The Merriest

Happy New Year!

December was a super busy month for my office, so I was definitely ready for a holiday break. My parents and my brother arrived in the early morning hours of the 22nd. After 24+ hours of travel, they were exhausted and excited to take showers and head to bed. Unfortunately for them, my neighborhood had no water! In a complete lack of preparedness on our end and contrary to emergency planning instructions received from the Embassy, JR and I had no extra bottled water for drinking, coffee, teeth brushing – nada at our home. He ran out to the store while we rationed what was left in our Brita pitcher in the fridge. I couldn’t imagine going to work without a shower, so we packed our bags to shower at the Embassy’s gym. Thankfully the water was restored by about 9am. While this allowed them to shower, Abby had other ideas about letting them rest. She kept them busy with crafts, games, and talking nonstop. No idea where she gets that.

We took them to Shadow of Metekhi, a great restaurant with beautiful views, for their first taste of Georgian food and dancing, and then spent the rest of the weekend in Christmas mode. Abby was really into Santa and all things Christmas. We’ve been singing Rudolph every night at bedtime since August (note, we are STILL singing Rudolph. She’s not ready to move on.)


Christmas Eve

 
Christmas morning

Abby’s favorite gifts were a small stuffed mouse JR bought her in Armenia, a camera from Nana and Papu, and her big girl bike. My mom was really skeptical when we (read: JR) put the bike together without the training wheels. I just wanted to see how she did without them since she did so well on her balance bike , but everyone else acted like I was crazy so I made her put on all sorts of protective gear just in case. To all of our amazement, she was riding solo within in a few tries! We were so excited for her and she was certainly very proud of herself, but adamant about no pictures!

During the rest of their visit we explored Tbilisi…

…ate khinkali

…saw The Nutcracker at the Tbilisi Opera House

…went to the Tbilisi Zoo where Abby had her face painted for the first time

and generally enjoyed all of our time together. It was truly wonderful to have our family visit us here during the holidays and we miss them already. Counting down to our next visit!

Back in business

I haven’t blogged in a LONG time.  I started a few posts and kept meaning to go back and finish them and well, I didn’t.  So I’ll just make a fresh start of things and do a little catching up here.

  • The holiday season in Tbilisi was wonderful.  We spent Thanksgiving with friends, enjoying a delicious turkey and all of our other favorites, including pumpkin pie (Abby ate her piece AND JR’s.  I knew better than to offer to share mine!).  They did an incredible job hosting 10 adults and 8 kids, and it reminded us of all of our Thanksgivings back in the States.
  • December flew by.  There were work parties, the Embassy kids’ party (see below for Abby’s pure joy at meeting Santa), and about 87 boxes from various retailers and family to sort through. We spent most of Christmas day in our pajamas, taking our time opening gifts and playing with Abby’s new toys, before having dinner with our friends and their kids.  Our favorite part of Christmas was giving Abby her play kitchen,  which we bought for $50 from the next door neighbors who were leaving for their onward assignment.  JR loved it because it was already put together.  With all the parts and screws, it probably would have taken him hours to build.
  • My mom came to visit!  She was here for about 10 days and we had the best time.  We  Skype with my family almost every night and it’s part of Abby’s evening routine to talk to Nana.  (Even when she plays with her toy phones and we ask who she’s talking to it’s inevitably “Nana” or “Papu.”) Abby was thrilled to spend time with her Nana, and Nana clearly felt the same way.  I had planned a lunch and trip to the spa for facials and massages, and when I was telling my mom the details, she started crying.  Not out of joy, mind you, rather she said “I’m just going to miss Abby.”  All because I wanted to spoil her for an afternoon!  She pulled it together, though, and we had a fun afternoon at the Radisson Blu spa.
  • We’re making plans for our first R&R, and although we could travel just about anywhere in the world, we’ve decided to visit Ohio. In March.  That’s what missing family (and Dairy Queen and Target) will do to a person!  The plan is for Abby and I to fly back a week before JR, so I have less than two months to panic about traveling alone with her.
  • JR and I each turned a year older.  Crazy that we met and started dating when I was 22!  Oh our youth.
  • That’s basically it. We’re boring.  But I’m determined to blog more frequently in 2016.  Until then, here are a bunch of pictures from the last few months.

 

swing 3 swing 4
Swinging in Rike Park

 

sandbox
Playing in the big sandbox at QSI (the international school nearby)

 

santa 1 santa 2
Abby was really excited to see Santa and Tovlis Papa, the Georgian Santa

 

shades stickers
Showing off her shades and playing with stickers in her new tutu

 

Tbilikids christmas market
TbiliKids and Christmas market with Nana

 

penguins selfie
Sopo, Abby’s nanny, has been putting her hair in pigtails the past few days and I think it’s the cutest thing ever.

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Yesterday we celebrated our first Christmas in Kosovo, and our first Christmas morning together – ever!  Christmas has always been an important holiday for both of us, and in the past, we weren’t quite willing to give up our own family traditions in order to spend it together.

We were released early from work on Tuesday, so JR and I went home to relax for a bit before starting dinner.  I talked him into buying a ham from the commissary (best 19 Euros we’ve spent in a while) and we had mashed potatoes and corn to go with it.  I wanted to make the table look nice so I used our place mats and cloth napkins that we received for our wedding.  Those things never come out of the drawer.  And for good reason – I almost cried when JR actually USED his napkin.  Hello, it’s for decoration only.

JR went a little crazy on presents this year.  Historically, he’s a better gift giver than I am.  I take some responsibility for this but I’m also very easy to shop for, and he’s not.   He went a little overboard this year shopping the markets in Bangkok, so I had maybe 30 presents under the tree (not just from him, though).  He had maybe 6 presents.  Not exactly even-Steven.   To make matters worse, I was not really excited about any of the gifts I had purchased for him.  Case in point, we each opened one gift on Christmas Eve .  He gave me a beautiful scarf from Bangkok.  I gave him a luggage scale.   He smiled and pretended he was pleased with the gift, but upon further discussion, we both burst out laughing because really, I mean who wants a luggage scale for Christmas?  Holy not exciting, Batman.  Luckily he’s a good sport. Also, I did finally come up with a great gift idea for him, it just didn’t occur to me until December 24th.  So he’s going to get a random gift in January that will hopefully make up for my Christmas (and recent birthday) short-comings.

We both received some great gifts from our family and friends, including lots of fun stuff for the baby.  In my early bid for 2014 Mother of the Year, I have yet to purchase a single thing for said baby.  I suppose I should start doing that soon.

We were invited to Amy’s house for a fantastic Christmas dinner with some of our other friends.  We are so thankful to have met such wonderful people here – it really makes it easier to be away from home for the holidays.

Our lovely hosts!
amy xmas

Tomorrow we’re off on one more exciting adventure to wrap up a really great year!

Catching up

I had a wonderful visit with family and friends in Ohio for almost 2 and 1/2 weeks.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take many pictures – the only ones I took were of the delicious food I enjoyed! I joked with my mom that I spent most of my visit napping and eating. It’s not really a joke, because that’s basically what happened.

cat

Before I left for Ohio, we celebrated our first Thanksgiving abroad with some of our good friends. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and so much more. We were even able to watch the Macy’s Day parade and some football so it actually felt pretty similar to being at home!

The next day, I woke up early to catch my flight(s) home. As soon as I landed in Newark, I could smell the McDonalds. You don’t realize how much you miss it until you can smell it, and my nose led me to a large order of fries and a fountain Diet Coke with no ice. Pure bliss! Plus, I was able to use my debit card for the first time in months, which felt super exciting. That same debit card would later get me into trouble at Target, Old Navy, Sephora, and various other places. What, it’s Christmas!

Thanks to my Mom, I was scheduled for a doctor’s appointment while I was home so I could meet my OB (selected by my Mom, of course) and have another ultrasound. Everything went well, and my mom and sister were able to see the baby and we took pictures and video for JR. They showed us some images in 3D which frankly alarmed me, but I was assured the baby will look better in person.

Lest you think that JR spent that two weeks pining away for me in Kosovo, he was actually in Bangkok for work. I like to think he was still pining a bit. I’m trying to convince him to do a guest blog and write about this trip, but considering how motivated I’ve been to blog myself, this is looking less and less likely. To summarize, he stayed safe during the protests and he enjoyed all of the markets and local vendors.  His suitcase was 22lbs overweight on his return flight because of all the presents he brought back!

Now that we’re both back home (home is such a funny word to me right now, because I feel like I have a few homes!), we are back to work and getting ready for Christmas. JR excels at wrapping presents and traditionally wraps his own once I put them in a box, so he’s been hard at work on that. Our CLO office and friends here have planned several fun holiday events. So far we’ve had cookie exchanges, a silent auction, a door decorating contest, and an Ugly Christmas Sweater competition on Friday. Also, one of our friends is having a Winter Solstice party tonight, so we’re headed over there shortly.

I can’t believe Christmas is next week!   I mentioned we have a lot of presents, right?

tree 2

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes

Yeah, I know. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but we put up our Christmas tree and decorations last night. In our defense, we both have a lot of travel coming up after Thanksgiving and we realized that we wouldn’t be able to put up Christmas decorations until mid-December. JR was ready to get started and I asked him to hold off until I could make a Christmas playlist on Spotify. He didn’t want to wait, but when I threatened to sing my favorite songs instead, he quickly agreed to wait.

So this is our Christmas tree. We’ve had it for years but we weren’t able to put it up last year since it was in storage while we lived in our itty-bitty apartment near D.C. Our little Christmas tree seems rather small this year so next year we might have to invest in a larger tree.

tree

We normally don’t dress up our cat but we make an exception around Christmas. As you can see, she really enjoys it too.

annabelle xmas

JR handles all the gift wrapping – not just for Christmas, but all occasions. He even does his own gifts sometimes because I’m that bad at it and he says I “do it wrong.” Admittedly, I have trouble cutting a straight line, I don’t know how to fold the corners and I seem to lose every battle with the tape. I know it’s not that complicated but I can’t seem to grasp how to wrap gifts well. Luckily, JR does a great job and he actually enjoys wrapping gifts around the holidays. Now we just need our gifts to come in the mail from Amazon. We’ve been buying gifts online increasingly over the years, but now that we live overseas we really are at the mercy of the mailing system so here’s hoping Amazon runs a tight ship this holiday season!

After we finished decorating we watched the movie Love Actually. Ohhh do we call her chubby? I hate Uncle Jamie! There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus? So many great quotes, I could go on and on. But first, we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving, and then it can be all Christmas, ALL THE TIME.

love actually