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.

 

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Exhale and reflect as usual

18922055_10209337729105775_5596093069402948099_nThis pregnancy has been amazing thus far.  I love the feeling of my baby inside of me.  I love every kick and punch and flip… even the uncomfortable ones where I politely move my baby’s little foot or fist back into my belly before he/she bursts out tiny limb first like a mini Spartan warrior.  Sure there are days when I reminisce on photographs of my cute pre-pregnancy body but I have to say I have such a greater appreciation for my pre-pregnancy figure now that I’ve grown horizontally.  I always thought I looked healthy but not beautiful or something to aspire to… but after baby is out I will simply be aspiring to the old Chantelle, which makes me proud of my old body and myself (=

Since I have been pregnant before I am usually asked if this pregnancy is different than my first.  It’s similar mood wise.  I am very in love with my baby just as I was with Ari.  But I had a lot more nausea with Ari.  I was sick all day with her.  This baby wasn’t too bad.  With Ari there was a lot more fear as I had never even held a baby before!  With this baby I am just excited to finally hold a baby again!  I also gained more weight with this baby!  At 8 1/2 months pregnant I have gained what I did full term with Ari.  But I’m going to keep the exact number to myself.  Also my life is just more settled with this baby, more on that later.  I also knew I was having a girl with Ari, this time I don’t know and it’d driving me crazy.  There is a certain time during each day when I just look at my belly and ask it, “what are you?!”  There are so many adorable outfits out there and I feel like I can’t pull the trigger until I know what my baby’s gender is.  Maybe my husband did this on purpose to protect our finances.  He insisted that the gender remain a surprise until birth though, so here I sit and wait for my little bambino or bambina to arrive.  Meanwhile I do have a couple of really girly outfits stowed away just in case the baby is a bambina!  Although it would be really wonderful to have a little boy.  I just don’t know, I don’t even really know what I want it to be, just get here baby, nice and healthy and a little on the chubby side (=

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For any pregnant woman I would have to summarize pregnancy as the first trimester sucks because nausea just well.. sucks for lack of better words.  The second trimester is a dream come true.  You finally feel your baby move, you are filled with love and an unexplainable connection/ protectiveness over your tiny human.  You also get to see the result of all of baby’s hard work growing: a wee little beautiful bump.  Then the third trimester comes along and you begin to lose your mind over making sure your baby has enough socks, but are the socks organic cotton, what is the best formula just in case I don’t produce enough milk at first, does the baby have enough diapers, where can I get little nightlights for our late night feedings, what if I fall down the stairs from exhaustion or slipping on a step?!?! Ahh!  Or maybe that is just me.

I started the nesting phase super early with this baby.  My nursery is completely set up and I have washed and rewashed and folded and refolded and arranged and rearranged enough times to be diagnosed with OCD.

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The painting were done by me in an effort to save money!

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98% of the time I am filled with joy and excitement over being able to soon hold my baby, but the labor process does cross my mind and make me cringe.  I would like to be honest with every woman who has not had a baby.  Labor hurts like hell.  It feels like you are being run over.. over and over again.  I don’t understand how any woman can say labor is beautiful and such an incredible experience that they would joyfully do again.  What hallucinogenic are these women on?  Where can I get them?  Perhaps they are just so overwhelmed by the beautiful out of this world emotional joy and end result of holding their beautiful baby in their arms finally, that they forget what had to happen for their cervix to expand to the size of a donut so a human being could fit through it.  Unfortunately I have the memory of an elephant.  I’ve never blacked out, I’ve never had a night or even a few hours that I can’t recall from any sort of recreational activities.   Everything is crystal clear to me including the long labor of my first baby girl.  Anyway that’s just the straight truth not the sugar coated version.  But women are strong and we’ve been doing this for centuries and centuries.  The female body in my opinion is the most phenomenal creation, God given, beautiful, resilient and other adjectives that make my heart burst with pride for our gender.

Being older and more informed there are new things that I have pondered about with this pregnancy.  I like to think I live a healthy holistic lifestyle… but to be honest when I’m eating my organic strawberries it’s accompanied with several (heaping) spoonfuls of nutella.  With that being put out there the new holistic homeopath in me says, no vaccinations, eat the placenta, and drink Raspberry Leaf tea everyday to strengthen my uterus (which I’m beginning to loathe).  Then the alternative side of me says, just a tiny sip of warm earthy coffee is probably okay, and what if the negative studies on vaccines are just anxiety ridden poppy cock and eating the placenta?!?  If the body wants it out, then the body does not want it back in!!!  Honestly I didn’t even know that was a thing.  I read that eating the placenta can fight the baby blues, but I didn’t even know that there was such thing as post partum depression.  After I had my daughter Arianna I felt so happy.  I was filled with pride over how beautiful and healthy she was.  I also felt beautiful regardless of the 40 plus pounds I had gained.  Now knowing that women get post part depression actually gives me anxiety wondering if this time around I may fall victim!  Sometimes the old adage rings true, ” ignorance is bliss.”  No matter what life throws at us though I know everything will turn out alright.  Women are so much more open and transparent with each other these days.  I know I won’t have to feel alone if I ever do feel blue.

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I had a little nursery reveal party at my house. I know that no one does nursery reveal parties but I worked so bloody hard on it and cried so many happy tears in it that I deemed it necessary to share with my loved ones. I also like excuses to celebrate.

I do feel so blessed that this time around I will be able to give 100% of myself to this baby as a stay at home mum.  Knowing this makes me feel so at ease.  I’m not questioning, what will I do next?  How am I going to manage this?  Who is going to watch the baby?  What if said caregiver makes a mistake…Etc… With Arianna I was able to stay with her full time for three months thanks to my family’s generosity but after that time period was up it was time to get back into the real world, which meant a road trip back to UNC Chapel Hill.  I had a full scholarship I couldn’t just lay down and cry “Uncle” just because no one believed I could finish school now that I had a baby.  That scholarship was a gift from the University.  It was God seeing into my future knowing I would need that!

Arianna’s life was never a choice, regardless of others telling me her life was a decision I could make.  There were people who truly made me feel like my life would be over if I had a baby.  Things did fall apart for me, but they would have fallen apart regardless.  My ex was cheating on me and I realized it when Ari was maybe 9 months old.  All of the signs were there, he didn’t  live with me, he rarely called but I blamed it on his busy soccer career.  I was wonderfully and dreadfully naive to evil.   I was forced to go through with the legal process of divorce and every day for a couple of years I cried because of it.  I truly didn’t believe I would ever love or trust someone ever again.  I also didn’t think anyone would love me in return and that is another thing I was told as a result of having a baby.  I definitely struggled financially and it just seemed like everything was spiraling out of control.  But I had this ooey gooey squishy little girl who loved me so much and that was everything.  A child’s love is everything.  It’s the sun, the moon, the stars, my universe was in my child’s embrace.  She kept me so busy I didn’t have enough time to have the proper mental breakdown that my circumstances would have warranted.  I look back and my memories are full of her smiles and hugs and kisses and silly ramblings, dance moves, falling asleep on my chest, trying to pronounce, “I love you.”  My memories rarely draw back on my tears and when they do it’s because I want to encourage someone else who is going through something similar.

Anyway I didn’t mean to make that a pro life tangent.  I just feel so blessed that God forged a path for my first baby and me that led to a loving and growing family.  I couldn’t see it back then and no one else could either.  Sometimes I sit in Baby Fedeli’s nursery and I am filled with happy tears because today I feel so safe and secure and there is nothing like that feeling when you went so long without it.  Everything turned out beautifully.  I did graduate.  I met amazing fellow mom friends.  The women who came into my life to help me and my child are forever in my heart and forever testimonies to me that God’s love is here on earth.  It’s shown through every selfless act, through every act of unconditional love to another, to a stranger.  I did end up falling in love again and being loved in return.  The nightmare marriage was annulled which felt like the removal of an ugly scar.  Arianna has a mom and a dad now plus a big loving family!   I could go on and on and sometimes I do when I’m in the notes section of my cell phone.  I’m so grateful.  It’s like finally being able to exhale.

One of my friends showed me this passage when I was beginning to go through well everything… Every time I read it I am in awe.  Isaiah 54:

6 The Lord will call you back
    as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
    only to be rejected,” says your God.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
    but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger
    I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
    I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord your Redeemer.

“To me this is like the days of Noah,
    when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
    never to rebuke you again.
10 Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

11 “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
    I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,[a]
    your foundations with lapis lazuli.
12 I will make your battlements of rubies,
    your gates of sparkling jewels,
    and all your walls of precious stones.
13 All your children will be taught by the Lord,
    and great will be their peace.
14 In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
    you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
    it will not come near you.
15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing;
    whoever attacks you will surrender to you.

16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith
    who fans the coals into flame
    and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc;
17     no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

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Lovely flowers that were done by Pieter and Gwen, same people who did the flowers at my wedding!  The cake was also made by the same bakers who made my wedding cake, Nick and his wife Grace.  Cassata of course ❤

Baby Fedeli

In December of 2016 I received a phone call.  The Dr. on the phone then told me that I was pregnant.  I was completely surprised.  I had gone to this Dr. to make sure that my body could actually get pregnant after the traumatic delivery of my daughter Arianna.  Having my daughter was stressful because the entire time I felt like I had to defend my wishes and yell at people in the delivery room.  I didn’t care how long it took to give birth to Arianna but I felt like everyone was rushing me to get her out.  Ari missed her due date of February 13th consequently a Dr. scheduled an induction for me on the 22nd of February despite a midwife feeling my stomach and telling me that the Dr.’s were wrong this baby was not late, this baby was going to be born on the 18th of February.  Well sure enough I was laying in bed watching a movie on February 17th and I knew in my heart that my body was naturally beginning the labor process.  I stayed at home until I felt like I was ready to go to the Dr.  I was then scolded at the hospital for having waited so long.  Of course I was in a lot of pain my contractions were very close together, but I wanted to be at home until I knew it was time.  Regardless I went through labor for 7 hours and during this time I kept having to yell at residents who wanted to vacuum her out and use different instruments to pull her out.  All of which I knew could misshape her skull.  I kept telling them to let me do it myself.  At 6 am Arianna came out on her own as lovely as can be.  That was not the end of the story though.  Another resident who I hadn’t seen before then told me that he was going to pull the placenta out.  I told him to get away from me and that the placenta would come out on its own within the next 20-30 minutes.  Apparently I wasn’t stern enough and I was probably distracted by my precious baby.  He then ruptured my placenta causing me to go into surgery, losing blood and having to be on an antibiotic afterwards.  I was pretty angry to say the least… and in fear that the surgery may have scarred my uterus.

Anyway!  Three months after our wedding I decided to see a Dr. to make sure that my body was not going to have a problem with getting pregnant.  Now flash forward to the phone call.  I’m expecting to get bad news, perhaps there really is scarring or perhaps my blood test revealed that I have a hormonal imbalance (my mind can jump to dark places).  Fortunately this was a good phone call, I was actually already pregnant and scarring wasn’t anything I needed to worry about!  I don’t think I stopped smiling for the rest of that day.  I think I was smiling in my sleep.  I could not be happier.  I love children and have wanted to be a mother since I was 6 years old.  I have always wanted a lot of children.  This was a dream come true and this part of me that felt incomplete was finally whole.  I really can’t explain it.  I also did not want my daughter to grow up an only child.  Speaking from experience being an only child is lonely.

When I told Nick, he did not believe me.  He knew how stressed I was about being able to get pregnant.  We excitedly went in for an ultrasound that week but there was nothing there!  There was only the start of a little cord.  We had come in so early our baby was too tiny to be seen on the ultrasound screen.  The Dr. told us not to worry and to come back in one week to give the baby time to get bigger.  I prayed that our baby was okay and sure enough when we came in the following week, there was a little baby on the screen with a tiny beating heart.  My heart was filled with joy and relief after seeing this little one.  I was fiercely madly in love with this baby already.

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We decided to tell Arianna on Christmas Day because she kept telling (various) Santa Claus’ that she wanted a baby sister or brother for Christmas.  A Santa Claus in Florida actually pulled me aside to tell me that he had to tell my daughter that he did not give families babies, only toys, and that she should speak with her parents about this request.  When we sat Arianna in front of the Christmas tree, she too did not believe the news!  She has been kissing and hugging my belly ever since though and telling everyone she comes into contact with that her mommy is having a baby.

The first trimester was filled with morning sickness and a couple of migraines which only made the morning sickness worse.  If I was hungry for even a minute, I had to run to the toilet.  The baby demanded food.  Now, our baby is 18 weeks old.  The second trimester has been great so far.  I am beginning to feel the baby move and although I eat frequently  I don’t feel nauseous when I’m hungry anymore.  I also feel like the fog and sleepiness of the 1st trimester are gone.  Of course it is all worth it when I see my belly grow or feel little kicks.  We are expecting Baby Fedeli early August and I could not be happier!  I went in for another ultrasound this week and was able to see my baby moving around.  Baby Fedeli is an active baby with a strong heart beat.  I can’t wait to hold this little one in my arms.

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My Wedding!

So… I haven’t posted in forever… I’m not sure why… I guess I’ve been wrapped up in domestic life and well a lot of travel and a lot of new exciting things!!!  Eep!  But first I want to record my wedding day!  Oh my gosh!!!!

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First of all my family and my best friends flew in.  As a military brat this is a BIG DEAL.  Never have I ever had all of my loved ones in one place at one time!  My heart was so full.  And best of all everyone got along.  My friends who traveled from different parts of the country to be there for me on my special day, became friends!  They still keep in contact with each other!  That makes me so happy!

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Matron of Honor

Second of all the wedding was so beautiful!  My reception was the most beautiful room (gigantic room) I have ever seen.  My husband and my husband’s family and friends worked so hard to make it perfect, and it was.  I have to admit right now my husband did 80 percent of the planning, maybe 85 percent.  He left me in charge of flowers, my dress (he picked out my shoes and purse with me) and the cake.  Nick the baker and his wife Grace made our cake.  I stole ideas off of Pinterest and what they brought to the table, the cake table that is, was definitely Pinterest worthy!

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And tasty, considering I don’t like cake!  I am more of a cookie girl, hence why there were so many cookies at my wedding to take home.  Sad but funny story really quick:  I made myself a box of my favorite Italian cookies to take back to my hotel room after my wedding and then I somehow dropped all of them while I was crossing the street from my venue, The Huntington Bank building, to my hotel, The Kimpton.  Luckily, someone driving by who was at my wedding pulled over to give me some of the cookies that they had boxed to take home.  Ah I may have been all dressed up but I was still clumsy Chantelle through and through!

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And the flowers/lighting: Pieter Bouterse and Gwen Hashimoto did an AMAZING job.  It was exactly what I wanted yet I could never really put it into words for them when I was trying to explain it.  I like to think I’m an easy going person, but after picking out flowers and my dress for that matter I’ve come to realize that with certain monumental things in my life, I am incredibly nit picky.

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Oh and speaking of the dress, my husband still makes fun of me for how long it took me to find one.  I think I went to 11 different stores.  I looked in Italy (I was there anyway, I didn’t actually fly to look!) New York City (beautiful but EXPENSIVE) Pittsburgh, Cleveland (of course) Miami and finally Chicago.  I was convinced I had found the dress of my dreams, well two of the dresses of my dreams, at Chernaya in Miami.  Ladies if you are looking for a dress Chernaya bridal has the most beautiful dresses!  I was working with a man named Renato and he was absolutely wonderful.

The dresses that could have been.

But!  I took one last minute trip to Chicago.  I went into a store downtown called Myra’s with my mom.  I picked out a few ball gowns because I was convinced I wanted a huge ball gown.  My mom pulled this little silky thing with flowers on it off of the rack, now I love flowers so I said, “why not?”  Well, that was it.

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And the strangest thing!  When I first started looking at dresses and cutting pictures out, that dress was the first dress I cut out and stuck inside of my wedding planner, but I completely forgot about it!  It wasn’t until a couple of months after my wedding that I looked back at my planner and pulled the photo out!  First loves die hard.   Anyway we bought the dress off of the rack at an amazing price.  Another strange thing, I said a few Hail Mary’s that morning asking Mary to help me find a beautiful dress that was under 5000.  Then I was bold enough to say okay under 3000.  And then I got up the courage to say, you know what all things are possible with God let’s make it under 2000!  No way that’s going to happen but I’m going to put the prayer out there, I thought.  Sure enough that dress ended up being under 2000.  I know God has more important things to do than answer a young woman’s prayer about finding a wedding dress that wouldn’t fill her with guilt concerning price, but I’m glad God came to the rescue yet again.

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Something Blue

So finally, after my part of the planning was complete we had our beautiful rehearsal dinner at Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine.  There was a harp player, my family and friends had arrived, the food was great, the tables were decorated beautifully.  It was so pretty, it could have been my wedding!  The next day I ran around Cleveland trying to spend time with friends but also trying to fit in a facial.  We went down to Little Italy for a little celebration before the wedding.  I didn’t do a bachelorette party so that little run through during the Feast of The Assumption was about as crazy as it got for me.

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I didn’t diet before my wedding.  I ate whatever I wanted because I was happy and when I’m happy I eat!  I did exercise more than usual though.  I ran and worked out with Nick’s cousin, Joanna and our trainer Kelsey.  The one thing I did do diet wise was a juice cleanse prior to the big day.  I will never ever do a juice cleanse again.  My stomach hurt so bad.  I finally had a salad the night before the wedding and felt healthy again.  I appreciate one freshly squeezed juice a day for nutrients and general wellness but a juice cleanse, no thanks.  I believe in balance, fresh foods, veggies, a colorful plate, but if someone makes you a home cooked meal from their heart- you eat it!  And so far in life that philosophy has worked for me.

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Finally the day of the wedding!  Okay wait let’s back up.  I could not sleep the night before.  Of course I was excited but there’s also that super reflective part of me that had to think about the entirety of my life experiences that led me to this one amazing day in my life and then there were the fireworks.  The literal fireworks that went on outside of my huge hotel room windows for honestly I think it was an hour.  Go Cleveland Indians but seriously a girl needs to sleep before her wedding.  Okay now for the wedding day.  I was incredibly nervous and I have no idea why.  Im pretty sure I was having mini panic attacks, trying to make sure I got to the church on time, worrying about my etiquette, considering the amount of people who were coming to my wedding.  I think it was 500…  I did not feel calm that entire morning until I walked down the aisle and finally saw my husband.

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Then I felt like a child who had finally gotten their security blanket back!

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It was a hot August day in there…But isn’t it beautiful?

After Nick and I were officially wed in the church we went straight to lunch.  My husband wanted to have a huge lunch with food trucks.  Originally we were supposed to have the lunch outdoors at St. Ignatius High School but with the weather report threatening rain, it was moved to Cibreo.  I thought it was lovely, although I must admit I spent the majority of lunch trying to get marinara sauce off of my breast area!  Someone eating a meatball must have hugged me!  By the end of the night I smelled like a tide to go stick!  I am just not the kind of girl who can wear white!  Between my own hot mess self and my pasta eating guests… let’s just say my bridesmaids were in charge of dress maintenance all day.

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After that busy morning I finally started to feel calm.  We had a slight drizzle after lunch and I had an hour or so to get ready for the reception (always my favorite part of any wedding!)  As stressed out as a I felt during the first part of the day, my attitude completely took a 180 during the second part of the day.  I think I just needed my best friend.

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The reception was unbelievable.

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It was perfect… and it was fun.

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We danced to, “Let’s Stay Together.”  It was the first song we had ever danced to when we first started dating.  Nick and I had a choreographed routine.  I never needed the dance to be perfect, to be honest I just enjoyed doing something productive together as a couple, just the two of us.  I would suggest that for any couple.  Do something together, work out, cook whatever.

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And the best part is, Ari got what she always wanted and needed.

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Kindergarten

Dear Ari,

I just tucked you in.  The night before your last day of kindergarten and I am feeling a little sad and a little shocked and just left wondering why time goes by so fast…  I remember being young and seeing older people say that childhood goes by so fast.  I remember wishing I could be a grown up and sometimes being frustrated about the boredom of being a kid.  When you grow up you realize that being a kid is as simple as it gets.  When you become a mom you realize everyone around you who said, “enjoy them now, they grow up so fast!” was right.  You are growing up so fast.  I do try to enjoy the moment and be present but it’s like sand slipping through my clutching hands.  The moments are gone so quickly.  Wasn’t I just buying your backpack for your first day of school?  Wasn’t I just running out the door with your lunch box and gym shoes, frustrated that we would be late to school one random day in February?

I love you so much.  I know that you know this.  I can tell by the way you look at me and how you always feel so safe and complete when you are around me.  I’m so proud of you Ari.  I still have so much to teach you as does your school and the world around you.  But, you amaze me.  You are the happiest person I know.  You bounce back so quickly.  You are truly resilient and this trait is something that I hope you will always have.  I can’t stop the world from breaking your heart, from hurting your feelings, from not being fair to you all of the time, but I can tell you that you get to choose how you respond to it.  I hope you will always remain resilient.  I hope you will always choose to be strong and have the courage to heal.

Two of my favorite words are compassion and perseverance.  When I was pregnant with you the one thing I wanted to become was more compassionate to the world.  I wanted to become the woman who you would one day admire.  Compassion, empathy, understanding, humility and charity is what we should show our fellow brothers and sisters who share this planet with us for this short amount of time we are granted.  You are kind and you are loving, I pray that compassion continues to grow and flourish in your little heart.

Perseverance is something that I learned growing up through the darkest of times.  Everyday we must choose to persevere, whether it be from the little things or the big things.  There is so much beauty and warmth in this world but storms do come.  You have to pray and you have to get through it.  Physical pain, emotional pain; it will all come down to a battle of the mind.  You choose to be strong.  You choose your perspective.  You find the light in the darkness.  Lord knows there were times in my life when my heart had been so trampled on I just wanted the earth to swallow me up.  But I have always had this hope inside of me.  This echo of God.  The best is always yet to come Arianna.  You have to hold on in this life and you have to persevere.  I know in my heart that you always will.  I can tell how strong your mind and heart are even now at your young age.

Life may never be as simple as it is right now in Kindergarten.  Next year, you will have less play time.  You will have more homework.  You will be expected to know and obey the rules.  You will be an example for the future kindergartners.  Arianna, you worked so hard this year.  You learned so much.  You made so many friends.  Despite being new to this state, this culture let alone school in general you adapted so quickly.  Not once did you cower behind my legs afraid of new environments, situations or people.  Instead you welcomed everything with your warm radiant smile and captivating personality.  I am so proud of you and so inspired.

All of this is in my heart to tell you, but of course it is only the last paragraph that I’m actually going to say out loud to you at 6 years old.

Love,

mommy

 

Venezia, I Dolomiti, Trento, Monte Cassino, Perugia, Frosinone

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Nick helped me accomplish one of my life long dreams!  Seeing Venice or Venezia as the locals would say!  It was beautiful and surreal.  I had no idea Venice was composed of so many islands!  I also didn’t believe that you really can’t get around without a pair of good walking shoe and a boat!  Seriously I thought maybe they had little cars to get through certain parts of the city… but nope!  You need a water taxi for that!

What can I tell you about Venice?  It is a city on the sea that remains captured in the past.  Depending on the rain, the city may be flooded and the locals are prepared for this frequent occurrence.  I love old Italian architecture and I love the sea.  This blends my affinity for both.  There is nowhere else in the world like Venice.

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They eat lots of seafood, eel is a specialty (personally I couldn’t get past the first bite!  I had eels as pets for a very brief period of time and I just could not stomach them).  There was good wine and food that I have never seen before (which is one of the things about traveling I love!!) such as these little fried shrimps that were given to us before dinner instead of bread.  I was so confused by them and how to eat them I had to watch other people eat them first!  (You just pop the whole thing into your mouth!)

We went to Venice during their Carnival!  What a treat!  Our hotel had dance lessons and everyone, I mean everyone in the entire city was dressed like they came out of The Renaissance!  Venice’s carnival is famous for the beautiful masks that people adorn and there were several shops that sold handmade masks.  I had to get one of course!  I wore it the entire time I was there!

The next stop was the Dolomites.  I thought Heidi was going to come out of the mountains at any moment and say, “yodelayeeooo!!!”  The north of Italy is interesting to me.  The very touristy areas like Lake Garda, where I went last summer, are filled with Austrians and Germans.  In Lake Garda I felt like I spoke more German than I did Italian!  The Dolomites were beautiful though.  They were pristine white and so big… when I think about how big they were I get the terrified feeling of being stuck at the top of them with no other way down but to ski.

I told Nick that I went skiing in New Jersey once and that I really liked it.  Mind you, it was New Jersey and I was on a bunny slope.  He then assumed that he could put me on a ski lift to the top of The Dolomites and I would have a great time skiing down with him.  Well, after the eighth fall I had had it!  I wanted off of that mountain.  Nick then told me the only way down was to ski down.  After two and a half hours of sinking in snow, tears, fears that I just might actually die or seriously break a limb, the frustration of my own continued yelling, “when will this mountain ever end!?  I finally figured out how to ski.

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Now on to the city of Trento.  Trento was beautiful and full of history.

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Perugia was next, we met up with Nick’s friend Sara and her fiancé Matteo.  Perugia was beautiful and I can not wait to return.  We did not stay long, just enough time to have dinner and walk around the city.  We also had an amazing meal there.  Sara runs a winery in Perugia.  Her wines are exceptional.  Hopefully we will return to Perugia for their wedding.  Sara and her fiancé were just as beautiful on the outside as they were on the inside.

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We kept driving South to get to Frosinone, the town where Nick’s grandfather is from.  On the way we again made a quick stop, this time in Pisa.

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And of course we couldn’t miss mass, so when Sunday came Nick drove an hour out of the way to go to Monte Cassino.  He promised it would be beautiful and worth it.  And it was.  The history behind Monte Cassino and its war torn past is beautiful and almost haunting.  One day I will go back.  I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful monastery.

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It was an amazing Winter Italian adventure!

 

 

Argentina

I went to South America!  That thought in itself makes me feel so happy!!!  After our engagement Nick and I went on a series of adventures it seemed like!  We woke up on Christmas morning, let Ari open her presents and then went to three different family member’s homes to celebrate Christmas and of course share our news!  Around 2 pm we took off on a flight to Florida.  The next day Ari went with her grandparents while Nick and I drove to Miami.  From Miami we flew to Peru and I must say Peru is beautiful!!  On one side I saw mountains and with the turn of my head I saw ocean on the other.  At the airport in Peru, there were men playing traditional Peruvian music and it made me smile because they seemed so happy to be with one another and so in love with their music.

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Soon enough it was time to board the flight to Argentina.  We landed in Buenos Aires and then took a cab to a smaller airport, from there we went to Mendoza, Argentina’s wine country.  Mendoza is beautiful and the food was fantastic.  Nick was excited about all of the wine and of course the meat.  I was really interested in the Argentine culture because I have met a few people from Argentina who actually turned out to be Italian!  I wanted to see how the Spanish and Italian culture blended in this far South American country.  Here’s what I noticed about their food (besides the infamous quality of their wine and meats).

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Their pizza has a ridiculous amount of cheese on it.  An American would definitely appreciate their generosity with cheese.  Yes they have pastas and many kinds with lots of different sauces.  They love pumpkins in this country!  I love pumpkins too so I was more than content.  If you’re going to get a side dish that isn’t french fries with chimichurri, it’s probably going to be a small roasted pumpkin (or other squash) or a pumpkin souffle.  They like to cook their fruits there!  Oh my gosh… so yummy!  Roasted and/or poached pears, lightly grilled pineapples!  Ah, I want them everyday!!!  Nick fell in love with empanadas and had to have them with every meal. If you go to Mendoza you must go to the restaurant 1884.  Visually and aesthetically ‘on point’ as the kids would say these days.

The food?  Amazing, and the portions are huge!  We could not finish our food and I barely had room to eat any of the delicious gnocchi that we ordered.

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In Mendoza we mostly just ate.  We did walk around the city a bit but my favorite part was driving to the vineyards to see the mountains.

The night we went, there was a lightning storm.  Imagine a beautiful sunset behind vineyards nestled in mountains with lightning flashing.  It was one of those nights I just wanted to hold on to in my memory forever.  It gave me that feeling of being infinite but ephemeral at the same time.  God made such a beautiful world.  I will leave it at that because it’s hard to explain the visceral magnitude of it when I see such natural beauty.

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The next morning guess what?  We were on another plane back to Buenos Aires.  When we first landed I remembered why I did not like living in the city.  It was very busy, loud and I felt claustrophobic especially with so many people asking to exchange money (which is illegal in Argentina).  We quickly left that side of town and went to quieter and calmer streets.  Over the next couple of days we saw some beautiful architecture, that looked heavily influenced by Europe.  My favorite building was the French embassy!  We strolled around an area called Palermo that had a bunch of boutiques and cobblestone streets (my kind of neighborhood). We also walked along the outside of the botanical gardens and the zoo.  I wanted to go in but we ran out of time!  I did see these little guys running around! I had to take a second look because I remember thinking, “did I just see a little dog or a rabbit?!?” It’s amazing all of the animals in this world that we don’t even know exist!  It’s a Patagonian Mara.

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We also saw a tango show.  I love the tango there are so many emotions in the dance, it’s feisty, passionate, romantic and sexy.  Nick has the tango show photos on his phone-sorry!  We also went to a large park that had a cemetery in it.  This was no ordinary cemetery.  It was filled with beautiful above ground tombs from the 1800’s and early 1900’s.  I’ve never seen anything like it and I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to play hide and seek in there on a Halloween night!  We also spent New Years in Buenos Aires at Puerto Madero.  It’s their water front.  They have a lot of restaurants there and that night they had a firework show.  People lit fireworks wherever they pleased that night and I was terrified one was going to hit us!  Luckily we were fine and with all of the walking we did in Buenos Aires in their hot summer heat I’m pretty sure we burned off all of our calories from Mendoza.  I was happy to come home to our family but it was also wonderful to just spend alone time with my now fiance.

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He’s so handsome!!!