Bambina Bellissima!

Posted on Apr 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

I can’t believe it’s been over two weeks since Baby and I returned from Italy and I haven’t written about the trip yet!  Actually, I can.  That’s what happen when you return from a trip to Europe to an impending move to Japan.  More details to come on that adventure later.  I must hurry and record something of  Elisabeth’s first trip abroad before I forget it all in my unremitting sleep-deprived, stressed-out haze.

So you don’t think I’m totally crazy, I did not just one day wake up and think to myself, “You know what’s a good idea?  Taking a four-month old to Italy!”  Some background: My youngest brother Jamie is studying abroad in Florence, and my mom was planning on visiting Jamie by herself.  I decided to tag along to keep my mother from getting lonely on her brief sojourn to Italy.  It was a selfless act on my part, really.  It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Florence is one of my favorite cities in the world, that my husband was going to be out to sea for the better part of March, and that my house was half-empty with all our most important goods already packed and (hopefully) shipped to Japan.

Okay, maybe it had something to do with those things.  Who wants to be husbandless with a baby in a half-empty house when you can go to Italy with the doting grandmother who will take care of the baby in the middle of the night?

Still think I’m crazy for willingly packing up and traveling with Baby to Europe?  Fine, maybe I am a little crazy.  But it was totally worth it.

Did you know that Italians love babies?  No, really.  They love babies.  I didn’t really understand what that meant, but I found out quickly.  Apparently it means that extreme displays of affection that would get someone arrested in the United States are totally acceptable – expected even – when it comes to the Italians.

It was but minutes after arriving in Florence that I had my first “Italians love babies” experience.  My mom and I were loading our luggage into a cab.  I took Baby out of the her infant seat and handed her to my mom in order to battle with fold up the stroller.  I turned around to take her back, and much to my surprise, found my mother empty-handed.  Hmmm, that’s odd.  I thought to myself, trying to calm my momentary panic.  I’m pretty sure I just gave Elisabeth to my mom.  What could have possibly happened to her in the last 10 seconds?   Turns out, the cab driver happened to her.  After I passed the baby to my mom, the lady cab driver promptly lifted Elisabeth out of my mom’s arms.  Just straight up took the baby.  I quickly turned from my mom to the cab driver and was shocked to find her holding Elisabeth above her head, laughing and cooing and talking Italian baby-talk.

Note to self: In Italy, strangers will steal your baby.  But that’s okay; they give them back.

Upon arriving at our hotel in Florence, what seemed like the entire hotel staff abandoned their duties and congregated around Elisabeth while we checked in.  “I had to go get everyone to see the baby!” one concierge exclaimed, as around 10 people peered into Elisabeth’s car seat.  It was unreal.  When we arrived at our hotel in Venice, that concierge was more excited about the baby checking in to his hotel than I think my husband was when she was born.  He animatedly talked about how lucky we were and how beautiful she was and on and on and on – I didn’t quite understand everything he said, but I caught something about “big blue eyes” and creating a “large portrait” of her.  Whether he wanted this portrait for himself, or was just suggesting it for my own benefit, I have no idea.  At some point he became so overwhelmed with happiness at this baby that he abruptly stopped talking to us (I assume because we already knew how lucky we are and how beautiful she is) and walked to a back room to describe the glory of Elisabeth to another staff member.

Note to self: In Italy, it will take abnormally long to check in to your hotel because the staff will be too busy admiring your baby to deal with things like key cards and check-out dates.  But that’s okay; you secretly love when people admire your baby. And come to think of it, a large portrait of her beautiful blue eyes is a damn fine idea.

At the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the security guard let us completely bypass the metal detectors, and thus, the annoyingly large tourist groups that had been in line in front of us.  Score!  Not only did we get to skip security, but we got to hold onto our water bottles that would have been otherwise confiscated.  Double score!  But not before complementing Elisabeth on her “beautiful blue eyes, just like her mother’s.”  Funny, he said that to her brown-eyed grandmother who was holding Elisabeth while I picked up the tickets.  Those sly Italian men.

Note to self:  In Italy, people become so elated by babies that they will completely disregard normal security procedures.  But that’s okay; you can bring in all the food and drink you want hidden in the stroller!

While leaving our hotel in Florence, the doormen complemented Elisabeth’s “big blue eyes”.  (This was a common theme).  “Isn’t she beautiful?”  he asked his fellow doorman.  “Ah yes!” he replied.  Then turning to me said, “Though I did not know if he was talking about the baby or her mother!”

Note to self: In Italy, the Italian men will still shamelessly hit on a tired, crazed, married mother.  Or grandmother.  (See: Uffizi Security Guard.)  But that’s okay; you could use the ego boost.

These sorts of encounters happened every day.  In restaurants, on trains, in elevators, on the street people would – without asking – lift the shade of Elisabeth’s seat to get a glimpse of her.  They’d stop to grab her feet and touch her hands.  “Bambina Bellissima!” they’d all exclaim.  If after a few minutes after venturing out no one had adequately fawned over her, my mother and I would turn to each other, confused.  “Why has nobody complemented her yet?  Is something wrong?”  It was never long before our concerns vanished as someone would intrusively, but lovingly, get all up in Elisabeth’s face.  “Bambina Bellissima!”

Perhaps Italians are so enamored by babies because their birth rate is so low.  Perhaps their birth rate is so low because their streets are so stroller-unfriendly.  Either way, if you are planning a European vacation with your little one, know that Italy will be a challenge, but you will be well-loved once you get there.  Elisabeth sure was!

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There Will Be Cheerleaders In Hell

Posted on Mar 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Let me start by saying I am not one of those girls that harbor secret resentment toward cheerleaders.  Actually, I was friends with some cheerleaders in high school.  (To be fair, it helped that I went to a school where the cheerleaders could form complete sentences).  I’m into school spirit.  Heck, I’ll watch Bring it On with you anytime. But seriously.  I do NOT want to be stuck with an entire team of them on an airplane. I know, I know.  I just got back from Italy and should be regaling you with tales of my time abroad.  Another day, folks.  Today Baby is having a bad day, so I’m having a bad day.  And when I have a bad day, I turn to my blog to vent.  Enter: Cheerleaders. Before I vent, let me add a positive note: I have the best baby ever (even on her bad days).  She really is a stellar traveler.  In case you don’t believe me, you should at least believe the man in Business Class who sat right across the partition from us (we were in the bulkhead).  You know he boarded the plane, saw Elisabeth behind the flimsy curtain and thought, “Awww Hell no!  I did NOT pay all this money to listen to a screaming baby for the next nine hours!” At least that’s what I would have thought.  As we were deplaning, that man – with more enthusiasm than anyone should have after a nine-hour flight – said, “You have the best baby!  Seriously.  The best baby!  I have two and they weren’t like that.  Best baby ever!”  In case I didn’t get the point, walking to baggage claim he exclaimed again, “Man, the best baby!”  It was like he had won a prize by sitting near her.  So there you go.  Rock on, Elisabeth. But back to the cheerleaders. You know when you’ve been traveling for around 20 hours and you’ve had 2 flights and a 4 hour layover and you only have one 2-hour flight left and really what’s 2 hours after a 9 hour flight and...

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Brief Hiatus

Posted on Mar 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Hi Readers, You may have noticed I’m not posting quite as frequently as I used to.  Crazy how a baby seems to suck all the time out of a day, isn’t it?  Not to mention that simultaneously packing for a 10-day trip to Italy, a 3-week to trip to California, and a move to Japan has left me a little crazed.  In fact, I’m writing this at 6:25 AM because it seems the only moment I might have to myself before Elisabeth wakes off and we begin a very, very long day of traveling to Europe. Which brings me to my point:  I’m going to Italy!  Woohoo!  By this time tomorrow I’ll be – well, I’ll be on a plane, but I’ll be thisclose to the land of gelato and vino.  Good news for me, bad news for my loyal readers who are all just dying for me to post again (as I’m sure you all are, right?)  I’ll be gone less than 10 days, but I don’t anticipate posting till I get back.  Just wanted to keep you updated:  I have not forgone blogging, life has just gotten in the way a bit.  I’ll be back to it soon. Now, please wish me luck.  I have 3 plane rides and 18+ hours of traveling with the little one, and though she was an angel on her first rounds of flights, this is a whole other level. Until next time, arriverderci! Share...

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Striding Along

Posted on Feb 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

My quads hurt.  They’ve hurt for days.  Don’t worry; it’s the good kind of hurt.  And it’s not just my quads; it’s my glutes, too.  And there’s a twinge in my triceps as well.   Why all the pain, you ask?  I’ll tell you: Stroller Strides. Let me back up. After E. was born, Doc said no exercise for six weeks, minimum.  I cheated a bit and snuck in a couple of easy elliptical workouts at around five weeks.  I had to.  I was crawling out of my flabby post-baby skin and needed to move. At six weeks, I upgraded to the treadmill.  I left for the gym one day telling to whomever was watching Elisabeth (I honestly can’t remember), “I’m just going to do an easy 30-minute jog.  Be back soon!”  I was positively giddy at the prospect of running again, but as it had been six weeks since I had last run, I knew I had to take it slow.  A 30-minute jog would be just the thing. Right. I stepped on the treadmill and began walking to warm up.  I gradually increased my speed.  Within minutes of “running”, I was clutching the side of the treadmill to keep from falling off, gasping and panting and seeing stars, frantically punching the decrease speed button.  Decrease, decrease, DECREASE FASTER DAMN IT!   The treadmill speed slowed and I steadied my shaking legs, utterly confused.  WTF is going on with my body?  Then I remembered:  It hadn’t been only six weeks since my last run, it had been more like 4-5 months.  I had forgotten my whole run-less third trimester.  Whoops. My easy 30-minute jog was out.  As it turns out, any consistent running was out.  The Californian in me doesn’t run outdoors when the temperature dips below 60 degrees, and the paranoid New Mom in me doesn’t leave her precious little baby girl in the sketchy gym daycare.  I needed to get in shape. What to do, what to do? Thankfully, Stroller Strides entered my life.  On the recommendation of another mom, I checked out a class in early January. ...

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Lucy in the Sky with Diapers

Posted on Feb 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

You’ve already read about our road-trip adventure with Elisabeth Lucy.  But last month brought on a new travel challenge: Baby’s First Airplane Ride. Everyone says this age is the best age to travel with kids.  Yet the prospect of bringing Baby on an airplane – by myself, mind you – lead to anxiety-induced insomnia.  No big deal, it’s not like I’m sleeping much anyway. Our cab arrived at the lovely hour of 4:15 AM, and though I had all our items waiting by the front door (including the baby already harnessed in her car seat – go me!), it took approximately forever to load everything in the cab.  I thought we had a lot of crap on our road trip, but the luggage required for the baby and me (a chronic over-packer) for over a week away was, well, excessive. Being confined in a small space up in the air constituted a whole separate set of packing needs.  The terrifying thought of E. pooping all over herself and me while trapped in the middle seat between two mean baby-haters clouded my packing judgment.  I stuffed the diaper bag to capacity with extra diapers, extra wipes, extra outfits, extra blankets, extra burp clothes, and just in case, more extra diapers.  In addition to this 1000-lb diaper bag, my carry-ons alone included: a stroller, car seat, purse, sweater, coat, Moby wrap and baby.  Yes, I’m counting Elisabeth as a carry-on since I had to haul that chunky monkey around with everything else.  Now, what did I forget?  Ah, extra clothes for ME!  That error did not affect me till our return trip, but it is not a mistake I will make again.  More on that later. Anyway.  After exiting the cab and surveying the monstrous amount of luggage I had to get all of 20 feet inside to the ticket counter, I panicked.  It is not physically possible for one human with only two hands to handle all this luggage by herself!  Not possible, I say!  Okay, it is in fact possible, but it is difficult.  Here is how it breaks...

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My Pinterest Problem

Posted on Jan 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

Several months ago after lamenting my lack of craftiness, my friend Kate (Crafty Kate!) insisted I join Pinterest. So I did. And then did absolutely nothing with my account. The concept was way over my head. WTF is a pin? You have bulletin boards? Online? I didn’t get it. And I was too pregnant and tired to care. Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. My friend Kim (Crafty Kim!) was visiting me the baby, and in the rare moment spent not admiring my beautiful baby girl, gave me a Pinterest tutorial. All of a sudden it clicked. Ohhhh, Pinterest is a site to collect decor ideas, recipes, fashion trends, etc. that I will never, ever use. Genius! I was hooked. During those painfully early hours in the morning spent nursing when nobody is posting on Facebook, Pinterest is a great time-passer. And unlike Words With Friends, I can’t lose to my brother on Pinterest. Those 3 AM feedings suddenly seemed a bit brighter. It didn’t take long for me to realize how completely Pinterest is ruining my life. Here’s why: 1) A few nights ago the baby woke me up at around 3:30 AM. Feeding her with iPad at my side, I scrolled and pinned, pinned, pinned. Once the baby was satiated, I put her to bed and continued to pin, pin, pin. Wait, what? What chronically sleep-deprived new mom sacrifices any precious moment of sleep to PIN? At 4:00 AM, no less!? This gal. Conclusion: Pinterest has made me insane. 2) I am way to OCD for this website.  I can’t just open the page, casually peruse the latest pins and then shut down.  Oh, no.  I must pin every single insignificant little pin that catches my eye.  Coffee cake muffins.  Cinnamon glazed donut muffins.  Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  The muffins are endless!  And how about that leopard-print dress that someone I don’t know and don’t know how I’m following pinned?  I’ll never wear it, but heck, it has a cute trim so I’ll repin.  Why not?  This leads me to excessive and irrational time-wasting, as mentioned in #1.  Not to...

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