Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fruit loop!

Just Because.

A little Spooky, a lot fun.

This is a little project that I did for the teachers in Kieran's team. Friday was world teachers day- a hallmark invention I'm sure but a good excuse to treat good people- I thought I'd combine with Halloween- hence the spooky theme. There are jelly snakes in the boxes and of course the cup's were filled with Flat white and hot choc's when delivered for morning tea on Friday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I love a man in uniform.

When they are packing down at the Parachute Training Unit Les wears his DPM's to work- it was hard to get used to at first. But I do kind of like it- there's something about Camo that makes you feel protected - like the wearer is someone you can trust to like you know defend the country and all!

Plus it's slimming, so he looks hotter.

And it looks way cool on the washing line.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wow, There's (not-so)Merry-go-rounds and Roller Coasters here in Limbo!

Unfortunately the Roller Coasters are just the emotional type and the Merry-go-rounds consist of Les and I hypothesising and playing, not all light hearted, games of devils advocate till the wee small hours of the morning. Any semblance of our usual routines have fallen by the wayside as we:
  • Trawl Perth real estate (and Google Earth) for Rentals with as many of the right credentials as possible.
  • Read expat forums
  • Look at broadband and phone costs
  • Try and get a basic grasp of the school system
  • Search used cars
  • Ask questions of other parents at Essential Baby
  • And other modellers on RCSoaringOz
  • And ask what are we getting ourselves in for?
  • And is it the right thing to do?
Believe me we did do a LOT of thinking before Les sent off his CV and we did a little bit of internet research but nothing in depth because at that point he hadn't applied for the job- in fact he never did apply for the job. He sent off his CV- heard some positive second hand feedback and then nothing for quite sometime. So he followed up only to be told they were planning on advertising internally first and then maybe going public. So essentially we gave it no more thought. Les did check almost weekly to see if it was being advertised but really we had flagged away the idea till the nice lady rang and said we'd like to interview you for the job you have applied for in two days.

Lucky for us one of the panel went on sick leave for a week giving Les a whole heap time more to prepare and research- which I guess combined with his freakin awesome talent and skill and professionalism in his work is what got us to here- with Les about to wing his way to Perth later this week to have essentially interview part 2.

So here we are having to think more seriously than we probably ever have before.... forget the great high school debate of September 2010 (agonising which may now be moot). Now it's Perthgate October 2010!

Our friends and family all seem to have a similar 3 part reaction;

1. Wow, Perth? (as in what, the other f'n side of the world for all intents and purposes)
2. Cool that's awesome for you guys- go for it! (Heartfelt and honest)
3. We'll miss you guys. (Bugger shit poo!)

This has been really nice, really really nice.

Les' S&S work mates all have the same response...

Shit yeah! Get the hell out of dodge, run run, go save yourself while you can!

(This is a direct reflection of the state of both the trade and the Air Force in general- more on that later).

What we are really missing is some sage advice, a sort of mentor, life coach, or trusted confidant. It's a hell of a decision and one we obviously want to make wisely.

So here's the low down feel free to comment in this post, ping me on facebook or send us an email, or go truly old fashioned and get on the phone.

Right Now:
  • We live week to week financially. We aren't going without in any way and could be a bit more sensible with our cash but it's still pretty tight. We're not having a roast lamb on Sunday- but it's not all mince and sausages either.
  • Les leaves for work just before 7:30am and is home by five pretty much everyday. There have been some late nights in the Para Bay and there will be some time away. This comes back to us in the form of Toil (time off in lieu) for the late nights and (meagre) allowances if he goes away. But we have a goodly amount of time in the evenings for Dad and kids stuff and Gypsy and Les stuff. Weekends are 99.9% free.
  • And if the neighbours tramp jumps the fence in wind, or I lock a kid and my keys in the car Les is free to come home and rescue me.
  • He's never missed a midwife appointment or scan and has had a couple of weeks off with both the C-sections most of which wasn't annual leave.
  • He can go to meetings at the school, assemblies and drop in for the likes of cross-country and athletics day. He has a decent amount of leave each year which has allowed him to go on two school camps.
  • The S&S Trade is in a state of flux (read big sinking pile of fresh wet dung)- it's not news that the government even lefty National don't value our defence force and there are continual reviews going on one in which has recently resulted in the removal of a section of Les' trade (liferafts and lifejackets- all to save $150,00 p/a. and four salaries) the suspicion is that there will be more of this outsourcing in the next few years- so we will most likely lose the Paintshop, the Fabric Bay, the Signmate Bay or maybe even the Parachute Bay.
  • The opportunities for promotion are limited to 3 ways- someone needs to leave or cark it, or get promoted. They aren't promoting the non-commissioned officers at the moment unless absolutely necessary because they can't afford to pay them more. And they removed the Merit List- so whereas the guy who applied and was at the top of the Merit List was most likely to get the job- now it's more likely that the guy who is working on that base in that area may get the job even if he has been in the RNZAF for more time and may not have as good appraisals as some one else applying.
  • That said Les' job is essentially more secure than pretty much any job you can have in New Zealand. This job security is HUGE.
  • With the Air Force also comes;
  • Dental and Medical for Les,
  • cheap housing (more on that later),
  • and intermittent free travel to Chch, Wellington and Ohakea,
  • holiday homes and a variety of things that we can use for a small fee through base welfare (tools, trailers, campervans etc).
  • A community house,
  • full size pool,
  • gym
  • and a library.
  • He got representational leave when he went to France for the worlds.
  • He gets time off for exercise including a half day every 2 weeks for golf.
  • There is the option for him to do tertiary study in his own time and work time and get reimbursed for the costs.
  • And there's little things like printing the certificates for our rugby prize-giving, knowing a great photographer, mechanic and metal worker.
  • And if we need it there is a fairly supportive community and welfare set-up. There's a cheap day care, after school care, holiday programme and a baby sitters list.
  • A good Super scheme- we have a fairly decent hunk of money waiting for when we leave that would probably form a sizeable deposit on a house when Les gets out.
  • (Oh and there's the price of a beer or Bourbon at the mess- not something we usually do but it all adds up).
  • Les is VERY good at his job and well respected by peers, bosses and juniors alike. He enjoys his work even though finds the management of the greater defence force and the lack of value they place on their own people incredibly frustrating.
  • We have a house admittedly it's crap but it is mighty cheap especially by Auckland standards. It's mouldy and only semi-insulated we suspect it is the cause of Merenia's environmental asthma- a problem that flares up each winter. It's small and there is no real space for living. Will and Merenia share a bedroom so that I can scrapbook and Les can work on his gliders. But Hobsonville is a lovely place to live our yard is huge and we have a green space and the kindy a 1 minute walk away. It feels almost rural but still has all the big city stuff. We know all our neighbours are defence and for the most part lovely (20ft containers not withstanding) and there are no P-Labs in Married Quarters!
  • That said we will have to move out in 2-4 years as the house go to HLC (part of housing corp) and no plans have been made as to a replacement option.
  • Our friends and our children's friends are here.
  • Our family is close enough that we can see them relatively regularly.
  • Our Cat is here.
  • We have free-ish Kindergarten which Will will attend next year.
  • We have an excellent maternity system- (I heard the collective gasp there- yes, we wouldn't mind just one more).
  • We have some great schools which are a known quantity- including Timatanga (population under 20)>
  • Homeschooling in the style we have been doing it would be next to impossible- as families are 'moderated'.
  • I don't have to pay money on my Student Loan.
  • We have Starbucks. There's none in Perth waistline and wallet benefit- taste buds bereft!


The Job: I It's called Hub Foreperson and essentially the company (which is world class and has a great reputation) got sick of paying exorbitant freight costs to send their gear out for servicing- (they contract Helicopter services to Oil Rigs and Mines and such) so they built a new facility which is currently an empty building near the Airport in Perth. And then they created Les' Job. Les will be maintaining 80 Life Rafts and 640 Life Jackets and will have responsibility for the Engine shop- essentially managing it- making sure everything that needs to be there is there and everything that needs to happens happens. He gets a hand in setting it up- a challenge I expect he will relish and it will look great on his CV.

He'll be working regular hours for the most part so will finish work later than he currently does and most probably will have some sort of commute more than the current 10 minutes.

There will also be some occasions where he has to work late or weekends or work away from home on site. Whether there is financial allowances, time in lieu or overtime for any of this we don't currently know. The time away isn't a huge deal.

Les is concerned that if they do servicing on a 6 monthly basis that it is more than a full time job leaving him stressed and over worked.

The company is BIG, has a few posts around Australia and also in the UK, UAE and USA. We don't currently know what Les' options are for promotion but it could be a positive both for more overseas living experiences and promotion and further work in the Civilian Aviation Industry which is the goal.

There will be on the job training and it sounds like he will have good support. (positive) There is a chance that they may also train him on some of the Engine servicing stuff (very positive).

It is a foot in the door in the Civil Aviation world.

The MONEY. We think we'll have about $1250 in the hand each week (including the aussie equivalent of working for families). Rent will be about $400. So that leaves $850 for everything else. The cost of living is higher in Australia and Perth in particular due to it's remoteness.

The House- we can get a fairly nice house close to work for about $400 (only 3x what we pay now :-) It will have a scrap of back yard but heaps of living space inside. We'll be in the thick of suburbia.

Or we can get a possibly better house with decent backyard relatively close to the beach in a smaller community and Les will have to drive maybe 45-60 minutes each way each day to get to work.

Either way the house will not be teeming with Mouldy spores!

A lot of rentals say no cats. It's going to cost $1000+ for us to get Ruby to Aus and she'll probably hate it- both the trip and the weather (have you seen that cats fur!?). Plus we will be essentially homeless for up to six weeks so we'll need an interim home for her once we leave Hobsonville (maybe around 16/12) and move into our (pet friendly) rental maybe towards the end of Jan- it's going to take 6-8 weeks or so to get our stuff maybe more.

Obviously we'll have Perth (and some distance away the rest of Australia to explore as well). Les has visited there before on deployment about 9 years ago. It is by all accounts a lovely city and a good place to bring up your kids.

It's a LONG expensive way from home- and friends and family. And one particular family member that Les and the kids are very close to.

It is actually great timing for a move, Kieran is about to start High School and we had already decided that Merenia would be going back to school next year- although we hadn't intended to send her to one with 400 or so pupils and are not sure it will work for her. Will of course hasn't started anything yet.

Kindy is a bit strange over there and seems quite school oriented from what I have read they have three and a half year olds working to a timetable similar to school but rather than doing academics they are doing art, craft, and outside play etc in 30 minute blocks- Free Play be damned!

They do have Gymbaroo though (lots of Gymbaroo) I would love to take Will to Gymbaroo- but it may be beyond us financially $175 per term!

Australia is very definitely more family friendly they give out cash left right and centre; have a baby, send them to daycare, buy them educational software, vaccinate them (yeah right) and they hand out money in nice big amounts!

We will lose money; on selling the cars and buying new cars, on the furniture we sell to get our gear into a 20ft Container, on buying new furniture at the other end to replace what we got rid of. And lets face it- I may lose a lot of money at IKEA and the many scrapbook shops!

The Company has said that they have a generous relocation package- we don't know what that means but still believe that we'll have to take a decent size bite of that Superannuation nest egg to get over there and set up- I don't think we'll be saving a whole lot while we are there.

We will have to pay $2000 - $1000 per year on my student loan. That will amount to approx $10 off the capital each year as I will still be charged 6.6% interest on around $15,000.

We'll have great weather. We'll be stupidly hot. (I hope we can find a place with a pool).

*By the way this is the first job Les has really applied for outside of the RNZAF.

So here's the deal our kids and each other are our number one priority. If we are just breaking even like we are at home but seeing a stressed and busy Les less often. Is it worth it for Les to make some good ground on the career ladder?

In the long term I guess there may be more money and better prospects. We are also aware that the UK Air force are about to drop around 8000 personnel who will flood the market as will a decent number of disgruntled NZ guys as well.

There is a big Aviation Centre being built in Queensland which will most likely have jobs in the next 3 or so years so we could go East Coast and Les will have some experience behind him that others lack.

It's a huge decision- East Coast, more money and it would be a stack easier but it's not so here we are....

Your thoughts?

Fake Sleeping

You can often tell when I have forgotten to take a photo of Will on any given day because there's a picture of him like this... Fake sleeping.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Greetings from Limbo

Well it seems that we have passed from the main area Limbo into the holding zone- which is where you teeter on the edge of continuing life as normal or changing it up completely. Both have their up and down sides. We'll be here for a week or more. Les will be going to Perth at the end of the week has gained an audience with the guys who hold the key to the gate out of Limbo.

It's a funny place to be- every organisational bone in my body is itching to get on with it- time is cracking on and the world outside of Limbo may move fast. Plus there is just so much to happen with the end of school for the year and quite simply the end of primary school forever.

On the other side of the gate- more 'what if's' and 'maybes' and really should we? Ahhhhhhh.

In other news Kieran had his Testing and such for Massey HS Sports Academy yesterday and has discovered long unused muscles and as such is walking around in pain.
And then had the academic testing today and is happy to have finished the Extension part of the Maths test having taught himself on the spot some more stuff that he didn't know. (Not really surprising as he NSW test came back with him in the top 1% of New Zealand participants). And feeling that he got 24/25 in the spelling test- it should have been 25 been but he left an r out of reffrring- I guess didn't go with his gut because it was too sore from yesterday. Miss Wilson would no doubt be stoked to know that she was the subject of his writing piece 'My Favourite Teacher'.

And to think it may all be in vain. Ahhhh limbo are you wasting our time and energy?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

100 What If's- probably more.

The Stockley Family is in limbo at the moment. We're waiting for an event and a decision. And what feels like a kazillion things hinge on the decision. We're laying awake at night with If- then's.... and I wonder's... and today I read.... Various things are on hold till we have the decision like planting the vege garden and making calls about eye exams and brain gym. All the conversation revolves around if we.... then.....

On top of that we have new neighbours and they have upset our equilibrium just a little more- nobody likes to be barked at coming up their own driveway! The manner of speaking to children and husband is, to say the least, abrasive and gets on our nerves. And the new garden ornament- a rusting 20 foot container soon to house 55 tropical fish tanks is an eyesore and makes the 'tennis court and cricket pitch' we previously enjoyed rather limited. We're looking at getting net curtains (I HATE net curtains) because it seems that when a movement out the windown catches our eye the maker of the movement has chosen that moment to be looking back into our home. The house has been empty since May of last year- the disturbance to our peaceful existence will take some getting used too.

On the plus side the parents are having Christmas in Dunedin as is my big little sister, Caitlin, and incredibly excitingly- so are we!!! By a stoke of good management I found, yesterday, tickets to get us all back to Auckland for $335 despite the same being $620 the previous day. So after a flurry of phone calls and excitement I booked and we'll be enjoying Christmas by the beach at my Aunty Brace's place- Will is going to love the dogs!! My Nana is over the top excited and both her and Brace are fighting over where we will stay. I'm fairly excited too- since I left my cousins all had babies- including a set of twins and some good (ex)airforce friends are in Palmerston and we'll get to check in with them as well. It will be the very happy upside if the decision doesn't go the way we are hoping.

In the meantime blogging may be scattered and unreliable and then maybe non existant for a while.

Yours from Limbo,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

It must be good....

Will quite often has a sleep in the car after school and I park it where I can check him often. This day I got a surprise to find Kieran in the car. He had started reading his book on the way home from school and could put it down to get out of the car. This is especially shocking as the kids hardly ever takes lunch and therefore inhales a HUGE bowl of weetbix approximately 30 seconds after he walks in the door. :-)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fastest Hammer in the Auckland Reion!

Les took the kids and Jake to the Ambury Farm Park Open day on the weekend (pictures soon). There was a competition to hammer nails into a block of wood. I know the two year old who finished fastest in his group of all age kids.

It's the practice he puts in I guess. :-)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mum saw a table and a shelf...

Will saw a seat and a work bench. Smart kid!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Beware 2 year olds with vacuum cleaners

Will likes to spend his time uses scissors and punches while I am working in the scrapbook room. It keeps him busy but creates a lot of tiny bits of paper mess. That's ok though because he is happy to clean up after himself with the vacuum cleaner. Especially as you can do some experimentation and discovery at the same time.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Thinker

Gratuitous cute photo of Will that I like.

Who's that girl?

One of the teachers from school was telling me how she spent the whole school production wondering who the girl was that was playing snout/the wall. She couldn't place the blonde girl at all. Towards the end of the show she realised it was Kieran whose hair was tied back in a pony tail and with all the make up on looked quite feminine.

Merenia and I went on the second night and shouted Daniella and Elliot along with us. Merenia enjoyed it because it was 'pretty' but didn't get the story at all (Shakespeares Mid Summer's Night Dream) In fact even Jake and Kieran didn't entirely understand the story and K was in and Jake watched it multiple times as a lighting and sound tech. It does seem a random choice for a primary school play. Perhaps chosen to maintain the 'school's' "reputation" in the dramatic arts. Which it seems from the school survey is quite important. Important to who I wonder- not the parents personally if my kid is going to miss a shite load of school in rehersals then I want him to develop great skills not 'great' reputations.

Anyway before this turns into another why I hate our school so much posts I give you:

Snout aka The Wall.

Terrible photos sorry (wrong lens, bad light, crap view point etc)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wise Cat

Windy, cold and yuk... Ruby has the Puuurrrrfect idea for today!