Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Because Some People Care...

Because some people care, namely my family and a few friends in the States, here are my most recent "belly pics," taken this morning. Please excuse the fake smile - we were running late to get to work this morning but I knew if I didn't take the pics then, I wouldn't get them taken at all!

26 weeks pregnant with Baby Girl Stowers! Yay!

Overall I feel pretty good, but this pregnancy definitely isn't the same type of experience as the first time I was pregnant. Besides being achier (probably because I'm older!) and more tired, I just want to skip the rest of the pregnancy and get the baby!

Baby Girl seems like she'll be a mover and shaker when she's born. She is constantly moving in utero - but not so much kicking. More like swimming. I tell Ross often that it feels like someone is doing the breast stroke in my stomach. Definitely an odd and, sometimes, kind of gross feeling. I'm thankful to feel her move so much, though, and pray that she continues to develop into a healthy and strong baby girl!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Very Quick Update

For those of you with whom I am not Facebook friends, here's a link to view a bunch of pics from the holiday season. We had a great time celebrating Christmas & New Years, enjoying Florence, and traveling a tiny bit during our vacation. Enjoy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Wonderland

On Friday it snowed in Florence. Record breaking snow - the most the city had seen in 50 years. It snowed about 10 inches in just a few hours! The whole city shut down, roads were closed, public transportation (buses, trains, airports, etc) all stopped working, and people were stranded for hours and hours. It was crazy!

We couldn't believe all the snow since, well, we had heard that it rarely snows in Florence. And last year the same thing happened - snow the day before we were supposed to leave for a Christmas trip with friends. What are the odds of that happening two years in a row??? When it rarely even snows once/year???

This is our street as the snow was just beginning to fall...

Here's a little look at how backed up traffic was. This picture was taken at 1:30pm and when we looked out at this same street at 11:30pm it was just as bad, if not worse. (Look at how all the roads feeding into the round-about are at a stand still!)

This is Porta Romana, near our house. It looked so pretty with snow falling all around it.

Out street at 2pm...

Our back yard around 4pm - at least 5 inches of snow out there by then!

When Colton had gone down for his nap, there was no snow at all! When he woke up, he saw this. He was so amazed and excited. He kept exclaiming, "Snow! Car! Cool!"

Unfortunately, we did have to cancel our trip with friends. Not because of the snow, though. Instead, out of nowhere both Ross and I got sick with a stomach bug that night! We are still recovering. We were bummed to miss the trip and even more bummed that we couldn't take Colton out to play in the snow on Saturday, a beautiful and sunny day. God was gracious, though. The snow stuck around through Sunday, it was sunny again, and we both felt good enough to take Colton out to play in the back yard for a little while. He LOVED the snow!

One of his first looks at the snow from this side of the house...

"Hey! Where are my feet?"

Colton was so excited to play! Isn't he cute all bundled up?

He loved it when Ross threw snowballs at him. Yup, he's all boy. :)

It took him awhile to figure out how to walk in all that snow, but once he did he had fun walking up the steps to our yard and jumping down them. He also loved throwing himself down into the soft, fluffy snow. It was too cute and funny!

Ross tried to show C how to make a snow angel...

...and with a little help, he did it!

Finally, I stepped out from behind the camera and got a good picture with Colton.

It was so much fun to experience playing in the snow through Colton's eyes! We are thankful that we were able to enjoy this special "first" with him. If only the rain wasn't setting in and all the beautiful snow wasn't melting...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Christmas is not celebrated in Italy with as much emphasis as it is in America. We do feel blessed, though, to live in a place where Christmas is celebrated and there are some really fun options available to celebrate as a family. The other night, we took Colton to the Florence Noel market. The actual market part was pretty strange, but there were so many great things for kids to do there! Colton was thrilled because we left the stroller in the car and let him walk on his own the whole time. You could tell he felt so special. We had a great time!

The market was held in an old train station building. The decorations outside were beautiful. Plus, there was fake snow (bubbles) falling!

Inside the market was very pretty, too. So many lights and decorations!

The tables in front of the evergreen forest were stacked with papers and markers so the kids could write Santa Christmas letters.

It was hard to keep C in one place long enough to get a picture with him. :)

Colton was not a fan of Babbo Natale (the Italian name for Santa) this year. I'm not too surprised since he has seemed to finally be showing some separation anxiety in the past month or so. We stopped by Santa's area first but all Colton would do is cling to me.

I tried to put him on Santa's lap but it just wasn't going to happen...

This is the closest we came to a picture with Santa this year. Ha!

Just beyond Santa's area was an awesome play area for kids up to 8-years-old. First, Colton tried this ball pit. He couldn't move very well in there and wasn't a huge fan.

But then we tried this bounce house. It took Colton a little while to warm up to the idea of jumping (and falling) around a bunch of other kids, but once he did we could not get him out of it! He had the best time!

Ross shared a cannoli (cannolo here in Italy - meaning just one cannoli) with Colton. I wish I could have gotten a picture of him taking a bite of it since, well, it's just not your typical American kid snack. But all I got was this pic of him chewing. :)

Playing with other kids at a craft table.

Even though there were so many fun things set up for him, one of the activities Colton enjoyed most was running up and down this little ramp. It's the simple things, right?

On the way out, we tried to get Colton to go tell Santa "bye-bye." He still wasn't interested in sitting in his lap, but he did give him a high five.

This is what we got when we asked Colton to give Santa a hug. :)

Once again, Ross and I had so much fun watching Colton enjoy some of the fun parts of the Christmas season. It is a joy to celebrate this holiday as we get to see it anew through the eyes of a two-year-old! I know it will only get more fun as the years go on.

For those of you who are interested, here's a little video of our jumping bean enjoying the bounce house...

And a short video of how he liked to get out of the bounce house (usually just so he could turn around and go right back in). My child has no fear...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's Christmas Time All Over the World!

The holiday season feels like it has rushed in and taken over! Starting the week before Thanksgiving, things got a little crazy. We had a big dinner for our Italian friends on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, then on Thanksgiving we had another dinner (at our house) for our coworkers! Needless to say, lots of cooking was involved and tons of time invested. Overall it was fun to celebrate, though, except for the fact that I had yet another terrible migraine that took me out of the celebration at our house. While I threw up and slept, everyone else ate and had fun. It was disappointing.

This pregnancy has been way worse as far as migraines go. I've been getting 3-day-long migraines (during which I can't get out of bed or eat or drink) about every two weeks. Please pray that these would taper off as it is really discouraging to be taken out of life so often.

Maybe the reason the migraines are so much worse is that, well, this pregnancy really is different. We found out on the 30th that WE'RE EXPECTING A BABY GIRL!!!! We are so excited as we begin to dream about names, little girl clothes, and all the fun a little girl will add to our family. We feel so blessed and thankful that God is giving us this gift. We are praying for her continued healthy growth and development, as well as the preparation of each of us (especially Colton) for another family member.

Anyway, in the midst of all this busyness and excitement is the added busyness and excitement that Christmas-time brings! The weather has been dark, cold, and rainy almost every day for a month, but decorating for Christmas (and seeing the city all decorated, too) is cheering all of us up! As I've decorated, worked on gifts, cleaned the house, fed Colton his meals - well, almost any time - I've been listening to Christmas music. My favorite song this year is called "It's Christmas Time All Over the World," sung by Sammy Davis Jr. It really hits home with me as we celebrate such a long way from our families and friends in America. The song basically says that no matter where you live; what language they speak; or what customs they have, it's Christmas-time all over the world and we're all celebrating together! I love it!

Here are some pics of our decorations around the house. And, BONUS!, a video of Colton right after we put up and decorated our Christmas tree.
*Side Note* Celebrating Christmas this year with Colton is so fun! He loves the tree and ornaments, excitedly points out Christmas decorations around town, and is enjoying Christmas stories and videos. I feel like I'm reliving a bit of my childhood as I watch his awe and joy! It's so fun!

This is our tree...

And these are our stockings...

This is the advent calender on Colton's bedroom door. He loves getting candy each night after dinner as we count down the days until Christmas. And on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day he gets two big(ger) Santa chocolate bars!

Garland and Christmas candles on our "entertainment center."

Ornaments hanging in our front window...

My beloved nativity scene...

And a couple Christmas quilts...

Finally, this is a great video that shows Colton's excitement for the holidays! It's such a joy to celebrate with our sweet little boy!

We hope you're enjoying this season, too! We love you!