Category Archives: Travel

How was your day?

So the cold from hell seems to be over. The fourth round of antibiotics seems to have done the trick, and I am now back to “normal” amounts of lung medication to keep me from brain death. After a week of regularly getting above 95% when I tested my oxygen perfusion, I decided it was finally time to go back to the sports medicine specialist to get the results of my MRI.

My iphone (4s) decided to refuse to turn on this morning, so after a comedy of errors I finally arrived 15 minutes late, and then had to wait a further half hour. Turns out, there are reasons for delayed appointments that aren’t to do with doctors being lazy.

So my MRI shows that I have another ruptured disk, the very bottom one in my spine. Because this disk bears all the weight of the spine, healing will take some time (it’s already been 10 months!), but it should come good with some physio and more rest.

But the MRI showed something else. A lipoma, a little collection of cells that in itself isn’t a problem, but the specialist wants me to see a neurologist to rule out “tethered spine syndrome”, which is a possible cause of my pain.

Hopefully my phone will restart, and the backup a week ago was recent enough that I haven’t lost much of importance (except the photos of our fab holiday in Russell with Richard and Miriam this weekend :( ).

Bikes in Schools

Squish’s school has just become part of this awesome program.

Over the holidays they have built a bike track around the school play area, and hopefully he’l learn to ride at school. Check out the video on the linked page, it looks like a really positive intervention for the kids.

And I have re-enrolled in uni. It’s going to cost me about $200 to sit each exam, but other than that I can continue to study from New Zealand, and still earn my degree in Australia.

I’m OK. Are you?

Living in NZ has been mostly great.  We miss our family and friends, and great Middle Eastern food, but all three of us have found things we absolutely adore about living in NZ.  Mark is doing challenging and interesting work, and living a short walk from work has been great for us spending time together as a family.  Mark gets to see Inigo both in the morning, and in the evening – in Sydney he was usually asleep by the time Mark got home from work.

Mark has also found a new choir to sing with, an octet that has paid gigs, and they are flying him down to Wellington for a gig next month.  Exciting stuff.

Inigo has two rocking schools.  Freemans Bay School is a lovely city school with loads of green space, a kitchen garden, the freedom to go barefoot and climb trees, and the ability to just be him, without the pressure to conform to anybody elses idea of “normal”.  The school is very child centered, and Squishy is loving the freedom and personal power he gets from taking responsibility and ownership of his learning process.  It’s not perfect, but he is a much, much happier wee beastie when Monday morning rolls around each week than he ever was about going to school in Sydney.

And then there is One Day School.  A place where kids get to explore a new topic each week, with the freedom to apply their own initiative and resources however they see fit.  Where the kids are guided and encouraged to explore the topic through their own eyes and methods. I can’t speak highly enough about what this experience has meant for Squish.  He was already a great thinker, but he is gaining so much confidence and passion for learning, that he is wanting to do homework so that he can have more time at school for his projects.

I have withdrawn from university again this semester because the exam period fell exactly in the middle of when Mark’s contract here ended, and the uncertainty about where we would be living was very damaging to my ability to focus on study.  So I have thrown myself face first into the Auckland (and greater New Zealand) fibre scene.

I have joined Creative Fibre, and attended lots of different groups.  I have learned bobbin lace, and loom weaving, and supported spindling, and how to use a hackle, a drum carder, and now I have even bought a double treadle spinning wheel.  And last month I taught my first class – “Unravelling Ravelry”.  Some of you may laugh at the thought of me teaching Ravelry (yes, you Emily!), but i have come a long way, and the process of putting together the class notes taught me a lot.  The class went brilliantly, and I am happy to say that the owner of the yarn shop has asked me back to teach two new classes. Learn to Knit, and Continental Kntiing both coming up.

Our tenure in NZ ends in about six weeks, and we have not yet reached an agreement with Mark’s employers that will enable us to stay here long term.

The stress, of course, is huge.  On the upside, Mark and I have weathered some pretty rough storms in the past, and we are very lucky that we are able to communicate effectively and present a united front.  We’ll get through this, and will be thrilled at the outcome.  If we have to come back to Sydney, we get to have Summer and Christmas with our loved ones, Squish will be able to go back to choir and piano lessons, I’ll get back on track with uni, and Mark’s job will carry on, and I’m sure he will find another choir.

And if we end up staying here, you can look forward to lots of pictures of our travels around this lovely country, and more fibery adventures, and the joy of packing up a three bedroom cluttered house to move into a tiny two bedroom apartment.  Joy!

So, on RUOK day, how are YOU doing?  If your glass is only half full, can I help you top it up a little?

Hobbiton

Mark, Squishy and I spent Star Wars Day (4th May) at Hobbiton.  And today, I finally arranged to borrow Mark’s lappy so that I can upload my pics and caption them.

I was going to try to make a gallery here, but instead I think I’ll just stick in a link to flickr, and same myself some pain and a few hours of dealing with wordpress.

So, without further ado, for your viewing pleasure, here are my pictures from Hobbiton.

(Or – I’ve just realised you can click left and right from the main picture and see the whole set from the main picture above)

Party!

Pending getting something official from the company, we will be moving to New Zealand on the 24th of April or thereabouts. Which only gives us three more full weeks in Sydney.

Friday this week is our wedding anniversary. It is ten years since the silliest wedding ever, and I love him more than ever. Despite being a tiny bit resentful about the stress of the past few weeks.

So we are going to have a little party. A picnic at Observatory Hill, the place we got married at all those years ago. From 11ish on the 6th April, bring a plate and blanket. If the weather is awful we will find a pub nearby.

Come and say hello if you haven’t seen us for years, and farewell as we journey off to the land of the long white cloud.

Consulting the hive

So we are getting further on in this “move to New Zealand” malarkey.

Initially, I agreed to 6 months. Then 8 months, and now it is looking more like they want us there indefinitely. So I started out thinking “we’ll get in a house sitter to care for the creatures”, and now I am thinking that they will all need to be cared for longer term.

And we’ll have to rent out the house.

Which freaks me out.

There is definitely a hoarder gene in my inheritance, and the last four or so years of bedrest and sadness seem to have inhibited my ability to throw anything out. Leaving me with a three bedroom house full of stuff I need to sell, chuck, rehome, store, or move. Everything needs to be sorted. I feel like the “before” of one of those hoarder shows.

Of course it’s not that bad, and once I get started I will probably overcome the paralysing terror. But in the meantime…

Does anyone know of a company, or a service, or a person that does organisation? Or have any other ideas of how I can tackle this fear. I’m not asking for offers of help – I’ve known for year that this is my crap and I have to deal with it myself, I just need a professional to guide the process along. Or a therapist!

Any ideas welcome!

Tentative moving date is the 23rd April. Five weeks.

Adventures

Today I did my first session as a counsellor for a new project trialling using Google Glass for breastfeeding information and support. I didn’t get any calls, but I did have a lovely time fiddling with the technology (I don’t get the glasses, just the software!), and working out the kinks. And I got started on uni for this semester, Cognition I, another one of those units that puts fear into the hearts of second year students. I’m only doing one subject this semester, with the aim of getting great results and lifting my GPA – and eventually being offered a place in honours.

And… There is further talk of Mark going to New Zealand. Still nothing confirmed, but we have agreed to the idea of thinking about considering a short term move. No idea what we would do with the house, or the creatures, or any practicalities, and it all may fall over (if a single person without a family volunteers for the role!), but we’ll see.

Lord Howe Island

Sooty Tern on the wing

We just got back from an amazing holiday, thanks to my lovely mother in law. I don’t want to gloat too much, but in one day, I swam with (multiple) turtles, saw lion fish, a moray eel, bull rays, a small shark (only a little bit terrifying) and puffer fish, amongst others.

Here are some pics to make you jealous!

Attempted Murder

My blog friend Behan is living the life we all secretly want, sailing the world and homeschooling/unschooling/natural learning with her kids on the way.  I read voraciously, because I am taking notes for my next holiday, and hope I can be as cool as her one day!

She recently confessed a love of anemone fish (which I share), so I promised her an anecdote about one of these guys on our first Vietnam trip.  I may have already shared it here, so look away if you don’t want to read it again, but I suspect my storytelling is slightly better this time – cross posted from Behan’s blog.

We were staying at a little island of Nha Trang in Vietnam (Whale Island).  I’m asthmatic, and though enthusiastic, not a confident snorkeler.  I couldn’t go out unless the bay was as flat as plate glass, because getting water down my snorkel was terrifying (the asthma has made me quite claustrophobic).

So one day, the water is a little too choppy for my liking (but I’m becoming more confident), and Mark is intent on exploring some new areas we hadn’t visited before.  My rented mask keeps letting in water, but only a bit at a time, so I put on my bog girl panties and decide to just deal with it.

Until…

Mark freedives down to look at an anemone, out of which darts the most aggressive anemone fish I have EVER seen.  It fully charged him, stopping only about 6 inches from his mask, to stare him down in as bold a manner as a Kings Cross bouncer.

At which point I cracked up, my laugh lines created a channel by which the sea water was able to stream into my mask, and the resultant hysterical laughter coupled with inhalation of seawater was a sight to behold.

Well played small fish, well played.

Vietnam, 2013. Part one

Reading “Darth Vader & Son” at Sydney airport.

 

 

Breakfast at the local markets outside our homestay.

Our building as seen from the markets – I was too chicken to check out the roof, but Mark and Inigo did.

The back of the markets – the butchers

 

At the district 6 Pagoda. Apparently Pagodas are for worshiping gods, Temples are for commemorating revered people.

 

A beautiful fence.

 

A monk ringing a huge bell behind the foliage.

My friend the dragonfly

 

Pretty gardens

An amazing bonsai scene


An extremely underfed kitten. Some of his siblings weren’t in such good shape :(

Wood carvers working to restore the pagoda

I still have absolutely no idea what this is, but I aim to find out!

Blacksmiths

Our house from the front as we waited for our host to return home. The neighbours run a little drinks stall, they took great care of us.

Inigo’s number 2 fan. His number one fan appears later.

Some nice girls at the vegetarian restaurant we went to – they all wanted to be photographed with the cute kid. Instant celebrity.

 

Since I am way behind on posting our adventures, I’ll have to catch up with picture heavy posts.