I just bought my first Christmas present! I can't reveal what it is of course, one of the kids might read it! But at $19.99 instead of the usual $59 RRP it was too good not to take advantage of. I received the confirmation email, then looked at the date on my computer screen and realised that it's still only September! Still, there's nothing wrong with being organised and time is flying along. Hard to believe but our first anniversary in our 'new' home is fast approaching! The boys are no longer the 'new kids' at school and just like in the old days in Te Kauwhata we can't go down the street any more without chatting to someone we know and waving to all and sundry. Think you can safely say we have settled in!
I came across an old blog post by chance this morning which said 'when we move to Whangamata one thing is for sure. Our door will always be open, to friends and neighbours old and new and there will always be beer in the fridge and plenty of gas in the barbecue.' I read it out to Noel and he said 'Well that's right, it is!' It sure is. Our perspective on life has changed so much since moving to Whangamata. For starters the boys were only ever allowed one friend to stay at a time and it was a BIG DEAL for me, making sure the house was tidy, that there was enough 'nice' food to eat - even organising the pick-up and drop offs with the other parents was a hassle.
These days however things are very different. Last weekend we had one of Liam's old school friends from Te Kauwhata to stay. The poor boy had only been here five minutes when TWELVE kids appeared at the gate. 'I guess that's one way to meet people!' he grinned. And that's the way it was all weekend, as thirteen teenagers made themselves at home. The boys' rooms are like rabbit warren these days, you never who is going to appear down the stairs next!
On the whole it's been a brilliant year; an awesome year. Living here has been more perfect than any of us even dreamed of. It just goes to show that money doesn't buy you happiness because we're the happiest we've ever been, even though financially things are the tightest they've been in years! Still, we knew it wasn't going to be easy but we've made it through the first year and that was going to be the biggest test. We've finally got the vegie garden rocketing away and we have fresh produce in our back yard whenever we want it. Just as well with a houseful of 13 kids! My car would be lucky to make it out of the garage twice a week and since a new friend recently moved to town and berated me for not using my fabulous funky bike more I have a feeling it's going to be even less!
The one who I think has changed the most and benefited the greatest from our move however is Liam. When I first started writing this blog in 2005 he was eight years old. Reading through some of the old posts it's hard to believe it is the same boy. Gone is the shy little boy, always worried, always anxious and full of self-doubt. He's been replaced by a shaggy-haired, stubble-faced beanpole - 6'3 and with a smile almost as wide as he is tall. He has an army of great friends who would do anything for each other and no longer worries about a thing. In fact, if he was any more laid back he would probably fall over! Boy has he come a long, long way. Mind you, living at the beach tends to do that to a person! He's our gentle giant and we love him to bits.
The only thing we lack living here, which I can't see changing any time soon is neighbours. In 12 months I've met a grand total of two and I don't think Noel and the boys have met any! It's kind of hard when all the houses on your street are empty. Seriously, it amazes me that people have hundreds of thousands of dollars in holiday homes just sitting unused, year after year. What's the point of buying a property so that you can 'get away from it all' if you're never going to get away?! Still, what we lack in neighbours we more than make up for in friends. Lots and lots of friends, both old and new. We may not be able to hold a proper street party, but I have a feeling there will still be plenty of wonderful company and festive cheer in our peaceful little cul-de-sac!