It's official, flights confirmed, handed in notice on our rental accommodation, we are coming home. We leave France on the 1st of August and head to LA where we will tour around California for a bit before arriving in Auckland on the 10th of August. Hard to believe that we have been here almost two years.
We would have loved to have stayed in France given the choice but Air NZ has the policy where they swap their overseas workers out after two years to give someone else a chance. I can understand the policy to a degree but not sure how realistic this is when families are involved. We have invested soooo much time into being able to live here and have spent hours filling in paperwork for everything. We had to exchange our NZ drivers licence for French ones and seem to have had to get several different visa documents - more hours spent at the prefecture (immigration/licencing office) then anyone should have to experience in a lifetime! All that is behind us now and it would have been nice to have had a few months where we could just relax and enjoy our surroundings but instead we are now having to close all the accounts and organise freight and pack to leave.
It has taken me a long time to come to terms with leaving but am now feeling happy about going home - maybe the fact we have had flooding the last two days (while James was away) and our street looks like any street in Chch is helping. Also, James is away alot - 2 or 3 days most weeks so I am looking forward to him not going away so much if at all! The other huge benefit for us going home is that Hannah can get back into regular schooling. I have enjoyed homeschooling her and it has strengthened our relationship but France is not really a homeschooling friendly country and I did not find any homeschooling network or down syndrome support group to connect with. I have been very blessed though with wonderful friends here who have welcomed Hannah with open arms and she has always been welcome at craft group, ladies lunches and Bible study and has helped me look after the babies in the fortnightly creche group (MOPS) which I volunteer at. She has also been welcomed into Girl Guides and Jiving Juniors dance class which she has loved and she will miss!!
As we look to the future I think of all the wonderful things about moving back to NZ especially friends and family who we can't wait to see again. It is exciting to see what this next stage of our life holds. We have been offered full settlement for our house and can rebuild it if that's what we want to do. I am also looking forward to the relaxed kiwi attitude and the proximity to the outdoors and the beach and my children being able to walk barefoot again. The children are looking forward to a much shorter school day and the freedom of being a kiwi kid.
So now the countdown begins. Sue and David are our last visitors and leave next Thursday, which is also the last day of the French school year. Then we have three weeks of summer to enjoy and spend time with our lovely friends here - bbq's, sleepovers and pool parties may just take priority over the endless packing and cleaning.