Eight no more

A heavy blanket of responsibility.

I hadn't protected our 8 ducklings enough. Something feral got into their yard today and mauled 6 out of 8. They were all there at 4 pm when I fed them, I heard them quack at around 5 but thought they are just asking for more food and by the time The Man got home after 6, they were dead.

I've been sending out e-mails to find the remaining two new homes. And whilst I do that, I cry.

I'm not angry at whatever it was that killed them. That's what feral things do: they eat and they get to live. I am angry at myself though, for not having made sure our ducks are protected. And I am very sad they had to die this way, not even 20 metres from where I was in the back of our house. It's like that story in "Little Prince":

"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."

I am sorry, guys, to have let you down like that. Really, really sorry..

Two or not

I've wondered for a while now what having two kids would be like.

To be perfectly honest with you, I don't actually want another one - for myself, anyway. I've just started feeling like I have a semblance of my "previous life" back, and I'm not looking forward to changing that anytime soon. I have a book to finish and can't see how that's going to happen with two kids underfeet. I am fighting for tidbits of me time as it is, and I'll be needing way more me time before there's enough to do focused, meaningful writing, and that's where I stand on that.

On the other hand, I can appreciate what a difference two would make for The Kid and The Man. Neither of them seems like a particularly single-kid-sort-of-a-person. (I could probably go into why I think that is, but I'll leave it at that for now - I have my own issues to sort.)

A few weeks ago I sent out an e-mail asking one of Christchurch's midwives to meet with me. I'm not pregnant yet, I wrote her, but I'm considering. Having had a bit of an iffy delivery - that's a technical term, by the way - on the first go, I'd really appreciate somebody knowledgeable and kind to explain to me what happened, and to tell me... well, ideally I'd like somebody to tell me if there's anything I can actually do differently this time around; though being realistic it'll probably be a simple case of re-affirmation. Yes, you're fine. Yes, you did everything fine.

But between then and now I've had a few insights. One was hearing a Hercules gain altitude above Christchurch, heading - most likely - towards McMurdo. It's about time I get onto my Antarctica-project again, I thought. I've been putting it off for long enough.

A few grumpy evenings and one honest conversation with myself later I'd decided to shelve the second-kid idea and leave it at that.

Until yesterday a reply arrived. Yes, a midwife would be happy to see me, it read.

I go over this in my head and it just doesn't add up to me. All the reasons for are external, all the not ones internal.

I think I'll meet up with this midwife anyway, and I'll ask her the questions I want to be asking anyway, but having said that: I think I'll keep those second-kid thoughts shelved regardless.

It doesn't help that when googling "preemie NZ" many NICU emotions came flooding back to me, and I'm just not ready to be heading into that direction. Despite many assurances otherwise, I am still feeling I was somehow in the center of our rough start. "Blame" would be a wrong word, but there's a feeling of uncertainty over how my body would cope with that - if we were to go down that path again. Did we get lucky and could've it gone much more wrong than that? There was something up with the placenta and no-one knows why and no-one can tell if it'd be the same case next time around, but it's just my gut feeling that there was something up with the hormonal balance in the end.

And I'm just not ready for another trip to NICU. We got off pretty good, I'll tell you that, but I'm just not wanting to do that again to another one.

(Did you see that? "Do that to another one." That's how I feel - like I'd somehow done that to my child; tubefeeds, blue lights, incubator and all.)

So here's the ramble almost over for tonight.

PS. It's not all that grey up here, actually =). With me off-loading in this blog it might look like there's a constant whinge-whinge going on in this house - but there's isn't. Really.

It's just whenever I get into settled-family-life-sort-of topics I get all twitchy and thirsty for an adventure or two.

I'm considering going off into the mountains for a few days, actually, once the Christmas holidays kick in - for a dose of sanity. Psst! Don't tell The Man yet ;).

Of passing of time

It is still surprising to me how quickly time passes now that a certain 1-year-old is with us.

Before, a year was such an incredibly powerful time to change and grow, whereas now I look back on the year that's passed and wonder: how did I get so little done? Where did it go?

It's not just years, it's days and weeks. Little One's asleep and I've laid down to rest. It is afternoon. And what have I done today? Cleaned. Tidied. Fixed the washing basket. Eaten.

Come on, surely there's more I've done today?

I really can't remember any more than that.

But here's the thing: with The Kid, a third of my day disappears under simple existential (baby-related) stuff. Fixing food, warming it up, feeding him, cleaning his bum, rinsing nappies, getting him in and out of clothes, washing up after him, sorting through laundry - that sort of stuff. Then there's time I focus on him: read books, sing, carry him around, play on the floor, talk. And then there's time I do general existential stuff: shopping, laundry, ducks, food... house. It's more or less completed now, getting this house sorted, but jolly it's taken a long time.

And after that I simply don't get much more done. Spending time on writing, crocheting a hat, sewing just for fun or crafts in general - it just doesn't happen anymore. Plop! A day has gone by. Plop! Another one has. Plop! Wow, look at that, a weekend! Plop! Another weekend!

And I get a pang of anxiety, panic even: it is my life just sailing past! What am I doing! How am I letting in happen?

And then of course there's the king of all anxieties: if I died tomorrow, it would be like I haven't done anything important in the last year and a half of my life. I've wasted it. I've gotten to breathe and walk the earth, and I've wasted it.

And then I remind myself: chill out, kiddo, that's what having kids is like. A lot of stuff doesn't get done because time is spent with the kid instead. And although it often doesn't feel like it, it is an important thing, spending time with The Little One. It doesn't get counted up in the evening as one of the things that got done during the day - but it should.

So when Hubby comes in in the evening and asks what we've been up to, and I say "Nothing much," and suddenly feel guilty for having done "nothing much", then I should remind myself about that - about the importance of this job here.

And I just hope, hope I get to breathe and walk the earth a while longer so I get to do my stuff, too, once he's big enough to take care of himself a little more and I'm free-er.

Talking of which: do you know how boys and girls turn into mums and dads?

One woolly jumper at a time.

She is fabulous

There is something utterly fascinating about this woman. Utterly, utterly fascinating.



Out of us three, I really don't know who enjoys Duplos the most. All three are pretty tight contenders.

I don't usually follow a recipe

I think he got tired of my porridge sometimes tasting awesome - and at other times, too chewy, too runny, too salty, too... something. He asked if I followed a recipe. I said no. I said I eyeball it.

Which is why we now have a porridge recipe SCREWED onto the wall behind the cooktop.

Yard madness

The thing with DIY'ing the house is that more often than not our front yard looks something along the lines of this:

It's not very scenic, I know, but I took those so that one day when this DIY'ing madness is over I can look at those photos and think: "Wow, won't you look at that! Wasn't that crazy?"

At the moment this is not crazy. This is my everyday life.


A moment to remember

I little fieldmouse ran out from underneath a barrel where me and The Kid where standing. I cupped it with my hand and lifted it up to show. Little One was delighted.

Then, when I put it back on the ground, it ran for cover... straight towards The Kid kneeling on grass. It hid in between his legs - technically in his crotch - with its nose poking out whilst we looked and wondered what's next.

The ducky toilet business

If anyone's thinking of getting a few ducks and is wondering if they'll poop, like, everywhere - according to our experience, no. Provided they've got a paddling pool, they'll do their toilet business exclusively in the pool. No exceptions.

A few hours ago this thing was transparent.

Mac versus PC

It's a funny little argument me and The Man have every now and again - about Apple and Mac.

Apple iBook was my first laptop bought at a time when it cost me majority of my year's worth of student loan to buy one. Think about it for a moment: money lent to me by a bank that was supposed to help me carry through a year of university studies was almost equivalent to what I spent on my first laptop. I don't remember the exact figures, but it was somewhere in the vicinity of 17 000 Estonian Kroons for a student loan versus 13 500 Estonian Kroons for a laptop.

Yeah, it was probably exactly that move that prompted me to start working in my second year of university studies. I didn't want to accept money from my mother, was already living in the cheapest, crappiest dorm there was - I think they've probably demolished it by now - and to be able to go and buy food, it was paramount that I earn something. And so I did.

But I have at no point, ever regretted buying that iBook. My Mac.

The thing with my Mac is, it was my first computer and it lasted me all the way to 2011 when I bought my second computer, which is again a Mac. I am 27 years old and the computer I'm typing this on at the moment is my second ever computer. I think it's incredible. I think it's the way it's supposed to be.

It is elegant. One might say that how a computer looks has very little to do with the functions it has, but to me - a computer that inspires me helps me do my job, which is to write.

It lasts. Okay, I admit - I am slightly more, how to put it well... hesitant about this particular Mac I have at the moment. It is the new generation MacBook Pro - new compared to my first iBook which was not  Intel-driven - and feels somehow flimsier, airy almost. My first Mac was the simplest, cheapest Mac at the time, but it was still a powerhorse because it travelled the world, got dropped and banged in my backpacks, carried from a lecture room to another to another, to friends' where we watched movies. Yes, it eventually got banged around enough that the speakers went funny (sometimes blaring, sometimes going quiet) and the screen connection worked only to about a certain degree of an angle, but hell, the thing was 6 years old by that time. A computer that I carried almost everywhere with me and used in all sorts of temperatures and humidity levels and whatnot was 6 years old by the time I retired it.

People's washing machines sometimes break down sooner than that.

The thing inspired me. I would open the flap and it was beautiful to work on. I actually enjoyed typing up notes during lectures because I loved my laptop. It didn't give me error messages, I didn't need manuals to figure out how it worked, I didn't even need to switch it on and off - I just opened the flap and the two of us carried on from where we left off.

And so to me there was never an option to go and buy a cheaper computer after my Mac got old, because I believe that a cheaper computer would be more expensive in the end. I'll keep you posted on that, but I have no intention of upgrading my laptop in the next 3-4 years. I don't think it would need upgrading. I trust Apple enough to think this thing will last me.

The Man... I don't think he has ever really been in that Apple camp. He uses it, but I'm not sure how much difference it really makes to him whether it's a Mac or a PC. He's sort of: yeah, okay.

And so when we talked about an iPad yesterday, it was me saying that I am frickin' not buying a cheap some-other-brand PC. If we buy a cheap PC, he can go use it. I'm not doing it. If we buy a second computer so we can both be online at the same time - me writing my book, him browsing TradeMe or whatever - I am buying an iPad when we have enough spare finances, because to me it doesn't make sense to buy something cheap that "does the job". I want to buy a good quality, elegant product that lasts years - or not buy one at all. It's sort of the same argument I had when I asked a Bunnings storeperson for a wheelbarrow "I can retire with". If I'm buying, I'm buying a good thing, and if I don't have enough money to do that, then I probably shouldn't be doing it at all. I'm happy with second hand clothes because those are expendables, whereas tools and furniture - to me - aren't. And a computer to me is a tool.

Okay, end of rant, have to go pick up the Little One. =)

Getting there!

Finally. Finally this house is getting there.


For over a month I toiled what felt like every day, all day, to make this house warmer, brighter, friendlier and better. I whacked weeds, cut hedges, hang endless curtains and curtain rods, scrubbed, painted, fixed, washed, all whilst taking care of our Little One - add to that all the work Hubby has done around the house and the yard - and still it was, you know...

Overwhelming. There were bits of wood everywhere, and when we bought a houselot of carpet from people who'd upgraded theirs, bits of carpet we tripped on. Nails and staples I had missed and not ripped out or banged down into floors stuck out and scratched my heels and baby's palms. Doors rattled in breezes and spiders sat on windowsills waiting on their prey, and... and... it was everywhere. Everything was everywhere. It felt like we'd been here for, like, forever, and that it was going to take absolutely forever to get this place somewhat enjoyable, and I thought: what was the point of moving into this "charming" house atop a hill, if I was going to spend my days scrubbing myself into oblivion?

Okay, I'll stop describing that feeling now. You get the point.

And now suddenly it has somehow happened that I actually sit down in the evening and it is actually nice to be here, and I haven't got a hundred things screaming at me "This needs to be done!" or "That needs to be done!" and I sit here typing away and feeling...

Whoa. We've made it.

It's not by any means a palace, and it will never be, and it's not even ours, so whatever upgrades we do it's still a rental, but, good god, it is... whoa. It's nice here. It's, like, actually really nice in here.

Have a look.

There a six Khaki Campbell ducklings growing in a box in the kitchen. We take them outside in the morning and bring them back in in the evening. When they are big enough, they will stay outside all the time.

Meanwhile, the bigger two ducklings live in the yard, paddle in their pool and do... duck stuff.

Chickens follow us around everywhere.

Little One checking out the duckling box.

The crazy chicken who keeps coming into the house. Here she is hanging out on the windowsill whilst I'm having my lunch, as if to say: "Come on now, open that door!"

He likes standing up. Letting go, not that much.

They make an absolute mess wherever they are.


I think they like it here, too.

And him!

It may not look like much: old cupboards, makeshift kitchen top, homemade curtains, but... I like it here =).

An evening kiddie mess in the living room.

I've laid so much carpet in the past two weeks I'm actually getting quite decent at it.

Oh how I love those awkward corners...

Tadaa! It's cosy! It's comfy! It's warm on the feet!

I like it here =).

Things I've noticed about New Zealand

Green image goes only as far as recycling of domestic food packaging (multi-colored bins that get picked up by the council each fortnight, you know, one for plastic, one for glass, one for paper) and all sorts of solar panels on new expensive housing. When it comes to grass-level sustainability though, New Zealand doesn't do very well in my view. Collecting of rainwater (or using water sparingly in general), use of low-emission high-efficiency appliances, getting cars serviced so they don't leak oil, directing spills to where they don't enter waterways, insulation in houses - these are just some examples where I look at New Zealand and think: "Wtf?" The only reason New Zealand can bandy around that green image is, I think, because it is so sparsely populated and there is enough landmass to offset the damage.

There is a lot of talk about the high cost of living, but to a point where I feel I want to vomit each time I hear it mentioned. For one, New Zealand has a LOT of unskilled jobs. Expecting a wage that's decent enough to buy a decent house in a decent area... whilst being employed in a job where a person can be trained up in a matter of weeks is silly. I know people who own their homes whilst working in unskilled positions (without inheriting anything) - it involves good budgeting and compromises and no yearly holidays to Fiji. And if someone really wants to earn more and live in a flash house, they can go study engineering. Just saying. It is NOT THAT BAD!

Crime is sensationalized to a point where case specifics get repeated in national news for days on end, so I can understand if someone has a perception there is a lot of crime in New Zealand. There isn't. There is a lot of incarcerated people, yes, but comparatively little crime. (Depends who you're comparing it to, yes, but the point still stands.)

It struck me when I first came on my working holiday that Kiwis gripe and bicker as a national pastime. I learned quickly, though, that: one: a lot of it doesn't actually bother them, they just like a good moan every once in a while. British heritage maybe? ;) And two: it isn't as bad as they make it out. So now when I hear the news on the radio, I filter it my head just as I filter when my neighbor goes on about the government.

It amazes me to this day how much good quality, cheap stuff is available in second hand stores and occasionally on TradeMe, a Kiwi Craigslist. Especially in Christchurch region when it comes to second-hand building materials. I could literally build a house, no, a street full of houses, with that stuff (if I knew how to build a house). It is incredible.

I hear people tell how in Europe, this is done better and that is done better, and I think: yes, it is. On the other hand, there are a lot of things really screwed up in Europe as well, just like there are here. For me the tradeoff is working out quite well, because I am outdoorsy and prefer a sparsely populated scenic high country to Autobahn and pavement any time. For someone who spends more time indoors and wants... well, something other than I do, I can see how the tradeoff might not be that enjoyable. But that's people wanting different things, which is only natural.