Cheetahs In My Shoes

living with the imaginary menagerie and all that it entails


The Cheetahs and Their Fog Busting Suits

Every now and again I have to return the subject matter that started me blogging in the first place – the Cheetahs that lived in their Keeper’s shoes.  Obviously imaginary ones (just in case you were wondering).  They’ve been with us for a good 2 years now and although not quite as domineering as they were originally, they’re still a fairly regular part of every day life.

The move to Year 1 has been a challenge for the Cheetah Keeper – the physical effort needed to keep up is exhausting him, as is the processing of all the new facts, information, time-table and having to sit still for slightly longer than a nano-second at a time.  We’ve had tantrums (including the removal of trousers and pants in the street on the way to school and trying to give himself a nosebleed), refusal to eat – and subsequent very early morning starts because he was hungry and a defiance both at school and home that has raised more than a few eyebrows.

We’ve instigated a complete change of diet, rationed the screen time severely and carried out our threats.  It’s working but the changes have obviously been rather stressful for the boy as the Cheetahs are back big styleeee.  Even in his shoes before school this week – they haven’t been in them for months – preferring the snuggliness of his duvet.  They’ve been sleeping under his new orthotic insloes – because they’re so comfy and they need looking after.  We have to make sure that they’re out of his shoes before school otherwise they will be trodden on and that would not do.

This morning we set out for another trip to our beloved Whipsnade Zoo.  I love autumn at the zoo – the colours, the lack of visitors – it becomes ‘our’ zoo again before the harshness of winter sets in.  The conkers aren’t quite ready yet (cue another visit in a couple of weeks) but there are zoo babies in abundance and I have yet to see them all.

It was a real ‘pea-souper’ of a foggy morning.  The M1 was engulfed by thick fog (note dear reader, if you are driving in this, put your headlights on) and a little voice pipes up from the back of the car…

“The Cheetahs have got their fog suits on today… and their fog helmets… and fog shoes…. and fog coats… and fog gloves for their paws….”


“And it means they can ride on the top of the cars so they’re safer….”


“and their fog lamps are so bright that once they’ve got really hot they start pouring out boiling hot lava that cuts through the fog and sends it back up into the sky ready to turn into snow in time for Christmas”

ah – ok – but doesn’t the lava burn them?

“no, they have knee pads, and elbow pads and paw pads that stop the lava”

of course.

So that was that – until we got a little closer to the zoo.  The Cheetahs were riding on the road next to us on their “fast car bikes” – seemingly they can give Sir Chris Hoy a run for his money – cue much discussion about whether Chris Hoy riding against the Cheetahs would be a fair race and how it could be judged who was fastest in the world…

We had a wonderful time at the zoo – being surrounded by thick fog makes you look harder and appreciate it more.  It’s a beautiful place, one where we genuinely feel ‘at peace’ with ourselves.  As the staff and volunteers say, if you’d gone today and seen a load of foggy paddocks and some sleepy animals you wouldn’t feel like you’d had that good a day.  For those of use who visit again and again, we see the circle of life moving on (a week old giraffe today – he’s just gorgeous) and the seasons changing in their own good time.  It’s perfect.

As for the Cheetahs – they loved coming up with us today – unfazed by the boiling lava they apparently loved seeing the Cheetah cubs playing together and eating a chicken (yes, with feathers) with their mummy.  They came back with us in the car and as far as I’m aware are snuggled up with their Keeper in bed.  It’s getting a bit chilly in the porch now.


The Lunch Date

Last week I went on a date.  A lunch date to be precise.  My date – well, he’s known for his sense of humour, doesn’t drive and is a bit short – but really does love holding my hand.  He’s a bit of a cheap date as he doesn’t eat that much, doesn’t drink and isn’t allowed to stay up very late.  The conversation tends to be focussed around Cheetahs and can get a bit random – he also has a tendency to try and charm the waiting staff…

However, he’s very happy with some obnoxiously coloured ice based drink and keeping an eye on proceedings – including making loud comments about the portion sizes of some of the meals coming out of the kitchen.

I do get to spend a fair amount of 1:1 time with the Cheetah Keeper (yes, that’s who I’m talking about) but it is so rare that we spend time together doing ‘cool’ stuff that going out for a bit of lunch becomes a huge and wonderful adventure.  Our ‘normal’ time together is spent going to hospital appointments and as much as going on the train to London or driving in so far and getting a taxi can be made ‘fun’ (whilst we desperately try to avoid the conversations about how many needles they’ll be sticking in him this time) it’s just not the same.

At weekends it tends to be that we’ll man to man mark – however it’s often the case that I will be the one staying at home with whichever child is unable to/too unwell/too fatigued to do stuff.  Alternatively I’ll take the Cheetah Keeper and his sister out to give their father a bit of bloke time.

The Cheetah Keeper’s sister loves coming into town with me (on the bus, it costs more than driving & parking, but hey) on a Saturday – but that’s usually to collect prescriptions.  We don’t ‘do’ mooching around the shops together – we don’t necessarily have the disposable income to indulge as she’d like and actually, after an hour or so, she’d rather be back with her brother. (long may it last). Mooching around doesn’t have a routine and is sometimes a bit random for her to process to a level where she’s enjoying herself.  The routine that she’d like to be in (involving a trip to the milkshake bar, the purchase of yet more Hello Kitty merchandise, lunch at Wagamama and then perhaps the purchase of something else pretty/crafty) is not going to happen!

But this time, the Cheetah Keeper and I got our lunch date as his sister was at a party.  I’m not sure who loved it more (maybe it was just the pudding) – although my enjoyment kept having twinges of ‘I wish we did this more’ and he did keep flirting with the waitress…

The thing is with dates, sometimes they start well, you have a lovely time and then something happens and you wonder whether it was a good idea in the first place…

I’m linking this, my 200th post (200, how did that happen?) to #definenormal hosted by the ever so gorgeous Renata at Just Bring the Chocolate
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Sunday Gallery

The Cheetah Keeper and his Sister both wanted to contribute to the blog today.  They’re seriously chuffed I’ve gone .com and are liking the new look (they’re a picky pair!) and kept asking if I’d done my #SilentSunday yet…

Yesterday they went to Whipsnade Zoo (yes, again!) whilst I was at the Save the Children #blogup2012.  The amazing HPMcQ has written about the event just here far better than I could so please go and have a read (now– go on – it won’t take you long – it’s brilliant) – it makes me even more grateful for what we have here.

So back to our Gallery – inspired (of course) by the zoo…

The Cheetah Keeper’s Sister has been wearing her Hello Kitty stationery kit (it comes with a shoulder strap) and drawing at every opportunity this holiday (including at the dentist!).  This is a new logo for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.  Note the poo on the top of the rock – it’s where the Cheetah’s relieve themselves in real life – you have to pay attention to the details.

Cheetah on her rock

She is still determined that she wants to be a Sealion Keeper when she grows up – she’s very busy learning the hand signal commands that they use in the demonstrations and is getting better at knowing which sealion is which and who does which tricks!  So here is Dominic the Sealion doing his ball jump trick.  His flippers are flat down at his side – because that’s how he jumps.  Oh and the 4 is because he’s still 4 years old – his birthday’s in about 6 weeks – she may make him a card.

Dominic the Sealion doing his ball jump

The Cheetah Keeper was not to be outdone.  So here is his interpretation of Sealions:

Sealions (of course)

From left to right Bailey, Dominic, Salt (Dominic’s mum) and little Kyra.  Dominic has to go in the middle for the demonstrations at the zoo because if he goes at the end he mucks about (in a Sealion sort of way) – so he’s in the middle of the picture.

Finally, he drew me a Cheetah.   Not one of his Cheetahs because if you draw them they disappear.  So one of the Cheetahs, a very happy one, at Whipsnade.  Of course.


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Cheetahs in the Washing Machine

The Cheetahs have had an incredibly busy week – they’ve been doing stuff that hasn’t been mentioned for a good 6 months (running down the white lines of the motorway to ensure they don’t get squished amongst others) and a whole load of other things.  Their newer forms of transport (jet packs, rocket boosters) still are the preferred mode of travel – but they are very focussed on exercise and getting a good run every day is very important.  They have however (and as we know from the zoo) only a limited distance that they can cover at full speed.  Admittedly their distance is probably a tad further than in real life but they do need a means of transport when their legs get tired.  The solution is that the jump onto the back of the car, hold onto the back windscreen wiper with their front paws and let their back legs fly out behind them and then ‘surf’.  Apparently it’s incredibly good fun.

They had a lovely time at the seaside with Mammasaurus and the Minisauruses (or is it Minisauri?) and until this evening, it was reported that they had a brilliant time all surfing on the Solent.  Now, it’s just the little Cheetahs that went surfing (Mammasaurus got to see the surfboard – she is truly honoured) because it was a bit chilly for the older Cheetahs (too right).   They’ve also had a top time riding on the bus to go shopping and also got Actually Mummy and The Bug fully involved in building some new doors in their Keeper’s bedroom to allow the Banana People better access once they’re back out living in the garden and under the house for the summer.

This evening they’ve wanted to have a ride on some of his hot wheel cars and apparently then go in the washing machine – here’s the Cheetah Keeper showing you how it’s done…


The Cheetah Keeper on Slides and Rocket Boosters

I know that videos aren’t everyone’s ‘thing’ so for those of you who want some more ‘normal’ photos and writings, these will come soon.  It’s just a week ago that I was sitting with a very groggy Cheetah Keeper on Peter Pan Ward in Great Ormond Street Hospital.  Today he’s finished his antibiotics and his nose has only bled a very tiny bit.  He’s still off in Cheetah world – but in that I think Cheetah world is better than being glued to the computer screen (give him half a chance and here’s there) so, apart from their demands for Easter Eggs, I’m going with them for a while.  And if that includes building them slides out of duplo, bring it on…


The Cheetah Keeper Speaks

The Cheetah Keeper has never let me film him speaking about the Cheetahs…until today!  He was very sad yesterday (even squeezing out some real tears) that all his imaginary friends had gone on holiday and left him at home.  They had, to be fair, worked incredibly hard during our stay in Great Ormond Street (I bet it’s the first time they’ve ever had Cheetahs in the anaesthetic room) but I’m not sure they should have deserted him when his nose is still a bit bloody and his fuse is ridiculously short – then again…

They came back today – and he’s been making something for them…


Blue Skies but darker thoughts

We have had the most glorious few days of blue skies, warm sun and spring blooms.

The magnolias are showing off their finest colours, there are buds and flowers at every turn, the ladybirds are out, the children are wearing their shorts and summer dresses to school.

I can see all of these things – I’m thrilled that the Cheetah Keeper tells me that the sky is beautiful in the evening.

I am deeply worried about the Cheetah Keeper’s sister and her progress at school following consultation evening yesterday.  Having your child described as ‘needy’. ‘struggling’ and ‘failing to make progress in her literacy’ is stomach churning to put it mildly.  It is incredibly difficult to assess each aspect without trying to apportion blame – the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, delayed speech, the fact her mother has been less than functional over the last 3 months.  I need to learn, very quickly, how we can support her at home – whilst continuing everything else we need to do – reading, homework, maths games, piano, physio, occupational therapy – oh, and life.

The Cheetah Keeper’s operation has been confirmed (all things being equal) for Monday afternoon.  The hand surgeon is planning to ultrasound scan my wrist and possibly put a guided steroid injection into it should it be deemed necessary.  If that doesn’t work that will more than likely mean more surgery for me.  That’ll be #17.  My wrist/hand is not in a good way – I’m nearly 37, it needs to last for an awful long time (I hope).  The surgery they did last February (so successful at the time) may well need repeating so I can continue to have feeling in my fingers – something that’s a bit of a luxury for me.  Back in 2 months for a plan.  It makes me feel a bit sick.

I’d quite like to be out in the sunshine with my camera snapping away in a metaphorical sticking my head in the sand.  Instead, it’s time for some serious thinking, researching, logistical planning and carrying on, before my family gets split by our health problems again.

Unfortunately something that happens too frequently in this household – as it does to many all over the country.  The skies may be blue but the sunglasses may hide the true look in the eyes of many.

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