I have been thinking for some time what my last post about NZ would say. I think the easiest way to explain to you what this year has meant to our family is to tell you what we will miss most about living here. I started these posts about our life in NZ as a way for our family to look back on one day & remember what an amazing experience this has been for all of us. Hopefully it will be a really fun way to remember all of the things we came to love about living in NZ. Here it goes…
1. the people -Kiwis are an amazing group of people. Some of the most warm & welcoming people that we have ever met. From the time we got off of the plane (literally, first person we met) we knew there was something different about being here. People go out of their way to help you. It’s almost as if the entire country is one big family who looks after one another. They make it their duty to be sure you are ok & enjoying yourself here. For example, we have driven in 2 cars this year that 2 separate families have just loaned us for the year – just because they could. In this laid back culture, I never once felt like I was in the “rat race” that I often feel like I am in in America. Everyone dresses pretty simply, enjoys life, & really seems to look out for one another. I never really worried if I had on the right clothes or if I looked presentable enough to go pick up the kids from school b/c I know that no one would care except for me. They take long holidays during the summer (weeks or sometimes months) & seem to know what is important in life. There are quite a few of these Kiwis who will remain so close to our hearts forever.
2. the accents – this is something that I loved before I even came to this country & now that my kids even have a slight Kiwi accent, I love it that much more. The words they use, and the accents with which they say things is just so endearing. I am so used to hearing it now that I even catch myself saying certain words differently than I used to. Not hearing Kiwis talk everyday is going to be really sad for me.
3. the scenery – in Auckland you don’t have do drive very far to get to the ocean. In our case, you just have to walk to the bottom of the hill – it’s brilliant. I am a coast girl – grew up on the coast of SC & I don’t like it when I feel landlocked. It has been so nice this year to be able to get down to the water at any given time. My early mornings runs along the waterfront have become a time that I just have grown to love. The same people do their runs together so you end up knowing exactly who is going to be out there & I like that (fast walker man with dog, 3 middle aged men who run together, mum & daughter, girl who never wears workout clothes, boy who wears headlamp & rides his bike next to his running dad etc.). I run at the bottom of the hill along the waterfront for miles, just staring at the water & thanking God that we have had the opportunity to live in such a beautiful country. We have toured the island top to bottom & I have seen some of the most beautiful things I will ever see in my entire life right here on this tiny island.
4. my kids experience – I cannot think of any gift more amazing to give your kids (besides teaching them about Jesus) than opening their eyes to cultures beyond our own. I love that our kids haven’t just passed through this country as visitors but that they have actually been a part of the culture here. They have all 3 attended school & been immersed in the culture through their classmates, teachers, etc. They have learned how other cultures do things differently than we do & how not everyone is just like them. We have all learned to live like Kiwis this year & I think that is pretty cool.
5. uniforms – I love to see my kids in their uniforms. Has made this year SO much easier when they dress in the morning. I think they look so adorable in them that I made them do a photo shoot this past weekend in them – even Payton! I put them in their uniforms & went to my favorite beach to do the shoot – St. Heliers of course. Shoot went well for the first 5 minutes. After that, Chase taught the girls how to “log roll” & they all 3 piled up together as one log & rolled down the hill, ruining their clothes. Shoot over b/c they were too messy but they had fun!
6. no shoes – my kids never have to wear shoes here. Ever. Even in school or the shops:) No one ever says anything to them about it either b/c it’s just a part of being a Kiwi Kid. They are SO gonna look like such hoodlums when they get home!
7. safety – I don’t think I have ever as safe as I feel here. The school is completely unlocked all day with open entrances all around. After school the kids just run out to the playground & wait for their parents there – no checkout systems. After school, the kids run up & down the street from house to house just playing until dinner time. In the past we have always had a home alarm. Don’t have one here & never felt like I needed one either.
Here are a few pics that I mainly took for the kids to remember their time here. The house, the cars, the uniforms, & St. Heliers Bay.
New Zealand – THANK YOU for this incredible experience. I cannot believe it is already time to go. We will miss you & your people so incredibly much. In our hearts we will forever consider ourselves Kiwi-Americans. Chris says we will be back so I am counting on it. I can’t stand to say good-bye b/c we have had to do it way too much over the past 10 years. Instead of good-bye, we will “see you soon,” New Zealand!
Love, your Kiwi-American friends.