100 Days – the reboot!

It’s been such a long, long time since I wrote on this site.  Recently, I’ve started feeling like I’m losing myself.  I was out on a run, and the thought suddenly occurred to me, “I am 42 years old.  I am halfway through my life. I don’t get a rerun!!”.

I was struck by a sudden sense of panic by the thought.  Shit!  What am I doing? Why am I letting the days just pass by, stuck in this survival mode of laundry, cleaning, school runs, packed lunches, grocery shopping, piano lessons, volunteering, and the endless, endless guilt at letting friendships slide, missing social events and forgetting to reply to the ever growing list of emails.

Where did I go? What happened to me?

So.  Here we are.  Writing gives me pleasure – I enjoy it, I think I’m OK at it, and it’s a tiny little piece of the old, less haggard, less run ragged, me.

Henry said something yesterday, which prompted me to claim back this small part of myself.  Here’s how it went:

Traffic lights are just there to keep you safe, Mummy.  So we shouldn’t get mad at them for being red.  Police officers are just there to keep us safe, we shouldn’t be scared of them.  Everything and everyone are just there to keep us safe.  So really, the world is just very, very nice.  Everything is….nice!

From the mouths of babes, huh?

He’s right.  In this world of Trump, Brexit, Sri Lanka bombings and the hateful agendas of the small few, it’s often hard to see the woods for the trees.  Sometimes, I think, it’s important to step back and put ourselves back in the mind of a 6 year old.

Sometimes, often, maybe much more than Fox News would have us believe, the world is just….nice.

So, I’m rebooting the 100 Days of Happy.  I encourage you to think about doing the same.

Day One.  I’m happy that I have my sweet Henry here, with his wise words that remind me take my nose out of the daily drudgery and look around me at this nice, nice world.


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This (ludicrous) heated debate

The fact that there was such an overwhelming level of support for my last post, which was read and shared in more than 20 countries around the world, was absolutely heartwarming.  Every day I am sent several more pro-vaccine blogs and articles by supportive friends, along with the odd outraged “Ugh, someone brought their measles-ridden child to soft play today” message.

Unsurprisingly, I had a similar line of thought when I went in to my daughter’s future school to register her for kindergarten.  As I stood in line in a building that we know is a hotbed of unvaccinated little petri-dishes (whilst listening to clueless parents explaining that they will certainly not be producing immunization certificates for their offspring), the little girl sitting right in front of me suddenly (and silently) keeled forward and vomited everywhere, Linda Blair style.  Putrid, carrot-tainted puke spatter abounding!  And what did Mom do?  Oh, she glanced up, laughed as she exclaimed “Well, here’s a day we’ll remember forever”, and carried right on filling in those exemption forms.


Nonetheless, I’m so reassured by my blog stats to see that there are also many more like-minded and responsible parents, who have chosen to spread the word and keep the message in the public eye.  Vaccines save lives.

Vaccines.  Save.  Lives.   

But of course, an article like that was never going to escape the eagle eyes (or vicious tongues) of the anti-vax movement.  I was going to title this post “Haters gonna hate; Vaxxers gotta educate”, but decided that it was maybe too flippant for such a weighty topic.

I must admit, I was terribly naiive before.  I honestly thought that the vast majority of non-vaccinating parents had been scared away from common sense by Andrew Wakefield and his unfounded, fraudulent, scare-mongering autism nonsense.  I liked to believe that this was an argument easily quashed by, you know, science, and that we had hope of  changing at least a few minds – maybe even of reaching that magical 95% and meeting the World Health Organization’s goal of “total measles and rubella eradication…by the year 2020”.

Ahem.  Maybe not.  Before too long, I saw one of my local Facebook mommy support (haha!) groups  post a link to an article by Jack Wolfson and declare it gospel, because “wow, a cardiologist!”.   Have you heard of Doctor Jack Wolfson?  I couldn’t quite believe that a medical professional would make such outlandish statements as “measles isn’t a big deal”, “if those chicken pox people didn’t eat cereal and doughnuts, they might still be alive” and (my personal favourite) “the flu kills just about nobody”.

Just about nobody?  Try telling that to the bereaved families of the 30,000 people killed in the US alone by seasonal flu each year, or the 500,000 worldwide, doctor.

So, I had a quick Google of this “paleo-cardiologist”:

I am a board-certified cardiologist who believes bad nutrition and toxins create heart health problems. I prevent and treat cardiovascular disease with good nutrition, not medicines.  

Right.  Suddenly everything makes a little more sense.  Don’t doctors swear to do no harm?  As the daughter of a cardiologist myself, I’m reasonably sure that you can’t treat a patient in congestive heart failure with organic kale leaves and grilled salmon.  I’m quite confident that if you are unfortunate enough to be floored by a massive coronary halfway round the 14th hole, any paramedic that chooses to put together a wholesome nutrition plan for you, rather than quickly administering some aspirin and nitroglycerin, would suddenly find himself at the centre of a huge malpractice suit.

And yet, Jack Wolfson’s words are being dangerously taken, and repeated, as expert opinion.  Suddenly the anti-vaxxers have a hero with a medical license – qualified, outspoken validation that they were right all along.  We don’t need vaccines, you ignorant fools, we just need to ban McDonalds and send all our XBoxes to landfill, whilst planning the next chicken pox party for the kids to boost their natural immunity.  Never mind that we might lose a couple of little ones along the way, it’s all for the greater good!

These are local parents perpetuating this lunacy.  Maybe they live in the next street.  Maybe their kids go to the same preschools as ours.  Maybe our babies drool over the same toys at the community centre. Maaaaaybe one of them might just be harbouring a deadly disease.

So, you know, I couldn’t not say anything.

Just in case any of you were also under the sweet delusion that the anti-vax movement would be open to gentle education, I thought I might share some of the delightful responses I received to my pro-vaccine comments.  It is absolutely exasperating to note that through the entire “discussion” (I’m just stopping short of referring to the experience as an all-out attack!), not a single person agreed with me.  I could not get even one lowly soul to acknowledge the fact that vaccines work.  Not one.


So here we go.

“Pharma companies do not make vaccines because they love us and want us all to be healthy. These people are not philanthropists. Their profits are so large and their power is so great that they have convinced our government to make it illegal to sue them if their vaccines injure or kill someone. That’s why there is a fund set up for that to protect them. Why would you inject anything into your or your children’s veins from a company who has no accountability in making sure it is safe.”

Ah, I do so love a good conspiracy theory.

I presume you’re talking about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.  Something that has come about thanks to America’s brilliant “if something goes wrong in your life, look for someone to sue!” mentality.  I’d be more concerned about the money in the pockets of all these litigation lawyers-of-questionable-morals, than the gazillions of dollars you seem to believe that Big Pharma enjoys.

It’s an unfortunate fact that, before the introduction of the VICP, the media (and our good friend, Dr. Wakefield) fueled fears about vaccines, leading to huge increases in law suits.  Many drug companies had to just stop producing vaccines altogether – it’s simple mathematics that in order to conduct clinical trials and produce new medicines (whether that be vaccines, or the latest groundbreaking breast cancer treatment), pharmaceutical companies do, in fact, need money.  Sorry love, but you’re right – these businesses can’t survive on the warm and fuzzies alone, and if all their cash is being lost in the courtroom, then there isn’t anything left to spend on developing the cure for cancer.  For example.

So, in order to ensure that a reliable supply of vaccines remained available, to protect the general population from preventable-but-deadly diseases, the VICP was established.  Contrary to your argument, you can actually still sue through this system – it just means that there is protection in place to ensure that those of us who do believe in medicine are still able to access it!  Where would we be if every single company that has ever produced a vaccine was bankrupt through legal action?  How expensive would your birth control have to be, if the company that produces it has to fund lawyers to fight tenuous blame claims every month? What would happen to your insurance rates if the cost of your kid’s asthma inhaler suddenly skyrocketed?  Think about it!

“To deny there are real risks to vaccines is not only a lie being pushed by people who have billions of dollars to lose, it’s flat out ignorant. Our own supreme court ruled that vaccine injury is unavoidable, and they are produced by companies that have zero accountability. That should be scary to us!”

The sad truth is that anti-vaxxers want vaccines that are 100% safe. This is never going to happen!  Yes, all medicines carry some risk, just as crossing the road carries risk, getting in your car carries risk, owning a dog carries some risk. However, the relative risk of injury is what you need to consider.

Did you know that if you Google “seatbelts kill”, you’ll find a myriad of articles like this one, containing such fantastic quotes as “there is not a single verified case of a person’s life ever being saved by a seatbelt in an automobile accident”.  But it’s on the internet, and backed up by many blogs saying the same thing, so there must be some truth!  There’s no smoke without fire, right, anti-vaxxers?  Just to be safe, it’s probably best if you unbuckle your kids from now on.  Never mind all those studies into car safety, and billions of dollars spent on crash testing and car seat development – the government funds those studies too, so that data is most definitely not to be trusted, right?  Your grandparents never wore seatbelts after all, and they were FINE (as evidenced by your own very existence)!  Go on, get out your pinking shears and cut those deadly restraints before they throttle your poor, defenseless family.

And what of air bags? Those little bastards were responsible for 175 deaths in the ten years between 1990 and 2000.  Never mind that 3.3 million actually deployed during that time, it’s the 175 that count.  If airbags had never been invented, those people (104 of them being children) would still be here today.  It’s probably best for everyone if you disable those bad boys quick sharp, before someone gets badly hurt!

 “I find the people who get the most angry about not injecting poison into helpless infants veins are almost always the most ignorant about them. The tens of billions of dollars in profits a year is why your doctor and pharmaceutical companies convince you it’s good for us.”

Ignorant, huh?  That’s an interesting one.  For some reason, most anti-vaxxers claim that “Big Pharma” and physicians alike make lots of money from vaccines, and that they are all in cahoots with the government  on this huge money-making venture.

But, if vaccination rates dropped, surely the inevitable increase in preventable illnesses, many of which have high rates of complications resulting in hospitalization and expensive treatment, would be much more of a money-spinner, boosting significantly more pay cheques along the way?  For example, only one company might produce the measles vaccine (big bucks people, HUGE!), but if your child contracts the disease and is unfortunate enough to develop brain swelling (one in twenty, remember?), then that’s money to the ER; the ICU; the High Dependency Ward…to the nurse that puts an IV in that tiny arm; the radiologist that conducts and reads the MRI; the pediatrician that takes the time to sit down and discuss your daughter’s future with you; the physiotherapist that works tirelessly to teach her to walk again, albeit with a walker (at additional expense, of course); the OT that helps her to communicate again and the ERT that fits her hearing aid.

I’ll freely admit that I really don’t understand the “we all hate big pharma” sensationalists. If you have a headache, you take an Advil. If you get a cold, you stock up on Lemsip. If you are unfortunate enough to be afflicted with cancer, you’re going to be trying every treatment option out there, along with medications to help you cope with the pain, the nausea, the depression. Where do these drugs come from in the first place? Oh yes….the evil pharma industry.

Without (EXPENSIVE) clinical trials, we see zero advancement in medicine. You can’t just blanket-hate the industry, unless you are prepared to never take any medicine ever, or expect all your loved ones to do the same. Don’t you dare accept that chemotherapy for your breast cancer, because God forbid that Astra Zeneca should make any money out of us!!

Incidentally, those people who spend so much time “convincing” us of the incredible power of vaccines…they really are experts, you know. They really do know things that you and your Google search cannot possibly fathom. Experts in immunology, infectious diseases, paediatrics, public health and just about any other field you can think of have weighed in on the side of vaccines. These people all give vaccines to their own children, which kind of makes your bizarre theory that they are all in cahoots to hide these dreadful dangers from the public pretty ludicrous.

By the way, did you know that Austism Speaks (a well known autism advocacy group) was even moved themselves to release a statement urging parents to vaccinate, in the wake of the Disney Debacle?  If nothing I say can convince you, maybe the words of their Chief Science Officer might help?

“Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.”

Thank you, sir.

The thing I find so baffling about this is that you, my dear misguided anti-vaxxer, seem to be selectively choosing this one particular thing that you have zero expertise in to argue against the view of those who really do. Presumably you will unquestioningly trust the recommendations of your car mechanic, or the  plumber that comes to fix your leaking toilet, maybe even the surgeon that fits your son’s grommits?  What is it about vaccinations that brings up some deluded fear that causes you to actively seek out arguments against the experts?

Before you accuse me of being ignorant, closed-minded, or brainwashed by the government/Pfizer/science, I should point out that I am really very open-minded. I have also been pregnant (three times), and wondered about mercury in vaccines vs the fact we are advised not to eat tuna because of the mercury levels. I’ve also done my extensive research, and I come from a family of medical professionals. I’m not stupid, ignorant or basing my opinions on “silly internet memes”. I am a professional researcher who is also the concerned mum of a vulnerable infant.

But I also know that if we all refuse to vaccinate our children, based on some bizarre anti-government conspiracy theory, or misguided belief that you are “injecting poison into your children’s veins”, then humanity is doomed.

Nobody goes into a career as a pharmacist / researcher / doctor / pharmaceutical professional thinking “Wow, I’m going to get SO STINKIN’ RICH!!”.  I simply have never seen it. People want to get into the field of medicine because they want to make a difference. Of course, anyone would want to be the person responsible for some huge discovery – who wouldn’t want “Here lies Geoff.  He cured cancer!” written on their headstone? – but believe me, the chances of any clinical researcher making megabucks from a pertussis vaccine are about as slim as the risks of your child coming to any harm from it.

How many mothers in the third world would chop off their left arm to get access to the incredible opportunity of protecting their babies from fatal illnesses that are so easily prevented here in our land of plenty? Oh, how they would be shaking their heads in astounded disbelief if they had a chance to see any of this nonsense.

All I have to say, in closing, is this:  Vaccines save lives.

Vaccines SAVE lives.

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The Disneyland debacle and my own two cents

This is a topic I’ve been meaning to write about for, oh, about 5 years now.   Since my daughter was born, in fact, and I started caring a little more about these things.

57 months, two more kiddos and a move to the US later, and two things have prompted me to finally get around to putting my thoughts down this week.  The first is Disneyland.  The second is the startling realisation that on Thursday I’m going to have to register my not-so-baby girl into Kindergarten.

The current measles outbreak here in the US, which reportedly originated from an overseas visitor to the happiest of destination vacation spots, has now resulted in at least 52 Disneyland-related infections in California alone.  The disease has spread to 6 other states and Mexico (so far), with more cases in the month of January alone than the US usually sees in an entire year.  15% of these people have been hospitalised.  FIFTEEN per cent.

To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

Walter E. Disney, July 17, 1955


Not such a happy place this month though, huh, Walt? What kind of future does a child brain-damaged by encepahlitis have? How much joy is the 2 year old hospitalised by pneumonia experiencing?

Needless to say, because it is Disneyland, suddenly the immunisation debate is all over social media again.  The anti-vaxxers are out in force, spreading their tales of mercury-laden poison, reigniting the MMR/autism fire, and singing from the rooftops about their increasingly baffling “the government and big pharma want to poison us all” conspiracy theories.  Which is always good for a bit of light reading while you’re nursing a grizzling baby at 3am.  A baby who, incidentally, is particularly unsettled this week, having just received four shots of pure government-mandated poison into his chubby little thighs.  Quick, somebody call Social Services, I’m a terrible, ignorant mother, a danger to my children and probably to all mankind!


So, what does this all have to do with my little kindergartner, you might wonder?

Well, on Friday, I took Baby James for his Six Month “Well Child” visit with our pediatrician.  I asked her about the current measles outbreak, and whether I ought to be worried for my son, who is still too young to be offered the MMR vaccine.   Instead of the “Oh no, it’s nothing – relax, Mom!” response I was half expecting, she sighed and adopted her grave face.  Thanks to the actions (or should that be non-actions) of the anti-vaxxer brigade, in order to protect my baby from a disease that was all but eradicated until very recently (as recently as the year 2000), I need to be on my guard.  If we’re invited to play-dates, it is up to me to call ahead and ask the host “Are all the children there vaccinated against measles?  If not, sorry, no bueno, no fun.”  She then followed up with “And then you need to ask whether there are any guns kept in the house”.   And while that is definitely a topic for another day, it is interesting that she treated measles infection and deadly weapons with equal gravitas.

While contemplating the thought that I actually have no idea whether all or even any of Evie’s little buddies are up to date on their vaccination schedule, I started to wonder what the figures really are in this part of the world, the special little bubble we live in, full of educated and privileged Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon families.  The sorts of families who might, for example, vacation at Disneyland without a second thought.

39% of the Kindergarten students at X Y Elementary have met state immunization requirements. The Washington State Department of Health recommends an immunization percentage of 95 or greater.


Or maybe, “OhmyfuckingGodWHAT!!?” might have actually been my initial reaction.

Nearly two thirds of my daughter’s future classmates do not meet state requirements?  Right.  Good to know.  Excuse my ignorance on the topic of education establishments in the United States, but….why the hell are these children permitted to enter the school system?  What is the point of government recommendations if people pay about as much attention to them as they do to the “12 Items or Less” sign at the supermarket checkout?

Of course, dear, sweet, naiive anti-vaxxer mom, I understand completely that it is your right to refuse vaccinations for your child.  And I’m sure that you are quite convinced that your reasons are valid, your research extensive, and your decision entirely your own damn business.

BUT, equally, it is my right to send my daughter to school without having to fear the diseases she might bring home to her vulnerable youngest sibling.  It is my right to take my children to meet Mickey Mouse, without the fear that our vacation may end in an ER visit.  It is my right to express utter incredulity that you, being in the extremely privileged position of having the chance to protect your child (and mine) from harm, choose instead to take your chances.

Did you know that Roald Dahl, beloved children’s author of such fabulous tales as Matilda, James and the Giant Peach and The BFG, lost his 7 year old daughter, Olivia, to the measles?  From reading to her in bed, as she apparently recovered from the worst of her malady, to “in an hour, she was unconscious.  In twelve hours, she was dead”.  Just.  Like.  That.

I’ll let that sink in a little.

Did you know that Andrew Wakefield, the doctor responsible for the deeply flawed research study (with a sample size of just 12 children) which was widely reported to prove a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in children, has not only been totally discredited, but has been stripped of his medical license?  Dozens of subsequent research studies have debunked his scare-mongering theory, and the British Medical Journal has gone as far as to call his research “fraudulent”.  But tell me,  the next time your child develops a 103 degree fever, a nasty rash, an unusually sleepy demeanor – any of those scary things we hate to see in our little ones – do you plan to rush Little Tommy to see your trusted family practitioner, or will it be more “Aha, oh no, that doctor will only try to convince me to give our baby a nasty shot – instead, I’m taking our sweet little flower to that man that was charged with four counts of dishonesty, and twelve counts involving the abuse of developmentally challenged children.  HE is definitely the man to trust with the life and health of my irreplaceable offspring”.

Yes.  That makes sense.

Did you know that the measles is one of the most contagious preventable diseases out there?  Let’s say that your non-vaccinated-through-choice child does develop some of the telltale symptoms of this completely harmless “I had it as a child and I was absolutely fine” illness.  The high temperature, the rash, the refusal to eat.  You take little Clara, who was breastfed until she was 3, has only ever eaten organic, and most definitely gets her 5-a-day, (actually it’s more like 10) to the pediatrician’s office to find a way to ease her suffering.  Except, in the waiting room, she suddenly gets an urge to vomit (another delightful symptom), and rushes to the bathroom to purge.   No biggie, you clean up as best you can, and then you leave.

Four days later, in I come with my 6 month old for his scheduled check-up.  My little cherub who, you probably remember, is not yet old enough to get that precious vaccine.  Except, as we wait, he does what babies are prone to do at inopportune moments like these, and we rush to the bathroom for an emergency diaper change.  He doesn’t crawl on the floor.  He doesn’t lick the toilet.  He doesn’t eat the contents of the trash can.  And yet – BOOM – now he has measles.


Four days.  No physical contact with your child, or any of the things she touched.  Yet…plenty of fun and games ahead for my bouncing baby boy.

Did you know that approximately one in ten children with measles develop ear infections that can lead to hearing loss?

Did you know that as many as one in twenty children with measles will develop pneumonia (the most common cause of death from this disease)?

Did you know that one in a thousand little ones will develop encephalitis, the same brain swelling condition that killed Roald Dahl’s daughter, to whom The BFG was dedicated?

One in a thousand.  Huh.  It might not sound much to you, but when you remember that measles affects 20 million people around the world each year….well, that’s 20,000 dead Olivias right there.

The reasons I have heard for not vaccinating range from the sublime to the ridiculous, and I’m not inclined to address or promote each crazy conspiracy theory or piece of flawed “evidence” here.  As I have said before, maybe that is your right to choose.  Well, it’s your child, so of course, it is your right.

But the problem is, it’s not just your child.

We will ALL rely on herd immunity at some point in our lives.  Whether it’s as a newborn, as a parent to a NICU baby, as an elderly grandma whose fragile immune system ain’t what it used to be…ultimately, a decent level of herd immunity reduces the likelihood in your city or town that an infected person will even brush up against, let alone endanger, someone who could be vulnerable.   Like that 8-year-old whose parents rejected vaccinations, or a baby too young for the MMR jab, or a 5 year old so debilitated by allergies, he is not even eligible for the shots that could save his life.  Health professionals say that a vaccination rate of about 95 percent is needed to effectively protect a community. Fall too far below that level and you’re in trouble.

Now, I hope, you might understand my dismay at that 39%.

A healthy diet filled with organic veggies, probiotics and whole grains, extended breastfeeding, a dedication to at least 60 minutes of outdoor exercise and fresh air each day….they are all extremely admirable choices, and I take my hat off to those parents who manage to instill such a healthy regimen in their family life.  As long as those lifestyle choices are an add-on, rather than an alternative, to your family’s vaccine schedule.

Otherwise, what happens when this outbreak starts to edge a little closer to home?  When those hospitalised children are not in the next state, but in the next classroom?  When they start bringing in the men in the HazMat suits?  Where will you turn?  Will it be to your local farmer’s market, or to the medic with the syringe in her hand?

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Let it go, Ylvis!

Day 60. 

According to my Facebook feed, every single parenting forum and mommy blog out there, and the reported 5 hour lines at Disney World, it seems that the current obsession driving mums and dads to distraction around the globe is Princess Anna and her chilly sister. 

Not so in this house, I’m afraid.   Nope.  Here, we are all about the fox.  Or more precisely, what the fox says.   Or, as Henry demands it, “cupcake fuck say!”.  Yes, that.

Ylvis, I don’t know where you have been living for the last 30 years, but they SCREAM, OK?  Foxes bloody well scream.  It’s blood-curdling, spooky and more than a little spine-chilling when you hear it.  And a fox is not your guardian angel – he’s a mangy old beast that roams the streets at night, raiding your dustbins and terrorising the neighbourhood cats.

So, for the love of God, will you please Let it Go.  What does the fox say?  Something along the lines of “gahhhheeeeeaaaarghhhhhhh”.   Much like me, in fact, the 37th time each day that I am asked to play Cupcake Fuck Say on YouTube.

But I know I shouldn’t complain,  I’m sure that those of you that go to bed each night muttering “the cold never bothered me anyway” as you lay your weary heads down would kill to replace that ridiculously catchy theme with a quirky spoof from a couple of Norwegian comedians.  Just please don’t call the men in white coats when you pass me roaming the aisles in Target, singing “a-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-de-ding-de-ding” as the Pepperlings wave their hands in glee!  #100HappyDays


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New ‘do!

Day 59.

A few things conspired to make this a #100HappyDays day.  Starting with the fact that both children slept past 7.30am.  I know, simple pleasures and all that (and I do still vaguely remember the days when I only considered it a weekend lie-in if I was still cosily tucked under my duvet when the bedside clock ticked past 09.59), but this morning’s snoozathon was luxury indeed.  Let’s just pretend that we didn’t have to keep them up until 9.30 the night before in order to achieve this level of sleepy nirvana…ahem. 

On other news, it was apparently family haircut day. Mr. P and Evie headed up to Great Clips for their bargain barnets, while Henry and I went to the park, where my sociable little soldier decided to play football (<cough>, “soccer”, <cough>) with a bunch of boys twice his size, then we came home for burgers on the barbie as the forecast rain failed to fall.  Hurrah!

Finally, it was our Henry’s turn for a spot of pampering.  While Evie and her Daddy went swimming, I took my wee boy down to the local kids salon – complete with horses for chairs, his very own TV screen and choice of DVD, and basket of toys to rummage through – for his new ‘do.

I knew it was long overdue, but I still can’t believe how much difference a haircut can make to a 2 year old.  It seems that in the space of 25 minutes, my sweet little baby-faced toddler suddenly transformed into a proper wee boy:





Much as it makes me sob a little inside to see my baby boy looking so grown up, there’s absolutely no denying….he’s a handsome devil, isn’t he though?  Watch out girls!  #100HappyDays




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Day 58.

It’s 84 degrees right now (29C), and I’m MELTING.  Yeah, I’m whining about the sun now.  Actually, more specifically, I’m whining about maternity wear.  Why must these damn clothes come with so many layers?  It’s bad enough that it’s all so deeply unflattering, turning the cutest of yummy mummies (I hasten to exclude myself from that particular group) into apparent contenders for The Biggest Loser (why else are we so afraid to actually congratulate someone on their burgeoning belly?  Because we know that those baggy tops and ill-fitting pants could just as easily be hiding the results of a month long pizza bender, that’s why!).  But oh my God, the elasticated fabric, the odd ruffles and ruching and the layers….all those damned layers!

I already have a living, wriggling little creature in there, pushing up blood volume, maxing out metabolic rate, and generally making me feel like I’m ill-advisedly spending my days and nights with a hot water bottle strapped to my abdomen.  The last thing I need is more damned layers keeping Daisy toasty cosy in there.

Nope, I have never been pregnant in the summer before.  Evie was a March baby, and Henry was April.  I had already suspected that I wasn’t going to be the happiest of clammy little campers this year, but now that I survey my sweaty wardrobe in despair, and read of the forecast El Niño summer bringing us heat, humidity, and a fair few sticky nights in the next few months, I have to ask myself….how on earth do my fellow mums Down Under do it?  Or in Brazil, Ecuador, South of France?  More do the point, where do you shop?  I’ve seen the likes of Miranda Kerr in the gossip mags, and beached whale is probably the last thing that sprang to mind.  “Beeattchh” might have topped out the list, but definitely no huge aquatic mammals in sight.

So yes, here I am moaning about the gorgeous weather.  So shoot me – I’m in my third trimester, it’s my duty to be unreasonably contrary.

But then, I open up my window, peer out from the sweltering gloom of my “office”, and this is my view:



OK.  So maybe I’m willing to concede that all this glorious sunshine might be survivable, after all.  Happy kids, happy Mum and all that….and there’s no denying the joyful screams, splashes and squeals coming from the paddling pool right now. Plus, I have recently been given the happy news that although I’m not entitled to Maternity Leave, I can claim “Short Term Disability”, which means that I am officially off work from July until October.  It may well be a long, hot summer ahead, but that long hot summer is mine.  ALL MINE – bring on the muslin and maxi dresses!  #100HappyDays

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Nine Lives

Day 57.

Today, temperatures climbed up into the 80s again, and I definitely wasn’t the only one happy about this:



I think somebody has obviously heard about this nine lives thing, and is maybe pushing his luck a little more than might be considered wise.

Sunbathing on open window ledges?  Dumbass cat!  #100HappyDays

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Kids say the darndest things….

Day 56.

As we checked out of our lovely beach-side retreat, I went to write our entry in the guest book, and realised we couldn’t possibly leave without taking a photo of what is quite probably the best entry ever written in such a book:



Farting, headless, dead seals and grandpas singing about boots ‘n’ pants?  Well, now I feel that we missed out – it’s clearly time to book the return visit!  #100HappyDays

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A Change is as Good as a Rest

Isn’t that what they say?  I have to say that, as I sped down Route 101 to reach the beach at 10pm on dark and rainy Friday night, with two snoring Pepperlings in the back seat, I was starting to wonder….

Day 53. 

Friday was our fifth wedding anniversary.  And also the first time my husband has ever had flowers delivered to me:



Maybe a leopard can’t ever change its spots.  Or maybe, those leopards just never had wives so committed to years and years of heavy hint-dropping.   Either way, I’m very grateful, and loving my beautiful non-supermarket blooms.  Of course, the bar has been set now, my dearest – now I know you can do it! 

Day 54.

After a disastrous night’s sleep, thanks to a couple of very over-excited little people, we awoke to some beautiful blue skies, the sound of waves crashing nearby, and the glorious feeling that we had absolutely no plans for the day other than to enjoy it.

And so, we did!




I will expand on how beautiful Long Beach is once I’ve had a good night’s sleep, but suffice to say, we had a wonderful time.  There was really absolutely nothing I could fault, it was the best day-between-wedding-anniversary-and-Mothers-Day day we’ve ever spent, no contest! 

Day 55.

After such a beautiful day yesterday, I must admit, I was anxious about the drive home today, fully expecting a meltdown from one or both of the Pepperlings at some point over the 4 hour journey.

But then, apparently, I had forgotten that it’s Mothers Day.  I may not have got my breakfast in bed, a cute card or a fancy box of chocolate.  But, I did get a far better gift than any of that today:



Without meaning to gush, I really couldn’t have asked for anything more from my two precious little pickles.  They did such a great job of just entertaining each other – blowing raspberries, giggling at incomprehensible jokes, singing Let It Go ad infinitum, and pretending to be terrified of a giant wind-up spider that came with the obligatory mid-way Happy Meal.  

What can I say on this Mothers Day, other than that I feel that I shouldn’t be the one celebrated today…I’m just so incredibly grateful to have been blessed with these two (point five) gorgeous little monkeys.  Their very existence is my reward for any of the mundanity or exhaustion that comes hand in hand with the “job” – far superior to any salary increase or six-figure bonus!

 Of course, for future reference, chocolates are never a bad idea, either. 


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The easy years

Day 52.

Much as I complain about my shitty phone, it does have a pretty cool feature, whereby it randomly scrolls through all your Facebook photos, and sets them as your screensaver.  It’s a good way to remind yourself to look at all those old photos, filed away in albums that you otherwise never remember to revisit.  It’s also very handy for Throwback Thursday! 

This evening, I glanced down at my phone, and noticed that this was the photo of the hour: 


That there is the paw of an outraged Ragdoll, swiping at the not-very-innocent nose of Milo dog.  I love this picture – it never fails to make me laugh out loud….and it reminds me of the easy years.  When Monty was the only jealous sibling we had to worry about, and my biggest complaint was that Milo had kept me awake at night for 2 weeks, while he settled into this new home away from his mum.   Two weeks of sleep deprivation, listening to my furry baby crying in his crate downstairs.  Oh, the hardship!  Oh, the calamity!

Tomorrow, we celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.  5 years.  Has it only been five years?  Crikey!  Back when that photo was taken, I’m pretty sure we would never have believed that just in just a few short years, we’d have already been out of that lovely Brighton terrace for more than 30 months, we’d have 2.5 kids (gah!), another crazy cat and….we’d be living in a giant house in soggy Seattle, of all places!  

What a ride!  Five years, three pets, (almost) three children, and we’re now living in our third continent together.  God only knows what the next five years might bring, but please, please let it involve a little sleep…and a lot less “adventure”!?  Mrs. Pepper needs a wee rest.

So, today, with our anniversary tomorrow and Mother’s Day looming on Sunday, and no real plans for either event, I took action.  A very timely email popped into my inbox, informing me of the latest Groupon – cheap accommodation down in Long Beach, Washington – so I sent it to Mr. Pepper for his perusal (subtle, huh?!), and he surprised me by replying “Shall we go this weekend?”.

Well, why the hell not, huh?  We have no plans at all.  We’ll only sit around looking at each other, saying “What shall we do today, then?”, and coming up with very little.  A night out at a fancy restaurant in Seattle, plus 3-4 hours of babysitter rates on top, can easily add up to pretty close to the cost of 2 nights down at the beach anyway, but I reckon this plan sounds a much more fun way to celebrate half a decade.  What’s a posh meal without wine anyway?  A wasted evening, that’s what!   So, with the weather forecast not looking too awful for the weekend…I did it.  I clicked on the “Buy Now” button, and away-hay-hay we go!!  Hurrah!

ImageThank goodness for Groupon…and my wonderful neighbour who volunteered to take care of our furry family members at such short notice.  This will probably be our last chance to get away anywhere before baby gets here, and who knows when our next escape will be once we’re a family of FIVE (gasp!), so I’m super excited!  Long sandy beaches, hot tubs, lap pools and (hopefully) warm sunshine….here we come!   Just so we’re all clear here, though, I still fully expect my breakfast in bed on Sunday morning – hmmm-kay?  #100HappyDays


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