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

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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

Catching You Up to Speed: Part 2

I took a year hiatus from blogging for many reasons. The major reason behind my break was because I was pregnant and exhausted. And as any parent knows, the months that lead up to and follow the birth of new little one are tiring. I didn’t have the energy or drive to write on most days and much of what I did write during that time was private prayers and thoughts for my daughters.

Earlier this week I shared some photos with you from my pregnancy (Catching You Up to Speed: Part 1). You saw my oldest daughter, Arianna, preparing to be a big sister and I finished that post with the first picture of our baby girl, Aleah Isobel. So here is a look at the second part of my hiatus-the time since she was born four months ago. I hope you can handle all this cuteness 🙂

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And now you are pretty much caught up to speed. It’s been a great year in many ways, but it has also been extremely hard in others. But one thing I know: I am one blessed Mama.

I’m returning to this blog because when I started it back in 2015 it helped me through a really hard time in my life. I’ve always been a writer, but the action of publishing my thoughts and creating a network of other bloggers really helped me to push past some of the anxiety I was facing at the time.

At some point I plan to share with you my testimony, but for now suffice it to say that I’ve been battling with anxiety yet again. I had a very traumatic event occur shortly after Aleah’s birth and although I’ve been very happy I’ve also struggled a lot with anxious thought patterns and PTSD. Writing has always been a calming outlet for me as is prayer. So it is for that reason that I’m returning to this blog. It’s a therapy that blessed me before and if it can be used to bless another person too I will be even more grateful. I’m excited to jump back in to the encouraging community that this blog once created and I look forward to sharing with you all once again.

So, here’s to moving forward.

Here’s to blessing and encouragement.

Thanks for checking in.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Catching You Up to Speed: Part 1

I’ve been absent for a year for many reasons. To start with…our family has grown by one, beautiful baby girl. Pregnancy made me sick and exhausted and to be honest I just didn’t have the energy to keep up with the blog. I still wrote on a somewhat consistent basis, but blogging was less of a priority while I grew a little human. So I want to catch you up on all of the big moments from the past year…

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The Ameri Brit Mom

Family Adventures in Boston (Part 3)

Day 4: Natick and Framingham

After several days of travel in the car, we planned one day where we wouldn’t have to sit in gridlocked traffic entering the city. Since our hotel was in a suburb of Boston we set out to explore the surrounding area. Our discoveries led us to a very nice mall in Natick where we visited the American Girl shop and several other upscale retailers. For lunch, we ate at California Pizza Kitchen in the mall. Afterwards, we ventured to nearby Framingham for putt-putt. Our daughter has never played before so it was fun teaching her how to hold a putter. Also, the game was fun because I was the family winner! Day 4 came to a close at Ben and Jerry’s where we all tried new ice cream flavors. The pace was slower, but it was still a really fun day.

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Day 5: Boston

The only rainy day of the trip was reserved for an indoor visit to the Boston Museum of Science. We sipped our coffee and ate our doughnuts as we waited in bumper-to-bumper traffic into the city. Peak travel times are very difficult to navigate by vehicle in Boston. If you are able, I would suggest using public transit and staying in the city. However, we knew ahead of time that patience would be required commuting from our suburban hotel so we made the most of it. I kept a bag in the car of activities for our daughter and I think my husband and I learned the lyrics to every iHeart radio top 40 song over the course of our stay in Boston. (I’m even working toward knowing the Spanish lyrics to Despacito) We made waiting in traffic a fun time!

As for the museum, it was wonderful. Three floors of interactive science lessons and activities filled our entire day. Arianna is in a stage where she is really interested in how things work so it was fantastic to use this visit as a learning tool. We’ve visited our local science museum (COSI), but she’s always been too young to take much learning away from those trips. It was fun to watch her learn about gravity, the human body, dinosaurs. space, and the life cycle of animals.

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The drive back to our hotel for the night was even worse than the drive into the city. We ended up using Siri who took us on an impromptu driving tour of Harvard University in Cambridge. It was a lovely campus nestled on the water. I wanted to take photographs, but alas, Siri’s directions were more important at the time.

Day 6: Boston

The final day of our family adventures began by packing and checking out of the hotel. One thing we liked about Extended Stay America was that we were able to do all of our laundry on-site. Boston was only the beginning of a much longer trip as we were scheduled to fly to London from Logan Airport, so it was nice to wash all of our clothes and not arrive to England with suitcases full of dirty laundry.

After our check-out we still had five hours before we needed to arrive at the airport. We decided to look at a local bookstore in Westborough called Tatnuck. This hometown bookstore was one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. The front of the building was made up of aisles and aisles of gifts, jewelry, and clothes. We spent a long time just going through this section. Then, there was a coffee shop. And in the back and center of the store stood hundreds of shelves of books. If we hadn’t been nervous about travel time to the city we would have stayed for hours.

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We still made it into Boston with hours to spare so we parked at Copley Square (For a ridiculous price) and walked around the shops, toured Old South church, and saw the location of the Boston Marathon Finish Line. We finished our visit with a nice lunch and then made our way to the airport where we returned our rental car and checked-in for our evening flight.

Overall, I loved Boston and I can’t wait to go back someday. We spent a lot of time in the car and if that’s something that bothers you I would first recommend flying to Boston instead of driving and then also I would recommend staying in the city as well and using public transit.

If we end up back in Boston one day some other things I’d like to do include: Duck Tours, seafood on the piers, visit Cape Cod/Martha’s Vineyard, historic museums and boating. It’s hard to fit everything in to such a short visit while also accommodating a four year old. We are lucky she’s such a great traveler, but there is still so much to do an see in Boston.

Thanks for following our adventures–now off to England for more memory making!!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Family Adventures in Boston (Part 2)

Day 3: Boston

On the east coast, you can’t drive five miles without running into a Dunkin’ Doughnuts. So after our first night in Boston we loaded up our rental car and made a pit stop at Dunkin’ Doughnuts before heading into the city. The night before, we purchased ferry tickets to Spectacle Island from the Boston Harbor Cruise Company. We parked at Long Wharf again and walked around a bit before our scheduled departure.

Once on the island, we felt like we had our own private piece of the world. Only fifteen other people were there and during our stay we ran into no one. When we swam in the sea off the coast of the island we did so alone. When we hiked the nearly three mile perimeter trail we didn’t cross paths with a single soul. It was such a great experience.

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The final ferry left the island at 4:00pm which still left us many hours in the day. We decided to walk part of the Freedom Trail upon our arrival back in Boston. We walked from Faneuil Hall to the Boston Commons and back. During the walk we stopped at a local pub for dinner and then let Arianna splash around in the fountains in the Boston Commons.

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This day happened to be my favorite from the whole trip. I highly recommend a ferry trip to one of the harbor’s islands if you ever find yourself in Boston. Although it wasn’t quite the sandy beach that many people frequent in the summer it was still a beautiful place to swim and explore.

*Check back over the next few days for the remaining chronicles from our family adventures in Boston.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Family Adventures in Boston (Part 1)

Before embarking on our annual trip to England visiting with my husband’s family we decided to drive to Boston, Massachusetts for a family vacation. We spent five days in this coastal metropolis and made so many family memories that I couldn’t pack it all into one post. Over the next several days, I will provide a chronicle of some of the things we did while in Boston.

So why Boston?

I have been fascinated lately over the New England coastline. Maybe it’s from books I’ve read set in Cape Cod or pictures from other bloggers. Maybe it’s the rich history and importance. Either way something about the place has been drawing me for a year. So when my husband was shopping for our flights to England he called me at work and asked how I felt about a quick stay in Boston before the flight. We hired a rental car for the two day journey and then flew out on Sunday from the Logan Airport in East Boston.

Here’s my bullet journal overview of the trip I will be describing over the next couple of posts:

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Day 1: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We spent nine hours of the day in the car as we drove through the turnpikes of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Our hotel was just east of the city in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Since we had a late arrival we started the visit off with a trip to Geno’s Steaks where we sat and watched some pickup games of basketball and ate our Philly cheesesteaks and fries.

As the sun set we decided to stroll through historic Philadelphia. The museums were all closed for the night, but it was the only time during our travels that we would be able to check out the sites. It was a beautiful night. Temperatures were warm, but the breeze felt good. Independence Hall lit by the setting sun was absolutely gorgeous. We took a walk around the historic center of Philadelphia and appreciated all the rich history made within those few city blocks.

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Day 2: Boston, Massachusetts 

We were on the road again by 9:00am the next morning to finish the journey to Boston. We drove through scenic parts of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts before arriving at our hotel just outside of Boston in Westborough. That first night we had dinner and then drove to Long Wharf on the Boston Harbor. We walked along the seaside and shared an ice cream in the Quincy Market, an historic marketplace on the Boston Harbor. Being on the sea was picturesque and everything I had hoped it would be.

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**Check back soon for the second leg of our family adventures in Boston

The Ameri Brit Mom

Five Minute Friday: Worth

What is Five Minute Friday?

It is a link-up (which is equivalent to a Meet-and-Greet in the world of blogging.) Each week, the topic changes and participants are encouraged to take five minutes to write according to the prompt. Because you only have five minutes, posts are raw and unedited. Luckily, Five Minute Friday is a positive place and by joining the group you are giving yourself permission to step outside the confines of perfection. It’s a place to write from the heart and to be encouraged.

So here is my unedited post on this week’s topic, Worth:

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I’m sitting in a warm upstairs bedroom with the windows open and the sound of birds providing white noise. It’s 85 degrees Fahrenheit today in England and I’ve never been this warm in my life. Sure, in Ohio we have days much warmer, but air conditioning is not commonplace in this part of Europe. Most days are cool and rainy, but lucky us, we arrived during a heat wave. So as every part of my body drips with sweat and the promise of a cool indoors isn’t quite what it is in America, I stare at the netted drapes flowing with the breeze and count my blessings.

It’s all worth it.

It’s worth the hassle of international travel, and questions from border patrol. It’s worth the worry that accompanies me with traveling. I must admit as much as I love to visit new places and get outside of my hometown I do stress a bit when it comes to the actual travel part. It’s worth it to be a near-melted-mess as we walk through the town.

The minute my daughter stepped through the gate and spotted her English Grandad her face lit up. It was worth it. Seeing my mother-in-law and chatting about life made all the jet lag worth it. Sitting in this hot house trying to down glasses of squash (british juice) to stay hydrated is worth it. To make these memories and be with these people is why I put myself through the insanity of travel abroad.

Hello from the UK this week!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Life Updates

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In life we go through many seasons.

Although every journey is different one thing that remains true is that each season has its own ups and downs. For the past several weeks I’ve experienced some of the highest points I can remember, but they’ve been coupled with times of trial. I’ve started new personal projects that thrust me from my comfort zone, and unfortunately, it’s stolen my small supply of energy.

I’ve also been carrying around a weight on my shoulders. For the longest time I tried to ignore the issue because it seemed easier than dealing with it. I tried everything I could to distract myself. I used exercise as a distraction. I listened more and talked less. I used television to fill my free time so that I didn’t have to write. All of this because writing made me vulnerable. The words I write come from my heart, but my heart aches and I am afraid to let it bleed on the page.

Someone I love very dearly is sick. Actually two people. There. I said it.

Over the past seven months my family has been under attack. Cancer snuck its way into the bodies of two people I love very much. It hurts to watch them fight. It hurts to see the messages and to hear the news. It hurts that in a time when we all need one another, that the illness keeps us apart.

Nothing can prepare you for this road, and I feel so helpless. I like to be in control. I like having answers and knowing outcomes. Just like everyone, I like to pray and see results.

So please forgive my absence. Many people tell me how encouraging my posts are, but I have days when being positive doesn’t feel honest.

There are times I rejoice over good news. Recently there have been tears of joy as things seem to be turning around, but as I tread this rocky ground I’ve struggled to find my footing. I’ve tried to keep my eyes on Jesus, but there are days when my strength is weak.

One thing I am sure of despite the battle is that God is good. Just because situations stink and the skies seem cloudy doesn’t change the fact that I trust Him. I know His plans are good and I rely on His strength everyday. I pray for God to lead the doctors. I pray for God to bind up the wounds and heal the sick. I pray for blessings. I pray for miracles. I pray that good will come from all this pain.

Thanks for letting me be honest with you today. Sickness is an ugly thing that can destroy healthy people and spirits. Please join me in prayer for my family, and know that I am praying for you and yours as well.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Our First Geocache Adventure

Geocache- the act of using GPS services to locate a hidden package or item.

Over Spring break my husband and I found ourselves with some alone time. This isn’t something that happens often so we decided to make the most of it. Sure, we could have done the usual date night and gone to a movie, but this was a mid-day respite and the sun was shining. We wanted to soak up the sun!

As we tried to decide what to do I remembered a student recommending urban geocaching. It’s something I had heard of before, but had never done. The idea seemed intriguing and it proved to be the perfect way to spend a day together. My husband and I are always looking for new places to go in downtown Columbus so we packed up our car and headed in that direction.

First, we downloaded the app Geocaching. 

Then, we found a general area in Columbus that had several geocaches available. We parked in a random place. Our first task was to find somewhere nearby for lunch. Since we were on the edge of Harrison and Victorian Villages we decided to try the popular Katalinas. I ordered a breakfast taco and my husband had Hens in a Basket (eggs baked into toast.) Both menu items were really good!

Next, we headed out on foot for our first cache. Using the coordinates and GPS on our phones we made it to the first location. Our first try was unsuccessful. We spent twenty minutes looking for a hidden key box. To be fair, we had no idea what we were looking for. We decided to go ahead and move onto another cache and come back and check again on our way to the car afterward.

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The next geocache was two miles away. Geocaching is a good motivator for exercise…did I mention that? We plugged in the new coordinates and enjoyed a leisurely walk around town.

We found the next cache almost immediately. Hints provided by those who planted the cache are always helpful. Most geocaches contain small trinkets. You can take something from the cache as long as you replace it with something of yours. This first cache contained two small erasers. Despite the anticlimactic souvenirs we were excited to have found our first cache!

Next, we decided to head toward the arena district about half a mile away. There was another one hidden in a park there. This one was a little harder to spot, but after ten minutes we had captured the quarry. The memento contained in this one was a dream catcher key chain. Again, not super exciting, but finding the cache was reward enough for us.

Believe it or not, downtown Columbus isn’t the best spot to geocache. Many of the suburbs are ridden with them, but downtown only has a few. We decided to head back in the direction of the unsuccessful cache. On the way we stopped for coffee at a small place in the Short North called One Line Coffee. We sipped and walked.

Once we got back to the original coordinates from earlier it only took a few minutes for us to find the hidden key box. Having the experiences of the first two helped us know what to look for.

We ended up walking five miles and having a really great time. This is something we plan to continue. We may even get our daughter involved. Stay tuned for more geocaching adventures!

The Ameri Brit Mom