Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A day to remember

It is 12.50pm, 22 February 2012.  This time one year ago I was going about my normal day, blissfully unaware that in 1 minutes time life as we knew it would be no more.  It has been a sad and emotional day for all of us and a time to remember.  People gathered and spoke of their experiences and just shared their stories.  The support that was there last February, never went away but today it was back in full force.  It was a quiet day with a hush over the city that you could feel.  The girls school planted a tree and held a 2 minutes silence, Mia asked why we would want to stop and remember such a painful event.

160 years to build the city and 24 seconds to destroy it.  May we remember those who died, the injured, the everyday heros and the families that remain and look towards the bright future of Christchurch.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lessons Learnt

It has been a while between posts and for that I am sorry.  I wanted to write but had the feeling that I didn't have anything to write about, which was stupid because looking back on the year so much has happened.  So here is a catch up and hopefully the first of many more updates from our life in NZ.

This past year has taught me so much, it has been full of learning curves and lessons learnt.  We are only days away from the anniversary of the February 22nd earthquake that changed the lives of every Cantabrian.  While it was a devastating day, I have realised that many good things came from that event, mainly never to take anything or anyone for granted.  Don't hold a grudge, never part angry, hug often and appreciate what you have.  All good lessons, unfortunately they came at a very high price, especially for our children.

Mia let out all her fears and anxiety from day one and has since been through months and months of counselling which has allowed her to cope and deal with something no child should have to go through.  Amy dealt with it in her own way which we have found out was to bury it at the back of her mind until she can deal with it.  Which seems to be now.  She is clingy and more fearful than before and is now aware of disaster, death and upheaval.  She doesn't know how to talk about it, but every now and then small questions come out that gives me an insight into her thoughts.  It is all about taking everyday as it comes.

After the 22nd I felt incredibly guilty about our decision to move here and put the kids through this trauma.  But now I don't.  Bad things can happen anywhere and they shape us in many ways, ways that I have come to realise we have a chance to control.  How you deal with what life throws at you is a decision that only you can make.  On the 14th January we celebrated our first year in Christchurch and went out for lunch with the kids.  I asked them to tell me all the great things that had happened in the year and they went very quiet.  Mia told me it had been a bad year because of the earthquake and should be forgotten.  I reminded her that because of the earthquake we made life long friends, we had finally bought our dream house and we still had each other.  Lots of cliches have been learnt by the kids this year - Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, Nothing is all good or all bad, Be grateful for what you have, ect ect but it is all true.

So looking back on this year, I can say that I have many happy memories and now love the life I have here.  Many people still think we are crazy to have come and definitely to have stayed, but this is home and we love it here.  Christchurch has an amazing sense of community and strength and that is what makes it such a special place.

After moving here last April, we threw ourselves into being domestic.  With such a huge backyard we were able to build a large vege patch and orchard that has made me very proud and amazed me with what I was capable of.  Having never been able to even keep a house plant alive, I was stunned that we grew enough veges to feed us for many months.  It has taught the kids how food is made, how to nurture and look after something and they have loved looking after the plants, checking their progress and of course eating all the produce.  We produced a bumper crop of super sweet strawberries that didn't even make it into the house, they were picked and eaten straight from the plant. It was a race to get up first in the morning so you could be the one checking the plant for new strawberries.  We didn't get too many peas which I now realise was because the kids would play outside and when hungry would help themselves to fresh peas.  The original fast food in their own little pod containers.

This year has been a great trial and error lesson with what will grow and what does best so next year I will know what to do better.  I have a long list of jobs for poor Richard - to expand the vege gardens with 3 new beds so we have continual produce, a huge shed (6m x 2m) to house the ride on mower and woodpile, a greenhouse and the list just keeps growing.  Looking after this garden has taken a huge amount of my time, which I have loved.  So my last post of what to do to be useful and busy has been taken care of.  Of course as with everything, if you relax and stop stressing ideas are bound to come to you as they have.  Since resigning myself to being happy with looking after the 3 kids (Richard included) and the garden, I have come up with a business idea that I believe will be very successful and ticks all my boxes.  I have started working on a business plan and hope that if all goes well I will start the business in the second half of this year.  I am also helping Richard with his second job which seems to be growing rapidly.  His brilliant designs are keeping him busy and giving him the creative outlet that he needs.  He has a new furniture range being developed by a local furniture company and it is amazing, even if I do say so myself.  He is truly talented!

The kids are doing very well with school and Mia worked so hard last year to catch up to the rest of the class.  Her hard work was rewarded with 2 special merit awards given in the prize giving assembly.  I was so proud of her!  Amy is loving school and is doing brilliantly, I have no idea where she gets her brains from.  She is the youngest in Year 2 (64 kids) and is in the top reading and maths groups.  Sorry, I just had to brag!  They have made some wonderful friends and love living in the country.  We cycle to and from school and they still think it is funny passing sheep, horses and cows on the 3 block ride to school.

So life has been good to us in the last year.  We have much to be grateful for and our wish for this year, along with all of New Zealand is a calm, peaceful year with no more shakes.  After living through just over 7000 earthquakes and aftershocks, I think we have deserved some peace.  If I could pass on anything I have learnt this past year, it is live to be happy, life is so short make every day count so you can look back on something spectacular.