Wedding wishes

As you might recall, Luffy and I went on a little trip recently. I think I mentioned it, once or twice. I think I also mentioned this previously, but we were there for our wedding anniversary. Our fifth one in fact. (Quick! Get us something wooden!)

Five years since we said I do.

It was a big year for us, really. I had started a new job just a few months before. We traveled abroad for the first time (together). We bought a house. We got married. We moved into said house. We had a small flood in said house. Fun stuff like that.

Anyway – fifth anniversary! Big thing!

One of the things that I set up for our wedding was a wedding wishes – er – thing. I collected five wine bottles (lol – like that was hard), cleaned them up and labeled them with 1, 5, 10, 15, and 25. The numbers represented a year and I provided our guests with sharpies and slips of paper. The idea was for them to write us a little wish or note and slip it into a bottle. The number on the bottle corresponded to the anniversary on which we would open the bottle. I’m sure this is by no means ground-breaking as far as Pinterest-worthy wedding ideas go, but I was pretty proud of myself. And it’s been fun! The one-year bottle was enjoyable but the five-year bottle was even more fun.

Luffy and I dug all of the scraps of paper out of the five-year bottle over the weekend. It was entertaining reading the notes. Some were applicable (I bet you’ll have at least one kid by this point!), some were a sweet surprise (the one from my paternal grandmother, who almost didn’t even get to come to the wedding). We got one with a piece of advice from a now divorced couple. We had one that was signed with a reminder as to who on earth this person was (the intern!). We had one that left Luffy and I scratching our heads as to who on earth this person was. But mostly, we read a lot of love from our friends and family, wishing us the best on our fifth anniversary.

I need to figure out what to do with the slips of paper. The ones from our one-year bottle are still sitting in a decorative bowl on our computer table. I put the fifth-year ones in a plastic bag and added them to the heap as well. However, I feel like these little wisps of paper are only going to get more precious as the years go by. I can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like to read these little well-wishes from our friends in ANOTHER five years or ten years or twenty years. I want to figure out a way to display them or keep them, though it’s challenging because they’ve all been folded and twisted to get them into the bottles in the first place.

…. I know, I should probably go browse Pinterest for this rather than lamenting my woes to you guys. I’m off to go dig through ideas!


Corn dogs and cotton candy

We took the dumpling to the state fair this weekend!

After our last encounter with the fair, I’m honestly proud that Luffy and I even made it back. (Complete aside – one thing about having a small child is that we get out of the house A LOT more than we used to. Pre-child, Luffy and I could spend an entire weekend in our living room. Now we have usually get out at least once a day, if not more. It’s an interesting change.)

So yeah, we took the dumpling to the fair. We asked Luffy’s parents if they would like to come along. They, of course, can’t get enough of the dumpling so they happily tagged along. We decided to go early, before the fair even officially opened. (It’s much like a mall in that the fair grounds opened at like 8am, many of the stalls opened at 10am, the rides at noon, etc.) After scoring a great parking spot, we stumbled into the bovine livestock exhibit. The dumpling was delighted to see so many cows in real life. Then they moo-ed and he was a little taken aback by the sound (my own moo-sounds will probably forever disappoint him now). We stuck around for a while before wandering off to explore the fair grounds.

When we arrived, none of the rides were operating, but many of them were being tested and cleaned up before the day officially started. The dumpling loved looking at all the lights and dragging me from place to place. We meandered through the children’s ride section and then shared a funnel cake that Luffy procured from some stall willing to sell him something before they officially opened. (That was sort of the oddest part – most of the stalls weren’t “open,” but the workers were already there so sometimes they’d go ahead and sell you things and other times they’d just say they were closed. *insert shrugging emoji*) We wandered around some more before Big Tex officially opened the fair grounds.

Once the fair officially opened, the grounds quickly became crowded. The dumpling was walking around and I’m honestly pretty proud that he didn’t seem to get nervous with the crowds. He’d occasionally want UP, but for the most part, he just stared up at all the different people. Luffy’s mom got a corn dog for herself and then made the mistake of offering it to the dumpling to take a bite. I’m not sure if she was really giving it to him or just giving him a bite, but the dumpling definitely took it for himself. He carried that thing around for a good 45 minutes, gnawing on it here and there. We visited the car show and he (adorably) sat on the side step of a King Ranch truck for a while, daintily eating his corn dog. At one point, he and I made a game of circling a rectangular pillar, shouting “boo!” at each other on the other side. Later on, Luffy got me some cotton candy and I shared it with my little dude. He seemed to enjoy it.

When we started talking about leaving though, Luffy’s dad became transfixed with the idea of the dumpling going on a ride. (Or at least, that’s what I surmised, since, you know, there’s a language barrier there.) At first, I thought he wanted to take the dumpling on his first ride and I was ready to throw down over that one because hell-to-the-no I’M going to take him on his first ride. But then, I figured out that’s what his dad wanted in the first place. Oh. Ok. Right then. Simmer down Belle.

I cleaned the cotton candy off my fingertips as Luffy counted out the coupons. (Such a racket! They charged us for both the dumpling and me!) Once we had everything sorted out, I helped the dumpling up the ramp to the little car for the worm ride (or whatever it was). The dumpling seemed super excited….. right up until I put him in the car.


Oh. Ok. Right then.

I meekly pulled him out and told the ride operator that, actually, nevermind. I was ready to scrap the whole ride idea then and there, but one more ride caught our attention on our way out. It was a little whale ride, with water and bubbles. We figured, might as well try one more – we’ve already got the tickets counted out. So I took the dumpling up the ramp and cleared our first hurdle when I was able to actually put him into the little car whale without protest. We sat there for a minute, before the ride started, as I futilely tried to explain to the dumpling what was about to happen and he slowly started to freak out about the fact that we weren’t doing anything. And then! The ride started. We just went around in a circle, the little whales doing a little (jerky) up and down motion. I mostly worried about him smacking his head on the handle bar since I couldn’t convince him to brace himself on it, but he seemed to have a great time! Such a great time, in fact, that we had to immediately do it again! Wheeeeeeeeee!

We made our way to the exit after that and headed home. All in all, I think we had a great first fair experience!

Back in the US of A

We’re back!

It’s a rainy Tuesday here, which I’ve taken off from work as well. Do you do that? I needed an extra day to decompress from my holiday. I had planned to spend the day unpacking, although our luggage didn’t make it from Boston to Dallas with us. I suppose if there was a leg for it to get lost, this was the best one.

Anyway, since I have the time, and it’s all fresh in my mind, I figured I’d jot down some of my favorite memories from the trip:

For our journey to Positano, we had three flights lined up: DFW to Boston, Boston to Dublin, and Dublin to Naples where we would meet up with our friends for a private transfer into Positano. We left for the airport around 8:00am that Friday morning and we arrived in Positano about 4:00pm, local time, Saturday. The downside of our itinerary is that we left for our “overnight” flight at 5pm DFW time and landed in Dublin at 11pm DFW time (4am in Dublin), which meant we were trying to force ourselves to sleep when we were (a) in a plane, which is always challenging under the best circumstances, and (b) when we were used to being awake anyway.

We landed in Dublin an hour earlier than scheduled, then proceeded to spend the next three hours waiting for our flight to Naples in what had to be the coldest indoor space I have EVER been in. The temperature in Dublin was about 47 degrees when we got there and I’m pretty sure the airport itself might have been ten degrees warmer than that. To top it off, we had to cross the actual tarmac to board the plane, in case I wasn’t cold enough at that point. Luckily, the weather in Naples was much warmer.

When the four of us arrived in Positano, we were all various degrees of jet-lagged, tired, hungry, and sick. Though our travelling partners were arriving from Switzerland, one of them was suffering from a head cold. Their flight had been delayed a bit into Naples as well. Then there was Luffy and me, who were valiantly trying to rally after 24+ hours of travel. My memory of the car ride into Positano is a bit hazy for me, as is the drop-off. However, I can very clearly remember walking down steps to get to our apartment, each step bringing us closer and closer to the ocean. When we finally arrived at our apartment, I think we were all absolutely flabbergasted to find our apartment literally ON the ocean. We couldn’t believe our luck in finding this gem of an apartment, plus our luck in getting assigned the closest apartment to the ocean (this particular property owner had probably five or six apartments in one tower/home). I’m so, so glad that we spent the majority of our vacation in this particular space. It had two balconies (since it was multiple levels), a spacious living room and adorable kitchen, as well as two bathrooms. It also happened to be literally 100 steps or so from the ferry port and the beach section of Positano. It was truly the perfect place to stay.

On our second day in Positano (the first day we visited Minori and Ravello, which I jot down primarily because Luffy and I struggle to recall what exactly we did when on our last trip to Italy five years ago), we decided to take a cooking class at a fantastic restaurant a few minutes outside of Positano. When we arrived, we discovered that the owners actually live alongside the restaurant, so the cooking class was held in their personal kitchen. It was quite the experience. We made stuffed cannelloni with handmade crepe-type shell, fresh gnocchi, eggplant parmesan, tiramisu, and a completely original dish that I’d liken to carbonara with zucchini. We started cooking about 10:30am, after devouring some tomatoes, eggs, and homemade cheese – all fresh from their farm – and got to eat all of it for lunch around noon. It was delicious and an incredible experience.

Our last full-day in Positano, we spent an amazing day on a private boat charter, cruising along the Amalfi coast and dinking a bubbly beverage or two. We actually had some bad weather, but chose to try to wait it out with a long-lunch at a restaurant accessible only by boat. There’s not much more to say about this, because it was an exceedingly lazy day, but it was glorious.

In a torrent of amazing foods and delicious meals in Positano, there is one dinner that stands high above the others: dinner at La Sponda. In the heart of Positano, there is an exceedingly, stupidly fancy hotel called Le Sirenuse. La Sponda is its Michelin-starred restaurant. We had no idea what to expect from this reservation that we had literally booked months before. We sat down and were immediately offered champagne. We weren’t given menus until after we received a first welcoming bite, leading us to wonder if we were even going to be deciding what we were going to eat or if it was more of a chef’s menu type thing. I decided on the lobster tonnarelli and I must say that I won the food war for the evening. It was amazing. Truly. Afterwards, we decided to share a chocolate tart for the table, then wound up with too much dessert (as if there’s such a thing) when our friends surprised us by telling the restaurant that we were celebrating our anniversary. They brought out a delicious mousse and cake confection. Then the restaurant brought out an adorable three-tiered, mini-dessert tray. As if that wasn’t enough, the restaurant sent the ladies home with a cute little box of a light, almondy cake. I had it for breakfast the next morning.

Rome was delightful, with most of the highlights being food. We had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant Luffy and I had previously been to where the waiter decided to select courses for the table. We also ate some of the best gelato I’ve had and ate lunch at delicious place we’d gone to last time we visited Rome. We did a ton of walking, which helped with all of the aforementioned eating.

The last stop on our tour was, of course, the wedding in Dublin. And oh what a wedding (and venue!) it was. The wedding took place at Luttrellstown Castle. I admit to being a tad skeptical when the bride told us all it was at a castle. Like, oh sure, a castle. Ok. Then we showed up and it truly a castle. It was a beautiful wedding and the pictures (even the ones I took!) are gorgeous.

It was a very late night, followed by a very early morning and a very long day of travel, but we’re home now!

Buon giorno!

Hello from Rome!

Oh! Where to start? We’ve had an amazing week and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I’m writing on my iPad right now, which hampers my flow more than I realized, so I won’t be telling you all about our week right now. Just thought I’d say hello.

We’re enjoying a quiet morning in Rome right now. Our friends left this morning to head back to the states, so it’s just Luffy and me. It’s actually our anniversary (5 years today!), though we’ve really been celebrating the entire week. Plus, I was beside myself with excitement and gave Luffy his anniversary present literally the day we arrived in Italy. You see, I am a horrible present giver, mostly because I get so excited by finding the perfect thing that I want to give it to the person immediately. I’ve had Luffy’s present since August, but I’ve been working on it since June. And I kept it a secret until we got to Italy. That’s got to be some kind of record for me.

[Complete aside, but I’m sitting by an open window in our AirBnB and I can hear the Backstreet Boys I Want It That Way drifting over the courtyard of our building. Nostalgic.]

Anyway, back to my gift… I stumbled across this website called LoveBooks. You go in and create your own book by creating the characters and then each page is a scene. It’s drawn in the stick-figure style, so it’s nothing intricate, but it’s fun and pretty incredible at what all you can create. I decided to tell the story of how Luffy and I met, since we both love to listen to that. It turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself.

And that’s all I’ve got time for this morning folks, since it takes me a hundred hours to tip-tap-type on this stupid iPad. First world problems, ammirite????


T-minus three days

I typed that title out an hour ago and then promptly got distracted by a pre-departure task. So yeah, that’s about how my mind is going right now.

And that sentence was written literally 90 minutes ago, so double yeah! Doing great so far!

But I’m here now, hopefully to finish this post out because I have a very important topic for discussion: periods and vacation or how I’ll probably end up getting blood on all of my outfits in the middle of Rome.

[TMI heads-up: I mean, you just read my topic of discussion, so steer clear if you are so inclined…. er…. disinclined.]

Here’s the deal. Before Luffy and I decided to get pregnant, I was on the pill. For nine-ish years. Remembering to take a pill every day is beyond annoying, but one HUGE advantage of being on the pill is knowing exactly when your period is going to show up. That and “scheduling” your period around things. Going out of town that weekend? Got a big event? Don’t feel like risking leaks during your final presentation? Psh, grab the next pack and save your placebo ones for afterwards. So, I’ve never actually had to deal with having my period while on vacation. I have never prayed for my period to start now, now, NOW like right now (except for maybe the two pregnancy scares I’ve had in my lifetime). If I could just get the first couple of days over with, I wouldn’t even mind dealing with the tail end while we’re gone.

You see, after I had a child, my flow has changed. [Hmmmmm Belle, I know you gave me a TMI warning but good gracious, are you really going to talk about this??? < you, probably] But for reals, it has. The first day is low to moderate, just enough to break out the tampons/menstrual cup. Then, the second day. Well, you’d think my body had decided to get the whole thing over with in one day. I bleed so much. SO much. Like, more than that, SO SO MUCH. It still catches me by surprise, even after a full year of dealing with it. A couple of months ago, we decided to go check out my new office (before we had officially moved in) and go to the Children’s Museum while we were downtown. It was the second day of my period. I was wearing a dress and it is the only time, in my entire life barring my very first period, that I’ve leaked so badly. I went to change my tampon in the museum’s bathroom and was horrified to see blood all over my thighs and the back of my dress. I’ll spare you the details [hahahaha, too late], but it was embarrassing. I’m a thirty-year-old woman, how on earth are periods still surprising me?!

So yeah, that combined with the whole pay-to-use-the-bathroom thing has me terrified of being on the second day of my period while travelling. But, my body’s been falling into a shorter/longer cycle of, er, cycles and this one is due to be a “longer” one. Plus, I’ve gone and written about it, which means that I’m probably damning myself to getting my period while over the Atlantic ocean or while on an all-day boat tour or something equally horrific. Wish me luck!

T-minus six days and counting

Luffy and I leave for Italy in exactly a week, which means we have six days of prep left.

We’re in the annoying stage where it’s too early to begin packing, yet I have nothing running through my head except lists and lists of things to pack. I’ve compromised by starting to set things aside in my closet for packing.

I am SO excited and yet SO not ready. I mean, a week with Luffy in Italy! And yet, a week without my sweet dumpling. And yet, a blissful week of not catering to a toddler’s whims and demands! And yet, a week without toddler hugs and bedtime songs. How on earth am I going to separate from the dumpling at the airport next week?

One frivolous thing that I’m struggling with in the face of this vacation is fashion. I think part of it is that we’re travelling with friends (did I mention them last time? I can’t remember….) and the female of this couple is so stylish. She’s one of those ladies that just seems to be effortlessly put together, all of the time (which is like the exact opposite of myself). If I may channel my inner Taylor Swift, she wears dresses, trendy, yet sophisticated blouses and on-point boots. I’m more of a these-shorts-from-college-still-fit-so-I-guess-they’ll-do and sneakers kinda gal. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with my classic, sensible sense of “style” it’s just that I’d like to feel breezy and sophisticated while sitting next to her sipping a spritz.

I have no problem shopping around for adorable jumpsuits or floaty dresses; my problem is the fact that I’ll never, ever wear that jumpsuit again. At least probably not. Jumpsuits and crop tops aren’t really advantageous when chasing a toddler around. So why purchase it just for vacation?

I tried to get over this by shopping at Target ( figuring it would at least be reasonably inexpensive there). I found the most adorable jumpsuit, which was exactly the style that I was going for. Except that it was about two inches too long and made me look a little pregnant. I also found a little dress that I wanted so, so badly. Unfortunately, I’m just a bit too short for it and the true wrap nature of the dress left one of my breasts with like an 85% chance of making an appearance. While Luffy would definitely appreciate this feature, it isn’t the sort of thing that would leave me feeling easy and breezy. It was definitely a bust (see what I did there?!). They have so much more selection online, but I’m hesitant to partake given these two items were adorable on the rack and absolutely not right for me when I put them on. I know, I know – first world problems, right?

Comparing the barres

So I mentioned the other day that I started a new exercise class (Pure Barre). I  purchased a discounted introduction pass for the month of August and I’m honestly pretty proud that I kept up with it. I attended at least twice a week for the entire month of August, often fitting another class in on the weekend when time allowed. I loved the classes and what the classes were doing for my body (mainly my abs because – wowzuh – their ab sessions were intense). But, there were a couple of things holding me back from purchasing a long-term plan. First off, the cost. Like I mentioned, it’s fairly expensive (especially considering my current workout is “free”). The second nail in the coffin came right before the start of school, when the studio announced that the lunch-hour class that so perfectly fit my schedule was actually a temporary summer class. It would no longer be offered in the fall. Boooooooo.

With two strikes against it, I signed up to trial a different barre class (Barre 3). On paper, they sounded nearly identical. This one promised to be ballet plus yoga, which was acceptable, so off I went. After the first class, I liked it well enough to continue full time. After the second class, I realized that this might be a little more complicated. I felt bad for thinking it, since I’m a fitness instructor myself, but I seriously did not like the second instructor I took class from. Her class was boring, un-challenging, and – my biggest pet peeve of all – she could not stay on beat. There were several students in her class that were a bit – ahem – rhythmically challenged, but they all just went together leaving me as the weirdo in the back going up when everyone else was going down. Seriously, I kind of thought I’d have to excuse myself at one point because it was happening SO much. I finally just went with it even though it went against every fiber of my being.

With all that, I was not looking forward to my third class at Barre 3. Luckily, the instructor I had that day was just fine and I did enjoy myself. However, since we’re just days away from leaving for our trip, I didn’t want to purchase the membership just yet. I opted instead to purchase a few classes back at Pure Barre, to make sure I was vacation ready.

I took another Pure Barre class on Tuesday and it just felt right. Yeah, the higher cost sucks (like, of course I like the more expensive option) and I’ll only be able to attend the Tues/Thurs classes when I’m not super busy (since the class time isn’t optimal), but man. It felt good. I just love the entire class, top to bottom. The 50 minutes flies and I always feel challenged. Luckily Luffy is very supportive of my recreational pursuits.

If you happen to be comparing Pure Barre and Barre 3 and you want to know the nuanced differences, look no further:

Pure Barre:
The mood is darker and they adjust the lighting throughout (the brightest at the beginning and they straight up turn the lights out for the final glute work). The classes flow through the same structure of warm up (which is kind of misleading because it packs a punch for the abs and upper body), upper body work, thigh work, “seat” work, core work, then final “seat” work (which is pretty much always a bridge position), and then final stretch. You actually get two additional stretches, one after the thigh work and one after the seat. So, lots of flexibility work and lots of work for the lower body and core. Their instructors are also really, really good about personalized comments (“Great technique Belle!). The only downside to these classes really is that the instructors don’t do everything with you. They demonstrate then move through the room to help participants. This can mean though that you’re left wondering what’s going on if your attention wanes or if you didn’t understand the instructions.

One last thing, Pure Barre truly is ballet influenced. I’d say it’s ballet and pilates, with the difficulty turned up to eleven.

Barre 3:
The mood is bright. Super bright. Everything is airy and light. The classes seem to follow the same basic structure of warm up, some leg work, some light aerobic work, more leg work, very (very) brief abdominal work, and then a light stretch. Granted, I only took three classes, but the feel and movements from those classes were pretty different. One thing that Barre 3 relies on that Pure Barre does not is repetitions. You could be doing the same movement for literal minutes, depending on the instructor, and I was just not down with that. The second instructor I took from, her class positively draaaaagggggged by because we did 100 sets of step-together-step-squats. Seriously. On the plus side, the instructor stayed with the class more, so that was helpful.

Barre 3 claims to be ballet plus yoga, but they are not. As a person with a ballet background, there’s no recognizable ballet in their classes. They have a barre, but you were far more likely to use it as an anchor for your band than to work at. I’d say they’re yoga plus generic group fitness class (not that that’s a bad thing!). I left the class feeling as though I could have done it at the local rec center by myself (quite literally, in my case, since I’m a pseudo-fitness professional).