Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Babymoon in the Veneto!

Two weeks ago Josh and I took a little vacation to the Veneto region of Italy and it was fabulous! The Veneto region is on the north eastern part of Italy and includes Venice, Verona, Belluno, and the Dolomites. This region is famous for a few reasons:
  • It is one of the most important wine producing regions and produces the most DOC (original location certified) wine in Italy.
  • The most important wines produced are Prosecco, Valpolicella, Valdobiadene, and Amarone di Valpolicella.
  • It is one of the most visited regions in Italy (thanks to Venice), and is one of the richest regions in the country.
  • Bennetton, Sisley and Diesel are all from the Veneto- originally from the town of Treviso
An apartment building in Treviso

On our way to find a place to eat- many places were closed
for Ferragosto

One of the best pizza places we've ever been to! Treviso

Mmm... the pizza!

Even though the region includes Venice, we did not go into the city. We stayed for a few nights just outside of Treviso, then spent a couple nights in Conegliano. We had a great time touring the cities, seeing the Dolomites again (we kept saying that we had to go back this year!), eating the AMAZING food, and of course Josh enjoyed trying all of the prosecco and white wines of the area. I was really jealous of this because I LOVE prosecco and couldn't partake in the fun :( Next time!! We did buy some bottles to open in celebration after Bambino arrives though. We were even able to spend some time with our friends since Josh and Francesco had tickets to see the Foo Fighters. It was a really great trip that I hope to do again some time. The area is beautiful and I happen to like it better than Tuscany for a few reasons:

1. It's cheaper!!
2. There aren't many tourists
3. There is really good white wine & prosecco, as well as some of the most famous Italian reds
4. The regional food is incredible!
5. You are less than an hour from the Dolomites- my favorite part of Italy!

From our day driving in the Dolomites- we visited Belluno,
and Pieve di Cadore

A place where we had coffee in Belluno- the cappucino was almost
twice as expensive as in Milan!
A garden in the main square of Belluno. Can you see the little
duck hiding in the bush?

The main church in Belluno

Across from the church, there was this beautiful building- I think
it was the city hall

We stopped near this river to take a little break. You can see
one of the towns we visited on the hill. We ate lunch not
far from there at a place called the Ski Bar. It was amazing!

Time for another break! And an amazing view of the Dolomites

It looked like the clouds were a waterfall over the mountain.
It was pretty amazing.

Some random gnomes from a house on the side of the road.
We have tons of pictures to share, so I'll follow up this post with more pictures. Enjoy!

After our drive through the Dolomites, we stopped in Cornegliano

The main square in Cornegliano

Monday, August 20, 2012

36 weeks and almost full term!

This week starts week 36 for me and Bambino! Next week I'll be full term. It's really hard to believe that we are only weeks away from meeting him/her. It's still surreal to me that we're having a baby! Time really does fly by when you're pregnant!
34 weeks, 6 days in the Dolomites, north
of Belluna, Italy

Last week was amazing- Josh and I spent a week in the Veneto region of Italy and relaxed. It's different traveling now because the car is really uncomfortable (my hips start to really hurt), and I get so winded because my lungs are being crushed by Bambino. This makes it difficult to do the things we used to do when we traveled (IE: spend a day driving around and visiting cities, walking many miles to see everything). Not to mention, needing to use the bathroom all of the time is difficult in Italy... There aren't many places that are open at this time of year! Not to mention they don't always let you use the bathroom. Even so, we were able to visit some pretty amazing places that I'll write about later.

Anything new this week for me? Well, my feet are constantly swollen now and it's driving me crazy. I have put myself of self-imposed bed rest in the afternoons to keep my feet up and that seems to help, but they are just always swollen now. I also feel like a complete hermit these days. Yes, we get out and do things, and I still see people, but I'm mostly happy just staying at home. It's so much easier- I don't have to search for a place to use the bathroom, and I have snacks readily available. My clothes are starting to get too tight now too. Some of my maternity clothes don't fit anymore, so I'm mainly in tanks and a pair of black maternity pj shorts, or a dress. It's been so hot that most of my maternity clothes wouldn't be comfortable anyways.

Things I'm excited for:
There are so many I'm not sure where to start! I'm really excited about Bambino finally arriving and meeting the little one. It will be nice to finally see the face, arms and legs that I've felt moving inside me for the past few months. In addition to that, I'm excited to get my old body back... I miss snuggling with Josh and night, and I miss being able to wear normal clothes. I'm also excited about running again!! I miss it so much.

New cravings?
Not really. I'm still craving sweet things and all of the gelato everywhere is driving me crazy! It's super hot now and everyone is eating gelato to cool off. Unfortunately it's not in my pregnancy diet, so it's just torture! I do have cravings for salty stuff now too though, and I've been craving beef. For whatever reason, Bambino needs lots of meat... so I've been craving anything with beef- tacos, sloppy joes, steak, hot dish, cheeseburgers... if it has beef, I want it!

35 weeks, overlooking the Valdobiadene wine region

It's getting more and more difficult to exercise, but I keep walking as much as possible. I even take the stairs when I can. But I find that prenatal yoga is the best thing for me now. It's challenging, but at the same time it really stretches everything and makes my body feel so much better. It really helps my back with all of the extra weight it's carrying these days.

We've narrowed it down to two boy’s names and one girl name. And no, I won't be sharing on the blog... you'll have to wait to hear them when we announce Bambino's arrival. But, I can tell you that it's been an interesting ongoing conversation and we've decided on an Italian middle name. Originally I really wanted Lillian (my grandmothers name), and I think my cousin Jenna wanted the same name for a girl! What's funny is that as soon as I told Josh about that, he vetoed it instantly (I believe the same thing happened with Jenna). I love the name, but apparently he had a babysitter named Lillian that he really didn't like, so the name brought bad memories.
Me, constantly eating and my "not happy" face because we've
been in the car all day. Man I feel huge now!

Josh has been so sweet throughout everything and he's even started "nesting" a bit too. I've been mainly preparing for the delivery (since the nursery is pretty much ready) with research and looking at ways to assist a natural birth, and he's been preparing as well. When we went to the grocery store the other day and saw that diapers were 40% off, he was excited to go back the next day and stock up on more diapers. We now have boxes upon boxes of diapers! But hopefully they will last us a while :)

With that, and a few things that Josh is picking up this week while he is in Minnesota for work, the nursery is all set for Bambino to arrive! He/she just has to wait until next week when Josh is back in Milan, and the baby will be full term. After that, I guess Bambino can arrive whenever he/she is ready! The car seat is even installed and waiting.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

34 weeks and sausage feet!

33 weeks, 5 days in Bellagio
This week is #34 for me and Bambino. In a month we could be meeting the little one! This past week has been fun, tiring, nerve wracking and exciting all at the same time. Between friends visiting, doctors appointments and dealing with my tired and swollen body, it's been a long but good week.

Dan and Stephna (our friends that live in Amsterdam) came down to Milan for the weekend and we got to spend some time with them and show them our favorite spots. They were only here for a couple of days, so their trip was short, but we were able to pack in some fun stuff. We showed them the bar at Rinascente that overlooks the Duomo, the Brera District, and brought them up to Lake Como. At Lake Como we toured around Bellagio and then went swimming near Villa del Balbianello. It was an awesome day! That night after returning to Milan we brought them to Pizzeria Spontini, and we found a new AMAZING gelato shop near Buzzi with the best pistachio flavor- Massimo del Gelato. It was really fun having them here in Milan and great to catch up with them! They are so much fun to hang out with :)

Dan's wallet- you think he wants to be George Costanza??

there were some strange art pieces in Bellagio
this time around

Remember how three weeks ago I had an ultrasound and they said that Bambino was TOO BIG? At that point he/she was about 5 lbs (way over the 3.5 lb average), so they wanted me to return this week to make sure that Bambino's growth evens out a bit and doesn't keep skyrocketing off the charts. On Tuesday morning I had another ultrasound and it turns out that the growth is starting to balance out. Instead of being over the 95th percentile in every category (most of them were way over at the last appointment), he/she is now closer to 90-95. Bambino is now about 5.9 lbs according to the measurements and everything is healthy. We just have one growing, healthy baby  that takes after dad :) If the growth continues at the same pace, he/she will be around 8-8.5 lbs at birth which is definitely OK with me!! But since Bambino is still bigger than they want him/her to be at this point, they want me to go in again for another ultrasound in three weeks to make sure everything is still ok. That's fine with me! I'll get to see that precious little face again :)

cooling off our feet on a hot day!
Since I've been super healthy throughout my pregnancy, and so has Bambino, they asked me to be a part of a fetal monitoring research study that is happening right now at Buzzi. Since I had time I volunteered. I sat for 40 minutes with a wireless monitor strapped onto my belly, and they just recorded the heart rate during that time. They are doing this to compare healthy women/fetuses to women that have had complications where the baby is not growing properly. It sounds like a really interesting study and I'm curious to see what the findings are.

How is my body holding up? Well... I now officially have "le piedi di salsicce" (sausage feet). The summer heat of over 90 every day is the main culprit in that. I rub them every night and try to put them up as much as possible, as well as exercising to keep up the blood flow, and it just doesn't work. They seriously look like sausages!! Even Josh couldn't believe how swollen they get. I've just come to the realization that they will be this way until Bambino arrives. My hands are starting to get that way too... Most days I can't wear my wedding ring anymore, so I've just put it on my necklace.
Oh the fun of pregnancy!! It's been a pretty amazing thing so far and since the worst thing I can complain about is having slight nausea in the beginning, and now swollen feet, I'm feeling pretty blessed!! I just hope the delivery will go as smoothly.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Many of you have realized that traveling to Europe in August may not be the best idea. Many people take a holiday during the month of August, and a lot of businesses shut down for the month. Here in Italy, it is no different. There is a holiday on August 15th called "Ferragosto" which celebrates the assumption of Mary. It is a national holiday in Italy and everything closes on that day. Really, most businesses shut down completely for at least that week, if not the entire month of August. Thankfully, the grocery stores are still open! But all of the small businesses near our house were shut down at the end of July, and re-open around August 27th.

Cinque Terre (just one of the many places that will be packed
full of people)

Most people take this opportunity to flee the stiflingly hot cities and head to the sea or mountains. Resorts are completely packed, and the sea is full of Italians sun bathing and enjoying their vacation. Ferragosto is celebrated typically with a feast or bbq and spending time with friends and family on the sea. For Josh and me it will be no different. We have found an amazing hotel north of Venice that we will visit for the week. Thankfully, there is a pool!! Lots of swimming in store for this preggo lady, I can't wait! We are now officially in the hottest time of the year. Thankfully, it will be over in a couple of weeks (at least I'm hoping!).

Liguria (west of Genoa), another beach that will be packed!!
So, word to the wise! If you plan on traveling to Europe in August, expect many places to be shut down in the big cities, resorts to be more expensive than normal, and TONS of Europeans to be crowding the seas and lakes. We are now officially in the peak tourist season of Italy (mainly European tourists). People here really enjoy their holidays and they make a big deal out of taking at least two weeks off every year to relax. This is a new mentality for me that was difficult to get used to. Americans typically don't take more than a few days off from work at a time, let alone taking 2-4 weeks off in the summer. I could definitely get on board with the European mentality though :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

7 weeks left, and the "sisterhood"

On to week 33!! Only 7 more weeks to go and only four until I'm full term! Weeks 32 and 33 have turned out to be great weeks with lots of socializing, and of course a lesson or two of English. I'm pretty much done teaching, but have one more lesson at the end of August before I'm officially on "maternity leave" (I use quotations because I work freelance, so it's really not maternity leave). In the past week we've met some new friends that just moved to Milan from Chicago- Jennifer (a fellow Chi-O), Clint and their adorable daughter Viv- and we've also spent a lot of time with our Italian friends. It's been a lot of fun, but I cannot do three nights in a week past midnight anymore!! Holy cow, I've been trying to recover from last week for the past few days and I feel like I haven't slept in a week!!

Some new things with pregnancy.... Bambino LOVES mussels! Every time I eat them he/she goes crazy and starts doing gymnastics. Very appropriate now that the Olympics have started. It's funny, just cleaning them I think Bambino anticipates them, so from cleaning them to eating them, Bambino goes crazy.

My energy just seems completely drained lately! I typically wake up in the morning around 9, have breakfast, clean the kitchen, check email, maybe do a few things around the house, eat lunch, then it's time for a nap by 2PM. Between Bambino growing, and the summer heat that has hit Milan, my energy seems to be non-existent. I feel like a complete pile lately! Not to mention that my feet start swelling everyday now because it's so hot. Luckily, we don't have to deal with the heat that the US is dealing with, but back home we had central air conditioning so it didn't seem so bad... Here we only have a small unit in the bedroom (which is better than nothing!!). But I can't spend my entire day locked up in our bedroom.

One really fun part of pregnancy is reconnecting with people that I haven't been in contact with for years. Some of them are old college friends, some old high school friends, but all have had children and are a part of the "sisterhood". It's funny, now that I'm pregnant I feel like I've been able to join the "sisterhood" of women that have experienced the most incredible part of life- giving life to your child. At least, I think it's incredible! And it's really fun to talk to people about their children and experiences. Maybe calling it the "sisterhood" isn't really fair though because I've also been able to relate to a lot of guys that have had children too. Maybe calling it "club parenthood" would be better? Either way, it's really fun to talk to people about their experiences and learn from them.

Some things I'm excited about: meeting Bambino! Finally! I'm curious if he will look like he does in my dreams (I dream of having a boy). I'm also excited for some cooler weather, being 8 months pregnant in the hottest part of summer is not too fun. I get overheated SO easily!!

Some things I'm nervous about: the delivery... I've been researching a lot and learning more about the process, the options available, talking to people about their experiences, etc. I know I just have to let nature take its course, but since this is my first child I'm nervous because I don't know what to expect. Also, I'm a little nervous about my ultrasound next week. We'll find out if Bambino is still growing too much, or if he/she is starting to level out a bit.

Cravings: I'm DYING for a cheeseburger!! When we were sitting at the pool in Barga the other weekend I kept smelling burgers and french fries. Ever since then I can't stop thinking about a big, juicy cheeseburger! The only downfall is that you can't find a good one in Milan. You have to make it yourself, so that is what Josh and I will do this weekend when he returns from Paris :D CAN'T WAIT FOR THAT!! He makes the BEST cheeseburgers!

I also seem to be craving a lot of dairy products too. It must be because Bambino's bones are starting to harden and finish developing. But I want yogurt and milk every day now, so I try to work it into my diet throughout the day.

On another note: We FINALLY got TV last week!! Only a year and a half later... Just in time for the Olympics! :D