My tiny human’s Little feet

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My Tiny human’s footprint in the shores of Arabian Gulf

One of the things I missed from living near the beach is having  lazy early morning beach walks. Unhurried, calm, serene and the most special thing, barefoot. Away from the chaos, and free from the hustle and bustle of the city.With the wonderful backdrop of the beach, my thoughts oftentimes drifts away and going places as the gentle wind touches my cheeks while holding my daughter’s hand.

There’s something so therapeutic and calming whenever I step on the soft, ticklish sandy shores along Arabian Gulf.  I’ve always been a beach girl  and you can imagine my glee when the day comes that my tiny human finally put her tiny toes in the shores and feel the waves and sand…for the first time. She loved every second of it. It was such a precious moment. She left her footprint, a precious mark —unscaled and raw . This tiny foot mark that I have excitedly captured in photo before the waves swept it away . Looking at her tiny feet made me realize that she had a big world ahead, waiting for her to explore, and that she had to stand firmly on a big feet in order to thrive.

But right now, she’s still so tiny, her feet still so fragile, yet so special.

That once in her life back in Kuwait, she had walked baby steps there, watched the sunsets, and sunrises too, played  barefoot, and waddled her tiny  feet in the shores…making memories.We  made thousands of  footprints in the beach… a beautiful chapter in our Expat life.

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My tiny human’s little  feet over mine.

With the beach front far from where we live right now, she now walks on different grounds. She’s stomping happily on pebbles & cobbled stone pavements and running though the lush grass fields. She’s making her own stride,taking her time to feel the ground,and walking confidently in her own feet. She even learned to jump into muddy puddles and walked on the crispy autumn leaves. She’s still making foot prints, leaving traces of her childhood-in her own tiny world.

As I’ve said before; the Littlest feet makes the greatest footprints in our hearts.

Do you like walking in the beach with your little ones? How was the experience?

This post is in response to this week’s Daily Post- Photo Challenge |Tiny

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Raising my Kung Fu Baby | Expat-Papa in Germany

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Raising the Kung Fu Baby in Germany { Timo with his son, Nathan }

Try to Picture this:  An excerpt of not-so-Ordinary Life

-Your Father is German, your Mother is Finnish.You’re born in Germany and yet you’ve spent a considerable amount of your childhood in Finland. Growing up, you have a fair share of Finnish & German culture instilled in your brain but somehow you felt confused where is your real home country. On the positive side, you smile for a fact that you hold 2 passports & 2 nationalities. It’s no surprise anymore that you are Bilingual yourself. Suddenly your life turned upside down when fate let  East  go to the West and you fall in love with a Chinese woman. Fast forward, you got married, and now had a child growing in an interracial household and quite obvious a mixed genes. Now, you probably noticed that history repeats itself.You are raising your adorable Kung Fu baby  from the Scandinavian environment to a crazy Chinese diversity and now, he is toddling back to your own roots, to the land of your father,Germany. Doesn’t this made you smile?

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Aside from multiple languages, this is an indicator of an Interracial couple raising a Interracial Kid

Above is the story of Half German,Half Finnish Expat-Papa.How does he handles all these while raising another multi-cultural son?

For our 5th feature in our amazing  Expat Mamas around the World interview -stories, we  are featuring Timo, an Expat-Papa, who  who will share to us his perspectives about his unique Fatherhood in raising his son in Germany. We are so used to seeing Mommy Blogs and Motherhood stories, but how about Fathers? It’s not common to see a man writing about his experiences as a father and Blogs about it, let alone totally embracing the adventure of being in an Interracial marriage, right?

I am very thankful that Timo allowed me to have this interview-story and I am hoping I could do justice in sharing with you how  fascinating his journey through Fatherhood.

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Meet the CrazyChineseFamily interracial couple , in a snapshot before Nathan comes in their world.

Here’s my interview-Story from Timo, His own Expat-Papa story;

Expat-Papa Story : Raising my Kung-Fu Baby in Germany

Timo is the Blogger behind the amazing Blog CrazyChineseFamily“. His superb writing skills grab him the ‘NepaliAustralian Blog Award’for Best personal Blog for 2015. His Blog is creating such a stir in the web ever since He wrote in humurous yet  beautiful sarcasm about life revolving around with a Crazy chinese family &  the overwhelming crazy stuff of his  one-of-a -kind MIL ( Mother-in-Law) .

He is already a Coffee addict before he got hooked in Blogland. Timo is a proffesional Swimmer, a gamer, a computer geek, an adventurer, and an aspiring Fantasy author that’s why why he keeps a rather exquisite Tolkien & Manga collection. His favorite Title is being the humble father & photographer to his son named Nathan, and Husband to his beautiful Chinese wife. They got married in Two continents and continue to explore places as a family.  Now they are settled and live in Schleswig-Holstein in the  Northern  part of Germany.

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This is how a day in the Neumünsterzoo during Winter looks like.

Tell us About your Background

This is usually an easy question to answer but in my case it is a bit different. Sure, I was born in Germany and lived here for many years however my mother is Finnish and my father is German. Due to this I spent many years also in Finland during my upbringing resulting that I never developed the feeling of having a real home country. For example I lived until 2014 for over 7 years in Finland where I met my wife and now we both live with our little Nathan in Germany, a country which should be my home country but I always feel a bit like a stranger here.

Anyhow as mentioned before we moved to Germany back in 2014 and we are having our own little Export Business for 1 ½ years now. Though it is hard work it is much better in our opinion than our old jobs we had before in Finland, especially as we have much more time with our son.

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When a Blonde Gentleman from the West said “I Do”to one beautiful lady from the East.

On being in an Interracial Marriage

I can’t count the times where people stared at us and wondering why I am married to a Chinese woman.During the first year my wife got a lot of stares from people on the street however it seems most of them got used to it already. In Finland no one really cared about us or Nathan.The thing is, a day in the Life of an Interracial couple has deeper meaning for both of us now.

The funny thing is that both my wife and I couldn’t be more different when it comes to our interests. My wife just loves to relax whenever she has the opportunity in order to watch some Chinese or Korean TV-Shows with tons of snacks while I try to be doing sports whenever it fits into my schedule. This might be also due to my past as a professional swimmer all those years ago which does not allow me to rest too much (otherwise I just feel too guilty). In my opinion those differences don’t matter at all, I even think it makes us more compatible as the differences allow us also do have some time “on our own” with my wife relaxing on the couch and me for example bicycling alone for one or two hours.

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Old  German wedding tradition : Cutting a log represents the first obstacle that the couple must overcome in their Marriage. They must work together to ‘overcome’the obstacle by sawing through the Log.

On Journey to Fatherhood

During my wife’s pregnancy up to the birth of my son, I am the one behind the scenes. I make sure that I am there for them  for all-time support. Of course there is  MIL who insists on doing Zou yuezi for my wife , but my wife is strong enough to be in control of herself and do what’s best for our son & her recovery.  So little talk about how I am handling it as I am too busy preparing everything for the arrival of my son. I am  glad that when my son was born in Finland, I was physically present and we got a family room in the hospital so I could be with them. Fathers normally doesn’t say much but we just worked hard through it. I have my fair share of diaper changing & late nights on the early months but as a Father, I look more ahead for his future. The responsibility of being a role model as well as to provide for the family is my utmost concern especially now that I have a Kung Fu baby in my arms.

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The coolest Baby Monk ever!

Have you seen how Nathan’s room turned out after long hours of hardwork? Don’t you think this  Totoro theme is cool?

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Nathan’s Totoro -themed room-A pure labor of love & hardwork 
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Journey together as Father & Son 

I for myself am planning a great future in sports for him but I will have to see how my wife will approve of it. Of course studies will go ahead of sports but we still have a lot of time to think about it. My wish would be for him to follow my steps into the swimming world or start Taekwondo .

On having the best Maternity Healthcare in Finland 

The best thing about Finland was probably Neuvola, a child healthcare centre, where parents learn everything about having a baby. There the mother gets all health check-ups and after the child is born it also gets all check-ups regularly until elementary school, all for free! To make it even better mothers are getting a baby box with contains everything important for the first month with the baby such as diapers, drinking bottles, clothes (even a snowsuit!) and the box itself can be used as a baby bed as it comes with blanket and a thin mattress.This makes all mothers smile but also for expectant fathers like me.

On Germany as a Kid-Friendly Place to grow up

I myself was born in Germany and my parents raised me well. As a child we lived in the same apartment that we lived right now. Imagine the nostalgia of growing up here & at same time raising your own child. Nathan was even baptized in the same Church that I was baptized. He played with some of my old toys and during our holidays in Finland, we took him to the same Summer cottage that I used to go when I was a kid.

What I like about Germany is that there are many activities for children. It is really awesome being a kid in Germany. Everywhere you can find nice playgrounds and, at least where we live, we have many kind of parks and Zoos within short driving distance which are just perfect for little kids. For example here is a donkey park, a park for old livestock breeds, a park full of boars and deers, a climbing park and so on. To make these parks even better is that each one has great playgrounds where kids can go wild till they are too tired to stay awake for the drive home.It is very normal to put your child in the Kindergarten  (Krippe/Kita or nursery school) especially if both parents are working. But the system in Germany is that you have to enlist your child as soon as possible or you’ll end up in the waiting list waiting for a slot. Even expectant mothers that are still pregnant are already listing their child for a spot.We hope to get my son into the Kindergarten soon.

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Nathan is already a jetsetter baby when He cross continents & visit relatives in China.

On  chinese Diaper-Free Culture  and Unsolicited Advices on Parenting

My wife is Chinese and she have her own background of how a child is being brought up the Chinese way,  which  are absolutely different from a Westerner like me . When  MIL stayed with us, we are bombarded with stuffs that really surprised me. As much as I highly respect my wife’s culture, things like babies wearing the split-pants  and wearing too much of clothes  even it is 30 degrees C just makes me crazy. It’s no fun at all having a kid in split pants and diarrhea. In Finland, it’s normal to take your kids outside even when its freezing cold and have their naps, of course with common sense to dress them up warmly. Even here in Germany, there is no such thing as a bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. In the end, we do what’s best for our child & for us.

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Baby butts & Split pants culture in China for babies (Photo courtesy of Travel Bug Juice)

On  life Essentials in Germany

The food is some other matter…I certainly love all kind of potato dishes which are so common around here but as we live now pretty much between two seas, the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, seafood is just everywhere and I just can’t stand it. Not that I hate it but I just don’t like the taste somehow. Sure some standard fish dishes are fine with me but anything beyond that is just killing me. My wife on the other hand has no problems with seafood but she does not really like any food which is not Chinese which brings a whole new level of complications as we have no authentic Chinese restaurants anywhere nearby. Yes she can cook fabulous Chinese dishes which she loves herself but ever since we have our own business she finds very seldom time for that.

On  Life in Finland as an Expat family

When it comes to nature, Finland is by far better than Germany. Germany is  also full of beautiful nature & forests as well but you need to drive a certain time to reach it. I can’t think of a better nature than the place I grew up with. But living in Finland is no cheap at all especially for a family.  Although the standard of living in Germany is also high, I find that the living costs here is much better than what we had in Finland. Of course it varies from different persons and lifestyle.

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Family holidays in Finland

On German warm hospitality 

For my wife the biggest difference compared to Finland was how nice our neighbours are. Many offer to take care of our son when we are too busy, they all have some small talk with us whereas in Finland there was just silence. We barely knew our neighbours though we lived at the same place for five years. That just shows how different social behavior is within those two countries.

On having a Steady support system from Family esp. from the MIL

We were lucky to be one of the privileged Expat family who have the steady family support from both sides of our family. Having a nanny is never a norm in Germany neither in Finland . We are always grateful to have extra help from my MIL visits to us in Finland and here in Germany. She is doting so much love on my son as if he is a our “Little Emperor” but my son is too young to complained from her teachings and her cooking.My mother is  also very present in taking care of Nathan whenever we need extra hand. Even with so much differences on both cultures, I see that my son is endowed with much love from his grandparents.

 How is it being a parent while working? How do you handle the change brought by Fatherhood ? 

On being a hands-on Father

We moved to Germany when our son was just 6 months old. Back then I had stopped my freelance work and my wife was on leave from her work as a beauty consultant. Here in Germany I found rather quickly some new job at a bank but had to give it up due to health issues. During my time at the bank I would leave for work at 6.45 am and be back at home around 5pm giving me barely any time with my son. Things got better though! Since last year my wife and I have our own business and we mostly work from home giving us plenty of time with our son. I am one of the fathers who love to spend more quality time with my family and bond with my son. I love to write about my son and his growth in my Blog.For me, He is our Happiness.

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In the medieval market in Germany

On tough German Bureaucracy 

The biggest struggle we had was when we moved here in Germany.The paperwork was just insane, we needed verified documents for every single office and such documents are not cheap when you need official translations of each one and go to a lawyer to verify them. The silly thing is that different governmental offices which even share the same building do not share these documents; everything needs to be handed in to each office respectively. Something like the digital age must be technology the German bureaucracy does not want to reach in the next 50 years at least. I mean in Finland when we notified one office of something all the other offices knew it immediately so we saved time and money.

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Nathan with her Mama

What is your opinion about raising your child as a third culture kid? 

This is not an easy question to answer as I have never thought too much about it. We try that he experience as much as possible from both of our cultures. With me that means I try to give him as much as I can offer about Finland with keeping the German part relatively low as he is anyways surrounded by it every single day. Nathan speaks with his mother only Chinese and she tries to teach him certain Chinese ways. I on the other hand speak mostly English with him and some Finnish besides trying to get him to love Moomins!

On Raising a Bilingual Kid

Being Bilingual is a privilege that not all kids nowadays have. Having this access for multiple language learning would be a great benefit for my son when He grows up. It is tough on adult learning a new language as my wife is also doing German Lessons but for kids, its easy for them to adapt to the culture that they are exposed with.I can’t wait what language would my son would be babbling soon!

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The Kung Fu baby during holidays in Finland

When thinking about which country might be better for raising a third culture kid I must say Finland was a much better place, at least Helsinki, to live as an interracial couple with a mixed child. There was much more diversity there than here in this little town and people seem to be more open minded in Finland.

How do you make an impact as an Expat -Papa in your country of residence?

I try my best to set an example to others in this little town what is all possible in this age and that interracial relationships are nothing strange or complicated and that a mixed child is just perfectly fine. As this town is not that big some people still have different views towards such relationships. This might sound strange when thinking it is the year 2016 and not the 1950’s any longer. I know that if I am a good father & example to Nathan ,then I am contributing to the world in raising a responsible future generation.

Thank you so much Timo! Vielen Dank and more power to you & your Crazy Chinese Family. It’s a pleasure being in your circle.

If you like to know more about Timo, you can follow  his adventures through his  Facebook Page & Twitter.

P.S. All photos are courtesy  & owned by  Timo and are his personal property . Should you wish to use it, please inform or mention him.

Have you enjoyed this post?

Make sure to follow our Expat Mamas around the World series and read how our Expat Mama in The Netherlands, Kuwait, Philippines, and Thailand are doing a fair share of living as an Expat parents.

Make sure to hit the Follow button for more Expat stories on this Blog, and Hey, if you are an Expat Mama, or Papa! , you might want to be featured in this Blog for our series on Expat Mamas around the World! Just drop me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com.

Are you on Twitter?  follow me on my  Twitter  and my Instagram  for more updates on my Expat Life in Bavaria.Thanks!

Parks & Playgrounds in Ingolstadt

To tell you frankly, I didn’t appreciate parks & playgrounds until I had a child of my own!

If you have an active toddler like mine, I am so sure that playgrounds have become your best friends. Either indoor play yard or an outdoor sandpit, it always saves your day. It’s one happy place where your kids just let go of their  steam and for a moment, you’ve got the chance to inhale and breathe. I know I’m not alone in this,but when your child is happy, you are happy too!

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Sandpit, play area & wasserspielplatz in Baggersee

There are play areas for Kids..Everywhere!

As a new Expat, you search for grocery shops or bakeries, but for me, one of my early priorities is to look for playgrounds for my daughter to play. Well, Germany is famous for its abundance of outdoor activities and play areas for kids & toddlers. I must say that being a kid here is awesome and has a lot to offer. I was really surprised to find that in almost every neighborhood, there are Spielplatz or play areas for kids. Isn’t that amazing? In the Bike shop, supermarkets and groceries, in Biergartens and restaurants, they always have a  play area where kids can play. There are trampolines & rockers along the busiest shopping streets . Some even have a changing area where you can breastfeed, feed or change the diapers for free!

The one in dm-drogerie is our favorite because you can shop while your kids play. Great thing about dm is it’s absolutely free and very convenient. Did I mention that even in the Rathaus ( or the Town Hall) they have kid toys placed in the walls along the corridor. Very kid-friendly especially during waiting time.

It’s beautiful, natural, safe ,full of creative spaces, and best of all, it’s all FREE!

 

Life being an Expat is challenging. You’ve got no friends yet,you barely speak the language, you don’t even know your neighbors, but your child is screaming out for tiny humans company. A bored child is a whining child so the best thing to do is take her out! Searching for parks & playground is also a perfect chance to get acquainted with the new neighborhood and making new friends.It is actually easy to make friends when you have a kid,it’s less intimidating. The moment kids starting to play with each other, it’s easy to start a conversation. This works well for me so I’m sure it can work with you too.

So here in Ingolstadt, we have discovered quite a number of  parks and playgrounds which has helped us a lot in trying to integrate in this new culture. Here’s our list for our favourites ;

Klenze Park

Klenzepark is a huge oasis for kids (and for adults too). This place has a large field and beautiful park I must say, with trees surrounding it and has luscious  rose gardens with fountains. It is the site for the 1992 Bavarian Garden Festival and has a unique open air museum of German fortification architecture. It will host the 2020  State Flower Show so that’s something to look forward if you love nature & flowers.  Ideally located along the  Donau river, it’s a scenic place where you can take your kids for a lazy stroll, cycling or play in the playground.With the view of the historical Neues Schloss and with the love-lock bridge, this is our favorite spot so far.There is a fountain  (Wasserspieltplatz) with huge rocks where children can enjoy playing in the water especially in Summer.The whole field is also surrounded with small water canals where children (and adults!) splash their feet in Summer.

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Wood basics playground – Eliminating all plastics .

Just beside the Wasserspieltplatz is the Natural Playground. It has  wooden slides, climbing areas, rockers, swings and fun activities for kids. In the center is a sand pit where toddlers & kids  playing in the sand. .It’s very accessible by bike,by walking or by bus. There is an ample underground parking and comfort rooms.Inside the park are Biergartens, cafes, and museums.

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Wasserspieltplatz & Fountain in Klenze park

Luitpoldpark

Luitpoldpark is ideal for all ages and the entire family as  well. There is a forest where you can take your kids to have a short trek, stroll and have quiet walks with all the towering trees above you. This is a secluded place to jog, run and or just taking your dog for a walk. In the center was a playground with slide, rockers, and sand pit where your child can play while parents can have a picnic. I have seen many families having their birthday parties here and meet-ups.Adjacent was a football field where bigger kids can enjoy a football game as well. There is a small hill that is great for toddlers to climb up and run.

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Sun rays peeking in the trees

 

Further down Luitpoldpark is the Biotoperlebnisfad and the Nazi victims memorial park. The paths are ideal for skate boarding, cycling plus  exploring through the woods can let you learn more about the trees and its history &  age. If you like Forestry & Foliage, then this is a great place for you.

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Learning about the Trees in Luitpoldpark

 

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Playtime in a windy day!

Fort Haslang Parks and Playground

We discovered this playground by chance. While we are looking for a Pediatrician for my daughter, we decided to let her play a bit and we found this play ground nearby. It has a scenic field full of short shrubs and flowers, a cycling path with apple trees and forest flowers and in its center is a play ground with sand pit, slides, rockers & plenty of space for children to run around. A bit further is a place for bigger kids where they have ramps for bicycles, ziplines, and table tennis areas. This playground has benches for parents too. Surprisingly, almost all parks & playground in Germany always have an area for parents to sit, drink their coffee and a trash bin. You won’t even need to worry about where to throw the soiled diapers.

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Picking summer flowers in the field of Fort Haslang Parks & playground
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Fort Haslang playground

Wildpark am BaggerseeOberschüttweg

This beautiful wildlife escape is just 15 minutes away from our home. Ideally situated near the Dam and you will have  scenic views of the River Danube and lush forest, a lake, and a Lakehouse with lots of Biergarten & cafes. Discovering the beauty of Baggersee last Summer was one of the highlights of our first Summer here. This place is best for campers during summer, and ideal for cycling. It has 54km stretch for you to cycle til you drop. If you have a kid’s seat attached to your bike like most Germans does or an Anhänger ( Child chariot), then you can easily explore this place thru cycling while having panoramic views of the Auswaldsee.  The Wildpark & Baggersee play area are absolutely free. The wasserspielplatz for kids is one of my daughter’s favorite and I like that it has an active water pumps where parents can do some activity and exercise.

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Wildpark 
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Building sandcastles and playing with sand 

Biergarten Künettegrabenalong Jahnstraße

This Playground is adjacent to a Biergarten. Yes, in Germany, there are Biergartens which has a playground beside it. It has lovely views of the winding bridges, old fortifications, and the ponds filled with ducks.  Go here early in the morning and you can enjoy the peace & quiet. Perfect for nap times too.The playground itself is frequented by pre- schoolers  on their outdoor walks & play times because it is surrounded with trees, and has lots of creative games areas. There is a sand pit, water pipes, slides, swings, turntables, see-saws and table tennis & basket ball courts. They have swings made of old tires.While your kids play, parents can have a happy hour in the Biergarten as well or just feed the ducks!

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Up close with the wild deers in Wildpark

Zoo WassersternGerolfinger Str. / Aloisiweg 19

This small Zoo is a one of a kind attraction for kids. It is a non-profit zoo which houses different animals which look more like a private collection. The place is a combination of a Botanical Garden and a zoo. There are reptiles and birds on the ground floor, an Aquarium and sea animals in the basement and wild birds, monkeys, and birds like parrots, owl and other birds located in the garden. It is frequently visited by Kindergarten students, visitors, and people with disabilities. Ideal for a family getaway on weekends. There are tables & chairs for parents to rest and a changing room for babies.

 

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Climb steps in St.Anton Spielplatz

St. Anton play ground & Park-Münchnerstr.

This playground is very close to the Haupbanhof and just across the St.Anton Church . It is in front of a Pet Zoo shop and has a shady park & play area for the little ones. We love to walk going here. It has a huge field where people do yoga, train their dogs, or just have a lazy weekend picnic. It has a pebble & sand pit, rockers, slides, and a wooden climb & maze paths. It is one of our favorite playground because it is shady and quiet. It is surrounded with ample trees as well.

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Close to nature

I am so thankful that we live in a place where these playgrounds and parks are accessible. As a parent,there’s a lot more to write about playgrounds here in Bavaria, they are really something to be proud of. We keep on discovering new ones each day. Play areas doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. In Germany, the approach for more green, natural, simple & safe play outweighs farther the confines of an indoor play areas.

How ‘s it been Expat Mamas? How was your move so far?

 

If you enjoyed this post,  Make sure to hit the Follow button for more Expat stories on this Blog, and Hey, if you are an Expat Mama, you might want to be featured in this Blog for our series on Expat Mamas around the World! Drop me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com.

Are you on Twitter?  follow me on my  Twitter  and my Instagram  for more updates on my Expat Life in Bavaria.Thanks!

 

 

Pinay’s journey to Motherhood in the land of Smiles |Expat Mama in Thailand

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Meet the Rochanaroons ; Journey of one Expat-mama in the Land of Smiles.

Do you believe in College campus romances?

I mean it’s the  time when skinny jeans is not yet the fad and girls don’t shape their eyebrows. Not yet. College campus days are days where you began to dream about your future, exploring your own defenses and suddenly you met the love of your life.Like  a modern fairy tale where you actually end up with each other,sharing a journey together, and realizing that you are living out a dream, like  serendipity… An answered prayer.

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Seascape Love at Hua Hin, Thailand

This is the story of Rann, a Pinay Expat in Thailand. Her exciting story being one Expat Mama is our next feature for our Expat Mamas around the World series. This modern fairy tale story and journey to Motherhood is set in the Land of Smiles in Asia, Thailand. Known for its exotic  beautiful beaches and rich culture, It’s no surprise that my  friend from Campus days, Rann, moves her marriage and lives there for almost a decade now  with her husband, Pin, (who is a Thai-Filipino) and their two adorable sons, Elijah (7 ) and Luke (1).Together they search for family- friendly getaways, indulging in kaleidoscope of Buddist temples and shrines, chasing white elephants and eating too much Chia seeds.

Here’s my Interview story with Rann , her own Expat Mama story :

A Pinay’s journey to Motherhood in the land of Smiles

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All wide smiles in the land of Smiles

Rann’s Background

Rann is a lover of books, a Bibliophile all year  round. A certified book shop-hopper as well as fashionable baby-wearer. A Preschool teacher and a super Mom 24/7.

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A Bibliophile’s ultimate dream : Spending a day with books in a cozy place & of course, a warm cup of coffee!

Born & raised in the Philippines, she developed her love for Diversity when she married her campus sweetheart, Pin,  while both studying in the University of the Philippines. They got  married in 2006 and eventually hop on the Expat life & move her marriage to Thailand.  Rann is a coffee drinker and has a habit of ‘Procaffeinating‘, or a.k.a not starting anything unless she had her coffee.

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University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus : The place where it all begun.
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Buddhism as part of everyday life in Thailand.

A glimpse of Thailand from an Expat eyes

While being on a steady dating for years, Rann already had a hindsight that moving to Thailand is no surprise anymore. Either for marriage or Work, Thailand is a great destination for  Filipino Teachers which has very good command in English. It is  a famous travel destination for tourists and a magnet for Expats from all over the world. The Buddhist culture of this country is a prominent identity . At the heart of everything, there are shrines, temples, and monasteries known as ‘wats’. Buddhism is an essential part of the Thai culture.

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Physically & Emotionally integrated in Thai’s culture

On Bangkok as a very hectic capital

Our home is in a province 100 kms away from Bangkok. We love that we are not too close but not too far from the capital city (and the airport!). Bangkok is a totally diverse place mixed in with the religious landmarks and is one of the world’s most hectic capitals. The traffic is crazier than Manila. Bangkok is a strobe-like city, where motorways have 12 lanes, markets have upward of 15,000 stalls, and restaurants are so concentrated, you’ll never be more than 50 metres away from one. Talking about living in a cosmopolitan who never sleeps at night.

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A Pinay’s journey to Motherhood  (Escapades in Nong nooch tropical Garden )

Although we are not in the big city, we have everything we need here. There are places to bring the children to, good schools to go to, hospitals with superb service, it is safe and clean. I do not at all miss the pollution from the big city.

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Floating Market 
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James Bond island – Beautiful coast and Beach culture of Thailand

On having Quiet times and date nights as couple

Being married for almost a decade now is a milestone. Ten years are not just a number, it’s a lot of hard work,  making each day  a spur on our marriage. With Pin’s demanding job in the medical field, I have learned to protect our marriage. As an Expat, I have seen examples of living abroad without their spouses & children. I am grateful that we are together as a family here in Thailand. Having  a preschooler & and an active toddler didn’t hinder us from having Quiet times together and having same ‘Rock foundation’  that keep us close.

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A working Mama who knows how to enjoy – Don’t forget that you are woman too, a friend, and a Sister.

On Thai’s way of greeting others

I’ve learned how to greet with the head bowed over clasped hands (wai), and not to use body language so much as most Thai people keep their heads, shoulders and arms very still.You also wai to say Thank you. Almost same as in my home culture, showing proper respect is a huge aspect of Thai culture.

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Pink and Yellow sheep in the Sheep Farm -A child’s Haven for learning

On being a working Mother of a child with special needs

It becomes my number one priority to be the Teacher for my sons. I believe that it shouldn’t matter how slowly a child learns as long as we, as parents, and first Teacher to them, are encouraging them not to stop. This is not just a chore for me nor comes with a paycheck. What I teach in school came from theoretical study approach but with your own child, it’s totally hands-on,by mother’s instinct, a pure labor of love.

Since I am a preschool teacher by profession, with a degree from the University of the Philippines on Child Development and graduate courses on Early Childhood Education.  I have been teaching pre-kindergarten in an international school for the past 10 years. Prior to that, I was a preschool teacher for three years in the Philippines. I got paid for teaching young kids,shaping them in their early years. But the time I’ve got to squeeze time to be a wife and mother with my sons, it’s priceless.

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Mothers are the first Teachers for their children

I am a mom of two boys, 7 years and 1 year old. My older son (E) is a gifted, loving boy with social and language challenges while the younger boy (L) is showing a strong personality but is equally sweet like his brother. No, I am not planning on having more kids. I have two hands, so I will have two kids. My husband, being in the medical field, is not always home  so I am often on my own with the kids. So 2 is just perfect.

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Family comes first,in everything.

Share something about the current country you are living in and notable aspects of life.

On learning the Thai language

Thailand is a very interesting country. Some might  think there won’t be much of a difference as it’s also a South East Asian country like mine — but there are huge differences. Arriving here 10 years ago, the language barrier was overwhelming for me. How can I ever learn this language when I can’t read it? Learning Tagalog is easy because if you know your ABC, then you can read it. Not with Thai. It is also a tonal language so there are words than can mean 5 different things, depending on the tone you use. As I’ve learned to speak the language, it has become better. It is still a challenge sometimes (like explaining what you’re feeling in the hospital, getting things done in the bank, requesting for information, etc.) but I am able to understand enough  to get by each day. I am still hoping to formally learn the language but that has been on hold since kids started arriving.

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Setting your foot firmly : On Living and Loving Thailand

On why Thai food is loved internationally

The food here is great! Well, I am speaking from an Asian point of view — I love my carbs (they eat rice, too — hooray!!). Authentic Thai food is one of the best. I needed sometime to get used to the smell of some food but overall, food here is the best. I do miss my  Adobo and my Bangus every now and then but it helps that you can basically cook the same Filipino delicacies as most of the ingredients can be found locally. There are plenty of Asian shops where you can get the ingredients.

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On importance of Education and learning comfortably

Growing up in the busy and populated Manila and spending many years in Manila’s business district, I am very happy that we are in a more laid-back city here in Thailand. I am happy that we are not raising the kids in a condo in a high rise building in Bangkok. My kids can run outside, play with neighbors, swim anytime, touch the grass, pick up stones nearby or enjoy the beach every now and then. We have international schools around and since I am teaching in one, my kids have the opportunity to study here for free. We can only be grateful. Sending them in a Thai school is something I will not do. I believe children learn best when they are in an environment they are comfortable in, a place where they feel they belong, a place that do not put too much pressure or expecting too much from them. The Thai system is very traditional. My son, being with special needs, cannot possibly thrive in a Thai school.

On Pregnancy, Maternity Fashion and Giving Birth

When I was pregnant with my first son, we were just new in Thailand. And since we are an hour away from Bangkok,  I didn’t know where to get stuff (for baby and for pregnancy) in this side of Thailand. It helped that I was skinny then. I just got my clothes from the regular ladies’ section but got them  a size bigger. Pregnant Thai women love to wear tent-like dresses. Not all, but most. Even in their first trimester, they are already wearing dresses that can accommodate 3 of my preschoolers. I knew from the start that I will never wear one of those! Six years after, while pregnant with my second son, I knew better. I brought maternity clothes from home and from the US.  For many traditional Thai, they believe that you’re having a healthy pregnancy when you’re big. I was skinny until my 7th month. I remember my husband’s aunt saying “You might have a very small baby, you don’t look pregnant at all.” My son was born at 3.8 kgs and 51 cm long. Not small at all.

They have lovely hospitals here so I had a pleasant birthing experience. You do need to find a good doctor who speaks good  English, not just some English. I was lucky to have my sister in both deliveries to help me with the baby while I was still sore.

On having a Hired help 

Raising the kids away from my country is not easy. I guess it has its advantage as well  — you get to do your thing — but predominantly, it’s a challenge. It is very hard to find help (nanny) that you can trust with your kids and your home in a country where you can’t speak, read or write their language. I’ve been lucky to have a lovely trustworthy lady from the Philippines as well but there’s always that anxious thought  that one day, she will have to leave and move on with her life as well.

On Thais being clannish and living together as a Family

They have certain ways of raising kids here that are very Asian and some are uniquely Thai. For one, the children are so used to being fed even when they’re already 3, 4 or 5! Also, many children grow up with their parents, grandparents and a nanny at home. These children grow up not being independent and self-reliant. They are used to having people do things for themselves. This is somewhat same back home. It is a struggle to make sure even with help around, I want my kids to grow up not feeling entitled and not being able to care for themselves.

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The benefits of growing as a Third Culture Kid

What is your opinion about raising your kid as a third culture kid?  Are you happy that you are raising an Expat Kid?

I am happy that they will grow up being exposed to different cultures and languages. It is my hope that with this, they will grow up respecting these differences. At the same time, it is my hope that they will grow up being aware of their very own culture. It breaks my heart that my older son does not speak my native language (Tagalog) but I have to choose my battle. He didn’t speak until he was 3 so I am just grateful for the fact that he speaks a lot now, although just in English.

My husband being half-Thai, I consider my kids “third culture” but at the same time, not so  “third-culture” kids. At the end of the day, whether third culture or not, I believe the values they need to learn does not change.

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Make an impact in your own child’s life and you’re making impact in the world .

How do you make an impact as an Expat Mama in your country of residence?

To respect the culture they have but be secure of what I am and who I am, learn what I can learn from their culture but at the same time share what I can share from my own culture. I believe that as long as I can make an impact to my own children, then I am making an impact to the society we are in. In raising quality kids, I am contributing for a better generation in the future.

 

Thank you so much RA for sharing your wonderful Expat Mama story with me. Your life is beautiful because you are one beautiful soul inside & out. It is a pleasure to be in your circle.

P.S  All photos are owned and courtesy of Rann. Should you wish to use it, please mention or inform her. You can follow more of her Expat Teaching stints in her Facebook  and her Life as a Super Mom in her Instagram Page.

Did you enjoy this post?

Are you an Expat Mama and would like to share your own Expat Mama story with us? Drop me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow  other Expat Mama Stories  around the World . Follow my Twitter page and my Instagram page for updates on my Expat Life in Bavaria .

 

 

 

 

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My daughter’s first love

Before my daughter was born, I knew that she will be the other woman in my husband’s life. I am sure all the other mothers out there can relate to my thoughts.There is no better view to look at for us to see when we see that our children are raised closely in the guidance of their father.

As Sigmund Freud says;

 I cannot think of any need in Childhood stronger as the need for a Father’s protection. 

A child who knows they are protected can grow up feeling safe and secure. Emotions are strong in childhood, and often fear is one of the strongest emotions of all.  A Papa’s arms are strong and fearless and to a child, they bring safety and peace.

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Dear child , The world is your playground ,go on and explore.

A father’s perspective fulfills every child’s need for exploration and adventure

“Fathers represent another way of looking at life — the possibility of an alternative dialogue.” While we, as  mothers focus a great deal on raising perfect children, fathers have a different perspective. They let children dress themselves, choose their own breakfast, jump in mud puddles and swing on ropes tied to the rafters.

My husband let Natalie explore on her own but guiding her by her side. He encourages more free-play. He lets her climb & let her learn how to climb down. He has taught her how to safely descend safely from the  stairs & chairs. He is trying his best to make “palm tree ” ( or ponytails) in her ever messy hair. I love the way He put on her clothes that are totally as per his own taste and haste !

Fathers allow children to explore and give them freedom that usually isn’t allotted them by their mother. This different perspective is good for children because it gives them the opportunity to explore, to go on adventures, and to live in their make believe worlds.

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A father’s love is endless. When a father gets involved, He is parenting in his own way.

“The greatest mark of a father is how he treats his children when no one is looking.”

In Netherlands,  Papadag (Or Daddy’s day ) has become a standard norm. This is included in the calendar of every working father’s calendar. It’s the time of the week where in the father takes a day off from work to spend time & take care of his child. Isn’t this amazing?Dutch fathers take more an equal role in parenting and being more hands-on. 

Studies show that if your child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to your child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem, and authenticity.

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Any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a Father.
I am writing this post to give credit to fathers who are involved in parenting their child. One of the things that I have learned as a new mother is that when your husband respect you as the mother of his child, eventually He is an involved Father. With the stress of bearing the responsibilities of being the head of the family, His efforts should not be underestimated.

So next time you see your husband spends more time with your child, be grateful.Let him. Give the encouragement that He needs & deserves.Your child will reap the benefits of this. Do not think of it as He is sharing the “chore “but rather look at it as “He is doing his own way of Parenting “.

It is important to recognize and reward fathers  for being there, and actively teaching important life skills to children. It is important to their children, and meaningful to dads everywhere when you say “Thank you, job well done.” This, after all, is what makes life worth living. This is our own  true legacy: ensuring the health and well-being of our children : the future generation.

What is your parenting style? Do you also value the concept of  Papadag?

The art of Slowing down at child’s pace

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Lessons learned from  raising a Toddler

My daughter, Natalie is a great teacher. She’s only 18 months and yet she have taught me far greater & deep lesson about Caring with Respect, a valuable lesson that I needed for my age, and at this time of my life. I never learned this from school, but only through life with her.She have given me the Gift of Slowing down in life, at her own pace.

We loved to take a walk together. This is one way that we bond. Oftentimes, when we get down from our building, we took the elevator. But as soon as we are out, my daughter immediately run to the stairs and starts climbing. Up & down she goes. I always grab her by both hands and pull her back to get on with our walk & immediately she pull her hand out from my grip & go on her way. We do this maybe for a couple of times but she has her own ways to go back again to the stairs. One time after scooping her up, she just screamed,cried & refused to walk. The next time we are going out and she did the same, I let go of her. She go on her own way, she climbed the stairs, up & down for a couple of times while I just stood there, watching her. She’s looking back at me from time to time & smiled . Then she continued with her “ways”. After 3 rounds, she came up to me and pulled my hand, going to the direction of the main door so we can go on for our walk. This time, she was willing. She was finally ready. I learned that just being prepared & present for her helped her. Now I fully understand what does it really mean to “walk with her “. Its not about my pace, but hers.

Recently I found out something unusual with her. I didn’t notice the change until I evaluate what have I done. Normally when she woke up, she cried and refused to go back to sleep unless I stayed with her. I used to do things without telling her what I’m planning to do with her. This always result that she gets upset. I felt like I need to do it in a rush way like changing her diaper, leaving the room, pulling out her onesies, or brushing her teeth. But lately, I decided to talk to her more often of what I want to do instead of doing it while she’s caught off-guard. I decided to take my time, to slow down & care with respect. To let her know if I am going to remove her diaper and wash her, or inform her that I am going to the kitchen to get her milk, or telling her I’m going to brush her teeth. Her reaction changed. She became more calm, more tolerant. She was there waiting for me, as if she really understood me. This really struck me. She let go of her defenses and behaved. This time, I finally knew the power of Narrating what was happening & just observing more to understand her needs better.

Many times, I see my toddler as uncooperative, as whining, and difficult. But I never evaluated my own actions as demanding, insensitive or harsh. But when I started to look deeper at my actions as a parent,I was really dumbfounded why I never realized these things before. I know for most of us parents whose both hands are full with work & day-to day responsibilities, it’s not always easy to be fully present and attuned to a baby or young child who can’t keep up physically or verbally to let you know, “Hey wait a minute! Slow down! “We thought we are always in-charge, that our child are all helpless creatures. We forget that although they may not be physically agile as we are, they have feelings, their perception of things is developing and therefore this stage is critical.

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Educating while caring : Slowing down at child’s pace.

I was deeply moved by the gift of slowing down to a child’s pace and the humbling  lesson  I have learned about “Educaring”. Educaring  means that we should educate while we care, and care while we educate; that these two things are intertwined. So the intimate caregiving activities of feeding, diapering, bathing, and dressing a baby, provide valuable opportunities for a baby to learn about himself and also about others, about the people who care for him. And these are also valuable opportunities for relationship building between parent and child.

The art of Slowing down at a pace of a child illustrates the profound connection and joy available to both parents and young children when we can slow down just a little to be present with, and allow for what naturally unfolds, leaving our agenda behind, and trusting our children to be active participants in their own experience, recognizing that they have a point of view too.

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Babies, even toddlers knows best.Let them eat sand if she like. She does it anyway!

How do we do this? How can we slow down at their own pace and educate them while caring?

I wanna share with you  what I have learned from the excerpt of the book “Baby knows best”  : Raising a Confident & Resourceful Child , the RIE way by Deborah Carlisle Solomon. I didn’t know that these things are so relative and yet it really opened my eyes. This definitely changed my relationship with my daughter.Here are some helpful tips ;

1 – Slow down. Just slowing down creates a sense of peacefulness and allows even a young baby to follow what’s happening. When you think about the difference in how you feel when you’re rushing or even just moving at a brisk pace versus when you take the time to move slowly, it’s not surprising that this would have such a difference for babies.

2 – Practice telling your baby what you’re going to do, before you do it. “I’d like to pick you up now. I’m going into the other room and I’ll be right back.” When we are in the habit of telling the baby what we’re going to do, the baby can relax. She knows there’s going to be no surprises.

3-Tarry time -It’s the time between when you tell the baby what’s going to happen and when you actually do it. So after you tell the baby “I’m going to pick you up now,” you tarry, or wait for her to process what’s been said and let you know she’s ready. She might raise her arms up or have a look on her face of anticipation and you’ll know that now she’s ready to be picked up. This is important because babies take more time to process than we do. If we just say we’re going to pick you up and then pick up the baby, it will still feel very abrupt for the baby and she won’t be able to quite keep up with what’s going on.

Childhood is fleeting. Time flies so fast that we might not realize it when were so absorbed by the hustle & bustle of parenting. But as for me, I wanted to grow along with my child as she learns from me and vice versa. It is more important than ever to remember that the simple act of slowing down and giving our full attention is a gift that we can give to our children, and to ourselves.

Can you relate to this post?

Or what have you learned about slowing down in Life to appreciate more of it?

I wish that you find your inspiration everyday.Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

Should you splurge on your kid’s birthday party?

What’s your plan for your child’s first birthday celebration ? Are you going to throw a big party or not ?

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Natalie’s Hungry caterpillar cake

My daughter just turned the Big 1 (ONE)  and just like you, I was in the same boat of this dilemma. I was looking forward to it …months away !! I have everything thought of . I have it all in my mind . But this post is not about party planning. This is actually the post-birthday lessons. Very important lessons that  I wanna share with you especially for the first time & eager mamas. Her 1st Birthday was an awesome experience for all of us  but I have thing or two to ponder. Maybe your parenting style is different, or your preferences are totally not same as mine.It’s Okay.  But I know in the end, you, as the parent will eventually  reflect on how swift the childhood days went off and evaluate your own actions on parenthood.

Here are the 5 things I have learned about my Daughter’s 1st Birthday Party :

1.Take it Easy 

I have learned to Really Take it Easy .

With the ever present social media  trends nowadays , parents always faced this dilemma. Everyone knows that we  we always want the best for our children . If you check Pinterest you will see these  jaw-dropping , almost perfect birthday party ideas that could leave you in a trance . You will hear yourself saying “I want this for my child “or “How much would it cost to throw a party as good as this ?” It’s very common to see parents nowadays  doing the ever merry-go-round hustle and bustle of giving a lavish party for their kids, especially for their child’s 1st Birthday . It is so special that starting  from your child’s themed party invitations & outfits , children’s snacks,  party favors, giant cakes, balloons & confettis, Venue and decors, plus the sound systems, games,  photoshoots, clowns & programs and things such as these could leave parents totally exhausted &  overwhelmed.  Even stressed out completely. I knew this feeling. I was feeling like this.

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My daughter’s Hungry Caterpillar Smash Cake

But Hey guys , Take it Easy ! Slow down , this is not a wedding! I mean , your one year old doesn’t even know  if you scored it all from a Bargain shop or that her cake is made with white fondant  with marzipan filling and that her smash cake is sugar-free! My daughter doesn’t care about it! She was too busy playing with the ceramic frog in the garden and splashing herself in the fountain to notice how pretty she look in her Tutu dress. She just fiddling on it,playing, eating it. She kinda love the feel of it her mouth. Who feels the satisfaction ? Isn’t it you Mama ?

I wanted to have a great “Smash Cake moment ” captured on video.

The sugar-free pink cake is scattered all over her, on her hair, on her face. Her nose is almost full of it that she screamed and get cranky. Did I have a nice video out of it ?The answer is NO. I was constantly wiping her nose. She doesn’t want to sit in her high chair  anymore. Maybe she was overwhelmed by the size of the smash cake in front of her …or we haven’t taught her how to smash the cake eh ? Who ate the rest of the smash cake ? It was hibernating in our fridge for 2 weeks .

2.Family First 

I have learned that 1st Birthdays should be Family  thing.

I am not against Birthday party celebrations, in fact,  I LOVE Birthday parties. When I had my daughter, I appreciate it even more. Birthdays are all time Family First thing. It should be like that . It should be an occasion that family bonds, and celebrate. The time when your child turns one becomes an important milestone , both for your child & you as the parent .It’s like, Yeeeaahh !!! we survive the first year!  With all the sacrifices & hardwork involved. This is the time you reflect on the past year as a swift ride where in you managed to adjust from sleep deprivation, work, career, family life and parenthood. It’s about you, your child’s happiness & your spouse that really matters in the end.

If you are an Expat parent like me, then it would be crazy to throw a big party. We live in Kuwait & I don’t have much family or friends living in the same area as we are . You can still enjoy this day with the people that really matters with you and wants to share the memories with your child .You don’t need to invite your whole neighborhood .

3.Image and Perception is really Nothing

I have learned that Thinking about what others think about you is a total waste of time.

Parents should be very careful not to be driven with the sole purpose of throwing a party because of what we perceived as Show- Off Syndrome . This is so true . It’s the  underlying factor that led parents to throw a “Better “or ” More Grand “party  to create an impression of being ” well-off,”  or “ living the good life” image . This is one of the reasons why children have the notion of anticipating that they can have the same  as others. They tend to ask for more from their parents based on  what they have seen from  their friends , classmates , and media influences . Its so easy to succumb to the consumer mentality of our society . For parents, we should make sure not to neglect this. Other than your child’s happiness , you should not even do things just to impress others . Remember ,every penny that you spent splurging on your child’s birthday party is spent only for yourself & pleasing your guests , your one-year old child doesn’t know anything nor she will  remember it .

4.Lifestyle Check

I have learned to Live within your means and be wise .

If you have the money to spend on a lavish birthday party for your child , Yeah Ok , You go Mama! Some parents think that their child will only turn 1 once, so splurging is never a problem .Sky is the limit. I think then its fine , I don’t see any problem on this .It’s your own personal choice. But on  lifestyle check,  would you rather splurge on a grand Birthday party knowing you have debts to pay ? or that your other kid’s tuition fees are due, or worse , you have arrears from your credit card bill ?  Does it really make sense to have a loan just to impress your whole clan & your guests ? Really , nobody cares ! At the end of the day , your child ‘s well being will be your priority . Had she been stressed out from that hours of noisy party , or that she was too exhausted to smile on photo shoots with her cute tutu dress that you wore her ? Parents should be  very careful in how they go about these birthday bashes , especially on the expenses involved . We should be thinking of alternative and cheaper ways to celebrate birthdays without smashing our  budget . A growing child is expensive and we need to be practical and save more for bigger things  like her Education , Travel etc . These savings can then be used to reward your child further down the track, when they are able to enjoy it.

5.Get over the guilt 

Finally , I have learned to just let go of guilt feelings .

Get over the guilt and try to have FUN even without a big party . As parents , remind yourself that you are not ruining your child’s life  and the memories for years to come with the decision you have made. Stick to the best choices for your family and in the end, everything else will fall into place. Provide your child with the best gift you could ever give  that nobody could ever question you ,let alone your conscience.

What makes a 1st Birthday a day to remember ? If you ask any child about her memories of a birthday party ,what’s the first thing she could recall ?

For me , I should say  :  Stress-free and happy parents , lots of Love , and of course , A CAKE !!! because Hey , It’s a cake !

I wish you all the best on your child’s  1st birthday .

 I am hoping that through this post you got some inspiration. To learn to become wise parents that sets as a good example to your child .

Have fun & don’t forget to smile in the camera !

How about you, how do you celebrate Birthdays in your country?

10 Surprising Things About Parenthood in Kuwait

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The Icon for Architecture in Kuwait-the Kuwait Towers. the first special place I have visited when I arrived there last 2008, and the last place I have visited when the time we left Kuwait last May 2016.

I have never imagined in my whole life that I will get married, get pregnant and gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait— a small oil rich country  yet place for  mirage diversity. Looking back  at our Expat days spent there brought both smiles and fond memories.  Kuwait will always be a special place close to our hearts.

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Kuwait skyline as seen from Arabian Gulf taken from the Scientific Center along the Arabian Gulf. One of my favorite place to take my daughter for a morning stroll and walk. At 1 month, she visited the Scientific Center’s Aquarium. I am sure I would show her her photos by then.

Here I wanna share with you 10 Surprising Things About Parenthood in Kuwait that I personally experienced. The content of this post is based from my personal encounters as an Expat living in Kuwait  for almost 8 years. Being in Kuwait for work is totally different when you have a family and a young child.

Disclaimer : This post does not promote anything for the purpose of advertisement or whatsoever. My views pointed out here are personal & may not be the same as the other Expats living here or Kuwaitis itself.

Kuwait has a high Total fertility rate compared to other GCC countries , with 2.48 Births per woman and on rank # 80 ( as of 2015 est  based on World Factbook CIA )

Pregnancy and Childcare in Kuwait is totally different from the culture that I was raised with. The reality bites of  giving birth to my daughter there  while working as an OFW with no relatives around to get support really opened my eyes on how is it to become an Expat Mama. You need to be tough.

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Mornings with a Baby in the azure blue Arabian Gulf,for sometime, this has been our paradise.

1.On Pregnancy & Giving Birth Alone …Literally Alone.

The choice for  private or public hospital in Kuwait for Prenatal care during Pregnancy & giving birth depends on your personal choices, quality of medical services & of course, the cost. There are plenty of private hospitals around  and in every area in Kuwait has Public Hospital. You can go there with a very minimal fee (1KD /stamp ) depending where you are registered as a resident. I am 37 yrs old when I got pregnant with Natalie and has a high risk condition from which I found out on the later part of my pregnancy. I opt for a private one during my Prenatal care, I find it really expensive and yet It was also very comprehensive & helpful for a First-time Mother like me.

There’s no Midwife/ Home Birthing here, Doulas are not a common norm .You can only give birth in hospitals since Kuwait is a Muslim country and has strict laws about getting pregnant outside marriage. You cannot be admitted in hospital if you cannot present a Marriage certificate .If you are not married & got pregnant by chance , then at the hospital you will  report you to authorities right on the spot. You will end up in jail and face punishment. Unlike in the Philippines or in Holland, formalities in admission to hospital such as this is not much of an issue . Take note also that there is a strict rule that your spouse cannot see you once you were admitted. Yes, ALONE. Only you and your baby in your utero all throughout the labor to birth phase.

Your Husband can call the hospital to check on your status. It was quite an experience being alone and not having your spouse there on your side. I felt so afraid, at the same time excited. While in the private ones , your spouse has the chance to be with you all the way .

2. On Unbelievable cost of Childbirth.

For Mamas out there, how much does it cost you on the birth of your child? Mine’s only 13 KD!

You can call this cheap but this is impeccably practical. You can invest your money on diapers & childcare later !

I gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait through C-section which only costs us of around 13 KD ( or around 43 USD). YES! Unbelievable right?  Only this amount. Considering all the medications I had during the induction of labor this amount is really insane!  If i did it in a private hospital , my doctor told me it could come around as 850-1500 KD, maybe more. Giving birth thru  C-section in Philippines  is so costly that is why Natural birth is still encouraged. Such big difference. In Holland, you need to push and push harder in giving birth at home  since natural birth is much preferred unless you need medical intervention.

I had complications giving birth and my daughter is in Transverse position. I was induced  for labor for almost 3 days but unfortunately did not progress . But then on the last-minute that both me & my baby was stressed ,her heartbeat dropped & I was rushed to O.R for emergency C-section. I was really amazed how fully equipped and good  the government Maternity Hospital here. I have rumors before that it could be a daunting experience ,but as far as my experience , I couldn’t complain for anything . Yeah maybe the pain.

Everything about the induction process is bloody painful. My whole body cried out for so much Pitocin and all those other stuff. It’s just too overwhelmingly painful.

The whole experience has taught me how to be tough ,to listen to my body . The Doctors and staff are knowledgeable, helpful and professional enough in taking  care of me. I was lucky enough that the staff assigned to me were really kind, & helpful . I’m glad there were Filipina nurses who attended to me immediately. My daughter was admitted to the Special care unit after she was born and I am very glad how they took care of her. She had a medical care from the Neonatal unit up until 1-year-old to track her progress. By the way, It’s totally free!

My postnatal medical care were also covered in this hospital. You only pay a very minimal fee for the prescriptions and medications provided. I was really impressed and happy.

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Napping along the quiet promenade beside the beach

3.On Baby-Friendly facilities and the LACK of it in Kuwait

Breastfeeding is highly commended by all Hospitals from birth of a child. But Breastfeeding  in public is considered offensive. There are only limited areas which has a facility for Breastfeeding mothers and changing rooms. In some large Malls and restaurants, there are abundant changing rooms as well as accessibility to it. Some shops doesn’t even have ramps, totally not Stroller-friendly. Since I had a child, I become aware of this and always opt for a Baby-Friendly facilities such as High chairs, changing tables and play areas . I wear my daughter from 4 months until she was 12 months or so. When she got so heavy then I gave up the sling , besides she likes to walk now ! I couldn’t imagine how I go on without it, It was really amazing.Wearing her on a sling causes lots of stares from many people here , i received many comments about it but I ignore it. It’s not a norm here, but you as the parent should make the right choices for the best of your child & yourself. It’s very rare for Kuwaiti women to wear their child,mainly because most of them has nanny to take care of their little ones.

4. On Harsh Weather Worries , Kuwait is a Sandstorm country.

As an Expat , I am constantly worrying about the weather. If you  have read my post – Only In Kuwait , where I noted that  the sky turns to different colors within 3 hours .This is a place where sandstorms, dust, & heat & harsh winds is prevalent. During Summer, I was on my wits end on how to deal with the heat and humidity. You can’t take out your child for a stroll if it is 50 deg outside and completely dusty . We often take her out early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Sandstorms in Kuwait is another shock that I need to get used to. The sky suddenly turns dark gray and totally hazy because of dust. I had the experience that it totally turns into orange into black . It was a sight! You need to take care when this happens because its unhealthy for you & your child plus it could last for days.

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Beachbumming : Typical way for your child to let go of her steam.

5.On Childcare and Hired Help for Families

A typical Kuwaiti family with 3 children or more has 2 Housemaids ,1 driver  and maybe 1 Nanny to focus mainly with the baby.  It’s very common to have a hired help to take care of your child. Most children grew up with a Nanny. For Expat parents  who are both working full-time , they can put their child on Nursery & Daycare center depending on their choice. Oftentimes, you see a full entourage of babies with their uniformed Nannies in the mall while their Mothers are busy shopping and bumming their asses in the mall drinking coffee or in the salon maybe. Most of the time, if you go on a playgroups, It’s depressing to see only maids with the little ones.

I find it so  important to have a network of friends and mothers who have children same age as your child to survive ,especially on hot summers. I am grateful for friends to  visit and arrange play dates with my daughter. It is a lifesaver!

6.On lack of Discipline & Public Child Tantrums

I don’t know why but here I often see many child  throwing tantrums in Public. In malls, parks , supermarkets, and restaurants.I find it sad to see some children throwing garbage out from their cars, or on the ground as they please. I don’t see much politeness either. Little children seldom say Please or Thank you to waiters or strangers.This is on my personal encounters. But I am always glad whenever I see kids showing good character in public. I remembered that all Filipino children were taught to say “Po” and the Mano po tradition with the ones older than them. This is far by non-existent here.

7.On Easy Access to Beachfront , the beach can be your playground.

Having an access to the beach within 5 minutes from your home is really a treat . I feel lucky that as I open our bedroom window, we have a direct view of the Arabian gulf. This really gives us an opportunity to take our daughter for a spin in her stroller, on having lazy morning walks during weekends and playing in the sand. Kuwait doesn’t have much of beautiful nature to boast, so living near the beach is good if you have kids. I mean it’s healthy . Green lawns are scarce and looking for a convenient playground with lots of greens is like searching for pearls.There are various playgrounds & indoor play areas, you just need to have patience to find them. In every local area,there is a playground so it’s quite easy. But don’t expect much of it.

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Exploring in the park

8.On family Outings during Fridays

Friday is the rest day for all of  Kuwait. This is the Ruhetag version of Germany’s Sunday ‘s quiet  day. It’s so  heartwarming to see the whole family prepping early for a beach trip, picnic in the park or camp in the desert. Kids flocked to playgrounds, during hot summers they mostly stay indoors or  spend a day in the Mall. Here, both parents are so involved. I oftentimes saw fathers playing with their kids and totally hands-on. Kuwait boasts of their big Malls. The Avenues is an example of a great family destination especially when its hot outside. It is designed to  become a one stop destination for the whole family. It has  an astounding beautiful Play areas for kids while you get busy shopping or meeting friends. It has the amazing Kidzania, the Magic planet with its minimalist design, Baroue, & Color Me Mine are among others to keep your child entertained and parents as well. It’s a great place to just  relax and bond with your family.

9.On Disturbed bedtime

How crazy it is to see a baby out in the park until midnight? You see children playing in the beachfront at night. Only in here that I see kids riding their bikes in the dark, toddlers playing in the sand until 2 am in the morning enjoying a family midnight picnic. During Ramadan , people  spend so much time outside at night. I grew up having our bed times set at 8 pm , except on weekends that we are allowed to watch TV and stay up late. In Kuwait, going out with your kids at 9 pm is normal. I stick to my routine with my daughter to put her to bed on time and especially not to disturb her nap times.

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Raising your child as Third Culture Kid (TCK)

10. On Safety Issues for Children

In Kuwait , I find it relatively safe & crime rate is at par, but as parents we can’t compromise their safety . While in Europe that you can let loose your child in the streets and go home from school by themselves, here its a totally different story. It is not safe to leave your child to play in the streets alone , especially if you live near a highway. There are no sidewalks or safe path walks  and  cars are speeding up even on residential areas. Besides , There is the garbage problem that you don’t want your child to expose . There is a school just 5 minutes away from our building, it doesn’t even have a pedestrian zone.

As an Expat Mama,  I have learned that no matter where you are, Parenthood is a distinct journey to self-discovery. You get to know more of yourself as you go through with it. Becoming a parent is a privilege, and not a right. It is a wonderful blessing. Indeed consider yourself blessed if you have a child on your lap and if you have been on the journey of raising them. If there’s one thing that I learned as I go on this journey of Motherhood, it’s this :

‘You get two big windows of opportunity in your life to do stuff like build castles, play in the dirt, lick pebbles, & just play ; The first is when you are a Child, the second is when you have ONE. ‘

Don’t get too wrapped up to missed it.

Are you an Expat Mama?  How is Parenting done in your country or in the place you live  at the moment? How are you coping so far ?

Do you find any surprising things about Parenthood? I would love to hear your own story.

 

 

What to pack for your Baby travel Bag?

The moment you knew that you’re going to have a trip with your Little one , you’re all smiles & looking forward to spending great moments with her. But all journey starts from packing your baggage. Packing for your Baby Travel bag can be tricky. Depending on your destination , choosing the things to stuff your Baby bag should be carefully done . For newbie Mamas like me , I was really excited to pack my daughter’s things for our first trip to Europe together. Let me share with you the essential things to pack for your child’s first trip. Here it is ;

MY ULTIMATE BABY HANDCARRY-TRAVEL BAG LIST 

  1.  Baby’s Formula and Extra Bottles .
  2. Diapers.Loads of it.Depending on type & availability in your destination.
  3. Hygenic Wipes.And more wipes.
  4. Baby Food or Cereals (2-3 bottles or pouches )
  5. Set of clothes (at least 2 onesies with long sleeves,pyjama,jacket,socks,Hats,plus clothes for her once you arrived )
  6. Small blanket (Could be used as a shield in the Bassinet & stroller)
  7. Favorite Toys,Books and Lovey if your child has one.
  8. Important Medications,including pocket Thermometer,medical prescriptions included.
  9. Pacifier with sling if your child uses one.(Take Extra just in case!)
  10. Baby Carrier or Sling.
  11. Snacks for your Baby like crackers,biscuits or any of her favorite food.
  12. Shoes or Sandals for your child.
  13. Sippy cups.(Extra sippy cup with water or her favorite drink )
  14. Bibs ( washable one is great!)
  15. Baby’s Toiletries (Pocket-sized diaper cream,small soap,lotion )
  16. Changing Pad
  17. Eating Utencils.
  18. Car Seat.
  19. Travel Crib/Cot/Stroller if you wish to bring one.
  20. Your iPad with her favorite nursery rhymes or songs.

I used to travel so light ,but when I had my daughter , it’s totally different . Having her own stuff in a separate luggage especially the bulky ones could totally keep up your sanity . Depending on the length of your travel and destination then you can gauge how much you bring for your child , but starting with the basics are always a good start .

Travel Tip!

  • Babies are different from one another , so what works for me may not always work for you , but it always saves the day when we took extra care about the needs of our Little One. I am so glad that I have brought enough diaper s, milk & our own Baby food because although Emirates gave us baby food , i found out that my daughter doesn’t like to eat it. I brought a small can of formula with complete packaging to saves time in Customs check .The medical prescriptions were placed in ziploc bags,these made easy during our Customs check at AMS where they asked you to take out the medications from the bag.
  • Make sure you have extra ziploc bags kept on side pockets to put on soiled clothings & dirty stuff. I recommend to invest in a good , durable bag with lots of space to fill up, with a wide straps for not to hurt your shoulders when you carry it and could withstand quick movements especially during x-ray scans in Airport.

I have flown with Emirates before and the new experience of flying with my Baby with them did not dissappoint me. With the A380 plane ,my daughter was mesmerized to see her favorite movie in ICE. It’s really a great feature to help entertain toddlers while on board.  They are one  Baby-Friendly airline and i was happy with the Bassinet, Changing tables and Baby stuff & Assistance they have provided to me during our Flight. It was an enjoyable flight.

How was your first trip with your baby?  what’s in your Travel Baby bag?

Hope this helps, Enjoy the trip, Have fun & Safe Travels!

Thank you for reading !