10 Years as a British Expat

August 25, 2011

28 August 2001 brought myself and my British boyfriend on a flight to Phoenix, Arizona fresh from Burford, Oxfordshire, England.  On deciding to make the move with John we sold my house in Swindon, Wiltshire and opted to keep John’s house in Burford for the next 12 months while we saw what we thought.  What a difference both in surroundings and temperatures!  I had been out three times before.  Once in March of that year on a business trip with my boyfriend after which he asked if I would be interested in moving with him; the second in May to source somewhere to live; and the third in July when we attended the Infosol’s Annual Conference in Vegas.  The second week of this trip we drove across to Phoenix to finalise our details.  Infosol was the reason we were moving out here.  John had worked with the owner of Infosol for a number of years as he had had his own business back in England, but now John was leaving his business to work for Paul.  Here we are 10 years on!

On arrival, it was a Monday, we stayed at the Candlewood Suites while we waited for our apartment to be ready.  We had also organised the purchase of some furniture back in July but all we arrived with were a couple of cases of clothes each so we spent the next few days going backwards and forwards to what was to be our new favourite store, Target!  We went backwards and forwards to this store picking up what we felt were essentials: vacuum cleaner; bedding; towels; electric kettle (this was not an easy find); and so on.  We moved into Terra Vista apartments in Cave Creek for the next 14 months.  Why Cave Creek I hear you ask.  I knew no one outside of my boyfriend and he was to be doing a lot of travelling.  Phoenix is a sprawling metropolis and the only person I knew slightly was John’s boss and wife.  They lived with their family in Cave Creek.  It is located in North Phoenix and creeps up against the mountains and has that slight elevation which means we are always those few degrees cooler than downtown Phoenix, which, in the heat of the Summer make all the difference.

The next 9 months were going to be difficult.  As John and I were not married we had been told that I was not eligible for a long-term visa and would have to continue to use the visa waiver scheme meaning that I could stay no longer than 90 days in the US and had to go back to the UK.  We booked a return flight for November 5.  We had been told that our personal items that we had shipped out from the UK would take about 6 weeks maximum which would give us plenty of time.  We thought we had done all our homework with vast quantities of reading through books, internet etc and then the world changed!  September 11, 2001! Need I say more. Everything we thought we new was no longer.  Our shipping didn’t arrive until November 3rd our monies, paperwork etc were all held up and processes for visas, Green Cards and so on changed.  They change continually and it is up to you to make sure you always know what is going on.

On April 15, 2002 John and I were married at the Couples Resort (known as Tower Isle), Ochos Rios, Jamaica.

Just Married

We opted to have no family or friends present, but did then have a wedding reception back in Highworth, Wiltshire (where my parents live) at end of May.  This would allow me the opportunity to go back to the UK to sort out my visa paperwork, update my passport and then for John to come over and we could celebrate with friends and family alike.  I took the opportunity to get family wedding photos and so got to wear my wedding dress twice.  The reception was held at the local rep and anyone that we knew who made something participated.  My Mum sells at Cirencester Farmers Market and my father is a beekeeper so between them I think they know anyone and everyone.

October 2002 saw us selling John’s house back in Burford and purchasing our own not too far from where we had been in the apartment.  Yes, we had decided to stay.

During our time here we have had so may guests.  My mum has been out too many times to count whereas my Dad has been out I think 4 or 5 times.  John’s parents have been out at least half a dozen times.  My English Grandmother came out to visit at the ripe old age of 87.  My mother flew out with her and then my Grandmother flew onto Chicago to stay with an Aunt there.  We’ve also had my mother’s best friend from Oslo, Norway with her daughter, Margrethe, come and stay with us for a few days too.  So many family members have made it out and we thank you all for wanting to spend holiday time with us.  OK, the fact that we have so much sunshine, a pool and a spa may help too.

2003 saw John bringing a previous work colleague, Steve D, out to work.  They had worked together in 2 previous companies so had known each other for far longer than I had known John.  Steve brought his wife, Joy with him and I believe she is still enjoying the fact that instead of working full time she is spending vast quantities of time birding (a true passion of hers and if you ever need any information she will always have the answer for you).

What I have learned during my time here, and continue to learn even after 10 years, is although we both speak the same language, English, it is still very different.  My work prior to coming out was as an administrator and I have to admit I still find it difficult to switch my spelling to the American way whereas John, who has spent much of his working life working with Americans spells and says things differently to me.  Of course, Kirsten, in my mind, is not only a dual citizen but is bilingual too.  It is quite a regular occurance that the teachers have to ask what something means or, if Kirsten explained it herself, they find it cute.  We’re going through the phase of using plasters at the moment, but of course here, they are bandaids.

So where are we. Oh yes.  2003 saw us with our first addition to the family, Mohawk,Our first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel purchased from a local breeder, Hurricane Dogs.  I think I’ve shared pictures recently showing that Mohawk is now 8 years and 4 months and instead of being the few pounds he was when we got him is now 30lbs and definitely becoming a grouchy old man.  We added to the brood with Charlotte around September of 2006.  We purchased Charlotte AKA Muffity Adorable Charlenafrom the same breeder but she was purchased as an adult (3 years old).  She turned 8 this month and is still the petite female that she was when we purchased her although has gained a healthy few pounds.

Next came Kirsten Greer Wilcox.  She arrived May 30, 2007 and what a change she has made to our lives! Introducing Kirsten Greer to the world Now she is an extremely tall, extremely active 4 year old.  She is now at full time montessori in order to keep her in check and she loves it.  She is also sleeping a full night’s sleep for the first time ever.  Last, but definitely not least, we added MarblesA Black Merle American Cocker Spanielto the brood in January of 2010 as a 2 month old American Cocker Spaniel puppy!  Thankfully he has calmed down except for when Kirsten is chasing after him.  What will the next 10 years bring?

Celebrated end of May 2011

Bod Pod Update (Post Number 100)

August 9, 2011

Well this is Post No. 100!  Happy Birthday to johnandsigrid.com!

I mentioned in last week’s post that I was having a Bod Pod weigh-in this morning and I am so pleased with my results that I just had to share them.  I mentioned it is 3 weeks since my last weigh-in on the Bod Pod and so this morning the differences were:

Loss of 3.1% Body Fat
Loss of 8lbs Body Fat
Increase of 2.3lbs Lean Weight
Loss of 5.07lbs Body Weight

I am thrilled with these results.  I think I also mentioned in the post that I had stopped working with a trainer and these 3 weeks have been entirely on  my own.  I do have to thank a couple of twitter pals and friends who are supporting me but the workouts are all me.  Greg, my trainer, did a great job in getting me ready.  Now I just have to keep up the work!

Health and Happiness

August 5, 2011

I don’t know if any of you remember or have been following long enough to have read the post, but around August last year I mentioned in a post called Back to School that I had started working with a Dr with regards to my problems with inability to lose weight.  Well in the course of the last 12 months I have managed to gain 20lbs.  The road has not been easy but I managed to lose the first 10lbs on my own, and then over the last 6 weeks I have lost a further 13.8lbs.  One of the problems that has been solved in the last 14 months is that having spent 5 weeks in the UK and Norway last Christmas I did not suffer from S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) for the first time in over 15 years.  This was a wonderful relief to me.  Unfortunately no matter how hard we tried we could not get my thyroid levels to where they were supposed to be.  All other levels had sorted themselves out.  We had been trying to use the natural thyroid, but that wasn’t working so my Dr switched me across to Synthroid soon after I returned from England.  Then my emotional outbursts returned and I went in for yet another round of bloodwork.  We discovered that my T3 levels had dropped through the floor.  For those of you who aren’t aware it is our T3 that helps our emotions, weight loss etc.  Our body is supposed to convert the T4 to T3 on its own, but it seemed my body, as usual, had other plans.  OK so now we add in more meds to provide the T3.  Yup, that did the job and levels went to where they should be but now I’m 20lbs up on where I was when I first started seeing the Dr 12 months ago.  I managed to get the first 10lbs off on my own, but the 2nd 10 were not going to shift.

In June I went back to the Dr again and explained the situation and told him that I had a holiday planned for end September and I really want to have lost the 10lbs plus more if possible.  I got myself a trainer at the gym (the new YMCA at the end of the street) and headed full scale into this.  I started working with the trainer towards end of April, but it was 24th June I saw the Dr.  I have been put on a stimulant for 2 months and am almost 6 weeks in so just another 2 weeks to go.  The stimulant is supposed to help my body burn the fat a little more and helpfully boost the weight loss.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, it is also an appetite suppressant so I’m having to force myself to eat.

The plan of action I have followed for the last 6 weeks has been:

Eat 1700 calories a day
Burn 2555 calories a day aiming for an 850 calorie a day deficit with the plan to lose at least 1.7lbs per week

The calories are to be made up in 35% protein; 45% carbs; 20% fat.  Using the bodybugg that I purchased I can now monitor all calories burned and then logging online I input all food eaten (yes every portion that goes into my mouth is weighed).  I have a version 3 Bodybugg and am actually on my second one.  On the few occasions we have been out to eat I have checked out their menus online ahead of time to work out what I am going to order.  Over the last 6 weeks I have watched John and Kirsten eat Rubios take away in front of me and plenty of icecream with caramel and chocolate sauce.  I’ve allowed myself a few treats but nowhere near what I would usually have, and for those of you who know us, we don’t over indulge at all.  It hasn’t been easy and I’ve worked out at the gym 3 times a week: Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday.  Sunday has purely been a 2 hour cardio workout whereas Mondays and Wednesdays have been a mixture.  These were the 2 days I worked out with my trainer, but unfortunately he left 2 weeks’ ago and I’ve chosen to see how I get along without him for a few weeks.  Mondays and Wednesdays are 30 minutes cardio followed by 30 minutes of core/strength training.  I then go back and do a further 45-60 minutes cardio and finish with a 10-15 minute stretch.  Next Tuesday I will find out how well I’ve done without the trainer as I am going for a Bod Pod weigh-in.  This accurately lets me know now just how many lbs I’ve lost but the breakdown of whether they are fat or lean weight.  It will be 3 weeks since the last time and they have all been without a trainer.  I learned a lot from my trainer, but I like having someone there to push me!

I hope to lose at least another 5lbs before we go on holiday, but the closer I can get to 10lbs loss before the happier I’ll be.  I have to say thank you to John for his support with this, because trust me, dinner most evenings is extremely bland.