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

 

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Road Trip to Pittsburgh

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My husband closed out his Upward Celebrations season with a trip to Bridgeville, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a family, we loaded up the car for the final time this winter and made the most of the four hour drive over two state borders and through several mountains. The landscape was beautiful throughout our entire drive.

I’m going to miss the traveling to new cities over the next couple of months, but I’m also in need of some rest. We are eager to return to our everyday rhythms and routines, but that doesn’t make us any less sad that our travel time is over.

On the trip, we stopped at a Chuck-E-Cheese so our daughter could experience the childhood equivalent to heaven on earth.

While Sam set up for the event I took our daughter exploring in the suburb. It was a beautiful little town, and of course we had to visit the local cafe. A four hour drive warranted a giant cup of coffee.

The travels may be over for a few months, but the memories we made as a family will continue long after his final bow. We are so blessed to get to travel together to support my husband in his shows. He is so passionate about using his gifts and talents to glorify God and he had almost a dozen opportunities to do just that over the past two months.

It is very fitting that as the shows wrapped up our school district began Spring Break. We are in need of some time at home as a family, although I’m sure you will hear that we took some time for adventure over the coming week. I’m looking forward to updating you next week on how we spent our break.

Send me some ideas and you may find that we take you up on some.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Indianapolis Review

My gift to my husband this Christmas was a trip to Indianapolis to watch the Indiana Pacers take on the Chicago Bulls. We only spent about 24 hours in the city, but we packed those hours with so many memories.

Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame

Over the summer we went to Chicago and drove through Indianapolis. I remembered from that drive that my husband mentioned the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, but we didn’t have time to make that stop then.

On our way to Indianapolis this weekend around we made sure to leave with plenty of time for that trip. We got off the highway about thirty minutes before hitting Indianapolis and spent an hour at the Hall of Fame. It was neat to see the history behind basketball in the Hoosier state. There was a video about high school basketball in Indiana, rooms of memorabilia, and a Hall of Fame for some of the most talented basketball players of all time.

Our Hotel

Indianapolis was absolutely beautiful. The city was clean and not so big that travel was a hassle. Actually, our travel once checked into our hotel (Hyatt Regency Indianapolis) was minimal. It was very cold and windy, but we didn’t have to spend much time outside. Our hotel was connected by a covered walkway to the Circle Center Mall. The Circle Center Mall led out to the entrance of Bankers Life Field House, where the Pacers games are held.

Parking at the hotel was a little expensive ($35 a day), but it was worth it because we didn’t have to attempt to drive in pre and post game traffic.

Our hotel was extremely nice and accommodating. Ari’s favorite part of the hotel was the swimming pool, of course.

 

Pacers vs. Bulls

The purpose behind our little getaway was so that my husband could watch a live NBA game. As much as he loves basketball he hasn’t been to many NBA games. His favorite team is Cleveland, but I wanted to give him a chance to visit another town. Chicago is his second favorite team and since they were playing in Indianapolis over Christmas break I thought it would be a perfect present. Little did I know that before the game Chicago and Indianapolis would be tied in the league rankings. It was a huge game. Fans turned out to cheer on both teams. Although the Pacers ended up winning my husband still enjoyed himself and the experience to be in the gym where some of basketball’s finest were playing.

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Indianapolis Children’s Museum

On every trip that we take we look for fun things for Ari to do. It gives her incentive to behave herself throughout the travel, and also gives her a chance to blow off some steam and have fun.

Leading up to the trip I did my research and found that the #1 place in Indianapolis for families was the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Once I saw that they had a Doc McStuffins exhibit I committed the extra trip to our itinerary. Also, we decided to visit on New Years Eve. There was a party in the lobby with live music and a countdown to noon. Every child received a party hat and we spent most of the day walking through the exhibits and having fun as a whole family.

We’ve been to Children’s Museums in Columbus, Chicago, New York, and England, and while we’ve never been disappointed this was the best one we have visited.

The exhibits that we enjoyed were Doc McStuffins, Indy500, Welcome to China, and Christmas Land. Additionally, there was an exhibit for older children that we walked through about Ruby Bridges and Anne Frank and the difference that children have made on our world. It was phenomenal.

 

Hoosiers Gym

After a long day at the museum we packed up our car and headed home. We made one pit stop in Knightstown, Indiana, at the Hoosiers Gym. This particular gym is based off of the one from the famous basketball movie. Ari was asleep and I didn’t want to wake her so my husband popped in quick enough to get some pictures of himself doing tricks on the court and then we headed home.

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This trip was a great time to recharge as a family. I recommend giving gifts like this. Getting a chance to make memories and celebrate life as a family is well worth the monetary costs involved.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Five Minute Friday: Want

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Want. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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Today is our final day in Chicago before our flight to England for the remainder of the month. For today’s Five Minute Friday post I decided to recount my memories and thoughts from my morning walk along Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile.

Wanting in the City

by Lauren Sisley

 

The cityscape surrounds me.

Tall, ivory concrete blocks my view on all sides.

The wind and sun crisp my skin.

My elbows graze the shopper beside me

As I travel down Michigan Avenue:

The Magnificent Mile.

 

The sound of bags bouncing on arms fill the air.

I breathe in fried food and cigarette smoke with each slow inhale.

People speak loudly–in different languages– into headsets,

But never to each other.

 

How funny it is that one can be so lonely in a city so big.

It’s fun to visit,

But I could never stay.

As people rush about seeking out things that they want,

I realize that I have all I could ever want.

And it didn’t cost a dollar.

Some go broke in pursuit of goods.

While those who lack have plenty.

What I own is little.

What I want is free.

 

 

 

 

How to Pack For an International Flight

I met my husband in 2007 and I have traveled every summer (and one Christmas) since to his hometown in England. As we embark on journey #9 to England I decided to share with you some things I’ve learned about packing for a two week journey overseas.

First off, I wish I had taken advice from seasoned travelers before my first couple of trips to England. It feels pretty helpless showing up in the airport to drop off your luggage and getting the red tag labeled, “OVERWEIGHT” strapped to the handle. Not only is there an added fee for any luggage over the limit (which for most airlines is 50 lbs.) but if it exceeds the limit too much they may force you to lighten the load before putting it on the plane. This is never a good experience. I’ve come a long way since my college days feeling the need to pack my entire dorm in my suitcase and so I thought I would share some things I’ve learned through the years about what to pack and what is unnecessary when it comes to international travel.

Pack:

1. An Adapter: Almost every international trip will require an adapter for that region if you plan to take anything electronic or any chargers for electronic devices. For the first few years I traveled to England I would buy these in the airport and they can tend to run quite high in price, but a few years later I was able to plan ahead and purchase a USA to UK adapter on Amazon.com in a pack of 3 for $5.00. It is a wise and worry-free step in the process of packing to research the adapters and purchase them in advance.

2. A carry-on bag filled with books, pens, and paper: As one enters a new country you will undoubtedly be expected to fill out a customs or claims card. In my experience many airlines provide these cards during the flight to help ease the process once you have landed at the destination, but they do not provide pens for filling out these cards. Have a carry-on bag packed full of things to keep you busy during the flight and always be sure to include a pen or two. Additionally many of these cards will ask for the address of the location where you will be staying so somewhere in your carry-on or a in a note on your phone have that address handy.

3. Clothes: It goes without saying that 80% or more of what you pack for your trip should be clothing. When it comes to what clothing to pack think about layers. As a preppy college student I always tried to pack my entire wardrobe for a two week trip to England which filled my luggage to the seams and oftentimes is what put me over the weight limit when it came to the airport scales. Realistically you should just pack minimally allowing room in the suitcase to bring back souvenirs from the trip.

I am about to take a two week trip and here is a list of the clothing I am packing. (Please note that it is much colder in the summer in England than in Ohio):

-5 pairs of shoes: athletics, 2 pairs of flip flops, dress shoes, sandals

-3 pairs of shorts

-2 pairs of jeans

-1 dress

-3 tank tops

-5 shirts or printed tops

-3 hooded sweatshirts (because it rains frequently in England)

*Another tip I’ve learned for those of you concerned about the weight of your luggage is to wear your bulkiest pieces to the airport so that they are not added to the weight of the suitcase. I tend to wear my athletic shoes because airports require lots of walking, but also because they are the heaviest of my shoes. I’ll also pack a sweatshirt or two in my carry-on because I’ve never been on a flight where I haven’t gotten cold at some point. Most airlines offer blankets, but most do not cover both legs and arms.

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4. Beauty Products: It’s so easy to go overboard on products for a trip. I’ve learned to minimize packing in this area as well. Purchasing the $1 travel-size shampoos, conditioners, and lotions have become essential to my packing. Apart from shower materials you should limit the makeup and hair products that you hull around. I always spend quite some time thinking through what I need. Anything else is just going to be added weight and space. I do always pack my hair straightener and one bag of cosmetics.

That’s about it for the what-to-pack list. Now for those items that you better just leave at home:

1. Cds, Dvds, and other media beyond tablets: These items oftentimes are embedded with a regional code that players in another country will not be able to read. So if you pack your child’s favorite Dvd thinking that you can show it in a hotel room you will be disappointed. If you or a member of the family can’t go without a certain album or movie it is best to download it onto iTunes or Google Play and watch it on your tablet or iPad.

2. Breakables or spill-ables: If you’ve ever watched them load suitcases onto a plane the reason behind packing anything breakable or spill-able goes without explanation. Although your suitcase may house some of your most valuable possessions it is likely not going to be treated as such by the airline crew who has over 250 suitcases to load on one flight. Make sure anything liquid has a lid that is securely fastened. One year I made the tragic mistake of not checking the lid on my hair spray and opened up a suitcase full of sopping wet clothes. Not fun.

3. Food: The compartment where luggage is stored during a flight is not equipped with air conditioning which will cause many foods to spoil or melt. If you are planning to take snacks be sure to store them in your carry-on and check the guidelines for food and liquid to see what is acceptable with your airline.

4. Bulky items: Really anything that is not completely necessary for your trip should be left at home. Do not pack anything that is going to be bulky and take up more than its fair share in weight and space. In the past we’ve shipped large gifts or items that we would use on the trip ahead of time, but for the most part that hasn’t really been an issue.

My best advice is travel light and think twice before placing any item in your suitcase. There are not many things in life that I would consider myself an expert in, but international travel (especially with children) is definitely one thing I’m beginning to master. If you have any specific questions about international travel that were not addressed in this post please feel free to ask me in the comment box. I hope that I could lend some quality advice that I learned the hard way through trial and error.

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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My Husband, the TV star

Things are getting exciting in our house!

A few months back my husband received a call from a professional team in England that he used to play for and perform with in the summers. The founder of the group was going to be filming for a television show and wanted to meet up with my husband to get him involved in the project. The organization is called SBX and they are creating a television series called “This Is Basketball” where they travel the world in search of the most exciting players and freestylers on the planet. Although there are not details about the show airing in the US as of yet there are hopes to do so in the near future. Regardless, this is a very well known organization in the UK, and it means a lot that my husband is being featured amongst some of the best and most talented basketball players in the world.

Some of you who have not been following my blog might have some more questions. I should take a few steps back and explain what my husband does a little better. Aside from being an awesome husband, daddy, and full-time teacher my husband also travels the globe with his ball handling and trick shows. I could try my best to articulate the skills that he possesses, but you would have a hard time getting a true picture of all of the talented things he can do. Instead, take a look at a video, or better yet his youtube channel which showcase some of the crazy skills of my favorite man.

So…

We are leaving Friday morning and heading to The Big Apple. We decided to take a long weekend and make this filming experience a mini vacation for our family. My younger sister is tagging along as well to help with our daughter and to be my shopping companion while my husband is filming. I am super excited and have been counting down the days until our trip. I have been to New York twice before, but it has yet to lose it’s appeal. There are so many things to do in the big city. I’m open to suggestions. What do you recommend that we do or check out in the NYC?

I’m going to leave you today with a song that’s been playing on repeat in my mind all week:

Start spreading the news.

I am leaving today.

I want to be part of it.

New York, New York…

-Frank Sinatra