Tag Archives: vacation

Our Mommyhood: Int’l Travel

So our flight to Italy was not exactly the smoothest or most relaxing trip…read about it today at Our Mommyhood.  I think I’m ready to laugh about it now.

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I have a very creative sister-in-law.  Cristiana is an actress in London, always busy with plays and films.  (You can see her in the short film Moths and is currently in the play A Woman Alone.)  She is also a fabulous photographer. She emailed me these photos of Paolo and I, from last month in Italy.


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We are back in IOWA

Yesterday afternoon we returned home from our glorious month in Italia.

Italia was filled with amazing meals, breathtaking panoramas, great friends, spectacular parties, and was so incredible that it felt like we there for about two whole days.  I can’t believe the trip is already over.  I’m still working on a travel journal; I’ve not yet decided if I will publish it here, but I will certainly be posting some photos in the near future.

When we walked out of the Des Moines airport yesterday, I was greeted by the most beautiful day I have ever experience in Iowa.  The sky was crystal-clear blue, the air crisp and cool.  Autumn arrived to Iowa while we were in Italy.  The past two days have been just absolutely beautiful.  Paolo and I have been busy trying to unpack our loads of luggage, getting the house back in order, and making some real meals for the hubs.  (Giuseppe actually did a fantastic job of keeping the house clean; but the refrigerator was barren, with only two beers and no food.) But we have been taking breaks to for walks outside. After such a scorchingly hot summer, any time outside at a comfortable temperature is absolutely heaven!  The gorgeousness of the weather is a definite plus.

We are still fighting jet-lag, which is a pain, but a small price for such a fabulous trip.  This week will be busy with party preparation: Paolo’s First Birthday Party “La Festa Italiana” is Saturday!  I’ll have to try to squeeze some time in for my blogging addiction, which I wholly neglected while I was traveling!

A presto!


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Some of the small reasons why I love Europe

As soon as our Air France flight took off from Canada, I was quickly reminded why I am so in love with Europe.

All of the French airline attendants were so kind, classy, and gorgeously groomed.  One flight attendant, Natalie, took us under her wing, playing with Paolo and being extra sweet to me.  By the end of the flight she was Paolo’s new girlfriend. (This was a God-send after all of the terrible, terrible events in the Toronto airport. I would elaborate, but I don’t even know if I want to go there.)  The airplane meal was actually good and as we eased into our overnight flight, I enjoyed a delicious glass of red wine, which is standard for Air France.  The entire flight was comfortable and the Air France employees were so much more personable and easy to deal with than anyone I have ever encountered on any domestic airlines.

When we arrived to Paris for our layover, the French airport employees were actually helpful and kind.  (And everyone was gorgeous.  Everyone.  All the women have beautifully applied make-up and perfectly coiffed hair.) One official whisked me into a shorter passport line that was actually only for EU citizens, but they helped me through anyway to make sure we made our connecting flight.  A random Air France pilot helped me take the escalator with Paolo and our belongings to shorten our trek to the next gate.  Once at the gate, the handsome attendant had us board before all the other passengers so that I could install the car seat before the passengers arrived.  He simply brought us through check-in before pre-boarding had even begun. No silly questions about the car seat, just very helpful to us. And the airline attendants helped me with our bags before I even asked.

Once we arrived to Napoli, one of the attendants helped us onto the shuttle bus, where he put us right next to the driver. Once we arrived to terminal, the driver helped us down and smiled at Paolo.  When I went to the fetch our luggage from the conveyor belt, an airport employee brought me a luggage cart free of charge and offered to help me load it and carry it outside. I accepted the cart gratefully, but managed the luggage alone.

All along the way from Paris to Napoli, people were kind and personable and helpful.  Which is not something I can say as a generalization when traveling domestically. Yes, it happens, but is certainly not the norm.  It was such a great way to start our trip to Italia. I arrived to Napoli feeling so happy and welcome; I am so excited for our month-long stay here.


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Romance languages

English speakers pride themselves with their brevity of language. Or they at least strive to.  I know that, while I am not always successful, I sure do try to make my point succinctly and effectively.

Italian speakers, on the other hand, do just the opposite.  The best descriptions are ornate, flowery, and, shall we say, dramatic?  But always beautiful and always expressive.

Case in point: my darling husband expressing (in Italian, of course) how happy he is that we are back home from Hawaii: “When you are gone, it is like I am living my life in black and white, but when you are here, life comes back to being in bright color.”

There is a reason why Italian belongs to the Romance Language family.

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Mini me

My parents are so absolutely thrilled that we are here.  Especially that we are here for three whole weeks.  And Paolo is getting his first real taste of what it’s like to spoiled by his JoJo and BoBo.  (Remember, that g-word does not exist in this house.)

A few days before we arrived, my parents asked me what kind of toys Paolo would like during our visit.  I suggested a walker or jumper.  I thought that this would be the best option as he could play in it and we could sit him in it for meals.  I had envisioned a lower-end Target purchase. I mean, we are only here for three weeks.

Oh no.  My Dad had a whole different thing in mind.  He found the deluxe baby walker.  It is a walker and a jumper.  And, it’s a mini MINI Cooper. (Remember, I am having a love affair with my real MINI Cooper. It’s only fitting that Paolo does too.) The body of the car is bright yellow with black racing stripes. It has a black leather driver’s seat, rear view mirrors on both sides, a steering wheel, horn, and light-up music buttons on the wheel.  Even better, the entire “dash board/hood” lifts to reveal a high chair-like tray.  So when he’s sick of the car toys, I can load him up with other toys.  Not to mention it is perfect for meal time.

Here he is this morning in his pajamas going for a morning joy ride around my parent’s living room. Have I mentioned how much he love love loves the camera?

This toy was only the beginning. The day after we arrived, my mom took us to Target. Where she proceeded to buy half of the toy aisle.  Paolo got singing books, an old-fashioned top (which is TOO cute), a plastic swimming pool for the yard, a ship with a million toys for the bath tub and pool, a Zany Zoo (again TOO cute), an alphabet-singing caterpillar… Need I go on?  Let’s just say that he is entertained.

When it comes to toys for their baby grandson, my parents’ motto is definitely “More is more. And better.”

(Side bar: For those of you who noticed the GLARING electrical sockets that are not yet plugged up with baby-proofing devices, not to worry: Paolo is not ahead in the crawling game.  Despite his daily crawling lessons, he still shows no interested in crawling or cruising.  So, no, those light sockets are not yet a danger to him. But we did tie up all of the cords to the blinds in the house, as he can get to those in his walker with his Go-Go-Gadget arms.)

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Paolo and I arrived to the Land of Aloha on Wednesday night.  And we are loving it. So far, our days have been filled with sunny walks, yoga classes, beach days,  lounging at the baby pool, and dear friends.  It is glorious.  Did I mention how smitten Paolo is to have his JoJo, BoBo, Uncle Zack, and Uncle Justin at his beck and call?  (Never dare to use the G-word in this family; as my parents put it, “We are too young to be called that.”)  He is going to be bored to have only me to play with when we go home to the Midwest.

I lived here when I was a little girl, and I have been back to visit several times in the past 15 or so years.  I know that this place is gorgeous, but every time I visit, I am so taken with its beauty.  Here’s to two more weeks of sun and aloha.

(Photos to come.)

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Hives and hot wives

We have been so lucky to have such an unbelievably healthy baby; not having had to take him to daycare has made all the difference in Paolo’s health.  And I am incredibly grateful for this because the past couple of weeks have not been fun.  This ear infection has wreaked havoc on our lives.  First, the ear infection tortured my poor baby.  Then, the Tylenol and antibiotics helped, and seemed to clear up the infection. But the antibiotics.

Oh, the antibiotics.

Paolo’s digestive system did not agree with the antibiotics.  We got the full spectrum in the dirty diapers. One extreme to the other and then back again. Poor lil’ guy.  Then he got a rash all over his body. At first I thought it was a heat rash or possibly a reaction to his first time wearing sunscreen.  So I asked the doctor.  And I was told that it was what they call an “ammoxocilian rash.”  While it was a bit unsightly, it didn’t seem to bother him one bit.

Then the hives came.  Two days after his antibiotics regime was over, we were driving home from Northern Minnesota.  About five hours into our eight-hour trip home, Paolo started shouting.  And crying a little bit, mostly just shouting and squirming.  I thought that he was just sick of being in the car, so I did everything I could to make his trip easier. I sat in the back with him and read him stories, sang songs, played with his toys. When that didn’t work, we would stop so I could hold him for a little while every 40 minutes or so.

We finally made it home. And Paolo was exhausted and uncomfortable. Then, I noticed what I thought were a few mosquito bites on his thigh, which was weird, because I was so diligent in protecting him from the bugs.  I put him to bed in the hope they would go away without bothering him too much.

The next morning, I noticed more little ‘bites’ on his other thigh.  And no, I still didn’t think they were hives.  (I know, I know. I feel like a horrible mother.) Later that day, I noticed that he had developed more ‘bites’ on his forehead and shoulder. I watched as they swelled up and then went away.  Which made me finally realize that my little guy had hives.  As it was Memorial Day, urgent care and the doctor’s office were closed.  (Of course.) So we went to the ER.  After only a few hours and couple hundred dollars later, the doctor told us that Paolo had hives as a reaction from the antibiotics and gave him some Benadryl.

The Benadryl has helped the hives, but makes him CRAZY. Yes, CRAZY.  I think that the stuff makes my baby high.  After his dosage of the antihistamine, Paolo goes a little nuts. With lots of shouting, arching, and just basic irritability. Then, he’ll sleep a little, which is nice for me.

And Giuseppe. And Zack.

Did I mention that my little brother Zack has been a godsend the past few days? He has been so amazing and helpful to me.  Most of this has been going on while we were either up in Minnesota without Giuseppe or when he was working at the hospital.  I don’t know how I would have made it through the week alone, much less come home, unpack from Minnesota, do laundry and then pack again for our trip to Hawaii.

But I realized it was a bit much for his 21-year-old self when he announced last night that he “is trying to find a hot wife.  And then spay her.”

Okay, I know that sounds kind of crass. But you have to remember that my husband is a veterinarian.  You can call it ‘vet humor.’ It must have rubbed off on Zack.  And Paolo has not been making a good name for babies everywhere.

So, here’s to ear infections and the drama they bring. I hope my little one starts feeling all the way better soon.

(Side note: As I write this, we are on the first leg of our trip to Hawaii, and Paolo is sleeping like an angel in his car seat! Oh how I pray our trip continues peacefully!)


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What I learned this week

I spent the past week visiting various members of my ginormous extended family, from my Mom’s side. (My parents are both on the tail end of families with nine children.) My brother Zack, visiting from San Diego, arrived to Ames on Friday morning ready for our trip to Minneapolis. (After driving our MINI from San Diego to Ames, which he did in 26 hours.  He and a buddy offered to drive our other car here for us, so that we would not have to make two cross-country trips. We will be eternally indebted to them both. How awesome are they?)

So, on Saturday, we all (Giuseppe, Zack, Paolo, Brandon, Sofia, and I) drove up to Minneapolis for a visit.  We stayed there until Tuesday morning, when we headed up to the North Woods, where we have two cabins on a lake and more relatives.  We arrived back to Ames a few hours ago.

There will be photos to follow, but here is the shortlist of what I learned/remembered this week:

– Camp Snoopy is no longer Camp Snoopy at the Mall of America. Now it’s a creepy Dora-Land. But the rides are better. (Read: Scarier. And fun.)

– I am not sure I totally get the series finale of Lost. I am still thinking about it.

– Summer is hot in the Midwest. I am already becoming weary of being sweaty.

– Lakes are very refreshing. I thoroughly enjoyed my dips in Moose Lake.

– Despite all of my efforts to lead a very green lifestyle, Nature doesn’t love me back.  I was continually attacked by mosquitos, spiders, and deer flies.  Chances are, if you were standing by me outside, the bugs didn’t bug you, as they were busy torturing me.

– Cousins are always a lot of fun. And my aunts and uncles are absolutely hilarious. (I spent the week laughing so hard I thought may’ve needed some laughter pads.)

– Minneapolis is always awesome, and so is the rooftop restaurant where we dined on Saturday night, Joe’s Garage.

– Zack likes beer and is always tons of fun on vacation.

– I have an amazing husband and I really miss him when we are apart.

– I have a very smiley baby.


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Edge of the Wilderness

Paolo, my brother Zack, and I are spending this week on vacation with our relatives in Northern Minnesota. It is so refreshing to be here.  Everything is so green and so lush.  The lakes are absolutely gorgeous, and the greenery is breathtaking.  There really is so much natural beauty here. I am hoping to take some beautiful photographs this week, especially of the lakes.  And, we are going to take Paolo for his first ‘swimming’ adventure in Moose Lake!  More to come…

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Paolo and I are headed for a vacation in Paradise next month.  We fly to Honolulu on June 2nd and will stay for about three weeks.  My parents are so excited to see the baby, whom they have not seen since they came out for his Baptism in January.  (Well, my mom hasn’t seen Paolo since then. Dad came out to California on business in March and stayed with us for the weekend, which was fun.)  It will be a great trip; we always have an amazing time when we are in Hawaii. Here is a family photo from last Thanksgiving, when we celebrated my dad’s retirement from the Navy and start of his new career with the Department of Defense in style with a giant party (complete with a DJ, Polynesian dancer, and photographer):

In this photo, Paolo is only six weeks old. It really is incredible how much he’s grown since then.  And it’s “incredible” how I am still NOT back to my pre-baby weight. It’s really annoying, but I am trying to accept that this is obviously a slow process for me.  I had hoped to be beach-ready this summer. But I’m not. So, instead, it’s time to be creative.  I ordered a Magicsuit and cover-up from Victoria’s Secret Swim.  Oh how I hope it’s magical.  Hopefully it will make going to the beach a little less painful.  I mean this model looks like she’s having a grand time wearing this “magic” suit….But then again, there is not much to control on her 103-pound frame.  We’ll see how it works for me.

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