Monday, October 31, 2011

Black Death in Three Acts

This last week or two we have been trapped in some kind of perfect medical storm. Absolute craziness has gone down. The idea of relaying all the details gives me a nervous twitch, so I'll just give you a few vignettes that paint something of a general picture.

When Ivy Channeled Linda Blair

Ivy's croup settled this week into a standard-issue miserable feverish snot-festival. She passed the virus onto Keith whose body morphed it into an evil, scary, proper influenza complete with shivering and raging temps and then, by Thursday, a full overnight of vomiting and nausea. Next morning Keith was a shambles, I was exhausted and Ivy was looking shabby. Poor Ted was full of three-year-old beans and climbing the walls. Nobody had the energy to play with him.

Keith staggered out to lie on the deck in the thin sunshine, while I fed the baby in the bedroom. 'Muuuuuum, ' Ivy moaned, 'I neeeeeeeeed youuuuu.' 'Just five minutes, ' I begged. 'I'm feeding George.'

Suddenly there was a strange, loud barking yawp. I knew it was Ivy and was up out of my chair and down the hall before I could think. (I dread to imagine what happened to my nipple.) Poor Ted got under my feet in the hallway and I sent him flying. In the lounge I found Ivy throwing up. The urge must have come on her suddenly and violently, because she was running in freaked-out circles around the room, spewing in a centrifugal arc.

I thrust the baby at Keith and tended to the vomitron. Teddy was weeping bitterly and we were running late. I had to dress Ted, pack him up for day-care, clean up the crime scene and set up my two invalids to look after themselves while I made it to our doctors appointment.

I had not yet had coffee, washed my face, cleaned my teeth. Repeat. Not. Coffee.

(Ivy and Keith display their sick-bed princess craft. Ivy has gone for after-5 glamour while Keith's frock speaks of Mary Tyler-Moore-ish 1963 gal-about-town whimsy.)

When I Wanted To Kick My GP Up The Cranny

Ivy's allergy test results were in. I explained to my GP that Ivy wasn't with me to pick them up because she was home with the Black Death. When I asked the doctor about what point I should worry about flu, she had a sort of freak-out about being asked to diagnose at a distance. I said I understood, but that Ivy had been to emergency twice that week, had a giant tick removed, suffered a series of hives and swellings and was now chucking her guts up. The doctor gazed at me stony-faced. But she's still your patient, I thought confusedly. This is her appointment. She's not here because she's too sick. We sat in silence for a little while. 'Well, she's got an egg and milk allergy', she told me off-handedly, and then, as a final salvo: 'And you look like you're going to cry.'

When I Failed To Get A Urine Sample

Saturday morning, Georgette spiked a temperature of 38.6. I rang a health-line to check how to manage a baby fever and they said it was Georgette's turn to hit the hospital. We didn't make it home until Sunday afternoon, after they admitted her for observation and ran a series of blood tests. Fever in babies under three months can get serious very quickly and they had to rule out meningitis and other nasties. Roll on Saturday night on a lumpy fold-out armchair, reading New Idea and eating mystery casserole.

Before they would let us leave on Sunday I had to 'catch' a urine sample. This involves holding the baby on your lap, watching for action and catching the wee in a specimen jar when it appears. This is much harder than it sounds. I stared unblinking at Georgette's nethers for an hour-and-a half. I sang every water-related song I could think of, from 'Islands In The Stream' to 'By The Rivers Of Babylon.', but I failed to catch a wee. (I do feel confident that I could pick my daughter out in a line-up though.) Eventually the nurses attached a plastic-bag apparatus. So there we sat, me and the George, on a peeling vinyl armchair; she nude from the waist down with a swinging plastic bag in place, and me in yesterdays clothes, watching the Celebrity Apprentice. 'George,' I said, 'I think we've both lost our dignity.'

This week, things are looking up. Although I feel a little ground-down, I have only low-grade cold symptoms. Last night I made an egg-free cake, decorated it with a giant chicken with a cross through it and we hoofed it down while watching Punky Brewster (season 1.) Nobody threw up. Not a one. Happy times!

And alls well that ends well with little baby loved-a-lot.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Celebrity Death Match : Croup Vs Fairies

I thought the monster tick allergy would fill our medical emergency quota for the month, but nay, my friends. Ranch Mogantosh is once again bedeviled with the pox.

On Monday night, Teddy stumbled into our bedroom, flushed and overheating. He slept between Keith and I that night (thank god, for once George stayed in her bassinette between feeds), tossing, kicking and waking up shouting about tigers. (He's afraid of tigers, Ted. Tigers and pigeons.)

Next day, he was loony and hyper, we were frazzled and Ivy started to get fractious and hot. My careful to-do list started to fall a bit behind. Late that night, Ivy started barking in her sleep. I went in to check and had one of those scary midnight-moments where it dawns, in stages, that something is not right. She's breathing weird. Is she breathing weird? She's breathing really weird. She's not saying much. Can she talk? She can't talk. Then Keith and I went into trip-to-emergency mode; moving fast, speaking slowly, hyper-calmly, while on the inside the panic is rising, rising.

Ivy, of course, was having a blast. Attention, adventure, all in the middle of the night! Her breathing was raspy and laboured, but her eyes shone with the thrill of it all, and as she and Keith pulled out of the driveway, she waved at me from the front seat - the front seat, Mum! - with absolute elation.

At the hospital they diagnosed croup, that old bastard, doped her with steroids and sent her home. Ivy, having been in that same emergency room just days before, worked the nurses big time. 'By any chance,' she asked, 'might there be a lollipop?'

Yesterday she was still unwell and called us to her bedside time and again. I gave her Panadol and tucked in beside her for a while, as requested, cramped like a mantis in her little toddler bed. Finally I said I was going to my own room. She complained. 'I'll check on you in ten minutes,' I said.

'Okay, ' Ivy relented. 'But then I need you to check on me ten minutes after that and ten minutes after that and ten minutes after that until it's the morning.'

'Anything else?' I asked.

'Not at the minute,' she said.

This morning, Keith went down in a sweaty, fevered mess. This virus is harsh, and he's only got mantibodies, you see. With him sick, my whole show really went to hell in a handcart. At lunchtime everybody needed trays in bed. Then Teddy chose today to start acting out some attention issues by urinating next to his potty and also crapping his Wiggle underpants dramatically. (Those babies went straight into a plastic bag in the bin. Sorry, the Earth. Please understand I just could not add scrubbing gussets to my day today.)

Of course I've been desperately trying to shield George from all these coughing, sneezing germ machines. Tiny baby with croupy virus - bad news. So far she's OK.

But I'm pretty rooted. There is wet washing in the machine, and dirty dishes on the table. There is no bread, no milk and no fruit in the house. My long lists of cooking, cleaning and crafting preparations for this weekends flower fairy tea party are looking a little...ambitious.

Pox - 1.
Fairies - o.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Two years ago today, I married this brilliant, kindly, goofy boffin. Our relationship is the most important, precious thing in my life and I plan to cherish and nurture it for the rest of my days. (I would say nights too but they are currently taken up with breastfeeding and blanket-replacing and reassuring little people that tigers aren't going to eat them.)

Happy anniversary K Dog. This one goes out to you.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Georgette is dismayed by the savagery with which her siblings attack the (egg-free) chocolate cake mix.

Well creeping Jesus, that was quite a week. On Friday, skipping happily into the hospital emergency room, Ivy said 'It's all about me again, Mum, isn't it!' Yes, I agreed, trying not to let my face betray the sick anxiety I felt over the vicious red rash that was covering most of her body and the giant tick I had just discovered embedded in her head. 'Ivy, Ivy, Ivy, Ivy, Ivy!' she shouted with joy.

The tick was duly extracted and since then, her rash has almost entirely cleared up so hopefully the series of allergic reactions she's had this week have been caused by that, and not the egg allergy the docs are testing for. Imagine my hilarity when her forehead and nose swelled up hugely on her day of kindy orientation. It was not an auspicious start - Ivy was cranky at me for not respecting some princess-related demand of unreasonableness on the way to school, so on her first meeting with her new teacher she looked like a small disgruntled Neanderthal. Gifted and Talented classroom? I asked. Just down the hall is it?

It was scary stuff. Meanwhile, she's in fine form and obsessed with craft so while the house is an shocking least half the mess glitters, which is not nothing. Ted remains a small, affable lunatic, always looking for nude fun, and still crapping in corners.

George is our beautiful squiggly buddy, who's decided she will only sleep when held by an actual person, so we are living in squalor. We're so confined to barracks right now what with the breastfeeding and the toilet-training.

Next weekend, Ivy is having a flower fairy tea party for her birthday. We have house-guests plus a small contingent of five-year-old fairies to cook and craft for. This week my plan is purely domestic. I'm declaring war on clutter and I plan to be super-organised in order to not end this Friday night like the last, where Keith sent me to Time Out at 7pm for being a stressed-out, neurotic pain in the arse with my crazy eyes too desperately focused on the clock counting down to children's bedtime.

No jury would have convicted me mind you. In fact a jury of mothers would have bought me a drink and two soothing Italian manservants for just making it to 7pm Friday without taking off for a little anonymous hotel down the coast and a nice lie-down, and a fluffy bathrobe, and a room service club sandwich, and a bath...and...and...

Where was I?

Yes, next week, onward and upward. I plan to be on top of all my tasks and maintain a level of good-natured amusement at all antics from glitter glue on the floor to poos in the shoes.

Breathe. Smile. Stomach in! Tits out!

And forward!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


My big girl turned turned five this week. I want to linger with my thoughts over a five-year-old Ivy post, so more on that later. But here she is on her birthday morning.

My sweet girl.

Right now I've got column deadlines, overflowing laundry, ploppy-pants (not mine) and a possible child's egg allergy (jeez, no, please) to manage, so



for now.

Love and kisses to your missus.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Creative Space - Recycled School Desks

Last week Ivy, Gigi and I went on a lady date to the big op shop in town. I was in dire need of tops and out-of-the-housiness and Ivy was in need of a little Mum-time. We had an excellent time wandering the aisles admiring each others taste in old and shiny things and then we struck op-shop gold in the form of these battered old school desk on sale for six smackers each.

We took our little mission to Bunnings next for paint and sandpaper and then went home where I advised Ivy to go on the immediate offensive with her long-suffering minimalist father. 'It's not crap, Dad!' she shouted as he opened the car door. Just as trained.

This laminate was really in bad shape but Ivy's Sale Of The Century spokesmodel pose shows promise.

Unfortunately I alwasy FREAK OUT when buying paint and in a last minute tic, switch choices to a shade just below my original choice. So this blue doesn't pop so much as whimper a little. But it's still a nice happy blue.

And the school desks have been on high colouring-in, dot-to-dot, maze-puzzle and writing practice rotation ever since.

More creative spaces over here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Sound Of One Hand Typing

Babe in arms.


Turning into total hermit.

Luckily have beautiful bunting banner made with love by girlfriends as baby shower gift. It hangs above crafty almost-five year-old and giant pile of washing to remind me that when I have time to re-enter the outside world (two or three years, perhaps) there are friends out there.

(Babe asleep beside me! No longer doing grunty squiggles! Furious two-fingered typing ensues.)

Out There, in the world outside this nest of looping schedules and dried fruit and two-hourly feedings and three-year-old boys needing cuddling and comforting, and almost-schoolgirls needing colouring-in assistance and lots of discussion the important upcoming flower fairy tea-party.

(Patting required. Back to one hand.)

I am in constant motion. In the daytime when Keith takes a lunch break, we eat on the deck and then I lie down for a spell while he teaches Daddy School where he likes the kids to address him, for no good reason, as Mr. Blake. I do have a pic of that. I'll post it some other time. Maybe.

After we get the big bobos off to bed at 7.30, I am into the bath like a shot, while Keith takes George. Once I crawl out, we roll into the evening proceedings, which involve more squiggling and grunting and general baby craziness through the wee small hours. In the off moments I sleep the sleep of the zombie dead.

So not much space, or free handedness, for blogging. Or socialising. My relationship capacity seems to have withered to a place of 'liking' the Facebook statuses of my friends. Good one! I'm trying to say. Nice one there! Hello! I still love you! I am here!

I lost my mobile shortly after the babelet was born and I haven't replaced it yet, so I'm even more cut off from the outside. But I feel like I need to. Managing the domestic and emotional needs of this little family of mine has me at capacity right now. I am so happy buried in this little world. But I have no room left for anything much else right now.

This post is all over the place like a mad womans shit.

It was intended as a THANK YOU to my lovely friends who sewed this beautiful piece of art for me. And an explanation for where I've been to any of you who've missed me.

I love you.

I'll see you on the other side.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Piggie In A Blanket.

Six weeks old, this squidgeling, my sweet barnacle, six weeks old and going gangbusters. She has started smiling and the whole family is wasting swathes of time trying to get her to pop out her giant dimple.

But look, look at the beautiful hand-knitted blanket that arrived this week from my darling friend Sally in Switzerland. The colours are gorgeous and it is as soft as her bottom.

Thanks so much Sal. We will treasure this always.