Traveling with Baby

Life after having a baby doesn’t have to stop! You can still get that degree you want. You can still travel. You can still have a spicy relationship with your husband. I truly believe that. When it was just me and Ari, we were constantly back and forth to Florida and Chicago to see my family. With Gianluca we have been to Naples, NYC, Jersey, D.C. North Carolina, Miami, Chicago, St. Louis, Italy and Spain. Some of these trips were taken by car, some by plane, some by train and our trip to N.C. was a solo trip with just me, baby and my 8 year old. Now if you don’t have a husband/mom/friend or an 8 year old daughter to help you out when you have to run to the tiny bathroom that barely fits your rear end then yes things are going to be a bit of a struggle. That is my first tip for traveling with a baby- try not to do it alone!!! I’ve done it by myself with Ari and it was a work out! If you’re traveling by car there will be no one to go into the back seat to calm baby down when they’re upset. If your traveling by plane getting through security with your stroller will be a pain in the ass and you will have to rely on the kindness of strangers to help you out (which there will be- particularly if you are near a fellow mama who has been there done that). Then you might have a few minor hiccups that are just completely unexpected… for example, let’s say you have pumped a few bottles of breast milk. You think you are totally prepared for anything until you realize that there is something called a change in cabin pressure and now said breast milk is leaking from all of your medela bottles from the over head compartment and dripping onto your fellow passenger’s heads… and now you have to explain to them what is coming out of your little black bag above them and apologize profusely. Breast milk is good for the skin and scalp though right? Ugh…

Anyway my next travel tip for mamas is to zip up your Louis Vuitton suitcase and just fly on your private plane with your full time nanny. If your like most of us then obviously I’m kidding. The next travel tip is to never ever run out of food or milk. Hell hath no fury like a hungry baby. It’s also important to have little fun toys and activities for your kids and depending on their age those toys and activities obviously change. Arianna is completely satisfied with the movies on the airplane. Gianluca however needed a steady rotation of toys, books, chew toys, snacks, drinks and every couple of hours a new parent to play with because we were exhausted. It is tough being in a confined space for 9-10 hours with a little one. Mentally prepare yourself. If you are going across “the pond” it ain’t going to be easy. Honestly even going to NC (which is an hour flight) with Gianluca awake felt like one of the longest flights of my life! If your child is sleeping you have hit the jack pot mama. Do everything you can to keep that baby asleep even if that means letting baby take up your entire seat while they lay tummy down spread out like a star fish on your first class seat while you take the edge of the foot rest for 6 hours (sitting first class with a baby means that baby sits first class- you sit pretty much on the floor and will maybe get to take a sip of the complimentary OJ or champagne while baby eats and throws and smooshes all of the complimentary snacks and food). So another thing is and this goes for everything in parenting, it depends on the kid. You have to know your kid. Ari as a baby usually slept on the airplane. She was perfect until we began our descent. She had really sensitive ears up until about 6 or 7 years of age and she would cry hysterically when her ears were clogged or popping. If that’s your kid, remember to feed them or have them drink from their bottle when descending. Gianluca could care less about the pressure change he just does not stop moving when he is awake and he’s usually awake for some part of the plane ride. This means I get an incredible arm work out, slapped or kicked in the face a few times (who doesn’t need a good quality dose of humility from time to time though) and usually end up with his or my food smeared all over my shirt or pants. Got to love motherhood.

So anyway now that you have survived the journey, you’re at your destination. Did you remember to bring baby’s car seat? Most rental car companies will let you rent a car seat from them if you didn’t feel like checking a car seat… but it comes with a price parents! In Italy it was $50/day, so my husband bought a cheap car seat for us to take with us and cursed every time it bounced off of a suitcase (well you can’t have it all).

Hotel or Air BnB? I love air BnB’s if you’re traveling with kids, because your child has the space to crawl around, you have access to a washer and dryer for those poop blow outs, a kitchen sink to clean out bottles etc.. and if you pick a kid friendly place they may even have a high chair and crib! Hotels on the other hand, may not be as kid friendly and you probably don’t want your baby crawling on the hotel floors.  Also if you and your spouse need to have a private “conversation” its always nice to have different rooms to hide in.  The upside to a hotel though for me is the complimentary breakfast and in Europe they usually have an awesome buffet style breakfast with fresh fruits, juices, salads, boiled eggs, assorted pastries, pancakes, nutella, coffees, cappuccinos, bacon etc.  because they are trying to please their Aussies, Americans, Germans, Swedes, Brits, long story short… travelers from all over the place.

Are you in a foreign country? Be mentally prepared again- other countries (please don’t be offended if you live in a foreign country) are not as kid friendly as the United States. I’m not saying they don’t love and appreciate children. I’m referring specifically to most public restrooms and quality side walks (I’m pointing my finger at you Italy!) Those romantic narrow cobble stone Italian streets that you once loved aren’t quite as romantic when you are pushing a pram up and down them while a vespa almost runs you over.

Packing: As any veteran mama knows, always have food that baby likes.  Yes, baby can always try new foods wherever you are.  It was adorable watching Gianluca take down slices of pizza in Italy but we also found out that Gianluca loves kiwis and pineapples but they do not love that boy back!  Every time he would eat them he would break out in a rash.  I also found it hard to find organic baby food and formula so I would bring a little stash with you full of your favorite brands.  Same goes for wipes, the “sensitive formula wipes” in Europe still contained chemicals that irritated Gianluca’s little booty.  We stayed for 3 weeks so by a week and a half all of my organic/clean products were gone and I had to hunt for the best I could find in their pharmacies and grocery stores.  Bring extra changes of clothes… you know why.  Also, bring little travel sizes of your favorite cleaning products.  You are probably going to need to hand wash some laundry and you will definitely need to wash bottles, pacifiers, toys that baby threw out of the pram etc…  And I never travel without my baby bottle cleaner!  What else can I suggest… most of the other things that you need to pack I feel are pretty obvious…  Hmm… maybe also remember a nail file for baby’s claws?

Pregnant with a baby bump?  Make sure YOU have snacks!  There’s nothing worse than having that hungry nauseous pregnancy feeling.  If you’ve never been pregnant you don’t know what I’m talking about.  Those Preggie Pops are also pretty awesome for nausea if you can’t get your hands on a quality snack that isn’t prosciutto or some other “no no list” food item.  Preggie Pops saved me while driving through the death trap narrow spinning streets of The Amalfi Coast and during plane take offs.

Okay mama (or papa) now that I have given you the reality of traveling with your baby I’d like to end this post with how amazing it will be if you can conquer all of that (and yes you can)!  You will make priceless memories, take beautiful photos, see baby do new things in beautiful places for the first time and be able to say, “remember in Rome when Gianluca started to say “mama” or when he ate that entire gelato in Tropea, and when he went swimming in the Amalfi Coast and Ari jumped off of that cliff with you for the first time and remember that perfume store in Spain and our hilarious tour guide and nonna Teresa in Praiano? Can we go back and visit her?” Now those memories are what make a life and bring you closer as a family. And let’s be honest even the rough memories eventually just become funny memories!  I laugh every time I think of my breast milk story  ( I wasn’t laughing then though- I was horrified)!  The journey is bumpy but I would do it again and again. Buena suerte and Buon Viaggio! 36374355_10212378183795242_8949756124446326784_o

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And another baby makes 5

What a year it has been so far. So many surprises have happened and just things that have shocked me, scared me and stressed me out but have all turned out well!
I’ll start by saying we moved. We were getting ready to build and then my husband decided against it. Then he showed me a house he had heard about; found online and that was it. We went to go see it the next day and made an offer. The first day we moved in, Gianluca decided to move as well and started crawling. A week or two later I started to feel nauseous. We were going to court for Ari’s adoption and I was terribly nervous about how it would play out. I prayed and prayed and then later turned on the radio to hear a sermon about God adopting people and what it means when God has adopted you. I cried, maybe God was telling me things would be okay? I woke up the morning of court and saw rainbows from the sun shining around my bathroom. I thought maybe God is giving me hope?
The day of court was really hard for me but the next day we found out God (and the judge) had moved in our favor. Fast forward Ari’s adoption has been finalized. We have received new birth certificates and everything. It feels like we truly have a clean slate. A few women have asked me about the process of adoption and I am always willing to discuss it. Every state has different laws but I understand the emotions that go with it and am always open about my story with it if you have questions about your own situation.
Meanwhile… like I said I was starting to feel nauseous at the beginning of the week. I went to my Dr. to get my thyroid levels checked by way of blood test and asked to do a pregnancy test as well. There was no way I thought I was pregnant though. At the end of February I had severe bleeding and not to get into more detail of what else but I just concluded I had a miscarriage to a baby that I didn’t realize I was pregnant with. I wasn’t sad because really I just thought I had a horrible period that lasted a couple of weeks and who knows what really happened. Even my Dr. was perplexed! It seemed to mess with everything though, my breast milk levels, my energy etc…
Here comes April though and I get the phone call about my thyroid levels and that my blood test came back positive for a pregnancy! I was already 7 or 8 weeks pregnant. I was shocked, floored, and honestly freaking out. Gianluca was only 8 months old and he needed a mommy that was going to run around with him and roll on the floor with him and have the energy to play! Not a mommy who was going to look like a beach ball in a few months! A baby is always a beautiful thing though and I was happy and even more so when I told my husband and saw how happy he was. Ari was also super excited. My family (excluding my husband) then concluded that the baby was a girl. I too started to believe the baby was a girl too! I had really strange cravings. I do not drink a lot of alcohol because I honestly have and still just HATE the taste! I do love a glass of white wine especially on a summer day or a glass of sweet white wine or champagne when out with friends but as far as at home… I’d rather have tea or kombucha. I really only started to drink wine when I met my husband because he’s a bit of a connoisseur.
However I started craving red wine! This was before I even knew I was pregnant. Anytime I was out I would drink a glass of red wine like a Pinot Noir or Meritage. And I never drink reds, unless my husband tells me to try some of his. I also could not stop eating fruit, especially oranges. Normally I am a veggie girl all the way but some of my favorites like asparagus and mushrooms were making me gag. I should have known something was up! I normally have to remind myself to eat fruit, and to this day I just think it’s the greatest thing now! So, they say when you’re pregnant with a girl you crave fruit and sweets! I’m not feeling the sweets though, unless it’s chocolate (but that happens when I’m not pregnant too). I can’t explain the wine craving! It lasted for only about a month or so and it definitely stopped after I found out I was pregnant. So strange.
I also started to think I was having a girl because I kept seeing those little rainbows in my house. It could just be because we moved into a house that looks like a gigantic sunroom (it’s very modern with huge windows everywhere) so light reflects off of everything or… So another blogger that I love to read had said that when she was pregnant with her daughter she kept seeing rainbows… in case you’re wondering where I’m going with this.
Okay last couple of signs: I only just this week stopped throwing up! My morning sickness did not last this long with Gianluca! And when I saw her little face on the ultrasound I just thought the features looked so delicate and feminine. I told my husband it had to be a girl!
Low and behold this past Monday we did a gender reveal with a cake and my husband’s family. My husband cut the cake and there it was, pink frosting!!!
So now I of course can’t wait to go shopping for her and decorate her room! And oh my goodness, Arianna is just over the moon about having a little sister. She was a good sport about Gianluca being a boy and it turns out she only had to wait a little while to get the sister that she wanted!
We did have a scare though on May 22nd. I started bleeding heavily and got my self to the hospital immediately. Luckily I was only a couple of minutes away anyway because I was volunteering at Ari’s school. After I checked into the emergency department I started to hyperventilate and cry. I just knew I had lost the baby. I called my friend Kristina and told her what was happening. She then began to pray that the bleeding would stop and that the baby would be okay. I wanted to tell her to hold up and that the baby was already dead, that’s why I was bleeding out but her faith in God and her sudden hope that all was not lost gave me hope. Maybe this baby wasn’t gone after all. Nick got to the hospital we did an ultrasound and the baby had a heart beat! They concluded that I had a sub chorionic hematoma that decided to hemorrhage that day. The bad news was that the hematoma was one of the largest that they had seen and was lifting my placenta up. They gave me a 50/50 chance that the baby would survive. I stayed on bed rest for a month and I prayed and cried for most of it. My family and friends were so supportive and filled me with love, cared for Gianluca when I couldn’t lift him up and brought me food. The bleeding stopped about a month ago after we arrived in Europe and I haven’t had it since. I’m still taking it easy because all though the hematoma has reduced its size, it is still there and I don’t want to make it worse obviously. There is nothing to cause it and there is nothing I can do to fully make it go away and it’s actually quite common in pregnancy. I do have a couple of things that I think are helpful for bleeding like CoQ10 supplements and drinking black tea but who knows if they actually work. I suppose it just helps me feel like I have a little more control of my healing on my end while God works it out on his.
So many surprises that have turned out for our Good- Thank God again!

Gianluca

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Gianluca was born on August 13th 2017…
Our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Little party crasher!
Kidding, it was perfect and it was life coming in full circle. I can’t think of a better way to have celebrated our one year of love and commitment than with a new baby boy being born at 4:55 am. He was 7 lbs and 12 oz. He was 21.5 inches long.
I felt like I was having signs of labor all week and the Tuesday before he was born I was convinced he was coming but nope, we were sent home. The Friday before he was born we went out to dinner for our Anniversary because we just weren’t sure when he was going to make his arrival so we figured we would celebrate early. Then on Saturday I was determined to get him out. I did not want to be induced! I woke up, went straight to a local Indian restaurant ate a bunch of spicy lentils, walked through the book store with Ari, my mom and Ava. After that I went golfing with my husband. And when I say golfing I mean I rode on the golf cart and read a Danish parenting book while he golfed. I had serious contractions on the golf cart. After he finished 18 friggin holes we went home I took a shower made myself a cup of hot chocolate (2 tbls cacao and maca powder, mixed with a heaping spoonful of coconut sugar and macadamia nut milk) we went to the hospital.
The most painful part of my labor were the IVs that the nurses failed to get in my veins that they previously said were fantastic… I had bruises all over my arms when I left the hospital. I think my active labor lasted an hour and a half and then a few very painful pushes later and there was a beautiful baby laying on my chest! As easy as I made it seem with that last sentence. There was definitely a moment before his head emerged that I cried and thought I can’t do this. I might have even said it out loud. But then I realized… there was no way to make the pain stop unless I pushed this baby out!
I would have to say one of the happiest moments of my life happened when my husband told me the baby was a boy. I have always wanted a little boy and I always saw myself with one. I had to just exhale and thank God. Seeing my husband with our son is also a dream come true. He is a wonderful father to both Arianna and Gianluca.

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My mother stayed with us for a couple of weeks to help me out which was wonderful and very much needed. Gianluca is two and a half months old now and everyday has been wonderful with him. Some days I am more tired than others, but everyday is a happy day with my blue eyed prince. I’d say the toughest time happened when I came down with mastitis. I thought I was dying. Things are more under control now though and my body has sort of figured out how much milk Gianluca needs. I definitely could still donate enough to feed another infant though, which is worth looking into.
Anyway, we adore him and Arianna is an amazing big sister. I love just staring at my son and seeing him smile and now GIGGLE! We just recently took a trip to New York City this past weekend and my son audibly laughed with me! He farted which always makes me laugh but this time he watched me laugh and then let out his own burst of laughter. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. Gianluca was wonderful on our trip and on the airplane. He won’t remember but it was very important for me to show my children Central Park. It was a beautiful weekend and I loved walking around with my family of four. We also went back to New Jersey since the airport was in Teterboro, the town next to the town I used to live in! We drove through beautiful Hoboken and Weehawken and I was able to show Ari my old house, school and soccer field.

I love my babies and our family feels much more complete with the arrival of Gianluca. I feel so blessed to have two healthy children.

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Honeymoon

A couple of weeks before my anniversary seems appropriate to finally write about my Honeymoon.  Especially considering that I started my first year of marriage looking like this:

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Eze, France

And I’m ending it looking like this:

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Eze, France

Kidding, on my actual anniversary, August 13th I’m hoping I will be holding a baby in my arms not still pregnant!  We shall see!

I have no idea what time I went to bed the night of my wedding.  All I know is the next morning I was up at 7 am throwing my things into a bag and running off to 8 am mass exhausted and hungover.  I drank a lot of white wine at my reception!  We then had to hop a plane to New York and onward to our first destination, Italy.  When we made it Puglia, Italy in the beach like town, Polignano al Mare I’m pretty sure we just passed out for 12 hours.

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This town is known for (besides being beautiful) the restaurant in the cave (which we sadly did not go to/ I’ll be back for one day) and the song Volare as the singer, Domenico Modugno, was born here.  The writer of the song was inspired by Marc Chagall (one of my favorite artists) paintings of lovers whimsically flying in the air together.  You will hear this song being played everywhere.  I heard it on the airplane in a beautiful slow version and I heard it next to our hotel as a little train picks tourists up by the statue of Modugno and plays it throughout the town.  It was adorable.  I absolutely loved this little town.

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Another endearing thing about this town (and the surrounding areas) are the poems that are written everywhere!  Instead of ugly graffiti, the graffiti was just of poems written in Italian of course.

After exploring our little town we ventured to others and managed to catch a few during their festivals.

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One of my favorite towns was Alberobello because of the Trulli.  These little funny shaped homes that are now full of little artisan shops.

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We also saw Lecce and Ostuni.  I do wish we explored Lecce more, but again, one day I’d like to go back to Puglia.  The food was amazing and everything was very affordable.

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I lived off of seafood pasta and white wine.

After Puglia we ventured North West to the Ligurian Coast.  We stayed in a town called Rapallo.

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I was so excited because I thought that one of my life long dreams would come to fruition by finally getting to walk around Cinque Terre.  My husband rented this beautiful boat to take us there but within twenty minutes I was sea sick and curled into a ball.  I did get to see Cinque Terre from the sea, but it was with one eye open and the other clenched shut trying to help myself not throw up.  Ah well, maybe one day I’ll be back but with Dramamine.

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The Ligurian Coast is home to one of my favorite dishes, Pesto!  Only they make their Pesto a bit differently.  They use a different type of pasta called, Trofie and they add cut up boiled potatoes and green beans.  Now, when I make Pesto I throw in green beans as well (and also some spinach and walnuts to sneak in more health benefits for Ari).

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My favorite town in the Ligurian Coast was Portofino.  There are a lot of shops there and little hiking trails to take you to more sights.  The Ligurian Coast was gorgeous and I enjoyed just laying by the infinity pool off of the cliffs with my new husband but it came time to explore new territory, Spain.  We took a short flight over to Barcelona and I made it my mission to see all of Gaudi’s work!  As a high school student I was obsessed with his architecture and how creative he was.  The man truly thought out of the box and I loved it.

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The Sagrada Familia was incredible.  They have been building this for over 100 years and it is still not finished.  It will be taller than any building in Barcelona but smaller than the tallest mountain- Gaudi did this in respect for God.  We did not go into any of the structures though because of the lines and the money each one wanted.  If I come back with my children I will make more of an effort to take them inside and let them learn, but I was having a lot of fun just exploring with Nick.

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Spain is known for their Paella.  We ate a lot of Paella in an effort to try them all (I think I make the best Paella though).  I found that my favorite dessert was Crema Catalana.  It’s like a creme brûlée.

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Our favorite restaurant however did not sell crema catalana or paella but fresh plant centered foods, smoothies and juices.  It’s called Flax and Kale and we went there every single day, sometimes twice a day for breakfast and lunch.

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We both needed to detox and my body especially needed alkaline plant based food after eating my weight in pasta and drinking more glasses of wine then I had ever had in those previous 26 years of life.

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happy husband

After our stay in Barcelona in this really cool hotel I might add, that was more like a petit museum (the owner of the hotel also owned an Egyptian museum) we hopped on The Crystal Symphony for a Cruise.

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Our first stop was Majorca/Mallorca.  We went to a wine tasting there which was a lot of fun.  Believe it or not I’ve never done a wine tasting before so I was very excited to have this experience.  I loved our cruise!  I also had never been on a cruise before, so that in itself was exciting for me and scary.  One night I had to grip my bed while trying to fall asleep because of a storm at sea.

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Our cruise also had tea time at 4 pm and I don’t think I missed one day of it!

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I love me some tea time

Next stop Monaco.  I woke up, the sun was shining and I had breakfast on the balcony and this sight to see.  I was on Cloud Nine.

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I loved Monaco.  Nick and I walked around during the day and looked around at all of the shopping.  I did not go into any casinos!

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The most beautiful Starbucks

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At night we went to a beautiful party at Grace Kelly’s Rose Ball and saw Andrea Bocelli sing.  I cried, it was too much beauty and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.  As Nick’s grandfather would say, it was a happy cry.

Another tour that our cruise offered was to Eze, France.  I did this tour solo because Nick was running all sorts of crazy errands that day.  I missed my bus with the group (Nick’s fault) and had to take a taxi to Eze which was actually a great experience.  I was able to ask the taxi driver all about Monaco, Grace Kelly and their citizenship (it’s quite hard to acquire citizenship there).  He dropped me off to meet up with my group at the Fragonard perfumery.  With no husband around I went crazy with souvenir shopping.

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me with my first set of goodies
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Their perfume is their art

Eze was beautiful and hilly.  It was quite the hike and I did it happily in my flip flops because I was just so happy to be there.  All of the shops were so cute.  I made sure to pick up quite a few toys for my Ari from all of the toy shops.  As always the people in France were so kind.  I get defensive when people say the French or Parisians are rude.  I have never found this to be true.

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After my relaxing solo adventure through Eze it was time for our last stop, Rome!  I still make fun of Nick for this because he booked us at the scariest hotel!  I don’t even want to get into all of the things wrong with this place!  I was just so happy to wake up in the morning and just get hell up out of there into the city!  I had not been back to Rome since I was 16 years old.

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I kept trying to piece things back together for myself.  It is such a romantic city and I loved rediscovering it again with my happily ever after.  We stumbled upon the coliseum together, campo de’ fiori and met up with a couple of Nick’s cousins.  We ended our trip with another party.

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It’s a happy life with Nick

And that was our Honeymoon, finally recorded after almost coming full circle with our first year of marriage.

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Maternity Fashion

It’s a rainy Saturday morning and everyone in my house is asleep.  Ari came home a couple of hours ago after her first camp out with her nature camp!  She stayed up until 4 am with the other little girls in her group so as soon as she got home from 7 am pickup I had her take a shower, take her kids multivitamins and probiotic, rubbed some lotion mixed with lavender oil on her and put a movie on to secretly lull her to sleep (she kept telling me she wasn’t tired).  She came home bright eyed and bushy tailed but I figured  it would be best if I had her sleep the rest of the morning and maybe do an activity with her in the afternoon/evening to help her sleep schedule be a little less hectic tonight.  We’ll see how that goes!

As for me and baby we are just waiting around for our due date!  We have two more weeks and I’m feeling pretty good.  Too much standing and walking and I need to sit down though.  Too much sitting and I need to stand up because my back hurts.  It’s constant adjusting until I finally put my feet up and curl into the fetal position at night with a little foot stuck under my rib cage.  I am so excited to meet this little person who has been rolling around and testing the limits of their space every day inside of me.  With that being said, I know some part of me will miss my bump and having a little life to nourish within my core.  Dressing the bump has also been so much fun especially during the summer.  There have been a few people who have commented sympathetically, “poor thing, how are you dealing with the heat?”  And I have to say, the heat in Ohio this summer has not been that bad.  I have enjoyed wearing my little polka dot maternity swim suits to the pool, sitting under an umbrella with a magazine and just watching Ari play.  I also have to say being pregnant in the summer has been very cost efficient.  Winter pregnancies need a whole new coat to fit around the bump!  I wouldn’t even want to try and pull over a tight sweater and be left to sweat every time I went into a warm room.  Not to mention being off balance with a big bump and trying to navigate walking on icy sidewalks.  Yikes!

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Paris was chilly and I could not zip my coat over my little 6 month bump!

  I thought I could be one of those girls who could get away with wearing their normal attire or at least be able to buy normal dresses instead of maternity specific but I quickly found that maternity was just made to fit better and is much more comfortable!  The normal wrap dresses I tried on would maybe fit my breast area but then be too tight on the bump or reverse; they would drown my breast area in fabric and be perfect for the bump.  One of my favorite flowier dresses I wore to an event and felt so beautiful in it but when I got home I had red marks in my shoulders.  The dress had been cutting off my circulation and I had no idea!  So that is why I decided to really research into maternity clothes and commit to the investment in getting clothes that fit my new body type.  I have had so much fun finding cute little dresses and fashionable jeans.  Maternity pants are the first investment I made and early on because my belly felt so tender even when the baby was tiny.  I needed the stretchiness.  A great brand I found at Nordstrom is Paige.  The jeans fit under your bump with two elastic pieces carefully hidden at the sides.  I have a pair that are black with trendy little rips and tears.  I love them.

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paige

Now on to my favorite, dresses!

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kimi and kai

I love a cute dress sans pants!!!  Comfy and classic are two things I love.  One company I fell in love with, again through Nordstrom, is Kimi and Kai.  I was lucky enough to be able to collaborate with them and have them send a couple of dresses to share!

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kimi and kai

Kimi and Kai also have their own website you can visit to see more than just what Nordstrom is offering.  The great thing about maternity clothes is that they can last more than just three trimesters.  Some maternity outfits double as nursing outfits, so instead of having to pull your entire shirt up or down or completely remove it, you can just discreetly pull at a secret piece of fabric and voila!  Milk for baby!

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best of both worlds: maternity and nursing dress combined by kimi and kai

The white dress with black polka dots is exactly what I’m talking about.  Pick up one of those frills on the shoulder and baby has access and no one has been flashed.  I am all for breast feeding but I prefer a cover because I personally am uncomfortable with anyone seeing an intimate moment like that between my child and I, so the more discreet I can be, the more comfortable I am.

A few other designers I like are Seraphine, Olian and Majamas.

One of my favorite dresses that I will be wearing after my pregnancy is this Seraphine navy polka dot dress.  I also fell in love with their comfy form fitting maxis.

Olian has a lot of fun prints and they are based out of Miami.

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Olian

I also found a Company called Moms The Word that sells several different designers.

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I wore this Tees by Tina dress to my baby shower. Found through Moms The Word.
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This dress is Moms The Word’s very own Milan dress.  So comfy and pretty.

And if you just want to be down right comfy, work out, fall asleep, nurse baby, lounge on couch… repeat… I suggest Majamas!  USA made and eco friendly!  Their recycled polyester fabric is my favorite!  I want to live in it forever.  They also have great organic cotton dresses.  I wore one last weekend to a party actually.  I forgot to take photos but no worries it doubles as a nursing dress so I will be wearing it a lot in photos of my new bambino and I!  Their qualcosa tanks are my absolute favorite to wear working out with a bump because they cover your posterior bum when you’re wearing leggings and they cover the bump beautifully with their gorgeous patterns.  The florals are my favorite.  The company is actually in Chicago and the owners are very friendly and helpful (I’ve called them a couple of times to help me with sizing).

Maternity fashion is so cute in my opinion and it’s best to do whatever is comfortable for you and wear whatever makes you feel beautiful because there are parts of pregnancy that are just not so glamorous.  In my opinion when you look good you feel good.  During some of the hard times in my life I knew the best way to cheer myself up and get myself out of the house to work hard for my daughter and I was to just take a shower and put on a cute dress and some red lip stick.  Somehow that made everything else feel manageable to me.  Everyone has their own tricks: yoga class, deep breathing, massage, cooking a beautiful meal, cleaning their home, netflix binge watching etc… Whatever you need, do it because you’ll come back so much better.  Pregnancy in the grand scheme of things is so short but so memorable.  My daughter keeps a photograph of me pregnant with her in her room.  It really is such a beautiful time for you and your child.

 

Traveling while pregnant

Bambino Fedeli has gotten around the world (whether he/she liked it or not).  Our first couple of trips were in my first trimester down to Naples, Florida.  These trips were spent mostly in the fetal position with saltines and ginger ale sitting in bed with me.  Around four months pregnant though we took Ari to Orlando to celebrate her 7th birthday at Disney World with some of Nick’s family and some of mine.  I was fortunately finally coming out of that first trimester haze and feeling well enough to   navigate Epcot and The Magic Kingdom.  We all had a wonderful time and the walking was good for me and baby.  The only difference traveling to Disney World pregnant made was that I of course could not go on some of the really cool roller coasters that I normally would have loved to ride and I had to constantly apply bug spray just to give myself some peace of mind concerning Zika.

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The next trip we took was another big European adventure or pilgrimage I should say.  We hopped on a plane and after three movies landed in Lisbon, Portugal.  17757511_10208851687395036_6783051151990565205_n.jpg

Now on this trip I’m about 6 months pregnant and I’ve got a little beach ball attached to me.  Portugal is very hilly so the pregnancy waddle was in full swing along with some minor complaints about how my feet hurt and some times when I just flat out stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to catch my breathe and pop my back.  The food in Portugal was pretty good in my opinion.  I don’t think my husband was over the moon about it, but he can’t see very far past Italian food.  It was a lot of cod cooked with onions and boiled potatoes.  I’m all for fish and potatoes so I had no problem with this.

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Ari ate a lot of their grilled and pressed cheese sandwiches.  All of us without question fell in love with a little pastry called Pastel de Nata.  They taste like a hybrid of a croissant and a yellow colored creme brûlée.  Delicious.  We ate about 7 a day, or at least I did.  Were they pregnancy safe?  I doubt it, the custard is made mostly of egg yolks and they are definitely not all the way cooked but for goodness sake if I followed every little thing I would be eating packaged food all of the dang time and that really goes against my eating philosophy of fresh whole food.  “Don’t eat sprouts, be careful if the veggies are bad or if the spinach has e coli, don’t eat this cheese, this fish, the sandwich, the salad with that dressing, the sushi, kombucha etc…” I understand some suggestions but others geesh.

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Lisbon reminded Nick and I of Barcelona.  Both are pretty tropical and warm.  Lisbon is just much more like I said earlier, hilly.  Portugal is a hidden treasure.  They have beautiful beaches, great surfing (not that I went surfing or to a beach on this trip) and beautiful music called Fado.  We went to a restaurant where we were able to hear live fado and it was so lovely.  Brazil has their Bossa Nova, Portugal has their Fado and they are both so melliflous with their language filled with shh like words.  The music is filled with passion.

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Baby Fedeli and I love these two so much

We took a day trip by bus to Fatima.  Before I met Nick I had no idea about the story of Fatima.  I did not grow up Catholic.  I was 100% open to the idea of becoming Catholic because I spent my childhood exploring Catholic churches and admiring their beauty.  I wanted to one day be able to get the Eucharist and even looked into taking classes to convert when I was in high school but never got around to it.  I didn’t think Christianity was any different than Catholicism so I didn’t see it as a big deal to convert.  After being Catholic for a year and half now I do see the differences and they are pretty big. Converting has taught me a lot.  I didn’t even really know the history of how Christian denominations broke off from the Catholic Church originally to pursue divorce.  I didn’t know much about martyrdom and holy wars, sacraments, the saints, Mary or the rosary.  I’m of course glad to know about them now.  My ideas and morals are pretty set in stone now instead of being all over the place and up to interpretation like they were when I was some sort of strange self created hybrid between Christian and Pagan.  Anyway, Fatima, there were three children who saw Mary in their home town of Fatima, Portugal.  She kept appearing to them until finally a great miracle in the sky happened.  There were also some secrets revealed.  The story is pretty incredible and anyone should read into it for themselves, believers or not.

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The next venture was to Lourdes, France.  We of course collected our water from the Grotto.  Lourdes is very commercialized, beautiful of course but I’m going to be honest there are a lot of little gift shops everywhere which make it a bit hectic and less peaceful.  I was not at peace while I was there.  I was cold and a little bugged because I couldn’t sleep at night there.  On our last day I went into the confessional in Lourdes and just cried to the priest.  There was so much in my heart that I was not at peace with.  There was a lot of anger and unforgiveness in me and I desperately needed to bleed it out.  I came out very puffy eyed and knew that I was going to have to begin a healing process and eventually write everyting off so I could free myself.  I needed to move forward and retrain my neurons to fire only to positive thoughts.  I needed to look around and see everything I had to be grateful for.  There were people in wheel chairs all around me, people fighting battles and demons I was unaware of and here I was with just some mental scars.  I had it easy.  I had to let go and let the light back in.  This did not take one day.  I was not completely healed after I walked out of the confessional or drank the holy water.  It took a couple more months for my mind to finally feel free and truly happy and content again.  I just finally spoke out loud what had been lingering and building up in the back of my mind to someone and was able to have someone pray over me and give me a little guidance.

Alright, so that was my experience in Lourdes.18010068_10208891239063803_4379070323962183042_n.jpg

On to Paris and feeling a little lighter.  The one thing I made sure to do in Paris was research all maternity stores.  I was getting rounder and the pounds were doubling what the Dr. suggested, so I decided if I was going to look like I had a beach ball attached to my ever growing body I was going to dress this beach ball cute.  One brand that I have fallen in love with is Seraphine for all pregnant mommas out there, you’re welcome!

Just make sure you are on the United States website and not the British website or else you will think those pounds are dollars and consequently think that the clothes are half of what they really are… not like I did that or anything…

We had a wonderful time in Paris again.  We visited Le Souffle everyday as a result of my husband’s souffle affinity.  We had chocolate souffles, pistachio souffles, creme brûlée souffles and my husband had Grand Marnier souffles.  Baby Fedeli and I opted out of those.  We also stayed in a different area this time.  Last time we were right by the Eiffel Tower in the beautiful Hotel Plaza Athenee.  This time we were at Hotel Bel Ami in Saint Germaine.  This is truly an adorable area.  It felt more like we were living in a little neighborhood.  There are cute shops around and the Louvre is not far.  We could also easily walk to our favorite shopping areas right across The Seine and to Ari’s park in The Luxembourg gardens.  I think because the Parisian children had school and it was a popular spring break time for American children there were a plethora of English speaking children for Ari to play with this time around.  She had so much fun it was difficult getting her to leave and it was difficult for me to get her to leave because I loved seeing her so happy and making friends in a foreign country.  It made me very proud of her.  She is so adaptable and open to new experiences.  I think I said, “Okay just ten more minutes” ten times.

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I have to mention, every hotel we stayed at on this trip made Ari feel like a VIP guest.  We went during Easter time so every single day there were Easter candies left for her.  We collected so many chocolate eggs from our hotels.  Also Hotel Bel Ami did not only leave her chocolates daily but a big bottle of Non-Alcoholic Apple flavored champagne, tangerines and assorted gummy candies.  Ari seems to make friends wherever she goes.

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Breakfast at Bel Ami

As for the Baby and me my only complaint was again sore feet.  I have come to the point in my pregnancy now at 34 weeks where I just wake up with sore feet.  It takes them about ten minutes to walk around and wake up.  Other than that traveling with a baby attached to me has been a lot easier than I thought.  I assumed I would have been much more uncomfortable.  My last trip with baby was last week.  We took a short trip to Chicago to celebrate a little family member’s communion.  My mom lives in Chicago so we stayed with her, my sister, step dad and grand father.  It was a short but wonderful reunion.  The flight was only thirty minutes long and though I’m eight months pregnant no one from United bothered me.  I’ve heard some stories where women have had to bring Dr.’s notes to get on flights.  That will most definitely be my last trip though because even though the flight was short each time my back hurt so badly sitting stationary in those chairs.  It’s definitely time to hang up my wings and nest for my little baby.  ❤

 

Traveling with my Little

Ari’s first out of the country trip was last October (unless Puerto Rico counts… I suppose it does but anyway…)  We flew over the pond to Positano for a beautiful wedding celebrating two of our loved ones.  Ari was six years old at the time and she was an excellent traveler.  There were a few other children from our family that went on the trip as well and guess which one complained the most… ME.

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My husband and I travel a lot and one thing a lot of people don’t know (he certainly does though!) is that I am afraid of heights and hence I am afraid of being in an airplane hundreds, thousands, I don’t even know how far off of the ground.  I hate it and have found myself crying on several trips and reciting rosaries over and over again at the slightest turbulence.  Ah yes, it’s something I’m working on.  Flying with Ari though I can’t have a panic attack because I would never want to make her scared of traveling and exploring.  I want her to be fearless and blissful (to an extent, I do believe a bit of anxiety is actually beneficial in some aspects of life) so I take deep breathes and tell myself to suck it up, grin and bear it when she is next to me… all while sweating profusely and whispering Hail Mary under my breathe.

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Anyway, the first city we went to was Florence.  Nick studied abroad here so he knew the city well.  We saw his old school and went to his old favorite restaurant which was amazing.  The food in Italy is not hit or miss.  You can go into any mom and pop joint in my opinion and eat the best dish of pasta you’ve ever had, until the next meal of course.  I went to Florence ten years ago with my family and it was nostalgic being there.  I kept trying to piece together memories.  The Ponte Veccio is the bridge I almost rolled off of and died after my dress flew up and I tried to smack it down before I gave other tourists a show.  My parents were convinced I had an angel watching over me that day.  I was just glad no one saw the knickers.  The city seemed like a big maze when I was younger but on this trip it finally made sense and I was able to navigate my way around.

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After Florence and a mistake train ride to Bologna (I used to believe my husband was always right, until I started traveling Europe with him) we made it to Positano for the wedding.  The Amalfi Coast is nothing short of beautiful.  We stayed at a hotel that was on the bottom of the mountain, right next to the boats.  I loved it because it felt so convenient.  One morning our family decided to take a boat to Capri.  They had to hike down the mountain to get there.  I just had to watch from the balcony over breakfast, wait for the line to die down, walk down the stairs and hop in line with them.  A lot of the restaurants are on the bottom of the mountain as well so if you are planning on a visit and you’ve got bad knees or whatever, you will still enjoy yourself and have a beautiful upward panorama if you are lower.  Of course the wedding festivities were up the mountain so I did my fair share of hiking on the trip as well.  If you’re going to Positano bring flats.  Sure there are cars but driving through those winding streets off of the cliffs are scary and you’ll want to browse all of the cute shops and secret passage ways and corridors so I wouldn’t even suggest relying on it!  I had no idea what to expect but my Louboutins were not having it.  Hence for the most part of the trip I ended up wearing beautiful dresses paired with old flip flops until I got to my final destination.

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What I wanted to look like all of the time as opposed to what I really liked most of the time.

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Ari’s new friend. These two did not even speak the same language and yet they were attached at the hip. It’s amazing how children communicate and play.

If you do go to Positano get on that boat because Capri is gorgeous and if you like to shop they have a lot of options and higher end stores if that’s your thing.  Ari found a beautiful dress at a little boutique for cheap as well as a beautiful doll that she named Limone.  I picked up perfume from Carthusia.  It smelled lovely but unfortunately my bottle of perfume broke on my trip back to America so I was left with only a day’s use.  Just another excuse to go back though!  I also found these amazing chocolate covered limoncello balls.  Wow.  I have a few left that I hoard and savor.  There is also this crazy elevator tram that goes through the island to take people up and down.  I’ve never seen anything like it!  You’re packed in like sardines but it saves a taxi ride or sore feet.

After Positano all of us went to Rome.  Nick and I had just been in Rome for part of our honeymoon so for me it felt like, “oh hello again old friend.”  Nick and I revisited a lot of sights to show our family and our little Ari.

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I do have to mention a few places outside of Rome that are worth a visit.

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Villa D’Este in Tivoli Italy. These gardens are incredibly beautiful!!!
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Civita di Bagnoreggio or The Dying City or what I like to call the City of Cats. There are more cats living here than actual people. I also like to call it the Ultimate Walking Dead City because it looks like a good place to be if there were a zombie apocalypse.

After Italy it was off to Paris and London.  Ari says her favorite country is London.  I’m still trying to explain the difference between cities and countries and continents to her… but you get the point.  She loved London.  She loved their accents and she loved tea time even though she cried in Harrods’ tea parlor because she burned her tongue on scalding tea.  Poor baby.  Tea time is very special to Ari and I.  When we lived in Naples, Florida we went to Brambles Tea Room a lot to just have well, serious female bonding time.  Tea time is just such a luxury.  It’s not a mandatory meal, it’s just an excuse to take time out for yourself and loved ones if they’re around and simply treat yourself to flavored flower water, honey and little sandwiches and pastries.  You don’t work on your computer, you don’t play on your phone.  You simply indulge in little treats and talk to your company in the middle of the afternoon (often the most stressful run around exhaustive time for some people or when they just need a little break to day dream).  Its like a much needed siesta/meditation with others in my opinion.  Tea time is a lost art.

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Ari and her stuffed animals have seen a lot of the world.

Anyway, Ari enjoyed the London Eye, the many merry go rounds they have around the city and the Big Bus Tour.  She also was romanticized by the idea that a Queen and a Princess lived in London.  She was really hoping to spot them when we went past Buckingham Palace but no luck of course.  I personally was excited to see Ben’s cookies again.  I’ve traveled a lot of the world, certainly not all of it but a lot, and I can say that Ben’s cookies make the most Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookie I have ever had.

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These things smell terrible.

Paris.  My dream city.  A woman I love very much, who was more of a mother figure for me in college than anything else, used to have me over for tea and we would talk and she would counsel me every week.  She sometimes gave me food to take home, chili one time, brownies another.  She and her husband put together Ari’s crib for me and one time she even watched Ari for me when I needed to finish a paper.  She was so kind to me and she never expected anything in return.  She was Jewish and I remember thinking that although she is Jewish she is the most Christ like person I have ever met.  To give, to welcome, to accept and to expect nothing in return is exactly how I think Christ would want us all to be.  I also just thought she was fascinating.  I loved her home, I loved the stories she shared about her own life and I held on to her every word because she is so wise in my eyes.  One day I asked her, of everywhere that she had been what was her favorite place.  She said Paris because of the light.  She said the light was different there and she couldn’t explain way.  Perhaps it was because of the way it reflected off of The Seine.  I then knew that before I died I would have to see Paris.  I just didn’t think it was going to be anytime when I was still in my 20’s let alone 30’s.  But my husband made another dream come true for me and took Ari and I to Paris.  We stayed in this beautiful hotel, Hotel Plaza Athenee, in the honey moon suite which was hilarious to me because obviously we had Ari with us so it could not be the seductive hideaway it was meant to be for those couple of days.  There were rose petals all over the bed, a bottle of champagne with freshly baked banana bread and candles lit all over the bath tub.  So… our six year old took candle lit baths every night, played in the rose petals and helped Nick and I eat the banana bread.

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Ari had just watched Audrey Hepburn’s Funny Face before we went on the trip so every chance she got she shouted, “Bonjour Pareeeeee!!!”

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After almost two weeks of traveling I fell very sick when we arrived in Paris but I did not let that stop me.  The adrenaline of a dream come true helped me drag my sniffly achy body through the city to see the beautiful light reflect off of each gorgeous piece of architecture.  We were able to run through the Louvre, make it over to the Eiffel Tower eat delicious souffles at our favorite restaurant justly called “Le Souffle” all while still giving Ari time to play at Luxembourg’s wonderful park and gardens.

This two week long trip was actually the most romantic trip I have ever been on, kid included.  It was our first international trip as a family.  A week before Nick and I had returned from our Honeymoon in Europe (will post this soon) and as beautiful and special as it was, there was just nothing like a family trip and seeing my husband bond with our daughter like that.  I came home loving him so much more and really feeling like a family.