UK Trip Summer 2016

We have been back for a couple of weeks now and our UK trip already feels like a long time ago.

 

Jet lag has now worn off (We are seriously missing the jet lag induced 8am lie ins from the kids!)  and we are getting used to it being just the 4 of us in our house!

 

Mark is back at work and next week Arthur will be back at school (he will be doing full days now but perhaps thats for another post!).  Its been a while since I’ve had both boys by myself and I had definitely forgotten how much hard work that is!

 

I want to take the time to write about lots of different parts of our trip as separate posts as there really is so much to share!  We certainly squeezed a lot into our 6 weeks!

So look out for posts about our time in

Leamington Spa with Mark’s family

UK Trip Summer 2016

 

our trip down to Plymouth  (and Freddie’s first birthday!)

UK Trip Summer 2016

and a week away at a beautiful cottage in Cornwall with my family.

UK Trip summer 2016

We really had such an amazing time, it was great to catch up with everyone and to see the boys experience so many things that they don’t get to back here in Seychelles.  We were so lucky to be able to spend 6 weeks there.  It meant we got about 3 weeks with each of our families, which was a really good amount of time for everyone to have with the boys (because lets be honest, its them that people really want to see!!)

I have a couple thousand (eeeeek) pictures to go through before these posts get done.  We got a new camera and so we were even more snap happy than usual!  So I have lots to be getting on with!

I do love going through all the pictures though so its not a chore!  Its like living the trip all over again!

 

 

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Our first crop!!

It’s taken almost 4 years but we finally have had our first crop of Bananas!!
We have attempted to grow bananas once before but it failed….which is pretty impressive considering they grow wild here!

When we moved into this house there were already banana plants growing here so I don’t think we can take too much credit for these, but hey we didn’t kill them so I think we will take that for now!

About three months ago we noticed that one of our plants had flowered and there were teeny tiny little bananas growing.
After a quick search online we discovered we would be waiting for around 3 months until they would be ready to eat. It seemed like a really like time, and a lot of time for something to go wrong!

This Friday, Mark came home from school and very excitedly proclaimed that there was a yellow banana so it was time to chop them down!
We had learned that you just have to wait for one banana to be yellow to chop them down, not all of them!

Our first crop of bananas

So we got the machete and the camera and we headed out to the garden- yep it’s totally normal to have a machete here!

Our first crop of bananas
The bananas here are about half the size of ones you get in the UK but with twice the flavour!! They are so so delicious and are a perfect size for baby led weaning! The boys absolutely love them!

Our first crop of bananas

Arthur has been giving a running commentary on the bananas pretty much every day since we first spotted them and loved to tell us about the “green bananas” so it was cool to show him that they had now started turning yellow!
Our first crop of bananas

After they had been chopped down, we showered off the bananas to make sure there weren’t any beasties living in and amongst them – luckily there weren’t!   Arthur had the honour of having the first banana from our first crop.  We have all since had one and they are so good!

Bananas are super cheap to buy here so it’s not like having them will be saving us lots of money but it’s definitely satisfying to know that these have grown in our garden!  It’s been fun to show Arthur how they grow (and for us to learn about it too)

There is already another lot of bananas growing in the garden, we think they will be ready just in time for us coming back after the summer!!

 

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Arthur has started school

The time is here, Arthur has started school.

Arthur has started school

We are so proud of how our little man has got on.

I have taken Arthur in to school to play at get used to it for a while now, but it has only ever been for an hour or so and never on his own.

So I’ve said before but the international school here on Praslin starts in reception 1 (3yrs old) right up to 6th form where they do A-levels (18yrs old).  Reception 1 is essentially nursery.  The school follows the British curriculum so kids are doing as they would be in the UK.

To help get the little ones settled they are allowed to start in Reception 1 in the half term that they turn 3 years old.  So Arthur is starting this last half term of the school year
We agreed with his teacher that Arthur would just come in for the mornings for now.  He will go full time in September.

So, on the 30th May Arthur got his little school uniform on and off we went to school.  I tried to get lots of obligatory first day of school pictures, Arthur was not all that interested in that though!!

Arthur has started school

 

Arthur has started school

It is a moment I’ve been trying to prepare myself for for what feels like ages now.  I won’t lie, I’ve got myself upset many times just thinking about it all!!

arthur has started school

arthur has started school

We walked into school and his teacher met us outside, she took Arthur to the classroom and off he went.  He gave me a kiss and said “bye bye mummy!”  I was so proud at how he took it all in his stride!

I managed to hold back my tears until I got to the car where I allowed myself to have a couple minutes before telling myself to get a grip!!!

We are in the amazing situation that we know everyone at school really well and everyone has known Arthur since he was born so I knew that there were so many people there looking out for him…..including of course Mark, being the headteacher!  I think he found a few extra reasons to pop down and have a little peek in the class for Arthur’s first day!!

I had lots of texts from different people, updating me through the morning letting me know what Arthur was up to which I loved!

Freddie and I had a nice quiet morning together, we had lots of stories and cuddles before his nap.  I then had a couple hours to myself for the first time in AGES!!  I didn’t really know what to do with myself and as a result wasn’t all that productive!!

When I went to pick Arthur up he was really happy to see me and Freddie but didn’t want to go home, a good sign for sure!!  We managed to get him in the car and then we had a lovely quiet and cuddley afternoon at home.

That evening, we got an email with lots of photos from Arthur’s first day by his teacher, it made my day to get a peek into what he had been up to that day!

Arthur has started school

Arthur has started school

P1010838

Arthur has started school

After a couple of days we’ve got into the swing of it  now those couple of hours when Freddie is napping flies by as I get as much done as I possibly can – I had visions of being able to spend more time blogging, that REALLY hasn’t happened!!

It’s now been 2 weeks of school for Arthur and he’s absolutely loving it.  He is settling in so well, we really couldn’t be more proud of him.

His teacher tells us that he’s joining in with activities more and more every day which makes me really happy to hear.  Arthur comes home and sings songs he’s learned at school, it amazes us how quickly he’s picked things up!!

Arthur has been napping again in the afternoon most days after school, he comes home so happy but tired.

I know that starting school has been so good for him in so many ways but particularly for getting to socialise with other kids his own age!

For me its really nice to see him coming out of his shell with other people, he has always been quite shy around people he doesn’t know. I can see his confidence growing in even this short time.

I felt really sad at the ‘end of an era’ of having my now not so little guy at home with me every day, but seeing how happy he is and how good it has been for him has really helped me to get over that. We are now celebrating the start of the school era for Arthur!

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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
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Knocked up abroad

Back in June of last year I received an email in my inbox from Lisa Ferland.  It was an invitation to contribute towards a book.  The book was to be called Knocked Up Abroad and it was stories of pregnancy, birthing and raising a family in a foreign country!!

Knocked up abroad book

I was so excited, I was pregnant with Freddie at the time and of course had already had Arthur here so this was a perfect project for me to get involved with!

So, I wrote my story all about my pregnancies, my experiences with the hospitals and birthing here in the Seychelles!  With various drafts and edits I’d had Freddie by the time all was finished so I could also include how I felt about it all second time around!

It was actually quite emotional spending so much time thinking about my experiences, realising that some parts were less than perfect, a little scary, and some quite ridiculous!  It was also beautiful to sit back and think about it all, despite the imperfections it was still perfect!  Our boys are healthy and are now living and growing up in an environment that we love!

Whilst I was writing my story, 23 other stories were being penned, well typed actually, but you know what I mean!  Our stories are based in 20 different countries, from all over the world such as America, China, Malaysia , Sweden and Togo.  There really is a story that I think any expat mama (and daddy) can relate to.

Flash forward to now and our book is out there in the world!  How amazing and exciting!
If you want to buy it you can get it in paperback here:
Knocked Up Abroad: Stories of pregnancy, birth, and raising a family in a foreign country

Or e-book here:
Knocked Up Abroad: Stories of pregnancy, birth, and raising a family in a foreign country

I think it’s a great read for anyone considering having or taking children abroad; or has had or lived with their children abroad.
Actually though it’s just a good read full stop (and I’m not just saying that because I’m in it!!) there are 24 truly heartfelt stories of mamas (and two daddies) that I think you can really connect to aside from the living abroad side of it all.

If you’ve read it I’d love to know what you thought!

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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!

 

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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!!

day out on a catamaran seychelles

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!

seychelles catamaran boat trip

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!!

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