When contract administration is not fun

The teacher was giving out new assignments for our contract administration class - the one where we go through a fictional tender process and write up letters, reports, tender documents and such - and the boys asked in a grumbling tone how many more of these we need to write before we're done with it.

We're at number 7 at the moment, and in total there's 10.

The boys continued grumbling over how tedious such a process is and asked if we'd ever have to use this material again, after we pass the class. They wanted to know if there was, maybe, a kind of a "follow-up" class where we have to use this material as a base and build from that.

The teacher said no - once we're done, we're done. There will be no more classes that have to do with contract administration after this one's finished.

So we can burn the stuff? the boys quipped with excitement.

If you... want to, the teacher replied.

I watched the exchange and thought to myself... why?

Because if anything, I am getting myself several copies of this stuff, rather than burning it. The way I see it, the class basically builds up my experience with the sort of paperwork I'd have to deal with in real life, and then equips me with actual examples of it, too, so I'm not inventing a wheel when someone asks me to put up a tender for them, or whatever.

I was thinking, so, why exactly are they studying quantity surveying then? That if they don't want to deal with contracts - and I can understand that, because following up paragraphs in a New Zealand Standard 3910:2013 is not my favorite pastime either - what, exactly, are they thinking of doing in terms of work, if they don't want to deal with contracts at all?






But alright, I'll go back to writing up a report on the climatic conditions in a Heilongjiang province of China (yeah, you read that right!) and how that affects the types of roof guttering.

Fun times.

Daffodil Bay track

Hatch's Hill in the background - the highest viewpoint on the peninsula ;) (which is basically to say, it's a pretty flat land...)







A bit pissed off at the moment

I don't feel healthy at the moment. In part, it's not a surprise: the last month and a half has been tough. For the amount of distress, and lack of rest, and a lack of sleep, and a lack of control I feel I have over the circumstances, it's only normal to expect me to feel unwell.

But don't get me wrong: if I walked into a doctor's office today, they'd say I'm fine; 'cause, physically, I am.

But I don't feel well. I don't feel strong, nor healthy at the moment. I'm not even managing the epilepsy too well - the consumption of water is off, and the amount of good quality of sleep I am getting, and the food I eat, and the kind of exercise I get. It's not good.

It's not bad bad - but it's not good.

I don't get full-on generalised seizures, but I do get the small stuff, the what they call "simple partial" seizures. I feel the condition building for a couple of days until I get a day of it, and then it takes two-three days to get off it again; and it sucks.

It's also distressing to feel what it does to my mental capacities: I'd go to log on to my internet banking and not know what my access code is, hand someone a pan but forget what it's called - "p...p... p... it starts with p" I'd think to myself, but not be able to actually get the word stored in my brain somewhere, "pan", because it would feel like the word just is not there. I'd look at a person and think, man, I've met you somewhere, but I can't remember where. Or think of a name but not know if it's actually the right one. Step into a kitchen and think, what did I come here for?

For all I know, it's the stress and tiredness and overwhelming amount of information that's doing it, but if some day in the future I sit in a neurologist's office and they ask, when did I start noticing the gradual decline in neurological function, I'd say 29. Right after the epilepsy itself started.

And it sucks to feel that way, but heck, I've got four working limbs and a decent heart and strong lungs and I am going to make the best with what I've got, even if the thing that matters to me a lot - my brain - is not doing that well at the moment.

And, to ask that you don't get me wrong here either: it's not bad bad. I can still get the highest score on a school test, and run cosines on a roof angle calculation, and cope with my life.

But I can tell the difference.

And I am looking forward to next week.

Because on Wednesday, The Kid is starting school. The week after that I am probably going to catch up on my overdue school assignments. Maybe in a month there is going to be a pattern and a rhythm to our days again. The house will get insulated, the heat pump installed. The roof gutter will get fixed so that water isn't rushing down our porch ceiling and seeping under our front door, and the masses of greenwaste piled up in our yard will go to the composting station.

I'm sure something else will pop up, like it seems to do at the moment, but I'll deal with it once I'm there.

At a crash site

A couple of days ago I witnessed a car crash. Not just cars that had crashed, but the crash itself - I was looking at the intersection as it happened.

One car come through a give-way intersection without stopping and ended up right in front of another who was driving down the main road. A loud bump, window glasses and bumper plastics flying out, a car coming to a stop at the wall of a building.

I ran towards them and was fishing out my mobile phone on the go, ready to call for an ambulance.

Of the three people, two were looking scared and anxious, but physically alright. The third - a guy whose side of the car took most of the impact, right into where he was sitting - was obviously in shock. Eyes wide, he was looking out into "nothingness" and not focusing on anything in particular.

I was standing at his window - the glass was all gone -, "Are you alright?" He looked in my direction and was motioning towards his chest. "Sore," he replied and then started looking around with that dazed look again. There was blood on his hands. "Am I bleeding?" he asked, looking at me. "Not from your head, no," I replied, not knowing what else to do.

At that point, another woman arrived. Straight away she knelt at his window, face close to his, and started talking in an assured, calm voice. "Hi, my name is Shirley. What's your name?"

"Paul," he replied.
- "Hi Paul. How are you feeling?"
- "Sore."
- "I bet. Tell me where does it hurt, please."

I walked away, leaving them to it. I had The Girlie to pick up from preschool and the woman looked like she knew what she was doing. Three other people were at the scene, helping.

I left my phone number with one of them in case police needed a witness report later (they did) and walked towards preschool.

And I thought, man, that's what was necessary.

I've been through several first aid courses. I think I know, mostly, what to do with people that are injured - physically - but I have never learned, I don't think, what to do mentally, like that woman was doing: engaging the injured man in a conversation, gaging his wellbeing through his answers, getting him to focus on her, offering comfort.

I think I'd like to learn that.

On permafrost

:o!

Sitting in the library, working on my "10 potential problems with soils" assignment, it was easy for me to write about the potential challenge presented by permafrost. I could, almost without having to consult any outside sources at all, describe the sort of building standards that are used in Savlbard where I spent the winter of 2008.






I didn't even have to google to find a photo to illustrate the text: I had it on my computer, a building support pile in the Russian town of Barentsburg.


But I wanted to check how deep the top layer of permafrost melts each summer, when sun comes out.

So I googled it.

And in the top I saw, instead, photos and new stories of this: Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/19/arctic-stronghold-of-worlds-seeds-flooded-after-permafrost-melts

Oh.
My.
G..

The winter that I was in Svalbard, they had already encountered what were considered "unusual" weather conditions. There was rain that was immediately followed by heavy frost, which covered the ground in a layer of dense ice and made it difficult for reindeer to survive, given that they couldn't get the food from underneath it. (So the hungry fellas started "pinching" hay from our dog kennels instead.)




There were winds which drove snow in unusual directions, closing our access roads and covering our vehicles.




An outhouse. Not that we were using it anymore... for obvious reasons.



And now I'm reading about the "doomsday vault" and water gushing into its entrance.

Wow.

Seriously.

Wow.

A long rant about schools and life's decisions

I still think it's going to be months - or at least weeks - until I breach the topic of our school change again. It's ruffled me up on so many personal levels.

It has made me ask: am I some sort of an overprotective, whinging a$$hole of a parent?

Or have I really stumbled upon something that years from now people look back on and think, yeah, that probably wasn't such a good idea?

I've looked at other people and wondered: how does that make sense to you? I've wondered, are they missing something?

I've asked myself, am I missing something? Is there some sort of an underlying, unspoken, cultural difference that I am not aware of, but one that makes sense regardless?

I've spent weeks thinking about it all.

I still feel raw about the process.

***

On another hand, maybe give it a go on the blog right now?

***

One of the first things I did, after I had attended The Kid's first school visit - and I mean, after I called our RTLB and sobbed on the phone - was that I called up a lady I knew who works as a teacher aide in another Invercargill school, and asked if she would meet with me for a talk.

We met, and I described to her the things I had seen in the classroom that had made me uncomfortable, and I asked her to explain her teaching experience to me.

On one hand, I wanted someone to confirm my feelings, but on another hand I really did hope that she was going to be able to diffuse my anxiety and say, it's okay, Maria, this is how it works. That somehow, magically, she would be able to explain to me that what I saw in The Kid's first new entrant class is entirely logical and I'm just unfamiliar with the schooling system.

But instead, I kept describing to her the array of problems I was seeing, and she kept frowning and asking me, "Really? The teacher did that?"

She said it was definitely not her experience with teaching, and that she was struggling to see how such an approach to a new entrant class would make sense; so she, too, was finding the situation confusing, though on the other hand it was also difficult for her to approach such a subject given that she wasn't familiar with neither the school nor the teacher. She'd never worked there, and had only ever heard good things about it.

I left her place feeling that it had been good to talk, but on another hand it had not made me feel any better. I'd hoped to walk away feeling more confident about the school, but instead had found another person I trusted - a teaching professional - say that they weren't comfortable with the things I'd described.

***

I then met with the whole school team - not, literally, every person working at the school, but every person directly involved in The Kid's care.

Principal.
Vice principal.
Teacher.
Special needs coordinator.

We talked for almost an hour. We discussed not only The Kid's schooling, but also how it had come to be that our school start was so rocky and confusing to everyone involved, and ways in which the school has changed their policies to make sure it will never happen to another family again. They apologised, and in a way that was very personally important to me, the teacher apologised for the comment she had made about another child in front of the class, confirming that it had been a misjudgement on her end and that she's learned from it, and intends not to do something like that again.

I came away from the school feeling I had built up trust in their work again. Not, specifically, in the teacher maybe - but I had trust in the team behind the teacher, and I trusted that they were able to support her in her work. I wanted The Kid to go to that school again.

Except... then came another part of the story.

The Man still said no.

He, also, had gone for another visit with The Kid, and he, also, had come away feeling very uncomfortable with what he'd witnessed. I think his first words, literally, as he walked in through the front door, were, "We can't send him there."

And although I had changed my mind since meeting with the school, The Man hadn't. And so we had to find another school.

And it wasn't pretty. It honestly wasn't.

The two schools our RTLB was recommending weren't going to take us - because, duh!, we've just bought a house to precisely get in "our" school zone, and therefore were out of theirs. Which left us essentially with only two schools in whole of Invercargill, both a car drive away.

I balked.

Yes, my epilepsy is well managed and I am able to drive, but I am also very aware that if I get an unexpected seizure, I am going to lose my drivers license - and how, I was asking The Man, would I manage getting The Kid to school, The Girlie to preschool in another direction, and then getting to school myself?

About a week and a half it took us, all while The Kid didn't have a school to go to and I kept bringing him to my classes in the polytech, so I would, say, study construction contracts and The Kid would watch a cartoon next to me. Before class I would colour in pictures with him, and do exercises with letters and stickers.

Even the very last moment of decision-making, where we essentially finally settled on what school The Kid was going to do to, was not pretty. In a nutshell, it was simply The Man saying, this is where he'll go.

Because by that point, I was simply too traumatised and tired and overworked and overwhelmed to even want to decide.

Because the way I saw it, there was no winning option for anyone, at all. Whatever we chose, someone was not going to think it the best.

I still wanted Middle School.
The Man preferred another unzoned school.
The Kid liked the best another, a third, unzoned school.

And all the while, I was thinking, where did we go amiss?

***

Yesterday I got a text message from the lady I went to see after The Kid's first school visit - the one who works as a teacher aide, the one who I thought would help me figure out how schools work.

It was short, and somewhat... poignant.

She said she had been to a teacher training conference and had met the teacher in question.

She did not get a good feeling about her.

***

It's ridiculous, I know. I know!

But somehow, I feel exonerated.

I have spent weeks trying to figure out, how is it that there are so many people happy with Middle School and yet, when visiting, I have walked away wondering, wtf is happening in that class. That how is such a disconnect possible. That intelligent, reasonable, compassionate people work in that school - and they do not see a problem. How is it that I see a problem?

And then a simple text lands in my phone and I almost cry with relief, thinking, thank goodness, one more person aside from our RTLB agrees with me.

I mean, aside from The Man.

***

It's hard to write on this topic. On one hand, I do not actually want to type out the school name, because I do not see the need in bringing the school into this virtual space - but on another note, I've spent months writing about our move to Invercargill and how we have bought a house precisely into its school zone.

I've felt that, realistically, not bringing up the school name doesn't actually achieve much, because I've been open with the school name for a long time already.

But it still feels bad writing about it.

I also feel bad writing about it because I know that if someone really dug into it, they'd be able to identify the teacher. But it's not something I want, or am looking to achieve. Yes, she's probably not a good teacher yet, in my opinion, but... she's learning. There's a strong team behind her, and a team that's interested in supporting her.

But I also feel bad about not writing about it, because that would deny me the opportunity to seek emotional repair.

This whole school process has taken over a month, and I feel like I've lost a lot of nerve over it all, and a lot of hours in my life.

I am behind with my own schoolwork, and am now struggling to catch up. Dealing with kids and their chickenpox took two weeks, and endless hours of discussing it with The Man, organising school visits to other places, talking to people...

Like, yes, it is totally a first world problem and I am very much aware that it is - and grateful to be living in an environment where problems even are such - but still. I still feel traumatised by it, and feel like it will take me months to process it, and understand what exactly happened and why people said what they said, and did what they did, and why did I react in ways I reacted.

In hindsight, of course there are things I could've done better. But I didn't know any better at the time. And even with the blessing of hindsight, I can say that I did the best with what I had at the time, which is good enough, and which is something I can live with.

This week The Kid will start in another school. I will be able to go to classes unaccompanied again, and get some time off from kids, and study. Hopefully, sleep. (Looking at you, my dear daughter!!!)

Phew. Here's another 45 minutes gone.

Like with many other difficult parts of my life, writing this to the tune of John Mayer.

On being grateful, and stubborn, and independent, and happy

A lot of the time it's not pretty, because choosing what's important for me does not necessarily bind well with people of different opinions. But! In the end, I am almost always happy with the decisions I've made.

It's not to say that I don't take other people's thoughts and feelings into account - I do. Especially when it comes to my husband and my children, there are a lot of "middle ground" decisions. A lot!

But in the end, I always ask myself if it's something I can happily live with, because if I can't, then... well, I can't.

It's nice to live and be happy. I am.

I'm laughing right now

Edited to add 2: guys, if anyone else is interested in coming here and telling me - anonymously - that I need to deal with my kids more, or that I am not doing a good enough of a job as a parent, or simply exasperate over the sort of kids I have, then - go bug someone else today. I've already deleted some of the comments, and I can bloody well delete some more.

I'm happy to see constructive criticism, especially if a person is actually interested in putting some sort of a name to their comment!, but if all you want to do is to come here and go, "Geesh, what sort of kids do you have?" or, "You need to parent them more," then go have a nice day somewhere else instead please. Cheers!

***

James Breakwell on Twitter
mobile.twitter.com/xplodingunicorn

9gag: Dad Of 4 Girls Tweets Conversations With His Daughters, Proves Parenting Is Fun
9gag.com/gag/appjbjM/dad-of-4-girls-tweets-conversations-with-his-daughters-proves-parenting-is-fun/amp

:D

Edited to add: which reminds me, in the kids' bedroom we have a two-storey bunkbed, except we have taken off the ladder (so we wouldn't have a certain two-year-old climbing there and jumping off it, like she does with so many other things in Invercargill) and have stashed the ladder UNDER the bunkbed.

One day, The Man found our kids playing with beads on the floor. He asked them where they got the beads from, and they answered that they were on the top bunk (which is correct - I assumed it was a kid-safe zone, so I'd dropped them off there) and when he asked them how did they get them off the top bunk, they said they had used the ladder.

The Man didn't believe them. He figured, it takes a lot of effort to take the ladder from under the bed, set it up to climb up, then stash it under the bed again so everything looks good again. They must be making this up, he figured.

Except... I don't think they are.

Yesterday I found The Girlie in my bedroom, with the wooden ladder set up against the wall and she was on the ladder, re-setting the light and the ventilation switch.

And please remember: she must've brought the ladder from her bedroom, set it up in my bedroom, quietly and all within about two minutes.

I told The Man about it and he went, oh my god, THEY WEREN'T JOKING!!!

I was, like, joking about what?

And so he told me about the beads, and now I've changed the way in which we store the ladder.

Kids are great, aren't they

The Kid says to me, mom, smell my finger.

So I smell his finger. Smells pretty gross.

I ask him, what has he done do it?

His answer: he stuck it in The Dog's bum.

:/

PS. The Girlie who's listening to this conversation yells excitedly, "Oh, I wanna do it!"

:/ x2

The sort of assignments we're doing at school

Just out of interest - because I know some of you are interested in this - I will put here a couple of examples of the sort of assignments I'm doing as part of my quantity surveying studies at Southern Institute of Technology.

In a class called "Contract administration", for example, we are going through the process of managing contract paperwork. Every student, basically, "pretends" that they are a project manager working for a construction company, and we go through the process of extending a high school library.

It's a real library, by the way. A couple of years ago a building extension was put in Wakatipu High School block D library, and now we are using all the real paperwork and architectural drawings from that project to "pretend" that we are doing it again.

We send letters to the local newspapers to advertise that we are looking for tenderers.



We create fictional companies who then apply for those contracts.



We deal with tender variations.


We deal with subcontractors.



It's not a complete gallery of assignments I'm putting here: there's loads and loads more. But what the school is basically trying to do, is equip us with a life-like material so that when we finish school and start working for an actual company, we have 1) gone through the process once already, even if it's just fictional, and 2) have folders full of .pdf examples we can rely on.

The teacher is not giving us examples - he's making us create all this paperwork ourselves. But he does look through our assignments so that if he thinks we've submitted something that wouldn't pass as acceptable in real life, he's making us re-do until everything is good enough - and that's how, basically, we're ending up with a sort of a "library" of documents we can then later look back on, when we have to start dealing with this stuff in real life.

In another class called "Materials" we are learning about materials used in construction, and how they function.

We are having to put in almost weekly assignments of "10 potential problems with metals", "10 potential problems with timber", "10 potential problems with..." etc. It's time-consuming, but dare I say it: very effective, I think. At least I find it is.

By the time I've trawled my brain and the internet to find in what ways a material can fail, how to recognise it, how to fix it, I get pretty well versed in understanding what this material does.

Examples:











So, yeah, just in case someone's interested :)

And I'll go back to typing up another assignment now. I've got behind on them with all this chickenpox and school change saga... So I should really do some school work, instead of blogging about school work.

Interesting stuff



***

Lecretia's Choice - Coming Home
http://lecretia.org/coming-home/

***

Change

Enrolling The Kid in a new school, meeting the new teachers, familiarising ourselves with the new playground.

Then a call from the speech therapist: sorry, she'll have to transfer us to a different speech therapist because that school is out of her "zone" and she won't be able to keep working with us.

Then a conductive education session in the afternoon: the therapist quips with a shy smile that she's moving back to UK and will transfer us to a new therapist.

And then I walk home and think, from The Kid's point of view, that's how life works, basically. A few months somewhere - change. A few months in someone's care - change. Live in a house - move. Set up friends - move and start making new ones. It's a constant: change.

And he's only bloody six years old.

A photo of New Zealand

It's a photo which, to this day, I don't know who has taken and when - apart from the fact that it must be over a year old because I've had it on my computer for a while.


But still I keep opening it up and looking at it, mesmerised.

Counting and naming the rivers glistening in the sun: Waimakariri, Rakaia, Rangitata, Waitaki. Naming the lakes: Te Anau, Wakatipu, Wanaka and Hawea, Ohau, Pukaki, Tekapo.

I look at the places where I've lived: Wanaka, Christchurch and now, Invercargill down at the bottom. I trace my memories for the highways that wind through the mountains, giving each stretch an approximate length of travel: 45 minutes to go from Queenstown to Wanaka over the pass, but an hour and a half to go through the gorge. Two hours to push from Wanaka to Twizel, then another four to Christchurch.

I imagine the planes currently in the air and the routes they are taking. How many cargo ships are anchored off Lyttelton harbour's entrance, and how many more are moored at the port. I imagine St Arnaud somewhere in the depths of that dark patch, and how Nelson sits in its sheltered harbour.

It's 2 centimeters on my computer screen, but in real life it takes me 6 hours to travel the distance.

And after 8 years of living in New Zealand after what I thought was a year-long adventurous sabbatical, I am looking at this photo and thinking, home.

Searching for quietness and content

Unwind. Unwind. Unwind.

I've been tuning back on the amount of things, and information, in my life. Unfollowing blogs, unfollowing people on Instagram, deleting bookmarks at the top of my web browser.

This morning I've also been unpicking name tags off school uniforms. Today I will take all the clothes The Kid will no longer need back to the school he will no longer go to, so that someone else can wear them; and on the weekend I will try to make a trip to the second hand shop so I can - if possible - buy another set of another school's uniforms second hand.

This process sucks. Just seriously sucks.

I feel physically nauseous having to go through this, and especially the fact that I am constantly having to wait on people.

If I had it my way, I would do it all quickly and have it over with, so I could fill my life with things that bring joy instead - but now, what it actually feels like, reminds me of unpicking a wound with a blunt wife.

Wait on the school holidays to be over.
Wait on kids to get over chickenpox.
Wait on meetings with various school officials.
Wait on school visits.
Wait on... everything but myself, basically.

I feel traumatised. I feel it is going to be a while before I can look back on this experience and not feel nauseous at the thought of it.

It's the flip-side of living a connected, inter-dependent life. Decisions do not come quickly, or easily - there's discussions, arguments, research and the thought-process of trying to weigh up how any given choice will affect people that are involved.

The reality is, The Kid will no longer go to Invercargill Middle School. I've been working with this school for over a year - almost as long as we've known about the move to Invercargill. We've bought a house precisely to get in its school zone - and now we're backing away from it. I've had everything set up for it - and now I'm going to re-set it all for another school again.

It just sucks. Honestly, sucks.

Lowering the school age further?

New Zealand parliament is this week reading (for the final time, I think?) an education amendment bill which, basically, is looking to change the way children start school.

At the moment, every child starts at a different time - usually, straight after their 5th birthday. Legally, children can start at any time between their 5th and 6th birthdays (as early as their 5th birthday, but as late as their 6th birthday), but most kids start soon after turning 5. It's a tradition here, a sort of a milestone: turning 5 = going to school.

But now the parliament is looking to change that. They want to introduce a "cohort entry" where a bunch of kids start school at the same time.

To give you a bit of a background: in Nordic countries, for example, all kids start school on the same day of the year. In Estonia it has been traditionally 1st of September, give or take depending on what day of the week 1st of September falls on any given year. In Finland and Sweden and Norway the dates are, from what I remember, all a little different, but the idea is the same: all kids have their first day of school on the same day, together.

Now New Zealand is trying to implement something similar, but at a kind of a halfway-point: rather than making all kids start school on the same day, at the beginning of the school year, it wants to break the kids into groups who start together on the first day of each term.

So basically, instead of having kids "drip" into school, one by one, throughout the year, there is going to be a bunch of kids starting together in the beginning of term 1, then another group beginning of term 2, another in the beginning of term 3 and then the last group beginning of term 4.

And I haven't got a problem with that.

But!

They are wanting to allow 4-year-olds to start school.

4-year-olds.

Four.

Four!

They are wanting to allow parents and caretakers to start their kids at school on the day that is the closest to their 5th birthday, which in some cases would mean kids as young as 4 years 10 months.

Now, to make it clear: it is not compulsory. Parents and caretakers can still "hold kids back" as long as until their 6th birthday, if need be. Going to school before 5 is not compulsory.

But I am still uncomfortable with the notion, and on quite a few levels.

The preschool in New Zealand costs money. There is partial government funding for up to 20 hours of care every week - and by partial funding I mean, the government subsidises the cost of a child's attendance by a set number of dollars each hour.

But there's a catch. If a preschool charges more per hour than the government gives funding for, then a parent ends up "topping it up" for each hour. And then if a child attends more than 20 hours a week, then a parent pays the full amount for every hour above 20.

Either way, parents usually win financially when their kids start school: school, though it also costs (yes, even fully public schools have what they call "voluntary donations" that parents are expected to pay each year, and the cost differs between each school), it usually costs less per year to have kids at school than it does to have kids at preschool.

And that's where I see a problem.

I can already see that there a kids who are put to school before they are actually ready for it, kids who do not yet have the attention span and the focus to sit still.

...and now there's an option to put them there even sooner.

In an ideal world, of course it wouldn't happen. Parents and caretakers would judge their kid's school-readiness aside from any other pressures they have in their lives, and they would start the child when the child is ready, whether that's on their 4 year 10 month "birthday", or their 6th birthday.

Whenever the child is ready.

But come on.

I would very much like to know what, exactly, is the reasoning behind this change from the people who've actually proposed it, because... I'm uncomfortable with it.

I hear that a lot of other people are, too.

Exhausted

Walking home from The Kid's conductive education session this afternoon I was at a point of exhaustion where I couldn't even talk without breaking into hysteric laughter between sentences. The kids were asking me questions about cars on the street and I would answer, four-five words at a time, and then break into bouts of laughter in between; and then continue replying to their questions.

The topic of conversation was not funny, by the way. It was my nervous system: I was at a point where there was only so much energy spare for tasks that required restraint and the more I would break into uncontrollable laughter, the more I would laugh at not being able to do much other than walk down the street, pushing the pram with two kids in it, and laugh.

I am looking forward to normalcy.

Yeah, that's it: normalcy.

Glimpses of the past

I don't use Facebook, but people who do say they sometimes come across old posts from 1 year, 2 years, 3 years ago and it reminds them of what used to be.

I get that from Wordpress. Again, I don't actually use Wordpress, but I have an account there from years ago, so every time I comment on a friend's blog - and have to sign in through Wordpress - I end up seeing comments from years ago.

"My husband wheeled me up to NICU (in a wheelchair) and showed me how to wash my hands before entering as he’d been there for a while whilst I was recovering from surgery and couldn’t. My baby was in an incubator, feeding tube in, under blue lights, and I sat in the wheelchair just looking at him, not knowing what to do. A nurse asked, would I like to touch him?, and so she opened the incubator ‘holes’ and I stuck my hands in, slowly stroking my baby. Then after about a minute the nurse said that that’s enough now, I need to take my hands out because they have to close the flaps and make sure the incubator stays warm. And then I just sat there, in my wheelchair next to the incubator, with nothing else to do other than to look at my baby through that plastic cover. And the I was wheeled back to my room so I could try to express breastmilk (I didn’t get much). I sometimes think back to that day, the way my baby was in that plastic crate and I could only stroke him for a few minutes until I had to take my hands back out again."

The mysteries of the universe

We've had a great day exploring with the kids, but why does it always take longer to unpack after a day out with the kids, than it did to pack for it?

Walking past a bike shop

The Kid: "I want that bike!"
The Man: "You already have three bikes."
The Kid: "I want one more!"

A little grumpy

I am so looking forward to the end of next week. I will hopefully know what school The Kid will go to by the end of next week.

It'd be easier being a single parent in some ways. Not many - but some, yes.

Just choosing a school being one of them.

When the men are gone

I realised today that I live in rural New Zealand.

I mean... I kinda knew that. Already.

But: today I really understood that I live in rural New Zealand.

Because check this out: on Saturdays I work at The Batch which I think is the coolest, tastiest place to eat out in Invercargill. The food is real, the people nice, the place is packed a lot of the time - and today, for some reason, there were very few men.

I mean: even the boss wasn't there today.

There were still many people eating out, so it's not like it was an overall quiet day, but the thing was: the customers were exceedingly female, noticeably so.

And then it dawned on me: the duck shooting season started yesterday.

:O

Try seeing that happen, Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. This place may call itself a regional center and by many accounts, it is - Invercargill is the place where people can do their decent shopping, and fly in and out of, and deal with all sorts of paperwork. It's the regional capital of Southern New Zealand.

But still: the day the duck shooting season starts, the men are gone.

:)

On the mend

It's been a cheerful morning all around. Everybody's on the mend! There was singing before even getting out of bed, cuddles all around, The Kid slept through the night.

Because did I even tell you? In addition to a good case of chickenpox (even the GP said, "Ohhh..." when he saw us) The Kid had an ear infection and a ruptured ear drum all at the same time.

It's been "awesome", basically ;)

But now there's light. Thank goodness there's light!

*looks forward to rest, and sleep, and freshness-feeling*

A one car family

Moving to Invercargill has meant that we have become a one car family again. In Christchurch we couldn't do that: The Man needed one car to get to workplaces, I needed another one for kids, hospitals, shopping and parks.

But now we have one again, and it works. I'm still yet to see how we go through winter with its cold, rainy days, but I think we'll cope.

The financial savings are definitely there. In addition to not having to pay insurance, registration and technical warrant of fitness (and any repairs) to a car we no longer have, we are also clocking in less mileage on a car that remains ours. We're filling a petrol tank approximately every 6 weeks. Living near the city centre means a lot of things are walkable, so there are very few long trips we do: beach, parks, out-of-town friends. Everything else is mostly 5-minute journeys.

I cycle to work. The Man cycles to work.

I'm glad it works.

Colouring in on an iPad

I was looking for an iPad app to keep my kids occupied.

Several reasons:

1) We are still homebound and cannot go anywhere apart from our own backyard. The Girlie is coming out of chickenpox, but The Kid is fully in it, miserable as, and with a high fever so he's not really up for playing much.

2) I have to start taking The Kid to school with me next week when he comes out of chickenpox. He doesn't have a preschool to go to any more (they don't take kids after 6) but he doesn't yet have a school to go to, either, so he needs to come with me and have something to keep him occupied whilst I study construction contracts and the likes.

Today I downloaded Tayasui Sketches to see what it's like, and, wow!, it actually works.

As in, even on 2-year-olds.


Both kids are enjoying the colouring-in functions and are quickly learning the main menus. Dexterity-wise there's still some mishaps when they try to choose a colour but press on the Help button instead (for that we have a rule that if something's off, lift your finger and call mommy. Mommy can help.)

But still: can recommend it. Tayasui Sketches.