Posts filed under expat

Little London | Thames Path in Richmond

 

I often get parents of small kids over for a visit, and they gush about how they wish they could have their kids grow up here. YES. It has some amazing advantages: culture, history, cool accents. I love the childhood my children have most every day of the week, but I also feel like I always need to be honest. (Because trust me, I glazed over city living with kids for a long time... before I actually lived with kids in a city.) The fact of the matter is that living in a major city with a young family comes with some huge downfalls: no space (seriously, like ever), long journeys of schlepping in bad weather or on crowded transport, somewhat difficult social boundaries to break through. 

We have been really lucky and are so grateful for our little life here. We have all our needs met... and beyond! 

But last summer, we were feeling a bit claustrophobic. Tyler finally broke down, jumped through the hoops to get his UK license and we added a (very used! very cheap!) car to our family after 7 years of living without it. We hardly use it still walk and scoot most places during the week. But on the weekend, we get a little crazy and get the itch to get out of town with the kids and give them room to explore.


THAMES PATH RICHMOND

For Edie's birthday, we wanted to do something simple. Since those first few birthdays are really for the parents, these parents decided that the best thing for us was to go easy on ourselves. So, when an extravagant party isn't an option, hanging out in a pretty place is the next best thing because it still feel really special.

We headed to Richmond, parked the car, unloaded the kids and went down towards the river. Along the Thames there is the cutest little river walk- which is just a small part of the the Thames Path National trail that stretches 180 miles from Greenwich to north of Oxford.

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The place we went to stretches between Richmond and Hampton Court and comes complete with boat & bike rentals, cafes with people dotted around the tables, grassy areas with people napping or lounging together, and cute little bunting to guide you along the way. We LOVED it!

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We found a little spot, tossed down our picnic blanket, lit a candle on a cupcake and sang happy birthday to sweet Edie.

After they gobbled down the icing and abandoned the cake part of the cupcakes, we watched Harrison scoot up and down a long ramp until we could no longer stand the heat.

 

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It was a perfect little escape from the crammed city routine we often do, and I can't wait to go back and do more picnics... and, when Tyler's feeling up for some arm work, going in one of the row boats. 

 

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You can easily reach Richmond by car or public transport (trains from Waterloo into Richmond or the district line to Richmond). There was some nice detailed instructions on this site. But basically, just get to the High Street in Richmond, and you're just a street or two away.

 

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This is a great day out and makes those tough stretches of being in London with kids feel less stressful and so, so lovely!

 

LOOKING FOR MORE ABOUT LONDON WITH LITTLE KIDS? CHECK HERE.

 



 

*images original to aspiring kennedy

 

Chicken Pox with Kids | A Memoir

The other week, I posted what I will fondly call “The Instagram Heard Round The World.” Okay, not really-but it did get a huge reaction. It was a post about my girls having chicken pox recently in our house.

While many of us have memories of having chicken pox, most of my readers and friends in the US now vaccinate their children against it. So it’s a bit of a thing lost to the past. Well, amigos, I’m here to tell you, the chicken pox is alive in well here in England where it is not included in the regular vaccine schedule for children and still a regular part of growing up here. (Just if you are curious- yes, we vaccinate! And yes, I think it’s very important to vaccinate!)

Viola woke up in spots one sunny Monday morning… the day that Tyler left town for a trip to Serbia. Wheee. I was a bit nervous of the days ahead, but her case actually was really mild and she really only had about 100+ spots throughout her case of it. She wasn’t super itchy and enjoyed the extra time off school (It came conveniently after a bank holiday.) We spent the week playing around the house, sneaking out early in cabs to play in parks and fountains before they got crowded and dotting calamine on her while counting her spots.

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It was no big deal. Chicken pox is kinda fun, I thought.

Then on Saturday, Edie woke up with a couple of bumps on her head just as we were setting up for Harrison’s birthday party. I texted our guests to warn them that I thought she *might* have it, and carried on getting things ready. My parents arrived just in time to have the party (en route for a trip to Africa), and more spots appeared. She wasn’t miserable, so I was thinking we were going to have another mild case to muddle through and kept checking Harrison for any signs of bumps. 

The next day, Edie had a good run of the pox. They were all over her chest and spotted around her head. I kept saying that I wasn’t sure if she had enough to get a “good case” of it, to insure she had immunity. (I had read and heard that if you don’t get enough, you can get it again later? Who knows.) Well, don’t worry- by the end of the second day, the poor baby was popping them out faster than a Kardashian can with Instagrams. When she woke up on Monday, she was totally covered. It was actually really horrible looking.

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She would use her little baby hands to rub her head and try to itch the pox there. It was like watching a teddy bear try to rub his head- the saddest and cutest thing you’ve ever seen.

On Tuesday, some of the spots were getting red and warm. After googling a bit, I decided to take her to the doctor to make sure they weren’t infected. (Thanks, Google, for freaking me out!) My doctor was full, so they told me to take her to the A&E (our version of the ER) since she was still little.

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At the hospital, we were whisked into a private room to avoid getting anyone else exposed and had some lovely doctors come check on her. She was fine, just had a nasty case of it and we were sent home to watch things in case they progressed. Luckily, they didn’t, but I was due to travel to Paris that night and decided to stay home with her instead. But what’s a girl to do when her baby looks like a raspberry muffin? Tyler took over for me and led our group there for the weekend while I stayed home with  the kids.  (Ouch, that was probably the toughest bit of going through the chicken pox for me, if I’m honest.)

But the days rolled on. The pox turned to scabs, we ventured out in public and freaked people out with our polka-dot baby, but were happy to finally get some fresh air and be able to get out of the house together after a few weeks stuck inside.

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It’s now been three weeks since she got it, so Harrison has somehow now not caught it from either sister… and resisted getting it last spring when he played with his two very infected friends. (I was hoping to get them through it before the baby arrived, to no luck.) Perhaps he’s one of those strange/lucky people who are immune to it? I don’t know… but I’m grateful they are done with it! Phew. 

Go hug your moms and tell them thank you for the oatmeal baths, the popsicles in your undies and their long days spent at home if/when you had it. They were showing big love for your little self!

Posted on June 18, 2018 and filed under family, kids, everyday living, expat.

Hampstead | A Local's Neighborhood Guide

I’ll be honest- I don’t know Hampstead very well. I have had a few friends live there over the past few years in London, but it’s always *just* far enough out of my way that I don’t go there just for fun. And I got lost there at 35 weeks pregnant with twins.. which doesn’t sound terrible, unless you know how HILLY the neighbourhood is. It was an hour of my life that I’ll never get back… but the effort/calories burned that day may have helped me get back into my regular jeans a few weeks earlier than expected.

Fortunately, it’s not up to me to give you this area guide. Melissa has lived there for several years and has made her home there with her English husband and their two sons. Melissa is a cool, smart lady with an impressive corporate career. She’s got great taste and a friendly smile that make her easy to talk to and a fast friend. Enjoy taking a spin around one of London’s prettiest and most loved hoods with Melissa. Welcome to Hampstead!


Hampstead, NW3

1. TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD.

Imagine a delightful little English village complete with cobbled alleys, stone churches and heaps of willowy trees. Now plonk it down 10 minutes outside the centre of London and you’ve found yourself in Hampstead! Most famous for its rich history and ancient woodlands (called the Heath), Hampstead is a modern neighbourhood with great pubs, cafes and shopping. I really believe you have to experience its charm for yourself in order to wholly translate the unique feel of this area. Hampstead is also a hotbed for a lot of great private and state schools.

2. ON A SCALE FROM 1-10, HOW CONNECTED WOULD YOU SAY WHERE YOU LIVE IS? WHAT ARE THE MAJOR LINES THAT RUN TO/FROM YOU?

Even though it has an English countryside vibe Hampstead is really connected so I’d give it an 8. We are in Zone 2 and I can get to places like Kings Cross, Reagents Park and Leicester Square in 10 minutes. We’ve got two tube lines, the overground and buses. The Hampstead stop on the Northern line puts you right smack centre in the village. The jubilee line to Swiss Cottage is just a short walk away and the Hampstead Heath overground stop puts you right at the bottom of the Heath near the duck ponds.

 

3. IN A DREAM WORLD, WHAT WOULD BE THE PERFECT STREET OR AREA TO LIVE IN WITHIN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD? WHY?

Even after living in this area for 7 years, I still love to get lost with the kids in Hampstead’s little nooks. We find beautiful new alleys that would be a dream to live on all the time! My favourite is Downshire Hill for its beautiful single-family homes with huge yards. I also love the 5 story Georgian townhouses on Church Row and the terraced houses with brightly coloured doors on Flask Walk.

4. ON A SCALE FROM 1-10, HOW WOULD YOU SAY THE VALUE FOR SQUARE FOOTAGE IS? DO YOU PAY A PREMIUM FOR WHERE YOU LIVE OR WOULD YOU SAY IT IS A BETTER VALUE THAN OTHER AREAS IN LONDON?

All the greenery and brick mansions in Hampstead definitely come with a premium price tag; I’d say a 5. Hampstead is one of the most expensive areas to live in London just behind Kensington and Westminster. However, the house prices are consistently rising so it’s a good investment if you are buying. We bought our 4-story maisonette (fixer upper!) four years ago and it’s still rising even after Brexit! I’m sure the great schools in the area have something to do with this. I also think the slower pace, sense of community and lush greenery in Hampstead really give back to your well-being and overall sanity living with a young family in a big city.

5. WHAT IS THE GENERAL VIBE OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD? GIVE US THREE TYPES OF PEOPLE WE MEET SEE ON YOUR HIGH STREET?

Hampstead is very quiet with a bohemian and creative flair. The three type of people you will meet on Hampstead are celebrities, Hampstonians and young families. I think celebs like it here because they aren’t bothered by anyone. I’m always running into Josh Hartnett, Ricky Gervais and Isla Fisher. Hampstonians are the locals, born and raised in Hampstead. I think it says a lot that they send their children to the same schools they attended, which is hard to find in a transient place like London. Mostly, you will find families in Hampstead. We’ve got a solid expat community from all over the world but definitely a lot of Frenchies and Americans.

6. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO GET COFFEE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

You definitely have plenty of options for a nice cuppa. My favourite is Melrose & Morgan because I’ve gotten to know the staff well and they have picnic tables big enough for lots of moms and buggies to crowd around. On weekends the whole family heads to a casual little café called Mani’s for a well-priced full English breakfast and Monmouth Coffee. There are two more traditional spots for coffee in Hampstead called The Coffee Cup and Louis. The Coffee Cup is a Hampstead institution and Louis is a cool Hungarian bakery and tea room with the most delicious cakes.

7. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO GET DINNER IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

My husband and I had our first date in Hampstead so we like to relive the night! If you drink or eat at one place in Hampstead, it must be The Holly Bush. Full of charm, fireplaces and dark panelled walls, it is supposedly one of the oldest pubs in Hampstead and it certainly is my favourite in all of London. 28 Church Row is also a favourite. It’s a small romantic spot nestled in a cellar complete with brilliant tapas and wine. La Cage Imaginaire is cute too.

8. HOW WOULD YOU SPEND A SATURDAY IN HAMPSTEAD AS A LOCAL?

Our Saturday routine is as follows: First up we head to a farmers' market that is just next to our house for coffee, produce and weekend treats. We usually meet up with friends for a nice pub lunch at either the Wells Tavern or the Freemasons Arms (also really great spots for dinner!). We walk off our lunch on the Heath, usually starting behind the Wells Tavern and then walking up to Kenwood House. In the evenings we catch a film on the comfy red couches at the Everyman Cinema

9. HOW MUCH WOULD AN UBER TO OXFORD CIRCUS COST YOU? (APPROXIMATELY)

£10-13 -- but I usually just take the tube as it’s only 20 minutes. 


Looking for the right London neighbourhood for you? Check out my other neighbourhood guides: 

SHEPHERD'S BUSH | CHELSEA | DULWICH



*images courtesy of Melissa Reeve

Chelsea | A Local's Neighbourhood Guide

Following on as the first contributor to my new neighbourhood series is my friend Regina. Regina is part of the expat circle here, but not in the normal way- she’s actually Danish, married to an Aussie, previously living in NYC and now raising her three little babes here in London. As all Scandinavians seem to be, she’s stunning and she writes/cooks healthy food that even gets me (the biggest sweet tooth ever) hungry for virtuous dishes dressed with tahini and sprinkled with quinoa. Best of all… she’s incredibly kind. She lives in Chelsea, and she’s generously spared a portion of her rare free time not taking care of little babies to share a glimpse of her life in Chelsea here with us. 


Chelsea, SW3

1. Tell us about your neighbourhood.

Chelsea is beautiful and full of white Victorian houses. Historically known as a village and the centre for alternative culture in the 60s, Chelsea was once London’s bohemian quarter, full of artists, writers and musicians. It’s pretty well gentrified now, but in certain areas the bohemia vibe still exists. Once frequented by the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and London’s bohemia, Chelsea is now home to a lot of expats and holds the largest communities of Americans living outside of the United States.

2. ON A SCALE FROM 1-10, HOW CONNECTED WOULD YOU SAY WHERE YOU LIVE IS? WHAT ARE THE MAJOR LINES THAT RUN TO/FROM YOU?

Pretty connected. It's a mile or a mile and a half to four different tube stations: South Kensington, Earls Court, Fulham Broadway and Sloane Square. Between all of them you can get pretty much anywhere.

3. IN A DREAM WORLD, WHAT WOULD BE THE PERFECT STREET OR AREA TO LIVE IN WITHIN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD? WHY?

It's hard to narrow that down to a specific street… I really like our street, and the nearby streets around our current flat (just in between Fulham Road and Kings Road in the west end of Chelsea), and a lot of them open up to hidden-away private gardens, which would be such a dream so my kids could run wiiild all day.

4. ON A SCALE FROM 1-10, HOW WOULD YOU SAY THE VALUE FOR SQUARE FOOTAGE IS? DO YOU PAY A PREMIUM FOR WHERE YOU LIVE OR WOULD YOU SAY IT IS A BETTER VALUE THAN OTHER AREAS IN LONDON?

Chelsea definitely isn’t a bargain to live in (sadly). In other words, you do pay premium to live here and even just south of the river in Battersea, you get much better value for your money. 

5. WHAT IS THE GENERAL VIBE OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD? GIVE US THREE TYPES OF PEOPLE WE MEET SEE ON YOUR HIGH STREET?

It is full of gorgeous streets with white houses and hidden-away private gardens you'd never know about unless you live here. Although the main streets gets busy, it's not super busy or all that touristy, and I love the village-y vibe you get as soon as you go one street away from the main shopping streets. You'll see the mother getting her kids to school, black shades, coffee in hand and in her athleisure wear (obviously, duh), celebrities getting their morning coffee (or international expat guy in a nice suit on his way to/from work), and the beautifully glamorous elderly lady who has lived here long before it was a cool place to live and who go buy a real newspaper and a fresh loaf of baguette at the local bakery every morning.

6. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO GET COFFEE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

The very BEST coffee I’ve had around here is Tomtom Coffee House, which is actually technically in Belgravia (but a short walk from Sloane Square).  Much closer to our end of Chelsea is the espresso canteen, A Wanted Man, which has a great vibe and good breakfast menu too. And theres a brow bar upstairs - win? Last spot I’ll mention is Muni Coffee Co. on Fulham road, which is a fusion of Fillipino-European influences with a mission to bring coffee beans from the Philippines back into the speciality coffee industry. Read more about their story on their website

7. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO GET DINNER IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD? 

For a fun night out with friends, Kurobuta on King's Road is one of our absolute favourites, and is a fusion of Japanese cuisine. But if it looks more like a intimate dinner just me and my husband, I'd go to Bandol, a beautiful French restaurant with the flavours and style of south France and delicious sharing plates and, of course, a great wine list! They have a great selection of vegetarian dishes too, which I love.

8. HOW WOULD YOU SPEND A SATURDAY IN CHELSEA AS A LOCAL?

It would look like breakfast at Beaufort House or Ivy Chelsea Garden with the kids, followed by a walk up to Duke of York Square Market. This market is full of amazing food stalls with a great variety of cuisines. From oysters + bubbles, to vegan burgers (my fave!), and of course delicious sweets, this market is so fun and is surrounded by good shopping (always a win). After that we'd stop in at one of our local pubs for a drink. The Sporting Page, Bluebird Terrace & GOAT are a few favourites and all have great outdoor seating, which is amazing during the summer. Then it would end either with a date night out, or a night in where we’d cook something together, in between running back and forth to convince our kids to stay in bed, of course. 

9. HOW MUCH WOULD AN UBER TO OXFORD CIRCUS COST YOU? (APPROXIMATELY)

Around £20.


Trying to find the right London neighbourhood for you? Check out my previous neighbourhood guide to Shepherds Bush.



*images courtesy of Regina Barker

Visa Turtle.

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: visas are tough to get. The UK (and most of Europe for that matter) are making it tough for Americans to live here. Each year that we have applied for visas, it's been with added hurdles. The process is slow moving, always changing, increasingly expensive and never guaranteed.

Our hope is to continue staying here in London. We love our lives here and we find a lot of purpose in where we work and live, but the only issue is... the UKBA (UK Border Agency) doesn't care that much about our hopes and dreams. So we have been spending the good part of the last year working with attorneys and my (amazing) boss to help us get visas to stay here.

The process has been long but I'm so glad to say that after months of sweating about it and a full day trekking out to Birmingham for our appointment, we've been issued visas that should help us stay long enough to get Indefinite Leave to Remain. (You know, assuming they don't change legislation in between here and then.) 

If you're looking for advice on how to move overseas, all I can tell you is that there is no shortcut to get here. The only routes that I know of (after talking to SO MANY EXPATS) is through attending a UK school or by being transferred by a company to live here. Otherwise, they have made it really impossible for Americans to move here in order to accommodate for the EU rights allowing citizens of the EU to freely move between countries. By not allowing Americans (and of course, other nationals that aren't EU) in for jobs, they can save these positions for those with first legal right to work here.

We would love to stay long enough to get citizenship and pass that privilege along to our children. It would be so nice for them to be avoid so much of the stress we have faced, but on that note- we also feel so fortunate that they are American citizens! No bad answer there.

Anyway, I get asked about moving here a lot, what our plans are and if we are going to stay. I've been a bit quiet about our plans simply because.... well, I didn't know! We have always wanted to stay, but it was a bit of holding our breaths until it was all settled. But now that I've received my resident permanent card in the mail- I can officially let the world know: Here we will be until further notice. :)

 

If you have questions on immigration, Im opening up the comments below for people to ask and other people (not me!) answer them. My brain is tired of thinking about it, and beyond that- I'll probably tell you something wrong. It's too complicated. ha!




*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on January 22, 2016 and filed under life as an expat, expat.

The Anti-Lonely Guide for Moving to London

Since we have moved here, I can't even guess how many emails I have received from people looking for guidance on how to make friends in London. Whether they have a move on the horizon or have been here for a few years without making meaningful relationships, the situation is not uncommon. (So if you are in the same friend-bare situation- you're not alone!) I thought it was good topic to discuss here- I'll share what I know, but I know many of you out there can add valuable thoughts to this, too. Please do!

Personally, I was lucky in that I moved over and started working right away in a job that captivated me. I wasn't sitting around the house feeling alone. We were also plugged into a program full of other people in a similar situation who had uprooted their life to move to Oxford. They were just as friendless as we were, so it made for an easy social pool. Finally, I was blogging. Between getting to meet bloggers I had been "friends" with online before leaving and the social connection of being online with them- it kept me busy. 

But with even those options, somedays you just crave a relationship with someone that isn't forced. You just want to have a friend to hang out with that you actually have a lot in common with... rather than just another lonely person to hang out with. So here are a few ways that I can suggest to help you find those people when you move to a new place. (Complete with some throwback photos from early awkward days with friends that I have grown to love like family!)

 

MAKING FRIENDS IN LONDON

 

1. ONLINE DATING | Fine, not really dating, but get online! I have a bunch of my best friends from blogging. It gave us each a feel for what the other person was like, where we enjoyed hanging out, and a way to communicate before actually meeting in person. Some of my best friends came as a result of comments that turned to emails that turned to coffee that turned to double dates... that today are the best friendships I have here. 

 

Look for bloggers or Instagrammers at a similar stage to you in the expat process, they'll probably be looking for the same types of relationships!

2. GO TO CHURCH | While many of my American friends may have other friends, they often aren't British. Every person has a different theory as to why Americans have a hard time breaking into British social circles, but I can tell you a cheaters way in- get plugged into a local church. (We have a great one that I'm happy to share more details on, if you're looking Just email me!)

3. HAVE A BABY | Again, joking, but kinda not. While some people may think it would be the loneliest thing in the world to have a baby away from your family back home, I think it is a great way to connect with people. Lady alone on the bus? No one looks at you. Lady with a bump or baby? No one will not talk to you.       

 

NCT classes are prime friend hunting ground. So many of my friends spend a lot of their weekdays with people from their NCT classes (a pregnancy/couples course that is really popular here). 

 

After the baby is born, you'll find endless options of playgroups for little ones. Moms there are always friendly and eager to have new people around. Holy Trinity Brompton has a great MOLO playgroup each week that I used to go to, and it's awesome for meeting other moms.

4. JOIN THE CLUB | There are several clubs that cater to American expats- American Womens Club is one and Junior League. American Womens Club is a bit fancy and fun- think afternoon teas and visits to the Wallace Collection. Now, I'm not in Junior League so I can't speak officially, BUT from my friends that have been in it, it requires a bit of effort to join and participate in. (All for a good cause!) But it is a great way to connect with other American women, if that's your goal. (If you're in either and I've misrepresented either- please chime in. I'm repeating what I've been told, so i could be wrong.)

5. GO LOCAL | You've moved to Europe and now you want to travel everywhere every weekend to see it all. Great. Just expect to never feel 100% settled until you commit to spending a good amount of your weekends and down time here. This is a conversation every expat has a year or two into their life overseas, but it's true... until you are willing to sit still for a bit,

 

you'll never feel settled. You can't just expect to swan in to a social setting once a quarter and make meaningful relationships.  If you want to make roots in your new home, you've got to give yourself enough time sitting there to grow them. 


Maybe all of this advice is obvious. I'm not sure it was to me when we first arrived. A couple of years after we got here, an older/wiser expat said something that changed the way I was looking at life... He told me to fully live here, I had to give up the 3 C's: Comparing ("Well, back in Texas..."), Converting (Stop thinking in dollars. It's a loosing game and I'm living in the land of GBP now. Embrace it.) Complaining (Stop complaining. Deal with the hassles or go home.)

So wherever you are (or are about to be!), I hope this is helpful. I still have so much to learn about life overseas, but hopefully- this saves you some of the learning curve that we had. 

What is something that helped you adjust to life overseas? How did you connect with people around you and develop meaningful relationships?

 



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

EXPAT LIFE | A Very Merry UnThanksgiving

It's weird to write about Thanksgiving as someone who has been away from the States for five years during the holiday. I'm starting to look at it as a memory, rather than a holiday. How weird and unAmerican, I know... but I think the lines are currently a bit blurred on where I belong. But with that fuzzy perspective, let's take a quick trip back to Dallas in the 1990s.

I love Thanksgiving. I won't pretend that I am an overly enthusiastic participant in the holiday... more of passive one who has spent much of her life enjoying the day playing with family around our house, while my mom continuously pulls pies out of the oven like a clown car. After everyone starts feeling a bit bored with the parade and tromping around in the backyard, it would be magically time to eat Thanksgiving dinner.

My mom would have pulled out all the stops- homemade everything. A giant turkey. A honey baked ham. A small mountain range of mashed potatoes. Cornbread stuffing made that morning. And our butler's pantry counter lined with the favorite homemade pie of each person there only balanced by the whipped cream mass that could be confused for low sitting clouds.

Inevitably, we'd all go around the table and share something that we were thankful for each year. As a child, I always scrambled for something that sounded deeper than how I felt. What I was thankful for when I was 11? Being sat by my cousin and having an extra cherry pie on the counter. My thankfulness was short-sited, to say the least. 

It's grown over the years to an endless list of things... well more than just things. People, events, thoughtful gestures that have altered situations.. and really, God's kind hand in all the happenings of our lives. 

We won't be celebrating Thanksgiving until Sunday when we have some fellow Texans over for lunch, but I don't want to cheapen the day by some twee hashtag to accompany my gratitude. Life is good. The food we get to enjoy is a great gift of lives that we live in plenty. But most importantly, my heart feels full because God is so kind. 


Enjoy the day, friends. Drink an extra cup of coffee and eat that extra piece of pie. Enjoy the day with those you love for those of us can't be around the table with you today. 


PS. Random photos of us frolicking in front of my childhood home. Pysch. It's Blenheim Palace and an absolute must if you visit Oxford.




*images original to Aspiring Kennedy



Posted on November 26, 2015 and filed under holiday, family, expat, life as an expat.

An English/British/Aussie/South African Accent

Our first year in Oxford, Tyler and I loved the accents all around us. When we would have interactions with people- from the grocery clerk, a nurse or one of his Oxford classmates- we often would repeat phrases back to each other later. It was so fun to hear the new accent of those around us. 

After a few months, it got to this weird confusing point where you are familiar with the words and your start to want to speak in an accent back. But you don't because you actually sound like a wacko. A few of the expats I've asked about this laugh and can recount hilarious stories of when their pseudo English accents slipped out mid-converstation. It's a  awkward moment when you go to buy something at the GAP and when the clerk speaks to you, you blurt out a response that would make Elize Doolittle sound profound before you can think twice. The shock on both parties faces is one that doesn't leave your mind for a long time.

But now... well, now, we don't hear accents. I know that sounds crazy- but when I meet someone, I have a hard time telling where they are from by how they speak. It's more what they speak about- rather than how they say it- that tells me if they live in England. Maybe it's because there are so many expats in our lives that we get immune to the difference or perhaps its because those once once peculiar words and phrases now seem everyday... but either way, now everyone- Irish, English, South African, or whatever- just kind of sounds the same.

When people ask me what Viola's accent is like, I'm honestly not sure how to answer. She just sounds like a little girl to me. Mainly American, I think... but with some British seasoned in it.

Anyway... just something that I noticed today when we were with some Oxford friends that we hadn't seen in a while. They are from New Zealand and I was thinking about when we first met. I think I understood about 1 out of every 6 sentences they said. Weird, right? Has anyone else ever melted into a place where things that once sound strange suddenly sound.... normal?

 



 

*image by Noah Darnell for Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on October 8, 2015 and filed under life, expat, oxford.