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Three weeks and one day. The time we have left here in New Zealand. Time. It’s ticking away before my eyes.

Scrolling through our ‘To Do’ list just now, it’s hard not to feel overcome. Not just with the enormity of all that we have to get done in the next three weeks and one day, but also for that which we have already crossed off the list. When the list was made, it felt like we had all the time in the world. But now time has caught up with us, and there’s not much of it left.

If you’ve been following this fitful blog of mine, you will know that we started planning for this move over 12 months ago. After a few false starts, and much planning and replanning, we finally find ourselves here at the pointy end. It’s really happening. We are finally moving to Australia.

Amidst all the practicalities of moving countries with two small children, there has been little time for sentimentality. Until tonight. Laying in the bath this evening I took some precious moments to think about the past 6 years of our lives here in Wellington. About this house of ours, and how she has played host to some of the most joyous and also the most heartbreaking moments of our lives. I have spent endless hours lying on her living room floor, marvelling at my babies as they grew and developed into the wondrous little individuals they are today. There were the days and months of grief stricken depression after the loss of Stella. There was an indescribable comfort in the simple act of sitting on the heated tiles of the kitchen floor during those dark moments. On other days, her awe-inspiring mountainous views were a tonic for my heartbroken soul. Then there were the much cherished visits from family and friends from afar. The mundane and extraordinary, this house has been a gracious host and I will miss her.

Snow on the hills and bugs in the air. It must be winter.IMG_20150418_214632

But for now, I still have three weeks and one day. We still have a lot to do before we leave, but I am determined to stay present and not lose myself to the chaos. I want to enjoy every last minute I have here in the comfort of this place that has been our beloved home.

This Girl

Photo by Amber-Jayne Bain

                                                                                                                  Photo by Amber-Jayne Bain

This is my girl. She’s my baby and she’s turning one. One whole year has passed since we bundled our precious little daughter up and brought her home. She was born in the middle of an earthquake storm. The fault lines that run through Wellington had been rubbing each other up the wrong way for weeks. Sometimes their tussles were violent enough to have us rushing under tables or looking for heavy structures to hide under. I must have looked quite the sight, hurriedly trying to wedge my heavily pregnant body under various structures in our house – the dining table, the kitchen bench.

While they were a nuisance, these earthquakes perfectly signified the crescendo of what had been an extremely stressful pregnancy. Although the wriggles and kicks of my unborn baby assured me of her vitality, I could never truly allow myself to believe that she would be born alive after the death of her big sister just one year earlier.

She was born alive though. This daughter of mine, she opened her eyes and she cried out. She was pink and she was perfect. The anxieties of the past 38 weeks were shed in an absolute instant. The indescribable bliss of holding my living, breathing daughter. This girl, was my girl.

That was one year ago.

Every day since, I have held her and luxuriated in the act of breathing her in. Her warmth and the way she curls into my body when we cuddle is a novelty that never tires. This girl who loves peekaboo and books; who says cuddle and cat; who laughs when her brother laughs. This girl is my girl.

Happy birthday precious.

Plan B

After a few months of floating in space wondering how the hell we were ever going to get back to Australia, we now have a plan. Another plan. I guess you could call this Plan B. It is not my usual style to have a plan go awry, but that is certainly what has happened so far this year. When we sat down at the end of 2013, we agreed a plan of action that would have us selling our Wellington house and moving back to the Lucky Country by May this year. At the latest. It’s now June. That plan obviously fell through.

Last week, I started making another plan. A different plan. In this plan, I was going to renew my New Zealand Occupational Therapy Practicing Certificate. I have been on maternity leave for a while now, and I am itching to get my business up and running again. I work with children who have developmental problems, and I absolutely love it. I have been treating a friends’ child over the past few weeks, just as a favour. What a revelation this has been for me. It has reminded me just how much I adore being an Occupational Therapist. The difference we can make to a child’s life is nothing short of profound, especially when you have a child and a set of parents who are totally engaged. This taste of my old professional life as made me hungrier to get back into it. I have so many ideas for developing my business, and I’m impatient!

So, I figured since we were still in New Zealand with no real plans of getting out of here that I should just get on and get started with my business ideas here in Wellington. I got out my note pad, and started making a list. I was getting very excited and the ideas were flowing. I have heaps of contacts here in Wellington, and I knew that I would have clients knocking at my door in no time. Hoorah! A plan! This was going to be great!

This past weekend I had a dream. In this dream I was living in Brisbane with my family. It was stinking hot and we were renovating a house. It was a chaotic dream and certainly devoid of any glamour or romance. But we were there, on the other side of the Tasman, getting on with the life we want to be living. When I woke up from this dream I was so totally pissed off. How damn annoying to still be here in Wellington, when the plan was to be in Brisbane by now. It put me in such a bad mood and I just couldn’t shake it off.

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So then I hatched a different plan. Plan B. The plan I referred to at the beginning of this blog. Starting my business up again here in Wellington is a bad idea. Sure, it would be great to sink my teeth into my therapy work here in Wellington, but it would be a distraction. I would be taking my eye off the ball. I need to focus on the Grand Plan, which means selling the house and getting to Australia.

So in the newly revised Plan B, we will spend June getting the house back up to show home status, and by the beginning of July we will have it back on the market. We have decided not to use an agent this time around which means with the money we save we can be more flexible with price. This will mean doing all the sales work ourselves, but it can’t be that hard, right!?

Come hell or high water we will be in Brisbane by the Spring!

Have you ever sold your house without an agent? Any tips welcomed!

The waiting place…

It’s May. Almost June. Winter is looming large. Those dreaded Wellington winds are blowing and the damn southerly is biting hard. The summer-time love affair I was enjoying with this city has soured. The house is off the market for the time being, and our move to Australia is feeling ever distant. The property market is still pretty dismal for sellers, so we are treading water, waiting for a change.

This weekend, my son and I were reading “Oh, the places you’ll go” by Dr. Seuss. In the story, he describes a most useless place, the waiting place, where people are just hanging about waiting for planes or trains or for their hair to grow. It was the most perfect description of our current state of idleness. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for the market to change; waiting for the winds to stop; waiting for the sun to shine; waiting for the house to sell… Oh, what a dismal old place this waiting place is!

20140527_110951I guess we all pass through the waiting place at different times in our lives. I have certainly been here before. It’s a very frustrating place to be, but I have also found that it’s a terrific incubator for ideas and determination. By the time our house sells, I will be so hungry to get to Australia. We’ll land in Brisbane and I will hit the ground running. After all this waiting around, I will be brimming with such drive and ambition that nothing will stop me!

For now though, I just need to tolerate these dormant moments, and keep reminding myself that this is just a temporary state. There’s nothing like a bit of Dr. Seuss philosophy to provide a little clarity.

Fijian escape and a baby on a bender

The holiday started at a crowded and chaotic Wellington airport. We were off on a much anticipated family trip to Fiji. There was fog; a lot of it; and yes, it was lingering. Air traffic around the city had ground to a halt. Our plans of being poolside, cocktail in hand by 3pm were diminishing fast. The weeks leading up to this trip had been fraught to say the least. The hubby was doing some crazy hours at work (often 12-14 hour days), which left me lone-wrangler to Mr4 years and Ms9 months. Mr4 had also been experiencing some health problems which resulted in some minor surgery just before our trip (thankfully with a positive outcome – phew!). Add to this, the stress of trying to sell a house and voilà, you have one pretty stressed out mama. Yes, I was in desperate need of a nice, relaxing tropical holiday!

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So, back at the airport. With the hubby on his way back home in a taxi to collect his forgotten passport, I found myself in command of a wayward luggage trolley, several large suitcases and two small children, one of which was harnessed to my front, the other manically speeding around the over-crowded Air New Zealand check-in area pretending to be a jet. It occurred to me at this point that things hadn’t started well. In an attempt to quell the rising anxiety, I felt it was time for a little mindfulness. I really needed to put aside the stress of the past weeks and the frustration and uncertainty of how and when we were going to get to Fiji, and just concentrate on what was happening in that very minute. I knew we’d eventually get that poolside cocktail, and I just needed to go with the flow until we got there.

With a passport holding husband back in the fold, we hunkered down, waiting for the fog to lift. Long hours were spent playing any and every child’s game that involved a pen and paper. Every shop in the airport was explored. Twice. We watched the Duke and Duchess of Cambridges’ plane land (interesting how their plane seemed to have no troubles navigating the Wellington fog!?). We ran into some old friends we hadn’t seen for ages. We chatted to other stranded passengers. My husband and I chatted with each other. It was actually a very pleasant family day out. In the end our flight didn’t leave until late afternoon, which meant staying in Auckland overnight and then an early morning flight the next day to Fiji.

By 11am the next day we were there. Hoorah!! The resort was gorgeous. White sandy beaches lined with coconut trees and recliners. Enormous pools that snaked their way around the resort. We had arrived and it was going to be bliss! There was even an adults-only pool, the Holy Grail. Two years ago, we’d had a Fijian family holiday. There were only three of us then, back when Mr4 was Mr2, and Ms9 months was not yet here. Back then, the hubby and I devised the most perfect holiday formula. We would take it in turns (day-on, day-off) to be on child-duty. On your day-off you could chose to do what-ever you liked. I would often spend the morning with the family, but then take my leave in the afternoon, heading straight for the much coveted adults-only pool. Book in one hand; cocktail in the other; the rapturous sound of silence in my ears. What could be better!? We left Fiji feeling renewed and refreshed. Family holidays are awesome!

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Or are they!?

So, the hubby and I figured we’d just apply our winning formula to this holiday. Eeeeeasy! However, there was one particular variable that we failed to factor in; the small matter of Little Ms9 months refusing to sleep in the hotel cot. In order to get our cherub to sleep I ended up having to share a bed with her. Given that Ms9 months is still breast feeding, sharing a bed with the milk truck was just a little too exciting for her. She managed to work her way through the entire week on a constant milk bender. It was almost like she was a teenager away on an end of year schoolies trip, but instead of binging on Midori and lemonade, it was mums milk all the way. The milk truck was exhausted! There was little hope of me catching up on sleep during the day, since our bundle of milk would only sleep in the daylight hours whilst being chauffeured around the resort in either the front pack or pram. The minx! I hasten to add that she sleeps perfectly well in her own cot at home, so this was a complete surprise to us. I spent the entire holiday in a sleep deprived state and feeling utterly wrung out.

Dad, forget sleep, where's the milk truck?

Dad, forget sleep, where’s the milk truck?

Sadly, our winning holiday formula didn’t make it out of the bag this trip. There was no time hanging out by the adults-only pool and neither of the two books I’d packed for the trip made it out of my suitcase (two – what was I thinking!?). We did have lots of family fun though. Mr4 spent hours swimming and digging in the sand. We took a boat trip out to a gorgeous tropical island. We ate out for every meal. The sun shone every single day and the sunsets were just simply stunning. We spent time all together, the four of us as a family.

IMG_6050Since we got back, I’ve been reflecting on the trip and the mismatch between how I thought the holiday would be, and how it actually was. I have come to the conclusion that I have probably been a little selfish in my expectations of what a family holiday should be. Holidays have always brought out the hedonist in me, and I guess this one was no different. Looking back, I now realise that I was so focused on the things I wasn’t doing (i.e.: sleeping, relaxing by the pool, reading my book etc), that I struggled to focus on what I actually was doing. It’s a shame that the mindfulness I had been practicing so well back at Wellington airport didn’t join me for the Fijian leg of the holiday. Family life is busy and family holidays are no exception.

Is there such a thing as a relaxing family holiday? Any tips welcomed!

New Merino and a Bolting Horse

A friend informed me the other day that 2014 is the Year of the Horse. Now, I don’t know much about the Chinese zodiac, but I do know that there has been more than just a touch of the bolting equine about the past few months in our household. At the risk of sounding prosaic, where the hell has this year gone!?

ImageWe find ourselves now in April (well, almost), and our house that was meant to sell in February is still on the market. It’s simple case of supply versus demand. The housing market is over-supplied and the punters are thin on the ground. We are now faced with a catalogue of decisions about the rest of the year. Do we take the house off the market for a while, or do we rent the house out and hightail it back to Australia? If we do stay, then which school should we enrol our son in when he starts in October? If we go then how do we juggle the logistics of selling a house remotely? I feel a bit irritated with having to ponder all of this. The Grand Plan had us selling the house back in February and being all settled back into Aussie life, complaining about all this heat, by now.

I found myself at the shops the other day, perusing merino for the kids. I even made a few purchases. Here in Wellington, this is what you do at this time of year. You invest in new winter woollies in anticipation of the coming winter chills. The fact that I have made these habitual purchases gives some hint as to my state of mind. I keep thinking that in a parallel universe I’m living it up in sunny Brisbane, buying sunscreen in bulk and throwing another shrimp on the barbie.

ImageIn the midst of all this chaos and uncertainty, I am mostly keeping up with my goal of being calm on purpose. There are times when the anxiety of the unknown abducts me and holds me for ransom. I pay the ransom fee (usually about 5 uninterrupted minutes of quality time with a bar of chocolate) and then I just get on with it.

I’m not sure there’s anything that can be done to tame my unruly Horse? I guess I just need to hold on tight and let it take me where it will. If that means we stay here in Wellington, well then at least the kids have new merino.

Has your Year of the Horse jumped the fence and bolted up the road like mine?

The whole bag

This week is a big week. It’s the fourth and final week of our property tender campaign. It’s the week that we’re supposed to sell our house. The weeks leading up to now have been a blur of house painting, wall sanding, de-cluttering and garden control (curse those weeds!), all mixed in with child wrangling. Then with the open homes. Gah, the open homes! What a mission they have been with our mess-oblivious, toy crazed, tornado child romping through the house. I never thought I’d say it, but thank goodness for the Disney Chanel. Never have I been so pleased to see my little son sitting zombie-like, eye’s glued to Jake and his Neverland Pirates. This is a child who, at his 3rd birthday, thought that a DVD was a book. My, how things have changed around here.

It was around the time of Mr4’s 3rd birthday that I also discovered something quite profound about myself. After a particularly stressful morning, I found myself with my head in the pantry, ferreting around the shelves for something sweetly satisfying. I had just had lunch and wasn’t at all hungry. This was a pattern that I had been quietly noticing over some weeks, but it was at that moment that the penny really dropped. I realised that day with a mouthful of rocky road, that I am a bona fide emotional eater. It’s true. The first sign of stress or anxiety and you’ll find me in the pantry. It’s the sweet, sugary delights that I crave – chocolates, cakes, icecream, lolly’s of any description – I don’t discriminate. My favourite are marshmallows. Seriously, in the middle of one of my son’s raving tantrums, nothing calms or comforts me quite like a handful of those little pink and white puffs of sugar. I must admit that I can never, ever just stop at one or two marshmallows. And actually, if I know they’re in the house, I simply can’t stop thinking about them until they’re all gone. This often results in me devouring the whole bag in just a few short hours. Yes, of course I feel totally disgusting afterwards, but when faced with a stressful situation my willpower abdicates and I’m left with an empty bag and a sickly sugar hangover.

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Anyway, back to the house sale. Just a few short months ago Wellingtons’ property market was especially favourable for sellers. Just 10 weeks ago a house a few doors down from us sold for $90K over the asking price. Fabulous! Fantastic! Hoorah! What great news for us! Hmm, I think we may have been a little hasty on the optimism. Thanks to some recent government regulation changes, a looming interest rate hike, and a sudden glut of properties on the market, these favourable conditions have apparently turned a little sour. The feedback from our agent is not great. There has been very little interest from the punters and it’s looking like our tender closing date this week will pass without any cause for celebration.

I’m trying very hard to take the philosophical route when I think about our house not selling this week…. it will happen when it’s meant to….. everything happens for a reason. Blah blah blah! But really, the obsessive planner/control freak inside me is going crazy with the uncertainty of it all. We really want to move back to Australia to be closer to our family and friends. We really don’t want to be in Wellington for another blustery winter. There’s a lot weighing on the sale of this house. So along with the stress and anxiety that all this uncertainty brings, come those devilish sugar cravings. We have a big year ahead with our relocation plans and undoubtedly, a whole lot more uncertainty and stress to come, and I’d like to be able to get through it without a mouthful of marshmallows for company.

Any suggestions out there for kicking the sugar habit?