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Italy and Greece – Parents Hall Pass!

After a little time off from writing and being a parent…I’m back!  Summer has now wrapped and my husband and I topped it off with a trip for two.  Parents Only!  Before we left I was a little weary about leaving our 16 month old for almost two weeks, but the moment the wheels went up on the airplane and I had my first cocktail in my hand all those parent guilty feelings flew out the cabin!  All I could think about was, what sites to see and cocktails to have when we arrived.  We had two weeks to live it up and stay out past eight.  What happens when time doesn’t matter and there are no curfews?  What if there were no nap schedules, no eating schedules, no bedtime routine schedules…well let me show you!

Here’s a little look into our travels to Venice, Florence, Athens and Santorini.  We packed a lot in and ended the vacation on the beach!  Oh the things you can do when time has no restraints…

First stop Venice!  Straight from the plan to a boat, headed to the city center.  Yep, there’s the gondolas…we are definitely in Venice.  Could we have done this with a stroller.  Maybe, but I sure feel relaxed right about now, no thoughts of how to get the baby gear in and out of the boat.  A strange feeling I need to get use to, and let me assure you, I’m getting use to it quite quickly!!

One of the most unique cities in the world.  A city made up of 120 islands, almost 500 small bridges, lagoons and 100 churches.  A picture perfect scene around every corner.  I could get use to this lifestyle!

A city that has never modernized architecturally and has been around since the 10th century BC.  I think I could live a car free lifestyle and travel by boat.  Like they say…if you can make it in NYC then you can make it anywhere :)

The symbol of Venezia!

A local Venetian neighborhood…

A classical performance in Venice, a must!  Listening to the orchestra perform Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at an ancient church along the Grand Canal in a city with so much art history was a highlight of our trip.

Looks like it’s time to part with Venezia and our beloved afternoon drink, the Spritz!

Bye-bye canals, lagoons, gondolas and gondoliers, San Marco, Cathedral, Doge Palace, vaporettos, delicious fresh pasta, little bridges, narrow streets, ancient venetian artwork, churches around every corner, long Venetian dining experiences, carnival masks, and of course, the evening bright orange Spritz and aperitivio.  Ciao Venezia!

Buongiorno Florence!  I’ve seen this view in magazines and on t.v. and now here we are!

The Duomo.  The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Our Lady of the Flower).  The third largest church in the world, which took 140 years to build.  Spectacular!

Quick trip to the Chianti countryside.  Had a fair dose of wine on my Adults Only trip.  Loved Tuscany wine, but still faithful to my Napa.

When in Italy, expect to eat and eat a lot!!  I tried every type pf pasta dish and Italian pastry I could get my hands on!  Needless to say, I’m back on my bike, but so worth it.

Here we are at a traditional Florentine restaurant enjoying an amazing homemade pasta dish (2 pics above) and a biscuit pastry with sweet liquor.  One dip and I was already feeling it!!  Tuscany wine followed by a sweet shot of liquor…uh oh!  I might be in bed by the 8:00pm curfew.

Now time for a pit-stop in Athens and then to Santorini!  Ciao Firenze, Uffizi museum, David’s on every corner, amazing Tuscany wines, Renaissance buildings, Chianti vineyards, Michaelangelo’s artwork-home-tomb-road, Salvatore Ferragamo and Arno River.  Arrivederci Italy!

 

Hello Greece!!!  I tried to learn a few words in Greek, but it was all Greek to me :)

The Acropolis in Athens…a UNESCO site that must be visited!  Wow, the ancient history under our feet and before our eyes.

Hello Santorini – now pool time and relaxation!  A destination I’ve only seen in pictures and now a place I can call one of my favorite islands ever visited.  Look at that picture…have you ever seen an area like it?!  Gorgeous everywhere you turn.

A signature of the island…blue doors.  One of the three blues that represent the island..the blue sea, the blue roofs and the blue sky.

One of the many stairway illusions on the island that leads a person straight to the clear blue ocean.  I’m on my way!!

Amongst the white buildings and deep blue roofs and doors were other vibrant colors of red and green, and the beautiful fuchsia flowers that popped up everywhere.

Everywhere we turned there was a picturesque view!

Open a door and it felt like it led you straight to heaven!

Lets not forget the sunsets and the yummy Greek food and amazing restaurant views.  Dining was an experience in itself…felt like nothing was between you and the ocean.   Do we look like refreshed parents?  Taking in our last sunset!!!

To the last night of a memorable trip with my sweet husband.  What a great experience and relaxing vacation.  Tomorrow back to being parents, with curfews, schedules and less couple’s time, but I can’t wait!  In 24 hours I’ll be giving Maddie a huge hug and hearing all about her experiences with grandpa and nana…a time together that is just as important.

Do you have a trip you took somewhere near or far that is unforgettable?  Would love to hear about it.

Until next ride,

Amy

Vacationing: Kids or No Kids?

Illustration by Adrienne Hedger

In the past, I would point my finger anywhere on the globe and just take off.  It didn’t matter how long the flight was, or the number of days I was gone (well to an extent), or how long I stayed out in the evenings, or the activities I did during the day or the minor bumps that came along with traveling.  There were no restrictions.  And, a beach vacation was exactly what it was meant to be; no recollection of time, sprawled out on a beach blanket, nursing several nearby pina coladas, shades on, eyes closed, toes buried in the sand and waves crashing inches away.  So simple, so easy, so carefree.  A real vacation.

This year things aren’t so simple and there is a tough lingering question.  That question it not how many bathing suits should I bring, or which restaurants and lounges are in the area, or what activities can we do, or what drinks will be offered poolside.  The difficult mother question is, should we take Madison or not?  Am I ready to leave our 14 month old for almost two weeks?  Will she be traumatized?  Will I?

My 10 thoughts on not bringing children, or Madison, on vacation…

1)  Will Madison be distraught if we leave her behind?  She breaks down the moment the babysitter enters the apartment and doesn’t stop until bedtime!

2)  The poor grandparents!  Will they be able to handle a 14 month old, who is teething, for almost two weeks?  Will they ever want to come back?

3)  Vacation = Relaxation.  Will I truly be able to relax wondering about Maddie a 14 hour flight away?

4)  No checking out this year!  Need to get international service.  I will definitely need daily check-ins and maybe a messaged picture or two.

5)  Reservations about a 14 hour flight.  The last time I flew I was 6 months pregnant, having back pain, Maddie was hanging-out on my sciatic nerve and I was dealing with those other unmentionables, that all women can relate to, during pregnancy!

6)  However!  We will have freedom to stay out as late as we want!  I know there’s life past 7pm.  Lets find it!

7)  All the pina coladas, margaritas and sangria I want!  Reliving carefree days.

8)  Lets kick start that spark!!  Gets a little dim when everything revolves around kids.  We know it’s there!  Just needs a little Santorini fuel.

9)  No diapers, no clean up, no laundry, no temper tantrums.  Looking better and better!

10) I think we both need some adult time!

I vote, No Kids!  Will Madison need child therapy in the end, no, and will mommy need to turn to countless sangrias, no, well maybe just a couple.  Even though traveling used to be easier, the things that made it easy before don’t seem to be as important now.   So what, if I have to check my luggage rather than have easy breezy carry on.  So what, if our transportation is running late to pick us up.  So what, if we don’t get the check-in time we wanted.  What matters is time together, either as a family or as that so-needed couples time.  Things for us have definitely changed, our worries have changed and our needs have changed, but changed for the better.

Are you taking a self-needed vacation this year and leaving someone or something behind?  My girlfriend is taking a vacation and leaving her cell phone and technology behind.  Now that’s tough!  How about you?

Until next ride,

Amy

It’s Here! It’s Here!

We have been checking the mail for the last two years anxiously awaiting, not giving up hope, and blaming the poor mailman!  Here is an example of our evening conversations, after checking the mail, over this long awaited time…

Dean: Did it arrive Amy?

Amy:  Not today, honey…

Dean: Do you think they’ll really publish it?

Amy:  I hope so, but not sure…

Dean: Should you check on it?

Amy:  I have been…

Dean: Ok, we probably won’t recognize ourselves once it does get published, because we’ll be so old!

Amy:  Speak for yourself!  I plan on looking the same as I did on our wedding day 20 years from now!  {well, that’s what I thought before I had a baby :) }

Dean: Of course honey :)

Drum roll…trumpets please…announcement…it’s here!  Two years in the making, or two years of Amy following up so we don’t get lost in the wedding paper shuffle, is our debut in Melbourne Bride Destination!  We were hoping for a tiny spot in the corner, but to our surprise, got four pages!!  It’s an Aussie magazine, so tough to get your hands on, since they don’t mail out of Australia.  But, so cool to know we are in a magazine!  Probably my first and last time in a magazine, so I’m going to dwell in it for a while.  Here it is…take a peek…

Looking at these pictures and reading the write-up brings back so many fun and happy memories with family and friends.  I feel like I could do it all over again…

I can’t believe we have been married for two years already.  How time flies, especially with a 14 month old.  And, your calculations are correct.  Maddie blessed us shortly after we were married.  Celebrating our one year anniversary, at home, with our three week old daughter could not have made the first year of marriage more memorable.  She is truly the icing on the cake, no wedding pun intended!

Is there something you hold onto, or have, that reminds you of a special time?  I would love to hear about it.

Until next ride,

Amy

 

Healthiest Meal on Earth – Verdict Is In!

 

Healthiest Meal On Earth worth eating or not?  Is it satisfying?  Does it taste good?  Would we eat it again?  Verdict, please!

It’s been in the news the last few weeks, online and in the magazines.  I was intrigued when I read the headline Healthiest Meal on Earth and then thought, ‘it must not taste very good.’  I started to read through the ingredients; there was salmon, which I could eat everyday if I really wanted to, and lentil, yogurt, walnuts, chicken, and caramel.  Really, caramel?   Don’t judge too fast, this meal might have possibilities!  We could be onto something here.

Could my taste buds accept something so healthy?  I usually assume healthy is less flavorful and boring, so healthiest in the world must mean, zero flavor!  I think?  However, I was intrigued by the title and it didn’t seem too terrible to try.  Would my husband get excited over lentil, veggies, and then yogurt for dessert, a good guess is no, but decided to give it a shot!

Here it is, the almost healthiest meal in the world!  I included everything except for the chicken, which was suppose to be in the lentil, so our healthiest meal in the world lacked a little protein.  I just didn’t get a chance to make the chicken, no other reason why.  I had gone to the grocery store late, Maddie was getting restless in the stroller, my basket was getting very heavy, I needed to get home, and the chicken was at the other end of the store!  It might not seem far, but when you have a hungry restless toddler, the end of the isle seems far!

The meal is actually very quick to make, especially since salmon cooks in just a few minutes (click here for recipe).  I added a squeeze of lemon for flavor to the salmon and used olive oil as salad dressing.  Looking at my finished product, I probably could have dressed-up the plate and dessert bowl a little with a few garnishes.  I’ll have to remember that for next time!  I always think presentation of a meal and table setting can make mealtime fun and inviting and adds conversation.  I really like table settings with lots of color (you know how I like color! ) from placemats, napkins, candles and flowers, and don’t forget, the food and drinks add color as well!  In the picture above, I used colored placemats and napkins, and I quickly put a couple purple flowers in a small vase, and wallah, done!

The verdict is in!!  Dean and I really enjoyed the meal.  There was a nice variety of food and a tasty dessert!  At first, I didn’t think I would be able to eat so much food, however at the end of the meal (I ate everything!) our taste buds and stomachs felt satisfied, not stuffed!  There was a nice amount of flavor from the salmon with lemon, the vegetables with mixed greens felt light and fresh, and I’m sure a squirt of lemon on the salad would have been palate pleasing as well.  I really like lentil, but I think Dean could have done without it.  The yogurt dessert with caramel was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!  Overall, we both enjoyed the meal and would have it again!

Have you tried the healthiest meal in the world?  If so, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Until next ride,

Amy

Milestone

She’s walking!  She’s walking!  What an exciting and emotional week this has been.  I turned just for a second and saw Madison walking across the living room, on her own!  All week she has been surprising Dean and I with more and more little steps.  She has taken a few hard blows, a few chin crashes, a few tumble and rolls, a few contorted falls and some baby tears.  But she’s done it!  She is now a one year old and walking, officially a toddler, according to my parenting books.  Wait, officially a toddler?  No longer a baby?  Tear.

A toddler and walking, such an exciting milestone, in the mix of all the development stages.  The camera is full of pictures, the family has been informed, and of course, the exciting baby news has been shared with my mommy’s group.  We cheer Maddie on, as she stands and starts to walk towards us and as she waddles from room to room with the occasional crash.  But, what comes with this excitement is a little bit of sadness.  My baby is no longer a baby anymore, she’s a toddler.

The last thirteen months have been a roller coaster of bitter sweet.  Starting with the packing of the newborn onesies, then the 3-6 month clothes, graduating from the baby bath to bath tub, nursing to whole milk, holding the bottle on her own, sitting to standing to now walking and the list goes on.  Watching Madison grow and develop has been sweet and so much fun, with a bit of sadness as each phase of babyhood disappears, and the need for mommy becomes less.  Already independence?  I’m not ready!  Well sometimes I feel ready, but not this week.

Before Maddie walked, I would watch the other toddlers, younger than Madison, walk at the park and wondered when that might be her.  Everyone had been saying or asking, “Has your baby started walking yet?  You might want to try this.  My child started walking at __.  You should read this book.  My child was an early walker.”  Why do I let these things get to me?  I know every child is different.  I know Maddie has been on track with her development.  Maybe it’s yahoo news, or the unfortunate stories we hear, or the lingering “what ifs.”  I have a tendency to stress over little things, big things, and probably nonsense things.  It’s my own doing, trying to be the perfect mom to something loved so much.  Just chill-out Amy!  Maddie is!

These precious moments go by fast.  I’m truly learning that now.  I need to relax a little and just enjoy each moment as it comes and goes.  It doesn’t matter what other kids on the playground are doing and it doesn’t matter whose child is doing what.  I love watching Maddie develop into her own little person and watch her excitement when she does something by herself, even though it means mommy is needed a little less.  No one said parenthood would be easy, and who knew, the best and smallest roller coasters would require a few mommy tears too.

Uh oh, Maddie is on the move!  Those feet have already gotten her into something she shouldn’t be into.  Got to go!!

Do you remember a milestone in your life that you have fond memories of?  If so, I would love to hear about it!

Until next ride,

Amy

 

 

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