On the elegance of parenting

Only a 1-year-old can think that it's cool to pick up pieces of dog poop with a washing peg.


And on the same note: yesterday I put The Girlie down for an afternoon nap and when she still hadn't settled after 20 minutes (she kept babbling to herself in her cot) I went to see what she was up to.

I knew the moment I stepped in the room what was up. I could tell by the smell.

And what was up was the fact that she had filled her nappy with a... 'glorious' mixture of digested kiwifruit - alongside other stuff she eats - and had then stuck her own hands in her nappy to check it out.

So basically I stepped in the room to find my daughter sitting in her cot, smelly as, both hands covered in brown... poop, and upon seeing me she exclaimed excitedly, "Mama, look! Goo! Goo!"

And I went, "Yeah, I know."


Toddlers are such fun, aren't they.

An adventure: Christchurch to Takaka by car, with two preschoolers. And a dog.

Taking kids to a location 530 km away (The Man's cousin lives in Takaka and we decided to visit her during the long Easter weekend that's just gone by) means getting up in the middle of a night and leaving the house at 3:30 am.

It means driving through the dark of the night, watching the sun get up, and hoping the kids sleep in their car seats until around 7 am so we get to cover at least half of the journey before they awake.

But in all of its tiredness and the ensuing grumpiness, even the journey's good.

On the way there our first stop was at a beach between Kaikoura and Blenheim. We let the kids (and the dog) run off steam and ate breakfast in the form of homely packed-to-go sandwiches. Everyone got sandy - and it was alright :)

From then on, we stopped every hour. The kids wanted to run. Everybody wanted food. Adults needed changing their roles of driving and sleeping in the passenger's seat ;)

And once we got to Takaka, it was mayhem! The Man's cousin has four kids, all aged between 1 and 7 years old, so between her kids and ours it was... 6 kids under 7. Shared between 3 adults. Plus dogs - one hers and one ours. Mayhem. Mayhem!

Every day we went to a beach - each day a different one.

Every day we made a mess of a house and bathed kids wherever it suited us the most. It was nice and spacious on the verandah - I wish you had seen what the house looked like...

And before too long, it was time to pack our stuff in the back of a car and head home again. 3 am leaving time, with a first real stop at a Ward beach, 7 o'clock in the morning.

Watching a crayfishing boat being launched from the back of a tractor

And then more stops along the way - sometimes for ice creams, sometimes for seal-watching.

It was a heck of a journey!

But we'd so do it again.

After we sleep for about three months that is. 

Tumbletimes photos

A few weeks back I wrote about Tumbletimes sessions I take my kids to, but I didn't have any photos to add.

Today I took my camera with me.

This is Tumbletimes :)

The instructor spreads a bagful of plastic balls which the kids can then pick up and collect back into the bag. The Girlie, unfortunately, wasn't in a mood for balls being spread around today. Oh well :)

How old are you?

The Man is building a little wooden tractor which he is going to give to The Kid for his 5th birthday, in a few weeks' time.

Fortunately/unfortunately The Kid has already seen the work-in-progress tractor in the garage (it looks cool!), and now asks several times each day when he is going to get the tractor.

Which probably makes it not so surprising that this conversation just occurred in our living room.

The Man: "[The Kid], how old are you now?"
The Kid: "Three!"
The Man: "No, you are four."
The Kid: "No, three!"
The Man: "Four. And when you have your birthday in a few weeks time, how old are you going to be then?"
The Kid: "Tractor!"

Yes, in a few weeks time The Kid is going to be tractor years old.

On importance, and on balance

I sometimes get asked if I miss home. As in, Estonia.

Usually I reply that I miss the people.

It's a hard thing to get someone's head around, but... the biggest lesson of the last year to me has been that, I think, everything's about balance. I cannot think of a single thing, actually, where something is so positive it has no bounds. Like:

Oxygen? Good. But too much oxygen - not good.
Exercise? Good. But too much exercise - not good.
Cleanliness? Good. Too much cleanliness - not good.

I've found that it's like this with pretty much everything

Like, actually everything.

And it extends into my being away from my birth-home to a point where I haven't even visited Estonia since 2010. My mother has seen my kids once. My brother hasn't seen any of them. I haven't seen any of my family - except for my mother for she visited New Zealand last year - for 6 years.

And the apparent ease with which I take this distance is the fact that I've learned that almost everything in this world is about balance, and in order to keep what I have in balance in New Zealand, I've let Estonia go.

Last year I stopped talking in Estonian to my children. Until then I had brought my son up in a similar bilingual environment to which I had been brought up in a Soviet Estonia in the 80's, where my mother's family had talked in Estonian to me and my father's family in Russian, plus the occasional Ukrainian by my grandmother and the English studies I started at 6. But then last year when I found out that The Kid had sustained a birth injury to his brain and that it was to be expected that there would be some developmental delays, I dropped Estonian. It had already become strained by that point, with The Kid still not really talking by the age of 3, but when I found out that there was that, too, then I just dropped it.

Talking in one, I thought, beats not talking in two.

Several years before that I had stopped sending birthday presents over, and generally making a deal of birthdays full stop. With my own birthday being such a small deal to me, and generally the concept of celebrating birthdays with presents full stop, it felt that I was doing a disservice to myself in trying to retain a cultural habit with which I didn't really agree, personally, and so I stopped doing that. It's not that the people didn't matter any more - they did, and they still do - but I didn't feel comfortable making a gesture with presents when I felt that I didn't really know what the people were like any more, and sending something over just for the sake of sending something over? Kind of... yeah.

And lots of things gradually changed over time. Had I had the money, and the time, to go over and visit Estonia, I would've gone over and visited. No question about it! Would've visited, and hugged people, and sweated in a sauna, and done all those things that visiting Estonia mean to me, but...

...things had changed.

With the kids coming 'round and our income dropping to one, finances were one thing. Then the fact that with working full-time all year long and not really having the time to explore New Zealand where we lived it actually felt a bit like cheating to spend all the time off on going away - and not that we really had the finances to do that anyway. And now with keeping on putting money aside towards a house deposit so we can buy a home...

All through that time I could've made decisions that would've made going to Estonia possible and easier. We could've rented a smaller house, could've not had a dog, could've worked (and earned) more, could've bought a cheaper car, could've... many things.

But it's a balance. Everything's a balance.

I've shelved the idea of going to Estonia not because I don't want to go to Estonia, but because something else has been more important than that. Talking Estonian to my kids and having them understand Estonian - I don't, because something else became more important.

And it's like this with everything.

I always balance on top of the many things I would like to do, and choose the ones I will decide to do. It doesn't mean that the other things weren't wanted - it just means that something else was wanted more.

And it's like this with this Invercargill move. Not in ten years I would've expected that I would - willingly - move to New Zealand's southern coast like that, and yet for the moment this is exactly what it balances out to be.

The things that are important, and then the things are a little more - or less - important.

PS. These guys are cool :)

A ferry across the harbour

One of Christchurch's nearby towns, Diamond Harbour, is a 30-minute drive away from Lyttelton by car, but only a 10-minute ride away by boat.

Hence - a commuter-type ferry.

And so me and the kids had ourselves a Diamond Harbour morning today.

We left the car at Lyttelton and boarded the ferry whilst checking out large ships moored at Lyttelton port...

...we enjoyed the 10-minute ride over to Diamond Harbour...

...we spent the morning at a Diamond Harbour beach throwing rocks in the water and looking for little crabs hiding under stones...

...we looked back across the harbour towards Lyttelton port...

...and then we just took the ferry back...

...and had lunch at home and now everyone's down for a nap.

A morning well spent.