And I shall title you...

How's this for an idea? I'll rename this blog Whingeblog :)

Would be very fitting!

Oh for f*** sake....

Realising that The Dog has got fleas made me sort of collapse on the floor and cry.

My stress tolerance has come down to... none. I can just about deal with what's already happening, but every time something new pops up I collapse on the floor and cry.

Really?! Fleas?! I now have to deal with that, too?!

Sh*t me this is a fun winter.

One of those mornings

It's one of those mornings.

The Kid is bunged up with a cold so hasn't slept well (and neither have we 'cause we're sleeping in his room still).

Breakfast was a series of arguments on whether to eat or not to eat porridge, toddler-style.

Pulled up to the petrol station - they were out of petrol. I had an empty tank.

Went to put my "Rental wanted" ad on our community message board - nop, it's being taken down, and won't be replaced.

Popped into the shop to get chicken stock - empty shelf, they don't have any.

Was driving out of the parking lot and almost hit another car as it was obscured by construction fences and my car's "front beam", don't know how you call those metal posts between the windscreen and side windows.

Maybe I should stay home the rest of the day? :)

PS. Had just finished typing this and picked up The Girlie - got puked on. :P

Breathing space

It may sound a little silly, but arriving home tired - or not even as much tired as worn out - I found solace in this:

It's a movie called "The Singing Revolution". Have you maybe seen it before? The first 15 minutes are even available on Youtube, though with some Asian subtitles.

I sat down when The Girlie was asleep and The Kid eating, and watched it, for what must've been... a ninth time maybe? Tenth?

I watched it, I breathed and I told myself to calm down.

For centuries people have lived through horrors much, much worse than the battle I fight here with cold and mildew. My grandparents lived through the events described in the beginning of this movie: the Soviets, the Nazis, then the Soviets again. During the 90's August days when tanks were rolling past my hometown on their way from Russia towards Estonian capital called Tallinn, even I was alive.

I watch this movie and it helps me breathe, for it reminds me of things that bring comfort. Being part of something bigger brings comfort.

(Oh, how I wish I could've been in Estonia this summer to be part of yet another song and dance festival! The next one is in 2019, chances are I'll make it back then.)

And that's what I think is another thing about the last few weeks: for a lot of the time, it's simply felt very lonely, waging this battle with cold and soot. It's made me very, very pissed off, including at things I cannot help.

I'll try to sit down and write down things that are important, and put them in order, and start ticking off the things I can help; and the things I can't, I'll try to let go.

A meltdown

Found yet another spot of blue mold, one too many - in the toy cupboard, no less. Threw out several toys that had gone mouldy in there.

Visited my GP: I had promised that if I ever even think I might have postnatal depression, I'll go see her, and that's what I did. She doesn't think it's postnatal depression though - instead, it's a valid reaction to a lot of stress and worry in a cold, damp house, and she can see that if it keeps on going like that, I will end up in depression anyway, postnatal or not. Got referred on to some councelling, though with the waiting lists, even she doesn't know when the actual appointment would be.

Called the insulation people (thanks, Rachelle!): as the next available appointment is August 26 then they can't help us for the moment because the appointment needs to be at least two months before the card's expiry date, and ours expires in September. Called the card people to get the card renewed: they can't help us either because the cards gets renewed automatically, in September. Meanwhile, the landlord says to "get their quote on a letterhead" and he will then "forward it to his accountant for consideration", and our lease comes up for renewal in September. Whatever costs he comes up to, he's going to charge it back to us through rent, so we might as well insulate the f*cking house ourselves. But will it even help?

Walked out of WINZ office, crying, "Why does EVERYTHING need to be so difficult at the moment!?"

I think I'm just about done with Christchurch.

At least The Girlie is doing well.

Doctors make lousy hairdressers

(Wind picked up a piece of plywood, flung it approximately 20 metres and made it stop right on my husband's head. Five stitches.)

Good morning

Selective hearing

This is our snacks cupboard.

White packets of gummy bears, bottom shelf, are The Kid's potty training treats: every time he drops something in the potty, he gets a gummy bear or two.

Yesterday I laughed to tears about an incident involving those gummy bears.

The Kid is starting to get the hang of the whole "potty training" idea, and he looooooooooooves gummy bears. He not as much eats them as he... licks them to death; a single bear can take upwards of an half an hour to demolish.

Yesterday he was sitting on the potty, licking the two gummy bears he was awarded for peeing a little earlier, and I was encouraging him to drop "a big one" in the potty also. He's a bit more... reserved about those, as if it's a very big deal to part with one in such a manner.

Anyhow, I am sitting next to him, saying, "Would you like another gummy bear? If you go bips in the potty ["bips" is his code word for poop, no idea why he uses it or how he came up with it, but oh well], I'll give you more gummy bears."

The Kid looks at me intently.

"I'll give you more gummy bears if you go bips in the potty. Yeah? Would you like another gummy bear? Go bips in the potty and I'll give you another gummy bear."

And that's where the fun started. He looked at me, smiled... and shoved both gummy bears into his mouth. Chomp, chomp, chomp, he quickly swallowed both bears (very uncharacteristically). He then reached out his hand happily, pointing towards the kitchen (where the gummy bears are) with the other hand, smiling, and it dawned on me - when I was speaking to him, he definitely understood the "Would you like another gummy bear? I'll give you another gummy bear" part, but maybe not so much the whole "IF you go bips" part. That's why he was reaching out his hand, waiting for me to give him the promised gummy bear.

Selective hearing.

Oh, toddlers are such fun.

Wow, I am feeling human today (Yay!)

Upside of a baby sleeping long? Getting a good rest. Downside? Waking up in a puddle of breastmilk.


(I knew I should've gone to bed wearing a bra! (With pads.) I knew it!)

Feeling cold yet?

On housing standards

I'd love for someone to explain to me how New Zealand housing market came to be the way it is. Historically - what happened? What were the steps to getting people look at a house and think, "Yeah, that's a good build"?

Because, here's the thing: by many overseas standards, New Zealand houses are cr*p.

I cannot speak for the newer builds of the past, say, ten years, but when it comes to houses most people live in, ranging anywhere from early 1900's to early 2000's, they are rarely weatherproof. Double glazing became standard only recently (and by "recently" I mean in the last ten years), insulation of any kind (underfloor, overhead, wall) also, central heating doesn't exist, ventilation "works" through leaky windows (I have rarely seen a house with actual air intake vents). For a very long time it's been regarded "normal" to wake up to iced-over windows, take hot water bottles to bed at night and huddle around log burners when they're on. People run their de-humidifiers for hours, back in Estonia I didn't even know what a de-humidifier was.

But I don't get it. Why? Why!?!

Such a living standard isn't regarded "normal" in countries where New Zealand's migrants stem from. If you've ever been to internet forums where migration issues are discussed, poor quality of houses is within the top 3 of discussions, popularity-wise. People move here and soon enough they head onto the forum to cry out, oh my God it's so cold! And other people nod along, yes, yes it is.

And I don't get it. New Zealand has a relatively warm climate, yes, and rarely sees snow down to sea level, but the winter still exist. Take now, for example: a few degrees above zero, rain, wind. It's not uncommon to have weather like this and winter lasts for a few months, meaning, weather like this can last for a few months also.

But how is it that for over a century, houses have been built in a way that is not actually meant for this kind of weather?

And another thing: log burners. In Nordic countries, log burners have a "heat wall" behind them, essentially a brick casing which heats up when the log burner is on, retains the heat, and when the log burner goes out, heat slowly emits from the "heat wall" keeping the room temperature fairly stable. Here, I did a little Google image search for you to give you an idea of what it's like.

In New Zealand, I haven't seen a single house with a heat wall. Here, log burners are stand-alone like this and as soon as the fire dies, so does the room temperature. It has two consequences: one, room is toasty in the evening but f*cking cold in the morning and, two, people burn through a lot more firewood than, say, Estonians, Finns, Swedes or whatever, except in aforementioned countries snow comes down and stays down for months.

My mom suggested that maybe the lack of "heat walls" is because of the earthquake danger, but I don't buy that argument: if they can build multi-storey buildings, both here and in Japan, then they can build a heat wall.

I asked my ex-workmate how they coped back when she was a child (she's in her mid-50's now) and her answer was, it was regarded normal; that's how everyone lived. Iced-over windows in the mornings, hot water bottles, mould... Children having ever-reccurring colds all winter long.

And I look at it and wonder, how, how!? did this last for a hundred years without anyone going, hey, this is bollocks! and changing the regulations around housing standards. Maybe up in Northland they can go around living in old villas quite happily, but down in Canterbury, Otago and Westland, absolutely not.

And can someone please explain to me, how is it possible that New Zealand has come to have houses like that?

On post-natal depression

Another thing this recent encounter with my midwife prompted me to do was to try and assess if I have post-natal depression. (As my midwife tends to think I have.) (It was one of her arguments, actually, to why I gave her that feedback - she reckons I am feeling down and therefore being critical.)

I gave it some hard thought last night and found a new angle for looking at it, which is:

Whenever my midwife has asked how I am doing and I have answered honestly, "Pretty rough," it's never felt like post-natal depression to me. To me (in the words of a dear friend of mine), it feels more like a taking-care-of-a-three-year-old-and-a-baby depression instead.

My midwife tends to think that because The Girlie is a pretty good sleeper, considering her age - which she is! - then I really shouldn't be feeling tired enough to sit and cry in the evenings. That, basically, it isn't as bad as I make it out to be and all this talk of struggling is a depression raising its head, rather than genuine tiredness. (But how do you tell the difference between genuine tiredness, and post-natal depression?)

Yesterday it occurred to me that when she is talking about depression and telling me about how women in general feel at this stage, I feel uncomfortable about being compared to other women. It doesn't leave enough space for taking into account what I am like! And here's what I came up with: I could think back to my previous life instead, and compare myself to myself.

For example: when I am bone-achingly tired, I cry. It's my coping mechanism, I guess.

In the past, on some of the strenuous mountainous hikes I've done, I have arrived at the hut pissed off at having decided to hike at all, for I have managed to wear out pretty much every functional muscle in my body. Unless there's been people I am not comfortable being around, I've cried.

It's not emotional - it's functional. I am tired, I cry. It's a releasing mechanism.

Then another thing: I am exceptionally crap at carrying any sort of sleep-deficiency. Solid 8-9 hours every night, uninterrupted, makes for a happy Maria who goes around feeling like she can conquer the world - and if I'm not getting it, I'm cranky.

If anything, since children came onboard I have learned to simply cover up my sleep-deprivation fuelled crankiness, and after a broken night's sleep, even if I feel like I would like to rip someone's head off, I smile and tell myself that today is not the day and so I carry on and exercise my facial muscles, preferrably the smiling kind.

I don't think my actual need for sleep has lessened any bit, I have just learnt to cope with it somehow, for now.

What else... oh, yeah: that's a whole another blog post, but I am not a "natural" when it comes to children. You know people who step into a room and straight away children flock to them? People who don't have to think what to say next, or what to do next - they just spend their time around children and somehow, magically almost, it works? People who are often employed at preschools and schools?

Well, I am not one of those people. I'm more, like, on the other side of that spectrum. When I am around children, even my own, I am almost constantly exercising my brain trying to understand what on earth is going around in their heads and what I should be doing to... well, just be with them. I find children exceptionally tiring, mentally, and so after a day's "work" of caring for one or two, my body is knackered, as is my head.

Last year when The Man headed for a holiday in Golden Bay and took The Kid along for a week, it was like I had a mountain of space opening up in my head for all the lack of children-ness in the house.

So even just these three things put together - the way I tend to cry when tired, my inability to carry any significant sleep-shortage, how I find kids very full-on, mentally - it is really no wonder that come evening-time, if it's been long enough of a day, I will sit and have a little cry before bed.

The thing that keeps saying to me that this thing isn't depression, is that I function just fine in the morning, and through noontime, and only in the afternoon do I start lagging behind and getting very impatient, but it happens at the same rate as general tiredness. If I manage to sleep in the afternoon, I also manage to function well a little longer into the evening.

And, anyway, another side effect of that encounter with my midwife is that I have simply lost a lot of the respect I had for her, which is a sad thing to say after a text, but, hey - at least I am being honest and open about it. Maybe my approach to this topic has a decent amount of stubbornness mixed in, but I really do not feel like this is nothing more than just a young family coping with life - and even if I did, I'd go straight to my GP and talk to her about it.

For now though, I'll finish this blog post written, surprisingly, at 5 pm (!) and go start preparing dinner.

It's been a long day today.

A spectacular giveaway

I know that many of you reading my blog are from overseas: Estonia, US, UK, Germany, Finland etc. I've got something interesting for you!

I hope Lisa from Big Little doesn't mind me posting it here, but she is running a spectacular giveaway on her blog and... it's open for international entries! Meaning, you guys in France and Scandinavia and whatever, hop on in ;)

This is what you could win:

Isn't it awesome!

To enter, simply head to Lisa's blog at and enter via Facebook or your e-mail address.

Good luck.

A beautiful mess

Whilst The Man was re-sealing a log burner in the back of the house, we all moved into the living room where it was the warmest, with pillows, blankets and generally a pile of mess.

It was lovely.

What does he think of his sister?, I often get asked.

Well, I don't think he's fussed either way. He goes around doing his own doings, sometimes comes to check her out and maybe give her a kiss or two, but generally he's really not that interested or bothered, either way.

I do see these two making quite a pair once she's a little older.

Feeling pooped?

Okay, so this is a bit of a toilet humour, but...

I got pooped on my face today.

Yes, that's right, you read it right - on my face.

How? Well, The Girlie had her vaccinations yesterday, so she's unsettled and grizzly today. As I was changing her nappy I tried not to lift her bum too much, so to not make her vomit the milk back up again, but I did need to see if I'd cleaned it all off - so instead of lifting her bum, I lowered my face down to see what's happening and that's when it happened...


Just like the last time, for the first few moments my brain just freezed and I was standing there, eyes closed, in the same position, and thinking to myself... I'm not even sure what it was that I thought, exactly, but there was baby poop on my cheek.

And then I kind of smirked, followed by operation clean-up.

This kid is amazing. Never did we have anything like that with the first one, and now it feels like I'm getting all the poop jokes with her, as if she knows she's the last one and she wants to make sure that I get to experience it all.

Wow. Thanks, my dear daughter! When you're older and we're having a dinner someplace and you ask why is it that I am not agreeing to buying you another ice cream, I will remind you of this incident and say, that's why.

PS. I did say that there's a bit of toilet humour ahead, so you were warned =).

She said what?

Today's events have left me confused.

I'm not sure if it's even fair sharing it here. I haven't shared my labour story with you yet, so sharing this next thing will make it all go out of context, but on the other hand... I am still "buzzing" with the surprise and the anxiety and the confusion, and sharing it here will, I hope, help ease it a little. So...

I met with my midwife for a 6-week discharge appointment today. She weighed/measured The Girlie, we talked about how I am doing, filled in some paperwork and then - she asked what I thought about my labour.

I gave her an honest answer. Which was:

I am very pleased with the end result: we got a vaginal delivery post-Caesarean, and I am very proud of myself for having done it. Having said that: in hindsight I wonder if labour had gone a little differently if it had been more actively managed.

You see, when I first arrived at the hospital, my contractions eased to almost nothing and there wasn't much happening in the dilation camp either. A decision was made that my midwife was going to go do her daily rounds instead; when my labour started progressing again, she was to be called back.

A while later, my labour did start progressing. The usual scenario: at first I was happily chatting in between contractions, then as the activity intensified I got a little more focused also. I tried out the big "labour ball", then gave a go on the little "rocking horse", was leaning onto the bed at various angles and was just generally trying to find positions that would make me more comfortable, and pain more tolerable.

Then, as my labour intensified further, the pain started... I don't even know how to describe it exactly, but it started feeling less like a whole-tummy experience and more like someone was slicing me with a knife, at a very tight spot in between my legs.

Looking back, I now know that the pain was my cervix opening. Every time a contraction came on, it felt like someone was pushing a knife up my vagina and twisting it around. If before I have seen women describe their labour pains as being struck by eighteen-wheelers, or their backs being pinned under collapsing buildings, then mine felt like being sliced with a knife - and if it makes any sense to you, it was a "whining" sort of a pain which made me scream at a very high-pitch, "Eeeeeee!" way, instead of "Oooooooh..." sort of a pain of the earlier labour. It just felt like all the pain I had earlier felt around my tummy, and around my back, and around my sides, gradually moved into that tight little spot in-between my legs - and stayed there.

It's around that time that I first started saying, "I don't know how much longer I can go on like that." I tried laying down, tried standing up, tried kneeling. I remember thinking that I hope someone can suggest to me how to cope with this thing, but the hospital staff, I guess, weren't that involved in my care to try and come up with things.

Another problem was, my contractions were irregular. They would come, three-four at a time, almost back-to-back on top of each other, and then there would be a longer break. Then again three-four, on top of each other, and a longer break.

By hospital standards, it meant that I wasn't in established labour yet.

Oh well, I though to that, we'll just keep on pushing on then, I guess.

For about an hour we went on like that, steadily getting more and more tired, more an more painful, more and more loud. I was at a loss at what to do because nothing seemed comfortable and no-one was coming to suggest anything either, and then by some point... I just started burying myself between a bed and a rocking ball every time a contraction came on because I just didn't know what else to do.

It's the strongest image I have of my labour, I guess, burying my head into the side of that bed, screaming.

At one point, I started saying, "I can't go on like that." No-one seemed to take much notice, the contractions kept coming on, I kept on screaming and burying myself into the side of that bed, and every now and again I would repeat between contractions, "I cannot go on like that."

I cannot explain to you the intensity of those contractions, but the pain was just... off the wall. Really, it was the sort of a pain I think people feel when they're dying in car crashes, or being stabbed. I was screaming, screaming, screaming, screaming, and still the contractions were coming in a bunch and then a longer break in between.

My midwife still wasn't there yet.

Long story short, it kept going like that for a few hours and eventually we talked the hospital staff into giving me an epidural - that, or a Caesarean, because at that point I really was screaming at an intensity where I just couldn't handle it any more. In addition to that "knife pain", it also started hurting in front where my scar from a previous Caesarean is, and...

Anyway, it wasn't really my intention to give you a minute-by-minute play of my labour (which I have done, I guess), but what I wanted to give you an idea of was that for several hours the labour intensified to a point where I wasn't handling it any more, and hospital staff kept saying that I wasn't in established labour yet, all whilst I felt like I was close to dying - and all through that, my midwife still wasn't there yet.

And it wasn't until they'd finally given me an epidural and I could start breathing again (rather than hyperventilating and screaming), and someone thought to check my dilation - "Oh, six centimeters!" - and they finally figured that, holy shit, turns out I was actually in established labour all through that time - it wasn't until all that had already happened that my midwife finally arrived.

And that's why I said to my midwife that in hindsight, I am wondering if it had gone differently had someone managed my labour more actively.

If someone had thought to check my dilation before the epidural and had told me that I was at 6 centimeters, rather than saying "Not established labour yet", that maybe I could've gathered up my last breath and pushed on for a little longer. That if someone had been there to suggest what positions to try and what to do, maybe I could've handled it a little longer.

And that's what I said. That's the whole idea of feedback, isn't it?, to be honest and give information. I didn't blame anyone, I am not bitter at anyone. I do not know what time the hospital called my midwife back and how they described the situation to her, neither do I know what is even expected from hospital midwives, I don't suppose they're meant to "handle" ladies who technically have their own primary caretaker midwives?

And my midwife was all smiles, and we hugged, and we wished each other well, which is why you could say I was surprised when this text arrived on my phone about half an hour later:

Omg i don' believe
Maria not happy
with how her early 
labour was
managed actually i
do believe it she
wouldn't hv been
happy with

...followed by an apology a few minutes later saying that the text was meant to go to another midwife and that she didn't mean it the way it looked.


I didn't see that one coming.

On survival mode

The thing that makes it so difficult being a parent - to me - is that a lot of the time it's, and let's be honest here, survival. Getting through the next ten minutes, and then the next ten after that, and the next ten after that; holding my breath until I simply get to that time when it's not that hard any more. Waiting - waiting for it to be over.

It goes against my life "philosophy" in general because life isn't meant to be survived, it's meant to be lived, but with small children it just isn't possible a lot of the time.

Lack of sleep, for one: as much as I need to simply lay down and sleep right now, I grind my teeth and breastfeed instead, because she's usually asleep by nine, so I need to survive until nine. I've already cried and shouted at my husband, and my toddler is screaming/crying in the other room, so for now it's survival mode because I simply haven't got energy to approach this with humour right now, even patience is about as much I can handle, and not more.

It's what I resent about parenting so much - that so much of life is postponed when children are little, how it's such constant waiting for this or that to be over.

Having a great night, basically.

Books I'm about to read

I haven't got any of these books on hand yet - I've placed a hold on them at my local library and will need to go pick them up once they arrive - but with every one of these books I'm excited to see if they'll live up to my expectations.

Why am I excited?

Creativity, Inc

Well, what is there to say, except... Pixar!!! Ed Catmull, one of Pixar's founders, has written his account of how Pixar came to be, what its people are like and his take on nurturing creativity within a commercial company.
The Signature of All Things

I love Elizabeth Gilbert's writing. Period.
The Good Psychopath's Guide to Success

Did you know that Andy McNab is an officially diagnosed psychopath? I didn't, either, until Kim Hill interviewed Kevin Dutton on her Saturday show last week and sparked my interest in getting to read this book.
John Key

That New Zealand still has such high ratings for National Party and its leader, John Key (also a current prime minister), perplexes me. I'm hoping to get some insight into this ex Wall Street trader (ie, investment banker) who I now often hear on radio answering hard questions by turning the answer into making fun of someone. Not what I'd call "my kind of a guy", but hey...

Christmas came early this year

Only a fellow parent would understand the amount of joy and laughter and dancing that exploded in our living room today when The Kid went potty - for the first. Time. Ever.

Oh my God, it's happened! It's finally happened!

We're getting there!

That anyone could be so happy over a little pile of sh*t, pardon my English, still fascinates me to no end, but that's what parenthood does - that, and the endless wishing for a full night's sleep.

We're getting there!

It's a little windy up here...

Being up on a hill means that if there's a mass of air coming through the harbour, it'll get pumped through where we are or, in other words - it can be f*cking windy!

I don't know what it's like down on the flats today but up here it's howling. Really, not much difference to that big storm we had earlier in autumn, except back then every media outlet was crying out about how bad it was, but today no-one's made a peep, and it's left me wondering: is this one of those winds that only we get, where it's just a mass of air pumped into a tight spot? And down on the flats it's fine?

Because I haven't left the house all day. I wasn't willing to let The Kid step out in fear of something coming flying and taking him out, and now I am sitting here, breastfeeding, listening to this continuing howl and thinking, wow, it'll be so good once it gets quiet again...

The Man actually took a saw with him when he left for work this morning. He thought there might be trees down or something, but no, nothing. Just me inside this house and wind howling outside.

On Restoration Hardware

Sarah's exploring catalogs of Restoration Hardware and I am chuckling at the beauty of it:

"My friend Danielle and I added up what it would run me to buy the cheapest thing we could find, kitchen cabinet pulls for $16 each, to replace the ones already in my small Brooklyn kitchen: $272. Obviously I am not in the market for or creating a budget to redo a kitchen, so who knows, maybe the rest of my generation has the savings and experience to nod sagely at this number and say, “Eh, that’s not bad,” but all I can think is do you know how many Old Navy V-neck t-shirts I could get for $272? 

The Baby & Child book illustrates how to decorate a nursery if you are Marie Antoinette, or someone who hates colors. For the same price as my monthly rent, you can own the Belle Upholstered Crib, and then why not throw in some washed velvet bedding for $140? Remember, this is for an infant who is guaranteed to defecate all over it, so I’d go with Prairie instead of Lilac."

PS. And just in case you're wondering: The Kid is at the nanny's and I've just spent a blissful hour holding my month-old daughter in my arms whilst she's sleeping, sniffing her forehead and kissing her nose, telling her I love her, and when I finally put her in her bassinet, I thought to myself: ah, screw sleep, I'll just spend another blissful hour blogging, reading what Dooce's up to, and whilst I do that I will eat a packet of biscuits, too, which I will dip in tea, yeah!

And at the moment I am feeling like it was a good decision to make. Every other time I have chosen sleep over dishes, sleep over making dinner, sleep over having a shower - but today, I will f*ckin' stretch out on a sofa and just be a regular, reasonable person, rather than a mother-of-two.


On cars' names and personalities

I don't know if other people's cars have names, but ours do.

It started with mine. I had just moved to Wanaka, had just started a semi-permanent job - a heck of an upgrade from my previous "backpacker" status - and had bought my first real car: something decent, something that ran well, something I could really call "mine", a 1995 Subaru Legacy... and within days, if not within a day, she got christened, Bruce.

I didn't do it - The Man did, and (un)fortunately the name stuck. He said she was definitely female, but she wasn't pretty, hence - she was Bruce.

* rolling of the eyes

Then came Chickie. For obvious reasons.

She was the car The Man bought so he could get himself over the hill to Queenstown - he started work there, whilst still living in Wanaka with me - and she cost him a whole of $750, I think, which is honest enough considering she's older than me and only a little younger than The Man.

A beast of a car, basically ;)

And now, a few weeks back, we welcomed another member into our family. (It's funny, actually, because she arrived within days of welcoming The Girlie, who is definitely the more precious addition of the two.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you - Squirt!

She's a bit of an... unplanned addition to our family.

You see, Bruce broke down on the way back from the hospital after The Girlie was born and after facing yet another repair bill in triple digits - she'd already had two in the last year alone - we finally decided to... let Bruce go. Sure, she'd been a trusty workhorse, and I loved her, but those repairs that had started to happen one on top of another, one on top of another, it just wasn't making financial sense any more to keep on servicing her like that, when for the same amount of money we could've been paying off something way bigger, in the long run anyway.

Which is why we decided, somewhat heavy-heartedly, to take a decent chunk out of our house deposit savings and put that money towards a car instead. (Ugh...) I mean, we know we are staying in New Zealand now, we've got permanent residence permits, and with two children and long-term plans it has just really started making sense to get something with decent airbags, decent petrol consumption and decent reliability, which Bruce wasn't any more.

But, sorry, I got carried away - I wasn't meaning to get into Bruce's demise here, I was meaning to explain where the name, Squirt, came from instead.

We were walking away from her a few days ago when The Man asked me what I thought her name was. I mused that she was definitely female, something little and polite (rather than Bruce who was heavy and brusque, and Chickie who is little but feisty), and suggested Suzy. Susan. Something with S, anyway, and The Man went on to suggest that she was maybe a lesbian, at which point I suddenly went, Squirt!

We can't name her Squirt!, The Man argued loudly. Can you even say that name without laughing?

I don't know, maybe, I wondered. Why not?

And though I wasn't precisely adamant on keeping her as Squirt to begin with, I cannot help but think, Squirt!, every time I look at her now, or even think about her, because she's just so... Squirt to me.

And, yeah, it's stuck now. Squirt.

PS. Besides, it'll serve The Man right after I drove around in a Bruce for five years.

PPS. Squirt.


When it rains, we're often enveloped in a cloud, with not much to see.

But it also means that once it clears - there's quite a view.

I'm not much good at photographing it, but still, here it is.

Well said, sir, well said

Me and The Man were just sitting down, discussing flipping of the Earth's magnetic field.

You see, every 100,000 years or so, Earth's magnetic poles "flip" so that what is essentially north pole now, ends up down at Antarctica, and vice versa. I'm not sure if anyone knows, really, why it happens and how it happens, whether they move within a matter of seconds, or whether poles casually wander around for a few years before settling in in their new respective positions; but either way, there's a promise of excitement for everyone involved.

As we were sitting down and discussing this, I said to The Man that it would make for some great photos. Can you imagine a multitude of Northern Lights above a tropical island somewhere, colours up in the sky and palm trees below them? It'd be gorgeous.

To which The Man replied, "Yeah, that and all the homing pigeons who would end up in the Caribbean instead."

Flying to Auckland

In a few weeks' time I will probably visit Auckland. Estonian consul is coming to New Zealand and it will allow me to update my passport, therefore saving me from having to fly all the way to Sydney to do it.

Should be pretty straightforward, I thought - until I actually started thinking about it this morning.

So I'll pack everything I need in my backpack: food, water, nappies, change of clothes for The Girlie, documents. 

But then I thought: do they allow food on domestic flights? Gotta check with Air New Zealand.

I'll put The Girlie in a frontpack when need be and she can sleep in a carseat.

Except... I can't carry the carseat in hand, now can I? I'll need to take the pram with me if I bring the carseat.

And then it sort of escalated from there: with a pram, how do I manage public transport? Like, really - I've never had to get on a bus before with a baby and a pram :).

Do I need to check-in the pram at the airport? Don't know. Gotta check with Air New Zealand.

And suddenly going to Auckland started to seem like a chore. I'm pretty sure it will be kind of cool, actually, but I am just suddenly looking at the information I will need to get my head around in order to do that trip, and it's starting to remind me of Immigration New Zealand and what it was like applying for residency, when we had that massive list of "To Do" on the fridge.

But at least it feels like there is a promise of adventure, and I need adventure right now.

Hah: adventure. My life has come to a point where flying to Auckland for a day to renew my passport is an adventure.

Awesome. Someone should've shown me a snapshot of this in 2009, when I was making my way uphill in Kaikoura Range on an icy slope, or the next day when I was making my way down in a river canyon, ill and exhausted, and they should've shown me this and said, Maria, in five years' time you will spend your days in a house changing nappies and seeing to demanding toddlers' demands and flying to Auckland will be an adventure.

I would've probably gone, hmm, to that picture.



Okay, so this thing turns up when checking out Pinterest whilst breastfeeding.

Laughing and I think I've just woken up The Kid.

Gotta go.


PS. You know what she's wearing underneath that stripey jersey? That onesie with cars on it ;)

PPS. Jesus Christ I've got bags under my eyes.

Kim Hill on freedom of choice

"If the foundational idea of a society is freedom of choice, people who fail or people who suffer are subject to blame."

Again, another fascinating interview: Kim Hill spoke to Kent Greenfield about the multitude of choices we now have and what it entails, down to American health insurance, or why people get obese, or why incarceration rates are so high, or how American Dream is much less common in America then it is in other parts of the world, or how it takes hours to decide on what colour to paint the living room or what vacuum cleaner to buy.

She did what again?

The speed with which she does it is amazing. I never remember having to do any of this stuff with The Kid!

The nappy changing routine has become a systematic approach of efficiency and speed. Everything is laid out, everything's ready, and yet she consistently manages to do it - to poop right the second one nappy is off and the other one not quite on yet.

It's a work of art. The child's got talent.