Whelbourns in Canada

• Sun 30 January 2011 - Blog moved

Posted By pennyhp

I have decided to move my blog to a new home. It can now be found at:




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• Thu 12 August 2010 - Summer 2010

Posted By pennyhp

Well yet again I have left months between blog updates, so where to start after such a gap?

Well Shane was building a little poly tunel. He got a little help from some friends and it turned into quite an interesting greenhouse type affair.

The Greenhouse taking shape.

The begining of August and everything is blooming.

So far we have had courgettes and strawberries oh and a few green peppers. The corn is almost ready. The tomatoes are just beginging to ripen, but we have had one type which have had some kind of blight and have gone bad on the plant before they got anyware near ripe. The chap at the Co op said it was some kind of desiese that was in them this year. So that was a dissapointment, but the little cherry tomatoes are coming through now.

Actually I started this update a few weeks ago at the begining og August and didn't finish it. Now we are at the begining of September and have loads of cherry toms and have had lots of courgettes from the two plants. All in all very good. the green tomatoes we are picking before they turn bad and have been making chutney...very Mrs Beaton!

We have had a very nice summer all told. the grass has jept growing steadily because of the nice mix of suna dn rain and not being too hot.

Having said that the last few days have been craxzy hot and humid. Yesterday September 2 was 41 degrees with the humidex. Actual temperature 33 dgrees. Undeard of for September.

But tomorrow we have the prospect of hurricain Earl passing through.

So we are expecting lashings of rain and very high winds. we will see what happens.


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• Sat 27 March 2010 - Time for a very overdue update.

Posted By pennyhp

Well its been literally months since my last blog entry. I just seem to have gotten out of the habit.

I think that i have not been writing blog enteries so often because canadian  life has become normal and not much is new and exciting anymore. But that is good because it means that we are very settled here and feel part of the fabric so to speak.

Anyway time for an update.

This wnter we are just leaving has been nowhere near as severe as the first two we experienced. I am glad this wasn't my first canadian winter or it might have lulled me into a false sense of security.

There is just me and shane at home now. Luke our youngest son spent most of last year back home with us, living cheap and saving up to spend some time in Mexico. So since the 5 Jan he has been in Puerto Vallata and intends to stay there for quite some time. He will be returning to Canada for a couple of months in the summer and working full time to earn some cash and then is going to return to Mexico for maybe a year or more. He can't stay too long as we only have PR and he needs to make sure that he doesn't lose his residency here. So at some stage he will get Canadain citizenship and then he can come and go as he pleases.

James our older son seems to be reasonably settled in Toronto now. He lost his job last summer and it took him a couple of months to find a new one,which was very unsettling for him. But he is now working for a swedish publishing company and they have much better employee rights practices than his old north american company. He has been at the new job for about 6 months now and has already had a promotion, so its all going well.

We are planning a trip up to see both the boys when Luke comes home in June. We have stuff to take up there for him so we are driving. We have done it before and it really is a very long way. But w are looking forward to seeing them both and us all being together as a family for the first time in a year.

Down on the farm things are ticking along. The winter is a time where most of the animals are confind to barracks. The goats and llamas just will not go out in snow anyway. The horses are fine with it though and spend a lot of nights out with their winter blankets on and then come in when its stormy.

I had a very sick llama at the begining of February. She had a large dose of worms and was loosing condition and was becoming anaemic too. She even had an irregular heartbeat which worried the vet. Now this its my particularly wild llama but in her weekened state the female vet and myself were able to restrain her enough to give her 5 shots and have a thermometer shoved up her bottom!

I thought it would make her much more difficult to hanlde but actually because she had to have some ongoing treatment I have had to handle her more and she has become much beter. It used to take two of us to get her into a headcollar, but now I can catch her up and put it on all by myself. So I am very pleased with how she is improving. She seems to be all better now which is a relief and I can now administer worming paste for them so we should not have a repeat of this overload of parasites again.

Things were not so good for our dog though. I have mentioned in my blog before about Chinooks seizures. Well they got more and more progressive and he would go into clusters of fits that he couldn't properly come out of for 24 hours or more sometimes, and we would have to dose him up with vallium on top of his seizure meds to try and break the cycle. Well it got more and more frequesnt and intense so a few weeks ago we had him put to sleeep. It was really awful. He has been here on the farm with us almost from when we moved in and so has been a huge part of our candian adventure and now he is gone and the house is way too quiet.

He was so good with all the other animals and loved any babies, be it orphan kittens or a poorly turkey chick and would lick them and snuggle them to make them feel secure. He was a natural mum.

We are not rushing into another dog yet. If the right one turns up we might be tempted, but we are not actively looking for now. 

Shane is busy making a small poly tunnel to try and grow some veggies this year. He has an outside garden plot too. I think by the end of last summer I managed to make the goats paddock escape proof. They got out so many times last year that Shan'e garden didn't stand a chance, they decimated it. Hopefully that wont happen this year. We had no escaping in the fall so I am sure that they are contained at last........At least I hope.....

Here is a pic I took in January. Its hard to believe. We have had more snow since then, but we are almost back to green again.


Well thats my catch up. I must try and keep this up more regularly. Even if no one else reads it, I enjoy looking back and reminding myself, how much my life has cahnged over the last almost three years of being in Canada. How the time flies.


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• Mon 19 October 2009 - Photo entry

Posted By Littletoe
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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• Sun 4 October 2009 - Wow, its been a while!

Posted By Littletoe
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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• Fri 28 August 2009 -

Posted By pennyhp

Well we moved the ducklings into the barn last weekend. Hurricane Bill was on the way and we didn't know how that was going to turn out. It was pretty tame in the end, but hey I'm not complaining.

Also we were concerned about possible preditors and 15 vulnerable ducklings.

So now they are all safely ensconced in the barn. Its a shame in a way because it was really nice  to see mum taking them out on excursions and then herding them all back to the nest for a nap every now and then. But its better for them to be safe.

We have offered our neighbour the use of a few acres of our land to run some of his cows on, as we are not using it and its better that some use is had from it.

So in he came in with his tractor the other day and started bushwacking the massively overgrown fields. The previous owner of our place hadn't touched them in years and since we have been here we havn't had the equipment to do anything with it. A lawn tractor and industrial strength strimmer just don't have the muscle.

Its good to see the fields looking decent again.

We are still waiting on a few hundred more bales of hay and our supplier is having difficulty getting it done with the uncertain weather.

It would be nice for once to go through the whole winter without running out and having the stress of finding decent hay at resonable prices in the spring.

I am not sure how much sense this entry makes as I am super tired tonight and waiting for the pics to load has sent me to slepp several times already. So I am off to bed.

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• Fri 21 August 2009 - Visiting Heron

Posted By pennyhp

The last two days we have had a heron on our property.

Yesterday he was out at the front and today round the back by the garage.

He seems to be feeding on grasshoppers in the long grass.

He wasn't at all afraid and I got really close.

Meanwhile Jemima and the ducklings seem to be getting on really well. She is taking them on little excursions round the back of the house to the lawn for a few minutes then they are all bustled back to their nest.

Hurricane Bill is forecast for Sunday night and as yet we don't know how significant it will be for us here in Moncton. I would love to leave the ducks at the front of the house where Jemima has a good routine going and is doing a really good job, but if the storm is going to be severe I would like to get her and the babies into the barn. The trouble is if we do that they will have to stay enclosed until the ducklings are a bit bigger as the chickens may well gang up on any stray duckling and it wouldn't last long. So we will keep watching the weather chanel and make up our minds tomorrow what to do.

The weather continues to be uncomfortably humid and saps me of all energy. I havn't even ridden for a couple of weeks. All I do is feed and water the horses and soak them in fly reppellent. A task which they are very unapreciative of, but does help a little with the huge number of mosquitoes that we have this year.

So we will see what the storm brings, hopefully iwill clear the air and bring some more comfortable westher in its wake.




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• Thu 20 August 2009 - We have ducklings

Posted By pennyhp

Our puddle duck Jemima (actually an indian runner duck) made a nest at the front of our house about 4 weeks ago.Yesterday we noticed ducklings.


She has 15 babies in all. She is a really good mum and very protective. She bustles them all back in the nest at any disturbance.


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• Wed 19 August 2009 - Porcupine

Posted By pennyhp

We had this little visitor to our barn a couple of days ago.

He was just sitting in the barn large as life. He didn't seem atall fazed by us.

Luckily the dog was up at the house and didn't encounter him. We are only just putting the smell of skunk behind us. Porcupine quills embeded in the dogs face is something we can definately do without.


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• Tue 4 August 2009 - Its been a while!

Posted By Littletoe
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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• Tue 30 June 2009 - Still skunked!

Posted By pennyhp

This morning the dog still smells of skunk. I wasn't expecting anything different really. Tea tree dog shampoo is ill equiped to deal with it. I have been looking up recipes on the internet to hopefully banish it.

He just can't understand why nobody wants a cuddle this morning.

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• Tue 30 June 2009 - Skunked

Posted By pennyhp

My dog just got skunked.

We had just got back from having supper with friends and Shane let the dog out for a final pee.

I was in the house checking my emails and of course BE, when I noiced a funny smell creeping in. First it smelled like burnt toast and then had strong grapefruit tinge to it. I didn't immeditatley recognise it as skunk as the only time I have smelled it before is from road kill which to me smells like burnt rubber.

Shane let the dog back in and he was wet. I thought he had been swimming but he doesn't usually go down to the pond in the evening. Then I noticed that he was mainly wet on his head. Then I noticed he smelled really bad.

We tried to get him in the bath but he was all worried and scared and he is 86 lbs and has a dodgy hip so getting him in the bath was not an easy option. In the end armed with shampoo and a big spunge we took him out to the hosepipe.

He was really goood considering that I had to get his head all soapy and rinse it off really well.

So now he is out on our balcony and I don't know if we managed to rid him of any of the skunk smell cos my house stinks.

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• Sat 20 June 2009 - Anniversary

Posted By pennyhp

We celebrated our 25 wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago.

WOW a quarter of a century together. Yes it does feel that long.....not really, its amazing how fast 25 years has elapsed.

It was a bit weird that we were not together as a family for this anniversary, but our older son is in Toronto and as we know the canadian holiday allowance isn't that long. James is saving his for a trip back to the UK later this year. 

Luke (our younger son) is back with us for a few months having decided that Toronto is not for him. He is saving up to go to Mexico for a while and then will probably look into moving to Halifax. He is a surfer and Lawrenctown beach has some pretty good waves. Also Halifax is way cooler than Moncton, when you are 22.

So he arranged (with the help of a few friends) to throw a BBQ party for us.

Playing football with canadian friends. Shanes in goal showing them how it should be done......I think.

We had the party at our house as we have plenty of space for such get togethers. There must have been 50 people in all. But everyone brought food and drink and we didn't do a thing. We have been here just over two years but have made some really good friends and they supplied all the food and drink, and yummy chocolate cake. My love for chocolate has been noted amongst our canadian friends.

Also we have rented out our new house already!  A young couple with a couple of children are moving in over the weekend and have signed a lease for the next year.

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• Thu 18 June 2009 - Another new car

Posted By pennyhp

Well actually its not new and its not a car.

Its new to us and its a 1999 Dodge Ram!!!!!!! Feels like a monster truck to us.We will be able to haul our  hay this year so we won't have to get it delivered.

And we need to haul wood from doen on our land to be chopped up for the wood stove.

We also closed on the new house today.  I am showing people around it from tomorrow.

We had a good response to our add on kijiji for it so jhopefully we will get it let this weekend for the 1 July.

I have a new horse boarding with me just for a month or two. He is a race horse.

Standardbred (buggy racing) not thoroughbred (with jockeys).

He has come down from Ontario for a few weeks rest and some grass to help him put on some weight as he's a little on the lean side at the moment.

He is called Boomer and he's a real gent.

I have more to say but its late so I will try and catch up with this tomorrow.



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• Sun 7 June 2009 - Bipolar II

Posted By Littletoe
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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• Wed 3 June 2009 - New House

Posted By pennyhp

With so much going on last month I nearly forgot to mention that we are buying another house. A rental property. Last year we had some money in the bank tied up in a one year bond at 3.85%. This year they are offering around 1%. So we decided to look for a little house to buy and rent out intead. At least it will give us something each month.

Its really up together and well looked after. It has 3 bedrooms, one on the main floor and two smller rooms in the eves. Very cute.

We close on it on the 18 June and hopefully will get tenants in for the 1 July.

Its a bit of a worry getting good tenants that wont abuse the house or plant a grow op in the basement.

Still you have to take a chance sometimes.


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• Wed 3 June 2009 - May..... spring is here.

Posted By pennyhp

May has been a busy month. The snow has gone the grass is growing and all the back log created by winter has to be dealt with.

We have been busy fencing a new pasture. This is our first attempt at electric fencing. We are fed up with our the horses abusing the post and rail that we have.

Treacle and Toffee helping.........NOT!

The horses are enjoying the grass.

Also we had to change our car. We are buying a truck this year as it will be helpful  to pull hay and stuff, and we planned to change our van for something else next year. We had it all figured out.............

Then some silly woman not paying proper attention at the roundabout (traffic circle here) whacked straight into the back of us. "I thought you were gone" she said.........clearly not!'" said I.

The cop that came along to write the report said that there were incidents like this every day at the roundabout. Some canadians have a lot to learn about traffic circles. She had been looking at the traffic on the circle waiting for a gap (while drinking her Timmys) and floored it when she saw a spot. Unfortunately she didn't look to see if the car in front - me had already gone...grrrrrrr.

Anyhoo our insurance wont be affected cos it was her fault, but they have written off the van, so we had no choice but to go out and by a different car.

So we have bought a 2003 Ford Focus estate (station wagon here). Its really nice and drives well,but I miss my comfy old Dodge Caravan, although this should be better on gas.

We bought our Turkeys to raise for the table again this year. We have 20 this time. Thats double what we had last year.

We have had our first loss already though. One of the little turkeys got out under the door and got in with some chickens. They ruffed her up a bit and Shane found her in the morning floppy and cold on the floor of the chicken pen. We brought her up to the house and warmed her up slowly and tried to get her to drink a bit, but she died in the afternoon. Seems a bit odd trying to save the life of a turkey just so you can fatten her up for the oven.

Shane has been busy getting his garden ready to plant.. He wants to grow lots this year.

I will post pictures as it grows bigger, if the goats don't eat it all first. They took out quite a bit last year.

We really must get a goat proof pen worked out!


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• Wed 27 May 2009 - So, on the job front

Posted By Littletoe
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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• Mon 25 May 2009 - Ah, the mini break

Posted By Littletoe
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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• Mon 4 May 2009 - Bombshell update!

Posted By Littletoe
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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About Me

free hit counter David, Julie, Kathryn and Gemma emigrated to Canada on Nov 5th 2005. Now living in Island View New Brunswick.

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