Oh.

Huh. I googled "Elizabeth Gilbert" to see if she's given any interesting interviews I could listen to whilst washing dishes. Instead, I found out that she's divorced from her husband and is now living with her girlfriend Rayya.

Huh. I guess that qualifies as "interesting" :).

The Dog, flying

Going through the photos has made me realise just how many shots like that I have of her.




A thank you note

I will be dropping a letter off to preschool next week, along with a plate of food. I am certain tears will be involved, but heck with that. We'll wipe.

There are many things that matter in a preschool to me.

I want a place that I can walk into and think, yes, I like the feel of this place.

I want it to be light and airy. Artwork proudly displayed on walls and hanging off drying hooks, intriguing projects going on on tables.

I want it to have a large backyard where my kids can play and ride their bikes. I want them to be able to get dirty, if they want to, and for the preschool to be the sort of a place that encourages them to get dirty, if they want to.

I want a good ERO report - to see that other people, too, think that it’s a good preschool.

I want to see a wide variety of children who all get to feel that they are important, and that they matter.

I want teachers who I like as people. I don’t need to always agree with them, but I need to understand what they are doing, and why they are doing it.

I want to see that at least some of the teachers have stayed at the same preschool for years, and that they enjoy coming to work in the mornings. I want to see them have the opportunity for regular holidays and time off work if they are ill.

I want my children to look forward to going to preschool. I want to see them ask, “Preschool tomorrow?” when I am tucking them in bed at night, and for them to get giddy with excitement when I reply, “Yes, we’ll go to preschool tomorrow.”

And all these things are important. They all contribute to what I think is a good preschool.

But the most important thing is that my children are loved there.

I have been able to say it to several teachers at this preschool: “Thank you for loving my kids.” I love that I am able to say it.

My kids know that they are loved here, that their thoughts are important and that they matter, and it’s what I want a preschool to be like. [preschool name] has been just that for my family, for which I am very, very grateful.

I will be driving to Southland next week and won’t be able to be here when you say bye to my children for the very last time (their dad will be doing the drop-offs and the pick-ups), but I wanted to bring in this plate of food and a thank you letter to just let you know how important you have been in the lives of my family over the last two years, and how grateful I am that you are doing this job.

Preschool teachers have a very large impact on the lives of people, much more than I think they get credit for in New Zealand. But I do hope that this letter will serve you as a little reminder that just as you’ve loved my children over the last two years, so have I loved you for loving them.

Thank you.

Maria

Talking about Svalbard

I spent another evening at the Radio New Zealand studio tonight, feeling marginally better about being interviewed than last time, but... not great :P.

www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/nights/20160927

But I live and I learn, and it was cool to do it! If anything, it kind of made me wonder if I should try making a podcast someday. We'll see. For the moment it's just about focusing on getting things ready for a move to Invercargill, and one day it'll get more relaxed again, but... not yet.

We'll get there :)

In a nutshell, yes

The Kid is eating his dinner and I am listening to radio. There's an interview on where they discuss New Zealand's housing crisis and what the new loan-to-value ratios are likely to do to the already severely unaffordable property values.

I don't think The Kid is paying attention, but at one point he goes, "Mom?"

"Yeah?"

"Some people have lots of houses."

I smirk, "Do they."

"Yeah," he continues, "and some people have lots of money."

I laugh.

Anybody care to enlighten me?

People who follow 5,000+ Instagram accounts.

WTF?

The joy of kids whose house backs onto farmland



"Sap!"





Our nectarine tree has gone into bloom

That's not exactly what I meant

By the way, universe: when I asked last week if we could make a deal that you made my kids feel better so they could go to preschool again - I didn't mean that I wanted them to go on Monday, pick up a tummy bug and then start vomiting on Tuesday so they could stay home with me again.

Just mentioning.

On attitude

Screaming started in the living room. We went to investigate.

Turns out, The Kid was laying on the sofa. The Girlie had wanted to lay there, too, exactly in the same spot The Kid was already laying in - which is why she had gone and laid on top of him.

The screaming was coming from The Kid, underneath.

Today

I read recently that there is a correlation between how much people spend on their weddings and how long they then remain married. It's a bit more complicated than that, of course, but basically: the more the wedding cost, the shorter the marriage is likely to be.

And it was easy for me smile smugly at this.

Our wedding was simple. Not that many people attended. The single most expensive part was a professional photographer for whom The Man's parents, very kindly, offered to pay. I'm glad they did, because it has made it very easy to remember what it was like.











The Man spent the day in Invercargill today. We put him on a plane in the morning and he met with a company he will be working for; tomorrow he will be looking for houses we may rent when we get there. When the kids were ready for bed, he connected with us over Skype and the kids showed him octopus pictures they coloured in and made him sing "Baa, baa black sheep", "Twinkle, twinkle little star", "Wheels on the bus" and "Puff the magic dragon".

In some ways, the day was simple. We went to parks (twice), ate leftover chocolate cake, watched cartoons, napped. But in other ways, today was big.

The Man is confident that the company who offered him a job, he may be happy working for. He has walked around town a little. Tomorrow, he may even find a house for us to rent.

And tomorrow, if he calls me back saying that he's got a house, and we're good to go, it starts. I'll be calling our landlord and giving her notice on our current house, calling the moving company, calling the internet company, calling the hospital, calling... lots of people.

Because in the simplicity of what has, in some ways, been a very ordinary Sunday, our move to New Zealand's southern coast has started. I don't know what the future holds and how long we may stay there, but it may be that it'll be... for a while. As in, a while. Like, A WHILE.

(You know what I mean?)

Would I have offered back then, seven years ago, that we would settle on New Zealand's southern coast?


I don't know. I don't think so.

Would I have foreseen my family as it is now, with The Kid soon starting school in Invercargill, The Girlie insisting on carefully chosen moments of independence - in short, the more inconvenient, the better - and both me and The Man richer for the bags under our eyes and stronger in patience and understanding?


I don't know. I thought there may be kids on our way, but I didn't know when and how exactly, and I was open to options.

The bottom line is, I've spent a quiet evening snuggled into a blanket on a sofa and I've thought about... not much, really. Just at how life is happening and we're just going along for a ride.

But it also feels kind of big, what's happening today.

I am actually really looking forward to this. I don't know what it'll be like, but I am looking forward to seeing it.

A flat, southern coast will become my home for the next wee while. I'm really looking forward to seeing it.

What it looks like on Google Earth

Oh my god, it's Friday morning. One more day to go.

Universe, can we please make a deal. Can you please make my kids feel much better over the weekend so that they can go back to preschool next week?

Please?

I've had them home for a week, snotty, feverish, loud and I have learned that 5 years ago when I used to struggle with my kid at home and when it then got better over the years to a point where I now feel most of the time that I am quite alright, actually - chances are that this is due to the fact that THEY HAVE STARTED ATTENDING PRESCHOOL AND I SOMETIMES GET A TIME OFF FROM THEM.

Because after 5 days of having them both home I am now feeling pretty darn close to how I was feeling 5 years ago, and that is: short-tempered, wanting to go hide in a cupboard so I can just get 5 minutes of no-one saying, "Mommy? Mommy!? MOMMY?!?" and with a headache.

I know, it's a little different given the fact that they are both ill, needy, short-tempered and tired, but...

Please, universe, please, can I have some time off from them next week. Please!

"Spidey, spidey, caterpillar..."

This is why I don't let The Girlie take toys to bed. And I'm starting to get a feeling that in about 5 minutes I am going to go to The Kid's room and tell him, too, to either 1) hand over the toy, or 2) go to sleep.

Because they play with them. Like, instead of sleeping.

The Girlie, for a while now, has been asking to take toys to her room when she goes to sleep. She sets them on a shelf, covers them with a baby blanket, gives them a hug and a kiss, and waves them goodnight. Then one day when she went down for an afternoon nap, she asked to take the baby bear to bed with her, and I said okay.

Jesus. She usually sleeps about 1.5-2 hours, but that day I think it was less than an hour later that she was up, happily playing with this bear and banging it against the wall.

Now The Kid has asked to take a bunny to bed with him. I said okay.

And now I'm laying here, listening to him sing to the bunny, "Spidey, spidey, caterpillar..." and discuss various matters of the day, all whilst I'm thinking, please, PLEASE go to sleep so I can sleep, too!

They've been ill. Pretty much all week. A few days ago on the thermometer I was seeing numbers like 39.8, 39.2, 38.9, 38.5... And it probably goes without saying that preschool-aged children who are carrying 38+ fevers ARE NOT sociable creatures!

Which means that whilst I am, actually, doing really well, I'm also really, really, really wanting to get an afternoon nap and instead I am having to listen to "Spidey, spidey, caterpillar..." being sung in the room next door and I'm, like...

Please, child, please. Please go to sleep. I bet even bunny wants to have a nap!

Please.

I want to do this

It's breakfast at our house. We're at the table, eating buckwheat, and because I'm kind of bored - both kids are ill and are expecting that I feed them, so it's taking a long time to get through a bowl of buckwheat - then I go get the computer, set it on the table and we watch TED talks.

James Veitch makes me laugh.



Whilst we're watching James talk, The Kid points to the screen and says:

"Mom?"
"Yeah?"
"When I grow up, I want to do this."

I beam with a smile and say, "Okay." :)

(When he grows up, he wants to give a TED talk!)
(That, or he wants to set up an automated reply e-mail to bug the heck out of foodmart marketers ;) - I'm happy with either or.)

Popular books

I know, it is totally a first world problem, but it peeves me that there's a book I've been waiting to get from the library for three months - and by the time the queue finally gets to me, I probably will have just moved to Invercargill and so won't be able to read it.

I hope in Invercargill library there aren't 73 (!) people wanting to read the same book that I am. And if there are, I hope they read them faster than the people in Christchurch seem to be reading them, because... goddamn it, three months!

Three!

Guess who's visiting?

This will only make sense to people who know me from Kohtla-Järve or maybe through Tegusad Eesti Noored, but... guess who's visiting me in Christchurch this week? :)


There's been lots of Estonian gaggle going 'round, and she's brought Estonian chocolate for us, and even Estonian socks.

Today me and The Kid headed up to a ski field to pick her up - she has spent the last few days snowboarding. I thought The Kid would enjoy spending time playing in the snow.

But you know what? In the car park a big pile of snow has been pushed together - I assume by the road crew who had to clean the road a few days ago when there was a big storm - and someone has dug tunnels through it. And of the time we spent at the ski field, The Kid spent probably 80% of the time playing in that... pile of snow in the car park.




And I stood in that car park, keeping an eye on him, and looking towards the ski field where our Estonian friend was zooming down slopes.


So if you ask The Kid what a ski field is like, be prepared to hear a story about how lovely it is in a pile of snow in a car park!

And there will be one happy, tired camper on our sofa tonight... Three days of snowboarding. She's done well :)


Reminiscing


On Google Earth, this is what my home valley looks like at the moment. Four more weeks and we may be gone from here.

It's been a good two years.

Having a playground all to ourselves

The sun is out after a September storm - but it doesn't mean that it's warm, nor calm.

We're like little cabbages, wrapped up in layers and layers of clothing. Bases, fleeces, windproofs, gumboots. The temperature is 6 degrees Celsius, but the wind is still gusting around 30 knots, so with windchill it's only around 0 degrees, and we're feeling it.

It won't stop us from going to the playground though.



The welcome patches of sun come between strong bouts of hail and rain.


The kids are exploring the puddles. I am standing there, wondering how long it'll be until they start complaining of their gumboots being full of water.




At one point they say that they're hungry, and I offer them that we go home, get warm and some food, but they refuse. They know there's food in my backpack (there always is) and they insist that we eat at the playground.

Okay, I say. Why not.

Gherkins. Cheese. Toast.








They explore for a while longer and eventually start complaining that their hands are cold.

I'm not surprised, I say, and they agree to head home.

On the hills there's snow, but down here we're now wrapped up in blankets, watching Winnie The Pooh and soon we're going to have a nap.

Oh the Thursdays.

A big one

I woke up to the house moving ever so slightly. It was a long, rolling motion - but it kept going, and going, for a long while.

And I thought, oh, someone is having a big one.

I opened up Geonet and after it loaded up the page at all (that, too, took a long while!) I saw that it was 7.1 off the coast of North Island, but it had been fairly deep, 55 km, so I hoped there wasn't much damage.

https://www.geonet.org.nz/quakes/region/newzealand/2016p661332

I doubt people on the North Island had a very good sleep tonight.