Finding Our Joyful Rhythm

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The kids are in school; let’s sneak off for a run together!

Before moving to New Zealand for eight months, James and I both experienced some anxiety about uprooting ourselves from a pretty wonderful life in Delaware. We had developed a great social network. And we knew babysitters we could call to watch the kids. Just as important as our social lives were the children’s social connections with their classmates, neighborhood friends, and our extended family.

Upon leaving for New Zealand we basically left all of those amazing people at home (though thanks to the internet we can still keep in regular touch, of course!) and ventured off in our familyship, tied together and afloat in Aotearoa.

Well, it’s one thing to be a nuclear family for a week or two on vacation in an unfamiliar place. It’s an entirely different one to uproot and start a brand new life halfway around the world.

The first several weeks here were mostly about surviving and establishing our literal home: unpacking luggage, finding a grocery store, setting up a bank account, setting up a work office (James), figuring out the quirks of our house, trying to decide about buying or renting a car, enrolling the kids in schools, etc.

We did not have a lot of time for self-care like exercise, date nights, journaling, meeting new friends, and things like that.

About a week ago, though, the girls started school and thus some weekday hours opened up for James and me to celebrate what we accomplished so far and to turn our sights on things beyond the day to day.

Our first trail run together, Port Hills, NZ.
Our first trail run together, Port Hills, NZ.

We had two full days this week when we could talk to each other without being interrupted and do things without the kids. On Thursday, still without a car of our own, we rode the bus (two buses, actually) for about an hour to get to Dyers Pass Road.

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Once we got there, we knew we had about 90 minutes to run before we had to catch the bus back home. Both of us have been running, but it was great to get time together, outside, talking and exercising. The run we did was fairly challenging terrain, though nothing too strenuous for our first uphill trail run.

Then, our big news: we bought a car! We had gone last weekend to a couple dealerships (with the kids in tow–always fun!) but neither had exactly what we were looking for in stock. One of the salespeople called late this week to let us know that he had a new one on the lot, so we (again) caught the bus over to the other side of town for a test drive.

Our new car!
Our new car!

Both of us really loved it, this Mazda Premacy. It’s a 7-seater and feels like a van on the inside but drives like a car. It has low kilometer-age, a one year “warranty of fitness,” 6-month registration, and brand new tires.

The biggest reason I love it, though, isn’t for any particular feature but because it opens up the city and the country to us. For nearly a month we have gotten to do things within walking distance or easy access by bus. (Have you ever walked a mile with a full week’s-worth of groceries for FIVE people in backpacks?!) And a couple times James’ colleague generously loaned us his van, but we couldn’t ask that too often. Now that we have our own car, I feel a sense of freedom that I didn’t before.

Lunch date/celebrating our car purchase.
Lunch date/celebrating our car purchase.

After signing on the line (a process that took 20 minutes from saying “yes, this is the car we want to buy” to walking out of the car dealership office), we had a celebratory lunch together at a great Italian place in historic Christchurch city.

James also bought me a cell phone so the kids’ schools can reach me in case of emergency. Mobile (as they call it here) service is through Vodaphone. (International rates are pricey, even for texts, but I do have Facebook and email apps on it, so that’s still the best way to reach me!)

The move to New Zealand has not all been ease and fun. But this week, it feels like we’re getting into the rhythm of things quite well and finding our way to a new life here on the Atlas familyship. We miss our family and friends in the states, truly; having the ability to go on adventures both mini and big (now that we have a vehicle) helps balance out that sadness and reminds us why we’re here to begin with!

//janel//

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