Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I hope that 2012 is a great year for you. There will be lots of changes for us. We will be leaving Indiana and heading South to move to South Carolina. It will be bye bye ice storms and frigid winters and hello milder weather but we will be very sad to say goodbye to all the lovely friends we have made in Carmel/Fishers.

I aim to keep the blog going and hopefully we will settle quickly and easily into life in the South. I can only imagine what Z and K will sound like after a year living there! How quickly will it be before they are saying "y'all" regularly and having a more pronounced drawl to their accent?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!



Along with Z & K, I would like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Fabulous New Year! (Not taken a pic of Ben with a Santa hat on...yet!)






Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gearing Up For Christmas

Been a while since I last posted something here. Apologies for that. We have been getting ready for Christmas and sending cards and packages back to the UK. I sent some school photos of Z & K to their grandparents and uncles via 1st class international Airmail on December 5th and they have yet to arrive! I am getting a bit worried as they cannot be replaced!

We ordered a special gift for our parents that tie in with something I included in with their Christmas cards. The Christmas cards were sent on December 5th also and have all arrived which makes the missing photos even odder!

My dad and brother sent me money so I could get Z & K Christmas gifts and Ben's parents sent 2 boxes full of stuff for us so it is safe to say that the kids will once again be spoilt on Christmas morning. I did manage to slice one of my fingers trying to open one of the boxes as I think it had the equivalent of a full roll of gaffer tape on it!

Ben and I already have our Christmas gifts as we got our new iPhone4S a month or so ago. Add to that the map I bought from Snow Home and the bracelet I treated myself to from the party I went to a little while ago. It is safe to say I have had a lot of early Christmas gifts.

I got an message on Twitter and FB from someone telling me about Not on the High Street but as I don't like giving my email address out on a public forum so everyone can see it I didn't get back to her right away and the FB message went to a rather odd folder I didn't realise I had called 'Other', I didn't have a chance to look at it properly until now. Another friend also mentioned the website on their blog and I ended up having a mooch around the website whilst still in my pjs this morning. (Always enjoy shopping in my pjs!)

Anyway, now I have had a chance to have a look, there are quite a few things I would get. (Not everything can be shipped internationally though it seems). If I were to get anything (regardless of where it could be shipped) from the site, I think they would be: this print or this bag for me. For Ben I would get him this phone cover or this print. For the kids it would have to be this (one for each of them) and this dress for K and this t-shirt for Z.

Biggest thing happening this Christmas is that it will be our last one in Carmel as we will be moving to South Carolina in early 2012.

We are going to be spending Christmas Day with a group of lovely fellow Expats who we will miss terribly when we move.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

10th Anniversary Visit to Canada

Our wedding anniversary was on Thanksgiving Day this year. As it was  our 10th anniversary we decided to go with the kids to Canada. Niagara Falls to be more specific. I was last there about 17 years ago so I was looking forward to going again.

We left right after the kids got out of school on the Wednesday and stayed in a hotel in Cleveland, Ohio for the night before continuing on to Canada on Thursday morning.

We were hoping to go on the Maid of the Mist but it was closed for the winter season. We did consider doing a Journey Behind the Falls tour but decided against it.

We did wander around the area and took lots of photos. Ben also got to rollerblade near the Falls and he was very pleased to check that off this wish list of things to do.

We stayed in a very nice hotel. The kids loved the fact that the bathroom had a window with a retractable blind and a whirpool tub!

We were on the 22nd floor so got a great view of the Falls from our window. One downside of being on the 22nd floor is that when the fire alarm went off, like it did at 3am on Saturday morning, we had to walk down 22 flights of stairs! I had to carry K the whole way as she was sleepy and didn't put her shoes on before we left our room.

We had dinner the first night at the Hard Rock Cafe. We were going to go to the Skylon but the prices were just a little bit too high for us.

Overall the weather was really good for us. It wasn't warm but we were in Canada at the end of November so would not have expected it to be warm.

I went to the casino opposite our hotel on Friday night. I bet $20 and won $201.95! We used that money to get some treats and have dinner out on Saturday evening.

On the way back we got to the Rainbow Bridge to come back over to the US at 9am and sat in the car waiting to hand our passports over to the CBP Officer. The car in front of us did get us a bit worried though.

They drove up behind the car in front of them even though they were supposed to wait at the Stop sign until it was their turn. Their licence plates were from New Hampshire and had 'Live Free or Die' on them. When it was their turn the driver handed over what looked like a drivers licence and a piece of A4 paper. The CBP Officer then put something under the car to stop them driving off. Next thing we know 6 CBP Officers are surrounding their car and asking them to get out. After a few minutes they finally emerged. The driver was a young Asian looking man of around 18 or 19 and the passenger was a very old white man of about 80. They made for a very odd looking pair. When it was our turn we drove up and handed over the 7 passports for the 4 of us. The CBP Officer looked at them and then asked us all individually where we were from. When he asked Z where he was from Z said "England. Can't you tell by my accent?!" The officer laughed and gave us our passports back and said we were good to go. We didn't get new I-94s in our passports though as we were told the ones we had were still valid.

We then drove back to Indiana. From the time we left the border to the time we got back home, it took us 12 and a half hours. It rained almost the entire time! Z and K did well to not go mad with boredom in the back of the car. They watched some movies and read some books they had brought with them whilst the light was good.

We all had a great time and enjoyed our visit to Canada.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Holiday on the Square, Carmel 2011

We went to the lighting of the Christmas tree in Carmel tonight at the Holiday on the Square.

This is the 3rd time we have been and this is the first time the kids actually got to see Santa. The line has always been super long but we got there a bit early this year so we decided to wait to see Santa. The got their picture taken, told him what they wanted for Christmas and got a goodie bag full of stuff.

We stayed until the lights were switched on. The Mayor called all the kids to the tree and asked them to help him count down from 10 to turn the lights on. There were no reindeers this year but we saw an eagle and the K got to meet the mascot of Chick-fil-A(!) They were one of the sponsors of the event.

We had cookies, chips & dip, little pastry type things and hot chocolate and the kids each got a candy cane that they decorated to look like a reindeer! All free!

We then went to Red Robin as a reward for Z having a really great week at school. He was told he could choose a reward and he wanted to go to Red Robin!

Friday, November 18, 2011

My "Freebie List"

People magazine have revealed their "Sexiest Man Alive 2011" and this year it is Bradley Cooper. He is attractive but he wouldn't be on my List. Is the People Sexiest Man Alive list any different to the Maxim Hot 100?

As I have been sick this week, and not really feeling up to doing a whole lot of stuff, I started thinking about who would be on my list and so I started compiling one.

I think I may have gotten carried away as I seem to have more that 5. At least I didn't laminate it like Ross did in that episode of Friends!

So in no particular order:    




                   
                                                                   Dylan McDermott













    

Do you think I have a "type"?

Normal Expat service will resume soon. We are going to the Christmas Market and Christmas Lights switch on in Carmel at the weekend so I will have pictures and a post about that soon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coca Cola Christmas Commercials

I have been developing a cold and have been feeling a bit sorry for myself. Hopefully I will be able to shift it before Thanksgiving as I really don't want to be ill on our trip to Canada!

To make myself feel better I have been looking at the Coca Cola Christmas Commericals on YouTube.

There are some of the Coke Christmas commercials along with the newest one.














Saturday, November 12, 2011

"British" Pub Food? I Don't Think So

I use the term British Pub Food very loosely!

After hearing good things about the Red Lion Grog House in Indianapolis, and quickly reading some reviews online, we decided to go there for lunch.

We will not be going again! The menu sounds decent enough and the pictures are ok but my meal did not look like the picture on the menu!

Under no circumstances could the fish and chips I had, be confused with fish and chips you would get at a pub in the UK.


The "Fish and Chips" were very fatty and I could taste the oil in the fish batter. If they want to do proper 'English' fish and chips then they need to do steak fries.  The fries were very dark and looked like they could have been the end of a batch or been in the fryer for a while as they were not golden by any stretch of the imagination.

Ben thought the fries were made with old potatoes due to their consistency.

The Scotch Egg I got as a started was alright but I have had better. Ben got the chips with curry sauce. The curry sauce tasted a bit like Homepride Curry Sauce but with a bit more curry powder mixed in without being mixed very well.

The rice that came with Ben's Chicken Tikka Masala was VERY sticky. There also wasn't a lot of it and what he did pick up on his fork seemed to all come at once.

Service was quick and relatively pleasant. We were there on a Saturday afternoon and there was only about 7 or 8 other people there so if the service had been slow I would have been very annoyed!

As I am a British Expat living in Indy so maybe I had higher expectations after reading through a few reviews. I am doubtful I will try the food here again.

New Phone App I'm Currently Enjoying

I got the new iPhone 4S when it came out a few weeks ago. Just recently I discovered a camera app where I can play around with the photos a little bit. I hadn't been aware of Instagr.am or Hipstamatic at that point. The one I have on my phone is camera+.

I have been enjoying taking pictures of my kids, me, around Indianapolis and the Children's Museum of Indianapolis and playing with the features of this app to enhance the photos.

I may be slightly obsessed now! I found myself taking pictures today of  things I would not ordinarily take photos of!

I will keep taking regular pictures but it is too much fun playing with the color and giving the pictures borders. I just have to do it!

I will have to find out if there is a computer program or something I can download that will let me play with photos I already have on my computer.

Too much fun!

I think I may have an addictive personality!

Children's Museum of Indianapolis Visit #28,745,629

It certainly feels like we have been there millions of times! Luckily we have membership and it has been well worth over cent!

Kids still enjoy every visit and always want to look at everything!

We saw the Dinosaurs again. We saw the Barbie Exhibit again. We saw the Egypt Exhibit again. We saw the new Frog Exhibit. Bumblebee is still there. Jolly Days opens the day after Thanksgiving.

We thought if we got there early it would not been too busy. We were very wrong! There was so many people there today! I think it is because of the Bands of America Grand National Championships at Lucas Oil this weekend. There were lots of groups wandering around the museum and they all had stickers on saying they were in groups.

Girl Scout Pajama Party

Last night I went to a Girl Scout pajama party with my Girl Scout troop and met with other Girl Scouts associated with Carmel Elementary School. This was the first time there has been a pajama party at CE and they hope it will be a regular thing. All the girls donated a pair of new pajamas to go to The Pajama Program.

K wore a pair of bright pink 'Hello Kitty' pajamas and I wore some Indianapolis Colts lounge pants and a Colts t-shirt that I got when I went to try to give blood a week or so ago.

We took snacks and all the troops performed a dance and taught it to the other girls. As my troop were not in unanimous decision as to what dance we should do, I decided that we were doing the Chicken Dance.

The girls all got a special fun patch and seemed to have a good time running around and dancing. They also got in a few rounds of doing the limbo.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11 - Armistice Day - Thank You Veterans

On this Armistice Day I want to thank active military serving now, those military veterans who served in the past and those who gave their lives so we could be safe whilst putting themselves in harms way. Thank you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christmas Comes Early....Again

I mentioned Christmas earlier today and I mentioned waiting for a copy of my friends book "Home For Christmas" in the mail from Amazon.co.uk. It is an early Christmas gift for myself. I have also had another early Christmas gift as I got my new "Stella & Dot" jewelry in the mail on Wednesday.

Today I took delivery of my purchases from World Market that I ordered from the Christmas section on their website. There is a treat for me, a treat for the kids and a treat for Ben along with some things to share.

Sometimes lovely stuff comes in the mail, you know, stuff that is not bills!

All I Want For Christmas

This year will be my 3rd Christmas in the US. It's not even Thanksgiving yet here but already people are decorating their houses, the Christmas ads are on TV and Christmas movies are coming out. The stores have had Christmas goodies in for weeks already!

I've been told that I am difficult to buy for. I have to give very specific clues to what I want or just simply write out a very precise list which includes the name of the store to get the item from! My favorite things about Christmas are the twinkling lights that decorate peoples homes and line the streets and I love buying gifts for people. The first year here I actually went Christmas gift shopping for Ben, Z & K on Christmas Eve at Castleton Square Mall. Yes, you read that right, I bought ALL of the Christmas gifts for my husband and 2 children the day before Christmas!

I love the fact that my kids are so different when it comes to opening presents. K tears into things and can be done in a matter of minutes while her brother takes his time, he'll open something, look at it and then move on to the next one. I love watching them and the reaction to whatever it is they get, be it a pair of socks, a toy or a bicycle!

My dad has almost always given me money for my birthday or Christmas as he never knows what to get for me. My mum would almost always get me a gift card for a store she knows I like, however since moving to the US it would be a bit difficult to use them! I tend to know what to get for Ben and it helps that he never knows what he wants. K likes things that are pink or have sparkles on them as she is very girly and not at all like me. Z likes dinosaurs and reptiles but I'm not too keen on those so he can keep them for himself. One thing that I do have in common with Z is that he loves books. (K loves to read to but not as much as her brother. She's getting there though.) He absolutely loves to read. He will read almost anything. He prefers non fiction but I am guiding him towards chapter books too. It is important to me that he loves books as it helps him with his ADD. While he finds it difficult to concentrate in class and can play with his pencils or fidget in his seat, when he has a book in his hands he will sit and read it. He reads books that have words in them that I can't even pronounce. I have always loved books too, ever since I was a little girl. At Christmas time I have always gotten a book of some description as a gift for myself and for each of my children. It is something of a tradition that will continue as Z and K get older and I hope if they have children they will do the same.

Christmas is known as being the season of giving. Who doesn't like getting a gift? I know of lots of people who love giving gifts as much as they love getting gifts. Some gifts can't be wrapped though. Sometimes the biggest gift is knowing that you are loved. My favorite Christmas gift I ever got is not something that was wrapped and waiting for me under the tree on Christmas morning. In December 2002 I found out I was getting the best gift ever but I would have to wait 9 months for it to arrive. I found out I was expecting Z.

People want different things for Christmas. Some want a baby whilst some want a new flatscreen TV. Some want to lose weight for the holidays and others want to know the person they are with loves them. That last thing isn't just for the holidays but it is the time that people can become more aware of their life, the people in  it and if they are living their happiest life.

I love to read books and a lot of people get and give books as Christmas gifts. If you are looking for a good book to give to someone then you could try the book written by a writer friend of mine whose second book comes out this month. I read Cally's first book 'Heaven Can Wait' and I really loved it. Her 2nd book is called 'Home For Christmas'. I'm getting my copy as an early Christmas gift to myself and it is currently winging its way to me from the UK as we speak. All the main character wants for Christmas is to hear 3 little words. That goes back to what I was just saying, people want to know they are loved and that they are living their happiest life and are on their way to having their own happy ever after.

Beth Prince has always loved fairytales and now, aged twenty-four, she feels like she's finally on the verge of her own happily ever after. She lives by the seaside, works in the Picturebox - a charming but rundown independent cinema - and has a boyfriend who's so debonair and charming she can't believe her luck! There's just one problem - none of her boyfriends have ever told her they love her and it doesn't look like Aiden's going to say it any time soon. Desperate to hear 'I love you' for the first time Beth takes matters into her own hands - and instantly wishes she hadn't. Just when it seems like her luck can't get any worse, bad news arrives in the devilishly handsome shape of Matt Jones. Matt is the regional director of a multiplex cinema and he's determined to get his hands on the Picturebox by Christmas. Can Beth keep her job, her man and her home or is her romantic-comedy life about to turn into a disaster movie?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Word Map of the British Isles

At the end of last week I took possession of my newest purchase. Thanks to some Expat friends I found out about Snowhome and their word map of the British Isles designed by Alison Hardcastle. I ordered the large 70 x 100cm version and after a friend returned from a trip to the UK he brought some back. (Saved on shipping as there was a lot of us wanting some!) Now I just have to buy a frame for it.

Sweets From Back Home

Are you a fellow Brit abroad?  Do you miss sweets like real Cadbury chocolate, not the Hersheys rubbish? I know personally I have regu...