An Open Letter to England

Dear England,

The past two years we’ve been living in the United Kingdom have been tremendous. We are forever grateful for the experiences we have had and the beautiful friends we have made. There is something truly special about Europe. It might be the history or the culture, or maybe the exquisite landscape.

Living in the “country” has spoiled us. Walking to town daily, where everything was at our fingertips. I haven’t even needed a car.

Never again in our lives will we have this type of experience. We took a total leap of faith when we picked up and moved to England. We had bumps in the road, as anyone would when adjusting to such a massive experience, but we have come out as a stronger family.

A family. How can this place not mean something special to us? This is where we had our first child. Now that was an experience in and of itself.

We grew as a family and also as individuals. Andrew and I learned something new about ourselves here, as we were not the locals. I’ve never been more proud to be an American, and I’ve never had such respect for other countries. Sharing customs and learning new ones has been a joy.

Our worldly view has changed and until you live abroad we will never be able to truly explain what this experience has meant. We came in green to international living and we are leaving with a greater knowledge of cultures.

I am thankful for everything living in England has shown me. It’s emotional and I am sure there will be days where I’ll look back in disbelief that I lived abroad.

Thank you England for being kind and welcoming us with open arms. The memories, the mates we have made will truly last a lifetime.

There isn’t a good way to sum up these past years; all we can do is smile at everything that has happened on this incredible island.

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London Town, London Bound

We are heading to the big city to grab Monsieur Ryder’s passport, social, etc. We’ll be hitting up the U.S. Embassy to make him a proper citizen. He’ll still have his Britishnish, but we need him sorted with a U.S. passport as it is much easier to travel with mum and dad.

That being said, I needed a little pep talk to get myself ready for our first big adventure with a newborn.

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You’re Testing The Borders Of Your Comfort Zone.
Pep talk: It’s very brave that you’re trying something new. You may find that this challenge suits you. If it doesn’t, that’s fine to, you don’t have to commit. The important thing is that you have the confidence in yourself to try. You’re growing in interesting directions.

Today remind yourself: I’m testing the borders of my comfort zone.

Autumn in Britain

What you won’t find in this country is candy corn and canned Libby, but what you will find….

Election coverage: Yep, it’s a BFD over here. At first this bothered me because I somewhat feel it’s nonyabusiness outside the U.S., but as a international powerhouse I understand the world’s fascination. Floored to read the international and U.S. headlines talking about Romney’s dominant performance. When someone asks me who I’m voting for.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes, much to the dismay of this journalist who rants, “Britain should resist the US pumpkin invasion.” Brits must still be confused by the pumpkin coffee invasion as I continue to see samples being passed out.

Flickering flames of open fires in pubs. If I can’t drink, I can be cozy.

SCUFFINS! Eat me Dunkin Donuts. I’ve found a place that makes homemade scuffins. Part scone, part muffin. It’s like one big muffin top. Please leave the muffin top jokes out of this cause I would most definitely have you beat.

Comedian Tom Stade. Seriously haven’t laughed this hard in forever. Be prepared to snort and hurt your ribs. He’s a Canadian that recently moved to the UK.

Olympic-ing

The country mice headed to the big city for the Olympic Bronze Medal Footy Football match in Cardiff, Wales.

I’ve heard good things about Cardiff. It’s a university town built on the water. The city was a mix of old and modern, and the pub scene was fantastic. We definitely will make plans to visit again.

The Bronze match was between South Korea and Japan. No offense, but silver was Mexico and Brazil. Dang! Stadium was gargantuan and we’re looking forward to coming back for a rugby match.

Some snaps from the city, and the flag was courtesy of a random Texan we ran into. He was visiting and gifted us with the flag. I miss hearing that Texan drawl.

Olympic Sized Fun

Ok that title blows goats, but it’s Monday so get over yourself.

I adored the Olympic opening ceremonies. And of course we’re partial because we’re living in England, but I had a strange sense of pride watching the ceremony. I know many of y’all thought snoozefest, so let’s recap.

Three Reasons the Olympic Opening Ceremony Rocked:
1. The grassy hill they built, complete with live working sheep! England is, in my opinion, 90% countryside and 10% city (like you see in London). The mountainside honestly reminded us of where we live, Shropshire. Bit of history lesson, Lord of the Rings is based on Shropshire, which looks like Middle Earth, and the Industrial Revolution took place in a neighboring town of Telford. JRR Tolkien was from these parts.
2. James Bond & the Queenie. Come on, that was pretty cool.
3. Could you count all the British rock hits that played? Epic music from the UK.

Three Reasons the Olympic Opening Ceremony made me snooze:
1. Will they ever find a cool way to introduce the athletes?
2. The “tribute” to the NHS (National Health System) featuring the gigantic baby. Now you know why I had a fleeting moment to bolt once I found out we were preggars.
3. Lighting of the torch was so-so. David Beckham should have been on his little motor boat in his H&M undies.

Breathe It In

To try to unwind, on Sunday we went to one of our favourite spots a short drive away. Lake Vyrnwy provides perfect running, cycling or hiking routes. We took Dr Jones and made a day of it.

One Year Bananaversary Across the Pond

Yep, on Sunday we celebrated our one year anniversary of living in the United Kingdom. Too much excitement this weekend.

The year has flown by and we’ve been able to truly experience some amazing things. I won’t bore you with the details, but you can check out the rewind here if you want.

We haven’t stopped adventuring since we landed on this crazy island and looks like our adventures are only going to pick up. It’s been a learning experience that certainly came with some pebbles in the road. We’ve only grown closer, and now I’ve fallen in love with the munchkin and it’s better this time than ever before.

In truth, just a few months ago when I found out we were pregnant I was the most homesick I have been since moving. Maybe it was because we were held up like animals in Noah’s ark, or the raging hormones, but I craved the simplicity of going back to the states and having everyone 100% normal the way I was accustomed to. Give me the big aisles of Costco, the smell of Target and large assortment of Betty Crocker baked goods. Then a funny thing happens where you decide you have to fully let go of what you are used to, realise that this isn’t some third world country and suck it up.

Thank you for following this stupid, crazy, random, often boring, journey of ours.

August will be a rush.

And y’all are way too sweet about the baby boy news. I can’t believe how many of you suckers cried! Crying is for girls, mwhaha.

London Town

Oh yea, we went there too! When we went to Wimbledon we stayed in London, but I was sidetracked and forgot to post our London shots. We did the touristy bits this time like The Tower — wicked. City is looking good for the Olympics.

Yes, I’m going through old pictures because I’ll do anything to speed up this week!

Driving Me Mad

I’ve mastered right hand driving. I’ve mastered a manual. I refuse to master the driving test.

After a year in the UK us ol’ Americans have to get a proper local license. Andrew is in the process of getting his UK license which makes the DMV in the states look like the gold star standard in customer service. It’s that bad.

You have to take a written exam (theory test) and a driving test. Andrew has honestly been studying a ton, and trust me it’s a pain in the a** to pass. He’s also taken driving practice tests with an instructor. If you don’t take a practice test your chances of failing sky rocket. It’s a gigantic ridiculous ordeal.

And the kicker for me is that if you have an EU license you’re free to drive like a bat out of hell on the roads – no UK license required. Not all EU countries are right-hand drive, most are left! Have you seen the way Italians drive? Yea, come on over to where it’s backwards from your country – have at it! I’ve driven with a few of my EU mates, bless them, but sweet mother did I hold on for dear life.

I am thankful I live in a town where I walk everywhere, but help us all if there comes a time where I have to take the test.

17 Days to Go

I come from the south U.S. where we get downright religious about our sports. In the U.K. these folks are equal die hard supporters. No matter what sport or where, if there is a British athlete in the mix that is all the announcers will focus on – even if they aren’t that good. The Wimbledon support for Andy Murray blew my hair back.

I probably am not articulating this in the best way, but in 17 days you might get a better taste of why this country was selected to host the Olympic Games. We’re pumped. We’re ready.