Thursday, April 23, 2009

Welcome home Daddy

A couple of nights ago I was downstairs watching t.v. at about 9:30 pm when I thought I heard a noise upstairs. I muted the tv and listened...and soon heard the distinctive sound of little feet padding down the stairs. The door slowly opened, and Niels stepped into the room looking a bit flushed. "Sorry Mum...." he mumbled. "I just threw up. I did try to clean it up though...."
No problem, I assured him, I'll take care of it. And then:
"And actually I was in your bed"
Great. Vomi-bomb in Mummy's bed, what a nice surprise. Then his little face brightened and he added in a perky voice:
"Don't worry though, I wasn't sleeping on your side!".

Can't wait to tell hubby when he gets home tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Goodbye Ashley, Hello....Punky Muffin??

As I mentioned in my earlier post, our female rabbit Ashley died recently. Above is one of the last photos I have of her, taken just a few weeks ago. While it may seem harsh to 'replace' her straight away, her death left her mate, Rocco all alone and for an elderly gentleman like him - he's seven which is about the human equivalent of an 80 year old - that's not a good thing. He needs somebunny to snuggle up to when it's cold, to take turns grooming, and to smooth down his fluffy ears on windy days. Also he may be old but by God, he knows how to show the girls a good time and isn't past (ahem) proving it. Being de-sexed is apparently no impediment to a horny old bugger like Rocco. Perhaps the fact that he was 'done' late in life - at three years old - has something to do with this.
Anyway, I digress. Liesbeth from the rabbit rescue centre Opvang Franky in Eindhoven has years of experience in matchmaking lonely bunnies and had a few lovely ladies in mind for our Adventurous Male Of Advanced Years. The final choice was a simply beautiful, sleek girlie named Arabica who had been brought to the centre by a family who could no longer keep her because they were moving. She is 18 months old, about Roccos size without all that hair, and has a pert set of uppy ears in contrast to his loppy ones. He was immediately smitten. After spending a couple of hours together separated by nothing but a huge generaton gap and some chicken wire, it seemed they would be likely to bond.

You can't just chuck strange rabbits in together; they need to be carefully bonded or will fight viciously. I can vividly remember the fairly grim experience I had trying to bond former bunnies Flopsy and Coco, a drawn out process that took 7 long weeks and saw us divide our apartment at that time in two with a roll of wire. I was more than 8 months pregnant by the time they finally decided they could share a cage without killing each other and my main mode of keeping fit was heaving my huge belly over the wire divider with the aid of two strategically placed chairs every time I needed to cross the room.

I haven't had to go through the bonding process since then; all of my bunnies who have passed away have thoughtfully done so while in someone else's care. Each time Liesbeth has managed to find new mates and have them neatly bonded by the time I returned from New Zealand or Singapore or where ever we were at the time. Now however, it's up to me. Arabica is now living in a cage, sniffing noses with Rocco but not yet free to frolic with him until she is speyed next week (which will make her less territorial and easier to bond as well as protecting her from uterine cancer) and they are on good terms. In the mean time I've been putting her cage on the lawn with the door open, trying to tempt her to come out for some exercise and grass. Until this afternoon she didn't dare poke more than a cautious nose out, so eventually I got sick of waiting, picked her up, and sat her on the grass. To be honest I don't think she's ever been on grass before, she lolloped around like it was tickling her feet, practically tip-toeing. It was the funniest sight. Finally after about 20 minutes of circling the perimeter and getting her bearings she decided this was SERIOUS FUN and starting racing around the lawn at top speed, flicking her ears and bouncing side to side like she was going through a slalom course. I would show you a photo but she was going too fast to photograph.
Meanwhile she has been renamed; the kids were so upset about Ashley dying I told them they could name the new bunny. Having vetoed Carl's vote (Transformer), we had settled on Punky Muffin, which both boys think is perfect. Punky for short.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Bunny Makes An Early Delivery

We had a sad happening here last weekend; one of our beloved bunnies, Ashley, died after a short illness of about 24 hours. Sadly it's not uncommon for rabbits to die very quickly when they fall ill and despite the vet's intervention she didn't make it. This of course left Rocco as a widower, not a pleasant state for a lovable old boy who has reached the grand old age of 7 years. So it was off to Eindhoven to visit Liesbeth, and check out the many eligible ladies she has at her rabbit rescue centre.
Needless to say we did find a lovely young bun we hope will be the perfect match for Rocco, and he certainly thinks she's the tastiest bit of crumpet he's seen since...well, since his last bit of crumpet. However before I go into that, check out these pictures. Two tiny, week-old kits were brought to Liesbeth last week, motherless and desperately in need of a great deal of TLC. I was lucky enough to be there when they needed feeding and it was so cool to hold these tiny little snugglies - perfect replicas of rabbits except absolutely tiny and with eyes still closed - and gently feed them a special milk formula via miniscule syringes.
One expects baby animals, and especially such tiny new borns as these, to mew and cry when handled or hungry, but these little guys are totally silent. I'm guessing that because rabbits are prey animals it's a survival mechanism; any noisy individuals would be the first to be eaten. They are however incredibly wriggly and needed to be snugly rolled up in a baby towel to be easily fed. If there is anything cuter in this world, I haven't seen it yet. All together now: "Ahhhhhhhhhhh............"
P.S. For information about caring for rabbits or to give a second-hand rabbit a second chance through adoption, check out

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Our Little Scout

We were still in Singapore when we decided to enrol Niels in the local Scout group once we returned to Holland. It seemed like the ideal activity for him; charging around in the forest with lots of other little boys, burning off energy and learning essential survival skills like how to toast marshmallows, pitch tents, and swear with conviction. It all seemed very tetosterone charged to me, but actually there are a few girls is his group - or horde as it's called - and it's more civilised than I'd expected. We are lucky that in this part of Holland we're surrounded by forest, and the Scout hut is a great location, about a 10 minutes cycle away, nestled beneath the pine and beech trees. It's also the perfect excuse to get muddy without getting into trouble, something that really appeals to little boys.
Holger was a Scout for years when he was a boy, and he gets all misty-eyed and nostalgic when he recalls his glory days, so hopefully Niels will one day look back on his Scouting experience with a smuch enthusiasm.

Niels was allowed to attend three meetings before deciding whether or not to join, and when the big day came he very bravely memorised the Scout creed and perfected his salute. We were quite a contingent, Opa, Papa, Mummy, and Carl, watching from the sidelines and dripping steadily onto the bare wooden floor on what must have been the rainiest day we've had since we moved back. One of the Scout leaders turns up to every meeting in a huge pair of clogs which I always thought was quite funny. However as we slithered our way through the mud and rain last Saturday it suddenly struck me how convenient it would be to be wearing what is essentially a huge wooden bucket on each foot. Nothing could dampen Niels enthusiasm however, and he was initiated into the Welp Horde with great ceremony. The flag was unfurled, his fellow hoard-ees stood to attention in a circle around him, and he was solemnly saluted after receiving his first badges. As the ceremony finished he seriously returned the salute to the group before joinng the circling...and flicking us a quick peace sign and an impish grin before taking his place. This is Niels, after all.