A Day in the Life

A fellow blogger just posted about how she doesn’t like to be called lucky for her and her husband’s choice to live overseas. I thought it was an interesting read and it’s been on my mind a lot, especially this week because JR is traveling. It’s only my second week at work and it’s really tough when we still living out of our suitcases, still figuring out our morning routine, and just working full-time with 3 little kids. It’s a big adjustment.

Here’s how my day went.

4:00am – Jake wakes up crying. I settle him back to sleep, but now I can’t sleep because I’m sure he’ll wake up again, and since the kids share a bedroom wall, he’ll wake the other two up. He’s finally quiet and I think it’s safe to shower. I don’t actually want to shower at 4:45 in the morning, but it seems like the right move.
5:00am – Jake is up again. I rush out of the bathroom barely taking a second to dry off so I can scoop him up and take him to my room before he makes too much noise. This time I give him a bottle and manage to get him back to sleep in the pack n play we set up in our bedroom.
5:30am – I don’t know what to do now, because I’m in my robe with wet hair, but Jake is asleep in my room. My bathroom door is right beside him and I can’t do my hair or anything without waking him up. I get the sound machine from his room and plug it into the bathroom, then quietly take my hair dryer, straightener and makeup to the bathroom on the other end of the apartment.
6:00am – I eat some toast and putz on my phone and think, well, if nothing else at least we have plenty of time and I won’t be rushing out the door this morning since I leave at 7 for work.
6:20am – Abby and William are up. I give them cereal and then straighten Abby’s hair because it’s picture day at her school.
6:40am – Jake is awake again, but at least Remy, our nanny, is here now to help. Abby is dressing herself, William is making a huge mess with his cereal, and Jake is crying because he’s not feeling well and is running a slight temperature. I give him medicine and then hand him off to Remy because I’m still not dressed (as my clothes are in the aforementioned bedroom where he was asleep, and also because getting dressed for work is a real process right now. I am still dealing with the dreaded baby weight. Note, I plan to call it baby weight for at least the next 3 years.)
6:50am – I’m panicking now. Abby is in tears because she can’t find this little hairbrush that JR bought her a few days ago. The school said students could bring a favorite stuffed animal and/or toy for picture day, and apparently that’s her new favorite toy and the ONLY thing she wants to take. And it’s missing.
7:00am – We locate the hairbrush and the tears are miraculously gone. Jake is still fussing and I feel like a terrible mother for leaving him when he might not be feeling well. I can’t spare a moment though, because I cannot miss my ride to work.
7:40-11:00am. Still learning the ropes at work. Meetings, fielding questions I can’t answer just yet, eyes glazing over at all the emails coming in, wishing I could take a nap.
11:05am – Remy texted me to say Jake’s fever was not going down and she thought I should take him to the doctor. I was feeling very “ehhh third baby, it’s a fever, he’s okay,” especially since he’s been drooling non-stop and we expect that he’ll start teething soon. Then I felt guilty so I called the Med Unit to make an appointment. Now, we live in Maadi which is a suburb of Cairo, and it can take 25-45 minutes or more to drive from our home to the Embassy, which is downtown. The health unit is located at the Embassy, but twice a week they have office hours at the USAID building, which is conveniently in Maadi. Thankfully this happened on a day when the doctor was available at USAID, so I took the first appointment they had for 2:00pm.
12:00 – I canceled a meeting, finished up a few things at work as quickly as I could, and then walked outside to catch an Uber. I’ve used Uber frequently since arriving and rarely have issues. It can take longer than expected, and they often don’t have seat belts so it’s not my preferred method of travel but without a car, my options are limited. On this particular day, the Uber driver kept going in circles and did not get any closer to my actual location. I canceled and asked for another. Same thing happened. Not only was I getting frustrated, I was also feeling increasingly uncomfortable standing outside by myself because on this day I happened to be wearing a dress. Now, the dress came to my knees and had flutter sleeves, so it wasn’t particularly showy and I felt perfectly fine at work, but now being out in public I was hyperaware that I was showing more skin than anyone else around me. No one said anything to me, but many people stared. My third Uber request finally worked, after about 20 minutes of waiting.
12:45pm – I arrived back at our apartment, ate lunch quickly and changed, and contacted a driver that we’ve used before to take me to USAID. It’s not easy to find because of construction, and also since I was going to have Jake with me, I wanted seat belts and someone to wait for me there so I didn’t have to go through an Uber again. Then came a lengthy internal debate about which stroller to take (the double or the single travel stroller) and serious frustration that the one I wanted to take is in our shipment, which is arriving approximately never.
2:00pm – The driver picked us up and we drove to the appointment. I manhandled my double stroller through doors that were just an inch too small and met with the doctor. Jake was fine, no infection, just maybe a virus or teething which is what I expected. I told the driver the appointment would probably take 30-45 minutes, but we were done pretty quickly. I texted to say we’d be outside in 5 minutes. He texted back that he would be back in 15-20 minutes. Urgh. We wound up waiting 30 minutes for a ride home. I was displeased.
3:30pm – I figured, if I’m home early from work and Remy is still here, I should use this time wisely and take a nap. Ha. Ha. Ha. The kids were so loud, they kept running in my bedroom for urgent things like, “Abby looked at me funny”, and “Mom can I have a drink of water.”
5:00pm – I didn’t get a nap but I did enjoy laying in bed and reading a book in between interruptions, so we’ll call it a win. Remy stayed to help with dinner and baths. I don’t know if I’m lucky to be living overseas or not but I do feel very lucky that we found another great nanny.

9:00pm – I treated myself to an early bedtime.

Now of course this is not a “normal” day. JR rarely has to travel for work at his new job in Egypt. Most of the time no one is sick in our house. And someday, our car and our things will arrive. But it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel sometimes.

 

Hamilton and Jacob

Some pretty exciting things have happened over the last month. We welcomed our third baby, Jacob, into the world about three weeks ago. And JR surprised me with tickets to see Hamilton just before the baby arrived. If you think it’s a little odd that I’m putting Hamilton on the same level as having another child, well then you probably haven’t seen Hamilton.

It was SO, SO good. Months ago, when we knew we’d be in Ohio and that the show was touring in Columbus at the same time, we looked into buying tickets. They were super expensive and we decided we’d just wait for an opportunity down the road. JR gave me my Valentine’s card a few days early, which made me a little suspicious that something was up even though we had agreed no gifts this year. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the tickets to the show! We were a little nervous because I was 38+ weeks pregnant, so we made sure to pack our hospital bags in the car just in case when we drove the hour and a half to Columbus. JR joked that the tickets were so expensive that if I went into labor during the show I had to stick it out til the end. Luckily it was a non-issue and we were able to enjoy every second of the performance. If you have a chance to see it, you absolutely should. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack ever since.

In fact, we listened to some of my favorite songs from the musical while I was in labor. I cannot say enough good things about my doctor here, and how lucky I feel that she was able to deliver all 3 of our children. And she’s a Hamilton fan, so she was singing right along with us. Jacob was born on 2/22 and we are in love. I knew he would be our last baby, so it was a day full of last moments and lots of emotions.

Most of the newborn stuff is coming back to us, but juggling 3 kids (even with a tremendous amount of help from our family) is definitely a new challenge. We’re taking it day by day. Abby is embracing her big sister role and William is indifferent for the most part.

Hopefully the next time I write I’ll be getting a little bit more sleep!

 

Paris Part 2: Disney and Con Air

Bright and early Tuesday morning, we made our way to Disney Paris. After going through the scenario of an early-morning train ride with the kids and my parents, we wisely hired the driver from Allonavette a second time and were dropped off close to the front gates around 9:30am. Technically the park opens at 10, but we were told the gates may open up to a half hour early. I know Disney can be quite divisive, but my family and I are firmly in the “Disney lovers” camp. JR on the other hand, not so much. He played along for the sake of the kids and even smiled once or twice for pictures.

We walked to the back of the park to start the day in Adventureland. Instead of being excited by Dumbo or the other rides, Abby asked when she could see a princess. We were right beside the Princess Pavilion and the sign said you could meet Snow White with only a 60 minute wait. I tried to discourage her, thinking no way would she want this to be the very first thing we did, but she was determined. So in we went. To her credit, she did not complain once while we waited every minute of that hour. I’m not certain how there were already that many people in line for a 60 minute wait but she was thrilled to meet Snow White.

Meanwhile, JR was living his best life, riding the Tea Cups and It’s a Small World with his in-laws and William. William is quite the talker these days and loved pointing out some of the animals on the rides.

After our princess encounter, we joined everyone else for a few rides before sitting down for lunch. We’d packed peanut butter sandwiches and snacks for the kids, but assumed we could buy cheap, quick-service food at the park. Well it was available but it definitely wasn’t cheap and it tasted pretty terrible. The only food place close to where we sat down was serving some version of a sausage, with some funky red sauce (not even close to ketchup) and fries.

Ready to tackle the afternoon, we made our way to Fantasyland to find Pirates of the Caribbean. I was so disappointed to see a sign saying expecting women couldn’t ride, so I kept William with me while everyone else went ahead. Abby said this was one of her favorite rides of the day and even JR said it was fun!

Then it was time for the Halloween Parade! The parade was a little underwhelming. They danced and sang, but there were only a few floats. They spread out and stopped and did their performance and then it was over. We walked to a Pinocchio ride, which is when William woke up and basically lost his mind. JR saved the day by whisking him off to the carousel – although he was very displeased when that ride ended. Luckily my mom and Abby were in line as well so he joined them for another round.

Oh so conveniently located near almost every ride was a store selling overpriced Disney goods. My grandma sent both kids a little spending money and it was burning a hole in Abby’s pocket. I left her alone in the store with my mom for about 15 minutes, which was apparently plenty of time for a purchase and complete outfit change.

The rest of the day passed quickly. We rode a few more rides, watched two more parades and a short show, and had a very sub-par dinner. Around 6 or 7pm JR and I were ready to call it. My parents could have gone on for several more hours, I’m sure, but by the time we boarded the train to go home it was clear we were all spent. The train was completely packed, we were really lucky to get seats because it was about a 45 minute trip back to the city. Overall, I’m really glad we went!

The next morning JR and I took the kids to Monmartre to ride the little train around the neighborhood. The kids loved it. We rode it up to the Sacre Coeur (one of my very very favorite places in the world!) and we enjoyed the view and some snacks. We told the kids the story of how we sat on those very same steps on New Year’s Eve in 2013 when I was pregnant with Abby.  They weren’t that impressed and were only interested in their snack cups. On the way back they took turns napping in their strollers as we walked through the neighborhood.

Leading up to the trip, Abby was insistent that she wanted to not only see the Eiffel Tower at night, but that she wanted to go to the top. We kept an eye on prices for Skip the Line tours, but they were expensive and I’d read that you could wait hours if you just showed up without a ticket. We thought she might be satisfied by our trip to see it when we arrived, but the girl would not be deterred. My parents offered to take her that evening and Abby will still tell you it was one of the best parts of her trip. She called JR and I a few times from the line from my Mom’s phone, just to keep us updated, and she was absolutely adorable. She also just HAD to wear her “best” dress (the new Minnie Mouse one she purchased and wore the day before).

Thursday was our last real day. JR spent the morning at the Catacombs while my mom and I took the kids to a playground. My parents offered us a final date night in the city and we weren’t about to turn that down, so we rushed out of the apartment before they could change their minds. We walked over to St. Germain and enjoyed a few hours of walking without strollers and backpacks full of kid supplies. We had a very French dinner (fondue for me, rabbit for him) and then enjoyed one last crepe that can hopefully tide me over until our next visit.

 

Friday was departure day for everyone. One downside to our AirBnB was that it had a 10am check out, and we couldn’t do a late checkout (or so we thought) because they had another booking that day. Our return flight didn’t depart Paris until 9:20pm, so we rented a day room at the Hilton near the airport. Our room was huge, and they also brought in a pack n play for William. The hotel had a small pool which claimed to be heated but wasn’t exactly warm and the kids loved it anyway. We all took a long nap, watched some French cartoons, ate dinner at the hotel and then took the free shuttle to the airport.

As we boarded our flight, there were 3 policeman at the door of the plane. We walked to our seats in row 15 and I think there were probably about 25 rows total on the plane, with a 3-3 configuration. I was getting the kids situated and JR was across the aisle. He stayed standing looking at the back of the plane, and you could hear some commotion back there. He said he thought they were arresting someone. I tried to look but couldn’t see much, but now that I was paying attention I could definitely hear someone’s muffled yells. After about 10 or 15 minutes of this, I asked JR why they weren’t just getting him off the plane? I also wondered if they were going to take him out a different exit because he sounded quite unhappy and I didn’t want him walking past us on his way out. JR asked one of the policeman closest to us what was happening and when he would be removed. The man said “oh no, he’s staying on the plane. He’s being deported. Don’t worry, no violence, 3 policeman will fly with him.”

Uh huh. That “no violence” thing was not super reassuring when this man was screaming in Georgian like he was possessed. Like the mature adults we are, we made a few jokes about being on Con Air and wondering when Nicolas Cage would appear. JR called me “hummingbird” a few times and kept asking “why couldn’t you put the bunny back in the box?”

Thankfully the guy eventually quieted down once we took off and the flight home, overall, was fine. William passed out in my arms and Abby eventually fell asleep in her seat. I knew from our experience in London she would be a beast when it was time to wake up and get off the plane. I handed William to JR and starting waking her, with the promise of cookies if she would just wake up and walk off the plane herself. She did, and when we got on the bus to take us to the airport William woke up and started saying “Cookie? Cookie?” And that, my friends, is why my children were on the floor of the Tbilisi Airport eating cookies at 5am a few weeks ago. Because it’s all about survival.

3 days in London

When I realized I would be heading back to London for a quick 3 day trip, I somehow convinced JR that I should take Abby along. I’m so glad I did, because I don’t know when we would have an opportunity like that again and it was pretty cool traveling with just her on a girls’ trip to London. Well, cool and a touch exhausting. It’s hard to be set up for success for any trip when you have to wake up at 2am and leave for the airport by 2:45. Abby popped right out of bed (the idea of going to bed with her clothes on just thrilled her) but had a harder time than expected saying goodbye to her Dad. She perked up during the car ride and our first flight, but tiredness set in once we arrived at the Istanbul airport for our layover.


All smiles on the first flight

If you fly out of Tbilisi and connect anywhere, you have to go through security again. It’s a huge hassle and particularly awful in Istanbul, where the security line was backed up as far as the eye could see. There wasn’t even a line to join, as the spot where we were backed up was just a mass of people trying to get ahead of each other. It was hot, we only had an hour to catch our next plane, and Abby was already over it. Splendid. Luckily, I made eyes with an employee (I told JR that during this trip I really perfected a look of exhaustion and desperation coupled with kindness) and we were ushered ahead, skipping the ENTIRE line. Victory! I convinced Abby to take a nap during the second flight, and then had to cajole her along at Heathrow because it was a lot of walking. I debated bringing the stroller but figured it would be unnecessary and man, was I wrong. I hoped we could get into our room right when we arrived, but we were still too early and early-check in wasn’t an option. After a quick lunch I went to my favorite burger place that I insist on visiting each time I’m in London and then took her to get pasta. When we returned to the hotel the room was finally ready. Abby gets really excited about hotel rooms. Her face was priceless when we walked into the super simple room, she couldn’t wait to pick a side of the bed, pull things out of the backpack, and of course, jump on the bed.

Over the next few days we enjoyed the Big Bus Tour, the London Eye, and several great playgrounds. I like the hop on, hop off bus tour because you can see a lot at once, and it’s also a nice transportation option to get to the different sights and parts of the city. For the London Eye, if you enter the ticket office, go directly to your right and use the self-service kiosk to save time, as the ticket line was quite long when we arrived. I considered paying more for a Fast Track ticket, but opted for a standard which was still expensive. Fortunately, the line moves quickly and we probably waited a total of 20 minutes, and we were kept moving almost the whole time.

Jubilee Playground is located directly behind the London Eye and I would say it was perfect for kids 4 and up looking to let off some steam. There was another small playground just a few minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace, located in St. James Park. It had restrooms for children, picnic tables, and a small food vendor outside, and would entertain toddlers and more. The best playground in my opinion was located in Hyde Park, the Diana Memorial Playground – and is perfect for all ages. We absolutely loved this place and would have stayed much longer, but Abby had woken up around 5am that day and was in need of a nap. All of the playgrounds were fenced in and well-maintained.


Jubilee Playground


Playground at St. James Park


Diana Memorial Playground – our favorite!

On the way to dinner one night, I saw Hamleys Toy Store up ahead and made a critical parenting error.

Me: Abby, we’re about to walk past a super expensive toy store. We can go inside and look, but we can’t buy anything. Do you want to look or should we just skip it?
Abby: Let’s go!
Me: Okay, we can, but remember, we really cannot buy anything in this store, okay?
Abby: Mm hmm.

60 seconds later…


Of course I didn’t let her buy this! How would I even get it home? Plus it probably cost 200 pounds.

But then she saw this bear (wearing a purple dress and a crown) and gave me puppy dog eyes and I couldn’t say no. I’m weak.

We had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe, and she was very entertained by the animals and sounds of the faux rainforest. Dinner was expensive and not particularly tasty, but she enjoyed herself.

From her point of view, the highlights were drinking hot chocolate, the playgrounds, ICE CREAM!, and staying in a hotel together. When we went to bed that first night she gave me her biggest smile and said “This is just like having a sleepover, Mom!”.

We were both happy to get home to JR and William, but I loved the one-on-one time with my sweet girl.

It will be fun, they said

Actually no one said that, I just wanted to make sure my mom left Zurgovani at least once while she was visiting, so I made reservations for one night at Lopota Lake. JR and I took Abby to Lopota with some friends a few years ago, and I thought it would be a nice trip to make with my mom and both kids. And it really did seem like a nice idea – that is until we actually started driving.

(Important backstory. First, JR stayed home, for multiple reasons, so my mom was the navigator while I drove. Also due to a slight error in judgment, my cell phone spent some time in water last week and is on the fritz.)

We borrowed a phone from our friends for my mom’s visit, and I planned to use the Google Maps on it for directions. Almost immediately, we missed a turn. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a huge deal but in Georgia, you can’t really just turn around. You have to keep on going until you’re finally able to make a left, then you need to take about 5 more lefts before you’re back on track. When we corrected our mistake, I looked down at the borrowed phone to realize it had about 50% battery life left. Not great for the start of a 2+ hour road trip. And it didn’t bode well for us that we’d been on the road for about 20 minutes and had barely made it out of town.

The first hour was relatively fine. William slept, Abby watched a few shows on the iPad. Then William woke up and he was less than thrilled to be a) awake earlier than usual and b) stuck in his car seat. When he started crying, Abby started crying either in sympathy or just to torture me more, take your pick. This was also at the time the road turns into switchbacks that last forever. Both kids were terribly upset and I was regretting every life choice that led me to be in that car at that moment. Just then I heard the unmistakable sounds of vomit. Abby helpfully announced “William’s throwing up!”. Awesome.

I was panicked because there was no immediate place to pull over, as we were halfway up a mountain. Around one of the curves I saw what looked like a large space to park, so I pulled over and glanced around to see a truck, a van that looked deserted, and no one in sight. Just as I opened my car, my mom yelled “bees!”. Because the spot I picked to stop was a bee colony. Of course.

We drove a bit further down the road and pulled off at spot that was just large enough to get me out of the way of traffic. It didn’t feel all that safe but we didn’t have any other options at that point. I opened William’s door and wanted to cry. Mind you, he was chipper at this point, feeling pretty good apparently. But he was absolutely covered with vomit. The car seat was covered. And do you think I learned my lesson from Abby’s carsickness in Scotland last year, and had a spare outfit, paper towels, wet wipes and plastic bags ready to go for an easy clean up? No, I did not.

My mom and I carried him to the opposite side of the car and stripped him down, then cleaned him with wipes. My mom then did her best to clean out the car seat, but it was soaked. I decided to just keep him in his diaper because I thought he might puke again and we only had two other outfits for him for the trip that were conveniently buried at the bottom of our 27 bags in the trunk. We laid a thin pair of pants down between his poor little naked body and the wet car seat and when I started to strap him in, the screaming began again. I felt TERRIBLE. Abby also started crying – AGAIN – because she felt bad for William and had decided she no longer wanted to be in the car. We had a full hour left to drive and no end in sight to the switchbacks. I wanted to call JR and beg him to charter a helicopter and put me out of my misery. But we soldiered on.

Both kids fell asleep eventually, and we had about 20 minutes of relative peace just as we arrived at Lopota. The resort is spread out, so after you park you can walk down a little ways to the administration building to check in, and once you’ve done that, they have bellhops who drive trolleys and large golf carts around to move you and your things to your room. There was a separate small building before the check-in for the gift shop. My mom had William in his stroller, just in his diaper (come at me, bro), and Abby walked into the check-in area with me. She was bored quickly because there was a long line, so I sent her back out to wait with my mom. More waiting, more waiting, then Abby came back to show me the very overpriced but adorable hat she conned my mom into buying for her.

As she was coming in I saw a flurry of activity outside – I could see out the two large windows on either side of the door, which was also open – that a large 4×4 ATV looking thing had crashed into the building we were in, about 10 feet away from us. It had also very clearly hit or run over a person, although I couldn’t see that part because it was happening below the window, but I saw a small crowd gather to push the ATV back off the person and trying to offer help. It scared the crap out of me. In the split second it happened, I looked down to make sure Abby was at my side and that I could see my mom and William out the other window. I didn’t know if it was a child or an adult that had been hit, but I really feared the worst. Thankfully, the adult employee who was hit was okay except for scrapes and bruises, although she looked very shaken. My mom saw it all happen and said that two young kids – Abby’s age – were playing on the ATV which was parked on an incline with a rock in front of the tires to act as an emergency break. The rock moved, the ATV started rolling down the hill and no one could stop it until it hit the woman and the building. Ugh. Very glad no one was seriously injured.

Despite all of this, we actually had a really nice time once we settled down. The family size/triple rooms are huge. We requested a ground floor room which is perfect because there is a nice large patio and we were right in front of the main pool that we used (there are I think 4 at least on the property now).  We enjoyed a few long walks around the lake, stopping at the Kids Club which had some toys, drawing space, and a large sandbox.  Both kids loved feeding the ducks. Lopota’s food doesn’t impress me, and it’s expensive, so we packed a lot of snacks. I was dreading the ride home, but thankfully an Embassy colleague recommended a different route. It added about 20 minutes, but it was relatively straight so that was a huge help. No puking and minimal crying – I’ll take that as a win!

  

 

FOUR

We have a four year old! Actually we’ve had one for a few weeks now but the fact remains, she’s 4!

For her party, Abby once again had a very specific cake request. She wanted a Minnie Mouse cake with bows. We browsed online and found a picture for the local bakery, and they replicated it exactly! Didebuli in Digomi does a fantastic job with cakes. Our bounce house is going on its 3rd or 4th year of life and showing the signs. Recently it popped a big hole (apparently 7 kids is the breaking point) that JR was able to repair before the party with some heavy duty glue and strips of canvas. Abby had a great time with all of her friends and was as thankful as a four year can be for all the presents.

We are excited to see what this year has in store for Abby and our family. Three had some really, really rough moments where we learned that Abby is fiercely determined when she sets her mind to something, whether that is staying up for hours at night and fighting bedtime or insisting on wearing not just one, but two skirts (tutus, as she calls them) every single day.  Dropping her nap six months ago made a huge difference for us and made our bedtime routine relatively enjoyable again. As for the issues with her outfit choices… I mean here is a sampling of what she would prefer to wear if left to her own devices. We’ve reached a sort of compromise that she can pick her own clothes on the weekends, and for school days she picks either a top or bottom and I do my best to convince her to wear a somewhat matching piece.

With this new birthday came a new haircut! I do miss those long beautiful curls but brushing it every day was not fun.

Abby loves school, her teachers, and playing with her friends. We’re trying to give her some independence to play outside by herself and she loves that. I’m very thankful for our neighborhood and all of the parents who let this wild group of kids run up and down the street, in and out of houses, without a care in the world. My heart aches when I think about leaving this place. For now, we’re soaking up every minute of laughter and fun!

 
Outside fun and a semi-orderly line at the neighbor’s house while waiting for water balloons

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Love those smiles!

William is One!

The happiest little baby boy in the world is now the happiest one year old!

 

 

William is smiley, mischievous, and so much fun. He has eight (8!) teeth, a ton of hair, and he started walking a few weeks ago. Nothing can stop him now – except his sister. She’s about 80% loving, 10% indifferent and 10% terrorizing. We’ve enjoyed so many adventures together as a family of four this past year. We went to Scotland, welcomed my sister to Tbilisi, returned to the States for a fun-filled summer with friends and family, took a road trip through Florida and Tennessee, celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving, and many other fun adventures in between.

Here are some recent pictures of this happy face and his wild sister. We are going to do a small birthday party when my family arrives in a few weeks, assuming I can master baking an egg-less cake. Sidenote – I did bake my very first pies, mostly from scratch, I definitely used canned pumpkin but I made my own crust – for the first time ever at Thanksgiving and they turned out pretty well! Hopefully I’m on a roll.

  

The last several months have been busy and challenging for us. I finally started my new job as the CLO (Community Liason Office) Coordinator at our Embassy. I love it, but it definitely requires a lot of energy and focus. At home, Abby is every bit of her 3 and a half years old. She can charm you and wrap you around her little finger, and then turn around and crush your dreams of sleep, happiness, anything really. According to the internet and the dozens of friends and parents I’ve surveyed, this is all pretty standard for her age. And so, we wait patiently or in my case, not so patiently, for her to turn 4 and leave some of this crazy behind. If you are a parent who thinks age 4 was harder than age 3, please, I beg of you, do not comment or reply or inform me of this news in any way, shape or form.

Family picture last year and this year: