Mr. Giggles

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Mr Giggles.

This little giggly one is now near 6 months old.  He finds plenty of amusement in the silliest of things.  He’s curious and is constantly trying to work things out… like his jolly jumper.  I’ve caught him a few times looking up at the main spring and trying to wrap his mind around how he gets the bounce in it and nothing else.

He has a really enthusiastic deep hearty laugh, that I don’t think we will ever tire of hearing it… Some nights before bed I play videos and Mike and I relive the little victories we’ve had getting to this point.  He’s gotten so big.  He’s now over 20 pounds!

Garden Update:

We’ve been harvesting (and eating) loads of kale, spinach, rocket, watercress and multi-coloured frilly lettuce.  The little caterpillars are growing on our swan plants and just about everything we’ve planted has taken root and is growing really well (apart from our eggplant – can’t figure out what’s up with them!).

The sheep have grown just as quickly as Wesley…they are so plump now!

New Parents learning to budget.

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Since moving to New Zealand from Australia to raise our new family, we’ve been living on a small income as Mike is the only one who is currently working full-time.  I also work part-time from home for a marketing agency based in Perth but that being said, my hours are very minimal.

Neither of us have debt, nor do we use credit cards for any purchases so we are doing well in that regard.  We have savings however this could change very quickly if we’re not careful.

So, how do we manage?

First we sat down and really looked at what we could afford to spend each month on rent, food, baby necessities, internet, power, firewood, fuel and anything extra.  We were pretty stunned at how little we would have at the end of each month.

Mike suggested we only eat vegetable meals at home – and for the past four months we’ve been on a vegetarian diet.  I was really impressed when he made the suggestion to better our health and help the planet.  He was concerned because we’ve watched far too many documentaries to justify eating meat.  We will eat any meat that we have hunted or fished for, but that’s not happened yet!

We’re avid gardeners and recently collected some old pallets and put together some fairly cheap raised garden beds to grow our own vegetables.  The growing season is very long here in New Zealand and we’re pretty excited about the prospect of eating good home grown food year round.

We hardly ever eat out now, and can be found most weekends picking up fresh produce from the local farmers market.  Apart from getting some fried fish or the odd pizza we’re really turning into home cooks and this is a huge contrast from our time in Perth.

We’ve been super conscious of what Wesley actually needs and what is not crucial. He is only 5 months old now and becoming a very active little man.  We spend a lot of time physically playing and interacting with him.  I’ve been told as parents we’re the best toy he can interact and learn from and we have really taken this to heart.  I buy his clothing second hand and have been able to sell items that he no longer fits (on TradeMe) which is also handy!

Another way we save is by using re-washable diapers.  Most days we can get through a whole day with our reusables, and when we head out of the home we swap to disposables (which save us from any messes).

We bought a second hand car.  We’ve never owned a new one, and I oddly take great joy in this.  It’s not fancy by any means but it does drive well and it’s reliable.

For entertainment we have Netflix which is $8.99 per month, and we also rent books from the fantastic library here in Palmerston North.

Lastly, our home decor.  Whilst we’re only renting this property at the moment, it’s taken me some time to shape it into a space that we love.

We’ve made the space ours by investing in some quality furniture that should last us quite some time.  The styles we’ve gone for are pretty classic and simple.

The one way I’ve been able to contribute financially (even if it is modest) is by working part time as a copywriter from home.  I’ve been employed by the company since January, which was just prior to leaving Australia.  The company has been really flexible and I love being able to spend these important months with Wesley and also bring in some coin to help give us a little boost to our savings.

Some of the changes that we had to make revolved around my shopping habits…

Eeek!  I used to spend a bit of money almost monthly on clothing. I’m often still running around in my maternity clothes as they have a little more wiggle room. As the weight has been shedding I’m finding joy in wearing items that have eluded me for nearly a year.  It’s like reuniting with old friends.

Our weekend activities are pretty outdoorsy and generally cost nothing!  Walks in town, hiking in the hills or visiting family and sometimes fishing (this does require a license which was bought for the year).

We now savour the small moments (like enjoying a takeaway coffee or fish and chips on a Friday).  It’s been an eye opener in such a positive way.  We’re both really pleased that we’ve managed to get through our first year without dipping into our savings and are really looking forward to what the future holds for us here in New Zealand.

Have you ever had to live on a tight budget?  What were some coping strategies you used?  We’re always on the look out for better ways to save…we’d love to hear how you save money too.

Fern Walk, Pohangina Valley

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Yesterday, I spent two and a quarter hours hiking in the Pohangina Valley, on the search for some local native orchids.  While my flower search was fruitless, the hiking was quite stunning and peaceful.  The air was so refreshing, with no one else around it felt like I’d stepped back in time… I found myself imagining what it must have felt like for the original settlers of New Zealand to inhabit and clear this bush for settlement and farm land.

The emerald coloured fern, covered the forest floor and ancient Rimu and Totara trees towered above creating a dark dense walk.  If you’re in the area I highly recommend you check out this wonderful track.

Our darling Wesley.

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Wesley Peter Cresswell

Born: June 3rd 2016

We are so smitten with this little man.  Words cannot express the explosion in my chest when he looks at me, or when I see Mike holding him close.

I never really understood what motherhood could feel like – but wow…it’s powerful.

Those cheeks!!  That gorgeous red hair, curious blue eyes, the cute little sighs when he sleeps…ugh I’m totally in love.

We’re home now, after a week in the hospital.  The birth was kind of traumatic and perhaps I’ll write about it at some point here, but for the mean time I think I’ll leave it and talk to some professionals and see how to cope with the memories.  Despite it being difficult and scary – the joy and relief that Wesley is healthy and safe with us diminishes the fear.

His Papa Rick is here now all the way from Canada to meet him, and he’s met a large portion of the Cresswell family…including his great grandma Isabel, nannie Annie and grandad Brian.  We’ll be introducing him to more family soon!

He was 2 weeks past his estimated due date, and upon seeing him in the hospital – one of the midwives exclaimed he was big enough to be going to kindergarten.  He weighed 9lbs…which is massive.  The support we had in the hospital post surgeries was amazing.

The health care system in New Zealand is truly wonderful, and I am thankful we were here to bring Wesley into this world.  Over 20 midwives helped Mike and I care for Wesley and came each night to take him away for cuddles.  They each gave us tips and tricks for raising a new born – and I’ll forever be grateful for thier advice.  I’ve likened it to having about 20 mums on board to help us cope.  With this knowledge our transition home has been very smooth – and while I still have about 6 weeks to recover – I’m pleased at how we’re travelling so far.

xo

Holly, Mike and Wesley

Happy Healthy – Food & Fitness in Perth

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Yesterday I worked with new Perth business: Happy Healthy. Owner Jess is passionate about creating nutritious, organic food and helping inspire others through fitness.  She is kicking off the new year by following her dream full time, and will be providing fitness classes as well as expanding her already successful health snack business.

The location, energy and laughs were awesome, and really made capturing these moments very enjoyable.

After the shoot, Mike and I went to Fremantle, played some arcade games and feasted on some delicious Italian at the always popular Sandrino Cafe.  I had a spicy tomato, parmesan and garlic gnocchi and Mike enjoyed a fresh calamari salad with lemon and garlic aioli.

Tonight I’ll be headed out to the suburbs to get some snaps of a friends young son and daughter by the river.

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This is the only item we’ve bought for our little baby…  

Early in the day we had our latest ultrasound.  Where we learned the gender of our baby.  What was kind of hilarious (and concerning!) – Mike didn’t make it through the whole scan.  He was feeling very sick being in the hospital, and had to leave the room before he fainted.  This isn’t the first time… and it’s made me wonder how he’s going to manage when we’re actually delivery the baby?  It’s adorable, and concerning.

Do you squirm at hospitals or know someone whom also gets distressed like this?