A blog about me and my adventure as an ex-pat.
Because someone told me to... Thank you Gaby.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

waka waka!

At 10am this morning, I was squatting in front of 50 women and at 10:30am I was sweating whilst shaking my hips, side stepping and attempting to do something vaguely co-ordinated with my arms!

Zumba baby!

This week my MOPS group was about work outs with kids and then an introduction into Zumba. I have to say it was a lot of fun and not quite as difficult (co0ordination wise) as I expected but man are my legs starting to hurt already!

My former stroller strides (group of Mums meet in a park with their kids and do walking squats whilst singing 'the wheels on the bus go' ... you get the picture) instructor talked to us about working out with our kids, drinking enough water and generally getting fit. She then had us all join her in a mini work out which included squats, planks, work on our arms and stretches.

After 15 minutes my arms and legs were already sore and then in enters the Zumba instructor who took over and did a short class with us. I say short because I think classes are normally an hour and this can't have been more than 30 minutes. I don't mean short as in it was in any way easy or light work. I was sweating like crazy afterwards but it was a lot of fun and I'd say I got almost half the moves right! But with a bit of Shakira to get us moving, I think most of the women in the the room enjoyed it and I saw plenty of smiling faces laughing as we tried to get our arms and legs co-ordinated and move across the room the right way (sorry Chris I hope your foot is ok!).

It made me realise that although I run every week and sometimes even twice a week, I am in no way fit and need to think about doing other exercises. They did a quick survey and a lot of women in the room exercise 4 or 5 times a week!

I heard somewhere that to be successful at exercise it needs to be something you just do. Not something that every week, you feel like you are making a special effort to do, but just something that fits into your weekly routine. I also think there are seasons in life and you don't have time to do everything you want to do at once but hopefully my season for exercise is ahead and I can make some time now the kids are in preschool.

I do not know how I would get through a whole hour of Zumba but I have to say that I am tempted to give it a go. So watch this space, you may see me swinging my hips and shaking my ass at a Zumba class near you! (Apologies in advance if you are unlucky enough to be behind me!)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

mischievous elf...

Look what our cheeky elf Leon got up to this Christmas!

December photo-a-day

I didn't do too well in December with the photo-a-day challenge. I tried to take a photo every day on my phone, but I wanted to relax on our trip to England and not be distracted by trying to remember the prompt and get a great shot each day.

So here are my photos (a little off script!):

1: 8am - making Christmas decorations before breakfast
2: peace - and quiet, making mince pies 
whilst one is out with Daddy and the other is napping! :) 
3: something I held - yum! 

4: black and white - water boiling in a pan
5: looking up 
6: from where I live - Christmas lights on my street
7: stars

8: someone I love - my daughter
9: out and about - in Cracker barrel and jumping for joy as I finally did it! 
I'm a genius at the pegboardgame
10: (first presents) under - the Christmas tree
11: sweet - gingerbread train

12: hat - check out the bear lurking behind Santa! bearfishing 
13: lights - Christmas tree
14: something green - Christmas towel
15: outdoors - well out and about at the Water street coffee shop

16: something I made - my daughter, asleep
17: on the floor - random train track parts
18: makes you feel merry - ugly Christmas sweaters
19: something beginning with 'S' - Christmas show at preschool

20: car journey from Heathrow
21: darts on the tv
22: fish and chips
23: flooding in England has reached the kids' playground

24: fabulous Christmas decorations at the Trafford Centre
25: Christmas pudding 
26: Boxing day run
27: fun on the farm

28: fun-tastic soft play
29: balloon modelling - not as easy as it looks! 
30: in Liverpool
31: New years eve with the ladies!! 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rudolf the reindeer like you've never heard before...

Well maybe you have but this was a new one on us.

For their 'Christmas Program' at the Gagie Preschool the kids learnt various carols and festive songs. Both of us were able to attend and it was lovely! Toby's class did a show in the morning which was mainly the head teacher singing and the kids doing the actions and concentrating on staying on the stage. Charlotte's class were a lot louder and it was amazing to see what a difference a year or two makes!

Toby's class on stage in the gym

Toby and his friend Jamie (on his right) doing great with the actions

Each child was introduced to the audience

Charlotte on stage with her class

Charlotte has been singing a lot of the songs over the holidays and her favourite seems to be 'Rudolf the red nosed reindeer'. It cracks us up every time she sings it because school taught them extra lines as follows:

Rudolf the red nosed reindeer,
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw it,
you would even say it glowed.
{Like a lightbulb!}

All of the other reindeer,
used to laugh and call him names
{Like Pinocchio!}
They never let poor Rudolf,
join in any reindeer games.
{Like monopoly!}

Then one foggy Christmas eve,
Santa came to say
{Ho ho ho!}
Rudolf with your nose so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight

Then all the other reindeer loved him,
and they shouted out with glee
Rudolph the red nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!
{Like Abraham Lincoln!}

Her cute American accent just adds to the entertainment value!

It's not a religious school so they don't do a nativity show but they do learn songs from all the holidays including a Jewish song: The dreidel song and the spanish version of Jingle Bells. I love the diveristy by children are being exposed to at such a young age.

It was so good to see both kids up on stage and so proud of both of them for staying put for the whole 30 minute shows!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

jet lag

It's a funny thing jet lag. Travelling over time zones. Resetting your body clock for a couple of weeks at a time.

A lot of it is psychological. Getting out in the morning to see the daylight, eating at the right time for where you are and talking yourself into being sleepy at bed time or when you wake up in the middle of the night (depending on which way you are travelling). When we get on the plane, we change our watches to the local time at our destination which helps too.

England is 5 hours ahead of us and we flew overnight so having left Detroit at 10:30pm, 7.5 hours later, we arrived into London at lunchtime. A doze in the car on the way to Bristol and we made it through to bed time on the first day.

For most of the trip Charlotte resisted going to bed and was wide awake at 8 or 9pm which is only mid afternoon in Michigan. The second or third night she woke up at midnight crying, saying we had put her to bed when she was not tired. To be fair, we found her asleep on the landing so I'm pretty sure she was tired!

The adults adjusted pretty quickly, thanks in part to a trio of tablets before bed time - melatonin, calcium and magnesium which all help you relax and fall asleep. Unlike sleeping tablets, there are no side effects and they work really well.

Coming back and the kids are now going to bed no problem at 7pm but are waking up 2 or 3 times a night at 2am, 4am and 5am. So we are going to bed at 8pm just to get enough sleep!

Charlotte came in to see us a couple of times last night and got taken back to bed by Daddy. At 5am she was crying for me (good tactic lady, knowing Daddy said to stay in bed!) so I went in to see her. I got into her bed (loving that she now has a full size bed) and snuggled up to her. She held my hands and said "Mummy... I love you". So sweet. She fell asleep and I managed to get back into my bed with 5 minutes until the alarm went off (run camp this morning meant a 6am start for me).

So it's not all bad.

And I hope we will all be back on the time zone by next week. Until then I am embracing early morning cuddles with my little girl and lots of coffee!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

a blessed Christmas time

We made it back to the US of A in one piece!

What a fantastic trip back to see friends and family in England. As ever we didn't manage to see everyone and that makes me sad but we did really enjoy the time we had with those we were lucky enough to catch up with.

A day or a few hours is never enough to catch up on 6 or 9 months of life, but it's better than nothing and I cling to those precious moments, soaking in the little ones, laughing with friends, treasuring time with family and making the most of every single minute we have there.

There were quick visits like lunch at a friends' house as we made our way up the country, an early morning visit to a slimming class, coffee with friends in a very busy Trafford Centre and a couple of hours in a play centre with 'ante-natal families'. We stayed with Jeremy's brother and family on the Wirral so we had a lovely amount of time with them. All of the cousins loved playing together and their house is gorgeous. It did mean an hour or more in the car to see people in Manchester but so nice to come back to a home in the evening.

We've tried staying in cottages and rental property on our previous trip but this was so much better. Big thanks to them for having us and lending us their wonderful home!

I miss all of my friends and family but it's especially hard to see the little ones get so big between visits.

My very good friend had a baby at the beginning of the year and although I met him when he was just a few weeks old, I really don't know him. I was nervous to meet him and hoped he wouldn't cry when I held him. But what a little star - he was all cuddles and smiles and made me a very happy lady!

Even though we have not been back for 9 months, it's a sign of lifelong friendship when you can walk in to a friend's house and fit back in. Sit in their kitchen and chat whilst they make you (a very delicious) dinner and the hours fly like it's only been 10 minutes.

I don't hugely miss England (and all that rain) but sometimes I wish I could just pop into a friend's house for a cup of tea and a chat. Spend one evening in the pub with friends, laughing like we did 15 years ago. Give each of those precious children a kiss and a squeeze.

Facebook and Skype help to bridge the gap but I am so grateful for home leave.

I'm not sure if Christmas is the best time to do a home leave trip. It's a busy time of year and the 2 weeks we had flew by. I am already looking forward to going back again at Easter.

Of course we are all now absolutely exhausted and in need of a holiday to recover from the holiday but it was worth it! I have so many memories I want to capture on here so I will do that in another post.
For now I am hoping to be able to make dinner, get the kids to bed and collapse into bed myself by 8pm! Jet lag is still taking it's toll and I think it will be next week before I can stay up past 9pm!