Family Photo Session

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Thanks to a friend from The Mund Life Photography our family was able to get some awesome pictures over the holidays. It was time to update our family shots since our oldest was a bald baby approaching her first birthday in the most recent photos. I wanted a canvas this year of all FOUR of us.

Josh did a great job capturing the love of our family.

The picture above is the one that we had made into a large canvas as part of my Christmas gift. It was hard to choose just one picture though. In the hour we spent at the studio we collected so many amazing snapshots into our life.

There were so many perfect shots:

 

But my favorite photographs were the unstaged, unedited ones. I love how he captured our REAL personalities with these fun, candid shots:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To wrap up this post I wanted to share my meme-able photo. Below, share a meme that would be perfect for this picture. I can’t help but laugh every time I see this. Who else thinks a falling baby is hilarious!?!

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The Ameri Brit Mom

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Better: Five Minute Friday

I’m kicking off my 2019 FMF streak with a late post.

In Ohio, I spent my Friday preparing for the imminent arrival of this weekend’s snowpocalypse. After school yesterday I joined the rest of the state at the grocery store stocking up on necessities. If you want to join in on the weekly fun over at Five Minute Friday or check out others’ posts be sure to click on the link. Here is my five minute uninterrupted response to the prompt: Better.

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Fuzzy socks, wool blankets, hot coffee, and good books…does life get much more relaxed?

Sure, there is a mound of laundry beckoning me to wash and a room full of toys that need to be boxed up, but today I chose to hibernate. The steady rhythm of the snow outside is the perfect backdrop to my reading adventure. The laughter of the children forming snow men and throwing snowballs can not be outweighed.

I was scheduled to attend a writing conference today, but the weather forced me inside. I was excited to focus on my writing today (I haven’t done anything like that since I had the baby last year.) But if I’m honest having this perfect day at home turned out better.

There will be other conferences.

Today I am choosing to embrace the tundra and enjoy the benefits of this house arrest. I’m taking time to read, write, and make memories with my family.

If you were snowed in how would you spend your day?

The Ameri Brit Mom

The Faith of a Child

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Last Sunday as we were headed home from church my oldest daughter and I somehow landed on the topic of baptism. On a few occasions she witnessed others within our church as they declared to the congregation their new life in Christ. Her curious mind probed my husband and I, but before long she lit up and said, “I want to be baptized.”

I was so proud of her decision. The fact that she could articulate the purpose of baptism at six years old is unfathomable to me. She’s a girl on fire for Jesus!

Yesterday our church celebrated her baptism along with several friends and family. The entire children’s program also came in so they could support her. After she came out of the water she was all smiles and shivers.

I’m so proud of the way she has chased after Jesus.

On October 3rd she prayed and accepted Jesus, but he was active in her life long before that. Her heart is evidence of that. She has a beautiful soul and is kind to everyone.

God has big plans for her.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

One: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday!

I can’t believe how quickly the weeks are passing. I feel like I just crafted last week’s post and here I am waking up to the excitement of joining my fellow writers for another edition of Five Minute Friday. This week our prompt is One.

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Over the past eight and a half months our family has undergone some change.

Our oldest daughter went from being an only child to welcoming a baby sister into the world. I’ve been blessed in countless ways watching her adapt to this change. She has become a second mom to the baby. It’s amazing the bond they have formed in such a short time.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

I am thankful that in a world that will wound and sting that my girls will have each other. If one falls down, then the other can help her up. They can keep each other warm when they are surrounded by cold. When one is in need of backup they can provide defense for one another.

As an older sister myself I see the importance of the sibling bond. It is one not easily broken or overpowered. And I know that if everyone else turns their back on me that my sisters will still be there.

I can’t wait to watch the Lord continue to grow the bond between my daughters. I am blessed and I am thankful for the gift of true sisterhood.

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The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

Operation Christmas Child

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Operation Christmas Child is an international organization that provides financial and physical needs all over the world. It is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, an interdenominational charity. This is the twenty-fifth year that OCC has impacted global needs. I love this organization and how easy they make it to teach my children about the importance of serving and giving to others. Every year since she was two my oldest has packed shoe boxes and she looks forward to it every Christmas season.

 

This weekend our church hosted an Operation Christmas Child packing party. They receive donations all year and during the party families come in and help pack the boxes. My daughter loved walking along the tables with her grandparents and hand-picking items for those in need of gifts this season.

This year we packed over 500 shoe boxes as a church!

It’s not too late to get involved. This is Drop-off week for OCC. If you would like to pack a shoe box and want to know where to take it check out their website for locations.  For directions on how to pack a shoebox check out their site!

 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

The Ameri Brit Mom

Fall Break 2018

The past week was Fall Break in the school district where my husband and I teach (and our daughter goes to school.) We were extremely busy during this week with traveling, hospital visits, big news, and family time.

Below is a look at all that happened during the past seven days (it’s all out of order, but I wanted to be creative with the word: FALL):

Flu struck the Sisley house! Days before our break began our oldest daughter was taken to the ER with a temperature of 105. I freaked out a little prematurely, but that was the first time I had ever read a number that high on a thermometer. A little hydration and medication went a long way to helping her feel better. The fever hung on for four days, but luckily she started acting back to normal much sooner.

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A trip to Niagara Falls, Canada, was the biggest part of our break. My sister moved to Canada to work at Brock University (more on that here) and so we loaded up the car, our passports, and tons of baby supplies and spent three days with her at her apartment. I really enjoyed getting to see her town and touring her campus. We also saw the falls, did the Journey Behind the Falls, and walked through the tourist district at Clifton Hill. The only thing I disliked about the trip was that the morning we drove up I woke to a high temperature myself. I spent the trip nursing the same flu that I caught from my daughter, but I tried not to let that keep me down.

 

Local tradition has it in my hometown that Pumpkins take over the city streets on the third week of each October. The Circleville Pumpkin Show is the Greatest Free Show on Earth. Before we embarked on our travels we made sure to spend a couple of hours at the festival eating Pumpkin-flavored baked goods and my personal favorite, bourbon chicken and rice.

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Love was in the air as my youngest sister got engaged at the beginning of the break. Her boyfriend proposed at Hocking Hills, which is a state park in Ohio. It’s a beautiful time of year there and I am so excited to plan her fall wedding at the same destination. I am also so excited to be gaining such a thoughtful and positive brother-in-law.

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Now you are caught up with us after Fall Break 2018!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Canada Stole My Coffee Dates

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The past few weeks have been tough.

We said “See You Soon” to my youngest sister as she set off to study a year abroad in St. Catherine, Ontario. No one could blame her for accepting a FREE opportunity to pursue her master’s degree while also getting the experience of teaching at the university level. However, that doesn’t make it any easier.

Thank God for the technology age! Since her departure we’ve been able to stay in contact via FaceTime and social media, but nothing will replace our usual weekend coffee dates that I’ve grown accustomed to over the years.

We both share a passion for reading, writing, and coffee. Each week we would catch up on life and good books while warm mugs and rich aromas fueled our conversations. We’d show up and forget about the stresses in our lives as this habit became a time we both looked forward to every week.

Our coffee dates look very different now.

I’m eager to make a few migrations northward over the next year. It’s been several years since I visited the Niagara region, but from what I remember it is beautiful. She is blessed with the opportunity to live only miles from the beautiful landscapes of the falls. I cannot wait to reunite soon and drink coffee while the mist dances around us. All will be right in the world when we can talk about authors and essays and recollect all the months of missed time.

If you track with me over the next year I hope to keep you informed about my travels to St. Catherine. Canada truly is a beautiful place. It’s a perfect destination for an Ameri-Brit family like mine because the *culture is a true assimilation of American and British tradition.

I’m learning alongside her.

I’m learning to embrace a new chapter. I’m learning to branch out. I’m learning to break free of the things holding me back. And I’m learning that even though you place six hours and a couple Great Lakes between us that sisters will continue to have a bond that cannot be broken.

The Ameri Brit Mom

*I am also learning from my sister that “Canadian Culture” doesn’t actually exist. The Multicultural Act has aimed at dissolving a “Canadian Identity” in order to place value on immigration.

Clinging to Promises

Romans 8:18-30 (NIV)

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified he also glorified.”

Wow! That’s a lot of great text. It’s scripture penned and gift wrapped by Paul. The promise of glory and the blessed hope we all can possess really got me through some of the hardest months of my life. At times I felt like I was sinking. All I could really do was cling to the promises in this passage. Promises like:

-our suffering now does not compare to the glory we will one day see

-liberation from bondage

-redemption of our bodies

-hope

-the Spirit intercedes for us

-God works for our good

All of these promises of God became mantras for my soul. Whenever the darkness crept in I sang these words or repeated them over and over to myself. And it is by the grace of God that I am able to stand on and claim those promises instead of letting despair have the last word.

Two weeks after giving birth to Aleah I started getting out and moving around. My c-section healed nicely, and I went to the doctor and was cleared to do most activities. The day of my first venture out of the house I remember thinking how blessed I had been with this delivery. Things went fairly smoothly and Aleah was as healthy as could be. When I awoke that morning my leg was a bit sore, but I didn’t think too much about it because I had been almost sedentary for two weeks.

Fast forward to the night time.

The girls were both finally asleep and my husband and I were settling into bed ourselves. Out of no where I had this feeling that something just wasn’t right. Yes, my leg was sore, but it just seemed like a charley horse…nothing serious. I turned out the lights and tried to sleep. But the tossing and turning I experienced I realize now was the Spirit trying to get my attention. After a bit my leg hurt more and more and I decided I needed to get to the hospital. Quickly!

Sure that I was over-reacting I told my husband to stay home with the girls and I phoned my mother to take me into the Emergency Room. I kissed him good-bye and thought I’d be home a few hours later with nothing but a diagnosis of paranoia.

I presented my symptoms to the nurses who felt my leg. There was no visible symptoms, but they decided since I was two weeks out from surgery that they would run a couple of tests. They skipped the d-dimer test which usually is the first step in diagnosing a blood clot, because my c-section would certainly cause that test to show positive. A CT scan was run and a couple of blood tests.

After nearly an hour my doctor (who minutes before was talking about discharging me) came into the room and started with, “Don’t shoot the messenger…” (a very odd way to deliver a diagnosis I must add)

What I felt in my leg was in fact a blood clot, but it had broken off at least in part and traveled to my lungs. My diagnosis was a Pulmonary Embolism, a life threatening condition. I was admitted and almost immediately started on heparin, a blood thinner. In that time I was so thankful for my mother. From the moment I found out about the clot until about three days later I was in shock. The fact I had this clot and was only two weeks past delivery really messed with my hormones and mental stability. I barely spoke for days and my mind went to a fairly bleak place.

I let fear in as I tried to cope. I saw the doom and darkness over the redemption I had been given. I tried to have a heart of gratitude that the Spirit had gotten me the help I needed in time, but in all honesty I couldn’t do much but tremble with fear. I thought about how my family would be taken care of if I wasn’t there…and let me tell you–those are not happy thoughts. I was messed up, my spirit was broken. But through it all I called out to God.

A few days after I came home a friend shared the scripture above on Facebook. I remember crying as I read it, because I needed it. I hadn’t really spoken much yet and I didn’t even really know what to say, but I was comforted by the words, “the Spirit intercedes for us,” and “all things work for good.” This spoke to me because when I sat trembling at the hospital I sensed the presence of God there. At the time I didn’t know what to pray, but I know the Spirit interceded for me. The Spirit knew my heart and God answered my terrified prayers.

The more that time passed the more I began to see this situation as a miracle. Not everyone with this diagnosis lives. In fact, a third of them don’t. My symptoms were not typical, and when I first entered the ER the nurses and doctors thought everything was fine.

Six months later I am hoping to glorify God with my testimony.

I am clinging to the promises of Romans 8:28. God has saved my soul and my body to live according to His purpose. Knowing His Word and reading it daily has equipped me to overcome the struggle.

I can’t tell you how many times I sang, prayed, and quoted scripture in those days. Being immersed in His words gave me the strength I needed to make it through and it is continuing to help me move forward. I am encouraged to share what he’s done for me, but it all starts with the time I spend with Him everyday.

The next three months I took blood thinners and was on a first-name basis with the receptionist at the doctor’s office because I visited so frequently. I ran the gamut of tests, but in the end I was cleared! I prayed that all blood tests would come back normal, and they did. No blood disorders! And I am now at no-elevated risk for recurrent clots and I am no longer on blood thinners. The clot was likely caused by the combination of surgery and heightened estrogen levels post-partum. No matter the cause or the purpose I know that my God is good and He works everything out according to His good will.

The Ameri Brit Mom

PS-This picture was taken the day of my PE…just goes to show that everything looked fine, but before long I would learn that it definitely wasn’t. Also…can you see the baby I’m wearing? I was trying to figure out the holds for a newborn and snapped this picture to show that I got it wrong, so don’t worry I didn’t carry her around all day like that!

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Well, We Survived!

Week one of school is in the books and all four of us survived. Naps were essential, and sure, there were some meltdowns, but we made it! Life is starting to settle into routines and each day gets a little easier. For me, I started my eighth school year teaching ninth grade in a public school. My husband started his seventh year of teaching elementary school and my daughter is now in kindergarten at his school!

All in the first week we experienced: the end of my blessed maternity leave, a new sitter for the baby, Arianna’s first lost tooth, Sam’s first week of coaching Arianna’s new soccer team, and a new season of AWANA at our church.

It’s been a crazy week, but I love it all!

I love watching my girls flourish and I am actually really happy to be back in the classroom. The school year is off to a great start!

 

The Ameri Brit Mom