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Parenting, Travel

How to cope as an expat mom

Moving countries as a mom is more demanding because you are not just trying to adapt to a new environment, but also trying to help your child (or children) adapt to the new environment. The age of your child determines how much effort you would put in to cope as a mom in your new environment.

Relocating with three kids under the age of 6, these seven points have helped me cope;

Research for schools

It would be better to research on schools before leaving for your next adventure. Narrow your search down to three or five and contact the schools, letting them know you are not yet in the country, and give them a probable date of arrival. With this as a mom, you are sure that your child would not be out of school, and that you would not be overwhelmed with this decision when you arrive.

Live in family friendly environment

This is very important to allow you and your family settle in very fine and easily. As a mom, you would want your kids to be safe while playing and expressing themselves. The house/apartment should not be so far from the school. There should also be a play area and other amenities needed by families in the neighbourhood.

Attend/Host Playdates

Depending on the age of your child or children, it is better to host and attend playdates. This would enable your child to socialize and make friends. It would also enable you to get to know your child’s friends. If your child’s still a toddler or a baby, this would also be an opportunity for you to socialize with other moms, and learn how they are coping with the sleepless nights 🙂

Join Mom support groups

This goes a long way to help you settle in your new environment. You can always learn from other moms experiences, and also ask any questions you might have as a mom. Since you are new to the environment, these moms are always there to tell you where to find products you might be looking for, and good substitutes if you can’t find you specific brands, best schools, hospitals and even parenting tips.

Have a “Me time”

It can sometimes be overwhelming adjusting to a new environment, and also being a mom. It is advisable to have a “me time” (as I prefer to call it), to keep your sanity. Your “me time” should be something you love doing, which distresses you. It could be pampering yourself, resting, going to the movies, coffee time out with friends, girls night out etc. If you make out time for yourself, you would be strong enough to take care of someone else.

Communicate a lot

Having constant communication with your child would help you find out how they feel about their new environment. Ask them how they feel about their new school, the teachers, if they have made friends etc. Communication goes beyond asking them these questions. It also requires making out more time for them, and showing them you care about their feelings. This would help them not to hold back from you, and you would be able to know if they need your advise or help.

Don’t feel too guilty

It is very natural as a mom to always feel guilty that you are not doing enough, and you keep trying to be better. As an expat mom, this feeling is more. You blame yourself for everything (and even for things you can’t help), if the weather is bad you blame yourself, if your child is taking time to adapt to the environment you blame yourself …and the list goes on. Try to do the best you can to make settling down easy for you and your child, but don’t weigh yourself down.

Being a mom should not stop us from living our dreams. It only makes us more accountable and stronger. Yes, we can do it.

 

xx,

Stella.

Lifestyle, Travel

Reasons to try out the Expat Life

Most times, I get this questions from family, friends and even acquaintances; Do you like living abroad? How is life as an expatriate?

While living as an expat can make you feel homesick at times, I am excited of the opportunities I have had and is still having as an expatriate.There are numerous reasons why people like the expat life but these are my top five reasons;

Knowledge gained: Usually, there is a difference in the way of life between your home country and your destination country. Moving to a new country gives you an opportunity to learn a lot. You get to learn about a new culture and history, sometimes you may have to learn a new language. Learning new things can be challenging, but it’s worth it in the end. The knowledge you gain is different from what you might read in a book or on the internet.

Opportunity to travel: Expat life also affords you the opportunity to travel. Despite having to travel out of your home country, the quest to explore your destination country makes you to travel internally a lot, and with time, you find yourself traveling to other countries to explore them. You get to travel and visit places that you will never forget. I love traveling, and I’m also grateful that living as an expatriate has given me the opportunity to experience it.

Culture sharing: I feel blessed to have friends from various nationalities,and this also gives me the opportunity to experience their culture even when i am yet to visit their countries. I get to eat their food, learn their cultures as they also eat my food and learn about my culture. The vast cultures I have now experienced is something I may not have experienced if I didn’t leave  my country.

Explore: Life is an adventure. Being able to explore is one of the reasons I like the expat life. You get to see, live and familiarize with a culture that was initially unfamiliar to you. Also while exploring, you tend to personally experience a culture which most times is different from the perceptions you may have formed by relying on the media.

Self development: In the process of learning and experiencing these cultures, you realize that you have developed. You are no longer the same person you were when you first left your country because you now see life differently. Maturity also comes in along the way, and you also realize that you can cope with some circumstances life throws at you without relying on your family and friends back home. Expat life also give some people a fresh start to life.

If you are thinking of making that move to live as an expat, and need a little push, I hope this post gives you that push 😉

 

xx,

Stella.

Lifestyle, Travel

Tips on starting the Expat Life

Are you thinking of making an adventurous move, like living as an expat?, then this post is for you.

At a time in most people’s life, you feel like exploring other countries. Sometime, this decision may come as a result of cross posting in your company, needing better pay, trying out a new career, going through a devastating break-up and needing a fresh start, marriage, studies, trying to see life outside the box of the media etc.

Whatever your reason might be, you find out sometimes that after the excitement that you are moving wears down, the fear of uncertainty sets in (which is normal). As an expat that have lived in countries in  Africa, Europe, Middle East and presently in North America, these are my advice on steps to take to reduce the fear of uncertainty;

Research on your destination country: This definitely is going to be my first point because I failed to do this when we moved to Oman, and this made adaptation a bit longer for me. When my hubby informed me that we would be moving to Oman, I remember I hadn’t heard that name before but I felt if I could easily adapt to life in the UK then it was going to be easy, but that was not true.

I had to learn to adapt to almost everything including weather,  different days of the weekend etc., but now I’m so in love with Oman 🙂 Enough about me, all I’m trying to say is get to know your country of destination, research! research!!research!!!, email bloggers based in such countries and ask questions.

Make Plans: Decide on what you would do in your destination country. For instance, if you are going for a new job, ask questions from your prospective employer and make plans. Is your rent, health insurance etc. going to be covered in your monthly income? If you have kids, would their fees be paid by your company or would you pay for that personally? Would your monthly income really sustain you?, because the worst place to be stranded is in a foreign land.

I have met some people that get excited when they hear the amount they would be paid (maybe comparing it to their own currency), but when they get to their destination country, they realize they can’t survive on it. If you are satisfied with your findings and plans, then it is time to decide on what you would do with your properties (you may decide to ship, sell or keep them).

Get the news out: It is now time to inform those that officially need to know (of course you don’t need to inform the media house 🙂 ), like your boss, tax man, family, friends, etc. Then sort your utility bills and current tenancy agreement (if you are renting) etc. It’s now time for goodbye party!!! (I hate goodbyes 🙁 )

Obey the Laws: When you get to your destination, obey your host country. Come in with the right visa, make sure you researched on what is allowed and what is not allowed. Sometimes what may be Okay to do (e.g drinking alcohol) in your own country may be prohibited in your host country. They cannot change their laws for you, there is always an option for you to leave or not going there in the first place.

Make friends. Be prepared to miss your family and friends back home on some events you would have really wanted them to witness. Friends are the people that would help you adapt to your new country (I have a lot to talk on this which I would further discuss in my next post). You would need the expat community, they have been where you are now, so they know how best to advice you. It is also better to get a house around where expats live or join expat communities like Internations.

Explore: This is one of the reasons I love expat life because the knowledge you gain is immeasurable. Try to visit places within your host country, and get to know them better. Learn about their history and culture. Language may be a barrier sometimes, but with the right friends, you can always learn how to cope with the difference. Do not limit yourself to what you see on your screen, go out!

 

With these in place, you are ready for your new adventure, have fun exploring.

xx,

Stella.

Lifestyle, Parenting, Travel

“Without Fireworks”

This post is coming a bit late because I have been taking more time trying to understand my new site. Moving from Blogspot to Wordpres is ‘kind of’ different for me (but I’m loving wordpress already).

Despite the fact that New Years Eve seemed slightly different without fireworks, I still had fun. It was nice having a taste of nightlife again with dear hubby (with a toddler and a baby, nightlife is a luxury)  … and yes, without the kids.

We celebrated the New Year at Shangri-La Resort, Muscat and their New Year’s Eve programme was lovely. It started with a buffet dinner and unlimited bubbly/beverage, then we proceeded to the Turtle Beach for the countdown party. There was live music at the party and also unlimited booze (drinks) and finger foods. We sang and danced until mid-night and then lit the floating lantern. Watching several other lanterns was magical to me, and also reminded me of our Thailand trip.

There was also an after party at the Shangri-La Ballroom. Instead of walking to the ballroom for the after party, I found myself heading to the room. I was already missing my little angels, and wanted to be sure they were coping fine with the nanny (she did a great job).

Below are some highlights;

 

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xx,

Stella.

Lifestyle, Parenting, Travel

Al Bustan Christmas!!!

The last Christmas was Zani’s first Christmas …Yippee!!!

Unlike other years when we used to be in a hurry to travel out of Oman for Christmas, this year we were so reluctant to travel. We wanted to experience Christmas in Oman, we didn’t want the hustle and bustle of traveling. I particularly just wanted to lounge around (but definitely not at home … hahaha!) …We agreed on Al Bustan Palace Hotel (which is also a Ritz-Carlton Hotel).

The usual me always waits for the last minute before packing. I succeeded with this ‘last minute‘ style of packing before the kids came (because it was easy for me to remember all I needed for a journey), but to be honest, last minute packing is not fun with kids (not with a toddler and a baby), I kept running back and forth, and always remembering an item almost forgotten … I guess I need to improve on my ‘mummy planning skills‘ (does this phrase ever exist?).

Anyway, we got to the hotel on the 24th of December to spend few nights. We were warmly received, and check-in was so quick, and also with an upgrade to Lagoon access room. Normally while booking hotel rooms, we usually avoid ground floor rooms (so that we can get good views of areas we visit), but being informed that the rooms with the Lagoon access were their best, because it has direct access to a private pool from the room, we accepted the upgrade …I loved waking up to this view;

The room was neat but I didn’t like the setting of the bathroom, It has a shower demarcated from the toilet with a curtain (Hotels of such category usually have both the Shower and Bath option) …Apart from this, I cannot fault this hotel

We were welcomed with chocolates when we got to the room …and yes they kept sending more through out our stay (Very nice of them …but not good for me …I know!!!)

Meals at their restaurants were nice, and I really enjoyed breakfast at Al Khiran.

We got this delight delivered to us on Christmas day;

Santa, the elves and local musicians gave us a surprising appearance, and kept us entertained at the poolside.

I also noticed they had great customer care service. Every one from House-keeping to Management always greeted with smiles and were always wanting to know if we were enjoying our stay. They usually ended each conversation with ‘Thank you for choosing us’.

We enjoyed our stay …Thank you to the members of staff of Al Bustan Palace Hotel for making our Christmas memorable.

xx

Stella.

Travel

Back to Muscat …Highlights from Thailand Trip

I will have to start this post with these three words ‘I am sorry’. I feel bad because I promised to keep you updated on what I was up to in Thailand, but I couldn’t. There were lots of fun activities going on around me, and whenever I’m about to write, I get distracted by activities (Yeah! fun activities …and I just can’t say ‘No’ …lol).

This has left me with a lot to write about, that I don’t know where to start … Anyway, I’ll try to give you some of the highlights of our trip.

Thailand is beautiful and is a popular tourist destination in South-East Asia. We visited some of its cities and Islands, and all I can say is ‘Wow!!!’

Bangkok:
While in Bangkok, we visited the Grand Palace, which is made up of numerous buildings in open gardens and courtyards. It has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782.

What caught my attention, was this particular building which our tour guide said was made of gold …wow! (yeah! I screamed ‘wow’ again)

There are also some art designs that caught my attention, but to be honest, I can’t remember what our tour guide said they represent

Based on their restrictions on dress code, I was made to tie a piece of cloth around my waist (I noticed most females had that around because tights and other body clinging clothes are not allowed) … I ended up liking it.

Lovers of art works would really love this place.

We also visited one of the Buddhist temples which is also a known tourist attraction, Wat Pho (Temple of the reclining Buddha). It is directly adjacent to the Grand Palace, so there was no need going back and forth (we visited both places same day).

I was surprised at the number of tourist you see at every site (even on days that are not weekends).

We also visited Siam Ocean World, which is said to be the biggest Aquarium in South East Asia

It was a place for the whole family, considering the fact that they also have kids play area

Safari World is also another beautiful place we visited

We enjoyed the bird show

Fed the swans

Got to see some of the animals

 …etc. There are lots of pictures of other animals, fun activities and shows (which would be too much to upload) …I was impressed.

Phuket

Phuket is an island known for  its lovely beaches and resorts. Our stay in Phuket was very relaxing, I really liked our Hotel/Resort (although when it comes to hospitality, Mandarin Oriental, our Bangkok location still remains my Thailand best Hotel), the view of the hotel from our balcony was lovely

I also liked the fact that the hotel has kids club (with Nanny)

It gave us time to enjoy the couple massage at the Hotel’s Spa without worrying about Zita (our little princess)

The pool and beach was our regular spot

We also attended the Phuket Fantasea show which I would say is a “must see” if you visit Phuket. It is Las Vegas style of  entertainment. Devices with cameras are not allowed into the theater itself (Oh! …I would have uploaded the video …lol), but here are other pictures taken outside the theater

Another aspect of the Phuket stay that really thrilled me was the surprise romantic dinner by the beach from my hubby

Sorry, the pictures aren’t clear, this is best I could get

The lighting of the lantern was amazing, I watched it disappear

Phi Phi Island

 The cruise to Phi Phi Island was fun

We stopped briefly at Maya Bay and Phi Phi Ley (the location for the movie; “The Beach”, that starred Leonardo DiCaprio)

Also stopped at the Viking Cave

And spent a good time at Phi Phi Don Island

I enjoyed our stay in Thailand …it was lovely.

Our trip back to Muscat was in the evening, and I slept almost all through the journey

Kob Khun Ka (it means ‘Thank You’ in Thai)

Stella.

Travel

With Love From Thailand

Since I went on vacation, I seem to have gotten carried away with activities and fun that even reading my mails now seems to be a duty …Hahaha!

Those following me on Instagram already know where I’m spending my vacation (… even my post title says it all …lol). We wanted to spend this years’ vacation in Asia, and based on reviews we agreed on Thailand.

The trip to Thailand was just about 6hours from Muscat and it was very relaxing

With our little princess as the hostess …lol!

 On getting to Bangkok, the welcome was very warm that I felt at home immediately (really unlike me). Our chauffeur (Mr. Viccha) was dressed in this lovely uniform that caught our attention, he told us almost everything we needed to know about Thailand, which also made the drive to the hotel seem short and interesting.

At the hotel, we were welcomed like royals (no kidding!!!). The hotel staff (all formally dressed in both Thai and Western attires) greeted and gave each of us flowers (with lovely fragrance) at the entrance, led us straight to the room and the check in process was done in the comfort of our room.

 

I also liked the entertainment for hotel guest at the lobby

…So far, Thailand seems interesting. I  enjoyed the Thai food and dance at the Sala Rim Naam Restaurant. It is the hotel’s Thai restaurant located on the other side of the river.


Behind us is the boat that transports the hotel guest to its restaurant and Spa on the other side of the river

Thai dance is beautiful, and depicts its culture. Below are some of the pictures;

 Masked Dance: Yoke Rob

Usavadee procession; which reflects the influence of the Central part of Thailand

The meals were also lovely and are served in Thai homestyle (all at the same time).

Steamed Thai dumpling filled with herbed minced chicken and peanut; Grilled squid with ground toasted rice and chilli powder tamarind sauce; Deep-fried prawn patties with sweet plum sauce

Spiced mushroom salad with batter deep fried scallop;

Clear smoked dried fish soup with fresh herbs; Stir-fried vegetables with oyster sauce; Fried Ayutthaya river prawn marinated with tumeric, sweet and salty tamarind sauce; Steamed Hom Mali rice;

Red roasted duck curry; Sea crab cooked in herbed coconut cream; Carved fresh vegetables;

Assorted tropical carved fresh fruits; Water chestnut rubies with coconut ice cream; Sweetened millet porridge, Thai barley and ginkgo topped with salty coconut cream;

 I liked the traditional attire

And the lovely night view of the hotel


Thai people have given me a lovely impression about them (first impression I guess matters).
I would try to keep you updated about my stay.
Xx

Stella.

Travel

Job’s Tomb in Oman (Nabi Ayoub)

If you love historical/ religious sites, or you plan to visit Oman this summer and need more activities for your ‘To do List’, or you just feel like satisfying your curiosity, then Job’s Tomb (Nabi Ayoub) is an option for you.

I guess at this point, you may be wondering; ‘who is Job?’ … Yeah it is the Biblical Job (most of us know) of the Book of Job, who is also known as a Prophet in Islam (and is called ‘Ayoub’).

There have been different arguements and belief as to where the tomb of Job is contained; some say it is in Egeria the pilgrim in Syria, some say it is located outside the city of Urfa in Turkey, some say it is in Dayr Ayyub, Palestine, some say in the Druze community of Lebanon, and others say it is in Jabal Qara outside the city of Salalah, Oman.

As regards the Salalah location, It is about 45 mins drive away from Salalah Oman, and it is located in the Ittin mountain. If you visit this area during the summer period, known as ‘Khareef’, you would see greenery (which is unique) in this part of the country as opposed to the desert feel of the Gulf region.

Here are some of the pictures I took of the place, starting from the entrance and path leading to the tomb;

This is where the tourist guide said he faces to say his prayers

The said spring where Job slammed his foot on the ground to bring about water (according to the tourist guide)

He seems to be taller than a normal person looking at the length of the feet above and the tomb below

The question most people still ask is; how are we sure it is really Job’s Tomb? …All I can say is enjoy the scenery of that area; the amazing mountain view, the Salalah city view (you would also get to see the rural part of Oman), and the weather difference (Foggy weather).

Stella.

Travel

On the move again…

It’s not yet vacation time, and I’m already having some fun!

Mr. C (my hubby) had some official stuffs to do in Abu Dhabi, and gave us (I and Zita) an offer to join him, … of course we jumped at it …lol!

The moment he said we were traveling with Oman Air, my facial expression changed (I felt it would not be fun). Oh! before you get it all wrong, I had not traveled with the Airline before, and also never heard of the Airline until we moved to Oman (I thought I knew the major International Airlines, but this proved me wrong).

Surprisingly, It was fun traveling with Oman Air …I enjoyed every bit of the experience.


I enjoyed the atmosphere

Enjoyed the food and drinks

Kids play area

And even my favourite Chedi Spa was there

Although, I’m yet to experience their Economy class, but comparing their business class service to that of other airlines I have experienced, I believe the airline is worth an experience.

It was a lovely experience with Oman Air …I would definitely do it again.