“All the mamas who profit dollas…”

Throw your hands up at me… Haha, I can safely say that when I bring in money, it won’t be by being the next Beyonce.

Recently I’ve had to make the decision about whether I will return to my teaching job. It certainly hasn’t been an easy one. There’s a few factors that impact on the decision – financial, professional, social and emotional – and it took a couple of “evening summits” before we came up with a solution that we were happy with.

We’ve absolutely gnawed down our savings during the seven-odd months I’ve been on maternity leave, although thankfully we’ve managed to leave our investments untouched. Admittedly we’ve been a little bit cavalier with our spending given that we only have one income coming in; skyrocketing power bills, unexpected dental work and rent increases have been surprises we could have done without. On the other hand, having this time at home has been such a blessing. We know of others who simply haven’t been able to make it work and the reality is that we can, just not in the manner to which we had become accustomed. Papa M’s salary covers the basics and while we can’t save for our major goals of international travel and home purchases, we can afford to save for Christmas gifts and enjoy some entertainment. But how long to put those big financial goals on the back burner?

Professionally I already feel like I’m a little bit out of the loop – CJ and I went to visit my former workplace recently and it was bizarre to hear them talking about new policies and processes that have been introduced while I’ve been on leave. Despite teaching being a vocation as old as time, the curriculum and best practice is changing constantly and too much time out could leave me completely lost should I wish to return full-time. And I do enjoy teaching, despite the average pay and bureaucracy – it’s not something I want to close the door on completely. Yet I am enjoying having the time (albeit squished around naps and at night time) to explore my writing. Working full-time as a teacher and growing a person completely sapped me of my energy and creativity at the end of last year. I worry that working full-time and raising a child would do the same thing.

One of our coffee group mums is returning to work this week and I already feel like it is the end of an era. I like the “in the trenches” collegiality of our coffee group time. I love that CJ and I are getting out and exploring so many different parts of Auckland. I enjoy taking him to Wriggle & Rhyme and seeing how much he loves both the music and the other babies. It does make me wonder, though, that if he loves being around people so much whether he would be happier in some sort of day care. He certainly does put his grumpy pants on if we have a row of days where we stay at home. Socially, staying at home is great for me but I don’t know whether it’s great for him.

Emotionally, I’m all over the place. There are days where I am hideously jealous of Papa M for his baby-free commute where he can just enjoy the quiet and the mental space to think about whatever he likes. There are days where I think how blessed I am to have a little buddy to always hang out with. I like being able to focus on my home. I hate not earning “my half” of the salary. I miss my students. I don’t want to have a carer see all his firsts. Damn hormones – they do not make this decision easy.

So after much discussion and soul-searching, I’m extending my maternity leave from my full-time position for another year. We’ll be spending November finding an at-home carer for CJ and he’ll be having lots of lovely adventures with them while I work a couple of days a week as a substitute teacher. Working as a sub will mean that I get to keep my feet in the pool of education without the ridiculous amounts of after-hours paperwork. The occasional day where I have no CJ and no call-in for work will mean that I can write to my hearts’ content. And in the interests of keeping it real, the extra money isn’t going to hurt either. The decision to work or not to work is so deeply personal, but it’s a bit of a weight off my shoulders that this decision for us is now made.

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CJ and the search for the perfect high chair

For other Baby Show posts, click here

Purchasing a high chair was something that we had always put in the “we’ll do it later, we have time” box. With so many big baby purchases, it didn’t really seem like a priority – until it was. CJ started displaying all the signs of solid readiness a little early than expected and we were feeding him perched on our knees, quite the messy and awkward experience. We took the opportunity at the Auckland Baby Show to examine our favorite high chairs close up and ultimately came to the decision best for our family. Primarily we were looking for adjustable high chairs that could then be used as seats for CJ to join us at the family table. Below are the contenders and the ultimate winner for us. We would fully recommend any of the following high chairs, depending on your personal situation.

The Contenders

Mocka Original

Original Highchair

The Mocka Original highchair adjusts to provide a safe, comfortable, and sturdy first chair as your child grows.Holding up to 60kg in weight, your Mocka Original wooden highchair will be used by your children (and potentially slender adults!) for years to come. Adjustable tray settings, multiple seat and footrest heights and armrests allow the highchair to grow safely and comfortably with your child and a harness is available for purchase for an additional safety measure. The Mocka Original wooden highchair easily transforms into a height-suitable seat at the dining table once the high chair format is no longer required. Made from from sustainable beech-wood that has been PEFC certified,  the Mocka Original wooden highchair can’t tear, buckle, or warp. Its solid design meets international safety standards, and can be easily and hygienically wiped clean. The purchase price currently (Sept 2014) includes free nationwide delivery, free seat and back cushions, free safety strap and a 12-month warranty. Mocka also offer a 10-day 100% money back guarantee, no questions asked.

Mocka Designer

Mocka Designer

Gold medal winner for best high chair in the OhBaby! Magazine awards, this highchair is becoming increasingly popular in the restaurants that we frequent, quite possibly because it is incredibly easy to clean and sanitize. Made from moulded white plastic, the contemporary, modern and simplistic design fits well in most homes. The Mocka Designer is also easily transportable, as it has removable legs and tray so can be stowed easily. Purchase price includes feeding tray and black lap safety strap as well as free nationwide delivery. Cushions and additional harnessing for small babies are also available for purchase.

Stokke Tripp Trapp

Tripp TRapp.a

The Stokke Tripp Trapp had been on my radar for years, ever since my younger sister was recommended one by her pediatric specialist. Manufactured from cultivated beech but available in a wide range of colours, the Tripp Trapp is strong, solid and durable.The height and depth of the seat (and foot plate) is adjustable and grows with the child, adapting to the child’s body instead of vice versa. This means that the child can be elevated up to the correct height at the table and can be part of the dining experience. No fixed tray means that the child can come closer to the table. A wide range of accessories means that the chair is suitable from birth until 12 years of age – although I definitely know of occasions when adults have managed to commandeer it as a chair for the night! Registration at http://www.stokke.com entitles the owner to a 7-year Extended Warranty, providing a secure investment in a piece of furniture that will be a pivotal part of your home.

Kaylula Ava Forever

Kaylula

Australian-made and a newcomer to the NZ market, the Kaylula Ava Forever High Chair comes with and adjustable tray and adjustable seat and foot rest. The design will morph and grow with your child, with a maximum recommended weight of 45kg. Made from European beech wood, similar to the Tripp Trapp, the purchase price includes both a soft padded seat liner and a plastic protective tray for use with the removable wooden tray. A five point harness ensures your child is safe and secure in the seat.

Nuna Zaaz

Zaaz Citrus

The Nuna Zaaz is a relative newcomer to the market. We were first introduced to the Nuna brand when we purchased the Nuna Sena portacot and have enjoyed the ease of use in assembly of this item. We were very interested to see the capabilities of the Zaaz. Similar to the Tripp Trapp, you are able to customize the Zaaz to any size and height easily, letting your child join in at the dining table. The five point harness keeps baby safe, switching to three point harness (and then no harness) as your child grows. The chair has air foam cushions that are easy to clean – the no-crevice design outwits crumbs and makes cleaning a dream, ideal for busy households. You can also use the dishwasher for all removable components, saving time on clean up.

The Winner

Bloom Fresco Chrome

Bloom

The seat has 3 recline positions; fully lie-flat newborn cradle, semi recline & upright seat. These are easily transitioned to using a light touch pull handle. The chair has a removable sculpted booster seat for use with smaller infants (like CJ), engineered to direct spills away from seat unit.  The chair also has 360-degree swivel and pneumatic up/down height adjustment allowing for tray heights up to 91cm. This was the key factor for us in choosing this chair as our current place is too small to allow for comfortable use of a dining table. The increased height of this chair over other high chairs means that we can all happily sit up to our breakfast bar to eat meals as a family. We can lower the height in future if we move into a home where there is more space for communal eating around a table. There is the option to use with the super-size tray (ideal for baby-led weaning), smaller “play tray” or with the aluminum safety bar – trays are made from food grade plastic and are dishwasher safe. The seat and seat pads are easy to wipe clean and there are no crevices in which food can get stuck. The removable harness straps and footrest allow conversion to a play seat for kids up to 36kg and if CJ is anything like his parents, that means it will last him until he’s at least a tween. It also had the CJ seal of approval at the Baby Show, immediately stopping our grizzly Gus as he sat high in his throne and surveyed his kingdom.

HighchairWinner

There’s such a diverse range of high chairs out there and to cover them all in this post would take time that this mum just doesn’t have! I hope that this helps those of you in the market for a high chair to ultimately make a decision that feels right for you. Knowing about some of the nifty newborn accessories – especially for the Tripp Trapp and the Bloom Fresco – makes me wish that I’d known about these earlier; we could have had six months more use out of the chairs!

Thanks to Dimples, Mocka & MumMum for their support in creating this blog post.

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Currently: The September Edition

Liking the community that I’ve found recently with both #nzbloggers and #bloggersbrunchclub – so great to have a hive of minds and great conversation

Eating tuna – let’s face it, I’m not a huge fan of the tinned stuff after tasting the amazing just-caught stuff in Samoa. Due to a couple of tight weeks, however, our food budget was teeny and the Sealord Tuna-Stirthrus were a life-saver!

Celebrating engagements and 30th birthdays in abundance! I love having happy occasions to share with friends

Feeling positive about the plans that we’ve made for next year – I’m heading back two days a week relief (supply, substitute) teaching and CJ will be attending an at-home day care. I think this is going to allow me the flexibility that I need to be creative and to feel present in CJ’s life while still allowing me to earn significant income

Trying to be more physically active – it can be very hard when the weather is cruddy and I don’t want to take CJ out so I’m trying to make the most of ways to be active indoors and to get the most out of our sunny days

Longing for a spring getaway – still working on getting this sorted. Hopefully we will work something out soon!

Debating when and how to stop breast-feeding CJ. If you have followed the saga, you’ll know that it really isn’t something that comes easy to us but I know that it has good benefits. I have questionable supply sometimes and I’ll be away for four days when he’s 11 months old so we need to transition off breastfeeding by then. Tentatively, I’m planning to drop the “dinner” feed at the end of October (when he’ll start having dinner before milk) and wrap up completely by Christmas if I don’t dry up before then. It makes me feel like a crummy mother but I have to remember how hard I’ve tried and that it’s great that we’ve made it as far as we have

Missing my mum. A couple of things have happened recently that have just made me feel the loss of her presence once more. I don’t think it’s something that will ever go away – there will be easier and harder times as the years go on

Wishing that I had the self-control not to look at property listings. There’s just no way that we can stretch the budget to safely buy a home on one income but it doesn’t stop me falling in love with properties and sections

Watching CJ try so damn hard to crawl. He always looks so happy when he manages to get his tummy off the ground. I think actual crawling is still a decent chunk of time away

Writing a couple of guest posts – so excited to start ticking this off the list

Loving that sharing my goals for the next six months has started to make things happen – just goes to show, that if you put it out there, it’ll find you!

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Things I never want to forget…

At my mixed age coffee group this morning, it was crazy to see how fast kids are growing! Sitting, crawling, standing, walking – they’re turning into toddlers before our very eyes. I can’t wait for CJ to be able to crawl and stand and walk; he loves being out and about and seeing different things and being mobile will open up that world for him. All the same, it made me appreciate the awesome things about the stage that we’re in right now.

Slide Time

  • I love the way he tries to get your attention. I was out at a cafe with a friend and had him sitting on the couch beside me. Whenever he thought that I’d forgotten about him I would get a little tug on my sleeve. He’ll do it to his little friends too, if they’re within reach. No one is forgetting about you, darling!
  • I love how he mimics both Papa M and I. I wiped his face and high chair tray with a cloth the other morning and left it on the tray. I was rinsing the plates out in the sink and I turn to see CJ wiping down the tray with the cloth. He wants so desperately to be a big boy, that one.
  • He is such a flirt. Whenever he meets a new person, he takes about ten seconds to suss out that they are “good” and then is full of the biggest smiles for them. If they’re ladies, he likes to snuggle in and play with their hair and if they’re men he can just sit there and listen to them talk for hours. Such an extroverted wee mite; no idea where he gets it from.
  • He has “company manners” – he can be a little toad at home for no apparent reason, throwing a fit that I might have just left the room to go put something away. In public, however, he is very unlikely to have an epic meltdown… unless of course I am not feeding him fast enough. Then all bets are off. Cracks me up! I hope this is one habit he continues to hold onto.
  • Speaking of habits, he is definitely a creature of them. We went through a stage where he was a bit scared of elevators, when he was old enough to work out what was going on around him but scared of the noises. To stop him stressing too much, I’d say “Wheeeeee!” as the elevator started moving. Last week at Botany Town Centre I was distracted as we hopped in the elevator and forgot to say it. I soon snapped back to reality when I heard a little “Wheeee” coming from the stroller!
  • I love the way he is absolutely monstering his food at the moment. He’ll grab the spoon or bowl if he doesn’t think you are moving fast enough and just today managed to eat more than his fair share of our banana. Yet he won’t drink water unless it’s out of mummy’s bottle – what a cheeky guy!

It sounds dreadfully cliche but I honestly do feel blessed to have this wee character in my life. All the hard parts are forgotten by the moments of joy he brings; babies are so well-designed like that. I can’t wait to see what unforgettable moments the next few months will bring!

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Mama M Tries: Hoyts Mums & Bubs session

Mama M Tries is a collection of posts in which I (or we) try new things! Click here to see other posts in the series and here to suggest something we should try.

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The Mums & Bubs sessions at the movies have been on my radar for quite a while now; with other mums I know venturing out and watching films with their little ones. I was a bit hesitant – CJ is an incredibly active wee cookie and I didn’t know how he would cope with being in one room for two hours. I love myself a good movie, however, and was a bit sad to have missed out on a few I really wanted to see (like Divergent) earlier this year. On Sunday we were at a baby-shower for three hours and CJ coped with being in the same place for three hours with only a couple of minor meltdowns and I started to think there was a possibility this would work.

The Hoyts website advertises the Mums & Bubs sessions as “a unique child-friendly cinema environment. Films are specially selected (G/PG/M), cinema lights are kept dimmed for feeding, sound levels are closely monitored. And if baby starts crying during the movie – it’s ok!”. It sounded all good! Tying it in with an errand that needed to be done in the Botany Downs area seemed perfect – at only $9 a ticket it was WAY cheaper than shopping and not a huge investment if it all turned pear-shaped and we had to leave.

Leaving home before morning nap, I let CJ sleep in the car. This was a bit of a sneaky move on my part, knowing that if he has a short morning sleep he’ll often have a little “lap nap” while we’re out and about. We arrived about 30 minutes before the movie, true to my usual movie attending type A form. The cinema definitely wasn’t packed but it let CJ get a little acclimatized to the environment so I think it was a good move, at least this time. It also gave me the chance to do a loo stop in advance – not so easy to nip out to the bathroom for a bit with a baby. Hot tip? The female toilets past the ticket checkers have a change table, just in case your little buddy is not as courteous.

The previews were slightly louder than expected and I kept CJ turned towards me during the preview for Dracula Untold (but it looks interesting) – bear this in mind if your wee one is a little bit sensitive. The movie for the week was If I Stay, which I hadn’t actually heard much about but actually quite enjoyed. It was a great opportunity to see one of the girlier flicks that Papa M isn’t so keen on. We got a seat that enabled us to have the stroller right next to us but CJ also loved the opportunity to explore sitting in one of the big people seats!

Hoyts2

How did he go? Pretty awesome! He had a bottle, watched a bit of the film, played with his toys and then when he was a bit scratchy I hauled him onto my knees for a “lap nap”. Thanks to the dimmed lighting he actually slept for an entire hour, waking for the last fifteen minutes of the movie. It was a throughly enjoyable experience for me too, giving me back some of that pre-mum normalcy that we can sometimes miss.

Verdict? Loved it, would recommend and will definitely attend again. I think it will be a semi-regular outing for us until CJ finds his feet and can’t be contained in one spot for too long. Check out whether your local cinema runs Mums & Bubs sessions for a great time out where it truly doesn’t matter if your baby cries.

Happy Half-birthday: 30 before 30

Half-birthday

Today marks my half-birthday and the six month countdown to the big 30! While my goal for this year has been simplicity, I don’t want to mistake this for complacency – there’s still room to grow! So here is my list of 30 things I’d like to do before 30:

  1. Work a polling booth for Election Day – this goal has already required some preplanning (applying for and accepting position) but I’m pleased to tick it off my nerdy bucket list
  2. Wean CJ out of a swaddle – I know, funny goal, but it seems like a mountain of a challenge at the moment!
  3. Guest-post on 10 different blogs.
  4. Find two new networking groups.
  5. Give cloth diapering a good try – summer will probably be ideal for this given it will increase our washing load!
  6. Support NZ businesses (where possible) for upcoming gift occasions
  7. Declutter and sell a whole bunch of items – our house is very little and a lot of stuff lives in the garage that we never use. Flick it on, I say!
  8. Plan a family tropical holiday for August 2015 (we’re thinking Rarotonga!)
  9. Meet with a mortgage broker – we keep putting this off but we really need to find out where we need to be so that we have a goal to work towards
  10. Find an AWESOME at-home child care person for CJ to start with in February next year (eeee!)
  11. Get our wills sorted – how boring and adult, but necessary
  12. Take a dance class – not fussed as to what, just need to get my body moving
  13. Find six new recipes to add to the usual menu of meals in this house
  14. Find a swim outfit that makes me feel confident at the pool/beach/wherever. I don’t need to have a son growing up with a mum constantly trying to hide her body
  15. On this note – get to the beach this summer! I was so sore and whale-like last summer, I did not enjoy myself at all. I want a real summer this time, with my big and little adventure buddies.
  16. Own a pair of Toms
  17. Get a proper pair of cross-trainers after getting a stride analysis.
  18. Eat waffles at Ben Gusto Howick
  19. Eat everything (haha) at Masu
  20. Take Papa M to Tanuki’s Cave 
  21. Have Giapo ice-cream again – it’s been FAR too long
  22. Take CJ to the zoo for the first time
  23. Have a family day-trip to Waiheke Island
  24. Get down to my wedding weight – this is still a good 15 kg above my goal weight but a realistic goal in the next six months.
  25. Have a 24-hour girlie getaway as a trial run before my trip to Perth – more a trial run for Papa M
  26. Have family portrait taken in the weeks leading up to CJ’s first birthday
  27. Finish writing my novel and grow the metaphorical testes to try and get it published
  28. Try a flotation tank – hoping to lock this in during my Perth trip
  29. Throw a kick-ass first birthday for CJ
  30. Book a delicious weekend getaway at The Langham for my 30th!

I look forward to updating this over the next six months – will I be able to do it all?

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Loving It: Our Baby Show Haul

For other Baby Show posts, click here

Last year we attended the Auckland Baby Show as relatively newbies to the parenting game. We literally announced that morning (to Facebook at least) that we were expecting; just as well we did as we saw people we knew there and might have been hard-pushed to convince them it was purely a “research trip”! We spent a leisurely few hours strolling the show and spending up large, pausing every once in a while to drink and rest at one of the handy rest-areas. Very clever having free water coolers actually, I was SO thirsty when pregnant and get dehydrated so easily while I’m still feeding. Anyway, clearly this year was going to be a little different. We were constrained this year by the fact that we are now a one-income income family and the fact that we have the little dude, but it was handy to use the show itinerary planner tool offered on the Baby Show website to plan out our “must-sees”. It meant we got to every stand we needed to visit, but we got to take in some fabulous unexpected surprises along the way.

We did buy some big-ticket items that are in the delivery process and we’ll show those on the blog or the Facebook page in due course. Here are some purchases (and freebies, that anyone at the show could get) that make up part of our haul:

Freebies and GWPs at BabyShow

Upon arrival, everyone was able to get a little freebie bag of Huggies nappies and wipes. Huggies is a major sponsor of our national baby health service Plunket and was also one of the major partners of the show. Always handy to have these little sealed packs to throw in the car for emergencies.

Other freebies we picked up were:

The goodie bag to end ALL goodie bags at the show, however, was the The Warehouse Seminar Room goodie bag. We arrived just before the seminar started to see the helpful staff placing bags on each chair. After our seminar (and CJ’s bounce time in the activity centre down the back), we took our bag but didn’t actually get a chance to look in it until we got home. They really outdid themselves!

BabyShowHaul1

In the bag:

  • Two samples of Palmers Lotion for Stretch Marks
  • Blue & Pink 3-packs of wooly socks (can’t decide whether to give the pink away or just have CJ wear them around home!)
  • Medium, Large & Extra-Large 2-packs of Babywise Nappy Pants
  • Babywise Baby Wipes
  • My personal favorite: The Nuby Hot Safe Spoon – BPA free and changes color when the food temperature gets too hot!

Very generous, considering that you need do nothing more than listen to the helpful advice of the seminar hosts – our particular seminar was run by John of The Parenting Place and focused on how to survive and thrive as a parent.

Finally, here’s (most) of our little purchases. Some of the more “grocery”-type items are already in use!

BabyShowHaul2

  • Mumi & Bubi Solid Starter Kit: While I don’t make all of CJ’s food, I find that freezing portions of store-bought food enables us to reduce food wastage. Now Papa M can have his ice trays back and I can actually store the cubes in the trays!
  • Brontosaurus Anamalz: My little dino-lover chose this one himself, a boy after his own mum’s heart. Plus I think he just likes to stick the brontosaurus head in his mouth
  • Xma-Ease by Mum’s Secret: CJ currently gets heat-related eczema and this is a wonderful natural product to use on him. I’ve recently had a random patch of dermatitis pop up and it works wonders on me too
  • Seven-pack of Only Organic baby food: This is our current go-to range for store-bought food, CJ loves the wide range of flavors.

I have to reiterate that this was only a tiny portion of what was available at the show, and the stuff that was most relevant to us. You can check out who exhibited this year on their website, and follow the Baby Show (NZ) on Facebook or Twitter in order to be in the know for next year.

If you went this year, I’d love to know some of what you got in your haul!

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Wishful Thinking: Springtime Getaway

New Zealand Destinations

Papa M and I like to travel – in fact, prior to CJ coming along we did it A LOT. We had big trips to both Melbourne and Samoa, but also made the most of long weekends and cheap domestic airfares, having local holidays. I think that’s one of the benefits of living in a small country like New Zealand – it’s not too far to reach most places in NZ, whether it is by plane, boat, train or car. New Zealanders may be able to pick some of our destinations from the pictures above!

Some of our favorite destinations have been:

Christchurch: True story; Papa M had never flown before following me on an already-planned vacation to Christchurch in 2009. We had a fantastic four days before he had to fly back to work. We followed that up with a trip the following year, tackling a bit more of the South Island by journeying up to Hanmer Springs and down to Lake Tekapo. I’ve been back on a flying visit post-earthquake but Papa M hasn’t and I think it will be at least the end of 2015 before there will be a possibility of us going again. Christchurch is doing an amazing job of rebuilding and it will be interesting to see how it develops.

The Coromandel: Widely renowned as one of THE summer destinations in New Zealand, it’s also not too shabby as an off-peak choice. We’ve stayed in almost every major town (not Pauanui… yet) and we really love it there. We quite often play the “When we win the lottery, we’ll buy a holiday home here” game, although we hum and ha about whether it would be at Cooks’ Beach or Whangamata.

Wellington: New Zealand’s capital city. We took the Overlander train down which worked out fantastically; we did all our winding down on the train and hit the streets in Wellington raring to go. We indulged our inner nerds with museum visits and a tour of Parliament. We also had the opportunity to meet up with some great people and eat some fantastic food – Wellington has a very vibrant food scene.

Seriously, the list could go on and on with something amazing to share about each place. Each destination we visit holds a special home in our hearts. Five and a half years together means so many trips and so many fabulous memories. But here’s the kicker – we haven’t been away in almost a year! Our baby-moon last October (Whitianga that time) was the last time that we managed to go away. No wonder we’ve both been longing for a change of scenery. We moved house and had a baby and Papa M’s work has been really crazy and somehow we have a six-month-old with a portacot that is yet to be used outside of the house! How did this happen?

Despite dentist bills and car services, we definitely want to move this from the “Wishful Thinking” to the “Making Plans” column and we’re starting to figure out how we can make this work. We definitely need to get CJ used to being an adventure-seeker like his mum and dad!

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Did you guess, Kiwis? R to L, Top to Bottom: Wellington, Mt Maunganui, Paihia, Lake Tekapo, Cape Reinga, Whangamata, Hot Water Beach, Christchurch, Rotorua.

Out & About: Auckland Botanic Gardens, Manurewa

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While the weather can be frightful at this time of year, we do have some stellar winter days. Cabin fever can so quickly set in when you are a parent to little ones and it feels great to get out in the air and sunshine! We have a few good walks around our local area and we’re very lucky to live in a small town that abides by the “old-school” manners that we were raised with as kids – I know, I know, I’m turning thirty, not eighty! Still, sometimes it can be nice to go further afield and one of our favorites is The Auckland Botanic Gardens. The on-site cafe Cafe Miko can get very busy during peak hours, so bear that in mind if you have hungry little people or if you are in desperate need of caffeine!

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There are two major bathroom facilities at the Gardens, one in the main foyer and a secondary facility in the cottage building over by the Rose Garden. The foyer has a parent room with unisex bathroom, fold-out change table and a feeding seat. The unfortunate thing about this set up is that there is absolutely no privacy between the change table and the seat. The property management may be laboring under the misconception that only women change diapers – certainly not the case with us. On one occasion the carpark was packed and I dropped Papa M and CJ in front of the building while I used my knowledge of the side streets to find a better park. Papa M had to deal with a rather suspicious smelling nappy in my absence and a woman actually waited for him to finish the nappy change before feeding in the seat. Not ideal. There is no indoor feeding area in the Rose Garden facility and there is only a nappy change table in the women’s bathrooms.

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Don’t let this put you off – just plan accordingly. The Auckland Botanic Gardens have amazing opportunities for fun and education. I have very early memories of feeding the ducks (a bit of a no-no now) at the jetty there but they are only one of the great attractions there. One of the most kiddy-friendly areas is The Potter Children’s Garden. There are a range of activities in here, suiting infants right through to school age. There are paths that take you through the tree canopies, through mazes and down little tracks. There’s a human-sized sun dial. There is a giant egg-shell that sees many a cute photo opportunity – I’m waiting until CJ grows a little more for that one! The area has also recently been extended to create gardens representative of different climatic and geographic conditions – my favorites being the jungle (that periodically mists as you walk through) and the meadow. Plenty of learning opportunities and the perfect safe place to let your active little ones expend that energy.

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Kids are never too young to learn about sustainable gardening and the origins of their food. Tucked away in a sheltered corner by the  main foyer is the edible garden section, with two courtyard gardens as well as raised beds and a teeny orchard section. This would be great for those families whose current living situations don’t allow them to grow their own produce. It can also open up conversations about some of the plants in there – that as well as looking pretty, you can eat nasturtiums. I’m definitely looking forward to having those conversations with CJ as he grows older. There are also a number of themed gardens that can expose your child to many different plants and eco-systems, bush walks, an off-leash dog area and a sculpture exhibition every summer.

Our active little bean is going to need lots of outdoor time as he grows and the Auckland Botanic Gardens will continue to be a place that we visit as we raise the next generation of Ms. While a few minor tweaks (change tables in bathrooms of both genders, more breastfeeding privacy, faster service in the cafe) would make it a stellar destination, it is still well worth the journey.

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Out & About: The Baby Show, Auckland

Enjoy our series, Out & About, focusing on accessibility and suitability of various public places in Auckland for babies and small children.

Well, obviously the Baby Show is going to be an ideal place to take children – that’s a given! I know, however, that a few of our readers out there have been a little on-the-fence about attending and so the M household headed along today to check it out and report back.

Parent Room at Auckland Baby Show

Plunket and Huggies have worked together to create a very decent family room. There are change tables a-plenty with hand sanitizer at each station and discreet holes through which to dispose of your dirty diapers. There’s lovely comfortable couches (not pictured to protect privacy of breastfeeding mothers) and microwaves available to heat food and beverages. Plunket nurses are also available to advise on breast-feeding and child wellness issues.

Lego/Duplo Brick Pit at the Auckland Baby Show

Older children might love getting balloons and a cuddle and a photo with the big blue Plunket bear – we figured CJ was bug-eyed enough already and gave it a miss. I definitely think that Papa M is hoping to head back in following years to play (with CJ, ahem) in the Lego/Duplo brick pit. The helpers there were so lovely and we got a little starter kit of Duplo bricks! CJ also got to cuddle into a ginormous toy tiger at the Auckland Zoo stand and I’m a bit gutted that we didn’t get the opportunity to go back and take them up on their special offer of two months extra on an annual pass!

Baby cuddling up to large tiger toy

Clothing & accessory companies Dimples, Mum 2 Mum, The Sleep Store and Tiny Turtles all have absolutely amazing show specials on clothing and sleepwear. Nappies Direct have an exceptionally good deal on diapers and wipes that is also available to those who are unable to make the show. There was a veritable traffic jam around Ecostore (check out why with their show specials here) and an absolute stroller snarl-up around Only Organics. CJ got to trial their Pear, Purple Carrot, Blueberry and Quinoa flavour and it was like all his Christmases had come at once! They have great show specials too.

Baby in exersaucer

With so much going on, we detoured into the seminar room (sponsored by The Warehouse) to grab a seat. CJ was delighted to see that they had an exersaucer free for him to play in – our active boy loves to bounce around and be free! Papa M and I got to listen to a seminar on “Surviving and Thriving as a Parent” by John Cowan of the Parenting Place. It was great to have an opportunity to just sit and listen, and the supplied goodie bags for each seminar attendee are insanely good value.

There are SO many different exhibitors that it would be impossible to create a blog post that did justice to every single one. In the next week or so, we’ll be bringing you a couple of posts that dive more into depth about what we bought, but in the meantime (and if you are still on the fence – but why would you be?) you can check out individual exhibitors and their show specials on the Baby Show website. While there are a whole load of beloved and renowned New Zealand brands there, there’s also a few hidden gems there that we’d love to bring to your attention:

Love Loops

Love Loops: a New Zealand owned-and-operated company that creates beautiful jewelry to represent the special people and events in your life. I love that you can add loops for additional family members; I’d get one loop engraved with my husband and I and our wedding date, one that had CJ’s name and date of birth and leave room for one more… eventually. The hard part would be choosing what style to purchase – there are so many! Silver, gold; there’s even cufflink options for dads and charm bracelet options for those who prefer their hearts on their wrists! They’re currently running a show special of 15% off which you can also find on their Facebook page if you are unable to attend.

Mum’s Secret: Another little Kiwi gem, we’re big fans in this house of both the Mum’s Secret Soothe & Repair cream and the XmaEase cream; CJ gets a little heat-related eczema and Mum’s Secret is perfect for that summer chafing that us ample-thighed women can get. They have massive discounts across the entire range and is definitely worth a visit.

Pixie Party Supplies

Pixie Party Supplies: OK, CJ is only six months and I’m already avidly planning his first birthday party! Pixie Party Supplies have a huge range of party supplies and their stall is super-colourful – truly something for every little lad and lass here and their website has a whole range of decorating supplies for grown-up occasions too!

Paul And Stella bottles: We’re blessed (although sometimes we wonder!) with a particularly hungry boy who isn’t fussy about food as long as it is in his mouth. I know many mums who aren’t as lucky, with babies that will only take warm bottles; not always easy when you are out and about. The Paul & Stella bottles have a reusable heating module that has no electricity or batteries (it’s powered by the reaction of a food-grade salt) – just click and go and the bottle is at body temperature in a few minutes, staying within the ideal drinking temperature for more than an hour!

Kiinde System

Kiinde Twist & Foodi Systems: I’d seen this on an Australian parenting blog and was keen to see it in person. It’s an innovative system that allows you to directly pump (using an adaptor with your current breast pump) into breast milk storage bags, store in a lay-flat system in the freezer then warm and feed all from the same bag – no bottles required! The team here were kind enough to offer me a few odds and ends to try out for myself, so watch out for a Mama M Tries post soon! They also are selling the PumpEase hands-free pumping bra and I think that the combo of these two would be amazing for mums heading back to work who are still wanting to feed their infants breast milk!

LouLaMere: I don’t know about you all, but the transition from worker to stay-at-home-mum was huge! Half the time (OK, most…) you have no idea what you are doing and what works for other mums won’t necessarily work in your situation. For example, your partner can’t take baby for a walk while you make dinner if they doesn’t arrive home until late, work shift-work or their work takes them away for days at a time. Likewise, the transition back to employment can be equally daunting. LouLaMere works with mothers to transition back into the work force with as little stress as possible. They recognize that many of us want to be both successful mums and fulfilled in the work we do and work with each individual to craft a plan that works best for them. They can help identify which child-care option is best for you, suggest products that might assist you in transition and literally provide you with a manual of top tips to help you out. They’re also in the process of creating a mentor programme – there really is nothing like it that I’ve seen. So worth checking out if you are thinking of returning to work.

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Anamalz: Absolutely adorable animal toys made out of eco materials and soft plushy fabric. Papa M and I love wooden toys and CJ was absolutely taken by them too! He’d been such a tough little cookie, making it through the show with minimal fuss while cutting his very first tooth and so we let him choose his very own. He chose the brontosaurus – just like me when I was growing up! He loves the smoothness of the wood and the fuzzy flexible neck and tail. They have almost every animal you can think of and are continuously adding to the range. I can see us getting quite a few more over the years!

If you are a parent of little ones or a parent-to-be, I definitely recommend checking the Baby Show out – you will not be sad you went. The team have made every effort to make such a massive expo as comfortable as possible (with little rest and water areas as well!) and everyone is positively charming!