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.