Expat family guilt

Expat life can be AMAZING, but there are times, when expat life can be tough.  I think adding children into that mix can make the highs and lows even more extreme.
 

Expat family guilt

Without doubt we are really happy with our choice to have and live with our boys abroad; if you’re a regular reader of my blog I think that’s pretty obvious to see.  We love the life that we have here.

Expat Family guilt

We are lucky that we don’t really get external guilt put on to us by our families, its just the guilt we put on ourselves!  I know that some people’s families don’t hide their displeasure or disapproval at the expat life!

But the days when it is hard, it really is hard.  Well often it’s not even days, but moments, when the expat family guilt kicks in.

Moments where the difference in timezones mean I can’t just pick up the call for a chat.

Moments where our restricted internet means I can’t just video call if the boys are doing something fun!

Times where I’d love to send the boys off for an afternoon to spend time with their grandparents (and give me an afternoon off!!)

Times when I feel truly awful for how much our family is missing out on with the boys growing up so fast.

This month I’ve been feeling some serious expat guilt.  I think it comes from Arthur getting older and being able to communicate more.  I’m pretty sure that our upcoming trip to the UK this summer is  having an impact on it too.

It hit me really badly the other day when after a Skype chat with my Mum.  Arthur got really upset and said “see nana please mama.”  I can’t express how awful I felt.  I would have loved more than anything at that moment to be able to pop round to visit her so Arthur could see his Nana.

Arthur really likes planes and so I tell him whenever we send something to the UK or someone has sent something to us how it has been put on a plane.

I think he’s starting to comprehend that our family doesn’t live close by.  That we can’t just go and see them whenever we want.  When he asked to “see nana” the other day, it made me realise that his understanding is more than I had given him credit for.

The moments may be fleeting, often they are just thoughts that are coming to the forefront of my mind.  But it’s undeniable.  Expat family guilt is real.  The best way I have found to deal with it is to take advantage of something that you couldn’t do at ‘home’.  For us that can be something as simple as getting out in the garden and enjoying some sun for instant gratification, or take a walk to the beach or the pool.  Even just looking at some pictures of the boys and appreciating what opportunities they get here that they wouldn’t get elsewhere.

How do you do deal with your expat family guilt?

Seychelles Mama

A peek at our new house!

Mark has been made head teacher (proud wife alert!)  The current headteacher is retiring at the end of this term and Mark will be taking over from then!

As part of his new job we got to move to a new house.  It feels like no time since we moved into our last place, it was in fact less than a year!  Regular readers of my blog will know some of the negative things we experienced since living there, but also we have some truly wonderful memories from that house.  It is the first house we brought Freddie home to, Arthur started sleeping in his big boy bed here and potty trained too!  I also will have lovely memories from our great garden there.

We are very excited about our new house.  It’s 4 bedroom 2 (amazing) bathrooms, a big wrap around veranda and a beautiful garden!

Arthur and Freddie are settling in here beautifully, Arthur loves it and keeps proudly proclaiming “new house” with a big grin on his face!

Koopa is beside himself happy, as the house is so open we’ve decided to give up on trying to keep him outside and as I write this he’s lying by my feet next to the sofa!
I’ve shared a few pictures on Instagram, but here’s a few more!  Take a peek at our new house!

A peek at our new house

A peek at our new house

A peek at our new house

A peek at our new house

A peek at our new house

A peek at our new house

A peek at our new house

These are some of my favourite bits, but there’s still lots to get sorted so I’ll share more pictures when we are fully settled in!   I love that there are a few quirks in this house, it’s not new and I love that!  There’s lots we can do to make it our own.

The kitchen sink might just be my favourite thing of all, the kitchen in general has a real industrial feel to it!

The house is huge and it’s definitely going to be a lot to keep on top of.  Our cleaner has stopped working for us as she got pregnant and it was too much for her to do (understandably, I struggled cleaning my own house when I was pregnant let alone someone else’s!) so we are in the look out for someone new to help us out!!  In the meantime I’ll tie mops to the kids feet, I’m kidding….I think!

 

Yoga at Raffles hotel Praslin

Yoga at Raffles hotel Praslin

For the last few weeks I have started going to Yoga at Raffles hotel Praslin.  I’m just going once a week right now but I am loving it.
The location is incredible.
You come down these beautiful steps to the spa.

Yoga at Raffles hotel Praslin

Then head into the yoga studio.  Take a look at that view!!  You can hear the waves crashing too, it’s amazing.

Yoga at Raffles hotel Praslin

The instructor is brilliant.  She has a great vibe about her without being a crazy yoga lady.  The class has varied each week, always good to keep it interesting!
The first class I went to was really relaxing with lots of stretching.  It was lovely, that night I was so relaxed I fell asleep on the sofa, even earlier than usual!
But my favourite classes are the ones where there’s been lots of strength building and I’ve been really aching afterwards!  I like to know that I’ve worked hard and this class has definitely left me feeling that way!

I’ve always loved yoga, but have tended to do it at home.  It’s been great to go to a class and experience it in such a different way.

Our instructor likes to use essential oils, it’s not something I would ever consider but it actually does add something special!

Another added benefit of actually going to a class is that it gives me a real break, some real ‘me time’.  I think it’s really important to be able to get that time to myself.  It’s also nice for Mark to get some time with the boys on his own too!

I started running again (more on that soon) in October, when Freddie was about 10 weeks old.  I’m finding that yoga really is the perfect companion to running in helping me regain my figure and my fitness after having Freddie!

I feel so lucky to have access to such a great class in a beautiful location.  Another amazing perk of our expat lives here in Seychelles.

island Christmas decorating

We were so excited about decorating for Christmas this year.  Last year we went away to Sri Lanka and the year before that Arthur was only 6 months old so we didn’t really go all out.

So, we have a lovely little artificial tree and some really lovely decorations we’ve collected over the past few years, a lot of them have been sent out by Mum and Dad.

But on top of that I wanted to do something to celebrate and recognise that our Christmas is an ‘island christmas’ – you know, in case the hot weather didn’t do that enough already!

My first place to go for a little inspiration was, of course, Pinterest.  I created a lovely little board full of ideas for our island Christmas!

Follow Seychelles Mama’s board Christmas: island style on Pinterest.

Feeling all inspired I started collecting some shells and driftwood.

I’ve wanted to make a driftwood Christmas tree pretty much since we’ve lived here.  Since we had a lovely one as our ‘main tree’ I thought I’d just make a little one this year, as a bit of a test.

I found a few lovely pieces on the beach when we were out walking the dog.  A week or so later we were there with some friends when we discovered a HUGE amount of oyster shells.  My friends little girl collected loads, and I took around 10.  There’s a pearl farm on the beach we were at so we think they were cast offs from there.  We didn’t care, they are shiny and lovely and I couldn’t wait to  make something with them!

island Christmas decorating. Oyster shells

I initially wanted to attach my driftwood onto some pallet wood but decided since our walls are white anyway I could just hang my tree on the wall and it would still look pretty.

I tried to use fishing wire at first but after chatting with my Mum, and realising just how fiddly fishing wire can be, I used some material to tie it all together.  I actually think In the end, it added a little something using the material!

Island christmas driftwood tree

The material I used is from some old curtains that were in the house when we moved in.

I decided to use my little oyster shells as Christmas decorations for my little tree!

Because every christmas tree needs a star, I finished it off in true island style with a salt dough star fish!

Driftwood Christmas tree. Salt dough starfish

 

 

My salt dough recipe if you want to make some too!

Salt Dough Recipe

I was really pleased with how my little driftwood tree came out! I know it’s not perfect, but that kinda works right?
The day we collected all the oyster shells I also found a lovely big piece of driftwood I knew I wanted to use for something.  I decided that I would have it above our patio doors.
So, I made some more salt dough starfish.  Attached them on to the driftwood with fishing wire.  My first idea was to hang some of the oyster shells underneath.  I then remembered we hadn’t yet found a home for our lovely Christmas decorations we’d bought in Sri Lanka last year.   So, I attached them underneath the starfish.  The wood is suspended above the patio doors using more of the old curtain materials.

Island Christmas. Driftwood. Salt dough starfish

Island Christmas. Salt dough starfish driftwood

Island Christmas. Salt dough starfish driftwoodIsland Christmas. Salt dough starfish driftwoodIsland Christmas. Salt dough starfish driftwood

 

I think these two little things definitely shout island Christmas. They were super easy to make and I’m really happy with how they turned out!!  It’s nice to have a mix of traditional Christmas as well as embracing that  Christmas for us isn’t really all that traditional!

What do you think?  Do you make or have any Christmas decorations that reflect your home?

 

 

Day out on a catamaran

I’ve written before about how one of the definite highlights of expat life in the Seychelles is getting to go on boat trips!

Well we recently got to indulge in just that.
It’s been a little while since we’ve done a boat trip.  The longest time Arthur has been on a boat is an hour and Freddie, at only 3 months old had obviously never been on one!  This was the perfect opportunity to be able to go with the kids.

So, every year the school hosts an annual dinner dance and auction.  One of the travel company’s always donates an outing on a big amazing catamaran.  Last year it was won by a man who donated it to the PTA as a way to help raise some more money for the school.
This meant that for a few hundred rupees (about £20) me, Mark and the boys were able to spend an amazing full day out on the boat.

The catamaran is truly amazing  with a large indoor area.  This was perfect for Freddie as it meant we could keep him out of the sun!  It ended up being great for us all in the end as we did have a couple of rain showers while we were out!

When we got on the boat Arthur was at first a little unsure, until he realised that he could jump on the trampoline things at the front (yeah, that’s the technical term for those bits….) then he was delighted!!

P10504211-e1448961870563.jpg

There was about 50 people from the school out with us.  It was such a great day.  I’ve only included pics where you can’t really see anyone else in, just purely because they might not wish to be included on my blog!!

Freddie was amazing all day.  We very nearly didn’t go on the trip as we were worried about being out on the boat all day, but as I mentioned before there was a big indoor area and that was what made us decide to come.  We needn’t have worried anyway, he was so good.  Everyone was loving getting Freddie cuddles, and he was delighted to be getting lots of attention!  We kept him inside a lot of the day but did get him out when it clouded over and cooled off a little towards the end of the day.

Seychelles catamaran boat trip

We sailed around stopping off at different islands and beaches for lots of swimming and jumping off the boat.  Arthur loved getting in!!  He was a little nervous getting too far away from the boat but he did amazingly well for such a little guy!  He thought it was great that the steps went right into the water.  We didn’t get any pics of us in the water, we were too busy having fun!
seychelles catamaran boat trip

seychelles catamaran boat trip
The boat was out 9-5 and Arthur did not stop the whole day.  We didn’t stress about him not having a nap, he was having so much fun and he was so well behaved!

P1050450-e1448962183575.jpg

seychelles catamaran boat trip

As always when out on a boat you get some pretty amazing views
seychelles catamaran boat trip

seychelles catamaran boat trip

 

seychelles catamaran boat trip

I really like this picture of Mark and I, was so sad that there was water on the lens!

seychelles catamaran boat trip

 

I couldn’t believe it when we pulled back up to the jetty.  The day had gone so fast, it was amazing.  The weather had been a little all over the place, but that worked for us, it meant it wasn’t too hot and we didn’t get burned!  Arthur crashed out in the car on the way home, which then resulted in him not actually going to sleep till about 10pm, not ideal, BUT that was a small price to pay for an amazing day out.  Days like this where we are reminded of what an amazing place we live in!  There are of course hard days, and days where things get on our nerves about here, but getting to go out on a boat like this with our kids is so incredible!!

Ersatz Expat

When it rains…

When you picture the Seychelles, I imagine you probably think of something like this

Seychelles

Well, it’s not always like that of course!!  We get some pretty spectacular rain here.
Generally I love it when it rains here.  However, since August we have had SO much rain, I’m getting sick of it!

It’s nothing to do with the temperature, it’s still very warm when it rains.  In fact, the slightly lower temperature is often very very welcomed!

The biggest problem is that we can’t get out of the house!!!
Apparently our house is built on an old lake so when it rains it’s very quick to flood…brilliant.
We are lucky that our house doesn’t flood but our whole garden does, I’m talking like completely underwater!

When it rains in Seychelles

That picture was taken in August, it’s generally dry at that time of year!
That wouldn’t be so bad on its own but the little path out to the road goes completely underwater too meaning that getting out with two kids is impossible!!  You can do it in a car but during the week Mark takes the car to work.

Initially Arthur was surprisingly cautious of it.  He didn’t go in it at all.  Until one day, actually it was the day my parents arrived in September, he got in and had a fantastic time! The water level had gone down a little from the photo above. He went in barefoot, true island boy style, but I was not too excited about that so I didn’t join the fun!

When it rains in Seychelles

Mum and Dad bought Arthur a new pair of George Pig welly boots and so Arthur now gets excited by the “puddles” and runs upstairs to get his welly boots on!

When we get a tiny bit of rain, or when the heavy rain starts.  The puddles are perfect for Arthur to splash around in.  Koopa likes to play around with him too!

When it rains in Seychelles When it rains in Seychelles When it rains in Seychelles

The morning after I took those photos Arthur wanted to go out in his boots again.  It had rained through the night.

When it rains in Seychelles

When it rains in Seychelles

When it rains in Seychelles
Arthur initially had lots of fun but when he got to the deepest part the water was higher then his wellies and he was not so impressed with that!

Notice the absence of Koopa in these pictures?  I tried to get our big brave guard dog to go out and play with Arthur but he was having none of it!!

When it rains. Puppy in the rain

As I write this our garden is underwater again, it rained a lot in the night!  It’s not raining right now though so fingers crossed it will drain away soon….that’s one of the benefits of island living, the soil is very sandy so water does tend to drain away quicker than you might normally expect!

 

Life Unexpected

The darker side of expat life in the Seychelles

*If you are thinking of moving to the Seychelles, you can find all of my posts about life in Seychelles here*

 

Two weeks ago we were burgled.

I’d love to say that it was the first time since we’ve lived here.  Sadly, it isn’t.
It’s taken me all this time to write about it.  This blog is usually reserved for all the nice things in our lives.  A record of our sons growing up and all the beautiful things about living in the Seychelles.  But, I need to write this down, as much as I’d rather forget it, I think that it’s starting to become a worrying part of life here so it would be wrong of me not to record this. The darker side of expat life in the Seychelles

The darker side of expat life in the seychelles

When we moved to Praslin, our little island in the Seychelles, we were naive.

We felt so safe, in a little beautiful, tropical bubble.
The darker side of expat life in the Seychelles
Our house was a little one level two bed place.  We left our doors unlocked, and curtains open a lot of the time.  We forgot that there are bad people all over the world.

Things started small.  Our neighbours and us had some flip flops stolen from the front of our houses, our hammock was stolen from the front of the house while we were away on Mahe, things like that.

It stepped up a notch when there was a pevert at my window while I was at home alone with Arthur one night when he was small.  I was stupid for leaving curtains open I know, but in my defence my bedroom was at the back of the house and there was a big garden behind for a house I knew was empty.  Therefore someone had to come looking to see in which I wouldn’t dream about happening here.
The worst thing about it for me was that he tried to get my attention.  What was he expecting to happen, I’d let him in?!  Anyway I screamed at him and he ran off.  The next morning we discovered that he had moved a gas bottle had been moved so that he could look through the bathroom window which was quite high so he’d watched me in the shower as well.
I honestly felt truly violated and it took me a long time to sleep properly again.  I also don’t think it wasn’t coincidence that it was at this time I got a taste for rum!!

We decided to move house after our neighbours also had incidents along similar lines and our landlord was not prepared to do anything to improve security.  We were pretty certain it was just one disgusting guy targeting us all so moving away from the area would help!

So, we moved into our lovely new house, it was fenced in and we felt so safe all over again.

A couple months later my bike was stolen from the garden.  We were annoyed and upset, but had left it unlocked so had to accept that it was sort of out on display asking to be taken!   However, this was the most valuable thing we’d had stolen, before that, as I mentioned it was minor things.

Then nothing happened to us for another few months.  Our new landlords also own the house next to ours and they had been renovating it, they went away one weekend and came back and the TV had been stolen, they had broken in through the patio doors.  We have two sets of patio doors in our house, our landlords put extra bolts on one set but the others worked differently so they left those while they decided the best way to deal with those ones.
We had no problems until we went away to Mahe to have Freddie.  We were gone for two weeks.  Fortunately for us, as long as we’ve lived in the Seychelles we have locked our real valuables away in a safe place away from our house whenever we’ve gone away.  We were recommended to do this because we have been told petty theft is a problem here although originally we’d never seen it as an issue ourselves.  I’m so pleased we took that advice now!
Anyway, someone broke in through our patio doors.  They raided our alcohol cupboard and took about £200 worth of spirits and wine.  (We aren’t big drinkers by the way but we do like nice bottles of spirits!!)
They were even brazen enough to drink a whole bottle of Whisky while they were here and put the empty bottle back into the box!!  Randomly they also took 4 pairs of Marks shorts, but like old ones he would only wear round the house!!
Again, we were really upset with this.  We did know however that the patio doors were a weak spot on the house.  Annoyingly our landlord had put deadbolts on one set of our patio doors before we’d gone to Mahe but not another.
The whole thing was a surreal experience, it was the day we were bringing Freddie home from hospital and all of a sudden we were dealing with police and security.  Such a shame to have to deal with that on what should have been such a special day.  The good thing was that the police did get fingerprints from the bottle of whisky that was put back in the box and so hopefully something will come out of that – although that hasn’t happened yet!

Even at this point we didn’t feel too concerned for our security, we figured that these people had been watching the house, the same as what had happened next door, and knew that it was empty.  We also knew it could have been a lot more costly for us had we not locked things other items away!!

Then last week while we were all asleep someone came into our house.
Freddie woke up around 1 so I got up to feed him.  I reached for my iPad like I do every night to check the time and it wasn’t there.  I was sure I’d put it on charge on my bedside table but figured I must have left it downstairs.
After being annoyed that I couldn’t use my iPad while I was feeding I woke up more and realised that I was really sure I’d had it when I went to bed.  I then went downstairs to have a look around, I couldn’t find it anywhere.  I went back up to bed and tried to see if I’d accidently left it in the bed before I went to sleep, this woke Mark up.  He confirmed that I had definitely had it upstairs, we looked around the room and realised that a few other things were also missing.  We had definitely been burgled.
They had came upstairs into our bedroom, they took my iPad and a portable speaker and emptied our wallets (luckily there wasn’t much in them) they also took our external hard drive which had all our movies on.
We discovered that they had come in through the back door which was unlocked.  We never use this door, ever.  It could have been unlocked for ages, we know it was locked when we came back from Mahe as we checked all the doors then.  We don’t know who unlocked it, it really could have been anyone.
The thing is, is that someone came into our garden with the intention of breaking in.  As I mentioned, our garden is fenced so you don’t just stumble upon the back door.  This person would have had to come up to the door to test it, you don’t do that in the middle of the night unless your intention is to break in, it just so happened that their job was made a little easier by our negligence.

That night, after the realisation sunk in that someone had been in the house while we were there, my heart broke and I burst into tears.
I couldn’t stop thinking about what would have happened if one of us had woken up, would they have ran away, would it have got violent, did they have a weapon with them in case that happened?  I feel physically sick at the idea of it.

It’s been two weeks now and I can’t get over it.
Every time I wake up to feed Freddie I can’t get back off to sleep, I hear noises that sound like someone is in the house, I swear I see movement out of the corner of my eye.
I know that eventually, this will get better, but I wonder if it should get better.  Should I always be this alert now, just in case?

We now have a puppy, Koopa, who sleeps outside.
The darker side of expat life in the seychelles
He is here not only as our family pet, but also as our alarm, to bark if someone comes onto the property.  Right now he’s not really a force to be reckoned with but any noise is a deterrent to thieves.

Last week, we found out that our friends living near by were burgled.  They broke in through a window while they were out.
Another of our friends has just moved house to the other side of the island after being broken into on numerous occasions and having hundred of pounds worth of stuff taken.

It is becoming increasingly clear that expats are being targeted.   There is a growing drug problem here.  Unfortunately that results in an increase in petty crime to fund drug habits.
Aside from the drug problem though, we have been told on numerous occasions that there are many who feel no stigma in regards to theft here.  That it’s ok to steal from those who have more than you.

We are stepping up security in our home to help protect us from people getting in. We know that, in reality if someone really wants to break in, they will always find a way but we want do make it as difficult for them as possible.
We are also seriously considering moving house as for some reason, there seems to be dramatically fewer problems with crime on the other side of the island.  However, we don’t just want to rush and move anywhere, it’s obviously a big deal to move house with two small children and a puppy, and we have to ensure we move into a place that can meet our needs.
I don’t want to feel like I’m running away, like these people judge won but our family’s safety must come first!

I want to add that by no means had this made me feel that we should leave the Seychelles. Theft and other similar crimes are unfortunately a side effect of living somewhere where there is a large economical divide. This is something that we have now experienced first hand and through our friends. It’s a sad thing, however we do still love living here and there are so many wonderful things about living here.
We are using it all as a lesson to never be sloppy with security, wherever we are in the world, and to remember that as much as we don’t like it, there are ‘bad’ people wherever you go, including a tropical paradise!

 

***update 10/05/2017 I have written a post reflecting on this and about crime in the Seychelles, take a read**