How to Pack For an International Flight

I met my husband in 2007 and I have traveled every summer (and one Christmas) since to his hometown in England. As we embark on journey #9 to England I decided to share with you some things I’ve learned about packing for a two week journey overseas.

First off, I wish I had taken advice from seasoned travelers before my first couple of trips to England. It feels pretty helpless showing up in the airport to drop off your luggage and getting the red tag labeled, “OVERWEIGHT” strapped to the handle. Not only is there an added fee for any luggage over the limit (which for most airlines is 50 lbs.) but if it exceeds the limit too much they may force you to lighten the load before putting it on the plane. This is never a good experience. I’ve come a long way since my college days feeling the need to pack my entire dorm in my suitcase and so I thought I would share some things I’ve learned through the years about what to pack and what is unnecessary when it comes to international travel.


1. An Adapter: Almost every international trip will require an adapter for that region if you plan to take anything electronic or any chargers for electronic devices. For the first few years I traveled to England I would buy these in the airport and they can tend to run quite high in price, but a few years later I was able to plan ahead and purchase a USA to UK adapter on in a pack of 3 for $5.00. It is a wise and worry-free step in the process of packing to research the adapters and purchase them in advance.

2. A carry-on bag filled with books, pens, and paper: As one enters a new country you will undoubtedly be expected to fill out a customs or claims card. In my experience many airlines provide these cards during the flight to help ease the process once you have landed at the destination, but they do not provide pens for filling out these cards. Have a carry-on bag packed full of things to keep you busy during the flight and always be sure to include a pen or two. Additionally many of these cards will ask for the address of the location where you will be staying so somewhere in your carry-on or a in a note on your phone have that address handy.

3. Clothes: It goes without saying that 80% or more of what you pack for your trip should be clothing. When it comes to what clothing to pack think about layers. As a preppy college student I always tried to pack my entire wardrobe for a two week trip to England which filled my luggage to the seams and oftentimes is what put me over the weight limit when it came to the airport scales. Realistically you should just pack minimally allowing room in the suitcase to bring back souvenirs from the trip.

I am about to take a two week trip and here is a list of the clothing I am packing. (Please note that it is much colder in the summer in England than in Ohio):

-5 pairs of shoes: athletics, 2 pairs of flip flops, dress shoes, sandals

-3 pairs of shorts

-2 pairs of jeans

-1 dress

-3 tank tops

-5 shirts or printed tops

-3 hooded sweatshirts (because it rains frequently in England)

*Another tip I’ve learned for those of you concerned about the weight of your luggage is to wear your bulkiest pieces to the airport so that they are not added to the weight of the suitcase. I tend to wear my athletic shoes because airports require lots of walking, but also because they are the heaviest of my shoes. I’ll also pack a sweatshirt or two in my carry-on because I’ve never been on a flight where I haven’t gotten cold at some point. Most airlines offer blankets, but most do not cover both legs and arms.


4. Beauty Products: It’s so easy to go overboard on products for a trip. I’ve learned to minimize packing in this area as well. Purchasing the $1 travel-size shampoos, conditioners, and lotions have become essential to my packing. Apart from shower materials you should limit the makeup and hair products that you hull around. I always spend quite some time thinking through what I need. Anything else is just going to be added weight and space. I do always pack my hair straightener and one bag of cosmetics.

That’s about it for the what-to-pack list. Now for those items that you better just leave at home:

1. Cds, Dvds, and other media beyond tablets: These items oftentimes are embedded with a regional code that players in another country will not be able to read. So if you pack your child’s favorite Dvd thinking that you can show it in a hotel room you will be disappointed. If you or a member of the family can’t go without a certain album or movie it is best to download it onto iTunes or Google Play and watch it on your tablet or iPad.

2. Breakables or spill-ables: If you’ve ever watched them load suitcases onto a plane the reason behind packing anything breakable or spill-able goes without explanation. Although your suitcase may house some of your most valuable possessions it is likely not going to be treated as such by the airline crew who has over 250 suitcases to load on one flight. Make sure anything liquid has a lid that is securely fastened. One year I made the tragic mistake of not checking the lid on my hair spray and opened up a suitcase full of sopping wet clothes. Not fun.

3. Food: The compartment where luggage is stored during a flight is not equipped with air conditioning which will cause many foods to spoil or melt. If you are planning to take snacks be sure to store them in your carry-on and check the guidelines for food and liquid to see what is acceptable with your airline.

4. Bulky items: Really anything that is not completely necessary for your trip should be left at home. Do not pack anything that is going to be bulky and take up more than its fair share in weight and space. In the past we’ve shipped large gifts or items that we would use on the trip ahead of time, but for the most part that hasn’t really been an issue.

My best advice is travel light and think twice before placing any item in your suitcase. There are not many things in life that I would consider myself an expert in, but international travel (especially with children) is definitely one thing I’m beginning to master. If you have any specific questions about international travel that were not addressed in this post please feel free to ask me in the comment box. I hope that I could lend some quality advice that I learned the hard way through trial and error.

A Book Review: I’ll Give You the Sun

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, and outside influences. 


Title: I’ll Give You the Sun

Author: Jandy Nelson

Publisher: Dial Books

Copyright Date: 2014

The Sweetwine family is full of secrets. This down-to-Earth and modern family seems to be like every other family in their coastal California town until events begin to shake their family to the core. Dianna, an art enthusiast and writer shares her passion for beautiful art with her twin children, Jude and Noah, although Noah seems to possess more of the gift than Jude.

Noah has some secrets of his own that he has buried deep within himself. At age thirteen Noah sneaks over to the CSA (California School of Art) to participate in some of their technique classes. From his days watching the classes from outside the window he begins to notice his feelings for some of the male models. At first Noah tries to hide who he is and fears what others may think if they were to find out that he was gay. By age sixteen something has happened to turn Noah off to art completely. His days dreaming of enrolling in CSA have gone and he spends most of his time with his girlfriend jumping off cliffs into the unforgiving ocean.

Jude was always the wild one. She knew that Noah was the apple of her mother’s eye so she sought after the attention of her athletic father. Taking to the surf and dressing in minimal apparel Jude seeks affection in all the wrong places. Something happens, however, and she trades in her surf boards for all of the superstitions of her grandmother. She begins to live her life cautiously and begins to boycott boys altogether. Once enrolled in CSA, she is assigned to apprentice a stone carver and he helps to chisel away the broken pieces and indirectly reunites the siblings.

This story is a heart warming tale of the bonds formed between members of the same family. Although things come between the Sweetwine’s they begin to forgive and love yet again. This book deals with so many modern issues: grief, divorce, homosexuality…etc. and brings hope as the characters face these issues. The therapy of art is another strong theme throughout this book and is a brilliant coping mechanism used by both Jude and Noah.

I really enjoyed this book. My favorite books are ones in which you begin to sympathisize with the characters and all of the members of the Sweetwine family were so beautifully described that I felt at times like I was Jude and at others like I was Noah. The story is told from the twins’ perspectives. Noah describes the earlier years (ages 13-14) and Jude describes the present (age 16). The suspense of the novel comes from knowing things that one twin may not know that once spoken will heal their broken relationship. Each can only see one side of the story, but it is important to look at life through more than just one perspective. Secrets can tear people and families apart. This story is about not hiding the truth and letting love win.

Workout Routine

Recently, I have been contacted by a company called ETB Fit. They had a couple of questions for me so I will share some of those responses in this post.

  • What foods do you eat pre workout?

  • I think it is really important to eat healthy. Not only for the sake of getting the most out of your workout, but for your overall health. I’ve experienced the side effects of eating a diet high in fat and oils and it is not worth it. It caused a lot of illness and pain in my life that was unnecessary. For me personally I like to eat bananas before a workout because they help prevent cramping as well as other natural energy producing fruits and grains (Cliff Bars, peanuts, Cheerios…etc)
  • What do you listen to during your workout?

  • I am a book nerd. I read or write during every spare moment I get and even during the times I should be doing something else. When it comes to working out I like to find an audio book on my iPhone and listen as I exercise. I put in my earbuds and push play. Most recently I listened to the book, We Were Liars while using the elliptical. It was fantastic and it kept me feeling balanced. I didn’t have the feeling like I was missing out on one thing I loved because I chose to do another that day. I’m a busy mom and I hate feeling like I have to choose between reading, writing, or working out each day. That;s why I enjoy pairing audio books with working out.

  • How do you switch up certain routines daily/weekly to stay motivated?

  • In my planner I set up a system of alternation. Some days I set aside for running and others I work out on the elliptical. Occassionally I throw in days where I do work out videos and build strength. It all depends on what I am focusing on at the time which all comes back to the goals I set for myself. When it comes to working out it is crucial to constantly write goals for yourself. For me, if I don’t have short and long term goals to focus on I’m less likely to be motivated to do the working out.
  • What do you eat or do after your workout to make sure you got the most out of your workout?

  • I tend to wrap up a workout with a cold bottle of Gatorade. I have hypoglycemia and tend to lose a lot of blood sugar during a good workout so replenishing with water alone can leave me a little light headed for a couple of hours and can lead to head aches as well.

As a working mother it is so easy to lose focus on myself and take care of my own body. For a very long time I put myself on the back burner and worried more about giving my child healthy foods and exercise and less about my own dietary and fitness needs. It’s been a journey of ups and downs, but I am finally at a place where I feel okay with what I look like. I would still love to get into better shape, and my new goals should help me do that. If you have any of your own fitness rituals or routines that  you would like to share please do so below in the comment box.

Five Minute Friday Link-up


I am taking a new step in this whole world of blogging. For about a month I’ve been researching link-ups and how they are valuable in growing your blogging community. Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. After the idea of joining a link-up was decided upon I sifted through so many groups and topics that closely resembled my blog personality. I settled on a link-up called Five Minute Fridays. From what I can tell this link-up values faith and writing. Two things that speak so much to my soul. Each week the host of the link up (Kate Motaung) posts a topic and those joining the link-up write for five minutes on that topic. I’m really excited to get going in my first ever link-up. I hope to meet many new bloggers who share my passion for both writing and faith. Blogging is such a blessing and has taught me to be courageous in so many aspects of my life. So without further adieu…my first link-up:

Topic: Dream

When I was younger I used to dream of this. I remember closing my eyes and picturing the life I have now. I wanted to be happily married with a family I’m crazy about and doing something I love for a living. For so many years I worked so hard to achieve those things for myself and here I am. Life is better than anything I could have ever imagined.

My husband is a great guy who keeps me laughing and on my toes at all times. He may get a little crazy about basketball sometimes, but let’s face it his passion for his dreams push me toward my own. He is a great dad who is always supportive and present. I love having the same schedule so that we can be so active together in the life of our daughter.

In my early dreams I don’t know that I would have thought I’d be a mother of an almost three year old by my twenty-fifth birthday, but sometimes God’s plan is better than my own. I can’t imagine life without my inquisitive and fun-loving toddler. She makes me smile and adds a little more purpose to each day.

I recently finished my fourth year in my current teaching position. I’ve been so richly blessed in this profession and I’ve grown and developed so much in that short amount of time.

Some days I know that I lose sight of my dreams. I get hung up on the day-to-day mundane tasks and forget that this is the life I waited, trained, and studied for. The last thing I do every night is take a look at these dreams that I’ve accomplished and I say a little prayer of gratitude. Life is nothing if we can’t dream. And dreaming is believing that you can do it. At times, my dreams go unrealized, but that’s when I remember that God is a bigger dreamer than me. Sometimes those dreams line up and other times I have to trust that His are better than mine. It’s such a blessing to reflect and see in hindsight how God was dreaming divinely even when I couldn’t understand it.

Keep on dreaming!

A Book Review: Prescription for Ratings: The Contestants

One of my first unique opportunities from blogging arrived earlier this month. I took part in a review of a short story that is being released today in the Amazon store. My role in this was reading the story before its release date and creating a review to be shared via Amazon and other book review sites. This short story is part of an series of shorts about the dystopian society, City-State, and also includes and anthology. Please take a look at my review below and use the link to purchase if it interests you. I met the authors of this short story through blogging, and their writing future seems promising. Please help me support these up and coming writers.


Prescription for Ratings: The Contestants

By: Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills and James Courtney

“This was my initial experience with the dystopian nation of City-State and I must say I’ve been hooked. The authors have done a superb job creating a level of emotional attachment to the characters and I look forward to reading more about this fictitious society. In this particular short story the reader learns about the ways in which the government controls the entertainment realm. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy you will also find delight in this story where members of the broken society are pinned against each other to the death in a publicly televised program. Check out this latest installment about the nation of City-State.“-The Ameri Brit Mom

If you are interested click here to see this short story in the Amazon store.

My Garden in the Making (Part 2)


As mentioned previously in my post, My Garden in the Making (Part 1), the building of my garden took a bit of a hiatus during the rains and floods of the past couple of weeks. We dug the garden and began working on the fencing to keep out critters, but the storms kicked up and our project was postponed for nearly two weeks. For everyday that fortnight it rained and/or stormed every day. Finally, there was a break in the rain schedule and we were able to wrap up the creation of our first ever garden.

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Above are my transplanted tomato and green pepper plants. So far they are holding up outside. I tried to transition them into the sun by doing a couple of hours each day outside while still in their pots, but sunshine has really been limited lately so I’m hoping they will hold up outside and avoid sunburn.

Additionally, I picked up some seeds for onions, carrots, and cauliflower. All three seed packets mentioned that they can be planted in late June and harvested in early September, so my fingers are crossed that some of those plants will survive. My friend, Katy, who got me into this whole garden craze also raised up a cucumber plant and transplanted it into the garden a few days ago. So far this little buddy is hanging in there as well despite the high levels of rain and heat.


Although I hope for the best I’m not sure how successful my first garden will actually be. Worst case scenario nothing actually bears vegetation and my garden is good to go earlier next spring. Best case we will have more vegetables than we know what to do with. Stay tuned to see how my inaugural garden turns out. For now, I’m feeling accomplished that all has been tilled, dug, and planted. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of all the hard work.


Laptop Bag

Laptop Bag
As you know I am in major packing mode as the date for our family departure nears. This year I will be tagging along my new laptop on the adventure and I’m looking for some ideas on a handy and cute bag to purchase that will keep my laptop safe and secure during the journey. I looked around the Polyvore site and found several different types of bags. My question for you readers is which of the bags above do you think is the most functional way to keep my “baby” safe and protected? I’ve never purchased a laptop bag. That may be lame to say. I’ve never really needed one, but now that my blog is booming and I’m in the habit of posting nearly every day it has become a necessity. Please comment below with the bag you like most. I’m so excited to be able to travel and continue to keep up with my writing!

H M coffee cups and saucer
$11 –

Starfish wall art

Vera Bradley tablet bag

Laptop bag

Solo laptop tote bag

Speck transparent bag

Countdown to England


Life has been extremely busy lately. That’s the thing about summer. It goes more quickly each year. In May I envisioned these summer days to be spent on the porch, drinking coffee, reading and blogging away to my heart’s content. In reality I’m facing a pretty busy schedule similar to the August-May one that I’m used to except replace work with plans I create myself.

Everyday thus far has consisted of an errand or two, meeting, or play date. I can’t complain though. I’ve had the company of my daughter and husband on nearly each of those things listed. Time as a family has been gained over time separated by a list of “must-dos.” Now I wake up each day and ask, “What do I want to do today? What do I wish to accomplish?”

The beauty of being a teacher is having the freedom of summer vacation. I went into the profession fully aware of these benefits and love to reap them annually.

This week will come to a close and the Sisleys will embark on an international journey to England. My husband grew up in Southampton, England and all of his family still resides there. Each summer we take a couple of weeks and venture back to England where my husband can relive his childhood and my in-laws get a chance to catch-up and get quality time with us. It’s always a relaxing stay. I look forward to it every year. While my husband is out gallivanting nearly every basketball court in the south of England I get more than enough time to read, write, and explore.

This year I’m looking forward to coffee shops, a few new novels, and some time to write. I also plan to take full advantage of date nights that we get offered every year. It’s wonderful having amazing family overseas. It’s a guaranteed vacation every year and it’s always full of fond memories and laughter.

In my mind I thought I’d have more time before the trip, but the past four weeks have come and gone so quickly. The remainder of the week will consist of packing and re-packing probably about six times. It’s always so hard to pack enough/the right clothes for a two week journey to England. It’s generally much colder there and a bit more dreary (although after the weather we’ve had here lately I don’t think that it’s quite possible to be more dreary.) I look forward to posting more as the journey begins and sharing some of my favorite English spots and stories on this blog for the very first time.

Please be patient as the week leading up to a trip may keep me from posting as much as I tend to normally. I promise that once I get to England that I will keep my readers in the loop and tease you with some of the fashions, foods, and finds that England has to offer.

Spend your summer time well 🙂

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Father’s Day and a Ninety Year Old Birthday Party


What a special weekend! It’s not every year that you get to spend an entire weekend celebrating Father’s Day and a 90th birthday surrounded by friends and family. This year is special for our family. My great-grandmother turned 90 on Father’s Day. We orchestrated a family cookout/pool party in honor of great-grandma. It was such a great day being around all those who call her mother or grandmother (or great-great grandma in the case of my child.) The kids enjoyed the pool and I enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with a pretty awesome woman. My grandmother is a blessing. She is so very sweet and loves every one in our family so much. We were lucky today to have this blessed time with such a wonderful lady.

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We knew that today would be busy so we celebrated my husband’s Father’s Day one day in advance. Some exciting news: He accepted a new teaching position during this past week at the school district where I am employed and also the one our daughter will attend in the future! I am so excited that we will essentially have the same schedule and his commute changes from forty-five minutes to about five. So…to celebrate this job and the fact that he is a great daddy 100% of the time we gifted him with some new books for his classroom and a polo in his new school colors with an embroidered mascot as well. He looks so good in the navy and gold. I’m so proud of him.

We spent our faux Father’s day grabbing burgers at one of my husband’s favorite burger places. Then, we were off to Tuttle Mall in Hilliard. Generally my husband would never request a shopping trip on a day we celebrate him, but with the weather being as rainy as it has been we have pretty much exhausted all of the alternative options. We got some exercise and enjoyed some family time window shopping. Then, it was off to use a gift card to Carabba’s. This is one of our family’s favorite dining locations around Columbus. My husband prefers the wood-grilled chicken whereas I tend to order more of their pastas like the fettuccine weezie.


This morning before attending the family cookout in honor of dear great grandmother we topped off our Father’s Day festivities with a breakfast at IHOP. As always it was delicious and I really dig their french vanilla coffees.

Tomorrow the Father’s Day festivities continue as my sisters and I will honor our father. My dad is such an awesome guy. He did raise me to be virtually helpless around the house because he has always been willing and able to do so much. One time when I was little I remember he got tired of not having a place to put towels after they were folded so he just built a closet…in less than a week. Just last week when we were working on building a garden he was generous and let me borrow his hose.  My dad has always been handy, but in more ways than one. He always provided for and encouraged me. His role has changed a little now that I’m a mother myself, but he is still an awesome father and grandfather.

Life is good. Nothing helps you gain a positive perspective like family time honoring  deserving people. I’m going to wrap up this family centered post with the poem that my daughter and I wrote on a card for my husband on Father’s Day, well, if we’re being honest I wrote it 🙂

Happy Father’s Day!

A man with a heart that’s as big as the world,

Is worth every minute he spends with his girl.

She’s lucky to have a dad who cares like you do,

Who is present and caring and fun loving too.

We’re so proud of you and your new school,

To have you home more will be really cool.

You’re a great dad from beginning to end,

And you like to go out and on us time you spend.

Thanks for reading and cleaning and cooking too,

No other dad is as “on it” as you.

You’re special, we know, and we thank you so much,

For all that you do for our family, we love you a bunch.

So happy Father’s Day from the girls who love you most,

Stay in bed and we’ll bring you French Toast.

All of this day is to celebrate you,

And all of the awesome fatherly things that you do.

Thanks for everything,
Arianna and Mommy

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Writing As a Ministry


Over the past several weeks I have been working on a new opportunity and I am excited to officially announce on my blog that I am taking my writing to a new level and becoming part of my first ever writing ministry. Over the past couple of months my church (Covenant Church in Grove City, Ohio) has been restructuring itself and creating opportunities for the members of the church to become more involved in the mission of the church: to seek and save the lost.

A few months back one of the pastors of the church sent out a message seeking those with the gift of writing to help with some upcoming projects. Initially, I did not even see or know about this message, but several of my friends within the church recommended me to this pastor and I somehow ended up on the radar. Over the next couple of days I submitted some of my writing to the church. Upon review of my writing I learned that the church would like to use me in this new ministry. Shortly thereafter I met with this pastor and he outlined the specifics of this project. I signed on the dotted line and committed to joining the team at Covenant in the area of writing.

I say all of this not to boast about my writing skills, because I am still learning and growing. Rather I say this to show that God is good! I’ve been convicted about getting involved with our church and I feel like God has opened doors for me to effectively use my gifts to serve Him. Also, I know that for me writing is some times my avenue for communicating with God. For years I’ve kept journals that hold some of my deepest conversations with God. Writing has always been a way for me to completely give over my thoughts to God and I am so glad that he is choosing to use my writing to glorify Him.

When I began my blog this winter I set out to accomplish some goals for myself. My blog contains a journey which if you were to start at the beginning and read forward you would see how God has been shaping me through my blog posts. Through this process God has taken what I meant for myself and focused it also on Him. There are a lot of things I have learned through writing and nothing is more important than giving God the glory for whatever He is using me to accomplish.

So I joined this writing team to show God that I recognize that my passions and gifts are from Him and I am willing to use them for His glory. It may take a little extra time on my part to write for the different upcoming projects (magazines, interviews, discussions, etc.), but ultimately it is bringing God glory doing something that I love so I don’t even fear the time commitment involved. In the future I may post some of the articles I write or share some interviews with my blogging community so stay tuned for that. I just really wanted all of you to know that God is using this writing thing for something much bigger than me and I am so excited to take a hobby and turn it into a ministry. To God be the Glory!