Monday, December 22, 2008


Well it's the second day of winter in Pittsburgh, and it definitely feels like it. We woke up to a brisk 3 degrees this morning!

Actually, the morning was quite chaotic. When I went into the bathroom to take a shower, no water ran from the all! CRAP! Frozen pipes. Then I's kinda cold in here. I felt the vent, and there was air coming through...just not warm air. CRAP again!

So I had to wake John up (which I felt badly about because he got called at 9:00pm last night for a 2 hour delay this morning...and here I am waking him up at 4:30am!). Anyway, I went to our other bathroom, and thankfully we had water there. Our master bathtub is on 2 outside walls (ingenious arrangement by some brilliant architect!), so that explained the lack of water there and the presence of water in our other bathroom.

Fortunately due to John's 2 hour delay, he was able to fix our problems. He propped a hair dryer against the pipes to help thaw them out, which finally worked after 2 we have water again in our master bathroom! Then he went into the basement and cleaned our filter...which was disgusting apparently (guess we should make it a monthly ritual to clean that thing...probably a common oversight by newer homeowners). Now the vents are blow WARM air.

So now the outside temp has increased to a whopping 9 degrees! With the wind chill, it's still below zero....COLD!!!! I plan on remaining indoors today!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


A few weeks ago, John woke me up out of a dead sleep to see if I was okay. Through my confusion and sleepiness, he told me that I was breathing funny and he was worried. Well, this has happened at least 4 times over the past 2 weeks. He concluded that as long as I sleep on my side, I am fine.

Then as I was reading one my pregnancy books, he was reading over my shoulder - right where it explains that at this point in the pregnancy that I should stop lying flat on my back for all the various reasons. And of course he boasts a triumphant "Told you!"

So, now he has stopped waking me up in the middle of my slumber when I unconsciously roll onto my back while sleeping. You would think that I would be content again -

No, he now has resorted to totally wedging me against my body pillow. I now wake up in the middle of the night to find that I have about 1 foot of room to sleep because he is right up against me to prevent me from having room to roll onto my back. WE HAVE A KING SIZE BED! We may as well sleep in a twin bed.

The thing is - it's really sweet that he is that concerned about me and the baby. Not only is he a a great husband...I know that he is going to be a great father!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Suckered into it...

Many of you may already be aware due to "friend requests" (or whatever they are called) that I joined Facebook this afternoon.

Apparently, half of my family is sisters, brothers-in-law, and most of my cousins (1st, 2nd, 3rd...we are a close family!). My cousin Jackie is the one who really persuaded me to do it, and I caved...what a sucker I am!

I don't know how much time I will be spending on Facebook considering the fact that the time that I spend on this site has dwindled significantly.

We'll see....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Half way there!

This week marks the end of my 20th week of gestation. Only a mere 20 more to go!

I am optimistic to think that these last 20 will go a little faster with all of the stuff that we have to do. While browsing at cribs, we realized that it can take up to 16 weeks for the furniture to come in, which means that we have to order it by the end of the year. Not to mention all the time that I will be spending at Babies R Us for the registry, and then there is of course the shower. And after the shower - sorting through the gifts and preparing the nursery. With all of the excitement, I am hoping that time will fly!

We went for our ultrasound yesterday, and everything seems to be progressing swimmingly! The ultrasound tech actually was relieved that we opted to not find out the sex because she said that the baby wasn't being too cooperative as she was even having difficulty visualizing the base of the spine. That was fine by me, because if she would have hinted that she knew the sex, I don't know if I would have been able to stand the fact that a complete stranger knew the big secret and we didn't. Here is a new picture of the little bugger:

Baby Maz has grown quite a bit since the last picture we had. Oh, and my belly has definitely gone through the "pop." It still can pass as a large beer belly, but it's looking more and more like a baby belly every day. There are still people at work who are just finding out about the pregnancy...scrubs work wonders for hiding all sorts of things!

Think that this is a good picture for a Christmas card?

Totally joking!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Very productive evening

John and I made a plan: we were going to venture to Monroeville and do the shopping that we needed to do all in one trip...and we succeeded. We even made a list of the stores that we intended to go to along with the specific purchases at each individual store. I am not a and out...that's how I shop: no dilly-dallying (especially during this time of year).

We we left our house at 2:30pm. We even strategized our route so that there was no back-tracking. We started at Giant Eagle to purchase gift cards for some of the stores that we were going to (hey - $0.20 in fuel perks for every $50 in gift cards - works for me!).

Then we were off of Pier 1 Imports because I love their Le Bien ornaments every year. My mom has been collecting them since I was in high school. Each year, they have about 6-8 different ornaments all dated for that year. Since my mom doesn't put a tree up anymore, she gave most of her ornaments to us, so our tree is filled with them, and they are beautiful!

Next was a stop at Big Lots to see how some Christmas decorations were priced. I have been wanting to put wreaths in all of our front windows, but never had the ambition, but this year I am determined. We weren't impressed with the selection - wasted stop.

Then it was a quick buy at Macy's and then to Dick's...success at both. Next was a pit-stop at The Baby Depot for a quite gander at their bedding. Their website says that they carry the bedding that I desperately want, but I don't want to register for anything before I have at least seen it in person. Unfortunately, they don't have in stock yet...bummer. (Here's a picture of it, in case you were wondering...comments?)

We even stopped by Cribs to Teens to check out their crib selection...quite impressive. Definitely found some good ones and John checked out the gliders for me...I wonder who is going to be using that more...hmmmmm.

Finally, we stopped at Michael's to see what their selection of wreaths was like - $1.99 each - SOLD! Hey, when you have 9 front facing windows, you need to be frugal.

In all, we had a great shopping venture...and we were home by 6:00pm! I was very proud of ourselves and now most of the Christmas presents are bought!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

In case you were wondering...

Sorry about being a little late in the update, but the winner of "Dancing with the Stars" was:Brooke Burke! Really no surprise there. Can't wait until next season!

Hope that everyone had a good Turkey Day!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Emu sighting!

You have to refer to my friend Cara's blog in order to appreciate this post. Here is the post to read before going any further.

So, John and I were in the car last weekend when we past a little farm by our house and we saw it - the EMU! And let me tell was HUGE!

John had class this weekend and passed it again yesterday. He took a few pictures with his phone, but they didn't do the giant bird justice. So, he went prepared today with our digital camera. And here it is:
You have to understand - this thing is at least 5 1/2 feet tall, so you can imagine the fear that Cara and her friend endured during their play date that afternoon. Not to mention...this thing is UGLY!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I was right!

Cody got the boot last night.

However, I am not as confident in predicting the final standings for next week.
I will have a full report.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Who's getting the boot?

It's the end of the Fall season for "Dancing with the Stars" (aren't you impressed that this is the first post about it?). Last night was the semi-finals and tonight's results show will reveal who advances to the final next week...exciting, I know!

Here's who is left:
Lance Bass - Hello? Who can forget the recent out-of-the-closet former pop star of *NSYNC? I think that everyone expected a lot from Lance being that he was a part of a boy band and therefore did a lot of dancing. However, he had a pretty rocky start and just last night really stood out.

Brooke Burke - Actress, host, entrepreneur. I am totally envious of her. She is a mom of 4, with her youngest being no more than 6 months old - and you should see her body. Must be nice to have tons of money so that you can look like that. Anyway, she has been the front runner the entire time...up until last night when her Jive was total crap.

Cody Linley - He is best known for his role as "Jake Ryan" on the Disney Channel series "Hannah Montana." (BTW - did anyone catch his character's name - the same name as Molly Ringwald's crush from "Sixteen Candles"). He's young and cute, and he really tries hard. Not sure how much further he will go in the show.

Warren Sapp - He is a recently retired defensive tackle and Superbowl Champion who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders during his 13 year career. I distinctly remember when the Steelers played the Buccaneers a few years ago, and Warren Sapp and Joey Porter got penalties even before the game started due to their mouths. So, it's fun to see the same guy literally gliding across the dance floor...he's pretty good!

My prediction - tonight's victim will be Cody.
FYI - I saw a commercial last night previewing "The Bachelor" with rejected Jason from last season. It confirmed that the season starts in January...can't wait!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A little obsessed?

My sister swore by this book when she was pregnant with Gabi and of course she bought it for me when I was in the "safe zone" of the pregnancy.

It's a great book - full of info that you really can't find in the stores. It divides up all of the baby essentials and then grades them A-F, even with +/-'s.

So as you can see, I have massacred the book. Well, not so much to that extent, but I definitely went through the major sections and figured out the stuff that is good and the stuff that is not. And as you can see, I have very anal-retentively color coded the different sections and staggered them for easy searching. I know, I am a loser! My Mom even thought that I went a little overboard - oh well!

It was a great help when John and I took our first trip to Babies R Us. It was just a browsing trip - not starting the registry any time soon. But by bringing the book, we were able to alleviate a lot of the over-whelming feelings that can accompany a couple and their first trip to a baby store. Anything below a C, we are not even considering. Makes for a much less stressful afternoon and a much happier husband and wife (or daddy and mommy-to be's).

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Becky emailed me this week to inform me that our (my) excitement from the finale of the latest installment of "The Bachelorette" has come to a bust.

DeAnna and Jesse have called it quits. NUTS! I really thought that they would make it work. Here's the article from People.

Oh well, can't wait to see Jason on his season of "The Bachelor" in January.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tis the Season

Halloween...nope, it's over now. The election...yeah, like I would be excited about that. Thanksgiving...not yet. Christmas...PLEASE!

No. It is time for the start of the high school swim team season. John coaches a local high school swim team (Valley High School in New Kensington). Last season, I started swimming with the team as an attempt to start regular exercise without too much stress on my back. Well, that was the best idea that I ever had in terms of an exercise regime. I even joined a local club by our house in the off season and continued to swim at least 4 times a week.

Last year, I was swimming with the fastest kids (going last, of course). But it was so much fun and kids really seemed to enjoy having me there. Even when we went to various graduation parties this summer, they were always asking if I was coming back to swim.

John had a meeting on Monday for the team and then pre-season (non-mandatory) practices started on Tuesday. John and I both thought that it would be best if I would swim in one of the slower lanes, and gradually move down as the practices got tougher.

However, when I arrived at the pool on Tuesday afternoon, the lane the fewest amount of kids was of course the fastest lane. I figured that I would be fine for the first few weeks until they start to get back into shape, then I would start to move down. When I informed the kids that I would not be a permanent lane-mate, they were so disappointed. But then we told them why, and they were so excited.

My doctor we so pleased to hear that I swim regularly. But there were concerns that we had - How much is too much? Could I dive in? Should I at some point stop doing flip turns? We were told to keep my heart rate no higher than 140 (which is quite difficult...I have to sit out a 50 here and there). Diving in is going to be a no-no soon. Flip turns are fine, but I will reach a point when I just physically will not be able to do them anymore.

Now I have to start looking into maternity bathing suits, because my Speedos are not too comfy anymore. I am starting to get suit-hickeys - my fellow swimmers know what I am talking about. I am wondering if I just go up in sizes, would that be enough to cover the expanding belly. I am not showing by any means yet, but my gut has traveled north and looks much bigger then it ever has...not very happy about that. So, you could imagine how great that looks in a Speedo.

I am just happy that my schedule allows me to have such a regular exercise slot so that I can try to maintain a healthy life-style during this pregnancy. Because we all know that it will never be feasible with subsequent pregnancies!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This is when you know that people take things too far, Part 2:

This is unbelievable. Please see the October 23 post as a reference if you haven't seen it already.

Here is a follow-up story again from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette indicating that the whole story was a fabrication!

Seriously, people have to calm down...this is getting out of control!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Say Hi!

We had our 2nd doctor's appointment today. Everything seems to be progressing well. We heard the heartbeat for the first time (at a rate of 165!), which was amazing. What was more amazing was being able to catch a glimpse of the little one. Here is a profile:
And here's another one of the baby facing us.
It wasn't real until this afternoon! I was almost in denial that the big boobs, evening nausea, lack of the monthly visitor, and the extreme fatigue pointed to pregnancy. I needed the boost this afternoon to make it a complete reality!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This is when you know that people take things too far:

I am at my parents' house and watching CNN with my Dad, when they reported with breaking news about an assault that occurred in Bloomfield, which is a town just outside Pittsburgh. My Mom's family lived their for years after they immigrated here and I spent every weekend running up and down Liberty Avenue. Here is the article describing the incident from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Things like this make me happy to know that the election will be over in less than 2 weeks. But then again, what the hell is going to happen afterward - when either one wins?


Friday, October 17, 2008

Made in Italy

Yes, it's true...John and I are expecting and the baby was conceived in Italy. So, I guess the vacation was an absolute success now! John has been jokingly saying that he wants to get a "Made in Italy" tattoo on the baby's behind. I said that we can just get a onesy made with that symbol instead. I am 12 weeks along, so almost done with my first trimester. We have our second doctor's appointment next week, and we should hear the heartbeat, which I am really excited about.

Answers to frequently asked questions:

When are you due? April 30

Are you going to find out the sex? Nope...we're excited for that one last surprise!

Have you chosen any names yet? We've discussed a few, but we are keeping those a secret till the baby is here.

How are you feeling? EXHAUSTED! I swear that I NEVER knew that pregnancy this early could make you this tired. I nap almost every day.

Do you get morning sickness? No, evening sickness. I am fine in the morning, which is a relief since I am at work at 5:30am on most days. I eat great for breakfast and lunch, go for a swim after work, nap when I get home, and then I want nothing to do with dinner. Peanut butter and jelly has been my savior!

Are you showing yet? No, although I feel like a fat ass and my pants are tight on me. I went out to buy comfy yoga-like pants, which I have been living in. I also purchased a "Tummy Tube" which allows you to wear your regular pants without buttoning or zipping them. I haven't tried it out yet, but I will soon.

So, that's the current run-down on the pregnancy. I am sure that many more updates will follow!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Finally Done!

After I downloaded, organized, and captioned all of our pictures from the cruise onto Snapfish, I ordered them. There are a lot of people who either don't have the internet or don't have the patience to wait for all of those pictures to download, so I knew that I was going to have to make albums.

I received the box of pictures about 2-3 weeks ago, and it has been lingering in our kitchen ever since. There were times when I wanted to put it somewhere else to rid us of the eye-sore (I CAN NOT stand clutter! - which I know will dwindle once we start having kids), but I kept it out as a constant reminder of what I had to eventually tackle.

And I finally did it - this weekend. Surprisingly, I only needed 2 albums. The large one holds all of the pictures from the cruise, while the small one holds the pictures from the hometowns. I even made little 4x6 cards to separate each port - indicating the date, port of call, and excursion - along with a description of what we did on each. I know, I sound a little too obsessive, but I don't want people to look at them and ask "Where is this?" and "When were you there?" when they flip every page.

Now I am considering even labeling each picture as I did on Snapfish. John says that I am nuts for even thinking it - but I am already forgetting names of the some of the churches and such.

What do you guys think?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What I wish I could be doing right now...

So, the Steelers won in overtime...yea!

But all I want to do is go back to bed.

At the end of the 3rd quarter, John looked at me and said "Let's go." I was shocked because we had just scored 2 TD's and had the lead again. But I wasn't arguing either. Once we were out of the seats, I asked him what time it was - 11:15pm! YIKES!

By the time we got home which was around midnight (because we park about a 15 minute walk away from the field for free and it takes about 30 minutes to drive home), the game was still on! So, at least we got to see the game winning field goal.

Thank God we left when we did!

I have one more quick case to assist on, and then it is home for me!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Will I make it?

Alarm off at 4:00am
Actually out of bed at 4:15am
In the car at 4:45am
At work at 5:00am

Just got home - 2:30pm
About to take a nap

Leave for the game around 6:30pm
Kick off at 8:30pm

Have to be at work at 6:00am tomorrow

Will I make it tonight?

The things I do for the Steelers!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Yes, we are back at our house and yes, our power has been restored!

So, let me fill you in on some of the events over the past 24 hours:

Since the electricity has been out - I would call the house to see if it was back yet. If the answering machine picked up, it was back. Of course I was disappointed a lot. When I stopped by the house yesterday after work and a swim, I checked the freezer in our garage. I remembered that we had a big bag of ice in there along with frozen bottles of water. When I checked, the bag and the bottles were still solid ice. So I was determined to salvage the necessities from the frig: milk, lunch meat, left-overs, eggs, and cheeses by placing them in the garage freezer. What a brilliant idea!

Last night I ended up spending the night at Dani's because she lives about 5 minutes from the hospital. When I called the house to check on the status of the electricity at around 10pm - no answering machine. When I called again at 5:00am this morning as I was driving into work - GLORIOUS - the answering machine picked up! I was so happy, and then I realized that all of the food that I had so brilliantly transferred to the freezer was now going to be FROZEN!

By the time I got home, the milk was a solid brick gallon of ice and everything else was pretty rock hard too. I let it all thaw out a little in the sink for a few hours and now everything is back at home in the frig. That is except for the eggs - I pitched those.

Hopefully we won't have to go through 3 days of no electricity again - it really sucks! I am thankful for a cold refrigerator, lights, and of course cable!

It's great to be home!

Monday, September 15, 2008


Okay, still no power, and the electric company says that we won't have it back until THURSDAY

Living in a house with no power leaves few options for food, entertainment, etc. So John and I came up with a solution to benefit both of us - separate.

His parents have power and they live really close to the school where he teaches. My parents have power and they live about the same distance that we do to the hospital, plus our houses are pretty close to each other.

So John just left for his parents' house, and I am back at my parents' house until the power is back. Funny thing is - my parents are still at work, and have no idea that I am temporarily moving in! Aren't they in for a treat!

Still in the dark

Well since it's still daylight, we're technically not in the dark. But, we still don't have power!

So - here I am back at my parent's house to load their freezer with my food so that I can save it. Guess I should call them and let them know what I did (they are at work).

While I'm here, I'm taking advantage of what my house is lacking right now - cold drinks, TV, and the internet.

I will keep you posted on the status of our power. Damn you, Ike!

On a good note - Steelers beat the Browns (10-6) - they were plagued by Ike as well.

Also - no electricity = no cooking - looks like we have to go out tonight!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


And it really sucks when your electricity goes out when the Steelers are playing the Browns!

We lost our electricity at about 6:00pm tonight, so we waited it out, hoping that it would be back by 8:15pm for the kick-off. To pass the time, John and I started a mad game of 500 (or Gin-Rummy...whatever), and he killed me. When we still had nothing at 7:45pm, we decided to call my parents to see if they still had electricity.

Luckily, they do...which is where I am blogging from right now. See, it pays off living within 15 minutes of your parents!

So far there is no score, pizza is on its way, and my Dad is so happy that we spontaneously dropped by...should be a good night!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

San Pietro Avellana

Although my parents met in Pittsburgh, their hometowns are only about 45 minutes away from each other. So, we spent a day in San Pietro Avellana.

Who's still there: my mom's aunt and uncle - Zia Philomena and Zio Gino - along with their 3 sons - Corrado, Amico, and Armando. Corrado is the only one with a family. He is married to Donatella and they have 4 children - Michele, Claudia, Andrea, and Chiara. When we were there in 1981, Michele was only a few months old. There are a few other cousins of the my mom's that are still there as well, including Lena and Laura.

The day that we were there was the Assumption. Being a Holy Day of Obligation, we went to mass at the church in town - Sts. Peter and Paul. Although the town is named after St. Peter, I must explain the significance of another saint - San Amico. There are various pictures of his statues. San Amico performed a miracle in the hill that separates San Pietro Avellana and another town, Ataletta. The story goes like this: San Amico was gathering fire wood with his donkey when a wolf attacked the donkey and killed it. However, San Amico was able to tame the wolf, which then in turn allowed him to haul the wood back to the town. There was another miracle involving a spring of water - but I can't remember that one right now. There is a church built at the sight of this miracle in honor of San Amico, my Mom refers to this church as the "Church in the Woods." Because the people of San Pietro Avellana are so reverent to San Amico, a male in pretty much every family is named Amico. My Mom's one brother (who we refer to as Uncle Mike) is Amico, and as I stated above, her one cousin is also Amico. As you can see, Italians are very religious!

Anyway, Corrado had a picnic for us at his farm. It was a fantastic afternoon. Michele is engaged to a wonderful girl, Imola - she and I hit it off. She speaks English very well, so we chatted all day.

There are many pictures of all the people I mentioned, in addition to a few that I scanned in from 1981. Here is the link:

Monday, September 8, 2008

Roio del Sangro

After we returned to Civitavecchia, we rented cars and ventured to my Dad's home town: Roio del Sangro.

My Dad and his siblings still own the house that they grew up in. My aunt (Zia Maria) lives in Milan and goes to Roio in the summer. Actually, that is the trend there. During the year, there are only about 50 people who live in the town. However, when August hits, everyone comes back for an annual reunion - so we just happened to be there for all of the festivities.

Also my 2 first cousins were there: Donatella and Andrea. Donatella has 3 children, the oldest of which is just a few years younger than me, but only her youngest, Sharon, was there. See, Zia Maria is about 15 years older than my Dad, so her children are a few years younger than him. I hadn't seen either one of them since high school. Fortunately, Zia Maria and Sharon were just here last summer for Marina's wedding.

But pretty much, we are related to everyone in that town, it seems. The last time that I was there was in 1981 - I was 3. But those were my first memories, and there were things that I recalled doing and seeing 27 years ago. Marina and I posed for pictures as we did back then - it was so much fun.

The craziest part was our last night there. They had this huge party called the Boar Festival. They cooked I don't know how many boars, pounds of pasta, and served hundreds of people. There are a ton of pictures of this. They even brought in a HUGE live boar that was raffled off. No, we didn't win in - thank goodness!

I hope that you enjoy these pictures:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Carnival Freedom

We took a bunch of pictures of exterior of the boat, the interior of the boat, what we saw when we were on the boat, and things we did on the boat.

Some highlights:
  • John and I participated in the "Pool Olympics." First part consisted of 2 teams in a relay race. Each person had to put on a T-shirt, swim to the opposite end of the pool, get out, wring out the shirt into a bucket, put it back on, swim back to the other end, take off the shirt, and give it to the next person. Team to fill bucket first won. So, our team won. Then, we were in a competition with each other. With this one, we were given a spoon to put in our mouths by the handle with a golf ball in the ladle, swim to one end and back - person with the fastest time won. Little bonus - all the kids sat on the edge of the pool and kicked. I won!
  • We karyoked one night - tons of fun!

  • John had a photo-shoot with a statue by the pool.

  • Dancing at dinner with the waitstaff.

We also were surprised each night with a different animal created from a towel in our room. Those room stewards are pretty talented!

Here is the link to the pictures of the ship:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Florence and Pisa

Our final port of call was Livorno, Italy - and of course we went to see Florence and Pisa. They are such incredible cities with unbelievable architecture and history.

We started in Florence where we toured various squares and admired various churches. We even had some free time to explore Ponte Vecchio, which is the bridge with hundreds of jewelry stores.

After a wonderful lunch, we ventured to Pisa. My mom actually cried a little once we entered into the square where the cathedral, the baptistry, and of course the Leaning Tower are located. It truly is a great site to see. We did the typical tourist pictures of pretending to be holding up the just gotta do it when you are there.

It was a great final excursion to conclude our cruise.

Here is the link to Florence and Pisa pictures:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cannes, France

We decided to just do a short and not too strenuous excursion for the port in Cannes, France. So we signed up for a bus tour through the city and along the French Riviera. The views were spectacular...the French Riviera is absolutely beautiful.

We got to see some pretty cool sites too - like a crazy-looking house designed by the Italian fashion designer Pierre Cardin, the island where the legend of the Man in the Iron Mask was originated, and of course the famous red carpet steps of the Cannes Film Festival.

The beaches there were, of course, toppless - and John snapped a picture of some bare boobies, but I deleted it (he was not a happy camper!).

Here are the pictures from Cannes:

Friday, August 29, 2008


We had our final day at sea after leaving Messina and then headed to Barcelona. John and I decided that since we such a great time on the bike tour in Croatia that we would do it again in Barcelona.

Let me just say this - doing a bike tour in the country and doing a bike tour in a city - 2 totally different things! Not only was it a challenge trying to veer around pedestrians and cars, but the other people on the excursion were the biggest challenge. I don't think that some of those people had been on a bike in decades - they made for a very frustrating ride through the city.

Otherwise - the sites were amazing. We rode through the city, visiting the various squares and amazing works of architecture. My favorite part was riding through the Olympic Village and seeing the rows of flagpoles from the 1992 Olympics.

Here is the link to the Barcelona pictures:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Taormina and Mt. Etna

We had another day at sea after we left Venice, and I used the free time to indulge in a pedicure. It was pretty expensive, but at that point, I didn't care.

The following morning we were at port in Messina, Sicily. The excursion that we chose was to go to Taormina and Mt. Etna. In Taormina, we were able to admire the views of the coast and Mt. Etna from a distance. We toured the Greek Theater, which is known for its width and unique acoustic effects...we had some fun there as you will see in the pictures. Then we did some shopping and strolling through the streets of Taormina.

Afterward, we enjoyed a lunch in Catania, which is a town that was almost destroyed by the lava flow of Etna due to the fact that it is situated at the base of Mt. Etna. There is a picture that I took from the balcony of the restaurant where you can see how close the lava actually came to the town in the past.

Then we rode a motor coach to 6200 feet up Mt. Etna to the Silvestri Craters and the impressive 1983 lava flow. John and I successfully made it to the top of the crater (John had some trouble getting up there - swimming recently has paid off for me!). The views from the top were amazing! The worst part was the wind - I was seriously afraid that I was going to be pushed off the top by the strong gusts of wind. Then, for as easy as a time that I had getting up there - getting back down was a challenge for me - it was so steep that you could have easily just tumbled the whole way down, but I made it!

Finally, we traveled back down the mountain, saw some current lava action, drove through Messina, and headed back to the ship.

Here are the pictures from Taormina and Mt. Etna:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Venice, part 2

For our second day in Venice, we decided to not go on an organized excursion. Instead we took a boat from the port to St. Mark's Square and had a day on our own.

Although the line to enter the Basilica was quite long, we found a side entrance and were able to admire the church from within. Actually, when I was there in high school, I attend mass there - which was cool. It was in Latin, so I understood nothing, but still cool.

Afterward, we wandered the streets behind the square and did some shopping. We ate lunch in the square, and just enjoyed the atmosphere.

By the afternoon, it was so HOT (like it was the entire trip), we decided to head back to the ship. One of the best parts of Venice was leaving it - because we were able to watch the city as we sailed by - there are tons of pictures of this.

Here is the link for Venice, part 2:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Venice, part 1

We arrived in Venice the afternoon after Croatia. We decided to do an excursion including a gondola ride, St. George's Island, and a tour of a Murano glass factory.

The gondola ride was first. Let me just say this - it is really strange that the main mode of transportation for the city of Venice is boats. Rush hour on the Grand Canal is quite crazy. There we were, 6 people in a very narrow gondola, and various motor boats zooming past us leaving us in their wakes. It was a lot of fun though!

Then we went to St. George's Island, which is directly across from St. Mark's Square. St. George's cathedral is gorgeous and we went to the top of the bell tower where we saw great sites of Venice.

Afterward, we went to a Murano glass factory where we got to see a glass blowing demonstration, which was awesome! The pictures are blurry because the expert glass blower was moving so fast that my camera couldn't get clear shots. We browsed through the gallery and did some shopping. After a stop for gelato, we headed back to the ship.

Here is the link for Venice, part 1 pictures:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dubrovnik, Croaita

There was a day at sea in between the ports of Naples and Dubrovnik, where we just lounged by the pool and relaxed for a day, which was great.

Before we left for the cruise, I was browsing the excursions and the one that really caught my eye in Croatia was a kayaking and beach excursion. I was bummed when I realized that I waited too long to reserve 2 tickets...there was actually a waiting list by the time we got onto the boat. So, we decided to do a bike tour.

We started with a bus ride toward the east, through the countryside of Zupa Dubrovacka (Parish of Dubrovnik), and the villages of Kupari, Srebreno, Mlini and Plat. We then traveled through Konavle Valley, Croatia’s southernmost region, where the hills border Bosnia and Herzegovina. When we arrived in a town called Gruda, we started our bike tour, which was about 3 hours. Half way through the ride we stopped at a Franciscan monastery for a break.

It was truly breathtaking - Croatia is a beautiful country. We even saw bullet-holes in some houses and churches from the war in Bosnia in the 90's.

Here is the link for the Croatia pictures:

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Island of Capri

So once we finally got on to the boat and unpacked, we were totally spent. We relaxed by the pool and watched over the side as we pulled away from the port at Civitavecchia. We were not looking forward to getting up early for the next day's excursion.

However, the excursion was amazing! Naples is not the prettiest city and although seeing Pompeii and what Mt. Vesuvius did to it is kinda cool (I was there in high school), we opted to go and spend the entire day on the island of Capri - right move!

We took a jetfoil from the port in Naples to the island. We drove up a hill (which the people there refer to as "Mama Mia") to Anacapri. There, we rode chairlifts up the mountain and experienced the most breathtaking scenery. Later, drove back down Mama Mia and had a yummy lunch, and then did some shopping.

It was maybe one of my favorite stops!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Holy Rome

Okay, this is how it is gonna go - I am dividing the pictures up into the various ports throughout the cruise. That way, there are not hundreds of pictures to view all at once. So, here is goes:

First, we start with "Holy Rome," which is the excursion we did as soon as we landed in Rome. So, we left Pittsburgh at 1pm and flew to Newark. We left Newark at around 5pm or so, and landed in Rome at about 7-8am. Needless to say, we were exhausted and not expecting the intense heat or the intense crowds at the Vatican.

We went through the Vatican museums, through the Sistine Chapel, ending with St. Peter's Basilica. I think due to the heat and exhaustion, I slacked on the pictures here, so I apologize for the minimal amount.

It was an amazing experience. I had been there before, but it is still truly magnificent. However, when I was last there (granted it was 14 years ago) the crowds were not nearly to the extent as they were on this trip. Actually, there were hardly any crowds at all 14 years ago...I was amazed with all of the people there.

The one thing that really annoyed me was the disrespect of other tourists. For expample, upon entering into the Sistine Chapel there were signs and guards indicating to be silent and that there is absolutely NO PHOTOGRAPHY! So, as we were admiring the work of Michelangelo, I kept catching people sneaking got to the point where I started putting my hand in front of their cameras. I mean it - what made them so special that they felt that they had the right to disregard the rules. Unbelievable!

After the excursion in Vatican City, we loaded a bus which took us to Civitavecchia, where we got onto the boat.

Below is the link to my "Holy Rome" pictures:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

and the new Bachelor is going to be...


I am shocked. I thought for sure that he would not be up for something like this again considering his son, his rejection from DeAnna, and all...boy, was I wrong. My money was on the new Bachelor being Jeremy. US magazine published an article about the details.

Can't wait until January!

Monday, August 18, 2008

All in a day's work...

5 loads of laundry - DONE - everything is folded and put away.

I am officially unpacked!

Home again

Saturday, August 16
In Italy - awake at 7:00am
In Italy - in bed at 12:00am

Sunday, August 17
In Italy - awake at 3:00am
In Italy - drove 3 1/2 hours to Rome airport (slept about 20 minutes)
Flew 9 hours to Newark (slept about 1 hour)
In US - missed connecting flight because Rome flight left an hour late
In US - new flight to Pittsburgh delayed
Arrive in Pittsburgh at 8:30pm
In bed at 11:00pm

Monday, August 18
Alarm off at 4:10am
At work by 5:20am

countries visited - 4
ports of call - 9
meals - countless
pictures - 1000
hometowns in Italy - 2
hours of sleep over the past 48 hours - 6

Vacation of a lifetime - PRICELESS!

Pictures will follow soon!

Thursday, July 31, 2008


I am proud to announce that last night I wrote out a check for my FINAL loan payment!

That's right, I am totally debt-free (in terms of college and grad-school loans - still got the mortgage and the car payments). See, moving back home after college and living with your parents until the morning of your wedding definitely has its perks!

Therefore, I have to acknowledge my parents and thank them for those years that I lived at home. If it wasn't for their support, I wouldn't be as excited as I am right now for this accomplishment. By living at home, I was able to save the money that would have been used toward rent, utilities, furniture, etc. - and that really made the difference. I was able to make higher monthly installments, and as a result, finish the payments early.

The car pay-off isn't too far off, but the mortgage, well, that's definitely a different story!

Friday, July 25, 2008

HA! I was totally right!

I am not one to bask in someone else's misfortune, but take a look back at the post entitled "The Bachelor = STUPID BOY!" and you will understand my elation right now.

Becky (one of my fellow Bachelor-aholics) informed me that Matt and Shayne did indeed split up. She sent me a link to an article in People.

Please recall how I described Shayne as "fake and annoying," and I predicted that she will "dump him after she realizes that her movie career won't take off in London (which is where he is from and is expecting her to relocate to be with him)."

Now I am not sure who did the dumping, but I do know that they never even went back to London at all...he has been living with her in California since the finale in May.

They are quoted in People as saying: "We tried hard to make it work but we realized that we were both heading in different direction." DUH! I could have told you that months ago!

I wonder how many smut magazines we will see Shayne in now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


So I decided against torturing John with a musical and agreed to see "The Dark Knight." I am not that into action movies and therefore was not as excited to see it as the average American, but I do have to say this: Good movie! I never saw "Batman Begins," but I was still able to follow the story line without confusion. However, I am anxious to see it now...maybe I will appreciate it more than I would have before.

Heath Ledger was amazing, but the more appropriate description for his role is FREAKY! I mean it - look at this picture - it says it all. Seriously, I actually had nightmares about The Joker all last night (I felt like I was a little kid again!). I can see why he went out of his mind with insomnia and eventual suicide. It's sad because this is probably his best role ever and he is not alive to reap the praises.

For those of you who saw "Batman Begins" and loved it - you will definitely enjoy this movie. For those who are skeptical - you will be pleasantly surprised. Warning though - it's one for those movies where you need to pay attention and try not to miss small details.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

Yes, that is my RIGHT hand with my wedding rings. Why? Well, in lieu of our 2nd wedding anniversary (which is today), I thought that I would reminisce about the events from our 1st anniversary:

So last year, we attended one of John's cousin's birthday parties on July 21st. A volleyball game was started, and for some unknown reason I felt compelled to play - even though I totally suck at volleyball. One of the 3 times that I actually hit the ball, my left ring finger totally bent back. It hurt pretty severely, but I didn't want to look like a wimp, so I continued to play.

Slowly throughout the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, my finger was throbbing, swelling, and turning black-and-blue. I tried to keep it in ice to help with the swelling so that I could get my rings off, but it burned so much in the ice that I couldn't stand it very long. I was still determined to get them off with soap, lotion, conditioner - but nothing worked.

By the next morning, my finger was seriously dark purple - it looked like a purple sausage took the place of my finger. However, this day (July 22 - our 1st anniversary) was Marina's bridal shower. So I sucked it up, went to the shower, helped out like nothing was wrong, and kept my obviously broken finger a secret...that is until the bitter end. Once the last guest left the shower, I looked at my mom and said - "I think that I need to go to the emergency room." She looked at me, kinda puzzled. Then I showed her my finger.

We decided to drive to Sewickley to be seen in the ED because I knew everyone there and I wouldn't have to wait hours. The doctor cut my rings off as I was being registered. What a bummer - having your wedding band and engagement ring cut off on the day of your 1st anniversary. I asked at one point - "Is this a bad omen?" My finger was so swollen that the rings were causing a constricting effect on my finger, and there was an actual "pop" once they were completely separated. From the time was entered the parking garage to the time we left was less than an hour - it helps working in a hospital at times!

As a result, I got my rings sized to my right ring finger, which ended up being the original size for my left hand. By the winter, the swelling was completely gone and I was able to wear the rings on my left hand again.

Then summer hit - my left ring finger now swells quite easily and there is an obvious callus at my PIP joint (aka middle knuckle). Therefore, I have resorted to wearing them on my right hand again.

You would be amazed at how often I get questions as to why I wear my rings on my right hand - at least 1 patient a day asks. Since the story is so long, I have resorted to simply saying - "I'm Greek Orthodox."

Unfortunately, it's 8:30pm and I still haven't seen John yet today. He had to work - bummer! But we are going out for dinner and movie tomorrow to celebrate. I still haven't decided it I should torture him with "Mama Mia" or please him and see "The Dark Knight."

I'll let you know...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Getting Started

Our one spare bedroom has been invaded! This is my attempt to START packing for the big trip, which is slowly creeping up on us. I know that this probably looks like a hodge-podge of clothes piles, but there is a method to my madness.

My goal is to use our large suitcase for all of our stuff together, and then pack a carry-on roller with about 3-4 days of clothes just in case out luggage gets lost. We discovered that if that does indeed happen, we would not get our luggage until Venice - which is DAY 4!!!!

I'll keep you posted on my packing progress - I have a feeling that this is going to be my stressor for the next few weeks!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Becky's Baby Shower

I was fortunate enough to attend Becky's baby shower this afternoon. For those of you who don't know, Becky was my freshman year roommate at Allegheny College, and we then lived with each other during our sophomore and senior years as well (I was an RA our junior year).

Becky now lives in D.C., but is originally from Alison Park and therefore came home to be the guest of honor at a baby shower hosted by her mother. It was such a great afternoon. I don't think that I have seen Becky in almost 2 years, so it was wonderful to hang out with her for a few hours.

I guess I must be on a friend-missing kick because seeing Becky made me really miss my other Allegheny buds (Jill, Sarah, and Becca especially). It's crazy how our lives change so quickly and how much time passes before we reunite again, but I guess it's all a part of growing up (and getting older!).

Perfect reason why our blogs are so important!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Missing friends...

When I got out of work yesterday, there was a voice message on my phone from my friend Aimee. I worked with Aimee at Sewickley Valley Hospital, and we have managed to keep in touch despite distance, schedules, and Aimee's new baby. Her message invited me to a little get-together with other Sewickley friends.

I couldn't resist. John was working at the pool late, and my big plans included laundry and grocery shopping, so it was a no-brainer!

There were just 4 of us hanging out at a friend's house, but it was such a great night - talking, laughing, and (of course) eating. It really made me miss working at Sewickley. There were parts of that job that really made me happy - like the people I worked with. My life-style is so much better now, that I couldn't even imagine going back to the type of schedule that I used to keep. But I must say, hanging out with those friends last night really made me want to go back.

Above is a picture of our little soiree - Aimee, me, Becky, and Lisa (in Becky's driveway).

To all of my SVH friends - you will always be so special to me!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Aren't you all so sad?

This is my first Tuesday post in about 2 months or so where I did not report on "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette." I know for a fact that there are at least 2 people out there as bummed as me that there was no smut on TV, but I am sure that the rest of my blog readers are relieved.

Instead I will talk about a movie I watched last night. It was P.S. I Love You. I was not sure how I would like it, but I must say, it was a very touching movie - made me appreciate my husband very much. A story about a young widow trying to cope with life after her beloved husband's death and the surprises that can occur. I don't typically like Hilary Swank movies, but this one was an exception. Plus, Harry Connick Jr. is in it - HOT!
If anyone had seen it - what did you think of it? If anyone is inspired - watch it and report back!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bon Journey!

No, that is not a typo. Last night we went to a free concert at the South Side Works to see the tribute band Bon Journey - obviously they cover Bon Jovi and Journey. Anyone one who knows me well knows my obsession with 70's and 80's classic rock. As a Pittsburgher, you would expect the greater part of the obsession to be consumed by Bon Jovi, but it isn't - I LOVE Journey! Despite the fact that the original lead singer (Steve Perry) no longer tours with them, I still go to any venue in the Pittsburgh vicinity where they are performing. Bummer for me - they haven't stopped in Pittsburgh in 2 years, so now I have a suitable alternative. Other bands that I will go see include STYX (coming in August!), Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, and Def Leppard.

Pathetic, I know - but I can't help it!

Here are a few more pictures from the evening - we went with Marina and Bill, a few of their friends, and then met up with our cousin Jackie later: