What we miss about Cambridge

We started living a strange life of sleeping on an air mattress and living out of suitcases at the end of April. El had the idea of shipping our things over to the States as early as possible so that we wouldn’t have to wait for them for very long. We were very lucky that we only had to wait a week in the KCMO area for our things. Since living back in the US, we have had time to reflect on our experiences in Europe. Going from Cambridge to Kansas City was a bit of a shock. We miss many things about living overseas, and specifically Cambridge.

Being a tourist in Cambridge

  • Walking. Seriously. No one walks here unless it is for exercise. I walked the 3 blocks to the grocery store pushing Oliver in his stroller the other day. The looks I received from motorists and the cashier were priceless and made me feel a bit foreign. It may have been nearly 100°F (38°C) and super humid, but I was still going to walk!
  • A pint and a biscuit. Actually, a pint and a scotch egg. The pub scene is on point in Cambridge. It was also great seeing other moms out with their wee babies at the pub. We miss that the pub was an extension of your living room, a meeting place, and a restaurant.
  • History. Everywhere you go in Cambridge, there is history. You pass 500+ year old buildings that are still standing and being used. Things are preserved and used to their fullest. With the exception of some of the buildings on the military base (ahem….Army post), most of the older buildings in our local area are maybe 50 years old at best.
  • Quiet Conversations. The stereotype is very true. Americans are loud. Our friend Bill has a saying that you can always hear Americans before you see them. And it is true. And quite a few Americans are quite proud of it. People in England and in Europe just understand that you can hold conversations without speaking loudly or over each other. I miss it.
  • Cheese. The English cheddar is better, hands down. We had a cheese board from Trader Joe’s the other day. It was disappointing.
  • Bicycling. You can bicycle safely to basically everywhere in and around Cambridge. It is mostly flat and the cars share the road decently with bicycles. Oh, and 3 foot bicycle lanes. Those are nice. There is a bicycle scene in KCMO. But it is surprisingly hilly in this area. We’re working on building up our cycling skills.
  • Proximity to epic traveling. We travelled to about a dozen other countries while living in England. And we feel like we didn’t properly take advantage of this as much as we should have.
  • Fashion. I remember the Cambridge News having an article about people being offended by consumers shopping in their “pyjamas.” And it was funny. I am not fashionable. I’ve only recently decided to buy a pair of skinny jeans (I. still. hate. them.). But you don’t see Brits out in about in sweatpants. It when it happens, it makes the local news!
  • Hand car wash. You can pay to have your car washed by hand while you’re shopping at the grocery store. Something we didn’t take advantage of nearly as much as we should have.
  • Roundabouts. The traffic flow with roundabouts is just better and more efficient in England. There are stupid roundabouts (I’m looking at you, Five Ways!), but these are few and far between. There are a few roundabouts in KCMO and at least one on post; both times, I just about lost it with excitement!
  • Adverts. The advertising on billboards here is everywhere, blocking the scenery. But at least you know there’s a McDonald’s up ahead.
  • The River Cam. We lived on the river. And as silly as it sounds, we loved watching boats and rowers go by. The bicycles and joggers as well as the tourists. They were all along the river. Have a cuppa and watch the world go by is what we dearly miss about living in Cambridge.
  • People. More than anything, we miss the friends we made while living overseas.

We loved our time in Cambridge. It was difficult being away from family and friends while living there but it was still an excellent opportunity to experience the world.

What are the things that you miss from the countries and cities that you’ve moved away from?

In front of Kings College Chapel

When things don’t go as planned

Oliver turned 5 months old two weeks ago. Between the move overseas and the sleep deprivation (hello sleeping 10-12 hours through the night since the end of June!), the past few months have been a blur. And slowly I’m forgetting all of the nitty-gritty details of what happened during his birth into this big, beautiful world.

Many people continue to ask similar questions, so I thought I would describe (what I can now remember from) answers to commonly asked questions regarding my pregnancy and Oliver’s birth.

Q: Where did you get prenatal care in the UK?
A: The US base facility hospital was my primary care since the get go. From about 20 weeks of my pregnancy onward, I was seeing both the US base hospital facility and the UK National Health System (NHS) for my prenatal (UK terminology: antenatal) appointments.

Q: Why use both systems? I always get asked why I used both the NHS and the US base since it seems like double the amount of work. It really wasn’t a ton of work or appointments until about the 36 week point – when you start seeing the OB/GYN or midwife much more regularly.
A: The very easy and short answer is: for my convenience and peace of mind.
The long answer is: I work at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (commonly referred to as the Addenbrooke’s site due to the main hospital on the campus). Addenbrooke’s Hospital is an internationally renowned teaching hospital surrounded by several biomedical research facilities. One of the areas of the Addenbrooke’s Hospital is the Rosie Hospital, which is an amazing maternity hospital specializing in all things pregnancy and baby. And I basically work across the street from this facility. If something were to have happen while I was at work (and if I were using the NHS for care), then I could walk 5 minutes to the Rosie for medical care. The commute from my workplace to the base hospital is a 15-20 minute bicycle ride (or 40 minute bus ride) to our home plus another 45 minute drive from our place to the base. It just didn’t seem logical at the time.

Q: You’re having your baby in England, so he’ll be a UK citizen, right?!
A: No, unfortunately he’s just an American citizen born abroad. There are plenty of guidelines for qualifications for being a UK citizen, such as having at least one British parent or living in the UK for at least 5 years. Oliver does not (and probably will never) meet the qualifications unless he applies for UK citizenship later in life after falling in love with British winters that every Brit seems to brag about on end.

We went to the London Embassy to apply for Oliver’s US birth certificate and passport when he was only 3 weeks old (I was wearing a puffy winter coat under my largest rain coat; February in England is rainy and cold.)

On the London Tube

 

Q: And then the next followup question: Is he going to be able to run for President of the USA later in life?
A: I’m not sure why this is the next question, but the answer is probably yes. And only if he wants to run to be the POTUS. Oliver is a US citizen born abroad.
Bringing you to the US Constitution: Article II, Section 1 is the age and citizenship requirements states that a person must be a natural born citizen (or a citizen of the US), at least 35 years old, and been a US resident for 14 years.

Q: Did you have any problems/issues/cravings during your pregnancy?
A: Not really. I was a little nauseous at work once. I thought I had an upset stomach. For awhile, I really liked sprinkling chives on everything.

Q: Did you end up using the Rosie Birth Centre or the base hospital? (and why?)
A: I needed to be induced at 41.5 weeks (oy!) Once they start talking about induction, you can no longer use the amazing Rosie Birth Centre for a natural birth (what I wanted). You must use the Rosie Delivery Unit, which is still an excellent facility. However, I was already on maternity leave and Elliott was already on leave from work. The procedures were basically the same, so the base hospital just seemed a better choice for us.

Q: How’d your delivery go?
A: It was long; spread out over 43 hours. It started as a natural delivery and ended in an emergency c-section. And the results were a beautiful baby boy.

 

These are just the frequently asked questions. Feel free to ask more in the comments!

Lessons learned, then relearned

Reflection is the name of the game for me in January. I can’t help but do it daily.

Now having some time, I’ve begun the process of going through pictures from the last two and half years of living abroad; all the trips, moments captured, and memories. However, there is one picture that I absolutely loved and it was taken just prior to moving to England. Elliott was at a prestigious school in the middle of an American desert and had an awesome white board filled with cards and pictures from friends and family, a calendar, a countdown until graduation, and a list of items to remember daily (bottom left corner). I took a picture of this the board the day before his graduation from this school because the daily reminder list melted my heart:

It reads:
Appreciate what you have
Avoid “what ifs”
Stay Positive
Disconnect
Less Caffeine
More Sleep
Less Negativity
More Perspective
Meditate
Jen!

I think the last one could definitely be substituted with “Family!” but the overall list is wonderful. And a great daily reminder of the things that matter in life.

Welcome 2017 with a single word

There is a trend going on in the social media communities. By no means is it a new trend. It is an old trend with a new revival, which happens about this time every year. I like to make resolutions and SMART goals  for the year – I actually achieved my 2016 goal of losing 20 pounds. I then “unachieved” my goal by gaining it and some more back (due to healthy weight gain during pregnancy). I currently don’t have a New Years Resolution in mind; I’m more focused on successfully surviving the last few weeks of pregnancy as I have been uncomfortable and a bit grumpy for the past few weeks.

The trend. What I am referring to isn’t about making a resolution that you will end up not keeping for whatever reason. It is to simply find a single word to help you throughout your upcoming year. The idea came from many this year, but I tracked down a source that has been doing this for many years now: One Little Word by Ali Edwards.

I love the idea of having a single word resonant through you for the whole year, to help you throughout the year to have a better purpose. A single word you can meditate or reflect upon; a word to inspire and motivate you. We all have goals that we want to stick with – I feel like even having this single word posted in a place that you’d see it everyday (for me, near/on/next to the bathroom mirror) would help you achieve these goals. There are several words that I tried to narrow down to just one.

The word I finally settled on is: give. Without getting into the nitty gritty details of what this word will mean to me, I hope it will be a reminder to be a better person to myself and to others in multitude of ways.

What about you: How about trying out One Little Word for 2017? What would your word be?

USAF 69th Birthday Ball!

Joining many others from around the local area, we celebrated the 69th birthday of the United States Air Force last night. It was a great reason to put on fancy clothes, eat, drink (soda water and lime or a cranberry and orange juice cocktail for me), dance, and celebrate.

We also celebrated that our baby boy is developing well and healthy. We’re happy to announce we’ll be adding one to our family this winter, and even took our “first family photo” at the Birthday Ball!

69th Birthday Ball

69th Birthday Ball

A new year, a new post

Hello!

Long time, no updates. I know you want to know more of our adventures. Wondering what we have been doing, where the wind has blown us, and the adventures we have experienced.

I promise to provide you updates on the following things in the next few weeks:
My adventures in Australia (I did spend nearly a month there)
Touring London with former colleagues and giving Bury St Edmunds a proper visit
Deployments while living abroad (my ode to whisky and friends)
Cambridge Beer Fest 2015: the 42nd year of amazingness
Visiting the US: meeting a friend’s new baby and celebrating weddings
Why we love visiting Edinburgh
My mom, Amy, Tom, and Spencer visit England and Germany
Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) – our opportunity to see two within weeks
Kate and Darren visit Cambridge
Touring Buckingham Palace and the Queen’s Estates
Camden Brewery: a story of how we fell in love with UK craft beer (it involves Shakespeare)
Kristen, Emily, and Megan visit Cambridge and celebrate the Buffalo Bills playing in London
Celebrate Guy Fawkes Day
Mill Road Winter Fair
Christmas Markets in Germany, France, and Spain: accidentally falling in love with the work of Gaudí
Our second Christmas in England
Why we love Garmisch-Partenkirchen
New year, new hobbies: how we keep entertained when the days are long but dark
El’s first trip to Belgium
Fe and Bo’s visit to England, which included celebrating the Chinese New Year
Celebrating 150 years of Alice in Wonderland
Our trip to Belgium with friends: here’s to beer and chocolate!
Our guide to seeing the most and best of Cambridge
Discovering Portugal: Lisbon and Porto

I can’t wait to tell you more about each adventure!