A Trip to the Beach

Angie here. We went to the beach today! Patrick loved it! It was a nice day and we stayed and played in the water for nearly an hour. We also played at the playground on the way to the beach, and Patrick walked along the wall on the way back to the car. He’s not really a big fan of leaving when he’s having a fun time, so Mommy and Daddy have to find creative ways to have fun and still get back to the car.

This beach was pretty full of seashells, so not really a barefoot type of beach. But it is about a 10 minute drive from our house, so it’s very convenient. We actually almost lived across the street from this beach, but ended up with a place that was bigger and closer to Ben’s job. As per the usual, it was a bit windy today, but the warm temps and partly cloudy skies made it a pretty perfect day for the beach. We ALWAYS make sure we put on sunblock and wear hats when we go out. New Zealand has a HIGH rate of skin cancer, and we don’t intend to become a statistic.

Patrick loves digging in the sand and playing with shells. But once he went down to the water’s edge, that was it, he didn’t want to go anywhere else. We probably could have stayed for hours. We ended up walking up and down the beach as a way to enjoy the water without just sitting and playing (fun for Patrick, but not so much for Mommy and Daddy).

I should also note that there were quite a few lovely New Zealand views during our trip. I hope I captured a few of them here. Until next time…

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Christmas Blues

Angie here. Ben has started writing some blog posts, so I thought it would be helpful to say who is speaking so you all know.

I titled this entry “Christmas Blues”, but it’s probably not for the reason you are thinking. Yes, of course we are missing our family and are feeling a bit lonely on the other side of the world for our first holiday season in New Zealand. But I’m feeling the blues because I just don’t know how much Christmas we will be able to celebrate. Our shipping container is set to arrive in Wellington this Friday (November 23). We have heard from other expats that it takes around 3 weeks for a container to go through customs inspection and get delivered, all depending on schedules of course. So we are looking at getting our stuff delivered to us on/around December 14. With that timeline, I just don’t know how much energy we will have to try and decorate and go all out for Christmas.

I did end up having to get rid of a lot of Christmas stuff for the move. So I would need a new tree, and many new decorations. But our box of ornaments is on the container, so we wouldn’t even be able to decorate the tree until it arrived. And if the timeline above is the best case scenario, we’d be decorating a tree for a little under two weeks before the big holiday, and then taking it back down.

So I’m curious what you all think. Get a tree and decorate? Or just do some basic stuff (like stockings and wrapping presents), and buy new stuff after Christmas, when it all goes on sale? Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts. Either comment here, or feel free to comment on Facebook. I’ll be putting a link to this blog entry on FB soon.

***I should also mention that Ben has the last two weeks of the year off as a holiday, as basically everyone in New Zealand takes those weeks off as holiday. So we will have some time together then to do more unpacking and such.

 

Driving Miss Zealand

Driving in New Zealand can be a challenge, even for someone who learned to drive in England!  There are too many differences to list here, but I wanted to give a quick indication of how frustrating it has been.  First off, the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car. That means the seatbelt is on the other side of you for both putting it on and taking it off. It sounds weird, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smashed my hand into the door trying to get my seatbelt off to get out. Any time I successfully reach to the correct side when getting in and out of the car is an accomplishment.  Additionally, the turn signal lever is on the opposite side. The windshield wipers are also on the opposite side.

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But not always if it’s an imported car from Japan or China.

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Driving is stressful. When we drove down from Auckland to Taupo (like 4 hours), it felt like we had been driving for 18 hours. When you aren’t used to it, it can take a toll on your body. Fatigue sets in after about 2 hours, and you are just ragged after 4. The drive from Taupo to Wellington was another 4 hours, but we knew what to expect and traded after 2 hours. Much better that way.

There’s tons of other new things with driving to deal with. First and foremost, the traffic lane for a car is just 10’6″, compared the US standard of 12′. Let me tell YOU that missing foot and a half is MASSIVE! Plus, the shoulder here is 0.5m (1.5′), vs. the US standard of 8′. So, there’s a lot of space missing that I’ve taken for granted over the years of driving in the USA.

Cars are so cheap here, and they last forever, that it begs the question of whether it makes sense to ever buy a new car. We went to Turner’s cars, where they have weekly auctions on super-cheap (like $100) cars. We decided to just buy a couple outright and still didn’t spend more than $8000. I got a Nissan Note:

and Angie got a Toyota Avensis:

Many years ago while driving in England, I clipped a passenger-side mirror with my dad in the passenger seat. He was visibly shaken and upset, but what he didn’t realize was that I had avoided a direct head-on collision with a car on the driver side. Driving in New Zealand is basically avoiding head-on collisions and hoping that you are far enough away from the curb to prevent a blow-out.

Sadly, on our first day with the new cars, we hit a curb and heavily damaged the passenger tire on Angie’s Avensis. We drove it to the nearest tire store and spent NZ$200 on a new tire. They said the rest of the tires were fine, but they were low-profile racing tires or something, which explains the price. It was ironic, because we were still living in the AirBnB and didn’t know where to live. We ended up moving a block away from where we hit the curb. We even have plans to go to the pub (where we wrecked) for lunch this weekend.

I’m just glad I didn’t buy a manual transmission car. That would’ve made driving in NZ just impossible!!

Not Quite THAT Long of a Wait…

I’ve really been struggling with the wait for our stuff to arrive. In the last two weeks, especially. I almost CRAVE having my own set of stuff to enjoy again. It truly will feel like Christmas when I have it all back. Though, I’m guessing that feeling will fade once I realize how much work it is to unpack it all 😀

But yesterday I checked out “The Martian” from my library back in Castle Rock to read on my Kindle. Ben and I had seen the movie and I thought it would be an interesting read. It has been great so far. I can definitely relate to the isolation he feels. If you’ve read the book, you know that he keeps a log of what happens, kind of like journal entries. Anyway, this morning I was reading a part where he logged day 397 on Mars and thought to myself ‘Dang, that’s a LONG time!’ It made me realize how short of a time I have been waiting. And I’m not waiting to be saved or anything, just waiting to have my clothes, dishes, and books (and so on). I guess it helped put things into perspective for me.

So now I’m kind of counting down. Today is October 30 here in New Zealand. We have our AirBnB booked through November 17. Currently, our shipping container says that it’s supposed to arrive in Auckland on November 12. We are guessing that it could take as much as 3-4 weeks for our stuff to clear customs and be delivered to us (8 hour drive from Auckland). Hopefully, it will be sooner than that, but it helps me to kind of have an end in sight.

To add to the fun of today’s post…I’ve just experienced my first New Zealand earthquake. There were two very short earthquakes within a minute. Everything around me started shaking. The first one kind of surprised me. The second one scared me. Mostly because I realize that I am totally and completely unprepared in case of an emergency. I have basic understanding of emergency procedures. I know to get away from tall objects that could fall on me. I am aware of the basic warning signs of an impending tsunami (something I’ve literally NEVER had to think about before). But we are not prepared in case of an emergency. So one of the things we will be talking about when Ben gets home from work TONIGHT is what supplies we need, where we will meet, and other important topics, just in case. The good news is that Ben actually works for the leading scientific company in New Zealand, and I believe they have an emergency response center IN their building. Once we move into our new house we will be a 5 minute drive or 20 minute walk away from his location. I take solace in knowing that we have made a good choice in his company and in living near his workplace.

Okay, enough for now. I have LOTS on my mind, and I still have about 5 hours left of my shift today. Thanks for reading. Hopefully a post (with pictures!) coming soon about our recent trip to the beach.

Magic Electricity Box

Let’s talk about electronics. New Zealand outlets are 230V rated. The US uses 120V. So, if you plug a US-rated 120V device into the wall in New Zealand, it will fry. It may even explode!

So how can we fix this? Well, on the back of every electronic device is a little plate that says what voltage WON’T cause it to explode.

120V only:

230V OK:

See under the ‘Power’ where it says it can accept AC 100-240V?  That’s good to go.

All you have to do for a device that has an “up-to” 240V designation is plug it into the wall, but how do you plug this:

into this?

Well, Amazon thought of that and sold us an adapter! Great!

However, there is an additional caveat. Sometimes the wires themselves are not rated for 230V.

If you plug that wire into the 230V outlet, it can potentially start a fire:

So how can you check if the wire is rated for 230V? The sad answer is sometimes you can’t. If the wire is attached to an adapter that is rated 240v, you can rest assured that the wire is good to go. But we came across a few wires that were just wires. Luckily, some of them have ratings on them:

This means that if it is not rated high enough and you plug it into a 230v socket, it will either trip the fuse in the wire’s plug (cannot normally replace this), or it will start a fire.

What’s this mean for us? We had to go through every wire and check to see if it was rated up to 240v. Then we had to figure out if our electronics were rated the same.

We found out that our three TV sets were NOT rated for 240v and had to sell them at a loss. Then we had to research which TVs were rated for 240v and found that Sams club happened to stock a few. When we called up the local Sams club in Castle Rock, they had nine in stock (weird), and they were on sale (great!), so we picked up a 49″ 4k TV for $350.  We kept the box handy so that packing was easier.

All video game systems since 2006 have a 240v rating! Even though the PS3 power supply says 110v, it can also accept up to 240v (it’s a universal adapter). This means our PS3, PS4, XBOX One, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo Wii U can all plug into the outlets in NZ. Yet with that caveat of wiring, we found that the wires for the PS3 and PS4 will burn out if plugged in and must be replaced with NZ power cords:

Again, luck is with us and the PS3 and PS4 power cords are the same, so a cheaper PS3 cord will work with the PS4. Strange!

Phone plugs are all universally rated to 240v and just require an adapter, but most phone plugs are USB.  What to do with that?

Well, Amazon thought of that also and sells an adapter that has a USB plug on the top! Great!

Looks like we will be able to stream Netflix for Patrick as soon as we get there (and have internet). Of course, someone will need to have a PS4 or XBOX in their luggage, with all the cords and controllers…

Getting There

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written. I swear, it’s been on my ‘To Do’ list just about every day. I’m finally getting a chance to catch up. Now to figure out what to write about.

Let’s start with an update. Today is October 15th. Ben has his visa and has been working for two weeks. We are eagerly awaiting his first paycheck so that we can see if the budget we’ve created is realistic. He likes his job so far. Not to bad working from 9-430 every day! He also recently found out that they do a (basically mandatory) holiday every year where the office is closed for the last two weeks of the year. They also celebrate January 1st AND 2nd as national holidays here. And since we usually take the last two weeks of the year off for vacation to celebrate Christmas, Ben’s birthday, and our anniversary anyway, this will be perfect!!! I also started working my job last week. I am SO thankful to be able to do my job whilst here in NZ. I am very fortunate that my good friend, Crystal, believed in me and recommended me. I get to stay at home with Patrick and still work nearly 30 hours a week! Thanks girl!

We finally got a bank account set up. We never received the proper paperwork to verify our address, so the bank sent someone to our house to verify that we live here. She was so nice, she stayed for 90 minutes and had a cup of coffee with us! We’ve also found a house to rent for a year. It’s a beautiful home that has just finished a huge remodel. Everything is brand new, with the exception of the original, antique pieces that the owner was able to leave as is. It is a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, single level house with a single car garage, fenced in front yard, nice sized kitchen, and washer and dryer! We are very excited to move into the house, except it’ll be about another month until our belongings arrive on the shipping container. But the house is everything we wanted, and it’s a 5 minute drive or 20 minute walk to Ben’s job. We realized yesterday as we were getting the keys from the landlord that it’s the first time we can actually say that we wouldn’t really NEED cars to survive. Ben could walk to work and I could walk 7 minutes to the store. It’s actually comforting to know that if something went wrong with the cars, we wouldn’t be helpless.

Let’s see…what else? We all 3 have visas now. Ben and I can legally work, and Patrick can legally go to school. I need to start looking into preschool, as he gets 20 hours of free preschool once he turns 3, and I hear there can be waiting lists. We’ve also met some new friends out here already. It’s Patrick – whenever we go somewhere we meet people because of him.  🙂 In general, people are really friendly and have no particular reaction to us, upon hearing us speak and realizing we aren’t Kiwis. Most are friendly and ask how long we’ve been here, how we like it, and what brought us here. Though, I will say that our answers to these questions seem to get very similar reactions. When we say that one of the reasons we moved here is because of their school system, they all tell us how ‘bad’ their school was or how ‘bad’ the local school is. We have to tell them that New Zealand really does have a school system that’s top 10 in the world, and even then they don’t seem to believe us. It’s similar with healthcare. We love that there’s universal healthcare. One of Ben’s co-workers was upset that it cost them $20 to have their child seen for an annual checkup. Ben had to actually show them a bill we had from Patrick’s 2 year checkup, where we still owed $210 AFTER insurance paid for most of it, and not including the premium he had to pay just to have insurance. Now, we haven’t had a visit with a doctor yet, so we can’t confirm how things work here just yet. But I think we can swing the $20 for a child’s checkup.

Weather here is very interesting. There are not the huge dips and rises in temperature that we would see back in Colorado. Everything here is very consistent. If it’s chilly, it’s usually like that for 2-4 days. Then the sun comes back and it’s sunny for 4-7 days. Even when it is chilly, it’s not a huge drop in temps. I believe this week it is supposed to crack 60 degrees a few days, with highs in the upper 50s the rest of the week. Last week when it was chilly and wet, it was still in the mid 50s most days, and only a low of about 45 when it wasn’t. Though the weather does have be a bit nervous for the upcoming summer. Our new house, as well as most houses in NZ, does not have air conditioning. Most people just open a window and get a fan going. That doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. Except that in NZ I have yet to see any dwelling that has screens on the windows. Does not seem to exist here. So when you open the window, the bugs come in. Now, it’s nothing like I hear they have in Australia. But it’s new to me to have to deal with bugs coming in from the open window. Speaking of bugs, I have seen A LOT more bumblebees here than I ever did in Colorado. I do my very best to not freak out and just let them do their work. It’s tough for me, though…

I think that’s all for now. I want to write more, but I don’t want to put it all in one post and bore you to death. Let me know what kinds of things you want to know about NZ or our move, or living in another country, or whatever! Until next time…

 

Don’t Know Just What to do with Myself

Here we are. We are officially IN New Zealand. Things are coming up roses. Or are they?

They definitely are, but when you’re in a state of limbo and wondering when the necessary visas are going to be approved, you can tend to feel like they aren’t roses at all. In fact, it can feel like you’re just traveling up the thorny stem of the flower in an endless road to the bloom. We heard from Megan today that there is a delay in processing Ben’s work visa (and by extension my and Patrick’s visas, also) due to an issue with one of our medical results. The abnormality has to be sent to be assessed. If they determine that it’s acceptable, it could just be a quick detour. However, if they don’t then we are looking at submitting a medical waiver request. And, worst case scenario, getting a ‘second opinion’ and trying again. All of these options take time and mean that Ben wouldn’t be able to work until it’s all squared away. And we don’t know whose result it is or what the result is that is causing the problem. We are just playing a guessing game. So, for right now we are just trying to patiently wait until we know more.

Waiting feels tough right now. We were hoping (okay, expecting) Ben’s visa would be approved by now so that he could start work in 3 days. Now, we know that won’t happen. Now we try to figure out what to do with our time until we can get back into a normal routine and everyone can settle in. I know it’s going to sound weird, but it’s like having extra time on vacation when you’re ready to go back to work. I know, rough life, eh? I don’t mean to sound whiny or entitled. We are definitely happy to have the time to spend together. I think it just feels like Ben starting his job was some sort of ‘finish line’ of our journey (though certainly not the final finish line, by any means), and now that line has moved out beyond our vision and we have no idea how quickly we will come upon it.

In other news, Patrick is learning at an alarming rate! He can now easily count up to 10 and recognize at least half the letters of the alphabet! Everywhere we go he calls out ‘2!’ or ‘T!’, etc. It’s adorable and humbling. I am constantly reminded that he learns with every single interaction he has. In that regard, I am doing my best to model the type of behavior I would like him to exhibit, especially in times of frustration. He often has big emotions that he doesn’t know how to handle. In those times he simply yells or tries to hit. We are trying to teach him how to say mad and hit things that are soft and don’t get ‘hurt’.

A New Normal

WE ARE HERE!

WE MADE IT!

WOO HOO!

A day after our arrival in New Zealand we are resting and relaxing in the hotel after our first few adventures. Getting here was an adventure in itself. Though it went well overall, I’m glad to have it behind us. Traveling overseas was bound to be a stressful process; add a toddler to the mix and it could have been a recipe for disaster. Honestly, the most difficult part was all the dang luggage. I realize that if we were simply traveling and not moving overseas, we could have easily traveled with far less luggage. However, knowing that we wouldn’t have our stuff for 2-3 months and not knowing for sure what would be available to us in country, we were trying to plan ahead.

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Getting on our first plane at DIA was, let’s say, not fun. We got to the airport plenty early. Had some small stress getting checked in, but got it worked out and went through security fairly easily (aside from having to take Patrick out of his carseat and then waiting almost 10 minutes to get it back from the security folks, and Ben having to forfeit one of the tools he had packed because it was about 2 inches too long). We got to our gate and found a seat. We thought that getting to the airport 3 hours early would leave us lots of time to have Patrick run around. Nope. Mommy didn’t even have time to use the bathroom before we boarded the plane (since we have a young child we were allowed to board with the first group of passengers, hooray! Kind of…) However, getting on this plane was something that we were NOT prepared for. With 3 carry on items, 3 under seat storage items, and a car seat strapped to a rolling cart. Oh, and an actual toddler. Add to that the fact that the car seat is too wide to be rolled through the aisle. It took a team of 2 flight attendants to help us get to our seats. Ben hit his head on the overhead storage compartment (which he would do again on the next plane) and I had to buckle the car seat in while Patrick and daddy waited. But eventually we all got safely on our plane. The flight itself was fairly uneventful and smooth. The next leg of our journey would test how determined we really were to make this trip.

We arrived at LAX feeling as though we had learned a thing or two about traveling with a toddler. Ha! We had a 2 hour layover and everyone assured us that would be enough time. We made it with about 4 minutes to spare.

First off, the international terminal at LAX was about as far from the terminal where we landed as it is possible to be. Great. Second, in order to avoid going through security again (boo), we opted to take the old underground employee tunnel system to get to our international terminal. I wish I could say that it was worth it. I guess we’ll never know. It was, honest to goodness, a 2 mile hike. Up hills, down hills. 4 or 5 elevators. And a couple of times we had to stop and ask if we were indeed going in the right direction. Oh, and the departures list doesn’t tell you what gate your international flight departs from until you get to the international terminal. So after walking for probably 45 minutes with all of our luggage and Patrick strapped into his carseat (and asleep by this time because it was about 9 pm by our body clocks), we finally arrive at the international terminal. The flight to Auckland says it leaves a half an hour earlier! Good thing we walked fast, right? Nope. It turns out there were two flights to Auckland leaving within 30 minutes of each other, yet only 1 flight was listed on the departures board. I am very glad that we didn’t sit and just wait for our flight to be called, because we were at the wrong gate. We got our (hopefully) correct gate information and rushed off.

And when we got to our correct gate, it was like we had stepped into a separate airport in a small country. It, honestly, reminded me of the airport in the Bahamas when we were on our honeymoon. There were people everywhere! I don’t know how else to explain it other than to say that it felt like we stepped into an annex of the airport that is used for ‘lesser’ airlines. But oh, it gets better.

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When we get there we realize that Patrick is soaking wet, and needs a diaper change. So I go off with him to change him. As soon as I get back, Ben goes to the Air New Zealand desk to gate check our car seat. Then we decide that we will walk downstairs to be nearer to the gate for when our flight boards. We walk downstairs and, I kid you not, I hadn’t even put my bag down on the chair when they called our flight for boarding. Great! Not so much. Turns out our plane was no where near that gate. They had us all walk outside to board a bus, with all of our luggage and ride a bus (in the dark I might add. The bus turned off all the lights while it was in motion) to what I can only assume was the side of the airport where we started. We walked inside and had to wait another 10 minutes on an extremely long ramp before we could board the plane. I am convinced that it was a test of our resolve to make this move happen. It was an incredibly stressful 2 hours. But we got on our Air New Zealand flight and took off shortly before 11 pm central time.

I will say that the Air New Zealand flight is different than any domestic flight I have ever taken. The staff take very good care of the passengers. Because it was a long flight, we were served 2 meals. They were very good. Patrick got a kids meal for both, and Ben and I had a choice between 2 different meal options. They also walked the aisles multiple times throughout the flight with a pitcher of lemon water and cups, offering a drink to anyone that wanted one. Oh, and alcohol was FREE! I didn’t have any, but Ben did get a mimosa with his breakfast. I thought it was awesome that after the dinner service, they walked the aisles with 2 bottles of red and 2 bottles of white wine, offering after dinner drinks. We also each had an interactive monitor on the back of the seat in front of us. Pattick watched Cars 3, Toy Story, and the Lion King during the flight. And he even played some Angry Birds. You could even order food and drinks from the screen. And it was all free! It was very nice to be able to order a soft drink about an hour before breakfast was served and have it brought right to us! The on board experience of Air New Zealand was fantastic. It was just the getting to the plane that felt like a nightmare.

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Now that we have been in country for a little over 24 hours we are getting our legs under us. The jet lag hasn’t been as bad as I expected it to be. Patrick and I took a nap on our first day here while Ben went out in search of a decent car rental. We all took a walk in the afternoon of our first day and found a lovely little row of shops. We went in search of some grocery items and found a small convenience store, but we also found 3 or 4 cute little cafes/restaurants. It was a very nice little walk that gave us a chance to see some of the local greenery and see our first roundabout in use. For our evening meal we had to force ourselves to wait until the hotel restaurant opens at 5 pm for dinner. Ben ordered lamb chops with lemon potatoes. I ordered the curry of the day with Naan bread. Both meals were phenomenal. But we were exhausted. As a family we called it a night at 6 pm local time.

We all slept quite well that night. I was the first to wake up at 3 am. Not bad considering I had taken a nap earlier. Ben and Patrick slept till about 4:30 am. I figure we’ll try pushing our bed time back an hour each night until we get to a more normal bed time. Hopefully our wake up times will get later too.

It is currently just after noon, local time. We’ve had a productive day so far. We walked back over to that row of shops for breakfast at a yummy place called Lady Bird. Both of our meals were simply delicious. Ben had a banana brioche with bacon, while I had a large breakfast platter with scrambled eggs, bacon, chorizo, meatballs, tomatoes with pesto, mushrooms, potatoes, and bread. We have been very pleased with the food in New Zealand so far.

After breakfast we went on our first car trip together to the local store. It’s still a little confusing even to me how the the shopping works. We went to a store called The Warehouse. It’s similar to the non-grocery areas of Walmart. Prices are very comparable, though the selection of items is not as vast. There were lots of items that we didn’t expect to see. So when I say selection wasn’t vast, I mean that within a section of items there would be fewer choices. But we found it to be very inclusive in terms of items you can get. The furniture areas felt very IKEA-like even. 🙂 However, we wanted to get a NZ cell phone so that we can use things like Data and have an NZ phone number. Instead of cancelling our current phones, we will keep them with our provider until our contract runs out in March and then we will switch to an NZ phone provider. In the meantime, we wanted to buy a ‘cheap’ phone that would get us to March with a month to month service. We had great help in selecting the phone we wanted, but because the electronics section of the store was a separate entity from “The Warehouse” we had to have our salesperson take the item to the register for us (or we had the option of checking out with him, but only with the phone and not any of the other items in our cart). I hope to understand this process a little better in the near future.

Alright. So that brings us current. I am typing this while Patrick is napping and Ben is relaxing watching some rugby. Tomorrow we leave for a 4 day journey to Wellington. We plan to stop off in Taupo on the way and stay for at least a night, maybe up to 3 nights. I won’t have my laptop out then, so next update will likely not be until we are in Wellington and checked into our AirBnB.

Thanks so much for following along on our journey!

Well Hello There

August is over and the month of our departure from the States has arrived. Not gonna lie, I’m having a hard time sleeping just now. There are so many things that need to happen for us in the next 10 days that I just can’t fall back asleep once I’m up. So I’ll probably be living off of 4-5 hours of sleep per night and energy drinks for the foreseeable future. I know it’s not the best, so hopefully it will only be a few more days before I can get better sleep.

With all of our paperwork submitted for Ben’s work visa, we now turn to the seemingly monumental task of final preparations for our shipping container. Over the course of the next 4 days we will be packing all of our worldly belongings into our 900 sq ft apartment and doing the final packing for what we will essentially be living with for the next 90 days or so. I’ll admit, it has been more difficult than I anticipated to just sit down and write a list of what items you think you will need for those 90 days. I mean, I can’t just put ‘clothes’ on my list. I have to actually go through all of my clothing and determine which clothes would be most useful. Which means I also have to have some idea of where I’ll be and which circumstances I’ll be under. For example, until recently I had assumed that the weather in Wellington would be much warmer in September. However, I am coming to find out that (rather like Colorado) the winter weather still has its grip in effect. Now, that doesn’t mean snow boots and parkas. But when I had originally been planning what clothes to pack, it was t-shirts and capri pants with sandals (better known as jandals in New Zealand). Now, I’m planning to pack at least a couple of pairs of long pants, some long sleeved shirts, a sweater or two, and some running shoes. I don’t want to get carried away with too many ‘cold weather clothes’, as the summer will be in full swing by the time Christmas (and our shipping container) arrives.

Today Ben will be moving all of the items from our storage unit into our apartment so that we can be ready for the shippers to come on Wednesday. The remainder of today will be spent finalizing what clothes to pack for Patrick and Ben (my clothes are set aside and ready to be packed), cleaning out my small laundry room so that it can be used as a ‘DO NOT PACK THESE ITEMS ONTO THE SHIPPING CONTAINER’ storage area, and going through each room in the apartment to set aside all such items that should not be packed onto the container.

This last task feels more and more daunting by the day. Not only do we have to set aside the items that we intend to use on our trip and for our first few months in New Zealand, but we also have to set aside items that we do not want to pack for other reasons. Reasons like – they won’t work in New Zealand. In NZ they use a higher voltage for their appliances, so most appliances and electronics from the States will not work in NZ without a transformer. They also use a different electrical outlet configuration. In short, any electronic item we want to bring will (likely) require a transformer AND adapter. So items like lamps = useless. There’s no value in bringing a lamp to NZ. We can replace lamps rather easily. However, because we use these lamps daily in our apartment, we cannot simply get rid of them now. We will likely have to wait until our last day or two before we sell or donate them. And because I want there to be as little confusion as possible when the shipping container folks come on Wednesday, it is my intention to move all items that do not get packed onto the container into specific areas so that they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

So there you have it. One small glimpse into the hectic chaos that Ben and I are sifting through in preparation for the big move. This will be a long and stressful weekend, as we still have a lot of work to do. Though I will say that we are monumentally excited for this move and cannot wait to be in New Zealand starting our new journey…

Unreal

It doesn’t feel real that in two weeks we will be in New Zealand instead of the US. We have spent months preparing for this. So many things had to happen (and many still do have to happen) in order for this move to even be possible. Yet, here we stand, almost ready to walk out the door and into our new lives. I fear that I’ve spent so much time planning what needs to happen before we leave, and what we want to do before we leave, that I am completely unprepared for what to do once we get there. I’ve been so afraid that I would get there and miss home that I’ve been trying to do all of the ‘big’ things before we go. But what about the things I want to do when I’m there? Sure, I’m excited to be in New Zealand for so many reasons, but most of those reasons are general reasons I think we will love it there, not specific things that I’m looking forward to. So this week, in addition to all of the crazy packing and goodbye dinners and appointments we have, I’m going to try to plan our first few days and weeks in New Zealand so that we all have something to look forward to. Something that we can do together as a family before the minutia of unpacking and working and finding our rhythm in a new place hits and we are forced back to reality.