Whooping Cough

I have been a little quiet on the blog and this may just be the reason why! January 2019 was the month from hell not only for my darling little boy who suffered but has now almost fully recovered from whooping cough but the entire family.

To describe the situation as highly (peak) stressful, exhausting and emotional is an understatement. The concern and fear you have as a mother (and father) seeing your son go through severe coughing and chocking fits is devastating, you feel helpless and useless. I remember crying at one point helplessly and James came over to console me.

This coupled with the stress of having to explain what is going to your family and friends who you have interacted with, I would describe today as horrific and very eye opening.

I am writing this post to create awareness and hopefully give you a bit more insight to the illness, as I or we (my husband Pete and I) had no idea of what it was about.

I have learnt that there has been an outbreak of Pertussis on the city of Boroondara Victoria and also NSW from late December. In fact it is becoming more and more common and I will explain why later in this post.

I have also learnt that while your child may be fully vaccinated it doesn’t mean they are completely free from the disease.

Apparently there are strains of the disease that the vaccination doesn’t cover and there is also the weaning issue, so the further away from the vaccination you are the more chance you have at contracting it, carrying it, or a particular strain that wasn’t in the vaccination.

There is also the rise of unimmunised children combined with the weaning of adults that is causing so many more outbreaks in waves of Pertussis or Whooping cough in Australia.

Firstly, my son who is 7 is fully immunised and if your child is too, it doesn’t mean they are 100% safe from contracting Pertussis, it just means that if caught early enough their symptoms and cough won’t last as long and be as severe. The cough is severe and can often be described as a cough they had a “whoop”.

But, nearly 3 weeks in and in stage 2 of the 3 which is the worst stage I still recall the anxiety of knowing that there is a possibility that there much more to come and I was terrified. Pertussis can last up to 100 days, which is why it is often referred to as the 100 day cough. Thankfully James second stage lasted only a couple of weeks, and we are now in week 8 and he is still coughing once or twice at night and we are working through his fear now or chocking and coughing vigorously of which thankfully has not returned.

Things you need to know and how it panned out for us…

Symptoms of pertussis typically develop within 5 to 10 days after you are exposed- but sometimes could take up to 3 weeks to start. We suspect James contacted the virus just before New Year’s Eve 2018 at a local pool. We narrowed it down to this day given we didn’t do much or see many people over that period and also we narrowed it down to that day knowing when the first symptoms started.

James’s symptoms developed exactly 7 days after, and they were more frequent exactly 10 days after the suspected contraction date.

He had a small dry cough once or twice in the day, nothing unusual for him as he often gets a little cough after running around or increased physical activity and as mentioned earlier he suffered from croup from young so this was normal for us to see, and we knew how to manage it.

14 days later his cough turned to wet with phlegm and this is when we first took him to the doctors as this was unusual for him. We took him to the doctor and they diagnosed a chest infection and prescribed antibiotics.

By day 18 he was choking on his phlegm, coughing vigorous mainly at night after laying horizontally, so much so he broke capillaries in both eyes and the whites of his eyes suddenly turned red from the blood. Thankfully this did not hurt him at all and it didn’t last long (recovered in 3 weeks). He even (at the time of real illness) turned to the positive and told us that he had superpowers! We spent a couple of long nights (thank you to my amazing husband during this time) in the children’s, and from there is diagnosis was confirmed.

They say that the disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever but James’s was not like this at all. In fact it presents different in all children so we learnt. The key thing is if you are worried and the signs are slightly out of kilter to what you have seen before visit your GP and ask them for the test. The GP may refuse but if your child is 10 and under, you should insist.

Royal children’s hospital is also a fabulous resource they have a fact sheet about the virus that describes exactly what you need to do, or just call them direct.

As James was infected – the whole family and extended family who interacted heavily with James over the contagious period, the period a couple of days prior to the first cough, were recommended to take a dose of antibiotics for 5 days- this ultimately killed the virus. At this time we all stayed home (contracted cabin fever) I was still working thankfully I was able to do my work from home.

Kristina, my daughter, had a positive test also of the virus but her symptoms to date have been small coughs here and there not daily. So quite mild. The doctors put that down to her being closer to the vaccination than James was and catching / treating it early.

Given my kids were vaccinated the positive thing is that the disease and symptoms would not last as long and be as severe, although I couldn’t imagine James’s being more severe to be honest, I largely think this is because we caught it stage 2 of the virus.

Stage one for James lasted 1 week, stage two was about 2-3 weeks, and now we are in stage 3 which could last a couple of months.

Given how contagious the virus is, I had to contact all friends and family we were in contact with. This was stressful because it caused worry and anxiety for all, especially for the waiting period, and I also felt personally responsible.

Pete and I quickly became exhausted by the experience, juggling work, looking after kids, cooking every night (omg bless those people who have to cook each night- I’ve spent the last couple of weeks telling my mum and mother-in-law how grateful I am for their cooking and help) sleepless nights, we didn’t sleep in our bed for 4 weeks- we refused to have James sleep on his own just in case the chocking started. I developed exhaustion, anxiety and even suffered from my first panic attack which lasted 3 days (what the heck was that????). That’s another post altogether.

Silver lining… James is back to his happy healthy self, his immunity apparently will be better than its ever been. We know a lot of about whooping cough. We got to pretty much spend the whole of January together which is unusual. Lots of laughing, hugging and family time. And lots of lessons learnt about not being so flippant about health. Health is wealth people and hug that beautiful family of yours, and slow down!!!

There is so much more to say about this experience but I hope if anything you have learnt a little more about this awful virus.

Staycation Tips

We rarely go away during the holidays in December / January as Pete works between Christmas and New Year (the joys of owning your own hospitality business), but I always have a week or so time off work and I choose to spend it on catching up on stuff around the house and hanging out with the kids.

This time is somewhat of a challenge for me though, keeping the kids occupied day and night by myself, and getting them motivated to do and play something other than iPhones, iPads, Netflix or PlayStation – so I try and keep them busy and get them out of the house for some part of the day.

I also like to keep things very simple, after a thumper year of work (literally crawled to the finish line) apart from socialising at Christmas or New Year’s Eve with family and friends, I don’t travel much more than a few km’s during this time and I also love a bit of me or “loner” time, so I do keep to myself a bit and chill out with lots of exercise and yoga, sometimes a few pages of reading, and lots of online (shopping) browsing/purchasing, a little bit of Netflix if I get a go at the TV (ahh) and this time I also managed to do a massive amount of decluttering (I got rid of according to the skip guy who is amazing I can provide the details of you need them – 2.5 cubic metres of rubbish that I had somehow shoved into my cupboards for many years)!  I have always complained of not having much storage space in our house…mmm now I know why!  This mess was staring at me for literally 6 months, so I approached the monstrous task super motivated to see the back of it and I did just that.

Here are just some of the things we have done during our staycation!  I try and do at least one of these things a day with the kids for a good few hours at a time.  I never try and do any more than one, otherwise I end up getting too tired and so do the kids.  As I don’t cook or bake much during the working year, I like to fit this in also as I actually quite enjoy it, just don’t get the chance to do it much.  We also managed a few play dates during this time and hangouts with cousins.

The Movies

I got the kids to choose a movie each and we went and saw them both one during the day and one in the early evening. Whilst my kids are close in age they both like completely different things, so by giving each of them the opportunity to choose makes things fair and very peaceful to say the least. Kristina’s choice was Ralph breaks the internet. James’s choice was Spider-Man! There was soft drink, pop corn and ice cream involved.

Movies nights at home

I usually finish the day with movie night, lights dim and movie on with popcorn of course. This year the kids have loved Christmas movies with the standout being Christmas Chronicles. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must for young and old.  Mr Bean is always a winner and Paddington 2.


We don’t have many board games, but given the kids are obsessed with money at the moment (thank you very much to the school canteen) I find this game useful in reminding them that you can’t just buy what you want, you need to make or have the money first!  Lots of competitiveness comes out too which is fabulous, especially from me!


I can’t say I have much patience for LEGO, but the kids just love it when we build things together.  When friends or family ask me what the kids want for birthdays or christmas and when they already have everything, I always say LEGO.  You can never have too much, and its at times like this that it comes in handy.  One day James and I spent over 2 hours building LEGO City, and Kristina’s favourite is LEGO Friends.


We managed 2 visits to Bounce these holidays (already) where the kids bounced for nearly 2 hours each time.  We are lucky to have a centre about 5 minutes from our place, and the kids usually meet other kids there or see kids from their school.  We finished both sessions with a iced drink as they literally came off the trampolines dripping with sweat!  Such good exercise for them too.

Overnight Stay in the City

I like to stay at a hotel in the city a few times a year, this time we stayed at our choice of hotels – the beautiful Langham in Southbank, with the kids on the day before NYE.  Even though I told them both (after countless amount of times to stop running and screaming in the corridors) that they would never be allowed to come back with us ahhhh – the rooms are spacious, there are two queen size beds in the twin share option and the buffet brekkie is amazing!!!!!  We went for dinner, a long walk down Southbank and into Crown, and sat and watched buskers for hours.  Kristina even asked me a couple of times, “are we in Australia?”.  We stayed the next day and swam in the indoor pool and enjoyed the facilities (the Chuan Spa is incredible we didn’t book in for a treatment this time though) as they were setting up for NYE.  It was a great 24 hours.

Swimming Pools

The local pools are about 3km from our house and the kids just love the diving board and two large pools to choose from.  The facilities are next to brand new, there is lots of shade, and while there is a great canteen with icecreams, drinks and hot food, I always pack a picnic lunch.  We could spend up to 5-6 hours at any given time here, and even mummy gets some tanning and free time!

My Mid-week Go to Meals

Who’s got time to cook during the week let alone think about what to cook. Now I know why my mum owned a pressure cooker growing up!

Whilst my kids are mostly always fed when I pick them up after finishing work during the week, there are times when they are not, and I have a whole 30 mins to think, prep, cook and eat before it’s wind down time before bed. And there is always dinner for me and Pete (although some nights he is working) so it’s usually just me!

For those of you who know me well I am mostly eating lunch and dinner in the car or at the sink 🤪 en route to and from training/exercise, a meeting or some sort of kiddie pick up, so it really is a rarity that I am cooking up a storm during the week. I save that for weekends, maybe once or twice a month if I am lucky. Today happened to be one of those days.

So I thought I would share with you some of my go to meals that fit the criteria I mentioned above. The ones that I go to during the week. Mind you like my outfit and the kids uniforms the thinking happens the night before otherwise it just doesn’t happen.

1. Salmon, green beans or asparagus and rice

My butcher sells salmon every Tuesday so I always grab some pieces before work/school drop off. I cook the salmon in the oven in silver foil with some lemon, salt, olive oil and sometimes garnish with mushrooms or red capsicum. I then steam some green beans, asparagus or snow peas – kids don’t mind them either, with some brown rice. Yum.

2.  Chicken and vegetable stir fry

My butcher has pre made stir fry that I buy and then literally chuck onto a fry pan with some extra virgin olive oil and in the mouth! I usually cook extra for lunch the next day. Sometimes I add some soy sauce, sometimes I also add some gluten free noodles depends on how hungry I am. I have tried this stir fry with tofu instead of chicken, but can’t seem to find a nice tofu.  Any suggestions would be fab. Kids don’t like this meal or does Peter, all for me!

3. Crumbed chicken and veg

This ones the kids favourite. My butcher again has these amazing crumbed chicken thighs, bite size, gluten free! The kids love them, they think they are eating chicken nuggets (what’s with kids and nuggets) and I serve them with cucumber, carrot, broccoli (the latter a big struggle for the kids to eat) feta cheese and olives. Total winner.

4. Greek salad with chicken and mushrooms 

This one is one of my favourites and very easy. For the chicken I just use breast chicken and sometimes I have it vegetarian with lots of feta and oregano. As you have guessed I eat a lot of feta/goats cheese.

5. Bolognaise with steamed sweet potatoes 

One of my cooking up a storm meals on the weekend is bolognaise sauce with beef and pork mince. When I serve it during the week for Pete and the kids it’s with spaghetti. For me it’s with steamed sweet potatoes or just plain. To change things up I often make a lasagne too with the sauce and with gluten free pasta. No beshamel sauce as we all aren’t really fans. Sometimes I put sweet potatoes instead of pasta down the bottom with the sauce drizzled on top, topped with mozzarella and parmesan but that’s if I have a bit more time!

6. Egg omelette with goats cheese and vegetables 

The amount of times I eat an omelette during the week I can seriously cook one with my eyes shut! Favourite ingredients with or without yolk include: mushrooms, Meredith goats cheese or feta cheese, red capsicum, oregano, zucchini, broccoli, baby spinach, oregano and chilli. Again not for the kids or Pete, just mua.

7. Homemade Pizza

This one is for the kids mainly on a Friday literally using the coles brand pizza bases, leggo pizza sauce, ham, perfect pizza mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, black olives and sometimes some red capsicum. So easy and a big winner.

8. Steak, vegetables, homemade chips and rice 

Choice of cut is either eye fillet (my choice) or sirloin (Pete’s favourite) with steamed broccoli, cucumber, steamed corn, ice berg lettuce with salt, white vinegar and olive oil, red cabbage again with salt, white vinegar and olive oil, home made chips using the dirtiest potatoes, and sometimes some rice. The kids are very fussy (or spoilt) so I need to provide choice. Thankfully they love the meat, I am not so much a fan in my old age. Pete often makes this meal for us when he is home early enough.

9. Zucchini slice with goats cheese

This one requires prep but is yum and lasts in my fridge for days. Sometimes I make it the night before as soon as the kids are asleep. I use the recipe on taste.com.au and replace the onion (due to being a bit intolerant) with celery, the flour with almond meal, and bacon with feta or goats cheese. Kids don’t mind this one either.

10. Mixed roasted vegetables 

Throw diced zucchini, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, mushrooms, eggplant into a pan and then the oven drizzle with lemon, olive oil, oregano and salt to cook for 20 or minutes.  All for me and so filling.

11. Casserole – tomato based or Indian curry based – frozen pre cooked meal with rice 

This one I have pre cooked in a slow cooker on a weekend, and has loads of vegetables- carrots, zucchini, celery, eggplant, whatever I can’t find, with some skinless thigh fillets and either red sauce or curry sauce that I buy from my gourmet grocer. Not for the kids as it usually has a bit of spice although they do taste it from time to time. Always eaten with rice either white or brown.

12. Souvlaki with lamb back strap

Use Jerry souvlaki pitas from coles, with tzatziki (Chris’s Greek dips as he was my godfather and it is the best) or hummus, iceberg lettuce, tomato and anything else I feel like usually mushrooms. Most times I skip the pita and enjoy it open. The kids love it with the pita, lettuce and tzatziki.

You have probably gathered, that I love to cook with extra virgin olive oil, salt and oregano and sometimes chilli if it’s just for me. Other spices I like to use are cinnamon, black chives, bay leaf and nutmeg. Being Greek, I also love a bit of lemon or maybe a lot! Olives and feta cheese is always in my fridge, and I like to keep it very simple. Would love to hear some of your go to’s if you are happy to share.