Uncategorized

Summer: Five Minute Friday

I’m a little late this week, but I’m tagging in for this week’s Five Minute Friday link-up. Every week writers from all over the globe gather to write on a common theme. This week our prompt is Summer.

British summers are very different to back home in Ohio.

The temperatures are cool and the air is damp. Winds here are constant and each day we are teased by the chance of a shower or two. Most days I grab a cardigan or hat before heading out. I would compare a British summer to April/May in Ohio.

Don’t misunderstand–there are warmer days. There have been a couple of sunblock-worthy days here, but they are not consistent. Also, it’s no use planning your days according to the reports from local weathermen. No one has a clue how to predict rain on an island surrounded by sea. As my daughter would say, “You just go for it and hope for the best!”

We are headed to New Forest today, to the quaint British town of Lyndhurst. This is one of my favorite spots for a Cream Tea and so rain or shine, we will be venturing out to the horse meadows of the village and the cobbled streets of the town. I wouldn’t have to pack on the layers of warmer clothes back home, but while in England–best to be prepared.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Family, Uncategorized

Summer 2016 Bucket List Recap

Every May as the end of the school year approaches I like to get into the spirit of summer vacation with a post about my bucket list for the upcoming summer. This year I had five things on that bucket list. The new school year began last week so it seems fitting to revisit those goals and share some of those big memories through a summer bucket list recap.

1. Travel to Chicago and England

At the beginning of summer my family took a two-step journey to my husband’s homeland, England. We drove to Chicago and spent a few days in the windy city. From Chicago we boarded a plane and flew directly to London. We were gone from mid June until early July fulfilling our summer 2016 travel plans. It was a great trip where we made countless memories as a family and with my husband’s family and friends.

2. Finish Reading a Book Every Other Week

I was able to accomplish the goal of finishing a book every other week throughout the summer. I love to take my extra energy and time through the summer months to focus on one of my favorite pastimes. I spent many hours on porches, on couches, and in bed reading some of the books I’ve been waiting to read.

3. Wrap Up My Manuscript

Yesterday I launched my Beta Team for my finished manuscript. Over the summer one editor took a close look at the manuscript. I did some major edits as a result and now I’m on to Beta Readers. My hope is to begin querying agents and publishers once this phase is over at the beginning of September. Stay tuned for news and updates as I enter this time of excitement and anxiety.

4. Picnic at Several Metro Parks

The past few weeks have been rainy and hot, but earlier in the summer we spent more time outdoors. A new metro park was opened this summer close to my home and so we visited that park several times in addition to a few others. I always have high expectations for outdoor time, but once the heat and humidity arrive on the scene I tend to spend most of the time indoors where the air conditioner filters the muggy air.

5. Run on Average 20 Miles per Week

Recently, I’ve shared that I spent the majority of the summer battling infections resulting from allergies. I ran a quarter marathon in May, but have not been running much because of difficulty breathing. Instead of letting myself get out of shape I’ve chosen just to change the way that I work out. Once a week I’ve been attending a cardio and strength class at my aunt’s A & A Fitness Revolution. I’ve really enjoyed building muscle and getting myself moving in a different way. Now that school is back in session I will likely get back in to running, but will need to monitor my breathing more than ever before.

This summer flew by. I blinked and found myself back at school. I’m truly going to miss waking up when my body was ready to do so, swimming with family, and sharing so much time together. As the school year begins I pray that we never allow ourselves to become so busy that we miss opportunities to adventure as a family the way we did over the summer. Just because I work Monday through Friday doesn’t mean that I have to halt my reading life or travel destinations. This is just the time of year where I have to try a little harder to be intentional about family time and chasing my passions.

How was your summer? Were you able to accomplish everything you wanted to?

The Ameri Brit Mom

Family

Summer Bucket List 2016

The school year has officially come to a close. Each year I’m always astounded by how quickly things wrap up. It seems like only a few days ago that I was trying to learn the names of each of my one hundred sixty students, and now they are on to the tenth grade. 2015-2016 was a fantastic school year for me. I utilized more technology, taught my first honors course, met an author, and built a curriculum map for my courses. Yesterday during the annual kick-ball tournaments I found myself reminiscing about the school year and being thankful for such a great group of students and a job that I enjoy so much.

This morning I finalized grades and packed away my classroom for its summer hibernation. I turned my key for the last time as a fifth year teacher and I welcomed summer 2016. Now I’m ready to embrace family time, sunshine, and all of our travel plans. Here’s a look at some things I’m hoping to accomplish this summer:

1. Travel to Chicago and England

In a couple of weeks we will begin our annual travels to England to visit my husband’s friends and family. This year we are going to drive to Chicago, Illinois to catch our flight. There are a couple of reasons why we chose to depart from Chicago. First, it allowed us to save a couple hundred bucks per ticket to fly from O’Hare as opposed to Columbus. Second, the book that I wrote last year is set in Chicago. I still need to add thousand words or so to the manuscript so I plan to do some research and writing while in Chicago. We will be spending four days in the city and we are still looking for things to fill our itinerary. If you have suggestions, please comment!

Our English adventure this summer will be a month long holiday. Most of our time will be spent in my husband’s hometown of Eastleigh, but we will also be heading to other locations throughout the country. We are so excited to get to England–Costa, a hot mocha better be waiting for me!

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2. Finish Reading a Book Every Other Week

The pace of the school year makes it really hard to put a significant dent in my 24 Book Challenge. I hope to get caught up with where I should be in the challenge by the end of the summer. I may even be able to finish the challenge by August depending on the amount of free time I am afforded.

Book Challenge 2016

3. Wrap Up My Manuscript For My First Book

I finished writing my first book over Christmas break. Since wrapping up that initial draft I’ve realized I’m a couple thousand words short of what many publishers prefer for the genre. I plan to use my extra time in the summer to match the word requirements through research in Chicago, added dialogue, and better execution of major plot points. I’ll keep you updated along the way. I even plan to reach out to all of my blog readers for title, cover, and publisher suggestions.

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4. Picnic At Several Metro Parks

Once my awful allergy flare up clears I am excited to visit several Columbus Metro Parks with friends and family. This will start tomorrow as we have made dinner plans with church friends at the newest Metro Park in the area. Columbus has a wonderful parks system that I will be taking advantage of regularly during these summer months.

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5. Run On Average 20 Miles Per Week

I’m very excited to get back into running shape. Excluding the past few days (since I’ve been battling some infections stemming from allergies) I’ve been able to get back into shape fairly easily. I would like to see myself average twenty miles per week in running throughout the summer. I’m especially excited to run frequently while in England–that’s never happened before! It would also be cool to run a 5k or two this summer. My ultimate goal is to run the Columbus Marathon (half) in October so that will require keeping myself in shape throughout the summer.

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As you look forward to the summer is there anything that you are particularly excited about? Share your goals and plans in the comments 🙂

The Ameri Brit Mom

Family, Uncategorized

Inaugural Zoo Trip 2016

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We woke up this morning with the anticipation of our first zoo trip in 2016. Arianna was up and at ’em early. We awoke to the sounds of her bounding around the house excitedly. Before long my husband and I were up (although I wouldn’t consider our reluctance to get up early as quite the level of excitement our daughter possessed.) We all showered, dressed, and packed lunches in the shortest amount of time possible. Then, we were off!

The Columbus Zoo is a big deal. It is the #1 zoo in the country and once you visit the place you understand why that is. Most schools in our area are on Spring Break this week and the weather was particularly sunny so we literally waited in line for an hour to get into the zoo. (I guess the rest of Central Ohio had the same ideas as us today.) I was so proud of Arianna because as we stood in line for an unforseen amount of time she waited patiently and made her own mental lists about what we were going to do once inside the zoo.

Before we entered through the gates we purchased our first Zoo Membership!

This is something I’ve been wanting for a few years, but because we are fairly cheap people it never happened. My grandmother knows I’ve been wanting a pass so over the Easter weekend I received my birthday gift a few months early and got a Zoo Membership card. There are so many things included with a membership. It works out that if you plan to visit the zoo more than twice in a calendar year that it pays for itself. Included with the pass is discounted entry to the attached water park, free parking, and an invitation to exclusive members only events.

Although it was crowded today we did not allow that to put a damper on our fun. Everyone was in good spirits and we truly enjoyed the entire experience.

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Family

Update On My Summer Bucket List

As today is my first day of the school year I decided to take a look at my summer bucket list and see how well I accomplished the goals I had set back in June for my summer. Although I am sad about the end of sleeping in and a schedule that I filled based on what I wanted to do, I am still a little antsy and ready to get back to my normal routine. As I sit here with first day jitters I decided to take the last few moments of summer vacation to reflect on the wonderful summer. My original summer bucket list was posted at the end of last school year here.

This is my evaluation of the bucket list for summer 2015:

  1. Visit the Columbus Zoo– I was able to visit the Columbus Zoo on my 25th birthday this year. It was a great time as a family. Next summer I’d love to purchase a zoo membership so that we could visit more often. It truly is the best zoo in America.IMG_0918
  2. Eat  at the Food Trucks in the Columbus Commons- Although I never actually went to the Columbus Commons I did have the opportunity to indulge in some of the finest of food truck delicacies in Columbus. Last week, my school hosted a professional development academy which was catered each day by a different food truck from the Columbus area. I really enjoyed getting to try Mojo Tago, Pitabilities, and Phillybusters.
  3. Read one book a week-ACCOMPLISHED! Below is a picture of most of the books I read this summer. For my review of any of the books I read this summer please use this link: Books.

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4. Discover parks I’ve never visited- We visited Fryer Park in Lancaster and briefly saw the Scioto Mile. This summer was pretty rainy so we didn’t get to enjoy as much of the outdoors as we would like. We did, however, visit several new parks in England during our trip there.

5. Five miles of activity per day- On average this occurred 5 out of 7 days a week. The weather definitely impacted this goal as well. Not to mention I made a lot of progress on writing projects which forced me to be a little more sedentary than I had hoped. But still, 5 out of 7 days is pretty decent.

Even though I didn’t hit every single goal I aimed for this summer I would still call this summer a success. I took some time to really focus on my writing and learned how to carve out time for the things that matter most to me in life: family, friends, and personal goals. I feel good about where I am and wish only to improve upon my personal fitness. We were able to really enjoy the summer as a family. During this time my husband secured a job in the same school district where I work and where our daughter will attend in a few short years. Also during this time we went on a nearly three week vacation to England. Arianna was involved in dance class. And my husband joined a summer basketball league in Columbus.

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So as I begin to teach for the first time in the 2015-2016 school year I have nothing but positive things to say about summer 2015. I am proud of all we accomplished as a family.

Here’s to a positive start to the new school year. This will be my fifth year teaching at Teays Valley High School. This year my courses are English 9 and Honors World History. The room is arranged and ready for my freshman to enter high school for the very first time. Think of me today as I lay the foundation for hopefully another successful year here at TVHS. Go VIKINGS!

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Family

Countdown to England

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Life has been extremely busy lately. That’s the thing about summer. It goes more quickly each year. In May I envisioned these summer days to be spent on the porch, drinking coffee, reading and blogging away to my heart’s content. In reality I’m facing a pretty busy schedule similar to the August-May one that I’m used to except replace work with plans I create myself.

Everyday thus far has consisted of an errand or two, meeting, or play date. I can’t complain though. I’ve had the company of my daughter and husband on nearly each of those things listed. Time as a family has been gained over time separated by a list of “must-dos.” Now I wake up each day and ask, “What do I want to do today? What do I wish to accomplish?”

The beauty of being a teacher is having the freedom of summer vacation. I went into the profession fully aware of these benefits and love to reap them annually.

This week will come to a close and the Sisleys will embark on an international journey to England. My husband grew up in Southampton, England and all of his family still resides there. Each summer we take a couple of weeks and venture back to England where my husband can relive his childhood and my in-laws get a chance to catch-up and get quality time with us. It’s always a relaxing stay. I look forward to it every year. While my husband is out gallivanting nearly every basketball court in the south of England I get more than enough time to read, write, and explore.

This year I’m looking forward to coffee shops, a few new novels, and some time to write. I also plan to take full advantage of date nights that we get offered every year. It’s wonderful having amazing family overseas. It’s a guaranteed vacation every year and it’s always full of fond memories and laughter.

In my mind I thought I’d have more time before the trip, but the past four weeks have come and gone so quickly. The remainder of the week will consist of packing and re-packing probably about six times. It’s always so hard to pack enough/the right clothes for a two week journey to England. It’s generally much colder there and a bit more dreary (although after the weather we’ve had here lately I don’t think that it’s quite possible to be more dreary.) I look forward to posting more as the journey begins and sharing some of my favorite English spots and stories on this blog for the very first time.

Please be patient as the week leading up to a trip may keep me from posting as much as I tend to normally. I promise that once I get to England that I will keep my readers in the loop and tease you with some of the fashions, foods, and finds that England has to offer.

Spend your summer time well 🙂

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Family

Father’s Day and a Ninety Year Old Birthday Party

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What a special weekend! It’s not every year that you get to spend an entire weekend celebrating Father’s Day and a 90th birthday surrounded by friends and family. This year is special for our family. My great-grandmother turned 90 on Father’s Day. We orchestrated a family cookout/pool party in honor of great-grandma. It was such a great day being around all those who call her mother or grandmother (or great-great grandma in the case of my child.) The kids enjoyed the pool and I enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with a pretty awesome woman. My grandmother is a blessing. She is so very sweet and loves every one in our family so much. We were lucky today to have this blessed time with such a wonderful lady.

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We knew that today would be busy so we celebrated my husband’s Father’s Day one day in advance. Some exciting news: He accepted a new teaching position during this past week at the school district where I am employed and also the one our daughter will attend in the future! I am so excited that we will essentially have the same schedule and his commute changes from forty-five minutes to about five. So…to celebrate this job and the fact that he is a great daddy 100% of the time we gifted him with some new books for his classroom and a polo in his new school colors with an embroidered mascot as well. He looks so good in the navy and gold. I’m so proud of him.

We spent our faux Father’s day grabbing burgers at one of my husband’s favorite burger places. Then, we were off to Tuttle Mall in Hilliard. Generally my husband would never request a shopping trip on a day we celebrate him, but with the weather being as rainy as it has been we have pretty much exhausted all of the alternative options. We got some exercise and enjoyed some family time window shopping. Then, it was off to use a gift card to Carabba’s. This is one of our family’s favorite dining locations around Columbus. My husband prefers the wood-grilled chicken whereas I tend to order more of their pastas like the fettuccine weezie.

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This morning before attending the family cookout in honor of dear great grandmother we topped off our Father’s Day festivities with a breakfast at IHOP. As always it was delicious and I really dig their french vanilla coffees.

Tomorrow the Father’s Day festivities continue as my sisters and I will honor our father. My dad is such an awesome guy. He did raise me to be virtually helpless around the house because he has always been willing and able to do so much. One time when I was little I remember he got tired of not having a place to put towels after they were folded so he just built a closet…in less than a week. Just last week when we were working on building a garden he was generous and let me borrow his hose.  My dad has always been handy, but in more ways than one. He always provided for and encouraged me. His role has changed a little now that I’m a mother myself, but he is still an awesome father and grandfather.

Life is good. Nothing helps you gain a positive perspective like family time honoring  deserving people. I’m going to wrap up this family centered post with the poem that my daughter and I wrote on a card for my husband on Father’s Day, well, if we’re being honest I wrote it 🙂

Happy Father’s Day!

A man with a heart that’s as big as the world,

Is worth every minute he spends with his girl.

She’s lucky to have a dad who cares like you do,

Who is present and caring and fun loving too.

We’re so proud of you and your new school,

To have you home more will be really cool.

You’re a great dad from beginning to end,

And you like to go out and on us time you spend.

Thanks for reading and cleaning and cooking too,

No other dad is as “on it” as you.

You’re special, we know, and we thank you so much,

For all that you do for our family, we love you a bunch.

So happy Father’s Day from the girls who love you most,

Stay in bed and we’ll bring you French Toast.

All of this day is to celebrate you,

And all of the awesome fatherly things that you do.

Thanks for everything,
Arianna and Mommy

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Family

My Summer Bucket List

It’s finally June 1st and time to get my mind into summer mode. I only have three days of school left and during my time between exams and project presentations I am daydreaming about the two months of summer vacation that await me after Thursday! In honor of the impending summer vacation today’s post will be dedicated to my Summer 2015 Bucket List:

1. Visit the Columbus Zoo.

This is the #1 zoo in the country and it’s only forty-five minutes from my house. I plan to take advantage of beautiful weather and family time with numerous trips this summer to the zoo. Arianna loves the zoo too, so that’s a plus!

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2. Eat at the Food Trucks on the Columbus Commons

Every Thursday in the summer (May-September) there are Food Trucks parked on the Columbus Commons. I look forward to trying this out this summer. In years past I’ve heard really great things, but have yet to experience this for myself. I’ll let you know if it’s worth the trip!

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3. Read a book a week

Let’s be honest, one book a week is a very modest goal for me, but it gives me room to take a little longer on some books than I’m capable of. With everything going on this summer in my life I’m excited to continue my literature kick.

4. Discover parks I’ve never visited in Columbus

Over the summer I plan to take adventures to several parks I’ve never visited before around Columbus. Arianna will love the playgrounds and running space and I look forward to picnics, sun, and cheap afternoons away.

5. 5 Miles of activity per day

One of my favorite birthday gifts from last year was my Fitbit Flex. It makes tracking activity easy and fun. The Fitbit will count running, walking, biking, and swimming as activity and track your duration and distance. To continue working on my fitness I plan to achieve five miles of activity per day.

I’m really looking forward to the summer and all that summer has to offer. If I had the opportunity to live somewhere where it was summer-like all year round I think I would love it, but I love my family more and could never move that far away. Now, I’m just counting the hours until my summer vacation officially begins!

I’ll leave you with some summer photos from the past couple of summers!

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