2021 Thus Far

Wow! It has been a long time since I’ve written. I had drafted a few posts over the past few months but life got busy and I never finished them. I figured I’d catch everyone up on what I’ve been doing so far this year.

Mark moved to the U.S…. and we moved to Maryland!

After a few years of being in a long-distance relationship, Mark was able to get a job in the U.S. He still works for the same place he did in England (as a civil servant), but in a multi-year posting to one of their American offices in Maryland. Markell and I also moved from our house in Northern Virginia to Maryland. We now live about fifteen minutes outside Baltimore. So far we are really enjoying our new house, neighborhood, and starting to make friends in the area. Markell is finishing his school year at his Virginian school virtually, and will be attending the local Maryland high school in the fall.

Mark in front of our new house in Maryland

I got my first COVID vaccine

I can’t tell you the amount of relief I felt about being able to get my first COVID vaccine earlier this month. I’m scheduled to get my second one at the end of April and will be considered fully vaccinated by mid-May. I got the Pzifer vaccine. We’ve already been able to hang out in larger groups since the majority of our friends are vaccinated (or in progress of getting vaccinated now). My mom is fully vaccinated, Mark is fully vaccinated, and my dad is in progress of getting vaccinated as well. We are also looking forward to being able to travel to destinations that are opening up to vaccinated travelers. I am hoping that the Pzifer vaccine will be approved for 12-15 year olds in the next few months so Markell can get vaccinated.

We moved our wedding from mid-June to late-August

Due to COVID and Mark and I’s wedding being in England (with my half of guests coming from the U.S.), we made the hard call in February to move our wedding from mid-June to late-August. The vast majority of people we’ve invited will be able to get vaccinated by August and travel will be starting to open this summer, so we felt it was the right move to make. We were also fortunate that eleven of our fourteen wedding vendors could work with the new date that our venue had free.

Our wedding venue in England

That’s all for now – I will start posting our travel and life plans as we make more of them in the coming months. Looking forward to the rest of spring and summer ahead!

What have you been up to lately? Do you have your COVID vaccine yet?

Safety Tips for Solo Hiking

Hiking is one of my favorite ways to get outdoors and exercise. A long solo hike makes me feel peaceful and in touch with nature. It is, however, important to stay safe while hitting the trails. As an avid hiker, I’ve outlined some of my top tips for staying safe while hiking.

Potomac Heritage Trail, Great Falls, Virginia

Only Bring Necessary Valuables

When I hike, I do not take anything that is very valuable with me except necessities like my cell phone, car keys, FitBit (which tracks my hike), and my ID. I feel safer knowing I am not wearing expensive jewelry or carrying items that may make me a target for theft.

Hike Where There’s A Signal

If I am hiking alone, I try to avoid areas that do not have a cell phone signal or heavy foot traffic. With a bit of research online, you can usually find out if the area you want to hike should have cell reception. Or if you want to go hiking in an area that doesn’t have cell reception, try to pick a popular route so that you won’t be alone on the trail. There’s safety in numbers.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Hike With A Charged Phone

Make sure your phone is well charged before you go hiking. If you need to use the phone for directions incase you get lost or to call someone incase you get injured, having a charged phone may end up being your life line.

Tell Someone Where You’re Going

It’s never a bad idea to let someone know where you plan to hike and approximately when you think you’ll be back or plan to next get in contact with them.

Leckhampton Hill in Cheltenham, England

Bring Enough Food and Water

When it comes to hiking, it’s definitely better to bring more food and water than you think you’ll need. In the event you get lost or your hike takes longer than you expect, you don’t want to be hungry and unable to focus. A few of my favorite hiking snacks that are filling are beef jerky, dried fruit, and trail mix.

Know The Area Animals

It is important to try to know if there are any potentially dangerous animals where you may be hiking, and what actions you should take if you see any. I’ve been on several hikes where I saw snakes, but they have always been ones that are non-venomous so I just walk around them. I’ve also hiked in Shenandoah National Park which is known for having bears. Often if potentially dangerous animal is common in the area, there are signs telling you to watch out for them.

Cotswold way in Cheltenham, England

Carry Some Sort of Protection

When I hike alone, I carry pepper spray. You can buy pepper sprays that are travel size and can easily clip onto a hiking backpack or pants. Other options would be to carry a stick or knife with you. Depending on where you are hiking and your personal comfort level, I do know some people who hike with a gun, but you need to make sure you know how to use it and have the right carry license to do so.

Do you enjoy hiking solo?

Practical Tips for Relieving the Tension in Your Self-Isolating Household

This is a guest post courtesy of Emma Grace Brown. Her blog can be found here. Featured image via Pexels.

You love your family. There’s almost nothing you wouldn’t do for a member of your household. You’re stressed out, anxious, and want nothing to do with anyone in your family at the moment.

Each of these statements can be true, even all at the same time. As Ipsos explains, self-isolation seems to be having that effect on countless households around the world. This is natural, considering that we are all social beings meant to experience the world around us. And when we limit our daily experience to the walls of our houses, it can lead to severe tension, among other issues.

The good news is that there are practical ways to address the things that are causing tension in your household. Consider these tips for restoring peace and harmony in your home while quarantining during the pandemic:

Tackle boredom.

Oftentimes, when tensions are high in a self-isolating household, the culprit is boredom. And this applies to both kids and adults.

One way that many people address this issue is by gaming, which can be fun for people of all ages. Before you get excited about diving into online multiplayer games like Fortnite, however, you will need to make sure you have a fast, reliable internet connection that is up to the task. Otherwise, you could set yourselves up for further frustration. If you need to make an upgrade, look into fiber-optic connections. These not only allow for faster download rates, but they also make for a smoother overall gaming experience.

Unplug and get outside.

If you’re like many other households in the U.S., you suffer from nature deficit disorder at one level or another. This basically means that you don’t spend enough time outdoors. Doing activities amid nature can yield a plethora of health benefits. And on the other side of the coin, staying cooped up indoors can have a negative impact on your health and well-being.

Fortunately, there are many activities to enjoy the outdoors. You could turn your backyard into a family-friendly recreational area. You could frequent your local park. You could take the family hiking and/or camping on the weekends. The options are endless. Just make a plan, unplug from tech, and enjoy some good, healthy fun amid nature. And if you need some tips for planning a family trip, be sure to check out blogs like Noelle Across the Pond!

Move it.

Exercise is one of the best things you can do to relieve stress. When you work up a sweat, endorphins are released in your brain, which creates a rewarding sensation. But there’s a lot more to it than the short-term benefits. As Self explains, maintaining a consistent fitness routine can do wonders for boosting your self-confidence, alleviating depression symptoms, improving your physical health, and much more.

Whether the members of your household exercise individually, as a group, or a mixture of the two, it can do wonders for fostering a healthy, happy environment. And there are tons of online resources you can use to learn indoor and outdoor workouts from home.

Simplify your dining.

Finally, try to make your meals as simple as possible right now. For example, if you are used to meal planning, consider trying a meal delivery service, sticking with sandwiches and salads, and/or finding new slow-cooker recipes for the time being. And every now and then, maybe you can take the family to a local park for a picnic dinner. That way, you can minimize your grocery shopping and not have to worry about preparing elaborate meals for the whole family.

If your family is experiencing more tension than normal during quarantine, know that this is not uncommon. But that doesn’t mean that you have to keep living that way. Consider how you can address boredom, spend more time outdoors, get into a good exercise routine, and make your meals simpler. In no time, you will feel the tension loosening and your home becoming more peaceful.

How has your family been managing during self-isolation?