Our miracle RAINBOW BABY BOY arrived 8/2018

1st IVF = BFN
2nd IVF = Baby A, born May 2015
3rd IVF = Miscarriage at 14 weeks
4th IVF = BFN
After we paid for 5th IVF, positive pregnancy without IVF!

Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

April, 2023 - Rome!

We flew to Rome the Friday before Easter. Rome - the eternal city and probably my most favorite city in the world! It is such a meaningful place to me not only for the history, and beauty, and because it is home to the Catholic church, but because this is where my husband proposed to me on a surprise trip, ten years ago! To be back, with our children in tow, is a dream come true. 

My husband flew separately because he does not like it when kids are in business class with him. Kidding! He booked our business-class tickets with award miles, and when he went to book his flight, the fourth was a phantom seat. So the kids and I set off for LAX- SFO - to Lisbon and then to Rome. We were still out of our home due to plumbing and caught an Uber from the Hyatt in HB to LAX. The trip was off to an exciting start when the pilot from our LAX flight pulled Cha into the cockpit as we were boarding. I think Cha must have been looking and seemed interested. I was just going to take a pic of Cha with him, but he wanted Aut and I to get in the picture and took it without asking- a first ... since I’m not shy about asking for photos! He was very nice. I started to plant the seed of this being a good career for Cha. He did not realize that he could get shot as a police officer, so now he is considering becoming a pilot "With you, Mommy." With every career that he considers, he tells me I am going to be doing it with him too. Which makes sense because we will also be married.


The following is a brief account of our days, mostly written on the day of, when I emailed updates to my Dad and mother-in-law. Once again, as I wrote in 2016, if you're considering traveling with children, do it!


The kids were amazing on the flight. We landed in Lisbon, with the kids somewhat rested, and had one short flight left. None of us liked the Lisbon airport because they did not have any air conditioning. When we landed in Rome, we found the driver with our name who took us right to our hotel. Thinking it was just one room, we were happily surprised to learn that Dad upgraded us. We were there just after 9pm, dropped our stuff off and went to dinner, where the kids tried Fanta for the first time. They were in bed before 11pm, and hubby arrived just after midnight. Thankfully, we had two rooms, so he was able to sneak in without waking them up. We were excited to learn that the Colosseum was only a 15-minute walk!  

Day 2: Today was our first full day. Aut and hubby woke up at about 730am. We left the hotel in a cab and made it in time to St. Peter’s Square for Easter mass with the man, the myth, the legend...The Pope! Il Papa himself! Never mind that we really don't like the current Pope, it was still a historic event for the children to be present for, and on Easter no less! And our second Pope, as we received a blessing from Pope Benedict 10 years prior when we were engaged. 
Easter Mass was very crowded, but we were on the outskirts so it was nice because the children could run around and play while we watched them and took it all in. I read that 45,000 were in attendance. Beautiful music and bells. We enjoyed seeing all of the different police, military, and what appeared to be "Pope Secret Service" standing around talking and smoking. Very few homeless people here. From there, we walked to the hotel we stayed at last time and found the restaurant we ate at every day. We went into another church and received communion before we had lunch. We did a lot of walking, about 7 miles, and the kids were tired but did really well. We returned to the hotel and found out the Easter bunny left a note saying that the bunny would hide eggs later. The kids had a little bit of iPad time, and hubby napped. Then, we walked to the Colosseum and found a local playground for the kids.
We returned to the hotel to discover that the Easter Bunny had hidden eggs and left a few things for the kids. We all seem to be adjusting really well to the time difference. It’s 8:30 PM now, and we are tired, thankfully! The question is will we wake up during the night? 

Day 3: Today, we walked all around The Forum and Palatine Hill, also known as "the first nucleus of the Roman Empire." The kids were real troopers- we walked about 6 miles in total, not realizing that there was that much to see when we first set out. Kids are bonding and playing very well together. Stopped off at their new favorite playground, which has Roman bath ruins within view- built in 109 AD. The joke all day was that Aut was ready for business. “I’m here to close this deal” or “you’re fired” were what we teased her with, because she was wearing the cutest business-like outfit. Cha very curious about all of it- so many questions!
Not just a photo op- you are able to wander all around amongst these amazing ruins!
So much fun! Could not love these two characters more if we tried!

Day 4: We started the day with a walk to the park for the kids to play, on our way to the Colosseum. We arrived a little early for the Colosseum tour, which was with a guide and headphones. Our tour included going down onto the arena floor, and we were able to look down and see where they would raise up the animals with a manual elevator and all the passageways and holding cells below. On an ordinary day, Cha is filled with curious questions, so he had loads of them for us! It is so exciting to me to see them so interested. The children are doing remarkably well with all of the walking! This is our first international trip without a stroller. Because we have a ghost tour tonight, we went back and had them take a nap at the hotel before getting ready for a night walking ghost tour. We booked the tour through Dark Rome, and there were only three other people on the tour, so it was very personalized. The ghost tour was what Aut was most excited about. I was unsure how they would do with the tour not starting until 9pm, but they were amazing! The tour guide even commented on how well-behaved they both were. We visited:
  • Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
  • Campo de’ Fiori
  • Piazza Farnese
  • Via Giulia
  • Via del Governo Vecchio
  • Castel Sant’Angelo (from outside)

Aut was intrigued, and so were we! At times Cha drew closer to me, a bit afraid. We loved learning about the Madonellas that were put up by the Vatican in the 1600s as the first security system! Crimes were being committed in dark alleyways, but even the hardest of criminals would not commit these acts with the Virgin Mary watching, and crime dropped dramatically. Some of the original ones remain, looked after and cared for by the owners of the building.
Want to avoid crowds? Easy! Just like everywhere else in the world, avoid summer time.

See that nun behind me? I totally beat her up the stairs.
Day 5: We visited the oldest catacombs in Rome, which consists of 11 miles of tunnels containing the remains of 150,000 people. The majority of the graves were robbed, and people stole the marble and bone, which were sold on the black market as relics from saints. We also climbed the Scala Santa (Holy Stairs) on our knees, and Autumn made her first confession at the top of the stairs. The Scala Santa are the stairs that Jesus climbed on his way to his trial before Pontius Pilate. The 28 marble stairs are covered with wood and can only be climbed on your knees. They were brought from Jerusalem to Rome by Saint Helena in 326 AD. There are little windows of glass in the wood to reveal what is said to be Christ’s blood on the marble stairs. When we entered the building, there was silence and reverence in the room. I was not sure that the children would be willing and able to climb the stairs with us, and thought that they would need to ascend to the right, on the non-Holy, normal Stairs. But they were ready and willing...and it was quite an emotional experience for all of us. 
Day 6: Cooking class with Aut. Hubby took Cha for a haircut and they met us at the cooking class. We made fettuccine, ravioli, and tiramisu. It was just over two hours. She really liked the pasta that she made and we will make it this summer in Oregon. Here are the recipes (for my future reference!). 

After the cooking class, we walked around the Square where the pantheon is and into the Basilica de Santa Maria sopra Minerva were the remains of Saint Catherine of Siena are, on display in a glass casket. It is an unbelievable experience to wander into a church, not knowing that the remains of such a well-known and revered Saint are on display! I had to google it once we walked out, because I just couldn't believe it was true.

Day 7: What a day!! We went to the spot where Nathan proposed at the Trevi Fountain with a photographer that I found on Instagram, but I had no idea he was surprising me with a gift… a diamond tennis bracelet to replace the one I lost a few years ago.  Except this one is larger, gold, and even more beautiful. He really outdid himself. Someday it will be Aut’s…and I love that she was there for the gifting of it. He purchased this just over 2 years ago, but Covid canceled our trips!!! Can’t believe he kept the secret that long, as I can hardly keep a secret for a few hours. My reaction and tears of joy were captured by the photographer. While I don't love how they look, I love the realness and rawness of emotion.

We also went to the zoo and walked 7.5 miles with the kids. The kids were so excited that there was a peacock on the play structure that didn't move when they went on it.

Still in shock. It is beyond beautiful! Some soft, intermittent rain ... beautiful weather for a day I will always remember. This took an already memorable trip to the next level.

Day 8: Low key day, lots of rain. Mailed Vatican postcards, relaxed at hotel. Souvenir shopping 
Day 9: Castle Sant Angelo and Saint Peter’s Square. One of my favorite memories of Rome was when we returned to Campo de Fiore today for the farmer's market on the weekend. We sat outside and had lunch while the children ran and played under the statue of Giordano Bruno was erected on the site where he was burned at the stake by the Catholic church in 1600.

As we did on our last trip here, we found an amazing restaurant around the corner and ate there almost every night. Tight quarters and linen table clothes and the kids were so well-behaved (without technology - win!)