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

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.

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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

 

English Wardrobe on a Budget

This summer during my stay in England I spent a fair amount of time in Primark shops in Winchester and Southampton. To give Americans a comparative to understand Primark it is most similarly like a giant shop full of Target clothing (Merona). The clothes are of decent quality, fashionable, and easy on the wallet.

Over the years, it’s become a tradition for our family to do a big Primark sweep before leaving England. I still wear things I purchased years ago. In my experience Primark clothes have lasted well and I get compliments all the time on my Primark scores. I went last Thursday and bought several things for myself and my daughter all for under £40.

I love to look nice, but I hate to spend a fortune on my wardrobe so Primark is perfect for me!

Here’s a look at my new pieces from my English excursion 2016:

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Parka in a Pocket rain coat was £8.00

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Sweater £8.00

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Flannel top £6.00 and layering t-shirt £2.00

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I found the cardigan on clearance for £3.00 and the undershirt was £2.00

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Pants for £6.00 and t-shirt for £2.00

Which one is your favorite?

The Ameri Brit Mom

English Costa

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In America, you can hardly go three city blocks without encountering a Starbucks Cafe. Although Starbucks is present in England it’s prevalence is much less than that of Costa. Every year that’s one thing I look forward to–a warm mocha (pronounced mock-uh in the UK) topped with cream and drizzled with cocoa. Nothing beats the English chill and rain like a paper to-go cup of warm coffee.

My husband is from the small town of Eastleigh. It is a borough to the city of Southampton. The population is over 125,000. There are three Costas. Two are located in the town center and one is nestled on the outskirts of the main town, but near some large shops.

As I begin to pack my suitcase for my journey back to America I am saddened by the thought that I may not have another Costa coffee until next year. It’s been a great month of memories, excitement, and Costa!!

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

The Queen’s 90th Birthday

Luckily my little family was able to sleep during our flight over to England, because we landed on the Queen’s birthday. Queen Elizabeth II turned 90 this year and although her birthday truly falls in April the birthday celebrations were held all over the country on Sunday June 12.

Shortly after unpacking and settling in to our room at my in-law’s house we were off to several church organized street parties throughout my husband’s hometown of Eastleigh. The entire town gathered in celebration of the figurehead’s birthday with free barbecues, games, bouncy castles, and crafts. In the spirit of patriotism to my husband’s home country we spent the day out celebrating the life of Her Majesty.

Here’s a look at some of the fun we had. Arianna enjoyed the day more than anyone in the whole city. It’s so much fun being a family blended with both British and American cultures.

I am a proud Ameri Brit Mom.

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