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Family Cookie Drop

For Christmas this year we were gifted a scratch-off book full of family adventures. During the months leading up to Christmas my Facebook feed suggested that I may be interested in this gift idea. As I looked deeper into the book, I realized that this was something that my family may enjoy. Wednesday nights are our Family Nights and I thought this book would be a great tool for planning things to do as a family.

The Adventure Challenge Family Edition book

The Adventure Challenge Family Edition

The rules are simple. When the family has chosen a box (based on the clues) they must complete the task that is revealed by scratch-off. The clues on the side of the task let you know how to plan for activity and make it easy as parents to narrow down which activities are available. We told the girls that since it was cold, we needed an indoor activity which meant they needed to choose a task with a picture of a house as a clue. The girls combed through the book and settled on an activity whose clue seemed the most interesting.

Our first challenge was:

The challenge was to bake cookies and deliver them to the front porch of an person chosen by the family.

Together, we agreed upon who we would be baking for. We baked a couple of dozen chocolate chip and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and had a blast watching them take shape and turn golden inside the oven. Next, we wrote a letter to those who would receive our cookies and sent them a message to let them know we were on our way. The girls dressed in pajamas and we set off into the dark evening to drop a plate of cookies and our note on the porch of some people we really care about.

This first adventure was a lot of fun and we are really excited to see what we scratch off next! There are many editions to this book so if you find yourself intrigued check out all of the options.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Trial: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday! It’s a snowy one today in central Ohio. I’m home on the couch watching more snow fall atop the 2″ we received earlier this week. It’s Friday which means I am joining my Five Minute Friday linkup where writers around the globe unite weekly to share our writing based on a common topic. This week our topic is Trial.

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Two weeks ago my nine year-old came down with Covid-19.

Thankfully, her symptoms were mild and only lasted a few days. We decided to vaccinate her and I think that really helped to prevent worse symptoms. Last week, in the thick of it I wrote a post, Covid in the House.

Anyway, this week’s trial has been cloaked in blessing.

Our three year-old’s babysitter is now ill and I was looking at the potential for another week off of work as a result. Childcare in the time of Covid has been very difficult for all families with young children. We love our usual sitter, but there are not many people out there willing to step up as backup sitters. In addition to the lack of people willing to fill-in when needed, my husband and I are both teachers. Nationally, there is a shortage of substitute teachers and so there is added pressure to be present each day of school.

The biggest trial striking this household right now is finding help when our usual sitter is sick because it is really critical that my husband and I get to school each day.

Right now, it seems like there isn’t much blessing cloaking this trial, but that’s where I point you back to my introduction. It has snowed in Ohio (or been subzero temperatures) all week. I only had a substitute in my classroom for one day as opposed to five. The weather swept in and helped to solve some of these trials for us.

BUT…

Snow days are not the long-term answer to the trials facing working parents in our world. We are expected to find reliable childcare amid a pandemic, and get ourselves to work despite the fact that we may be putting the health of our family or caregivers at risk. Nationally, substitutes are difficult to find because pay is too low to balance out the health risk and stress level of filling a need in the schools during a pandemic.

I know this is not a trial exclusive to my family. So many are struggling to find a safe place for their children to go while they provide for their family at work. In some professions you can work from home or take the day-off without the worry of filling your position with a substitute. But those roles have trials of their own.

As we learn to move on with Covid in our world, there are unique trials for all ages and professions. We need to remember that each family has to sacrifice to make things work and when it comes to childcare–it would go a long way to offer help to young families if you are in a place to serve that need. Some families need a reliable full-time sitter, but many (like mine) just need some individuals willing to watch and love on our children when our usual sitter is out of commission.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Five Recent Updates…

If you have followed my blog you may have noticed that my posting schedule has been light over the past several weeks. Don’t worry…there are no plans for a hiatus or time away from the blog.

To simplify the reason, my priorities have just shifted temporarily.

Summer is coming to an end and I am back in the classroom. Time seems to be elusive and I’ve had to make some compromises with myself to ensure that I am prioritizing my time in the healthiest ways during this season.

Life has been hectic, but enjoyable and I need to catch you up with where I have been and what I have done during the days between posts.

1. I started my 11th year as a classroom teacher

This is my typical first day selfie while working hard at my desk. The year is off to a great start. This year I also added Student Council Advisor to my list of titles. I am so excited for the road ahead.

2. This week I begin my final semester of graduate school

I took courses this summer on Dystopian Literature and Critical Race Theory (BLM in films). I have learned so much and the work has been manageable. I cannot wait to finish my degree in December. This semester I am taking a course on Indigenous People Groups and another on fiction writing. Additionally, I will be enrolled in a capstone program where I will be working toward a Masters Portfolio/Thesis. I have BIG writing goals for myself post-degree.

3. My youngest sister started working in the same school district as me

What kind of sister would I be if I didn’t buy us matching shirts for the staff first day? We are having a blast working on the same schedule and for the same community. I love hearing her stories and seeing the district afresh through her eyes. We don’t work in the same building, but how fun would that be?

4. It’s been important to reconnect with friends

The pandemic taught me that my friendships are important and gathering with friends regularly is important for my spirit and mind. I am lucky to have amazing teacher friends within my school as well as many friends outside of my teaching community.

5. My little gymnast is keeping me busy

I spend a lot of time during the week transporting and watching my little gymnast practice. Proud doesn’t even begin to describe how she makes me feel. We are praying that her gym will open up for competitions this year after a full year of no competition.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Kings Island 2021

As a child, I visited Kings Island in Mason, Ohio every summer. It was a trip I looked forward to all year and one I was eager to integrate into my family’s summer itinerary. Last week, we decided to celebrate the end of a perfect summer vacation with a trip to Kings Island.

There was just something about the atmosphere–the smells, the sounds, the thrills, that took me back to childhood the moment I passed through the turnstiles and entered this Neverland.

Most of our time was spent at the Soak City water park, but we also made time for a couple of hours at the Planet Snoopy area as well as some of the mild roller coasters in the larger park. If you are still planning summer adventures for this year and you live in the Midwest, Kings Island is one of the nation’s leading amusement parks and is worth the money and drive. The park includes areas and rides for thrill seekers of all ages:

I didn’t spend the day snapping photos (because that is really hard to do at an amusement park), but here are a few of our memories from the day:

What are some of your favorite places to travel with family in the summer time?

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Order: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday morning!

This morning I am joining writers from all over the globe in the Five Minute Friday link-up. Every week bloggers and social media writers gather to share a post on a common theme. This week our prompt is: Order.

If you have been following my family and I you know that we spent a month in England. Last Friday we made it home and we have spent the week resettling into our American lives. Jet lag hit us pretty hard. Those first few days we woke up with the sun at 4:45am, but then crashed by 5pm or 6pm. Each day we tried to sleep a little later and stay up a little longer to help get us regulated.

The one thing we did on Monday that helped bring order to our lives was a deep clean of our home. We needed to reconnect with our house and so we lifted the month’s worth of dust, cat hair, mess from the surfaces of the home and worked on bringing the house back to life.

Things that we take for granted while here are things we missed while away. I missed sitting in my writing spot looking out into the morning and the sunshine. I missed the way my cat rubs up against me as I write just to let me know that he’s there. I missed my slow cup of coffee in the morning.

Life in England was amazing. We always do so much and pack a year worth of memories into one month and it is such a blessing. Check out my recent posts about the trip and see that while we were gone we didn’t long for home–we were too busy and surrounded by loved ones for that. But once we arrived home I noticed how much I missed my routines.

Life is starting to fall back in place. There is an order to the home and our schedule is beginning to feel like normal. We are sleeping a normal 8 hour stretch and eating at times acceptable to society. Jet lag shook up the order in our lives a bit, but it seems that it has finally worn off.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Home Sweet Home and International Travel

Atop Spinnaker Tower in the Portsmouth Harbor

It was hard to say goodbye to our English family. To my squishy nephew. To afternoon tea. To comfortable weather. To streetside cafes. To Americano black from Costa. To endless Covid tests and Track and Trace calls–okay, maybe that last part is a lie. Nonetheless, to journey home always means many heartbreaking goodbyes.

We arrived back in Ohio on Thursday night after eighteen hours of travel.

The airports and flights were not crowded so the time we spent in terminals and on air crafts looked much different than our past experiences. If you are healthy and vaccinated now is the time to travel! On both of our international flights this summer we had entire rows on the plane to ourselves. Traveling economy class is a lot more enjoyable with the ability to spread out and relax.

Adjusting back to Eastern Standard Time back home has been difficult on all of us. We have been up with the sun at 4:30am and off to bed by 9pm at the latest. Coming home is always so much harder than our initial adjustments in England. All four of us are still experiencing jet lag, but will hopefully be fully charged in the next couple of days.

I have missed my friends, routines, coffee spots, and protein shakes. If you are looking for me this week I will likely be enjoying those things…or napping.

A cafe on the high street of Eastleigh with my husband’s aunties
Cafe breakfasts with Squishy
Getting her energy out at Logan International Airport (Boston)

The Ameri Brit Mom

Blessings · DIY · Family · Teaching · Uncategorized

Valentine Recap

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. It was a very festive time in our house. But in the midst of the busy schedule and endless to-do list we made time to appreciate the people in our lives that mean the most to us.

Here’s a look at 3 events that we participated in last week.

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1. Random Acts of Kindness Week Ornament Drop

At the elementary school my daughter attends they focused on doing acts of random kindness. This was promoted with spirit-dress week and the end-of-week project.

For this project the students created an ornament with a positive message to be delivered to someone of their choice. They were to take a picture with their ornament and let their teacher know who they chose and why that person was selected. My daughter’s teacher challenged the kids to choose someone they don’t know very well.

Instantly, our daughter thought of our next door neighbor. She’s a single, middle-aged woman who tends to keep to herself. Whenever we have the rare opportunity to see her we wave and smile. Aside from doing yard work or shoveling snow at the same time we haven’t had many opportunities to interact with her.

Following our daughter’s lead, our whole family went next door and delivered the ornament. The neighbor was so grateful and let our daughter know that it made her lonely Valentine’s Day so much better to receive that gift.

 

2. Classroom Party

Weeks ago my daughter and I scoured Pinterest for the perfect Valentine’s Day box. Then, using my Cricut and a few supplies from Michaels we put together a pretty cute unicorn-themed box. With her craft skills she used blank heart-shaped notecards, stamps, and stickers to create homemade valentines cards for every member of her class.

I had the opportunity to attend her class party on Friday afternoon. My job was to bring healthy snacks for the class. Oh Joy! helped me out with a blog post about a healthy snack craft. My daughter and I used Thursday night to prepare our cupid-stricken oranges. These were a big hit in the classroom.

 

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3. Speed Dating in the Library

This last event I can take absolutely no credit for having put together. The librarian at my school put lots of planning and energy into the idea, but I have to share because it was so awesome.

On Valentine’s Day my classes reserved the library to pick out new independent reading books. Instead of turning them loose to select books on their own our librarian organized a speed dating session. Students were exposed to an array of books and got to know the one’s that caught their eye.

After the process was done they were to check out the book that they connected with the most. Many of them also took pictures with their books in a photo-booth themed heart. I snagged some of my teacher friends to jump in with me for my photo.

I’d love to see some of your Valentine’s Day crafts and boxes. Comment a picture or description below.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Family · Uncategorized

Build: Five Minute Friday

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I’m getting my butt kicked by my February schedule.

Can you relate?

For some reason I keep double-booking myself even with my efforts to keep a bullet journal. There just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. That’s why it is even more important than ever to build into that schedule some time for me.

A few months ago my husband and I agreed on an arrangement that allowed both of us ample time to focus on our hobbies. On an ideal day, we would each get ONE HOUR to ourselves. For him, it would look like a run to the gym or a drill session with five basketballs. For me, that time would be sitting in front of the computer like I am right now and allowing myself some time to write.

Now, it doesn’t happen this way every day.

There are days when my kiddos interrupt that time and days when my husband never makes it out the door. But, our goal is to make this time a priority every day.

As parents it can be so easy to lose ourselves. I could spend over half a day cleaning messes or changing diapers. But one thing I’ve learned after six years of this gig is that I am a much better mom when I’ve taken some time to focus on  me.

I am thankful for a husband who is supportive and encourages me to take that time.

I am grateful for a daughter that understands when Mom is writing she really needs to be left alone.

This ONE HOUR trade-off with my husband has helped to curb my anxiety and given me a renewed sense of purpose in writing. I’ve taken time to dream again. I’ve taken steps toward reaching that dream. And I’ve begun feeling more accomplished than ever.

How do you build time for yourself during the day?

*This post is part of the Five Minute Friday prompt for the week. Be sure to check out the link in order to see other positive writer’s explore the same word prompt.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Family · Uncategorized

We Escaped!


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1 Murder+3 Suspects+6 Friends+2 Strangers+60 minutes= a lot of fun and laughs (and a wrongly convicted murderer)

If you have never gone to an escape room you are missing out. Some of our friends had a Groupon for Lockology Columbus Escape Room and invited us to join them. It was a blast.  Aside from the slight panic I felt as I signed the entry waiver there was nothing scary about the event.

Once our party was gathered the creepy employee tasked with making us all nervous led us into a small office–the location of the murder.

A video explained our mission and the rules. Then, the door was locked and our one hour began. In order to unlock the door we had to name a suspect and find the combination to the door’s lock.

I can’t reveal anything about the actual case and clues, but I can tell you that it was tricky. In the end we guessed the wrong murderer, but did break out with the correct code. So we were 1 for 2.

Now, while I learned that I’m not quite cut out for the life of a CSI agent, I did enjoy the mystery of it all. I’ve seen a lot of Twitter posts where teachers have used the tactics of the Escape Room in their classrooms. I can see the appeal, and I’d love ideas for making this fit into my high school English or History curriculum.

I am very thankful for my friends and the chance to get away with them and share hours of laughter.

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The Ameri Brit Mom