Xmas Blues Pt. 2

I’ve been experiencing a high level of guilt for missing Christmas with our families this year. Up until this last weekend, I was focused on coming up with new traditions for us to create as a family, since most of our normal traditions wouldn’t be possible since we aren’t with our extended families. At first, it felt kind of nice that we had so much freedom to choose what we wanted to do for the holidays. But this weekend, as we were video chatting with Ben’s parents, I just lost it. I started crying while he was talking to them, because I missed them and being near family during this time of year. I was also crying because I felt bad that we wouldn’t be there to celebrate the holidays with them. I’m sure they are missing us as well, and they didn’t choose for us to move so far away.

Ever since then, I’ve been feeling extremely guilty about our move. Knowing that Patrick won’t have easy access to his extended family is eating at me right now. I know that holidays can be hard when you don’t have your family near. And I guess I expected to feel this way. However, I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it is. The rest of the ‘normal but hard’ feelings of moving far away have been easier for me to acknowledge and move past. But this one is hard.

Having A Bad Day

When we started really planning to move to New Zealand for REAL, I read up on what it’s like to move to another country. What feelings I should expect to have. And they all said that at some point I would question whether our move was a good choice. Today is the day that happened for me.

It wasn’t anything big or important. It was the thought that if Ben and I have another child, that child will be born and raised without knowing or possibly even meeting most of our family members. I don’t know why, but that thought made me quite sad. Sad enough that I sat down and spent some time reflecting on the reasons why we moved here in the first place.

I asked myself questions like ‘Did we rush into this?’ and ‘Would we ever consider moving back?’ Tomorrow will mark 3 months (to the day) since we arrived here. I think that, perhaps, I am right on schedule for having these thoughts and feelings. I hope that it’s a normal part of the process. I hope that tomorrow these thoughts make me less sad, or are less prevalent.

I’m lucky enough to work with my dear friend, Crystal each night that I work. She is a great friend that I have known since I was a young girl. She is a great person who always lets me vent and complain, and always has a kind word to share, even when I know she is sad that I moved away and that our sons will not get to grow up side by side, as we’d hoped. She allowed me to tell her my about my sad thoughts today. And she was not only patient and understanding, but also incredibly encouraging. She let me know that she believes that we are on a wonderful adventure that IS WORTH IT. And I really needed to hear that today. Thanks, girl! 😉

Ah, That’s The Stuff

Our stuff has arrived!!!!

Angie here. Our stuff has arrived here in New Zealand. It is both a glorious and daunting feeling to have our stuff with us after being at sea for nearly 3 months to the day. I was surprised at how quickly we got the call for delivery once we knew it was in Wellington. 4 days. It took 4 days to be delivered. Which seems exceptionally odd since the email we received telling us our stuff was here said there were two separate inspection processes, and that both could take between 7-10 business days each. But here we are with out stuff. I’m not complaining.

Well, maybe I should complain. Now, I knew going into this that shipping our stuff over seas would inevitably lead to some of it being lost/broken in transit. Especially after the ridiculousness we endured just to get it into a shipping container (long story short, there weren’t any shipping containers available at the time, so the moving company packed all of our worldly belongings into a regular moving truck and said they would put it on a container as soon as one became available. Also 4 days…hmm…strange). With so many different people handling our stuff, I kind of expected some things to go wrong. But we’ve only just begun unpacking and I’m already very disappointed with the quality of the job done by the packing company.

Now, we were able to pack our own stuff. Some shipping companies won’t let you do that for liability reasons. So we packed about 60% of our own stuff into the plastic storage totes. We tried to pack them so that none of them were ridiculously heavy (we have a lot of books), or partially empty and would ‘cave in’. Didn’t matter. I would say at least 50% of the totes have some serious damage. A few are broken beyond usefulness, and look like they may as well have been dropped from a 3-story building. And then there are the boxes. Most of the boxes were packed by the movers. We had maybe 10 cardboard boxes that we packed. The ones that were packed by the movers look smooshed. I genuinely hope there aren’t any fragile items inside, or we will be adding them to the list of broken items. We still aren’t sure if we’ll be submitting a claim or not.

I can say with certainty that I was naive when it came to shipping our stuff overseas. I thought it would be a simple and straightforward process. I’ve learned the hard way that I was wrong. Ben has identified at least 4 separate companies/groups that handled or moved our stuff from the beginning to the end. I think when we were researching who to use, we should have looked at more reviews and found more personal accounts of what the process would be like. Because, although I am happy to have all my stuff, I am feeling very dissatisfied with the process.

All for now. Have to finish work for the week and then it’s unpacking time for the rest of the weekend. Till next time…

 

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.