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Last week, I took the kids to the Waitahinga Trails. This was about 45 minutes north of Whanganui. It was quite the drive, but I needed to pick something up from Whanganui anyway, so thought I’d find somewhere neat to explore in the area. There were a lot of tracks here, but I decided to do the Chicken Run track because it had a nice spot to stop for a picnic lunch and two lookouts of the mountains. It was a loop track whith was a bonus too.

One thing I was surprised by on this track was the difference in the way the trees looked. You truly did need to pay attention to the blue triangles posted along the way because if you lost site of them, it would be quite easy to lose your way and get lost. The track itself didn’t look that much different to the rest of the bush in many places.

Boy did well, carrying his water and some spare clothes. At the end of our walk, Boy dropped off the painted rock that he found on our last hike. He left it with hopes another little boy would find it like he did. I carried Girl, our lunch and more water. The track was a gentle uphill until half way, then down hill on the way back. We were able to see both mountains and the lookouts. Mt. Ruapehu was the most impressive. Mt Taranaki was a little bit hard to see, perhaps because it was not covered in snow.

When we were about to leave the first lookout, a friendly lady showed up and was able to take our picture. I would like to come back sometime and check out the other trails in this area. The walk took us about 2.5 hours.

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We bought the hiking pack that Girl sits in a month or so ago and used it on our last big hike as well as this one. It’s been really handy being able to carry a little bit more of the essentials because we can go farther, safer. However, I don’t think my back has liked the way the weight has been dispersed on my body with Girl up so high in the back. It’s taken a while to find my normal again after these hikes and I will be selling the pack on to someone else.

I’m a bit dissapointed but I think it will be better to wait until Girl is another 6 months to a year older and walking better on her own to do any longer hikes. I can always take her in my other baby carrier which I have no trouble with and do shorter walks, and I can also push her in the pram (stroller), on flatter, or paved tracks. This will not stop us, just change some of the things we do for a while.

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Besides scheduling to take the kids swimming every other week, I’ve also decided to plan on going on a long walk every other Monday. I’ve found that when I have back pain it is usually remedied by movement. This is a great motivator in addition to wanting the kids to really feel at home in the outdoors. We have been very pleased to discover that Darren can now go on walks again with his new trecking poles. Without them his back hurts too much, but with them, he can go and go! We are so excited to get out and explore New Zealand! New Zealand bush is sprinkled with huts all over the ranges, and mountains, in both North and South Islands.

This past Monday I took the kids to the Rangiwahia Hut Track. We didn’t go all the way to the hut, but we did make it to the famous bridge. With Girl on my back and Boy’s hand in mine, we trecked up and up and up until finally found the bridge. It took us about 1.5 hours. On the way back I was reminded that I should have brought some rain gear. It began to downpour. Boy hates getting water in his face and eyes so he was a little bit upset and I had to carry him as well as Girl back to the car. Girl didn’t mind the rain at all and barely made a peep the whole way back. Our return time was only 1 hour and we made it very thankfully and very drenched. The next day I went out and bought some of those plastic rain ponchos to always have with us, and Darren and I had a talk about the nessecities of what I should have when I go into the bush. We had a good time, but our next times will be better planned for.

Stay tuned as I would like to make a post about each track we do. The plants in the gallery are the Makamako or Wineberry Tree, and Wild Mint! both are edible and apparantly natural remedies for certain ailments.

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My mum came to visit us for the month of November. One thing she helped me to do was to look into some of the things for mums and children to do around our area. My favourite thing I discovered was the pool. Our pool lets parents in for free twice a week when they bring their preschoolers. Each preschooler costs $2.50. We went together in the second week my mum was here and we had a really nice time. I’ve decided to make it a scheduled thing that I do every other Wednesday. Boy hasn’t had much experience in the water and I want him to overcome his timidity around the water. Girl is really eager to explore and have fun though as she is younger. We went back last week and I know it’s going to be a great tradition. Boy is branching out already and is testing himself. He choked down a mouth or two of water today but he recovered in a flash and was ready for more. Our first time he was afraid to get in and today he was walking in the middle of the pool with water up to his chin. Here are some photos from our first trip together.

There are some parallels between learning to swim and learning to be a Christian. You aren’t just learning to swim, you are also learning to trust your teacher. When we become a Christian, we aren’t just learning how to be like Jesus. We are also learing to trust Jesus. He may allow us to stumble a bit and to choke on some water. But, he’s not going to let us drown. If we stay with Him, he will buffer our falls and give us a hand to lean on and will even hold us until we grow the confidence to swim. With swimming, I expect my son and daughter to eventually graduate from my lessons and to be able to swim on their own without me there, but in our Christian walk, there are always new lessons to learn. Our growing trust in Jesus is just as important as our growing abilities. Trust is what allows us the freedom to live without worry or fear, but instead with joy and peace in all circumstances, even in those we don’t enjoy.

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It was bittersweet. Moving out of the bus we had been in for a year and half. That bus had become home. Beautiful memories were made there. Life lessons were obtained. We were finally moving into ‘our’ bus, the one we had spent so much time and energy building from scratch. I was at least a little bit sad. Darren said to me, ‘I know, but soon the new bus will feel like that.’ And I knew he was right.

Our old bus

We moved in with the help of Jessica, my highschool friend that came to visit us for a month. We traveled together and had a lovely time; it was sad to see her go home. (You can see more of her blog and pictures from our trip on the links in my last few posts). When we got back to the farm where we park most of the time, it took a little while to feel really settled. Quite a lot of stuff was still in the other bus.

‘What are we going to do with all this stuff?’ I asked?’ Since, along this journey we had given away, sold and cleared so much unneeded clutter already, so that we could fit into the other, larger bus. ‘How do we still have so much?’ I asked. Then I suggested that we get a little shed or something to store the things we don’t use all the time. Darren said, ‘No, I don’t think we should. I feel impressed that we need to fit in our new bus. We need to feel comfortable driving away from here and not coming back for whatever is left.’

It’s been a bit of a struggle. More than just the things we need to fit for functionality and comfort, are things we’ve been holding onto for nostalgic reasons. Things we are afraid to let go of. Are these things wrong to keep? Absolutely not, but we’ve been feeling through this journey, that God has been trying to communicate with us something deep. ‘I think He’s trying to tell us to just let it go, and to lean more fully on Him’, Darren said the other day. And I believe he’s right.

My brain has been ruminating on these things for the last few weeks. I’m feeling positive about the changes happening inside of me. This move has been another level of minimising, that I didn’t know was possible. And I believe it is freeing, if you are able to accept that, not letting it make you resentful. You can let things go physically, but letting go emotionally is more important.

Some things we’ve realized in the last few weeks are:

1. 95% of tasks can be done with minimal tools. The other 5% needs specialised equipment but is largely unnecessary and if it is a must, it can be borrowed, or rented. For example, I don’t need a waffle iron. I can live quite happily without waffles, and if I must have a waffle, I can borrow a waffle iron for a weekend.

2. If you have less space, you save money. I go to the shops and see all these cute and lovely things that I want until I think, ‘where will I put it?’ I leave with my money still in my pocket and then I realize I didn’t need the stuff anyway.

3. Less means more peace and freedom. If you are not attached to things you can get up and leave any time you want without worrying about your belongings. If someone is in need, you can freely give what you have. Less stuff means less time trying to keep it organized (which actually is very time consuming). If you have less, you can spend more time doing what you love instead of working to pay for your standard of living.

4. Less stuff and less space means you have to give up the way you do things too. It’s a call to embrace gratitude and to be content. That is one of the most worthwhile attitude I think you can have. It’s worth more than all the things you give up.

5. People have stuff and keep wanting more stuff because it’s a distraction from the things that really matter.

6. Everything we have truly is disposable. That is what I am being pressed to acknowledge. Things will wear out eventually. If I were to lose everything in a fire, it would all be replaceable. Even our very lives! We are here for a moment in time, the only thing really special about being you is how you can add to another persons life, and how you can be sure your heart is in the right place. If you can’t do that, what purpose is your life? It could be gone in that house fire as well and not matter. Clinging to things for nostalgic purposes is what people should do less of, because in the end God does provide all we need, even the comfort we yearn for. The important things in life are relationships and experiences. Life will be over as fast as last weekend. Time continues to march on, and stuff will not change that.

I’m not saying everyone reading this should go out and get rid of everything they own. But for us, we’ve been lead in this direction to help us understand these things. It reminds me of the story about Jesus and the rich man:

KJV Mark 10

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

Our new bus

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Today we were planning on visiting Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. We were looking at the map while we were on our way and noticed that Cathedral Cove was just 10 minutes more of a drive, so we decided to do both!

It was a great day. We spent about three hours walking out, looking around and walking back to the car. Great views, sore legs and hungry tummies were what we earned today. And to top it all off, just as the sun set, we made it to the hot water beach. We dug a hole and enjoyed a hot bath on the beach, with the cold waves catching us only a few times.

Boy loved it, and Girl wasn’t so sure. But both will sleep well tonight.

We are enjoying our time with Jessica, who is with us for a month. It will be sad to see her go.

Here are a few photos of today:

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Below are the latest three blog posts from my friend visiting from Wisconsin. We have seen glow worms, mountain views and campfires. Now, onward to hot water beach!

https://jemstotz.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/jessicas-kiwi-adventure-ep-2-acclimatization/

https://jemstotz.wordpress.com/2018/08/31/jessicas-kiwi-adventure-ep-3-were-in-a-bus/

https://jemstotz.wordpress.com/2018/09/03/jessicas-kiwi-adventure-ep-4-night-lights/

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Kiwi roadtrip Ep. 1


My friend has come to visit me from the USA for a month. She’s blogging along the way, so instead of writing my own posts, I thought I would share hers. She’s got great thoughts and photos. We are having a lovely time. Enjoy! 🙂

https://jemstotz.wordpress.com/2018/08/26/jessicas-kiwi-adventure-ep-1/

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