Dollar Diet: Week 24…when life gets in the way of your best efforts

I just spent a couple of weeks worth of Dollar Diet savings in two days.  But that’s life hey.  Expensive things happen from time to time whether you want them to or not.

Sausage was born with a club foot and is being treated by Wellington Hospital.  She’s had excellent care from the orthopaedic surgeons there, and we were more than happy to continue making the three hour trek to Wellington for her check-ups when we moved to Whanganui.  These check-ups are always held first thing in the morning, which means staying in Wellington the night before, or leaving Whanganui at 5am.  We’ve done both, and I think it’s fair to say that overnight stays are way more fun for everyone.

Accounting for absolutely every last item of expenditure on the Dollar Diet made me realise that we hadn’t factored in these trips to Wellington (once every 6 months), and given the cost of accommodation and petrol, that’s a pretty big hole in our budget.

We could stay with friends and family, but because I am a poor sleeper I don’t like to share a room with my kids (I need to be able to function enough to drive etc) we usually stay with some of my favourite people at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay.  The Sisters of Compassion run a retreat centre, and are always more than happy to let us stay.  It’s cheaper than a hotel, and I get to catch up with the Sisters, who are some of the best people on this planet.

I spent money on dinner at my favourite restaurant (a total indulgence, although it is not an expensive place), and on fabric for craft projects I will make as Christmas presents, but otherwise I looked for ways to spend little or no money.

Some light reading before dinner

Some light reading before dinner

Sausage and I headed off on our girl’s trip after breakfast, armed with a home made lunch, and two days worth of toddler snacks.  We stopped at Levin’s awesome Adventure Park which is a free playground with a huge variety of play equipment (I myself love to play on the ‘hamster wheels’), and it has a FREE train that runs at the weekends and holidays.  Levin Adventure Park lacks the charm of Whanganui’s own fabulous Kowhai Park, but it makes up for it in cool and unique play equipment.  Levin is only an hour’s drive from Whanganui so I have plans to spend lots of time there with my kids over summer.  It is such a great opportunity to stretch bored little legs that we stopped there on our way home too.

All aboard! Sausage at the adventure park

All aboard!
Sausage at the adventure park

After we arrived in Wellington we caught the bus from our accommodation to our national museum, Te Papa (or Papa’s, as Sausage is now calling it).  I  must have been there a hundred times, but I never tire of Te Papa.  It is so kid-friendly, with plenty of ‘yes’ spaces for children.

Yes, you can climb on that replica of a whale’s aorta(!).

Just in case you ever wondered what a Blue Whale's aorta looked like...

Just in case you ever wondered what a Blue Whale’s aorta looks like…

Yes, you can dress up as an Air New Zealand flight attendant.

Sausage enjoys the interactive exhibit on the history of Air New Zealand

Sausage enjoys the interactive exhibit on the history of Air New Zealand

Yes, you try out the Pasifika drums and bang as loudly as you want.

Tots in Tawhero

Te Papa (which means ‘our place’ in Maori) is FREE (there is a charge for some exhibitions) and is a world-class place to take your children to.  Sausage and I spent a good hour-and-a-half there, which is like 5 years in toddler-time.  As well as static exhibitions on New Zealand’s history and geography, the other exhibitions change frequently, and when I lived in Wellington I was often to be found attending their lectures and events (I am SUCH a history nerd).

Anyway, the kiddo and I had a lovely road trip.  I enjoyed having all that time with just the two of us.  The kid cracks me up with her antics, and I enjoy watching her interact with the people she meets.  Sausage charmed the lady she sat next to on the bus home so much that by the end of our journey, Sausage was sitting on her lap, telling her stories about ‘Papa’s’ and asking her if she knew how to ring the bell on buses properly.

Oh, and the doctor said her foot is doing beautifully.  To me, that’s priceless.