Happening So Fast

Some days I look at Alex and I’m shocked.

Scooter Fun

How is he so big? When did he get so tall? Are his fingers really that long?

Scooter Fun

He’s outgrown the clothes I bought him at the beginning of the school year. His pants are all hilariously short, and his long sleeved shirts aren’t so long-sleeved. He didn’t tell me, of course, but his shoes? Are crushing his not-so-little toes.

Taller, longer, leaner, and so independent.

And quite the goofball.

Scooter Fun

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Italy, Man

The mountains surprised me.

I don’t know what I had expected when hearing “the hills of Tuscany” over and over again, but somehow I was still surprised by them. The landscape was, simply put, exquisite.

Wine Tours

Wine Tours

The villa we rented for our week in Italy was in the cutest little town, with a population of around 1,500. We joked at the car rental station outside of the airport that people must do weird things with their cars here because they were all so dirty, but the reality is that many of the roads are simply dirt roads. Our little villa was on one, the last house on a stretch of dirt road. It looked off into the (again, surprising!) mountains, over a small vineyard (used for the owner’s use only).

View from the rental!

Even on the cloudy days it was breathtaking.

We ventured out most days, visiting various villages/towns/cities and, of course, spending one full day enjoying three wine tours.

Pisa was as expected: touristy, some cool buildings, a good place to spend a few hours. Alex loved seeing The Leaning Tower of Pisa. “MOM! It actually leans!”

Pisa

Pisa

Pisa

Pisa

The same day we visited Pisa, we went on to Lucca, which was maybe (possibly? How to decide?!) my favorite place of the whole trip. A walled-in city, it has the quintessential narrow streets, dark alleys, tiny turn after tiny turn. More touristy than I was expecting, it somehow wasn’t an annoyance. We walked along the wall because that’s a thing that you can do (!), and generally enjoyed our short time there, including an unbelievably good dinner.

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

The wine tours were my favorite day of the whole week in Italy, maybe of the whole trip. I only wished I could have spent it with Alex, but we were lucky enough to be able to leave him behind with an uncle who wasn’t interested in wine.

We went to three different vineyards, learning all about the process of making wine, organic production, fermentation, the awesome barrels and all that good stuff. It was really interesting, and each vineyard that we visited somehow was even better than the last (and it wasn’t just because we tasted wine at each place!). The first vineyard offered us our initial experience of learning all about wine making, and came with an adorably attractive Italian guide.

Wine Tours

Wine Tours

Wine Tours

The second vineyard had breathtaking views over the landscape of Tuscany, served us a delicious lunch, and is renowned for a sweet wine. The sweet wine that is so famous, winning many awards year after year, we were lucky enough to witness a rare part of: the air drying of the grapes.

Wine Tours

Wine Tours

Wine Tours

After two vineyards, we were all pretty tired. It was getting late, entering the early evening hours, and we had been out of the house since nine in the morning. We asked our wonderful tour guide to keep the last tour short, but once we got to the vineyard and were greeted by the owners we were too in love to leave quickly. This third vineyard could not have been a more perfect way to end the day.

Wine Tours

The property of this vineyard was beyond comprehension. It was too beautiful. The buildings, the land, the view.

Wine Tours

The owners were some of the most fun people I could have imagined enjoying some time with. An Italian man and his French wife have created some delicious wines, and were the most gracious hosts. This really was the icing on top of the cake for this day.

Wine Tours

Our last three days were also pretty great (Cinque Terre, Pool + Pizza Day, and Florence), but they’ll have to wait. Can’t overload the system with too much Cool Italy Stuff.

Lucca

This I Believe

I don’t talk much on my blog about my personal beliefs. At least not in a blatant way. But I have posted before about one thing that I truly believe in: equal rights.

Yesterday, Zach, Alex and I joined a small group of Zach’s coworkers at Pittsburgh Pride. We even got to wear fancy schmancy Google Pittsburgh Pride shirts that stated, “We are here.”

Why is this something I care so greatly about? Am I gay? No. Do I have any gay relatives? No. Some of my closest friends are gay, so I suppose that increases my passion. During college, one of my closest friends was transgendered. But I’ve cared about equality long before I met any of them. At least, I cared about in this sense: I thought everyone was equal, so until I came to the harsh realization that everyone was not treated equally I didn’t know to care. I think it was around fifth grade that the bubble of loveliness popped and reality sunk in.

I care about equality for my son. And for you. And your current or future children.

Alex is still a baby. He doesn’t have a sexuality the way that we think of sexuality. He isn’t gay or straight; he isn’t gendered. He is my baby and he deserves to have every single chance at success in this world as the next person. If he is gay as an adult, I don’t want him to suffer because of it. I don’t want him to feel one ounce of shame or guilt because of who he is. And I sure as hell don’t want him to feel the pain of not being able to spend the rest of his life with the person he loves in the same capacity as a heterosexual.

I want Alex to be happy and healthy. He will probably be just like his father: crazy smart, super cute, and heterosexual. But if he isn’t? He shouldn’t have his rights taken away from him.

Pittsburgh Pride

Pittsburgh Pride

Pittsburgh Pride

Pittsburgh Pride

Of course, Alex was very supportive of the cause. He held on to those rainbow balloons like it was his job.

Alex is holding on to the balloons

I promise I didn’t put them there. I wasn’t trying to suffocate my son in the super hot and humid weather. I think he liked the privacy.

Alex is holding on to the balloons

We Came, We Marched, Some of Us Were Cranky

The March of Dimes walk was fabulous. Absolutely, fantastically, beautifully, marvelous. The team I was on raised more than five thousand dollars. Five thousand!

Our group was beyond-words-awesome-fantastic. Beyond the fact that there were so many of us and we raised a lot of money, everyone was very supportive of each other while we walked. You can witness proof of that here, here and here. And you can find all sorts of photos that prove just how fantabulously awesome we are from Burgh Baby.

Our team:

Stolen From Gina

Also? This happened, and was immensely cute:

Stolen From Gina

I mean, seriously. Look at those faces!

They liked eachother

Alex was a bit of terror. He wanted to steal everything that any other child had: sippy cups, crackers, entire wagons. I can’t blame him on the wagons, though. Those are things are pretty awesome. Even with his toddlerhood raging that morning (and my unexpected crankiness that day) it was a wonderful time. Have I used enough positive adjectives? It was awesome. Stunning. Astonishing. Moving. Wondrous.

Pittsburghers are all of those things. And more.

True story.

Gathering by the river before the walk

The Best Time

Did you know that the absolute best time to go to the zoo is when they are closing?

With Zach’s parents in town for a long weekend, we decided that Sunday would be a perfect zoo day. Even though it was my third time in about a month, I was still super excited. I absolutely love taking pictures of the animals, and feel that every time I go I get some amazing shots.

We arrived an hour and a half before closing, which is only thirty minutes before they stop letting people in. As we entered, there were hoards of people exiting. While everyone was leaving, there were only a very small number of people entering, so we ended up having the zoo practically to ourselves.

Spending as much time as you want in front of every animal without having to worry about blocking a 4 foot tall person’s sight? Is awesome. When you get to wait around just watching animals, you don’t miss all of the cool stuff that they do:

Showing off

We were also lucky enough to have the opportunity to watch the trainers with the elephants. They were marched around in circles and told to do various things, all while the baby elephant was just running around getting in the way.

Tail Grapping

Baby elphant running!

Of course, we also saw a lot of “meows,” which may actually be graduating to a “rawr!” title.

Meow Meow Meow

Meow Meow

Meow

The only downside to entering so late is that we weren’t able to go into the aquarium, and all of the people that were still in the zoo twenty minutes after close were told to leave, twice, over the loudspeakers.

While I was happy to get some great shots of the animals, the best shot of the day, naturally, was an Alex picture.

Having fun at the zoo

Who Wouldn’t Want a Hair Cut in a Taxi?

Seriously, Little Snips hair salon is awesome. They have cute little chairs that the little ones can sit in while they get their hair cut, for starters. Alex got to sit in a tiny little yellow taxi cab while the wonderful hair stylist cut his hair. They also had an air plane and a tractor, booster seats for children, and lots of great toys for all ages (including a TV at each station).

First Hair Cut #1

First Hair Cut #2

First Hair cut #3

"Driving" the taxi

Wonderful hair dresser!

New Hair!

Spikey Hair!

Alex looks so cute with his new little boy hair cut. I’m glad I made the momentous decision to have it cut.