That's exactly what the boys' principal said to them on the first morning they started their new school. I loved it, and there's not a day that has gone past since where I haven't thought it at least half a dozen times. Or how beautiful Whangamata is. Or how happy I am. Or how much I love my life. Or how grateful I am to the powers that be for making our dream happen. Apologies if that all sounds hugely nauseating but that's just the way it is - and I know it's not just me because every time I talk to someone else who lives here, they say exactly the same thing!
They also feel like I do, that there's something about this place that's just a bit old fashioned, in a very good way. The local kids all stick together, are able to roam freely without worry and everyone looks out for each other. There is also a free youth group once a week, run by the school counsellor and his wife. Almost every kid in town meets together for supervised games and entertainment. It's fantastic and just like the one I used to attend when I was growing up. There's not many around like that any more and I love the fact that these good people give up their time for all our kids.
I don't know what it is about this place but things which used to bother me just don't any more. For example, we just had six kids stay for the entire weekend. Six! That's unheard of for me! Before, two was always the limit - one friend each. That was enough; any more was just too stressful for a mother like me, who was always worried about having the perfect tidy house and feeding everyone perfect food.
But not any more! I have a feeling our little house is going to become a second home to a whole bunch of kids, and I love it! They were all so busy going off swimming and biking, or playing cricket in the yard that Noel and I didn't even know they were there most of the time. When it came to food, they ate us out of house and home but it was no problem. I just made another dozen muffins, made up some more ice blocks to go in the freezer or threw a few more sausages on the barbecue. In the old days, if we had run out of juice I would have whizzed off to the shop to get some more, but this time I just kept a big jug of iced water on the bench and they were more than happy with that.
The real big hit was when we made a batch of waffles, topped with ice cream and maple syrup. 'Oh wow. This is the best dessert I have had in a loooong time!' one of them drooled. The kids all had a blast. I think we can safely assume that our boys have settled in and made some great new friends! They are all lovely kids and as different as chalk and cheese but they all have one thing in common - they've all become friends through their love of cricket.
One of them had me in fits several times over the weekend. Now here is a kid who is going to be rich one day! For his age he is a Mega Simple Saver. He even puts my kids to shame! When the other kids are making plans to go to the pool he says staunchly 'Nope, not me. I'm not paying $2.50 to go to the pool when the sea is free!' He even knew the cost of toothpaste! 'You use Sensodyne?' he accused Liam. 'I have really sensitive teeth!' Liam replied. 'But man - that's like $10! That's crazy!' Even the next day at breakfast he had all the kids reading the labels of whatever spreads they were slathering on their toast. 'Have you SEEN the list of ingredients in Nutella? It's like a third sugar!' he pointed out. To which they all suddenly stopped dipping into the Nutella jar, with the exception of one boy who didn't give a monkey's and delighted in being able to polish off the rest of the jar himself!
Sometimes kids just have to learn things the hard way and both Liam and Ali have learned that your pocket money does not last very long round here if you're not smart with it. Ali has now started carrying a backpack packed with snacks and a drink wherever he goes, but not before he realised all his money was going on food. Every time he was out with his mates, the novelty of being able to pop into Subway or the sushi bar for something to eat would take its toll. 'I feel really bad; it's such a dumb thing to spend it on!' he groaned. 'Yep, it's an easy trap to get into alright, and once it's gone it's gone!' I sympathised. Liam hasn't fared much better with his penchant for lollies and is now madly trying to sell things on Trade Me to get back into the black! Noel hit the roof when he found out how the kids were spending their money but as far as I'm concerned, sometimes you have to make mistakes in order to learn. Better they learn that lesson now when it's only a few dollars than when they're older!
Noel and I have suddenly found ourselves with more 'just the two of us' time than ever before. We go for long walks on the beach whenever we can and spend many happy hours just pottering. Yesterday we went to Bunnings - without the kids! Liam and Ali absolutely loathe the maze that is Bunnings and how their parents can become so hopelessly lost in it for great periods of time but yesterday for the first time we were able to browse uninterrupted. We came home with herbs for the herb garden, some vege seedlings and I spent a happy afternoon planting petunias and making hanging baskets. Noel couldn't remember the last time he had seen me doing any gardening and just about fell over!
One of the few 'down sides' to living here is you can't really get any modern radio stations; they're all 'easy listening' or jazz or stuff from the Sixties. When we first moved here we groaned 'Oh no! What are we going to do for decent music?' but for some inexplicable reason it has suddenly become alright and we now cruise around singing away to music we wouldn't have been caught dead listening to before! However I do think you have to draw the line somewhere. I was appalled when Noel recently confessed he'd been joyfully belting out Barry Manilow's 'I write the songs that make the whole world sing' at the top of his voice driving home from work. Honestly, I think he's becoming even more laid back than I am!