Them new place feels.

We are coming up to two months in the new place since moving from Sydney to Brisbane over the Christmas period. And as usual, with a military move, nothing runs smoothly. The prepack and uplift in Sydney was pretty good, and we headed out on the drive up without any dramas. Doctor Who, our now senior guinea pig, survived the drive up and seemed to enjoy it. The kids had fun and it was an easy move up.

The down lift into the new house was quick. By mid afternoon we had all our belongings in and ready for us to start unpacking and sorting. This was the easiest, drama free move we have ever experienced. For me, growing up an Army brat, we had many a move with dramas – car breaking down, interesting accommodation stops (un-flushable poos in toilets, mounds of pubic hair in the shower drains, neighbouring guests playing the Lost Boys soundtrack on repeat as they sat outside and downed can after can of beer – just to mention a few), myself or one of my three brothers getting sick, my mum suffered hyperemesis gravidarum on our posting from Darwin to Sydney – she was so sick in the temporary accommodation in Sydney as we waited for our house to be ready for us to move into.

The first afternoon in the new place we went and picked Ripley and Dwight up from the pet resort where they had been enjoying their own little holiday as the rest of us drove up to Brisbane. Dwight was quite confident exploring the new home, for a cat he is very un-catlike. Ripley lost her cool when she saw her new massive back yard (our place in Sydney had a yard the size of a postage stamp – it was really small). So, to watch her take off and do zoomies around the big space was awesome. She trotted to the back door, tongue hanging out, tail wagging – a very happy German Shephard!
We had the house sorted out quick, and Mike and I were stoked at how smoothly this move had gone and how nicely we were settling into our new place. We had gone out and bought the school supplies, high-fiving each other at how great this was all turning out.

Then Ripley started scratching at her ears. She started shaking her head a lot. Her head then remained tilted. We took her to the vet where it was discovered she had a severe ear infection in both ears that would require her ears to be flushed out and treated. Okay, nothing too major. We booked her in for the day procedure and the week leading up to it she was on a course of steroids to help open her ear canals in preparation for the procedure. The morning of, I took her in and filled out the paperwork. The vet explained exactly what they would be doing and what the after care will be. Easy. They then took her into the surgery to get her ready and I went back home to wait out for the call to say she was ready to come back home. I got the call, but it wasn’t to say she was ready to come home. Whilst cleaning her right ear, the vet found a large haematoma that would require draining. Alright, drain away. Later that evening we were finally able to go and bring her back home. She was groggy but her ears were now clean, and her right ear had a collection of stents in them to help with the draining out of the haematoma. On the way out of the clinic, the nurse gave us a cone to use on Ripley if she started scratching at her ears – we didn’t want her to pop the stitches in her ear.

Turns out Ripley was the best patient; not once did she scratch at her ears. Dwight on the other hand was proving to be the difficult one. He was determined to get at Ripley’s stitched up ear, and this is where we put the cone to good use – not on Ripley, but we placed the cone over Dwight to contain him – stop him from trying to help clean out Ripley’s ears. It worked!

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The only way we could keep Dwight away from Ripley’s ear.

So, a minor blip on the road to settling in. No big deal. We moved onwards. The kids started school, and as expected there were tears and frustration at missing their friends and school from Sydney. To help them adjust, Mike took them over to a co-worker’s place for a swim in their pool and a barbecue lunch. The co-worker’s son is in the same class as Mish, and his daughter was attending the same high school as Tilly. I stayed at home in order to get the school lunch baking done and to catch up on an assignment. I was going to go out later that night to meet some other military wives, hoping to make some new friends.

I missed the dinner.

Instead I was sitting with Tilly and Mish at the ER waiting for Tilly to be seen.

Whilst at the barbecue lunch, Tilly had managed to face plant the pool wall when she swam right into it. When they walked through the door, I was greeted with my daughter sporting a massive purple honker on the middle of her face, followed close behind by Mishy, whose face had been char grilled as a result of not applying sunscreen. As I was grabbing ice packs, slathering aloe gel onto my son’s face, arguing with my daughter that she will be going to the hospital to have her nose checked out, I was gathering my handbag and googling the address of the local hospital. Less than a month in the new place and we were checking out the emergency department.

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Marcia Brady – Tilly channelled this look following face planting into the swimming pool wall.

Diagnosis: Soft tissue damage, and a slightly crooked nose that will need to be checked out by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist; we were cleared to head back home to rest. She had a night ahead of her of ice packs and Panadol. When we got home, I remembered that she had her school photos coming up that week too. I looked over at her, her mashed up nose, panda eyes, relaxing on the couch watching You Tube. Next to her was Mishy with a painful looking face – shiny from the layers of aloe gel I kept applying to stop his face from cooking.

Two days later, following our trip to the ER for Marcia Brady and El Scorcho, I sat with what was going to be my first of many coffees for the next few weeks, and watched my husband pack his gear into his car and head off on tasking. No sooner had he driven off, Ripley got up and walked over to the dining room and vomited.

Oh boy. Here we go…

I cleaned up the vomit and put Ripley outside where I then watched her. She wandered around the yard and then went and laid down on her bed. Maybe she overindulged in the kitty litter? Whilst she relaxed outside, I got the kids up ready for school. When I returned from school drop-off, I brought Ripley back inside. She seemed flat. Missing hubby? I offered her one of her favourite treats, she turned her head away and rested her chin on her paws. I called her over to the other side of the room and I noticed she seemed really slow to stand. This wasn’t right. I called the vet (who had only a week earlier taken the final stent and stitches from out of Ripley’s inner ear) and I explained what was happening. They booked her in for that afternoon. In the meantime, I washed her mouth out and thinking to myself could it be she has licked a cane toad? She was drinking water, but not enough.

By the time I got her to her appointment, she was flat. The vet was going to take her in for the afternoon and run bloods and to get her on a drip for hydration. Half an hour after admitting her, I got the call to say Ripley had pancreatitis. This is the first (and hopefully now the last) time this has happened, and my head was spinning. Of course, something like this would happen when my husband is interstate and I am in an area I am not familiar with. Ripley ended up spending two days in hospital undergoing treatment. By the Friday evening, despite her latest test showing her pancreas was still giving her grief, she was stable enough to come home for the weekend. She had a pain med patch on her back leg, and she was much brighter and excited to see us and be back at home than she was when we brought her into the clinic on the Wednesday.
My job over the weekend was to keep her fluids up and serve up several small portions of either boiled chicken breast or specialised dry dog food throughout the day and on Monday morning we would be back for another test, and if still positive, we would have to discuss further testing and examination by a specialist. My mind was trying to work out how I would juggle things if I had to drive across through Brisbane to the specialist with the kids in school – would I have to take them out of school for the day because of appointment/driving times being outside of school hours? I played nurse over that weekend, determined to get my best friend better. The thought of not having her kills me, and when she was in hospital, I felt lost without my side pup.

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Back at the vet – this time with pancreatitis.

Come the Monday morning, after I got the kids to school, Ripley and I were back at the vet for the next blood test. As I sat and waited for the vet and Ripley to return, my stomach was in knots. She had been doing so well over the weekend, I would be gutted if I couldn’t turn it around for her. Eventually Ripley and her vet returned, and the news was the best – NEGATIVE! We did it! We got her pancreas back down to normal levels. We could go home and get on with things – and with a specially modified diet. That afternoon she came with me to pick the kids up from school so she could give them the good news.

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So for the weekend leading up to the final blood test on the Monday, I had to serve up several small portions of boiled chicken and special dry food throughout the day for Ripley. Dwight was so incensed that his sister was getting “special treatment” he decided to protest – refusing to eat his “blah” food in order to get what Ripley was getting. So I had to make up a Dwight-serving (plate on the left) so he felt he wasn’t missing out on what poor Ripley had to eat (bowl on the right).

They say things happen in threes. Since moving in we have had ear surgery, busted nose and sunburn (which cleared up without blisters or peeling) and then pancreatitis. The kids and I have been housebound as Ripley recovered from her ear op and then pancreatitis, and the kids from their own injuries. We have not had a chance to get out and explore the area. This last weekend was the first weekend we were able to go out because Ripley was okay. Saturday, we checked out Springfield and enjoyed a nice long lunch, making the most of the slightly cooler weather that has come over. Yesterday (Sunday), we got up early to check out the local show ground market for breakfast and a scout about. The kids were happy to score a collection of 90’s era Yowie figurines. I enjoyed a fantastic coffee and stocked up on some soy melts from Violets Gifts and Treasures – as I type this I have Lolly Shoppe in the burner and the house smells like a candy store.


It finally feels like everything is now starting to settle (touch wood!) – the kids have made friends and are loving their new schools, and Ripley is back to normal. Dwight is still annoyed I am enforcing his diet, and Doctor Who shows no signs of slowing down despite his age. As for me, I am looking forward to eventually making friends and establishing myself.


This will be a good posting.

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A New Adventure for Team J

Things are starting to settle down on what has been a month of big changes for our family. As I sit here typing this, we have just clocked up our first week in our new place. So, where will I begin? Last month was crazy. We were packing up our home in the lead up to our posting interstate, I was also trying to continue with my university study and working full time right up to our pre-pack day. Our daughter Tilly was closing the chapter on six years of Primary School, graduating year six and also saying goodbye to all her friends as she was getting her head around the fact that she will be starting her high school journey in another state, away from the friends she has made over the last four years of our posting to Sydney.

The day of her graduation was surreal – I could not link the Tilly standing next to me, holding her graduation certificate with the tiny Tilly who walked through the gates of the school on her first day of Prep, with such swagger and sass. Her school bag was bigger than her, and now she stands the same height as me, and is on the cusp of her teenage years. I sat through the graduation ceremony, in a daze, but holding it together. I cried when the Principal dismissed the year six students from the hall “for the very last time.” The teachers were all wiping away tears…so were all the other mums in the hall.

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Tilly on her first day of school with her cousin Em and little brother Mish (2012) to last month’s graduation with her dad Mike and little brother Mish

That night she had her formal, so we made a big fuss about it for her. She had picked out her outfit two weeks earlier and now she was excitedly getting dressed. I let her wear a little mascara and a touch of tinted lip gloss. When she came out of her room, myself, Mike and Mish all were caught off guard by just how grown up she looked. The little Prep Tilly was well and truly gone. She was driven to her formal in a Corvette –owned by my boss’ husband. Tilly loved it, she could not stop talking about how great the car sounded and all the attention it got when she pulled up the front of the venue. The boys in her class were pretty impressed by her ride.

All the year six kids looked so different now. Like young adults, they were ready for a night of good food, dancing and cake. Parents were not allowed, we had to go off and do our own thing, and this was just for the kids. Mike, Mish and I enjoyed a dinner with some friends before we went in to get some quick photos, have a dance with the kids and then head home. It was a fantastic night for Tilly – she had so much fun partying with all her friends. I exchanged numbers with other mum’s so our kids can all stay in touch. Then that was it.

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Last day of school.

The day of the removal up lift was the kids last day at school. They had their shirts signed by friends and teachers, exchanged Christmas gifts and cards with friends and come the final bell, it was hugs and final goodbyes. Tears and more hugs. I grew up an Army kid and we moved every two years. I hate this part of the life – it never gets easier and I felt so sad for my kids and their friends.

That was that. The next morning the cars were packed, we checked out of the hotel and we started our journey to the next posting. Dwight our cat and Ripley our dog were already in the pet resort in our gaining location of Brisbane. They were flown up the day before the up lift. From all accounts of the pet transport company and the pet resort, they were doing just fine. Our guinea pig, Doctor Who was going to travel up with us – he rode shotgun in Mike’s car. Doctor is 5, almost 6 years old, so in guinea pig years, he is a little old man. He handled the trip really well though. We had a comfy travel crate for him and a portable pen for the hotel stays.

The drive out of Sydney was surprisingly really smooth considering we were heading out on the very first day of school holidays. Tilly and Mish rode in my car and we had it stocked with lots of snacks, cold drinks and audio books – the kids LOVE the Tree House series by Andy Griffith and Terry Denton. We were on the first leg to Brisbane – Sydney to Coffs Harbour. We love Coffs, it is our favourite little family get away spot. So we were all pretty excited to be going back there for a two day mini-vacation. By 3pm that day we arrived in Coffs and checked into Charlesworth Bay Beach Resort. We quickly unpacked and set up Doctor by the big double doors so the cool ocean breeze could cool him down. No sooner had we unpacked, I was running the kids down to the little beach – the very first beach Mish was taken to when he was seven months old (we had stayed at this resort back in 2009 when we had a little family vacation upon Mike’s return from deployment). It was really surreal watching him running into the waves. Last time he was at this beach he was not too thrilled by it.

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We finished off the long day with Thai from a great little place called Memory Thai (Tilly highly recommends the Pad Thai and Mish and I love the Yellow Curry).

To be continued…

 

 

We love our Fur Kids

I love the look we get when we tell people that as well as having two beautiful human kids, we also have fur kids – there is Ripley, our German Shepard cross bull Mastiff, our rescue cat Dwight K. Shrute and the guinea pigs Doctor Who and Mordicai. I am surprised at how many people make the comment “My gosh! That is such a handfull!” To be honest though, it really isn’t. I think if we won lotto tomorrow, we would buy a great big property and fill it with animals. My husband adores the guinea pigs. When they have play time, he lays down near them and watches and laughs as they popcorn, rumble strut and zoom from one end of the lounge room to the other. I love my Ripley – she chose me when we came to look at her and her siblings, and despite still being a puppy, she is MASSIVE and the biggest sook of a dog I have ever known. I love getting hugs from her, and as soon as I come home from taking the kids to school, Ripley comes in the house and we chill out together whilst I do chores around the house. Dwight was a rescue kitten. Earlier last year, my beloved Bobbi cat passed away at 11 years of age. A few months later, I took the family to the local pet store to support a friend who was running the rescue animal adoption day – where we were swamped by beautiful kittens, puppies, cats and dogs all looking for their forever homes.

Whilst standing off to the side talking to my friend, my daughter Matilda came up to us with big tears running down her face. “Mum! Mum! There is this little kitten over there and, and, and, I just want to hold it because it is being picked on by the other kitten!” My friend organised another volunteer to retrieve the kitten and placed him in Matilda’s arms. She melted. The kitten meowed and licked her ear, and she covered his little face in kisses. My son Hamish then asked for a hold and the kitten melted him to coos and “awwws” before my husband, Mike had a turn at holding the kitten. I stood back, a bit apprehensive as I was still hurting from the death of my Bobbi, but Mike placed the kitten in my arms. I was too wrapt up in this little ball of fur to notice that Mike had snuck off and was completing the adoption papers! The kids were thrilled and we came home with an 8 week old kitten who my husband decided to name Dwight K. Shrute.

The guinea pigs were the first though to join our home. At the time, Bobbi was a little on the slow side and had no patience for the kids. To help give her space, I began to look at little pets that would be easy for the kids to care for. We attended a guinea pig show at the local school, and I watched my kids as they handlers showed them and explained everything there is to know about guinea pigs. The kids and I were sold on these adorable little creatures. My husband, not so much. Back home, I joined a local guinea pig site on face book and began talking to other owners and making notes on everything we would need. One of the contributors was about to put her latest little brood of guinea pigs up for sale and I jumped at the chance. I bought two brothers, and upon bringing them home, the kids were in love. Matilda is a mad fan of Doctor Who and her little guinea pig just so happened to have the same swept over fringe as that of her beloved 11th Doctor, so that is what she named her guinea pig – Doctor Who. Hamish named his guinea pig Mordicai Butternubs. I placed the guinea pigs in Mike’s arms and he was smitten. They are such sweet little creatures that can make us laugh with their funny antics, and despite their plump bodies and stubby little legs, they are incredibly quick and agile! I am also convinced they are psychic – I just have to think about going to the fridge and they start wheeking for the bag of salad!

We can’t imagine our family without the pets. They teach us so much about life, love and especially for our kids, responsibility. I love that Matilda and Hamish will grow up with Ripley, Dwight, Doctor and Mordi. Just one big, happy (and fluffy) family! ❤