21 Weeks

Here we are one week closer to meeting our son.  I think the news is finally starting to sink in on my husband and he is quickly adapting to the idea of being a boy dad!  As for the pregnancy everything is still going well and there is really nothing new to report.  According to our ultrasound the baby now weights 400 grams (almost a pound) which might be why I had to bust out the maternity pants this week.  They are still enormous on me and I have to constantly be pulling them up, but at least I get a little bit more breathing room.

I don't really have a lot of maternity clothes since by the time I needed them with Nathan I was already 24 weeks, and I could not justify the price of new clothes that would only be worn for 3 months.  Now, I find myself in the same boat, with just a little bit under four months left I don't want to go on a crazy spending spree for clothes that will only get worn until the end of the year.  In complete desperation of something "in between", I decided to brush the dust of my sewing machine and attempt to make something.

I'll wait for the hysterical laughter to subside.  Done?  Okay.  So I made myself an elastic waist skirt from material that I thought was cute.  What do you think?  My wonderful husband said it looked like a mushroom (or maybe he meant that I looked like a mushroom)!

Shirt: H&M, Skirt: made by me, Shoes: Nine West

The first time the maternity pants make an appearance:  Top:  Promod, Jacket:  JCrew, Jeans: Motherhood Maternity (2009), Shoes:  Nine West, Necklace:  Local Boutique

The bump is definitely coming in, but I'm still getting the "you're putting on a lot of weight" look from co-workers who don't know. 

pleated poppy

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The hills are alive...Salzburg

I was definitely very excited about our trip to Salzburg, Austria.  While Cornel will tell you that his is the birthplace of Mozart and all things historical like that - I will tell you that this is where the Sound of Music takes place, and who doesn't love the Sound of Music?

The first item on the sightseeing list was the birthplace of Mozart.  Nathan loved the part where you get to watch the operas on a TV screen which goes to show this kid inherited NOTHING from me.  There was chocolate in the gift shop, which we bought so the tour was a success for every member of the family.  (While I kid that all things cultural are over my head, it was interesting to read about the history and visit some of these places).

Dinner (and breakfast) were had at none other than Cafe Mozart, because we're not tourists that do things half way!  The dinner was delicious (even Nathan scarfed down his plate) but the piece de resistance (I've lived in France too long) was the dessert.  We had a traditional Salzburg-ian Nockle!  They were not joking with the dessert!  Fresh fruit with a sugared egg while top all baked to perfection and served with whipped cream.  I died a little and then went back for seconds!

Having had my fill of culture for the trip, our second day in Salzburg was spent in no other way than recreating the Sound of Music.  The entire time I sang and my family hated me for it so then I just sang it quietly in my head..."do a deer a female deer...".  

There was more giant chess and I could only wonder why the Austrians are so obsessed with life size chess.  We also sat down at a nice cafe while they played an Opera for kids (if that's not irony I don't know what is) on the big screen.  It was all in German but Nathan seemed to have had a good time.  And no trip to a Germanic country is complete without Shnitzel, pretzels and beer (which my husband demonstrated in just one meal)! Oh, if only I weren't pregnant.

We ended our day in Salzburg by taking the funicular up to the fortress that overlooks Salzburg.  The fortress was lackluster to say the least, but the views of the city were breathtaking!  There was a restaurant that overlooked the Cathedral and we settled in to have a sunset dinner there.  It was truly an unforgettable moment!

Before leaving Austria - we decided to take Nathan to the zoo which was right outside the city.  He had never been to a zoo before (shocking I know) so we really wanted him to see the animals.  The zoo was small which was perfect for us.  We got to get up close and personal (literally) with so many animals.  Nathan was not impressed with the petting zoo and really wanted nothing to do with the animals (maybe he inherited a little from me).  Maybe we will try again when he is older.

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Innsbruck was one of those cities that I had heard about but had never given much thought.  Since our vacation was going to take us through Austria we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to stop into the town that we had heard so much about.

Innsbruck is the capital of the Tyrol region of Austria and is located between the German and Italian borders and they are famous for their winter sports but most of all their Christmas markets.

The first thing we noticed was how much cooler it was in Innsbruck compared to Italy.  We immediately had to change into warmer clothes before heading out to see the sights.  It is impressive how views of the alps from almost any point in the city.

Our hotel was right downtown so we were able to walk down and see the sights and enjoy a beautiful afternoon in Innsbruck.  We saw the Arch de Triomphe and headed down to see the Golden Roof! The walk down the main road from the Arch to the Golden Roof is filled with amazing shops and filled with terraces and coffee shops and restaurants.  It is almost as much fun to enjoy the walk than getting to the final destination.

We made our way to the Imperial Gardens and let Nathan run out some steam.  There was no playground for him to play with but we did find a giant chess game going on, which was pretty fascinating all on it's own.  We also found an entire family of ducks which were very friendly and very accustomed to being fed.

Since Nathan is obsessed with horses we took a horse and carriage ride through the city center.  It was nice since it had started raining and we were in a nice covered carriage, but the tour was 100% in German - which we don't speak.  We didn't have a clue as to what we were looking at or what the girl was saying but Nathan was having a great time just being so close to the horses, so it was a win-win.

The area of Tyrol is known for it's hams and sausages - of which Nathan is a connoisseur.  He loves anything having to do with ham so when we would pass the Speckerias (stores that served nothing like ham) he was in heaven.  For dinner - there was no doubt that we would be eating at one of these lovely restaurants.  The ham was truly delicious and more than I thought we could have ever eaten!  It is definitely a must try in Tryol!  I know you are not supposed to eat this kind of meats while pregnant, but I'm a firm believer of everything in moderation.

I couldn't have visited Innsbruck without stopping into one of their Christmas stores - since it is what they are known for.  The store was amazing filled with room after room of Christmas and Easter decorations.  I wanted to bring them all home with me and set up my Christmas tree in August!  They are most known for these eggshell ornaments which are all handcrafted and hand painted.  There were hundreds of different kinds and all so beautiful.  I couldn't resist the urge and bought a gorgeous egg that will adorn our tree this year.

We also discovered that the Swarovski Crystals are mined right outside of Innsbruck and you can tour the World of Swarovski!  What girl doesn't love sparkly things?  And so, on our way out of town we decided to take a small detour!

The place was unbelievable and it is incredible to see the things that they have created using these gems (are they gems?).  The museum was fun, but not very baby friendly with lots of stairs and dark rooms.  Since Nathan was such a trooper and didn't complain about the tour we decided to let him run around on the playground that they had there.  This playground was definitely the one with the most amazing view of all.  I was happy because Cornel bought me a small surprise for my birthday while at the store!  And what girl doesn't want a Swarovski straight from the factory?

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I'm sure anyone who has read (and loved) Rome and Juliet has wanted to visit Verona.  Well, I am no exception.  Every time we drive to Italy I ask (beg) Cornel if we can take a small detour to Verona, but sadly we are never anywhere near.

On this last vacation we decided to make a special trip to Verona just for me (my husband truly does love me)!

While there we did have to visit both Romeo and Juliet although Romeo wasn't taking any visitors.  And it is said that for good luck you must touch the right breast of the bronze Juliet statue, which Nathan was more than happy to oblige!

I also got to have my husband whisper sweet nothings into my ear from the infamous balcony.  If this isn't every girls' dream come true - I don't know what is!

We also did some other touristic things while in the city such as the Ponte Scaligero and the Castelvecchio.  We headed down and saw the Duomo (because it is not an Italian city without a Duomo) and the Arena di Verona.  We saw the Piazza Bra and the Torre Lamberti, and we had the BEST gelatto I have ever eaten in Italy at the Gelateria Savoia!  There was a line out the door and it was easy to see why!

While we got in a lot of sightseeing and I got to fulfill many childhood dreams, we took a big break in our schedule to let Nathan do something he would enjoy.  At the end of the bridge there was huge playground for kids that included not only the playground but a room filled with books and crayons for the kids to entertain themselves.  The best part is that all of this was free!  We took advantage and let Nathan run around and be a kid, because after-all it was his vacation too!  He had a great time and made some "friends" even though no one there could speak the same language.

We also took Nathan to the Disney Store (his favorite) and let him run around and enjoy all of the Mickey's and we even picked up a souvenir for him - a new Pooh bear. Since he loves the "choo choo" we took the touristic train around Verona. 

I think Nathan enjoyed all of the special "toddler" touches and had a great time!  We didn't get to see all of the things we could have because of these detours, but it was more about enjoying the time as a family and not cramming everything into 2 days.

We enjoyed 2 amazing days in Verona before hitting the road again for Austria!

Do you do anything special on vacation to make sure the kids have a good time?
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Drumroll please...

We're having a baby!  Okay, seriously - if you want to know just scroll down to the bottom.  If not let me bore you with my wonderful story about ultrasounds in France.

Ultrasound appointments (echographies) are the most nerve wracking thing in the world, especially in France.  It's already bad that I have to lay on the table half naked (no cute little cover up for this girl) but then I always have the worry about "what if something is wrong"?  I think every mother (or mother-to-be) feels that way?  Right?

Luckily every appointment is with my doctor, so I don't have to worry about some stranger rubbing goo on me while clicking away pictures of my stomach.  And never mind that it takes him at least five minutes of taking pictures before he finally says "normal" and honesty that everything looks so jumbled that I really have no idea what I'm looking at.  I find myself trying to figure out where his/her legs are and how they are positioned and trying to get a look at their goodies - but the camera never sits still and I can never really tell where the legs are.

And so for the moment, baby P #2 is doing well and all measurements are on target, phew!  What a relief.  Which means I don't have to stress until the next ultrasound.  Now the only problem becomes trying to decide on a name because we can't seem to agree....because

 Nathan is going to have a little brother to torment and torture! Someone to share secrets with and cause trouble.  There is no longer a doubt that I am definitely a boy mom and I couldn't be happier!

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20 Weeks...

I needed to take a break from my vacation updates because I needed to share an amazing milestone - 20 weeks!  I am now officially half way done with this pregnancy and it all just seems so surreal to me.  Like with Nathan, I haven't really "felt" pregnant.

You know, the women who feel that magical feeling the moment they pee on a stick.  While I love this baby, I just haven't felt "that moment" yet.  It seems as if maybe I'm just in denial that there is a baby that will be here in just four months.  Maybe it's the fact that I still don't "look" pregnant or wearing maternity clothes - or that no one has yet to ask me on the street if I'm expecting.

Not to say that this week hasn't been amazing though, the baby has been moving like crazy and Cornel was able to feel it for the first time this weekend!  Those are the moments when the idea of the baby become more real.

There has been an insane heat wave in Clermont and since there is little A/C to be found I have been trying to spend my days in as little clothing as possible.  Skirts, tanktops and dresses have been my only source of relief.
dress: H&M
Skirt:  Express, Shirt: Tommy Hilfiger
Tomorrow is a very exciting day where we find out whether Baby P #2 is a boy or a girl! Any guesses, I will let you know if you are right tomorrow?

For comparison here is a picture the day we found out Nathan was a boy at 21 weeks and 2 days!

pleated poppy
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Lake Como & Milan

Cornel loves the lake region in Italy especially Lake Como.  This is one of the reasons that we decided to begin our trip through Northern Italy.  After leaving Torino we took the quick drive to Lake Como and we could not have asked for a better day.

We took a walk around the water's edge and even let Nathan enjoy the waterfront playground while we enjoyed the amazing view of the mountains and houses that surround the lake.

We wanted to take the ferry to the other cities along the lake, but decided to sightsee a little bit more in Como.  We ate lunch at an amazing rooftop restaurant that overlooked the Duomo (Cathedral).  Since most tourists wanted to eat on the sidewalk cafes - we had the place nearly all to ourselves and the prices were almost half of what they were charging downstairs.

By the time we finished lunch and the rest of our walking tour we decided to start taking the drive to our next stop - Milan.  Before we could do that however, I couldn't leave without visiting Bellagio.  We drove through the mountains getting spectacular views of the city.  By the time we reached the city, Nathan had fallen asleep so we skipped the planned sightseeing and decided to just take pictures and enjoy the view.

We arrived in Milan in the early afternoon and had time to enjoy the beautiful Duomo (Cathedral).  It was so breathtakingly beautiful and we let Nathan chase around the pigeons in the Plaza outside.  The weather was gorgeous.

It was getting late and we still hadn't eaten dinner so we headed to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.  An amazingly beautiful shopping area that has been covered and is just so amazing to see.

We decided to splurge on dinner that night and eat a nice restaurant right in the middle.  Sadly by the time dinner was over there it was rather late and we decided to head back to the hotel rather than continue the sightseeing.

The next morning we woke up early and finally saw the inside of the Duomo before heading over to the Scala di Milano, which is one of the most famous opera houses in Italy - although you would never know it by how plain it looks on the outside.

Cornel has been to Milan many times and had never been inside so we took the tour of the theater.  There are no pictures allowed inside - but it is absolutely gorgeous.  The first words Nathan said as he walked into the balcony was "wow" and it echoed throughout the room.  I can only imagine what it must be like to watch a performance there.

Since we were there on a Sunday, there weren't many things that were open and I was afraid that I would not get to fulfill my life long fantasy of shopping in Milan!  On my list was a pair of shoes from Tod's but Tod's was closed and I thought I would have to leave this dream for next time.

Not one to disappoint Cornel took me to a La Renicesente which is an upscale department store that has everything you can possibly imagine - including my beautiful shoes.  Cornel bought them for me as a birthday present and I was so happy to leave with my little orange bag!

Since our trip to Milan was more of a pit-stop in an already full itinerary - we didn't get to visit the original Last Supper, but since I love Italy so much there is no doubt in my mind that once my travel restriction is lifted we will be back with plenty of time to see it all!

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Torino (Turin)

Our annual vacation began where most of our vacations begin - Italy!  We knew that we would be taking a two week road trip this year and we also knew that this would be my last chance at a vacation until next year, so we decided to go start in my favorite country.

We knew that we wanted to see Schloss Neuschwanstein (Sleeping Beauty's Castle) and Salzburg and the rest of the trip fell into place.

The only thing we couldn't agree on was whether to begin our trip in Milan or Torino (the difference of one hour driving).  I have wanted to see the Shroud of Turin (the shroud of Jesus Christ) and I didn't want to miss an opportunity so we decided to make that our first stop.

Cornel has been to Torino more times than he would like - but he was a trooper and decided to give us the grand tour of the city.  It also helps that he is fluent in Italian so it always makes traveling to Italy so much easier.

We ended up staying in a Residence (bed and breakfast) right downtown which was perfect since we only had a little over half a day to sight see.

Our first stop was the Shroud because we didn't want to miss it!  You can read the story that goes with this picture here.

We walked around outside the church in the Piazza Castello before taking a walk through the main street stopping for what Cornel calls the "best gelatto in Italy".  It was good, but the best was yet to be had!  We all had a couple of scoops before proceeding to the Piazza Vittorio Veneto.  Nathan enjoyed himself immensely running around and laughing.  It's all about the simple things, before proceeding to take a walk down to the water.

Cornel insisted that we go and see the Mole Antonelliana...which is this building right here.  You can actually take an elevator all the way up and get great views of Torino (which we didn't do).

This place is also a cinema museum, which I did not want to visit.  I mean -  I know nothing about Italian cinema and I thought it would be a big waste of time (and 5 euros).  Cornel convinced me and before I knew it I was touring the museum.  It was nothing like I expected and it was interactive.  Best of all, it had so many things for Nathan to do (which is always a bonus when traveling with a toddler).

The best thing about visiting the museum is that we got to avoid the brief rainstorm that had hit while we were inside.  We then went back to Via Po to have some dinner.

Let me tell you the best thing about having dinner in Torino - they have these aperitif buffets.  Which means that between the hours of 7 - 10 you buy a drink and they food buffet is free.  The whole shindig costs between 8 - 10 euros per person but you eat all of the Italian food you can stomach - from antipasti to meatballs, pasta and pizza and then finish off with some fresh tiramisu.  Considering how expensive it can be to eat on vacation this is a great thing to remember if you want to eat well and eat like the locals.

Since we gorged ourselves at the buffet we took a walk to Piazza San Carlo before calling it a night.

The next morning we stopped into a Pasticceria & Caffe which is a coffeshop bakery.  I recommend this if you are staying at a hotel without breakfast included (although most do).  We were able to eat delicious fresh baked pastries and enjoy our cappuccinos all for 7 euros.  The perfect way to start the morning and our drive to Lake Como!
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All over the place

I still have so many things to write down - vacation moments to share but I will get to all that next week.

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow - right? Or something like that.

Anyway, today I'm so excited to share with you the new little piece of bling that I have there on the right hand side.  Do you see it, all shiny and pink?  That's right - thanks to all of your votes and support I'm a Circle of Mom's favorite (Top 25 Expat Bloggers)!

Thank you all again for your votes and please go and check out my interview here !!

I was also lucky enough to be featured on Glottogon.com!  This website offers children's books in a variety of languages.  For an expat like myself living in a foreign country you don't realize how hard it is to find children's book in your native language!  Even if you are just trying to teach your child a second (or third) language - this place is a great resource!  So please go and check out my interview here!

I promise to be back next week with some vacation recaps in addition to the big gender reveal of baby #2!  Stay tuned!

And also don't forget that my Facebook page is finally up, so go on over and like me!
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Wedding Wishes

I remember planning this day from thousands of miles away.  I had pictured this day thousands of times in my head - going over every last detail.  I imagined myself in my dress, staring at the most amazing man.

Nothing turned out like I planned but this picture captures the magic of our wedding. We had snuck out to the garden followed by our amazing photographer.

It was such an intimate moment where there was nothing else in the world but us.  The night was filled with so much love and wonder of what our future would hold.  Never could we have imagined the amazing life that lay ahead of us - the amazing adventures we would share.  In that moment it was just us and the love and wishes we both held for each other.

I can only imagine what lies ahead of us for the future and the new adventures we will share together.  I hope that we can still look at each other like this after 50 years of marriage!

I'm linking up with Mommy of a Monster for Down the Aisle!  Go and check out some of the other amazing wedding photos.

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Taking Lessons

After this trip there are so many things that I learned from Nathan, especially about traveling and enjoying the simple things in life.

1. Apple juice can be better than wine.

2. Children play in the universal language of fun - and every playground is an opportunity to make new friends.

3.  Anytime daddy gives you permission to touch a boob, you take it!

4.  There is nothing that a little pasta, risotto or ham can't cure!

5.  Chocolate is always an appropriate snack!

6.  A carousel is the best thing ever even after the fifth time around!

7.  It's okay to stop and take a break every once in a while.

8.  It's rude to pass a good friend and not say hello!

9.  Any trip is better if you can share it with good friends.

10.  Always pack sensible footwear!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Submitted as part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.
Let's BEE Friends
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