Life in the Time of Cholera…or Birthday-related First World Problems



Today is my birthday.  My brother-in-law wished me a happy birthday earlier today and just sent me a message on Facebook.  It reads, “How’s your day going?”

Here is my reply:

1) I am 33. Jesus was dead by 33. What the hell have I done in my 33 years?!

2) I am not even 33. My true birthday is tomorrow. 33 years ago I was one day away from being born.

3) I just found out James arranged for a special bagel delivery for me (Canadian deli just opened in Auckland). There was lox and cream cheese in the fridge. The problem: the bagels never arrived!

4) I wanted sushi for lunch but sushi here is nasty. It’s all cooked garbage on top of unseasoned rice. So I settled for Thai. I took Leah, who was pantless of course, to pick up some Thai for us to all share back home. The Thai place was closed! I went to a Chinese buffet in town. It looked gross and everything was mislabeled. It was so bad we threw out most of it. 
5) It’s muggy and my toe is hurting, I think from arthritis.
6) I found a white eyebrow hair the other day.

7) 95% of my Facebook friends are in a different time zone and have yet to wish me a happy birthday.

8) The 5% of my Facebook friends who ARE in my time-zone and are acknowledging my birthday are acknowledging a fake birthday – as I am technically 32 and 364 days old.

9) The Chinese food will probably give me an MSG headache.

10) Like a fool, I bought regular strength painkillers. Why on earth wouldn’t I buy the “extra strength” version?!

11) It looks like it’s about to rain.

12) There hasn’t been a new Rob Ford video in days.

13) There isn’t any chocolate in the house.




Cleaning House

We’ve been here for approximately 6 weeks and are getting into a routine…or at least as much of a routine as is possible with neither parent working and no child enrolled in school.

Prior to our arrival, various relatives left items in our garage expecting that we would use them.  As well, James’ grandfather recently sold his beachhouse and many of the items that were there ended up here.  All this to say that we were left with an abundance of items that we didn’t need.  The miscellany included spare sofas, beds, dishes etc.  Many of the big ticket items went to my sister-in-law and her husband who are expecting farm-workers from the Philippines soon.  The items we had left over included things I literally could not identify.  I would have just left them in the garage forever but James had the brilliant idea of having a garage sale.  The last time I had a garage sale I was a kid and the neighbours haggled with me over my Archie comics.  I ended up selling a boxful for maybe $3; I still regret this.

In any event, James took the lead on this.  He placed an advertisement in the local paper which cost him $15.  I was just hoping to recoup those costs.  The ad appealed to every hoarding spendthrift within a 50 km radius: “nothing over $5”.  The sale was due to begin at 9am on Saturday.  9am on Saturday.  9 am on SATURDAY.  Imagine James’ surprise then when 3 older woman pulled up on Friday afternoon to request an early peak!  They ended up spending $67 that night so no complaints from us!  The next morning, at around 7.30am, I was urging James to shower first and quickly and that I’d follow in short order.  He assured me that no one would arrive until 8.30am at the earliest.  I disagreed.  I was confident people would start arriving at 8am or so.  I scurried past the front window and was shocked at the site! — 5 cars lined up on our front lawn with its inhabitants staring into our house, watching for movement and any indication that the sale was on.  

James ushered them to the garage and the sale was on!  We sold all types of rubbish.  Some of it was actual rubbish.  For example, James took a rusted out bathtub that was headed for the dump and put it in the garage.  SOLD for $5!

Rusty tools?  SOLD! 3 forks and 5 knives from mismatched sets? SOLD! Mouldy pillows? SOLD!

When all was said and done, we made $134 after factoring in the advertising cost.  The best part is that after the last customers left, they returned from their car with a large bucket of freshly picked asparagus.  I thanked him and asked how much he’d like for it.  NONE!  Nothing! He was giving me it! For free!  Obviously I happily accepted his kind and very generous offer. I’ve never had fresh asparagus before.  They taste like sunshine and happiness.ImageImage


Before and After

One difference between Canada and NZ is that in Canada all fishing requires a permit/license to do so legally.  In NZ, by contrast, non-commercial fishing here does not require anything other than a net, a reel, a spear or, for the really rugged, a pair of hands.  Green-lipped mussels, for example, are plentiful by the seashore here as are other kinds of shellfish.  My in-laws recently spent a few days at the beach and, while there, picked up some seafood for us.  My mother-in-law came by to show us the fruits of their labour then took them to her place to prepare our supper.  After a day of childcare, it was a welcome treat and definitely a uniquely Kiwi treat at that.  Here are some photos…



Picking Battles

I am sure many of you, like me, enjoy reading about other people’s parenting missteps, mainly because it makes us all feel better about our own parenting missteps.  I have three children under the age of two.  As such, we are spread very thin and this leads to numerous parenting missteps on pretty much an hourly basis. Don’t get me wrong, overall I think we’re doing a solid job but yes, we pick our battles.  Wearing seatbelts, brushing teeth, putting on suntan lotion are musts.  Wearing pants at the dinner table, however, is optional at best.  And that applies to me and my husband, as well.

When I was around twenty, I spent the summer in Europe.  I still recall the feeling I had walking around Amsterdam.  No, wait, let’s be honest, stumbling around Amsterdam.  The feeling was pure amazement that everything we are told is wrong – namely drug use and prostitution – was accepted fairly openly in the Netherlands and the country still managed to be world class with respect to every possible barometer of excellence.
Which brings me to this: in Canada, even in the summertime, it is assumed that everyone wears shoes.  If you don’t wear shoes, you are considered “the crazy hippy” and if your kids don’t wear shoes, well, you are officially known as “the shitty parent”.  I recently moved to New Zealand and here, shoes are pretty well optional.  You can go shoeless into shops, including grocery stores, and most kids go shoeless to school. The other day I was driving by the local school and saw the kids running around the block and all but one was shoeless.  It is a good reminder that everything, including parenting choices, sometimes come down to cultural differences.
One such example from own life: I was at my brother’s bar mitzvah and my grandmother, an Eastern European at heart, was drinking what looked like a slushie.   I was indescribably excited to get a slushie in a fancy glass so I asked her for one. She handed me hers and when I spat it out and exclaimed “ugh!”, she just laughed.  It was no big deal to her and indeed, I intend to get a laugh out of doing that to my own kids and grandkids one day.  My husband, who is not Eastern European, may not find it so funny but hell, I won’t berate him when he lets the kids go shoeless so I guess we’re even.

A Photo Update…


Dried beans gathered from the vine. I put off cooking them and then they got mouldy and had to be tossed.






Orange cake made with freshly picked oranges


The mint which James is enjoying as tea


Philippa’s kind and open face



Philippa in the foreground and Lev in the background, both Jolly Jumping their little hearts out.


Big sister Leah joining in.


Picking your battles sometimes means kids don’t need to wear clothes at mealtimes. Or use plates. And peas can be in mugs.


Photographic evidence that I occasionally have it under control. Clearly it’s not too often though as it’s still a photo-worthy event!


Little sweethearts


Beautiful family and The Look of Love