Life is A Journey...Come Follow Our's

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Home Again

There really is no better place to spend the holidays than in beautiful, warm, and sunny Arizona. It also helps that Bentonville Public Schools is now giving us a WHOLE week off for Thanksgiving. I LOVE it! The only thing that could have made it better is if Brad could have gone with me.

I left for Arizona last Saturday morning to get in just in time to host a baby shower for my best friend Janelle (we met in Graduate School) who is due with her first baby girl in January. I am so excited for her and am thrilled that our babies will be so close in age. The party was very simple but super cute and fun and since it was for a girl, she received just the cutest things!

Jodi, Janelle, and me - we all met in Graduate School

That night I headed out to my friend Jen's 29+1 birthday party. Jen and I met when I was teaching in Arizona and have been good friends ever since. She loves to tell the story of how she knew we could never be friends because I was so upbeat and positive, but after a week with me, started questioning how anyone could not be friends with me =) I have to tell you all how proud I am of Jen. She has been on a quest to do the 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer and in doing so, has lost over 40 pounds! She is now addicted to the feeling she gets from going to the gym and is committed to losing another 40 pounds by the end of this school year. Since she lost the first 40 in 4 months, I know she can lose the next 40 by the end of next May. She is working so hard and it has paid off.

The Birthday Girl is on the right with our friend Jess in the middle:

My favorite thing about Arizona is definitely the weather. It was in the mid to upper-70s the entire time I was there. The other thing I love about Arizona is that when you look at the sky on a sunny day, there is never even a hint of a cloud in it. It is pure blue...GORGEOUS. I definitely took advantage of the great weather running over 25 miles and walking whenever I could. I guess I could have gone to the pool and laid out, but to be honest, my stomach and butt don't look like mine anymore...though it still looks good...see...

16 weeks pregnant:

and I would much rather be up and on the run than laying on a pool chair.

I also got to see my second family, the Metcalfs while I was out in Arizona. I babysat for them when I was in high school and Tyler was probably about 4. He had the silliest little mullet growing up that I used to crimp and try to make look even more ridiculous. He was my bud...even after he burned my hair while using the crimping iron and watching West Side Story. It's so hard to believe that he is now a junior at ASU studying entrepreneurship, heading up the entrepreneur club, and plays poker like a stud with the big boys (we're talking with Wayne Gretzky, Paul Konerko, and others).

His mom Val is a cross between an aunt and a sister to me. I absolutely LOVE her and am so blessed to have her in my life too.

Unfortunately I was unable to see her husband John or their daughter Stef (who is an amazing hockey player) but hopefully I'll get to see them next time we're back in Chicago.

I spent the last few days of my trip visiting with my grandparents (Nonna and Papa)up in the winter home in Rio Verde. Nonna and Papa are my mom's parents and they are very special to me. Back in 2003, Papa was taking a trip back to the homeland of Italy with my brother and cousin Laura (who speaks Italian). I was able to convince him that Laura would need another girl on the trip so he brought me too. This trip was so special for me because I really got to know Papa as a person rather than as my grandfather. I realized how fun he was drinking wine and seeing how high we could stack our wine glasses by the end of the night, laughing at the most ludicrous things, interacting with the Italians, and just playing cards at night. Here's a picture from that trip almost 7 years ago:

Papa and me in Arizona:

Nonna and I have become much closer this past year too. She was always one of the first people I called to update on our In Vitro and she was always so excited and supportive. Funny thing was, she thought she was the only person who knew "my secrets" so she'd call my mom and tell her (kind of bragging a bit I guess) "did you know Maria has some news? She already called me." Of course I had told my mom already, but Nonna still felt special thinking she was the only one in the world who knew what was going on. Nonna is suffering from a bit of dementia. I really do not know how severe it is, but I do know that she has her good days and her bad days. I was very lucky that of the 3 days I spent with them, 2 of them were very good days. We went to McDonalds to get her an ice cream cone (my favorite ice cream by the way) which we share a common love for, went to see The Blindside, and then went back to McDonalds for my ice cream cone which she couldn't bear to let me eat one by myself so she got her second one. She was talking for days about how she ate 2 ice creams in not just one day, but in 1 afternoon!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my Auntie Nancy and her husband Logun and then it was time to come back home to Northwest Arkansas where Brad was waiting for me! Overall, there was not a thing about my trip that I would have changed (except to have seen a few more people) and I can't wait to go back with Baby Pope sometime next year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

15 Weeks and Counting

First question first, why in the world do doctors schedule appointments for you then not see you for at least another hour? I just don't get it. You really can't plan for anything else in a day when you have a doctor's appointment, can you?

So, I had my 15 week appointment today and after waiting for an hour, was seen for all of 5 minutes. Heard the baby's strong heart beat of 156bpm (is it a girl or a boy? Let me know your thoughts.) and was shocked to find out that I have gained 3 pounds in the past 4 weeks despite exercising like crazy and counting calories. I know most of you will say to just enjoy my pregnancy, but the thought of packing on 30-40 pounds is scary for me. What if I'm the one person who can't lose it after having the baby? YIKES! I know I will, but I'm just not comfortable with the idea yet...especially since I really don't even feel pregnant yet.

What I've learned so far from pregnancy is that your body is just going to do what it is going to do. It doesn't matter how many walking lunges you do or how many solid leg workouts you have, your butt is going to get bigger, your hips...whoa, watch out, and the potential for cellulite is way up there! I'm just hoping it's just all that extra fluid and it will all go away after these 9-11 months are up (I'm determined to be in a bikini by the 4th of July...think I can do it?)

On another note, tomorrow is the Turkey Trot and I am super excited. The Turkey Trot is a cross country race that I host every year during the school day for my K-4th graders. They end up running close to 3 miles (most of them) and at the end, I raffle off holiday food items that I've collected from the vendors (namely Sara Lee and Pepperidge Farms this year) and from Walmart. This year, I have 28 turkeys, 40 pies, 40 cranberry sauce and stuffing, and 30 packs of rolls. My school is a lower income school, so this event is my way to make sure that my poorer families have some food on their tables for Thanksgiving Day. It's supposed to be 62 degrees tomorrow afternoon so I'm looking forward to a wonderfully successful event before I pack my bags and head to beautiful and sunny Arizona for my own Thanksgiving with family and friends. I'm sure my next post will be from the sunshine out there, so be looking for it.

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What would you do if you had 12 days with your husband out of the country? Would you sit and wallow in self pity 24-7? Would you write him love letters all day long? Would you sit and count the minutes until he gets back home? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you either a) are still dating the guy and are not yet married or b) I am probably not friends with you and am wondering how you found my blog =)

Brad left last Tuesday for 12 days in Shang'hai and naturally, I decided to fill my days with as much girl fun as I could! Before I get too much farther, of course I miss him, but I'd be lying if I said I'm not enjoying my girl time and nights sprawled out across the bed.

The weekend started off with my sweet friend Lane and me going shopping at Candy Cane Lane (so disappointed they didn't have more cute baby stuff...but maybe that saved me a lot of money too), getting pedicures, and going out for dinner. Now typically if you go to a nail salon, your experience is something like how Anjelah Johnson describes it on you tube: (,
however, our experience was much different. I had a gentleman who let me know how much he loves Italians, how he'll come find me in his next lifetime, and then continued to brag about his 50,000 facebook friends/family and his life in the Vietnamese Mafia (he didn't come out and say it, but since I'm from Italian from Chicago, he was "certain I could relate...wink wink" Sorry family sleeps soundly at night, no connections here). Lane's pedicure was pretty much done as he continued to rub my legs and tell me about Vietnamese foreplay. "Does that feel good?" Shoot...I was scared to say yes yet not wanting my calf massage to end! I know you can all relate to that! I will be going back; however, I'm pretty sure I'll always be taking a friend with me!

Saturday Sara and I headed out to Branson to hit up the outlet malls and wow did we ever do well. I continued my shopping extravaganza today here in town and am pretty excited with all my purchases...a new feather bed, black boots, 2 sweaters, 2 baby shower gifts, too many random kitchen supplies, Christmas decorations, Bath and Body Works candles (have you smelled the Spiced Cider? It might be my new fall favorite), and way too much more! What a fabulous weekend! One chick flick left to watch and an early bedtime for this pregnant mama...Life is good and will only get better come Friday when Brad finally does get home. maybe I miss him a little more than I'm letting onto =)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Fabulous Fall Weekend With Family and Friends

Oooh...I LOVE alliteration. Isn't it fun? Okay, dork. Anyway, it was a FABULOUS weekend here in NWA. Michelle and Fred (Brad's sister and brother-in-law whom I love!) came to town to visit on Thursday night and what a weekend we had! Friday night we went to our first ever Pumpkin Carving Competition at Karie's Sister's house and what a blast we had. I have never seen such talent nor have I ever seen power tools used to carve a pumpkin...INCREDIBLE. We surely did not win with Brad's PacMan design (aka, let me cut a chunk out of the pumpkin and call it PacMan) or with Fred's tribute to The Packers, but we sure did have a fabulous time.

Sweet Karie and Me

Me, Brad, Michelle and Fred with the Pumpkins the Boys Designed
Super Cool Pumpkins!!

Saturday morning we headed down to Altus to go to Wine Country. Sara came with us and Brenda met us there. Weather was sunny and warm and since I had the go-ahead from my doctor, I got to taste wine too!! I was still the DD though so for all of you who are worried that I was drinking wine, if I even consumed a whole glass over the course of 5 hours, I consumed a lot!

Brenda, Sara, Me, Michelle, and Fred at Chateau Aux Arcs
Brad, Me, Michelle, and Fred at Chateau Aux Arcs
Fred and Michelle Finishing a Wonderful Day
Brad, Me, Sara, and Brenda
To finish up our weekend, Brad and I decided to skip the Packer v. Viking Game (who needs Brett Farve Drama when the weather is 70 degrees and this gorgeous) and headed out to Hobbs to do some trail running and mountain biking. You might remember back in August when I posted my PR on the trail on my "last run" until IVF was over, well, 3 months later, I am back to running (albeit much slower and with many more breaks) and today was my first time back on the trails. I did almost 8 miles in 90 minutes versus the 9 miles I used to do in that same time frame. Still...I was impressed and boy did I ever take a good nap after that. Last thing on the agenda is to bottle our wine so it can start to age and get Brad packed for his 2 week trip to Shang'hai that he leaves for on Tuesday. I am already thinking up all kinds of fun projects I can work on er...spend on =)
Hope everyone has a wonderful week...54 days until Christmas!