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 😦

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

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

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

 

Reunion at a Harlem Wizards Game

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From my husband’s basketball days in England he has met so many people. Some of his closest friends came from teams back home. It’s wild how thousands of miles from his hometown that he is able to catch up with friends in the US. Last week, we had his friend, Phil, visiting on holiday. He came and spent a week with us and he and my husband played A LOT of basketball during that time. I enjoyed having him here and going on some adventures to make his trip even more memorable.

One of my favorite parts of Phil’s stay was going to a Harlem Wizards game. The Harlem Wizards are a traveling basketball team that perform trick shows for charities.

One of the Wizards, Big J, is actually John Smith and he met both Phil and my husband during a period where he played internationally in England. Originally from New York City, John has returned to the US and plays as a member of the Harlem Wizards travel team.

On Phil’s last night of his stay the Wizards were playing at a school about an hour from our house. We decided to make the short journey to see them and it was worth it. Not only did the men get to reunite and spend some time together, but Big J had Arianna on the floor performing tricks along with him. She won a crowd game and was given the designation of “Princess of the Wizards.”

Here are some of our memories from that night.

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

Most Memorable Posts of 2016

2016 is coming to a close and I am joining my Five Minute Friday crew on a special link up today. This year has been a huge year of growth for my blog. I’ve increased my readership and had numerous opportunities arise as a result of my commitment to provide authentic content for my readers.

To start with here are some exciting numbers for the year:

-Number of views: 7,745

-Number of visitors: 4,396

-Number of posts: 262

I have doubled my statistics in every area since 2015 making 2016 my most successful year yet as far as readership and publication go. Thank you for all of your support as readers!

Here are my Most Memorable Posts of 2016:

1. Stitch Fix #7

This was my most popular post of the year in part because it was featured on the Stitch Fix website. As a result of this post, I became a Stitch Fix influencer this year which has allowed me to gain some compensation for my posts from their program.

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2. English Rain Jacket

While visiting loved ones in England this summer I highlighted some of the fashions sweeping the nation.

 

3. 24 Book Challenge

This was a challenge I published at the beginning of the year to get myself reading some different and unique book choices. It has been really successful and many others have joined me on the journey to read 24 books this year.

Book Challenge 2016

 

4. Two Announcements

This very special post is where I made the announcement that I was officially accepted as a Stitch Fix Influencer as well as my first ever poem would be published in the Five Minute Friday book.

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5. Lula Roe Review

I hosted a Lula Roe party at the end of the summer and have been in love with the company ever since!

 

 

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for making 2016 a successful year for The Ameri Brit Mom. To think that two years ago I hadn’t ever published anything beyond a Facebook status to where I am today is such a humbling thought. I am so encouraged by those of you who make reading my blog a priority and I look forward to bigger adventures in 2017. To God be the Glory!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

English Squash Drink

 

IMG_3094 (1)The English do drinks so much better than Americans.

One thing I instantly miss when I re-enter my homeland is the delicious and healthy quality of the drinks over in England. From the sports drink, Lucazade, to the delicious juice, Oasis, the British refreshments rank far better than the drink options here in the states.

But of all the quality drinks in England nothing tops a cool glass of squash.

I know many of you unfamiliar with the drink are completely grossed out. No, the British do not feed their children juiced vegetables. (Some might, but squash is not made from the vegetable squash.) Squash is actually a sugar-free fruit concentrate that when added to water is remarkable. It is the go-to drink in every household I’ve ever visited in England. Squash is so popular because it is cheap, easy to make, and relatively healthy. The American comparative is Kool-Aid, but I refuse to let me daughter drink that stuff. Kool-aid is basically sugar water and tooth decay in cup. But, after reading through the ingredients in a bottle of squash I have far less qualms about handing my daughter a glass.

There are a couple of ways to make squash. If you want to make a pitcher of the drink, you pour the desired amount into the bottom of the pitcher (it doesn’t take too much) and then fill the rest of the pitcher with water. In order to make a single glass of squash you just add a couple of drops to a glass and fill to the top with water. One bottle of squash can go a long way. Before we left England we purchased a couple bottles for £1 each at Tesco and they will each make up to 60 glasses of squash.

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I really wish America would get on the squash train. Granted, there are some places in America where squash can be purchased, but in my experience it is never as fresh or delicious as buying it in England. Recently, I have noticed that Robinson’s Fruit Shoots have been sold in America and although it isn’t true squash, Robinson’s is one of the best  squash brands in England. The Fruit Shoots do not have any added sugar (according to their label) so they are about as close to British Squash as you can get in America. I’ve even noticed that several McDonald’s locations in America give you the option to add a Fruit Shoot to a Happy Meal.

If you have ever found a British squash in America that you have been pleased with please share about the experience. I’m still looking for a place to buy it frequently so that I don’t have to go through withdrawal once my two bottles from England are depleted.

The Ameri Brit Mom