Photos of late

And just because I'm in a mood for some blogging (and making a conscious effort to take care of myself today), here are some photos of the week gone by.

Picking hollies.

Bedtime stories

My kids playing with stones at a nearby school's playground.

One is collecting them in his t-shirt and piling them on a slide to then push down at once...

...and the other one is organising them on the benches, one stone for each screw sticking out the surface.

This house

I thought I'd show you more of the house we're renting this summer.

It's a temporary home for us - a place to be whilst we're househunting for a place to really call our own (we're buying a house this summer). And, man!, I'm glad it's a temporary one because, man... I would not want to be here during winter.

The ceiling height alone. I haven't measured it, but I think it's 3.85 metres. High as!

Trying to heat rooms with ceilings that high is like trying to heat a sports stadium - the heat just goes up there, and then it dissipates, because for all the talk about the importance of insulation in New Zealand, this house doesn't seem to have any. (I can check, but I really don't think it's got any.)

Two, the house is almost 120 years old. It was built in 1901 and although it comes with a lot of the elegance people tried to put into buildings at the time, it also comes with a plethora of problems that come with buildings of that age.

It is full of borer. Not really a surprise as being untreated timber it's to be expected to be full of borer - but the thing is, I think a lot of the piles that the house is supposed to be standing on are gone. All rooms sag towards the middle, and if someone is walking in the kitchen I can feel the bed move in the bedroom. I can even feel the dog walk down the hallway if I'm reading a book in The Kid's room. (Again, I'm not a building expert, but I have a strong feeling that if I looked under the house to inspect the piles, or a building inspector did, they'd say that this house has to be re-piled. And let's just say that I hope the Alpine Fault doesn't rupture in an earthquake whilst we're here because, man!, it would be a rollercoaster doing it in this house here.)

It means I have been a little creative with placing furniture. I did not want the hassle of asking the landlord permission to anchor tall furniture to walls and then fixing those walls afterwards (something we had done in Christchurch, and something that is widely recommended in New Zealand) so The Kid's bookshelf, for example, is standing in a narrow doorway so that if it does topple, it can't go all the way down.

The carpets are wildly colorful, differ from room to room, and the amount of plastic animals I've stepped on these past two weeks because of my inability to see them... yeah.

Talking of carpets: I assume it's a result of some sort of a carpet-frenzy era decades ago, but the house has full carpets everywhere including bathroom and toilet.

Which is why if you step into my backyard, you will see a piece of carpet in a shape of a toilet bowl hanging on the washing line.

It is something I did on the first day we moved in here: lifted the bloody thing off the toilet floor and hung it outside to soak in the rain and bleach in the sun, because... jesus, carpet in the toilet.

Are you guys insane.

The kitchen now luckily has lino, but it's on the cold side of the house and only gets sunlight through a single window last thing in the evening.

The bathroom, on the other hand, is on the warm side of the house - towards the sun - but it hasn't got a single window to the outside.

As in, none.

And yes, that is my snowboard that is keeping the shower curtain out of the way ;)

The only window the bathroom has opens into the laundry room, which basically means that whenever I am home, the laundry room has windows and doors open for I am determined to get as much of the moisture I can out of the house.

It is something the previous tenants and owners either haven't been successful in doing or haven't even tried, because the bathroom is full of mould, unsurprisingly.

And that, I think, is the main problem this house has - the fact that although I don't know how it was treated when it was young and the times were different, in recent years the house has had very little love or care. It is run-down, covered in spiderwebs, mouldy, cold, dusty and dirty.

In a nutshell.

Which, I know, sounds a bit unfair of me to say given that I did choose this house to live in this summer, but the thing is: it was one of only two houses available to us in the school zone we were needing to get into, and knowing that we'd only be here during summer when there's sun and wind to dry the place out, we decided to take it and just suck it up. It's just one summer.

But, man!, I am determined to get out of here by mid-March. And feeling sad for it's not the house's fault that it is in such a mess, but... yeah.

A pegboard in the laundry. That works!

If this house was for sale, I don't think we'd buy it. It would have to be really, really, really cheap for us to buy it, because it would have to be worth the money and effort that would go into re-piling it, and insulating, and re-wiring it.

But for this summer, it'll work.

Especially now that The Man has spent a weekend putting up a fence.

Because the thing is, the house was not fenced towards the street, which meant that although we did have a back yard, it was not a safe one where I could relax with the kids without constantly having to worry that someone may run onto the street, which prompted The Man to find a way of putting up a fence that was removable, didn't have any screws or anything else driven into the house, and had a gate.


He's a genius, that man.


I hadn't realised how overtired and burnt out I had become until yesterday I just crashed. Not, as in, literally - but emotionally. I think I had come to a point where by yesterday afternoon I just did not want to deal with ANYBODY any more.

I wanted to lay down and sleep, grumpy, tired and worn out.

And it is not a surprise, really. It has been a very full-on two weeks. I've done a lot, and stopped very little. But I guess I had anticipated that I would get a bit more of a warning to how tired I've become, so I would know to cut back and cut myself slack.

But no. Instead, I was semi-snappy with The Man in the morning, got upset over a child who stuck their hands in their full nappy (and showed the stuff to me, "Look, mama!") and then by the evening, I was done. DONE.


It takes a lot of time to sort things out and move in. Phone calls upon phone calls of contact changes, transferring of all sorts of paperwork and services (and that's  even without the drama with the Southland District Health Board that I spent energy on to get ourselves a GP), and just plain moving stuff. Coffee cups, vacuum cleaners, kitchen towels - it's all little mundane stuff but dealing with it TAKES TIME, and time I haven't got a lot of at the moment.

It has been my priority to make it as smooth as possible for my kids, so I have invested a lot of energy in keeping their routines familiar. We go to parks, we ride bikes, we jump at Tumbletimes, we play in the back yard, we have now started preschool. It's time I spend, which means whenever I am not with them actively, hands-on, I either sort out stuff or sleep.

And then yesterday, CRRRRASSSSSHHH! My body said, nop, not doing this stuff any more. Done. Go find another idiot to work such hours.

Which means that today, I am... still doing stuff, but less of it. A bit gentler. Kinder to myself. (One of those things I will be doing, by the way, will be finding a person in Christchurch willing to be our countersignatory by mail because, turns out, now that I want to renew The Kid's British passport, there is not a single person in Invercargill who can countersign and... Geesh. I love paperwork. I love paperwork. I love paperwork.)

And I think it's about time I were a bit kinder to myself.

Two weeks in

I think, soon I'll have time to sit down. Do things.

I've got an e-mail to write to a friend who helped us get here. A letter to my kids' previous preschool, let them know how we're doing. Blog a little.

You know, do things.

But instead, it's, like... geesh.

I think I am starting to feel it this week and it doesn't help that just as I've got an upset tummy, so do my children. And I did, kind of, expect it to happen - it's a new environment after all, new bacteria, new water - but still, it's one thing to think about it ahead of time but another thing to sit behind a computer, nauseous, and hope that it'll ease soon.


Uploading some photos is easy enough though: I've got a workflow set up, resize them all to 600 pixels and up they go.

So here they are, some snapshots of the week gone past.

The Kid announced one day that he wanted to go on his "big bike". Having never successfully rode on it before, I thought, okay, let's take it easy, try. The training wheels make it a bit wobbly, it's daunting for him to sit on it. But he tried, asked that I let go and... off he went. And I was, like, whoa. And now that's it: this is what he's riding. All the time.

Spent the weekend in a beach town of Riverton. Liked it a lot! Like Raglan of the South island, to be honest, and immediately wondered if I'd ever have a beach house there. Then looked at the real estate listings and thought, bloody hell.

Unlike Tumbletimes in Christchurch, the Invercargill gym is set up for gymnasts full-time, which means that the preschoolers' sessions are in this huge, soft-padded hall, including...

...a foam pit.

Is everybody moving down here?

It is... I don't even know what's the word. Funny? Bizarre? Spectacular?

A few days ago I started talking to a man moving the shopping trolleys in the supermarket, and turns out he moved to Invercargill 4 months ago from Nelson. They're building a house here.

Yesterday I started talking to a young woman who was walking her dog in a dog park. She moved here from Christchurch a few months ago and has just bought her first home.

Today I started talking to a mom in a children's playground, and turns out: they moved to Invercargill yesterday, from Wellington. They will be buying a house here, settling.

I am, like... wow.

I told about it The Man and he rolled his eyes, saying, "Better get onto buying this house then!"

Yeah, I guess that's one way of approaching it.

A few house photos

I've already come to love having a covered deck and will sure have something like it in our future home: even if it rains, the washing gets most of the way to dry!

There are tui-s (a type of a bird in New Zealand) who come to sing on this tree.

Boxes, boxes everywhere.

Got it!

I am... smiling smugly.

Because here's what happened: this morning I got a call from the medical centre, and they said that although they are not enrolling new patients officially, they have decided to make some exceptions on a case by case basis, and we are that exception. Which means that this morning I popped in the medical centre, filled in all the paperwork, gave them copies of our medical records and now we are, officially, enrolled with a GP in Invercargill.

Which makes me wonder if people got tired of hearing that Maria has called again.

Either way, phew! And that makes me very, very pleased :)

I am still running a deficit of time as I am spending large chunks of each day sorting things out, but one day I will start writing again, and I will tell you how I find the area we are living in surprisingly awesome.

It's taking me 3 minutes to walk to preschool. A playground is 2 minutes walk away and another, bigger playground, 7 minutes. A dog park is 5 minutes' walk. Across the road is a large grassy field. The Man is cycling to work. The neighbours are nice. The log burner's working. We've been to the library, to the swimming pool, to the Tumbletimes session. There's a lady with young kids who has offered to take me places and be a kind of a friend to me, like a big sister of sorts. On the upcoming weekend a train show is happening and The Man is already making plans of what we're going to do there.

Which means that today when we got officially enrolled with a doctor and the one big problem I had got fixed, I just sighed a big, loud sigh and went, "Ahhhhhhh..."

Good things are happening.

On finding a doctor

I feel like an Invercargill public health spokesperson this morning :P

So, on Monday it emerged that Invercargill medical centres are all so full to the brim that NO-ONE is accepting new enrolments. As in, it is not possible to get a regular general practitioner at the moment, and the only way to see a doctor is through late night, out of hours clinics staffed by a roster of people from clinics all over town, and being a mother of two preschoolers it was kind of obvious that I was not impressed with the situation. I put myself on a waiting list at the central medical centre, and was on page 4 of a list of people waiting to get enroled.

Then a friend suggested I contact medical centres in small rural towns of Winton and Riverton, both a 30-minute drive away - better than nothing, eh?

And so I did, and they were incredulous that no-one in Invercargill was willing to take on new patients. They asked that I contact all of Invercargill clinics separately, just to make sure.

I did. I called all of them and they all said the same thing: no, sorry, cannot take new patients at the moment. Doctors have retired, doctors are on leave, doctors have left clinics.

I called Winton again. By this time they themselves had spoken to Southland's medical regulators and learned that, indeed, I was not wrong: not a single medical centre in Invercargill was taking on new patients. They did, however, learn from those regulators that on Monday some sort of a GP meeting had taken place where it had been decided that whilst this situation is ongoing, medical practices who have people on their waiting lists looking to get enrolled, they will see those people casually, ie will give them appointments even though they are not officially enrolled yet.

Okay, great, I thought. That'll work for a while.

Except, when I called my medical practice, they themselves didn't know anything about this deal.

...which meant that, again, I spent quite a bit of time on the phone talking to Southland's medical regulators to somehow find a workable solution for the moment.

Because by that time, Winton' medical practice, a 30-minute drive away, had said that if I was only looking to enrol with them for a few months - whilst I was waiting for a place in Invercargill to free up - then they weren't wanting that sort of enrolments, people who come for a few months and then go.

They did, however, confirm that if we needed a doctor's appointment whilst we were in this limbo of doctorland, they would be willing to see us casually, ie through casual fees which come in addition to regular funding, and I was very much thankful for that.

But man I've spent a lot of time talking to various people on the medical system. Starting to get quite well-versed in my presentations...

Stay tuned. We'll get there.


PS. Meanwhile, The Girlie is covered is some ambiguous rash which is looking like a mild allergy of sorts and I assume is a reaction to... something. I don't know, new water? New house? New... something? I'll probably will be talking to Healthline tonight, see if they have ideas :)

PPS. ...aaand The Girlie is vomiting. Joy.


Too tired and busy to write in much length, but I will take a moment to share this:

* Went to the medical centre this morning. Turns out, Invercargill has such a doctors shortage there is nowhere I can enrol our family. NOWHERE. Confused, I tried explaining, look, I have two preschoolers at home. What if they get ill? I was then told that for us to see a doctor, we would have to call the after hours service after 6 o'clock in the evenings and arrange someone to see us through that, hefty fees including and when I got back home, I just about cried. The idea that it should even be possible, for an ill preschooler to be seen by a doctor only through 1) ambulance or 2) an after hours service in the evenings, struck me as... F*ck. So, basically, our family is on a waiting list of the medical centre so that should they find a new doctor and the previous 4 pages of waiting list people get enrolled, we will be able to get a GP.

* And to add to the previous thought: now I have to hunt down how it would even work to get The Kid's various therapies forwarded on to Invercargill if there isn't a primary healthcare provider existing.

* And to think that for all the people I talked to prior to us moving here, not one mentioned this f*cked-up situation.

* Turns out, the house we're renting had damaged phone cables under the floor, so the first weekend we were here I spent quite a bit of time talking to various tech support people and then a technician came and crawled under the floorboards to fix the cable and long story short, now we have internet.

* Tried registering our dog through the council's website. Our address didn't work. So I have to go the council office, two kids in tow, to get our dog registered.

Basically, f*cked off and tired.


At about 11 o'clock in the morning when the moving truck was starting to look rather full but people were still bringing boxes, boxes, boxes out of the house, and the rooms still had quite a bit of furniture in them, I stepped back and thought, "F*ck, I didn't think we were hoarders. But... look at this stuff. Jesus."

The packing lady recognised my anguish. "Don't worry," she said, "it always looks like a lot when it's in boxes."

I stood there, looking at her.

"Really," she continued, "It's taking us a day to get you out of here. In some people's homes it takes us a full day to just box up the kitchen. In some houses, it takes us three days to get the house packed up."

And she was correct: from start to finish, it took them 5 hours to get us out of here, because by about 1 pm they were gone.

But still, I think back to the truck in our driveway, packed to the ceiling with... stuff, and I think, "Jesus."

There she goes, pulling out of the driveway and on her way to Invercargill.

And now the house is quiet. The rooms are bare and I am sitting on the floor of the living room, downloading podcasts onto my computer so I can listen to interesting interviews on my way to Invercargill tomorrow.

By tomorrow evening, I will be in Invercargill, in an old weatherboard house close to city centre, cleaning the kitchen, blowing up a camping mattress and then on Thursday, when the truck arrives in Invercargill, I am going to be unpacking.

I am going to be unpacking those 100+ boxes people packed up today.