The Marriage Chronicles: Year Four

Expressing how strange and tough this year was might be an understatement for all of us. It’s sadly fitting that the beginning of our year in review coincides with the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. I remember sitting on a crowded train in Belgium during our third anniversary trip, headed from Bruges to Ghent, thinking, I wonder if anyone on this train already has the virus they’ve been talking about.

At that point, we had no idea what was in store but it was already upon us. In the next few weeks we’d face our first lockdown, begin wearing masks as a daily routine, and learn what social distancing entailed.

Thankfully we had a very welcome distraction from the world’s mayhem when we saw two little pink lines on a pregnancy test. We were absolutely thrilled. For us, this past year could be summed up with the two P’s: Pandemic & Pregnancy. An odd combination, but I’m so thankful for our baby girl who kept us hopeful and looking to the future during such a lonely, frustrating year.

Through it all, Scott was my constant companion. My intrepid travel partner, my mid-lockdown Animal Crossing buddy, my shoulder to lean on (quite literally in the latter part of pregnancy), my hand to hold during a 22-hour labor, my selfless co-parent during nighttime feedings and diaper changes, and my favorite person to hang out with in the thick of a global pandemic–thank goodness too, because we were blessed with a lot of time together this year. Not once did I tire of sharing Italian takeout or watching a new series in our endless TV queue. When Scott’s around, every day is a good one.

February

After our fabulous anniversary trip to Belgium, we came home to face reality: gloomy German winter and a global pandemic. We began to realize that life was about to change–pretty quickly.

March

Our first taste of lockdown and social distancing. We escaped the house for some hiking, annoyed Ralph with our antics out of sheer boredom, and played a lot of Animal Crossing. The best part was seeing our little one for the first time and watching a healthy, flickering heartbeat on that monitor. I felt like I would burst with joy.

April

This was one of our more industrious months, back when we thought it would be “just a few weeks to flatten the curve.” We gave our balcony a little makeover in the gorgeous weather and celebrated Easter with Mass on the laptop and a homemade picnic in the park. Got another glimpse of our little babe, too! We had the opportunity to make dinner for our awesome single airmen who were in lockdown with little to no kitchen equipment. Things got super glamorous as I cut Scott’s hair for the first time when all the barbers had to close. Thankfully I managed to do a half-decent job–and my new skills have come in handy during this latest lockdown.

May

More hiking, more social distancing, but we got the best surprise when we found out something very special–we were having a girl! I couldn’t believe it when I saw that pink confetti fill the air. I was sure we’d continue the trend of all boys on my side of the family, but God had different plans for us. We were–and are–overjoyed to have a daughter.

At the end of the month we bicycled on a railroad track (so cool!) through the German countryside. Thankfully Scott and our friend Shane did almost all of the hard work and Lauren and I sat back and enjoyed the views.

June

Strawberry picking, doctor’s appointments, and a fast-growing bump. Baby girl was definitely making herself known by this point. We enjoyed the sunshine with more picnics but began to grow weary of staying home when we longed to visit some dreamy European destinations.

July

When things briefly opened up here in the summer, we jumped at the chance to head to the Alps and spent the Fourth of July weekend in Garmisch. I’d go back again in a heartbeat. The views were out of this world, the food was incredible, and I got to fulfill my pregnancy wish of taking a plunge into icy, alpine water. After miles and miles of hiking, my swollen joints were in heaven. Scott wasn’t as desperate for a cold dip, so he documented from the sunny shore. 😉

At the end of the month, while Scott was in the States for training, Lauren and I took the train to Paris. We toured the Louvre, snapped some photos of the Eiffel Tower, and–when her phone was stolen on the subway–spent a stressful evening trying to sort out what to do. After a couple of hours on the phone with tech support, we snuck in a lovely dinner at an outdoor café and took the next train home the following morning. Not the most idyllic trip to be sure, but it was definitely nice to see a new city with a great friend.

August

Scott turned 28! I always love his birthdays, probably even more than mine because it means warm weather and chocolate sheet cake, which I’m more than happy to make because it’s just so dang good. Plus it’s easy to celebrate such a wonderful husband. He flew several missions that month, but we did make a trip to the lovely Black Forest. It was the perfect escape with gorgeous waterfalls and cuckoo clocks galore.

September

We didn’t know it then, but this would be our last true travel month of the year. We spent Labor Day weekend in Heidelberg, fulfilling our dream we’ve had since moving here: walking from our house to the train station and taking the train all the way to our destination. The castle and views of the city are stunning and we relished our time wandering the gorgeous historic streets–and eating dessert at every meal.

At the end of the month, my sweet sister threw us a wonderful virtual baby shower and it was amazing to see our loved ones in one place (on one screen) for the first time in ages. Baby girl was certainly spoiled with lots of lovely things.

Life in Europe is very seasonal and we try to embrace each one fully. September brought apple picking, one of my favorite outings of the year.

October

The calm before the storm. We put the finishing touches on the nursery, spent a day at the cutest pumpkin farm (where we enjoyed a three-course pumpkin feast), and prepared for life as a family of three.

November

The sweetest, hardest, most incredible month of all. Miss Jane Louise Hartsfield came into the world at 9 lbs 4 oz on November 14th at 7:20 PM and our lives were changed forever. The joy of parenthood washed over us and we tried our best to soak up every newborn snuggle, even in our sleep-deprived state. It was a rather long labor (which I’m hoping to finally document in full soon) and a slow recovery, but Scott was–and is–the most amazing husband and father. During the toughest weeks, he never complained and took such good care of his girls.

By some miracle, we summoned the energy to prepare a full Thanksgiving spread. Even the yeast rolls and pie crust were from scratch. Scott roasted a turkey for the first time (so. good.) and we feasted with Shane while Lauren visited family back in Texas.

I turned 29 on the 29th and we celebrated by picking out and decorating our Christmas tree. For obvious reasons, this is always one of my favorite days of the year. I remember just spilling over with happiness standing in front of our twinkling tree with my little girl.

December

Baby girl’s first Christmas! It was so special experiencing the season as a family of three, though we were heartbroken not to have a house full of loved ones like we’d planned. Praying for next year!

We made it to Christmas Eve Mass and spent the following day in matching pajamas at Shane and Lauren’s for more merriment. It’s hard to remember much else from December. But oh, how sweet the days were with that little newborn.

January

Lots of snow in the thick of German winter, lots of tummy time, and many long days in the rocking chair. Jane has been a good baby from the beginning so we were blessed with more sleep than I think most newborn parents are able to get. We have loved seeing her grow (and grow, and grow…) and January brought with it those trademark Jones cheeks.

February

My camera roll is officially filled with baby rolls. This happy, chunky girl just lights up our world. We spent a lovely Valentine’s Day at church in person for the first time in quite a while. We baked a yellow layer cake I’d been craving. (By the way, I highly recommend making it for a special occasion.)

Jane and I made it through our first days (successfully!) without Scott while he flew a mission to upgrade to Aircraft Commander. Congrats to the squadron’s newest AC! We hate when he’s away, but it’s so sweet when he returns. Jane absolutely beamed when she saw him again.

Cheers to four years!

Our anniversary plans look much different this year. We’re not traveling to a romantic locale, dinner might (definitely) be interrupted by the cutest little girl, but there is nowhere I’d rather be than with this husband of mine. The best part of the day is when he comes through the door to find me and Jane. All is well in the world when the three of us are together.

Every year of our marriage has been special, but watching Scott become a dad and hold our baby girl in his arms? Well, I’ve tried but there just aren’t words for that.

I love you, sweetheart. Can’t wait for another year by your side, with our daughter along for the adventure this time.

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