Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The space between

Sunday, 1 February 2015.  Our last day in New Zealand.
The day arrived overcast and gloomy but still hot.  We had most of the day to get ready.  More cleaning, a trip to the Sallies, a couple of phone calls, the sold car collected, returning borrowed goods to our wonderful neighbours with hugs and goodbyes, a final visit from friends. 

Later in the afternoon lovely family arrived to take us to the airport.  A final look around our house and street, and we were off.  Check-in was fairly straightforward, and then it was time for the last goodbyes to my sis-in-law, niece and bro-in-law.  Through customs we went, a phone call from a friend and we had barely sat down before the final boarding call was announced... what the?!  Where did the ample two hours go?
Off we sprinted to the gate which naturally seemed like the furthest one away.  All that running for nothing as we were there in plenty of time!  But cripes - we weren't about to undo all that effort to be ready by missing the flight! 
Onto the plane we piled.  First leg to Melbourne was about 4 hours.  The girls were beside themselves with excitement and the hostesses enamoured by their charms.  It went really quickly which was a good thing as we still had two more big legs ahead of us.

The stop in Melbourne was pretty short - off the plane, wait for about 30 mins, on the plane.  And the girls got to stretch their legs and burn off some tired energy as it was pretty much 11pm NZ time at that stage. 

Next leg to Dubai was 14 hours.  A big one.  All of us eventually fell asleep for a few hours.  The poor girls were so tired but so excited and enjoying themselves so much, though in the end succumbed to sleep too.  L had tired tears streaming down her face (not crying, but her eyes clearly tired), but did not sleep until she couldn't fight it anymore.  At least she was happy through it all! 

We arrived at Dubai airport about 5.30am in their morning.  The airport was amazing and absolutely huge!  We spent most of the 2.5 hours between flights here travelling from the gate we disembarked at to the boarding gate for the next flight.  Walking, train, then a short facilities stop, before more walking and catching a bus to the plane. 

And then we were off on the final leg of the trip.  Dubai to Birmingham - 8 hours.  The big girls didn't sleep on this leg, but L very quietly nodded off.  She slept for most of the flight and she barely woke as we changed her clothes while descending.  We all got changed into warmer clothes in preparation for weather that was most definitely not summery.

Monday, 2 February 2015, 12pm UK time.  Before we knew it, we had landed.  Between the movies (I highly recommend Big Hero 6 that I watched at least twice :) ), the meals, the transfers, watching the girls and the little sleep we got, 30 hours of travel had ended.  We practically strolled out of the airport and collected the rental car.  We walked out the doors and were terribly grateful to have all our winter woollies on!

We found the car, fitted the car seats, figured out indicators from wipers and how to operate the GPS.  A couple of tense moments later we were on the road and making our way to the hotel.  Without incident!  Poor H fell asleep in the car, and then struggled to stay awake for the rest of the afternoon.  Whereas the other two were bouncing off the walls.  We had one moment as we landed with A who was disappointed to tears by the lack of snow upon arrival.  Was it winter in the UK or what?  Although we had stressed the likely possibility of no snow, she had made her mind up.  She recovered when we reminded her it had only snowed the week before so there was hope ;) 

The girls were fantastic on the trip.  A basically took care of herself the entire time and loved every moment of deciding on her meals and movies etc.  H chatted up every single host and hostess and was a joy.  And L, she loved having her own space and freedom to do what she wanted, and watch what she wanted...and to be able to ask for and get all the juice she wanted!  They all coped so very well with the lack of sleep and the adrenalin/excitement highs.   D's employer arranged the tickets and we were tremendously fortunate to have business class seats for the trip.  So good and so spoilt!
A little while later we found and checked in to the hotel.  The rest of the afternoon was spent just being, chatting and trying not to fall asleep.  A very early room service dinner and bed by 6pm for us all.   Blissful sound sleep.
We had arrived.
L xx

Monday, 2 March 2015

Remember to breathe...

There are so many things that we want to remember from our moving experience.  I want to try to note down events of the last 6 weeks - even the boring stuff - so we can remember a few of the details in future, and reflect on what has been one of the biggest life events for our family.

On Wednesday 14 January 2015, an unlikely possibility became a reality.  Something that we (well definitely not me) didn't really expect to actually happen...and certainly not anytime soon.  Of course there are two sides to every coin flipped, but as a self-confessed realist I did not dare start entertaining crazy possibilities. 

We shared our news over the next few days.  Dates were decided.  Flights were confirmed.  We were off.  In two weeks.

Moving your life in two weeks does not leave a lot of time for breathing.  There were lists for everything.  Decisions were being made all the time about everything.  It is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting.  Not that there is any time to think about it.

I would highly recommend making a daily plan to clearly see what needs to happen when.  You then determine very quickly which are the top priorities and it helps to establish a very definitive action plan and timeline. 

Hubster had to finish up at work and fortunately he didn't have to work out his notice, which meant we had two bodies in the last 10 days to wrap things up.  As the girls were still on school holidays they were about and when they weren't being helpful, they were playing outside in the glorious summer weather.  The girls were also the first to hear about our family adventure... they were so excited... all for different reasons.  A was excited that we might finally experience snow at Christmas or at anytime in the winter for that matter!  H because we would be close to Holland and that was ideal because her favourite colour is Orange and their sports teams are orange... :)  L because we would go on a big plane and get to live in a new house! 

Decisions were made about what household goods to take or gift or sell.  We have had most of our furniture from when we were flatting together 15 years ago... 6 moves and 3 children later, takes a toll on flatting furniture... So some decisions were easier than others to make :)  The house was divided into "coming" or "not" areas as we prepared for the movers due on our last Thursday.  Pretty much all of the non-essential or "not coming" items were sold or gifted to friends.  And for the record I am not a hoarder by any stretch of the imagination but you know how it is... kids and life equals stuff.  This "off-loading of stuff" is a heck of a time-consuming activity.

What comes with us on the plane, what do we send afterwards and what do we need for the 3 days before we leave once the house is packed/empty?  Do we all have enough warm clothes?  What critical items will we need in the first three months that absolutely have to come with us?  We had quite a hefty bag allowance which meant we were able to take a box of quilts/duvets/blankets/pillows with us to make sure the girls especially, had some home comforts in the first three months while we wait for our household goods to arrive.  We packed all our winter clothes and so far we have been absolutely fine.  An extra smaller box with the last bits and pieces that had to wait until the last day with other essentials like meds etc.  All of that and we didn't even get to half our combined baggage allowance!  The girls each had their own wee travel suitcases on the plane that carried books, colouring pages and some Lego for the trip and also on arrival.  Another carried some of our essential documentation and extra items for the trip, along with a change of clothes for us.  And the last one carried a change of clothes for the girls.  All in all our luggage consisted of two suitcases, one large box, one small box and 5 pieces of hand luggage.  So far we seem to have covered our bases.

Do we sell or rent out our house?  A lot of time spent talking to accountants in NZ and the UK, etc etc.  For now, we are renting it out.  So next, take care of all those little bits that we live with but tenants shouldn't have to, and find property managers.  Not to mention cleaning every surface, nook and cranny over the last two days - yes even leaving day! (I have moved in to too many houses that I did not consider clean, to not make sure it wasn't practically glowing!)   Paperwork, legal docs, mail redirection, changing insurance types, etc.  Naturally there was a good dose of gardening too :)

Of course there is a tonne of admin and paperwork.  I had to wrap up my work and pass my clients over.  Cancelling mail, subscriptions, services, etc. etc.  Selling cars and transferring ownerships.  Getting hold of medical, dental and optometry records.  Informing the bank, insurance companies, checking on wills and power of attorney's.  Backing up computer files and transferring data.  Of course through all this is making sure flights, a rental car, and a place to stay were sorted on arrival.   There were many late/all-nighters spent on phone calls to the UK, awaiting confirmations, and finalising arrangements.  We were/are fortunate that D's new employer took care of many costs and arrangements and we just had to make a few choices, decisions and sort out some of the details.

Emails and phone calls were constant, super early mornings and very late nights were par for the course, if we got any sleep at all ; ).  We did squeeze in one last gifted dinner at our favourite, the French CafĂ© on our last Tuesday evening... and we stayed awake throughout the meal!  Our neighbours were super helpful and when they saw the girls beds leave the house with some lucky purchasers, they arrived on our doorstep with camp-stretchers.  They also took care of a few other things for us after we left.  Great neighbours are awesome and we love/d ours!

Saying goodbye.  We had a goodbye-something on every night for those last two weeks.  From barbeques and games with friends, to birthday pizza and sleepovers for the girls, to dinners with friends and family, to sitting in our empty living room on the floor drinking who-knows-how-old cheap bubbles with St Germain Elderflower Liqueur discovered in the pantry, from a couple of random mugs and glasses with a handful of remaining cashew nuts.  Lunch with Granny who came to Auckland to say goodbye, a farewell visit to Kindy, and a special morning tea with a few blogging-turned-real-life friends.  Emotional stuff.

It would be fair to say that those two last weeks were intense.  There was no time to process much about what was happening.  Things just needed to happen.  And they did.  And we survived and made it with all limbs intact. 

And we remembered to breathe :)
L xx

Sunday, 22 February 2015


H: We did quite a lot of walking this week - given the gorgeous days we were having it would have been a shame not to! Lots of sunshine - though still chilly - but oh so glorious! We went back to the sights from last week for some better photo's and you three had a ball running around, climbing and exploring. And you sitting and soaking up the sun in front of the Museum and Art Gallery - your composed little grin sums up the happy outings we've had. Also this week you announced that you want to play soccer/football when you start school here... so can we please get you a ball sometime if possible? Not sure where this idea has come from quite so suddenly, but we've made a note :)

A: You love picking up your sisters. Especially the little one. And she loves getting piggy-back rides from you and being carried around the place. There is just something so adorable about this interaction between you two. You really are such a awesome big sister.

L: So.much.personality. You have taken to walking around with your hands in your pockets when we're out. Or holding onto my hand with the other in a pocket. Along with that look on your face and the way you strut... you really are a character. And you think it's hilarious to close your eyes for photo's... You love, love your sisters doting on you and lap up every bit of it. What a lucky little sister you are :)

L xx

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Oh Hi!

Just checking in very briefly to say hello! We arrived two weeks ago today and it's been one heck of a ride to date!  But we are alive and kicking and not frozen ;)

How are you all doing? Tell me what I've missed!

In the words of a non-Brit...I'll be back...
L xx

Sunday, 15 February 2015


H: This week you decided you were going to work out this shoe-lace tying business and get the hang of it. In your typical fashion you asked for help and Daddy and I showed and guided you through a few demonstrations over a couple of days. You would then disappear to go practice. Within the week you have nailed it! No more shoe-lace tying for us (for you anyway!)! The way you approach things like this sums you up perfectly. Detailed, structured, and will work in a methodical and tireless manner at achieving what you set your mind to.

L: You have so many little things that I often forget to write down or capture. The way you say 'amblulance' and how your whole nose screws up when you pronounce words with an "f" in it. I love it. Or how you still haven't quite gotten the hang of the "s" sound yet and often words like "smoke" become "moke" or "smell" becomes "mell". Cracks us up.

A: It was a big week for us with a little sightseeing and a lot of house and car-hunting and you guys were so good through all the boring driving around and around and around... But you would get so excited at each house we saw, allocating rooms to us all and deciding what goes where, commenting on all the positives of each place or car. Such a positive wee soul - it is such a delight.   We were able to sign up to the library this week too - much to all our delight!

L xx

 (photo's taken on a very old phone... so quality is a bit... not great...)

Sunday, 8 February 2015


L: How you delighted the air-hostesses. Oh so charming you can be! You were such a good girl on the trip - though you got terribly tired... tears streaming from your tired eyes as you forced yourself to stay awake with all the excitement. You still managed to have great big sleeps and enjoyed watching whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted...and of course the joy of getting a juice from the lovely ladies whenever you asked for it! We visited Cadbury World in the first week here and we all had a lovely time - complete with a great playground at the end to top it off! A bit chilly though and of course you had lost your mittens by then so had cold wee hands, though it didn't stop you too much!

H: Another great girl on the big trip. But you were very worn out by the time we arrived and fought sleep the whole afternoon on landing day. At least you had your soft toy friends to keep you company while we bided time before bed. Four days later at CWorld you were practically back to yourself though and had a blast getting some climbing action in and being a monkey.

A: Always smiling. We didn't hear a sound from you for pretty much the entire trip. Completely happy just sorting yourself out, ordering your own food, sleeping, watching movies, etc. independently. Such a grown up, though utterly innocent wee girl you are. You have retained almost every detail you learned at CWorld, you were so absorbed and taken with it all. Getting out and physical in the very fresh air did you all a world of good. Such joy on all your faces!

L xx

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Four& Five/52

A: You celebrated your 7th birthday during our last week in NZ. Despite all that was going on, you remained completely calm and composed and enjoyed every minute of your special day. After lunch with Granny the day before, the morning started off with presents, a trip to the shops for a new bracelet to put your charms on and also to choose your own one - a Kiwi - very fitting. Then your favourite special drink - strawberries and cream fruppacino, followed by some very needed new shoes. Followed by lovely friends popping in to see you throughout the day and afternoon, a few goodies in the mail, phone calls from more lovely friends and ending the day with a birthday dinner celebration, family, a special cat birthday cake and a sleepover with your sisters at your Cousins' house. You deemed the day amazing and special and awesome and, and, and... You are our treasured big girl xx

L: Our last swim of the NZ summer at Grantie and Gruncle's house. You had a ball despite not wanting to really go into the water after what sounded like a promising start. You - always working a new angle. Also playing foxes with your wee friend and sisters - pretending to sleep dressed up as Elsa... It was a special week with you (and your sisters) also stopping in at Kindy to say goodbye. Such a joy to watch you and the teachers, and take in for the last time, the amazing relationships you all had there with a wonderful group of people. So so special xx

H: You and your wee boyfriend. Gosh you two are adorable. You have enjoyed keeping track of all the goings on and all the details. Knowing the facts and the plan helps you and really makes you feel part of and in control of what goes on. Who knows where you get that from :p Still, you enjoy the process and being such a serious and mature little thing makes you a delight to watch at all stages of this journey. That last week you were happy and focussed and completely part of all the detailed arrangements. Such a joy xx