Friday, December 27, 2013

Bag lady

You know it's interesting.  I have attended (or plan to attend) a few childbirth classes in prep for baby girl's impending arrival, and I've declined others.  The receptionist at the OB clinic is always surprised when I say no to classes like "New Dad" or "Newborn Basics".  She'll tell me they are wonderful classes and I should attend to learn some valuable things to help with the new baby.  I tell her this isn't our first - well, sort of - it's our first pregnancy and delivery, but not first baby.  Once the baby comes out - we're golden!  It's the getting the baby here and getting her out (ouch...) that makes me a wee bit nervous. 

So with that being said, there is something I need advice on from all my momma friends.  
The hospital bag(s)

When we left for the hospital for Miles it was a mad dash, pack fast, throw everything into the car, drive 26 hours, buy what we forget at Target kind of deal.   This go around I have quite a bit more time to plan - so I plan on taking advantage of that!  I have read a few books and online forums and baby websites about what to pack...but I'm looking for real-world advice from been-there-done-that moms.  Things like this gem from my friend Carlie: buy depends...they are much more comfortable than the mesh "undies" the hospital gives you.  

So I'm curious - 

-How many bags did you pack? (some suggest a labor bag, post-delivery bag, hubby bag, and a baby bag...that seems like a lot of bags)
- What did you take that you didn't use? (everything I take will have to be schlepped down and then back up 60 stairs...I don't want to take unnecessary stuff!)
- What did you not pack that you wish you would have?  

And any other random tips you have for me.  

A quick few things...the hospital here does not have a DVD player, or a cafeteria (except for during breakfast & lunch's a military hospital, so it's a galley for the workers).  They do not provide pacifiers or formula (formula will be used only in the event of an urgent need for the baby).  We will have no access to any sort of prepared food (cafeteria, fast food, etc) after 8pm.  I will have my own room (yay - I don't like to share).    

Granted ALL of this changes if I go into labor before 37 weeks.  Because this hospital isn't equipped with a NICU, if I go into labor before 37 weeks they will not even allow me to labor at the hospital...they'll send me out in town to an Italian hospital and it's a completely different world at one of those.  So my fingers, toes, and legs are crossed that we make it to Valentine's Day...that's 37 weeks!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Keep the plates spinning

You know those fancy trick guys who put a plate on top of a stick, spin it, and keep it spinning without falling off?  I've been thinking about those guys a lot the last couple days.  And it reminds me of life.  We all have things to keep spinning.  Sometimes we are the one who starts the plate and other times a stick is handed to us and we just have to keep it going.  

In the last few months I have felt - in more moments than I care to share - that I wasn't going to be able to keep all my plates spinning.  Wife, mother, photographer, ombudsman, friend, teacher, cook, maid, daughter, sister, etc, etc, etc... it was a lot to keep spinning all at once.  The thing is, you never know how close you are to that point until you are to that point.  People would hand me spinning plates and I'd gladly take them.  I'd see others struggling with a plate so I'd offer to take it.  Then I'd think, huh, a pink spinning plate would be I'd start a pink spinning plate.  And then I'd stack plates on top of ones already spinning.  And all the plates are great and need someone to spin them, and I am more than capable, so why not me?  And every once in a while one would wobble a bit and require a little extra TLC to keep it from toppling off it's precarious perch.  And that was fine.  I'd take my eyes off the steady spinners long enough to tame the nervous plate.  But then I had more than one wobble at the same time...and the wobbles became more than wobbles and I didn't have enough eyes or hands to tame the finicky dishes.  I did my best to keep them all from falling, but some did.  And the unfortunate thing is the ones that fell are some of the ones that matter most to me.  I was so concerned about keeping plates spinning that could have been kept going by someone else that a few of my own crashed to pieces.  

Over the last month I have learned a few things: 
I don't need to spin all the plates.  
It's ok to sometimes say no to someone who wants you to spin one.
It's even ok to ask someone else to take one and have a turn spinning it.  

Next year I will spin less plates, and I'll only spin the ones that REALLY matter.
It's my only resolution.  

Sunday, December 01, 2013

"Perks" of living in Italy

There are so many wonderful things about living in Italy - but there are days that I long for the comforts and conveniences of home.  I think the honeymoon phase of our Italian life has definitely passed.  For example.  It is cold.  I've mentioned that before, and YES I grew up in Utah with snow and freezing temps but you know what we also had?  Insulated houses and central heating.  Here all the houses are made of cinder block and have NO insulation.   We can run our radiators or a space heater and it will take the chill off but because the walls/ceiling/floor are cement the heat goes away very quickly.  When we wake up our house is routinely 50 degrees...INSIDE.   I'll turn the radiators on (oh how I wish they could be set on a timer!) for an hour to take the bite out of the air.  But once I take Miles to school I just layer, layer, layer to keep warm.  Thermal undies, leggings, sweatpants, hoodie, socks, and slippers.  I will run a space heater under my desk while I work...and that is heaven!  In the evening we'll run the radiators for another hour, maybe...only if it's super cold.  Why don't we just run the radiators all day you ask?  Well...because it is SPENDY.  Like, super spendy.  We figured out that we use 7 litres of gas for every hour the radiators are on.  Gas is about $1/litre.  So if we have the radiators on for 3 hours a day for the month it would end up costing us about $600/month.  And that only keeps our house warm for THREE hours a day...the rest of the time it would hover between 50-55 degrees.  That is a LOT of money to pay for not a lot of comfort.  Hence the reason for the layering and the snuggies and the massive quantities of hot chocolate/cider/tea ingested. 

Also - the power.  Oh mamma mia.  If it rains, our power goes out.  If we have too many things plugged in, the power goes out.  If it surges (which happens almost every day at least once), the power goes out.  And "too many things" is not many at all.  For example...I cannot run the washer and dryer at the same time as a space heater (or the oven, or the microwave).  So earlier this week when Miles had rotovirus and I had 4+ loads of laundry to do (our washer/dryer are TINY) I had the choice...clean, barf-free clothes/sheets/blankets or warm feet.  I opted for barf free and put on an extra pair of socks.  So we froze all day while I did the four batches of laundry. 

Imagine it is 5:30pm and you are hungry...and you don't want to cook dinner.  In America your options are unlimited....well, limited only by budget.  Here?  Nothing.  Restaurants will all be closed still from riposo and won't re-open for dinner for another hour and a half at least.  There is a McDonald's at the airport...and a Burger King over near IKEA...both are 30+ minutes away and not what I want.   

And everything will get done "domani" (tomorrow).  We have been having problems with our cell phone company since MARCH.  They keep saying "give us a week and we'll fix it".'s been a LOT of weeks and nothing is done.  Customer service is non-existent here in Italy.  You don't like it?  Tough.   Even when I threatened legal intervention I was laughed at!   Our landlords seem to be the exception to "domani".  If something is broken or needs attention they help that day - or at the VERY latest the next.  We are SO grateful to have them!  

Italian food is amazing.  Seriously.  But what I would give for a plate of sushi.  Or a bowl of Thai curry.  Or Chick-fil-A.  Or (gasp!) Olive Garden's salad.  Italians aren't big on other culture's food.  At all.  We found one "Chinese" place that does ok...but it's almost an Italian's interpretation of Chinese food.   And there are a couple sushi places downtown Naples...but I hear mixed reviews.   I can make things of course  - provided I can find the ingredients.  Cilantro, avocados, and yellow squash are hit or miss at the base grocery store.  And things like Lemongrass and masago and spaghetti squash are impossible to find.   I've found raspberries here twice.  

Speaking of food.  A lot has recently come out in the media about thousands of tons of toxic (in some cases nuclear) waste being buried all around where we the towns where our produce is grown.  It is frightening.  It's obviously not good for us...but then if we were in the states we'd be dealing with GMO's...not sure which is worse. 

I know this seems like a whiny post - and it is.  I love living in Italy 90% of the time.  But I've had a rough week here and I need to vent.  And I also want to have this down so when I'm back in the US someday feeling nostalgic for Italy that I can remember that it wasn't all smiles and butterflies.  Not that living in the US is all smiles and butterflies either...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

New flash

I got a new flash for my camera and the other night I was playing around with it.  The bursts of light naturally attracted the attention of my curious two year old.  Miles would giggle and yell "ouch!" every time the flash went off.  Not sure why he said ouch...silly kid.  
In the midst of all his giggles I caught this perfect cheesy smile:

Monday, November 04, 2013

Growing Belly

I've been taking snapshots of me as the pregnancy progresses.  Instead of posting them all here I thought I'd give them their own should you have the desire to view my ever enlarging abdomen, see the "Growing Belly" tab above.

Sunday, November 03, 2013


It is no secret that Halloween is my most favorite of holidays.  I've had the boys' costumes planned for months...and I was going to be a ring girl, but with the changes in my body I couldn't find something that I had to improvise.   We had lots of Halloweening this year - which is just the way I like it!

First up was the big Spooktacular event at the base:

Next was a Trunk-or-Treat with our church friends.  Let me tell you...trying to get ALL those kids to hold still and all look the same way was IMPOSSIBLE. 

And finally one of our friends hosted a party on Halloween.  Miles wore his costume, Nathan wore his football jersey...and I went as a pregnant zombie.  :)

I love Halloween...I'm already trying to come up with costumes for FOUR for next year!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blue or Pink...what do you think?!

Last week we gathered with our closest friends (those who live here) and our Italian family to find out the gender of Baby W.  I had my anatomy scan appointment that morning and we told our ultrasound tech that we wanted to know the gender but we didn't want her to tell us.  We wanted her to write it down and put it in an envelope.  The day before the appointment I had made a huge bag of pink and a huge bag of blue confetti; after the appointment we took those bags, along with the sealed envelope, to the florist shop on base.  We told her to open it and if it said "girl" to put the pink confetti in the balloons and if it said "boy" to use the blue confetti.  About 30 minutes later we picked up 15 black balloons filled with confetti and took them home.  It was so hard having them sit in the living room, knowing they held a secret that I could easily discover if I would just pop one.  But I figured I had waited 20 weeks ( actuality about 9 years) so I could wait a few more hours.  

Nathan and I picked up the house, got the stuff ready for the party, then snagged a quick cat-nap before we picked Miles up from school.  

Our guests started showing up around 5:45.  As they showed up we took a poll:

At 6:15 we Facetime'd my mom so she could see it live.  Then we passed out the balloons and pins...

Becky was our official mom "FaceTimer"

And counted to three...and POP

Baby W is a GIRL!!!

If you want to watch the video:

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Here in Italy kids start school very young...usually at 18 months.  We decided to wait about a year so Miles just started this month.   He is going to a small private school run by the sweetest nuns I've ever met.  It has a beautiful garden out back with slides and swings, and they have chickens and turtles and birds.  He was a little nervous the first couple days but now as soon as we get out of the car he RUNS for the door.   Here are a few pictures from his first couple days:

All ready!  It was so blurry because he wouldn't hold still. :)

Walking him to school the first day

His class made this poster...aren't their little hands SO CUTE?!! Miles' hand print is the red one near the top.

Miles and his teacher.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Boy or Girl?

Ever since I found out I was pregnant I have wondered if this wee one is of the male or female variety.  I have my hunches, as do others...but we don't know for sure yet.  But that hasn't stopped my curiosity.  So I began snooping on the web for old wives tales and the see what I could find.  I know they are not's a 50/50 shot.  But it keeps me entertained for the next four weeks until we know for sure. 

The one that I find all over is the Chinese Prediction is supposed to be super accurate but you have to use one that calculates your lunar age, not just your calendar age.  The Chinese think it's a GIRL

The Mayan Gender Predictor...legend has it that the Mayans determined a baby's sex by looking at the mother's age at conception and the year of conception.  If both are even or both are's a girl.  Of one is even and the other is's a boy.   At conception I was 32, and the year is according the Mayans, it's a BOY

And now for some old wives tales:  First up is beauty.  It is said that if you have never looked more beautiful you're carrying a boy.  But if you've developed icky skin and you are feeling a little less glamorous it's a girl.  Well, I've been broken out for three months and when I wake up I look like an extra from the set of The Walking I'm going with GIRL on this one. 

Next is leg hair.  Legs looking a little like a National Forest?  Must be the extra testosterone.  Let's just say I need a waterproof weed wacker these days....BOY.  

Dad's weight gain is a funny one.  Is he getting chubbier?  It's a little girl.  Is he staying slim?  A boy.  Well...Nathan has thoroughly enjoyed my eating for two...and he was cursing his church pants Sunday because none of them fit...GIRL.  

Sleeping patterns.  This one I had never heard of before my friend alerted me to it.  Apparently, if you prefer to sleep on your left, it's a boy...right, it's a girl.  I have been lucky enough to still be able to fall asleep on my stomach...but I usually wake up laying on my back or my right side.  GIRL

Morning Sickness.   This Old Wives Tale states that if you had a smooth pregnancy with no morning sickness you've got a wee lad, and if the sickies had you down you've got a lass.  Well...I was best friends with the bathroom floor for GIRL.  

Cravings.  Sweet= girl.  Salty= boy.  I've been craving pickles and anything I guess that means BOY.

Moodiness.  Supposedly carrying a little girl adds to your hormone cocktail and makes you moody...calmer dispositions are due to a little boy.  I've been grumpy as a bear cat.  GIRL

Heart Rate.   If the heart rate is above 140 it's supposed to be a girl...below 140 a boy.  I was at 136, then 140, then 150.  So this one could go either way. BOTH

 Then there's mother's intuition...I've been thinking pink all along.  GIRL

What about you?  I'm curious to know what you think this wee one will be...boy or girl.  Drop me a comment or use the handy poll on the right and let me know. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Glucose Fun

I went to the doctor last Friday for my 15 week check-up and he was slightly concerned about a couple symptoms I was exhibiting.  So he told me he was planning on me doing the Glucose Test at 20 weeks but the symptoms made him want to push it up.  I showed up to the lab at 7:30am Monday morning after 12 hours of fasting expecting to do the 1 hour test...well to my surprise I had been set up for the 3 hour test - oh joy.  At least I brought a big book to read!  

The first needle stick went well...then came the sugar drink which actually wasn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be.  Sure, it's sweet but it wasn't horrible.  The second needle stick was quick, hurt a little...then started to ache.  It cause this lovely souvenir:

The next two rounds of blood drawing were not so nice.  Four sticks for the third round and three needle sticks for the fourth.   The poor phlebotomists...they could NOT find a good vein.  They ended up having to take the fourth draw out of my hand.  OUCH!  

I finished my four hours of solitude and headed to the car where I scarfed down the snacks I'd brought.  Apples and peanut butter had never tasted so good in my ENTIRE life.  It had now been 16 hours since I had eaten...and even pre-pregnancy that would have been no bueno.  Now that I have little Skeletor to answer to it wasn't pretty.  

The following day my doctor called with the results - I had passed with flying colors!!  Yay!  I'll likely have to repeat the test at 28 weeks like a normal pregnancy...which I'm ok with...I just need to have a good talking-to with my veins.  

That little souvenir above?  It looks like this now:


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Peace and panic in Switzerland

Remember the week I spent in Switzerland last summer?  Well the opportunity came up again this year (the Rome Temple is still not completed) and so we made plans to go as a family.  Nathan put in the leave request and it was approved.  I was excited to be able to share this time with him, and with Miles.  Then a few days before we are supposed to leave Nathan gets word that his deployment is being extended a couple days...and will keep him from going.  So now we have a choice to make.  Do Miles and I still go or do I go and leave Miles here with friends for the one night until Nathan gets home?  After much debate we decide that I should still go...and go alone.  The trip is non-refundable so someone should definitely go yet me in all my morning sickness glory trying to wrangle a very active two-year old who just learned the word NO all while sharing a twin size bed with him?  Not. Gonna. Happen.  

So I make the arrangements and start to make my packing lists.  Sunday comes, I drop Miles off, and a friend drops me off at the bus station.  The bus ride up was HORRIBLE.  Seriously...I was in tears and seriously considering getting off in Milan and hopping a train back home.  But I wanted SO BADLY - and needed, really - to go to the Temple.   So I prayed to God..."Dear God, I want to go spend this week at the Temple.  Please help me to make it through this bus ride."  The bus didn't leave our area until 8pm and we were stopping every two hours...the whole way up.  My smashed-by-fetus bladder was very grateful for the frequent stops, but herding 80 Italians through a rest stop every two hours was trying on the group leader's patience.  I was also sharing a row with someone, and sitting behind a GIANT man.  Seriously...think offensive lineman.  When his seat was reclined it came a hand width's distance of my face (put your hand in front of your face, perpendicular...notice where your pinky is? Ya, that's where the chair was.)  We didn't get to Bern until 1pm the following day.  By then my feet were swollen, I hurt everywhere, and I was long past queasy.  As soon as I got the key to my room in the hostel I went in and took a nap.  It was heavenly!  

The following morning I was able to attend the Temple.  I was overcome by the Spirit more than once...moved to tears.  It's such a wonderful place to be and I had missed it so much.  (The Swiss Temple is our closest Temple...until Rome is done)   Over the next couple days I was able to go each morning and each afternoon - which was WAY more than last year.  I soaked in the Spirit of the Temple as much as I could.  

In the evenings, after the Temple would close, I would feel lonely.  I was on the trip by myself, with a bus full of Italians.  There were a handful of Americans but they were all with people.  There were a couple times I was so frustrated.  I was so sick, and so tired, and I was hungry but didn't want to fight the crowd in the kitchen of the hostel to make something.  That's when something happened...twice...that made me remember that God knows me and knows when I am happy and when I am sad.  President Romano (our branch president...kind of like our pastor) came outside, saw me on the bench and told me in Italian that there was a plate for me at their table.  He is so in touch with the Spirit...he felt the whisperings to seek me out.  He is a man of God and for that I am so grateful.  The Italians from our branch welcomed me into their "family" (it was a hubby and wife, a few older ladies, and a couple older guys) for two meals.  Both on evenings where I was on the brink of frustrated, lonely tears.  God is good ladies and gents.  No heartache is too small for Him.  

Thursday morning I had just finished my session in the Temple...I didn't feel good.  I was crampy and just felt off.  Then I went to the bathroom and discovered I was bleeding.  My heart dropped to the floor.  I quickly left the Temple, hurried to the hostel hiding my worried, panicked tears...hoping that our room was empty.  It wasn't.  I crawled into my tiny twin bunk and willed the others to leave.  They did.  I texted Nathan.  Over the next 30 mins we played text-phone tag. He called the OB clinic and played middle man for news.  I was advised to lay still, relax, and see what happened.  If the cramping and bleeding didn't stop in one hour I was to seek medical care.  I was terrified.  I speak German...but not THAT German.  And where was the closest medical facility?  And how would I pay?  And what would happen if - God forbid - I was miscarrying.  The thought of suffering a miscarriage in a shared hostel room or on a 16 hour bus-ride home added another layer of worry to my already troubled heart.  I prayed.  SO HARD.  I begged God to spare my baby.  But I acknowledged His will and asked that if I was going to lose the baby that it would wait long enough for me to be home.  That was a hard prayer.  But I learned years ago that submitting my will to His was much easier than trying to bend His will to mine.  I prayed for comfort, and peace...and following the prayer I was able to sleep for an hour.  When I woke I went to check for blood and found no new.  And my cramps were gone.  Tears of gratitude fell on my cheeks.  I let Nathan know the developments, and then prayed some more.  Later that evening I asked one of the men on the trip for a Priesthood Blessing.  The Spirit that flowed through the blessing brought me comfort.  The words that were spoken are sacred and precious to me. 

The following day we packed up the hostel and loaded the bus.  I was adament that I needed two seats for the journey home.  I succeeded and did my best to wedge my body in positions of comfort.  It wasn't perfect but it was SO MUCH better than the bus ride up had been.  I arrived home to the loving arms of a worried husband and an excited two year old.  

I learned something in Switzerland.  Well, I guess I can't say learned because it was something I already knew.  I guess I should say I was reminded of something.  God will just have to ask.   That doesn't mean He'll always provide what you ask for...rather, He will provide what you need.  

I needed patience, and I got it.
I needed love, and I got it.
I needed healing, and I got it.
I needed peace, and I got it. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Two lines

**this is a story about real life in which I quote my farmer/sailor hubby...those with tender ears are warned**

Remember THIS post?  Ya.  I do too.  I was crying mad, angry tears when I wrote it.  When I bought that test there were two in the box, and as I packed for our trip I had the thought to tuck the spare into my suitcase next to my giant box of Tampax.  So I did.  

Miles and I arrive in Chicago and I am EXHAUSTED, I chalked it up to dealing with JetLag with a two year old.  My boobs still hurt, which I chalked up to the impending uterus tantrum.  I have a sour stomach, which I chalked up to eating a bunch of junk.   Chicago comes and goes and still no uterus tantrum.  I almost don't even notice.  Although there are little things here and there that make me count cycle days and wonder.    

We get to Utah and more of the same.  The ladies are giant and sore...which I'm sure someone will notice.  But then I remind myself that the last time I saw any of these people I was 50lbs heavier.  I am still exhausted and dealing with waves of nausea.  I do start to suspect something may be up...especially when I get teary over dumb things.  Like the cute old man who helped me with my suitcase.  Or a commercial on TV.   Oh - and the peeing.  HOLY MOSES.  I have always prided myself on my two-liter bladder.  I could go out shopping all day, drink tons of water, eat lunch and not have to pee until we got back home that night.  Now all of a sudden I have to pee like 3-4 times during the night.  I think it could be because of my screwed up body clock...but I dunno.  

I act normal, don't hint at anything.  In fact, I had several adoption conversations with several people.  Lamenting about how I had no idea how we'd ever be able to afford another adoption.  "We can adopt another kid or we can send the one we have to college" I told my mom.  I ran two 5K's while I was there...and I was slower and couldn't run as far as I was used to running.  But chalked it up to a 3500ft change in elevation.  I also was surprised I wasn't gaining weight like a diabetic at Baskin Robbins considering all the junk I was eating ( wasn't junk...but I was eating bread and ice cream and a lot of stuff I hadn't had for a year and a half).  I just thought my metabolism had changed. 

Every symptom had an excuse.  Almost.  

On the evening of the 4th of July we got together with my family for fireworks on my grandparents' front lawn.  The fireworks STUNK.  Bad.  I never remember having such an aversion to the smell of them before...I actually kinda liked the sulfury smokey smell.  Not that night.  

I decided I would wake up the next morning and test.  I stumbled out of bed for my 4am pee and sleep-drunkenly rummaged through my suitcase to find the hidden test.  I slunk to the bathroom and did my business...and watched.  Immediately the first line filled in - didn't think anything of it - it was the test line, right?  Or so I thought.  Then the second line.   Then I realized that first DARK line wasn't the test line.  I stared at the test like an idiot.  "Holy Shit" was all I could say.  I crammed it back into the package, snuck back to my room and lay on the bed.  I pulled it out and looked at it again.  Still two lines.  I immediately started composing a Vox to Nathan.  Then stopped and deleted it.  I couldn't tell him.  There was a part of me that was SO SURE it was a mistake or it wouldn't stick anyway.  So I kept it a secret...for almost a week.   

I went to Bear Lake the next day with my family.  I was so nauseous.  I almost threw up changing Miles' blow-out diaper on the beach.  My family laughed at me and thought it was hilarious.  I thought for sure someone would suspect.  But no one did.  

Nathan flew in the following week and I still had no signs this was ending.  So I got a box to put the test in and a Big Brother shirt for Miles.  When I picked up Nathan from the airport it took ALL my willpower to not blurt it out.  We made it back to our hotel, I handed him the box.  He opened it, was quiet for a second and then said "Are you shittin' me?  Is this real?  Are you...pregnant?!"  His eyes were misty and he was in shock.   We decided then that we wouldn't let the cat out of the bag until we had been to the doctor at home and made sure everything was ok.  The next week was TOUGH.  We saw ALL of my family, and ALL of Nathan's family.  And I was SO sick...and exhausted.  But we held it in...which is pretty amazing.  

We hugged our families good bye, flew home, and the following morning went to the hospital for a pregnancy test.  When the nurse called me back and said "Well, the pregnancy test result was positive" I almost fainted.  It was real.  It wasn't a delusion.  We met with the nurse two days later for lots of questions on health and family history as well as lots of blood work.  

Tuesday July 23rd we had an appointment with OB to date the pregnancy (since I haven't been regular in 8-9 years).  We got to see the little, grainy flicker of the heartbeat and I cried tears of unbelief and joy.  Baby was measuring small they said.  ::worry::   Come back next week.  That was the LONGEST week ever.  I hibernated from friends because I was sure one of them would notice my giant boobs and my sudden aversion to chocolate.  Thursday the 1st of August we went is still small, but on track for where it was the week before.  So my due date was changed and I was told everything looked perfect.  As an aside...even my A1C looked good.  I used to be pre-diabetic and after a year on Isagenix my A1C is right smack dab back in the normal range!  

We decided then was as good a time as any so we announced it to friends and extended family via Facebook & Instagram.   We were BLOWN AWAY with the love and support we received.  We are very humbled to see how many people love, care, and pray for us. 

It still feels surreal.   My mouth has a hard time forming the words "I'm pregnant".  It's a blessing we are very grateful to have, but still can't believe we are getting to experience.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

We believe in miracles

More of the story to come.  Lots, lots more to come.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Kiss Me Dirty

While in Utah I ran the Kiss Me Dirty mud run with my two sister-in-laws Michelle and Kassidy.  It was SO much fun.  It was my first "mud run" type 5K but it won't be my last.  My crazy brother Mitch took pictures of us.  He would run ahead and wait at the obstacle, take our pictures, then run ahead to the next one.  He is CRAZY!  But I'm grateful he did that because we now have all these awesome pics!

Before the race...I was so proud of our matchy tanktops...until I saw how elaborate some of the other runners were with their costumes.  Next time I'll be more creative!

The first "obstacle"...there were a lot of up & over type obstacles.

See the yellow tutu?  There were LOTS of people in tutus.  

This was the first messy mud but our feet were super soggy after this, which made running oh so fun. 

We had to climb up on top of this train cargo car...and then slide down the pole.  Let me tell you - that is harder than it looks!  And it BURNS!

Then we came up on our first messy obstacle.  We crawled through those tubes and into a mucky muddy mess...and had to crawl under a net to the end.  All while a sprinkler was spraying us.  

Michelle came out almost 100% clean (how??) so Kassidy and I helped her out.  

The last obstacle was a big muddy pit that we had to get through while being sprayed with a firehose.  

Then we got Pinked. 

A quick run through the foam to loosen the dirt

We made it!!

Miles wanted NOTHING to do with me after the race.  

It was such a fun day with my sister-in-laws...and it was awesome to have my mom, dad, and brothers come out to support us.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Coming and going

Sorry it's been a while...we have had a busy month!  A couple days after my last post Miles and I hopped a plane to the US for 3.5 weeks of family/friends time.  I have a post working up on that but it's not done yet.  But I felt like I needed to get this I'm trying to be better about the whole "blog as a journal" thing. 

I experienced a little bit of culture shock moving to Italy.  I feel like a lot of it was tempered because of the excitement of moving somewhere new and all the fun things we were getting to see and do.  And over time I've come to accept the quirky parts of Italian culture and even love some of them.  Some.  Fast forward to our visit to the states.  I can definitely say that I experienced MASSIVE culture shock my first few days back in the US.  If people were watching me at the grocery store they probably thought I'd just been released from years in prison or had just returned from an extended stay in the space station.  I was amazed by the simplest things...the many, many flavors of Chobani yogurt, how wide the roads are, how HUGE the cars are, and my ears kept perking up every time I heard English being spoken - which was everywhere.   I actually felt a little more at home in a tiny, cramped Spanish market in Chicago where everyone around me was speaking different languages.  It felt like Italy.  

Over the three and a half weeks all of this became less amazing and I settled into a routine.  I enjoyed laying in bed while the central air conditioning kept my room cool, and woke up to steaming hot showers.  Miles enjoyed all the different flavors of yogurt (his favorite food as of late) and I loved being able to go to the grocery store any time of day or night I wanted.  We ate sushi and mexican and Chick-fil-A...played in my parents' back yard in the grass and didn't think twice about leaving a bag from Target in my car while I ran into the grocery store.  

Then we flew back to Italy.  

Let me just say that I love it here.  Most days.  And I know my crumudgin attitude is partially because of jetlag...but man alive, Italy welcomed us home with a big sticky slap in the face.  

Our car felt so tiny.  I wondered how we would fit in it.  And cars were moving so fast and so recklessly.  We got home, schlepped our stuff up 60 stairs to our apartment to be greeted by the 95*  80% humidity summer afternoon that had baked our house hot enough to melt the butter Nathan left next to the stove.  We opened the metal shutters on the windows (which had been locked shut to prevent burglary) turned on our fans, put Miles down for a nap and laid on top of the bed, willing the temperature to drop.  

Over the next week we were assaulted with horrible traffic jams, rude customer service, uncomfortable, sweaty nights, and a grim reminder of how few flavors of greek yogurt we can buy.  (We are so close to'd THINK it would be in abundance here...)  All of these things I knew, and had come to accept, but had been replaced during my visit to the states.  So now I'm forced day by day, inconvenience by inconvenience to deal with it...and look for the things I love about Italy.  Afterall, we are half way through our tour here and I don't want the last half to be spoiled by a bad attitude.  So here it goes...a few things I've missed about Italy.  

1 - Pizza.  Seriously.  I tried to give Miles pizza once in the states because he asked for it.  He looked at what I offered him (Pizza Hut), threw it on the floor and said "NO...Pi-zza!" like I had offered him something totally different.  And it isn't just about the food.  After a particularly trying day last week we got pizzas from our favorite pizza place.  The owner was so happy to see Miles after being gone for so long, she scooped him up and gave him hugs and kisses.   They know which kind we always get, and are always so pleasant.  

2 - Our landlords.  We seriously hit the jackpot with them.  I know others would argue, but for us our landlords are perfect.  They watch out for us, but aren't nosy.  They LOVE Miles and would do anything for us.  They know I love Italian cherries so when I got home today they had a large bag filled with ice cold cherries waiting for me.  

3 - No TV.  Everywhere you go in the states there are TV's.  Sure stores have them here...but restaurants do only rarely...and they are only on if the local soccer team is playing.  And we don't have TV in our home and I like it.  It gives us more time to interact with each other instead of vegging out in front of a screen.  

4 - My kitties.  Obviously.  >^..^<

Well, that'll have to do for now.  My bed is calling...and there is a nice breeze tonight so I think our room will dip below 80!   

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Musings of the baby kind

The day before yesterday at the store I stood in that row and stared at the brightly colored boxes before me.  You know the row...THAT row.  The one where you stand in front of hope or pain: first Response or Tampax.  I didn't expect to be standing there...looking over the aisle of broken dreams.  I got tremendously nauseous last week and then this week it felt like my boobs were trying to recreate the blow-up blueberry scene from Willy Wonka.  I chalked it up to impending uterus tantruming and ignored it.  But the nausea got worse, and the boobs were so painful I couldn't wear a bra.  Of course there was the part of my brain that wondered if said uterus had in fact been occupied by a squatter...after seven years of trying to have a baby there are some things your brain becomes hard wired to do.  But I put it off.  Until the day before yesterday.  As I stared at the box that had caused me SO MUCH HEARTACHE over the years I almost found it comical that I once again needed it for an answer.  We haven't thought about trying to occupy the uterus for years.   So I grabbed it and a box of Tampax too...just to be prepared.   The plan was to test this morning.  I remembered from all those years ago that the first of the morning had the highest levels of the hormone you need to get a positive.  As Nathan and I lay in bed last night we mused over all the what-if's.  I wondered if my half-marathon in October would have to be post-poned...we both wondered how long we'd be able to keep the secret.  The last slice of my dream I remember from last night was me taking the test and seeing two lines...and being so elated.  I woke up, snuggled my little Miles for a minute, delaying the test...not wanting to disrupt our morning rhythm.  As my beautiful little boy watched Elmo, I snuck off to the bathroom to get some answers.  And then I saw it.  One line.  

And just like that I remembered all those tearful nights and frustrated years.  And I cursed that little box for giving me a glimmer of hope...a hope I wasn't even hoping for until I bought that stupid box.   

Today's Scores:
Infertility: 1

Holly: 0

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Beautiful Boy

Isn't Miles just such a beautiful boy? I mean, I know he's a boy and I should say handsome...which he is. But he is BEAUTIFUL. 

Love this kid.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Still here...mulling it over

Thanks for your comments on the last post.  (which sadly was almost a month ago)  

I am still trying to find a way to fit everything I want to do into my life.
getting my photography business off the ground,
acting as Ombudsman for my husband's command,
being in a multi-lingual Primary presidency where I also frequently act as a teacher, singing time leader, and pianist,
training for the marathon (did I forget to mention that?...Rome March 23, 2014),
planning & prepping for my month long vacation (am I seeing you?  why not?!)
keeping the house together, cleaned, and stocked with food,
making time for hubby,
teaching Miles everything he needs to learn,
staying spiritually fit...
And also keeping in touch with friends and family...via FB & instagram

 The list goes on and on.  And I am tired.  I feel like most days the time gets away from me just doing the routine stuff.  I know I am not the only one who feels this way, I have many friends (all of you) who are also busy...some busier than me.  How do you do it?     

Saturday, May 25, 2013


I have been mulling this thought over in my brain over the last little while.  

Do you think Social Media is ruining blogging?  I used to be such an avid blogger but now when something happens I throw it up on Instagram or FB or Twitter and only the major highlights make it here.  I've been trying to be better but it just isn't happening.  Do any of you feel that way?  Have you done anything to make it better?  

This blog also acts as a sort of journal (since I fail at that too) and I want it to be more inclusive of life than is currently is.  I want to be able to make it into a book and look back and see not only what we were doing and where we visited, but hear my thoughts about life.  I have so many things about Italy that I'd like to share...and then the thoughts about adopting another wee one...and friends going through hard times...and living a positive life...and photography...and Navy life...etc, etc, etc.  

I just feel like the day gets away from the time I cook and clean and spend quality time with Miles and keep up with my photo business and stay on top as my position as Ombudsman and plan our weekends and Skype with family and shower and spend one on one time with Nathan and scoop the litterbox and exercise and take care of church obligations and go grocery shopping and do laundry it's midnight.  It's 12:17am right now and today I didn't even do half the stuff I listed above...

So I find myself wondering if Social Media is killing blogging or if life is just too busy.   

Friday, May 24, 2013

Race for the Cure - Roma

As soon as I ran my first 5K I started looking for more to run.  It is tricky here in Italy...races are harder to come by.  But lucky for me the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure was held in Rome this past weekend.  Two friends and I woke at the crack of dawn, drove up to Rome, ran the race, grabbed lunch, and then drove home.  Seriously how lucky are we?!  

Here are some pics:

You were supposed to write words of encouragement on this banner...I wrote "You are stronger than you know"

Waiting in the starting line...this race is the LARGEST Susan G Komen race in the world!  Over 60,000 people participated.
Waiting for the race to start. 

I stopped mid-race to snap a pic as I ran past the Colosseum. 

I'm not exactly sure what my time was...the race started at 10, but EVERYONE started then...walkers and runners.  It took us 12-14 minutes just to make our way to the starting line.  And then the race course was a bit longer than a 5K.  But my pace was faster than my Glow in the Dark 5K so I was happy.  It was very cool to be running again, and I am amazed by the things my body is being capable of...things I thought I'd never be able to do again.  

My next race is June 29th...a mud run with my sister-in-laws.  I'm pretty excited!! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Infertility Awareness Week

This is National Infertility Awareness Week (click on the pic above for more info, events, etc).  

Infertility is something that is very close to my heart.  It is a horrific thing that we have suffered through for many, many years.  While I am SO VERY GRATEFUL for my dear sweet Miles; there are still days where the sting of being infertile comes up and bites me in the butt.  It will prick the most tender underbelly of my heart and make me wonder about the future.  Wonder and hope and mourn.  

I think a lot about something a LOT of people told us when we got Miles.  "Just wait, now you'll get pregnant".  First - DO. NOT. EVER. day that to someone who is adopting.  If you want to think it that's fine...and if you know a cousin/aunt/hairdresser/friend/whoever that it happened to...that's awesome.  But keep that information to yourself.  It is hurtful.  It belittles the adoption process to be no more than a fertility treatment to get "real" kids.  Also - please never say "real kids" or "one of your own" to someone who has adopted.  Miles IS a real kid...and he IS my own.  I know what you MEAN...but listen to it again and let your heart hear how hurtful it will sound to tender young ears who will just hear that they are NOT their mother's REAL OWN child.  Ouch.

Anyway - I've been thinking of this thing you should never say, that has been said to us, and I laugh.  Here I sit with an almost 2 year old who was adopted.  Since that adoption we have done nothing to prevent getting pregnant.  And my womb is still empty...and I suspect it will remain in that state for the remainder of my days.  And while I have come to an acceptance of the reality that I will never bear biological children...that doesn't take away the heartache of knowing {I} cannot give Miles a sibling.  We can plan and prepare and hope and take all the necessary steps to adopt another child but we may never be chosen by a birthmother.  That is a reality that could very well be our own. 

So during this week I would ask you, my dear blog readers, to take the effort to reach out to an infertile friend and just ask "How are you?  I love you.  I'm here for you if you need me."  Don't let your fear of hurting them ruin a friendship.  They need you.  They need love.  It's a hard enough journey as it is, and feeling abandoned just makes it that much harder. 

On again, off again

Nathan is off the deployment.  He is very bummed (crazy kid was excited for some ship time)...but I am relieved I don't have to finagle a Christmas Miracle to get him magically off a ship in the middle of the ocean to the airport here to fly to Utah.  Pfew! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Keeping us on our toes...

The Navy sure likes to keep us on our toes.  We have been planning a trip back to the states for Nathan's parents' 50th Anniversary celebration and finally bought our tickets about a month ago.  It took some time...between watching fares (Miles will be 2 so we have to buy three trans-Atlantic tickets...ouch$) and getting approval from Nathan's job, but we finally got the green light and fares looked ok (well..ok as they ever are).   Then Nathan called me with a bomb on Friday.  He is being deployed.  Soon.  (Can't give too many details...loose lips sink ships)  It's only for 8 weeks...but it happens to fall smack dab over the already-purchased plane tickets.  It doesn't matter to Miles and I...we are going out for longer than Nathan was given as leave anyway (I wanted to get our money's worth out of those tickets) but Nathan's is going to take a bit of configuring, praying, begging, and a little smidgen of luck.  I'm hoping we can still get him home for his parent's 50th without having to pay exorbitant change fees for the ticket. 

Just goes to show you how you should always plan on the unexpected, especially in the Navy. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ich bin ein Berliner

Nathan got four days off in a row so we decided to take advantage and go somewhere...since in a month we'll have to start paying for THREE plane tickets (holy is Miles almost 2?!)  We looked for the best deal we could find on airfare and settled on Berlin, Germany.  I was thrilled to be going back to Germany...and we were all thrilled to be going somewhere with non-Italian food. 

We flew in on a Thursday, flew home on Sunday.  It was freezing cold, and it snowed a bit one day but it didn't slow us down.  In one day alone, Nathan and I walked over 9 miles doing sightseeing.   Berlin was heavy with could feel it in the air.  It was surreal to see things like Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin wall and feel the heaviness of what happened in that city. 

And can I just take a minute to plug Lufthansa Airlines??  They were amazing.   Nathan gets super nauseous on flights and we forgot to grab him some Dramamine on our holy-crap-we-have-to-leave-we-hit-the-snooze-too-many-times-mad-dash out of the house at 4am (next time remind me not to take the 6am flight) so he asked the flight attendants if they had anything.  They brought him a neck pillow and some sprite...all before takeoff.  Then they came and said hello to Miles (by name!) and gave him a little treat and an age-appropriate toy.  The greeting, treat, and toy was repeated on EVERY leg of our journey.  Plus I swear the seats felt bigger than the last time we flew.  Then when Miles had a MAJOR meltdown on our last leg home one of them brought him a stack of cups to play with and some extra treats.  All with a loving smile like "I've been's something to distract him so you don't throw him out the window".  So if you are looking for an airline...Lufthansa is great!

Here's the best part of the trip (for me anyway...I love pictures)

Miles and I on the plane...he is not a fan of 6am flights.

But he LOVES the window seat view of a 6am flight.


Feet in the snow atop the Berliner Dom (cathedral)

Nathan and Miles at Checkpoint Charlie

Family of three with a piece of the Berlin Wall

See that cobblestone path?  That is to mark where the Berlin Wall once stood.  You can see it runs into a piece of the wall that still stands today - just past the intersection.

Miles trying the Doener Kebap...verdict?  DELICIOUS!

Me at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in WWII.

Me and my huge burger from The Bird.  Bacon, onions, mushrooms, and blue cheese sauce.  It was amazing.

Nathan and Miles in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

We totally Lady-and-the-tramped that bratwurst

Our last night in Berlin I really wanted to go see the Brandenburg Gate all lit up at night...but no one else wanted to go.  So I made the solo journey back by myself...totally worth it. 

After posting some of my favorite pics from the trip (lots more on FB...if you're interested) I realized almost half of them are of food.  Apparently I'm a foodie.  And I'm ok with that.  :)