Just one of the strange scenarios I have found in my home recently. By coincidence, a reasonable accurate portrayal of our life: a naked cat having a tantrum (Garnet), a moose who is over it (May Blossom) and I am obviously Mummy Pig, bearing it all with the patience of a saint, while wearing too much mascara. Not pictured: H, off earning money to keep us in antibiotics and steroids.

In news that will surprise precisely no-one who has ever read this blog before, here at the House of Gusto we are once again beplagued with illness. In under a month we have had one sinus infection, one chest infection, one ear infection, some viral tonsillitis, four common or garden variety colds, two cases of croup and one case of severe infectious impetigo. Jesus wept.

The only thing left to try is giving up on the healthy diet, with all the fruit and vegetables and quinoa, give up the probiotics and the immune boosting herbs and vitamin C powder and gummy vitamins, and try a regimen of McHappy Meals and white bread with margarine and hundreds and thousands, washed down with full-sugar Cocoa-Cola. I’ll let you know how we get on.

So there has been a lot of not going out, time off pre-school and quarantining ourselves at home, which has made everyone go completely do-lally. The children are beginning to turn on each other, and at times I’ve been tempted to just leave them to it. At other times I rally though, and attempt to intervene when a whack leads to a pinch, which leads to a thump which will eventually land someone in hospital. But even intervening has its risks.

A week or so ago Garnet and May Blossom were squabbling over something toy-train related, which is weird because only one of them gives a toss about the trains. She squeezed his wrist hard. He whacked her. I made them apologise to each other, then to distract them I pointed at their hobby horses, lying conveniently in the doorway like the overpriced trip hazards they are, and said, ‘Hey don’t your horses need some exercise? How about you take them for a ride! They’ve been stuck in their stable all day!” (When I haven’t slept for a fortnight I speak with a lot of panicky exclamation marks in my voice).

May Blossom piped up, “Actually they’ve been very bad today.”

“Really?’ I asked, ‘What happened?’

She replied, “Well, they kicked over a bucket of water they weren’t supposed to. Then they ripped up some books, then drew on some paper they weren’t supposed to. Then they broke some newly made chairs … And then they killed an old man.”

Well, I thought. That escalated fast. Those horses have indeed been very bad. Those horses need more than exercise.

When we are home too much I start stumbling across creepy toy vignettes around the house. Like this:

These aren’t even the old-man murdering horses. I can’t imagine what atrocity these animals committed.

Sometimes, when I can, I have been taking the least sick child out of the house for an exciting adventure. That rarely ends well. Garnet and I managed to go to the butcher early this week, as a special treat. While the assistant butcher was getting our order together, Garnet introduced himself to the jolly fat main butcher, who got excited because it turns out his father’s name was Garnet. He showed Garnet around and named all the different meats for him. ‘This is lamb and this is bacon and that is pork and that is chicken.’ Garnet repaid this kindness by getting his words all confused and as we left he tried to say ‘Bye, Butcher,’ but it came out ‘Bye, Porker’. To the big fat jolly kind butcher, who looked a little shattered.

After that it was only about a day before Garnet got the viral croup that May Blossom had. I should have known he was coming down with something, because she had perked up enough to play Schools, which meant it was his turn to get sick. She lined all her stuffed rabbits and cheetahs up on the floor and wrote some letters on pink slips of paper, which went in a box, but then had to come out of that box at roll call and go into a different box (she’s mad for bureaucracy in her games – can’t get enough paperwork). Usually Garnet will join in a game like this, but this time he came for roll call, sat in class for five minutes, then muttered ‘I’m going back to my shed,’ and stomped off. He doesn’t have a shed. I think he means the corner of the playroom where the oven full of ponies is. I’m a bit scared of his shed.

Helpfully, May Blossom and Pipsqueak look like twins born four years apart, so I can illustrate this post with a picture of my own child to protect the identity of my niece.

Helpfully, May Blossom and Pipsqueak look like twins born four years apart, so I can illustrate this post with a picture of my own child to protect the identity of my niece. And yes, her hair was real.

Two months ago my brother, Superchief, and sister-in-law, Doctor V, had their first baby. Pipsqueak, as she will be known on this blog, is, like both of her cousins before her, a beautiful, sparkly, dark-haired bundle of Refusal To Sleep. She is one of those babies who catch your eye and won’t break your gaze. It’s like she was born in a staring competition. I fear she is extremely clever, and I wish her parents well with that.

Although they live very nearby, since Pipsqueak was born my children have almost constantly had some noxious virus or other that you wouldn’t want to expose a newborn to, which upsets them very much because they adore Sweet Baby Cousin Pipsqueak, as Garnet has dubbed her. He was actually quite cross about her to begin with, and claimed he was the only baby in town and would I please open up my tummy so he could get back in. When I refused, because I am mean like that, he settled for shoving himself up the front of my top, where he spent a good part of Pipsqueak’s first few weeks of life. He hadn’t even met her at that stage, because of the snot, but he was distinctly unimpressed with losing his position as Baby of the Family. Of course when he eventually did meet her he was just as smitten as everyone else and has been nothing but lovely about and to her ever since. Continue Reading »


Hypothesis: Drinking ginger and turmeric infusion will relieve symptoms of the common cold.

Equipment: Chopping board, knife, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, coffee plunger, boiling water

Procedure: Cut up the ginger and turmeric. Put in coffee plunger and cover with boiling water. After five minutes, plunge and drink a litre of the infusion.

Results: My chopping board is stained yellow from the turmeric. I have to wee a lot. I still have a stinking cold.

Conclusion: This does not work.

Continue Reading »

filinfLater this morning I am going to a one-hour organisation workshop. I made the booking on a whim when I was in a fancy stationary shop a few weeks ago considering all their overpriced but prettily designed notepads and books, which promise to make your life free from chaos and clutter.

Of course when I made the booking I didn’t write down the time or date anywhere, so a few days ago I remembered about it, in a panic, and had to call the shop to ask when it was and whether I had missed it. They laughed at me.

Such incidents of domestic hopelessness have been on the rise lately. In January I forgot to register the car. That wouldn’t have been half as bad had my parents not been driving the car, with my kids in it, when the police pulled them over for driving an unregistered, uninsured vehicle. They were on their way out of town for the weekend – our kids’ first weekend away from us – and so H and I were two margaritas deep when we got the call that they had been ordered to sit in the car by the side of the road until we went home, found our paperwork, registered and insured the car. It was with great shame and much swearing that we did so, but they got back on the road eventually and have been remarkably kind to us about it. Continue Reading »

I Stand For Mercy

IMG_2095Last night, both of my children asked me to sleep in their room with them. I said no, because I am not a pushover, and went to bed. In the middle of the night Garnet woke up and called ‘Mummy, I need you.’ About six seconds later I was tucked up in his bed with my arms around him, listening to the sounds of him and May Blossom breathing. Last night, on an island in Indonesia, eight people were taken out into the bush and shot to death, on the Indonesian government’s orders. Two of them were young Australian men. They were four people’s little boys. They were brothers, friends, nephews and grandsons. One was a new husband. As far as I know they weren’t anyone’s fathers, and I suppose it’s a good thing there aren’t any children to be left fatherless by their executions.

I’m generally pretty hopeless at looking the bad aspects of our world in the eye. I’m didn’t participate in any vigils for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. I didn’t write to President Joko Widodo. I doubt I could have done anything to change what happened. And at the moment, my life doesn’t really allow me to devote a lot of time to political activism. I feel constantly overwhelmed by how much I don’t know and understand about government, politics, the law and how any of this could be changed to make the world a better place. I just don’t know enough, and it makes me feel helpless. Continue Reading »

Please disregard the feature damp patch on the ceiling. We'll deal with it one day. Probably when the bath falls onto the dining-room table.

Please disregard the feature damp patch on the ceiling. We’ll deal with it one day. Probably when the bath falls onto the dining-room table.


It’s day three of catastrophic wet weather and storm conditions here. Or maybe it’s only day two. Hard to remember. It feels like it has been raining forever. New South Wales has been deluged this week with a once in a decade/generation/century/millennium/aeon (depending on which media outlet you listen to) weather ‘event’. It’s been very rainy and windy around my neck of the woods, which is a good deal better than the tree-fally, power-outagy, houses washing away, floody business that’s been going on not too far away.

H was called away on urgent business to a nice dry city so the kids and I battled through the storm alone last night. Apart from a brief flickering of the lights around dinnertime, when for a dreadful moment I thought I was going to be left Netflixless and have to read a book by candlelight and eat all the ice-cream before it melted, we have made it through unscathed. Continue Reading »

IngredientsWhat follows is less a recipe and more a warning. Today I made some cookies for the kids out of really healthy ingredients. They loved them, and also all hell broke loose.

I made the cookies using an amalgamation of recipes on the internet, which I found by googling ‘cacao almond cookies’. They all contained the following ingredients, in seemingly arbitrary quantities: Continue Reading »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 796 other followers