Monday, January 30, 2012

The Newbies

So we arrived to Australia a few weeks ago now. Since then we have managed to see a few things and do a few things in the first week that we were here. We had hired rental cars while Mum, Kev and Mosie were here. But for the last week and a bit we have been a little more home bound as we just haven't found the perfect vehicle for us to purchase yet.

We are living in Regional NSW, just out of Muswellbrook. It is a lovely town with a school straight across the road and the main street is two blocks over.

This is our house from the front - I plan on doing a proper house blog once of shipment arrives and I have some stuff to fill the space!

We have an awesome long driveway which is perfect for bikes, scooters, skateboards etc. I was a little worried at first about the property not being fenced at the front but the kids are doing surprisingly well. Apart from one incident while minding my friends children while she was in hospital. I tell you losing your own kids is terrifying but thinking about having to make the call to let someone else know you have lost one of there's - serious meltdown material!

Our backyard is bigger than the front and is perfect for games of cricket, football and rugby. I am lucky enough to have 5 decent size bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 living areas, dining room and an office (which I'm plan on claiming as my craft space). The only down side is cleaning a house this big, I think I am beginning to imagine I work in a hotel or something!

The local Public School is straight across the road. It couldn't be more handy!

Found out this morning this is Quacks classroom.

We also have a Catholic church (not that we are Catholic), an RSL, a zebra crossing, a war monument and a playground all on our street, so it's a pretty happening place.

The kids love this playground.

And then 2 streets over we are in the main street. Our main street boasts numerous cafe, an IGA, a hardware store, post office, 2 pubs, a library, a craft shop, a lawyers, an emergency department, a takeaways, a gift shop, a general store, a lottery shop, a saddlery, a vets, a second hand clothing store, a petrol station and dvd store, a pet grooming place, a hairdressers, a reality office - I know I have forgotten a few too.

Wow! Its huge for such a small place!

I love the look of this shop. I haven't let myself go in yet as I am afraid to fall in love with everything.

The town hall that now houses the hairdresser and beauty shop

A quaint looking Cafe

Not todays petrol pump - just a historic one in the street

The emergency rooms

So even being stuck here without a vehicle isn't so bad. we are pretty well serviced. The thing that isn't so fun is being the newbies. Everyone here is pretty friendly and its seems like a great place to live. It is just hard not having friends and family to call around on or to have come for coffee. As the kids start school - Quack today and Jaybug on Wednesday - I hope to meet some other Mums, over time. There is also a Monday morning library playgroup for Squeak. But all in all its pretty scary having to put yourself out there and start from scratch.
I mean what if no one actually does coffee groups here? Or people are friendly in the street, the shops or the school yard but what if it never goes beyond that? What if people don't like the kids? Or me?

It really is hard being the newbies in town but this is also a new country too. There are lots of new words and normals for us to get used to. I'm sure the kids will pick up on things a lot quicker being in school. We went to the takeaways store the other night and trying to find a hotdog was a nightmare. Bubba ended up explaining that we were new here and the lady just laughed at us and said "and? so am I?". She isn't in my list of nice people I have encountered here. Then we asked for hotdogs and her and the other lady started giggling and asked us if we meant sausage in pastry? I thought it was batter but ok we will go with pastry.
Turns out they are called Pluto Pups? Strange huh! But seriously no need to laugh at us for not knowing people.

I am worried about things that the kids may say and be laughed at for. Things like jandals, slides, water fountains, felt pens and togs all have different names here. I guess slowly people will get used to these strange Kiwi's that have hopped the ditch but for now it is a heck of a nerve wrecking time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Goodbye New Zealand - 12th & 13th Jan 2012

The time quickly rolled around to the 12th January 2012 - a day we will forever remember; our last day in New Zealand. We aren't sure at this stage how long this Aussie tour may be for but for now we know it is where we are to be.

So once again we were faced with the dreaded goodbyes. It was hard saying goodbye to my Grandparents. My sisters and I have been lucky enough to have them in most of our lives. They have lived usually where Mum was or she has followed them. So to know that the kids and I will see them less is very sad and will be a huge adjustment.

We soon discovered that we had a bit of a mission on our hands when all the bags were packed. We had 5 large suitcases (all mine and kids) and 1 smaller one (Mum, Kev and Mosie's allowance), 7 carry on bags, 1 camera, 1 laptop, 3 car seats and 1 mountain buggy. All to be carried by four adults, with three children to also keep in line. Hmmmm I see a problem! Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the piles upon piles of stuff but I'm sure you can imagine it.

We ended up having to take 2 vehicles due to the amount of baggage. Once we finally packed Mum's van we celebrated. We were on the way to the beginning of our next adventure.

We were smart enough to tie red ribbon to all of our bags so the could be quickly identified.

So next was off to Auckland.
We met one of my lovely friends who caught the New Plymouth bus as her husband and her bought our Honda.
Then off to the mall for lunch which was super bus due to it still being school holidays.
My wonderful cousin Van then invited us to hang with her and the girls for dinner and until we had to be at the airport at 3am.

Short version of this story is I had a bit of a meltdown about leaving NZ and the nerves were ramped up. Thank you to my wonderful Mummy and sister who managed to get me on the plane!

I have a lack of pictures of our trip as there was so much happening. We got split on the plane, even though we booked our tickets together. So there was the three children and I at the beginning of one section and then Mum, Kev and Mosie down the very back of the section. I thank God for an amazing young man who got sat beside Quack. He was truly a Godsend. He chatted to the kids, helped them with their headphones, t.v's, food, let them play on his brand new computer he had just purchased before boarding. He was so incredibly helpful.

Mum ended up with Squeak and somehow managed to get him to sleep. I cannot sleep while traveling, whether it be plane, car or train. So I was a little tired and grumpy but somehow we survived. Our plane was over half an hour late leaving so I was getting a little anxious.

We flew with LAN (even though we booked Qantas) which was a South American airway and everything was first announced in Spanish, then English. Jaybug and Quack told the lovely young man beside them that they knew Spanish thanks to Dora! Haha kids are awesome. I soon decided that if there was an emergancy I would have to take note of the Spanish speaking people and there reactions and actions as there may not be time for the English translation!

We arrived in Sydney and had a bit of a hassle collecting all our luggage and then had a foot it to the other end of the baggage collection to pick up the car seats and buggy. We were starting to sweat for time to reach the connecting train as we had to be there half an hour before departure to check our bags.

We got through customs and silly me had insisted on bringing a block of chocolate that I hadn't eaten from Christmas and Mum was sent through the lines to have her bag check. Only she didn't just have her bag she had about 6 of ours as well. This took quite some time and the panic that we were going to miss our train was becoming very real. There is only one train a day up the Hunter line with Countrylink and we were looking at missing it and losing the $170 AUSD that it had cost. Mum finally got through and we headed toward the arrival exit, bags beginning to wobble, eyes red with tiredness and stress and hands numb trying to carry far too much load.

We headed out and standing there was my Great Aunt and Uncle. They hugged us, said hello and then took over with directions and help of bags. It too was evident that someone upstairs was looking out for us. My Aunt and Uncle had come two hours up to Sydney to meet us and help. We wouldn't have done it without them and I am so truly grateful.
My Aunt directed us to the airport train and managed to help us get all our luggage on as we weren't allowed to take trolleys through.

We were all packed into a small carriage with bags spilling everywhere! There was much apology to anyone who tried to enter our carriage at other stops. One thing though people were super helpful - I don't know whether it was the worried looks on our faces or the shock of all our gear but they told us how to get around the Central train station, when our stop was coming, helped us get our bags off and even one man picked up the buggy and got it off without saying a word and just walked off once it was placed down. Thank you Thank you I was calling after him.

The Countrylink train departed at 10.05am and we arrived at 10am! Talk about stressful! Once again though we were helped with our bags, the kids were put on the train for us and everyone was super friendly and didn't give us any lectures about the fact we were to be there no later than 15 minutes before the train left. We had only got everything loaded and we were off. My Aunt and Uncle got stuck on the train and a red alert had to be called to release the doors to let them off. I didn't even get to say thank you or goodbye. Without them there is no way we would have possibly made our train. I am looking forward to going and catching up with them once we have settled in and bought ourselves a vehicle.

The train ride was pretty good. There was landscape and towns to look at and a food carriage which had decent food. Apart from the fact that everyone around us sounded Australian it sort of didn't feel real that we were here. It was just about a four hour train journey which felt like forever when we knew that there was someone excitedly waiting for us at our destination.

So tired Quack fell asleep eating!

We were met off the train by someone who has been waiting 10 weeks for us to arrive. Everyone was so excited I forgot to get out my camera. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur of tiredness and grump. We had to go pick up rental cars, drive the 20 minutes to our new abode (which is huge! more on this later), shopping at Big W for some essentials for the house and then rounded off with an amazing dinner at the Denman pub - seriously if you come and visit I am taking you here!

Eventually we all fell into our beds - yes my husband is amazing enough to have got us all beds to sleep on including the 3 extras. 

So it is real, we are here, even though it doesn't feel like it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The constant nagging in my head

With only two day left until we set our feet on the plane - the snowball seems to be speeding up and beginning to feel like it is taking me with it. I have tried to be pretty cool about things over the last few months and weeks. Not really wanting to think too much about the next stage.
The finale.
The goodbyes.
With the next days now about fly past in record timing I am starting to feel it more. Something I'm not very good at dealing with.

After a very debilitating episode of Postal Natal depression after the birth of squeak I have been terrified of letting myself feel too much. It is the thing that is on my back, whispering in my ear "You could end up there again, feel the sadness taking over".

I try to put up a very brave and organised front as this is my coping mechanism. Yes I gave depression a good kick in the nads but the memory of it haunts and terrifies me. What if it happened again? What if I get so lost I can pull myself out next time. These are some of the thoughts that thrash around in my head; daily.
Its a scary place, depression. Something that pulls you down and sucks the life out of you. I don't even recognise the person I was while I was in the throws of its clutches.

It is almost like being caught in a rip in the ocean. Being pulled out at no choice of your own. The more you fight it, the more tired you get. But that's what we all do. We see the weakness in the crumbling of the person we know as us.
Depression sucked every single ounce of life out of me until there was nothing left to do but let go. I haven't talked about it much as it is an ugly scar I hide very well - although something I see everyday.
I have been to the point where I could see nothing left here in life and that is the hardest and most distressing place to be. I have never felt so numb and disconnected from the world around me. I felt like I had my knees broken with a baseball bat and was thrown into the ocean with my hands and feet bound in a small inflatable boat. I was alive but just, and impeding death was drawing closer. I was dehydrating emotionally, waiting for the sharks of anxiety and terror to eat me alive and getting to a point where I could see nothing beyond this horrid ocean hungrily wanting to engulf me.

I have been that person who smiles emptily at people she passes. My mind completely shut off to any social kind of interaction. I have cried until I thought I would flood my kitchen floor for nothing more than there being "that feeling". I have been to the point where there is no feeling left.
I have asked myself why I am here?
what difference do I make?
how would it matter if I was gone?

I know it was a extremely painful time for anyone close enough to see the changes. I was taken to a place I pray no one has to go, not because it was a terrible place but because when that happens it is your last option.

All of this leaves me where I am today. Afraid of feeling too much. In particular, afraid of letting myself be sad, scared, nervous, anxious, worried, alone. I may have been found by my rescue boat and brought back to life but the memory of it remains. I never want to feel that way again. I never want to be that shell of a person so unable to see life as a gift.

But I am beginning to wonder if I keep trying so hard to run away from it, am I completely ignorant to it happening again? How long can I choose to shut myself away for? How long can I function in this very social life we live, not feeling what other people feel? It has caused me heartache to know that I haven't been a very compassionate soul. I have harden myself to the curveballs of life. But it takes its toll. It is now beginning to show and I am terrified the well disguised clothes I wear may unravel. I have begun to notice physical signs that this isn't good for me.

Being so wound up about things I can't stop even the little things going around and around in my head.
Harsh words towards people that I would never dream of,
The craving for nothingness, something that will help me escape (I choose not to be a drunk or substance abuser but I could be if I gave in).
The staring into space, so consumed by fighting me and my head,
The anxiety, that gets my stomach flipping, head spinning, mind racing, hands sweating.
The boiling inside that feel like it could explode any moment,
The weariness,
The need to control what is going on around me and make the decisions.

How can these kinds of things be healthy? But to me I am keeping that monster away from my life. The uninvited guest as I have described it before in a post. I am just so scared of being overthrown again but am I inadvertently allowing it by running away from the fear so fast?

I am scared to feel the sadness in goodbyes to friends and family. I have avoided most of this by knowing I haven't been actually leaving the country yet when I have said goodbyes so far.
I have left an amazing bunch of friends in New Plymouth, amazing ladies who have let me into their lives when I have held them at such an arms length. I said goodbye fooling myself into thinking I would see them again before I actually left. But here I am two days out and feeling the pain now of unfinished business.
I said goodbye to my Dad as if he was leaving after coffee at my house on his way back to work, bound to call in within a few days. I reflected the conversation away from goodbye to other relevant life issues right now - the fact that we can't get a phone line ( I know lame huh!)
I walked out of my church the last Sunday hugging a few people but not allowing myself to find the people that matter most and say proper goodbyes. Of course I blamed them and there lack of finding me before we left.

And now the plan in my head is being made for how I say goodbye to my Grandparents. I don't want to think about the fact that I may miss the final years they have. The guilt that would follow me leaving and not seeing them for awhile and something happening is too big to comprehend - so I don't. I push those thoughts so far away, but it still simmers silently in the background.
Mum and Mo are coming with me to help us settle in for a week and I am thanking God that Mo hates goodbyes as much as I do. I know that I can get away with a see ya, a smile, a wave down the drive as they head back to the train, home to New Zealand. But can I live with that being my closure?

How long can I run from the things that scare me? How healthy is it to live a life of avoidance? I am so busy running away from the 'what could bes' to notice that I am missing so much of living in the 'nows'.
So I need some help.
Help to dig deep and see that depression didn't kill me, even if it tried its best. Still it makes me shudder to think about it but I can't keep tiring myself, and those around me, by being so threatened by something that may or may not be. I need to live a life that lets me feel sadness and pain as without it how can I measure my happiness and love?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Crazy December

With only 8 sleeps left in New Zealand things have been pretty hectic around here - hence the lack of blog action. I thought I would sum up the last month with a collection of photo's I have managed to grab in a few quieter moments.

1. Visiting the Kauri Forrest was a day trip that My sister Mosie and I decided to do. We bundled three children into the van and off we went.
We went bush walking at Trounson Kauri Park

My camera then decided to run out of batteries so no pics with Tane Mahuta. We then came over a rise and found this view (which I drove into town for batteries and came back and captured)


It had clouded over a little by my camera batter mission return but it truly was like driving into paradise when we came over the brow. I had never seen anything like it.
We then tiki toured through to Paihia where we found an amazing dress shop in the alley (my Christmas day dress, Jaybug couldn't resist and had hers on immediately as pictured) and then ice cream

Mr O didn't like the "bits" (hokey pokey) in his ice cream and pulled them all out

2.  My spree of new glasses. I got my eyes checked and ended up getting some really nice FCUK (written down the side and given a lot of funny looks over. Have had to explain French Connection United Kingdom a lot) frames in purple, but also in the same week found clearly contacts that is a super cheap NZ glasses and contact site and brought a red pair and a brown pair too.

 3. I learned to make Pav. My mission was to learn to make a pavlova like my Mum so that when the Australians try to claim pavlova as their creation I have a good come back of my own. Here are my first 3 attempts as practice makes perfect.

1st Attempt - Mum never told me she doubled her recipe

Round 2 helpers

This was delicious and I was pretty amazed that I MADE THIS!

Practice makes perfect - mixed berries in the middle covered in choc flake and strawberries outside.

Bubba has now been informed that a Kitchenaid or I will settle for a Kenwood mixer is required for my new kitchen. I do have the secret recipe if anyone is interested - its really simple and taste amazing.

4. Family photos for Daddy (Bubba) while he is in Australia with the right amount of proper and silliness.

5. Things that restore my faith in Christmas - the Fire brigade in Kaiwaka set this up to raise money for child cancer. It was amazing.

6. Attempting to sell our Honda Stream before I head to Australia (awesome 7 seater if anyone is looking for one!)

7. My adorable wee man Squeak is too cute - he lightens my days when things get hard

That's Ribbon in hair, bare bum and Gumboots!

8. My challenge from my Auntie to make a gingerbread house!

Some crazy tired elves at 1am Christmas morning - working hard to impress

And I think I leave the Christmas post for tomorrow otherwise I am going to photo everyone out. I am looking forward to some quieter moments sometime soon so I can catch up on my favourite blogs....