Most people just go and watch fireworks

The end of 2011 had us celebrating my MIL’s 70th at yum cha. It was particularly special as 2011 saw her face-off the big C. It scared the baby cheeses out of all of us so we can only imagine how she felt. She dealt with the news, the lumpectomy, the chemo, the radiography and everything that goes with all of that with such strength and honesty it was, quite frankly, inspirational.

But you know how us allconsuming types can’t stand anyone else being in the limelight so the night before had me and and Oscar saying hi to everyone at Mona Vale Hospital’s Emergency department, if by hello you mean Oscar violently spewing half digested SAOs, vegemite and butter into one of those spew bags with the annoyingly narrow openings.

Here’s a tip – want to bypass the full emergency waiting room? Violently vomit just as the triage nurse walks by. Gets you seen to toot sweet.

His headache, high temperature, occasional chuck and weird pain in his left groin left the doc baffled and off we went home because ‘sometimes you just have to let these things manifest to see what’s really going on’. Like ebola and stuff.

The next morning (MIL’s b’day) I had a hairdressing appointment at 9 and got Oscar into our GP at 9. So Chef was on Oscar duty (priorities people). By then ‘it’ had manifested into a red patch on his ankle which ‘could be cellulitis’ so blood tests were needed. Anyone experienced blood tests with a 13-year-old intellectually-disabled teenager who thinks a band-aid means your digit/limb is either about to fall off or death is imminent? Good times!

With Oscar dosed up on pain meds we all ventured to yum cha at Manly which involved me, on arrival, saying ‘does anyone else smell wee?’ It doesn’t get much classier than taking me out in public.

On trying to raise this delicate matter with the staff they all nodded immediately with a ‘ahh yes, the smell’. WHAT THE HELL – the restaurant KNOWS that corner smells like piss (right next to Manly Wharf Bar, need I say more? Probably.) but will sit the big group of skippys there in the hope we won’t notice it’s like sitting in a urinal for dumplings?

What followed was a whole fiasco to open the bi-fold doors which then created the effect of us all sitting in a wind tunnel (visual: yum cha dumpling wrappers flying off into the faces of those on the far side of the table as those on the other side picked one up off the lazy susan) and much mirth at this carnival of ludicrazy.

This is why I’m not allowed out.

Anyway the day progressed up to Chef’s parents place and in doing so Oscar’s ankle started it’s own celebration of going from a red patch to a swollen red patch to an ankle the size of three and the redness moving up his leg. All while waiting for the blood results but let’s be honest, none of us wanted to miss out on the rocky road I’d made, birthday cake or the Boxing Day Test Match.

Our GP – aka The Legend – rang at 4 saying he only had preliminary results but he was ‘deeply concerned’ and thought hospital was still on the cards for IV antibiotics. At 8 that night he sent me a text saying full results were in and hospital was now the only option.


This story’s getting quite long isn’t it.


Long story (already mostly told) now vastly abbreviated (because I’m getting bored) we were in hospital for five days with Oscar on IV antibiotics.

Five days of Chef’s 10 days off.

Four days later I was moving the guinea pig cage and did my back. By ‘did my back’ I mean completely incapacitated and in too much pain to even writhe .

But having been raised by my mother I felt bad for making a fuss and being of no use to anyone and even though the myriad drugs I was throwing into my mouth (which I kept updating Chef on for fear I fell into a Heath Ledgeresque coma and thus required emergency medical attention)  were doing NOTHING, still the thought going to the hospital for back pain that was so extreme I had to stand over the toilet and do man-wees because sitting was not-an-option just seemed silly and melodramatic.

Two days later we were trying to get me out to the car to go to the physio when it became – ironically for all – painfully obvious the physio would be able to do nothing and I really needed to go to hospital.

I have no idea what mum did when she raced into the emergency department but it saw two staff and a wheelchair come out to greet me (five star service! Arrange champagne and a turn down service stat!) AND straight in to a bed.

I tell you, this family is the valedictorian of bypassing waiting in emergency departments.

Two panadeine forte, an injection of an anti-inflammatory, a beautiful nurse called Felicity and a hot Canadian doctor later I could get up and sit.on.the.toilet for a wee.

It’s now a week later and I’m still lying in bed with a heat pack on my back and while I was down to just taking neurofen and panadol a night from hell with Grover had me taking some panadeine forte this morning as it was seizing right back up.

And that, people, is how you ring in a new year.





The weekend

special lunch out to celebrate Grandmama’s birthday, baking in preparation for school starting on Monday and just because, recipes to follow.



The week in review

Monday was a wasted day as the forecast said it was going to be 17 and raining and instead it was about 22 and glorious sunshine. But I was still stressing about Chef’s work outlook and rallying against Mum suggesting we go outside and do stuff so we stayed inside and did little.




Tuesday we all got dressed before midday. Some of us even showered. We then piled into the bus and headed north to Barrenjoey Lighthouse at Palm Beach. What followed was a steep and boggy walk up to the lighthouse.


So many steps.


Then there was some following little trails around the headland, hypothesising about whether if we all had those awesome bat-wing type outfit caper that was going on in Transformers 3 would there be enough of a run-off from the particular rock platform we were standing on to fly off and down to the beach or would you just bounce and plummet to an untimely and painful death down the cliff face.


It’s how we roll.



It’s not an allconsuming outing if there isn’t a moment of terror or pain or abject fear and we managed to tick off all of those with Jasper and Grover running off ahead, Grover then running back to us but taking the wrong turn (I know, my life is a movie script) and then screaming screaming screaming he was lost and couldn’t find me. This would have been so much more dramatic if a) I couldn’t have heard him b) he couldn’t have heard me and c) he was more than 10 metres away from me.


The highlight of this outing was not the fingernail size tick I extracted from Jasper’s head at the cafe afterwards* nor the one I pulled off Felix that night nor the ticks that had been on me and Chef that we’d unknowingly scratched off. Surprising I know. No, the highlight was this:




Yes, they would be my 11 and 13 year old sons. Please note the SIZE 10 MENS sneaker on Felix. (brain.fart.) But see the pose. Not forced, not anythinged, just done.


Something has happened – all that despairing about how crap they treat each other has evaporated. Mostly. Felix was at a Christian youth camp last week with his best mate from school (an awesome time and the bible ‘stuff’ was OK because they sung cool songs as opposed to hymns) and he has definitely come home older.


While Chef raced up the hill after Grover and Jasper, Oscar and I worked our way steadily skyward, with Felix in front guiding Oscar over the tricky bits or muddy parts.


Not wanting to come over too hyper-emotional because wouldn’t that be unheard of, but it kinda made my heart was to burst out of my chest.


From there we went to our favourite cafe – The Cooks Larder – for a restorative lunch and tick eradication session. Again, all of us lobbing in, staff greeting us as if we were long lost family (so nice) and all these people just looking at us in a state of awe  bewilderment  fear curiosity. On occasion I feel like pronouncing ‘we made ALL OF THEM’ in a nice loud voice but I figure I’m already giving them all a good few years of therapy just through my general parenting, the public humiliations I need to save up for really special times.


* well, not in the cafe, once I saw the size of the motherfucking brain sucker I went across the road and purchased the world’s most expensive tick removing tweasers (this is the Northern Beaches and this was in Avalon, the tick capital of Australia). I then summoned him outside of the cafe to do the extraction. What. Even I have some standards.


Wednesday alarmingly also involved us heading outdoors to test out the new pedestrian walkway running alongside the Wakehurst Parkway. For those not in my locale or even this country, the Wakehurst Parkway is one of the three roads in (and I guess out) of the Northern Beaches and takes you alongside Narrabeen Lake and through some national park then past a rather large God-bothering happy clapper establishment before ejecting you back into almost civilisation.


For months now we’ve watched them building a more scenic (ie not along the guard rail of the road) pathway for weirdos joggers and cyclists and the like. The boys were so excited seeing the bridge bits arrive and be installed that it was a holiday activity not to be missed!


So off we went.




Our neighbour and her grandson tagged along and a great time was had. We even bumped into a mum and son who went to school with Oscar and who I’ve been meaning to get in touch with all year. I tell you, it’s going to be a social HUB. (I know, I don’t know me anymore either, suicidal one minute, high on life the next – I can’t keep up with myself.)


We then – wait for it – I know. I hadn’t even been drinking to volunteer such an idea but we did it and everyone seemed to have a good time. GO FIGURE.

What is it with Instagram and my somewhat pathological need to turn all my photos into something resembling my photo album from circa 1978?


Thursday saw us hit Chatswood where my eyebrows were treated to the Benefit Brow Bar. I am ashamed to say it, but how can getting your eyebrows waxed and shaped by someone make you feel so much better about yourself? HOW? WHY?


We then frequented our den of denim – Jeans West (seriously, their jeans are teh awesome, last forever, look great and are totally financially reasonable) for Chef – two pairs for him and because we were there and the children weren’t dismantling the shop-fittings I tried on a pair. And well, the 15s were … TOO BIG. Yep, size 14 jeans. OUTRAGEOUS. Even moreso considering I haven’t lost a gram of weight and am faithfully going the OTHER direction on the scales of doom. But I DON’T CARE about dubious size labelling, I’m taking those size 14 babies and wearing the shiz out of them.


We also got Oscar his first pair of jeans (long story short – the kid struggles with buttons and buckles, it’s always pull-up elasticised pants) – he looks so cool and is so very chuffed. Until he needs to go to the toilet.


I also secured a liberty-rip-off blouse type number – in a LARGE not an XL version (I know I’m like the incredible non-shrinking woman) which is alarming on all levels – the floral, the blouse, the size.


After that haemorrhage of money it was off to do the same at sushi and then to pick up Oscar’s iPod and my iPhone from the screen repairer. And then new covers to protect them from the same fate ever happening again.


Then there was some shenanigans finding the most bizarre item in the Asian grocery store and general misbehaving in a public place.


Today saw us capitalise on a free family pass to Masterchef Live. I had mixed feelings about accepting the passes considering our derision of the program (all about the personality, totally unrealistic and pointless scenarios to cook in, not about the best chef but who fits their agenda that season, more commercial less authentic and so on and so forth) but hey, it’s school holidays and it involved food.


But if anyone doubted the phenomenon that is the MasterChef brand? Behold:

Basically it’s a trade show for punters. The equivalent to craft and quilt fairs for those so inclined. We were booked in for two classes later in the afternoon but we bailed as the boys started going a little postal. There were a couple of highlights.


For all of us, watching the guys from Sticky hand make rock candy – mesmerising:




Meeting the GOD of Macarons and fancy patisserie, Adriano Zumbo:

Felix, who would love to be a pastry chef, was kinda a bit awe struck. Bless him.


Then I discovered Maggie Beer (my own personal hero and national treasure) has created a non-alcoholic cabernet grape sparkling wine.  If my not-drinking-often pledge needed any reinforcing, she just did it. LEGEND.


Then it was pizza (and a wee beverage for a treat) and home.


An awesome day. And awesome week. Funny, was really when we least expected it. Last week I was a black pit of envy and poison at the world and viewed everyone showing any form of happiness and exuberance with derision and vicious malice.  This week, not so much.


Chef is doing a trial at a highly regarded restaurant tonight with a chef I have long admired. Please cross everything and pray/chant/sacrifice as you may like to do.









the travelling circus

So Grandmama took me and the boys on a very special outing yesterday.


You should know that such an outing is a very very rare event indeed. The enthusiasm with which my boys embrace going to Warringah Mall should totally warn you guys of that fact.

But you should also know that the idea of all the crew going somewhere for such an event is no easy undertaking.

Drinks were packed, snacks were packed. Children were dressed in their least stained finest and off we went.

Oscar was suitably excited and showed as much by asking me every two minutes when we would be there, where was it, which way were we going and go mama, go.

Grover fell asleep on the way to the theatre which was a blessing.

Jasper didn’t, which would prove to be fatal.

Felix had his emo on to rival the levels we saw at New Years Eve celebrations when in 30 degree heat he had his hoodie and emo on so tight no amount of freebies and food were freeing him. This emo episode was totally because it was Mary Poppins. He didn’t say it, but I knew it and it made me cranky.

We were also going with mum and that tends to make me tense for no other reason than habit.

At the theatre I keep telling myself to engender the wonderment of it all in the boys but Jasper spies this and then it is game on:

Here’s the thing, tickets were MORE THAN $100 each. No concessions, period. A program was $20. And this God-ugly umbrella – the kids size – was $50. Needless to say, we were not purchasing the umbrella.

Then Grover saw they had blue slushies (obviously with a far fancier name such as London Lemonade for the purposes of the event) and he decided to try it on. Me telling him they were grown-up slushies was not washing. At all.

The niggling pain behind my left eye was starting to take my whole head hostage.

We got inside the theatre – cue seat fuss. Felix couldn’t see despite seating being graded and angled. Jasper had to sit next to me, as did Grover, probably due to some planned stealth attack of whinging to buy ugly umbrellas and icy blue sugar.

Felix was being so vile in his lack of enthusiasm that when he and Jasper started fighting over who got to use the arm rest  I unleashed some awesome Mum-Yell-Whispering. Something along the lines of Grandmama has been very generous in bringing us and his seat was worth more than $100 so he better start showing some gratitude by first wiping that filthy look off his face, taking his hood off and lifting his game because so help me I’ll make you sit out in the foyer for the entire time if he didn’t.

Or words to that effect.

Nothing like whisper-yelling at your kids that they’re going to have fun goddamit or risk public humiliation far worse than being taken to a musical to really engender the excitement about the event I say.

But then, then it started.

I have to tell you, it is absolutely wondrous. The set design is just delightful, the music sensational and the performances exceptional. Almost. Because we’re broke stingy tight-arses frugal and didn’t buy a program I had no idea that Mrs Banks was Marina Prior or that the Bird Lady was Debra Byrne or that Judi Connelli was Mr Banks’ indomitable nanny Miss Andrew. But the person who completely stole the show for me was Matt Lee as Burt. Matt’s main claim to fame is being one of the judges on the Australian So You Think You Can Dance TV show. Here:

And you know, whatever SYTYCD did for his profile it did nothing to showcase his actual talents. I mean, in Mary Poppins he tap dances and sings while in a harness upside down walking along the roof. Fucking awesome.

There is the use of harnesses for people (mainly Mary Poppins obviously) to fly through the air and in one such instance I must say I teared up. I know. I’m such a cheap date.

Anyway, it was awesome.

Yes, there was more crying about not getting an umbrella at intermission. Yes there was major whinging and grizzling the whole way back to the car about it and yes, there may even have been a threat to leave him there – complete with shutting the car doors, getting in and starting the engine while he grew increasingly traumatised on the street. In the city. In full view of many other people who’d obviously also just left the performance.

But we had a good time. Goddamit.




A good day. A very good day.

This morning the boys were being suitably arduous and tiring and exasperating and any other adjective which says fucking annoying in a polite way.

Then the neighbour called over the fence that all t.h.r.e.e. of the guinea pigs were in HER yard, as opposed to the most glorified cage known to man. Sure enough, there they all were, mowing her lawn quite nicely. So there was me and Felix (and then Oscar, Jasper and Grover) clamboring through their tick-infested rainforest inspired garden trying to catch some tailless rats our precious pets.

They’re slippery little suckers let me tell you. We caught Harriet but had to admit defeat on Cocoa and Matilda as they had vanished and we had visitors coming over.

The visitors arrived and a lovely morning was had, except that small section when all their children were playing beautifully outside while my four were inside fighting like feral cats. Seriously, Grover was attacking Oscar on the lounge while Felix and Jasper were wrestling on the kitchen floor. Class.E.

These are the same friends who we went to Putt Putt Golf with last week which ended with Jasper and Grover having an EPIC meltdown because Felix’s best friend had bought him a slushie and I refused to buy one for them. Well actually, it didn’t end there. It ended with me SMACKING Grover in the doorway of the Pro-Shop, dragging him to the car by one arm and then tearing shreds off both of them for embarrassing me so thoroughly in public and how selfish they were and so on and so forth. Let’s just say I wasn’t using my quiet yelling whisper voice.

What can I say, I do white trash well.

Thank GOD these friends are friends with whom I can compare rage ratings.

Anyway, they all departed and I started getting some emails, texts and facebook messages from friends doing the whole ‘OMG YOU WON’ caper. And indeed I did.

Thank you one and all for your votes for me – I will be attending the Disability & Carers Congress in Melbourne as a ‘Social Media Champion’ for the Every Australian Counts campaign.

This means so much to me – it’s been a while since I was involved at this kind of level in disability services. When Oscar was wee I was on the committee for the Association of Genetic Support of Australasia and was heavily involved in securing funding for a support service we used for Oscar about six years ago so it’s been a while between drinks.

Then I had to knuckle down and get some stuff written for a request I’d received.

Then I took some deep breaths, downed a couple of imaginary valium and took all four boys to the Mall to find some winter clothes for Oscar and Felix.

When we arrived I did the standard ‘we’re at the shops’ pep talk. There are other people. BE GOOD. There’s a quiz – what does ‘be good’ mean? To which they all reply in various states of resignation enthusiasm ‘don’t run’, ‘don’t yell’, ‘don’t fight’, ‘don’t touch ANYTHING’, ‘NO RUNNING’, ‘stay close’. And so on and so forth.

It stands to reason then that as soon as the doors to Target swoosh open the two younger ones tear off into the shops as if they’re horses leaving the gate and the decree is given, ‘let the games begin’!

Between eleventy gagillion COME HEREs and STOP RUNNING and SO HELP MEs there was schlepping to the other side of the store to for Felix to try on some jeans. Hey ladies, trying on jeans on a boy is just as soul destroying as trying them on yourself!

Grover and Jasper were having an awesome game of locking themselves in a changeroom, one of them dragging themselves out under the door then banging on it with great hilarity while Oscar flapped and did his ear-piercing squeal and O.M.G. someone SHOOT ME NOW.

There were some more COME HEREs and STOP RUNNINGs and then a yelp. As Jasper slammed into a woman WITH A LIMP. I swear to GOD it now rates as one of my best I TOLD YOU SO mothering stories of all time.

Then there was a brief dalliance in the boys clothing section where I laughed at myself for even thinking anything in that department would be more than a leg warmer on the bigger boys, so back we went to the men’s section, found another pair of jeans we hadn’t seen, went and tried them on and HOOLEY DOOLEY success.

So, we’re heading for the check-outs when I pull my phone out thinking Chef may well have been ringing me to find us (joining us there as he was after work) when I see these tweet messages expressing congratulations and general excitement and more Oh Em Gees.

Then my phone rings and there is much squeeing (granted I was trying to whisper squee because by now – NOT A WORD OF A LIE – the security guard was following us) and for reals folks, I am a finalist in the Sydney Writers’ Centre Best Australian Blogs 2011 Competition in the Lifestyle/Personal category.

How FRIGGIN’ awesome is that. I’m a LIFESTYLE people, a LIFESTYLE.

Needless to say, you can still vote for me in the  People’s Choice category – because clearly my ego needs more stroking.

And then, as we’re all licking our collective wounds of virtually being kicked out of Target my phone rings and it’s my mother-in-law.

Something has been going on folks and I haven’t told you about it because it’s been early days and not really my story to tell.

But at my MIL’s annual mammogram they found a lump. That lump was malignant. That lump was lumpectomied last week. That lump was 10mm bigger than the mammogram had shown it to be. It was not there last year. They thought that lump was a particular kind of cancerous lump. The worst most aggressive kind. It was not there last year and this year it was already 16mm in size.

The proposed treatment plan was confronting. Three months of chemo, TWELVE months of this other treatment that could damage her heart and the value of which (and the best duration) were still not established and THEN radiology. We were all reeling.

Then the call came in today with the final blood test results on The Lump which were confirming – or not – that it was the worst, most aggressive kind. Negative. The Lump – while still a cancerous bastard of a lump – is not the worst, most aggressive kind.  Chemo still stands, as does the radiology but that other nasty 12 month component is no longer on the table. Her surgeon has told her she is the poster girl for early detection, that she will make a full recovery.

And that, my dear beautiful readers, is a good day.