Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Long Move Home

This has been a very emotional week for the two of us.  After having long discussions regarding how happy we are in New Zealand and confirming our commitment to remain here, the world has decided to take matters out of our hands. 

We are packing our bags and heading home to Texas. 

New Zealand will always be a home for us and have absolutely loved our time here.  We had every intention of remaining in New Zealand for ‘the foreseeable future’ and honestly had no immediate plans to move back to the United States, but things have dramatically taken a 180 turn over the last week!

Let us explain…….

In 2014 we knew that we would be both making trips back to the U.S. but accepted this would be at two separate times during the year.  Kate wanted to go back to spend time with her mom’s family at the end of July to celebrate her grandparents 60th Wedding Anniversary and their 80th Birthdays. While Dave had been asked to be in one of his closest friends weddings in October.   However, the world aligned and the wedding date was moved up to the exact week of Kate’s trip (first sign it was meant to be). 

At the end of July, after a mad dash off the plane from Auckland to L.A. we boarded our flight to Dallas.  While sitting on the plane waiting to take off, Kate checked her email and one popped up from the City of Southlake asking her when she would be in Dallas and if she would be available to interview for the position of Deputy Director of Community Services.  After showing the email to Dave, we agreed it was ‘worth a discussion’ with them to see what the opportunity was, especially since we just happened to be in the country that week (sign #2).  But we agreed not to let our families know, as we didn’t want to set off false alarms that we might be moving back to the U.S. 

After arriving in Dallas on that Friday, we made our way to Branson, MO to spend time with Kate’s family.  That following Tuesday, while enjoying our time in Branson, Dave received an email from a friend/colleague asking to catch-up while he was in the States.  Since he recently moved back to Texas himself, he had a potential job opportunity in the Dallas area for Dave if he wanted to consider moving home as well (sign #3).  Since Kate had just received an email four days earlier, we thought he might as well have lunch and catch-up with him. 

After making our way back to Dallas after a great week in Branson, we both went and talked to our potential opportunities in Dallas.  We then made our way back to Auckland and things went silent.  We assumed at that point it was meant for us to stay in New Zealand as planned. 

Two weeks went by before Kate received a phone call from an apologetic Director, as he had been swamped, but confirmed that Kate was their #1 choice and wanted to extend her an offer to become the City of Southlake’s Deputy Director of Community Services.  After the call, Dave called his friend to see if there was any real potential of a job opportunity for him.  Three days later, Dave also had an offer in hand (sign #4).

After a great amount of discussion, we just couldn’t ignore how the world was aligning to tell us it was time to move back to Dallas.  While we are not ready to leave New Zealand, we couldn’t have aligned things better and couldn’t have chosen two better jobs.  These are both independently phenomenal jobs and we couldn’t be more excited for the opportunities. 

We have both officially given notice to our current jobs and our last day(s) will be on Friday, 19 September.  We then plan to travel for a week before settling back into Dallas around 1 October and beginning our new positions on 6 October. 

This is a very exciting but sad time for us.  We will miss everyone in New Zealand very much but they all know they have a place to stay in Dallas and we know we will be back to visit New Zealand in the future.  So to our New Zealand friends, this is not a good-bye forever it is a ‘we will see you soon’! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

One Year and Counting


One year sure does fly by quickly!  It’s hard to believe a year ago Dave and I were frantically pulling an all-nighter packing up our house in Texas to catch our flight to New Zealand.  When we landed we had no idea what to expect or what the next year would hold for us.

The future was foggier for me since Dave had his job lined up that he started four days after arriving in Auckland.  I was hoping to find a quiet front desk job at a local recreation center to start until I could hopefully land a job in the recreation field, but was open to a career in any field since I had no idea what to expect in New Zealand. 

Boy was I wrong!  I got extremely lucky and received a phone call for an interview four days after arriving (Dave had encouraged me to apply prior to leaving Dallas) for a facility manager position for the largest recreation facility in New Zealand.  Within a couple of weeks I had thrown myself into the position at West Wave Pool and Leisure Centre. 

Luckily I didn’t get too comfortable with the position because after seven months I hit the jackpot once again.  Due to a re-organization within Auckland Council, a position opened up to manage the 21 Council owned and operated recreation facilities (Council also has 20 that are Council owned by Contractor operated). 

My new position is truly a dream job for me.  I absolutely love my job and is giving me experiences that recreation professionals in the States only dream of.  While we don’t have immediate plans on leaving New Zealand, whenever that does happen I know I will have some great experiences to help me get a job back in the States.

Unfortunately Dave’s job hasn’t been the ‘dream job’ that he was hoping for.  It has been a big change for him going from a large publicly owned company in the States where debates and challenging the ‘norm’ is not only appreciated by expected to switching to a small (115 employees) privately owned company, where the owner is also the President and CEO.  While there have been promises not followed through and expectations not met, Dave has been working hard to make a mark for himself and battle through a pretty tough situation.  As he likes to say, ‘We came for my job, but we’re staying for yours.’ 

Outside of work we have spent the first year trying to travel and get around the country as much as we can.  This was expedited when my cousin Devin came for almost a month and stayed with us in May.  We hit up the ‘Las Vegas of New Zealand’ (though I still am trying to see the similarities), went up north to Whangarei where Devin did skydiving (NO!  Dave and I did not) and headed to the South Island where we stayed in Queenstown.  It was a great visit and saw a ton of the country! 

I have also got myself active within the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) and the Jaycees.  I am in the middle of a project serving as the JCI New Zealand Development Officer where I am writing the framework to develop a national organization (they currently have four Local Chapters working independently).  I will have that wrapped up the first week of October when they host their National Convention in Christchurch. 

Between moving three times (just switching apartments within the same building J) in the year we have been here and always being on the lookout for a good place for Dave to get some fishing in, it has been a whirlwind of a year!  We can’t wait to see what the next year holds for us and are starting to look forward to heading back to the States for our ‘Summer Break’ for the holidays! 


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Wow...has it really been since 4 December since my last blog post?  How time flies!

We have been on the go so much in the four months it's hard to capture all of the highlights!  I guess we first have to start with our trip back to the States for the holidays.  We had an incredible three weeks back.  Just enough time to hit Iowa, Arkansas and Texas.  And of course enough time for me to do a years worth of shopping to take back to New Zealand with me! :)  I had to keep reminding Dave...'Just remember this is for an entire year' :)

We have tried to get and explore 'something' each weekend for the most part.  We try and get out of Auckland at least once a month just so we make sure to explore everything we can while we are here.  We have not yet ventured down to the South Island but I am hoping to do this when my cousin Devin comes and visits us in May.  I also have been given a four day 'research trip' for work, which I will use exploring the South Island.

Our biggest trip since the holidays has been our fishing trip to the Taupo area.  Taupo is known for their trout fishing and with Dave (and my) new found love of fly fishing we decided to do an extended weekend there for his birthday.  We hired a guide for two days and had an incredible time, even in the pouring rain on day two!


Other fun trips have been to the beach at Piha, which is a beach that has a TV show based on the Surf Rescue team at it due to its rough waters.



What kind of Americans living in New Zealand would we be if we didn't go to Matamata and visit the movie set of the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit?  I am not even joking, the #1 question we received back in the States was 'have you been to the movie set of Lord of the Rings yet?'  While Dave really does like the movie and I was forced to watch The Hobbit over the holidays (with a smile of course :)) we really didn't have it high on our priority list.  After coming back we figured we would check it off the bucket list and go.  




We also spent a weekend with a couple at the Coromandel Peninsula.  We had a great time hiking down to a remote beach, touring around a couple small towns and also going to the 'Hot Water Beach'.  At the Hot Water Beach you dig into the sand and hot water comes up into the sand to create small pools that people sit in and feel like a hot tub.  Here is a picture of Dave and Kyle trying to dig for the hot water.  



These are just a few of the highlights over the last few months.  We have really had a great time exploring outside of Auckland as well as enjoying all that Auckland has to offer including attending our first rugby game here, joining a co-ed netball league and finding some great small restaurants in the area.  

We hope everyone has a wonderful Easter holiday!  I suckered...I mean, Dave willingly came with me, on Saturday to assist with our Underwater Easter Egg Hunt at work.  Here is one of the pictures from the event:  



~The Meachams  



Guess That Word: 

1.  Cheerios
2.  Gum Boots 


New Zealand-isms: 

Kiwi's like to us the word 'as'.  They will put the word 'as' at the end of a lot of sentences. The use it to describe something, without actually naming what they are talking about (confusing I know!).   Examples would be:

That is sweet as.
Kiwi as.
Cool as.
Good as.  

Answers:  

1.  Small Sausages  2.  Rubber Boots or Galoshes  


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let it Snow...err...Happy Summer!


It's hard for me to get used to thinking Christmas is in Summer.  Kiwi's spend their Christmas much like Americans spend the Fourth of July by going to the beach and enjoying the outdoors.  This past weekend was the first day of summer so we thought we would enjoy it Kiwi style by heading to Tauranga, otherwise known as 'The Mount' to locals with a Kyle, a co-worker of Dave's and his wife.  



Their family has a home right on the beach in Tauranga so we did not hesitate when they made the offer for us to tag along for the weekend.  They are both from the area so they were awesome tour guides.  I asked if they were available for hire when we have family and friends visit, they think I was joking!  

We drove up on Friday evening and stopped for dinner in Matamata, which is where Hobbiton is located (for you Hobbit fans!).  After getting a good nights rest we did a three hour hike/walk up 'The Mount' and then around the beach area in Tauranga.  The town was hopping as they had their Santa Parade that day.  Kyle then drove us to a couple different scenic views including a waterfall area that had people jumping off the bridge into the water and one of their National Parks.  

After a day of sight-seeing we went to their parents home and had a wonderful home-cooked Kiwi meal.  

On Sunday before we drove home we spent some time at a park, stopped by a REAL gold mine, and also went to another park that is on our list to go back and do some tramping (aka...hiking).  

It was a great weekend away for us and a great way to kick off the summer season!  Here are a few pictures from our weekend.  (click on link)






The weekend prior to our Tauranga trip they had the Annual Santa Parade in Auckland.  Again, it just wasn't the same wearing shorts and t-shirts to the Santa Parade!  It was probably the largest parade in New Zealand all year, so it was nice to see.  Santa Parade's are very popular here and most every town does one a month prior to Christmas.  Here are a few pictures from it: 





We both have been extremely busy with work.  My Department is going through a re-alignment (restructure) so it is definitely an interesting time to be part of Auckland Council!  So far I am really enjoying the new challenges with managing a recreation facility in New Zealand and have been given some great opportunities outside of my 'normally' duties.  Should be an interesting time after we return from being in the States over the holidays.  

We are planning on leaving New Zealand on Tuesday, 18 December and are back in the States until Friday, 4 January.  Two and a half weeks that we are definitely looking forward to!  We hope to see as many people as possible while we are home, so let us know if you are in Town (Iowa, Arkansas, and Dallas)!  

~The Meachams 



Guess That Word: 

1.  Torch
2.  Fortnight 


New Zealand-ism 

1.  Level 1 in a building is not the ground floor.  There is a 'Ground Floor' and above that   is 'Level 1'. 
2.  There are no filters on their TV shows at night.  There is a show about 'weird body parts' that shows EVERYTHING on it.  Absolutely no blurring of the body part or filming from an angle that you can't tell anything.  It is a full shot of whatever they are discussing!  


Answers:

1.  Torch - Flashlight.  2.  Fortnight - Describes a two week period in time.  I have 'fortnightly' meetings that occur every two weeks.  



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day Trips

We have finally been able to begin to do some day trips on the weekends to get out and see New Zealand outside of the city.

Last Saturday we decided to venture down to Waitomo which is about 2 hours south of Auckland and known for their Glow Worm Caves.  On our way down we came across the Kiwi House that we decided to stop at to check 'See a Kiwi' off our New Zealand Bucket List.  They really should have called it the Duck or Bird House since after we saw the two kiwis we only saw ducks and birds!  But it's okay, we at least got to see the kiwi!

 In case you don't know what a Kiwi looks like...I'm sitting on one here!  :)

After the Kiwi House we ventured down to the Glow Worm Caves, which was amazing to see.  They are not actually 'worms' but a larva form of a fly that would attach to the ceilings of the caves and hang down like icicles and glowed like stars on the ceiling.  We took a guided tour into one of the caves which included a boat ride to see them closer.


Our final stop for the day was at an amazing roadside waterfall.  We joked that if this was in the States there would be more than 5 random parking spots on the side of the road and they would charge $16.50 to see it!  This was an amazing waterfall that this picture does not do justice for!



After a long and windy drive home along the coast, it was definitely a great first adventure for us to get out of the city!

This weekend we decided to take a 30 minute ferry ride over to Waiheke Island.  Waiheke has about 8,000 permanent residents but swells to over 50,000 during the summer months.  We spent the day walking around the town of Oneroa, relaxing and enjoying the beach and small town they had there.

Picture of Auckland from the ferry heading to Waiheke Island.



Ferry approaching Waiheke Island












We have had a great two weekends of adventures and plan to head north next weekend to check out what the far north has to offer!  

As I started in my last blog, I will end with:

Guess that Word:

1. Lollies
2. Entree 


New Zealandism: 

1.  The letter 'Z' is pronounced 'Zed' 
2.  Shoes are optional almost everywhere here.  I have even seen kids walking home from school in their uniform and no shoes.  Going into restaurants and stores it is not uncommon to see people without shoes.  


Answers to 'Guess that Word': 

1.  Lollies = While yes, a 'lollie' can be a 'lollie pop' here, it is used as a generic term for when we would say 'candy'.  2.  Entree = When they put 'Entree' on a restaurant menu, they are some times referring to an 'appetizer'.  What Americans would call an 'Entree' is then referred to as a 'Main'.  



Final picture is of Dave and me at the roadside waterfall.  





Friday, October 19, 2012

Home Sweet New Zealand

This weekend is Labour Day in New Zealand which means a three-day weekend to travel .... or not.  Dave found out at the end of last week that he had to make a business trip to Melbourne, Australia this weekend.  I am staying in Auckland and catching up on my ever-growing 'To Do' list while he is away.  I am hoping to tag along with some of his business trips, but since this one was for a conference over the weekend, he really wouldn't have time to sneak away so I decided to stay and get things done.  

We have signed a short-term lease to stay in the same apartment complex we initially moved in to when we arrived in New Zealand until 1 February 2013.  We made the 'big move'.... across the hall on 1 October to a one bedroom apartment.  It is in a great location in the Central Business District of Auckland, right next to the water.  We plan on enjoying the 'city life' for the next couple of months and then look for a house in the suburbs sometime after the holidays.  With Dave working on the Eastside of Auckland and I'm out on the Westside, we are trying to find a suburb we like somewhere in between.  

We have also purchased our cars over the last couple of weeks.  Purchasing cars proved to be more difficult then we thought.  New Zealand car lots are not that big, so we ended up going around to various dealerships for three weekends straight!  By the end of the third weekend, we were both over it and just wanted to get a car!  

We also discovered that we could not obtain financing for cars past the length of our Visa's, so instead of being able to finance for the typical 4 years, we had to do it in 2 years!  But in the end, we are happy with the two cars we got.  Well, at least I am happy!  :)  Dave went from his 4-Door Chevy Silverado to a small Japanese import car.  We were looking for a small car that had great fuel economy to get him to and from work, which he is going on three weeks without filling up!  This is a must, since my car is about $140 to fill up on New Zealand 'petrol' (gas) prices.  

For the second car we really wanted something that had enough room for four adults to fit comfortably for touring around the country so when we have family and friends come to town we don't have to rent another car.  I somehow won the draw on this one and get to drive the Nissan Murano every day.  


I started my new job as Centre Manager at West Wave Aquatic Centre at the end of September.  West Wave is part of the Auckland Council and is considered the largest Recreation Facility in New Zealand.  We host a variety of National and International Events at the facility including Water Polo, Diving, Swimming, Olympic Trials (Swimming), etc.  

While it is 'another' facility to manage (my third large facility), the position hopefully will give me some opportunities to grow outside of facilities in the future.  

It has been a great first month at the facility.  The Assistant Manager on staff has been serving in the interim role as Centre Manager for the last year and a half, which has given me an opportunity to sit back and observe and get a game plan put together before I 'officially' take over this week.  

Here are a couple of pictures that I grabbed from online, but I will try and take some additional pictures of the competition pool, diving pool, gymnasium, fitness centre, etc. later this week.  



Overall everything has been going extremely well, with no major glitches so far in our journey!  Hopefully next weekend I can post some pictures of our travels outside of Auckland and the amazing views that are around every corner here!  

Finally, I thought it would be fun to throw in some 'New Zealandisms' at the end of each of my blogs.  

Guess that Word:  

1.  Togs 
2.  Jandals 

New Zealandisms: 

1.  In the grocery store eggs are stored on shelves in the middle aisles and not refrigerated.  
2.  Dave asked some co-workers, 'If I say ya all, will you know what I mean?'  Their response, 'Yeah, we watch movies!' :)

Answers to 'Guess that Word': 1.  Togs = Swimsuit  2.  Jandals = Sandals 




Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wedding Pictures

For those who have not seen all of the wedding pictures on Facebook, please send me a friend request so you can see them!  Otherwise, here are a few of the highlights.

video