dotting our i's.

Usually I have the post-Christmas blues on December 26th. But not this year. Sure, I feel a bit sad that Christmas tunes will fade away and in two weeks it will no longer be socially acceptable to have a fake tree in my living room. But...

We leave for Rome today!

The only thing standing between me and a flight to Italy are: the last minute laundry, attempting to fix my janky broken suitcase that has put on 50,000 miles this year...and dropping off Lucky at the boarder.

This last item is precisely why Gabe and I cannot have children yet. How can two adults, one of whom is former military, be so worried about a teeny kitten? I don't know. God help us when we have real babies someday. I imagine it's this X 10,000.

We're kind of a mess about leaving Lucky behind, and have been calming ourselves down about it for weeks. Truth: We considered paying someone to stay at our apartment, just so she wouldn't have to go to Kitty Jail. The last two days have been spent spoiling her rotten, and this morning I wrote a little kitty dossier with all Lucky's information. (Told from her perspective. Yikes.) Yes, it's overkill. But, in a small way it makes me feel better about leaving our nervous kitten behind while we frolic off to another country.

Perhaps I'll feel all better once I'm cruising at 30,000 feet, sipping on the cheapest champagne on our flight. ;)

Merry un-Christmas, friends! Hope yours was fabulous. Talk to you from Rome! :)

UPDATE: Lucky is at the boarder. She was a pill. Whatevs. But while leaving the shelter, we found this sweet stray dog sitting behind our car:

She was limping, and we think her back leg was broken...but she was so happy to be petted and snuggled. The vet told us they couldn't take her in unless someone was willing to pay for her treatment + adopt her. So, we banded together with a kind hearted young Kuwaiti man in the parking lot who wanted to adopt her, but couldn't foot the entire vet bill. Gabe rushed into the pet shop and bought food, and I watched her for a bit while the boys figured out the financial logistics.

It was so good for my heart. The young guy took our number, so he could send us photos of the pup as she heals. Sometimes life just puts you in the right place at the right time. :)

And now, I'm really, really off to Rome! :)


merry + bright.

The past few weeks in Kuwait have been merry + bright. Right before Thanksgiving I bumped into a Twitter friend at the mall. Actually, I bumped into her husband while buying office supplies...and long story short I finally met Martha. We'd been tweeting each other for the past six months, but the stars had never aligned for us to meet up.

Total kismet. (Her words, not mine, because I forgot that word existed.)

Since then we decorated for a traditional American Thanksgiving, then a baby shower...and then began planning for a Christmas party for her group of girlfriends, who have kindly adopted me...offering me rides and tips as to where a girl can find the best Indian samosa.

After lots of planning and glittering...joined by my friend Rachel...last night was finally our girlfriend Christmas + Secret Santa exchange (should I tell you now that my Secret Santa gifted me 18K gold glitter nail polish?!). Here are a few pictures from the night:

Incase you're looking for a little last minute party inspiration for Christmas or New Years, might I recommend just gathering silver, gold, crystal and glass items?

Once we gathered everything...and arranged it on the table, we found we didn't really need to spend more than a few dollars for clear glass ornaments, which we filled with sugar + a pinch of glitter.

Then we simply piled on the candles.

Obviously I love a sequined tablecloth (hello, my wedding) but the likelihood of finding one in Kuwait was slim. Especially on our budget. But by the grace of the glitter gods, we tripped into $5 glittered runners at a teeny-tiny stationary store...you know, the kind where nothing is arranged logically and if you return in a month, they'll have none of the inventory they had previously?

Thank you, glitter gods. Thank you.

Chargers were on our list of things to purchase...but unlike the US where you could find chargers at your friendly local Dollar Store...that's not a reality here. So, Martha got inventive and commissioned a carpenter to make 12 of them for less than $15. Obviously, she's a resourceful gal.

Oh, and that gold flatware? Fake. Fake. Fake. And light as a feather.

Towards the end of our decorating, we gathered a few items we that hadn't made the cut, and clustered them on a dark wood tray. Martha's husband is Iranian, so as a wink to his heritage, she gold-spray painted a few Iranian pomegranates.

It was such a fun night...and lately I've felt especially grateful to have made friends here...especially those that share and support my love for gold + glitter. Making friends is something I'm always a bit wary of...my own insecurities get the best of me and often I pull away from social situations.
But lately I've been trying to soak it up, because it feels like it was so long ago that I had "people". And it's been good.

So...that's that. A very glittery Christmas with some very wonderful girls.
Merry Christmas, friends. Hoping your holiday is filled with family or friends...or if you're far removed from both...perhaps food. Definitely food. :)


sadness and stars.

Today, I planned to share photos from a baby shower I attended on Friday night. It was glittery and sweet. But, while leaving the celebration for a tiny new life, I learned of the tragic loss of 20 little lives and 6 heroic teachers. And suddenly, in that moment...life lost some of its sparkle. I am not a mother, and cannot fully fathom the loss of a child, but my heart is heavy and my mind is full of prayers.

Lots of bloggers have chosen to stay silent today. Because I blog irregularly, silence on my part isn't a statement...it's really rather quite usual. So instead, today I chose to use my voice....something I've found myself doing less and less in this community.

During this time, I feel we each must choose to be silent, to cry, to speak out as we see fit. But most of all, we must each actively choose to build up, not tear down...to band together, not push apart. To lay aside our own selfish interests and find a way to change our country into a place where no parent has to fear that a goodbye kiss as their child boards the morning school bus...will be their last goodbye.

I want to live in a world where babies always come home from school....where the only baggage we ask a 5 year old to carry is a backpack filled with finger paintings and a lunchbox. Where schools are a place for lightbulbs to turn on in tiny brains, and not places for candlelight vigils due to the loss of tiny lives. I don't know how we get there, but it's high time we start trying.

When I was a little girl, we hung four star ornaments on our tree for four babies we knew that had gone to heaven. Last night, I dug through boxes I'd sent from the States and found a few star ornaments. They're nothing like the hand-painted, hand-glittered memorial ornaments of my childhood...and there weren't 26. But each time I look at them, I say a little prayer for the 26 families who said goodbye too soon.

Sleep in heavenly peace, sweet children and the six angels who protected them.

You will always be remembered and treasured.


...if only in my dreams.

Let's not pussyfoot around my blog absence. As always, it boils down to one thing:

I miss home. It's the holiday season and I really, really miss home.

I started to write about the tree we decorated, the packages I'm putting together, the amazingly impromptu Thanksgiving I had with a fantastic new Twitter-turned-real-life-friend who reminds me so much of these blog girlfriends. But at the end of all those half-written posts....my heart was just aching for home and I couldn't quite hit publish.

There's just so, so much to miss during these few weeks.

The hardest part about this year comprised of a marriage and a giant move...is that life will never be the same again. And in one breath that's exciting...because I'm starting my own story with someone I love. I'm a girl with a passport! A marriage certificate! And a frequent flyer member of gold status! Look out, world...I've got a husband AND I get two free checked bags when I fly United!

But aside from that (less than riveting) 10 second soundbite...comes the realization that you can't have your cake and eat it, too.  You can tell yourself you'll be home for every wedding, holiday and birthday. That makes leaving so much easier. But eventually reality sets in. I'm talking the $2500-plane-tickets + 60-hours-round-trip-travel type of reality that makes you realize you can't start your own family of two and live 7,000 miles away without missing things from your old life.

Christmas just feels different this year. My Christmases past have been trees chosen by my family and cut by my dad. Snow angels with my mom, wrapping gifts with my sister to exchange on Christmas Eve. This year it's sand angels and a fake tree Gabe snagged from on base. Every gift has to be chosen + sent weeks in advance, and none of them will be given in person. And the lump-in-my-throat truth is that I don't really know when I'll see my family next. That's what gets me teary-eyed.

I'll go ahead and say it: I'm trying. I really am. But I'm less Christmas-elfy than usual.

I don't mean to sound like a Grinch, because there's still an average amount of holiday cheer in my bones...the Christmas tunes are on, the tree is up and I'm loving every glimpse of Christmas my friends have shared online, and in the few stores that acknowledge Christmas here in Kuwait. My only true Scrooge moment happened upon discovering that the twinkly lights I'd shipped from the states would infact blow every fuse in our apartment if I plugged them in.

Curse, curse, curse.

Expressing homesickness publicly always leaves me feeling guilty...like others will interpret it as ungratefulness. Trust me, I'm grateful for many things in my life. But writing honestly about this curveball year of my life is difficult. No, I don't have to work. Yes, I get to live in a foreign country and travel fairly regularly. Both of these things have their ups and downs. Ups: Lots of free time. Seeing the world. Downs: Lack of purpose. Missing someone no matter where you are.

But homesickness, I've learned, has nothing to do with ungratefulness. It's everything to do with missing the people, places and traditions that feel like a part of yourself.

Somehow, no matter how many ornaments I put on the tree or packages I wrap...I can't quite shake the feeling that I'm missing a tiny piece of myself this year.

Have you ever been away from home for Christmas? How did you fair?



"the help".

(maid's quarters at bunratty castle, ireland. taken in 2010.)

Whenever I chat with someone from the US about my daily life here, it usually comes up in conversation that I have a maid. The convo always comes to a screeching halt as my friends say this:

"Wait...YOU HAVE A MAID?!"

Like suddenly they've discovered my life in Kuwait is a scene from Downton Abby...but with more sand and camels. (If only someone held a silver tray with my yoga pants + t-shirt as I dressed every morning!)

Back home (in America), having a maid is pretty unheard of...at least within my region + social group...so the reaction is completely valid. Perhaps it's not that way among wealthy Americans, but among the lower to middle class, a maid, a gardener or a cook is considered a serious "luxury". Even stating that you have a personal trainer can raise an eyebrow. Frankly, having hired help in America denotes a certain level of "status", yet we sheepishly keep it on the low-down lest someone think less of us for not doing everything with our own two hands. (It's a strange game we all play.)

But here in Kuwait, hiring a maid is absolutely normal...from the middle class to the extremely wealthy, it seems everyone has a maid. Infact, some apartment buildings simply have maid service built into your rent. You pay nothing extra, and thrice weekly a few ladies come to your door and straighten up your place. Often, Kuwaiti families have live-in maids...more than one! And, if you ever visit a mall in Kuwait, you'll see scads of mothers shopping, followed closely by a maid (nanny) pushing a stroller or holding a baby. Occasionally one maid per child, too!

There's certainly no taboo here.

When we arrived in Kuwait, we had yet to purchase mops, brooms, cleaning supplies and the like. So we thought, "Heck. Let's roll with it." We hopped on the maid bandwagon. The cost was a reasonable $100 a month, and three times weekly a very, very sweet Sri-Lanken woman showed up to clean for an hour.

But the past four months have confirmed that I am absolutely rubbish at having a maid...completely humiliated by someone else cleaning up my mess. Gabe would laugh as I tore around, muttering, "The maid is coming! Hurry and clean up!" Smoke nearly flew from my heels as I washed the dishes, and swept the floors. I closed the doors to the bedrooms, and told her not to worry about the office. Every piece of laundry was hidden, lest she think it was her job to fold my unmentionables. (It happened once. I died of embarrassment.)

And once week when the maid rang the doorbell, I'd smile and say, "You don't have to clean today! Have a good day!"

Then I'd tip her as she left...

...it's that dang American guilt. Or maybe it's because I spent a brutal summer working as a hotel maid and several years as a waitress. I couldn't help but feel badly about sprawling across my bed, reading...while a kind, underpaid woman scrubbed my floors. Floors I was perfectly capable of scrubbing.

Either way, continuing with maid service made no sense. After four months of this charade, Gabe and I put an end to our maid service...and I'm so happy to clean. There's not much to do during the day, so sweeping a few floors and doing my own dishes is a welcome distraction.

Sorry, Kuwait. Hire your maids, do your thing. No judgement! But maids just aren't for me.

Also, I've funneled the "maid money" into a new dining table + chairs. So, there's that.

Win, win. ;)

Do you have any hired help? I promise I won't judge! If not, if you had the spare cash, would you spend it on a maid?


holly + jolly.

Do you ever have those days, weeks or months where it seems like everything is in your favor?

Lately, the only thing that's gone wrong was my drinking three bottles of water before a trip to the grocery store...which means when I rounded the corner to the ladies room, I was greeted by a row of frightening squat toilets....to which I replied, "NUH-uh. Never gonna happen."

Lesson learned: Always go before you leave the house.

Not to get too colorful, but just a little dose of expat life. Some things will always be trickier. ;)

But, what I meant to say before that forray into uncut reality, is that life has been coming up roses lately:

(one)   This week my girlfriend, Rachel, and I took a taxi to the mall and spent the entire day shopping. Such a treat to get out, just us girls! Not that our guys aren't a good time, but shopping with former-military husbands in tow is usually more of a mission (Operation: Get out of Pottery Barn as fast as possible), and less of a nice, girly, consumerist stroll. We both splurged for crazy over-priced glitter deer at Debenhams, sampled perfumes and planned our holiday decor.

(two)    Our house has been on the market for a week...and in that time we received four viable offers! We can't believe it. This morning we signed papers and accepted an offer that was a tad above list price. Now, it's just a truckload of paperwork...and keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes as planned. If it does, we'll be mortgage-free by December 27th...just in time to celebrate...

(three)   ...in ROME. That's right, I finally made a decision. Thanks so much for all the input! We really did consider a trip to somewhere new and Christmasy like Prague, but here's a little honesty: I just want to reconnect with my husband in a place that's familiar and still romantic. It's been a stressful, emotional year...which isn't to say it was bad...but it was a non-traditional newlywed experience in an unfamiliar country. We're prone to spatting when we travel to new places (are we alone, or is that an every couple thing?), and neither of us want to spend our time figuring out new metro cards or hopping language barriers in restaurants or cabs. So, we're sticking to a place one of us already knows...and ensuring that we're focused on each other + reconnecting after the crazy year we've had.

Well, in addition to focusing on drinking wine + scoopfuls of gelato, that is. ;) Honestly, I can't wait to return, to show Gabe all my favorite little spots in Rome.

Maybe it's the glitter deer, maybe it's my early Christmas tunes. But life is feeling pretty good.

Hope it's the same for you, friends! :)


holiday choices.

oh, holiday bokeh. i love you.
Throughout the past two months, I kept pestering Gabe about the holidays: Where are we going? Who are we seeing? Can I afford to buy a glitzy holiday dress?

Answers were: No clue. We'll talk about it later. Duh, yes, that's a wife's non-negotiable.

With November 1st looming, Gabe and I finally had to get serious about holiday plans. The most time we could take away from Kuwait, given that we have a little furball who would have to be boarded, was 12 days...and with travel days to, from and within the US...that left us with 4 days with each of our families. All of those days we'd probably spend completely jetlagged. And one of those days, New Years Eve, is our first anniversary. Tres romantique? I think not.

The total airfare cost: six thousand dollars. (Not included: rental cars, lodging, incidental meal costs.)

We love our families. But we also love logic. So, we decided to forego the US, in favor of a week-long Christmas-New Years getaway in Europe. Much less travel, cheaper than a US trip, and actually relaxing for my husband...who works 12 hour days and has not taken more than a weekend off since we arrived in Kuwait.

Obviously there are a lot of emooootions (said with dramatic flair) around not being home for Christmas for the first time in 26 years. But whatever. Emotions-smotions. We're skipping all that today, because I just don't have it in me. And a holiday in Europe? Shut yo' whiny trap, girl!

We narrowed down our getaway options to two:

Paris. Ah. Paris feels like that amazing five inch heel you see in a window. It's glitzy and glamorous...everything you aren't. You know it's going to be a teensy uncomfortable. It's going to pinch and leave you fully aware that you do not fit the shoe...but you don't care. You just want to try it on, and totter about for six hours pretending it belongs in your life. Then, you spend the next few days nursing the wounds, wondering how foolish you looked pretending that shoe fit. But who cares! It was fantastic.

Or at least that was my first experience with Paris. Regardless, the Paris "pro" list is still long: The Eiffel Tower. Skating rinks galore. Macarons. We got engaged there, so spending our first anniversary there would be apropos. (Ew. Please note that I only reached deep into the recesses of my vocabulary for that word because it's French.) Baguettes and wine and fancy cheeses. Making out in public. I know a passable bit of French and could bone up on it throughout the next few weeks.

Cons: A bit of a language barrier. The people are more reserved, and I find getting around to be more difficult than I did in Rome. And, contrary to every photo you've seen...no fireworks at the Eiffel Tower at midnight...fireworks are reserved for Bastille Day, and the turn of the millennium (apparently they did it up in '99).

And then there's Rome. Rome is so, so easy it feels like my favorite ballet flats...pale pink with gold tips. Sensible, comfortable...and it's got a sweetness to it that can't be beat. You could probably wear those shoes forever. The people don't look at you funny and you don't stand out as much as you thought, so it's not a stretch to feel your shoes might belong in the sweet streets of Rome for a very long time.

Since I visited Rome in August, it's still close to my heart and the "pros" are fresh: I know the lay of the land well. It's absolutely charming...cobbled streets, shuttered windows. Gabe hasn't visited. The food is delicious, the wine flows like water. They're said to have a fantastic New Years party in a few piazzas. Also, making out in public.

Con: It's not Paris....? Really. It's dreamy, but there's no Eiffel Tower.

Gabe has left this in my hands. The hands of the MOST indecisive person you've ever met. Naturally, I'm so torn and if we don't make a decision soon...we'll likely find ourselves in Kuwait for the entire holiday. Womp-womp.

What do you think, guys...Paris or Rome? If you had to spend Christmas  + New Years away from home, where would you go?


happy halloween!


Here's the catch about living in a foreign country: You never know which of your cultural holidays will be a "thing". Planning for holidays appears to be a constant guessing game of, "Can we get a pumpkin here?" and "Where do you suppose I could locate a faux tree...".

Halloween, I've gathered, isn't a big thing in Kuwait. I spotted a few pumpkins for sale at Dean and DeLuca, the grocery stores had a few more gourds than usual, and Pottery Barn has the autumnal vibe in full swing. But other than that, I didn't notice much while out and about. (Correct me if I'm wrong, fellow expats!)

But then, you never know. In Kuwait, it's common for some apartment buildings to accept "western only" tenants...in which case I imagine you might be visited by a knocking ghost or goblin. But our building isn't western exclusive...it's a mix of westerners and Arabs. Will kiddos come trick-or-treating? Not sure.

A chatty American family moved in on our floor a month ago...they have three young girls, and I thought it might be sweet to make something just for their munchkins.

So, I whipped up a few treat bags using 5"x7" glassine bags, washi tape and a yard of black lace I'll never use. I figured out how to print on glassine with an ink jet...but not before I smudged half a dozen bags, jammed my printer and cursed a bit. The trick: To avoid jams, insert a light cardstock into each bag as it prints. To avoid smudges, let them dry for several hours. Or, carefully lay a towel over a freshly-printed bag and iron over the towel a few times. It wrinkles the bag a bit, but not any more than it will wrinkle when you put goodies inside.

Tonight I've got a date with Gabe...a bowl of caramel corn, some Oreos and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. We'll see who comes knocking. :)

Hope your Halloween is a blast! :)


bye-bye, house.

(house portrait by Rebekka Seale)

Well before Gabe and I knew of each other's existence...he bought a house. A big, big house in the suburbs of Sacramento with all the bells and whistles a mini-van-driving woman could want. He said he was far from meeting someone of "wife" material...but wanted a family. Being in his early thirties, having a big house for a someday-wife and someday-kids felt as close as he could get to being a family man.

Which is all really quite sweet. But then he met me. I was a mid-twenties free spirit who was iffy on kids--possibly at thirty, I told him--and not a suburbs girl in the least. On our way to the altar, we had countless conversations about the house: Gabe liked the size, the newness, the good neighborhood. I wanted something smaller, older, with more character...and closer to the city.

Gabe doesn't ask for much in life. So, in time I laid aside my arguments and decided I could make it work. Although I still wasn't sold on Sacramento, it was a really nice house! With some effort, I could make the suburban home feel like the old, character-filled home of which I'd dreamed.

On our wedding day, I gifted Gabe a painted portrait of the house, and a note:

"Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay." 
Essentially, and less poetically...I surrender. Let's call this place home.
Love, Your (soon-to-be) Wife

But the past ten months have made clear what we want in life...and it isn't a 3,000 square foot house in Sacramento. We painfully calculated the number of dollars spent in mortgage payments for a place neither of us were crazy about...in a city that holds neither family, friends or oodles of job opportunities.

And so, today our house went on the market.

I don't know why I suddenly feel sad to say goodbye to this massive house in the suburbs of a city I have no desire to live in. Maybe it's because Gabe and I talked about someday-kids and home renovations and parties in the backyard...and it feels like a step backwards. Maybe it's because I woke up there on my wedding day, with my best girlfriend next to me...giggling and whispering like we were high schoolers.

Or maybe it's because a professional mover packed up the few boxes of precious things I'd left behind...my bridal bouquet, the oodles of gold mason jars from our wedding and the furniture we purchased together...and he likely threw the frost-bitten top tier of our wedding cake in the trash.

Which is the real tragedy here, because that cake would still be delicious, in any state of frostbite. ;)

Perhaps it's just nostalgia for all those little memories that feel like forever ago due to miles and miles of distance. Whatever the reason, a large piece of me is happy about this. It means money in savings. It means someday buying a new house we're crazy about, in a city and neighborhood we love.

It means one more gigantic hurdle we've jumped in our first year of marriage.

And whew, what a first year it's been. :)


i blinked...

...and just like that my time in the United States was up.

Three and a half weeks have never flown so fast, or been packed with so many memories, laughs and needed moments. It's unbelievable just how many birthdays and events (and truth: bottles of wine) I packed into just three weeks. It was a whirlwind in the best kind of way....even if it did involve 90+ hours in airports, airplanes and long car drives. Every time I thought about reaching for my iPad to blog, my heart just said, "No. No, no, no. This is all going by too fast. Put that away." So even if I was just bouncing my best friend's baby on my knee or taking a snuggly nap with my family's new kitten...I forced myself to be there.

The biggest takeaway from my trip was the reiteration from those I love that my feelings about living in Kuwait are valid. It is human to be uncomfortable in circumstances that put you far outside your norm. No one is expecting an obnoxiously fake, Pollyanna-esque approach to something that feels like a test or trial. It is okay to feel out of place, or to know yourself well enough to say that something just isn't for you.

But most of us have two gifts: the gift of time and the gift of home. Minutes to use, and a place we belong, no matter what. What you choose to do with those days, and within your four walls is up to you...but don't let months slip away unused and don't make "home" a place you dislike.

In other words...just because your feelings are valid, doesn't make all your reactions to those feelings wise. You can make the best...or you can make the worst of every situation.

Sometimes, in this new time and space...I've made the worst. These haven't been my finest four months...that is for sure. For example, there are still lingering boxes that need unpacking or frames that need hanging because I think, "What does it matter? I still won't feel like I belong here." Or moments in which I commiserate and make sarcastic comments to Gabe, without realizing that I've unintentionally sent the message that I'm deeply unhappy or that the life he provides is inadequate.

And so, the first real thing I chose to do upon returning was seriously check my sarcasm at the door. You know, check yourself before you wreck yourself...or whatever the kids say. Unfortunately there's no way I can show you a pastel, overexposed picture of me keeping my big mouth shut in an effort to be a better wife and person. But after conquering a little jetlag, I unpacked some boxes and finally decorated my kitchen with a few things from my old life, and a few things my family bought for me back home. Just making an effort to try to feel at home...to make the best of the days.

I did manage to take a picture of that. :)

Welcome home, me. ;)




I'm writing this while sipping chai tea from a moose mug. Yeah, that's right, a moose mug...it's safe to say that I'm back in the northwoods of Wisconsin. ;)

Also, I'm writing this at 3am...which leads me to admit that I haven't quite kicked jetlag's rear as quickly as I hoped. No matter how many times I travel + try to bridge that 8 hr gap and 28 hrs of travel...I always bite the dust on day two. Usually it's in the form of a six hour nap. Don't worry, I honored that tradition today.

But, that hasn't stopped me from embracing all the things I've missed. In 36 hours I've...

...sipped a pumpkin spice latte + several chai lattes. (Both of which aren't available at my Starbucks in Kuwait, so you can imagine my delight.)

...walked our family pup for miles, and hiked through the forest with my mom...stopping at the top to drink teeny bottles of wine.

...open-mouth stared at the crazy cheap groceries (broccoli for $0.78?!) and had lunch at my fave restaurant.

...strolled through my old neighborhood and reminisced in front of my old diggs.

...FaceTimed with my kitten (and husband, too).

...visited Target twice. It was bliss. Somehow I left empty handed, but that's likely due to a J. Crew pillaging trip planned for today. ;)

...and drove for the first time in four months. It was WILD.

I love it. I love, love being home where people smile + say hello as you pass them on the sidewalk. Where doors are held open for the next person or sweet ladies let you cut in the checkout because you only have two items. Although not everyone in my hometown is this kind, it's prevalent enough to say it's quite normal. I call it Wisconsin Nice...Minnesota Nice is totally a thing, too, but neither is intensely kind as Canada Nice. Canadians have it mastered. ;)

This morning I'm road tripping to Chicago for the wedding of my cousin, Courtney. Our guys unknowingly proposed just a few hours apart last June...in different countries...but it was still a crazy coincidence considering we also share a birthday! (What up, June 8th babies!) So I like to think we have a special connection. :)

Anyway, I'm overjoyed to be home for the day she ties the knot. Also pretty stoked for some big city shopping with tolerable American prices.

Hope your Friday is swell, and your weekend is even better. :)


you can't go home again.

The phrase "you can't go home again" has long mystified me. What do you mean you can't go home again? Of course you can! You just save up, buy a plane ticket, pack your things...wait, wait, wait...get on a plane and then boom! You're home again. Doing all the at-home-things you used to do!

It wasn't until I spent a month vaporizing my life at home, then four months living seven thousand miles away that I realized...ohhh. Yeah. You can't go home again. Physically, yes. You can put your body in that exact same city...maybe even in the home you grew up in. But you can never again recreate the person you were or the exact bubble you lived in before you left. There will always be this nostalgic haze that hangs around the days you can't get back.

My mind is tumbling with complicated, excited and jumbled thoughts as I clumsily, sleepily pack for my midnight flight back home to Wisconsin. There's just one thing that keeps snagging up my excitement over flying back to the US to reunite with family + friends. And here it is:

I am a binge eater. Not the comedic binge eater who calls herself a binge eater because once she ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's after a bad break-up. (Although, yes. Done it.) But a diagnosed, by-the-books binge eater. (More here.) Back home, I had a grasp on it. I was so mindful of what came into my house. When I felt myself losing control, I'd go for a long walk or bike ride... I had a system. And it worked! But here...my new life...I'd liken to putting an alcoholic in a liquor store and asking them to stay sober. I am home, alone, all day. Being in your house, with food ten feet away 24/7 is exhausting. It's a binge-eater's nightmare, and a battle I fight no less than seventeen times a day. And many times I've lost that battle...I've stood there eating boredom, loneliness and homesickness. It's embarrassing to admit that you lack the self-control to walk away from an entire loaf of bread...even when Gabe and I talk about it, I can't help but cover my face and cry hot, humilated tears. Your mind grasps that you shouldn't stand in the kitchen and eat four bowls of oatmeal until your tummy explodes, but something just takes you over. And you do. And then there is shame. So, so much shame that you can't just get your crap together and be normal like everyone else.

And as math and science would have it...I've gained weight. Two pants sizes of weight in four months.

It's silly, but I'm afraid to go back home. Afraid that I don't look the same. Afraid to go shopping or see old friends who will think, "WHOA. Beth got married and reeeallly let herself go. Yikes." And I know. No one I actually respect and love will think that. They know I struggle with deep-rooted causes of this problem....and that I do indeed fight. Instead, the people I love will think, "I can't believe you're home! And you're living the Middle East. WHOA, girl!"

Truly, my logical mind grasps that the opinion of those I love and trust is what really matters. That message is just delayed in getting to tiny part of my mind that controls the vast, chaotic space of my emotions.

So, I've promised myself I'll leave behind the size 6's and 8's that easily slipped over my thighs a few months ago...and along with them the sense that I'm not good enough, simply because my pants read 10 or 12. Instead, I'll pack up my suitcase with the few things that still fit my larger-frame, the smile I rarely cease to wear, and I'll return home again...to the people who have always loved me, regardless of my pants size.

In that way, I suppose, you can always go home again. :)


dirty little house secret.

I firmly believe that every woman has one corner of her house where she shoves her mess. Sometimes it's a tiny cabinet, if she's lucky it's a large closet.

And if you're me...it's an entire empty bedroom.

(avert thine eyes from the decor crimes committed in this space. or join me in mocking them.)

Case and point: This extra bedroom. Which is not-so-lovingly referred to as "Where Sad Furniture Goes to Die". You see, a metrosexual decorated our furnished apartment...in 1993. And he mistakenly thought he was decorating a nightclub for ladies...but upon discovering he was actually decorating a 3-bedroom apartment for normal people, decided to make it work anyway.

Not really. But this is my best theory. (Dark wood? Oodles of metallic lamps? Padded headboard? Creepy lady wall hangings? *Shiver.*)

I know. The first question probably is, "If you don't like it, why did you choose to rent?"

When we chose this place, we had four days to find an apartment and move in. You can pay a professional to show you a bevy of nice apartments, but it costs a tidy sum. So we skipped that and looked on our own. Honestly, we were counting dollars to make sure we could pay a security deposit + first month's rent....we were in financial crunch mode after two months of unemployment, dealing with this situation, paying off a wedding + keeping up with our mortgage back home. (Newflash: weddings + an international move will wipe out your piggy bank.)

It had been a tense few months, financially.

But thankfully, the manager was kind enough to give us an extra week to pay up. So, we went for this place. It wasn't our style, but was worlds nicer than our first place. Absolutely it's more space (and furniture) than two people need, but the location is super convenient, it has a gym + pool and the view was fantastic.

But once I decided to make this place a home...I knew that the first step was pairing the furniture down by 50%. It was so overfurnished. Step two was ripping down the unforgivable curtains in every room and hiding the scary bed linens.

And that's where this room comes in. It really became stash central last week when I tackled Gabe and my bedroom (photos in the next few days!)...and threw all the leftovers in here.

I'm not proud. But, there it is. ;)

Have you ever lived in a furnished apartment? Did it drive you nuts? Any secrets to dealing with furniture pieces you're stuck with, but not in love with?



making friends.

(my new friend is a jewelry-maker. sweet, right?)

Let me tell you something: Making friends in a foreign country is serious business.

It's not for lack of people, but mostly for lack of transport. Especially when you live 20 minutes outside the city, have 1 car in your household and your husband possesses said car for 60+ hours a week. There's no way Gabe would let me get on a Kuwaiti bus (here's why). He's even iffy about my taking a cab solo (here's why and here's why). On top of all that, I am as low-key as it comes with friendship...I'm pretty content entertaining myself most days and haven't been too stressed about getting social.

But earlier this summer, a friendly midwestern newlywed (like myself) named Rachel emailed to say she was moving to Kuwait with her husband and had stumbled across my blog. We excitedly planned to meet up for a shopping trip or coffee once she got settled in. Last month she arrived and dropped an email to say "let's meet up soon!". I explained where I lived + sent her a map as it's tricky to find residential addresses here. She quickly emailed back the same map with a big arrow pointing to the building next to mine...

...turns out she lives next door. WHAT! We wigged out. Crazy perfect, considering we're in city of several million and hadn't even chatted about where I lived or where they were apartment-hunting.

It also turns out that Rachel is a crafty gal with an eye for repurposing jewelry pieces into really sweet, wearable new things! She's even starting an online shop, Fayeth, and gifted me three of her pieces when we met up (two pictured above). They're absolutely adorable...the headband is so pretty I often leave it sitting on my dresser just so I can watch it sparkle. :)

She's working on building her online shop, Fayeth, so be sure to check that as it grows. But for now you can get your paws on her handcrafted treasures at these two brick + mortar shops:

Stix and Roses
3854 W. Irving Park Road
Chicago, IL 60618
122 W Main Street
State Center, IA 50247

No pun intended, but this jewelry designer is a gem. Having a her next door is fantastic ...someone who's up for little neighborhood adventures or cool with just lounging around the house...and it feels a bit safer knowing a friendly face is literally just steps away. Last night we booked in-home manis + pedis and spent the evening gabbing with two hilarious nail techs from the Philippines. So much fun. It's one of those good, casual, real-life friendships free of any need to put on airs...as evidenced by the fact that she often stops by and I proclaim,

"Hey! Uh, I haven't showered. Or done anything productive. But come on in! Look how cute Lucky is today!"
Ah. Now isn't that the sign of true friendship? ;)


i believe in...

(only my friend shannon would own scissors this cute. taken in april, on a trip to philly.)

Remember back when I used to do these little Monday posts...a lists of silly, serious or random things I believe in? Just a Monday kickstart of sorts. My friend Mary tweeted me today, saying she missed my "I believe in Monday" posts. Gabe always tells me he misses them, too.

I suppose I miss them as well. So, here we go:

I believe in...

...fall. Even if it's 109 degrees in Kuwait--and life looks more "sandstorm" than "enchanted autumnal forest"--it is still fall to me. And I still have an overwhelming desire to buy boots, scarves and mittens.

...turning off all "push notifications" on my phone. And most location services....creepy!

...yoga pants. If this period of my life were made into a cartoon, my character would be wearing yoga pants. And a stolen t-shirt from Gabe + a sports bra. And let's get real: it's not because I'm headed to the gym, most days.

...letting Lucky share our bed. (Kids, no. Pets, yes.) Waking up to a little beast, snuggled in my arm crook? I die.

(love the nooks + crannies at swanton berryfarm. taken in march, in santa cruz.)

...counting down the days to everything. Seven days til Gabe turns 36. Nine days til I'm on a flight back to visit the US. Twenty-two days til I meet my best friend's baby boy, and celebrate her birthday.

...drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte the second my plane lands in the US next week.

...getting back on the blog horse, even though I've been the worst for the past few months. I try not to write unless I feel I have something to say, and then try not to apologize if it's sporadic. I'll continue to do that. We all follow oodles of blogs, and don't need someone blathering on just because she feels she has to meet a quota. Trust me, I want to say things. There's just less to say here. Or maybe I have to figure out what to say. Or how to say it. Something. Regardless, there's some figuring out to do.

So, yeah. I believe in all that.

What do you believe in today?

Happy Monday, pals. Hope it's swell. :)


kuwait in threes.


Last week, Gabe and I were out to lunch when I noticed a couple sitting awfully close. I perked up and urgently whispered to Gabe,

"Oh my lands. Don't look now, but the couple behind you is getting SO SAUCY. And I don't even think they're married. Oh lord! He's nuzzling her hair! Her hand is on his thigh...IN PUBLIC!"

I. Was. Scandalized. My verbal play-by-play of their affection continued while we finished our lunch. At this point I realized had this little tête-à-tête occured in the US, I'd never notice. But here...it was dinging my Scandal Radar something fierce.

And therefore...at the end of Expathood: Month Three I'll proudly claim to have adjusted to the social norms in this country. Not assimilated, but certainly adjusted.

So, here's a little insight into my first three months, in three sets of three. Cause why not? :)

three things i've learned

one: With all that is going on in the Middle East this week, I feel I can't state this enough: the people here are peaceful. They're either interested or completely indifferent to our existence. It's so easy to make snap judgements about a culture thousands of miles away, based solely on what the media plays out. But please believe me when I say that what you read + see on TV is the exception rather than the rule. We are safe. We are respected. For that I'm so thankful.

And we have the utmost respect for those around us...even if they worship another higher power or live by another set of social rules than what we know...we respect their choices.

two: We have maids, and they will happily wash our dishes if I tip them. This discovery is both powerful and dangerous. I try my best not to use this knowledge for evil. ;)

three: The Kuwaiti Dinar is currently the strongest currency in the world. ($3.60 US dollars = 1 Kuwaiti Dinar) This is why I faint nearly every time we go shopping as I calculate cost conversions in my head. $13 for a head of broccoli, $14 for the amount of soy milk we'd pay $4 for back in the US...or $120 for an IKEA item that's $80 back home. It's add ups FAST. And it's certainly eye-opening.

I will never, ever complain about US prices.

three things i've loved

one: Unexpected camel sightings! There are beautiful, rare moments in which all the menial, dull or inconvenient experiences here are washed away when I realize I'm doing something no one would have ever expected. Not even me. Camels and melodic calls to prayer always bring on that caliber of joy.

two: Ocean view from our bedroom, office and living room. Ocean view, Gulf view. Whatever you want to call it...how I lived for years without an ocean view and access to innumerable sea shells is beyond me. Every morning between 4am and 5am, Lucky + I wake up to watch the sun rise over the rippled water. It's pink and orange and watery blue. Every color of lovely.

three: Holy canoli, girls. The shopping options can make this smalltown gal's head spin. From Forever 21 to Kate Spade...from IKEA to Pottery Barn to ZARA Home...you can shop your tush off.

three things i've missed

one: I miss ease. It's a complex thing to miss, or even explain, but for example: I miss waking up and getting dressed in 15 minutes without stressing about offending someone. I miss having my own car, and easily getting from point A to point B. I miss buying new bedding without having to perform mathematical contortions to decipher what size our bed is: US King? UK King? Middle Eastern King? Is that size in cm or inches?

two: I miss rain and flowers and chilly, dewy mornings. And estate sales and farmer's markets and bumping into friends at the grocery store. You could say I most miss the style of American charm I've known for 26 years.

three: I miss Target. There, I said it. Of everything my home country has to offer....I miss the Big Red Dot.


Whoever said, "It's the little things" was no liar. It is indeed the little things I enjoy here, and the little things I miss most. :)
Happy weekend, friends.


thoughts while jazzing up a planter.

(not a fancy diy here, but this is what the planter used to look like)

Sometimes in a world of Pinterest and visual perfection, it's easy to give up when you're not in the perfect situation. You don't have the right room to decorate, the right body to dress, the right location to access cute things. Why try, right?

Until this week, I had not crafted anything in months...since before my move to Kuwait. I rarely even used Pinterest and I unsubscribed from a ton of cute decor blogs. They just made me feel sad about my drastic change of lifestyle. Because I'm an all or nothing girl. And if I can't make life "all" and perfect, then I'm all about "nothing". For the past few months, I was just stuck. Stuck in "nothing"...a place where I fit in neither here in Kuwait or there, in my old life. (More here.)

Life just isn't that cute or creatively easy anymore. Heck, finding a needle + thread here took trips to multiple stores! I've learned that carrying on with who you are takes a lot more work in a culture so unlike your own, in a place so far from home.

For example, our new home. Our apartment isn't exactly adorable. It's large + livable, and much cleaner than our first place in Kuwait...but it's no inspiring vintage home with hardwood floors and a beautiful porch. (I miss you, old home!) There's some cray swirly mural painting all over the living room, the curtains are from an 80's tasseled nightmare and let's not talk about the furniture. Oh, and there's a whole lot of checkerboard floors. (I'll show you a photo someday.) 

But there's an incredible beach view + a Starbucks in the basement...so that covers a multitude of sins.

Anyway, what I really want to say is...regardless of all that...I finally feel the desire to try. To try to be happy here, to make this place my own. Maybe it's Lucky or maybe my recent trip. Maybe because I finally made a good friend, a crafty Midwestern 20-something much like me, and I feel less alone. Or maybe it was just the passing of time. Growing tired of carrying sadness over all this presumed "perfect" I left behind, to come to this bumpy journey of imperfection.

But, life is imperfect...not just for me...for everyone no matter how it looks from the outside. Sometimes more imperfect, sometimes less. Right now, life just is more imperfect than it once was. But I refuse to make this year or two years a blank white wall...where I cease to exist creatively...simply because my circumstances aren't as easy as they once were. Paint, fabric and making my home feel personal brings me joy. It has since I was a 12 year old girl, painting her bedroom at midnight. Giving that up is such a cop-out. It's just a pathetic fear of not being good enough, fear of having to work harder at something than I used to...and that's a lame excuse. 

All that to say, I painted a planter and tied some ribbons around it. Not exciting. Not epic. Not pin-worthy. It wasn't much, but in the smallest way, this little planter was my first effort. The first piece of old "me" that meshed with the new "me"...a girl who's ready to make a temporary, but cute, home in Kuwait.

And I'm happy about it.


rome: the end. (finally.)

I love traveling. I love it. But I'm the worst at sitting down right away to filter through photos and write about my trip. Maybe because it's so fresh, it's overwhelming? Who knows. But then, when I do try to write about a visit, it gets so wildly lengthy that I can't help but think,

"No one is going to read this, Beth. People just want PHOTOS. Shut your mouth up and post some cute photos."

So, incase I haven't already convinced you to visit Rome...I'm just going to bombard you with this final, photo-heavy post...with a little text in between. Feel free to skip the text. Just consider this one last plea to take a trip to Italy as soon as your budget allows. ;)

For reference, I hung out within this beautiful triangle of space which enveloped Piazza del Popolo, Fountain de Trevi, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, so most of these photos are from wandering in that area...with a sidestep over to the Vatican. I did visit the Roman ruins and the Colosseum...the famous spots, but this area was what I truly enjoyed most of all.

Full disclosure, I took mostly iPhone photos on this trip. Not my usual travel groove, but I was traveling alone. Most days I walked 6-7 miles in beasty heat and humidity! By day three, toting a DSLR with an extra lens, plus normal purse contents had given me serious purse arm. And, the streets are packed...even after dark. It makes stopping to pull out your camera, adjust your settings less than easy. Since I was alone and often walking home after sunset, I opted for comfort and safety.

So, I only took my DSLR out on shorter trips, less busy day trips. Because sometimes you just need to enjoy yourself.

The Vatican (above) is...amazing. Unfortunately you cannot take photos in the Sistine Chapel, and the place is crazy full of people. Oh, and it's boiling-lava-hot inside. But definitely worth a trip. Just be sure to buy tickets in advance, otherwise you risk standing in line (in the elements) for an hour or more!
Every day I walked past this adorable bookstore that was packed to the ceiling. Literally. An old gentleman sat inside, often talking to someone on the phone. So I'd pause, page through the stacks of books and listen to him speak in Italian.

Sidewalk cafes are around every, single corner. Perhaps this is why I loved Rome so much. An opportunity to eat every 10 feet? Why not! In the busier areas, there were often men whose only job was to lure you into their cafe, shouting at every passerby:
"Bella! Miss! Stop and eat! I'll give you a very nice table!"
Since I'm not a fancy foodie, I often chose my lunch and dinner cafe by whomever said the funniest, sweetest or most interesting line as I passed. Yeah. I'm a sucker like that. ;)
There is so much shopping to do. I window-shopped, as I didn't have space or cash for anything extravagant. But the finest stores line these streets...some even guarded by buff Italian men. I kept my distance from those, but did come close enough to snap a few photos of lustable Miu Miu shoes + coats.
Most streets genuinely DO look like the above photo. Charm and creeping ivy are around every single corner. At night, the sidestreets stay quite busy...some are guarded by police, too, so I felt pretty safe wandering about!

Trevi Fountain was perhaps the most busy area of Rome I encountered. It took me five minutes to get close enough to the water to toss in a penny + make a wish! But it's very worthy of a stop. The streets nearby are lined with vendors selling Roman Holiday posters and all kinds of trinkets. It's a wonderful area in which to find yourself lost. Oodles of restaurants offer outdoor tables here...it's a fabulous people-watching location! :)
And finally, a word to my single ladies: Go to Rome. Go. Since I was eating alone, a few charming waiters brought me lemoncello + wine on the house...then hung around to chat. One waiter offered to take me dancing after his shift ended. (Obviously I declined. My friend, Lauren, was right...wedding rings just seem to be an invitation for Italian men to try harder!) On my final night in Rome, I was eating solo in Piazza Navona when a guy on a bike stopped to ask if I'd like company. I'd read that this happens frequently if you eat alone...so I politely, and yet awkwardly, told him I was married, but he was welcome to pull up a chair + chat. He laughed, and did anyway. Turns out he was an American expat, living in Italy for five years. So, we had fun discussing the perils + tribulations of expat-hood!

No funny business. Totally respectable, just friendly. Swear on a stack of Domino Magazines. But, after a week of talking to myself, it was so nice to have a conversation with a stranger!

From my experience...the people are so, so nice. The men were flirty...but not sleezy. If you're single, your chances for meeting an Italian heartthrob are pretty high. Just be smart + keep your wits about you!

And that, my friends...was Rome. :)


rome: where i stayed + what i ate.

I adore a nice hotel. But, because my trip to Rome was impromptu...I assumed all the cute, moderately priced hotels would be snatched up. My penchant for boutique hotels was laid aside, along with any fancy illusions about what my $140/night budget could buy in the Eternal City.

I was wrong. After a few hours of online digging...I found the Holy Hotel Grail: Casa Montani.

As the taxi pulled up to the building just outside the Piazza del Popolo and I rode up the charming, teeny gated elevator to the 4th floor property, I kept suppressing my hopes...thinking there must be something wrong with this adorable 5 guestroom hotel. Afterall, the price was just too cheap.

Wrong again. My room was the perfect size...and everything was simply beyond expectation. From the most gorgeous carved headboard, the sweet street view, the coziest bed I've experienced in years,  and luxurious rainforest shower head. It was right up there with the 5 star hotels I've stayed at in the US + Europe.

Each morning began with a rolling, silver breakfast tray delivered to my door...stocked with fresh fruit, croissants + nutella and fresh, steaming coffee. Yeah. I miss that part.

I also miss waking up and leaning out my window to take in this sweet street view.

So, the hotel was my first love in Rome. But throughout the week, I found three other loves.

Their names are Bruschetta, Wine and Gelato.

Bruschetta: Both Gabe and I agree that produce just isn't the same in Kuwait...we made the mistake of buying a Kuwaiti tomato and, well, it was rough and ruined tomatoes for the past few months. But, Italy really redeemed the tomato for me, and I ate bruschetta an average of twice a day. There is nothing, nothing in the world quite like the bruschetta I ate while sitting in street cafes. Add a little olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar and just watch the world go by.

Dang it, now I'm jonesing for bruschetta. On to my next love.

Wine: All alcohol is illegal in Kuwait (buuzzzkillll), but I regained my Booze Legs over the course of a few days in Italy. Drinking wine by 11am will do that to you, right? On my second-to-last day in Rome, I strolled down to Fountain di Trevi to enjoy an early lunch. Sitting on the cobbled street, watching the crowds pass, I ordered bruschetta and a glass of white wine...but the waiter brought me a 1/4 litre. Obviously this girl isn't going to waste wine, and it really didn't look like THAT much. So, I slowly drank the glass. Then poured more....polishing off the wine, growing warmer...and a little dizzier as the time passed.

And then, when I tried to stand up to leave, it all hit me: the combination of too much wine, hot + humid weather and uncomfortable shoes on cobbled streets.

I was pretty tipsy. Accidentally. Me + walking home wasn't going to work.

So, what's a girl to do...when she's accidentally drunk at noon, wandering alone in Italy with a 1 mile walk home...in uncomfortable shoes? She sobers up in a piazza with some gelato.

Gelato: Pistachio, specifically, in a cup. Lemoncello will do in a pinch. Although, a gentleman coerced me into trying Nutella gelato on my last night in Rome. Wise man. Wise, wise man. If you've never had it, get on that pronto. Don't let anyone tell you "It's like ice cream." It is not. It's just not. It's better.

To say I loved Rome would be the understatement of the century...and I've got more to share over the next few days. But, I adored every minute of it. Oh, except for that minute where I didn't check my translator app while reading a menu...which resulted in accidental anchovy pizza order.

Gross. But, I'd do Rome all over again in a heartbeat.

Well, I'd do it again...but maybe less wine if I'm walking home alone. ;)


having a purpose.

(what i've been looking at. instagram: rinserepeatblog.)

Just a word to the wise: Don't adopt a teeny, orphaned street kitten unless you have the ability to drop off the face of the planet for two weeks to feed him every two hours, coax medicine down his throat and chase him around to ensure that he's not falling off/choking on/bumping into/dozing off/crawling under every unsafe item in your home.

Should you choose to accept this challenge, expect all of the aforementioned things to happen...every single hour. Also expect that your teeny treasure will declare your laptop Public Enemy #1, prancing across the keyboard and turning everything you type into:


So, let's hope you don't have any ultra-important online communication awaiting you. ;)

Thankfully, I've had nothing better to do over the past 14 days than to act as a kitten shield and feline pillow, watching TV or reading a book while Lucky awkwardly sprawls across me rendering me unable to move more than two inches without waking him. And it's been a total joy. He's needy, but you know? It's nice to be needed, to feel like I have a purpose. Even if that purpose is something as silly as keeping a teeny baby kitten alive...a kitten that no one really cares about except Gabe and me...it's therapeutic.

Purpose is something that I've lacked since my move to Kuwait (more here), but taking the last few weeks to just...unexpectedly disappear, to be mostly silent...to travel, to fall in love with this teeny, tiny thing that needs me has been beyond therapeutic. It's that ol' thing where you think you're saving someone, but in reality...that someone saves you. And yeah, for me that "someone" is a kitten. Silly, but true. And even if I temporarily set aside writing and keeping up on Google Reader for two weeks to figure this out...the kitten snuggles are a nice pay off. :)

But I'll say this: Gabe and I are the most nervous pet owners alive. Because Lucky started his time with us by, oh...almost dying....every sneeze leads to no less than 17 Google searches to make sure he is healthy. This baby kitten is enough for our delicate nerves, and we've been routinely swearing off having children for the next five ten eight years. Okay, exact number of years is TBD. But...no kids for many, many moons.

Cross my heart I'll be back on Monday (with a 100% kitten-free post about Rome...finally!). Gabe came though with a ridiculously huge kitten playpen, so I can finally use my laptop, take a few photos or work on a craft project without worrying about Lucky getting into trouble. I'm so jazzed to be back here regularly, like a normal human being who writes a blog in a foreign country so that her friends + family know that she's still alive. ;)

Thanks for sticking around, even if I've been a bit scarce!


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