Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year in Review: 2013

So this is my obligatory end-of-year post, in which I attempt to end things on a high note (or at least recall all the best moments over the past 12 months). I'll be honest, 2013 and I aren't parting on the best of terms, but I'm hopeful that 2014 will be a good year. And I can't complain too much about 2013, considering I got to visit no fewer than six countries (France, Turkey, Spain, Switzerland, England, and Mexico, plus Russia and America), made new friends all over the world, saw my besties several times, spent quality time with my family, watched my awesome little boy grow and learn so much, and, oh yeah, got pregnant with another little boy. And even though my writing isn't going as well as I'd like, I DID pen another novel, and that's got to count for something, right? Plus I got to know a lot about myself, everything from how much I despise dill (trust me, once you've been served dill on everything from sushi to pizza, you'll be done, too) to how much I love traveling alone (when else does a mom get to finish an entire novel in one go?).

Rather than ramble on, I thought I'd share photos of some of my fave moments of 2013. I hope you all have a very happy New Year's, and here's to an even better 2014!

In January, at a children's shelter in Russia, where a little girl named Irina stole my heart.

In February, hanging in Paris with my favorite people.

In March, when my twin sister Sarah and best friend Kim came all the way to Yekat.

In April, cavorting on the beach in Spain.

In May, spending the day with this guy at a bird sanctuary outside of Yekaterinbug.

In June, eating the BEST THING EVER in Gruyere, Switzerland.

In July, strolling through Hyde Park with this gorgeous lady.

In August, enjoying some fresh air in Binghi.

In September, stealing a few moments in DC to confirm baby #2 (and snuggle with baby #1).

In October, watching my gorgeous sister Amy marry the love of her life in Chicago.

In November, spending time with the love of MY life in Cancun.

In December, sledding with my crazy 4-year-old Jack.

And now, at 24 weeks pregnant, bidding 2013 a fond farewell!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Foreign Service Fridays: Do Your Homework

Lessons were learned the hard way this week on Most Eligible Family. Fortunately, John comes home tomorrow for a few weeks, and I'm really looking forward to having face-to-face "private" conversations in the same time zone. I hope everyone has a fabulous pre-holiday weekend!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

And the Winner Is...

Sorry for the delay in the giveaway results! I've been pretty busy with Jack (who now refuses to nap - I guess I should be glad I made it four years) and just trying to get used to a new routine in Montana. It's amazing how much more time I had when I was working... Fortunately, Jack started preschool today and I'm hoping a few free mornings a week will give me the chance to get back into blogging and writing. Also, John is coming home this Friday, which means I won't be a single parent anymore (not for three whole weeks, anyway!). Thanks for bearing with me during these crazy past few months.

So, without further ado, I'm happy to say that the winner of the $20 Amazon gift card is:


I will email you with your prize ASAP! Thanks to those who commented. I love you guys!

Friday, December 13, 2013

My 100,000 Page Views Giveaway!

Sheesh, with this major blogging break I haven't quite hit the 100,000 mark as fast as I expected! The good news is I'm at 99,915 page views, and I'm calling that close enough since I should be at 100k by tomorrow!

So if you'd like to win a $20 Amazon gift card just in time for the holidays (or slightly late for my fellow Jews), please leave me a comment with your email address or some other way to contact you if you win. This is just my small way of saying thank you for following and taking the time to read this blog over the past several years.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mommy Mondays: It's A...


Wait, what?

That's right, we're having another boy. Despite what my supposedly psychic half-sister, and pretty much all my friends and family, and even the crazy lady in the park in Miami told me, baby #2 is most definitely a boy. In fact, "definitely a boy" were the exact words of the ultrasound tech. She carefully typed out "IT'S A BOY" on the screen and gleefully pointed out the scrotal sack, just in case it wasn't obvious that we weren't having a daughter with a tiny third leg.

It's a little late now to pretend I wasn't hoping for a girl. After all, it's not something I've ever been shy about putting out into the universe. I have wanted a daughter since I was a little girl myself. I know some people will think I'm petty and selfish for having a preference of the gender of my child, although personally, I think it goes without saying that above all else, I - and every other parent on the face of the earth - want a healthy baby. And I am so grateful that this little guy seems to be developing right on track and has all his parts (and I do mean all of them).

But one of the things you guys tell me you appreciate about my parenting posts is my honesty, and while I realize many of you might not understand my feelings, I wouldn't be true to myself - or any of you - if I said I wasn't pretty sad about the fact that I'm not having a daughter.

Just in case you're wondering, I do understand how this whole chromosome thing works. I knew the odds were 50/50 and I certainly wasn't guaranteed a daughter. But as much as I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of another boy, there was a part of me - has always been a part of me - that simply believed I was meant to have a girl. Not because of the dresses and the tea parties and the dolls and the prom and the wedding (although I do want those things, so, so badly), but because I really wanted the opportunity to raise a happy, secure, confident girl. I never envisioned a future without a daughter. It just didn't seem possible. To be honest, it still doesn't. (Although as the saying goes, "balls don't lie." Or was that "ball"...)

The day after the ultrasound, when I was in the car with John and his brother, they started discussing their best Christmas ever, most notably the go-kart they received. "Is he old enough for a dirt bike?" Mike asked. "Or maybe a quad?" "He's definitely almost ready for a go-kart," John responded (somehow managing to ignore the "not on your life" look on my face). And while I am so happy that John will get to relive his favorite childhood moments with our sons, it was also a painful reminder of the things I won't experience with a daughter. Several people have said to me, "There's always the third," and I appreciate their optimism. But I don't think a third is in the cards for us. My sanity has always been hanging on by a rather precarious thread. Two boys will probably stretch it even thinner. A third would break me for sure.

So while I know I should be celebrating the impending arrival of baby boy #2, a part of me is mourning the baby girl that wasn't meant to be. I love Jack more than I ever thought was possible, and despite the fact that it seems highly unlikely I could ever love another boy that much, I'm 99.9% sure I will. Who knows, maybe I have a latent soccer-mom gene that will kick in in eight years or so. Maybe we'll adopt a daughter some day, or maybe one day I'll wake up and realize I'm okay without one. (Sure, that hasn't happened in the past 33 years, but you never know.) Maybe a life full of superheroes and dragons will prove to be a lot simpler than one full of Barbie and Bieber.

Besides, I never really liked the color pink very much anyway.