The Italian Way

16 Dec

In Italy, things are done differently, it is the Italian way of life. Some of it is good, while others is not so good. Some of it is logical while others is illogical. But if you want to live in this beautiful country then it is up to you to adjust and accept.

Italian people are friendly, helpful, kind, love children and accepting. Growing up I always wanted to travel. In fact I made songs up about it with my brother. The big hit was called ” Hawaii”. I dreamed of exploring new countries, discovering cultures and hidden gems. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I would of lived in a California and now Italy.

Italy is a place people dream of, for the food, wine, the culture, history and beauty. It was a place I wanted to visit but was never my top destination to discover.

We have been living in Italy for almost 4 months and I have to say Italy as surprised me. From the beauty, to the Italian bureaucracy, to the culture to generally living in a country where English isn’t its first language. Has it been easy? Definitely not! But I have learnt more about myself than I thought and discovered the beauty of this great country.

When you make a change, it gives you the opportunity to rediscover your passions and to reconnect with what is important to you. The last 3 years have been a whirlwind, the birth of our two preemie children have been the most amazing thing to happen to us but have also been the most emotional, particularly with our first Grace.

This assignment is a time to rediscover who I am, what I want out of life and return to my goals I made long ago. So time to set goals for 2018. As 2017 comes to a end I am thankful for the opportunities given, the magical moments and are excited for what lays ahead.

As I toast out 2017, I wonder what 2018 will hold. My goal blog is to come! It isn’t about the destination but the journey!

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Another day, another glass of Prosecco!

7 Dec

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My eyes open and a new day begins. I stretch out of bed to hear ” Momma Momma” and the day is underway!

I venture out into the cold to walk the kids to school as Grace is singing all the way. The city is starting to wake up, the smell of coffee in the air and a new discovery awaits.

I start with my morning coffee and I see what the day holds. From coffee dates, to volunteering to errands, some days are normal life while others are about discovery the city and Italian life.

I get asked most day where am I from? What brought you to Turin, Do I like Italy? And what school do my kids go to?

It is funny that the same questions are asked and the excitement I get to speak to someone in English. If they are Australia, it is like Christmas.

But what I find really interesting is that every expat is different and every experience is different. What is common to me isn’t the same for another.

So far it is interesting what people expect our Italian life to be like. People say I have spent time in Italy on vacation and it is magical, I would love to live there, all the time. Let the truth be told vacationing in Italy and living in Italy is entirely different. I mean it is completely different.

Now there are some similarities, the food, the culture and lifestyle. But what is not expected is the Italian bureaucracy, the inconvenience factor and the lack of technology. Once you face the fact that these factors can’t be changed and you personally just need to adapt, then your life will be easier and enjoyable.

From my recent blog, I have had requests on top 5 tips of living in Italy so here we go.

1- Patience ! Number one top tip is patience. Be aware that things take time, you are not in control of everything that is being done and time has no limit.

2- Flexibility– be flexible in all situations. Sometime things in Italy are not logical, and don’t always have a straight forward process so the key is to adapt and be flexible

3 Network– meeting people makes a big difference to your experience. Join meet up groups, international groups, moms groups, what ever interests you. Making friends and sharing experiences always makes me feel more settled.

4 Make your house your home– make your home feel like home. Send over your furniture , put up paintings, set up your house and make it feel like a home. We shipped all of our items and it made a world of difference particularly to our children.

5 Be open minded– go with an open mind. Try not to compare Italy to other places, try not to concentrate on the negative but instead embrace the positive. If you are constantly comparing you will always be disappointed, rather start new experiences, enjoy what Italy has to offer and embrace it.

So with all that said it is time for another glass of prosecco.

Until next time, Ciao!

 

An Aussie gal takes on Italy

22 Nov

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It has been some time since I have written a post and this is why. Aside from having two kids under 4 we moved from San Francisco, USA to Turin, Italy.

Yes you read it we moved to Italy! We have been here almost 3 months and it has been an adventure.

Let me just create a scene for you… firstly the top questions I am asked – no I don’t speak Italian, yes I have been to Italy before, no I didn’t think I would ever live here, yes I know it gets cold and no I am not prepared for it, we moved for my husbands work and finally yes we brought the dog.

I have been abroad a long time now but never moved to a country where English isn’t the countries first language.

So what do I think, well that’s a hard one. Firstly I love Turin, the people, culture, food and scenery are amazing. The bureaucracy, lack of online services, language and the steps to do things can be tricky.

What I have found interesting about moving to Italy is the things I didn’t expect and what I am learning along the way.

So here are my top discoveries I have found to date-

Moving with kids– firstly I have never done this before and secondly it makes things even more complicated. Italian love children and are very accommodating. With that said there isn’t always the baby conveniences like other countries. I think since we have been here, I could count on one hand, the times I have changed Will on a changing table and not the floor.

The cold– it is safe to say that this Aussie gal is not use to cold and or rain. Imagine me with a double stroller and an umbrella. It resulted in a drown rat, that rat being me. I mean what the heck is a foot muff. In case you a wondering it is like a sleeping bag pouch which attaches to the stroller to keep the kids warm. Finally, everyone where puffer jacket and I was told to embrace the puffer and I did and you know what they are great.

Technology– now I know I have come from Silicon Valley, tech savvy place of the usa but I guess I didn’t realize what a tech life we have been living, from remotes on everything, fast internet, wireless security, overhead lights just to name a few. Here everything is engrained with such rich history and beauty but doesn’t alway have the tech bells and whistles. It makes me realize what a tech life we have been living and how people in Italy arnt on there phones, internet or social media all the time but rather are relaxed and enjoying what is right in front of them.

Each day I am seeing, learning and discovering more and more. It is interesting as along the way I am rediscovering myself and not as a wife or as a mother but rather as just Sarah.

We all have dreams and goals and some of those I had forgotten and you know what it is time to reconnect, rediscover and reward.

At the end of the day all I need is love, laughter and prosecco! Cheers until next time xoxo

 

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From Trailing spouse to Expat mother 

6 May

Being an expat is an adventure! It is an amazing journey of highs and lows, laughter and tears, goals and fears and most of adventure! 

My love of the USA started back in 2005 when I came over to be a councilor for summer camp. California was like no where I had been. The food, people, sights was like nothing else. 

We then returned in 2008 and spent 8 years on and off in the States. We were expats. When we returned to the states in 2013, I knew we would have children abroad. My husband and I always wanted children and I knew it would happen in California. 

With that said we had two beautiful children Grace and William. This is when the transition of trailing spouse to expat mother occurred. Being a expat is one thing, being a expat mother is another. 

As a expat you are constantly navigating daily life- banking, working, insurance, housing. Having a baby in a foreign country takes on a whole new world. From navigating the medical system, to citizenship, to health insurance to then taking on parenthood. 

What I have realized is when you change from a trailing spouse to a expat mother something inside of you changes. Yes you have had a baby but something else. It is as if it makes you more independent, resourceful and resilient. 

Being a mother is no easy task no matter where you live but living away from family and friends adds a further challenge. Now for me, I have lived away from family a long time. I haven’t lived in the same country or place as my parents for over 10 years. But it is when you have children you wish you lived that little bit closer. 

As a expat you constantly have to put yourself out there, to make friends, try new things to take on new adventures. Being a expat Mom has a whole set of new challenge. A fellow reader asked me about my motherhood experiences recently And what are my top tips for surviving motherhood as a expat. This was the inspiration for this blog, so now to share my tips! 

Well here are my top tips! 

Support– reenforcements, family, friends, mother helper 

Mothers groups- find/ meet other mothers, find people you click with, have something in common with. 

Date night- find time to have some adult time and enjoy a date night with your partner.

Hobbies– continue or find a hobby just for you! Tennis, going to the gym, language class, choir. Something for just you! 

Intellectual outlet– find something that simulates your mind- work, study, writing a blog, keeping up with the news. 

Wine– if all else fails wine! Everything also seems clear upon a nice glass of wine. 

Motherhood is an amazing gift, journey and adventure. It is powered by love, fueled by coffee and sustained by wine! 

Where have I been? 

16 Mar

It have been 17 months since my last blog post and the question you may all been asking, is where have I been? Well that is a good question.

First and foremost I have been a mother to our gorgeous daughter Grace. Taking her to physical therapy, doctor appointments, preschool. Her preemie journey is never over and it wasn’t until about 6 weeks ago that she started walking. So time and dedication has been been needed over the last 12 months. 


We had our second child, William. A preemie also, born 5 weeks early. He is adorable, happy little born and much loved by his big sister and puppy Matilda.


Aside from being a mother to two children, I am also a wife to my husband. My husband works very hard and travels extensively for his work and is away about a third of the year, so with now two kids, that makes it even more hectic

Now take kids and husbands out of it and I have been President until recently for our local netball club and also involved with the local Broadway Chorus group. Not to mention moving house shortly after having William. 

Then comes travel with 3 trips to Australia, Disneyland, LA and Southern California, Texas, Vegas, Italy and Sri Lanka, it has been a wonderful travel whirlwind. 

So as you can imagine my time for blogging has been limited. With that said 2017 is the year for me. A year to discover what I want out of life and to achieve it. 

The past 4 years I have dedicated 100 percent to my family and I wouldn’t want it any other way, but now it is a little “me” time and with that said I continue my journey as a now expat mother. 

I haven’t forgotten my readers and are reminded every day from you to blog again! I thank you for your love and support. I look forward to giving you insight as you follow my journey into the next chapter. 

Our “Amazing” Grace…

7 Oct

  
I always wanted to be a mother, it was something I have always dreamed of. So when the day came that we decided the have a family it was a easy choice and a few months later we were pregnant. 

The moment I peed on the test and then it went positive and my heart skipped a beat. It was as if time stood still and I was overcome with joy.  

Pregnancy was nothing like I thought it would be. I had dreams of cute belly pics, baby showers and prepping the nursery. Little did I know that I would have endless morning sickness, pregnancy complications and delivery 8 weeks early. 

This week our baby girl turned one. It was a milestone that we have aimed for since the day she was born. 

The journey of Grace was not a easy one. With mutilple scans, blood test, blood pressure check, stress checks, numerous hospitalizations, early contractions and in the end a emergency classical c section 8 weeks early. 

If you had told me it was going to be like it was, at the time I got my positive test, I wouldn’t of believe you but it was. 

Looking back it felt almost like a dream. Like I went through the journey but parts I can’t recall and others are so vivid. 

Having a baby girl, 8 weeks early, at 1 pound 13 oz who was in the NICU for 49 days has changed me. It was the most scary, emotional experience of my life. 

I get asked all the time to this day, how did I get through it? How did I cope through the pregnancy with the unknown? How did I see the light at the the end of the tunnel? And you know what,I don’t know. I always had faith that she was ok and that everything would work out. I never doubted it for a second. 

When Grace was born, my first thought was I hope she can breath. Then she took her first breath and then she cried for the first time, I just burst into tears. I asked the nurse and my husband multiple time if she is ok, tell me she is ok. Once they checked her and she seemed ok she then was taken straight to the NICU. This was when our journey really began. 

The NICU is hard to describe it is a place where babies are cared and treated. The first time I walked in, I had no idea what to expect and wasn’t sure how to handle the experience. But as time went on it became familiar and like a second home. It went from the scary unknown to a familiar home. 

The nurses and doctors were simply amazing, but the experience is like nothing I have ever faced. It was an emotional rollar coaster of not being able to take our baby home, worrying if she was gaining weight, eating enough, her test come back ok, each day was a challenge, each day was emotional. 

I keep making myself goals- get to 2 pounds, 4 pounds, home from the NICU, drink so much milk, 10 pounds and 1 year old. As each milestone was met, I could breath a bit easier. But what I discovered this week is that Grace is a premmie and her premmie journey will never be over. I, as a mother will always be worried and wants what is best for her. 

As Grace turned 1, I have reflected on the past year and are just pleased we got through it and that she is doing so well. It is hard to explain the experience, hard for others to imagine but all that really matters is when you look at Grace you forget it all. When you look into her eyes and see her smile it makes everything worth it. 

Grace is the most amazing baby girl. She fought ever day to gain weight, improve her health and to thrive. I look back on the photos and I can’t believe how small she was and how far she has come.

What I now realise is that we needed this experience to realise just how thankful we are to have her. She is simply our ” Amazing” Grace and I am thankful every day to have her in my arms and call her my daughter. 
  

You know your a Mum if….

25 Jun

  

This blog is a shout out to all my fellow Mum readers. As a new Mum I have entered the world of diapers, spit up, poop, mothers groups, feeding, prams and so much more

So it struck me that I have gone from wife to wife and mother. I was one of those people who went to wine bars and didn’t understand the need for parents to be home at a certain time, schedules, what teething meant and the excitement when you meet another Mum you connected with. 
I have entered a whole new world of motherhood, with a greater appreciation and understanding of all the mothers I know, especially my own mother. 

It has dawned on me at the supermarket that can a stranger tell if I am a mother when I don’t have my daughter with me. The answer would be yes. 

20 reasons that tells you and others, you know your are a mother. 
You know your a new Mum if…

1– If you can navigate a baby store

2– If you ask a fellow Mum where she got a baby item from 

3– If you are trying to lose the baby weight while your baby is trying to gain weight 

4– If you can smell poop a mile off

5– If you have mastered the art of feeding and pushing the pram at the same time

6– If 7.30am is a sleep in

7– If you have a shower which is less than 5 minutes on a daily basis 

8– If you are excited that you made a new Mum friend

9– If you start discussing schools when they are a newborn

10– If you have spit up on the back of your top

11– If going to the supermarket alone feels like a vacation. 

12– If you have 3000 photos on your phone and 2800 of them are of your baby

13– If you buy sweet potato and your husband thinks it is for dinner when it is for making baby food 

14– If you miss your baby even though it has only been half an hour.

15– If you rush the end of dinner as you need to get home to the babysitter 

16– If you think it is so adorable when your child, smiles, laughs, crawl and giggles

17– If going to the movies is a luxury rather than the nom

18– If there nothing better than a baby cuddle

19– If you start planning there 1st birthday months in advance 

20– If you want to do it all over again

I love being a mother and wouldn’t change a thing. I have gained an appreciation and an understanding of the beginning of motherhood. 
The adventure has only just begun! 

Trailing spouse- trailing mother- travel widow wife 

16 Jun

        

      I am often asked what do you do, why are you in the USA, where is your husband and the question I am asked almost daily how do you cope with your husbands travel. 

      A reader of mine ask me to write a blog about how to cope with having a husband that travels. To that reader, this blog post is for you. 
      More and more people are traveling for work, both interstate and overseas. Some travel a little and others travel a lot. 

      I grew up with a Dad that travelled a lot in fact he commuted from Perth to the eastern states weekly. My Mum made every effort to make a happy, positive household. I can now start to understand what she went through as a mother and what a truly amazing job she did. 

      When I meet my husband, little did I know that he too would travel a lot. I have been with my husband for 11 years and over that time his travel has increased slowly until the last 5 years where it has become more often. 

      Having a husband that travels is far from easy, especially now with a newborn. But we make it work and enjoy spending time even more when we are together. 

      Over the years I have gained tips and tricks of being what I like to call a travel widow wife. A wife who is alone while there husband travels for work.
      So here our my tips for how to cope with a traveling husband

      1- Keep in contact- messages, viber, FaceTime, calls, whatever it takes to keep in contact on a daily basis. 

      2- Keep busy- plan out your days, while he is way- meet up with friends, work out, do chores, what ever your interests are ,fill your time with your favorite things to do.

      3-Schedule – it is crucial to plan. If I want my husband at an event or appointment then I plan around his schedule. We have what we call “black out day” where it is a must he is here and he tries to work his travel around that. 

      4- Communicate – communicate your thoughts, plans, daily thoughts with him. Make sure you include him on decisions and daily goings so he feels apart of the family. 

      5- Flexibility- flexibility is key. My husband travel changes all the time and it is key for me to be flexible and not to take it personally. 

      6- Support– ensure you have support around you- friends and family. Our friends are our family as we are expats living overseas. However I call my parents every day and they can FaceTime with our daughter. They are always there to support me and give guidance. 

      Every day I learn I new tip or trick and I never stop getting advice and support from fellow mothers. Being a mother, expat and a travel widow wife, is still new and I seek help when needed. 

      Enjoy every moment with your husband and make those moments special. Plan trips, date night, family outings and enjoy the ride! 

        

      Traveling with a baby= a new travel experience! 

      13 Mar

      

      Each day millions of people around the world travel. They travel for holidays, business or pleasure. 

      Travelling in my opinion is an art form perfected over many years. From packing the perfect amount of cloths, picking the best flights and connections, requesting the best seats to getting through security in a timely manner, getting sleep on the plane and avoiding jetlag on arrival. 

      Now I would say that I am or rather was a good traveller, I would arrive to the airport with plenty of time, pick the shortest line with no families when going through security and relax in the lounge before boarding.

      What I didn’t realise was when we had our daughter my travel plans would change. It was now about feeding schedule, changing diapers and packing for the baby. I had become one of those people, you know the people who you dread seating next to, as they had a baby. 

      I am that person. My appreciation for parents on long haul flights has changed to amazement. I was the person holding up the security line and collapsing the stroller at the gate. 

      I did so much research before our long haul flight from LAX to SYD, I asked every parent for advice and did a pre pack and prepped as much as possible. To be honest it went brilliantly! She slept 13 hours out of 15 hours. I could not have been prouder. 

      So with that said, a recent reader of mine asked me for my 10 top tips when travelling with a baby. So I dedicate this blog to them and here are my tips.

      1- Use an umbrella stroller or carrier-as much as possible before you board the plane 

      2- Pack light– Pack the essentials you need for yourself and the baby but don’t over pack 

      3- Travel insurance– make sure you get travel insurance for the baby. That way if anything goes missing it gets damaged you are protected. 

      4- Book a bassinet on the long haul flight if possible.

      5- Feed or give the baby a teething toy for take off and landing to assist with pressure changed to there ears 

      6- Lounge access– if possible join a frequent flyer club or buy a day pass and use the lounge prior to flying and during connections. That way you can change, bath, feed the baby easily.

      7- Ask for assistance– everywhere I went I was offered assistance, take them up on it. From security helping you with your items, to the airline staff assisting with boarding and on board 

      8- Get to the boarding gate early and board the plane when offered to do so. On most flights families with children can board prior to a general boarding. 

      9- Toys– bring your babies favorite toy with you. This will assist with providing something familiar to your child and help with the travel.

      10- Change and fees prior to flight– by the time you boarding, taxi and take off it is often an hour to hour and half before you can feed your baby again. Not to mention that is with out delays. So may your baby as happy as possible prior to boarding the flight. 

      So go forth and start travelling. Thank you to all of my dear friends who gave me advice and encouragement to fly. It was worth it, bringing our daughter to Australia for the first time was something I will never forget! 

      Visiting home as a expat! 

      9 Mar
      Visiting home as a expat! 

      As a expat we long for the day to return home for a visit to see friends and family. 

      The excitement of pressing booked on your flights. The anticipation of walking on to a Qantas jet and hearing a Aussie accent and then the final descent into the land down under.

      On arrival you rush to get your Aussie food fix be it a pie, a flat white or some Cadbury chocie. Then you wait to see your family and friends! You reconnect on what has happened in the past year, all the local gossip and you remience like old times. 

      It is a strange feeling! It is like meeting an old friend, familiar yet you don’t see them often. It is as if nothing has changed yet there are changes around every corner. From new restaurents, building, freeways to       friends and family having children, buying houses and moving interstate. 

      Being a expat is like living a double life. We have two houses, two sets of friends and two lives. One is not better than the other, just different. You fit in your life where you are living and the when you go home you fit there too. 


      I am proud to be an Australian and to bring our daughter home for the first time. How long I will be a expat living in the usa, I am not sure. One thing is for sure, is that I will make sure our daughter knows where she is from, make a effort to come home yearly and enjoy the time we spend in Australia. 

      No matter where we live and what we do we will still and always call Australia home! 
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