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.

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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?

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O-H! I-O!

Last week we went back to Ohio for JR’s sister’s wedding. I was excited to see our family and friends, and also excited to eat at some of my favorite places! We left on Wednesday morning, and after 3 flights and 19 hours of travel, we landed in Ohio. JR and I were torn on where to eat first, so we played Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide between Marion’s Pizza and Penn Station. I won, so we headed to Penn Station, which was an excellent decision I must say.

On Thursday, I got to see some of my friends and do some outlet shopping. Oh and we had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, which was amazing. I was actually at the Cheesecake Factory 3 times total on Thursday and Friday, but it wasn’t really my fault and I only ate there twice.

Friday I got my hair cut (woohoo!) and then the whole family headed over to the wedding location for the rehearsal and dinner. There were over 60 people at the wedding rehearsal alone if that tells you the size of the immediate families involved.The lovely bride realized that she didn’t really have anyone to coordinate the rehearsal (lining people up, telling people when to walk and all that jazz) so I volunteered. Organizing and bossing people around is right up my alley – I learned from my mom and my aunt!

Saturday was wedding day (and I managed to sneak in a quick lunch at Chick-fil-A!). It was a beautiful ceremony, and we were so happy to be able to celebrate with Meredith and Andy. They put so much thought into every detail of the wedding, and it looked wonderful.

We had a surprise baby shower for JR’s brother and wife on Sunday morning, and after that we got to visit my family!

A few things I learned from a short trip back. First, we didn’t have working cell phones at home and it was AWFUL. I realize I’m too dependent on my iPhone, but even an old school flip phone would have let me text friends and family and it would have helped with making plans. What did people do before cell phones?? The second thing is that we need to get rich so we can fly business class. Immediately. Airplane seats are just not that comfortable when you’re sitting in them for 9+ hours, and it’s a clever form of torture by the airlines for economy passengers to walk through business/first class upon entering and exiting the plane.

Finally, we thought we were saving some money and shipping costs by stocking up on a few items while we were home. We bought cans of cream of chicken/mushroom soup, Manwich (you have no idea how much I love a sloppy joe), teriyaki sauce, and JR refused to leave any beer behind at his parents, so we packed a 12 pack. Well…when we picked up our bags in Kosovo, the large duffel (why is spell check telling me this isn’t a word?) bag was wet and had the delicious smell of teriyaki. All of the soup cans were dented. And we lost one beer (I think this bothered JR the most, not the fact that his good suit was now beer soaked, or that two of my bras were marinated in teriyaki).

Lessons learned! Most importantly, it was clear this was just too short of a trip, and hopefully we can stay longer next time!