Saturday, June 30, 2012

Italians love a pregnant woman!

So, I keep meaning to include these stories in one of my updates, but the pregnant brain must be taking over because I keep forgetting :)

People in Italy love a pregnant woman! Especially the older ladies... I have to share these fun stories because I think they're great!! Women in Italy ALWAYS want to tell you what they think you are having (maschio o femmina- male or female). At the grocery store one day I was waiting patiently in line and a woman asked me if I wanted to go ahead of her (this is customary here- pregnant woman get precedence and can butt to the front of any line! I may have to take advantage of this at some point...). I was ok waiting so I politely told her no thank you, go ahead. She then proceeded to tell me that she was so excited, congratulations/best wishes, and she thinks its a boy- "Tanti auguri! È maschio!!" The lady was super nice and I love when people say "Auguri!", but I thought it was really funny that she had to tell me that she thinks its a boy.

Another day I was walking on the curb to the bus stop nearby and a lady in a car on the street rolled down her window to shout "È maschio!" I looked at her and said "Scusa??" She repeated, "È maschio!!" She was an older lady that I have never seen or met before, but she thought it was necessary to tell me she thinks I'm having a boy. I just looked at her and smiled, maybe even gave a little giggle. I laughed most of the day about that one. The fact that the woman took the time to roll down her window and tell me what she thought, it was pretty funny.

Other than that, women in Italy really do understand that pregnant women need a seat on the bus or the metro, and have a hard time standing for long periods of time. They are SO nice!! It's always the women that offer me their seat when riding public transportation (guys aren't very observant, so they usually don't get up). Even this morning, a lady working at the grocery store pulled me to the front of the very long line at check out so I didn't have to wait. I am so grateful to these women!! Right now it's a small kindness that I appreciate but don't necessarily need yet. I have a feeling that in a month or so, I will need that kindness!! So, I am very thankful for Italian women! They are so sweet!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Norway: The final installment

After our long day on the road in Norway, we decided to sleep in on Sunday morning and enjoy a lazy day at the cabin. The view was incredible! Mountains all around, and we were up in the permafrost area so it was chilly! Luckily the cabin had lots of heat to keep us warm. The cabin is amazing- where it's located they don't have electricity or running water yet, so they bring in all of their water, and use a generator for the TV (when they use it). But they do have the option to take a shower due to the system they have, and they do have running water in the sinks in the summer time.

We went for a walk around the area and it started raining/sleeting! It wasn't raining hard, and the sleet was more like snow- it was June 3rd! We couldn't believe how cold it was, but we still had fun! Josh even played with Mia a bit and raced her back to the cabin. After a fun day relaxing, we went back to Drammen for the night and had some delicious pizza :)
Trollbu is the name of the cabin- there were trolls pictured
inside in some interesting places- the napkin holder, on the wall...
This is how they bought the cabin.

Josh and Mia

On Monday Josh and I headed into Drammen to see the city. It is a cute little town with a small square in the center, a shopping mall and a nice walking path along the river. Ragnar picked us up after lunch and brought us up the "Spiralen" which is an engineering marvel- they carved a tunnel out of the mountain in a spiral shape. Instead of going straight through the mountain, you go up to the top!! It's like the spiral entrance/exit in a car ramp, only you're in what looks like a TNT blasted tunnel. At the top was an amazing view of Drammen and we even took a little walk on the paths up there. It was like being in northern MN, only on top of a mountain.

Looking at the Drammen River

Ragnar pointing out their house on the other side of the valley

Bambino in Norway!

This bridge is famous and has won awards- the Y bridge
It is for foot traffic only and is pretty amazing!
We also met up with Sissel when she was finished with work, had dinner in Drammen (at the restaurant where they met), then Sissel took us on a tour of the Lier Valley. This was really fun for me because my namesake (Maren Granheim, my great grandmother) was from the Lier valley before moving to the north shore with her husband. Sissel even drove us by the farm where her family lived!  The valley was lit up beautifully with the evening sun, and we enjoyed a nice drive through the area. It was so much fun to see where my Norwegian relatives come from!! Being in Norway really felt like home to me and I could easily live there. The country is so beautiful!! But as they say, all good things come to an end. The next morning we had to leave very early for the airport to catch our flight.

Looking across the valley at Maren's farm

Looking towards Drammen from the Lier Valley

Thanks again to Ragnar and Sissel for being such wonderful hosts!! We had an amazing time and can't wait to come back again soon! Also, thanks to "Auntie Sissel" for Bambino's first stuffed animal!

Elgar the moose- I love his Norwegian sweater with matching
socks! He's too cute! Thanks Sissel!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Welcome to the third trimester!

Wow! Yesterday marked the 28 week mark with Bambino and I am now in the third trimester! There are only 12 weeks to go!
27 weeks, 5 days
(this past Saturday)
I feel like I'm carrying a bowling
ball these days! Especially since
my belly goes straight out.

Things are starting to get more fun with Bambino. I can feel him/her moving regularly and we are finally starting to prepare things for when Bambino moves in. This past week we were in Minnesota visiting family, and friends. My friend Holly and my mom even organized a little baby shower/BBQ for our close friends (and a few family members). In addition to that, my brother had a wedding ceremony for those of us that couldn't make it to the ceremony in Florida. The trip home was amazing and I am so grateful for all of the amazing people in my life, friends and family. It makes coming back to Italy difficult because I can't see them every day.

Back to the pregnancy stuff... The past few weeks have had some ups and some downs, but overall I'm still feeling great. At 26 weeks I had an appointment with my Doctor that was emotionally tough. After they weighed me in and found out that I had gained 11 kg (about 24 pounds) my doctor looked at me and said "you've gained too much weight!" I think it was definitely something that came out wrong with the language barrier, but it was like someone hit me with a ton of bricks! I've been eating healthy (with the exception of the sweets...) and exercising. I couldn't believe she was telling me that I had gained too much weight already! Her main concern was that she doesn't want me to gain too much weight and have complications later on, so she told me to cut back on the sweets and carbs. Ok, I can cut back on sweets, but I honestly didn't think I ate that many carbs... Between that and EVERYONE telling me at this point how BIG I am, it was everything I could do not to burst into tears at the appointment. Josh witnessed the whole thing and makes fun of me for it because he thinks I'm doing just fine.

In addition to being told that I've gained too much weight, she also told me that she wanted me to take the glucose tolerance test. So, I had that done the next day. Man, that is one disgusting drink they give you!! I took the 75 mg test where they take your blood three times over two hours (once before drinking the nasty stuff, once after one hour and finally after two hours). That stuff made me feel so icky- nauseous, and light headed, I even started to sweat a little. It certainly did a number on my body- I felt strange for the next day or so. I'm so glad that's over! I have the results, but don't know if they are normal. So, I have to go in to speak with the doctor tomorrow (this is standard procedure in Italy, you have to pick up your results from the hospital, then show them to your doctor). I think everything is good, but we'll see.

Some things that I've been able to learn about Bambino- last Monday we were on the boat at Josh's grandpa's cabin and Bambino loved it! The entire time we were on a boat Bambino thought it was play time. He/she was kicking, and doing summersaults. It was pretty fun. Bambino seems to be on a schedule now of sleep/play time. If babies are anything like they are in the womb, he/she will want to eat, then have play time. I swear, every time I eat Bambino starts moving like crazy! I've come to call this play time :)

Other things that have been happening... My feet swelled again on the flight back to Milan (not really a problem going to MN though). So, right now they look more like paddles than feet. But, thankfully it’s going down slowly. My hips have been sore on some nights, coincidentally it happens when I travel. But the pants I wore on the plane to MN now feel a little tight. I'm pretty sure my hips widened again last week. The nesting urge is starting to become real. After I purchased a bunch of stuff for Bambino last week I felt so much better! We still have a few things to purchase (furniture, a bath tub, and a few misc. things), but I feel like we are on our way to being prepared. It's a great feeling! Now I'm busy with laundry and re-organizing our apartment to make room for Bambino.

I'm so excited about the upcoming months and can't wait to have our apartment ready for bringing the little guy/girl home. And I'm so excited for my cousin Jenna who is due in the next week- I hope things for her go well and she has a safe delivery! Also, congratulations to Sissel and Ragnar who became grandparents this week! Babies are everywhere it seems!

My mom, Sissel (in her traditional Norwegian garb for my
brothers wedding), just two of the amazing women in my life!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Norway Part 2: Saturday

Morning ice cream!
Saturday: a tour of Western Norway! We started the day leaving Sissel and Ragnar's house in Drammen really early that morning and started heading west to Laerdal. We made a few stops on the way for some ice cream and coffee (at 10:30AM... oh it was so good!), and of course we had to stop for pictures. There was also the Stave Church, beautiful scenery, and even snow!! After lunch in Hemsedal and the Stave Church, we arrived in Laerdal for a three hour tour of the Sognefjord and Naeroyfjordden. It was awesome! Every time we turned around we wanted a picture. Unfortunately they just don't do the scenery justice! The ferry was great because we were one of three cars on it- we pretty much had the deck to ourselves :)

An awesome waterfall we saw from the road

It started getting colder the higher we got, and this area was
REALLY cold! This house has grass on the roof- an old tradition
in Norway. I guess it helped with insulation during the winter.

Yes, that is snow! In June!

After getting back to a lower altitude it cleared up and we
were able to enjoy the Borgund Stave Church. They had just
tarred it, so that's why it looks black. It's made entirely of
 wood and it's incredible!

Where we caught the ferry in Laerdal

The ferry opens at the end to let the cars on board... I've
never seen anything like that before!

We started out thinking this was the most amazing view!
Oh, were we in for an awesome trip...

At the one and only stop on our tour, Kaupanger

Me and Sissel

The awesome tour guides!

Just inside the ridge on the far left, there is a portion that looks
like a hand coming down the mountain towards the water...
We decided that's the troll that lives in the mountain. If we
weren't on our best behavior, he was going to get us!!  ;)
And yes, those are glaciers on top.

We were picture taking fools...
In the Naeroyfjorden

A bunch of sea kayakers

After dinner in Flam, we stopped at this brewery/restaurant.
It was viking inspired, and completely awesome!!

There was even a fireplace with benches
that had furs to keep you warm!

After Flam, we headed once again into the tundra...

Again... it was freakin' cold!!
See- the car says 0 degrees celcius!! (32 degrees F)

The last thing I remember before falling asleep in the car

That night we finally arrived at the cabin around 12:30AM. I was exhausted from an awesome day! So I pretty much crashed as soon as we arrived. The rest of the crew stayed up and enjoyed the midnight sun of Norway. What an incredible day with incredible views!

On the final installment, you'll get to see our day at the Cabin, and Monday in Drammen. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Norway! The home land...

Josh and I found some great flights from Milan directly to Norway, and we had to take advantage of the opportunity to see where my family comes from! I've been dying to get to Norway for that reason, and also to visit Sissel and Ragnar. I believe we determined that I am Sissels second cousin, once removed. So that would make her dog (Mia) my third cousin :)

We flew up on Thursday evening and stayed through Tuesday morning. Sissel and Ragnar were great hosts and tour guides- they showed us all of the highlights in one weekend! We were able to visit Oslo, Hemsedal, Borgund Stave Church, Laerdal, the Naeroyfjorden, Flam, Sissel and Ragnar's cabin in the mountains, Drammen, and we also saw the Lier Valley where my namesake, my great grandmother Maren Granheim, was born. Sissel even brought us to the place where her family farm was. It was a pretty amazing trip! I surprised myself when I didn't want to leave! It felt like home in Norway and I wish we could have stayed longer. But like all good things, it had to come to an end. The country is so beautiful with it's ever changing landscapes- the east side is more hilly, and the west side has the taller mountains. It's just amazing!

Josh took a TON of pictures on the trip, so I'll try to tell the story through pictures. It may take another blog or two... here we go!!

Friday: We explored Oslo and visited the Viking Ship Museum, the Royal Palace, the National Gallery and just meandered around town. The National Gallery was pretty amazing- they had some really amazing nature artwork, and also had a large collection of Edvard Munch's paintings, including The Scream. We became fans of his work after viewing the collection. His art is really interesting! A little dark... but thought provoking.

The "Queens" ship- this one was used by a queen, and she
was even buried in it. The woodwork on the ends was amazing!

View of the Queens Ship from above

Another ship that wasn't preserved very well. It was in rough
shape, but this was also a burial place.

These items were found on one of the ships. The metal stakes on
the wall were used to hold up tents on the deck of the ship.

A cart on display- it was found in the Queen's Ship to aid
her in the afterlife. The mindset of the Vikings reminds me
of the Ancient Egyptians.

Details on the cart. The woodwork was incredible!

The hull of another ship. This one was much bigger than the
others! You can see a picture on the wall of what it may
have looked like when in use.

The entrance to the museum. We lucked out with amazing weather
that day!!

The Royal Palace

Taking a short break. You can see the main road through
Oslo below.