Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song." - JPII

Happy Easter!  Easter in Rome is always a very busy and exciting time.  I would like to say that we braved the crowds and did Easter mass with the Pope but alas we were not that adventurous.  We celebrated with mass in our beautiful little chapel here on campus followed by an Easter egg hunt and brunch/mimosas on our terrace.  Or should I say mimosas/brunch because we all know what the star of the show was. All in all it was low key but nice, especially when your terrace has a view to vineyard on one side and the Papal summer palace on the other.  Not too shabby.

Easter Sunday

Despite a quiet Easter Sunday we have had quite the eventful Easter week.  Caroline turned 6 months!  AND she had her first foray into solid foods!  We started her on rice cereal and some pureed apple but she is not the biggest fan.  She does however like these funny baby biscuits that you are supposed to dissolve in their bottle.  She won't eat them in bottle form but prefers sucking on them.

Mmmm, biscuit.

As a side note I have to share with you the Italian pediatrician's plan for introducing a baby to solid food.
Step 1.  One spoonful of pureed apple or pear before morning bottle.  Continue this, increasing the amount, for twelve days.
Step 2.  Introduce rice cereal mixed with milk, pureed fruit, and sugar. (Yes, sugar!)  Continue for twelve days.
Step 3.  Change things up a bit.  Continue with rice cereal but mix it with olive oil and parmesan. (Haha!)
Apparently Italian babies eat very well early on.  There is even a baby brand EVOO which you can find right along side the horse, lamb, and prosciutto baby food:)

We also had a visitor this week, John!  John is a friend from college and it is always fantastic to see him.  He was in town for the canonization along with his friend, Courtney.  They came out to campus and we grilled out at the Forno...standard operating procedure for any guest;)  Caroline really liked both John and Courtney and showed no sign of "stranger danger" with them, which is funny because she has been hesitant around new people lately.  The next day we met them in the city for drinks and dinner in Trastevere.  The city was packed for the upcoming canonization but there was a really great energy and we had an awesome meal with an inpromptu photoshoot to boot! (Courtney works for one of the American Archdioceses and they sent out a photographer to takes some pictures of her while we were at dinner.)

Eating John's nose

Then there was the big event, the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II.  As I have mentioned before, JPII is Caroline's namesake and it was incredibly special for us to be able to attend his canonization.  Looking back to last summer our future was so uncertain.  The possibility of being able to return to Rome was small because of Caroline's heart issues.  And now to be back in Rome and see JPII declared a saint, its just amazing.  God is pretty darn good.

Rome was swarming with people for the canonization.  There was no way we were going to be able to get any where close to St. Peter's because of the crowds, unless we camped out which is not really an option with a baby.  Instead we went into the city early Sunday and found a nice spot by the Vittorio Emmanuele II monument to watch on a jumbo screen.  It had the added bonus of being close to the Shamrock where we went afterwards and toasted the new saints with a few pints.  I would be remiss if I did not add that we also had a fantastically delicious seafood lunch in Testacio.  America really needs to get on board with the whole little fried octopuses.

Pope Francis on the big screen by Piazza Venezia.

Caroline and cousin Mary Elizabeth


Benedict!  He concelebrated the canonization with Francis.

Eating her rosary.

Cheers to the new saints!

To top off this eventful week, Caroline is cutting her first tooth!  I was able to feel the tip of it for the first time the other day.  Everyone be forewarned, you put your fingers in Caroline's mouth at your own risk now.

We are looking forward to the end of the semester (the student leave in a little over a week, crazy!) and a bit more family time.  Also, MORE GUESTS!!!  Up next, Maria & Mike Convery, and Kate Deiss:)

Rainbow photo op!  The first of many times Caroline will find her parents embarrassing.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Ciao!  Greetings from Italy:)  We are so happy to be back and to be settling back into la dolce vita.  I promise to get back into the blogging swing of things and post more updates on Caroline.  She is doing really well.  We have met with her cardiologist here in Rome and things are looking good following appointments to check her heart and leg growth (one of her iliac arterties became occluded following her cath procedure post birth resulting in a difference in leg growth).  Other than that she is a normal baby, though her father would say that she is "very advanced." ;)  She started rolling over at three months, both front to back and back to front.  She is five months now and can sit up by herself.  She also loves to stand, assisted of course, she's not that advanced!  This ability to be vertical has come with a virulent rejection of tummy time, think hysterical crying.  In my new mom craziness, I am convinced that she will never learn how to crawl and thus those valuable pathways that crawling forms in the brain will never form and...well, you get the idea. (I think Ryan comes home to hear me babble on about a new insane mom worry at least every other day.)  Caroline is a very vocal baby and smiles a lot.  She has really big blue eyes which garners her quite a bit of attention.  The Italians coo over her and call her amore and patatina (the latter literally translates to small potato).  Caroline has started sipping water from a cup and seems to relish it, pulling the cup to her and trying to get as much as possible.  True to European form she enjoys fizzy water :)  The Italians keep telling us to start her on solid food, aka pasta, but we will wait a bit longer.

In other news, Caroline was recently featured on the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital blog and Facebook page (direct link to the blog article:  We went back and forth on whether to "go public" with our story but finally decided that if by sharing our experience we could give hope to other families out there it was worth it.  Her story got shared on Facebook over 600 times and was liked close to 3,700 times!

Here is a link to C.S. Mott's page on Prenatal Care for Aortic Stenosis:  It explains Caroline's condition, critical aortic stenosis, and has videos by two of her doctors.  A link to the blog article about Caroline is featured on the top right of the page.  We really can't say enough what a wonderful place Mott's is.  Without their incredible fetal heart specialists and maternal fetal medicine specialists we would not be where we are today; back in Rome with a thriving five month old.