Tuesday, November 29, 2011


This post really has nothing to do with living abroad or being a resident in a foreign country - it's more of a general life observation.

I am finally getting back into an exercise routine after not keeping as fit as I probably should have during my entire time of being pregnant. Looking back on it now, I realize how much I did not enjoy being pregnant. I think a large part of it was because of the extra weight I was carrying and of course the terrible sickness at the start. Uggh, i am still ill just thinking about how awful I felt. I know it was a short lived time frame and the extra weight I gained did have a purpose in that it brought me Crosby, but I have come to realize how awful it feels to be carrying around extra weight every day.

I started to exercise again probably about 5- 6 months post delivery of the baby. Some people just jump right back into their exercise program, as if the delivery of their baby is almost like a blip on their radar and then they are back into again, but that was not the case for me. I am sure a large part of it had to do with my c-section and then the other part was just pure exhaustion. Yes, I did walk a lot with the baby - it was a way to get out of the house, get fresh air, and get a bit of exercise, but it wasn't really the rigor of which I was accustomed.

Finally getting back into an exercise routine has been paramount. I feel better and I think I am a better mother and wife because of it. Someone just described exercising to me as " it's body maintenance, just like brushing your teeth every day. You just have to do it to keep up from getting cavities." Sounds very true to me! After all, we are given only one body in this lifetime and it is our own job to keep it healthy and well.

I am still not back to my pre-pregnancy weight yet - or so I don't think I am.....I actually rarely weigh myself and I was lucky enough that the doctors and midwives never weighed me during my pregnancy (still not sure if that's a good or bad thing!). For me I always judge how my clothes fit and how I feel as the indicators of if I am carrying extra weight or not. So I am back into my pre-pregnancy clothes but they do not all fit quite the same as they did before. I am not in a rush, they will fit better in a while.

And I do not diet. I don't believe in it and I am not sure I ever will. I love sweets too much and I think dieting is a quick fix to the wrong overall approach. I subscribe to the idea that weight loss comes from an approach to eating better and taking care of your body with good, regular exercise. Everything within moderation is ok. I am just very happy to be back into the swing of a gym routine and exercising more regularly again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Celebrating Thanksgiving

One of the nice parts about being part of an expat club is the opportunity to celebrate your own national holidays with other fellow Americans who are also living abroad. Thanksgiving is one of the big holidays that is celebrated within our American club. Although it is not nearly the same as being at home with our families seated around a table, it is nice to celebrate the American holiday over here in England with people who appreciate the occasion.

So this past Sunday we gathered with our fellow American friends in a local village hall and had an afternoon feast with all of the traditional foods - from turkey to stuffing to pumpkin treats!
The buffet of food before everyone started to eat.We are so thankful for this amazing healthy baby girl in our lives. Our little turkey Crosby was wearing her new turkey bib for the special dinner! Crosby with a few of the other American kids before the dinner started. She had so much fun just watching the other children run around the hall!

Although we are not in the US for this day tomorrow, we will still pause to reflect on everything in our lives for which we are thankful. We will actually be enjoying another Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night with some American friends in Europe. We have many reasons and people for which we are thankful this year and we will be thinking of all of these things and people most especially tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Behind on Blogging

I am feeling very behind in the blogging world these days......

I remember reading another expat's blog and after about 2 years in the foreign country, she said she felt everything was "normal" and routine in her daily life, and so she ended her blog. I can safely say that after 3 years of living here in England, I do also feel like our life is much more normal over here on a day-to-day basis, but I still find bits that surprise me or make me question how the situation or item would be in the US. Most especially since having a baby, I am finding even more topics blog worthy, but alas, I clearly have not blogged all of these thoughts. Many thoughts have been started as bog posts and perhaps I will finish them (someday!!); others may never come to fruition.

I used to catch up on the blog in the evening but now my evenings seem to consist a lot of cleaning - picking up Crosby's toys, cleaning the kitchen floors and her highchair (for the third time of the day), and then working on cleaning the stains out of her clothes and soaking them until I put the next load of laundry in the wash (normally done in the evening too since I don't have to manage a baby on my hip).
Or, if I am not cleaning, I am creating a mess in the kitchen - cooking up meals for Crosby, or trying to get ahead of tomorrow's food by prepping for dinner so I can have dinner ready for Scott when he gets home from work. Or I might be decompressing by baking....which often happens....or, I am collapsed on the couch in exhausted from the day!

But back to the topic of blogging, the other side of life abroad being "normalized" to some extent is the thought of returning home to the US and how I find myself thinking about what life will be back in the US after having been away for so long. We are still unsure of when and where our next move will take us. It most likely will be back to Chicago but we can not be fully sure of that until that offer comes through. In the meantime, the thought of returning home makes me a bit more uneasy with each month that passes. Other expats who we have known have all said the return home is the hardest part of an international move. I will leave that topic for a future post, but it is one that consumes much thought these days because we have created a nice little life for our new family over here and while it will be nice to go "home," it will be difficult to leave our current "home [England]" for so many reasons.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Home for the Holidays

Halloween has just passed and now it seems everyone's attention is already focused on Christmas. We are fielding questions - When are you coming home for the holidays? When do you plan on being in X city for a visit?

Surprisingly since we have been over here in England, we have actually not been home for Christmas in the US. Our first year we had been home in November so we saw our families right before the holidays, and then we took a vacation to Egypt for our first Christmas. I was quite sad not to be with my family for Christmas that year, but since I was with Scott is was ok.

Our second Christmas over here, my parents took my sister and us to Italy for a week. We really didn't do Christmas gifts, since we all took a trip together, and it was wonderful. I look forward to doing this type of Christmas celebration again and someday treating our children to vacations. It was so nice to spend time together and to experience Italy together.

And last year, I was too pregnant to fly on a long-haul flight at Christmas time, so we stayed here in England and ended up with an unexpected guest for Christmas day (my friend Sarah) due to the snow storm that hit England last year. It was a quiet Christmas but a very relaxing and enjoyable one.

This year we are flying home to the US with Crosby since it is her first Christmas and all of our families want to see her. Although our families are relatively close in proximity [just a mere 5-6 hour drive apart----to Brits, this is NOT close in proximity! but to Americans, it's "close"], the physical travel between the two cities, the stuff / gear we now have to travel with for a baby, the extra baggage for Christmas gifts, extra clothing and gear for a visit in the winter months, not to mention the attempt to please everyone involved, is already a bit overwhelming.

We are trying to secure all of our flights for this trip back, and it appears Crosby & I will be taking no less than SEVEN flights over the break. Scott will be with me for half of these flights so I will appreciate his extra set of hands for sure. Let's just hope we don't have any snowstorms or flight delays thrown in there, or else my worst travel nightmares might be coming true.....after hearing about the recent planes that were grounded in CT for over 7 hours on the runway with no electricity or assistance, I am fearful of these situations now that I will be traveling with a baby in tow. Traveling just as two adults at this time of year seems to require extra patience since it feels like every public gathering place and airport is extra crowded with people and lines for waiting are always twice as long! However now traveling with a small child, the stakes seem even higher because it is no longer just about us, it is now about trying to keep an infant appeased during all of this travel and change from her daily routine. Why do things always get so crazy at the holidays? Besides the crowds everywhere, it seems everyone is so busy and everyone is trying to cram too many visits into a short period of time. Why does it happen year after year?

Then upon arrival, we will of course be living out of suitcases, staying with relatives in someone else's home, shuffling back and forth between various houses with all of the baby gear and suitcases in tow, and will be without our own surroundings that Crosby is used to, so I know it will be twice as much work to watch her every move to make sure she is not exploring nooks and crannies that are not meant to be.

Hopefully our travels will be uneventful and punctual at best. It will be nice to go home but I do look forward to having Christmas in our own home without the hassles of travel and the worries of bad weather at this time of year. It will be nice when Crosby can wake up in her own house and we can start our own traditions as a family. This is when living so far away from home is not as attractive as being only one [short] flight away from family. For this year, we will be taking a lot of deep breaths, hoping for good weather, smooth flight connections, and a well behaved little girl!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Anglo-American Halloween Celebration

As I have mentioned before, Halloween is not as much of an event in the UK as it is in the US, although traditions we know as Americans, such as trick-or-treating, are increasing here in England. We probably had only about a dozen trick or treaters in our neighborhood, and I thought that was quite light, given that we are in a pretty family-friendly area.

Since this was Crosby's first Halloween, I thought it would be nice to have a little party with her British baby friends and their parents so we could celebrate the holiday in more of an American style!
Crosby trying out her first Halloween costume, a cute little duckie!

The Saturday before Halloween, we hosted about 15 people at the house for an early Halloween pizza dinner. Since our guests were all British friends, I decided it would be fun to introduce them to Chicago deep dish pizza and American Halloween candy, both of which none of them had ever consumed before.
I brought back a few decorations from the US on my last trip there and decorated the house with some festive things.
I was a busy baker before the party, making both chocolate "ghost" cupcakes and vanilla "jack-o-latern" cupcakes.
The table was set with the food spread including: caramel peanut apple dip, hummus & veggies, cheese & crackers, deep dish Chicago pizzas, parmesan pizza bites for the babies, frosted sugar cookies, and chocolate & vanilla cupcakes - everything homemade from scratch of course! The center of the table had lots of American candy for our guests to enjoy and take home in their goodie bags : tootsie rolls, nerds, sweet tarts, Ghost tootsie roll pops, reeses pieces, candy corn, marshmallow pumpkins, laffy taffy, and sixlets.
The sausage, veggie, and sausage & mushroom deep dish Chicago-style pizzas. They were a hit with the guests!
We tried to capture a photo of all of the babies in costume in one sitting on the couch. It was nearly impossible to do! For some reason, Crosby was not a happy camper during this photo shoot and as soon as she started crying, the others followed suit.

Then on Sunday, we attended a Halloween party, this time with the American Club in our area. Although Crosby was probably a bit too young for the activities at this event, it was nice to celebrate the occasion with our American friends.
Crosby at the party in her fancy Halloween bib I made her.
Scott has fun swinging the little duckie around upside down!
At the party, taking a photo in the decorated area.
Trying out Mom's silly Halloween sunglasses for size.