R U OK Day

Today is R U OK Day in Australia.  A day when we are supposed to ask our friends and relatives if they are ok in the hope of opening channels of communication for people living with depression.

While I think that anything that gets people talking about mental health is a good thing, I’m not sure how much uptake people get from R U OK Day.  I have had several periods of low mood and depression during my life and had someone asked if I was ok, I’d have given them my best smile and said, ‘Yeah, great thanks’. Or if I didn’t think I’d convince them then I’d say, ‘Yeah, just tired’.  What I wouldn’t say is, ‘No, I feel like shit and want to sleep forever’, or maybe ‘no, the world and everyone in it would be better off without me’, or even, ‘no, it was all I could do not to drive/walk into oncoming traffic on the way here’.

And what on earth do you do if someone who you know answers in this way?!  Imagine, you are expecting a cheery, ‘Yup, everything’s peachy’, and instead you get, ‘I spend hours regretting every decision I’ve ever made’.

My suggestions for the people on either side of this conversation are:

If you are worried about a friend, family member or colleague then approach them at a time when you have time and peace to talk, maybe with a coffee or a cake (just sayin’😉 )and say something along the lines of, ‘I’m concerned about you, are you feeling ok?’ Or ‘I’ve noticed you’ve been quiet/looking sad/distracted and I was wondering if there’s anything I can do to help?’ .  Then listen, properly listen, offer no advice that is not asked for except maybe suggesting that they see their doctor.  Then remind your friend that you are there for them whenever they need you.

If you are the person who is low and you trust this person, TELL THEM!!!  Tell them whatever you are feeling or whatever it takes for you to feel better – and I promise you WILL feel better.  Some of the most horrible things about depression are the isolation and the negative thoughts it feeds you.  And once you’ve told them, go and see a doctor.  You can discuss treatment options which will help you to feel like a human being again.

Depression does not happen because you have been too strong for too long (geez, I have that meme, it always makes my brain say, ‘See, if you’d just been a liiiiitle bit stronger for a liiiiitle bit longer you’d have been fine YOU USELESS FAILURE!!!’. Depression happens because our brains are incredibly complex, delicately balanced miracles of nature and sometimes for whatever reason – even NO OBVIOUS REASON AT ALL – that balance is lost.  It’s not your fault, you can get better and the friend who asks if you are ok wants to help.

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My 40 by 40 List

As is the case with most of my endeavours, this is an idea I pinched from someone else🙂  My online friend Emma started posting pictures of herself doing fabulous and crazy things and had mentioned they were from her ’40 by 40′ list.  On further investigation I discovered that this is a thing!  People are writing lists of things that they want to try or achieve by the time they are 40.  Well, given that I love a list, a challenge and I have two and a half years to do them in, I thought I’d write my own list!

As I thought about writing my list I realised that I was very soon going to be visiting my lovely friend, Jo, in New Zealand and I thought that this might be something she’d go for too so I filed the idea away in my brain until I could plan it out with her.

Sure enough, Jo was totally up for it so we set about planning our lists.  For us, the first stop in this plan was, of course, pretty stationery🙂 Jo and I could spend HOURS in stationery shops – and I’m not even over exaggerating!  We never understand how other people don’t get as excited as we do when we find a pen that writes beautifully or a notepad that just cries out to be bought, even if we don’t know what we need it for!  So we went to no less than three different shops looking for the ideal journal and pens for our project🙂

Actually writing our lists took place on a night out in a cocktail bar in Wellington called Matterhorn.  It’s incredibly trendy, full of hipsters and live music but there we were with our matching exercise books and our colour coordinated pens – we are sooooo rock and roll!!image

I wanted my my list to be a mixture of fun stuff, challenges, things for myself, service to others and easy things that I could bash out in a day.  It’s not a ‘Bucket List’ as I am very much against kicking the bucket at 40, it’s just a list of things that I want to do and now I’ve written them down I’m more likely to actually get on with it!!

So with the help of two (or maybe three?) jugs of margeritas, several fancy schmancy cocktails and my beautiful best friend, this is what I came up with …

  1. GO TO NEW YORK – Michael and I had planned to go for our tenth anniversary instead we emigrated on that day!
  2. TAKE A POTTERY CLASS – I’ve always really fancied this but just never done anything about it!
  3. RUN 5KM – I could walk all day long but have never managed to run any distance at all.  I’d love to be one of those people who just ‘go out for a run’ *****UPDATE***** I started on this one, broke my leg!  I’m never allowed to run again!
  4. VISIT CAPE YORK – This is the very top, pointy bit of Australia and I’d love to go there.
  5. STAY IN A HOTEL BY MYSELF – I’d probably be bored to bits in half an hour but the idea of a long, luxurious bath with no-one asking me anything, no dogs whining at the door and a plug that actually fits the bath is verrrrrrry alluring!!
  6. BUILD A TEARDROP CAMPER – This is my most ambitious challenge but the one I want to do the most!!  I loooooooooooove these wee campers and they would be ideal for my desire to travel in the great outdoors of Australia but not actually have to sleep on the ground outside!!  There are very detailed plans to be had online, I have lots of friends with expertise in various areas required (if none myself, until we get to the crocheted blanket stage!!)
  7. CAMP OUTSIDE FOR A WEEK – As mentioned above, I am not a natural camper.  I like being warm, I like to be comfortable and I like to sleep nine hours per night.  In my experience, none of these simple and not unreasonable goals are achievable when sleeping in a tent.  *****UPDATE***** I will be going to the Great Bunya Gathering Jamboree with Guides in September – eight nights outdoors – GULP!
  8. LEARN DOG AGILITY WITH LUNA – Our leggy, new girl is just crying out to take part in agility or flyball – she has so much energy but she is bright as a button.  At the moment she is still a bonkers puppy so we’ll start with obedience and work up to the others.image
  9. DON’T EAT TAKEAWAY/RESTAURANT FOOD FOR A MONTH – this will be hard!!  I love going out for breakfast or lunch at the weekend and more often than I would like we pick up takeaway rather than cook at home – there are many reasons for this, because we are not organised enough to have something ready to cook, because only ever having a 75% success rate with my family actually eating what I prepare is disheartening and because I just like takeaway food!!  Whatever the reasons, I do it too much and I could be saving our money for one of my other challenges!
  10. CREATE AN ARTWORK FOR OUR HOUSE – I will be relying heavily on Pinterest for this one but I fancy making something unique and personal for our home.
  11. MAKE A BEDSPREAD FOR OUR BED – despite having made bed sized blankets for loads of people, I’ve never made one for Michael and I!!
  12. WRITE POETRY – I used to write poetry a lot.  I won awards and everything!  I haven’t written anything in years and I’d like to get back to it.
  13. WRITE OUT A FAMILY TREE – It would just be interesting, I reckon!
  14. GO AWAY WITH MICHAEL FOR THE WEEKEND (NO KIDS/DOGS) – Just being able to go away with my lovely husband without having to organise or referee everyone else would be lovely!  I really enjoy his company and miss those days when it was just us – we squandered that peace!!
  15. MANAGE A GIRLS HOLIDAY WITH ALL FIVE OF US – With all my best friends living all over the world (Germany, Scotland, New Zealand, Western Australia) and with all of us having families at different stages it is nigh impossible to get us all together!  Last time we were all together was 2009 I think!  *****UPDATE***** It’s happening!!!  All my girls are coming to my house in April!!!!
  16. VOLUNTEER WITH LARRY – Larry is such a lovely dog and when my friend, Lisa, suggested that he would be a good therapy dog I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t already signed him up for it!!  *****UPDATE***** Larry is now a Delta Therapy Dog visiting the elderly in an aged care facility🙂image
  17. WALK THE DISTANCE BETWEEN MY HOUSE AND JO’S – I walk a lot but it’s good to have a goal!
  18. HAVE A GARDEN PARTY – This sounds easy enough but our garden is currently a disgrace so it’s going to take a looooooooooot of work before we get it to a point that we’d be happy for people to see it!!
  19. MAKE RICE PAPER ROLLS – Ha ha! I know this isn’t tricky for most people but I’ve never done it and always wanted to so I put it on the list!
  20. GO FRUIT PICKING AND MAKE JAM – We live next to massive, varied orchards and every year we say we’ll go and pick our own fruit, then the season ends and it’s put off again.  No more!
  21. VOLUNTEER AT A SOUP KITCHEN – I would love to do this, maybe even a Christmas one.
  22. MAKE 100 HATS FOR http://www.knitonegiveone.org – I’ve made a few here and there for them but would love to commit to make a big donation.  *****UPDATE***** 8 hats donated so far
  23. MAKE OUR BEDROOM LOVELY – At the moment our bedroom is something of a staging area but I’d love it to be a pretty, relaxing haven.
  24. GET OUR CITIZENSHIP – Pretty self-explanatory!
  25. WRITE A BOOK FOR FIONA – My brother wrote the most hilarious books for A & R when they were little and they loved them!  I’d like to return the favour😉
  26. LEARN A DANCE WITH MICHAEL – We love to dance together but it would be AMAZING to do a ‘Thinking Out Loud’ style dance together.  I won’t make him do the lifts though, poor love!
  27. COMPLETE THE 30 DAY SHRED – I’ve started this a few times but got bored or busy and gave up.
  28. HAVE A FAMILY HOLIDAY (NOT VISITING ANYONE) – Having friends and family all over the world is a real double edged sword.  Of course we love to see our loved ones and it’s great to always have somewhere to stay but it does mean that we very have a holiday when it’s just us and I do think that those times are pretty important. (No offence to all the beautiful friends and family who have hosted us in the past – I hope you get what I mean!!)
  29. TAKE THE KIDS CAMPING TO THE BEACH – Despite my earlier protestations about camping, I would make exceptions if we were to be by the beach.  We all love the beach – as long as they are mostly empty😉
  30. HORSE RIDE ALONG THE BEACH – Speaks for itself really!image
  31. TAKE ALEXANDER CANOEING – I think he’ll really love it, I’ve had a chance to take R through Guides but I’ve never taken A and there are some really lovely places to go here.
  32. MAKE A MIX TAPE – In high school I used to make these all the time and giving them to someone was like giving them a piece of yourself.  I like that idea.
  33. RECORD MUM AND DAD TELLING STORIES – Ha ha, they’ll love this!  I wish I had recordings of my grandparents, both to hear their stories and just to hear their voices.
  34. WRITE LETTERS TO A & R – I’m not sure where I want to go with this one but I want to think about it some more.
  35.  GROW SOMETHING IN THE GARDEN – As mentioned before, gardening is not our forte but I’d love to grow flowers and raspberries in our garden.

That’s as far as we got but I feel ok leaving a few spots empty.  I have a few years to go and I’m sure I’ll think of other things I want to add before I am forty!!

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The Weekend to End Women’s Cancer 60km Walk

A few weeks ago I wrote about the walk I was training for to raise money for the Peter Mac Cancer Centre, well, last weekend was the big event!

The weekend started at 4am on Saturday when my alarm went off – completely unnecessarily as I had been unable to sleep (a mixture of excitement for the event and fear of sleeping through the alarm!!). Leesa and her husband, Stuart, arrived at 4.20am,

we packed up the car with my weekend bag, stopped off at Christie’s house to collect her and then we were off into the city to meet at Fritsch Holzer park – our home for the weekend. Christie and I are not natural early risers (I think that may be putting it mildly) but Leesa is and thankfully she had brought travel cups of tea (for me) and coffee (for Christie). We arrived at the park, dropped off our bags, met up with Jacqui and then hung around for the opening ceremony.

Jacqui and Christie had to leave early to set up their support tent. They were to be ‘Grab n Go B’ a rehydration station where walkers could fill water bottles and grab a quick snack at around the 10km mark.

All the walkers assembled for the opening ceremony at 7am. It started with a Zumba warm up – I am a little unco at the best of times, but when I’ve had a 4am start I have no hope!! There were a couple of quick speeches from breast cancer survivors and Peter Mac staff and then – WE WERE OFF!!!

We were quite far back in the crowd but we managed to overtake quite a lot of people and soon found ourselves towards the front of the group. Leesa and I have a very compatible walking speed which is just as well as it’s really hard to walk a long distance at someone else’s pace – whether that is faster or slower. The walk was not a race, but we both wanted to push ourselves to do the best we could.

Every few kilometres along the route, there was a rehydration station where support crews were cheering us on, ringing cowbells and waving cheerleader pom poms🙂 When we reached Christie and Jacqui’s Hawaiian themed stand we stopped briefly for a team photo before getting on the road again!


We continued to trot around the course, weaving our way around the unfamiliar city streets with the assistance of bikeys (motorbike club members) posted at all the traffic lights we came across. Every time we approached one of these burly, gruff looking crossing monitors we were given sweet words of encouragement to send us on our way.

All through the city, random strangers applauded us and shouted their support. We passed the front door of the Peter Mac Cancer Centre where staff and patients had come out to the street to offer their thanks and encouragement. That was very humbling and Leesa and I had a wee teary moment remembering just why we were doing this.

Our course on the first day took us right into the city and we walked around the iconic MCG and along the banks of the Yarra. It reminded us what a beautiful city we live in.

Hmm, that bridge is maybe not the most beautiful part of the city but the skyline behind me is pretty cool!!

We carried on at quite a pace for the last few kilometres. Having trained over long distances we felt pretty good – the only difference being that Melton has NO hills, not one, and so the hilly parts of the city (and we seemed to visit every one of them!) took their toll on us a little.

The thought spurring me on in the last few kilometres was that I had heard there were foot spas at the end, and I didn’t want a foot spa that had been used by 500 people before me!!

As we approached the last kilometre Jacqui phoned to see how we were doing and we told her we were heading back. They raced to meet us at the finish line and amazed us with the news that we had finished in 10th place for the first day!! With 1401 walkers we were astounded! We had completed 30km in 4.5 hours. We had a quick team hug and then went to make the most of the massage therapists on hand!

My hips were sore – not something I had ever experienced on my training walks so I think it must have been down to the hills. Ben, my lovely masseur, gave me a recovery massage which loosened the muscles in my hips and calves. After we had both finished in the massage tent, our next stop was the bar!! The sun was only just over the yardarm but we had been up for HOURS and we deserved a celebratory drink! I had brought a tarp in my weekend bag so we spread that out on the grass and relaxed the afternoon away!

The last walker finished at around 4.30pm and by that time we’d had a shower and a nap so we felt like new women!! Dinner was a delicious rosemary chicken with feta pasta and pumpkin chickpea salad. We were so hungry we’d have eaten anything but this was properly delicious!

After dinner there were a few speeches – one from a young doctor working in research at the Peter Mac Centre, her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in high school and she was now determined to make a difference to women who find themselves in the same position. She and her mother (now recovered) had completed the walk together earlier in the day. There was another lady who had been discovered a lump in her breast, it was found to be cancerous and so her family all resolved to check themselves more thoroughly. That very same month, her mother and sister were also found to have breast cancer – I can’t imagine the turmoil that family went through, it’s bad enough when one family member is receiving treatment, but three at once!!?!!

There was a band after dinner who played some really good music but we were beyond dancing!! We organised ourselves in the tent village (our bags had miraculously appeared in our assigned tents, thanks to support crew members) got ready for bed and then zonked out. It was 8.30pm!


We awoke to day two at 5am. A full cooked breakfast was provided before we set off for the second leg of our challenge. We decided to get to the front of the group from the start today so we were right behind the starting line. My muscles were aching a little and my hips were pretty sore before we set off but it was a case of mind over matter today.

The course on the second day took us around lots of parks in Melbourne. It was a great way to see parts of the city that we don’t usually visit.

The beginning of the course was very hilly and it was hard work to keep up our pace, but we pushed ourselves as much as we could and we kept up our momentum.

There were a few times on the second day when I really had to concentrate to keep going. I used various different strategies. When my hips were very sore it was easy to concentrate on that – which made the pain overwhelm me – so instead I concentrated on what DIDN’T hurt at all. My elbows felt amazing!! Every time the thought of my sore hips came into my head, I’d concentrate instead on how good my elbows were!!! It sounds silly but it works for me! I also thought of my Mum and how, in a weeks time, I’d be over whatever discomfort I was experiencing but she has had months of chemo and she still has several surgeries ahead of her. That helped to put things into perspective quick smart!

My final strategy for the last few kilometres was to imagine that this was the start of the walk – five km is about the distance from my home to work and so I tried to imagine that this was all I had to do, that the previous 55km hadn’t happened. This had limited success because every step I took felt like bone on bone in my hip socket!

As we turned for the last kilometre, Leesa said, ‘We’ve only gone and done it, Laurs!’ And it was a great sense of accomplishment. We phoned Jacqui to tell her that we were almost there but they weren’t back from dismantling their stand yet!!! We crossed the line in 4.5 hours again – a fact that amazed us both as it had been a very different walk from the day before. We’re not sure what place we arrived in as there was no one there to count for us but we were definitely in the top 20.

We went straight to the massage tent again and then collected our victor’s shirts to wear at the closing ceremony before heading to the bar again.

Our families came to meet us and to see the closing ceremony. I’m really glad they did as it helped them to see just how big a deal this was. They have seen me get up to go out training early and they knew I was coming to do this but I don’t think they quite realised the scale of what we were doing.

We had a final team photo

And then it was time to take our weary, aching, blistered bodies home.

We were part of something really wonderful. 1401 people, mostly women, raised $3.6 million to be used in the familial cancer department and for the research into better chemotherapy treatment for women’s cancers.

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Piggy Update!

I set my alarm early again this morning just in case there had been any disasters in Piggy Towers. All was well though and they all came running when they heard me (or rather, when they heard the fridge door open – that means veggies!!)

I was out at work all day but they seem to have spent the day running around and exploring🙂 Ginger and Bumble came out of their shells much more and were much less likely to hang back in the pigloo as they had previously (fair enough, they’re only two days old! I have such high expectations!)

We had another cuddlefest when I got home. I really want them to be used to being handled so after chasing them round the run for a while (they’re quick little beasties!!) we had a piggy pile up!!

20140213-221147.jpg They seem to be constantly feeding from Daisy. Every time she stands still there’s someone at her for milk! Ah yes, I remember it well!!

I am also keen to handle them regularly so that it can check that they’re all ok. I was a bit concerned about Bumble’s eye. I had thought that it was just funny from being so new, but on closer inspection he has one normal red eye

and one that is kind of cloudy and closed.

20140213-222159.jpgIt could be that it has been scratched and will heal, or it could be that the wee soul is blind in that eye. I was going to wait until Monday to go to the vets with them (just to have them checked over and sexed) but I am going to try to get in tomorrow in case it’s something we can do something about. I’m not quite sure when I’ll fit it in as I have a hideously busy day but we’ll see what we can do🙂 Bumble doesn’t seem bothered by it and runs around quite happily with obvious direction (eg towards Daisy or into the pigloo) so he can see, I’m just not sure if it is binocular vision.

Anyway, we’ll see tomorrow.

I had a quick look at their bits to see if I could tell whether they are boys or girls. They were not best pleased about it and by Jove, they let you know! If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say thar Bumble and Ginger are girls and I have a sneaky suspicion that Poppy’s a boy but they were wriggling so much and it’s not easy at the best of times so I’m reserving judgement until a professional can do the job!!

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And then there were five …

A few days ago I posted about the latest additions at Park Towers – and the delicate condition that wee Daisy was in

This was her on Tuesday morning with a very prominent baby bump!!

I was home from work on Tuesday and every time I went out of the house I raced back to see if there were any new little bodies in the run. I read up a little more on what would happen and what I might need to do if I needed to intervene (and of course, the related horror stories!) because if in doubt – read!!

After tea Ruby and I trollied off to our first night of Guides and halfway through my phone rang – it was Michael, Daisy had delivered her first baby!!! I don’t usually answer my phone at guides but this was a special case! Michael said that Daisy had been fine giving birth to baby 1 and was busy cleaning her but it looked like another was on its way! I hurriedly explained what I had read earlier – if she was too preoccupied with 1 to break the membranes and clean 2 then he would have to step in. The thought of that somewhat gave him the boak so he became Daisy’s best cheerleader hoping that his services would not be required!!!

After Guides Ruby grabbed all her stuff in double quick time and ran to the car shouting, ‘Mum! Quick! Speed all the way home!!’ We didn’t speed but we did get home as quickly as we could and when we arrived we found that there were THREE little babies alive and well and being tended to by their loving mother🙂


Please excuse the revolting state of their run – I didn’t want to disturb them by taking out the bloodied fleece and yes, those are guinea pig placentas (is that the plural of placenta?) lying around. A bit gross but also pretty interesting!!

So we have three dinky, wee piggies. One has very similar colouring to Daisy – she was the first born and is most likely to be found closest to her mummy. Second out was a little grey/amber striped piggy who has red eyes (which freak me out a bit but I’m learning to love them!) and last was the little ginger one🙂

They are just tiny, perfect versions of full grown guinea pigs – no pink, hairless, squirmy babies for us!! They are born with teeth and able to walk straight away!

I put some parsley into the cage before going to bed and Daisy ran straight for it, knocking over little grey and s/he squirmed about like a turtle trying to find right way up for a while but soon found his/her feet!

I went off to bed hoping that they would be alright through the night – but I set my alarm a little early so I could be up before the kids in case of disaster!

I got up this morning and found this lovely sight


They had all made it through their first night as a new family and seemed to be doing fine! Daisy was bouncing around like a new woman – glad to be shot of her massive lodgers, I’m sure! Her little babies either sat in the pigloo chilling or ran around with Daisy, investigating their new world. Ruby has provisionally named them Poppy, Bumble and Ginger (listed in birth order). At one point this morning Bumble was sitting in one corner of the run by himself. I don’t much like them being alone but I thought I’d give him a while to take the initiative and find his mummy – or for her to go looking for him so I sat and had some breakfast, put on some washing and did the dishes with one eye on him to check if he moved – he didn’t so I went in band scooped him up to put him back with Daisy. He was very still and quiet so I think it was the right thing to do. Anyway, after a quick photo opportunity

20140212-225657.jpg he scurried back into the pigloo and straight for some milk!

They were pretty active through the day – following Daisy and Violet’s usual routine of one hour of rest and then one hour of activity and they didn’t seem phased by me walking near the run or of noises in the house.

When I got home from an appointment I asked the kids if they fancied getting the babies out for a cuddle. You can imagine the response!!! I had said that we wouldn’t touch them for a couple of days but Daisy is doing so well as a Mummy that I was pretty sure she’d be ok with it.

I brought Bumble over first and he squeaked and squeaked his little chops off until I brought Daisy too – then the other two started going as they were left behind. Everyone was happy when they were all together again🙂

(Alexander does wear a shirt sometimes) They look bored to tears but actually this is ‘quiet reverence’! They were so sweet with their new little babies so delighted with their little noises and amazed by everything they did🙂

They had a bit of cuddle time while I changed the bedding in the run (thank goodness!) and then it was back in to explore again🙂

Less than 24 hours old but they have totally stolen our hearts!


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Why I’m walking

Way back at the beginning of this blog I wrote about the Edinburgh Moonwalk Marathon that I did to raise money for breast cancer charities. My friend, Correen and I had trained for months and we walked through the streets of Edinburgh in the dark with thousands of other women on the night before we emigrated (totally sensible, no?!)

It was a great experience and I was really proud of my achievement and of the money that I raised thanks to my generous friends and family.

I was hoping to find a similar event here but despite the fact that there are ‘Walk the Walk’ marathons in several countries, they haven’t come as far as Australia yet. (I hope they will though!)

A few months ago I was delighted when I saw an ad on telly for a 60km walk in Melbourne all to benefit the Peter Mac Cancer Centre (Australia’s only public cancer hospital – also one of the major centres of cancer research). I knew straight away that I was going to do it. It would be great to have another physical challenge to work towards. The only thing I was worried about was I was walking all by myself. Correen wouldn’t do the decent thing and fly over for it😉 I asked the girls at work if any of them fancied it and our lovely nurse, Leesa, said that she would be my walking buddy – and Jacqui and Christie said that they would volunteer as support crew! Team SMC was born!

I didn’t realise at that time just significant our decision to walk would be …

About a month later Mum arrived at my door – she’d been to have her routine mammogram and an ultrasound (she gets both due to a strong family history of breast cancer.) – the US had picked up something and she was being sent to a specialist.

A little over a month later, Mum had undergone radical surgery for stage three breast cancer and next Friday she will have her last session of chemotherapy.

Her cancer was small – she had no symptoms, NONE – nothing to see and nothing to feel. The mammogram didn’t pick it up. The specialist couldn’t find it. Although it was small, it was hungry and it would have grown and spread very quickly.

The diagnosis – while unwelcome – was not entirely unexpected. My aunt, Mum’s twin sister, successfully kicked breast cancer’s bahookie a decade ago and my Gran, Mum’s mum, got the all clear after her treatment just before she was killed in a car accident (Fate is a wicked old cow sometimes!). The timing could have been better, we are all just getting back to normal after Dad’s illness last year. But then, when is it a good time to find out you have breast cancer?

I know the answer to that actually – and that’s the next chapter which I will blog about separately – the best time to find out is before you have it and that’s the position I find myself in now. It is highly possible that there are some genetic shenanigans going on here so I have to be tested to see if I have the gene mutation.

So back to the walk …

I am walking out of gratitude for the treatment that my Grandmother,my Aunt and my Mum received.
I am walking out of gratitude for the improvements made to treatment so that my Mum will be more comfortable during her chemotherapy than the women before her.
I am walking out of gratitude for the research done so that I may take positive steps to give myself the best chance to dodge this bullet.
I am walking in the hope that by the time my daughter is my age breast cancer will be a thing of the past.

I know that those of you who know my mum will find it completely unsurprising that she has come through all this with grace and apparent ease. I know there are days when she feels pretty beaten about by the treatment but she always has a smile and time for a cup of tea and a blether🙂 Unfortunately she still has months of treatment ahead of her and that is just not fair as she has worked tirelessly this year as Dad continues his recovery. We’re hoping that after all this, the universe may give them a break!!


Leesa and I have been training our socks off and when my alarm goes off at 6am for our weekend training walks I try to remember that any distance I walk is easier than the journey Mum is taking – no matter how easy she makes it look on the outside. And on the 1st and 2nd of March when we are completing the event I will remind myself that blisters and sore muscles are nothing compared to the surgery and the chemotherapy she has endured.

Now, of course, as with all sponsored events, I am gratefully receiving donations. Through Team SMC we have raised an impressive amount already with our patients generously handing over more than $3,000 between them. If you would like to donate then please go to http://www.endcancer.org.au and choose MELBOURNE then click on the green DONATE button at the top of the screen. Enter my name – Laura Park – and then make your donation with a credit or debit card from anywhere in the world🙂 I will be most grateful for anything you can give.

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A Tale of Two Piggies

So back at Christmas time I was wondering what we could buy for Ruby for Christmas. Santa was bringing wheelie shoes for her but apart from that she hadn’t asked for anything and couldn’t think of anything she really wanted. One day, Alexander brought home a Christmas card that he had made on the computer at school, it had a clip art picture of a gerbil wearing a Santa hat. I told them about the gerbil we had in Primary 5 and I started thinking that maybe that would be a good gift for Ruby.

Well, after much fruitless searching I discovered that there are no gerbils in Australia!! It is illegal to import them (and hamsters). Having learned their lesson from the great rabbit disaster, the Aussies aren’t taking any chances!

We could have bought mice or rats but Michael hates them so I knew that was a no go.

Anyway, I decided to go for Guinea Pigs. I knew some friends who had kept them and they seemed sweet enough – a bit bigger than I wanted to get but I knew Ruby would LOOOOOOOOOVE them.

I picked out two sisters, bought a decent sized cage, some hay, food and a pigloo and then hid them in the garage. How I managed to keep them a secret is nothing short of miraculous!


This was Ruby on Christmas morning when she saw them🙂 I think she is actually flying here!

I hadn’t bought one each for the kids as I know that Alexander would be likely to make it into a competition (my guinea pig is bigger/faster/louder than yours etc) but I knew that even if they were just Ruby’s, she’d let him play with them and hold them. Sure enough …


Ruby named them Violet and Daisy. Violet has the black and white face and Daisy has the brown and black face.

Just as I thought, Ruby was very good about looking after them. We used towel and fleece bedding which is tidy and doesn’t smell – Ruby just picks up the poop every day and we wash it all about once a week. Daisy and Violet came out of their shells a bit and proved to be really funny wee characters. Violet is all mouth and no trousers – running around and squeaking but hiding if you make a move. Daisy is much more easy going – inquisitive but pretty chilled.

We take them out for a pat every day and it was on one of these days that I thought ‘hmm, Daisy’s a bit lumpy’ and suddenly the penny dropped! Daisy was up the duff!!!


At first I was furious! I was sure the pet shop must have sold us a boy and a girl instead of two girls! I was annoyed that we’d either have to swap Violet (who we already loved) for another girl (and what if Daisy didn’t like this newcomer?!) or else we’d have to pay to have Violet neutered. Then there was the question of would we have to change Violet’s name if she was really a he – even if he had the operation.

The next morning I phoned the pet shop straight away. They have a vet on site and I wanted answers!

The answers were – yes, Violet is a girl and yes, Daisy is pregnant. She must have come to us in a delicate condition as their gestation period is up to 70 days. We were advised to make sure she has plenty hay, lots of veggies (as well as her top notch food) and to just let her get on with it.

In the meantime, Michael had built them a giant run so at least we have room for babies! They go into the run during the day and then up to their cage at night time. They love the run as there is so much space, lots of places to hide and things for them to play in.


Daisy is pretty enormous now. We don’t know exactly when she’s due, but she can’t have much longer to go, poor love!


The internet is full of horror stories about piggies dying in labour or of mummy pigs eating their babies or other disasters but we can only hope that nature will be kind to our wee Daisy and she’ll come through it all ok. Now I am over the shock of becoming a grandmother, I am really looking forward to it! Daisy was sitting on my knee the other night and as I stroked her, I could feel her babies kicking🙂 I shouted Alexander through (unfortunately, Ruby was already asleep) and let him feel the kicks – his face was priceless.

So we got rather more than we bargained for with these two little ladies, but let’s see how it goes!


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