Questions and answers: my daughter's name

"I'm really curious about the Girlie's name, but I also understand why you wouldn't want to share it. :)" Me®li

In Germany, on the river Rhine, there is a place where the river goes in a wide bend around a large rock sticking out of the water. The current is heavy and the waves choppy, so over the years a lot of fishing boats have struggled on the water there.

According to an old tale, there is a mermaid / siren sitting atop the rock, combing her beautiful golden hair and singing to the fishermen, luring them to their deaths on dangerous waters.

The name of that mermaid / siren is what we have called my daughter. For kind of obvious reasons I will continue not using it on my blog though :)

(Happy googling! :P)

Sunday evening

I bet that the guy who invented software for trialling out furniture layouts did it because he had a wife who made him move around furniture all day Sunday so she could see "where that bookcase fits the best".

The reference is not entirely coincidental.

Also, do you think my kids mind getting dirty?

I'll let you answer that.

PS. I got told that I have a funny tanline on my legs. I replied that, nah, they're just dirty.

The commenter didn't say anything further after that. Must've been.... satisified with such a reply.


Both my kids are routinely up before 6 am, which means that sometimes we are in central Hagley park at just past 7 am in the morning.

Bees hard at work. There were over a dozen on one patch of flowers alone!

PS. It's a fountain that works only when a handle is pulled, ie The Kid's favorite fountain


The Kid likes to please and doesn't like being told off. The Girlie, on the other hand, is like a tank - does what she does, and when she gets told off for stuff, she's, like, oh well... and back to doing stuff!

Which means that if you look into our laundry room, you'll see this:

I just could not figure out how to stop her from climbing onto furniture. She moves chairs around the house to climb onto tables, shelves, kitchen tops and dog crates, and so I just stacked the chairs in the laundry room to deal with this situation instead, and that's where we're at.

She just doesn't care much for being told off. Will probably be quite a useful personal attribute once she gets into her twenties, but, man!, it's inconvenient when she's one and I'm the parent.

PS. Saw your questions on the previous post. Some are quite unexpected! Keem 'em coming :). I think I'll start answering on the weekend.

Questions and answers

Is there anything you'd like to ask me?

I did something similar about two years ago when a bunch of people submitted their questions on my blog and then over the next few months I gradually 'ticked' those questions off by replying to them on my blog.

Would anyone like to do it again? It doesn't have to be personal. Heck, it can even be something along the lines of what good movies I've seen over the past few months or so, whatever.

So go on, give it a shot. Anything you'd like to ask?

Ask away in the comments :). Estonian, English, whatever :)

Not knowing stuff

What a way to be reminded of it...

Today I had a conversation with someone who has known a friend of mine for much longer than I have; someone who's lived in New Zealand since I was in... primary school. Since I was a child, basically.

And as we talked, this person said things about our mutual friend that had never even occurred to me, let alone things I would've considered likely. And it... hit me with a hollow sensation in my tummy someplace, to think it possible that someone I care about so deeply would've had such a backstory without me knowing it.

People don't owe other people their stories. It is not my entitlement to know what someone has gone through unless it is shared with me, so what I am feeling is not a disappointment that something has gone by me. Instead it is... sadness, and a relatable connection.

I, too, know what it feels like to move somewhere new where people don't know my backstories and the freedom that comes with it - the freedom to just move on.

Do you know what it feels like?

Moving to a new place means being amongst people who don't, whether they mean to or not, remind about things that don't want to be reminded of. It is not even the direct questions of, "Oh, and how are you feeling now?" - the kind that imply that something unpleasant has happened - but the otherwise encouraging ones, the likes of, "Oh you look so much better now!"

I don't know how you deal with difficult stuff, but I find that I, for a while, shut things away so I can process them on my own. I let thoughts simmer away on the background whilst I move on with life - go on bikerides, hike, wash dishes, cook food - and after enough time has passed that I've had a chance to figure out how it is that I feel about something, only then do I start relating to other people about it without having to endure some kind of a... internal battle every time I talk about it.

But I don't mean that asking is bad, or that people should back off - everyone's free to do as they please. I just want to point out that moving elsewhere, at that point, can be a redeeming experience - a chance to start over without feeling like some old blanket is being dragged around.

And now, today, talking to someone about a friend and learning of a story I had no idea existed, has reminded me about it.

I don't mind that my friend hasn't shared it with me - if they felt that this is what they needed to do, then that's simply what they needed to do - but I do hope that they have found freedom in knowing me without sharing, that they have enjoyed spending time with me without having to bring up a painful past which, I guess, is what they've felt is better left alone.

Life can be... a little simpler like that.


Evening light on a patch of freshly planted mint... eel squirming its way through a backyard waterway...

...and quiet backyard after yet another day.

In some ways, life with kids is oh-so-difficult, but in some ways, it is also just very, very... simple.


F*ck this week.

Bring on Monday!

Random bits about kids

Me to The Man (from the kitchen where I am sitting with the kids who are doing their best at smearing food on the table): "Can you please come sit with these two so I can go sort the laundry?"

The Man: "Did you say 'hide in the laundry'"?

Me: "Yeah that works too."


When presented with a selection of nuts, The Girlie goes straight for the hazelnut.

My genes :D


The Man is reading a bedtime story to The Girlie.

Peter Peter pumpkin eater
had a wife but couldn't eat her.
He put her in a pumpkin shell
and there he cooked her very well.

Yes, honey, that's exactly how the lyrics go.

On podcasts, and running

Last week I picked up Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Big Magic" and I've now been leafing through it, slowly.

For a while I couldn't understand: why is it that this book bums so much!? Everything she's saying in it, I KNOW IT ALREADY!!! (Meanwhile, people all around the internet are, like, man, have you read Gilbert's "Big Magic" yet? It's so awesome!)

Until it hit me: I know it already because I've heard it all already. From Liz. I've heard it all from Liz herself.

Internet is full of interviews and lectures Liz has given over the years - just have a look through Youtube, for one - and not to sound like a stalker but I've probably heard about 80% of them.

Okay, 95% - I wrote 80% just so I wouldn't sound like such a stalker, but it's probably more like 95% to be honest. I just love Liz so much.

Most of it I've probably heard from the background of simple daily activities like washing dishes, peeling carrots and sorting through laundry. It's my way of making those tasks tolerable: I put on an interesting interview / lecture / podcast on the computer and it allows me to zone into interesting stories (yay!) and zone out of pairing socks, for example, which in itself can be such a disheartening, mundane task that I could've easily become to resent my husband just for the fact that he owns so many socks, if it weren't for Liz Gilbert and other fascinating people whose stories are readily available on the internet.

In fact, I've almost come to look forward to sorting laundry because it gives me this wonderful opportunity to listen to something cool and I'll take that, thanks.

Which reminds me: last week I went for a run.

If you know me, especially if you know me from school times, you might be a little surprised by this information here, because the thing is: I don't generally like running.

Or, to put it a little more precisely: I hate long distance running.

In middle school I trained in track and field, and for four beautiful years I was in such spectacular physical shape that it still kind of pains me to think about how good I was back then, compared to the sloth I am at the moment.

I was short and stocky, with big bulky thighs, and so I loved running - but I loved short distance running. As in, 100 m and 200 m (200 metres was my favorite!) - and 400 m was already the sort of a distance that I considered to be the death of me.

I loved short distance running. I loved the concentration that came with starting low, crouched over the starting blocks, and then shooting out of those blocks at the anticipation of the starting gun, sometimes quickly followed by the second shot to announce that someone had shot out too soon and the race is to be restarted again. I loved the fierce fight of bolting towards the finish line, puffing with those strong, shallow breaths that a 100 m sprint brings, and hearing the competitors do the same beside me. Unless I was visibly behind my competitors, I could never actually tell who was in front, and so I loved the fierce competition of going full-on all the way to the end because... you just never know.

I wasn't spectacular at it - I never made it even close to the finals at the Estonian championships. But man I loved that distance!

And then there was long distance running. [Bleugh! Insert the sound of vomiting.] It was something that every single training session started with, us going for a good 2 kilometre run to get the muscles nice and warm, and man! I hated doing it.

I did, because I knew I had to.

But man I hated it.

Occasionally I raced long distances, too, when our club went for those autumny hill-runs in the local woods and where I was, in my head and in my imagination, vomiting at the sight of having to go, and go, and go, and go. And go.

I just didn't have the patience. Didn't even want to have patience. Patience was so... boring. Patience was the stuff that "those other kids" that ran 800 m and 1500 m and 3000 m had; the other people's charity cases.

But now, last week, I suddenly felt an urge to go for a run. At first I ignored it, thinking it must be some spectacular hormonal fluke, for why else would I want to subject myself to such horrors, but after feeling it for a few days I picked up my running shoes, dressed in my sporting gear, picked up The Dog's collar and together with The Dog, we went for it.

And wow it was weird.

At first I ran down the street and it felt good. I then ran down the street that connects to our home street, and it still felt good. I circled the reserve and it felt good. Even on the way back it felt good.

I considered just keeping on going, kind of like Forrest Gump, but I was also smart enough to tell myself that, look, Maria, just keep it easy for the moment. It's the first time I've been running like that in years.

So I went home, and eagerly awaited the pain in my muscles the next few days, but the pain... didn't come. There was the general soreness that comes with exercise, the kind when I've pushed well at the circuit training in my local gym, but there wasn't anything horrific that I'd been afraid of and I discovered with delight that I am not in as bad of a shape as I've thought I am.

So a few days later I went for another run. Again, with The Dog, we ran out the neighborhood, circled the reserve, then went for a de-tour through the hill suburbs and still it felt good. It was a comfortable pace, me going through my well-rehearsed breathing pattern of in-in-out, in-in-out, in-in-out that I've had all the way from those track and field days, and The Dog placidly trotting alongside me.

And in addition to that, I'd brought my iPod with me. I was jogging along, breathing at my running pattern of in-in-out, and listening to interviews and podcasts through my headphones. I learned from Kim Hill's interview with Philip Hoare that the name of a porpoise comes, literally, from the word "porkfish" which was a religious trick of classifying this beautiful mammal as a fish, so as to get around the church's restriction on eating meat on a Friday.

I also listened to an old interview with Masha Gessen who is a fascinating journalist from Russia, and so it came to be that as I was running I almost... fazed out of running. I was just breathing, in-in-out, in-in-out, and listening to stories.

And that's the way I've been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert talk to various interviewers, and the reason why I've already heard her say all that she's written in her book, Big Magic.

I think there will be more running. It was too enjoyable to not do it again.

PS. I love the rainy days' light!

And PPS. Just because.


Day four. Came home from the courthouse today, thought about stuff that needs doing but instead of doing anything... said, "Sod that," and went to sleep. Had a nap, picked children up from preschool, headed to the hospital and, wow, it's been a long week this week. Interesting, but long.

Learn something every day

Turns out, fruit tree fertiliser contains blood and bone, so labradors will clear fences to get to it.

Who knew, right?

PS. After the labradors have been dealt to by the veterinarian, they'll follow their owner with those weepy "Oh my god can you please feed me, I am SO hungry!"-eyes and the master be, like, you have got to be kidding me, dog.

PPS. This certain labrador is even willing to ruffle through peastraw to get to the fertiliser. I wonder if there's a way for me to convince her to ruffle for weeds the same way, in the peastraw, so I don't have to? *scheming

My feet hurt from running

Of course (!) The Dog eats a bunch of fruit tree fertiliser on the same morning that I am due for jury duty. Of course. Why choose any other morning?

So of course I end up piling the whole lot - kids, dog, stuff - hurriedly into our car at just past 7 am, to drive to the vet clinic to get poisons flushed out of The Dog, then to preschool to drop kids off, then to court to attend jury duty and now that I've been dismissed for the day from the court I've arrived home feeling like...


Seriously, guys, it's, like...

Well... yeah.

Pretty moments

My neighbor Linda* has a three-year old daughter who loves playing with The Kid. When we're over at Linda's house, her daughter instructs him encourages him to play with her dolls, and when we're at their yard she brings him herbs she has ripped plucked from their garden, and when we're at either sides of the fence that separates our yards - us on this side, them at theirs - she and The Kid pass each other various items through a hole in one of the fence planks.

About a week ago Linda's daughter was playing with a doll, cradling it in her arms like a baby, and she said to Linda, "This is my baby. I love babies! Mom, how can I get more babies?"

Linda explained to her that when she finds a boy that she really, really likes, in the future she can maybe have babies with that boy.

The daughter exclaimed loudly, "I know who I like! I like Zack**!" (Zack is her one-year-old brother)

Linda then explained to her that it can't be Zack - it would need to be someone who her daughter isn't related to.

The little girl quietened down to have a little think and after a while, said with certainty, "Well it will have to be [The Kid] then, he is the nicest boy I know!"

* her name is not really Linda, but I don't want to use her real name, so - Linda she is.
** and Zack isn't really Zack, but I don't want to use his real name either


I came to drop The Kid off at preschool one morning and they had a bunch of jigsaws laid out on one of the tables. I knelt down and together with The Kid we promptly started putting the jigsaws together, audibly delighted by the multitude of emergency vehicles printed on the jigsaws - fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, all such wonderful vehicles to make sounds to. (ie, Nee-naa-nee-naa-nee-naa! goes the fire truck.)

I was about to finish mine when I realised I had an audience of four preschoolers watching what I was doing. I smiled politely and said I would let them do the jigsaws now, they have probably wanted to put them together themselves; I then stood up and apologised to the teacher for having put one together like that, that they were probably meant for the children instead.

And the teacher laughed and said that actually, it is okay. It is good for children to see adults get so excited about solving puzzles. It models the behavior.

It then reminded me of a... swim teacher at our local swimming pool.

When I first saw her I was somewhat... stunned as I had never come across a swim teacher like that, but the more I see her at the swimming pool now, the more it is making sense to me.

You see, the lady is, how do I put it now... obese. I mean, really, really obese. She has a tiny head propped on top of this ship-like body and  doubt that she has been able to see her lady bits in a very long time, not without the help of a mirror anyway.

But she teaches swimming, and runs aqua-gym classes.

She patiently swings her arms and lifts her legs to the tune of music whilst ladies in the water follow her lead, and it's showed me with much clarity that what that lady is doing is... modeling, and encouraging behavior.

I don't know the history of why she has ended up so obese to begin with, but what she is modeling now is that regardless of her body shape and the size of her swimming clothes, she belongs in that gym. It's not what she's done yesterday - the history of why she has become obese - but what she's doing today.

And it has also made me realise that it probably encourages other people of such varied body shapes and sizes to attend gym; it reinforces the normalcy of moving, and that a person doesn't already have to be in good shape to start attending gym classes.

And it's made me very grateful for whoever's hired her, because it's been a great decision.

I think.

On epilepsy

Went to donate blood yesterday. After spending 15 minutes listing every country I've ever been to (whilst thinking about some of my well-travelled friends and how they'd be there for half an hour listing the stuff) (the nurse said that pilots and travel agents are the worst), I watched the nurse keep adding diseases to the list of things to check for - HIV (oh, hi Estonia!), dengue fever (oh, hi Singapore airport!) etc - it turned out that I wasn't eligible to donate in New Zealand anyway; gotta be seizure free for at least three years before I can start donating again.

I guess I gotta get used to epilepsy affecting all sorts of random stuff around me.

On another hand though: two months of drinking ca 3 litres of water a day and I still haven't had any seizures. That's the longest break I've had in almost three years.

I have a feeling that I may have it sorted. (Yuss!)

On popularity

Why do some blog posts garner so much more audience than others? Is it because of honesty? Because of what's being shared is important?

I still don't understand entirely. I do understand some, but not all of it.

Latest of the most-viewed posts here:

1. Honest, but wordless
2. On neuroplasticity
3. Here we go
4. It's happening
5. A painful observation
6. What are we doing here
7. Well that was stupid!
8. 10 things about me
9. On brains and paying forward, but mostly about brains
10. Random thoughts on a Friday

"Proud" parenting moment

Usually me and The Girlie eat our morning porridge from the same bowl. Thing is, she makes such spectacular messes when she eats that though I let her self-feed quinoa, buckwheat, pasta, couscous and other non-sticky substances, with morning porridge I feed her myself. It just makes everything easier: getting porridge actually in her, cleaning up afterwards, and it's faster, too.

It's how we roll.

Today The Girlie slept in. We had had a late night coming home from beach yesterday, and so she must've been tired. I ate my porridge alone (The Kid had already finished) and it didn't occur to me until The Girlie had already started making noises in her bedroom to signal her waking up that - I hadn't left her any.

And, man, you should see the thing when she's hungry. Especially in the morning. It's, like, wow!

And as I heard her make noises and realised that, bloody hell, Maria, you've polished off an entire bowl of porridge without leaving anything for your daughter!, it came to be that this morning, The Girlie got fed leftovers from The Kid's bowl.

Not that she noticed, or minded. I heated the leftover scraps up in the microwave and when the leftovers were gone, I topped her up on tomato, and banana, and apple, and it was all good.

But, man, was it a proud moment for me or what, realising that I've eaten all of my daughter's food and have gone fishing through my son's plates to see if he had maybe left any porridge in his bowl, so my daughter can have some, too.

Well done, Maria, well done.



7 am on a Saturday morning

In hospital getting the cast off

Backyard fun

Kitchen table fun