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ELECTRA: intelligent, organised, practical, creative & strong; mum, wife and person.

WANTS TO VISIT: Germany, Portugal, Spain, & France, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, USA, Andorra, Bulgaria, Thailand, Phillipines and Venezuela for starters.

19 February 2015


Due to hosting exchange students in our earlier family life, and home educating our children, we are always on the look out for how to discover our local community, events and activities.

Initially there was and still is the free local community newspaper (most areas have these) delivered to our letterbox; but now there is also a nationwide website Eventfinder to help find out what's on.  It seems that an increasing number of new individuals & organisations are using this medium making it more of a comprehensive go-to guide. 

The useful option with Eventfinder is that you can subscribe to their RSS feed and get alerts straight to your inbox, and this is what we do for any free events.  Occasionally you get the surreptitious marketing of a free-but-you-really-pay event and the gig-in-the-pub-which-actually-is-an-invitation-to-drink event but on the whole for our area there are at least a couple of family-friendly activities that we can choose from each week.

The trick, especially leading up to the coming Art Deco weekend is limiting the number of 'things' you do or see.


It's probably preaching to the converted if you do have young children but my advice is only one per day preferably in the morning when children are more rested.  Well at least that's what we find and particularly if not all of the family are on board with the chosen experience - you can't please everyone all of the time. 


Here are some of the things we do to get the seven of us on the road and try to stay sane:

  • Let the children know where we are going and what exactly we are doing.
  • Tell them how to dress for the outing; and if they should bring a back-up activity like a book.
  • Set a leaving time and if possible let them know when we are likely to return.
  • Take our going out basket with plenty of water and food; and sun-block if summer.
  • Plan for toilet / playground stops / breaks.
  • Catch the children being 'good' and reinforce good attitudes (we're still working on this)


In our house sometimes 'what's there to do?' actually involves consciously choosing 'nothing' and staying home to relax and just be -  usually at the parents insistence as younger children always appear to have the energy of the Everyready bunny (if it's for something they like!).  We might get a dvd out to watch, work together on a(n art) project, bake or cook together, or play board/table games - those that want to that is.  

There is always someone who would rather not participate which as the CO-parent (Chief Operating parent) I find frustrating.  I am learning that a child's 'do I have to?' is really just their way of saying 'I want to feel as if I have a choice too please' and am trying to work with this.  Sometimes this means giving them the choice of not participating if this is an option; of acknowledging their feelings and apologising that for this time they don't have a choice; or finding out what they would rather do and trading it off against what is planned.


Hawke's Bay

How do you manage balancing your family's needs and wants?

17 February 2015


A pre-journey safety check of your vehicle is not a legal requirement but certainly a logical one.

Every vehicle owner is responsible to keep their automobile's condition at a warrantable/certifiable standard even between official checks.


Have you heard of the TWIRL acronym for cars?

Check your:

  • Tyres
  • Windscreens, wipers and mirrors
  • Indicators
  • Rust
  • Lights


The NZTA also have another quick on-the-road check too


Failure to keep your heavy vehicle certifiable can mean hefty fines; and if your unit is commercial, will affect your Operator Rating System (ORS) rating too.

ORS is a voluntary system for goods service, passenger service and vehicle recovery vehicles that gives a 1 - 5 star rating depending upon any faults found during COF or roadside inspections; and/or traffic offenses / infringements in a 24-month period.


Road-side inspections (for all drivers) are carried out by the Police, and usually focus on specific initiatives.

As car drivers most will be familiar with breath alcohol tests, WOF and tyre checks, and car registration / driver's license verification.


For a motorhome that is a heavy vehicle, you can expect the following may also be included (where applicable):

  • Road User Charges (RUC)
  • Log book
  • Safety belts
  • Certificate of Fitness (COF)
  • Steering
  • Cab
  • Chassis
  • Lighting
  • Body work

While not specifically for mobile homes, what I did find in my travels are a couple of colourful 1-page pre-trip inspection guides to make the process easier: one for buses and the other trucks.  


The truck one applies to the majority of motorhomes built on a truck body, but still falls a little short if you consider sleeper (not just passenger) safety - the obvious concern being gas transport & inhalation.

Mobile home owners also need to be more aware to check for rust under carriage and around sills as we tend to take our vehicles sea-ward more often than a commercial truck/bus and they are affected by the salt air.  

The best way to do this is to find a heavy vehicle self-service washing facility with a bay underneath where you can steam clean the carriage and get under with a torch to have a look around.  There are truck cleaning companies (eg Clean Co) who offer a top clean and bottom steam service but it does add up quickly.  On the other hand it's good to know that a regular clean for a motorhome will only set you back around $40 + GST.

12 February 2015


Contemplating Valentine's just days away and wondering if I could pull off something really special this year for Atlas and myself (as we haven't ever done anything before) I resonated with something I read from Dr Kelly Flannagan.

"Humanity’s technological progress is exceeding its emotional progress, and it’s turning this world into a powder keg.


We understand our mobile devices better than we understand our hearts. We are more aware of the way we defend our countries and our religions than we are aware of the ways we defend our souls. We are closer to getting to Mars than we are to getting to the center of ourselves. We only know how to act on our feelings; we have no idea how to observe them.


We have no idea, because we don’t want to have any idea."

The last sentence is where I differ. I desperately want to get to know my husband and children at the very core of their being. To share life with them. The dream to travel is to pluck them out of the distracting box of everyday living and get them to 'see' each other. The sort of 'seeing' that Avatar expounds. A 'seeing' into their soul. A 'seeing' of their value and uniqueness.


I would rather have an ongoing deepening relationship with each of my family members and for them to have the space to discover who they really are, as we share common experiences together including Atlas; than one day trying to epitomise the fantasy of perfection with just him.

My ultimate valentines is perhaps selfish. It's to escape the rat race with my precious family. I want to see them blossom and grow. I want to see them truly happy.


I wrote about it on the surface when I penned our page "Why are they doing this?"

Living in Germany for a year as an exchange student forever changed me (Electra).  I re-settled back into the familiarity of life, took a job, got married, had children; but every few years I get the feeling that I am supposed to be somewhere else.  I 'itch' to do something, anything.  I feel like a butterfly pinioned for display, unable to escape.  It's been over 20 years.

My deepest desire is to return to Germany for a year or so, to share the joy of experiencing another culture and language with my family.  Atlas and I even made plans to that end years ago, but they didn't reach fruition for one reason or another.

They say you should see 'home' before you see the world; and with Vega potentially leaving home, I feel the growing burden to make travelling a reality in our lives, before it is too late - now or never.  

The reality is that it will never be a 'perfect' time to travel.   We could keep waiting for this, or waiting for that, and then miss the precious opportunities we have as a family while everyone is under one roof.

I want to give my children a gift.  A gift, that embraces people and the country they live in; that instills in them a love and respect for each other, and that inspires them to reach for their goals.

There is a certain 'safety' of exploring in one's home land.  The language is the same, the culture is the same, the food is the same, the rules are the same.

While I hope that travelling around New Zealand will be a stepping stone to showing us that we have what it takes to go abroad; I am also prepared that it may be a single instalment, sad as that may be.



  How you can help us realise our dreams

The challenge is, if even our dreams to roam New Zealand (let alone live in Germany) can not be realised, how can we develop the space within the four walls of our home, amidst the mundane routine of life, to throw off the shackles and realise freedom; because sometimes the pursuit of the future overshadows the beauty of the moment.

I am at the cross-roads of longing for the miracle/perfection/dream and needing to be fully present else risk missing the gift that today may also bring.

I don't know how 'others' are always successful about making things happen, or whether I just don't have something they've got; but I need to be real with myself and ready to admit when enough is enough. I will love myself to give it one last go then let go.

Happy Valentine's Day, Electra!