Catching up

We are already more than halfway through our visit home and like always, it amazes me how quickly it passes!  More than a month ago, we were making our way to Ohio.  We had a really smooth day of travel and received so many compliments on Abby.  She was so quiet, smiled at everyone, and made traveling a breeze – except for one minor hiccup.  We had about 2 hours left on our Frankfurt to D.C. flight, and I picked her up to carry her to the bathroom.  She chose that moment to spit up – an unreasonable amount – directly down my cowl-neck sweater dress.  I stood there frozen as I felt it run down my neck, chest, and pool in my belly button.  Abby and JR were not bothered in the least but I was horrified and stood in the aisle in shock for quite awhile.  Cleaning myself up in the tiny airplane bathroom was no small feat.

abby plane 1 abby plane 2

We’ve been really lucky so far, but I’m already nervous about our return travel because since we’ve been home, Abby is increasingly on the move. She half scoots, half crawls all over the place.  It’s going to be much more difficult to contain her now that she’s on the go!

This trip has been all about spending time with both of our families.   We were happy to have a nice Thanksgiving in Dayton, and we’ve been going nonstop since then.  JR had to be in DC for two weeks for training, so Abby and I kept ourselves busy visiting with family and friends and shopping.  A lot of shopping.  Kohls and Target are addicting!

A few months ago I applied for a job – basically it’s another program the State Department is trying out to employ more spouses overseas.   There are hard-to-fill consular jobs at some of the embassies and they want to try to fill those spots by qualified spouses.  You can learn more about the program here.  Honestly, it’s a bit confusing and it feels like a lot of hoops to jump through when we have no idea if we’ll end up at a post with a position available. At the same time, I don’t want to miss an opportunity for work, and from what I’ve read about consular jobs, I think I might really enjoy it.

The first step was to take an online exam with four different parts.  It wasn’t easy and many of the questions were awkwardly worded, so I didn’t have much confidence, but I did pass.  Next I was asked to participate in an oral assessment/interview in D.C.  Travel to DC is not provided, so we wanted to schedule my interview during a time we would already be in the States.  Since JR was going to be there, I decided to make a long weekend out of it and had my interview on a Friday morning and then planned to spend the weekend with him in D.C. while Abby had quality time with my family in Ohio.

I had to be at the interview at 6:50am on Friday – seriously?!  I almost showed up like this but JR  talked me out of it.


I was with two other people and first we did a 45 minute case management exercise where we reviewed several hypothetical office issues and drafted a recommendation.  After that, I had to wait for about 20-30 minutes before they called me back for my actual interview.  It was nerve-wracking because the two women interviewing me read from a script and explained that they would not be providing any feedback, or really engaging with me in any way outside from asking questions on the script.  I’m used to a slightly more relaxed setting and some back and forth, and that was not happening here.  They just looked at me stone-faced and offered no reaction to my responses.  I waited another 30 minutes after I was finished until I was called back and told that I passed.  Hooray!  Except I’m really not sure what happens next.  From what I gather any employment will all depend on where we end up (we really have no idea right now, which is kind of disappointing because we had hoped to have our assignment already  – possibly another blog post by itself) and what type of jobs are available at post.   So, it has the potential to be a good thing but we won’t know for a while.

The rest of the weekend in D.C. was really wonderful.  Our dear friend Jessica was in town, and she recommended that we have dinner with her at Founding Farmers Friday evening.   We aren’t food critics at all but it was delicious.  They had bacon lollipops.  Genius.  I was also excited to catch up with my friend Sam over a boozy brunch that Saturday.


The best part about the weekend was just having down time with JR, being able to eat dinner without rushing, and sleeping in!   It was great, but I was also happy to get back to Abby.  Now we are full speed ahead to Christmas, and looking forward to presents, baking cookies, and maybe even Abby’s first Santa visit!

Shelby the Yorkie: The Final Chapter

I’m writing what I hope is the final update, at least from me, in the ongoing Shelby saga.  Really, it’s like a TV miniseries at this point, with so many twists and turns and emotions!  But I’m certain of one thing, the world is full of really nice people.

A quick recap from the beginning:  As I was walking to work on September 28, I heard some whimpering behind me.  It was a tiny black puppy with a bandaged front paw, hobbling along to follow me down the street.  That first week, JR and I took her to the vet almost daily to have her paw treated and we worried they would need to amputate it, but with treatment it started to heal  quickly.  We kept her with us for a few nights, but it was not a good situation with our apartment and the baby.  Luckily, Adam the Saint offered to foster her while we searched for a permanent home.

From the start, I would experience these really great, happy feelings that we were going to get her to her new home rather easily, and then that would all come crashing down when every attempt failed.   It’s honestly hard to write down every single thing that I tried, how many people I approached, airlines and pet shippers I called, and research I did online to find a way to get this puppy adopted in Kosovo or in the U.S.

I was embarrassed to post a link to a fundraiser on my Facebook page.  That just doesn’t seem like something I would ever do, and for a dog of all things.  It’s not that I’m anti-dogs, I’m just not a bleeding heart dog lover.  Sure, I cry at the Sarah McLachlan commercials like everyone else, but this isn’t really my thing.  But I got really wrapped up in making sure Shelby was well cared for, and I desperately wanted a happy ending to her story.  More than once, when it looked like all hope was lost and I was truly exhausted of trying to figure it out, I messaged the only dog shelter I know of in Kosovo to ask them about taking her.  The pictures of the shelter broke my heart.  I know the people running it are doing the very best they can with extremely limited resources and a tragically high number of animals in need.  But I didn’t know if I could actually drop her off there.  And if I couldn’t, what else could I do?

I can be very dramatic when I talk about things, and I’m always emotional, but this has been one of the most stressful and difficult things I’ve ever tried to do.  When I said that to JR, he said what about taking the bar exam?  Yeah, that was a tough two months of studying like crazy every day and 3 days of testing, but studying and test-taking are things I do well.  This has been completely different.  There were several times that it caused tension between us, particularly when I obligated us to pay $1,500 in transportation costs, not knowing if we would recoup any of that from donations.  He didn’t agree with what I was doing, but he knew that I was trying to find a way to do the right thing.

The last two weeks were perhaps the most stressful as I was finally ready to give up when a plan to fly a friend to Frankfurt with Shelby, and then transfer Shelby to a pet shipper for her flight to the US, fell through.  One of Shelby’s biggest fans in Kosovo, Helen, helped me with a new plan to fly someone from the US to pick her up and take her back as excess baggage.   JR and I had to leave Kosovo rather quickly due to a family emergency.  The morning we left for the airport, Helen notified me that the ticket had been purchased.  I let out a huge sigh of relief – it was really going to happen!

JR and I traveled all day with the baby in tow  – 3 flights, 7 bags, and over 22 hours – and when we landed in DC, I received a terrible email from Shelby’s foster home.  She had run away and hadn’t been seen since the previous night.  I felt like the universe was playing a giant joke on me at this point.  I even texted a friend to ask if the entire Shelby saga was some kind of bad karma for something I’d done in the past.  I just couldn’t understand why this kept happening!

We waited a few days in hopes that Shelby would return, wanting to avoid canceling the plane ticket in hopes she would be found.  Amazingly, last Wednesday she just reappeared in Adam’s yard.  We hurried to secure her a ticket on our friend’s flight.  It was the final piece and I was determined to make sure it worked.

I called Turkish Airlines to make the request, and when they asked for her breed, I said mixed street dog.  They said that was not specific enough, so I said she was a mixed terrier.  I know basically nothing about dog breeds, but that seemed like a reasonable guess.  I had to wait 24 hours to see if my request was approved, so we were on a very tight time frame.  When I called back the next day, my heart sank as the agent informed me that my request was denied because “mixed terrier” was not specific enough, I had to know her precise breed.  In a panic I said “she’s a Yorkshire terrier.”

Now for reference, here’s another picture of Shelby.

shelby 2

And here’s a picture of a yorkie.


So, a bit off the mark…oops.  I called back the following day and the agent told me that my request had been granted and Shelby had a confirmed ticket to fly to DC on  Monday, November 17.  I couldn’t hold back my tears.  On the day of her scheduled flight,  I was incredibly anxious just waiting for something else to go wrong.  I can’t describe the relief I felt when my friend M messaged me to say that Shelby had arrived, and she was now safe and sound and making herself at home with M and her other pets.

I want to thank so many people who helped make this possible (I feel like I’m accepting an Oscar. Ha.)  Adam the Saint, for fostering Shelby and stepping up when I was completely panicked about what to do.  Amy for providing me with dog-related items and offering support.  Helen and Andi for hosting Shelby for play dates, falling in love with her, and then going above and beyond to help get her home.  Stacey and Lori who had to listen to me at lunch – almost every single day for more than a month – talk about this dog and the latest troubles I faced in getting her to the U.S.  Elizabeth and my mom, who also heard about it daily and often times longer than a lunch hour.  My poor husband, who had to endure all of my dramatics and frustrations and even when he didn’t want to anymore, he still had my back.  The number of people on my FB feed, many of whom I haven’t talked to in years, who shared Shelby’s fundraising page, sent me a nice message, or donated, wow.  M and her husband for sticking with Shelby through all the back and forth, and offering her a wonderful home.  Our amazing group of internet friends who started this whole thing!  I can’t thank you all enough.

This has been such a strange experience, but I’m so grateful that it had a happy ending for one Kosovo street dog.  Here’s a picture of Shelby snuggled up with her new owner!


Fundraising for Shelby

Yesterday I posted this on my Facebook page:

I am trying to raise money to send Shelby, the rescued puppy, to the US to a friend who is willing to adopt her and provide her with a great home. It’s crazy expensive, and this plan is basically insane, but I have tried everything to find her a home here. There is only one shelter and the conditions are terrible, and they won’t take her even if I could leave her there. I’m out of options except to ask for help. Please consider donating if you are able.

I was quickly blown away by how many people shared the link, donated, or sent me words of encouragement.  I woke up this morning to learn that over $1,100 has already been donated!  Incredible. We’re only $500 away from our goal.  If you are interested in helping, please consider donating or sharing the link above.  Thank you!




The Shelby Trials

Well, the puppy is still here.  Fortunately, she’s currently in the care of our friend, Saint Adam, but I had reallllly hoped she’d be in the US by now.  I spent a significant amount of time making sure all of her paperwork was in order prior to her flight (which included more phone calls with Turkish Airlines than I care to count), that she had all the necessary shots, and taking her to multiple vet visits for her paw.   An amazing group of friends came together to donate money to cover the cost of her plane ticket, and a very kind soul (N) was willing to take Shelby on her flight back to DC.

It all seemed perfect!

Until we arrived at the airport that morning and learned that Shelby’s first flight to Istanbul was delayed by two hours, which would cause her traveling companion to miss her connection to DC.  At that point, we didn’t know if N would be spending the night in Istanbul or trying to change her travel plans to get home.  She was already doing us a huge favor by agreeing to fly with Shelby, but we could not ask her to deal with all of the unknowns of an overnight flight delay with the puppy.

I was SO disappointed, standing in the airport with Shelby whimpering in her cage, when I had to put her back in the car and return her to Adam’s house.  She was thrilled to be back “home” and with her playmate Rudder.   So now we are back to asking our friends and colleagues if anyone is traveling to DC in the next few weeks, and willing to be an escort for this sweet pup.  The back up plan is for JR and I to fly with her when we return for our R&R at the end of November.   Our DC friends who want to adopt her are willing to wait for her (they are really good people!) so that’s what we do now.  We wait.

Whyyyyy did I think this was a good idea?



Oh Shelby

Puppies are exhausting.  Maybe more exhausting than newborn babies.

I experienced a very broad range of emotions over the weekend while we had the puppy.  As I said, I was kind of riding this high of “you did such a good thing, you’re a good person!” into Friday evening, until I found out we couldn’t take the puppy to a shelter.  I started to feel nervous wondering what I had gotten us into and how it would all play out.   Initially my emails with Jill (the woman trying to rescue pups here) and her colleague Debra (she lives in the UK and is just interested in helping) gave me great hope that we could send the puppy on a plane to Canada in a month or two for adoption, and all I would need to do in the meantime is pay 25 euros a month to a foster family who would take care of her until then.  Totally simple, right?

Those positive, hopeful feelings went downhill quickly on Saturday when Jill and Debra were pushing me (understandably so) to find my own solution and explaining the puppy could actually be here for several months before getting adopted in Canada, if that ever happened at all.  They were still adamant that a shelter was not an option.  I suddenly felt very overwhelmed and mad at myself for taking this puppy off the streets. She was sweet, but she was peeing all over our apartment.  Even though we were taking her out every 2 hours, which is NOT easy to do when you have a husband who had to work all weekend and a baby in the other arm.  I have a tendency to go from “la la la life is a fairytale” to “this is the WORST thing ever and my life is in shambles” really quickly.



photo (5)

After we cleaned her messes, we put down paper towels so we wouldn’t step in on the wet carpet.  This is just a small sample of how it looked in our apartment.

Luckily JR was doing his best to be supportive and helping with the puppy whenever he could.  That included sleeping in the guest room with her by himself for 3 nights so we didn’t have to worry about her in our room, and taking her outside during the night.  He’s good people.

Jill and Debra told me that we should name the puppy. I suspect they were hoping I’d open my cold anti-puppy heart and decide to keep her, and they thought having us name her would be a good step in that direction.  JR suggested Shelby or Trudy from one of the best movies ever, Steel Magnolias.  Shelby won.

drink the juice

Drink the juice, Shelby.   I had high hopes to deliver Shelby to a foster family on Sunday evening.  But I realized she would need more vet visits, and the foster family lives about 15 minutes outside of town, making multiple trips there and back rather inconvenient.  We kept her overnight once more, and I made it my mission on Monday to convince someone to give her a temporary home.  At lunch that day I asked everyone who walked through the door if they wanted a puppy, and to my ASBOLUTE DELIGHT, a wonderful guy named Adam (who shall now be referred to as Adam the Saint) said he could give her a home for a few weeks.  First problem, solved.

Now we’re full steam ahead to dealing with the bigger problem, finding Shelby a permanent home.   The amazing thing is, I have a friend in the DC area who wants to adopt her.  And we have a friend of a friend here who will be flying back to the US in a few weeks who is willing to fly with her!  Hooray, this is all incredible news.   If only it were that easy though.  There are so many logistics involved in getting Shelby to the States.   We need to make sure all of her shots are up-to-date, that her paw is well enough for travel, that we have the right crate (airlines are VERY particular about this) and paperwork for the flight, and we have to pay for it all.   It’s pretty expensive and with 5 visits to the vet already, plus each follow-up trip, I can see the dollar signs adding up in JR’s head.  Plus Adam the Saint told us that Shelby chewed through his patio screen door, so we’ll need to replace that as well.

Thankfully, a truly great group of friends (including Shelby’s future owners!) have offered to pitch in to help with some of the costs.  If you have any interest in helping out as well, please leave a comment or send me a message!  We are hoping to purchase her airline ticket in the next few days and have her on a flight to DC by the middle of the month, if everything goes according to plan.

Hoping that my next post about Shelby will be to report that she’s gone global!  To be continued…

shelby 3shelby 2


It started with a whimper

Let me set the scene for you.  Kosovo has a terrible problem with stray cats and dogs.  They are everywhere.  It takes us less than 5 minutes to walk to work, and it’s pretty normal to see a few dogs running around, and a few cats fighting or hiding under cars.  Many of our colleagues have adopted a cat or dog (or several) during their time here.  Not us.  We live in a small second floor apartment, we do not have a yard, and we have a fat cat that wants nothing to do with any other living species, including us most of the time since the baby arrived.  Oh yeah, and we have that baby now.  In addition to the immediate concerns and logistics of taking on another pet, when you are in the FS you have to think about the long term issues (including major expenses) of moving your pets around the world with you.   We also travel frequently, and it’s hard enough leaving our cat and worrying about her care.

Surely I’ve convinced you that we are the last people in the whole wide world who should be taking a dog home.

Friday morning I was on my way to work when I heard a whimper to my left.   I looked over and saw a small, cute puppy hobbling towards me with a bandaged front paw.  She followed me another minute or two until I arrived at work.  I knelt down to pet her and she was shaking and quiet.  Another woman who was walking her dog had also stopped to see the puppy.  I called JR and asked him to meet me out in front of the Embassy because there was a hurt puppy and I didn’t know what to do.  He came out a few minutes later and gave me a look that was equal parts “oh that poor puppy, you have such a big heart to want to help” and “seriously you are nuts, why are you dragging me into this.”

photo (2)

I asked him if we could just keep her for a day or two, take her to the vet and get her checked out, and then drop her off at a shelter. Easy peasy, right?  He was less than thrilled but agreed.  Then came the discussion of what we would do with the puppy while we were at work all day.  Luckily, the other woman who had stopped agreed to keep the puppy at her house until 5pm.

So off we went to our respsective offices, me feeling like I had done a good deed and JR contemplating divorce.   At 5pm on the nose, we gathered up the puppy and took her to the vet just down the street.   Her poor paw was infected.   The vet suspects she was hit by a car, then someone took her to a vet to get her paw stitched and wrapped, and then put her back out on the street.  😦  We met a Canadian woman there who works to get stray dogs fostered or adopted back in Canada, and as often as possible, she flies them there as cargo.   When I told her that we planned to take the puppy to a shelter the next day, she was adamant that we could not do that.

Apparently the shelter situation in Kosovo that was at one time just bad is now in a really horrible state.  There was a reputable shelter  (even there, it’s not like a shelter in the US.  Dogs are often outside in a shared yard where many die from fighting and disease.) but the founder was frustrated by the lack of help from the local government, so he ordered that all of the rescued animals be put back on the street.  Over 600 cats and dogs!  One of his staff members was trying to keep them all, but then he had a heart attack.  So there was literally no one to provide food and water to the animals in their enclosures.  Jill, the woman we met at the vet, and some of her friends, along with the vet and his colleagues, were trying to rescue as many of those animals as they could.

I was extremely naive to assume that we could help the puppy get better and then drop her off someplace safe and call it a day.  In less an 10 hours, I had somehow acquired a puppy and it was my responsibility to find her a home or keep her.

And so began our weekend with the puppy.  To be continued…

puppy 3


Labor Day Weekend Fun

I wrote this post two weeks ago and didn’t get around to publishing it.  Since then, we’ve been dealing with the loss of a dear cousin and friend in JR’s family.   It was unexpected and a sad reminder to not take a single day for granted.   This year has given us the highest of highs with Abby’s birth, but it has also been more difficult than anything we’ve ever experienced before.   My mom never let me say the word “sucks” growing up because I had a little brother and sister around, but I have to tell you, sometimes I just want to yell “This sucks!!”


Anytime we have a long weekend, we prefer to take advantage and head out of town for a few days.  Anticipating that, JR and I both requested vacation days for last Friday.  As the weekend drew closer, we realized that with all of JR’s recent – and upcoming – travel, a staycation might be best.  So we decided to stay close to home and explore around here a bit more, and spend quality time with Abigail.

Friday morning we drove to Mirusha falls.  If you’re a faithful reader (hi Mom!), you might recall that I had quite the experience on this hike about a year ago.  Our sweet little VW Passat was not cut out for the unpaved, rocky road that led to our destination.  I also had zero recollection of how to get there, so I wasn’t certain we were in the right spot.  We contemplated turning around but didn’t want to give up.  Finally we reached the parking area with our car and tires intact.

mirusha 1

Abby and I stayed put while JR hiked to the next level of the falls.  It was a beautiful day, not too hot so we enjoyed sitting outside and waiting for him to return.

mirusha 2

mirusha 3

That night we had dinner at one of our favorite places, Pinocchio.  It’s the best to us because the servers are super friendly and we always enjoy ourselves.  Plus they have a lovely view of the city.

Saturday morning we drove to Gracancica, a Serbian community with a beautiful monastery founded in 1321.  It was beautiful and peaceful.

monastery 2 monastery


Abby wasn’t all that interested.

abby mon

After lunch – chicken wrapped in bacon, ah the joys of finding a restaurant that serves pork! – we visited the Bear Sanctuary.  I went last year but JR had never been.  It’s on the small side and you can’t really spend a long time there, but they’re expanding it and it’s so great to see the bears in this environment, compared to the tiny cages they used to live in.

bears 1  bears 3

bears 4bears 2

Sunday was a lazy day and Monday we went downtown to walk around and have lunch.  We also happened to find this little sign that I wanted to buy months ago!  It’s perfect for Abby’s room and a neat souvenir from our time here!


Finally, Abby has a lot of cute clothes and we keep waiting for nice occasions to have her wear them.  She’s growing so fast that we anticipate her growing out of many of these outfits before they’ve been worn, so we had a few photo shoots.

photo (5)photo (6)


photo (1)abby 1

Also because I feel like a negligent cat-parent, here’s Annabelle.  She’s still pretty ticked off that we left her and then came back with a baby.



That one time I tried to make salsa

Last week our nanny gave us a bag of tomatoes fresh from her garden.  It was a very nice gesture with only one small problem – neither of us eat tomatoes.  Well we do eat tomatoes, but only if they’re mixed in with other things.  I couldn’t tell her that, and I felt awful for being a tomato-hater.  I resolved to find a recipe and use the tomatoes over the weekend.  My friend Erika had a long list of suggestions.  Spaghetti sauce – too much work, and plus, we have Ragu.  Bloody Marys – don’t drink those.  Caprese salad – nope!   Then she suggested salsa.  Now, I don’t eat that either (yes, I have issues) but JR does and he had a fantasy football draft so he could take it there to share.  Perfect!

I looked up a few recipes and they were all pretty much tomatoes, onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, and some spices. I was also supposed to buy a jalapeno pepper, but I didn’t see any of those at the store and I wasn’t sure what other kind of pepper to substitute.  Once I was home, I dusted off my food processor – yes, it actually had dust on it – and got started.

Things started off well.  The food processor is AMAZING.  Why don’t I use it more often?  I was throwing in tomatoes, onions, and garlic left and right.  I didn’t exactly follow a recipe because they all seemed to generally say the same thing and I wanted to wing it.  JR chopped up some cilantro for me, and we added that and some lime juice.

Everything was chopped and blended, and it actually looked good!

photo 1 (2)

I was feeling really proud.  Look at me go!  I asked JR to taste it and with one look, I knew I had failed.

johnny depp

I didn’t want to give up, so I retraced my steps and searched the internet for help. Only then did I realize that the cilantro I purchased and added to the salsa was in fact parsley.

photo 2 (2)

Oops.  Also,apparently the jalapeno (which I hadn’t been able to find) is a key ingredient.   So I walked to the little store down the street in search of a jalapeno.  This is what I found.

photo 3 (2)

The internet – and some salsa-savvy friends – advised me to try roasting the peppers before dicing and adding them, and to add more lime juice and garlic.   Let me tell you that I’ve never roasted peppers once in my life, but I felt kind of fancy doing it.  I followed all of those instructions and then put the salsa back in the fridge overnight.   The next day, when JR got home from work I begged him to try the salsa again, thinking I had surely nailed it this time!

He was less than thrilled, but I think he felt bad for me so he agreed.   I was full of hope as he took a bite.

Once again, his face said it all.

cam no

And down the drain went the salsa.  The funny thing is that this ALL started because I felt guilty not using the tomatoes our nanny brought us, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her we don’t eat them.   Oh well, I’ll get you next time salsa recipe!

Adventures in Babysitting

I know, I know you aren’t supposed to call it babysitting when it’s your own baby.  But it made me think of the movie and I loved that movie.  I don’t understand why Elisabeth Shue wasn’t a bigger star.

Anyway, two weeks ago when JR left for training in DC, I tried to be all positive mental attitude “you can do this!”  In reality, I felt more like this:




For the most part, things have gone swimmingly.  Abby is smiling, giggling, and showing a little more personality each day.  It’s clear she adores me.

more abby

But we’ve also had our share of mishaps, including one coming home from grocery shopping.  Let me back up though, to a time when I was pregnant and my mother texted or e-mailed me DAILY to tell me about certain specific baby items that I simply HAD TO HAVE in order for me and the baby to survive.   She was particularly stuck on me having a grocery cart seat cover for Abby.


(note, that is not my kid)

My initial response was “Why would I need that?  Why would I ever take my baby to the grocery store?”  My mother was appalled to say the least.  Horrified even, that I would deny her future grandchild a weekly trip to get groceries.  We went back and forth, round and round for a few days.  My argument was simple.  I’m a creature of habit.  Almost every Sunday morning, around 9am, I drive – alone – to Viva Fresh and buy groceries for the week.  Before Viva Fresh, it was the Giant store in Alexandria.  And before that, the Kroger  in Columbus.  JR isn’t even invited.  I like to do this by myself.  So, why would I take the baby?  Wouldn’t it be more logical for the baby to stay home with him?  The funny thing is that my mom was seriously perturbed by the whole thing and the baby wasn’t even born yet.

Neither of us could see the other person’s point of view.  At this time, we have no shopping cart cover for poor Abby.  However, I did take her to the grocery store last week.  I had to because apparently you can’t leave them home alone at this age.

The trip itself was fine.   Except that her infant car seat is SO HEAVY.  It’s supposed to be super convenient to take her in and out of the car, but there is nothing convenient about feeling like my arm is going to fall off.   She also takes up the entire space of the shopping cart, so I had to strategically place groceries around her.

abby viva

When we arrived at home I surprised myself by successfully backing into our garage, something I’ve never been able to do before.  I was feeling a little proud and maybe even smug.  I figured I could carry Abby (in the ridiculously heavy car seat) and all the groceries through the garage and up the stairs in one trip.   Well, trip I did.  I made it a few steps before catching my foot on the uneven surface in our garage and me, the bags, and the baby went sprawling.  She was the last thing to drop and she landed totally upright (unlike me).  I turned around to check on her, worried that she’d be screaming in a second because it had probably scared her, but my sweet girl was fast asleep and still snoring.  Couldn’t be bothered, that one.  Meanwhile, I was feeling like


Not my finest moment.  I’ve also had a few hiccups with bath time.  Bath time is super easy with two people, and JR and I have a nice system that works for us.   On my own it’s a different story.

Last night I carried her into the bathroom and turned on the water.  We have a detachable shower head:

shower head

So I took it down and laid it in the bottom of the tub to wait for the water to get warm before I filled her little baby tub.  I would have just stayed in the bathroom and taken her clothes off there, but I suspected she had a dirty diaper so off we went to her room to get changed.  When we returned to the bathroom, I was in for a surprise.  The shower head had flipped over so that the water was spraying directly up from the tub and all over the bathroom.  A full on rainstorm in the bathroom.  There was SO MUCH WATER.  All I could do was laugh and carefully make my way to the tub to turn it off, getting us both a bit wet in the process.  Mind you, she’s naked.   I think she may have peed on me during the chaos  but I can’t be sure because I was pretty wet from the shower head anyway.  Sigh.

The important thing is that we both survived, and JR is coming home TOMORROW!!


2 years down and a lifetime to go

It’s crazy that JR and I have only been married for two years.  We’re coming up on 9 years together, and in some ways our wedding feels like so long ago.  But I can remember so many wonderful details of that day that it sometimes feels like it was only yesterday.

We used the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Columbus for our wedding room block.  Because of that, JR and I were able to book a two-story suite for ourselves.   It was a huge, gorgeous room and we had it for 3 nights.  After our rehearsal dinner, we invited guests back to our room to continue the fun.  It was nice to have extra time to hang out with our family and friends because many had traveled from out of town, and in some ways it was also the start of a farewell as we knew we’d be in DC and then overseas within the next year.

In the morning, JR was going golfing with some of his family and bridal party.  He forgot his phone charger in our room, so he texted me pretty early and then wanted to stop by to pick it up.  Since we’d agreed not to see each other, I stayed upstairs and tossed the phone charger over the balcony/loft area for him to catch below.

I was then wide awake and not sure what to do. I didn’t want to start getting ready too early because my hair stylist wanted my hair wet when she arrived.   I went downstairs and saw a card underneath the door.  It was from my mom – a Taylor Swift card that played “Today was a Fairytale” when I opened it up.   It was beautiful and perfect and made me cry.

wedding 1

Photo credit:  Azar Photography

Since I was already feeling all emotional and had time to kill, I crawled back in bed and pulled out my laptop.  I started searching YouTube for old videos of Nick and Jessica.   Specifically, I wanted to see the opening from Newlyweds to relieve the moment that Nick sees Jessica walking down the aisle (something I’d mentioned to JR for YEARS).  I wound up watching all sorts of clips and old videos of them and literally sobbing in my bed.  I mean, if they couldn’t make it, what hope did anyone else have?!

You should watch the whole clip, but if you’re in a time crunch, start at the 00:55 mark.  I can’t even.

Seriously, goosebumps and tears watching it to this day.  Sorry Vanessa and whatever-his-name-is, those two were meant to be.

I texted Elizabeth to tell her what I was doing and she arrived shortly after that to help me pull myself together.  We had so much fun getting ready with the rest of my bridesmaids and my mom.  I was so, so nervous on the way to the church.  Not about getting married, but about tripping down the aisle and just standing up there in front of all of our friends and family.  The wedding coordinator advised me to walk the aisle very slowly, but when those doors opened I booked it as fast as I could!  All the pictures of my dad and stepdad walking with me show them lagging behind because I’m basically running to the altar.

And then we were married and it was wonderful and I couldn’t have asked for a better day.  Even better than our wedding is the fact that I married a really great person.  He makes me laugh every day.  He vowed to laugh and cry with me, to cherish our friendship, and to love me faithfully.  He’s done all of that and more.  Seeing him with Abigail has deepened my love in a way I didn’t realize was possible.

I watch our wedding video more than a normal person should, and when I watched it most recently I cried all through our vows.  JR – as I promised 2 years ago, what may come, I will always be there.

Here’s to us, babe.  Love you.