A Visit to Auckland Zoo

A visit to Auckland Zoo.

Last week, Jared, Abel, and I went down to Auckland to look at a few used cars and we wanted to do something fun as well! We spent the morning and early afternoon looking at cars and buying one, and then headed to the zoo.

I just love going to the zoo and learning about all the different animals!

It’s amazing how much variety there is in God’s creation! So many different animals and plants. I loved watching the elephants’ graceful trunks, imagining coming face-to-face with a rhino in the wild, and seeing the meercats lounge in the sun.

One thing I love about going to the zoo is watching the animals just enjoy being an animal. Does that make sense? They eat, roll around in the dirt, splash in the cool water, chase each other, relax in the warm sun… can I join them?!

Currently there is construction at the Auckland Zoo to build a few new exhibits and buildings. While we only had two hours at the zoo, we really enjoyed seeing Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South America, and Australia. We’re already looking forward to the next time we visit Auckland Zoo, and hopefully arrive earlier in the day so we have more time!


Which zoo do you live near? When I was still living in Washington, we would visit the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle!


To see some photos from my visit to the Australia Zoo a few years ago, check out this blog post!

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Botanica Whangarei

Botanica Whangarei – a variety of gorgeous plants

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Botanica Whangarei is a gorgeous little spot here in Whangarei. The horticultural complex (how fancy does that sound?!) is home to several different sections with a variety of different kinds of plant life – the fernery, a moss room, japanese garden, dessert area, and more! It’s really fun to walk around and look at all the different plants. Who knew there were a million different types of ferns?! With free entry, be sure to visit next time you’re in Whangarei!

A Nice Easy Walk

There’s a trail that leads between Botanica, the Rose Garden near Domino’s Pizza, and the Whangarei library – which has a cafe INSIDE it so it’s pretty much the greatest library. It’s called No 7 Espresso and it is GOOD!

The trail is paved and mostly flat so it’s a really easy walk, and so beautiful and enjoyable! It’s not long but like I said, there’s a coffee shop in the library soooo you know what to do!

Next time you’re in Whangarei and want to enjoy nature, make sure to visit Botanica, and of course walk the trail to the library so you can get a delicious coffee!

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Abel: Twelve Weeks

Can you believe it?! Abel is twelve weeks old! Almost three months! He’s growing so fast and learning more all the time. I keep falling more and more in love with him. Being a mom is so amazing for me. I have always wanted to be a mom, and when I worked as a nanny and babysitter I looked forward to having my own children someday. It is just as amazing as I imagined, and more.

If you’ve read this blog post, you know that I had a rough start, adjusting to being a mom. But now, I just love this new role! It’s such a joy to have a son and to cuddle him and take care of him and make him smile. I could shout from the rooftops without stopping about how much I love him! But that would get annoying so I’ll save it for these weekly updates.

Abel is still such a happy baby and he loves talking. He really enjoys laying on his play mat and just chatting away to his toys. He seems to be starting to discover that he can make more sounds, and is starting to grab toys.

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Sonic is being himself. Today, I put him in the hallway while someone came by the house. I assumed he would go to our bedroom like he normally does. Instead he went in Abel’s room, got into several things, and even climbed onto the change table. I was not thrilled to find him there when I came to let him out of the hallway. He’s getting more and more curious about Abel and we’re letting him get closer to him and sniff him and lick him a little. Abel is taking notice of Sonic too.

How adorable is he?! I wonder when he’ll start rolling over… he’s getting stronger, but not quite there yet. When did your babies start rolling?


Every Week With Abel

Abel: Eleven Weeks

Abel: Eight Weeks

Abel: Seven Weeks

Abel: Six Weeks

Abel: Five Weeks

Abel: Four Weeks

Introducing Our Son

Same Blog, New Website!

Hi friends! It’s been almost a month since I posted here, which I have to apologize for. We are still doing great and little Abel is now twelve weeks old! He’s growing so fast and I am so obsessed with him. I love being his mom!

The last several weeks I’ve been working on a new project which I’m so excited about! For months now I’ve been thinking about upgrading this blog by changing it to a new web address and I finally have!

The Canadian American Kiwi is still going strong but now you can find us at www.tillycutforth.com

I won’t be posting here anymore, so make sure you bookmark my new website so you don’t miss a post!

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Abel: Eleven Weeks

Eleven weeks with our sweet little boy. Abel is doing amazing!

He is talking allll the time, he absolutely loves getting his clothes and nappy changed, and he has LAUGHED twice! Abel loves to smile and talk and he’s easily entertained by his play mat. He’s getting strong and holds himself up great during tummy time. Jared and I are the luckiest parents ever. Abel is an amazing baby. He has amazing nights, as of late! He will sleep twelve hours with only one wake-up.

Abel has found his thumb now. How absolutely stinking cute is a tiny little baby sucking his thumb?! He can also fall asleep by. him. self. Honestly I am amazed. I used to have to rock him anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour and a half, to get him to sleep. The last few days, I have put him down awake and he’s put himself to sleep a couple of times.

Like I said. We are incredibly blessed to have such a happy and easy baby.

I haven’t posted an update for a few weeks so I have to share his photos from last week as well! Ain’t he just the cutest?!

We started using cloth diapers (This one is by AlvaBaby!) and it’s not as terrifying as I had imagined. Ummm look at that chubby little cuteness! I’m really looking forward to the warmer weather so I can put Abel is short sleeves and shorts, or even just a diaper, and see his adorable arms and legs and little chubbiness.

I can’t get enough of him! Being a parent is amazing. It was a huge adjustment the first few weeks but now it’s everything I dreamed of and more. I am so in love with Abel.

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Every Week With Abel

Abel: Eight Weeks

Abel: Seven Weeks

Abel: Six Weeks

Abel: Five Weeks

Abel: Four Weeks

Introducing Our Son

The Midnight Intruder

Let me be honest, this past week was terrible. Sometimes life is just. Too much.

But I feel way better now and I even worked on my taxes today without one single tear shed. Honest. Last year around this time I was dealing with passport and visa issues as well as trying to figure out that whole taxes thing for the first time, and we had issues with our landlord. It was just a really, really stressful time.

I’m not finished, but I’m really close and it honestly was not very complicated at all this time (which may mean I’m doing it wrong? lol). Like last year, I was applying for another visa recently, but I just got word last week that I was approved for the visa I applied for! Praise the Lord! Immigration is a longggg process, and complicated, and expensive. I guess they want to make sure you really want it. And I do!

The other day I was looking on Pinterest at tutorials on photo editing, and then went through my computer to find some photos to play with. Follow my Pinterest board ‘Photography’ for inspiration and tips!

Bowling alleys are not good places for portraits, by the way.

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But he’s really handsome so I love this photo anyways!

Now, keep reading for more fun photos, but I also want to tell you a story.

Did I ever tell you about the time a cat got into our house in the middle of the night? I can’t remember so I’ll just tell it again!

Our house has pet doors, and we used to leave them unlocked all the time so Sonic could come and go as he pleased. We don’t do that anymore, for two reasons – one is that Sonic will run off and not come when he’s called, and two is the story you’re about to hear.

Normally if Sonic hears someone in the driveway he goes crazy and won’t stop barking. Whenever we get home from work, church, or wherever, he yaps and barks until we let him out of his kennel or off his chain. He then proceeds to sprint laps through and around the house. He’s insane.

So although he’s little he’s pretty good at alerting you if someone is around. Or so we thought.

Jared and I are in bed one night, asleep, and are woken up by the sound of something being knocked off a table or shelf in the lounge/kitchen area.

Sonic is in his kennel.

We were terrified.

Because this was when we didn’t lock the doors at night, either. So anyone or anything could have been in our house. We were wide awake in seconds, and I hid under the blankets while Jared got up to investigate.

Might I add, Sonic was completely silent. Asleep. Thanks buddy. Not a very good guard dog after all.

Turns out, the neighbor’s cat had come in through the pet door and was casually hanging out in our house in the middle of the night. Not cool bud, not cool. Of course once Jared realised it was a cat and began chasing it out of our house, thennnn Sonic woke up and went crazy.

Jared got the cat outside, locked the pet doors, and front door, and came back to bed, where I was still cowering… what can I say I really appreciate having a brave husband to go see who’s intruded our house in the middle of the night!

Since then, we lock our doors every night, because what if it had been a person? And we also keep the pet doors locked because neither of us likes cats, and nobody likes midnight intruders!

That cat enjoys terrorizing Sonic when he’s tied up outside, and I actually don’t know who it belongs to but presumably one of our neighbors.

And that my friends, is the story of our midnight intruder.

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Dylan and Jared

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Ummm guys? I think I could die from how cute my nephew is. Honestly he is too perfect I just can’t even.

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Hiking up Mount Aubrey with Jared… it’s a nice short hike and has stunning views!

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Have you ever had an experience like that?! Tell me about it if you have!

Hawaii {January 2019}

I shared a few weeks ago about our trip to the States over Christmas, but I didn’t go into a ton of detail so today I want to share a little more about our time spent in Hawaii!

One thing I loved about our entire trip (besides, like, everything) was that we got to do it with my sister Adalia and her family, Ben and Percy. Even though we both live in New Zealand, Ben and Jared are both so busy with their jobs that it’s hard to get away, so we hadn’t seen each other in ages. Ben and Jared had barely spent any time together at all. So we all really enjoyed spending time together and Jared and I loved getting to know Ben, Adalia, and Percy even better. Percy is the cutest little monkey! Honestly man if our kids are half as cute as he is, I will be thrilled!

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Here, Percy was a little disgruntled because he loved eating the sand but obviously didn’t really enjoy the taste or feel of it in his mouth. Unfortunately you can’t always have it both ways.

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After an awesome two weeks in Bellingham, we stayed in Hawaii for several days on our way back to New Zealand. My grandma Cindy and grandpa Earl came to Hawaii as well, as did my sister Kalina. We arrived in Honolulu on Sunday afternoon and enjoyed the scenic drive to Hau’ula, about an hour away. I’d never been to Hawaii before, besides the airport, and the few glimpses I caught out airplane windows of the gorgeous mountains and blue water had given me a desire to actually visit someday. It did not disappoint!

Grandma and Grandpa stayed at a hotel about five minutes from where the rest of us stayed. Our place was right across the road from the beach, and there were several good beaches for swimming, snorkelling, and surfing within a half hour’s drive.

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We stayed until Thursday and our flights left around midday (Kalina’s back to Bellingham, the rest of us to NZ – and grandma and grandpa stayed in Hawaii for several more days).

Even though we had just three full days in Hawaii, we managed to pack plenty of fun into that time! We visited Pearl Harbor, tried out snorkelling, surfing, boogie-boarding, and swimming, and went to I-Hop, Red Lobster, and Wal-Mart. Good stuff.

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I love history and I’m so thankful for the military, so visiting Pearl Harbor was really special.

Of course, when we found this, we had to recreate it:

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I couldn’t bring my camera into Pearl Harbor, so these iphone photos will have to suffice!

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Also, yeah. It’s okay. We weren’t actually lost we were just trying to figure out how to get to a certain part of the ship. We figured it out eventually.

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Then of course the beaches… the place we stayed had boogie boards and snorkelling gear that we could use. I had never been snorkelling before, but of course I’ve always wanted to because it sounds so amazing! Well, it was incredible!

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I loved snorkelling at this beautiful little beach! It was so incredible, and since this was a popular snorkelling spot, the fish were used to people so you could get very close and get a great look at them. If you’ve never been snorkelling before, you should definitely try it! We only had a few snorkels, but we had enough goggles to go around, so I just kept resurfacing to get breaths of air, and it was still great fun.

Percy enjoyed it too…

He even tried out surfing. 😉

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After this we visited a beach where Ben, Jared, and Kalina all tried boogie boarding, but the waves were so huge they got told by the lifeguards to stop because they weren’t experienced enough. I’m not a very strong swimmer, so I wasn’t about to go try not to drown, because it would not have been very fun for me. So Adalia, Percy, and I just enjoyed the sun and sand!

I did warn you that most of the photos I took were of Percy, right?

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But ummm that face?! Too cute!

When we weren’t exploring the beaches, we spent the evenings watching movies and eating popcorn.

I love these photos I got of Ben, Adalia, and Percy at the beach across from where we stayed, one morning.

All in all it was a really fun time, and I would love to return someday, but maybe for a bit longer!

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Until next time!

Experimenting With Photoshop

The other day I was trying to find some tutorials for Photoshop, and I stumbled across one on Pinterest that’s been my inspiration the last few days. Here is a link to the blog with the video tutorial. The video is about ten minutes, and totally worth your time! Up until now I only used the RGB part of curves, but after watching this video I’ve been experimenting with using the Red, Green, and Blue separately as well- in color and black and white.

I’ve also been experimenting with adding some grain to give my photos an old vintage feel. Photography is an art, and while normally I don’t edit my photos a lot, I’m really enjoying playing around with them and creating different looks! I’ll even include a few before/afters for you to see! So… enjoy!

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Before and After ^

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Look. At. That. Face. I love him!!!

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Another before and after! ^

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I was trying to go for an eerie/creepy feel with this one. I’m not totally happy with it, but ehhh that’s okay. Want to see the before and after of that one side by side?

Yes this one has four different versions… haha! From left to right: original, color, black and white, black and white with grain.

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Now that I’m across the world from my mother and her amazing photography skills, it’s rare that I’m on the other side of a high quality camera but praise the Lord, my husband is a great photo-taker. I adjusted the settings and all so it’s as simple as focusing and snapping the picture, but I guess it’s not as easy as it sounds. Anyway- my husband is good at it! Praise the Lord!

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With, and without grain ^

Enjoy your weekend, friends!

Hiking With my Hubby

Hey friends! On Sunday afternoon, Jared and I went for a hike at Whangarei Heads. It was only a short hike (it took about an hour total) but it was pretty steep. At the top there was a gorgeous 360 view! You could see every direction. It was also pretty windy and if you’re a bit afraid of heights, it might make you kinda nervous… (yes I am talking to myself). I took my camera and got some gorgeous photos! Then today my camera fell apart sooooo that’s fun… The battery hatch fell apart, so I’m trying to figure out how to put it back together, that’s all. Worse case scenario I buy a new battery hatch. Or a battery grip. It’s not the end of my camera, thankfully! It’s just out of commission until I get it figured out.

Yesterday I was so busy all day so I didn’t get a chance to upload my photos to the computer, but today I finally did, and I had fun playing around with a few of them!

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How handsome is he?!?! REALLY handsome if you ask me!

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You know you are married to your soulmate when your spouse can take decent photos of you (okay the focus isn’t quite spot on in this one but still! Still great!)

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On our way back down I stopped to take some photos because THIS TREE is GORGEOUS!!! Okay actually I stopped several times to take photos, but again, this tree?! I love it! And that’s just the background of this photo, the real star is that hottie in the right hand corner 😉

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So I definitely need to work on my black and whites — well I need to work on all my editing– but I love the angles and all the branches in this photos. I took this photo on our way down, and I was standing above Jared. It was SO steep!

Now this was the really fun part! I decided to play around with Photoshop and try and create a moody look. The photo on the left is edited normally (I usually adjust the exposure, sharpness, warmth, and the tint if necessary), and the photo on the right is the one that I played with. I really love it! It’s just a first attempt but I’m really happy with it. Except why is the inside of Jared’s hood bright blue?! That kinda ruins it…. lol

I have plenty more photos that I’ll be sharing later this week, once I edit more! If you know of any tutorials for moody photos, or black and whites… hit me up in the comments!

Photography: Monarch Caterpillar and Chrysalis

I’ve been so busy lately, and I completely forgot to blog yesterday until the evening, so I’m posting on a Tuesday. (but hey it’s still Monday for my American readers…)

A few days ago Jared noticed that on a swan plant in our driveway there are several caterpillars and chrysalises! I’d seen a few before, but now there are 5 chrysalises and about the same number of caterpillars.

Once some of the butterflies come out of the chrysalises, I’ll try and take some photos if they’ll stay in one spot for a few minutes!

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At my family’s house in the States, I don’t remember ever seeing a monarch caterpillar, but we would get these fuzzy orange and black striped ones. One year, I don’t know what happened, but there were THOUSANDS of them all over! You couldn’t walk across our front deck, or anywhere for that matter, without stepping on a caterpillar or five. No more running around barefoot outside, cause, ew! I think we even found a few in the house.

I try not to think about caterpillars too much, because I *hate* larvae, and worms… not earthworms, but any other kind. Seriously I think I have a phobia because I have had some major freak outs… when I was a kid, my siblings and I liked caterpillars, yet as I grow older and realize that they’re basically maggots for butterflies- EWwwwww yeah I’d rather retain the fuzzy memories from my childhood. And the caterpillars we had then, they didn’t even turn into butterflies. I think they turned into moths.

Anyways, that’s enough of my caterpillar talk. What animal grosses you out? A lot of people hate spiders and snakes, but I actually love snakes- probably because I grew up where we didn’t have any poisonous snakes- and while I don’t like spiders, they don’t terrify me- also probably important to note that we only had a few poisonous spiders where I grew up, the main ones being black widow and brown recluse. I think I saw a black widow spider once, and that’s it. I don’t even know what a brown recluse looks like, now that I think of it. I should probably know that… I don’t like spiders, but they don’t scare me like larvae do. Seriously I’m making myself uncomfortable just talking about them. Gross…

Okay well that would be an odd note to end on, so let’s brighten it up a little. Do you have many butterflies where you live?