Thoughts on this Whole30

So another whole30 finished.  Kind of.  (Psst.  Goals for this oneWhat I ate in a week.)

This one actually ended up being a whole21.  We curtailed because I wanted to focus on reintroduction, and we only had so much time before Thanksgiving.

On Day 22, I had popcorn after dinner.  On Days 26-27, I had cheese.  Day 29 was gluten.  Day 32 (Thanksgiving), wine.  After that we head to Naples so I guess it will be pizza reintroduction, followed by probably a week (or more) of recovery.

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Goals for this Whole30

So I’m on Whole30 Day number three.  I’ve decided to consciously uncouple from caffeine (again), and I’ve FINALLY stopped with the splitting afternoon headaches.  Huzzah!

Other than that, things don’t feel so different than usual other than possibly spending even more time on food prep because James is whole30-ing as well, and I’m trying to send him out the door with lunch and breakfast.

This is my first whole30 where I really am more focused on nonscale victories (NSVs).

I am hoping to:

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30 Day Everything Challenge: The Process (part 1)

6.8_30 day challenge

So when we left off, I announced my 12 point 30 day challenge.   You guys want to know how it turned out?  Patience, Grasshopper.  Let’s enjoy the journey on the way to our destination.

Here is my “report card” if you will for the first half of the challenge.







7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Get Up Early X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Whole30 X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Plank Challenge X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Abs Challenge X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Steps X X X X X
8 Glasses of Water X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
5 Minutes Meditation X X X X X X X X X X X X X
20 Second Hug X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Real Kiss X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Wash Face X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Floss X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Bedtime Alarm X

To keep myself from completely blanking when I tried to tell you guys about it later (“uh, it sucked and then it got better?” is not very helpful), I kept a daily journal on my ups and downs and mishaps.  It has been informative for me even to review as I go back to edit.  (Speaking of editing, please forgive me if verb tenses are all over the place.  I tried to write in present tense, but I kept correcting myself and I’m sure I missed some.)  Brackets indicate my commentary from the fuuuut-ah, she says spookily.

Psst . . . It is also interesting to see how my 30 days compare to this whole30 what to expect timeline.

Without further adieu, here is how the challenge shook out.  One day at a time.  In real time.

Day 1:  Why didn’t I set some of this stuff up earlier so I could hit the ground running??  I wake up early and spend many precious morning minutes deciding on which challenges to tackle and making a spreadsheet.  Oh, well, at least it got done.  When I tell James about it, he’s all, “uh, this is way more than you talked about before” and I’m all “I know, right??”  But go big or go home, I always say.  Why pull the bandaid off slowly when you can AMPUTATE?  (Note to self:  I may need to work on my metaphors.)

Who can do sit ups like this???  I cannot do them without having my feet come off the floor and making a jerky motion to get my torso off the ground.  Such poor form cannot be good.  After struggling, I switch to a pilates-style roll up and over [which I maintain for the remainder of the challenge].

I find my Jawbone Up, but it needs to be charged.  Not shocking after sitting in a drawer for a year.

Day 2:  The heat is helping on not eating.  Luckily, after walking around in the hot sun, the last thing I want to do is carbify.  Unfortunately, it is making not drinking hard.  This is the time for crisp white wine and icy pilsners, darnit!  I fail on bedtime alarm because of date night.  Since I’m not really eating or drinking, we decide to go on a long walk so I’m sure I got my steps in though.  Bonus!  But at the end of our walk, it would have been perfect to sit outside and sip something.  Sigh.

I am impressed on how much I’m enjoying meditation.  Meditation always sounded a little hippy dippy new age to me.  But after a few seconds of my mind racing, I’m impressed by how much everything actually calms down.  And how quickly  it goes!  I swear, it feels like 30 seconds have gone by and my alarm goes off.

The Up is charged, but it doesn’t seem to be working.  Oh, well.  Most of my walking is pushing the stroller; my count would be off anyway.  I decide to only give myself an “X” if I’m sure I made all the steps.  [I’m pretty stingy on this.  I did do a lot of walking, but you wouldn’t know it based on my report card.]

Day 3:  I almost don’t get up early.  After date night later arrival and reading for a few minutes, I’m probably not asleep until 2300.  I tell myself this would be justified.  I could sleep in.  But I want to brag to the internet that I did a secret 30 day challenge and rocked it so I make it happen.  To aid on the water front, I remember to get a glass first thing.

Blargh, after I get us out the door, I realize that I am dragging.  It could be the slightly less sleep.  It is probably the carb flu.  I have a sort of constant low grade headache and I’m just exhausted.  I’m not heartened by knowing it will probably get worse before it gets better.  But then it WILL get better and I will be a ripped, fat-burning machine.

I fail on bedtime again.  I’m watching a friend’s kid so they can go out to dinner (we do a sitting exchange), and I don’t make it home till 2140.  I immediately walk in the door, talk to James for a few minutes (and 20 second hug) and start to get ready for bed, but when my reading alarm goes off, I’m just not ready.  I read until 2240ish.

Day 4:  Getting up again is a challenge.  I was having some kind of dream that involved Giada de Laurentiis and Oprah Winfrey in a fashion/talent show.  They were just interviewing one of Oprah’s backup dancers about her makeup when the alarm went off.  I really want to see how this plays out so I try to get it back for a few minutes before I give up and roll out of bed.  Thankfully, the ab challenge is on a rest day!  Although then I realize that I should have been up to 30 seconds for plank challenge yesterday, and I think I only did 20.  Oops.

I don’t dig meditation as much today.  My mind keeps spinning, and I just keep thinking of things I wanted to do before the baby wakes up.  (Well, “baby.”)

But on the plus side, I feel much less crappy today.  I might still be a little tired, but none of the headache of yesterday.  At the end of our trip to the market, I bought the kids some pizza bianca to munch on.  It took some serious willpower not to cram a piece right in my mouth.

Another bedtime fail.  Curse you, Outlander books!  I even went to bed at like 2045 so that I would have plenty of time to read, but I still blew through my bedtime alarm and read until 2315.  I’m not sure what the solution is.  Read less interesting books?  Tire myself out more before bed?  Exercise actual self-control?  I can’t stop watching TV because I just realize that we haven’t watched anything at all this week.

Day 5:  Because of my bedtime fail, I set my alarm for 616 instead of 606.  Again, I don’t want to get up, but I do and knock out my plank and ab challenges.  The plank challenge is up to 40 seconds.  I actually set a timer instead of doing an inaccurate count in my head.

On the plus side, I think my stomach is looking a little less poochy.  This could be wishful thinking, and I only really feel this way first thing in the morning, but I think I see a difference.  James, probably wisely on his part, declines to comment.  He also declines to take a waist measurement, not to tell me the number, but just to confirm that it is working.  James: “We are not going down this road.”  FINE.  [James took initial and halfway measurements, but I didn’t look.]

Also on the plus side, I think my taste buds are adjusting.  We make paleo pancakes this morning and they taste crazy sweet.  My lunch salad is also packed with flavor.  BTW, I am KILLING it on the salad front this week.  I have made sure to have cooked protein and greens on hand, which makes it easy to just add in other things and douse it with olive oil.  This is a nice perk of being at home.  Commuting with salads is a huge PITA.  I’m having things like oven roasted turkey with spinach, dried cranberries, cashews, and broccoli.  Or spice rubbed chicken on greens with cucumber, carrot, and tomato.  I am a little worried about this weekend if we are trying to eat on the go.  Note to self:  boil some eggs.

6.9_challenge 2

Another bedtime fail.  This time, I think it is 2245.

Day 6:  I feel like sleep is not restful, lots of tossing and turning, but I actually wake up before the 646 weekend alarm I set.  I enjoy a little me time with my plank challenge (ab challenge rest day, w00t!), meditation, and water, before we get ready for a day trip to Comune di Sermoneta.   I drink 3 glasses of water in the morning to be ready, but then regret this a bit in the car.

We stop for lunch upon arrival, in part because I need a bathroom.  Here, I have a bit of a whole30 fail.  Not a deliberate–screw it, I’m going to eat pasta–kind of fail.  Our antipasto starts out great, and I eat grilled vegetables and olives.  For the main, though, there is menu confusion and my chicken comes with a sauce that I’m pretty sure has cheese and flour in it.  Face palm.  I try to scrape as much off as I can, which is hard both physically because of chicken nooks and crannies and mentally because cheese/flour sauce is delicious.  Sigh, such is the challenge of eating in restaurants on whole30.

Sermoneta is hilly.  We do a lot of steps, but I doubt I hit a walking count for the day.  I am exhausted at the end of the day though.  After some turkey hash and putting the kids to bed and slamming some water to makeup for a lack in the middle of the day, I get ready for bed myself.  And then read until 2300 . . .

6.9_challenge 1

Day 7:  I decide to enjoy one “sleep in” day and don’t set an alarm.  Even after an uneven night (Mac woke up around midnight), I wake up on my own at 600.  Intriguing.

Man, the numbers on these ab and plank challenges are starting to get high.  My modified sit ups aren’t too hard, but I start to lose track on the way to 40.  [Hahahaha, just wait until you SEE how high the numbers get.]  I am really struggling on the leg lifts, and I have to take two breaks to get them all in.  I have been doing the plank challenge and ab challenge back-to-back, but that is starting to be too much planking.  I may need to modify the routine to plank at a different time.

Dinner is hard.  After a jaunt about town to check out a dinosaur exhibit, we pick up a pizza.  I get to sit and watch everyone with cheesy deliciousness while I eat reheated frittata.  Yes, yes, I know we could have just not picked up a pizza, but I didn’t really have anything else for dinner.  Stay the course.  I have been putting a lot of hot sauce on things though.

Read until 2237.  I’m sure you guys are wondering why I still consider this a part of the challenge because I am getting a great big “F” on bedtime alarm.

Day 8:  Despite not making it to bed “on time,”  I wake up before my alarm.  Part of this may be that the shutters are cracked, and I’m getting some natural light.  (I shut them immediately.)  I do feel fairly rested though.

I don’t feel bad today, but I am a little tired.  This could be from the fact that it was over 90 degrees here today.  Yikes!

After lunch today, the frittata is thankfully all gone.  It was good at initial consumption, but I really missed cheese on the reheats.  Also, the leftover roasted broccoli I added made things taste a little strange later.  Note to self:  broccoli off the frittata list.

I think reading was until around 2300.  I know, I know.

Day 9:  Mac wakes up at 600 and ends up in our bed.  I creep out shortly after.  I do not feel very motivated this morning.  Instead of knuckling down on the computer, I waste time screwing around on the internets.  I do ab, plank, meditation, but I’m not enthused.

Today is brutally hot.  We do a play date meetup at Borghese, and I am flagging by the time we get back.  During the outing, I push water on the kids, but I do not do a good job for myself.  I pound water in earnest when we return home.  I am also lackluster on food.  I throw together chicken, spinach, olives, and carrots for lunch, but I almost feel like I’m eating medicinally.  Keep chewing these bites so you don’t feel hungry later mentality.  Guess I need to dust off some new recipes.

After not TV-ing for awhile, we go on a bender this evening.  One episode of Elementary and two of Brooklyn 99 (a show you should definitely be watching).  After reading, bedtime is 2310.

Day 10:  My eyes pop open at 600 on the dot, but I don’t spring out of bed.  I just sort of let my mind wander until the alarm goes off at 616.

It seems strange to me that the Ab Challenge does not have plateau days.  The Plank Challenge gives you a few days of the same before bumping you up.  The Ab Challenge just keeps going up and up and up.  I guess the argument is for incremental change.  I’m just glad the leg raises have leveled off a little.  Those are still killing me.  But whether the Abs, Planks, or Whole30, I am definitely seeing stomach results.  I keep sneaking peeks in the mirror when I walk by.  It is almost making me sad that I didn’t have the guts to take before pics.  Today is the first day I start detecting a little arm definition as well.

Of course, after I type that in the morning, I feel sort of bloaty the rest of the day.  Good times.  No clue on the cause.

I do fail on bedtime alarm, but it is MUCH closer.  I think lights out at 1020.

Day 11:  I went to bed early.  No kid interruptions.  I sleep until my 616 alarm.  Why do I feel so tired???  Getting up is a struggle.  I hate when it feels like I’m doing everything right and still can’t win.

I have rug burn on my elbow from sliding into plank position.  Awesome.

Rug burn aside, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with the Plank and Ab challenges.  I can still do my roll-ups without pause, but I have to pause on the crunches now as well as the leg lifts.  I get that it is supposed to get harder, but I know my form goes WAY downhill towards the end.  I’ll keep doing something.  I just don’t know if it will be the full numbers.

I feel bloaty again today.  This is a bummer because I have some really good food today.  Breakfast is leftover pork loin with cinnamon apples.  Lunch is a spinach salad with pork, avocado, caramelized onions, and fresh strawberries straight from the market.  Dinner is a Mexican-inspired salad with a tangy lime salsa dressing.  I still feel gross.

Bedtime is around 2250.  I’ve been doing more TV, and then reading on top of it.  Not that TV is the worst, but I think I’m using it as my end-of-the-day reward.  I can’t have a glass of wine?  How about a new episode of Brooklyn 99 instead.  Although we finished that last night.  After I catch up on Mindy Project and Elementary, I’ll be on the hunt for new programming.  At least until Bojack Horseman returns for season two on July 17.

I wake up at 245, and I have some trouble getting back to sleep.  I am not enthused, but this does make me realize, that other than kid-related wake ups, I’ve been sleeping more like a rock.

I also have a dream that I cheated on the whole30 with accidental consumption of corn chips.  Say what???  If I’m going to cheat, let’s make it something sexier than corn chips.  But in the dream, I was all super bummed about not getting my check mark on whole30.  Because of corn chips.

Day 12:  I’m in bed until the alarm, and I do NOT bound out of bed.  At least Ab Challenge rest day!

Unfortunately, the Plank Challenge jumped up by 30 seconds.  For the first time on the challenge, I have to break up the time.  I go back to read the instructions.  It looks like doing the full time matters more than doing it all at once, but it seems all at once is what they are really going for.  Oh, well.

After confirming that cocoa is OK on the whole30, I make this chocolate chili.  Ya’ll.  I may never make another chili again.  This stuff is stupid good.  It doesn’t taste chocolate-y or even mole-y.  It just has this depth of flavor that far surpasses my usual flavoring attempts with cumin, chili powder, and garlic.  I know this isn’t chili weather, but I promise you will not be sorry if you whip up a batch.

Bed at 2255.

Day 13:  I wake up at 552.  I do not bound out of bed, but I am fully awake and feel completely rested.  This is interesting.  I thought that I was somewhere in the south of needs-eight-hours camp, but I didn’t think it would be all the way down to seven.  I guess it is seven if-no-wine camp.

Leg lifts are actually easier today!  The number is up to 40.  I thought I would have to do four sets, but I make it through in two.

While the boys nibbled toast, I whipped up some scrambled eggs with chives and mashed sweet potato with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ghee.  (Don’t worry; I shared.)  I’m usually too lazy for scrambled eggs (a whole other bowl to clean!), but these were really good.  I may have to change my tune.  Either way, it wasn’t pancakes, but I did feel like I had a special weekend breakfast.

The rainy weather quashed our day trip plans, but we did manage a morning walkabout, and I even had a compliant meal in a restaurant.  I enjoyed an all-beef patty with lettuce, tomato, onions, and cucumbers.  Ham Holy Burger also has salad options, but it was nice to have something other than salad for once.

Bed at 2300.

Day 14:  I’m awake around 600.  Instead of getting up, I read for a bit.  Until Henry is yelling about something.  Then I get up.

Today we did all the socializing.  I was that weird girl who brought her own food to the party.  I don’t mind not drinking that much.  Sitting at a table with a plate of delectable cookies right in front of me is much harder.

Bed at 2355.

Day 15:  My alarm goes off, but I can’t make myself get up.  Probably a little something to do with that later bedtime.  Even though I’m tired, I still feel pretty good though.  Bonus on not drinking:  no alcohol-related after effects.

I do not do my morning exercises or meditation, which does not bode well for getting them done at all.

For the millionth time, I get annoyed that convenience food just doesn’t exist on whole30.  It isn’t just an Italy thing.  It’s a whole30 thing.  After grabbing Henry from school, we pick up some pizza for the boys and have a playground picnic.  I try not to directly inhale the pizza fumes and pound a salad with a full avocado once we get back upstairs.

I get sidetracked on the bed routine because we are dealing with rebooking a flight.  Even though I don’t stop reading at 2206, I make myself stop at 2235.  Willpower.  I haz it.

So no sexy cliffhanger, but that’s the first half.  (Does our heroine keep doing it and slay the sugar dragon???)  Feeling a little better.  Annoyed with restaurant food on the whole30.  Failing miserably on bedtime.

Tune in for part two tomorrow!

You should probably just start walking already

Dear Mac,

You are 11 months old.  WHOA.  That’s all I have to say about that.  Moving on.

4.30_Mac 12 4.30_Mac 11 4.30_Mac 7

Moving is actually the name of the game for you these days.  You want to be on your feet!  You want to be walking!  You have places to go and people to see and things to put in your mouth!  You still can’t do any of this unassisted, but it doesn’t stop you.  You just reach out your hands and expect your entourage to enable you.  (They frequently do.)

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You have zero interest in crawling.  You will flop all the way forward, rotate 360 degrees, or “walk” a few steps and plop before you will even think about making a crawling motion.  Instead, you have cultivated some pretty aggressive pointing.  That.  That, woman.  Bring me THAT.  I try not to cave, but . . .

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You have also become a lot more demanding.  What happened to my easygoing baby??  Now, you generally cry if I try to leave the room.  Whether this is because you miss me or because I can’t hold your hands to help you walk when I’m gone, I am unsure.  But we are talking piercing shrieks that turn your face red.  Screams the likes of which you have NEVER before uttered.  This turnabout is a little shocking.

I get it.  You’re frustrated.  I’m frustrated too.  I know you can’t move how you want to, and it is driving you bonkers.  I feel bad that I’m frustrated.  You were low key for months; who am I to complain now?  You’ve just thrown a curve ball.  I’m still trying to catch up.  I never thought I’d encourage having a mobile baby, but you should probably just start walking.  Or crawling.  Or SOMETHING already.  I think we’ll all be happier.

I'll keep you in the carrier until I fall over though

I’ll keep you in the carrier until I fall over though

I doubt walking would help on bathtime though.  Here, you have just flipped a switch and decided you hate it.  You scream throughout your entire bath.  Whether sitting up or sitting in your chair, sitting with your brother or alone, being offered toys or not.  Everything is awful.  I’m hoping we can come to some kind of understanding on this.  Bathing is not optional.  I promise, we’re not even doing it every day!  (The usual routine is Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.)

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Big doings though on the sleep front.  Something has clicked this month, and you are generally sleeping through the night.  w00t!  (Furiously knocks on wood.)  Sometimes you have a nighttime, uh, movement that awakens you, but I don’t think there is anything we can do about that.  Sometimes you wake up early and sing to yourself.  It is pretty adorable.

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This is not new, but I’m not sure I’ve covered your usual sleep positioning here.  We call your sleep “move,” kissing the bicep.  You curl one arm up to your head and turn your head towards it.  But not until you’ve done the pacifier shuffle.  You sleep with four pacifiers, and I have no idea why, but the first thing you do after being laid down is to spit your current pacifier, grope for new ones and replace.  Weirdo.

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I’ll be curious to see your new stats at your upcoming doctor’s appointment.  You’ve slowed down a little on your food adventuresomeness, but you are still huge.  I tend not to fully credit your hugeness because I see you next to a two year old every day, but you’re a chunk.  Your favorite food is probably banana.  It makes your eyes light up in a way that is endearing and also a little disturbing.  (It’s just a banana, kid.)  You’ve also gotten on the noodle bandwagon, and you can slurp with the best of them.  You have this “charming” habit of working your food over in your mouth and then just letting it fall.  I’ve seen you “eat” an entire piece of pizza this way.  But, overall, not too shabby for someone with four teeth.

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You may have noticed a distinct Alfalfa look on your recent pictures.  Don’t worry, you don’t have a cowlick, and we aren’t gunking your hair with product.  This phenomenon happens because of your hooded bath towel, and I must confess that I do my best to encourage it.  It just looks so right.  Like you have a crest.  I love it.

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You and Henry are still the Odd Couple.  You guys will be face-meltingly sweet to each other and then one of you is trying to pummel the other with tiny fists.  You are able to play more and more together, which I love.  If I’d like to “steer” you on your walkabouts, I only need to ask your brother to go ahead.  Sometimes your route veers just to copy something your brother did.

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And now you are almost the big 0-1.  What a year, baby.  What a year.

Love, Mom

P.S.  More Mac at 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 8 months, 9 months, and 10 months.

Itinerary for me Ma

Lucky for me as a sightseeing planner, my mom has been to Rome a few times.  This means she will be excited to see things, but we don’t feel like we have to pack in every single sight.

So I have put together a sort of wish list for my mom’s stay.  As you will see, there is plenty of flexibility.


Pizza – maybe from Gaudi?

White wine

Red wine

Gelateria Salaria, our favorite close by gelato.

Come il Latte.  Simply the best.  Better than all the rest.

Catacombs of Priscilla

Villa Borghese

Villa Ada

Walk around downtown

A market


More gardens, maybe Villa d’Este in Tivoli

Hopefully I will be able to report back on successful list completion.  The weather is not on our side this week, but we’ll do what we can and hope things will look up.  Now I must away.  Somebody couldn’t be bothered to stay asleep for all of nap time and is trying to eat my arms as I type.


I crossed the river into the land of beer

Don’t get me wrong.  I heart Italian wine.  Right now I’m loving all the big, meaty reds.  When it warms up outside, I’ll be ready to return to the world of whites and start a hunt for my favorite prosecco.  (Not that I haven’t gotten a head start on that.)

But I do miss beer.  Specifically, hops-for-days beers that no beer connoisseur would describe as well-balanced.  Balance, pfft.  Why have balance when you can have MORE HOPS.

We did have some luck at Open Baladin last fall.  Now we embarked on a journey across the river in hunt of more beer.

When I say “crossed the river,” I do not mean the metaphorical river.  We actually walked across it.  I mean, on a bridge of course.  This one.

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This was our first foray into Trastevere, an area of the city where the “Romanest of Romans live” according to my sources.  Our first trip, but definitely not the last.

But first a quick Italian pronunciation guide so you don’t go around mispronouncing Trastevere for ages *cough cough* like I did.  Two rules should apply, but alas, an exception I do not yet understand tripped me up.

First, all pieces of words are pronounced in Italian.  This means there is no silent “e” at the end of a word.  Limone (lemon) is Lee-moh-neh.

Second, words are accented on the penultimate syllable.  Carrying through our example, you pronounce lemon, lee-MOH-neh.

Good so far?  So for Trastevere, a word that is literally beyond/across/over the Tevere (Tiber), you pronounce the “e” on the end to make it Tras-teh-ver-eh.

Looking at the penultimate syllable rule, you would think it would be Tras-teh-VER-eh.  But do not be fooled!!  It is Tras-TEH-ver-eh.  Alas, I can give you no explanation.  James even asked his Italian teacher, but she couldn’t give a reason.

Point of the story, I thought I was all “hey I know Italian grammar and I can pronounce words,” when actually I sounded like a dummy.  Learn from my mistake.  #dontsoundlikeadummy Tras-TEH-ver-eh.

Trastevere was very adorable, but we didn’t poke around much.  Our destination, Bir and Fud, was just a hop, skip, and jump from the river.  We walked in and found this sleek bar.  Ah, look at that row of glorious taps.  It wasn’t crazy crowded when we were there, but friends warned us you can’t walk through at all when it fills up.  I believe it.

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Behind the bar is a restaurant with tightly knit tables.  I was glad we had a reservation.

The beer list was not small, but not overwhelming either.  Plenty of Italian beers, but plenty that weren’t.  All beers, 5 euro.  I ordered a Spaceman from Brewfist and wondered if I might actually have a legitimate reason to call it a Spa-CHEM-inSee earlier pronunciation guide.  The beer was hoppy and delicious.

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To accompany the beer, we got garlic & pecorino chips and prosciutto & mozzarella.  All delicious, but I think my pores oozed garlic for a week.

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We split a pizza, which they conveniently pre-split for us.  I was glad we split.  That’s a big pizza.

For some reason, I was fascinated that James has a very methodical pizza cutting and eating technique.  For me, I usually just attack the thing with a fork and knife all willy-nilly.  Cut a random piece here, random piece there.  Pizza in mouth is the only goal.  I don’t think this will change if I eat 5000 more pizzas.  James, however, did a precision strike that you could tell was honed from practiced pizza eating.  It was sort of impressive to behold.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  The man does love pizza.  #pizzasurgeon

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If I had any knock against Bir & Fud, it would simply be that they seemed to be out of a lot of things.  We tried to order an appetizer from their specials list, something involving fried mozzarella and hot sauce.  Out.  For our second round of beer, we both struck out.  I don’t know if this is typical, and it wasn’t such a big deal because they had plenty of other great things to choose from, but we did seem to be hearing that they were out of things quite a bit.

After dinner, we went across the street to Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa, which my sources tell me translates to “But what did you come here for?” or “What the hell did you come here for?”  This was a cozy, wood-paneled hole in the wall with an impressive tap selection.  Beers were 6 euro to drink inside or 4 euro to drink outside in a plastic cup.  I chose an Italian IPA that was a little too balanced for my taste, but not bad.

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All in all, I considered it a most successful first foray across the river.  It felt like–for just a few hours at least–we were back with our people.  Beer people.  I’ll just have to console myself with incredible Italian wines that are a fraction of the cost of what you can get them for stateside.  Poor me.  (Winking angel face.)


Restaurant Review: Pizzeria Gaudi (ALL THE CHEESE)

I’m always trying to find a balance.  On the one hand, I love love love trying new things.  But I also love the idea of being a regular.  Rolling up and having a familiar table with a familiar waitress.  Maybe not a place where everybody knows your name, but a place that is part of your regular routine.  My parents go to the same restaurant every Friday night and know the owner and I think most of the staff.  My in-laws have a place where the cook starts making their order as soon as they walk in the door.

Post-kids, we did end up with a regular spot in DC.  One morning, I had the inspired idea to hit breakfast at the 24-hour joint (it now closes in the wee hours) around the corner.  Breakfast food is delicious.  Breakfast also feels like a lower stakes meal with kids.  And that’s how we ended up doing breakfast at The Coupe almost every weekend.  We never had a usual waiter or table because of a larger staff and many other parents had the same idea (seriously, it was baby central up in there), but it was a nice part of the weekend.

Two times does not a trend make, but I think Pizzeria Gaudi is going to be one of our neighborhood go tos.  We haven’t taken the kids yet because of the hours, but I think they would be welcome.

I have received a request for more “food porn,” so I’ll just let the pictures do the talking here.

11.21_gaudi 3

Fritto Gaudi, an “assortment of fried specialties”

One pizza to share should do it next time

One pizza to share should do it next time

Linguine al Pesto Genovese Rossi and Cavatelli Gaudì

Linguine al Pesto Genovese Rossi and Cavatelli Gaudì

We went back the second time because it was pouring rain and I just wanted a heaping bowl of pasta.  Gaudi definitely delivered.  Man, Italians know pasta.  Perfect al dente pasta with just the right amount of sauce that somehow stays warm the whole meal.

Nobody recognized us the second time.  But maybe someday.

Gaudi, Via Ruggero Giovannelli, 500198 Roma;  06 8845451

Are you a regular anywhere?  Does everybody know your name?   

My Mission Statement

In his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey talks about creating a personal mission statement.  It’s been awhile since I read the book, but my remembering was that this is what is core to you.  It is helpful because you can evaluate all possible activities and actions against your statement.  Does it further your mission statement?  Great, move forward.  No, move on.

I’ve been puzzling over this.  Here is my current bare bones mission statement:

  1. To enjoy time with my family and go on many adventures with them.
  2. To be a thoughtful and considerate friend.
  3. To take steps to improve my writing.

This is a little light, I know.  There are other concepts I’ll have to capture with a more developed statement (faith, charity, etc.), but this is my start.  I thought about putting something on learning Italian, but this feels like more of a temporary goal and I’m not sure how much I want to focus on that overall.  Yes, I want to get better, but I’m not sure it will be a big focus.  More on this later.

This start is why I recently embarked on a whole30 and am committing to exercise and more sleep.  I know it doesn’t say anything about this in my statement; however, I’ve realized I need to take better care of myself to make the mission work.  If I’m tired, I could miss out on something fun with the kids.  I’m not as patient as I’d like to be.  I probably won’t send that email to a friend.  And I may nap instead of focusing on writing.

Hopefully this helps.  The whole30 may turn into a whole14 or even a whole7.  (Because, I mean, PIZZA.)  But I’m looking for a reset.  I’ve been spending too much time in “vacation mode.”  Sure, sure, you can stay up and read.  There’s only a little bit of wine left in that bottle.  Why not have gelato every day?  You get the drift.

Much of this mindset is because it really hasn’t sunk in that I live here now. I live in a foreign country.  I live in Rome.  James and I turn to each other almost every other day and ask “can you believe we live here?”  The other day–just for a moment–I thought about driving to Annapolis on Saturday.

I’m sure this will wear off at some point.  Probably sooner than I think.  I do plan to enjoy everything this country has to offer–including plenty of pizza, cheese, and gelato.  Maybe just every other day.

Do you have a mission statement?  What does it cover?


What is your personal Snickers?

The rest of our stuff should be showing up in the next week or so.  We did a pretty good job packing.  I really haven’t felt deprived.  But of this collection, I am most excited to see:

  • The kitchen trashcan.  Our place came with a trashcan.  It has a step on lid that doesn’t really work.  The bag doesn’t really stay on.  And it is so very small.  It looks like a bathroom can.  Even with mandatory recycling, I feel like the thing fills up every time I blink.  Frequent emptying is probably a good thing given the lack of garbage disposal, but it currently seems a little ridiculous.
  • Tissues.  I also miss nice toilet paper, but I can’t remember if I packed any.  The pipes are so old here that Italy has just decided not to let people have quality paper products.  (My working theory anyway.)  Years ago I had a household ban on tissues.  Why bother if you can just use TP?  And then I rediscovered the pillowy softness of a high quality tissue as it caresses your nose and have not looked back.  Surely there are tissues here somewhere.  I’m just having trouble finding them.
  • The boys’ cribs.  We have loaner cribs right now.  These have been perfectly adequate, but they have bars instead of our chunky slats.  I feel like there has been more pacifier escapage.  The loaner mattresses are so thin you could probably fold them in quarters.  This has made changing sheets easy, but I’ll be glad when they have their nicer mattresses back.

Someone told me that when their daughter was in Italy, she craved Snickers but couldn’t find them.  So her mom would send care packages with Snickers.  I totally get missing things, but Snickers surprised me.  This is the land of chocolate and gelato!  I may have an unhealthy relationship with Kinder Chocolate that I have been indulging.

But now that I’ve been here for a bit, I’ve had a chance to think about what may own “personal Snickers” is.  I do have a few.  Unlike the above, these things are not showing up with our stuff.  Many of them couldn’t come even if I wanted them to.

Grocery delivery.  In the year before leaving DC, we converted to Relay Foods disciples and never looked back.  Before, we had been doing double grocery store duty at the local Giant and then Whole Foods to get the nice meats.  Enter Relay Foods.  They would deliver Whole Foods/farmers’ market quality food right to my front door.  Granted, you were paying WF prices, but I thought it was pretty reasonable.  We paid $30/month for unlimited delivery.  You just filled up your virtual cart and they would deliver it the next day.

I miss it so much.  I feel like I am constantly grocery shopping.  1) We need more food because we’re eating at home more and 2) I have to take more trips because we can’t carry that much.  It’s either what I can carry myself or shove under the stroller.

I’m talk more on this later, but grocery shopping is a pain with both kids.  The stroller is unwieldy.  If I take the stroller, where do I put the groceries when I’m shopping?  I’m hoping some day that Henry can walk there and back, but you just never know with that guy.  And then I’m stuck carrying stuff until I find a personal grocery cart we can buy.

Hops.  They do have beer here.  There is a whole aisle in the store.  But it seems to be pretty much a lager party.  I miss good-ole-American-punch-you-in-the-face hops.  We’ve heard there is a developing craft beer scene here.  I’ll report back when I encounter it.

A variety of takeout options.  Where we lived in DC, we could get a range of takeout or carryout.  For $15-40, I could get Thai, Mexican, Sushi, Greek, Vietnamese, Chinese, or Indian for the whole family to eat in the comfort of my own home.  Which is key with the small kids.  We do restaurants, but it is nice not to have to do restaurants, you know?  And we do lots of cooking, but sometimes you just don’t want to cook.

We had been warned that Rome does not have international cuisine and this has been largely true.  There are two Chinese restaurants in our neighborhood.  We’ve heard of a Mexican restaurant across town.  I’m sure there are others, but you definitely don’t have your pick of everything a few blocks away.

I swear I’m not sick of Italian food yet.  Just in this one instance of takeout.  It would be great to have something other than pizza or panini to grab when we are feeling lazy.  The pizza and panini are pretty amazing.  But OPTIONS.  And you never know if the pizza or panini place is actually open, but that’s another post.

King bed.  We had a king back home.  We opted not to take it.  Our place here is furnished so it didn’t make as much sense.  Also, others told us that it wouldn’t fit.  Even if it would fit in the room, they might not be able to get it into the place it would have to be abandoned by the roadside.  I figured this could be a good chance to test drive a queen; wouldn’t our room look so much bigger if we opted for a queen later?

I miss it so much more than I expected.  I’ve slept in plenty of queen beds.  They aren’t that much smaller, right?  WRONG.  It seems fine to start off.  But the number of times I have woken up about to fall out of bed is more than I’d care to admit.  The day I wake up on the floor is coming.  I’ll make sure to tell you about it, probably in a post with an ill-advised name such as “Queen are the Worst.”

I’m sure there are others, but that is what I’ve missed the most in the first month.  What is your personal Snickers?

Places my sons’ junk has been

I used to joke that I should start a tumblr with “places my son’s junk has been.”  Not with actual pictures of junk.  That would be all kinds of messed up.  But just the locations.  Stateside, I had a policy that if your (chain, family-oriented) restaurant did not have a changing table, we’d do a change in the restaurant.  On a bench if possible.  Always on a changing pad.  I’m looking at you Bojangles and Waffle House.  But Henry got to enjoy plenty of other al fresco changing venues.  Parks, rest areas, the National Mall.

I guess my tumblr would now be “places my sons’ junk has been.”  The trend is definitely continuing in Rome.  We’ve been hearing from people, guidebooks, the internets, etc. that Rome is not the most kid-friendly.  This doesn’t just mean a lack of sights for kids.  I’ve mentioned before that the double stroller is a challenge.  Whenever we get around to attempting public transit, that will be a challenge.  And I haven’t been able to find a restroom for me most places, much less a changing table.  (Just realized we will have to be WAY more strategic whenever Operation Potty Train commences.  Although I did see a kid drop trou at the Villa Borghese playground.  #OPTIONS.)

So this week’s “places my sons’ junk has been” is brought to you by Piazza della Repubblica.  Last weekend we went on another epic walkabout around the city.  Unlike last time, we ditched the double stroller at home.  I loaded Mac into the Lillebaby.  Thankfully, James is still able to wrangle Henry in the Deuter hiking pack.  And Henry did an impressive amount of walking.  Which would you choose: carrying a 16 lb child all the time or a 30 lb child half the time?  I’m stuck with the smaller one because I couldn’t even wear Henry in the Deuter 10 lbs ago.

Adventure ho!

Adventure ho!

It was glorious!  We could walk anywhere!!  Up church steps, in between cars, around tourists!  The city was our oyster; we were limited only by our aching backs.  The weather was also gorgeous.  I think around 70 degrees when we set out and creeping up during the day.

Although I was eager to get to proper sightseeing, I was also eager to have my first cappuccino in Italy.  Only took three weeks.  We stopped at a Bar, where I made James order.  I still do a double take on the signs sometimes, but Bars are the casual places with pastries and sandwiches that are open early.  Loved the cappuccino.  Henry loved the pastries even more.

They sprinkled chocolate on top!

They sprinkled chocolate on top!

Mmmm...nutella croissant

Mmmm…nutella croissant

Our first stop was Santa Maria della Vittoria Church.  We went for Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa, which was on my radar from Angels and Demons (on sale for kindle!)–classy, I know–but were really impressed with the church itself.  [Angels and Demons is now a movie?  From 2009?? How did I miss this?  This was pre-kids.  I have no excuse.]  It was on the smaller side, but every inch was covered with marble, paintings, mosaics, and other precious objects.  I’d love to go back for mass; you just know it would be an intimate affair.  Hopefully without Nic Cage-haired Tom Hanks crashing in to catch a maniac.

Outside of Santa Maria della Vittoria and Moses Fountain

Outside of Santa Maria della Vittoria and Moses Fountain

9.13_vittorio ceiling 9.13_vittorio

Bernini’s statue was very impressive.  The literature said he made the marble look like wax, which really is a good description.  So fluid.  So much movement.  I think I like Bernini even more than Michelangelo.  TV Show Idea:  Italian Sculptor Wars.  No?


The Church of Santa Susanna is across the street.  There has been construction so we ogled the outside but didn’t go in.  This is home of the American Catholic Church in Rome so I’m sure we’ll be back.  Santa Susanna’s exterior boasts “a highly influential early Baroque design” and some pretty amazing FAQs on its website.

1. What is the Pope’s email address?

Everyone wants to talk directly to the pope. Unfortunately the population of the world is now over 6 billion people and the Holy Father is not capable of speaking to each person privately.Though Pope Benedict had an email address, so far Pope Francis has not listed his.

Santa Susanna

Santa Susanna

We headed down to Piazza della Repubblica, close to Termini train station.

Junk exposure took place over my left shoulder

Junk exposure took place over my left shoulder

But before the titular diaper change, we went to the Baths of Diocletian.  The baths were built between 298 and 306They have many other uses now–Michelangelo designed a church inside–but you can still see the exterior and infrastructure.  At the tallest point, they are seven stories high.

According to Wikipedia, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History building was partially based on design elements from the Baths of Diocletian

According to Wikipedia, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History building was partially based on design elements from the Baths of Diocletian.  I can see it.

Typical state of affairs around here

Typical state of affairs around here

Google auto-awesomed this one.  I kind of love it.

Google auto-awesomed this one. I kind of love it.

9.13_baths inside 2

Lots of trompe l'oeil in here.  Can you tell the bit to the left is just painted on?

Lots of trompe l’oeil in here. Can you tell the bit to the left (green columns) is just painted on?

We got to enjoy a few minutes of an organ concert inside the church.  Henry was enthralled.

I counted more than 70 stops on this bad boy.

I counted more than 70 stops on this bad boy.

After the diaper change, we picked up takeout pizza from Alice (Ah-lee-che), a delicious pizza chain here.  We enjoyed it in the Villa Borghese Park to the sound of a dude playing the mandolin.

Alice selfie

Alice selfie

Both kids crashed before we could make it back for official nap time, but it was a pretty nice day.

Ball so hard

Ball so hard

James put together this map ex post facto of our route.  I think it was only around three miles, but it felt longer.  I blame the toddler stop and go.  It isn’t just “mas running,” but you have to frequently reline up at the starting line.

Will try to update this when I find a way to make it look better

Will try to update this when I find a way to make it look better.  Blogger fail.