anything from breathing to the world turning here].
By the time we got to Chef’s work he was all ‘CHECK YA!’ and I was all ‘DON’T LEAVE ME ALONE WITH THEM’.
As it turned out, the bridge which is just along from Chef’s work was about to open so I pulled over and the boys got out to watch this amazing event.

Turns out this totally FREE event was the highlight. As was the calling in to the pet supply shop on the way home. The hot chips hit the spot and then my uncle didn’t show, which all things considered was an absolute blessing.
Oh, Matilda is fine.
Oh, those clean bathrooms? I went into one a few hours later to find the floor wet and the toilet brush lying guiltily on the floor as Grover totally got me back for locking him out earlier.
* no really, she is. She has an extra toe on both her back feet. And she’s smaller than Harriet and Harriet picks on her. So yeah, the sibling crapulence even extends to the animals in this house. She’s Mutant Matilda.
** no really, he can’t. It just wigs him out. So we get one and put a cloth nappy on his lap and then he happily has them there for a few minutes before that wigs him out and then we’re done. OK.