Moving on

I think I've had enough of this blog.

See you at passionforinsight.blogspot.co.nz! :)

Even The Man got intrigued

"When creating bracing lines, would it be an acceptable solution to put piles on the outside wall of the lounge and the kitchen so that part of the kitchen sits on cantilevered joists?"

I just wrote that sentence on my school's assessment forum, looking for other students' input on how to solve a problem, and it occurred to me that if someone had shown me this sentence three months ago, I would've gone, "Huh?"

The fact that I even UNDERSTAND what the heck it means, let alone that I HAVE WRITTEN IT MYSELF, gives me a little kick.

Why? Because it means that for all the puffing and grunting I am sometimes doing (yeah, and wanting to throw my middle finger up the face whoever wrote the damn course book), I am actually learning stuff.

It sticks.

Today

It is something I haven't wanted to touch on yet.

Today, in the afternoon, we are meeting our ex-landlord at a tribunal hearing. I have a thick folder full of documents and their copies, a prepared statement to read out and, mostly, a fair amount of guts.

As much as neither of us actually wants to be in court, we - me and The Man - look forward to this hearing. We will go in, tell our story, and let the rest be: whatever the ruling is, it will hopefully mark the end of this bullsh*t saga.

It feels to me like this blog has been tainted with hurt and resentment. "A story of a family and a house on a hill," the tagline reads - but we're not on a hill any more. Even more importantly, as much as there was exceptional beauty to parts of living there, I am grateful this part of my life is finally over.

Or, the way I feel it, will be over in the afternoon today. Because regardless of what the ruling is, it will be over and done with.

I have set up a new blog address. Sometime in the near future I will make the move.

Until then, just send me some grace for two o'clock in the afternoon today. It will hopefully be the last time I will ever need to deal with our ex-landlord.

On death and stories and children

I left the playground feeling like I must've come across as "that" sort of a mother to her. And yet - to be honest - the prospect of it made me grin :P.

So, to fill you in on the details: I was at a playground with our children yesterday. The Girlie was in my backpack, The Kid was on the swing, I was standing there and pushing The Kid's swing along.

Another mother and her daughter were on the swing next to us. The girl swung, the mother pushed - kind of like us.

At one point the girl noticed a bee that was crawling on the ground between the two swings. She pointed it out to her mother and asked why the bee wasn't flying instead. The mother replied that the bee was wanting to rest a little and that's why it was crawling.

I looked down and without much thinking said, "Looks like it's about to die."

Silence ensued. The mother acted like I didn't exist. At all.

We all looked at that bee for a while longer and suddenly it occurred to me that it's probably not such a good idea to have a bee on the ground in a children's playground - lots of bare feet are around, someone may get stung.

I got a hat out of the backpack and said to everyone that I'll pick the bee up and take it to the fenceline so it doesn't lay underneath the swings.

As I was walking away I overheard the little girl asking her mother if something was wrong with the bee and the mother explaining that no, nothing's wrong: the bee just needs to rest and then it'll fly again.

I, on the other hand, looking at that bee, was pretty sure that soon enough it was simply going to be dead.

And as I was later walking away from that playground I had a little giggle over the silence that ensued when I had blurted out that the bee was about to die, and that mother's effort to not mention anything about death at all.

I got a reminder of it later in the evening when me and The Kid watched Mary and Max on the screen and in the end when Max died, The Kid pointed to the screen, made a sad face and said, "Max diiiiiiiiiie. Oh no, Max diiiiiiiiiiiiiie."

I'm not sure how much he understands about death, but it's not a concept we're hiding from him.

And it made me think how it's such a different way in which people talk to their children.

***



Look, another piece of bread! Oh, and cheese! And, what's that?, carrot puree!

The Dog's not stupid: she knows that because of The Girlie's undeveloped motor skills, the best place for getting food offcuts in our home is underneath The Girlie's high chair, and so she devotedly sits there, waiting for food to - almost literally - fall on the Earth from the sky for her.



Also, in case you're wondering why I have a floral bed sheet underneath my kitchen table, then it is because I am not stupid: I also know that because of The Girlie's undeveloped motor skills an awful lot of what I give her ends up on the floor instead and, you know, bed sheets are much easier to clean than carpet, and if those bed sheets come from a second hand shop at $4 apiece then I don't even care about the floral print on them.

Just sayin' ;).

Otherwise we're all good.

Possessive nouns are not necessary, because...

...The Kid has learned a new word.

"Mine."

The two

Life with The Dog: toenail clippings

I sat on the bench clipping my toenails. The Dog joined me, checking what I'm up to. She looked at the clippings landing in the grass, sniffed them out and... proceeded to eat them all.

Nice.

A bit hot, eh?

28 degrees at 8 o'clock in the morning. Nice.

(Edited to add: please tell me you can hear the sarcasm in my voice? Right? Because "nice" is SO not the word I would seriously use when describing weather that is 28 degrees hot, let alone at 8 am.)

Movies and books I want to see and read

I am probably overestimating the time I will have available once The Man and The Kid are back, and schoolwork starts again, and The Man is back at work, but... There's a few movies and books I'd like to see and read. At some point.

Still Alice - a story of a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard who faces early-onset Alzheimer's and quickly loses her connection to both her family and her intellect in general. I would like to read the book, but even more than that I would like to see the movie.



Cake - a story of a woman who faces chronic pain and becomes fascinated by a suicide of another woman. And apparently - a world-class performance from Jennifer Aniston.



And last, a movie called The Hundred-Foot Journey. And all I can say about that is, Helen Mirren.

On writing, and not writing

I very rarely used to, but now there's been four, maybe five posts in the last three or four months already that I have typed up to almost completion and instead of hitting "Publish!" I have hit "Discard" instead.

I wouldn't call it censorship - I think it's more to do with choices I make, and choosing on whether to publish something, or not to.

I've learned - sometimes in a hard way - that something that goes on Internet cannot be taken back. Even deleting a post doesn't really delete it, it can still be accessed through readers that have downloaded it, or e-mail notifications, depends on a blog platform and means of reading it.

But that's not really it. I've mentioned it earlier already that to me the "foreverness" of blogging is an important part of doing it, for I have learned that since I cannot take something I have written back, there's no point in obsessing about it either because it's just... there. It's done.

It's how I let go.

I've discarded posts because for several times now I have come to an understanding that something I've written hasn't really been my story to tell.

The Kid is coming to an age where I am not comfortable calling him a "toddler" any more. At three and a half years you could probably say that it's about time already! =), but with him taking his time growing - developmentally, and even size-wise, we're still talking about two and half years approximately - it's only now that I've really come to recognizing him as a boy instead.

And with it has come an understanding that the more he is developing into his own little person instead, less of a baby/toddler who is mostly reliant on parent care, the more it is his story to tell, not mine.

A lot of it is still my story. I am heavily involved in his life and in decisions we make about him. Recently, for example, as part of our paediatric appointment we were offered a blood test that would look at his overall hormone/nutrient levels, but also certain genetic markers.

In most cases of what they call "developmental delay" - which, to be honest, in most cases is just a child who is taking his time growing rather than trying to hit every milestone at a 50th percentile rate - a blood test comes back inconclusive and nothing significant can be found. In some cases it points to genetic quirks. But in some cases, it brings up stuff that wasn't even looked to be tested for.

It's the thing with knowledge - sort of like with blogging - that until Alzheimer's kicks in, knowledge cannot really be undone. Once something has been learned of, it cannot really be un-learned of. With smaller things lapses in memory take care of it, but with important things - once it's there, it's there.

It's been interesting, in a role of a parent, to have been offered genetic testing looking for certain markers that could explain some of the developmental delay and to then have those weeks between the offer and the actual test to think about it all. I think it's why they schedule those tests with such a delay - in our case it doesn't really matter because we're looking at a very, very mild case of developmental delay which can probably be helped by ongoing therapy alone, but even then, a paediatrician will give a heads-up that sometimes, just sometimes!, a DNA test brings up knowledge that wasn't asked for, and once it's known, it cannot be taken back.

Kind of like knowing a time of death in advance - sort of. Knowledge can be helpful, but it can also be many other things.

And so the more and more we're getting to a stage where The Kid to me is a boy instead, the more I am stepping back from revealing it publicly. It was one thing changing a poopy nappy on a baby - it's another to be talking to a boy instead.

Having said that: over the years I have received much-needed help through this blog for the fact that I am writing about much of it publicly. People have reached out, and not just with personal encouragement and little cards that every now and again pop into my mailbox from people that have found my journey inspiring, but also with things like speech therapy. Heck, recently I even received an e-mail from a reader who was offering to help us financially towards our house deposit, a fact that I still struggle to even think about without getting my heart rate up. It's, like, what? Whoa.

I've also thought about and written about my dad. Recently I came across a little boy whose hand is very similar to what my dad had - underdeveloped fingers fused together - and it made me think about a lot of things, including my epilepsy.

Parents of that boy went through several ultrasounds during pregnancy, checking for that boy's potential heart abnormalities as cardiac malformations very often present alongside limb malformations. (Fortunately, no problems with the heart were found so we're looking at a very happy and a very healthy boy who simply has a hand similar to what my dad had.)

Just talking about that with those parents made me realise something I have wondered about for a very long time.

When I first found myself at our doctor's office, during a morning of what I now know to be seizures but at the time looked like heart palpitations instead, our doctor asked if there'd ever been heart problems in our family, or if anyone'd died prematurely. I said that my dad had died short of even turning 50 and when asked why, said that from what I know it was a heart attack, but he did smoke a lot, so...

I still remember our doctor telling me that even smoking very, very heavily is unlikely to have damaged a heart to a point of giving up short of turning even 50, but because we really didn't know what else to say about it, then we didn't, and I have wondered about it since.

And it's not until I was talking to the parents of that little boy that I suddenly went, wait a second. It somehow hadn't even occurred to me to think about his heart and remember his hand as something relevant.

Which is weird, because academically speaking I've known for a long time already that limb abnormalities, and especially midline abnormalities, tend to present alongside cardiac problems - but somehow it had never occurred to me to think about my dad that way.

I still have to remind myself that my dad even had fused-together fingers. Growing up it just was the way dad was, and that's about as much as I thought about it. Kind of like I spend very little time thinking what colour my brother's eyes are, or the size of The Man's toes. It's, like... well, yeah, who cares?

But, anyway, I was talking to parents of that little boy and suddenly thought, oh my God, it had never occurred to me to think that my father's death may have had something to do with this hand. For all I know - and for all I know about Soviet medicine, which Estonia used to be part of until recently - he could've gone undiagnosed... well, into his adulthood, and then on to his death. To forever. Who knows?

And it's things like that - I write, I blog, but if I write and feel when I have come close to finishing the post that I have revealed more about that other person's story than I have revealed about mine, I discard the post.

And that's another thing: we have discussed it with The Man already that as much as we're not feeling at home in Christchurch, New Zealand, the longer we are staying here the harder it will become to move one day.

I have made great friends in this city. Just yesterday I had friends over for dinner and we played Rummikub on the floor of our living room in the evening. On weekends I spend time with our "grandparents" (I really should stop referring to them as grandparents in quotes, shouldn't I? They're grandparents, full-stop. Blood-related or not, they're grandparents.) The area we've moved to has - from what I can tell by talking to our various neighbors, and a lot of them have children! - great schools, both primary and secondary. A lot of what I think about now gets discussed with friends instead and rather than being a lone traveller (which I used to be when I first started off, and mentally remained as for much longer than I was physically) who uses this blog to "offload" and express herself, I now talk to real real people much more than to real people behind this computer screen. Stuff gets processed before it hits these pages, and with more real people around me less of the stuff gets shared to begin with.

And it's kind of... sad and great all at the same time. It's sad for the loss of that fiercely independent traveller I used to think of myself as, but great for the newfound human connectedness I am learning to be part of. It's still limiting - this "human connectedness" - and at times I would much rather just take off and go hike up Mt Brewster for a dose of sanity, rather than stand by the kitchen sink preparing yet another meal. (How much, exactly, can a family of four, plus dog, eat? Because from what I can tell, the answer is: endlessly.)

But having said that: I also know that this is what I decided to choose back when my home was a shared room in an apartment and all my belongings used to fit inside one little car. On the backseat, no less.

When I found out after a long summer in Alaska that my underactive thyroid may have gone undiagnosed for years and may have damaged my "lady bits" to a point of facing potential infertility - or problems getting pregnant, at least - I had to decide for myself if my want for adventures was more than my willingness to potentially never have children, and sitting here on this sofa I know that I have chosen well. It is still a struggle, taking care of children and having a family, especially for such an independent spirit as I see myself as, and especially from where we have chosen to do it, in New Zealand, but even for all the anger and tears and bitterness I have experienced whilst grinding my teeth and sticking to being a mother first, for the moment, I also know that I have... chosen well.

I'd rather have this, than to stand atop Mt Brewster and wonder if I've let my chance go.

The older I get, the more life feels like sand trickling down through my fingers. I cannot stop it: it'll trickle down to where I cannot retrieve it from regardless of how firmly I try to grip my fingers, and the only choice I have left is to decide what sand to hold on to and what sand to let go.

***

It's been a long, serious-kind-of a post, hasn't it?

To lighten the mood a little, I've gone and grabbed a few photos, some recent and some not so recent, to brighten the page and share a few memories.

I cannot stress strong enough how important it's been - to growing up as a person I can most of the time feel proud of - that my family helped me spend time on that horse farm in Estonia, and then working as a kennel girl in Finland, and later handling sled dogs in Alaska. The value of hard, honest labour and the rewards that followed, both in the form of friendships and the ability to gain from having first put in, may it be time or effort... I applaud my mother for having recognised the importance of such experiences, and for making the effort to breathe in, breathe out and let me go. Horse farm at 15, summer in Finland at 17, Alaska at 21.


I also applaud my teacher in high school for having put such effort into making great kids - great humans - in a town most Estonians regard as one of the most deprived places in Estonia.

One of the experiences she helped me gain access to was a religious gathering under the name of Taize Community. We attended their winter gathering, upwards of 40 000 people at once, in Budapest, Hungary and having never been affiliated with any church I was grateful for the opportunity to peek into lives of people who either believe or are curious enough to want to see what the belief is about.


And that's another thing: some of the friends I have made over the years are firm believers themselves. Some are, khm!, deeply affiliated. Various belief-systems, various churches, various relationships with those churches.

I have been lucky enough to have made friends with people who - although they know that I am not a believer myself, or at least what I consider my worldview isn't part of any church I know of - have welcomed me in and have both shared their beliefs and have allowed me space to have mine.

I love being able to be friends with people of various religious backgrounds and stories, and not have those religions come between us as a wall.


I am grateful to first loves, and to loves that followed. Heck, I'm grateful to friendships and loves and simple human connections that followed! A lot of what I am today has been shaped by people I've come in contact with.

The one that has probably shaped me the most - maybe apart from my parents, but I cannot adequately gage the influence my parents have had over me - is the lone adventurer I still wish well with my entire heart and will probably be forever grateful for the friendship he has offered me.


And of course, New Zealand. A place I firmly feel is my home, even if I haven't yet found where in New Zealand that home is.

The skydivers.


The lone beaches.



The glaciers, and the people of glaciers.


The warm, soft Englisman...


...and his genetic material which, when coupled with mine, makes for great kids ;)



...aaaaaaaaaaand my daughter who has just woken from her nap =). The one who likes chewing on her toes =).


Off I go. There's a whole day ahead!