Our Girl Turned ONE!

It’s hard to believe our sweet girl turned ONE in December!

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We love a good party in this house, so we went a bit wild for her 1st birthday party. I’ll be the first to admit that I am by no means a crafty or artsy, so I was scouring the internet months before for help with invitations and decor ideas. We knew we wanted it to be rainbow-themed because one of her favorite books is about the colors of the rainbow, but I needed some creative help. Richard, on the other hand, has this creative side that most people don’t see, so he had some great ideas as well. With the internet and my husband as guides, I knew the party would be excellent and it did turn out so well.

The morning of was a bit of a disaster (that I really want to describe with some not-so-nice words!) because we had put up a marquee (basically a big tent) with heaters in it in the back garden earlier in the week to allow people to mingle outside as well as inside. Richard and his dad even lined the inside of the marquee with colored Christmas lights and it looked wonderful and went perfectly with the party theme. Well, the night before the party, a terrible windstorm blew in and it was actually lifting the marquee up in the air! In the rain and vicious wind, Richard, my dad, and I were outside taking the sides down from the marquee. We can look back now and laugh, but at the time, it was quite frightening to think this tent could just fly away at any moment! Richard had big plans for a back wall full of rainbow balloons, so he was gutted when it wouldn’t work out. Truthfully, so was I, as it would have looked great.

Originally, I had wanted to order a cake, but we decided to take on the task with me baking and Richard decorating. I’m so glad that Richard convinced me that we should do this. We had so many compliments on both how they tasted and how they were decorated. A few people even asked where we had bought the cakes! Score one for Team Becky & Richard!

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We had hot snack foods for the adults and kids, but the shining stars of the snacks were the rainbow fruit and veggie platters. We were really proud of these. (It’s funny the things that make you happy, isn’t it?!) I love Jelly Belly jelly beans, so we bought some in each color of the rainbow to add to the food table.

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Our little lady played with her friends and had lots of attention showered on her. We could tell she was getting tired (she had refused to nap that morning), so we lit the candle on her cake and sang happy birthday to her. She looked around at all of the people and had a little smirk on her face. It seemed it was kind of clicking that this was all for her. After the singing she went straight for a nap in the middle of her party! Haha…the life of a toddler!

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Because we had two cakes, we cut one after she went for a nap and used the other for a little cake ‘smash’ later on in the day. We did that with just the grandparents there, which was really nice for them to see her for a bit without so many other people around. However, we failed to consider that the cake was iced with fondant making it near impossible for her to do any smashing! Instead, Richard had to cut some of it and she went for it. It’s fair to say this girl loves her sweets!

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It’s hard to believe that our gorgeous and clever daughter is already ONE! (Honestly, I feel like I can definitely be inducted into the ‘parent club’ now because I have actually heard myself say, “I can’t believe how fast she is growing up!”) She keeps us on our toes and always laughing. She adds joy to every day, and I love that I get to spend my days with her. We love to watch her explore and pick up on how things work. She chatters non-stop and is saying “hi” and “Daddy” and a million other words that we don’t quite understand yet. She loves to eat and especially loves it when Daddy shares bites of his breakfast (either cereal, bagels, or crumpets) with her. She is becoming strong-willed and won’t hesitate to let us know when she isn’t happy. (The first tantrum, which stemmed from me not peeling her satsuma fast enough, was definitely a bit of a shock. Wow!) We’re so proud to be her parents and love when she gives us kisses and cuddles.

It was really nice to have so many of our friends and family there to celebrate our little girl turning 1, so a big thank you to all of them for coming! I think we were surprised at how many people we could fit into our house and it was definitely cozy, so maybe we should also thank them for being so accommodating and not flinching when not everyone had a place to sit!

I’m so happy we threw a party to celebrate her birthday (because let’s be honest…it’s really for the parents anyway). It was the perfect way to wrap up her first year of life that has been such a fun and wild ride for all of us!

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Back to Wales for Celebration #3

The weekend that we went to the races for my second birthday celebration also happened to be a bank holiday weekend meaning Monday was a holiday here. With the extra-long weekend, we decided to head to back to Abersoch for Sunday and Monday.

We were hoping for a true summer day to spend at the beach and on the sea. And luckily, we had fabulous weather on Sunday! Unfortunately, I took zero photos because I was too busy absorbing every ray of sun that came my way, so you’ll have to check out my last three posts on Abersoch to check out the views! I really wish I would have taken some though because the beach was absolutely packed with people trying to enjoy what little summer we have had this year.

The Brit’s mum had packed some treats for us plus some fizz, so we enjoyed a nice little picnic on the beach along with sandwiches and burgers from the little cafe on Abersoch Beach. The sun stayed strong into the early afternoon then it got a little cooler when the wind blew, but it was so enjoyable to be outside.

That evening, we had a reservation at the Venetia for a nice meal. This is the same place where we had a meal and we stayed for the Brit’s sister’s birthday in summer 2011, so we were excited to go back with the Brit’s parents. Whilst we were sat in the bar checking out the menu and enjoying a drink, the lovely owner asked if I was the one who wrote the blog post about them the summer before! I think I blushed a little, but it was so neat that she said something — so thank you if you are reading this! 🙂

This is the lone photo we have from the weekend showing us happy and sun-kissed:

Our meal and entire dining experience was fabulous once more (and I’m not just saying this knowing the owners might be reading this post!). I wish I could remember what I had, and I should have written it down knowing I wouldn’t be writing a post about the meal until after I finished my dissertation, but I did not. It was all delicious — from starter to dessert, we enjoyed it all! It was so nice to celebrate my 30th for the 3rd time in such a great place!

We had a fairly early night and awoke to blowing wind and pounding rain, so we set off for home in the morning as soon as we realized we wouldn’t have another beach day. It truly was a great bank holiday weekend!

A (birth)Day at the Races

For birthday celebration number two (you can read about the 1st celebration here), we decided to attend Ebor Day at York Racecourse. The Brit had been wanting me to experience a good old-fashioned English day out at the races for awhile, so it worked perfectly that one of the biggest races of the year in York took place so close to my birthday. I, of course, was excited to spend time with our friends…and to drink champagne and wear my fascinator!

When we arrived at the train station to head to York, we were greeted by our lovely friends, who had brought buck’s fizz (aka mimosas in the U.S.) and croissants for our journey to the race course. We were off on our merry way and the weather was surprisingly lovely seeing as how horrible most of the summer had been, so we were excited.

If you know the Brit and his group of friends at all, then you know that when it comes time to celebrate or enjoy a day out in which we are all dressed nicely they head straight for the champagne, and this day was no different. We had booked  badges for the County Stand allowing us access to most every part of the course and stands, so as soon as we went through the entrance we found ourselves imbibing at the champagne lawn.

I think we need a set of these Pimm’s chairs in our back garden!

After a few glasses bottles, we strolled over to the Fifth Floor of the Ebor Stand as we had booked in for the Fish and Fizz and the Carvery. It was a good deal since it included food and a drink, so we decided to book this when we booked our badges about a month earlier. The Fish and Fizz was basically loads of seafood piled on a plate — I’m not going to complain about that! I didn’t take a photo, so you’ll have to trust me on the ‘loads’ bit. Three of us had this and the other went for the carvery, which was apparently just as good.

As we were finishing, the first of the races was due to begin and two more of our friends had just arrived, so we set off in search of them and for somewhere to place some bets…not difficult at a race course! I’m not much of a gambler, but I would pick 2 horses and put a few pounds on them to win either way. I actually did well and came out just over £9 ahead of where I started. I was betting measly amounts compared to some of those people though. I heard a man put £10,000 on one horse…just wow. It was definitely a new experience for me to see people throwing that much money around.

There were seven races throughout the day, so we spent it flitting between the finish line and the paddock area where they bring the horses out. These horses are seriously beautiful creatures. And, the legs on some of them? So. Long. I don’t think I have paid much attention before, but a few of those horses were exceptionally tall. I realize this all sounds strange, but I was in awe. Then, in comparison, we have the jockeys, and they are just so small!

Watching the final race from the stands.

We were at the race course from 11:30 AM until about 6:30 PM, and I could not believe how quickly the day went. It did rain for the last hour or so, but we just popped open our umbrellas and all was fine. (I mean it wouldn’t truly have been a day out in England this summer if it hadn’t rained!) I really enjoyed taking part in this British tradition of spending a day at the races, even better celebrating my birthday there! So, thank you to the Brit for arranging it and to our lovely friends for joining us!

The American-themed Birthday Celebration

I think it is fair to say that I love my birthday. It usually turns into a month-long celebration, and this year was no different!

On my actual birthday, I didn’t have many requests, but I did want to have ‘American breakfast’ or as close to it as we could get with the Brit. You see, traditional English breakfasts are fine and all, but it is just too much and I do question some of the foods that make up this meal (um baked beans and fried tomatoes? no thank you.), so I wanted an omelette or pancakes (not crepes, but pancakes!).

So, I spent way too much time researching restaurants that served breakfast near us and found the place…Ricci’s Place in Halifax. I’d been there for lunch a few times with the Brit’s mum and sister and enjoyed it every time, which made me feel certain we were in for a treat with this breakfast.

[I should also mention that the Brit loves American breakfast as much as me, so he wasn’t disappointed at all that this was what I wanted to do. We like to tell the story about one of his visits to Washington when the two of us went for breakfast and he just kept ordering more and more food. When our food was ready, it took two servers to bring it to us and the woman who took our order turned to her co-worker and said, “Yes, this is just for the two of them,” or something similar. It was quite funny!]

Luckily, the breakfast at Ricci’s was spot on for what I was craving. I had a fruit smoothie, a stack of three fluffy pancakes with maple syrup and fresh blueberries, and the two of us split an order of eggs benedict. Seriously, it was delicious and made me feel like I was back home for a brief moment, even if everyone around me had accents. It was the perfect morning.

The Brit then asked me what else I wanted to do. And, because we started the day off with an American theme, I figured we should continue it and head to a shop I had recently found online while attempting to purchase American candy for the Brit’s sister’s hen party. (She was a counselor at a summer camp in Pennsylvania, so shares a love of sweets from the U.S. with me.) Little did I know when I found this shop that delivered overnight (thank goodness!) that it was a mere 35-minute drive from us, so off we headed to American Soda near Manchester.

Literally, I was like a kid in a candy shop. I couldn’t get over the sodas and sweets and other random foods they had in this little shop! Does anyone remember the soda, Big Red?! I can’t remember the last time I saw Big Red in the States, but I now know where to get it if I ever want some in England! Plus, Big League Chew! What?! I’m getting sidetracked here, but check out my stash below. I didn’t want to overdo it…oh, I had already eaten the Mike and Ikes and the rest was gone within 2 days.

We ended the day with a great meal and drinks at our favorite local pub. It was the perfect birthday, even if I was on a bit of a sugar high by the end of it!

Thank you for the birthday wishes, especially from my family and close friends! It meant so much to hear from you since I’m so far away. I felt much closer to home because of your calls, texts, and emails. xx

Nearly a month.

It’s been nearly a month since my last blog post. I’m not okay with this. At all.

Especially, because since then, I’ve celebrated my birthday at least three times, turned in my dissertation, attended the weddings of two lovely couples (one of which was the Brit’s sister and I felt so honored to be one of only two people to have seen her dress prior to the day and to be her official dress lacer-upper), celebrated the end of the Olympics and Paralympics by watching the parade of athletes with one of my good friends while stood amongst the crowds in London, and a host of other things.

To say the least, it has been a whirlwind of events and emotions. And, I’ve wanted to write another blog post since September 3rd when I submitted my dissertation, but I’ve been overwhelmed. Where do I start?! I have so much to say. So much running through my head. And, not just about everything I’ve been experiencing, but about what I’ve been feeling and observing.

Because, along with all of what I listed above, I also celebrated one year since moving to England. That just seems crazy to me. One year. It went so fast.

So, why today? Why start writing again today? Well, no reason really other than I didn’t want to wait another day. My new goal is to post once a day for the next month. I realize this could require some pre-planning on my part as we have a getaway planned for the last weekend in September, but I know I can do this and I really want to do this, which is the most important part.

I’m excited to get back to writing the blog and sharing more about life here. I hope to re-cap some of the fun we’ve already had and the fun we plan to have in the next few months (hello, two trips to the Caribbean and our wedding!!!). So, to my loyal readers out there (I know there aren’t many of you, but I do appreciate each of you that does read — thank you!)…I AM BACK!

P.S. And, to the Brit, your sweet text last week about missing my blog posts really lit a fire under my bum, too. So, thank you for always encouraging me and getting me back to where you know I like to be. xx

P.P.S. The Holiday is on ITV2 right now, which is one of my all-time favorite American girl meets British guy movies, so if you haven’t seen it, then I recommend it as a great rom-com with some super cute old man thrown in for good measure. Have you seen it? Did you like it?

On turning 30….

I’m crawling out of my dissertation/procrastination hole for a brief post, and although I have a load of other things I can’t wait to write about, I felt it was important to share….

Yesterday, I turned 30.

I was talking to the Brit at breakfast yesterday about how as a child I always looked at 30 as the age that is the epitome of old. But, wow, young me was very wrong.

I feel like I have so much living left to do!

I feel like I have learned so much in the past 30 years…about family, love, friendships, relationships…about me.

I feel like this life I am living right now is the one I was searching for (despite this pesky dissertation causing me to push the pause button for the next 2 weeks).

And no, I don’t have some amazing job lined up for when September 3rd rolls around and I hand in my dissertation, but I look ahead and I can only see the future as being bright.

These past few months, as I thought about entering a new decade of life, I reflected on where I thought I would be at this time in my life. And, I will admit that where I am is not where I thought I would be. But, I wouldn’t change a thing. I know this life is the one I was meant to live, and that the path I was once headed down was not right for me (maybe, someday, I’ll write about that, but for now, I’d like to focus on the now).

This year, I am completing one of my life’s goals and will – barring any potential dissertation disasters – graduate with my Master’s degree!

This year, I ran my second (and last) marathon and kept myself accountable by completing the one thing I told myself I would do in the year that I turned 30.

This year, I moved to England. It hasn’t been the easiest year as I left everything that seemed familiar and comfortable to me. However, every time I get on a plane to return to England, I always know and feel how right it is to be heading east and back across the Atlantic to Yorkshire.

This year has been eye-opening, as I’ve discovered a lot about myself and about the type of person, fiancee/wife, daughter, sister, and friend that I want to be. I have to say that it is tough to admit to yourself that you haven’t been living your life as purposefully and intentionally as you should be. I have learned that I need to listen more and talk less, which is something I used to be better at and plan to work on for the future. I also have learned that sometimes I must step back, slow down, and relax. And, that I need to admit that I am not always right. (This one sounds so easy and like something I should have learned long ago, but I do struggle with it.) So, this year has taught me that living purposefully is a work in progress and one I want to focus time on.

This year, I learned a lot about how to make a relationship really work. With the Brit, I’ve learned what it means to truly love someone through it all and that this love we have is worth all the fight in the world. I know now that laughing every day is important to how he and I work. I know that although the majority of our relationship has been spent living on separate continents that I am not prepared for that to ever happen again, and I can’t wait to say that the majority of our relationship has been spent living together – that date is approaching! I am so excited that I can say that this year I am marrying my best friend and true partner in life.

This year has been amazing and I know it will only get better. I cannot wait to see what is to come! So, because of that, how does one celebrate a fabulous year and turning 30?! The only way I’ve ever known how to celebrate my birthday – by turning it into a month-long affair! I’ll hopefully get a post up tomorrow about what we did yesterday to celebrate the actual day of my birth, which includes some favorite American treats!

Someone had a birthday last week!

‘Tis true! The Brit celebrated his birthday last week. Let me start by saying that I love birthdays. Love them. I am a jobless graduate student at the moment, so I couldn’t splurge on a big gift or fancy meal for him and this made me a little sad. I think (and hope) that we still managed to have a really great time celebrating!

The Saturday before his birthday we hosted a barbecue at our house. We hadn’t had people around to our house for awhile, so it was nice to have a fairly large group of friends and family over for a casual get-together. It had rained in the morning off and on, but then the sun made an appearance along with the wind. It was an all-around good day that started with us going to see the Olympic torch pass through town and ended (sadly) with England being knocked out of the European Cup by Italy on penalties. (When the football match ended, it was just the two of us left and it was absolute silence in our house. I wasn’t sure if I should say something or not as this was not the ending we were hoping for at all.)

On his actual birthday, we spent the day waking up at 3 AM to drive to London as the Brit is working there at least one day a week now. Because I wouldn’t actually see him much more than an hour or so on his birthday if I didn’t go with him, I figured I would keep him company on the drive. Surprisingly, I only slept for one hour of the ride down and it takes nearly 3 and a half to get there. I wandered around London as the weather was lovely until about 4 PM when it started to rain (surprise, surprise!).

On our drive home, we stopped at the Sibson Inn, which is right off the A1, for a nice dinner. If you are ever driving on the A1 and looking for a meal that isn’t from a service station, I definitely recommend stopping by the Sibson Inn. The food was very good and it offered a good break from the monotony of the motorway.

So, the actual day was a bit anti-climatic, but we were both happy to spend some time together on a mini-road trip. Happy birthday, Richard! I can’t wait to celebrate many more birthdays with you!!