Thursday, July 25, 2013

One School Year Complete and Visitors Welcome

Today is the second day of summer vacation for my children. It's amazing to me that they've completed their first year of school in England. They've adjusted so beautifully and they are incredible students.

I'm a very proud mommy. The girls' report cards make me cry, they are so good! Both girls (if you don't mind me bragging a bit) are well above average in reading and writing. Sweet Rose is listed as "gifted" and Nature Girl is "accelerated". Not sure of the difference; it may just be the terminology that their two different schools use. Either way, they're brilliant. They literally excel in every area!

My little guy won't be any slacker either. He's well on his way to reading and can count nearly to 30. He's such a little character and he's grown so much in the past year. He thrived at playschool and I'm relieved that he will be going back to the same school, with teachers and friends that he loves.

We're just six-weeks shy of one full year in the UK. It's gone by so quickly. We've all made friends now and even have a fun play-date today. Well, it may not have reached quite the depth of friendship the adults, yet, but it's still someone to chat with and we have 3 important things in common - 3 kids the same age. Each pair were classmates this year. It's The Boy's first play-date!

Even so, I'm missing my family; missing home. I'm feeling lonely and disconnected. Skype is great, but it's no substitute for a hug. I miss writing here, too. Strangely, it helps me feel more connected, even if hardly anyone is reading it.

Have I mentioned the spare room? Private en-suite (bathroom) and less than an hour from Stonehenge and in the other direction, London? Not to mention the coast and the gorgeous countryside of Hampshire all around us. And yes, Starbucks is here, too. :) All friends and family welcome.

Gorgeous walks through beautiful forests are just around the corner from our house. Tempted yet?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Yo-Yo Me

I am tired today. The stress of the past few weeks bearing down on me like bricks; weighing on my eyelids, my chest, my usual spunk.

House-hunting, forced holiday planning, budgeting, packing, cleaning, clearing... not to mention bickering, demanding children (10 months and counting without a babysitter). Every morning, as we approach the last days of school, we leave just a little bit later, dragging our feet through the door for our 10 to 15 minute lovely, curve-filled, English country-side drive.

This past week we finally worked out all of the necessary details. How we would spend the three weeks between houses, booking non-refundable flights, securing a house (thanks to my amazing MIL) in France, planning the return. I got the residence visa application sent out, school place applications mailed, appointments for playschool viewings set.

I sorted the childrens' closets, recycled like a maniac and (usually) resisted the urge to play Candy Crush instead.

Everything was in place for the transition from one house to the next and all that goes along with a move.

Yesterday, we received an email telling us that our current landlord had accepted another overseas assignment and would not be returning to the UK after all. We could stay in this house if we wanted.

Photo Credit
My mind filled with images of Yo-Yos and Ping Pong matches. I was dumbfounded. So much back and forth. All that stress that might have been averted but was, instead, fully experienced. Another decision to make for a couple already completely fried.

Perhaps the relief of not moving will eventually replace the fatigue. I head to the garden now for renewal. Solace in the soil and stems of cherry tomatoes, basil and myriad other herbs that I can now continue to enjoy throughout the summer, save a forced two-weeks vacation in France.

So, dear friends and family, this means I'll still  have a rockin' spare bedroom for visitors for another year... unless Asia happens sooner than planned.

Don't get too comfortable in life; expect curve-balls. They keep you in a state of growth; personal evolution. Just the way I like it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Travel Trips for Your Family Vacation

Just in time for the summer travel season, please welcome my guest blogger, Kendra Thornton: Travel advocate, TV spokesperson, PR businesswoman, proud wife and mama of 3.

From Kendra: I am a long time travel expert who has been packing my bags and traveling the world since I was 3 months old! I've found my utmost desire in life is right here in my own home. I have taken my excitement for travel and brought it to you with some of my favorite travel tips and tricks. Enjoy!

Traveling with children is always an adventure. But in order to make sure your next excursion is more of a success than a slump, you’ll need to be prepared for anything.  Here are some tips I have found to help you plan and execute an amazing vacation without the hassle!

1. The Early Bird Catches the Deal

When planning that special vacation for the family, be sure to book your trip as soon as possible. The truth is that the cost of airplane tickets, hotel rooms and entertainment increase the closer it comes to your vacation date. Take the time and book those necessities now. If you are unsure where to stay, ask a family member, friend, travel agent or go online to get some answers. I recommend using other families as resources as they know what you’re looking for and likewise what to avoid.  Sites like Gogobot allow you to seek advice from your personal network as well as other parents for lodging choices and insider family tips.  Even if you’re traveling to a kid-friendly destination such as Walt Disney World, be sure to read through recommendations by other families to find your ideal Orlando hotel.

2. A Pool Plan

If you’re like my family, a pool is essential when picking a hotel. But not all pools are created equal!  Check to see if your hotel has a lifeguard on duty at all times.  Slides and other water activities can also provide added entertainment for older children.  Prevent potential frustration by packing swimsuits on the top of your suitcase. It’ll be much easier for you to unpack on your own time then to have little ones rummaging through your neatly organized suitcase while you’re in line for check-in.

3. Planes and Motion Sickness

Air travel can be an excellent way to get you and your family to your vacation destination as soon as possible. But for little ones prone to motion sickness, it can be a nightmare. Combat this by following these four rules. 1. Get your child to a window seat. 2. Make sure your child has something to eat and drink before leaving the airport. 3. Make sure an air vent is pointing at your child all the time. 4. Consider consulting a pediatrician if the problem is persistent for a list of child-approved motion sickness remedies.

4. Boredom Prevention

Depending on the length of the flight, little passengers often become fidgety when having to sit still without diversions for long periods of time. A DVD player and favorite or perhaps new movie will fully engage the child’s attention. Be sure to take plenty of DVDs along with your portable player if traveling overseas, as DVD compatibility codes usually differ from country to country.

5. A View for Fire that Works

The fourth of July is an amazing time where people around the United States celebrate the birth of our nation. And fireworks are one of the best ways to celebrate! If you’re traveling this holiday, look into a hotel room that faces the fireworks. That way your family can see them from the comfort of your room without having to venture into the crowds. If your family has a baby, he or she can sleep while everyone watches from your balcony. (Editorial note: Whoops! I meant to get this posted before the 4th, but don't worry! This tip is useful  year round for any event involving fireworks!)

Thank you, Kendra!! Those travel tips will certainly come in handy for my crew in just a few weeks!