Yum-yum toes

I certainly don't bend that way. Do you?

Christchurch to Golden Bay

I think the universe is trying to keep me from going to Golden Bay.

But before I go any further: to those of you who don't know what/where Golden Bay is, think ocean and eating shellfish collected from the beach...

Photo from our 2011 trip, The Kid only 6 months old

... think The Man's cousin with three kids (and a fourth on the way, eek!) ...

Another 2011 moment...

... think sunshine, sunshine, sunshine. Sunshine! At least according to Google, and weather forecasts, and experience.

A screenshot of Google's search results if you look for Golden Bay

But, alas, it looks like I'm not going after all, and all because of a wallet. [insert grumpy face]

Because here's the thing: initially it was thought that with Christmas holidays approaching and all, our entire team of a family would go to Golden Bay: Me, The Man, The Kid, The Girlie, the whole lot. Maybe even The Dog, if we could fit her in the car.

But then with the sh*tload of house problems and a subsequent move to town, I was both emotionally and physically drained to a point where I said, "No, sorry, I'm not going. I'm tired, I'm not gonna get much sleep there either, not with the kids running around, and then I'm gonna come back to this house full of boxes and mess everywhere. I'm not going."

The Man and The Kid left without me, and I've been holding down fort whilst they've been away. How, you may ask? By sleeping. And unpacking. And doing... stuff.

(By the way: the silence I've been able to enjoy since they've been gone has been... stunning. I mean, seriously: to any of you that have two (or more) kids, to say that it's been relaxing, being able to just potter around and unpack without having to vigilantly watch what The Kid is up to, whilst also keeping up to date with food and laundry and everything else a family does - to say that it's been relaxing would be an understatement of gross, gross magnitude.

It hasn't been just relaxing. It's been... awesome!)

The time I've had has allowed me to get to a point of wanting to go to Golden Bay again.

Equipped with the knowledge that most people who rent cars in New Zealand rent them up north and then drive them down south (with the bulk of the cars then accumulating down south), I knew that there would be car companies in Christchurch willing to give me a car for free (plus petrol!) just so that I would drive it back north for them again - to where The Man and The Kid are, to Golden Bay - I quickly organised myself a car rental, for free, only to realise that...

...when The Man drove off a few days ago, my wallet was still in the car. And it that wallet was, what?

My driver's license.
My credit card.


I don't have a driver's license.
I don't have a credit card.
With the New Year's holidays approaching, no courier company is willing to courier my wallet to Christchurch until Sunday at earliest, by which point The Man will be looking at coming back down again anyway.

And now I've spent the morning trying to scheme up a way to get to Golden Bay, but between missing driver's license / wallet, holiday weekend, exorbitant plane prices ($200+ for a one-way ticket to Nelson? Really?), it looks like I'll be staying in Christchurch after all.

But, heck, that's not too bad.

Me and The Girlie are chilling out en masse, The Dog is getting several walks each day to local parks and streets around us, yesterday I had dinner with our "adoptive" grandparents (neighbors, basically), tomorrow I'm having dinner with friends, there's stuff I can sort out in the garage still and...

Summer's here.

Christchurch or Golden Bay, doesn't matter. Summer's here, and we're feeling good again.

I hope you're having a good summer. Or winter, if you're in the Northern Hemisphere. Good time, basically!

One day my blog posts will start making sense again. I promise. I think.


The season's song

Just as seasons come and go, so do songs that ring with them.

It used to be Coldplay's "Fix You" as I was heading to Christchurch from Wanaka, James Morrisson's "You Give Me Something" as I was travelling around the South Island and tying vines in Blenheim's vineyards, Jehro's "Rock You Tender" in Svalbard. Every season in my life has had them.

Now this summer, it is Ben Harper's "By My Side".

We're online again!


I should probably come up with something a little more elaborate - to describe what it's been like, moving house with all the paraphernalia of us, our two kids and our dog - but... for the moment, all I can say is just, wow.

The internet has just come on. The garage is full of boxes. The kids are unsettled and, oh my God, don't even get me started on what The Dog thinks of it all =D, but the bottom line is: we're here.

A quiet, suburban street. Half the residents seem to be young families with children, the other half - retirees. There's a playground. Manicured lawns everywhere. I sit on our porch and think, wow.

It's about as much as I can think about it all, for the moment.

We're here.

PS. Holy mother of sheep! Christchurch was just hit by another moderate-ish earthquake half an hour ago, 4.0 Richter scale at 13 kilometres deep and... me and The Man just about sh*t our pants as it was happening.


Unlike up on the hill where earthquakes came as, dunk!, with the rocky base lifting at once and then maybe a little vibration to follow it all, down here it was like sitting on top of a marsh. Bluuuuuuaaaah, bluuuuuaaaaaah, bluaaaaaaah the ground was dancing and I was looking at our wooden unit rocking backwards and forwards, thinking, holy sh*t.

The thing went on for, like, forever.

Okay, so maybe it didn't go on forever - but it sure as hell felt like it! 8-9 seconds of looking at furniture moving is a bloody long time.

PPS. Bloody hell! I'm not kidding but just as I was writing this sentence here, another earthquake happened. A little one.

And yet again I was sitting here and thinking, wow, the thing feels SO different on soft ground! Kinda makes me wish I was living on some hard ground again...

But off I go. There's still more stuff to move.

Short skirt, yes, but she's got kids in the car

The Man had his company Christmas party day today. In a nutshell, it meant that a bunch of young men (apprentices, mostly) went bowling, had food, got drunk and were now making lots of noise at some poor chap's house in the suburbs.

A straightforward building firm Christmas, basically.

As per our plan, I pulled up to the "party house" at 6.30 pm sharp, with kids in the back of the car, and was ready to take The Man home. An array of young men - in various stages of drunkenness - came out of the yard to tell me that, no, they don't have anyone named so-and-so there, however... they could be so-and-so!

*and by "so-and-so" I mean my husband's name, but I don't use his name on this blog, so...

Unimpressed, I proceeded to walk away from them, thinking, I better get hold of The Man's boss because these fellas are clearly not in a position to help me. As I was doing so, I was accompanied by these young men's, "No, don't go! Where are you going? Come back! I can be so-and-so!"

I stopped, thought for a moment, looked back at them and said, "Okay, so you can be so-and-so, but be aware that I've got two kids in the back of the car. Still want to be so-and-so?"

The men stopped and - even in their drunkenness - were lucid enough to reply with, "Ah, nah, we're good, thanks."

Basically, I've got a skirt short enough to look hot, yes, but two kids just doesn't cut it, sorry.

Merry Christmas!

"That" children's song

Okay, so this is probably going to be the most confusing beginning to a blog post in a long, long while but...

In Estonian there's a word - an "unofficial" word, meaning, you probably wouldn't find it in a dictionary - (unless it were a very, khm!, "progressive" dictionary :), if you know what I mean...) - which can loosely be translated into something along the lines of "language Nazi". "Keelepede" Estonians call it.

It basically means a person who is very... keen on correct spelling and language use. You've probably met people like that - when coupled with poor social skills it makes for a person who often "tentatively suggest" that a word be spelled differently, or that a sentenced be phrased differently, and often annoys the heck out of everyone else who wouldn't otherwise care.

By the way: I'm pretty sure I'm one of them. A "keelepede" - a "language Nazi",

Part of the reason me blogging in English is that I get to practice, practice, practice this language that isn't native to me. Oftentimes I write and recognise that I am writing it wrong, but recognising and actually knowing what to do about it are two different things: I may see that something's wrong, but I may not necessarily know what the right way is.

And so I write it anyway and just hope for the best.

It also means that whenever I figure out rules that apply to English, I start noticing them everywhere.

...aaaaaaand back to why I started writing about it in the first place: whenever The Kid watches Pixar's "Monsters Inc" - like he did this morning whilst having breakfast, for example - in the end where Billy Crystal and John Goodman sing "If I didn't have you", every time they go over

I wouldn't have nothing if I didn't have you,
I wouldn't have nothing if I didn't have you,
I wouldn't have nothing if I didn't have you

...my brain goes, "I wouldn't have ANYTHING!!! if I didn't have you", "I wouldn't have ANYTHING!!! if I didn't have you", "I wouldn't have ANYTHING!!! if I didn't have you"

Not nothing - anything!

I know it doesn't rhyme, I know. But...

It's not nothing. It's anything!

Phew. Glad I got that off my chest!


The ongoing-ness of... this.

5-something in the morning. Most mornings. If I'm lucky, 6-something.

"Noooooo... I don't want to get up yet. Go back to sleep, oh please go back to sleep!"

30 seconds.

"Nooooooooooooooo, I don't want to get up yet!"

Another 30 seconds.


5 seconds.

"Okay, FINE!!!"

And up I get for another day. Feed the little one, then the big one is up, too. Let out The Dog, feed The Dog. Dishes. Laundry. Stubbed toes that need kissing, carrot puree over the tabletop and the bib, two swings in the garden. Strawberries that rarely last long enough to turn properly red.

Come evening-time I feel like I've been in a boxing match. Not at a boxing match - in. In a boxing match.

Boxes on the living room table. Labels read: "Living room. National Geographics." "Bedroom. Sleeping bags." "Garage. Upholstery fabrics."

I land on a sofa chair to move photos from the camera onto a hard drive and struggle to get back up again. "Oh if I could just fall asleep right here... Not a biggie, I don't need much, just some time and some quiet."

Quiet - yeah, Maria, good luck with that. Quiet.


I get up on a Tuesday morning convinced it is Sunday still. What is The Man doing sitting at a kitchen table, eating breakfast already? Go back to sleep!

And then it hits me: sh*t me, Maria, it's Tuesday. There's already been one working day this week, at least three are still ahead. Maybe four.

(Can I go back to bed, please?)


Ten minutes I've been sitting writing this post and what I hear from the bedroom is a toddler that has just woken up from his afternoon nap.

Sh*t me, Maria, it's Tuesday.

Holy hell.

Christmas New Zealand style

A kind of a useless statement

I don't think I've ever been so consistently tired in my life.

How'd you get into that position?

It was so funny that I couldn't help but come here and share.

I was standing by the sink, doing dishes, and - as usual - The Girlie was sitting next to me in her bouncy chair, watching what I do. Michael Buble's "Everything" was playing on the speakers and I was half-washing dishes, half-dancing by the sink when suddenly this very annoyed noise started coming from where The Girlie was sitting.

I looked down and sort of went...

Hmm. ;)

How'd you even get into that position?

She was stuck like that, unable to get her head back up and - as all exemplary parents do ;) - I
first laughed,
then got a camera to take a photo and
only after that helped her out.

As you do.

And because now I am in front of this computer anyway (both children are in bed, phew!), I might as well upload a whole bunch of other photos.

The Man is probably going to have words with me for putting up photos of him in his underwear but... I did warn him about that and he didn't put proper pants on, so here you go ;)

Random thoughts on a Thursday

Five minutes to blog. (Pep-talks to herself: five minutes, Maria, and then go do dishes, okay? Five minutes!)

I've been feeling like I am my grandmother today. The Kid is pushing his boundaries and learning to get what he wants, and being on the parent side of that relationship I've been going, "No, don't do that!", "No, get off that!", "No, get back here!"

But even as it's been happening I've been thinking to myself, "This is exactly what it felt like being at my grandparents' place." My grandmother was a very neat and orderly person and I, on the other hand... wasn't.

Several times each day she was shouting to me, "No, don't do that!", "No, get off that!", "No, get back here!" I remember how crappy it felt being on the receiving end of that kind of treatment and it makes me cringe to think how The Kid now hollers with joy when The Man comes home from work. "Dada!" he shouts and runs to meet his hero, The Man.

Yeah, sure: you're the guy that throws him up in the air and plays horsey with him in the living room, I think, whereas I'm that "horrible parent" who insist that he eats food, that puzzles don't get left in the middle of a hallway and that our dog is not to be pulled by the tail.

I don't resent The Man for being a great parent - I'm grateful for that. I just resent the fact that I'm having to be the un-cool parent.


My counsellor thinks I need some SSRIs. I think that I need some sleep, rest and sanity instead.

Hopefully the move will bring some much-needed balance back into our lives. Financially it is going to be horse's bollocks, but oh well, just need to suck it up for a while.


It's way past five minutes already, isn't it?


I've got a poster up on my wall: liking what you do is happiness.

The other one I haven't got yet is: doing what you like is freedom.

Doing what you like is freedom.
Liking what you do is happiness.


There's an episode on House MD where Thirteen says something along the lines of, "You know that when you run out of questions, you don't just run out of answers - you run out of hope."


I hope - and believe - that getting out of this house is going to change our circumstances significantly, and it is why I insist that I do the move without the help of SSRIs.

And then next year, we'll see what happens. My gut feeling is that once I start anew in a place that doesn't have the emotional baggage of all that's been happening recently, I am going to breathe out and look ahead. If I'm wrong, I'll go talk to my GP about SSRIs - but until then, I feel that I can do it.

On my own.

Because I've got hope.


I'd like to write more, but sorry, I've gotta go. Two children, dishes, a dog, food to prepare, clothes to bring in... You know, life of a parent ;)

And in case you don't know what it's like - life of a parent - then my advice to you is, ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS!!!


Estonians on the radio

I think this is the... third? time this year that I am hearing about Estonia on New Zealand's national radio? Just now this evening's programme was introduced and among other features is a story about Estonia's e-residency.

I think I may keep the radio on. It'd be interesting to hear.


At a glance

A quiet, suburban street. A park. A level yard. A lemon bush.

We'll be moving this Christmas.

That's the way to repair a house, I tell ya

So, not mentioning any names of companies, but... Picture this: a family moves out of their house so it can be repaired from earthquake damage. Standard thing, happens all over Christchurch, right?


Several months they've been living elsewhere. Their house is getting better, and better, and it's in the last stages of getting repaired - the family is looking forward to getting back home soon, and they're kind of excited, yeah! - when a concrete-fixing-whatever-you-call-them-company comes to pour concrete into cracks.

They pour concrete and some of it gets poured into piping underneath the house.

Like, there used to be pipes that moved stuff along in them, but now they're full of concrete, and in case you're not very much into building and architecture, that's not, like, a very good thing ;)

So, in true Christchurch style, this house that's been just short of ready to be declared repaired and habitable again,  and where builders have been doing their last jobs of "prettifing", is now looking to be, guess what?, demolished.

Because at this stage an insurance company that is paying for the whole thing is kind of starting to say that, f*ck this, it's going to be cheaper to demolish the house, and build it anew again, than it is to jack it up, remove the base, put in new piping and foundations and everything, and then lower the house back down again.

And I bet the family is at this stage going either, 1) are you f*ckin' kidding me!?!, or 2) oh, so NOW you give us a new house!

But either way, they're not getting back into their house anytime soon :P

The things I keep reminding myself of

I have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children.
I have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children.
I have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children.

The things that are important are well: I have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children. They are strong and healthy. I am strong and healthy!

And so I keep reminding myself of that.

If someone came up to me and said, look, I can switch things around for you so you'll have a lovely landlord and a dry, warm home, but one of your children will fall ill. Would you like to switch? The answer to that would be a resolute, "No!"

And so I remind myself that the important things are well and rather than lose sleep and energy over someone who I am starting to suspect has certain psychopathic qualities, I'll keep reminding myself that the important things in my life are well. I have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children.

I also remind myself that I should not fear. I have not done wrong. I have faith in the court system and I think that if I have not done wrong, a judge would be able see that, too, if it came to it. I am learning about the bullying tactics and I may take up a few of your offers on doing laundry and having a shower at your houses, if I can't do them at mine. (I have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children.)

I will remind myself that regardless of how unreasonably someone is acting I won't go down to the level of doing it back. The anger will stop at me. (I have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children.)

Meanwhile, whilst I was driving to town this morning a car passed me on a stretch of road that's recently been graded and a stone flew into my windscreen, leaving a dent. The windscreen is a write-off. Luckily I have full insurance, so at least it's not going to cost me, but at some point I will need to make time to get the windscreen replaced. I will try to do it whilst The Kid is in daycare so I only have The Girlie to wrangle. (I have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children.)

Also, on the advice of the department of building and housing, I went down to our water system today and, today's newspaper in hand, recorded a video of where the water level is sitting, of the pump, of the piping. I also recorded a video of the trickle of water in our taps. The housing department people said the videos could become useful in court. (Why today's newspaper in hand? Because they said I needed to be able to prove that this video isn't pre-recorded at some other time.)

I have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children.
I have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children.
I have a beautiful husband and two beautiful children.

On bullies

The Man, in the kitchen at 6 am in the morning, "Do you feel a bit like Ukraine at the moment?"


And by the way, the answer is yes. Yes I do.

New Zealand tenancy regulations, case study, part one

So, let's imagine this fictional - or maybe not so fictional - situation: a young family lives in a rural house, on a water supply that comes from rainwater. There is a water tank that collects rainwater and a pump that pressurises the plumbing so that water can reach two houses uphill.

One day there is no water in the tap. Two young men go down to the pump to investigate. They see that a pipe has rusted through, and through the holes the pump has sucked in air - rather than water - so that's why there is no water in the tap. The pump is working non-stop, but it can't get water because it's full of air.

These two young men turn off the pump, drain it of air, repressurise plumbing. Water still isn't reaching the houses - there may be an airlock in the pipes somewhere.

Eventually they get the water to reach houses again, but the pressure is still off: they turn on the tap, water comes, but it quickly lessens to a trickle. Can't run the washing machine, can't have a shower (it's scolding because there is pressure in hot water pipes only, not the cold ones).

A woman living in the house asks the landlord over the phone if they can reach an agreement to terminate the tenancy. The landlord refuses to talk over the phone and when approached in writing says that he has "forwarded her request to his legal counsel and an accountant and will get back to her in due course". (Whenever that is...)

Meanwhile, this woman calls up a pump company who the landlord claims have installed the pump. Owner of this company says the pump isn't theirs, he knows nothing about it and therefore cannot help, but after this woman enquires why on earth would her landlord give her this company's details then, tentatively suggests that he suspects that one of his employees have installed the pump on their own, off the books, and have only put this company's name on paperwork to get it passed by the council.

The woman spends a long time talking to the Tenancy Tribunal. She wants to know what her legal options are and they are the legal experts. In short, if the landlord doesn't agree to terminate the contract - which he hasn't - then her only way of getting out of there is through court.

"Even if I don't have enough water pressure to run a washing machine and have two small children!?!" the woman asks. Yes, they reply.

By New Zealand law, the woman needs to give the landlord reasonable time to fix the pump - and reasonable, in their opinion, is two weeks. If by the end of those two weeks there are still problems, she can apply for the matter to be seen in court. A court hearing will happen approximately 4-6 weeks from the date of the application, and only the court can let her out of the tenancy agreement.

"So, we're talking about up to two months, without sufficient water pressure, whilst continuing to have to pay rent?" she asks.

Yes, they say.

The woman doesn't want to go to court - she wants to get out of the house. Are there really no other options?, she asks.

No, there aren't, they say.