Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Fish Finger Sandwich

The longer we live here in England, the more food I find that I think I will actually miss once we move back to the US. Shocking I know since the English are not known for their food, but there really are some good treasures to be found over here.
The most recent food item to be added to my favorite food list is the FISH FINGER SANDWICH. This sandwich is typically found in a pub, usually on a lunch menu and really there is nothing fancy about it but I have fallen in love with it. I have ordered it quite a few times at one of our local pubs, and although they claim to make homemade fish fingers, I am still a bit skeptical about that part of it.

Tonight, I decided to embrace the fish finger sandwich at home to try something new for dinner. While I did not make my own fish fingers, I did make these hamburger buns from scratch for a homemade touch.
Basically, the fish finger sandwich is just a "bap" (aka a sandwich roll) with tartar sauce, fish fingers, and then tomato and lettuce on top to make it a hearty sandwich. Some may say places like McDonald's sell fish sandwiches....and maybe they do - but I think this one is best eaten at the local British pub around the corner.

Friday, June 24, 2011

How Time Flies

I know it's an old and frequently used cliche, "how time flies," but really, isn't it amazing how time flies??

This week has come with some time sensitive news for us regarding our life over here. First, we have been scheduled for an appointment next week to have our biometrics redone for our new visas since our current visas are due to expire in August. We moved here on an 18-24 month contract for Scott's job and now we are close to the 3 year mark....how quickly it has passed! I marvel at the strength and great experiences it has brought to us as individuals, to our marriage, and most importantly now to our family of 3. When I think about the difference time has made for us in these circumstances, I think about how nearly three years ago we kept thinking - "Won't it be great to get back to America to do x, y, z, etc. when we move home," and now, how we often say "We know we will move home, but we are surely going to miss x, y, z, about life in England when we have to move home. Let's hope it's not too soon, we still have a lot to do and see over here."

The time has gone by in a blink of an eye and I did not think when Scott accepted his assignment here that we would be one of those couples who signed up for a couple of years abroad and then enjoyed it so much that it turned into (?) number of years. It feels like just a few days ago that we were saying good bye to our families (and of course I was crying for having to leave!) and we were both filled with excitement and a lot of nerves about what was in store for us. And now, here we are, searching through the filing cabinet to find our original birth certificates, marriage certificate, and other appropriate paperwork so we can apply to stay here for a bit longer. Within the past three years, it is incredible to think of the world monuments we have seen in person, the trips we have taken, the different culture that we have now grown to embrace for so many reasons, and the reliance on one another that has cemented our marriage and family together.

The second time reminder came when our tenants living in our Chicago house informed us that they would not be renewing their lease this fall. Scott & I were giddy with dreams for our future when we bought that house. It's strange to think we only lived there for a year before we moved out and the plan for what we thought was going to be a life in downtown Chicago, became a life (temporarily) abroad. We have now had tenants who have lived in our house longer than we ever did and probably ever will. With the time that has passed is now the concern that we do not want to move back into that house when we return. Time has changed our needs and since we have been living in England we have lived just 5 minutes from Scott's office. In Chicago, we chose to live in the city and Scott commuted nearly an hour (more on most days) each way out to the suburbs to his office. Since we have lived so close to Scott's office here in England, the long hours he puts in at the office don't seem as long as they did in the US because he is home much quicker at the end of the day. The time he is able to spend with us as a family is important so we will live closer to his office when we move home.
And thirdly, my baby is growing SO quickly! How is she already 4 1/2 months old?

I have mentioned my mixed feelings about the year-long maternity leave here in England before, but right now, I am nothing but grateful for the time with Crosby. I am not sure how I would have ever been able to go back to work already. I feel fortunate to be able to spend this time with her and to enjoy the milestones of her first year as they happen. Yes, at some point we may decide to have another baby, but I keep thinking to myself I will never have this time back with my first child, just the two of us together. I am trying to relish the days and experiences we are having now. I keep thinking - I want to keep her this age forever, and then a few weeks later, I find myself more in love with her than I was before, and I think no, this age is even better, she is even more adorable now. How does this continue to happen? I am grateful for this time and hope I am soaking up as much of it as I possibly can, because time really does seem to fly....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lunching with the Ladies

One of the expat American women's club activities that takes place every month in our area is called "Pub Lunch." It's a good excuse to try out a different pub once a month for a nice lunch out. I enjoy trying the pubs for lunch because then if they are good, Scott & I will often go back for dinner on a weekend evening. Today Crosby attended the pub lunch with me and so she went "lunching with the ladies."
Crosby before we left the house for lunch. She was dressed in a pretty little dress and cardigan, and outfitted with bows!
Crosby on the end with one of the ladies at lunch. She was the perfect little baby and didn't utter a peep the entire time! She smiled and cooed and sat up nicely at the table for a while before she took a short snooze during the main course.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Unlike Mother's Day in the US and Mothering Sunday in the UK, Father's Day is celebrated today in both countries. It was Scott's first Father's Day as a Dad so hopefully he had a nice day. While we didn't do anything too exciting, we did manage to all go to the gym (Crosby had her first visit to the creche there) and we grilled steaks for steak salads per Scott's request for dinner. Celebrating these holidays now as a parent myself is a bit different than before. I have never doubted my love and appreciation for my parents for being such good examples to me and for providing a wonderful life for me, but now that I have little Crosby, my respect for both of them is so much greater than before. Maybe that is how life works - we learn more about the past with every future experience? Right now, I feel a bit like that and I know my parents now see something with me and Crosby, similar to what their parents must have seen when I arrived (and then also my sister) with them.

On a day like today, I do marvel at how lucky I am to have such a wonderful Father and how hard he has worked to provide for my family throughout my life - and how he continues to do so even though I have moved on into my own little family. My Mom & Dad both say to me, "We will always be your parents so we will also continue to do things for you as parents should." And now with Crosby's arrival, I understand that a bit more. I hope that as we raise Crosby, we will always put our children's best interests first, doing everything possible to provide for them, and to give them enough love and support for them to thrive. Being so far away from family on these holidays is a bit more difficult now that Crosby is around, especially since we are also celebrating her Grandfathers today too and we are unable to be with them.

However, I am reminded that we are away only temporarily and the reason we are here is because Crosby has a Dad who wants to provide the best life for our new family. His career has carved out this challenge for him and we have taken this opportunity in hopes that this experience will allow him to continue to succeed in the future. Today especially, I am glad to celebrate Scott on his first Father's Day, as I know he is working hard for us, is being a good example for Crosby and will be for the rest of her life.
Crosby in her special outfit in honor of her Daddy!
Hanging with Dad for the afternoon.
An attempt at a family photo on Father's Day.
Crosby's gift to Dad - coordinating half pint/ Pint t-shirts to celebrate Scott's first Father's Day living in England. Unfortunately it was a bit too close to nap time and little Crosby was not so thrilled to be modeling her new shirt....she was ready for her crib!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Garden Tea Party

This afternoon I attended a proper English Tea/Garden Party with a group of expat ladies for a fundraiser for a local charity. It was great fun and reminded me of some of the great perks of being an expat wife. Hats or fascinators were required since it was a proper tea and it also coincided with Ladies Day at Ascot today, which is another place where hats are part of the attire for women. I opted for a fairly small fascinator by English standards but still felt a bit like a fish out of water since I am not used to having such large things in my hair!
An attempted self portrait to capture a picture of my fascinator before leaving for the tea.
The tea was full of sweets, cakes and tea sandwiches to enjoy.
I had volunteered to bake a cake for the tea. I baked this strawberry cake (not a proper English tea time cake, but yummy all the same!).
With Anne & Michele in our hats and fascinators at the tea.
There was traditional victoria sponge cake (one of my favorite British cakes).
And plenty of delicious finger sandwiches! Salmon, cucumber, egg salad, and ham & cheese.
And of course scones with real clotted cream and jam. Talk about leaving on a sugar high!
When I returned home, I arrived to find my little Crosby fast asleep after being a good little baby for the sitter. It was a lovely afternoon for a good cause!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Nappy Report

This week I left Crosby home for almost the entire day with a sitter for the first time. Crosby & the sitter did just fine but of course I was worried and thinking about my little baby the entire time! Crosby is used to this sitter already which is good. We found her shortly after all of our parents went home after visiting so I could get out for a few hours every week, since we do not have family nearby to watch her if needed. The visits with the sitter have only been a few hours at a time before so I wasn't sure how the entire day might go. Luckily everything went well and when I arrived back home, I was given the full nappy report.

Nappy Report? Code name for Diaper Report. And that's not the only baby item called by a different name over here....
When I came home from the day out, the sitter said to me: "Crosby was an angel. She had four wet nappies and no dirty nappies. She drank her bottles and I took her in the pram on a walk into town."

Yes, in the world of a baby, there are more differences in words between the British and Americans. So, because we have a British babysitter, I find myself correcting myself when giving her instructions to ensure we are both talking about the same thing....
American word = British word
Diaper = Nappy
Pacifier = Dummy
Burp Cloth = Muslin
Stroller = Pram or Pushchair
Crib = Cot
Convertible Crib = Cot Bed
Bassinet or small rocking-type crib = Crib (the cot/crib situation was very confusing when shopping for a "crib" as we know it in the US!)
Onesie or baby bodysuit = Vest (commonly in the UK, vests are sleeveless, worn as undershirts really, and I have not found these in the US/ although I would also say vests could be with sleeves and then they might be worn as shirts as they are worn in the US)
One piece snap-front sleep n' play (as Carters would call them, actually I unsure what they are officially called in the US) = Baby grow outfits
Day care = Nursery

I guess only time will tell to see if Crosby picks up any of the British words for these items while living over here!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jet Lag

Jet lag seems SO much more tiring with an infant! While Crosby was a dream baby on the return flight back to the UK, the first few days/nights back in England were a bit rough. Truthfully they were probably more tiring for me and for Scott than they were for Crosby. We arrived home only to smell a terrible stench in the house - our freezer had gone bad. Who knows if it went bad while Scott was traveling in Europe before he came to America to meet us, or if it went bad during the week he was in the US. Either way, our house stunk and we were already exhausted from the journey to get back here before we had to deal with cleaning out the soupy freezer and work on the smell.
After Scott wrapped himself in a mask and kindly threw out the contents of our entire freezer, he headed into the office for the rest of the day, and I spent the remainder of the day trying to entertain a baby who was completely off schedule.
After dinner, I walked into our living room to find the two other family members here looking like this:
Jet lag struck the first night for sure! Unfortunately it's difficult to tell a baby not to sleep all afternoon so she'll sleep at night....so we had a wide awake Crosby at 1am on our hands the first night back.
After about four nights of a somewhat mixed up sleeping scheduling, Crosby seemed to get back on track and luckily she is now going back to sleep at 8pm which makes everyone in the house happy.