• Frugal Living,  Parenting

    Frugal snacks for hungry kids

    One of the best things about living in a small town like Pleasant Point, is that it’s so easy to get together with friends.  Everywhere is a 5 -10 minute walk away, and the roads are safe enough for older children to bike or walk on their own.

    After school and at weekends our house is usually overflowing with children, as our kids play with their friends from school or church.

    I love it.

    When we had children, I said to Mr G that I wanted an open house when our children’s friends felt welcome – just like my family house was when I was growing up.

    Well, we’ve definitely got that sort of house!

    All those children (it’s not unusual for us to have five or more) mean there’s extra bellies to fill, and that can really take a chunk out of your budget if you’re not careful.  I do a lot of baking, and that helps to cut costs down considerably.

     

    Here are my go-to snacks for feeding a tribe of ravenous children on a budget:

    • Some genius came up with the 100 biscuit recipe (cookies, for my American readers) which you can find here.  It makes a large bowl of biscuit dough to which you can then add whatever you like.  I use chocolate chips, sprinkles (aka hundreds and thousands/nonpareils), cocoa and cornflakes, raisins, lemon zest, m&m’s etc.  It tends to be whatever I have lying around!  The dough freezes well, so you can make a huge batch of basic dough, divide it into whatever flavours you want to add, and pop some in the freezer for another day.  Biscuits obviously aren’t the healthiest choice, but for an active child, one or two with their afternoon tea won’t hurt them.  This recipe really does make 100.  Because the mixture spreads out a lot while cooking, a teaspoon of mixture is all that’s needed per biscuit.
    100 biscuits may still not last long…
    • Popcorn.  We have one of those air popper machine thingees, and a little goes a long, long way.  I can get a big bowl of popcorn for about 25 cents.  I’ve never met a child who doesn’t go crazy for popcorn.

     

    • Tiny cheese muffins.  I use a recipe from New Zealand’s famous Edmond’s Cookbook, but there is a similar recipe over at Just A Mum.  I use tasty cheese because a little goes a long way when it comes to flavour.  I use the same when I make…

     

    • Cheese scones.  My kids go nuts for scones.  I have made scones so many times I have the recipe committed to memory, and I can churn out a batch in 15 minutes.

     

    • Seasonal fruit.  My daughter eats a lot of fruit.  My son is picky about which kind of fruit he likes, but even he will chow down on anything when he’s got to fight four of his friends for the last slice of apple.  Peer pressure can be a good thing!  I’ve also found that children will eat pretty much anything if it’s put into a cool shape or design.
    These ‘palm trees’ get gobbled up quickly!
    • Real fruit or juice popsicles.  If you have some juice leftover from a party, you can put into straight into popsicle moulds or blend berries with banana for a creamy, frozen treat.  Popsicle moulds cost about $2 at stores here in New Zealand, and are worth this very modest outlay, as one single popsicle can cost upwards from $2 at the shops.  Plus you can make yummy treats that are actually healthy too.

     

    • Carrot and cheese sticks (I go easy on the cheese, it’s so expensive these days).  My children turn up their nose at hummus, but I live for the day when they’ll embrace it like some of their friends do.

     

    • Pikelets.  If you don’t know what a pikelet is, it’s basically a small, sweet, fluffy pancake.  I don’t make these often, but pikelets are great if you have a big crowd of children.  A little jam on top of the pikelet = happy children.  Generally I put out a plate of pikelets, things quickly resembles a school of piranhas in a feeding frenzy.

     

    • Crackers.  I stash away boxes of ‘company’ crackers when they’re on special at the supermarket.

     

    Lastly, I find the key to feeding a gaggle of children is portion control.  If I leave them with a box of crackers it will be gone in 1 minute.  If I plate up a snack for each child, then I’m rarely eaten out of house and home, and the children still seem satisfied.

     

    What are your go-to snacks?

     

  • Faith,  Family,  Frugal Living,  Parenting

    Dollar Diet: A frugal date

     

    Mr G and I often take it turns to plan a weekly date night.  Occasionally we’ve had times where it falls by the wayside for a period, sometimes due to life just getting a bit busy, or when we were in a baby-induced fog.

    We’ve always managed to get back on track as we take date night seriously.  Even if what we do for date night isn’t the slightest bit serious!  Marriages fail all the time, and we see date nights as an investment in our relationship, and as an important tool to help keep us connected.

    When we lived in Whanganui, Mr G’s mum was always volunteering to babysit so we could go out on a date – I think because her marriage to Mr G’s dad didn’t make it – and we found it hard to get her to understand that we didn’t always need to go out and spend money to have a great date.  We’ve had loads of great dates that didn’t require us to spend a cent, or even leave the house.  You can read about some of our ideas here.

    When you take turns to plan dates, something rather magical happens.  Especially if you’re trying to save money, or it’s just difficult for you to get a babysitter, you are forced to be creative.  My husband has gone to extraordinary lengths to wow me or put a smile on my face.  We’ve stargazed, he’s made up songs for me, found a hard-to-get movie I’d really wanted to watch, reminisced with me over our wedding photos and we’ve sung karaoke for hours.  I’ve made him his favourite treats, filmed him telling his life history, and we’ve danced the night away in the lounge.  We’ve made cakes together for our children’s birthdays as a date night activity.  It’s more fun than it sounds, I swear.

    My husband would absolutely not describe himself as romantic or even overly creative, but he often surprises me with the thought and care and love that’s he put into our evening together.

    Don’t get me wrong, many times our date nights involve watching Netflix because we’re so darned tired after a busy week!  (We totally recommend Fallet, it’s hilarious.)

    My point is, you don’t have to spend megabucks to have a meaningful date – our date this week (below) was no exception.  A few minutes time spent on google looking for ideas is time well spent.

    On to this week’s frugal happenings:

    • We sold our bike trailer.  I had big plans for this bike trailer, but thanks to a back injury a few months after we bought it, the trailer ended up seldom being used, and gathering dust in the garage.  Our children can ride their own bikes now, so we have zero need for it.  We sold it to a someone who doesn’t drive, who is stoked to be able to transport their kiddos around.  We wasted money on the darn thing, but we weren’t to know it at the time we purchased it, and at least we were able to sell it for a fair price.

     

    • The kids had friends over again, so free fun!

     

    • I had a very frugal outing with D, where we took a packed lunch with us while we played in the great outdoors, and I spent .20c on a toy from an op-shop.  Contrast this with the mummy-daughter date I took E on.  She had a definite idea of what she wanted to do, which involved going to a cafe, and then a (free) playground.  I spent $25 on lunch for the two of us at the cafe, but it was a planned expense.  E doesn’t get treats like that too often, and it was good for this mama’s soul to spend one-on-one time with her.  Now she’s at school, I have to be very intentional about this.  Still, not all our mummy-daughter dates will require any money changing hands, but that’s a post for another time.

     

    • It was my turn to organise date night, so I made a quick dinner for the kids, sent the kids off with Mr G for their bath and bedtime routine, while I made a special dinner for Mr G and I.  On the menu was chicken tikka masala, rice, naan, and veggies, with flutes of champagne.  The dinner cost maybe $10 to make, and the champagne was a gift from a friend.  I lit candles, put on some music, and laid out a fancy dinner setting.  And by fancy, I mean our totally mismatched set of crockery.  We had a lovely night – it was just as good as a swanky restaurant, and we solved the problems of the world as we ate our dinner in peace.  For parents, you can reclaim the bliss of a peaceful dinner!

    • I made another batch of bean and cheese burritos.  Inspired by this post, I’ve tweaked the recipe to my liking, and can make these burritos for about .75c each.  They freeze beautifully, and make for a quick and easy lunch.
  • Faith,  Family,  Frugal Living,  Parenting

    Dream Small

     

    It was both a quiet and momentous week.

    D was sick, whiny and rather belligerent due to a cold.  E was run down and in need of a day off school to recharge her five-year old batteries.  D had woken up with a coughing fit in the wee hours of the morning.  He was wiiiiiiide awake, so I dragged my bleary-eyed carcass out of bed to look after him.  The three of us had a duvet day and watched lots of TV – I now know the entire backstory to Transformers: Robots in Disguise, so if you lie awake at night wondering what the heck happened to Russell’s mum* and why he never seems to go to school, just ask me.

    D had gotten over the worst of his cold the next day, which happened to be a warm and sunshiny day, so I took him to play at the nearby Temuka Domain.  I pushed him on a swing for 30 minutes while he kept up a monologue of how aliens were trying to take over the earth and get into our brains, but fortunately he, D, had special weapons and was big and strong and would defeat the aliens single-handedly.  We had a ferocious debate over whether aliens have birthdays (answer: yes, but they don’t play games like ours), and then looked for Decepticons (bad Transformers) in the native forest at the domain.  I basked in the sun, and chuckled at D’s marvellous imagination.

    The Decepticons are here somewhere…

    There’s a fabulous op-shop in Temuka called Paws and Claws (all proceeds go to the SPCA).  It’s a treasure trove, and my kids love visiting the shop because the lovely manager always gives them a wee lolly.  If you are in the area, do pay them a visit – it’s especially well stocked with secondhand clothes, books and household goods.  D wanted to visit the shop, and was so filled with extroverted joy he announced it to the nice old lady passing by, “We’re going to Paws and Claws!  Mummy might let me get a toy!”.  I did, for the princely sum of 20c.

    Little things.  Snuggling on the couch with my children, warm sun, the joy of a secondhand toy.  

    Like many stay-at-home parents, this time of having under little ones has been an opportunity for me to take stock and decide what’s next for my career.  In a little over a year, both my kids will be at school and the world is my oyster.

    Yet, as I get older I am increasingly called to live small.

    Since moving to Pleasant Point I’ve kept an eye on the part-time jobs on offer in the area.  Each time I mentioned them to D he wisely said “But what about the school holidays?  What about when I’m away?”  He has a demanding job that encompasses our entire family, in a way that most jobs don’t.  I’ve also been toying with the idea of going back to further study to upskill, but have felt daunted by the stress it would put upon me, along with the need to find someone who doesn’t mind doing rather bitsy childcare.  Most caregivers want regular gigs, and I can’t say I blame them!  I got very frustrated, and felt like I’d never be able to work without putting our children in after school care and holiday programmes (for my overseas readers, NZ schools have around 12 weeks break spread throughout the year).  

    I don’t want that for my kids.  I’m not judging working parents.  Honestly, I’m not.  If my children had different personalities, I’d definitely be considering full time work.  But I have two very sensitive souls, and I know that they would not thrive in a schedule that full-time work would have them locked into.  Especially D.  For all his bravado and confidence, he finds change hard and often needs handling with kid gloves.

    And so it wasn’t because of a lightening-bolt moment of clarity, but a gentle conversation with Mr G (plus lots of prayer) that helped me to decide to continue as a stay at home mum, so I can be present for the kids.  I also feel called to be present for church, and certainly once both kids are in school I’ll be available to lend more of a hand with the various things churches run.  I’m also quite fortunate that most of the things I have a passion for doing in the church are quite often things that you get paid for.  I love preaching, and running workshops and retreats, and there’s definitely some scope to learn a little income doing these.  So stay tuned folks.  I’m not ruling out further study or full time work in the future, but for the next few years at any rate, I’ll be living the quiet(er) life.

    This decision requires some sacrifice, certainly in terms of income, and it limits my bigger dreams – which mostly involve my favourite thing ever, travel.  I’d be lying if I said that didn’t matter to me.  It does, and I’m sure in times to come I’ll find myself wishing I was at Abu Simbel or St Petersburg or even Bonnie Doon.

    image credit

    The song ‘Dream Small’, by Josh Wilson is one that I play on repeat, because it is just so apt for where I’m at.  I’ve dreamed big dreams and even achieved many of those goals, and had a lot of fun and learning in the process.  In the song, Josh talks about little moments changing the world; being used by God just as and where you are.  More and more I am more content with these little moments shaping my life.  I notice them, am thankful for them, and they give me direction and purpose in the same way my big dreams once did.

     

    Dream Small – Josh Wilson

    It’s a momma singing songs about the Lord
    It’s a daddy spending family time
    That the world said he cannot afford
    These simple moments change the world
    It’s a pastor at a tiny little Church
    Forty years of loving on the broken and the hurt
    These simple moments change the world
    Dream small
    Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
    Just let Jesus use you where you are
    One day at a time
    Live well
    Loving God and others as yourself
    Find little ways where only you can help
    With His great love
    A tiny rock can make a giant fall
    Dream small
    It’s visiting the widow down the street
    Or dancing on a Friday with your friend with special needs
    These simple moments change the world
    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with bigger dreams
    Just don’t miss the minutes on your way, your bigger things, no
    ‘Cause these simple moments change the world
    So dream small
    Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
    Just let Jesus use you where you are
    One day at a time
    Live well
    Loving God and others as yourself
    Find little ways where only you can help
    With His great love
    A tiny rock can make a giant fall
    So dream small
    Keep loving, keep serving
    Keep listening, keep learning
    Keep praying, keep hoping
    Keep seeking, keep searching
    Out of these small things and watch them grow bigger
    The God who does all things makes oceans from river
    So dream small
    Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
    Just let Jesus use you where you are
    One day at a time
    Live well
    Loving God and others as yourself
    Find little ways where only you can help
    With His great love
    A tiny rock can make a giant fall
    Yeah, five loaves and two fishes could feed them all
    So dream small
    Dream small

     

    * She’s working in Copenhagen.  Now you can get some sleep.
  • Parenting

    Parenting with Hashimoto’s

    Memes, 🤖, and Quicksand: WHEN I WAS AKIDI THOUGHT THAT QUICKSAND WAS GOING TO BEA MUCH BIGGER PROBLEMTHAN IT IS share

    Quicksand probably doesn’t feature as a hazard in your life, but I fall into it on a regular basis.  It’s simply life with Hashimoto’s disease.

    The body-walking-through-quicksand feeling is a common symptom of Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease (also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis).  It’s no exaggeration.  Some days my entire body feels like lead.  Walking to the corner of the street is like an marathon, and the stairs in my house take on Mt Everest proportions.

    Imagine you’ve just climbed Mt Everest – and now your kids are clambering over you, begging you to play with them.

    This is my reality as a Hashimoto’s parent.

    Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, where the thyroid gland is gradually destroyed.  There is no cure.  Your thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, and regulates many of your body’s functions.  It stores and produces hormones that effect almost every organ in your body.  This one little gland can cause big trouble when it doesn’t work properly.  Your thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism, your heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development and even your mood.  Millions of people around the world suffer from Hashimoto’s; many of whom are misdiagnosed, as Hashimoto’s symptoms are often mistaken for mental illness.  Medication helps, but it’s estimated that up to 90% of people who take thyroid replacement medication remain symptomatic.  In other words, despite the medication, they feel rubbish.  Here’s a list of the most common symptoms, there are many more:

    Some days I am totally fine.  I can walk for miles, do 10 impossible things before breakfast, and have a very productive day.  There’s usually no way of telling whether it’s going to be a great day or a quicksand day.  Hashimoto’s is a mostly invisible disease, so you can’t tell by looking at me if it’s a good day or a bad day. 

    On good days I have to take care not to do too much because I’ll pay for it the next day.  And probably the next.  I have to leave my weekends mostly free of plans so I don’t burn out – and that’s tough for an extrovert like me.  I have to cancel plans a lot, because when I made those plans I felt great but when the day arrives I feel like a slug.  It also means I can’t volunteer or help out like I want to, because I don’t want to be a flake and let people down.  I also have the super power of sleeping for 10 hours and waking up tired, and getting insomnia.

    I can put on weight just by looking at a doughnut.  My hair is thin and fine.  I have trouble regulating my body temperature.  I can feel cold while everyone is fine, and I also struggle to cope with hot weather.  My joints ache almost every day.  I often feel like I’m 90 instead of 42.  I occasionally have the brain of a 90 year old, where I can’t think clearly or find the right word.

    I have periods where I am totally fine for months and months, and periods where I can barely function for months and months.  I lose heaps of weight during the fine times, and then put it all back on during the not-so-fine times.

    My thyroid function is always on a knife edge.  It takes very little for it to get all quicksandy, and my medication can require a great deal of fine-tuning.  I have to take Mr G to my doctor’s appointments, because I am not taken seriously otherwise.  Just having him there to back me up, has hugely improved my treatment.  If unaccompanied, when I complain about being tired and sore I am immediately screened for depression by doctors.  This is despite being a Hashimoto’s patient with Hashimoto’s symptoms.  Which include tiredness and aching muscles and joints.

    As you can imagine, Hashimoto’s can make parenting really, really hard.  Some days my kids watch way too much TV because I have zero energy to do anything else.  My kids are used to me telling them to ‘get off me!’ because their clambering on me is excruciatingly painful.  It’s especially hard for my son, who likes to show love with body slams.  It’s difficult to be a kind and patient parent when you are so, so tired or in pain.  It’s heartbreaking to have to cancel a fun trip because you’re just not up to it, or watch from the sidelines as the rest of your family plays because your oomph is used up for the day.

    It’s also hard to be the partner of a Hashimoto’s sufferer.  Many marriages fail, especially if Hashimoto’s has developed after the marriage.  You are quite literally not married to the same person anymore.  Your partner (mostly) looks fine, yet lazes around all day.  They’re grumpy, tired and not pulling their weight.  Which has almost certainly gone up, by the way.

    Pretty grim huh?  It doesn’t have to be.

    How to cope as a parent when you have Hashimoto’s

    • Accept that you have it, and that you may never function as you used to.  This was key for me.  I spent years trying to carry as normal, berating myself for being lazy or stupid.  My poor body couldn’t cope with the frenetic pace I expected to keep, and I ended up with a bad case of burnout, on top of the Haashimoto’s.  Once I accepted that I had this disease and therefore needed to change how I lived, it became sooooo much easier to manage my condition.

     

    • Accept that you won’t be a perfect parent.  Hashimoto’s can rob you of being the parent you want to be.  You can bet that on those tv-watching days, or times when I have to watch the fun from the sidelines, I have a massive attack of the guilts.  But I try to…

     

    • Make up for it on the good days!  If I’m having a great day, then chances are I’ve taken my kids out or done something really fun with them.  These are the days for spontaneous picnics or parties, for nature walks, jumping on the trampoline, and letting the kids stay up past their bedtime to play spotlight.  Keep a list or a Pinterest board of things you could do the next time the stars align and you’ve got both a good day and time on your hands.  I may be Slug Mum at times, but I’m also Fun Mum too.

     

    • Rest whenever possible.  Even when I have had a week of feeling great, I avoid the temptation to rush around like a headless chicken doing all the jobs I had to put off on bad days.  Before Hashimoto’s I could function solidly all day.  Now I do my most physical jobs in the morning, so I have the afternoon to chill out.  And by chill out, I mean you’ll usually find me writing on the computer/picking my kids up/pottering around in the kitchen.  I’m a stay-at-home parent, but many Hashi’s folks hold down full time jobs and don’t have this luxury.  If you are working, think about how you structure your day to maximise your productivity during the hours you have the most energy.  For me, it’s the morning.  Also, if you have very small children I understand how rest is virtually impossible.  If your Hashimoto’s is giving you grief and you are the main caregiver of an infant or toddler, I strongly suggest you get some kind of care for your child.  A morning or two of childcare a week could help you function better.

     

    • Don’t compare yourself to non-Hashimoto’s parents.  Just don’t.  Sure, they’re tired and bleary eyed too, but they probably aren’t feeling like an octogenarian either.

     

    • Find your tribe.  There are loads of Hashimoto’s support groups on Facebook and elsewhere.  It’s really important to be selective, because Hashimoto’s can vary greatly from person to person.  One person can be on the same dose of medication for 30 years and function reasonably well, while the next person can barely make it to the letterbox.  If I had a dollar for every person who told me their cousin/grandma/tennis partner/twelfth-cousin-twice-removed had Hashimoto’s and drank chamomile tea/only ate lemongrass/used organic leeches/imported pure oxygen from the Arctic circle and felt terrific, I’d have, well… a chunk of money.  Sure, give things a try, but hold them lightly.  What works for cousin Ethel might not work for you.  These groups are also a godsend when you wonder if [insert weird symptom here] could be because of your Hashimoto’s.  Chances are if you ask online you’ll soon have hundreds of people saying ‘Yep, me too’.  Let me give you an example: A lesser known symptom is a blank facial expression (I have no idea of the science behind why that might be).  I am frequently described as ‘calm’ by others – despite being nothing of the kind, and people who don’t know me well often stop to explain “That was a joke” if they’ve just said something witty, despite me being well aware and responsive to their joke!

     

    • Eat well.  Many Hashimoto’s sufferers find relief by making dietary changes, like giving up gluten and nightshades.  The AIP diet is popular and has helped some people go into remission.

     

    • Plan for bad days.  Help yourself and your family out by having meals at the ready in the freezer for the days you have no energy to cook.  Stash some DVDs or download some movies your kids haven’t seen to keep them entertained.  Have understanding friends and relatives on speed dial.

     

    • Educate your kids.  As your children get older, share what it’s like for you to have Hashimoto’s.  Kids are great observers but very poor interpreters.  Your failure to show up to their dance recital might be taken to mean you don’t love them.  Once they understand, they’re more likely to cut you some slack and not take it personally.  You can then hate the disease together and have a victory ice cream on your good days.  Hashimoto’s also has a genetic component to it, so it’s important they know what to look out for.

     

    • Be your biggest supporter.  Because Hashimoto’s is a (mostly) invisible illness, some people will think you are lazy or a bad parent.  Screw them.  They don’t know what it’s like to walk a mile in your quicksand-filled shoes.  You are NOT lazy.  You are fighting a disease that affects pretty much every cell in your body.  Box on, friend.

     

    • Keep perspective.  On my bad days, I tell myself there are so many people out there who have far worse things than Hashimoto’s.  And I’m grateful for the things my body CAN do.  It’s a bit Pollyanna, I know, but it helps.
  • Faith,  Family,  Frugal Living,  Parenting

    Woah, we’re halfway there!

    My favourite tree in Point (Is that even a thing, to have favourite trees?)

     

    Hey world, I’m back!  Since my tots are no longer in Tawhero, I decided to wipe the slate clean and start a new site charting life in our new town of Pleasant Point.  If you’ve been a Tots in Tawhero reader, I’d love you to stick with me over here.  You can do so by liking Living on a Prayer on Facebook, or subscribing below.

     

    Why Living on a Prayer? 

    Let me publicly confess that YES, I am a Bon Jovi fan, and I have nailed that song many, many times during karaoke sessions.  And by nailed it, I mean I sounded like a dying cat.   Sorry, Jon.

    But lest you think I shall be blogging about how totally awesome mullets and acid-washed jeans were,  the name actually refers to the new situation my family and I are inknee deep in church ministry.  My husband, who will now henceforth be called ‘Mr G’, decided way back in 2011, that he felt called to become a minister for the Presbyterian church.  After much blood, sweat and tears, two kids, more tears, lots of sweat and maybe a little blood, he added a qualification in ‘knowing lots of stuff about Jesus’ to his long list of qualifications.  Mr G is sole-charge of a sweet little congregation here in Pleasant Point, as he completes a two-year process as an ministry intern.  You can call him a not-quite-Rev, but I prefer ’embryo parson’ (shout out to all my Cold Comfort Farm fellow fans).

    I am the ‘not-quite-Minister’s wife’.  My kids are the ‘not-quite-Minister’s kids’.  Gulp!

    Living on a Prayer also refers to the fact that Mr G has taken a huge pay cut to become a minister, and he’s the sole breadwinner for now.  My long-time followers will know that I enjoy living a frugal lifestyle, and am looking forward to the challenges that our new life will bring.  Relying on God to provide – really, truly relying on God – isn’t something this pair of middle-class, educated folk have been used to, and it’s been a humbling realisation for Mr G and I.  So you can expect me to continue sharing my frugal doings – and I hope also sharing stories of God’s provision for our family.

    So how’s it all going?

    After the.most.hideously.stressful.move.ever, thanks to our terrible moving company, I arrived in Pleasant Point ahead of Mr G and the kids, with broken belongings and high blood pressure.  I was scooped up into the arms of the lovely church ladies who sheltered me for a night, helped me unpack, fed me, and generally soothed my blood pressure back to normal.  One lady had even made my kids presents as her way of welcoming them!  Folks, THIS is what church is all about.  THIS is what they do well here.

    We’ve settled in.  The people are nice – I already have friends!  It’s a pretty spot, surrounded by more pretty spots, which neighbour upon some of the most gob-smacking scenery on the planet.  Needless to say, I’m enjoying life here immensely.

    Church of the Good Shepherd, Tekapo

    Here are some observations I’ve made:

    • If you call this place Pleasant Point, you are immediately flagging yourself as an outsider.  Pointsiders (I just made that up, umm, Pointers?  Pointizens?) simply call it ‘Point’, as in “Yeah, my kid goes to Point Primary, ” or  “I grew up in Point.”  Timaru (the nearest big town) is called ‘Town’.

     

    • No, they don’t roll their ‘r’s here.  I’ve checked.  But the local cafe does make a mean cheese roll.

     

    • I suck at predicting the weather here.  I have no idea what it’s doing.  But, I don’t feel bad, because clearly neither does the weather.  In one week it was so hot I considered taking up residence in our fridge/freezer, immediately followed by needing to dig out my winter coat and wondering where I put the matches to light the fire.  In ONE week!

     

    • The people here are mostly hard-working, practical farming folk.  See that lady in her 60’s walking her dogs?  Boom!  She’s actually 93.  That middle-aged man lifting bales of hay?  Boom!  He’s 86.  True story bro.  They don’t want to talk about your feelings or your latest hippie venture – it’s not that they don’t care, but there’s work to be done.

     

    • I am not merely an older mum here, I am frigging geriatric!  Most mums here are blond, pony tail sporting glamazons who were clearly child brides, because I’m pretty sure they’re all 23.  Either that, or I seriously need to get the number of their botox provider.

     

    • It’s like everyone remembers New Zealand being in ‘the good old days’.  I’ve been here two months and know loads of people.  People know their neighbours.  There’s little crime.  No graffiti.  No hoodie-clad teenagers misspending their youth.  You can leave your bike outside a shop without fear of someone nicking it.  It’s safe enough to ride a bike here.  CHILDREN PLAY OUTSIDE AND RIDE BIKES WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION.  Because it’s safe.

     

    • Point has all I need.  Point may only be home to about 1,300 people but it has two schools, a health centre, a bike park, a hairdresser, public swimming pools, a supermarket, a pub, a dress shop, a cafe,  a taxidermist’s, a railway museum, several playgrounds, scenic trails and more.  And I can WALK to it all.

     

    So walk with me as we navigate our new life in Point.  At the moment Mr G and I feel like kids dressed up in suits and ties – our new roles don’t quite fit right, but we hope by the end of the two years, they will.