Wednesday, June 25, 2014

365 days

June 24, 2013. I had stars in my eyes as I stood admiring the wall murals of silver ferns and sandy beaches while waiting in line at the Air New Zealand terminal. While my eyes were filled with stars, I turned to see Kylie's filled with tears. She ducked into my shoulder and I held her close as she begged to just go home. I began to wonder if we were making the wrong decision. It wasn't the first time I thought that, and it wouldn't be the last, but I'll never forget the guilt I felt wondering if I was being selfish for wanting to uproot our family and rip them apart from the only life they've ever known all in the name of adventure. Those first few weeks were a daze as we survived on nothing but spaghetti, suckers and a whole lot of faith. One year later, Jason looks more relaxed, my hair looks lighter, Kylie's hair looks longer, Jayden looks like he has more freckles, Maddox looks like he has grown taller and Ryder no longer looks like the diaper clad, baba hanging out of his mouth baby that he was. But the changes aren't only physical, we've all grown and changed in so many ways on the inside as well. These are just some random thoughts for my journal about life in New Zealand over the past 365 days. Some are things I've mentioned before, so just humor me.

-I love how kind and considerate everyone is here. You never see road rage or people flipping out at the cashier or waitress. It's nice to be surrounded by common courtesy and people who are quick to smile and say hello.
-I love how safe it is here, seriously cops don't even carry guns. Every time I hear about mass shootings or child abductions in the states it gives me anxiety to think about going back to those nights where I would lay in bed worrying that I was hearing noises, or be scared to let my kids out of my sight, or be a little nervous to go to public places such as sporting events or even the mall or movie theaters.
-holidays are so low key here. It's weird not seeing the stores and houses decked out for every single holiday. I miss it.
-We've dealt with some pretty heavy topics involving people we're close to and it has been hard. I don't like that my kids are exposed to some of these things, but at the same time it has made them become more empathetic, compassionate, appreciative and realize how the choices we make affect our lives. Things like abortion, drug addiction, domestic violence, rehab, alcoholism, divorce, children put into foster care, statutory rape, runaway teens and child abuse. There's times that I've felt like I'm in the twilight zone. Having a conversation with a man covered in nothing but a towel and tattoos as he recalls his dad forcing him to try drugs at 8 years old. And that awkward conversation where I'm like, so sorry child protection services just took your child, but I've got chocolate eclairs!
-I still appreciate the simple life. I've loved the chance to scale back and not be so caught up in the latest fashion, the latest home decor, the latest technology. But at the same time I am busy pinning home decor like a boss on Pinterest. I miss having a nest to fluff and a home to make my own.
-I love that kindy is free. I'm not going to like paying for preschool when we move back.
-Paper products are scarce here. Real dishes are used more than paper plates during events, like at the school dance they use real glasses while somebody in the back is busy washing all night to keep the supply up. At picnics or functions you bring your own dishes then take them home to wash them. I miss those Costco packages of paper plates that were taller than me. But I'm also realizing where they're coming from, Americans are pretty wasteful.
-Everybody swears here. It makes me sad that even Maddox knows what the "f" word and Kylie's teacher frequently swears in class. It's not out of anger, it's just so common. Hell and damn aren't considered swear words so it always catches me off guard when one of our primary kids says "dammit".
-Our kids are a lot less spoiled. Our neighbors were junking an old desk and mirror, it was in pretty bad shape but Kylie was so excited to get it and has taken care to decorate it with tinsel and Christmas lights. The only other furniture in her room, besides a bed, is a plastic bin that doubles as a dresser and night stand. But she doesn't complain and they are learning to really appreciate what they have. Jason recently took her to McDonald's on a daddy date and she was hesitant to order fries with her drink because they cost $3. Bless her heart.
-I like how things are so close. All my errands are on my jogging route, I can pick up a prescription, drop off a movie, return a book at the library and pick up a loaf of bread at the dairy. The basket under the jogging stroller has come in very handy at times. I'm also really going to miss running at Hagley park. It's just so peaceful being surrounded by nothing but trees and my thoughts.
-I absolutely love the work/life balance. I'm going to have a hard time going back to life as a single mom when Jason works like a dog.
-I really like falling asleep to rain. We have a metal roof and it is such a soothing sound.
-I love that the kids are getting exposed to a different culture. Every time I go to an assembly at the school I get goosebumps when they sing God of Nations and the kappa haka songs.
-The kids haven't picked up on the accent quite like I had hoped, but I catch them using a lot of kiwi words and phrases such as: ay, good on you, sweet as, jersey, rubbish bin, maths, swimming togs, lollies, morning tea, a wee little, heaps, oy, all sorted, car park, rugby boots instead of cleats, shifting instead of moving and when they ask for a rubber they mean an eraser. Maddox has started pronouncing been and again as "bayne" and "agayne", he also sometimes pronounces water as "wotuh" and Tuesday as "chuesday". And I love when he writes "mum" on the pictures he draws for me.
-I've gotten used to all the eggs being brown, and I've even gotten used to them sitting on the shelves in the grocery store and not the refrigerator, but I don't think I'll ever get used to the feathers and poop I sometimes find on them. Sometimes farm fresh isn't best.
-driving is good, Jason and I have both only turned into on coming traffic once. I'm actually kind of nervous to go back to driving on the right side of the road. I'm getting used to all the roundabouts, but I still can never park straight in all the tiny parking spaces.
-We've enjoyed getting to know the missionaries and having them in our home a lot more often. Several of them are from Arizona so it will be fun to meet up with them in the future.
-I spend atleast $200 a week on groceries and by day 5 the cupboards are bare.
-I love the diversity. I can't pronounce the names of half the kids in Ryder's kindy and I love peeking at the different foods they all bring in their lunches. Some of the teachers comment that Ryder's peanut butter and jelly sandwich is so American, and all along I thought PB&J was an international laguage.
-The schools here are so fun. I love that the walls and ceilings are covered in artwork and they have opportunties to participate in a variety of activities. Right now for winter sports Kylie gets bussed to a gym where she takes a gymnastics and tramp class, next term she gets to do ice skating while Jayden is busy with soccer and basketball. They also take swimming lessons during the fourth term, they've had cricket competitions, dance competitions, rugby and cross country races. The school camps were a lot of fun and their no homework policy gets two thumbs up from the kids. On the other hand, I miss seeing work being brought home and knowing what they're learning as I help them with their homework. I really hope they won't be behind when we move back, but at least they're developing a love for school and learning.
-The weather is still something I'll never get used to, my eyes are constantly on the ever changing sky trying to anticipate its next move. I've learned that it's possible to be hot and cold at the same time. There's a hole in the ozone above New Zealand making the sun super intense, so sometimes when it's out it's like, "hide yo kids, hide yo wife!". But we also have these bitter cold southerly winds so the two together give you a work out as you take your jacket off and on repeatedly. We're all pretty familiar with weather teminologies like nor'wester, easterlies, spitting and sun showers, whereas in Arizona it was called "wind" and "rain". I like the seasons, but at the same time the seasons here aren't clearly defined. There are still really cold days in the summer and really pleasant days in the winter. I miss the constant sun. You can take the girl out of the desert, but you can't take the desert out of the girl.
-I feel like the highs and lows have been a lot more noticeable here. When it's good, it's really good. Saturdays at the beach, climbing trees in the park and exploring this amazing country. But then we have weeks on end where we're trapped inside a cold empty house with nothing but electronics to keep us entertained. It's depressing at times. I would say the normal every day life was better in the states, but we've had a lot more extraordinary experiences here.
-I think the temporary mindset has hindered us. Knowing we'll only be here for two years has held us back from investing ourselves fully, we still always have a foot in the US door.
-I've really loved baking and cooking more since we've been here, and I've gained 5 lbs as proof. We've been eating really well, if I do say so myself.
-I miss vacations being relaxing, a break from all the cooking and cleaning. Instead I spend a few days before hand baking food to take with us then, as tradition would have it, we stop at the grocery store where everyone waits in the car while I stock up on a week's worth of groceries to take with us. Besides fish and chips and pizza hut, eating out is too expensive and a lot of the places we stay are so remote. Some of the places we stay at also require that you bring your own bedding. Packing sheets, washing sheets and making beds isn't my idea of relaxing.
-We haven't been clothes shopping in an entire year. Or paid for a haircut. All our jeans and shoes have holes in them. I can't wait to go shopping when we go back to visit, although I'll have no clue what the latest styles are. I'm trying not to just let ourselves go, but I won't lie, Ryder is usually wearing pajamas to school pick up.
-Being here has motivated me to explore our our own back yard when we move back. I can't believe how many amazing places are in Arizona that we've never been to (Antelope Canyon, Tombstone, Havasupi Falls and the world's best preserved meteorite impact site just to name a few. It's about time we revisited the Grand Canyon as well).
-This country really is as picture perfect as pinterest promised me it would be. I've seen enough beauty in the past year to last me a life time. I'm so grateful we could be here sharing this experience and growing together as a family. This has been such an incredible experience, challenging and harder than I had imagined but also more rewarding than I had planned. So grateful we get to call this beautiful country our home, but I've also realized how much my heart still belongs in the states. I'm just learning to take the good out of everything, live in the moment and appreciate how lucky we truly are.


Tyler and Margaret said...

Girrrrrrrrrrl! Can't wait to see you soon! :)

Marisa said...

I LOVED reading all the things you're learning. I CANNOT believe it's been a year. I swear you just moved there.

Ronnie said...

Amazing! What a year. And you still have another left! I am so excited to see what you guys do in the next 365.

Allie said...

Today was a sad church day-Austin had to conduct a funeral for a family in our ward that lost their daughter. It was rough.

A guy came up and thanked Austin for his words and Austin asked him his name and what do ya know...a sad afternoon had a bit of a smile! It was Trent Gubler!! It's his aunt and her family in our ward. Such a small world, eh?!

It was fun to catch up with him and it brought back good memories of "The Vegas Boys"! We hope all is well!

Janessa said...

Wow, a whole year!!! What an incredible year it has been! Definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I've loved tagging along on your adventure. I loved reading through all your lessons learned. Your kids are so lucky, not only for the fun and amazing things they're seeing and doing, but also for the great life lessons they're learning. I can not wait to see you guys in just a little over a week!!!!!!! It'll be fun to see what adventures, experiences and lessons this next year in NZ will bring. Love you!

Ali said...

I love reading and seeing snapshots of your life. I got sad when I read this post because it felt like you were leaving... I'm so glad there's another year too. Love love love your blog and the person who you are which it reveals.


Hollie Hanson said...

Seriously, I'm a little (ok a TON) jealous. What an amazing adventure. For all of you! I love reading your blog. I need to comment more ;) Even the way you write about those craptastic weeks that all of us mothers feel your pain on, leave me smiling.