The long trip home

I considered a few different titles for this post, and almost named it “The time United tried to ruin my life.”  But that seemed a tad dramatic.

On Friday afternoon my mom dropped us off at the Cleveland airport.  We took a few photos of our huge pile of luggage since we so proud of our packing skills and then we were off (or so we thought).


We grabbed a bite to eat in the terminal before reaching our gate and because we were seated at a bar top up against a wall, I thought it was a good opportunity to let Abby stretch her legs.  And then of course I took a picture because she is kind of passed out at a bar. For a hot minute I wanted to post on Facebook that Abby was passed out at the bar.  Mom of the year right here.

at the bar

Since we had a tight connection in DC (only 55 minutes!), JR asked the gate agent if they could have a United employee meet us in DC to help us make it to the next flight.  We had 3 carry on bags, 2 diaper bags, the stroller, car seat, base, and the oh-so-critical Boppy, which made it difficult to move quickly.   We also inquired about preboarding – we thought it would make more sense for us and for other passengers so we weren’t in their way as we tried to collapse and bag up our stroller right before getting on the plane, and while we installed our car seat and base in Abby’s seat on the plane.  Getting the car seat in a car is hard enough, but we knew with the tight space on a plane it was going to be tricky.  Apparently, United (and most other US carriers) no longer offer preboarding for families with small children.  Who knew?

The plane had some kind of issue so we were delayed leaving, and I kept glancing at my watch knowing we were losing valuable time to make our connection.  Abby was wide awake and staring out the window for most of the flight from Cleveland to DC.

abby first plane

By the time we landed and made our way off the plane, it was 9:30pm.  According to our tickets, boarding for our next flight began at 9:15 pm and closed at 9:45pm.  I quickly asked the first few United employees that I saw if there was a luggage cart waiting for us, or even one of those oversized golf carts to drive us to Terminal C, which was a very long walk and a tram ride away. I showed them the printed slip from the gate agent in Cleveland that allegedly made the request prior to our arrival.  Everyone I approached looked at me like they didn’t understand what I was talking about, and then told me “we don’t have carts here.  We don’t do that here.”  Oh.  Okay then.

JR waited for our gate checked items and we started hauling through the airport as fast as we could.  We didn’t even stop to put the stroller together, because we were in such a rush.  But it made it that much harder to move quickly because we were carrying so much stuff.  Car seat + base + baby = 26lbs in one hand.  We were still in Terminal A at 9:45pm, and as we passed a United service desk with no line, we figured we may as well make  a quick stop and ask about our options since we clearly weren’t making our flight.  The man we spoke to was unable to comprehend what we were asking (seriously, do they teach the blank stare to all employees? Is it in the handbook?!)

ice cube blank stare

When we explained a second time he looked at our tickets, at the clock, at ALL OF OUR CRAP, and told us we’d surely make our flight since it was a “2 minute walk.”  Okay then.

We rushed.  We sweated.  We cursed (at least I did.)  We walked up to our gate about ten minutes past 10pm, and even though we knew the answer we still asked if we could board our flight.  Nope.  So we took our pile ‘o stuff and walked a few more gates down to a customer service area and got in line for rebooking.  The guy there told us we may as well take a seat because it would probably take 30 minutes or longer.  And so we sat.   When he finally came over to us, he informed us that the earliest we could get out would be Sunday at 6pm on a Lufthansa flight.  No guarantees we’d be seated together (all 3 tickets were purchased separately by JR’s work, so although it’s highly unlikely it would actually happen, technically Abby could have been seated by herself) and we would most likely not have the bassinet seat we’d been banking on for the long flight.   He said United would cover our hotel and offer meal vouchers for the time we were stuck, but due to their policy, he could only offer us one night worth of vouchers.  In the morning, we would need to check out of our hotel and return to Dulles to collect vouchers for the second night, because they also couldn’t guarantee the same room or even same hotel for us.

I wish you could have seen our faces.  But there wasn’t much we could do.  We were very worried that our luggage made the connecting flight but he assured us that if we didn’t make the flight, then our bags wouldn’t be put on the plans.   He then asked if we wanted our checked baggage with us, or sent ahead to our destination.  Since we were looking at an extended delay we asked to pick up all of our bags.   After he put in that request, he gave us instructions on where to claim the bags, where we might find an open place to eat (it was probably 11:15ish at that point) and how to get to the hotel shuttle.  We made our way to baggage claim pretty slowly, because he said it would probably be an hour and a half before our bags were delivered.   The deli he referenced had some pre-made cold sandwiches for $7.99 each.  Note, our United food vouchers were for $7 per person.  So I’m assuming they meant they would cover a few vending machine purchases, because you can’ t really have a meal for $7. JR was not pleased and we are still confused as to why they’re called “meal” vouchers.

We purchased what we wanted, minus the $7 voucher from the cafe and settled in for awhile at baggage claim.  JR paid for two luggage carts so we could transport our 5 checked bags to the shuttle, and we waited.   It seemed like there were a lot of people around us having problems and the employees were coming by occasionally to provide information, but never to us.  After an hour or so, I decided to wait in the line to talk to one of the United employees working in the baggage area.  Very politely and apologetically, she said our bags were on their way to Frankfurt.  I’ll never understand how they made the flight and we didn’t, but I digress.  I asked her to check again, because just an hour earlier the man upstairs said he ordered our bags for us, and they’d be sent down here.  No amount of double checking changed the answer, the bags weren’t coming.  She did check to see if any new flight options had opened up, and due to a cancellation she offered us a chance to leave DC on Saturday at 5pm, fly to Munich, and then to Pristina.  The catch was an 8+ hour layover in Munich.  JR and I talked it over and thought that would be pretty miserable with the baby coming off an overseas flight.  I felt confident if I could get on the phone with someone I could find us a better route, so we told her no thanks and made our way to the hotel shuttle.  We left our empty luggage carts sitting there.

The wait for the shuttle was probably only 20 minutes or so, but we were so burnt out at that point.  Abby had – amazingly – been asleep since we got off the plane.  But she was finally starting to fuss, poor girl was hungry and needed changed.  Of course we are outside and I don’t want to do anything to cause us to miss this shuttle and get to our hotel even later.  I held her while JR changed her.  Thank goodness it was only a wet diaper.  We made it to the hotel around 1:30 am, got our room, fed the baby, and after a long phone call with United, I had us booked to leave Saturday at 11 pm.  It had been such a long day and we all crashed for the night around 3 am.

So that was our first day of travel.  If you are still reading this, I’m impressed.  To be continued…

SPOILER ALERT – we eventually made it to Pristina safe and sound, but cranky.




Party in the USA

Somehow, it’s been a month since Abby was born.  Here are a few highlights of the last 4 weeks!

– We were surprised on our second day in the hospital when a photographer came in for an impromptu photo shoot.  Abby was barely 48 hours old, so we had low expectations for the pictures.  The photographer did a really good job of soothing her and trying some different poses, but when she showed us her price brochure, we knew we weren’t interested, especially because we had a scheduled appointment with a local photographer a few weeks later.   She came back to our room a few hours later to show us a slideshow she’d created with the photos.   Next thing you know, we are all in tears (me, JR, and my sister who was visiting), and I told JR we just HAD TO HAVE the $160 package.  Even more surprising is that he agreed without another word – that should tell you what a smooth operation this lady was running (and how sleep deprived we were)!   Some of our favorites:

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And the picture that makes my heart explode:


– Our girl would prefer to sleep the day away, so in an effort to keep her awake more, I’ve started singing to her.  It’s quite unfortunate for her because I can’t sing on key to save my life. (You would be surprised to learn that I was part of a group that won FIRST place in our junior high talent show, performing as back up singer for our good friend K.  The song was “Nobody Knows it But Me”, which over the years my family has changed to “Nobody Knows How to Sing.”  My part was tragic.)  Anyway, I wanted to sing songs to Abby and I was racking my brain, the only thing I could come up with was “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”   Drawing a complete blank on other kid songs, I started singing Kesha and Miley Cyrus to her, much to JR’s dismay.  But when I sang “Party in the USA” complete with moving her around – you know, nodding her head like yeah, moving her hips like yeah – I’m telling you the child was loving it.  It was a sweet bonding experience.

– We’ve had so many visitors the first several weeks, and it’s been fun introducing Abby to our friends and family.  It was especially nice to welcome our friends Shawn and Amanda, and their little guy Logan.  Shawn is one of our dearest friends from law school (he was the bell ringer at our wedding, a very important job!) and he always dreamed of visiting Orrville.  Abby was glad to give him a reason to finally make the trip!

shawn orrville

– JR had to leave on Sunday for two weeks of training in DC.  I’ve been solo parenting (and I use that word VERY loosely, considering my grandparents are upstairs and my mom is always nearby to help) for barely 3 days now and holy cow.  We had our biggest diaper blow out to date, I failed to properly pack my diaper bag twice, and I’m convinced the baby hates me.  Maybe things will get better? (Since writing that sentence, the diaper situation has continued to decline.  Yesterday while changing her, she managed to put her foot in her dirty diaper, and then she deliberately kicked me with said foot, and made a huge mess.  Abby 10, Jenni 0.)  We’re headed to DC for the weekend to visit JR and I can’t wait!

abby one monthabby pink outfit



My first Mother’s Day

No big deal, but last week JR and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world.  Abigail Grace was born on May 3, weighing a whopping 7lbs, 3oz.  She’s healthy and happy, and we’re having a great time figuring out this parenting business.

abby hospital

Last year on this day, JR and I had just packed out of our apartment and we were living in a hotel in DC, about to move to Kosovo.  I talked him into having brunch at our hotel that morning.  More than once, he asked me how much the brunch would be and I said I wasn’t sure of the price, but probably around $40.  They were offering bottomless mimosas and I couldn’t resist.  We were having a fantastic meal and taking them up on that mimosa deal.  Justin remarked “you know, this will probably be the last Mother’s Day that you aren’t a mom.”  Tears welled up in my eyes and I told him that was a really sweet thought.   It was a perfect meal and we were having a great time…until the bill came.  It was $79 BEFORE tip and JR’s reaction looked like this:

jim carrey gag


Anyway, fast forward one year and here we are!  I woke up this morning to some sweet baby snuggles, a card from JR that made me cry (but what doesn’t these days?), and then went out to lunch with the other moms in my family.  It still feels a bit strange to refer to myself as a mom, but we are having a lot of fun together so far.  Well, I’m having fun and I’m choosing to believe she thinks I’m great!

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, my mother in law, my grandmothers, aunts and dear friends and moms-to-be!

abby car seat

(Note – the car seat picture was taken before the nurse came in to show us how to properly tighten the straps.  She just looks so cute and tiny in there!)

abby 1

abby mother's day

Mardi Gras, TLD, and a surprise shower!

This past weekend was our last weekend together before JR heads off to training for work and I go back to Ohio for maternity leave. Mostly I appreciate that time is moving forward, but I’m not excited about being apart for so long, so I wanted to really enjoy our time together.

Friday night, the marines hosted a Mardi Gras party complete with gumbo, jambalaya, king cake and beads.   JR was in charge of the jambalaya and made a triple batch – an impressive feat considering the size of our kitchen.   It receieved rave reviews and the pots were emptied pretty quickly. Guests were encouraged to wear purple and gold, but I’m currently rotating about 4 different shirts that fit over my stomach, and they are not in those colors. Luckily no one seemed to mind.

Saturday was a very special Terrific Lady Day.   We started using this term after watching an episode of The League, when one of the characters tells his friends that he’s giving his wife a Terrific Lady Day where they do whatever she wants.  It’s a rare treat but I love TLD.

This is how I felt when I woke up early Saturday morning:


I laid out my vision for the day – first we’d go grocery shopping, and then come home and clean. JR was not impressed, but those things make me happy! He suggested that I schedule a massage appointment, and I was able to talk him into a couples’ massage. Halfway through TLD, I assume JR was thinking “never again.” We finished up the day with a delicious dinner and watching Dallas Buyer’s Club (highly, highly recommend that movie! I adore Matthew Mc-however you spell it, and teared up a bit during his Oscar acceptance speech. Also, you should watch True Detective on HBO.)

Sunday morning, Amy picked me up for a brunch at Jessica’s. Breakfast foods and brunching are very high on the list of things I miss about living at home, so when Jessica sent out an invitation for a brunch, I replied within seconds! Turns out, my very sweet, and very sneaky friends had planned a surprise shower for me! We had a great spread of food – homemade cinnamon rolls, meatballs, eggs, waffles, fruit, and french toast casserole. We played a quick game to try to figure out the baby’s sex, but it was a draw. Looks like we’ll have to wait until May (which is driving my poor mother CRAZY).

I wish I would have taken more pictures, and I particularly wish I would have remembered to skinny arm and strike a better pose when standing next to Jessica. I swear, I’m not that big. It’s just the most unflattering angle I could have picked, but I wanted to post a few anyway because she did such a great job of putting this together.

photo (3)

photo (4)

I’m not really ready to talk about it yet, but some of the great friends we’ve made in Kosovo won’t be here when we get back. That’s the norm for life in the foreign service, but it’s still new to me and I’m definitely not ready to say goodbye to these wonderful people who have helped make Kosovo our home for the past year.


The first time I heard the term medevac (medical evacuation) we were having brunch with one of JR’s friends (R) who was, at the time, stationed in the newest country in the world, South Sudan. JR was still in the hiring process, and I was playing 20 million questions with her about the job, the lifestyle, and everything in between. R had some personal experience with medevac and was explaining some of the details to us. Essentially, if the medical officer at post determines that your illness/injury/whatever requires a level of care that is not accessible locally, you will be medically evacuated to your post’s designated medevac site. For many countries in this region, that’s London.

In my head I was picturing helicopters, flashing lights, emergency personnel and a rush to get the patient out of the country as quickly as possible. While I’m sure in some unfortunate instances it may happen like that, a medevac can also be an event that is planned for months in advance, such as when a woman returns to the US to have a baby.

It’s the general recommendation that FSOs and their EFMs give birth in the U.S. I believe if I were adamant about remaining here they would not force me to leave. However, JR and I are both comfortable following the recommendations of State and the doctors here, and they advise that I return to the U.S. by 34 weeks. So from the time we confirmed my pregnancy and due date, I had an expected departure date. I can choose to leave post earlier, and if I have any medical complications or there are concerns, post can decide to send me earlier.

I have the option of returning to anywhere in the U.S. to deliver. I will be there for about six weeks before the baby is born, and will remain there until the baby is six weeks old, at which point the baby will obtain his/her own medical clearance and passport, be offically added to JR’s travel orders, and we will return to Kosovo (if that sounds simple, let me assure you – it won’t be. The to-do list looks very complicated and we’ve heard it can be very time consuming and difficult to get this all processed within six weeks.) There was really no question that I would be going to Ohio. Now, if I were the FSO, I might opt to deliver in DC, because then I’d have the possibility of working up until the baby’s birth.

While you are on medevac, you are entitled to a per diem allowance for housing and food and miscellaneous expenses. Depending on the anticipated length of your medevac, you can choose to stay in a hotel or a short term rental, but the rate must meet the per diem amount or you will be responsible for the difference. If you have the option of staying with family and wish to do so, then you do not receive any housing allowance, but you do receive the food/miscellaneous portion of the per diem. Luckily for us, my grandparents have a basement apartment that is just waiting for me to move in (I’ve already started to refer to them as my roomies). You can look up any city’s per diem rates here:

Additionally, my flight home and return flight are covered by the medevac, although techinically when I fly back with the baby, the baby will fly on JR’s travel orders, not on my medevac orders.  The baby will have his or her own plane ticket, which is nice so that I can bring an infant seat on the plane, but seems like it would be much more useful if they wanted to pay for my mom to have a plane ticket to fly back with me.  🙂  But before we can do that, we’ll go through the 30 step process of getting the baby cleared and permitted to travel. JR’s travel to join me for the baby’s birth is not paid for, so we will probably use his R&R ticket to cover that expense. We are still working out the details of his leave -how much time can he take, when should he fly back, and things like that.

Phew.  That is a LOT of information and probably more than anyone actually cares to know about this process.


Fun with Numbers

I love reading other people’s blogs.  There are a ton of pregnancy or parenting specific blogs and they do weekly updates with all sorts of information that I find fascinating to read, but I have zero desire to share my symptoms or weight gain or even worse, the status of my belly button right now.

However, I’ve been a bit obsessed with numbers, countdowns and to-do lists, so I figured I could share some of the things running through my head these days.

I’m 26 weeks pregnant.  The first 20 weeks seemed to go by very slowly, but now I feel like time is flying.

I’m probably leaving Kosovo in 7 weeks (how did that happen?!) and will spend more than 3 months in Ohio to have the baby.  I haven’t lived in my hometown for that long since the summer of 2005.

While pregnant, I have flown about 25,500 miles and been to 5 countries (7 if you include layovers in Germany and Austria, but those don’t really count).  I’ll tack on another 5,000 miles to get home in March.   On my last flight to the US, I asked Lufthansa how much it would cost to upgrade my economy seat to a business or first class ticket, because I’m concerned that when I’m ginormously pregnant I won’t even be able to pull the tray table down at my seat.  For a mere $3,000, I can upgrade to a fancy seat that reclines to a bed.  Or, I could pay $150 for a seat with 5 extra inches of leg room.  Looks like it’ll be standard economy seating for me!

We are still figuring out many of the logistics of me being away from Kosovo for so long.  First, we need to find someone to take care of our cat during the time that JR is with me in Ohio.  We’ve never left her for this long before and I feel awful about it.  We’ve talked about flying her back with us, but we decided it would be worse for her to have to make two long distance flights in a short period of time.   She didn’t really enjoy it that much the first time and it was also upsetting and stressful for us.

Apparently we also need a place for this baby to sleep.  We ordered a crib, mattress and some sheets from Amazon.  They wouldn’t ship to our DPO address, so I had to use the Diplomatic Pouch – and frankly, I have no idea if they will actually arrive here or not.  Over the next few weeks we plan to rearrange some furniture, try to get rid of extra stuff and reorganize our place, and make room for what seems like the 95 different baby holder devices we registered for (I still can’t really tell you the difference between a bouncy seat, a swing, a pack n play, and a rock n play).

We have probably 10 different baby books at our place.  I’ve started most of them and finished none.  Maybe if I worked on that, it would shed some light on the various baby holders we’ll be using!

99 days til my due date.   Holy cow.

Picking a baby name

I’ve been naming my hypothetical children for as long as I can remember. I like to think my taste has changed and matured over the years.

My mom clearly picked a popular name for my birth year. In fact, a few years after I was born, a book came out called “Names Beyond Jennifer and Jason.”
book pic

It’s only a little bit ironic that my cousin, born six months before me, was named Jason. My family latched on to the J names, way before those Duggars started popping out kids. I have two siblings and seven first cousins, and their names are: Jamie, Joey, Jeremy, Jason, Jerid, Jonah, Jacob, Justin and Jolene.  What we lack in naming creativity we make up for in love. 🙂

There’s some debate in my family over how my name came to be spelled with an “i” instead of the more traditional “y” or the dreaded “ie”. First, it seems very logical to me that when you take the -fer off of Jennifer, you get Jenni. Why is that so hard for everyone else? But indeed, I wind up correcting the spelling of my name constantly. And I cringe when I see it misspelled. Plus, I was never able to buy trinkets with my name on them, because they were ALWAYS made for a Jenny, not me. I imagine my life would have turned out differently if I had a Lisa Frank pencil with my name on it.

So, I have a certain sensitivity to giving our child a name that they will always have to spell for people. Same goes for pronunciation, although I haven’t had any trouble there.

When I was in grade school, I just knew I’d have a daughter named Felicity when I grew up. She was the most beautiful, and classiest, of all the American Girl Dolls. For a boy, I was obsessed with the name Tristan after Brad Pitt’s incredible, life-changing (for me anyway, at age 11) performance in Legends of the Fall.  If I had another daughter, her name would be Anastasia, from my favorite character in The Babysitter’s Club. She went by Stacey, but her full name was Anastasia Elizabeth McGill. How classy is that?! This name stayed with me for a long time, as my interests changed from Ann M. Martin books to the Russian Romanov empire and the famous story of Anastasia.

I was much more sophisticated in high school, and I read every Danielle Steel book I could get my hands on. One of my favorites, to this day, is called The Ring. The main character’s name is Ariana, and I thought it was the prettiest name in the entire world. I was set, no need to look any further on names!

Then, in my mid-twenties I found the ultimate baby girl’s name – Ava Grace (me and the rest of the US, apparently). JR’s good friends S & B had their first baby a few years after he and I started dating, and named her Ava Grace. I was crushed. The fact that I wasn’t pregnant – or anywhere close to having kids – was irrelevant.

Once, JR and I were on a long car ride and baby names came up. I told him my then-obsession was the name Keegan. Now, my version of the story goes like this. After I told him the name, he pondered it for a bit and said he thought it was an okay-sounding Irish name. In my mind, I thought the matter was settled. Months later when I revisited the topic, he told me he hated the name and would never consider it. I reminded him of our conversation in the car. According to him, it was unfair for me to start talking baby names in the car while he was trapped with me for a set period of time, and he just nodded along to what I was saying to change topics and hopefully stop discussing babies. How rude.  Even now, from time to time if we pass an unfortunate looking guy on the street, JR will say “that’s probably a Keegan.”

Now that this conversation is no longer hypothetical, it’s funny how easily we agree on some things, and yet we are MILES apart on others.  The first time we had to pick out bedding together, it seemed like our relationship was doomed.  Hopefully our marriage can survive this baby naming business.

Early appointments

This is another post I began writing back in September. It’s about pregnancy and babies, and if you aren’t a big fan of those things (at the moment, I find them both to be overrated), you might want to skip this one!

By joining the Foreign Service, we knew that life would be a bit different for us than if we lived and worked in Ohio (or anywhere in the States, really). Although I don’t have a direct comparison point, I think we’re getting some exposure to how different things can be overseas.

First, we told our families very, very early on about the pregnancy. It just so happened that we found out while we were in Ohio over Labor Day when we were there for JR’s sister’s wedding. Under normal circumstances, we think we would have kept the news to ourselves for awhile, but honestly, I never thought we’d have the chance to tell our families in person, and I didn’t want to miss out on that. And my mother’s reaction absolutely made it worthwhile! She almost fainted and had to be propped up by JR!

When we arrived back in Kosovo, I called our health unit at the embassy and made an appointment. I assumed at the first appointment they’d just do a blood or urine test to confirm the pregnancy, and then we’d schedule a follow up down the road. Our main medical officer, J, was out of town, so G, her assistant, was able to meet with me. She asked me some questions and gave me a bit of information about what would likely happen during the first trimester. Then she said, “We would give you a pregnancy test here to confirm, but ours are expired, so…we’ll just go with your results.”

Now imagine your American ob/gyn telling you they can’t give you a pregnancy test because theirs are expired?! I was a bit concerned.

G told me that our health unit doesn’t have a lab, so they have an agreement with a European Union agency here, and we’d do lab work there. Then we’d go to a local clinic for my first ultrasound. G schedules the appointments, and she accompanies me to them and to ensure my comfort, translate, etc… As promised, she took care of the scheduling and called me to say that we had two appointments that Friday.

The lab was a quick stop, just a blood draw and then with JR in tow we went to the clinic for our first ultrasound. We were previously warned (by my mom, mother in law, and the internet) that it was unlikely we’d see anything this early. Truthfully, I don’t know if she scheduled one so early because I seemed nervous, or if it’s standard practice here. Either way, we were excited to get some actual from-the-doctor confirmation that I was pregnant.

The clinic is run by a German husband and wife and they are both ob/gyns. My appointment was with the wife and for the life of me, I can’t recall her name at this moment. Her English skills are…not so great. She says she can understand it, but she’s more comfortable speaking in German. Luckily, G speaks German and acted as a translator. We were already quite nervous, but it really added to our nerves that we couldn’t understand a word the doctor was saying, and we had to wait patiently for a translation. It was particularly hard during the actual ultrasound, because both women were pointing at the screen and having a lively conversation back and forth, while I just laid there and JR held my hand. Thankfully, G translated that everything looked to be okay, and we scheduled a follow up appointment.

So far, we’ve been paying out of pocket for the tests and appointments. They give us receipts (in Albanian and German, no less) that we can submit to our insurance company in the States via e-mail. We were concerned about translating the receipts, but our insurance company said that was unnecessary and we can submit them as-is, which is a relief!

This is all very new to us, but we are slowly figuring things out. We are grateful for the care we’ve received here, and we know we are in good hands (language barriers be damned). It’s incredibly convenient to have such an accessible medical unit, and to be able to make an appointment or walk in anytime we need something. Talking to parents with small children at post, it seems that it’s a great benefit to have such access to medical care.

Secrets, Secrets are No Fun

One of my biggest shortcomings in my personal life is that I’m a terrible, terrible secret keeper. Most of my friends know this about me, and accept it (and by that I mean, they either choose not to tell me secrets or they spend an hour stressing the importance of me keeping my mouth shut before they share anything). I’m kind of an open book, and I just don’t do great with secrets and especially something that requires me to not tell the entire truth. I’m even worse at lying. This makes it difficult for me to do things like participate in surprise parties or events.

It also made it really tricky to not tell people that we are having a baby! Today is Halloween, JR’s FAVORITE holiday, and it seemed like a good day to share the news. Although, I’m feeling a small bit of guilt over not doing some cutesy announcement. So, for those who like a visual representation and can appreciate my laziness and lack of creativity, here you go!



Funny little backstory. Knowing that we would most likely be living overseas when we started a family, JR and I didn’t know if our children would be born back in the States or wherever we were living at the time. The reality is that JR’s work strongly encourages all children to be born in the US, which somewhat eliminates that decision for us, but we didn’t know that back before he actually started the job. So we were discussing the pros/cons of having a child born outside of the US. JR got really excited thinking that if we had a baby in Kosovo, it could potentially have dual citizenship. And with Kosovo being a very small and very new country, he thought our future child could be an Olympian for Kosovo (where the competition would be likely not as intense as in the US). In his mind, being an Olympian is one of life’s greatest achievements, and our child would be able to train with great coaches in the US, but then compete as a Kosovar.

I don’t even know where to start with how crazy that seemed to me. What about me makes you think – yep, she’s a parent of a future Olympian? Nothing. More importantly, if our child wasn’t born on US soil, I’m pretty sure he or she couldn’t be President. Or if it happened, they’d be constantly harassed about a birth certificate. (I realize this is a debatable issue, but it seems like a birth in the US would give the child the BEST chance to be President without being hassled by Donald Trump down the line.) That’s not fun for anyone. So we went back and forth over what would give our potential kid (which at that time was still very much in the wayyyy future) the better future – a chance at being President, or a chance at being an Olympian. Because we are kind of ridiculous.

Anyway, after discussing the matter with our doctor here, the decision was made and we will be back in the States in the spring to have our baby!