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! 

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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! 

      From Trailing Spouse to Trailing Mum!

      30 Jan

      Being a expat is a privilege, a challenge and a journey.

      It doesn’t define you, yet it is a way to identify yourself. I have been living back in the USA for 18 months now, as a trailing spouse.

      A new term I hadn’t heard of, yet now after research, writing blogs and learning more, I now have a better understanding.

      When taking on another overseas assignment, I knew that we would have children oversea. I knew that and I was and still am happy to do so.

      With motherhood comes, amazing moments, challenges, new stage of your life and new found respect for your own mother and those that you know.

      If being a Mum wasn’t a challenge enough try being a expat or rather a trailing Mum. A Mum who followed there partner overseas and has a newborn.

      If you had told me at our one year wedding anniversary that I would be living back in California, having a baby girl who was born 8 weeks early and spent 49 days in the nicu, I would say you are crazy. But that is what happened.

      From that experience I have learnt a lot and have started to experience being a expat as a Mum. Instead of a late night on the town, I am going to mothers group, instead of a last minute weekend away, I am going on a family outing to the farmers markets and instead of a romantic dinner for two, it is now a dinner for 3 and you know what I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      My expat experience is more enrich, meaningful and fulfilled.

      Do I miss my family?
      Do I wish we live closer?
      Do I want our daughter to experience Australia?

      Absolutely! But she is enjoying a life experience that children dream of, not to mention she is a dual citizen.

      Recently I have had a few readers ask how do I do it. How do I be a expat mother. Well I am not going to lie, it is hard work! But I love it! Every single thing about it!

      So to all those other expat Mums out there, here are my top tips for new mother expats, on making the most out of this experience. Also how to survive being a stay at home Mum ( short term or long term)

      Mothers group- sounds corny I know but find a mother group. Both a online forum and a meet up group. This give you a chance to socialize with other Mums, learn from each other and be each other support.

      Hobbies– make sure you don’t lose sight and time for your hobbies. Be it netball, singing, volleyball, cooking anything. Work out a way to continue these interests.

      Time out– find time and a way to have time away from the baby. Go to the movies with friends, a girls night out, dinner with family, anything!

      Communicate– being a expat our family and friends are far away, so make sure you keep them up to date. Send a monthly email, send pictures of the baby, chat on FaceTime, viber, Skype.

      Help– don’t be afraid to ask for help. I learnt this when I was pregnant. A complicated pregnancy meant needing help. I was so touched by the support and help I had from my fellow expat friends. If you need help, ask for it.

      Let’s continue this journey and enjoy motherhood, expat life and everything that comes with it!

      “I am a wife and mother first, then the First Lady!” Go out there and enjoy your expat life!

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      Discover your expat city!

      2 Dec

      IMG_4840.JPG
      So begins part 2 of arriving as a expat and becoming a local. This is part of a series which will assist you with becoming a expat.

      Many readers have requested assistance, advice and information on tips and tricks of being a expat and living the expat life in the Bay Area.

      So to answer your question the first tip is to discover.

      Discover the place you live, get to know your local community and enjoy what your city has to offer.

      The Bay Area has an array of things to do. No matter what your interests are, be it the arts, food and wine, sports recreation, history and nature there is something for you.

      When arriving to a new destination the first thing I alway do is go on. Hop on/ off bus. It may not sound luxurious or overly exciting compare to other tours but it allows you to get your bearings, a lay of the land and start to discover what the town has to offer.

      This will assist with finding what neighborhood you would like to live in, the local spots to eat and background on the community.

      For San Fransisco check out http://www.hop-on-hop-off-bus.com/san-francisco-bus-tours for tours.

      Being a expat a lot of the time you don’t chose where you go or are posted and that means that maybe the destination isn’t a major city and may not have tours. So if that is the case grap a map and make your own tour. Check out all the major attractions of the town and get the lay of the land that way.

      Once I have completed the tour then it is time to embrace the expat experience!

      I find, I always feel better about a place once I have done some discovering. Check out the local spots, get a feel for the town and then you can make a start in getting settled.

      First stop discover, second stop research!

      Let the expat journey continue!

      Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful!

      28 Nov

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      So as you all know I am Australian. As an Australian we celebrate Australia Day, Anzac Day, AFL Grand Final, Melbourne Cup, Easter, Christmas to name a few.

      So Thanksgiving is an new celebration for my family. Today is our fifth Thanksgiving in the USA. I can now say it is one of my favorite holidays.

      It is a time to eat and drink, be thankful and spend time with family and friends. So I guess like Christmas without the presents.

      Today I reflect on the past year and reminisce about the highlights of the past year.

      From holidays, celebrations to births, weddings and magical moments. It has been a year to remember.

      Without a doubt the highlight was the birth of our baby girl Grace. It definitely wasn’t the pregnancy journey we expected nor was it a easy road but is was worth every single emotion and challenge because the result was truly amazing!

      At Thankagiving it reminds you of what is important and the goals ahead of you.

      I am no longer a expat but rather a mother and to define that more a expat mother.

      So let the next chapter begin on my Expat journey as a mother!

      At this time I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and thank you for the support of my blog. I am truly thankful for the encouragement, feedback and enthusiasm that my readers bring me.

      I am signing off on Thanksgiving eve wishing each and everyone of you a Happy Holidays!

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