The Corona Diaries – The Night Before Lockdown

What’s going right now around the world (and at home here in New Zealand) is so mind-blowing, that I feel compelled to diarise it (Old School Blogging if you will) for NO other reason but to document the day-to-day developments of the virus and its effects on the Kiwi way of life for my kidsand whoever comes after them.

This is it. It’s happening. T-2 hours until New Zealand shuts up shop and stays home for 4 weeks.

In the space of one week life has changed.

Since the weekend life is barely recognisable. I wrote this on Saturday and didn’t publish it (or finish it lol) so I might as well include it here as it sums up what I was feeling then;

Sunday 22nd March 2020

So these posts aren’t going to be fancy, you won’t be entertained with aesthetically pleasing pictures, or probably any pictures. I just want to record these strange, strange days before I forget them and the boys forget them. They are living in a bit of a bubble*. I mean that’s our job as parents right? Nixon is 6. He doesn’t need to see the visuals that are coming out of Italy right now. Row after row of ventilated patients, struggling for breath with strange, plastic bubbles over their heads.

That shit is terrifying.

As is all of this Corona Virus business.

Yesterday our Most Epic Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, addressed the nation (FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER), all proper from behind her desk a la American President but not orange. She announced the New Zealand COVID-19 alert levels, stating that we are now at Level 2, with Level 4 being the most severe.

Not going to lie. This put the fear of God in me. You know that instant icy cold, stomach drop feeling? Yes, that. And a quiet wee cry.

Dave, Ethan and I sat and watched the address at lunchtime. Nix was out scooting around the neighbourhood with his boy-gang – these kids have been rubbing their germs all over each other at school every day, the collective-Mum-conscious deemed this weekend of socialising outside posed them no greater threat than their classroom and communal toilets at school.

But I digress.

I am prepared. I’ve been taking this seriously from the second the first report out of Wuhan hit the news. Like I said on Instagram, I’m very much a pragmatist, a realist, with slightly glass-half-empty tendencies. I have been slowly collecting activities, educational resources and some new games for Nix in the event that schools will close. I very much feel that they will…….

*How strange I used the word ‘bubble’ to describe the boys oblivion as it has now become a bit of a catch-phrase here to describe how we are to live in order to protect those in our ‘bubble’.

Well, look how that turned out! I went to F45 at 6.40 am on Monday with a feeling that it would be my last class. I called Dave on the way home and told him to keep Nix home from school. Ethan had already left for the day as he had an NCEA English assessment he wanted to complete. The week prior we had become used to watching the midday address from Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, keeping us up to date on Covid-19 and how it was tracking in NZ. He did his usual stand-up job, throwing a shout-out to the front-line workers, totally unflappable and patient with the shouty reporters. But then he announced the Prime Minister would speak at 1.30 pm and the dread settled in.

I popped up to the dairy for a bottle of milk before Jacinda spoke. What is the most normal task in the world has now ironically become the extent of any further excursions from the house for the near future. I think we all felt the alert level was going to be raised to 3. The alert system announcement via the national address on Saturday was a well-timed soft intro to what was coming and the clues were there – “this could change at any time – and it could change quickly.”

Tomorrow we are in lockdown and can only leave our homes for essential supplies and services. I’m sure many Kiwis were devastated today by the news that visiting at The Warehouse did NOT constitute essential shopping but Westies were cheered by the news that liquor stores would stay open due to the Trust’s weird licensing laws. Will peeps joyride from around Auckland to buy a bottle of Jack? No doubt.

West is best.

The kid’s schools have been amazing. Nixon’s had online learning rolled out less than 5 hrs after the announcement on Monday, complete with work for the week and the promise of a vlog from the teachers each morning to give the kids a little bit of facetime and familiarity. He was up with the birds yesterday, clamouring for ‘Home School’ to begin at 6 am (fml), and slept in today until after 7 – that’s pretty much a Nixon record as long time lurkers will know. So I think the novelty of home-based learning wore off after the first day!

Yesterday was a bit of a rollercoaster of ups and downs, complete with nasty, negative people IRL and online but today was pretty great. E took Nixon outside for an hour-long game of basketball (PE Lesson thank you!), I did my 2nd day of solo F45 – hereafter referred to as Jack45, wonderful friends dropped off a squat rack/ chin-up bar and some kettlebells for the home gym, Nix and I had playtime on the tramp and in the garden, did a live-streamed kids exercise class, Dave played Uno with Nix and a friend and his daughter via Houseparty and we had a drink with friends on Facetime and watched trashy tv.

Not every day will be like this. I’m straight-up ready for this to be one of the hardest periods in my life but I’m also optimistic about what this time means for our family and our way of life. This period of enforced slowness reduced economic frivolity and mandated family time will be life-changing if we can keep positive and ensure our bodies, as well as our minds and spirits, stay healthy.

And that’s the goal shared by the entire human race right about now, isn’t it?

xx

Book Club 2020: Grown Ups – Marian Keyes

I’d only read one other Marian Keyes novel before turning page 1 of Grown Ups, so in the interest of ‘research’ and ‘diligence’ lol, I headed over to her website www.mariankeyes.com. Turns out lady has written MANY books! Which makes me excited as I adored both her brand new novel (Grown Ups in New Zealand stores February 4th, 2020) and The Woman Who Stole My Life.

I was lucky enough to preview Grown Ups over the Christmas/New Year period and what a perfect novel to savour over those hazy, blurry weeks where you’re not too sure what day it is or if Scorched Almonds are considered a complete meal (surely they are?). Also, this book is l o n g. Over 600 pages long to be exact, which makes packing one book to take away so easy! Though, fair warning, it’s a hard one to put down.

Grown Ups is one of those rare reads which successfully combines slice-of-life scenarios with (many) delicious, funny, narcissistic characters. Keyes does this in a way that creates a super familiar narrative whilst still bringing that ‘train-wreck’ fascination that compels you to keep reading.

This is a very charismatic book about ‘those’ people that appear to have it all; money in spades, woke-up-like-this looks, the requisite tight-knit family, and then, what happens when you scratch a little below the surface and just can’t seem to stop the bleeding.

Fab, engrossing read that doesn’t stretch the brain too much.

Published by Penguin Random House 2019.

Book Club 2020: Kingdomtide – Rye Curtis

I’m just going to say it – Kingdomtide is easily the best book I’ve read in the past 12 months.

The synopsis on its own grabbed me on a purely superficial level; plane crash, sole elderly survivor, remote wilderness, female park ranger, a man wanted by the FBI thought to be in the area……..totally sounds like my kind of book.

That was before I fell in love with the one person who walked away from the crash – the incredible Cloris Waldrip. The resolute conviction of Cloris as a woman who knows her own mind, is steadfast in her decision making and seemingly indefatigable in the face of tragedy and hardship is inspiring. The dichotomy created by Curtis between Cloris and Ranger Lewis is stunning. Both female leads are entirely unapologetic about their actions in the past, and the decisions they make daily as they try to independantly, survive in the Montana mountains.

Full of quirky characters that endear you to the human condition and how totally messed up we all are, Kingdomtide is stunning. The minutiae of Cloris’ day to day struggle to make it out of the wilderness is facinating and perfectly contrasted with the ambivalence Ranger Lewis seems to have for anything except merlot.

This is a FIRST NOVEL and it’s insanely good. A book to read, share and then eagerly await whatever comes next from Rye Curtis.

Available in stores now from Whitcoulls, Mighty Ape and other good book sellers.

Your Best Period Ever – My 3 Must-Have Products

This post may have been around 27 years in the making but I’m pretty sure I’ve finally figured out how to make my monthly period as ‘minimally disruptive’ as possible. (That was actually a really hard sentence to construct as it doesn’t really work saying “make my monthly period as ‘awesome‘ as possible”, or “as ‘fab‘ as possible lol. So, minimally disruptive it is!

I’ve been more active this year than ever before in my adult life (thanks F45 Massey!), which has been amazing, however, maintaining attendance at HIIT classes during that time of the month when I have my period has presented some challenges. I have been exclusively using a menstrual cup for almost 2 years now and will never switch back to single-use products – the convenience, cost-saving and environmental benefits are simply too great to ignore, but I was having some probs. My first cup had become increasingly uncomfortable – especially when running – and was prone to leaking. I wasn’t prepared to give up on the cup after a year of tampon-freedom so I switched to another brand ……….. and lived happily ever after!

Say Hello to Hello Cup! Made in New Zealand with a much smoother, more ergonomic design than my previous cup, I’m officially a fangirl guys. If you haven’t made the switch to a cup yet, here are some reasons why I love them; you never get caught out without a tampon in your purse or pocket, no trash, more secure when exercising, fewer leaks, more cash in your hand every month! Yay!

Your best period ever

Ok, my next period revelation came two months ago when I was gifted 3 pairs of period underwear by Modibodi. Along with a menstrual cup, period undies were something I swore up and down I would never use – because ew. Sometimes, girlfriends, it’s best to just shut those thoughts down and jump all in and give something a go. Holy moly I’m glad I did because Modibodi have been life-changing for me! I used to have incredibly disturbed sleep during my period as I’d automatically wake multiple times each night to prevent leaks and staining and now I sleep like a baby – until Nixon wakes us up at way-too-early-o’clock but I’ll take what I can get lol. I also have zero reservations about gym workouts. F45 classes are so intense and with such a variety of movements, I’d still often have to do a runner to the bathroom even whilst wearing my cup because leak paranoia is REAL am I right? I LOVE the Modibodi Active Brief under my workout tights. They don’t budge a bit, are super comfy, barely visible and best of all, they give me the peace of mind to just focus on my workout without any compromise on intensity.

Modibodi Period Underwear review

I honestly can’t explain how liberating the combination of my Hello Cup and Modibodi Period underwear is. I don’t dread getting my period anymore. I don’t feel like I can’t go for a run or head to the gym because my flow is too heavy. Yes, these products are SO out of the box for those of us that grew up with only pads or tampons as an option but give them a try, you will NOT be disappointed when they literally change your life!

The third product that I’ve been using over the past two months is the icing on the cake – or the powder in my smoothie to be exact. Women’s Hormone Health Blend by The Wholesome Co is ahhhmazing. I’ve never experienced painful pms symptoms like cramping, but lord, for the past couple of years my ’emotional’ pms symptoms have been ramping up. In other words, 2 days before my period begins I’ve been horrible to live with – moody, emotional, cranky, quick to yell……..ugh.

So far, I’ve noticed two massive benefits of taking the Hormone Health Blend daily;

  1. The emotional roller-coaster around my cycle has slowed down and evened out, to the point where I was even surprised when I got my period last month as I hadn’t been a major bitch in the preceding days! What the?!
  2. The heavy, heavy flow I’ve always experienced on days 2/3 has lessened and, much like my moods (!) evened out. Again this makes working out SO much easier and I am eternally grateful for the change.
The Wholesome Co Hormone Health Blend

Guys, girls, whoever is reading this, I’ve said to a few peeps that 2019 has been a really, really great year for me. I’ve maintained my diet overhaul that happened in 2018, I started working out regularly at F45 (life-changing!) and in general, I feel like I’ve taken control of my life a bit more instead of being a passive passenger along for the ride. Discovering innovative products that are designed to revolutionise the way we as women experience our periods and improve that experience monthly (as well as being environmentally friendly and sustainable) has also been a life-changing experience. Hello Cup, Modibodi undies and addressing the havoc my hormones were playing each month by taking The Wholesome Co. products has removed much of the trepidation and negativity I’ve felt around what is one of the most uniquely female things about me – my monthly period.

The big lesson here? You will probably have your period every month for years AND YEARS AND YEARS. That’s a fact. Can you make it a better experience? The answer is probably yes and if so, then why not try?! It’s 2020 real soon, there is literally no need to be sacrificing comfort, completely normal day-to-day activity nor your hard-earned cash each month simply because you are a woman and you have your period.

Disclaimer: These three products were gifted for review. I have used each for over 2 months before writing this post and am sincere in my review. They are all the bomb!

Cook, Eat – Beef Brisket Sliders Recipe

Let’s get feast-ive! Here’s an easy to prep recipe for Beef Brisket Sliders that can slow-cook while you’re at work and will wow even the most hard to please Ladies-a-Plate aficionados.

Silver Fern Farms new cut, Beef Brisket is the star of these picture-perfect sliders, which can be assembled in 5 minutes and make a great family dinner as well as a delicious dish to share this holiday season.

Ingredients

Silver Fern Farms Beef Brisket 500g

Approx 10 Slider buns

3 tbsp paprika

1.5 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp Pepper & Me Man Grind

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp ground cumin

¾ cup BBQ sauce

½ cup chicken stock

1 tbsp worcestshire sauce

1 onion sliced

Method:

Mix dry ingredients then cover brisket in rub, wrap tightly in clingfilm and rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes – best to leave overnight.

Add sauce ingredients to slow cooker, stir to combine.

Add brisket on top of sauce. Cover with sliced onions.

Cook on high for 6 hours.

Taste sauce prior to serving as it can be rich! Remove from sauce and rest for 10 minutes before slicing or shredding, dressing with sauce to taste.

Stack up your sliders with whatever yummy combos float your boat! We used mayo, avo, red onion and Japanese slaw garnished with pickle and cherry tomato.

Enjoy!

Beef Brisket Sliders Recipe
Beef Brisket Sliders Recipe
Beef Brisket Sliders Recipe

Cook Eat – Sticky Chicken Bao Recipe

Trying something new with an old fave is an easy way to find some much-needed dinner inspo as we cruise into summer and the holiday season.

Lee Kum Kee Soy Sauce and chicken are pretty easy to come across in kiwi kitchens, so Dave and I came up with this super quick and easy Sticky Chicken Bao recipe that we guarantee the whole family will love!

Ingredients:

Approx 600g Chicken thigh or tenders

¼ cup Lee Kum Kee Soy Sauce

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

4 cloves garlic finely chopped

¼ tbsp Lee Kum Kee minced ginger

1 tbsp olive oil

1 pack Bao buns, find in freezer section at supermarket

Coleslaw, coriander, spring onions to garnish to taste

Hot Sauce

Mayonnaise

Method:

Combine Lee Kum Kee Soy Sauce, honey, vinegar, garlic and ginger in large bowl. Mix well to combine. Add chicken and stir to coat. Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Add olive oil to pan, adding chicken when pan is hot. Reserve marinade in bowl to add later.

When chicken is cooked through and beginning to turn a golden-brown colour add remaining marinade. Turn chicken to coat in marinade, reduce until sauce coating chicken is thick and sticky.

Steam buns according to directions on pack. Fill with coleslaw, chicken, dress with coriander and chopped spring onions. Create a spicy mayo by adding hot sauce, (the more the better) to your mayo and drizzle over your filled bao.

Enjoy!

Black Friday Bliss: One-Stop Shopping online at TheMarket

I first fell in love with the phenomena that is Black Friday when I spent six years living in the states.  Our eldest son was born on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and I was up-and-at-em 5 days later on Black Friday to hit the awesome sales that American retailers are well known for.

I can’t say I’m mad about the fact that this epic pre-Christmas shopping tradition has made its way down to New Zealand.  For me, it encourages planning ahead, shopping early and avoiding expensive panic buying as I run out of time (and inspiration!) in December.

This year navigating the myriad Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales in New Zealand is a lot easier with the arrival of TheMarket, an online destination which has successfully streamlined the kiwi shopping experience across a huge variety of departments.
This is a retail experience with a difference guys – think of your favourite department store, complete with collections from premium fashion brands, as well as a comprehensive toy store, garden centre, tech department and a health and beauty offering to make you swoon.  TheMarket is one of the most user-friendly websites I’ve ever shopped – thankfully (!) as it hosts over 1500 retailers – no-ones go time to peruse THAT many aisles in real time am I right?!

I’ve done a quick swoop of the early Black Friday deals available online at The Market and created a wishlist to (hopefully) keep me focused as I tick off my Christmas list.

Check out my gifting ideas for our family below and HELLO, I’ve got a discount code for you! 

Enter the code BEST20 to get $20 off your first order at TheMarket when you spend $99 or more!

T&Cs – Discount applied when code entered at checkout on TheMarket.com. Saving of $20 off everything with a minimum spend of $99. Excludes shipping costs (if relevant). Single use per customer. Expires midnight Monday 2nd Dec 2019.

This post was kindly sponsored by TheMarket.

Common Sense Budgeting – Taking the Power Back

As I’ve gotten older and grown into my role as a Mum and wife I’ve found there are more than a few things that I’ve gone back to or revisited from an earlier time in my life.  Though we ditched the CDs years ago (thank god!), my playlist only gains a few new tracks each year – yes, I still listen to the same bangers that have been pumping me up for over 20 years now!  Likewise, the circular nature of fashion means I’ve dusted off my Levi’s denim jacket that I purchased when I was at Uni, brightly coloured, oversized Tees and sneakers are back (no Jordache though, unfortunately!) and it’s totally ok to wear a rah-rah skirt 30 years after their eighties debut.

Mid-winter this year, Dave and I got serious (for a minute lol) and took a long hard look at our budget.  After purchasing The Barefoot Investor, I realised that there were quite a few areas in which we could tighten up our spending, and with the goal of daily expenses totalling no more than 60% of your income, I turned my thrifty gaze to our household expenses first.

Two areas really stood out for me; the amount we were spending on groceries and power.  We immediately paused our dinner subscription boxes, started meal planning again and began to look into what on earth was going on with our power bills.

Fibre arrived on our street earlier in the year, so when we were shopping for a provider, I was wooed by combo deals which offered ‘great rates’ for new customers who signed up for both fibre and power.  We switched companies and I didn’t think about it again until the winter power bills made their first appearance.

And then, I thought about power A LOT.

We have an old house, build in the ‘50’s, wooden joinery, no fireplace, three bedrooms to heat and a power-loving teenager.   Price per kw is really important to me because energy-proofing our house any further than we have already done just isn’t an option right now.  What I had neglected to factor into the budget when our fibre was installed was the good-ol’ Fixed Daily Charge.

I HATE the Fixed Daily Charge.

Easy, easy solution though.

I went back to an old and trusted provider,  and got them to handle the admin of getting us switched over and back on track.

10 years after we first signed up, we are back with Powershop and it feels good. Look!  Proof >

Choosing a power company NZ

The switchover process was ridiculously easy and fast.  6 simple steps to complete online and then Powershop took care of the rest – I didn’t even have to contact my previous provider to give them the flick!  We chose the Powershop Classic option which is how we purchased power from them previously.  What this means is I get control of when I buy power and at what price – HELLO regular specials and powerpacks.  Did I mention NO fixed daily charge and no fixed unit price?  In our first month, we used 200 units more than the prior month and paid $2 less than our last invoice with our old provider.  More power for less $$ = winning!

Power specials available to purchase in the Powershop app

The Powershop app is where I feel I really begin to take control of our power spend, as well as gaining some invaluable insights into how/when our household consumes power – why do we have big spikes every day at 12 pm????? I’m yet to solve that mystery.  I LOVE saving money, and pre-purchasing power for the months ahead is one way to do it.  As we head into Summer 2020 with a second heat pump unit I know that the AC will be cranking in both ends of the house.  I’ll tuck a couple of Future Packs under my belt and feel quite smug (and cool!) when Summer decides to show up here in New Zealand.

Household utilities are something that as a consumer, I feel quite ‘removed’ from in general.  We have so little control over what we pay for water, internet, phone services and power in general.  The switch back to Powershop has been (once again) quite revelatory in that, everything I need as a purchaser, is right in my hands – consumption, predicted future consumption, spending options (soooo many options), account history and if you’re really keen, the ability to earn credit by referring your mates! Seriously, if you’re watching your pennies, and watching your power, get sorted and switch over to Powershop.  Like I said over on IG, nothing gives you the thrifty-super-budget-conscious thrills like a new Powerpack hitting the Powershop Shop.  It’s 2019, we comparison shop for everything, it’s pretty cool to have the same flexibility from your power company.

Facing Facts – Change Hurts.

This post has been kicking around in my head for a while. Fuelled by my body getting used to it’s ‘new normal’ over the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about what change means in my life and how I’ve finally been able to change the channel and start to get some shit done. For me.

I’m not sure yet whether I can put this down to some epiphany that I may or may not have had around turning 40, I think the timing is coincidental, however, a lot of things definitely fell into place around the end of April this year;

  1. I turned 40
  2. Dave and I went Samoa – sans kids
  3. 6 months of successful keto and 10kg lost
  4. I joined F45

The decade that was my thirties, was tough. We were still adjusting to life in New Zealand, namely the incredible expense of living here, Dave was nearing the end of an apprenticeship, we had very little money, HUGE financial pressure, I endured a missed miscarried which really fucked with my head for a long time, my Dad, was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma and passed away 9 months later, we purchased our house with my Mum and began 8 years of living as an extended family (which was bloody amazing and I highly recommend it), and we welcomed Nixon to the family – along with his basket of medical complications.

I was a very tired birthday girl when 40 rolled around lol.

When my maternity leave was up after having Nixon I made the choice NOT to go back to working outside the home. This was the first big change in my life. The blog work was becoming more and more steady so I took a gamble and decided to go all-in (compared to now when I feel like I’m pretty much all-out lol). This paid off for around 3 years. I was able to generate a good income, work with some amazing partners and reap the benefits of working at home and being around for the boys. But, there’s always some sacrifice and for me that was my health – both mental and physical. I worked babes and I worked hard. My bum was literally glued to my office chair for 4 years straight, not a pretty sight, and I’d say, living and breathing that insta-life 24-7 had a massively detrimental effect on my already precipitous mental health. All my priorities were jacked up and backwards and I was making zero good decisions. August last year was also when I ripped every tendon in my right ankle and sheared two muscles as a bonus. What exercise? What healthy lifestyle Melissa? Where did these 15 bonus kilos come from?????

August 2018, 79kg. 2 months before starting keto

And so, in October 2018, after hating my body throughout an entire perfect family holiday in the Sunshine Coast (header image), I researched the keto diet and made the second BIG change in my life.

This is when I began to realise that change is some serious shit. And that the kind of change I was looking for was going to require a little more effort than simply going through the motions. I’m not just talking the old ‘lose some weight, physical transformation, #fitspo change, I’m talking ANY serious life change that may creep into your head and fly a flag every now and then. It could be a career change, quitting drinking, personal development, seeking medical attention – whatevs, but, the common denominator is that to successfully implement change, you’re going to have to work, and cry and then work again and again. Over and over.

Oh yeah, and it’s going to be REALLY, REALLY HARD.

I’d been kidding myself for years about my fitness. I could smash out a respectable 5km when needed, I was doing a reasonable amount of walking and I nodded my hat to some healthy food habits – some. But I was also totally full of shit. I knew that running a couple of 5kms each week had zero potential to shift the weight I needed to lose. Yes, it was better than nothing, but for me, it was essentially anaerobic exercise, with zero fat-burning potential. I know enough to read my Fitbit stats and shake my fist at the sky, but I was totally unable/unwilling to slow down and stretch those runs out to at least a 10km to get some fat burning in. To this day I’ve only ever run 10km ONCE.

This was all moot anyway as between August-January 2019 I was unable to exercise at all because of my ankle injury.

However, I was having some diet wins. Hard fought wins ’cause keto is no walk in the park. Putting what you eat under a spotlight and recognising that your ‘healthy’ breakfast and lunch is completely undone by the amount you consume over the 3pm witching hour, your portion size at dinner (of both wine and food!) and then the chocolate bedtime treat you hide in your nightstand is confronting! This is when you feel the hurt and the difficulty of change. It’s literally as simple as what you put in your mouth, duh WE KNOW, but succeeding at a lifestyle change requires changing habits (hard), changing your attitude towards food (hard), learning and educating yourself around your WHY and also HOW to implement these changes (hard and time-consuming), changing the way you feel about and deal with food in social situations (publicly hard) and then staying the course – hardest.

I had the best summer last year. I am the least body-positive person in the world and honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be on that bandwagon, but, I’d been working on those keto changes and what I did have for the first time in YEARS, was control. I felt in control of my eating, in control of how I looked and how I felt, and in control of future Melissa – I was on track, I knew where I wanted to be and I had a plan in place. God that felt good! Control and change saw me swimming at the beach more than I had in probably the past 10 years combined! It was liberating and fun and the mental load of such a massive change in diet was beginning to lessen as new habits solidified.

I found an amazing acupuncturist who, after a couple of months of intense work healed my ankle, so after Dave and I returned from Samoa it was go-time. Time to get to work with F45. For me, this was the hardest change of all. Keto was a mind game that I was ready and open to – it also helps that I love the food so I don’t feel deprived. Exercise, however, especially group exercise is where it hurt. I have joined so many gyms……….and quit. Purchased home exercise equipment………….and never used it, joined boot camps……….never to return, I was not at all convinced in my ability to keep showing up.

And guys, F45 is F*cKing HARD. It hurts. This is a change that physically HURTS. For weeks. The realisation that my muscles were working and functional after such a long period of neglect was great and it reminded me every second of every day how much I needed to keep going. BUT IT HURT SO BAD. It hurt during class when I would feel like throwing up and that my lungs were going to explode, it hurt when my arms hated myself so much for introducing this burpee nonsense to my life, it hurt when I discovered there is something worse than a burpee – the half burpee. But, after 6 weeks I started to feel the mental shift in my attitude towards classes. I wasn’t sitting in my car until the very last minute, I wasn’t hating every second, I wasn’t wondering every day if I’d be able to make myself go back again the next day. New habits were forming and it felt good!

I’m four months deep in this F45 Massey madness and the results blow me away every day, but for me, the biggest success is that I keep showing up. I literally high-five myself every morning for just getting through that door. That’s how hard this has been for me, and I’m still proud as hell for just getting my ass there lol.

I guess what I’m rambling on about is this; if change is what you want, how hard are you prepared to work for it either mentally or physically? Because I know now, that for me if it’s not hard as hell and if it’s not hurting me in the form of mental discipline or sacrifice or muscle fatigue, then quite simply, nothing is going to change – the proof is in the static life I had been living for the past decade.

It sounds ridiculously hardcore (it’s not really!) but put it in context; I’m not training for an IronMan here, I was just an overweight housewife who had been kidding herself for years about the effort she had dedicated to positive change and self-improvement.

And then I decided to do something about it.

And it hurt!

Buying Shares 101: This. Is It.

Big news ahead guys.  BIG news.

Before you get too deep in this blog, catch up on how our family has been getting started with Sharesies so far this year; Post 1 > My kids have a share portfolio, Post 2 > Set and Forget – Investing just got easier.

Homework done?  Righto New Zealand families, let’s level up our investing!

When I was at Auckland Uni 20 years ago, I worked for years at a small owner-operated burger bar in Ponsonby you may have heard of, Burger Fuel??? Yeah. It’s quite yum aye?  Anywho, as employees, we were offered preferential purchase of shares when they listed publicly for the first time.  I remember seriously considering the option to buy and then remembering the seriousness of my lack of disposable income as a Master’s student.  I don’t regret many things in my life but taking a chance on a company I knew and loved is something I wish I had prioritised. Hindsight, they say lol.

I didn’t know how to begin investing when I was a student, nor did I know how to begin investing last year when I was a 39-year-old married mother of two.  Oh, how times have changed! Learning the ropes and taking some baby steps through the Sharesies portal during the past few months has been an easy, common sense and seriously accessible way to diversify our family’s ongoing savings.

Our Sharesies portfolios have been growing (helped along by the auto-invest functionality) and just this month, a new investment opportunity has been launched by the Sharesies team.  Everyday Kiwis like you and me can now buy individual shares in publicly listed companies via our Sharesies accounts – just like big-time investors do!

We’ve got some bucket list trips we want to do with the boys (big, expensive trips i.e. South America) so I’m starting to get a savings plan in place.  I’ve got my brand new copy of The Barefoot Investor lined up in the nightstand reading pile, and I am going to kick-start our next trip fund by pulling some money out of our low-interest bank accounts and buying some individual shares – for the first time ever!

Once I started looking at which companies were listed on the NZX, I began to get a little excited.  Some immediately grabbed my attention as they are companies I’ve either worked for or am a customer of – and putting my money with a brand I have an existing relationship with feels right to me.  Other options just make me excited because of their growth potential, ergo, my savings growth potential lol.  Lucky for us novice investors, the historical info provided on Sharesies is presented in an easy to understand, very visual way on my dashboard. 

Ethan (year 10) is saving hard right now for a new computer and wants to time his purchase around his birthday at the end of the year. The ‘upward trending’ graphs of certain investments are proving attractive to him, as well as the fact that he can sell shares, or fractions of shares, whenever he decides is right for him i.e. when he finds the best deal on his computer!

Buying shares feels like one of those ‘grown-up’ situations that mark certain, weird little moments in my life.  I felt this way when we purchased our first brand new king size bed, a new oven to replace the existing one (like, WTH, did our family just ‘wear out’ an oven???), and oddly when we lost our much-loved family dog last week to old age and illness. 

But,  investing is a very positive, grown-up thing to do.  I think the reason buying individual shares via Sharesies feels so different from purchasing managed funds or ETFs as I’ve previously done on the platform, comes down to one word – control.  I can invest exactly where I want, in amounts that are exactly right for me and our goals as a family.

Love it!

Our initial  Sharesies investments in ETFs and managed funds were an awesome way to dip our toes in and get our heads around putting our money somewhere other than a savings account. But now that Sharesies is an NZX participant, I’m totally inspired to diversify our savings even further and I’m so stoked that the boys and I can do it via the easy platform we are already used to.

Buying Shares

I’m legit excited about what this means for other Kiwi Mums, Dads and kids. Access to investment opportunities like this has not been available in NZ before, which is why Sharesies (and I) are so excited about this.  My first official trade was a ‘green’ one which was cool!  I purchased just over 140 shares in NZ Windfarms and the Sharesies transaction fee was only $0.10 – other providers could have charged up to $30 per trade!

Sharesies is removing many of the barriers to investing with their unique platform, letting everyday Kiwis like me invest whatever they can afford.  Over time I’m convinced this will usher in a fresh perspective on how we all think about ‘money in the bank.’