Three weeks and one day. The time we have left here in New Zealand. Time. It’s ticking away before my eyes.

Scrolling through our ‘To Do’ list just now, it’s hard not to feel overcome. Not just with the enormity of all that we have to get done in the next three weeks and one day, but also for that which we have already crossed off the list. When the list was made, it felt like we had all the time in the world. But now time has caught up with us, and there’s not much of it left.

If you’ve been following this fitful blog of mine, you will know that we started planning for this move over 12 months ago. After a few false starts, and much planning and replanning, we finally find ourselves here at the pointy end. It’s really happening. We are finally moving to Australia.

Amidst all the practicalities of moving countries with two small children, there has been little time for sentimentality. Until tonight. Laying in the bath this evening I took some precious moments to think about the past 6 years of our lives here in Wellington. About this house of ours, and how she has played host to some of the most joyous and also the most heartbreaking moments of our lives. I have spent endless hours lying on her living room floor, marvelling at my babies as they grew and developed into the wondrous little individuals they are today. There were the days and months of grief stricken depression after the loss of Stella. There was an indescribable comfort in the simple act of sitting on the heated tiles of the kitchen floor during those dark moments. On other days, her awe-inspiring mountainous views were a tonic for my heartbroken soul. Then there were the much cherished visits from family and friends from afar. The mundane and extraordinary, this house has been a gracious host and I will miss her.

Snow on the hills and bugs in the air. It must be winter.IMG_20150418_214632

But for now, I still have three weeks and one day. We still have a lot to do before we leave, but I am determined to stay present and not lose myself to the chaos. I want to enjoy every last minute I have here in the comfort of this place that has been our beloved home.

I’m Back!

Well hello. Yes, I know….. it’s been a while between posts. “So where the heck have you been hanging out these days!?” I hear you ask. Hmm, well that’s a bit of a long one to answer…. In a nutshell I’ve been spending my days consorting with various medical types, trying to get to the bottom of my two childrens’ various (and increasingly complex) health issues. Yes, I’m afraid Dr Google has made more than one appearance (despite my best intentions), but I can assure your that there have been a catalogue of far more experienced Paediatricians who have followed in his wake.

Keeping it brief (and without boring you all with the details), Mr 5yrs suddenly couldn’t eat anything I gave him without vomiting and complaining of a swollen, bloated and extremely painful tummy (he once presented his big swollen tummy to me and asked in a sad kind of voice “mum, do you think I’m growing a baby in there?”). He was losing kilograms by the second. At the same time (!), Ms 17months’ weight rocketed off the charts in the downward trend, despite being fed a highly nutritious and calorific diet by her increasingly neurotic mother. Her weight now officially doesn’t even register on the growth charts.

And breathe…..

I should mention here that we are no strangers to food allergies and tummy issues. Mr 5 has been allergic to dairy and soy since he was a wee baby, as has his sister. It seems, however, that both tummies have decided to up the ante over the past 6 months.

So, feeling completely and utterly up to my eyeballs in stress, I kinda decided to take a leave of absence from Mama Maru. Mama Maru is my calm space, and it’s no coincidence that I haven’t visited lately.

It’s also no coincidence that I’m back!!

So, I have decided that I need to take a bit more control of the situation. I have spent the last months in complete flight/ fight mode, reacting emotionally to everything that swung my way. What can I say, it’s been shit! Things needed to change.

So the other night, in an attempt to rediscover that inner calm I had been cultivating earlier last year, I got busy googling ‘mindfulness’. I came across Marie Forleo, who, it turns out is a bit of a personal development guru (she’s been on Oprah, and everything). Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those Dr. Phil/ Oprah self-help types. I once refused to read a highly recommended Wally Lamb book because it was on Oprah’s Book Club list (in my defense I should state here that I was in my 20’s – I like to think I have evolved somewhat since then). I’m not sure what this says about me!? I guess I have always been one to steer away from popular dogma.

Anyway, Marie Forleo spoke to me the other night, in a way that my very well meaning husband and friends have not been able to. She’s wise, intelligent and a little bit funky. She’s my kinda chick. In one particularly goofy clip on YouTube, you will find her hanging out in bed with her husband. Stay with me here… They’re talking about an approach they use called “I’m back”. Put simply, when your mind is super crazy and worrying about this or that, all you need to do is tell yourself “I’m back” and waddya know, suddenly you’re back in the present moment and all that worry and stress is gone.

I’ve been practicing this for a couple of days and I’m converted. It really does work! For example, tonight while making pumpkin soup for my sons breakfast (seriously, this is the only thing he’ll eat for breakfast these days!), my blender had a major blow out. It looked like this:


What you can’t see is the soup all over the clean dishes drying in the rack , soup spilling down the cupboards and all over the floor. A week ago, I would have cried, stamped my feet, cursed life for being so damn crappy, and then put myself to bed and not slept for hours thinking about how shit everything was and how there was no pumpkin soup for the morning. Tonight, as the glass jug shattered and my sons precious soup splattered all the way across our kitchen, I simply took a deep breath and told myself “I’m back”. And I was!

It’s good to be back.

Back at it

Operation Relocation is back in full-swing. After our house failed to sell earlier this year, we have been enjoying something of a house-selling hiatus. I use the term ‘enjoying’ very loosely here. You see, it’s been the depths of winter here in Wellington, and we have spent most of the past 2 months hosting a veritable smorgasbord of winter bugs. “Cough, hack, sneeze” will long be remembered as the soundtrack to our last ever winter in the Windy City.

Snow on the hills and bugs in the air. It must be winter.

Snow on the hills and bugs in the air. It must be winter.

I talked a while ago about Plan B. In this plan we were going to put the house on the market in the deep, dark, depths of winter. A time when the property market is so incredibly slow. Oh, AND we were going to do it without an estate agent (we’ve never even sold a house by ourselves before). Crazy!? Yeah, probably. I think we were feeling a bit desperate at the time. Thankfully, common sense prevailed (actually I think that the winter bugs came to visit around the same time, and so we just couldn’t be bothered with it all).

So, here we are in Wellington, still. Waiting, waiting….

I’ve been keeping a watch on the property market during our hiatus, and according to my highly untrained eye, I think soon could be a good time to get going again. So, yesterday I met with a new estate agent. He had a look at the house. We talked a bit about the market. I started to let myself think about Brisbane again, and how it might be to actually live there.

I have to be honest here. The enthusiasm and zeal that accompanied our initial plans to move back to Australia has waned somewhat. The disappointment of having our house not sell when we initially had it on the market, followed by an unplanned Wellington winter has sapped a whole lot of energy. I have even entertained thoughts of throwing in the towel, and just staying here in Wellington, for good. It would certainly be the easy option. Mr Maru is horrified by the idea. It’s also not what we want for our family. So, back at it we go.

This Girl

Photo by Amber-Jayne Bain

                                                                                                                  Photo by Amber-Jayne Bain

This is my girl. She’s my baby and she’s turning one. One whole year has passed since we bundled our precious little daughter up and brought her home. She was born in the middle of an earthquake storm. The fault lines that run through Wellington had been rubbing each other up the wrong way for weeks. Sometimes their tussles were violent enough to have us rushing under tables or looking for heavy structures to hide under. I must have looked quite the sight, hurriedly trying to wedge my heavily pregnant body under various structures in our house – the dining table, the kitchen bench.

While they were a nuisance, these earthquakes perfectly signified the crescendo of what had been an extremely stressful pregnancy. Although the wriggles and kicks of my unborn baby assured me of her vitality, I could never truly allow myself to believe that she would be born alive after the death of her big sister just one year earlier.

She was born alive though. This daughter of mine, she opened her eyes and she cried out. She was pink and she was perfect. The anxieties of the past 38 weeks were shed in an absolute instant. The indescribable bliss of holding my living, breathing daughter. This girl, was my girl.

That was one year ago.

Every day since, I have held her and luxuriated in the act of breathing her in. Her warmth and the way she curls into my body when we cuddle is a novelty that never tires. This girl who loves peekaboo and books; who says cuddle and cat; who laughs when her brother laughs. This girl is my girl.

Happy birthday precious.

Calling Doctor Google

Driving my baby girl to the ophthalmologist last week, I was bracing myself for the bad news. We had noticed a few weeks before that her right pupil was a lot bigger than her left. A quick consult with Doctor Google and the diagnosis was made. It wasn’t good news. Trusty old Dr G sat me down, held my hand and explained. He was certain it was an optic tumour. The prognosis wasn’t good. He went into great depths with his descriptions of the different types of tumours it could be. He explained that the treatment process would be lengthy. There would most certainly be surgery, which would then likely be followed by radiation and finally, months of chemotherapy. Even after all this, he couldn’t guarantee my daughters outcome.

ImageI was beside myself. I was losing sleep and struggling to keep my worries in check. The panic and anxiety was all consuming. After having worked very hard to kick my comfort eating afflictions this year, I was back with my hand in the cookie jar. I started buying large blocks of chocolate again, and not sharing. A trip to our family doctor for some reassurance was met with a distinct lack of commitment either way, and a hasty referral to the Ophthalmologist was made.


It was a very long two weeks waiting to see the specialist. My ever efficient mind went to work, busying itself with the planning of logistics. We would surely have to go to Auckland for her treatment. Auckland is an 8 hour drive from Wellington. How would we juggle this? The best plan would be for me to go with my daughter and my husband to stay at home with our son. We’d have to arrange childcare for the days when Mr4 is not in Kindy. Should we just pack up and move back to Australia before the treatment? Would she get better care in Sydney? In all, it was a very productive 2 weeks. By the time our appointment came around, I had all the logistics very clearly mapped out.

Sitting in the clinic room while the Ophthalmologist examined my baby girls’ eye, I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. The palpitations of my heart were thumping at my eardrums, making it hard to hear. I had to work hard to concentrate on what the specialist was saying. He talked about all the different things he looks for when someone presents with an enlarged pupil (which of course I already knew about, thanks to Dr Google). He then said that our baby girl didn’t have any of the other symptoms that would give him cause for concern.

I had to ask him to say that bit again.

She was going to be fine. She simply had one pupil that was about 1mm larger than the other. It was called Physiological Anisocoria, and it was nothing to worry about. Casting my mind back, I recalled Dr Google mentioning something about it possibly being entirely benign. Interesting how we quickly brushed past that fact in our long discussions.

So, thankfully our baby girl is completely healthy. There will be no trips to Auckland for treatment, and family life can continue as normal. Reflecting on all the anxiety of those few weeks, I wonder why, oh, why I consulted with Dr Google over this? He never, ever brings good news; and it’s no secret to me, that he is so very often wrong with his diagnoses. It makes me wonder if he actually has a medical degree!?

Do you consult with Dr Google?

Has he ever given you palpitations?

Plan B

After a few months of floating in space wondering how the hell we were ever going to get back to Australia, we now have a plan. Another plan. I guess you could call this Plan B. It is not my usual style to have a plan go awry, but that is certainly what has happened so far this year. When we sat down at the end of 2013, we agreed a plan of action that would have us selling our Wellington house and moving back to the Lucky Country by May this year. At the latest. It’s now June. That plan obviously fell through.

Last week, I started making another plan. A different plan. In this plan, I was going to renew my New Zealand Occupational Therapy Practicing Certificate. I have been on maternity leave for a while now, and I am itching to get my business up and running again. I work with children who have developmental problems, and I absolutely love it. I have been treating a friends’ child over the past few weeks, just as a favour. What a revelation this has been for me. It has reminded me just how much I adore being an Occupational Therapist. The difference we can make to a child’s life is nothing short of profound, especially when you have a child and a set of parents who are totally engaged. This taste of my old professional life as made me hungrier to get back into it. I have so many ideas for developing my business, and I’m impatient!

So, I figured since we were still in New Zealand with no real plans of getting out of here that I should just get on and get started with my business ideas here in Wellington. I got out my note pad, and started making a list. I was getting very excited and the ideas were flowing. I have heaps of contacts here in Wellington, and I knew that I would have clients knocking at my door in no time. Hoorah! A plan! This was going to be great!

This past weekend I had a dream. In this dream I was living in Brisbane with my family. It was stinking hot and we were renovating a house. It was a chaotic dream and certainly devoid of any glamour or romance. But we were there, on the other side of the Tasman, getting on with the life we want to be living. When I woke up from this dream I was so totally pissed off. How damn annoying to still be here in Wellington, when the plan was to be in Brisbane by now. It put me in such a bad mood and I just couldn’t shake it off.


So then I hatched a different plan. Plan B. The plan I referred to at the beginning of this blog. Starting my business up again here in Wellington is a bad idea. Sure, it would be great to sink my teeth into my therapy work here in Wellington, but it would be a distraction. I would be taking my eye off the ball. I need to focus on the Grand Plan, which means selling the house and getting to Australia.

So in the newly revised Plan B, we will spend June getting the house back up to show home status, and by the beginning of July we will have it back on the market. We have decided not to use an agent this time around which means with the money we save we can be more flexible with price. This will mean doing all the sales work ourselves, but it can’t be that hard, right!?

Come hell or high water we will be in Brisbane by the Spring!

Have you ever sold your house without an agent? Any tips welcomed!

The waiting place…

It’s May. Almost June. Winter is looming large. Those dreaded Wellington winds are blowing and the damn southerly is biting hard. The summer-time love affair I was enjoying with this city has soured. The house is off the market for the time being, and our move to Australia is feeling ever distant. The property market is still pretty dismal for sellers, so we are treading water, waiting for a change.

This weekend, my son and I were reading “Oh, the places you’ll go” by Dr. Seuss. In the story, he describes a most useless place, the waiting place, where people are just hanging about waiting for planes or trains or for their hair to grow. It was the most perfect description of our current state of idleness. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for the market to change; waiting for the winds to stop; waiting for the sun to shine; waiting for the house to sell… Oh, what a dismal old place this waiting place is!

20140527_110951I guess we all pass through the waiting place at different times in our lives. I have certainly been here before. It’s a very frustrating place to be, but I have also found that it’s a terrific incubator for ideas and determination. By the time our house sells, I will be so hungry to get to Australia. We’ll land in Brisbane and I will hit the ground running. After all this waiting around, I will be brimming with such drive and ambition that nothing will stop me!

For now though, I just need to tolerate these dormant moments, and keep reminding myself that this is just a temporary state. There’s nothing like a bit of Dr. Seuss philosophy to provide a little clarity.