England 2018: Week 4 Review

Now that we are back home in Ohio it is bittersweet to look back and reflect on our last days in England. Our month abroad was our best trip yet full of so many memories with our girls and family. Here’s a look at our first three weeks:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Our final week was full of good-byes and the emotions that come with knowing we won’t see loved ones for another year. Back home, a brand new adventure awaited us–our oldest starts kindergarten this week!

Despite the hassle of travel with two little ones and the canceled flights in Chicago on the way home (more on that in a future post!) spending a month in England each year is worth it.

Some Things We Did This Week:

-School supply shopping and a girl’s day in West Quay (Arianna is so excited to have supplies from England!)

-Sent my sister-in-law off on a month’s travel around Europe with a friend

-Participated in Story Time at the Eastleigh Library

-Visited with Sam’s aunt, Julie

-Broke down on the side of the road (punctured tire and overheated engine)

-Took Arianna on a two mile run around Fleming Park

-Visited Longdown Dairy Farm (Aleah was very interested in the ducks and even waved at them)

-Date night at Prezzos and to see Mama Mia 2 in the cinema

-Took another spin class

-Swam and relaxed at Mudeford Beach in the New Forest

-Attended a church service at Thrive

-Picnic at Itchen Valley Country Park

-Shopped for journal supplies at Hobby Craft

-Packed our suitcases ūüė¶

Some Things We Ate This Week:

-kebabs

-Daim cake (my absolute favorite)

-several pub lunches

-Nandos

Milestones:

Arianna completed the Reading Challenge at the Eastleigh Library during our stay. She read six books in order to receive her award. Aleah started to wave in her own little way this week and she did it first while visiting the farm. She loved the ducks, goats, and chickens.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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England 2018: Week 3 Review

This week in England was a very unique one. We seldom get the opportunity to host friends from back home while in England, but this week our good friend, Tom, came to visit us and see what life is like for the English. It was a busy week as we tried to give Tom plenty of opportunities to explore Hampshire before he headed off to London on his own. Also, this was our last week with my sister-in-law as she is headed off on a European adventure.

Some Things We Did This Week:

-Swam at the Lymington Sea Water Baths where there were multiple inflatable courses.

-Went to Splashdown, an indoor water park in Poole

-Searched Eastleigh for a map to help Tom orient himself with Hampshire

-My husband, Tom, Kes, and Alan went on a late night excursion to watch the sun set in Portmouth. This trip involved an overheated car, a pub run, and a midnight search for a burger wagon.

-Toured the Winchester Cathedral

-Went kayaking in Woodmill

-Pet ponies in the New Forest

-Had a Cream Tea in Lyndhurst

-Visited the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth

-Toured The HMS Victory ship from the American Revolution, French Revolution, and Trafalgar Eras

-Ate a car picnic in front of the Southsea in Portsmouth

-Worshipped at Thrive Church

Some Things We Ate This Week:

-Fish’n’Chips at the Mayflower Pub (Lymington)

-New Forest Ice Cream in the New Forest

-Full English breakfast

-Curry dinner at Badhi Marchi

-Cream Tea (Coffee and Choc Chip Scones)

-Barbecue

-Roast Dinner at The Alma

-English Candy that we bought for Tom in a Welcome Basket

Milestones:

Arianna kayaked alone for the first time and saw her very first play, “The Gruffalo’s Child” in Winchester.

Aleah turned five months old and she is trying to sit up alone and is working on her upper body strength.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Thirteen: Five Minute Friday

I’m a little bit late this week with my Five Minute Friday post (I blame it on my all day excursion yesterday involving kayaking and cream teas.) Five Minute Friday is a weekly link-up where a community of bloggers crafts a post based on a common topic. This week the topic is Thirteen. Check out the rest of the community and their posts here. Now on to my five minutes of uninterrupted writing:

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I’m starting to miss my home. A whole month abroad has been an endless supply of joy, but the longer I stay the more I begin to sense the familiar feeling of homesickness. I truly love being in England and spending time with people I love so dearly, but when I quiet my mind I start to crave the things that make up my life in America.

Friends, church, wide roads, American food, lemonade, driving, air conditioning, my house, and pets are all things I miss while traveling. But soon, I will have both feet on the ground in Ohio. Thirteen days and I’ll be back to the states.

For these last days I plan to soak up every moment in the UK. I have to get into one month a whole year’s worth of visits. I still have people to see, places to go, money to spend. I’m still looking forward to worshipping at our church in the UK, taking the girls shopping to spend their money that their great-Grandma gave them, having another play date with our close British friends, and eating a couple more roast dinners.

If you had thirteen days in the UK how would you spend them? What would you do?

The Ameri Brit Mom

England 2018: Week 2 Review

My family and I are in the middle of our one month visit to England. My husband is from England and moved to America when he was 18 to play basketball. The rest of his family and his closest friends still live in England so every year we return to visit them. This week we stayed Monday-Friday with his dad, sister, and brother. On Saturday we stayed with his mom and went to the beach.

The longest heatwave in decades continued this week in the south of England. Since our arrival it has been warm and only rained over night. This weather is not typical of a summer in England, but we are taking full advantage of opportunities to be outside.

Being from Ohio this weather doesn’t bother me so much, however, the English are having a difficult time adjusting to temperatures in the high 80s. One challenge the warmth is causing in England is that the country is not equipped for the heat. Air conditioning only exists in supermarkets and large shops. The air is warm and stagnant at times and going inside to escape the heat doesn’t have the same effect as it does in Ohio.

Please don’t mistake my words. I am not complaining. Being able to go outside everyday has been a huge blessing. I prefer this weather to the usual cold and rainy summers we experience while visiting England. This is my twelfth visit to Eastleigh and we are doing so many things I’ve never done before since the weather is so gorgeous.

To see what we did the first week of our stay check out my post England: Week 1 Review.

Some things we did this week:

-Sam performed a Leavers Assembly at his old primary school.

-Went bowling as a family at Hollywood Bowl.

-Shopped at West Quay in Southampton

-Attended my sister-in-law’s graduation from the University of Portsmouth where she earned a degree in Graphic Design. We also had a barbecue that night with her friends.

-Played at an indoor soft-play area called Gambados

-Attempted to fly kites at Fleming Park, but it was a fail.

-Walked at Itchen Valley Country Park until we all nearly melted from the heat.

-Took our girls for a play date with their English besties.

-Met friends for lunch and coffee in Winchester (my favorite town here!)

-Went to the beach at West Wittering

-Attended church with my mother-in-law at Thrive Church in Eastleigh

-Completed a scavenger hunt activity at Manor Park

Some foods we ate this week:

-All You Can Eat buffet meal at Cosmos World Kitchen (Southampton)

-Kebabs (aka gyros)

-English breakfast

-Carribbean Jerk Chicken and a Passionfruit cooler at Turtle Bay (Winchester)

-Americano and brownies at the Coffee Lab (Winchester)

-Fruity waffles and ice cream

-English Roast Dinner

Milestones:

This week Aleah has perfected her roll from back to belly. She is now five months old! She also visited the beach for the first time and absolutely loved it. Both of my girls love the water! Arianna has been working on reading and getting better each day. I love watching her sit on Grandad’s lap reading books to him. Both girls also had alone time with each grandparent this week. This is something that is so special to them. Since they don’t see their English grandparents for eleven months out of the year it is so critical that they get time alone with them. Arianna cherishes the memories she makes with them and talks about them often when we are home.

The Ameri Brit Mom

England 2018: Week 1 Review

I cannot believe that we’ve been in the sunny UK for one week now. Packing a year worth of visits into one month really makes time fly. Watching the girls connect with their British family and heritage makes all of the hassle of travel worth it.

This first week was spent adjusting to the time difference and reacquainting our family with those we love in England. While here we stay with my father-in-law in the house where my husband grew up. Along with us for the week my sister-in-law and brother-in-law are also staying in the house. It’s a packed house, but we enjoy the company. We stay in Eastleigh which is a suburb of Southampton along the south coast of England.

A major difference between life in Eastleigh and our home in Ohio is that everything we could possibly need is within walking distance. We travel by foot as often as we can and we log well over 10,000 steps per day throughout our stays. It’s nice to have the option to travel by car, but with a metro center less than a mile from the house we take advantage of the opportunity to move our legs and get outside.

Life moves at a slower pace here. In America, life is packed so full. It’s the American way. But in England, most shops and venues close for the evening around 5pm. This encourages families to spend more time together in the home. We’ve done so much during the days while here, but our evenings are generally spent around the dinner table, playing games, and just hanging out with the people we love.

Some of the things we did during our first week:

-went to a new cinema in Southampton to catch the release of Uncle Drew (a basketball movie which was totally my husband’s choice)

-swam in the Fleming Park paddling pool

-signed Arianna up for her very own Eastleigh Library card

-swam at Romsey Rapids, an indoor water park

-participated in my first ever cycling class is Twyford

-met up with students and teachers from the school where I work. They are currently traveling abroad for a foreign language trip and part of their itinerary brought them to Portsmouth, a fifteen minute drive from Eastleigh. An added bonus, my cousin was on the trip!

-attended the Cheese Festival in Portsmouth and walked along the sea

-worshipped in the town square during the annual Eastleigh Churches Together service

-drove through the lovely New Forest to pick up my brother-in-law. (Side note: In the New Forest horses have free reign of the roads and town. Wild horses are beautiful!)

-shopped in Eastleigh’s Swan Center

-watched on television as England lost in the semi-finals of the World Cup

 

Some foods we’ve eaten:

-Cottage pie

-Fish’n’chips

-Traditional English Breakfast (fried egg, sausage, bacon, beans, chips)

-Paninis

-Lots of Costa coffee

-Traditional Roast Dinner

-Mac’n’Cheese waffle from the Cheese Festival

 

Milestones

My girls also had some big milestones during this first week. Arianna learned to ride a bike without training wheels. She enlisted the help of an elderly neighbor, but within thirty minutes she was off! I cannot believe how quickly she picked it up. Aleah started belly laughing and can now roll from her back to her belly. Aleah also splashed in the water at Romsey Rapids for the very first time.

I am looking forward to all we have planned over the next few weeks. I will share weekly recaps so stay tuned to see what all we get up to while staying with family in England.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Flight to the UK

One of the perks of marrying into a British family–annual trips to England.

Each summer since 2008 I have made the journey to England to visit with my husband’s family. This year the trip will last an entire month. We have a lot planned and I’m really excited to share with you some of our adventures during this stay.

Aleah made her first voyage on an airplane and she did so well. The flight attendants and other passengers were amazed at her contentedness throughout the journey. Our seats were in the very last row so as people queued up to use the toilets Aleah made sure everyone received a smile.

Arianna is now a perfect age for traveling. Five might be my favorite age yet! She was able to help with the baby and be independent when necessary. In years past she whined and cried the majority of the flight, but this time around she slept, watched movies, and ate as she should have.

Leading up to our flight I was a nervous wreck. Back in March, I was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in my lung) and that was a very scary time. Long flights are a risk factor for blood clots for everyone, but even more so for someone who has experienced them before. The night before we left I hardly slept. I worried about how my body would respond and I prayed constantly for peace and protection. My doctor advised me to take an aspirin, wear compression socks, and to get up and stretch hourly throughout the flight. Heeding his advice I did all of those things and I even prepared exercises that I could do in aisle ways and restrooms. That being said, I didn’t sleep at all during the flight. I focused on keeping my blood flowing and I got my family involved and active periodically as well.

And the result–I feel great!

Having stayed active throughout the flight helped me to beat the usual jet lag that accompanies such a long journey. Also, my anxiety seems to have diminished. For months I have dreaded making that flight because I knew the risks, but now that it’s done I feel relieved.

For the next month I’ll be blogging from England where life is beautiful and simple. If there is something in particular you are curious about and would like me to share please let me know. My husband and I tried to calculate on the plane ride how much of my life I have actually spent in the UK and it’s crazy, but I’m just shy of one year lived in England. (11 months)

I love that coming over here I don’t feel like a tourist. We stay with his parents and so I’ve experienced true English culture. So please, let me know what you want to see or read about as it pertains to life in England.

I’m looking forward to sharing!

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

Hoola Fit

One of my favorite parts of this summer’s stay in England has been my weekly Hoola Fit class with my Mother-in-Law. She¬†has been taking the class since January so she has been kicking my butt. My first week was a bit rough, but each week I’ve progressed. I was bound and determined after a sixty year old woman out-hula’d me that I would work on my skills.

It may not seem that difficult, but one hour of continuous hula and cardio is one heck of a workout. At the end of each class I’m winded, sore, and ready for the five minute yoga cool down.

Once I thought I was doing well and catching on the instructor started having me throw in moves with the arms and legs, then pivots, and finally gallops all while keeping the hula hoop revolving around my core. My first week I spent much of the class just chasing my hoop, but with each week I’ve grown stronger.

I love the simplicity of this aerobic workout. All you need is a hoop and some good workout music!

The Ameri Brit Mom


 

Dear Daughter (Part 2)

Dear Daughter,

Not many three year olds can say that they’ve enjoyed seeing the world the way that you have. From a young age you’ve been a traveler. Along with Mommy and Daddy you take in the sights and enjoy the scenery with a big, beautiful smile. You understand several cultures, and get that just because people look and act differently to you that they are still people and should be treated as such. Instead of a cold shoulder you give the world your smile. Never ever forget the power of your smile.

Your smile makes the world happier, clearer, and calmer. In the face of adversity your smile makes things light. The cackle of your laughter fills the room with sunshine.

In a world captivated by fear you remind me everyday of the beauty in being brave. When we visited Paulton’s Park and you saw a roller coaster blazing away on the tracks instead of cowering in fear you grabbed my hand and said, “When can I ride that?” A few minutes later you were hanging onto my arm assuring me that you weren’t afraid as we descended the first hill. I aspire to have that kind of bravery. To see the mountains in front of me and cling onto God without fear.

Everyday you make me a better mother because you are a wonderful daughter. Each day I learn something new as I attempt to see the world through your eyes. Because in your eyes everything is beautiful, new, and exciting.

The Ameri Brit Mom

The Big Issue

While America may be dealing with a few hot debates such as gun control, Trump vs. Hillary, and transgender bathroom selection, over in Britain the big issue is whether the country should REMAIN or LEAVE the European Union. Today is election day. By this time tomorrow a resolve will be reached based on the voters of this country.

Since my stay in England began a week and a half ago not a day has gone by when the topic hasn’t been brought up. Signs are all over the villages. Taxi drivers have polled us on our opinions. Civilians feel the need to post or share their opinions openly. So although I am not claiming to know much about the referendum I will share with you some of the common reasons I’ve heard for both sides of the argument.

European Union (EU)

The European Union – often known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries.¬†It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with each other. (BBC)¬†Since its beginning the EU has fostered trade amongst its members and has allowed for people to move about freely between the belonging nations as well. There are many reasons why people choose sides in this debate, however, I am going to focus on the two biggest issues I’ve been informed about: business and immigration.

Remain

Those in favor of remaining in the EU believe that the benefits reaped from the membership boosts the British economy. They see the trade relationships as essential and the immigration as providing workers for jobs that many within Britain would likely not fill. To those who favor remaining in the EU immigration isn’t seen as a stigma because the people who are flooding into the nation are not taking the jobs that many of the citizens are going for. Rather they are willing to work more manual labor jobs at lower wages. (As an American citizen this scenario reflects the Mexican immigration issue.)

Leave

Overall those in favor of leaving the EU feel that their membership in the union is causing England’s business and economy to be held back by certain EU rules and regulations. Mostly, those sympathizing with this viewpoint are those who are involved in big business. Another reason that I’ve heard often enough during my stay is that Britain needs to secure its borders against immigration and being a member of the EU has made that impossible. This argument only makes sense if the immigration that one finds troubling is the immigration of people from other EU nations. Many people have cited the immigration of Syrian refugees and even I understand that to be a completely separate issue from the referendum. The referendum would only protect the UK’s borders against European immigration by requiring passports for travel in and out of Britain as well as a trip through customs.

Tomorrow the results are believed to be tallied. I assume it will be close so it’s hard to predict an outcome. If I had to guess based on those I’ve been in contact with I would say that the vote will be to remain in the EU, but my experience is very limited and the people I’ve spoken to are all roughly from the same area in England.

Best wishes, Britain, as you make this important choice!

The Ameri Brit Mom

English Rain Jacket

Inevitably it’s been a cool and rainy stay thus far in England. With only a few downpours we’ve been graced with more of the drizzle type of rain. Not enough to change our plans, but enough to be quite annoying. For a while I’ve been in need of some nice rain gear. I purchased Sperry rain boots this spring, but held off on a jacket for my trip to England. I really wanted to buy an English style rain jacket.

I ended up finding a lightweight olive colored rain jacket at Primark for nine pounds (or roughly $15.) Primark is a store unlike anything we have in America. The shop has fashionable and affordable clothes and home decor. It’s one of my favorite shopping spots when I visit each year. I was drawn to this jacket because it folds into its pocket for an easy pack in the suitcase for my journey home.

This jacket has a cinch waist, large hood, thin lining, and front pockets. It isn’t meant for a cold rain, but rather for the warmer rains of the English summer. It’s trendy and performs its function well. Another successful Primark purchase for me!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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