Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Odd Kids, Halloween and Christmas

It is almost Christmas. I am still getting my head around that due to the fact that it doesn't feel like Christmas. Yes I have a big tree in my living room and twinkly lights on my porch but it is still sunny and relatively warm. We are still going to the beach every so often and have only had to wear winter coats about 2 or 3 times. K is still running after school twice a week for the 100 mile club that she is in and when I go to collect her, most of the kids are in shorts and t-shirts. If we still lived in Indiana then they would be running indoors. K managed to hit the first landmark in the 100 mile club about a month ago and got to 25 miles. She is now closing in on 50 miles.

Both kids are doing well in school still. K made Honor Roll and Z has discovered that he is good at public speaking. He had to do a 5 minute presentation this week and he said the class loved it and he was not at all nervous. (I hate public speaking so he doesn't get that from me). Also thinking about it I am not too keen on running so no idea where K gets her love of running from. Am I sure they are my children?!

We are still force feeding people donuts. I am still working my way through the $500 Dunkin Donuts gift cards I got. So far I've got donuts for Ben's work a couple times, the teachers at the kids school on their workday, both kids classes for Halloween parties, a friend I visited after I saw my surgeon and K's Girl Scout Troop. If anyone else in the Charleston/Mount Pleasant area would like anything from Dunkin Donuts then let me know!

We've had Halloween since my last update. Last year we went to a party at a friends house and I went as a zombie bride. This year I got an ugly dress from eBay and went as an 80s prom date. Well, I thought the dress was ugly. Everyone else thought it was cute! Ben went as death and we got a few interesting looks as we walked from the Battery downtown to the party. A couple kids were playing outside and they just stopped and stared at us as we walked by. I waved at them and said hi. 

We also celebrated our 4th Ameriversary at the end of October. Still no news on our green card process but you can be sure I will update as soon as I hear anything.

We were hoping for my in-laws to visit us for Christmas but due to circumstances they cannot visit us now and we hope to see them in next summer. To make up for the disappointment we are now finding things to fill up our time over the winter break as Ben had already booked the time off.  One thing that we are doing, that the kids are ridiculously excited about, is we are going to IKEA in Atlanta. As there is no IKEA in South Carolina we either need to go to the one in Charlotte, North Carolina or Atlanta, Georgia. Ben has a friend who lives just outside Atlanta so we are going to visit him and also go shopping and buy stuff we don't really need. I am also looking for places that sell British food that are in the Atlanta area. Choices are limited in the Charleston area so I need to do what I can! Although I will say there is something in the pipeline with regards to British food. :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

September Already! Must Be Time For An Update.

Last time I posted here it was July and we were getting ready for our
vacation to California. It is now September and a lot has gone on since then.

Yes, we had our vacation and it was great.

We went to San Diego and I went to Comic Con and NerdHQ and met Zachary Levi. We saw a lot of cool things around San Diego that were out around the convention center.

We went to Los Angeles of course we went to Disneyland and Universal Studios theme parks.

We also saw the Hollywood sign and drove around looking at the sights.

We saw the smog and a lot of expensive homes in the Hollywood hills.

We went to San Francisco and saw the Golden Gate Bridge and I found myself
200ft up in a Redwood tree. We went to a museum where I drank out of a toilet. There is a video of my ziplining exploits at the end of this post.

We came back to South Carolina and got ready for going back to school. K went to a friends birthday party that was a horse riding party. Z had his 10th birthday and decided to make a donation to a food bank in honor of his birthday and we chose Crisis Ministries of Charleston

The kids started 3rd and 4th grade and I reclaimed my mornings.

I started running again and got 2 5K personal bests in the space of 7 days.

I have continued with my detox but I think that may come to an end due to what happened next.

Yesterday I found myself in the ER with a pain in my chest and back and as a result I was hyperventilating. I could barely walk into the Emergency Room as I was in so much pain. Unfortunately we had to take the kids with us as it was 6am and they had to go to school from the hospital. I was hoping to wait until they left for school before Ben took me to to the ER but he overruled me and decided we needed to go sooner rather than later.

Luckily they saw me before they left for school and I was a lot better. K told her teacher what had happened that morning and her teacher called me to see how I was doing, which I thought was very nice of her.

I had an EKG, an ultrasound scan, 3 doses of morphine and 1 other pain
medication. I was subsequently told I have gall stones and need to have my gall bladder removed. I came home with a prescription for pain and anti nausea medication.

Since Googling it I have discovered that it is hereditary and this would seem to make sense as my mother had the same procedure done just a
few weeks ago. She had it done on the NHS though and I am having it done in the American medical system.

Mainly a financial difference there. It looks like it will cost, before insurance, about $12,000! We should only be liable for about $1,500 of that though, hopefully.

I now need to follow a low fat diet so I won't be making use of the $500 Dunkin Donuts
gift cards I won a couple weeks ago! Yes really! I won $500 worth of gift cards. They are in the mail to me this week.

I have already told K's Girl Scout troop they will be having some donuts. As will Ben's work and the kids classes in school. I have also said I will get donuts for the staff/faculty monthly meeting at the kids school.

The kids and I also had our first visit to a dentist here in SC. Yes, I know we
have been here a year and we should have been before now but I am terrified of dentists and I am a procrastinator extraordinaire. It looks like the 3 of us will have braces in our future!

A lot has happened in between my last blog post and this one and I am sure I have missed something. I took almost 2,000 photos while we were on vacation but there is no way I could share anyway close to that many pictures here!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Humor. Well, I find it funny.

Sometimes I see things that make me giggle. Then I notice I am the only one laughing. These two things, the 5th rule on a sign at a splash pad and a t-shirt for a college football team, make me laugh out loud. I think it must be me. Is it?

Bacon, But Not As We Know It

Bacon is a bit of a grievance with a lot of Expats in the US. American bacon is
nothing like British bacon. If you want to get that here then you have to opt for a
teeny tiny packet of Canadian bacon or pay an arm and a leg to get some from a specialist store and have it shipped to you. I've not tried the latter yet, not enough $$ in the bank.

Americans seem to love their bacon. You can get bacon on your donut. You can get bacon on your popcorn. You can get bacon flavored beer. You can also get a variety of novelty items that are, different to say the least. I spotted these in Robot Candy Co in Mount Pleasant a week or so ago. Why you'd want to clean your hands with bacon smelling soap is beyond me!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Guest Post: The Fly Away American

Last week I was guest blogger on Jessica's blog The Fly Away American and today she is writing for all of you my lovely readers. She is also featured on Expat-Hub today and you can read her post for that here. Being a Texan and now living in England must be quite a difference and she's making the most of it, which I think is something ALL expats should do.

So, now I give you, Jessica.

My journey from a tiny town in Texas to a fishing village in England has been a long and winding road. I met my fiancé while studying at University when he was on an exchange program with his school from The Netherlands. After several years of long-distance dating and one beautiful daughter spawned from a summer vacation, I relocated to the land of tulips and became a full-fledged  EU resident. Unfortunately, I have a bit of a gypsy soul and after three years in The Netherlands, I had begun to get itchy feet. After my fiancé got a job offer in a small town on England’s south-eastern coast, we packed our bags and moved to the British Isles with little hesitation.

When my family and I first arrived in the UK, I was ecstatic to be living in a country that spoke English and understood the need for a good breakfast. There have still been things that have made the adjustment slightly bumpy. People in England have no concept of an appointment, and they are always showing up two hours after an agreed upon time. It annoys me to no end. The NHS is amazing until you need something more than tylenol, and then you face a 6 month waiting list for a ‘specialist’. British folk eat beans with everything, and now my daughter seems to think that ‘beans on toast’ is a normal meal choice. Then there are the naked people. Why do British people get naked at the first sign of sunlight? People, it is 55 degrees outside, your shirts should still be on. Obviously these things are all minor, and we have been very lucky to meet great friends and settle into English life quite well.

The best thing about living in England is location, location, location. The town we live in is a 30-minute train ride to France, one hour to London, and only a 4 hour drive back to The Netherlands for holidays. We also live down the road from the famous White Cliffs of Dover and countless historical sites and ancient cities. In America, any building that pre-dates 1900 is probably a protected historical landmark or museum. Not to mention, public transportation in Texas (besides the major cities) amounts to a Greyhound Bus that won’t be getting you anywhere quickly. I am not hating on my homeland, but the ability to fly to most European countries in less than three hours is a definite perk.

I love spending the weekends with my daughter on the beach and combing for sea glass or exploring the rock pools for crabs. She still has a couple of months before she begins Kindergarten, Reception as they call it here, so I am trying to get in as much as we can before she is no longer home with me. She does spend a couple of mornings a week at nursery and has grown quite the little English accent. Sometimes it makes me sad that she has little ties to her American heritage other than a slight twang from her mother and presents that come in the mail around the holidays. Having kids and living abroad has its joys and disadvantages. As an expat you are happy to provide your child with so many amazing life experiences, but as a daughter, sister, and best friend it is hard to keep them so far from loved ones.

I absolutely love my life as an American expat in the UK. Sure, it rains way more often than I would like and I find it incredibly disturbing how many English people think that my Texas accent hails from Ireland, but it is my home. I don’t think England will be our permanent abode, (nomadic spirit, remember?) but I am happy to be here for now and plan on enjoying every second.

Jessica is author of the blog The Fly Away American where she shares her experience as an American Expat in England and the travel adventures along the way. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Guest Post at The Fly Away American

I recently did a guest blog post over at The Fly Away American. You can have a gander at it here. Jessica will soon be doing a guest post here. Be sure to look out for it. Well I best be motoring as my kids are leaving school today at 10.40am which is in 15 minutes and tomorrow is their last day at school until August 21st!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sweet Tooth & Nerdiness Returns

I went to the grocery store earlier to get some salad dressing and when I
walked in to the store I was greeted with a display that seemed geared towards Memorial Day and 4th of July. American flags, red white and blue streamers etc. I know 4th of July is a while away yet, but all the flags and associated bits and pieces are starting to appear in stores more and more. Not that they ever really go away though. Americans pride in displaying their love for their country is something that I really admire. In the UK I always felt like it was not an acceptable thing to do. I am sure people would disagree with me but if I had a St Andrews flag or the Union flag outside my house I would probably be accused of being a member of the SNP, and as a result being anti-English, or a member of the BNP. I like 4th of July. it really is a major event. St Georges Day and St Andrews Day have always felt a bit like non-events to me, in America that is never going to be a description used for Independence Day.

But I digress. I went up to the display and looked at the cakes on the table. There were cupcakes with red, white and blue frosting but the 2 bigger cakes caught my eye. One cake looked like a hamburger and another cake looked like a watermelon. What would possess a person to buy a cake that looked like a burger? I wonder what would be worse for you. A burger or a slice of this cake?

Probably not be a good idea for me to buy either of those cakes. I have finally signed up with a doctor and I go for my medical exam and blood tests tomorrow. Cholesterol, blood sugar levels, the works. A cake is not a good idea as a dessert tonight. However, I get home from doing a few errands and I discover a package from a friend in the UK that is also probably best not eaten tonight.

As an aside, I found out today that there will be a resale on Comic Con tickets sometime in June. Only day badges will be for sale as the 4 day badges have sold out. I will try for a badge but as the demand will again be huge, I will not be too surprised if I fail to get one.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Road Trip Planning

Ben and I have been trying to make sure that we see as much of the US as we possibly can whilst we are here. We are still in the early stages of the green card process and it is not a forgone conclusion that we will be successful. (I am keeping my fingers crossed though.)

All of the places we have been to so far, we have driven to. Our vacation this year involves us flying, but we are normally found on the Interstate working our way towards somewhere new.

I got Ben a book for his birthday that I have been looking through and I think a trip along historic Route 66 is possible. I really hope we can do it as I think it would be fun and we would see a lot of weird and wonderful things, see a lot of the country and go through several states.

Now I have to work out how feasible it is and how long would be sufficient.

14 year olds & Green Cards

Did you know that you need to get a new green card when you turn 14? Do you know the reason why? No really, I'd like to know why. ...