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The ups and downs of our planned new life to NZ, warts and all!

Photo entryMon 19 October 2009
Life is ticking along here in Windy Welly.  Our furniture has been delivered to the cottage and Steve and I spent a wonderful night there sans children.  Although they've delivered the wrong sofa colour, these guys are red and we ordered black, but its starting to grow on us :

I've also officially changed my major to Law and will be starting law school next March.  I've excited but nervous, but there is less pressure because it will become my one and only focus.  The business has become a bit of a nightmare, families putting high expectations on nannies to become cleaners/maids/general skivvys and good nannies are being treated unfairly.  Its very demotivating hearing these tales.  That said, its also hard hearing from families that have had bad experiences with Nannies.  The economy has affected the business more than I had anticipated, with Mothers being pushed into the workforce, but not able to cover childcare costs.  I've taken a real back seat with this.  Not to mention the local college have sent me a bunch of unreliable students.  I don't feel able to recommend most of them.  I've put my energies into finishing my current studies at Massey as I have exams coming up.  I've also embarked on a new Jenny Craig diet!  Its kind of embaressing to admit because it conjours up images of Kirstie Alley - and no one wants to go there!  I considered Weight Watchers, but I'm a lousy cook.  With JC the food is all done for me, I just need to heat it up and it costs less daily than take out.  I'm learning to add my own bits like fresh veggies and fruit.  At first I thought it would be a hassle, but I'm enjoying foods that I've not even known what they've looked like!

My Landrover has finally died its final death!  I've had a lot of cars in my time, but this one I am truly gutted about.  We've had some good times, and I've saved the old gal plenty of times, but we can no longer justify the additional work costs and as my mechanic said it would be 'moonbeams' to fix, I can only imagine that means a lot of moolah.  Steve had to rescue me and the trailer (I've blanked out the regos in case anyone tries to hunt me down and kill me in my sleep)

Its a sad day and a big loss.  But together we've left a lot of carbon footprints along the way.  Not sure I can convince Steve to let me have another Landy - he's been blithering on about English engineering for quite some time!

Celebrating 'Pip's' birthday, thought I might add a pic of the 'girls night on the town'

And so this concludes my photo update entry
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Wow, its been a while!Sun 4 October 2009
Goodness, where to begin...I've made a few references to the Wairarapa in my blog, specifically Martinbough.  We always have a good time in this Wellington wine region, and on one sunny day as were driving out, I saw this cottage for sale.  I said to Steve, hey why don't we buy a little weekender here?  Its close enough to get use out of, we'll make a good return if we rent it out during touristy times, and the mortgage will be so small, we won't even notice the monthly repayments.  And so, the idea was born.  We looked at one idyllic little cottage, Citrus cottage, so called for its orange tree.  We made a low offer because of issues relating to the title.  The issue being the vendor had built this cottage on his land, but neglected to tell the council.  The real estate agent was all blase about it.  It'll take a few weeks to sort out she said.  Steve wasn't buying it and we got a good lawyer, who warned us these things could take years.  We could essentially be paying a mortgage on a property that didn't exist.  Furthermore, the council could refuse it and we'd lose everything.  Wow!  Then we settled on another fruitful cottage, this time lemon.  Did it leave a bitter taste in our mouths I hear you ask?  Simply, yes!  We put in a bloody good offer.  The vendors were English - so we knew they'd be difficult.  The guy wanted to speak to his wife who was in the UK.  One week passed, and still not word on our offer.  We started to look around at other potentials, and found another little cutie for the same price, only marginally larger, this time with a ridiculous name after vermin?  Anyway, after two longs week we got the feedback that whilst the guy wanted to sign the offer, the wife couldn't part with the cottage just yet.  Bleugh.  Annoying.  This other cottage, 26, was for sale privately.  Simple?  Hell no, I would never buy privately again.  We relied heavily on our lawyer as you do when the property laws mean zilch to you.  These vendors didn't want to pay lawyer costs, so they kept faffing around, breaking property laws and all that.  FInally, at settlement day, they decided that whilst we should go ahead and put our money down, they'd like to keep furniture in there to sell.  So, I said, let me get this straight?  You want us to pay the mortgage, pay rates, etc while you swan in and out?  Yes, she said, we'll give you spare keys and everything!  Oh, the cheek!  When I said no that wasn't acceptable, she turned into a first class spoilt bitch.  Turns out she's in the film industry - don't want to make stereotypes here, but...Anyway, we had to delay settlement for another week because they weren't ready.  Finally the day before setttlement 2, we do our pre purcahse inspection and there's a cracked window.  The vendors admit liability, but don't want to pay for it!!  To be honest, we've been so sick of the stress and the ongoing drama, that we just said in the end, fine, sod it.  And thus, we now happily own 26.  We've ordered furniture will arrive in two weeks, as its got wooden floors, we're going for a modern contempory look.  The girls love it because its got a big garden.  Its not been landscaped, so we're going to put a lot of work into it.  There is a mirror image cottage next door and we met the owners of that.  Like us, its a weekend property, they're based in Wellington and they're really nice.  Phew!  We're having drinks with them in a couple of weeks, they have a five year old, so Moons will be chuffed to bits. 

In other news, I've just dotted along with my degree, it was my intention to become internal in year 2, but the local campus have cancelled this degree internally, I'll be forced to finish my next three years extramurally and its really bloody tedious.  So many people have asked what its like studying extramurally and whilst its good that I can have spare time to work, look after kids, etc, its also really hard to stay focused.  This end semester has proved particularly difficult because once you slip behind, it becomes a mountain to overcome and there's no one really to ask questions to.  The other degrees offered by the campus are not of interest to me.  So, I looked at another university here, and it turns out I have enough credits to apply for law school.  There are some great benefits to this, internal lectures, an onsite creche for Egg, some fantastic papers on offer.  Plus I'm already way ahead with my cross credits from Massey.  But on the downside, I'm anxious about studying something so complex.  A few years ago, I would have said, meh, law, easy!  But as I've gotten older, I've grown increasingly more aware of my limitations and what with my tendancy for highs and lows - how will I cope with the pressures?  I need to make my decision in a week!  The streams are capped to keep classes smaller.

Everyone else is well. Egg has undergone further tests on her kidney function, the first one was fine, but we're awaiting another one.  The last couple of weeks she's been more like herself which is lovely.  Moons is loving 'big' school.  Although I've still not learnt to stop saying God and Jesus all the time.  Even to her teachers.  Her reading ability has put her way ahead of her peers, which I'm really proud of.  Unfortunately, she now needs glasses, so she's inherited her Father's useless eyeballs.  Pip is still, well, Pip.  Stubborn, cute, diva, but she's loving her new early learning centre.  She'll be three in a week.  Gasp! 

Well, its school holidays here, so I'd better go and assess the damage downstairs...
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Its been a while!Tue 4 August 2009
Goodness its been an usually long time since I last darkened this website.  Of course, the lack of updates does not mean its been quiet in the Littletoe life!  Steve and I continued househunting, but we found that without fail, every single house we looked at we both reacted completely differently.  I would love it, Steve would hate it and vice versa.  In the end, we decided to put it on the back burner for a while, whilst neither of us are keen to keep paying rent, we've heard that as summer approaches and banks relax lending criteria, there will more variety.  This time frame does work well because Moons started primary school and this new regime has hit her pretty hard.  She's usually so laid back. but the new structure and routine has left her frustrated and overwhelmed.  We are very proud of her though and she looks particularly gorgeous in her little uniform.  I actually thought having a primary school kid would be easy cheese.  I WAS WRONG!!  The stationary alone caused me a headache, the uniform cost  NZ$400, and then there's the homework, rules (ie, hair style, jewellery - We'd bought her a cute Maori carving necklace, which we got told off about!), paperwork!!!  Permission slips, contribution things, school trips.  There's different dates. staff training days - no sirreee, primary school is not the walk in the park that I expected.  Its a Catholic School, not that we're practising, but we wanted her to be taught the same values and then make her own mind up when she's older.  Of course, this has prompted many questions from Caitlin (how do people know what Jesus looked like?  He shouldn't have long hair, he's a boy.  Where does he live?)  On the second day of collecting Moons, she thrushed all of her stuff at me, and I grunted, 'Christ, God damn' it seems the more I try not to use those words, the more I do.  They're part of my vocab!  We've already had the Priest on the phone inviting us to a special Mass for the kids.  I can see where our Sunday mornings are going - grrrrroan. 

Our live in Nanny left - not without drama (taking the car key on holiday etc).  We had a replacement - a student Nanny because of my contract with the college, but she left after a day after hearing a relative had terminal cancer.  This constant upset to the girls caused me to proclaim that I would be a stay at home Mum.  Although I'm around a lot already, I decided I need to be more involved with the girls, if we could rope in some part time help, that would enable me to grow the business and at least have some time where I could squeeze in appointments.  This has worked extremely well.  The business is ticking along at a slow, but steady pace.  I'm always there to collect Moons and drop her off, and Pip attends a preschool two days a week, which is really restoring her confidence and helping develop her speech and independace.  Steve's been keen to get Egg in twice a week as well to get her used to being around other babies, but I've resisted so far.  We've made an agreement to look into it after her first bithday which is the end of this month.

Last week, Egg woke up with the look of a cold coming.  I didnt think much of it, she was a bit grumpy, so I gave her a bath and put her for a nap.  On the monitor, I could hear her screaming, extremely high pitched, almost howling.  I stood outside her room and it went quiet.  I went inside and she was facedown.   Not unusual, its her favourite sleeping position, but I sensed, call it Mothers instinct, that something was horribly wrong.  I turned her around and she was rigid, her eyes open, but not seeing me.  I knew she was alive, but something was very wrong.  I scooped her up and called the dr, who told me to head straight down.  By this time, she started shaking violently and grunting.  At the drs her temp was almost 40.  We've all had flu, so he suggested it might be that, but if I prefer, I could pop into the hospital.  We went straight there.  Egg's health continued to decline and it was discovered she had pneumonia and a kidney infection.  Egg and I spent the next few nights living at the hospital while she was drip fed fluid and meds.  It was a dreadful time, Steve had to look after the girls, so it was just Egg and I.  I was in complete auto mode, not thinking, just reacting and dealing, and being strong.  When Steve got sick over the weekend, we had to arrange for a temp Nanny to help him out.  She looked like an extra from a zombie movie, her intelligence couldn't be far off either.  It was, in all, a bloody awful time for all concerned.  Anyway, Egg has responded and we got home on Monday.  We continue to give her medicine orally and in six weeks we're being referred back to check her kidney function.  I'm a little shell shocked, staying in a childrens ward is especially upsetting.  As soon we got back, I've been scrubbing the house, getting things organised.  I guess its the need to establish some control.  You should have seen Egg's hospital room!  It was spotless!  I would literally move furniture around in there to make it look nicer!!  And I unfolded the bed, made military style bedding and then at 6am on the dot, it was all packed away!

Well, its a beautiful sunny day, I'm off to walk the little Egg....
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Bipolar IIMon 8 June 2009
That's right people, I am dedicating this entry, mostly to my new found diagnosis.  The weeks have been rather up and down (Muhahaha), as new medications kick in - or don't and I've been on the old denial train, the angry train, the resistant train and then the old reading and researching train.  Hmmm, lots of trains!  Anyway, did you know, Carrie Fisher, Jim Carrey and Winston Churchill all had bipolar II.  I'm lucky because bipolar I is the crazy one, manic highs, bad lows and usually hospitalisation.  In the old days, frontal labotomies were performed to bipolar I patients.  In fact it wasnt until the 50s that bipolar I was seperated from psyhzophrenia, excuse my spelling.  Unlike the latter, bipolar I responds to lithium and then in the 70s lithium was licensed and thus peace restored.  In my case though, bipolar II people often go undiagnosed because their hypomania basically involves having lots more energy, less need for sleep and other than rapid talking, not much more.  Most bipolar II people go on to have successful careers.  The only difference is that they do get vulnerable to lows.  Mostly these can last months, in my case, days or weeks because of the rapid cycling.  They do also of course, on occasion fall foul of addictive habits, such as gambling or alcohol addiction.  As I look back on the last few years, I can objectively see patterns of long periods of 'hypomania' I used to work as a Sales Exec and I was one of the most successful.  I worked long hours, I was a fast, smooth talker and could have sold snow to eskimoes, or should I say, inuates??  Perhaps the Canadians can correct me.  Anyway, other than the odd blip on the radar, I did fairly bloody well indeed.  And like some people with bipolar II the illness itself can pretty much correct itself and you can carry on pretty much without it.  Anything can bring this on, trauma, genetics, hereditary and would you believe it, anti depressants!  And so, although I initially resisted the diagnosis, some sense could be seen in the some of the symptoms.  Although unfortunately, I have found myself in some more lows of late, which was why I sort help in the first place.  As do most people with bipolar II, seek help during the lows.  I've read, 'An Unquiet Mind' By Dr Kay Jamison, the most highly recommended book, but I did find that a bit pretentious.  Most recently I've read a book by Dr Ronald Grieve - Bipolar II, a fascinating book all about his studies including some patient accounts.  Its reassuring, and extremely interesting.  I hope that my own entries would encourage someone who doubts themselves or family members to go out and seek help.  Have I told anyone?  Apart from anyone that reads this blog.  Steve knows, he's been his usual supportive self.  But I can't bring myself to let anyone else know.  I worry that they'll look at me with two heads - muhahahaha!  Certainly in the UK there is little known about any mental illnesses and of course, depression is really the 'in' thing these days.  Anyone you meet is either on anti depressants, has taken them, or knows someone that is.  And that's OK, but this illness would definitely see me packed off to Bedlam on my return the UK.  They're a bit better about these things over here - I think there's more mental people here!  At my insistance, my new medication is lamictal, the evidence is extremely good in treating bipolar II with rapid cycling.  I've dropped the random other pills, I don't like all this pill popping.  Panadol is my limit!  So I wouldn't say I've embraced the diagnosis, but knowledge is power and I certainly feel empowered by how much I've learnt about, again, something I'd recommend to anyone in the same boat.  Anyway, what else has been going on?  I've been taking it easy for the last few weeks, reading and learning.  The Nanny's wallet was stolen on the weekend.  So I stepped in, my usual pragmatic approach, calling police, the pub, telling her what to do.  My Mum took a fall, a nasty one, which according to my Dad saw her arm below the elbow snap out like a footballers at a 45 degree angle.  She's had to have surgery.  I'm not there, I'm helpless so I tried to be pragmatic, helping them plan how they'd cope living out in the country, unable to drive, services that might be available to them.  I got shut down pretty quickly.  My family are far to staunch to seek support or anything silly like that.  I only found out about my Mum because my sister told me on facebook.  Grrr!  Parents!  There's no way I'd tell them about this!  Can you imagine?  Oh, and as I was driving out of the driveway, my neigbour didn't notice me and drove straight into the side of me!  It was quite a pelt as well.  Fortunately, I was halfway along, so he only got towards the back of the car, the back passenger door.  I was lucky that none of the girls were in the car.  I was pretty angry, but being a neighbour, I just asked him how the hell he missed me!  He just said he was looking down as he pulled out.  Thank goodness for the car around me then, ah?!  Anyway, other than the usual littletoe dramas keeping me on my toes, what else can I say?!
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So, on the job frontThu 28 May 2009
The Nanny business is slow and pretty tiresome, people are just so annoying and unreliable.  So, keeping it ticking along, I've been trying to find some other part time work, similiar to the one I mentioned before.  I found a couple of interesting positions for organisations that have good values, etc.  So the first job was an interview before a panel.  Being on medication makes it much easier for me, I feel less inclined to rush along talking quickly and thinking fast.  I've identified that I feel more inclined to becoming hypo when exposed to stressful situations and pressure.  We're not talking stuff out of the Shining here, just a bit more excitable I guess.  I felt the interview went fairly well, but as the job was described to me I started to think it might not suit me.  The Acting CEO was extremely arrogant and I felt this position lacked enough deifinition to open it up to becoming his lackie.  The previous woman in the job, whom I met, was like a wall flower and worked a lot more hours than she was contracted and he thought that was awesome.  I just though, uh-oh, he's going to hate me!!  My gut instinct was no, which was  a shame because aspects of the role really did appeal, help setting up a national office in Welly.  I had lined up another interview a few days later for a position I did really want however.  I couldn't believe it when 8.30pm saw me get a call from the CEO with a job offer.  I asked for some time to consider it.  Literally because some aspects appealed, he didn't and I wanted to see how this other job went!  The other job emailed me to say that they had to postpone for a week.  AARGH!  The first job had to do reference checks and police checks, so fortunately that took up most of the week.  I had to do a presentation for the second job, so out came powerpoint and it seems the panel were incredibly impressed.  I was anxious about this interview as well, but I can't express the relief of having the ability to pause and think before answering.  To reign in my ideas and yet still, be me!  Only a less crazier version!  I could tell that they were impressed with my answers.  They told me at the end that they had narrowed down the shortlist to 20 candidates and would make a decision the following week.  Did I mention previously that this also happenened to be a position I'd sent the wrong application form off to??  So they'd already seen one horrendous mistake from me and knew I'd clearly applied to other positions.  Can you also believe that someone on the interview panel was chairperson to the organisation that had offered me a job??!!  Stinky feet OR WHAT??!!  It all came out when I confessed that the pressure was on for me to make a decision about another job.  This woman looked at me and just said, I know who you are!  She was upset that she felt she'd compromised my interview here.  I had to explain that I'd been playing for time with their answer while I checked out this job.  Worst interview in the world...ever?  It was a very awkward end.  I walked out almost close to tears, knowing I'd lost this one.  I later spoke with a Manager there and she said she thought I was awesome and would recommend me to the Director and also push for an earlier decision, but she wasn't too hopeful for me.  I later typed out an email to the panel and just said, if they didn't let me know sooner, I would have to withdraw my application.  Next day I told the CEO I needed one more hour to decide.  Talk about a stressful day!  The company I wanted invited me down and I met their Managing Director.  Would you believe we had SO MUCH in common!!  We talked about everything from the World Bank, the evil IMF and the atrositices of what happened during Pol Pot's regime in Cambodia!  I know, weird, eh?!!   They said that they'd checked the legality of the situation as they had more people to interview, but as another position had popped up, they would offer me this particular job that I'd gone for.  They said they'd kick themselves if they waited a week and lost me.  I was too tired to feel excited!  I then typed out a letter to the CEO and explained that whilst aspects of the position appealed, I felt that it would not be a move up my career ladder.  He actually telephoned back and told me he'd been coming to a similiar conclusion and realised that was my concern.  Steve has asked me if I'm ready to work again and take on more stresses.  I'm taking this medication and I'm supposed to start some new tablets soon as well, plus exams coming up.  I've taken some time to consider this, but I feel comfortable with my decision.  I'm a lot more 'stable' with my moods recently and my concentration has returned, leaving me finally able to read my books and retain information.  I continue to get great grades on my assignments, and next semester is far less stressful.  In fact, this organisation already have someone else doing the same degree and they're very supportive and flexible to her study needs and exams.  And there's even government funding for people doing degrees while working for NGOs for both the student and the organisation.  I will also spend some of the time in the city, which means I can go in with Steve some times.  We're also a bit closer with the mortgage, a lender has finally decided to consider our situation (Steve contracting) on the condition that we hire an accountant to do all our tax stuff.  Steve's been doing a very good job up until now and because he's been so organised and so above board with the taxes, the accountant bill will be marginally less and easier for them!  Phew!  We resubmit hopefully next week.  Although moving house is probably going to be a huge hit to my brain, so I'm happy to take that slowly for now.   I'm really proud of the girls' achievements as well.  Egg has been trying so hard to crawl, Pip is a real little dancer, and Moons has moved up a class in swimming, quicker than most kids do because she's got it really quickly.   Its hard going though, make no mistake!  Second guessing myself, remembering to take the little pills that work so hard to adjust my brain.  Worrying whether the girls will fall foul of this bizarre mental blip.  OK, Pip is rearranging the furniture, so I better go!
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Ah, the mini breakMon 25 May 2009
In the run up to the mini break, it wasn't all plain sailing.  As of course, one would expect from me!  A bit of drug tweaking and so forth.  My impatience being tested to the limit.  Its an odd thing, this bi polar larky.  Initially I felt great on the meds, whoop whoop, I was no longer a nutcase.  Then came a down that lingered just a little bit too long for my liking.  So a tweak here and a tweak there.  I've done all the emotions since I last wrote.  The denial bit (it must a mistake, surely I'm fine), the crying bit, the relief bit, the scared bit (what if I see tiny people and I end up strapped up in a white jacket with men injecting me with things, my terrified screams rushing down the sterile corridor), I've wanted to burst it out to people, 'Hi I'm Litttletoe and I'm a little mental - up and down you could say.'  Although 'I'm the littletoe' bit might cause the greater alarm!  On the whole, I think we can say there's been some huge improvements, and its only with those improvements comes the hindsight, that maybe things weren't koshar at all.  But God, I miss those days of high energy and the feeling of being invincible and that I could do anything.  Life seems so much more boring now I'm normal!!  But hey, there's still me, and I still have my usual character traits that I'm pretty sure don't come from the mental side!  I still laugh when people trip, I still cry over love movies, I still curl up and doze off in front of the fire, I still declare national pjama days and I still adore English baked beans.  There is hope!  Anyway, this time away was a plan to get away from those barking dogs, suburu exhaust noises (its called a damn muffler 18 year olds!), and just get back to basics.  Oh my god, talk about my DREAM accommodation, and how I hope to see Canadians living!
Yep, just the mountains, lakes and forests around us.  Pure bliss. 
We did our shopping and spent our days lounging in front of the fire, reading our books, drinking wine, taking short walks.  It was just beautiful.  They even had a bathtub, so I managed to get a good bubbly soak in to.  On Saturday night, I was pretty keen for some action, so we drove the 20k to the local town.  We had Thai food and then I told Steve I wanted to head into a bar that looked the dingiest, to avoid any tourists.  We found the perfect watering hole and played pool with a couple of old boys all night.  My pool skills weren't so good, but I did manage to plough a fair bit of coinage into the dukebox!  As the bar closed, my English blood bubbled through - I wanted the night to last longer.  I had poor old Steve drive me to another small town and there we sat drinking with the owner and some random blonde.  The latter invited us back to her place for more drinks, and who I was to refuse?  Steve of course, was bored to tears at this point.  He, the sober driver, listening to me and this other blonde debate it out about how much I thought NZ was a silly old place to live.  Back at her place, the beer was bad and the place was cold.  She rambled on about her divorces, how the locals thought she was a bit odd, and I felt tired and bored of it.  So we made our excuses and left, with the usual obligatory promises to stay in touch.  Our final morning was typical, Steve rushed around packing, planning to the letter.  While I sat drinking coffee, reading my book, happy to leave it all until the last minute.  The weather incidentally had been fine all the time.  When we drove into Christchurch, by god, it was like being back in the UK.  It was dark (at 5pm) and the rain lashed down.  We popped into a lovely Mexican Cafe before going to the airport.  When we touched down at 10pm in Welly - talk about nice arrival.  The rain hit us sideways!  Its the worst I've ever experienced.  Trying to get to the car, all I could hear was Steve shouting at me, 'Come on Maggot, are you a man or maggot, you get to that car soldier.'  I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe!  Snot pouring out, dribble flying everywhere, sensitive teeth feeling drilled into.  What an end!  By the time we were safely in the car, we were both laughing so hard we where gagging!!   Still perfect few days.
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Bombshell update!Tue 5 May 2009
After that bombshell and probably a loss of readers to the Littletoe chronicles (!), things have actually restored themselves very well!  My mood swings have lessened to such a huge degree, I'm operating more like the old me and I like it!  So does everyone else funnily enough!  Last weekend was great, hanging out with the family without demanding spontaneous weekends away or not holed up in the room.  I've been enjoying my time with the family rather than seeing it as a burden.  Even our finances have balanced out!  This month it feels like we've got a few too many bills, and with the house deposit sitting there, its tempting to dip into that - BUT NO!  We're staying strong!  Actually, its all rather boring!  But I can do boring for now!  The trip is still planned, although I realise the timing was a bit lousy.  Still, it'll give Steve and I a chance to spend some alone time together, do some physical things like hiking and I hear there's a kayak there as well - YAY!  I have shortened the time from a week to just Thurs - Sun, so I'll head down with Steve. Its always easy to think I'd love a week away, but I really would miss the girls too much! I'm a softie really!  I've arranged to see a Psyhcologist privately at $130 a time.  I thought I'd hate the woman, I mean for goddssake, she arrived in her office office chewing gum!  And when I say office, I mean pseudo living room in some feeble attempt to restore comfort.  She was actually extremely warm and had clearly digested her textbooks, but reinterpreted bits to make it, well, less clinical.  I thought to myself, hmmm, I'll give this woman a chance!  I'm all for medical jargon and conventional medicines, don't get me wrong, I pop Panadal like smarties, I'd swallow, snort anything from the local chemist for anything from a runny nose to a tummy ache, but I also feel that cognitive methods are effective as a complement to the big gun drugs.  Steve and my relationship seems to have strengthed a bit more from this, him being more understanding and me being more open.  Incidentally, you all know I'm open like this in my blog, but you'd never hear this sort of shit coming out my mouth!!  Hell no, I'm actually a really rather private person.  Anyway, the business continues to tick along, quietly in the background.  Although I wouldn't say the recession has hit Welly in a really bad way, people seem to be sitting on their money more and waiting.  We're seeing nicer houses disappear off the market as people wait, but there's still a lot of movement out there - for the bargains anyway.  In terms of nannies though, families are being careful and demanding part time with usually obscure hours and nannies want as many hours as they can get.  Its every man for himself!  I don't mind it 'ticking' rather than pushing it along.  I've got exams in June, so my energy is required in study and the final assignments of my papers.  It doesn't fail to amaze me that I'm still ticking along with this degree!  My other paper is mostly reading and researching endangered cultures, which I find extremely interesting anyway, so it'll feel a lot less of a chore.  I just thought I'd add  a little update following my bombshell to reassure peeps that I'd not stuck my head in the microwave!
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Update from the nutballWed 29 April 2009
Nicest people in the world award goes to 'Wiz n Ton'!  You guys...seriously....Just too nice.  Anywhoo, how's it going over here on the set of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, I hear you ask?  Actually, really rather normal.  I take my daily meds like any other good nutter.  I've attended a meeting with the pscyhiarist (really should learn how to spell that word), and he's impressed with the result of the medication I'm on.  My blood tests came back and there's nothing alarming in there, so it really is all in my head.  The weekend, I kind of wandered like around like a zombie.  I dragged my fists along the ground and groaned a lot, so basically I just looked like any other New Zealander!  I still feel irritable at times, but the so called highs and lows haven't occured over the last few days.  Yesterday I tried to push my brain into a state of mania (hey, come on, we all want to know if these drugs really work) and then by evening I tried to bring on suicidal thoughts.  I know, it sounds crazy, and its probably not the most accurate way to test the medication, but its MY way!  And on the whole, I just feel normal.  Concentration is still tough, and I feel a bit dizzy at times, but mostly, yep, I feel normal.  Although I appreciate that might be (said in deep grovelly voice), the illness.  But hey, I'm happy with that for now.  So, what does a person who's life dramatically changed, takes meds, etc do at a time like this?  Yes, I booked myself a nice little holiday!  I've arranged to stay in a log cabin somewhere remote, with lakes and forest in the South Island.  I'm headed on May 18 and Steve's coming down May 21.  I didn't want the girls to be without one of us for too long and so this was the compromise.  Then its like a long weekend and we've not done that without the girls for...well....I can't remember.  I'm taking my textbooks with me so I can read and study - hopefully if my rusty old brain holds out for me.  No, I haven't told the health professionals, but do you ever just feel the need to get away?  I just fancy, dare, I say, getting back to nature.  Taking long walks, breathing in the fresh air, watch the moon reflecting on a lake.  I don't want to hear boy racer exhausts, I don't want to be stuck in the 'burbs, just for a few solitary peaceful days.  I would never tell my friends here what's been going on - just the strangers that read my blog!  They need me for their own issues, but I think banging my head like Rain man in the airport may be too much for them.  I don't want anyone to worry and I'm tired of answering the phone with my professional voice and doing that bitter, hollow, stepford wife chuckle down the phone.  I'm really excited about this time away, hopefully it'll give me a chance to refocus and come back fully charged, ready to battle swine flu!  ah well, onwards and upwards as they say, long may my positive focus remain.
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And so its official...I am nuts!Sun 26 April 2009
I toyed with whether I should be honest about recent events in my life, part embaressed to confess the goings on, but yet wanted to document such changes, as this is my true life diary and why should I edit bits?  My frustrations at the business, my degree and life in NZ have built to such huge proportions.  I'm sure a lot of people that read my blog have wanted to slap me silly sometimes and say, for goodnes sake love, CHILL OUT!  Its true, there have been such staggering highs and lows, that sometimes Steve and good friends have looked at me curiously and asked if, 'Are you OK?'  You know, that question, said in that tone, meant to infer that something isn't quite right there.  So, feeling like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders I went to see my GP.  What you've got to understand is that I'm not continually depressed.  I don't struggle to get out of bed, I don't think suicidal thoughts.  I'm a normal functioning woman that on occasion, feels low, on occasion, can't make the right decisions, and on occasion gets so angry I have broken plates, destroyed a fax machine and almost killed my mobile phone.  To cut a long story short which involved my little Irish Doctor telling me to drink tea and not persue silly things like degrees and businesses until my kids have moved out, I got a referral.  I was seen the next day - pretty impressive for a state system.  I had tried calling a private psychologist. but they didn't get back to me for a couple of days.  So anyway, I see this great guy, who fired quick shot questions at me, who told me off when I didn't answer the question properly, who wasn't interested in drivel, just the facts, yep ,I like this guy!  He affirmed that my irritations, my mood swings, my take on things, was probably not that of a 'normally functioning' person.  He felt that I didn't have depression, but instead the milder form of bipolar.  Great.  He suggested I have the cyclical form where I can be baking cookies one minute, swearing and shouting the next minute, then sniffing the lovely cookies the next minute - that's my metaphor for you.  I'm not one of these people that gasps at mental health issues, to me a brain is like a car, and sometimes it doesn't work properly, it just needs a tune up - another little analogy there.  So, I took his prescription (to those interested 400mg of carbamazepine to start) and some little sleeping pills because sometimes, I guess like Pip, I can't shut down.  I had to head to the main campus of my uni on Thurs/Fri and Steve accompanied me.  It was there that the reality of this life changing diagnosis really hit me.  The first day I could barely concentrate, my brain was swimming and I felt incredibly tired.  I left at lunchtime, where I kind of kept zoning in and out in the apartment - although I appreciate a lot of that can be attributed to the medication.  Day 2, and I felt like the lecturer was an idiot.  He didn't teach all the considerations of social policy, he talked about the keynesian welfare state, but not Adam Smith and the invisible hand of the market theory, he missed out relevant dates and it really hacked me off, so I brought all these things up.  I also established a good rapport with those sat around me, and to them, I felt like myself, laughing and joking.  Although in the back of my mind I was worried, are they thinking I'm mental?!  I asked them towards the end, am I making sense in this lecture.  Of course, they said.  I left after lunch, I was tired and my capacity to concentrate was diminishing.  I met Steve and we decided to eat in a food court because we both wanted different things - that's not an analogy!  I queued but got angry at the line - how dare everyone want to eat at the same time as me.  I was walked off furious (and hungry).  We argued a bit about that.  How is Steve taking it all? Well, in essence I think he's relieved to know that somethings are not natural and that I've not just morphed into a bitch.  Although I think he's sad and feels useless.  We've made some plans, for the business he's going to take over for now and deal with enquiries, so I don't lose it and have something to return to.  He's mostly looked after the girls this weekend and let me slob about in my pjs.  He's read so much about bipolar and he's comfortable that things fit.  I'm not terribly convinced in the diagnosis, I'm still happy to blame NZ!  But then, I'm the one in the driving seat, so I'm not terribly open!  I swing between relief that now I have people to talk to (literally I mean, not imaginary!) and isolation and feeling quite alone and unable to trust myself.  Of course, the biggest concern I have is, where does my personality end and this illness start? I've always been impulsive, chatty, moody, etc.  But maybe they were just symptoms?  Today, I've been tearful and tired, that kind of sums it up really.  I hope that in a few weeks, I can be 'fixed' and carry on normally.  At the moment, it all feels a little in limbo, and I don't have all the control and that, as people that know me would say, is the worst feeling for me in the world. 
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The SPLAT entrySun 19 April 2009
I'd really hoped this blog entry would be an awe-inspiring, dazzly, sparkly one filled with the joys of the business and life in general.  But, this is the blog of Littletoe, so lets not be silly.  Its a snot filled, eye baggingly tired, splat of an entry.  I've worked my booty off, and what a booty it is trying to source new nannies, meeting new families, etc.  One meeting was at 7.30pm, then there's the paperwork afterwards.  Sweat, blood, tears.  That particular family emailed me this morning to cancel their Nanny order.  Great.  Cheers.  Feeling that I was barely bobbing in the murky waters, I had a meeting with a business coach.  Enter Anton.  A 39 year old, retired at 35.  Owns 17 houses and is a self made millionare.  Its hard to find something to dislike about Anton.  He drives a mediorce station wagon, wears a Hallenstein suit, and looks like any other 45 year old - hey, I guess its not been full of restful nights for him.  He's got the sort of humour when you find yourself throwing your head back and roaring like an animal in laughter.  Well, at least I did!  He told me in no uncertain terms what he thought of my business, where it should go and what I should do.  Basically, tailor it to an exclusive market, charge London rates and get rid of this need to take on every bit of business that calls me.  He couldn't believe it when he broke it down, how much time I invested, how much energy and myself goes into the business, and how much I get in return.  I was at a juncture, he identified.  Either change it, or leave it.  But don't carry on like this or else he predicted I'd have so little sense of self worth, I'd burn out anyway.  Hmmmm.  Anyway, feeling strangely like I could tell him my life story and how miserable I'd been when I was 10 and fell off my bike and broke my arm and my parents told me I was making a big fuss over nothing - it clearly wasn't broken - enter Dr who said that bone shouldn't be sticking out like that - I eluded to that fact that my personality was all wrong.  Kiwis don't like my assertive nature, they don't like my confident, bristling personality (says she blowing her own trumpet!).  He looked at me and told me never to change myself.  He said some people may not like it, but who cares.  I am who I am.  There was nothing wrong with me.  Don't get me wrong, it all sounds very cheesey, that he took this evanligical approach to mentoring and I stood there gripping my heart, tears in eyes, and all that.  It wasn't like that.  It was a good chat about the business, what I was doing wrong and what I should consider doing differently.  When he left I felt quite recharged, like I had some fodder to chew over.  Now, however, I'm so damn tired.  Before Easter, it was all go and then I had that dismal interview experience which shook the stuffing right out of me.  I hurridley faxed poor work through to the uni, unable to concentrate or put any real effort in.  We placed a lot of hope in the Easter holiday.  Hoping to come back recharged and refocused.  Didn't happen.  Pip's medication got delayed, so we went away knowing that she probably wouldn't sleep.  Pip takes melotonin before bed, it mimics the natural hormone produced by the brain in order to enable us to unwind and fall asleep at night.  Without that, she's a nutcase.  Cue a whole new ballgame for us...Night terrors.  If you're not a parent, don't even read about it, its one of those things that I must have missed in the good parenting guide, one of those things that as a young parent, makes me wish I'd had my uterus taken out when I started mensturating.  No sleep.  No sleep.  No sleep.  On the ferry back we got delayed, took us over four hours on a usual three hour trip.  It was midnight by the time we got back.  Moons projectile vomited in the cafe, Egg was psycho because she's a gremlin and got fed after midnight, she screamed and screamed.  Pip was just bouncing off the ship walls.  In the end, we found a dark spot on the deck and wrapped Moons in our coats, she drifted off.  The quiet and dark, enabled Egg to doze off.  So Steve and I froze our arses off in the darkness on the Cook Strait and that is my own real memory of that holiday!  Pip's nutball night terrors continued until we got her meds a couple of days ago and now peace has restored.  Only, I'm sick with a really bad cold now!  What now, what now?  Not sure where my focus is.  I feel I need some divine inspiration here.
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Feeling blueWed 8 April 2009
I'm one of those people that gets caught in a flurry and when I drop all the balls, it hits me big style.  The last few weeks have been a stressful, full on climax of getting things organised for the business.  Most recently, its been the business, the sick kid and my study.  When I saw this job, I threw myself right into the prospect that I could really have this job.  I was in an interview for nearly THREE hours.  The questions were tough and uncompromising.  I felt confident with most of my answers, bar a question about feminist ideologies.  I don't see how anyone can claim one particular line of thought.  I mean, even people that follow a particular religion must think that some bits of it aren't quite right.  No one can wholely agree with one particular theory 100% and I would query someone that embraced everything they were told and read.  Wasn't it Socrates that said we need to question everything or else its not much a life?  Maybe not in those words!  Anyway I was pretty drained after the interview.  My head felt like cotton wool, I could barely think straight.  One of the subjects we also touched on was my direct personality.  The Manager commented that whilst she liked my direct, assertive nature, she wondered if I'd really 'fit in.'  She's absolutely right of course, NZ is a struggle because I'm the way I am.  Sometimes I try to keep my mouth shut and fit in, but bits of me always slip out!  Some people love it, others can't stand it.  Kiwis really are the sort of people that aren't very direct, asking for anything is like pulling teeth, establishing a rapport with people - I find, is very difficult because you never know what anyone is thinking.  This job interviewed really epitomised how different I am here, and how unusually I'm regarded.  Yesterday I carried my phones around with me religiously.  I really wanted this job, it was all I could think about.  Towards the end of the day, I realised it didn't look good for me.  Sure enough, I was rejected for the role on the basis that this other woman had more experience.  I think that's a croc.  I think its because, 1, I don't embrace feminist views and 2, my personality.  Steve didn't think it was a big deal, its just a job rejection afterall and we've all had those.  For me, it was a rejection of myself.  It was a reminder of how out of place I am here, afterall, they'd accepted my late application and considered me in writing, but meeting me, they'd changed their minds.  I just felt like crap.  I told Steve that I didn't know what to do.  I love him, and the girls and I wouldn't change a thing about that, but otherwise, outside of the house, I have no purpose, no direction.  I'm a Mother, I should have figured all this out by now.  I'm not accepted here in NZ and to add to that I don't know what I'm supposed to do.  My assignment has hit a road block, its all so meaningless to me.  If I was single, I would be with the Red Cross or some other simliar aid organisation, out in a forgotton war torn town lobbying for their rights, helping out those around me.  I can't do that with a family as Steve says, we have commitments, we need to provide for them financially and give them stability.  If course, once they're old enough, we'll drag them with us, they need to see how different the world is out there.  So, this job rejection highlights to me how difficult I'm finding it being somewhere I don't like.  I can focus on the business, I can enjoy the views, I can tick along.  But deep down, to the core, I feel so useless.  Do I think it'd be different anywhere else in the world?  I think I've travelled enough to recognise that I've never felt like this before.  I love people, I love diverse cultures, I love learning and drinking in the energy of a vibrant country, its not like that here.  I don't begrudge anyone that loves their lives here, I love to hear people's happy stories, I'm happy for them.  I just, at times, feel really claustrophobic.  I don't want the UK, although at times, the prospect appeals a lot more than here.  I don't know, I'm just waffling.  For me, I thought this position would at least give me a sense of purpose, a direction, the chance to utulise my previous experiences.  Instead, I ruined it for me - because I'm me.  Pants.
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A new job? On a Highway to Hell!Mon 6 April 2009
What a funny old few days.  I've grown increasingly disheartened about the business.  So many hours, so little money - no appreciation.  No friends locally like Wiz N Ton to give me some of their positive tonic.  By Friday I was sick of it all, and decided to have a weekend free of all things business orientated.  How can so many people let you down?  Over the weekend, I noticed advertised my 'dream' position on trademe.  The final application date had passed two weeks ago.  Then I began to mope into my pinot noir even more.  And yes, I have started my evening drinking again.  What do I want from life?  Its become so crazy, I barely know myself.  I want the nice house, nice car, to be in control of my own business and yet I crave to be contributing to something more worthwhile, something more important.  I know, I annoy myself more than I could possibly annoy anyone that reads my blog - want to argue that?  Don't bother!  Anyway, the role is part time, and I sent off an email to say basically, I know its late, but PLEEEASE consider me.  On Monday morning, my Nanny phoned an hour before her arrival to say she wasn't coming.  Grrrr!  I had to rearrange appointments, including an appointment with a business mentor to show me the light.  Steve reckoned that because we were meeting at home, I should still go ahead with the mentoring meeting.  Feeding a baby, burping a baby and probably getting covered in baby sick, whilst my two year old screams for marmite sandwiches is hardly appropriate for a business meeting.  Its hard enough already being a woman in business, let alone a mother in business.  Afraid I'm be laughed out the commerce, I was forced to rearrange.  Don't get me wrong, I had a great day with the girls.  Mothers glared at me as I arrived at Moons school with AC/DC blaring, Mothers glared at me as I joked with the schools priniciple, I understand usual ettiquette is to ignore the lowly staff.  Moonie and me ate lunch bought from the petrol station driving through the car wash, Pip frowned at me every time I called her 'dude.'  Egg found the whole thing hilarious, carrying her like a rugby call and giving her my sunnies to chew.  Yep, I'm just a good old surbanan Mum!  Weekends are the same, but I'm not usually as involved with all three during the week.  They particularly enjoyed hanging out on Mummy's unmade bed in the afternoon - complete with eating their dinner there as I sang random 80s songs using their names as appropriate - or not, as the case may be.  Anyway, my phonessss, all of the many of them were ringing constantly.  When I finally bothered to listen to the voicemails, I got one from my dream job!  They wanted to talk to me after receiving my email.  Excitedly I called having shoved some Disney DVD into the slot.  I had a brief, impromptu telephone interview as the organisation had already conducted interviews.  I was told to email my CV and letter before the close of business - which I duly did and sure enough I've been shortlisted for an interview tomorrow morning!  I'm confident that I can juggle the company,  my study, the kids and a part time job.  I really want the job - its the whole purporse for my qualification.  I want the business to succeed, but this way, I feel I'll be equally fulfilled!  Steve is particularly happy to receive an extra income.  Anyway, my bathroom is flooded because I thought it was fun to let the girls splash around like mermaids and I've hit the Church Road in a bid to calm my nerves for tomorrow's big debut.  Here's hoping for an interesting day tomorrow.
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Road moan (again), sick kid, ball busting business...Sat 4 April 2009
This week has felt scarily like it would never end.  Firstly, driving to the speed limit at all times has resulted in much frustration from other drivers.  I've had more close calls - by loitering in blind spots (I'm sticking to the speed limit now, whereas before I'd be right outta there!) and people getting so far up my tailpipe its like they want to breed baby BMWs.  One time I tapped my breaks just to let the guy behind me know that I might actually need to stop at some point and he swerved so violently behind me all of his passengers got thrown like ragdolls.  If I speed, the cops hate me, if I drive slower, the people hate me!  I keep pulling over to let people pass me, but its not always possible or safe to do so, but still I get overtaken in some pretty blind places.  What people don't realise is its not speed - its skill.  I've always loved driving and reckon I'm pretty darn good, I know my limitations and I respect the engine.  Kids here hoon around, too fast for some corners, too fast for some roads.  I'm seeing it all now, christ its taking me long enough to get anywhere!  Still, I guess its making me more organised now, I leave with a lot more time, as opposed to making up for lost time on the road.  Sleep easy Welly - one less speedster on the road!  Just worry about the droids that think driving slowly is more safe, but are in fact very nervous drivers that don't drive defensively.  Anyway, road moan over with.  Thanks NZ for killing my driving passion!  I've worked all day, everyday this week.  Interviewing, meetings, pitching and problem solving.  Kudos to 'wiz n ton' for their continued support and encouraging words!  How do they do it?  People are such numptys.  That Nanny that caused the problems the first time has failed in her trial because her car got towed.  Meaning she was unable to pick up the kids.  The Mother is lovely in that she's not blaming me, but its my company - how can this not reflect badly on me.  So, I'm back to finding another nanny, way into negatives for all the time and costs involved.  I got a request from another family for a seven week in the city - great demographic.  Sourced a fabulous nanny, only to be told at 8.30 on Thursday night (the night before her interview) that they'd offered the job to someone else.  Sure, it happens, the nature of the beast and all that, but how bloody frustrating!  Her feedback was also great and she observed that of all the companies out there, mine was far superior - just a bloody shame I couldn't help her then!  I had a second meeting with the Nanny college which went extremely well, final touches are being made on the contract.  Don't get me wrong, I didn't expect to be an overnight success, but the lows are harder to manage when I'm not having highs!  I guess when the business is consistent, they all balance out.  Pip has been ill with a tummy bug - the joy of starting creche.  For a few nights, she couldn't sleep at all.  Which means, neither could I.  So I've been running on no sleep.  The final night she was able to sleep - bloody Egg couldn't!  So I find myself, concious of an upcoming deadline for my social policy paper, managing the business and not getting sleep.  Its making me more emotional.  I got some grades back for assignments I'd done a few weeks back for two papers, I got a B for both, but the lecturer was still very critical in the feedback.  I don't see how I got the grade when I got torn apart in the feedback???  We have managed to fit in some time to see some houses.  Its great to see the different houses out there all in the same price bracket - what are some people thinking?!  We've seen two that appeal.  One is less money, but we know what we can do to ensure we make a profit when we sell it.  The other doesn't need any work done, so we'll be reliant on the market at resale time.  Big risk and a lot more money.  Its difficult because we're not too emotive about the whole family home thing, but we don't want to live in a pure investment type house because they're somehow less appealing.  We're not in a hurry though thank goodness and being cash buyers means we have a lot of bargaining power.  The house that's more is one of those that's fallen foul of the market.  Lots of money has been ploughed into it and it should be a lot more than it currently is, unfortunately for the owners are barely staying above the capital value - which is just the sort of thing steve and I have been looking for.  A big, beautiful house without the big, beautiful price tag.  This is probably the only time that I like the smell of desperation!  Its the weekend, I'm going to try and get a nap before it all kicks off again - although judging by the excel spreadhseets that Steve's working on, I don't think that'll happen - somehow I feel his questions mean that the spreadhseets relate to our expenditure.  Oh, hellloooo marital arguments!
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Business is starting to trickle in!Mon 30 March 2009
Business has been picking up!  I've got a few more enquiries and I'm really happy with the way things are progressing.  One is a referral from my first family, if I keep getting referrals like this, I'll be extremely happy!  I did meet a Nanny yesterday, her family are paying her $10an hour BEFORE tax and asking her to contribute to costs they incur when they ask her to join on family trips in a work capacity.  I honestly wanted to cry when I heard this story.  This girl has struggled to find work and has taken the best thing she could find.  As you can imagine, I was a torrid of 'they're breaking the law!' (Minimum wage is $12.50an hour)  Its an outrage!  Go and get legal advice! - The law centre offers free legal advice and possibly legal representation in court, in the form of legal aid.  Its such a fantastic system.  Of course, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for and cheap polyester suits are a prerequisite for these lawyers, but hey, at least people can actually get lawyers that wouldn't usually be able to.  Anyway, I figure woeful nanny stories and terrible family stories are going to be common place for me now!  My own part time nanny has handed her notice in, she's fallen pregnant.  I was a bit suspicious because of her frequent trips to the bathroom!  She's the fourth person that's fallen pregnant under our roof, when doubting her capacity to actually fall pregnant in the first place.  Maybe I should have started a fertility company!  I'd paid my competitor a finders fee for the priviledge of this, of course, she didn't respond in the most warm and positive way to her news and something tells I won't be expecting a replacement or part refund for this!  I'm sure as hell not going to start a flinging match with another local agency, so I'll let it go.  At the end of the day, the Nanny was awesome, so she was worth the cost!  With house prices ever lowering, we've become aware of some pretty nice houses local to us that have continually dropped in price.  We've reconsidered buying an investment house and have instead embarked on a house hunt to find us a family home for the duration of our stay in NZ.  As much as I don't want to concrete our stay here, its better that we throw money into an asset, rather than keep servicing our landlords mortgage.  Our rent is now way past market value and I doubt that should the house become available, they'll get the same rent we're paying.  Not compared to other houses that are less money.  Since seeing some of the other houses, this house, whilst beautiful, seems too dated for me now - especially for the price tag which they're keeping the same as when property prices boomed!  We're checking out some houses this afternoon.  It'd be SOOO nice to have something of our own.  And when we finally get residence into Canada, we can actually sell something before we arrive. 
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I did it! I gave the Prime Minister my card!Tue 24 March 2009
This morining saw us 'doing brunch' through the Chamber of Commerce.  As I previously mentioned, I'm not really cut out for this corporate networking lark.  It feels so fake, people are so insincere and ask questions so that they lead into their own ulterior motive.  Steve handles it all beautifully of course, being a real city boy.  Fortunately at this brunch I was sat next to a guy from DOC (department of Conservation) and he had a lot of fascinating stories to tell about the sort of work he was involved in.  There was no sales premise, neither of us had any need for each other's services.  Thus the conversation was fluid and, I might add, interesting.  He eluded to the work with the Maori, in terms of forming agreements between iwi in order to save animals from extinction and protect land, whilst negoitiating terms of the land with the local people.  I certainly don't consider myself an environment type in any way shape or form, but no one can question the hard work of the DOC workers.  Anyhoo, John Key did his thang, where he told us all that there was no recession and anyway, even if there was, we were all wrapped in a cuddly merino blanket here so we'd be just fine.  Just shy of saying, 'don't panic' he reassured the New Zealanders that whilst people would stop buying cars and LCD tvs, there would always be an international need for Kiwi lamb.  God bless ya John - now tell me, can Gordon Brown top that for a bedtime story?  Once he left the stage, Steve and I found ourselves as part of circle, people that Steve knew from around the city, people I recognised from here and there, and some odd bods that wanted in on the 'in' crowd!  I had to excuse myself though, I was headed for the big man himself!  I got blocked by a bodyguard, and although I considered asking that infamous question, would you take a bullet for John Key, I decided to err on the side of caution.  John was doing some soundbites for the media, so I got chatting to the Kevin Coster type as to whether the catering staff were going to keep the leftover orange juice and serve it up at the next function.  Seriously, those buckets were keepers.  We talked about private school costs, nanny rates and then finally I saw my break!  I approached John Key and shook his hand.  I said what I did, and gave him my card.  He politely asked me (while discreetly looking for his wingmen) how business was.  I told him it was slow because I was new, but I was confident I'd ride out this economic cllimate.  I then went on to thank him for his speech and did the most cheesiet two thumbs up sign while wishing him the best with his, and I quote, 'new job.'  Yes, the benefit of hindsight is not kind!  I then skulked back to the group and thus became an inspiration for other directions with the company - which I'll explain later once I've got my head around all the information overload.  So yes, the Prime Minster of New Zealand has my business card!
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On the quiet frontSun 22 March 2009
I'd like to say that the phone has been ringing off the hook and I've been inaundated with requests for nannies.  I haven't.  I guess these things take time? That's what everyon keeps telling me anyway.  I get such a positive response to my concept and yet no one taking me up on it.  I've run my second advert in the local rag, which has resulted in a few phone calls from nannies, a-hem, let's just say of a questionable calibre.  I guess its all a learning curve, I'm trying to pin down one of the large regionals, but Steve is starting to express his concerns at the rising costs.  We've also had a few people tell us that the website isn't viewable for them.  I've now found out from an IT guru that using publisher has resulted in the website only being viewable with Internet Explorer.  Bloody microsoft and its monopoly of everything.  We've had a couple of offers to get it sorted, but then we're looking at a minimum of $1000k.  Steve's been swotting up on decoding html, and he's confident he'll sort it.  I'm just patiently sitting in the background letting him do his thing.  Egg has stopped sleeping through the night, it seems her next lot of teeth (she's got two already) are playing havoc.  Last night was third in a row of me barely sleeping.  Fortunately Steve got up at 5am to watch the football, so I asked him to take Egg with him.  I'm having an Egg and me day today, I feel like I've been in this whirlwind of rushing around doing things and I've not had much time for the Eggster, particularly as we were inseperable for her first few months.  This weekend was fantastic.  Steve and I held an impromptu family party.  I dug out some leftover crackers and we had this big feast of different breads and pasta, etc.  All washed down with cups of tea.  Then we all curled up on the sofa to watch the Bee movie.  I always moan when I'm forced to watch animated movies, but I always end up enjoying them more than anyone else!  The live in has been on holiday, still, for her third week.  Its a bit awkward that she's still living in the house, I'll call her Alice.  Not least because she does bear somewhat of a resemblence to Alice the Goon - Olive's friend when she was in the army.  Having an extra body around to feed and look out for, that's basically in lodger mode is something it would take most people awhile to get used to, and certainly a consideration if you were considering it.  Of course, her brother stayed with us also, so there were more factors to consider during that period.  Anyway, as much as I've enjoyed having her around, we've decided next time  - her contract expires in June, to review the situation.  Maybe not opt for a 7 day live in.  Its Autumn here, my favourite season of them all, its very cosy inside and very beautiful outside.  We've decided to go away this Easter.  We need to have some family time, the house has been really busy over the last few months.  You know those families that think a holiday means staying somewhere in the wildnerness with no tv, no phones, etc.  Back to basics?  I used to think they were nuts.  Tree hugging, hippy types.  But I've been desperate to stay somewhere, with mountains and pine trees and breathe in that fresh air.  Not to have the telly on, and to walk around parks that aren't surburbs.  Just to take my head off and enjoy each other's company.  Unfortunately, it seems the rest of NZ has had the same idea!  Trying to book holiday homes has become impossible.  Damn everyone else for planning ahead!  We've managed to get into an apartment in Hanmer Springs.  My favourite little place in the SI, but  I had wanted something more remote.  Nevermind, we'll do just fine.  We've got this credit for the ferry sitting there and we've decided to be foot passengers on the ferry and pick up a large 4wd rental.  I fancy a bit of off roading this time around.  Its got to be big to fit our massive family in!  I'm really looking forward to it being just us and the little dudes.  They're very excited about it.  Of course, I can't go phoneless - I need the pda to monitor emails and hopefully take calls with enquiries.  At the moment, I'm experiencing this incessant need to clear out draws and cupboards.  Its like the nesting period during pregnancy.  I've done the whole house.  I think it might be a combination of nervous energy about the business and also, I don't like to feel stuck for too long.  I think this need to clear things out psychological reassures me that we're not here permanently.  I guess some families might find that a bit odd, we only have a few items of sentimental value, I've got no qualms with chucking stuff out.  We buy nice things, but I wouldn't think twice about selling or giving those things away in a flash.  I guess I'm a bit of a gypsy!  Only, without the whole smelly, stealing, flogging little flowers, mnarrying my cousins thing.
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My first business networking event!Wed 18 March 2009
Steve and I had been invited to this business networking thing and I thought it best we show our faces.  Steve less keen, citing that it wouldn't be of any use to him, but would support me.  There was wine and nice food and lots of suits.  I stuck close to the event staff, enjoying their genuine chatter.  Steve disappeared into the crowds and got right into the thick of networking! - As he's in the city everyday, he seems to slot right into city life.  Me, on the other hand, I feel submissive and uncomfortable.  There was a clear pecking order, everyone was clear with their tactic, they approach, read your badge, make an assessment of how important you are to them and either move straight on, or stop for a chat.  I observed from the outer circle.  I understand the concept, but I don't like it.  When I tried to engage in conversation outside of the usual mundane business talk, I was looked at like I was nuts.  I'm sorry, but I want to know the person I'm talking to, not their profit margins or how they can benefit me.  There is a person here representing this business.  Talk to ME!  Couple of glasses of red later, I decided to loosen up and try and get with the mingling.  This business woman had hosted this event and she pinned me down to talk about my agency.  I met her husband first who held my hand for a bit too long and had this sleezy grin on my face.  I hated him, but I hated her more.  She launched into a scathing attack on how useless most nannies were, how she had this strict regime in her home, she asked me why nannies were so arrogant.  She queried my business, told me what I was doing wrong, suggested how I should run the business.  I know that there are some awful nannies, but this woman represented the other side, the family that treats their nanny or au pair like a slave.  I don't personally believe that a nanny should be expected to clean a house, their primary role is a childcarer.  This woman was adament that a nanny is there to clean, cook and take care of the kids. She was, in short, a bitch.  She told me some stories about what she'd said and done with previous nannies and I just wanted to crawl into a hole and die there.  She really was quite nasty.  They invited me to their networking club, which is some sort of underground secret handshake type thing of prominant business people.  I personally can't think of anything worse.  But I wonder if this is it, beyond my company I will have to grin and bear this sort of thing in order to be taken seriously and extend my reputation.  Anyway, aside from this jobby, I'd had an earlier meeting with the local nanny training college and we're looking at some sort of collaboration - between their graduates and my company.  I would, in effect, become their preferred agency - currently they work with a few others.  Its a fantastic opportunity and I'm really pleased that despite my being new, they made their decisions based on what they'd seen of me and the company so far.  I left that meeting very excitied, some of their services, particulary contractual and tax advice would be great for some families that need that extra advice and guidance, that currently I only know the basics about.   My advert in the local paper is out, I've put some posters up in local schools, its all coming together!  I just hope I get some phone calls sometime soon!
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Another 10km! - I'm a changed woman your honour!Mon 16 March 2009
Yesterday I got back from the 10km walk around the vines in the wairapa - awesome!  Wine makers had opened up the wineries so we could all walk around their land and indulge in some wines along the way.  Not me though, I was in competitive mode and wanted to beat my last time - good job there weren't any cops around! I felt great, it was a beautiful day and it there was a fantastic atmosphere in the small town of Martinborough.  After the walk, I headed back to the hotel, not feeling achey at all.  Steve had arranged this beautiful accommodation for us, so I jumped into the spa bath, opened a bottle of pinot noir and enjoyed the sheer relaxation of it. Steve arrived later in the afternoon, so we had dinner, watched a movie, a Kiwi movie, The Map Reader, and then went back to the room.  In the morning, we sat and had coffee on our deck, as the Autumn sun highlited beautiful views of the Wairapa.  Neither of us wanted to leave the peace.  We headed back to the city, Steve to work, me to a meeting with the bank.  After that, I met with the lawyer, boo-hiss!  She used to be a police prosecutor, she's pretty strict about representing anyone that wants a limited license.  I'm a changed woman, your honour.  That's pretty much what my affadavit will be saying.  And for anyone that's interested, I actually won't be speeding around NZ again.  The costs sure do add up!  And there are far too many pigs in the bushes for my liking.  She's decided to represent me, not sure if its belief in me, or the financial incentive, but there's no guarantees of course.  Thank goodness I'm not a drink driver.  Once I'm over this hurdle, I will definitely only stick with armed robbery, the penalties are so much lighter.  So, after all this, I'm sat enjoying a herbal tea and check my emails.  My first nanny has emailed me to stay her car has broken down, so she won't be able to start work and her phone charger is in Welly, so she can't call either.  Grrrr!  Bloody unreliable twit.  My preference had been for this other nanny I'd represented, but the family really liked this girl.  After giving her one hell of a shitty email, I made contact with the family.  I can't believe my first placing has gotten wobbly.  Luckily, the family have decided its not my fault, you can lead a horse to water and all that, but still, I'm trying to reassure families that I only deal with high calibre nannies.  I sure as hell wouldn't pass her details to any other families.  They want to give her a chance, although I was suggesting that they pass her up.  I'm waiving any fees for this family because of this idiot, so all this work and time and calling around, etc has officially put me into negative cash flow, or some such terminology.  I've got a really bad headache from chewing this over 24/7.  How people not take work seriously - especially in this day and time.  I guess I have to get used to this sort of thing when working in the recruitment industry.  I've ploughed a bit of money into some marketing, although I could easily go to town with this, Steve is making sure I grow 'organically' - as he says.  Exciting times!
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All turned out in the end!Wed 11 March 2009
Rotorua came through for me and I ended up having a great time!  God bless this roller coaster life of mine!  I watched a fantastic maori concert, met an awesome British couple, and we all sat drinking in their hotel until we pretty much got scraped off the sofa.  After that big old walk and big soaking in hot pools, I was more vulnerable to dehydration, so the drink hit me pretty quick!  I staggered into my hotel room, desperate for a cheese toastie!  I ended up chatting to the Australia room service guy for about an hour about, well...I'm not too sure I remember!  I enjoyed my cold toastie and then passed out like a starfish on the bed!  The next morning, I was extremely sick!  My head well and truly dominated my achey legs!  I forced myself to take a nice stroll along Rotorua lake, and that was just what I needed.  The concert mean't I had a free ticket on the gondala and a luge ride.  So I decided to indulge myself, and head over.  The gondola was great, I was anxious about the luge and ended up 'dribbling' all the way down at about 2km an hour!  I was terrified!  All these kids overtook me, but I felt so small and open to massive injuries!  By the time I made it back down, I discovered it was a chair lift ride back up.  Great, a park bench suspended up the face of a mountain.  All I kept repeating was, 'oh my goodness.'  Those things aren't really my cup of tea, but at least I gave it a go.  I then set off for my next adventure, a boat/car thing which, as the name suggest, drives around Rotorua and then goes into the water!  The driver was hilarious, I don't think I've ever met such a funny Kiwi!  I laughed all the way around.  It was awesome, I got to see parts of Rotorua that I never knew existed.  Beautiful forest and beautiful lake settings.  I really enjoyed myself.  I had then wanted to do the sulphur Bay walk, but I got embroided in phone calls and emails.  Reality check for me, I have a company to run!  That took me up to the time when it was time to fly out.  It'd been beautiful weather, and was, despite the whole loss of license thing, very sad to leave Rotorua.  It was Tuesday morning that my body stiffened right up!  I could barely move!  We drove my parents to the airport yesterday evening, and despite the fact we barely saw them while they were here, it was very sad.  Moons who is almost five, is at this stage where she can emotionally hurt.  She's devastated that they're gone and it breaks my heart to see her so sad.  Its a new area for Steve and I as parents, and its a bitter reality.  I just want to take her pain away and feel it myself.  I can feel myself welling up just thinking about her last night, curled up in bed, sobbing into her pillow about Grandad.  I've got two more girls to get to this stage, and then I know it'll get worse from here!  Anyway, in some great news, my business cards are finished, I've arranged interviews for two nannies to meet my first family AND I received a letter of acknowledgement from the head of the department responsible for the sociology paper congratulating my 'A' on the basis that only a small percentage of people were able to get that!  How cool is that?!  And for those of you interested in the whole loss of license system here in NZ, apparantly it comes into force on payment of fines and then you're served with a notice from officers, banning you from driving for three months.  I'm meeting a lawyer next week, who will, once I'm served, get me a 'limited license' which means I'll only be allowed to drive at times/days specified by the court.  I've still got my British license of course, so I can happily go about my driving in the rest of the world.  Its a really, really suckey system, but I know I have to suck it up and bear with it.  As least we do have a Nanny who can drive the girls around, so they won't suffer.  Thank god for lawyers though, eh?  Anyway, onwards and upwards with the business and study now!
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Suckiest birthday...ever.Sun 8 March 2009
So, I arrived in Rotoura yesterday.  Got a taxi from the airport $30, arrived in my hotel and YUK!  Buckets along the corridor to catch water from the leaky roof, smells of damp and mould.  My bedroom was a throw back from the 70s that even my Nan would pull a face at.  I hurried back through the asbestos to the reception area and politely informed them that the accommodation wasn't 'ideal'  If I'd booked a backpackers, I wouldn't have minded, but I was paying hotel rates - and not cheap either!  They kindly cancelled my booking - at no extra charge.  And so I began my trek, armed with bags to tourist info in uncomfortable humidity.  I'd done pilates in the morning and hadn't intended to exert myself any more in preparation for today.  I finally arrived, sweaty.  They arranged me a room in a nice hotel and I decided to rent a car.  I was told I had to get back to the airport in 10 mins to get the last rental.  Great.  Another $30 later and I'm back, climbing into the smallest car I've ever seen.  I don't  mind though, its a relief not to have to cart my luggage around.  I check in to my hotel - its much better.  After a lousy hotel restaurant dinner and a few too many glasses of house red, I retire for the evening.  This morning, I'm up at 6.30, breakfast and discover registration is an hour out of town - thank god for the car!  I register and then decide to take a tour of our favourite spots in Rotorua.  I'm driving to the speed limit all the time, getting used to driving a manual after so many years - most of the cars are automatics here.  I slow for the same junction I'd passed only minutes before and drop to second.  I have clear visibility, I go.  I then get flagged down by a big, fat greedy cop who's licking his lips in anticipation of edging closer to his 'quota.'  Sure enough it was a 'STOP.'  I politely query why, as its not been before and there's clear visibility.  Its a new road marking, for the cyclists, who apparantly keep getting mangled.  Great.  So as a motorist, I'm paying for road markings for cyclists.  I'm not bitter at all!  He notes my date of birth - today.  Then gives me a ticket.  This means I have totaled the number of demerit points needed to have my license suspended for three months.  He doesn't know this, it doesn't register until I pay the fine.  I drive off and  pull over later to make a tearful call to Steve to inform him that we'd now have to pay a couple of thousand for a lawyer to get it back sooner.  All these years of driving and no problems until I arrive in NZ.  It appears that we're all feeling the brunt of the economic crises, except for the New Zealand Police force, who are doing extremely well.  Before anyone thinks of writing to me about how their Grandpa Willy got mowed down on a bike by a car, please refrain.  I'm in the smallest car in the world, not going fast enough to kill a fly, a hedgehog or a bloody cyclist.  How ironic after driving so slowly around the city all day.  To think, I arrived in NZ with the greatest respect for law enforcement, I will one day leave this poxy little country, and probably wouldn't even spit on a cop in the event he accidentally set himself on fire.  Hey, its a possible hazard with all those paper tickets he carries around and all those wheel spins they do chasing speeders.  Whilst, I hasten to add, violent crime increases dramatically, oh, whooops, we're not supposed to talk about that in NZ, people still leave their doors unlocked at night and all that.  Hmmm....Lovely crimeless NZ.  Anyway, rant over.  I arrive later for the big race.  Its a great atmosphere.  I begin the 10km and feel quite at ease.  I decide to hall arse at the last km taking over the tired ones.  Unfortunately I misjudge 9km and put all my effort in when there's still 2 km to go!  I arrive at the finishing lane feeling like my muscles are on fire.  The DJ guy announces my arrival and wishes me happy birthday.  How nice, my first acknowledgment!  Everyone has family waiting for them.  Except me.  I miserably head back to my rental.  I'm the only one with ONE in the car!  When I park outside the hotel and get out, my body is stiff.  I've been to the spa - heavenly.  Now I'm all dressed up in the hotel bar waiting for a maori evening to begin.  I intend to drink.  A lot.  I've bought a wireless connection so that I can respond to emails about my agency.  I've had loads!  I intend to work around the clock to keep on top of it.  Shame that in a little while I won't be able to drive my appointments!  Happy Birthday to me!
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