• Frugal Living

    How to go on a Dollar Diet

    Long-term readers of my previous blog Tots in Tawhero will know that a few years ago my family and I embarked on what I call the Dollar Diet.  A reader asked if I was still doing the Dollar Diet, and I’m happy to report that yes, yes I am.

    cash, coins, money

    The Dollar Diet is very simple: only spend money on necessities.  Easy, right?

    I had already significantly reigned in my former spendthrift ways when we first attempted a Dollar Diet.  In the past I was careless with managing my money and got into debt at various times.  It was shameful and stressful and my strategy of burying my head in the sand had to go.  It wasn’t an overnight transformation, but slowly and surely I got better at saving more and spending less.

    I got married to Mr G, and we both earned reasonable money.  Mr G is pretty good at money management but we found we weren’t saving as much as we could.  We then had kids.  I decided to stay at home with the kids – at least until they were at school – so we went down to one income.  It was still perfectly liveable, as Mr G got decent money as a software developer.  However, not long after we married, Mr G felt called to become a minister for the Presbyterian church.

    Even though the minister thing has been years in the making, learning to thrive on one, low income drove me to try the Dollar DietI knew we could do better with less, and salt some savings away.  I knew we could track our spending better and plug the holes on our budget.  I had some specific savings goals that year (like a trip to Australia), but the idea of getting into a mindful spending groove over the course of a whole year really appealed.

    In the first year of the Dollar Diet I had lofty goals – there would be NO extras.  No cafe visits, no store-bought gifts, no paid subscriptions of any kind, no new clothes.  You get the picture.  I didn’t quite get there, but I had a lot of fun along the way.

    It’s true in a 1984-esque way: There is freedom in restriction.

    With restrictions on how I spent my time and money, my creativity was given free reign.  I cooked up a storm.  I sewed (very badly).  I learned how to make jam and chutney.  We threw frugal parties.  I grew a veggie garden.  Mr G learned how to DIY gates and fences.  I even upcycled some curtains a la Maria Von Trapp.  For real.

    But I also learned that it’s hard to find time to make gifts from scratch when you have little ones who catch all.the.illnesses.  Unexpected events and invitations happened.  I learned to make gifts waaay ahead of when they were needed because of this.  Most importantly, I learned how important it was to have a fun line in our budget, because I have a deep-seated need to have things to look forward to in my life, and scrimping and saving can get a bit grim at times.

    Today my family needs the Dollar Diet more than ever, because there’s very little room for extras in our new, reduced-income budget.  The Dollar Diet helps us to define our priorities, and takes away some of the stress of making ends meet.  I’ve long since shed many of the trappings that first-world society tells us we need to be happy and successful – no, I don’t need a fancy car, or an iPhone, or to attend a yoga retreat on Bora Bora.  I actually find it fun to see how much I can shave off my grocery budget for the week, and finding ways to do what I want for free or cheaply.

    Before I show you what this year’s Dollar Diet looks like for me, let me caveat this by saying that even though my family and I are now living on that much-reduced minister’s income, I’m still coming from a place of privilege.  We own a home in our previous town and have no mortgage.  Money from renting this out pays for much of our rent here in Pleasant Point.  We have savings.  We don’t have debt.  Despite Mr G’s salary halving this year, we’re still not on the poverty line.

    Okay?  Onto this year’s Dollar Diet!

    The Dollar Diet is simple.  Buy what you NEED.  Think long and hard before buying what you WANT.  Is it necessary?  Can you do without it?  Can you borrow it instead?  Can you wait while you save up for it?  Even NEEDS can be slimmed down by growing your own fruit and veg, or bartering and borrowing when possible.

    My ‘needs’ will be different to yours, no doubt, but that’s the beauty of the Dollar Diet.  What are your non-negotiables?

    My 2018 list 

    • Rent  (For the first time in a few years we have to pay rent.  We pay $250 a week for the massive manse we get to live in during Mr G’s internship.  This rent is offset a bit from income from our rental home, but we still have to pay rates and maintenance from the rent income.)
    • Groceries (I typically spend around $150 for our family of four, which is well below the national average of $230 a week, but I know I can get this much lower at times when necessary).
    • Electricity, firewood (Our current house is like most NZ homes – poorly insulated and freezing, so our power bill is rather frightening.  We were so grateful for a generous gift of firewood!)
    • Internet/phone/cellphones
    • Netflix (Hi, my name is Angela and I like to binge watch Occupied and Zoo.  There, I said it.)
    • Insurances (life, home contents, vehicle, house)
    • Petrol, vehicle maintenance
    • Rates (for our house in Whanganui)
    • School fees ($100 a year, plus 4 term activity fees)
    • Extracurricular activities for the kids (E does dancing – paid for by a grandparent- and Pippins; D does soccer.  E currently hates putting her head under the water, so swim lessons next term are probably in order so she can keep up with her class.)
    • Sponsor children (2)
    • Doctor’s visits & prescriptions, dentist visits
    • Gifts (making what I possibly can myself)
    • Haircuts (I only get my hair cut 2 or 3 times a year)
    • Moisturizer, foundation, bug spray (mozzies LOVE me), undies, watertight shoes (why oh why is it so hard to get decent shoes anymore!  Mine always fall apart after a couple of years wear), a few items of warm clothing (secondhand) – A
    •  A few invention gizmos, a few items of warm clothing – Mr G
    • Garden maintenance 
    • Chicken feed
    • Clothing (secondhand or free whenever possible), shoes, underwear for the children
    • 2 short holidays away (free or low-cost accommodation where possible).  Holidays are a luxury, but Mr G and I both recognise the value of making memories with our kids.  We aim to give them experiences instead of toys.
    • A small fun budget: to fund the odd takeaway/outing/school holiday activities
    • Big Goal: family trip to Australia for BFF’s wedding next January.  (We’re keeping this as low-cost as possible by avoiding pricey tourist activities, and staying in cheap and free accommodation.  Travel insurance is free under Mr G’s credit card programme.)

    It’s the things that aren’t on the list that save you money.  No buying lunch everyday.  No takeaway coffees each morning.  No splurging $300 on a pair of shoes that are almost the same as the pair you already own.  No mindless following of ‘fashion’.  No buying a new outfit for a special occasion when you have plenty of options in your wardrobe.  No buying takeaways just because you don’t feel like cooking.  Getting rid of magazine subscriptions, gym subscriptions, any subscription that you don’t honestly use.  No buying books (that’s why libraries were invented) or pretty tchotchkes for your home.  No greeting cards and wrapping paper.  No lavish gifts.  No recipes requiring pricey ingredients.  No expensive holidays.  No meeting up with friends for brunch at an expensive cafe.  No costly plays, concerts, exhibitions. No extravagant hobbies (unless it makes you money or saves your sanity).

    The fun and the challenge comes from trying to find free or frugal alternatives to keep living the good life.  Instead of going out for brunch, host a pancake breakfast for your friends.  Take up running or workout to YouTube clips instead of going to a gym.  Pack your own lunch and your coffee for work.  Have a meal or two in the freezer for the nights when you are too tired to cook.

    I’ll be getting back to my weekly frugal report.  It’s a powerful tool which keeps me on the straight and narrow.  Speaking of tools, two other important items in my frugal toolbelt are Goodbudget *(we use the free version) which is an envelope budgeting app that updates in real time; and a weekly family meeting where we discuss how we’ve been tracking for the week.  Sometimes this is a tad painful, but it certainly reigns me in.

    So stay tuned, I hope that some of my adventures in frugality will help my readers out there.

    Pink and White Ceramic Pig Coin Bank

     

    *We prefer Goodbudget but any app will do!

     

     

  • Family

    Are you prepared for the worst? A kid-friendly survival guide

    Natural disasters and catastrophes aren’t something I go around thinking about a lot.  Truly.  But having been the health and safety person for several voluntary organisations, I’ve come into contact with folks that do it for a living.

    Damaged Building Interior

    Here in New Zealand we have Civil Defence, who are the wonderful people that spring into action when disaster strikes.  Spending time with Civil Defence made me realise how complacent and naive I was about the likelihood of being in a large-scale emergency situation.  Which is stupid as I live in New Zealand.  One of NZ’s nicknames is the ‘shaky isles’ due to the large number of earthquakes we have!  Earthquakes are the biggest threat to us here, so this post is earthquake-preparation heavy, but many of these tips can be adapted for your particular situation in the world.

    One member of Civil Defence (who was just like Mad-Eye Moody, for Potter fans.  Constant vigilance!) told me about the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 where he was based at the time it struck.  The earthquake was terrible, leaving many dead and injured, and even now, years later, some people are still waiting to get their damaged homes sorted.  He told me many things that Civil Defence learned in the aftermath of the quake, and shared with me the story of how it affected his workmate.  His colleague was a single dad, who, upon rushing to the day care where his child was, arrived to find it empty.  It took him three days to be reunited with his child, during which he was unable to do his job as he was too distraught.

    broken, clouds, glass

    Here are some tips to help you get through an emergency.

    Lesson One: Know where your child’s daycare or school will evacuate to in an emergency.  Now, any daycare or school has to adhere to the strictest building regulations, and will most likely be safe in a large earthquake.  Schools are often used as emergency shelters for just this reason.  But it is impossible to predict how things like liquefaction or downed power lines etc may affect your child’s daycare or school, which in turn may necessitate an evacuation.  So ask your child’s teacher.  If they don’t know, ask the manager or principal to find out.

    Lesson Two: Have a family emergency plan.  Talk about what you will do in the event of a disaster, like an earthquake or tsunami.  Who will find the kids?  How and where will you meet up?  What will you do if it’s not actually safe to meet there?  Loads of parents in the Christchurch earthquake spent hours trying to get to their kids, only to find the other parent had got to them first.  Go through the plan with your kids.  Many times.

    Remember: it is unlikely you will be able to use your cellphone in the immediate aftermath of a major disaster.  For one thing, the phone lines get slammed by worried friends and relatives, and can it take hours or even days to get through, depending on the damage.  During the Christchurch earthquake a major phone provider actually shut down their network to give text messages the change to get through.  Texting is the best way to communicate, don’t call.

    Lesson Three: Designate a family member or friend who lives in another part of the country as an emergency phone contact.  What they discovered after Christchurch was that while it was impossible to make contact locally, sometimes it was possible to make calls out of Christchurch to other parts of NZ.  In the event of a large-scale disaster, your family could all agree (at least the adults, anyway) to call Aunt Enid in Auckland to let her know you’re safe.  Then Aunt Enid can tell anyone else who checks in.  Sort of like a lower-tech ‘Safe’ tag on Facebook.  Aunt Enid can also call your family in other parts of the country to let them know you’re okay.

    Lesson Four: Educate yourself about the likelihood of you getting home/to your kids in an emergency.  It was quite eye-opening when I talked with Civil Defence for my daughter’s kindy in Whanganui.  The kindy was in a very safe spot, even for an earthquake, but the Civil Defence worker pointed out that in a major earthquake, most of the CBD (located near the Whanganui river/awa) would be knee-deep in liquefaction.  The bridges connecting the city from east to west would likely be destroyed or unpassable.  What this meant for the kindy was that MANY PARENTS WOULD BE UNABLE TO REACH THE KINDY if they lived or worked in the CBD or Whanganui East, as they were on the other side of town.

    Free stock photo of city, cars, road, vehicles
    Could you walk home in an emergency?

    So again, you need a plan.  Most emergency response teams in your area will happily share this sort of information with you.  If you work, keep a ‘grab and go’ kit there.  Many folks in Christchurch say they wish they’d kept a pair of sneakers at the office after they had to walk hours and hours to get home.  If you’re someone who has a long commute, would you be able to walk the distance home?  Where might you stay if you couldn’t, or if your usual route was unpassable?

    You can find ideas for what else to include in a ‘grab and go kit’ here.

    Lesson Five: It’s recommended that you have at least three days worth of food and water, in the event of a disaster.  For my family I have two bags of canned goods, cereal, long-life milk and milk powder, a tin opener, and water stashed away in a garden shed.  One lesson learned in Christchurch was the need to have emergency supplies stored somewhere away from the house, as many homes were not safe to enter.  It’s also recommended you have a wee stash of medication, a torch/flashlight, a first aid kit, some cash (there’s often no electricity for ages, therefore no cash machines or banks in working order…), nappies and formula, and pet food.  I’d also add some lollies (candy for my overseas readers) and chocolate.  If there’s ever a time it’s okay to give your kids some comfort food, it’s then!

    I’m a super-organised person by nature, and here’s my tip.  Don’t have anything in your emergency supplies that you don’t like eating.  If you hate baked beans, they will be cold comfort if the worst happens.  Every six months I simply swap out the emergency stash for new supplies, and we consume the old stash.  As it is filled with things we like to eat, it’s no problem.  You can find a comprehensive list of emergency items here.

    Lesson Six: Quake-proof your home.  Don’t store heavy objects up high on a shelf.  Fix your bookcases to the wall, secure TV’s and other appliances.

    chairs, furniture, home
    See that big pot plant?  Don’t stick it up high where it could kill you…

    Lesson Seven: Unless you can smell a leak, do NOT turn off the gas, unless instructed to do so by the authorities.  Gas can only be turned back on by a professional, and many Christchurch homes waited weeks and weeks and weeks to get gas back.

    Lesson Eight: Know your neighbours.  You don’t have to be best friends, but simply knowing that old Mr Allen down the road at number 10 would need checking on, or that Trev at number 13 has a massive gas barbeque, could be the difference in bouncing back quickly after a natural disaster like an earthquake.  Connected communities are resilient communities.

    Lesson Nine: Keep half a tank of petrol in your car in case you ever need to evacuate, and know how to open your automatic garage door if the power goes out.

    Lesson Ten: The 2011 Christchurch earthquake happened during school hours.  What they discovered was the difference between children who were very traumatised and those who were okay (at least initially), was often down to the reaction of their teacher.  I haven’t been in a major disaster myself, but if I ever am I hope I remember this.  My reaction, trying to stay calm (at least on the inside) will help my children.  Keep things as normal as possible.  Keep them away from social media and the news.  Share only what is strictly necessary for them to know.  Try to keep discussing your worries for after they are in bed.

    Cute Family Picture

     

    What tips would you add?

     

    *Please use your common sense and look up the disaster recovery advice in your own area.*  
  • Family,  Uncategorized

    Movie review: Peter Rabbit (2018)

    Peter Rabbit [DVD]
    image credit
    Apparently two big-shot reviewers here in New Zealand hated the recent release of Peter Rabbit (now in cinemas).  I haven’t read these reviews, but I strongly suspect these reviewers are a) old men; b) white and c) are very similar to Mr McGregor, the curmudgeonly, rabbit-killing fiend of the book and movie.

    Peter Rabbit rocks!

    I loved it just as much as my children, and was snorting into my popcorn from start to finish.  My 3-year old who is always on the move only got antsy with 10 minutes to go, which earned him a lifetime achievement award.  My 5-year old is still going on about the movie, three weeks later.

    This incarnation of the much-loved tale of Peter Rabbit takes it fully into the 21st Century.  If you’re a die-hard fan of Beatrix Potter, you might want to give the movie a miss; kind of like if you prefer real Winne-the-Pooh over Disney Pooh.  In no way does this version of Peter – or any of the other characters – resemble the original.  If you’re not a purist, then simply enjoy the ride.

    Peter (voiced by James Corden, who I’m ashamed to say I didn’t recognise, have turned in my movie buff card), his sisters Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, along with cousin Benjamin spend their days trying to nick vegetables out of Mr McGregor’s incredible, immaculate garden.  NZ’s own Sam Neil is almost unrecognisable as the grizzled, apoplectic gardener who wages war on the rabbits.  His artist neighbour, Bea (played by Aussie Rose Byrne) has looked after the rabbits since they were orphaned at the hands of McGregor, and gives them free range of her impossibly quaint cottage.  Where she manages to live quite well despite creating truly terrible art and not seeming to have any other form of income…I digress.

    (SPOILER) Mr McGregor suffers a fatal heart-attack during a daring raid by Peter.  Peter and his animal mates move into to McGregor’s house and stuff their faces with all that delicious veg.  Cue party time!

    McGregor’s uptight nephew Thomas, played by Domhnall Gleeson (you may remember him from Harry Potter), inherits his uncle’s property.  Thomas works at Harrods, making sure that everything is perfect with a capital P.  Upon learning that his uncle’s house might be worth a bit of coin, he decides to go and see it, with the view of selling it.  Thomas finds the house overrun with animals, and Peter finds him a challenging adversary.  The two go head-to-head to get rid of each other, something made a little more complicated by Thomas falling for the lovely Bea.

    There’s loads of slapstick comedy – especially by Domhnall Gleeson – and the humour is pitched both at kids and adults.  It’s a little bit cheeky in places (it is rated PG), but nothing outright rude.  There are explosions, and yes, people trying to kill the cute bunnies, but my two highly sensitive kids, saw it for what it was – a funny plot device.  They weren’t scared one jot.

    Peter Rabbit is a great family film, two thumbs up.

  • Faith

    Movie Review: Mary Magdalene (2018)

    When you hear the name Jesus, many non-Christians – and heck, many Christians – conjure up an image a bit like this:

    Image credit

     

    We know from scripture that Jesus was kind and compassionate, and didn’t shoo noisy children away.  But the historical Jesus was also a troublesome rebel who went around saying seditious and (for the time) totally outrageous things, and was ultimately killed for it.

    This Jesus, not twee Jesus, is the Jesus we encounter in Mary Magdalene.  Told entirely from Mary’s perspective, we learn what Mary gave up to be a follower of Jesus, and the story shows some of Jesus’ ministry, his death, and resurrection.  Taking liberties with her background (we know nothing of Mary’s antecedents), Mary (played by Rooney Mara) lives in the small fishing settlement of Magdala, where she lives a simple life with her family.  As an unmarried woman, she is an object of curiosity and embarrassment for her family who are doing their best to marry her off.  Mary yearns for something more than the traditional role her culture demands, and becomes very distressed when told she must marry.  Her distress convinces the men in her village that she must be possessed by a demon, and they attempt to cast it out of her.

    Into this situation comes Jesus, and he SEES Mary, really sees her.  He speaks to her and his words bring her great comfort.  This in itself is extraordinary, if you know that in this culture and time, men were not permitted to even greet women in public.  Jesus has an extraordinary attitude to women – he never treats women as inferior, unclean or unworthy, unlike the patriarchal society in which he lives.  Not only did historical Jesus teach women, he had female disciples who travelled and served with him, and who were highly regarded by early Christians.

    Jesus (played by Joaquin Phoenix) describes a kingdom where peace and justice reign, a topsy-turvey world where the lowly are lifted up and an end to oppression.  Mary is so captivated by Jesus’ message that she gives up everything to follow him.  In becoming a disciple, Mary not only gives up her home, but she gives up her reputation and chance of marriage – for no man would ever be permitted to marry an unmarried woman who associates with men outside her family.  The Mary Magdalene of scripture is Jesus’ most prominent female disciple; she is always listed first in named groups of female disciples, and with ‘movie Mary’ they explore just how important she must have been to Jesus’ ministry in such a patriarchal society.

    I was very moved by this film.  Firstly, I’m stoked that Mary Magdalene has been so accurately portrayed.  She’s long been a subject of fascination and respect for me.   Thanks to Pope Gregory who wrongly identified Mary as the prostitute who washes Jesus feet with expensive perfume (and merges her further with yet another Mary) Mary has been wrongly associated with prostitution, seduction and sinfulness.  The dichotomy of the Virgin Mary vs the Penitent Whore served to oppress women for centuries – women were either expected to be good, dutiful wives and mothers, and those that weren’t were often considered mad or bad and in need of repenting.  Don’t get me started.  Scholars surmise Pope Gregory wanted to downplay the importance of women in the early church, because, you know, patriarchy.  There is absolutely no evidence that Mary was anything but a devoted disciple, who was so important, that she was the first person to see the resurrected Jesus.  To see the society in which Mary lived, and to understand the courage it must have taken for her to follow Jesus makes this film inspiring viewing.

    FYI, not Mary Magdalene
    (image credit)

    Secondly, it was great to see historical, rebel Jesus doing his stuff.  Giving poor and oppressed people hope, smashing the patriarchy, performing miracles, and to get a sense of how much the disciples were waiting for Jesus to smite the Romans, and usher in his new kingdom.  Thirdly, I thought their treatment of Judas was sensitive and thought-provoking, and it made me understand what may have motivated him to betray Jesus in a whole new light.

    Jesus and Judas
    (image credit)

    I do have my criticisms of the movie, however.  The actors playing Mary, Jesus, and Jesus’ mother are way too old, and white.  They play their parts well, but it still bugs me.  Joaquin Phoenix is 43, and looks every bit of it.  The actress playing his mother is positively geriatric for someone who should be in her 40s, given that many women were married by 14.  Blue eyes are everywhere.  There’s also lots of inexplicable lying down, and Jesus swoons rather a lot.  While I think Joaquin Phoenix does a good job as Jesus, he is let down by a script that offers a Jesus who smiles and gives compassionate looks, rather than life-changing teaching.  I found the depiction of the Last Supper and Jesus’ resurrection rather flat and disappointing.

    Despite its shortcomings, I  recommend seeing Mary Magdalene to learn more about this remarkable woman.  It is beautifully shot, with great attention to detail, and is reasonably faithful to scripture, although some liberties are taken.

     

    Lastly, I would like to say I’ve seen some Christians raging online, and telling people not see the movie because the movie-writers also used the Gnostic gospel of Mary to inform the movie.  Yes, there is something from the Gospel of Mary included in the movie, but hey, let’s think for ourselves, okay?

  • 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.