Diary Of An Expat: Week 14

img_5825

Hi everyone! Thanks for all your comments on last weeks craziness, it was a bizarre week that’s for sure! One of my friends actually said to me that it was good that I was in India during such a momentous time cause it will make a good story in future :). So let’s get into this week!

Highlight: Well the issue of the discontinued currency is still making waves across the country. Every morning we drive past tremendous queues at every bank and we hear stories of people we know struggling to feed their children or to send money to their families in the village. We still haven’t been able to get to a bank ourselves but we are very fortunate that it’s mainly by choice and a decision to wait until the rush dies down a little. We have however been able to help out a few people that we know are struggling and it feels really great to know that even small gestures like providing milk for another family, or giving the security guard at the kids school enough money to buy himself a chai each morning, really makes a difference during a time like this.

What I am loving: As I mentioned last week, going back to Melbourne means that I’ll be picking up some Personal Styling clients again. Given that it’s the party season I have been talking to a few people back home who have asked me to bring back some jewellery and accessories to pep up the outfits they already have planned. I have so many statement pieces from India that I love and shopping for finishing touches is one of my favourite things to do.

fullsizerender-99

See anything you like?

What I am missing: I didn’t miss much this week actually. I think I hit a sweet spot with knowing that it’s only a few weeks until we are heading back and hence I was able to enjoy what’s going on here and just take it all in as an experience. Anyone else find that as soon as you make a decision to make a change in your life, your current situation suddenly seems fun and like new opportunities are happening? haha, maybe it’s a grass is always greener scenario…

The biggest thing that I am missing in my life in general is SLEEP! My son is nearly 18months old and STILL doesn’t sleep through the night. He’s never been a great sleeper but the past two weeks have been tortuous. Multiple wake ups in the night, unsettled unless I’m with him then up for the day by 6:30am at the latest. I was really at my wits end but this morning I found another little tooth making its way up through his gums, so hopefully that is the explanation for the ‘worse than usual’ sleeping patterns.

fullsizerender-106

Permanently attached, lol. 

What I am looking forward to: Christmas!!! We’ve gone Christmas mad here as Hazelle is finally old enough to really get into it. Every afternoon we watch a Christmas movie or talk about Santa etc and it’s making me feel like a little kid again too. For the past two years we have had our picture with Santa at Chadstone Shopping Centre and I can’t wait to get another to add to our collection. Fingers crossed that this year the kids are happy enough with Santa and hubby and I don’t need to get in on the picture too haha.

Your questions:

Over the last two weeks I’ve had a mixed bag of questions, some of which don’t necessarily pertain to living in India but I love an ‘open forum’ so I’m just going to answer them all here.

“Do your in-laws live there with you? Will they move back as well?”

My MIL lives here in India and she will stay here but when we go back to Melbourne we will be staying with my parents for a little bit until we can find our own place. So we are going from one set of in-laws to another ;).

“Do they celebrate Christmas in India?”

Many Christians in India will celebrate and thanks to a more ‘westernised’ world there is much more acknowledgement of the holiday but it definitely isn’t recognised as much as it is in other parts of the world. There is a short break from school and businesses but it is only about a week or so.

“Do you catch public transport in Delhi?”

No! haha! Although to be honest, I don’t even take PT in Australia lol.  I wouldn’t want to take a bus here but I’ve heard that the train and newly installed metro systems are quite good.

“Your family is so cute, are you going to have anymore babies?”

haha! well thanks :). I guess my answer depends on how hard of a day I’ve had with my two ;). No, I think a third is on the cards, yes, but seeing as Hazelle and Xander are SO close in age (14months), the last 2 years have been crazy busy and we definitely need a little breathing space before we think about number 3.

“Can you help me find a dress for my work Christmas party?”

Yes!! 😉 Email me: themummystylefiles@gmail.com x

“Do you think you have to wear red or ‘festive’ colours for Xmas and New Years events?”

No absolutely not! Whatever the occasion I always recommend wearing something that you are comfortable in first and foremost. If red is not your colour or you REALLY aren’t a sparkly sequin kinda gal than forget it. Wear that killer LBD or a perfectly tailored pair of pants and blouse. If you are attending an event or function you DO have to adhere to the dress code to make sure you get the standard or dressing right. Other than that though, don’t feel pressured into gimmicky or ‘festive’ attire that is going to sit in your wardrobe for the rest of the year.

“You mentioned ‘hard water’ on snapchat. What is that?”

Here is a proper definition : Hard water is water that has high mineral content (in contrast with “soft water“). Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone and chalk which are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates.

So I was talking (aka complaining) about hard water cause the tap water in India is considered ‘hard’. That means that you can’t drink tap water but it also means that when you shower you are using hard water which can be really hard on your skin and hair. I always notice when I’m in India that my skin breaks out a lot and I put that down to the pollution in the air and the salt and minerals in the water. Even after washing my hair it still feels salty and crunchy. I can’t wait to go back to ‘soft water’.

and I think that’s it! If you sent me a question in the last 3 weeks and I didn’t answer it today please just send it again and I promise to include it next week. I hope you didnt mind me going a bit off the ‘expat’ track today but a few of you seem to be curious about my life in general, which is totally fine with me :).

I hope you all have an amazing week and enjoy the downhill run to the end of the year; seriously where does time go? xx

Diary Of An Expat: Week 10

img_4597

‘Week 10’ just sounds like it should be good, doesn’t it? Well thankfully, it was a good one for us! In fact it went by so quickly and we spent most days out and about that I fell behind with my usual posting schedule. I guess it is a good sign when you a living your life instead of blogging about it all the time though right? ;).

Highlight: As opposed to what I’ve been complaining about over the last 9 weeks, this week we had SO MUCH GOOD FOOD! We have really nailed down our favourite restaurants and cafes and eat out at least 3 times a week. This is more than we normally would at home but we also don’t do a big grocery shop each week so it’s not like we are wasting food at home. Dhaba is one of our favourite places. It serves Indian street food but all prepared in a high quality restaurant environment. It is the best place for hubby to get his fix of meat and the best place for me to feel like I am eating something other than bread and rice :).

img_4504

Xander obviously knows exactly where to go. We are fast becoming regulars here 🙂

 

We also found an amazing ‘Wine and Beer’ shop that sells imported brands as well as local. There is a local wine here called ‘Sula’ that is honestly THE WORST wine you will ever taste haha. Now I like my wine and I’ve definitely had my share of sub-par vinos but if I had to choose between Sula or nothing, I’d go nothing every time! Of course imported bottles equals highly inflated prices but we managed to find some of our favourites at an ok price!

img_4742

hmmm take me to the vino

Things I’m loving: The festive season is still in full swing over here and the next two weeks will just get even crazier. Every day there seem to be new mela’s popping up, live performances, fireworks at night and just a general atmosphere of celebration. We hit a few markets over the week and this weekend but we are planning on doing the most popular one in Delhi, which is put on by a local Blind School, tomorrow after we pick the kids up from school.

Things I’m missing: The greenery and clean (ish) air. The weather is cooling down and like I mentioned last week it is really pleasant in the mornings but now that the Monsoons have finished Delhi is turning into a dust bowl. You can see how dusty the road is in the picture at the start of this post. November / December is when we would usually come for our annual visit, so this is the India that I know, and trust me it just gets worse. Pretty much everything you wear gets covered in dust and dirt and the air quality is terrible, but having seen how green and luscious all the gardens were during the monsoons, it’s a big shame seeing everything turn brown.

fullsizerender-49

This was our front yard during the Monsoons.

What I’m looking forward to: Diwali school holidays start on Friday and we are thinking of taking a trip to a nearby city called Jaipur. Some of you might be familiar with Jaipur or ‘The Pink City’ as it’s often called. It is supposed to be really beautiful and have some of the most amazing textiles and fabrics so it would be great if we could get ourselves there. It’s about a 5 hour drive so that will be a fun logistic to work out with two kids under 2.5 but I’ve got my fingers crossed.

_618

How amazing does this look?

Your Questions:

Are you still considering a type of online /blog store if a particular item is required for Aussie customers? Yes I definitely am however I haven’t been able to get a good enough lay of the land in terms of manufactures, seamstresses, suppliers etc yet. I do have a handful of good sources to deal with one on one client requests but not yet to fill a store. Definitely still in the works though :).

Is it safe to eat street food? I’d say eat at your own risk. Unless you have reliable sources and you know that all the produce is fresh and prepared hygienically I’d probably advise to skip it. If no other reason than the climate, it is really hard to ensure that the food is safe. If you really want to try the street food look for a very popular stall as the locals will be the best judge. A popular vendor also means that they will be making everything fresh and will have a high sell through rate.

Have you lost weight in India? I’m not really sure what the intention behind this question was and I thought for a long time about whether to include it but I’ve decided to give the asker the benefit of the doubt and assume nothing negative was being implied! But yes I think I have. We don’t have any scales here but I’d say I’ve maybe lost 2-3kgs. Nothing major and not at all intentionally. I think the change in diet, climate and probably a little bit (a lot) of general lifestyle adjustments have contributed to this. The gym has been good for me though as I am slowly putting on some muscle mass and I’m sure that Christmas back in Melbourne will sort me out quick smart ;).

And so concludes another week as an expat! Is anyone else starting to freak about how close the end of the year is? I am just excited as we will all be heading back to Melbourne to spend Christmas with my family. It is looking like our plans might be changing too (story of my life) so the next month or so will be crunch time for us figure out what we want to do in early 2017. Never a dull moment for the MSF family ;). Have a great week everyone xx

 

 

 

 

What I Wore Wednesday

img_4659img_4661img_4660

img_4658

Tee: Zara, Jeans: Paige Denim, Shoes: Marks and Spencer, Bag: Zara

Happy hump day friends! Firstly I just want to thank you all for the lovely and supportive comments you sent me after last weeks rocky expat post! I am happy to report that week 10 is already shaping up to be a good one :). So lets get to today’s post! Is there anything better than a classic pair of jeans and a crisp white t-shirt? I know that it is very Jennifer Aniston, circa early 2000 but really, you just can’t go wrong.

I am so happy that the weather is slowly starting to cool down here because I am a denim girl through and through. Although I am on the ‘minimalist’ side when it comes to my staple wardrobe, I do love a pop of colour in accessories and this red cross-body bag was the perfect exclamation mark for my outfit. To be honest, I really wanted to add a burgundy / red felt fedora to this outfit but there is absolutely no place for a felt hat here in India, no matter how good you look in hats lol!

I know that some people are a bit funny about ‘mixing metals’ but it doesn’t bother me at all. My necklace is silver and the chain of my bag is gold. I usually wear a gold bangle everyday as well as my platinum engagement and wedding rings so I am definitely ok with a mixed bag of jewellery :). However, I will admit that often sticking to one metal either silver or gold, will create a more cohesive look over all!

I’m sure my fellow mum’s out there will agree that jeans and a tee are a major staple in the ‘mum on duty’ wardrobe, but next time you pop on your go-to pieces why don’t you try to add a little bit of interest somewhere too? Things like a bright bag like mine, a metallic sneaker, bright lipstick or a statement necklace will help take your jeans and tee to the next level and I guarantee that it will add a little extra pep in your step too!

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone. See you on Friday x

Ten Things

img_3947img_3949img_3953

img_3954

Top: Blossom & Glow (similar here), Jeans: Country Road, Shoes: Charles & Keith (similar here)

Today went by at warp speed and any hope I had of getting one of my planned blog posts published went along with it. So, I thought I’d just do a quick little post tonight and share with you 10 random facts about me! Hope you learn something new (and I don’t bore you too much 😉 ).  Ps Please excuse all the wrinkles on my outfit above. I did iron my top this morning but after sitting in the car in Delhi traffic by the time I got out it was a mess!!

  1. I have a bad habit of buying jeans too big and shoes too small.
  2. Insecure people who make others around them feel small is my pet hate. 
  3. I have an Arts degree with a double major in International Politics and Journalism. I am also a qualified Pastry Chef.
  4. I did a semester of uni abroad at Leeds University in the UK and my plan was to go straight back after I finished my degree in Melbourne but then I met my future husband, and the rest is history.
  5. I love watching the same movies multiple times. I actually prefer to watch a movie I’ve seen so that I don’t get anxiety not knowing whats going to happen or if the ending will be happy.
  6. I have a knack for memorising song lyrics and once I learn a song, it will be in my memory for ever.
  7. I grew up really close with my cousins and I wish that my kids could grow up with cousins or second cousins too but we all live so far apart now.
  8. Greece is at the top of my bucket list for travel.
  9. I don’t really like fruit and would prefer to eat vegetables any day.
  10. I remember telling my dad that I was never going to get married or have children. I said, “why would people do that, it is so expensive” hahaha.

xx

How I Do Two

fullsizerender-47

Hi Friends,

So today I thought I’d do a little ‘mummy’ post, or ‘mommy’ as Hazelle has started calling me. If that’s not a sign she is watching too much TV then I don’t know what is ;). I’ve always aimed to be as honest as possible about my motherhood journey. Not just on the blog but in real life as well. I know that a lot of people don’t want to hear about the struggles of parenthood, especially if they don’t have children but I think honesty and ‘realness’ is so powerful in this worldwide ‘mum community’. Often, to hear another mum confess a struggle or a mistake or just general overwhelm, can be the most precious gift to our self esteem and help make us feel as though we are not alone in our struggles. Of course not everything is about struggling and I aim to share my successes and lessons that I’ve learnt just as openly as I share the harder times.

For me personally, I have found the jump from 1 baby to 2 much harder than from 0 to 1. This is not the case for everyone but for me it definitely is. Maybe it’s because my kids are so close together, or because of their nature or maybe just because it is. Whatever the reason, becoming a family of 4 was definitely a bigger adjustment (for me) than a family of 3. We didn’t necessarily ‘plan’ to have kids so close together. I needed some support to get pregnant with Hazelle (Clomid and regular accupuncture) and I just assumed it would be the same with our second. Little did I know that 7 months after Hazelle was born, I would unexpectedly find myself pregnant again. Although not planned I wouldn’t change the 15month age gap for anything (just an FYI for anyone doing the maths, Alexander was 6 weeks prem, so the age gap is even smaller than expected).

img_3634

Flash back to simpler times when the toddler wasn’t so sassy and the baby couldn’t move 😉

So although I am BY NO MEANS an expert, today I thought I’d go through some of my tips for dealing with 2 young kids, especially 2 so close in age.

  1. Break ‘The Rules’. The most important way to cope, especially when they are so young is to find what works for you. I know that most of us mums love to read books and follow the same routine that our Sister in Laws’ Cousin swears by, but the truth is, you need to find what works for you and stick to that instead. Maybe following ‘Save our Sleep’ to a T works perfectly for you but in my experience most families need to tweak and trial and practice a few things before they find the combination that works best for them. For example, we usually give the kids a bath around 3-4pm. I know this is super early and most families wouldn’t be able to find the time that early in the afternoon, but it works for us. Our day is usually front loaded with all of our activities, main meal and outings in the morning and lunchtime, and once we are home it is much easier to bath both kids when they are happy and settled then to try and do it as they are losing their shit at 6pm.
  2. Dont Compare. Don’t compare siblings, your friends children, the way you parented your first, nothing. This can be especially hard when your two are so close in age like ours. Everything with your first is still so fresh but when you compare your kids you rob yourself the experience of learning about your new baby and you rob them of their chance to develop independently of their sibling. This is something that I’ve had to learn along the way. My two couldn’t be more different. From the pregnancies, birth, gender, personality, preferences, everything. It’s meant that my husband and I have had to evolve and learn how to parent differently too, and although we often reminisce and share memories of Hazelle as a baby we have definitely stopped expecting Alexander to be anything like that and we really cherish seeing his individuality come out.
  3. Don’t get too caught up in ‘one on one’ time. I know that down the track it will be nice and important to carve out time to bond one on one with each child, but right now, for us, we are a pretty much a package deal. We are always together, as much out of preference as necessity. We are lucky that my husband has so much flexibility with his job, but really he wouldn’t have it any other way. He loves nothing more than being with us and will do everything in his power to manoeuvre his schedule so that he is around when the kids are awake. If he is not around however, it is always me with the kids. As much as individual time is important, I think that a strong family bond and foundation is a beautiful gift to give to your children as well.
  4. “The day are long, but the years are short”. I know, we’ve all heard it, and I’m the first one to admit that when the days are long, they are really bloody long. It is true though that every stage passes and the hard times do get easier (until they are replaced by something harder, haha). Perhaps it’s because I am writing this after both kids slept through the night for the first time in months last night, but I really do think that a little bit of perspective and looking at the bigger picture of life goes a long way in helping you get through the challenges of babies and toddlers :).

As I said, I am by no means an expert and these are just the things I do, but I hope that some of you have found it useful or interesting. If anybody asks me if I recommend having two close together I would say 100% yes although I do believe there are pros and cons to every situation. I would also spend ten minutes telling you how exhausting it is and how two babies in nappies, needing bottles, sleep schedules that aren’t aligned etc can be really hard. I would then spend the next TWENTY minutes however telling you how watching them grow together is the sweetest thing ever. How people always confuse them for twins because they have a close bond and how although we will always cherish our time alone with Hazelle for her first year, she will never remember a time without her brother by her side.

img_3636

Obviously a brother by your side is not ALWAYS the best thing!

And if you ask me if we are planning to have another one, the answer would be….yes. I think. But, not anytime soon haha. Two under two was enough for me, those mamas who do 3 under 3 need a medal, a coffee and a strong drink! xx

PS- we don’t love sharing a heap of photos of our kids on the internet so thats why I try to avoid full face shots, but trust me, they are cute ;). 

What I Wore Wednesday

unnamed-5img_3411img_3405unnamed-3img_3412

unnamed-4

Top: Good Earth (similar here and here), Jeans: Country Road, Shoes: Witchery (similar here and here)

Yes! We did it! I’m finally here on Wednesday haha. Between us though, I will confess that I wore and photographed this outfit on Tuesday for this post to go live today. You gotta do what you gotta do though, right? #lifeofablogger 😉

So over the weekend I purchased this gorgeous jewel toned silk tunic. Perhaps if I wasn’t in India I might be able to wear it as a dress, but over here it is definitely a ‘tunic’! I don’t think I’ve ever owned anything that is 100% silk before now, the fabric is divine and I felt so luxurious floating around in it all morning. Of course it is not the most practical of fabrics with every mark, crease and crinkle showing up, so for me this is definitely a baby / child free piece. Not to mention pairing it with white jeans – that’s a disaster waiting  to happen! I’d say this is ‘an adults only’ ensemble, perfect for a date night, GNO or function!

I am hoping that hubby and I will be able to sneak a few baby free hours this weekend and if so, this will be my go to outfit. I love that Block Heels are on trend at the moment, they are the perfect ‘mum heels’. Super comfortable but chic at the same time, so just in case you CANT score some baby free hours, you can still don your heels and not worry about it.  Hope you have all had a great Hump Day and are ready for the downhill run to the weekend! xx

Diary Of An Expat: Week 5

fullsizerender-39

img_3061

After almost 4 weeks of only having sporadic outings and a few social engagements, this week we actually found ourselves, wait for it, BUSY! We experienced a huge milestone this week when we enrolled Hazelle into school. As you might recall, for the past month or so I’ve been talking about a lack of activities for children to do, and have often wondered what all the other Indian children do all day and where they go? Well apparently from about 18months of age onwards they go to school. 18months! Crazy right? Every day, Monday-Friday most children go to school for 2 or 3 hours in the morning. As I understand it, it is like a pre-school, pre-kindergarten system.

Hazelle is absolutely craving social interaction, I am craving routine and I’m guessing my husband is craving a sense of stability and for us to be settled, so enrolling Hazelle in school is going to be a win all round. For the time being she is only going for 2 hours each day but will possibly move up to 3 hours soon. The school also has a day-care facility so we have enrolled Alexander to go a few times a week for the same hours as Hazelle. This is another big step as neither of my children have ever been in day-care, even back in Melbourne, but the social interaction and time away from me will be good for him too.

fullsizerender-36

After 5 weeks of playing in the antique cart at the front of the house, it doesn’t seem to cut it anymore hehe

So in between running around having interviews at schools, finalising enrolment details and paperwork, the rest of the week has been a good one too. I finally got my hair and nails done like I was talking about last week, I’ve been able to sit down and make some plans for the blog and hubby had a great week of work as well.

fullsizerender-42

The day I got my hair done. Apparently “chocolate brown” is not a universal shade… It’s a tad darker than I’d like but still miles better than the state of my hair before!

Highlight: The highlight of this week has definitely been seeing my husbands hard work start to pay off for him. As you may know we are here on project based work but in addition to that hubby is working on creating a hedge fund for himself too. I won’t go into the specifics of what that is (because I’d probably get it wrong anyway) but he works during the day for the project and at night he builds his hedge fund. This week was a really positive week for him on both accounts and I’m so proud of his ambition and drive to create an amazing life for his family. We are super lucky to have him.

New Words I learnt:

Shubh Raatri: Goodnight

That’s all for this week…oops.

Things I’m loving: Our diet here. Climate and convenience have a lot to do with the changes in our diet so it definitely hasn’t been a conscious decision as such but our diet is really clean and healthy and we are all feeling much better for it. As I’ve mentioned before, due to the extreme heat a lot of fresh produce either doesn’t last or is currently not available at all. We can still manage with a few staples like tomato, cucumber, spinach, vegetables from the pumpkin family but are green and taste nothing like pumpkin, apples, oranges and a fruit called amla. We don’t eat much meat and we pretty much eat zero processed food when we are home because my MIL is a food nazi (in a good way) and refuses to have processed food in the house.

I’ve really noticed a change in our food shopping too. In Melbourne if we were out of one thing I wouldn’t think twice before getting straight into the car to whip down to Coles to buy it, and then of course buy 20 other things along with it. Here because I can’t drive and my husband is working we are forced to use everything that we have on hand before we go and do another shop. We only drink alcohol occasionally on the weekends but I’m not going to lie, if we eat out we eat whatever we want and will often have a drink in the restaurant too. We do eat a lot of carbohydrates as I’ve mentioned but we can’t really avoid that until the weather gets a bit cooler and we have some more options.

Things I’m missing: Driving. I’ve always preferred to be a passenger than a driver but I’m definitely missing the freedom that driving provides, something that for most of my adult life I’d taken for granted. I can only drive automatic cars and we have a manual car here but to be honest even if I did learn to drive a manual, I don’t think I’d actually want to drive anyway. The roads are CRAZY and road rules seem to be more of a ‘suggestion’ than anything else.

What I’m looking forward to: Getting a bit of me time back. With Hazelle in school and Alexander in occasional day care from next Monday, I can’t wait to have a few hours to myself. I will most likely try and start back at the gym and do a few blog things and I’m sure the two hours will fly but two hours are definitely better than none! 

fullsizerender-33

I’m excited for her to go to school but when did my baby get SO BIG?!?!?! 

Your questions from last week:

  1. What is a Sari and do you wear one?
     Images via Pinterest
    • Wikipedia describes a Sari as: “A sari, saree, or shari is a female garment from the Indian subcontinent that consists of a drape varying from five to nine yards (4.5 metres to 8 metres) in length and two to four feet (60 cm to 1.20 m) in breadth that is typically wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder, baring the midriff.”….. No I don’t wear one, although I think they are very beautiful. Here you will find that only older ladies or maids wear Sari’s every day and younger girls will only wear them for traditional special occasions or their wedding day.
  2. Do you think it’s been a good move for your family?
    • I think that any kind of change and experience is always a good thing, especially when you go through it as a family. The last 5 weeks definitely haven’t always been easy for us and the experience is different in someways to what we thought it would be, but living outside the world that you know, meeting new people and seeing a new way of life is, in my opinion, a valuable gift and one I’m happy my children get to experience. I love this quote:fullsizerender-44
  3. Can you wear ‘normal’ gym clothes when you workout?
    • Yes, you can. We go to a Fitness First club and it is just like any other Fitness First around the world. I wear either full length or ¾ length tight leggings and a tank top / singlet. At first I was worried that I’d have to wear a t-shirt but then I saw all the other women wearing sleeveless tops so I knew I would be fine. I wouldn’t wear short running shorts but aside from that, I’m comfortable wearing what I would wear to the gym anywhere else in the world.
  4. How much longer will you be in India for?
    • That is the million-dollar question at the moment ha-ha. At this stage at least until the end of the year / early next year I’d say!

And that’s week 5 in the bag. Keep leaving me your questions and don’t forget to follow along on Snapchat @caitlinmarwaha to see a bit more of our daily life although I will try to get better with Insta Stories too! Hope you all have a great week, pray for me on Monday, I’m hoping I won’t be that mum crying at the doorstep haha. I mean it’s only TWO HOURS!  Get it together woman ;). xx