Roaming in Rome. Part 3.

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Roaming in Rome. Part 3.
There are so many things we did, saw and ate in Rome that don't fit into any kind of category. I shared about how marvelous it was to bring my 10-month-old son to this eternal cityhow fascinating everything truly was, especially the second time around, and how ancient this place felt. However, to leave the narrative of this trip at that would be irresponsible of me, because there were so many moments I experienced between my eye and the camera lens that were striking, enriching, elaborate and exceedingly funny. These moments were like the delicious ingredients that so sweetly flavored the whole trip for me. The outlier experiences. Things like, watching my husband dance unabashedly with my son while we waited for our pizza to arrive at the table. Like watching the pigeons primp their filthy feathers atop the statues' heads in the Piazza Navona. The curious water fountains you can drink from throughout the city and the trying on of leather goods and the munching on bruchetta while wandering through the flower district. Watching horse races in the Borghese Park and the fiats line up in a rainbow of cute and the windows open up midday. All of these charming moments were treasures, painting the trip in a truly rosy shade of optimism for me. This is the stuff of life. The little moments that make the big impact. Delicious. Precious. Unsung heroes of traveling tales.

St. Peter's Basilica, in all it's pomp and glory.

St. Peter's Basilica, in all it's pomp and glory.

My Ergo men. Everett still in his pjs, because, well... he was on vacation too.

My Ergo men. Everett still in his pjs, because, well... he was on vacation too.

Have you ever seen a car evoke such fun?

Have you ever seen a car evoke such fun?

I love Italians.

I love Italians.

I think this horse show was a rather big deal. Too bad I didn't understand any of the commentary.

I think this horse show was a rather big deal. Too bad I didn't understand any of the commentary.

You can find these water fountains all over the city. People drink straight from them or fill up their water bottles. Even though Rick Steves said the water was okay to drink, I wasn't brave enough.

You can find these water fountains all over the city. People drink straight from them or fill up their water bottles. Even though Rick Steves said the water was okay to drink, I wasn't brave enough.

For this? I was brave enough.

For this? I was brave enough.

He's delicious.

He's delicious.

Rome is ubiquitous with churches like this. They are on every corner of every street, no exaggeration. And when you peek inside, each and every one of them are breathtaking.

Rome is ubiquitous with churches like this. They are on every corner of every street, no exaggeration. And when you peek inside, each and every one of them are breathtaking.

If you follow us on instagram, you might remember when  I posted about Everett finding his (loud!) voice  in this silent church. Oops.

If you follow us on instagram, you might remember when I posted about Everett finding his (loud!) voice in this silent church. Oops.

He's made everything about my life better. Except for the ever-present eye circles. But I'll take em.

He's made everything about my life better. Except for the ever-present eye circles. But I'll take em.

Flowers wrapped in paper, tied up with strings. Isn't that from the "Favorite Things" song?

Flowers wrapped in paper, tied up with strings. Isn't that from the "Favorite Things" song?

Some kind of decadent, lemony-orange-hybrid.

Some kind of decadent, lemony-orange-hybrid.

The view the Pope wakes up to. PERSPECTIVE.

The view the Pope wakes up to. PERSPECTIVE.

Stevie pointed out that all the statues showcase old guys as ripped. Then he paused for a moment, then said, "If I could make a statue of myself, I would want it to look ripped, too."

Stevie pointed out that all the statues showcase old guys as ripped. Then he paused for a moment, then said, "If I could make a statue of myself, I would want it to look ripped, too."

That's a wrap!

That's a wrap!

Thanks for letting me share. And thanks for following along on our first international family trip; it was certainly a special one! I hope there will be many many more to come.

But you know what? I learned on this trip that adventure doesn't have to be a plane flight away. Niether does inspiration or creativity. Yes, spending time with my family in Rome certainly made me feel adventurous and inspired, and I have come back to the States full of all kinds of ideas and plans(with little time to implement everything in my heart). But! Some of the most adventurous parts about this trip were experiencing the everyday moments as a new mom, experiencing all these new things through the eyes of my darling son. It doesn't take seeing the Vatican or drinking the foreign wine to feel extra special or adventurous. But watching Everett discover pizza? Taste gelato? And laugh at the birds preening themselves in the fountains? Well gosh. My heart just comes undone. These things were truly thrilling. Yes, the wine was good, don't get me wrong. IT WAS VERY GOOD. But nothing came close to how much fun it was to push Everett on the park swing, watch him sway to the dinnertime accordion music, and marvel at discovering his voice can echo in a cathedral. 

There are adventures around every corner. Even at home. Even where everything is "regular". We just have to shift our focus to look for those moments, pause and revel in them a bit, and celebrate! I'm learning how to do this. I'm not great at it. But being a parent makes you sloooow down, so these moments are a bit easier for me to grasp these days.

You don't have to travel to Rome to pause for a moment. You don't have to travel to Rome for adventure. All it takes is a bit of patience, stepping outside the normal routines of the day, and giving yourself the moment to drink in the deliciousness of life. May there be a bit of dolce vita for us all!

P.S. - See Roaming in Rome, Part 1 & Part 2.


Roaming in Rome. Part 2.

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Roaming in Rome. Part 2.
"This place is so old. I mean SO OLD."

Stevie just nodded.

That was all I could think and say, over and over again, as I stared at the mammoth, gargantuan, understandably epic Colosseum. This is where people have come to live, come to die, come to be entertained and fed and amused and laughed at and laughed with and it's happened over and over again. For thousands of years. It's served as an amphitheater, a killing ring, a Christian shrine, a gladiatorial playground, a fortress, and today, just a dusty, piecemeal homage to a fallen empire.

Rome. You are so, barbarically old.

Of course, this is how I felt the entire time. Though I've been here before and felt all these feelings before, it's like the first time every time. This place is special and strange, like an elderly relative with long fingers and a mind-full of stories to share, if only you lean closer and ask. And the stories, they are almost impossible to relate to, because their premise is just so old. So I was struck, over and over again, by that hypnotizing feeling of, "Whoa. This stuff is old." Walking through the Forum. With gelato, no less. Prancing down the side streets, alleys marked by slick stone and discarded cigarettes and flowering weeds. I continued my obnoxious open-mouthed gaze as I meandered throughout the palatial churches, the crumbling piazzas, down the Spanish Steps and up the hills to St. Peter's Basilica, and honestly, just over and over again. Lounging in the Piazza Navona, sipping the house wine and finding myself sleepy for all the gasping I had done. Gasping at the old, the epic, the unruly ostentatious, magnificent city of Rome. I know I sound like a broken record, but it's the truth. This city is something of a broken record, replaying and repeating it's history over and over again for each newcomer, those vibrant souls eager to learn and explore and become saturated with the wiley tales of Ancient Rome's elite.

The Colosseum. Gladiators welcome.

The Colosseum. Gladiators welcome.

across the forum
All the Colors
The Roman Forum.

The Roman Forum.

See what I mean about the sheer JUMBO-ness of this here structure??

See what I mean about the sheer JUMBO-ness of this here structure??

walking again
View from the top of the Spanish Steps. Yes, we carried our stroller down each and every one. Which means we earned an extra allotment of gelato! 

View from the top of the Spanish Steps. Yes, we carried our stroller down each and every one. Which means we earned an extra allotment of gelato! 

Us
Arch of Constantine. I think he was rather impressed with himself.

Arch of Constantine. I think he was rather impressed with himself.

The Roman Forum. I'm still struck by the fact that we are allowed to walk all over this archaeological playground.

The Roman Forum. I'm still struck by the fact that we are allowed to walk all over this archaeological playground.

Dome
fountain
I think this is my favorite street in Rome. It's just so Italian. Insert loooooong sigh.

I think this is my favorite street in Rome. It's just so Italian. Insert loooooong sigh.

Via dell' Orso. Extravagantly blanketed in wild emerald and pearl Jasmine. Adorable friend is an added bonus.

Via dell' Orso. Extravagantly blanketed in wild emerald and pearl Jasmine. Adorable friend is an added bonus.

windows
street people
I found my wedding flowers for sale on the back of a truck! Peonies for the win, for always and forever.

I found my wedding flowers for sale on the back of a truck! Peonies for the win, for always and forever.

Piazza del Popolo , very close to where we stayed. We walked through this piazza every morning and every evening. And it was always, always lovely.

Piazza del Popolo, very close to where we stayed. We walked through this piazza every morning and every evening. And it was always, always lovely.

bridged
night rider
EVERY DAY.

EVERY DAY.

Baby-free shenanigans, our children fast asleep with grandparents watching them. This is what getting drunk on gelato looks like.

Baby-free shenanigans, our children fast asleep with grandparents watching them. This is what getting drunk on gelato looks like.

Night's End.

Night's End.

Roaming Romans.
Rome; day or night... you truly slay me.

Roaming in Rome. Part 1.

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Roaming in Rome. Part 1.
Rome. The place that took a bit more than a day to build. I've been here before, but without the extreme contrast between my darling young baby son and the Ancient Rome that is, well, Rome. This place is the epitome of old. It has the market cornered on "Been there, done that". Everything in this city is crumbling and peeling, yet these structures still stand tall, erect, towering over us little people with importance and, dare I say, omnipotence. Though this was once a public playground for pagan worship and then the centerpiece for the Catholic hammer, I am still fascinated by the mystery of how this city came to be what is it. The books tell me. The tours demonstrate. But the missing stories between the milestones are what continue to beg me. Stories that are long-forgotten, lost between the years of oppression and opulence, smuggled into the backs of books and shuffled into the darkest corners in the tombs of Catacomb. Or perhaps buried beneath the Vatican with the legion of lost Popes. The stories of Rome. The nitty-gritty. The real-life. The ones that I could potentially relate to - where are those?

doors of all kind
orange and pink
open window
all that ivy

Perhaps.
I will just have to tell the stories I do know. The ones that I've lived while I was here. The first time I came to Rome was magnificent; I was dumbfounded by the ludicrous Forum and the rightfully-named colossal Colosseum. I was seduced by the bread and wine and pasta, succumbed to debauchery by the smoky cappuccino and velvety gelato. I was undone by the leather bags, the silk ties, the supple scarves, all alluringly displayed in the teasing street-side windows. The stone sidewalks beckoned me down every windy way, the impossible maze mapped only by doorway after doorway of mysteriously, decadently draped florals. The lilting tone of the Italian accent punctuated each syllable, echoing down the colorful alleys. The women tap-tap-tapping down the street in impossibly high heels. The men chain-smoking in their finest suit, dark hair a bit undone. Brooding, hollering, smirking, escaping. That's what I love about these people. They are insanely chic by owning their just-a-bit-messy demeanor. The red lipstick and rumpled dress. The snakeskin leather shoes and sweat-stained shirt, yet still, there is an allure. The peacocks are out, strutting and laughing and leaving you feeling breathless. And impossibly, unfortunately American. We just don't have this kind of sex appeal. None of us do. It's through-and-through, an Italian thing.

Canova
spanish steps

Oh.
I'll leave it to them to be alluring. I will enjoy retelling my latest escapades in Rome, which were markedly different than the last. Instead of staying out late, I was up incredibly early. Up with the birds, awakened by the clamor of my energetic baby boy. He was ready to play, eat, and see the world. So we showed him. Up, espresso, maybe a bit of biscotti, and then out the door in a swirl of readiness. We had the privilege of meeting up with our dear-hearted pals Troy and Carrie, along with their sweetheart baby daughter and their incredible parents. The 8 of us stayed in a beautiful Airbnb just off the Piazza del Popolo, in the vicinity of the Spanish Steps. The first few days we were just getting our bearings, learning how to navigate our stroller and enormous mounds of gear through the narrow doorways and down the cobbled streets. It was a challenge, but one that we were more than prepared for. We were so excited to be alive, be abroad, traveling with our son and our friends and exploring a familiar, yet completely exotic place. What a dream. I was very aware, almost hyperly-so, that we were living the dream. At least, our dream. A lot of people scoffed at me before we left town, "You're taking your baby WHERE? Why?! Why not just go alone??"  Well, we didn't want to go alone. We wanted to bring our son into every adventure, along for every ride, even if that meant slowing us down, interrupting our sleep, stretching us and challenging us.

Borghese Park

Borghese.
We did Rome. We did so much that it won't possibly fit into one post, so I'll be posting all week long. One of my favorite places that we explored was the Borghese Gardens and Park, where I tried to hop the stone fence to retrieve some low-hanging lemons. I failed at my attempt.

we three
turrets
she fountain
walking and talking
those two loves
park collage
boats and things

Pantheon.
We took Everett into the Pantheon and threw him high into the air. He giggled incessantly and, thankfully, we didn't get the stare-down like when he made a ruckus in the churches. The last time we explored the Pantheon, we did the full, Rick Steves audio tour. This time, we just kind of stared in disbelief at the domed, mathematically pristine ceiling. And tried to explain the history to Everett. He just wanted to be thrown in the air. So then we mostly did that.

panth
collage
me and ev
hole

Worth. It.
My son is only a baby, ten months old (!) but I still think these moments have impact. Greatly so. It was a pleasure to usher him along the way and begin his own adventurous, traveling journey. I want him to grow up understanding how different the world is, how the United States isn't the whole picture. How we live in a world that is vast and complex and varied and sad and happy and beautiful and disgusting and colorful and ancient and, oh, so many things. I want him to swallow all that he can, ingesting the best and brightest that our Earth and it's history has to offer. How else are we to change the world if we don't know it?

I digress.

More Italy pictures to come, all week long :)

8 Tips for Traveling Abroad with Your Baby.

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Traveling Abroad with Your Baby.

So much planning. So much research. SO MUCH PREP. I worked hard to get the three of us to Europe (Madrid and Rome, Parts 1, 2, & 3) in one piece, with the necessary gear, and no more! I did some things really well. I did some things terribly. Some things just worked themselves out easily and some things were completely unexpected. In other words, it was a typical trip with a baby. I learned along the way and I wanted to share a few things we did that proved to be super helpful!

He loved this crib! It was almost weird how much he liked being in it...

He loved this crib! It was almost weird how much he liked being in it...

1. Purchased and packed our own Travel Crib.

I purchased this BABYBJORN Travel Crib for Everett to sleep in while we were abroad. Traveling with our Pack'n'play seemed kind of like a nightmare (too heavy/bulky, especially with all the other luggage and stroller), and this travel crib had the best reviews for the price. I like that it only weighs 13 lbs, can fit in a large suitcase, and was something that he was comfortable in no matter where he was sleeping. Since we opted for staying in Airbnb's instead of hotels (more on that below), there wasn't a guarantee that a decent crib would be provided in each location. I bought this a few weeks prior to our trip and started napping him during the day time in this crib, in his bedroom. I really think this helped him feel more comfortable in it once we were in the unfamiliar locations. And it's proved to be an awesome purchase! Ridiculously easy to set up and use, and I just used one of my regular crib sheets instead of purchasing the one they recommend for the crib. I know that we will use this for years to come! In fact, at the time of writing this, my son is napping in this crib in a condo in Florida. Soundly sleeping, I shall add. :)

daddy

2. Chose to stay in an Airbnb flat instead of a hotel.

It was important to me that we stay in an Airbnb apartment, especially after traveling with Everett a good bit, and realizing that his naps are what makes the world go round on vacation! When the three of us are all sharing one hotel room, sleeping can be difficult. And since the baby goes down at night around 7pm, usually Stevie and I have to whisper the rest of the night and, you know, not watch TV. I wanted to have a bit more space and the ability to put the baby down for the evening, and then at least share a glass of wine and talk about our day together. We chose to stay in apartments during our trek throughout Madrid and Rome (and during our mega Eurotrip a few years ago!) and it proved to be the best choice for our family. Bonus if you stay in a place with a balcony! We have previously used Airbnb in Spain, Italy, Germany and France, and almost all our experiences have been extremely positive. The site has an accountability system built into it, so we have an incentive to be good tenants while the landlords have incentives to be fair, honest, and quick to respond to any request. I would recommend it to anyone!

vista

3. Went with a Travel Highchair situation.

I went back and forth on this one, especially after doing a good bit of research and learning that Madrid and Rome, in particular, aren't very child-friendly in restaurants. Meaning, they probably wouldn't ever have high chairs available. Since I knew we would be eating out for most meals (hello! You don't go to Italy to cook!), so I knew we would need something we could take with us from place to place. I purchased a few different travel solutions on Amazon, test drove them prior to the trip, and finally landed on BRICA Fold N' Go Travel Booster Seat. It worked out beautifully! It hooks on to almost any kind of chair, and it was a sturdy option where there wasn't a high chair available. It also folds up so it's super easy and light to travel with. We threw it in the bottom of our stroller and used it when we needed to, though we ended up using it mostly in the Airbnb. When we ate out and about, we purposely chose outdoor restaurants whenever possible, that way we could just scoot the stroller up to the table and he could join us for the meal that way.

Obviously, we park the stroller next to the vespas.

Obviously, we park the stroller next to the vespas.

4. Brought our Stroller and Baby Carrier.

We decided to bring both our UPPAbaby Vista Stroller and ERGObaby Carrier for the trip, and boy, I am glad we did. Being able to wear the baby in the carrier (on the plane and out and about) was so SO helpful, especially when he was fussy and just wanted to be close to us. But if we had worn him the entire trip, that would have been a challenge. He weighs 20 lbs! So taking our stroller out with us was a GODSEND - he napped in it everyday while we were on the go and we could load it down with our gear for the day. Snacks, sunscreen, light jacket, water bottles, the works! So yes, we were like a traveling bus, but let's be real - that's just life with a baby. We travel heavier these days, but we still travel!

5. Packed in Cubes.

I won't claim to be a packing expert. I've gotten pretty good at packing for myself and Stevie, because I use these eBags Packing Cubes. They make a world of difference by limiting the amount that you need to bring but also making it possible to bring a lot in a compact way. I can seriously pack for a week-long vacation in a book bag by using these. And I previously traveled all over Europe for a month using just these cubes. They are a lifesaver. BUT. I am still an over-packer when it comes to baby gear. I don't want to find myself without something that could buy my son twenty minutes of happiness, so I tend to include everything and the kitchen sink just to ensure his comfort (and therefore, our comfort). However, this leads to lots and lots of stuff. I mean, just look at what I've listed above! And add in clothes, extra clothes, baby food, toys, books, TEETHING GEAR, and goodness, that's not even the half of it. I think I need to invest in another set of packing cubes just for this little guy...

His and Hers last beverages of choice before we plane-hopped. // Everett's first passport stamp! // Ergo, all day everyday.

His and Hers last beverages of choice before we plane-hopped. // Everett's first passport stamp! // Ergo, all day everyday.

6. Added in a Timing Buffer.

It was really helpful to budget extra travel time for everything under the sun. We gave ourselves an unscheduled day in each location just to adjust to the new time zone and nap off the jetlag. It might seems strange to do that on your first day in a new country, but it actually helped the rest of the trip to be completely enjoyable. Naps! We took them too! And it was absolutely wonderful.

7. Knew the Airlines' Policies.

This is one that still makes my blood boil. We called our airline (who shall remain nameless because I don't like to badmouth) multiple times in advance of our flights, to ensure that we reserved the baby bassinet for such a long trip. We were reassured each time that yes, of course, you have the baby bassinet. When we arrived at the airport gate, we were told that they had given the bassinet seats away to another family. The gate agent verified that we had put in the first request, but none of that mattered, despite what the customer service assistant had assured us on the phone. Whoever gets to the gate first and asks to be placed in the seats compatible with a bassinet will get them. So we did a lot of pre-planning for nothing. I think it's a crappy policy, but now I know better. RACE THROUGH THE AIRPORT. BUMP ALL THE OTHER MOTHERS OUT OF LINE. GET TO THE GATE FIRST AND YOU GET YOURS. Or, you know, whatever the classier version of that scenario might be. Do that.

Trust me, it was a lot of work to get us to this "fun and fancy freeeeeeee"-moment. BUT. We really did have a lot of these kinds of moments!

Trust me, it was a lot of work to get us to this "fun and fancy freeeeeeee"-moment. BUT. We really did have a lot of these kinds of moments!

8. Adjusted Our Expectations.

After several domestic trips to family's homes and weekend getaway spots, we realized that this Eurotrip was going to look nothing like our last one. Gone were the days of getting up early and staying out late, drinking in every tour, museum, and site (along with the wine!) We purposely went at a very slow pace. But you know what? We still did everything we wanted to do. This trip was SO MUCH FUN. Exploring these cities with Everett along for the ride gave us more insight into the richness of life with a baby. Having the the "attitude is everything!"-approach really made the difference. We had such an awesome trip and I am already planning our next overseas extravaganza! I'm feeling a UK/Scotland/Ireland excursion. However, my husband shushes me whenever I mention it. Too soon? I guess it's too soon.

I think I covered everything! Hope these help! Leave me a message in the comments section if you have any questions or travel tips to add to this list!

And We're Off!

Off on an adventure!

I'm packed. Stevie's packed. Everett's packed. I really hope I'm not forgetting anything.

Today we leave for a 9-day family trip, exploring Madrid and Rome! The last time we were in Madrid, this is what happened. So needless to say, I don't remember a lot of the trip. But what I do remember... isn't great. So we are excited for a do-over! And the last time we were in Rome we toured hardcore, going underneath the Vatican and meandering through ancient Roman ruins. That trip was pretty epic, because we experienced 30 days of travel with just two backpacks and Rick Steves guiding us to and fro.

This time around, with Everett and his mammoth stroller and all the baby paraphernalia ON EARTH, we hope to take a more relaxed approach. Not necessarily touring and hitting tons of museums. Just wandering around, eating in cafes and taking in the deliciousness of the dolce vita. It feels very strange to have such a loose approach to this trip, but we figure if we set the bar pretty low, the trip will feel like a success if we just make it there without a major breakdown. And eat some gelato.

I am leaving my computer at home (gulp). I can't remember the last time I didn't travel with my laptop (it's been years), so I am excited and a little freaked about that. But I really want to detach and just experience this vacation with my family the old-fashioned way. I know I will have my hands full with my son, but I also don't want him to feel like second fiddle while mommy is blogging incessantly. So it's a big decision for me but I feel really good about it. However, my phone will be working and I will be posting to instagram like a crazy person, because, well, I'm a crazy person. So you can follow along our trip there, if you're into drooling over travel pics like I am. Also, I have a few posts ready to go, so there will be some content that I am excited to share even while I am away, so you can hang around the blog next week and there will be some fun recipes and recent travel posts to browse through :)

We are suuuuuper excited to celebrate two of our friends getting hitched in Rome, and anticipating what it will be like to travel abroad with our little baby... who is just shy of 10 months! Stevie's birthday is this weekend, too, so there is more than enough to clink our celebratory wine (or sangria!) glasses to!

For those of you who have been to Rome and Madrid before, do you have any suggestions on places or things to do/see/eat? Leave me a comment and let me know! And also - prayers for the 9+ hour flight with a baby pleeeeeease!

Love love love.