My mom has always talked about PMA – positive mental attitude. She’s a very “choose to be happy” person. I like to think I have a pretty positive attitude most of the time, and I probably get that from her. But I’ve been struggling since we got back from our visit home. It was a very short trip, and I was so sure I’d be able to start working when we returned. And yet, there is no end to my unemployment in sight. (Note, I do have a job. I also have the necessary security clearance to start working. What I don’t have is a functioning federal government or a start date).

Anyway, my frustrations and disappointment have been building. I may have occasionally fantasized about the life of a leisure of a housewife, but I’m nearly 5 months in and it’s very clear this is not a good fit for me. And while JR hears about it a lot (uh huh, just ask him), my mom really bears the brunt of my complaining. So, I thought today I’d really try to be positive (in honor of her) and also thank her for all of her support and encouragement.

My mom and I have always been close. I think since I left home for college, we’ve talked on the phone almost every single day. Definitely once I moved to Columbus and started law school, I called her every morning on my way to class. When class turned into work, our phone schedule didn’t change. We didn’t know how difficult it would be to talk on the phone once I moved, but we probably talk more now than ever before (thanks again to my unemployed status!). She’s a great listener and she gives smart advice. Even though I’m older and married now, I still look for her reassurance before making big decisions.

I need her help with the little stuff, too. When I wasn’t feeling well a few weeks ago, I complained that I desperately wanted some Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. That same day, she went to Buehler’s (greatest grocery store ever) to stock up, and then to the post office to mail some to me as fast as she could. Halloween is coming up, and even though it’s JR’s favorite holiday, I struggle with costume ideas. I’m not especially creative, and it seems like so much work! My mom is actually making my Halloween costume. Sort of like I’m a little kid, instead of an adult. I should probably be embarrassed, but I’m not. I’m just grateful that she is so generous and giving of herself, not only to me, but also to my brother and sister, and everyone who knows her.

So in honor of you, Mom, I’m really going to work on my positive mental attitude. I’m going to focus on the good stuff, and try not to worry about things that are beyond my control. Thank you for being such a great example of that, and for being such a wonderful mom.

Hello, October

At first I thought September was kind of dragging along, and then all of sudden it’s October. Funny how that works.

Over the weekend, Stacey and her husband hosted a cookout for the whole Embassy community, and it was great. They had a ridiculous amount of meat – pork and beef bbq ribs, hamburgers and chicken – and everyone else brought a side dish. Because they are from New Orleans, JR wanted to make his special jambalaya. It worked out great for me because I didn’t need to cook, and everyone at the party loved it. Success!

Apparently people from New Orleans take their grilling quite seriously – look at that thing. This was the second round of meat, I was probably busy eating and didn’t get a picture the first time, but the whole grill was full.


There was also a surprise guest there – this ADORABLE little puppy. One of JR’s co-workers found the puppy wandering around outside the Turkish Embassy, and took him home hoping to find a permanent home for him. When JR first told me about the puppy, we had a lengthy discussion about whether we should get a dog right now (spoiler alert, this does not end with us getting the puppy!). We agreed it wasn’t great timing, but that was before I actually saw this adorable creature, and when I did, I wanted to take back everything I’d said and take him straight home. Logic prevailed, and our friend Amy, who’s been looking for a puppy, adopted him! Isn’t he the cutest thing?


Now that it’s October, Halloween planning is in full swing. It’s JR’s favorite holiday, and he’s coordinating all the volunteers for the children’s party hosted at the Embassy. At last year’s party, they went through 150lbs of candy in an hour! So our CLO office has been asking for candy donations. JR forwarded the e-mail along to our families, and they have been AMAZING and have sent so much candy for the kids. (I swear, it’s for the kids. JR won’t even keep it in the house because he’s deemed me somewhat untrustworthy around candy). Here’s a picture of just one package we got.


Our families have been awesome about sending care packages. Most food items are available here in some capacity, but it’s still really nice to have my mom send me a random package with jello, frosting, muffin mixes, and mints! Now if we could just figure out a way for her to send me an East of Chicago pizza, I’d be set!

In case you were curious, it’s October and I’m still not working. I’m really close, but the government shutdown is not helping my situation. At this time, JR is going to work per usual, and we are very much hoping that his paychecks are not delayed. No one really knows what to expect or how long this will last. I am disappointed that it came to this, and I really feel for our friends who were sent home from work yesterday, and don’t know when they can return. My proposal is that we kick everyone out of the House and Senate and start fresh with new people. Except Sherrod Brown, because he’s basically perfect.

So stay tuned to see if I ever actually work again!

Tales of a Housewife: Week 4

I initially thought about calling this blog Tales of a Housewife, but JR astutely pointed out that I was not going to be a housewife for long. And hopefully he’s still right about that!

It’s just weird not having a job. When JR gets home from work, he’ll ask, how was your day? What did you do? And I look at him blankly while trying to think, how in the world did I spent the last 9 hours? More importantly, I need to come up with a better answer than “Oh, I found a new TV series on Netflix and I watched an entire season today.” (By the way, I highly recommend Scandal!)

Trailing spouse is an actual technical term in the Foreign Service. I’ve used it when introducing myself here. Hi, I’m Jenni, I’m a trailing spouse. It’s not exactly flattering, but it’s pretty accurate. We both knew what we were getting into when JR accepted this position. I hope I’m able to work at each post, but there are no guarantees. It’s unlikely that I will have a career, in the traditional sense, but that doesn’t really bother me. I’ve had an interesting mix of jobs over the years, so I’m pretty open when it comes to that. I keep telling JR I would make an excellent assistant or secretary. That being said, I was still a bit surprised when a couple I met this weekend told me they both worked as prosecutors before the wife accepted her position here in Kosovo. So her husband, a former federal prosecutor, is now a trailing spouse and working in the mail room. But he’s happy with it, because he wants to be working, and they’re living the lifestyle they wanted and enjoying life overseas. That’s what we’re looking for, too. So maybe I should see if the mail room is hiring.

In the past when I’ve been in search of a job, I’m used to that being its own job. You need to be researching positions, updating your resume, doing cover letters, scheduling informational interviews, and that awful word: networking. People who know me know that I like to do things quickly and I can be kind of intense about it. So that’s what I feel like I should be doing here. Instead, pretty much everyone we’ve met says that I just need to be patient, and that I will most likely get a job soon. We’ve heard that the higher ups at our post are advocates for spouses, and will do everything they can to help them find work. It’s just that things move a bit slower here, not only with the government in general, but definitely in Kosovo. The pace is slower – which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just new for me. It’s also transition time, so many people will be arriving and leaving post over the next few months.

So I’ve basically been advised to hold tight and be a housewife for a little bit longer. I’m planning on taking full advantage of it, so feel free to recommend some good books or tv shows! 🙂