The End of Italy!

If you made it this long, then you deserve some type of reward. I feel like for making it this long in writing all of these posts that I also deserve some type of reward. I wish I could ship some gelato from Italy for me as my prize for completing all of this!!!

After dinner on our last day in Rome we wanted to try to squeeze in a couple more sights. It was dark at this point but some of the outdoor sites we read were actually better at night. We hopped on the metro and headed to The Spanish Steps.

The Spanish Steps were built between 1723-1726 and the fountain Barcaccia (“bad boat”) was built in 1626-1629 by Bernini with his son Gianlorenzo. They were actually designed and funded by the French and include 12 flights of curving stairs.

I enjoyed the rules for the Steps:

The steps! Crowded even at 10:00 at night!

Fountain at the bottom

We were EXHAUSTED by this point and literally didn’t have the energy to go all the way up. We wanted to but decided just to go halfway. We can say we did it. We got to see some of the view. And that’s about all we wanted to do!

We got done with the Steps and started walking to the next sight we wanted to try to fit in…the Trevi Fountain. As we were walking we passed a cute gelato place and decided to go ahead and get our LAST fix for the trip!!! Since we had gotten it every single day we felt like we knew the routine and we didn’t even look at the price list. We just picked some flavors and were impressed with how fancy the guy made them!!!

When we went to pay the girl told us we owed her 33 EUROS ($41 DOLLARS). For two ice cream cones. That’s seriously all we ordered. Are you KIDDING ME?!?!?! We did not ask the guy to make them fancy like he did. He just did it. SUCH a tourist trap and total rip off. But what were we supposed to do at that point?!?! Mine was 18 Euros and Zach’s was 15. I don’t get why one cost more than the other? I guess he put fancier decorations on mine?!?! Had we more energy we probably would have made a stink about it. But at that point in the night I just begged Zach to pay and try to enjoy the most expensive ice cream of his life. It was our last night. I didn’t want to let this ruin it. But OMG can you believe the cost?!?! On top of that it wasn’t even GOOD. It was not nearly as yummy as the gelato we paid 3 Euros for. SO ridiculous. 

A very fake smile 🙂

While eating our ice cream we decided to just call it a night. It was after 10:30 by that point and we still had to get back to the room and pack and we had to be 100% ready to go at 6 am the next morning. All I wanted to do at that point was call the kids. I didn’t care about any sights we were missing out on. I just missed my babies and was ready to go home.

As I got packed up I took a few pictures to remember some things:

Anytime I’ve traveled outside of the country I have ruined my straightener. I used adapters for the plugs and never could understand how it kept happening. This time around I did a little better prep work and learned that this whole electricity conversion junk is mega confusing! If you’re traveling overseas (and when I do again!) it’s best to buy a hair straightener that has dual conversion. I bought one from Amazon for like $20. It wasn’t a great straightener, but it got the job done and didn’t blow up. I also borrowed a European plug hair dryer from Casey. She had bought it when she studied abroad in Italy. It was AWESOME. It worked great and was super powerful. So great, in fact, that it may be worth it to invest in a straightener that also has the European plugs? I bet it would work better than the conversion one!

I mentioned waaaaay back at the beginning of our trip about my milk concerns. In case you don’t know how breast milk works I’ll give you a quick rundown. Freshly expressed breast milk stays good in a refrigerator for about 8 days. It stays good in a cooler with ice packs for 24 hours. In a regular freezer for 3 months, in a deep freezer for a year. (I know different people may say different things, I got this info from the Medela booklet that came with my pump and it’s always been fine for me!). Once milk that has been frozen is thawed it is only good for 24 hours. So it’s a bit of a tricky game to travel and bring home the milk.

I carried a cooler with me throughout the day with ice packs to keep the milk cold as I pumped it. Then at night we would go ahead and put it in the storage bags (it’s best to store it in 2 and 3 oz quantities) and keep those bags in the refrigerator. Since the hotel didn’t have a big freezer for all of my freezer packs I was pretty stressed about how I’d get ALL the milk home. Our total travel time home would be close to the 24 hour marker so it was VITAL that the milk stayed super cold the whole time and their freezer wasn’t freezing the ice packs. I soon realized that only certain spots in their freezer were freezing so I’d rearrange the packs each night to get them all frozen solid then when I’d shift them to another spot in the freezer they wouldn’t thaw out b/c it was still cold enough to keep them frozen just not cold enough to actually freeze them. I also discovered that some of the ice packs would stay pretty frozen in our fridge (since not even all my ice packs would FIT in their freezer). 

To make sure my milk would get home okay I decided to pump and dump on the travel day home. I didn’t want to risk using any of the freezer packs to keep the milk from that day cold. I thought it was more important to use every single pack with the milk I had pumped throughout the trip. I prayed a LOT about it all making it home. I know most people would just pump and dump and not deal with the stress. But I already felt guilty enough just leaving my children…I couldn’t possibly deal with the guilt of not even bringing milk home for Britt to replace what she drank while we were gone. Thank the LORD because we were able to get it all home 🙂 It ended up costing us about $90 because we had to check an extra bag. JUST the cooler of milk and ice packs weighed 48 lbs in the suitcase! It ended up being 216 oz total that we got home (we have a few bags leak so we did miss out on some, but still not bad!). We threw it all in the deep freezer as soon as we walked in the door and now we’ll be able to give her that milk when we travel in the future. She eats 4 times a day and will drink 9 oz per feeding max so that’s 36 oz a day we leave for her when we travel just to make sure she has plenty. The milk we brought home would provide her 6 days worth of food! Pretty awesome and well worth the work and effort to me 🙂

roughly 8 days worth of pumped breast milk!

I wanted a picture of the shower…poor Zach could barely fit!

Sad to leave my Anniversary dinner rose behind, it dried so pretty

We only got a couple hours of sleep. I think 4. It seemed to be that 4 hours of sleep was the norm for this trip 😉 It was WONDERFUL having the private transfer to the airport. We’ll for sure be doing that in the future. Well worth the expense no doubt about it!!! A Mercedes picked us up outside of our hotel room (2nd one for the trip!) and we were riding in style the whole way there. When we arrived in Italy it took us about 2 hours to get from the airport to the hotel. When we left it took us under 30 min. 🙂

We had TONS of time at the airport so we literally looked around every shop they had. We picked up a couple more souvenirs and ate some breakfast. Yes, I had cannoli for breakfast…it was SO GOOD.

I have to give credit where credit is due…big props to Mr. Coleman back in high school for being such an awesome Latin teacher and inspiring me to want to visit Italy…here’s a priceless pic of good ‘ole Mr Coleman 😉

 I have been flying for as long as I can remember. I’ve never been afraid to fly. I’ve always enjoyed it and never even get nervous during turbulence. I know statistically you’re much more likely to die in a car accident than a plane crash. I never really knew it was possible to develop a fear about something you’ve never feared before…but I have.

I was TERRIFIED about flying. When we went to Toronto I was more nervous about it than I have been ever before. But I kept thinking it was probably just because I was leaving the kids and it worried me to have both Zach and I gone at the same time. What if something happened to both of us, ya know? This time though, it was more than a little nervousness. I was freaking out. Actually the whole trip I was nervous about the flight. I have NEVER, no joke, prayed about something as much as I prayed about this flight. I had a terrible, terrible feeling about it. I really was about 85-90% positive that it was going to crash. My heart is racing just remembering it all. 

On the plane I couldn’t sleep. We had a direct flight from Rome to Atlanta. The entire way I watch four FULL movies (Justin Bieber, The Big Year, One Day, and My Week with Marilyn…I enjoyed them all!)  and 1 hour long tv show (some show called Face Off? It was STUPID) and took two breaks to pump. I literally didn’t sleep one tiny bit (and usually I pass out QUICK on a flight and can sleep easily). I’ve never had a panic attack before, but I really think I was having one (or something close to it) on the plane. I didn’t say anything to Zach about it because I was too afraid to speak it out loud. I kept having these visions of the plane breaking in half and I would look at the people around me on the plane and would see them flying out into the sky. I cried in the bathroom while pumping. I tried everything I could to NOT THINK. But my heart was pounding the entire way (and it was like an 11 hour flight). Seriously, I have anxiety just thinking about it.

I’m not sure what caused this fear??? Maybe it was how badly I missed my children?? I was subconsciously afraid that I’d never see them again??? Seriously though I talked to Zach about needing medication for the next time I fly. Our next flying trip will probably be to Vegas (another long flight too!) and I’m already dreading the flight. For a girl who loves to travel, a fear of flying is NOT COOL. I’m not going to let the fear affect me but I’m going to have to be medicated or sedated or something for at least the next couple of times we fly. Does anyone else have this fear??? How do you deal with it???  It’s SO STRANGE to me how this is an issue I’ve never had before and now it’s so horrible!!!

We had a long layover in Atlanta and we ate dinner and just relaxed before catching the flight into Valdosta. We were home before 9:00 at night. I had been awake for 23 total hours by the time we went to bed. I REALLY wanted to go to Mrs Charlotte’s that night and get the kids but I knew it didn’t make sense to wake them up and get them all excited. So we went home and slept and got up FIRST THING the next morning. I may have been tired but I had NO issues popping out of the bed at 6:15 to get to Mrs Charlotte’s before they woke up 🙂

Kye woke up and I raced into the room. He was SO SURPRISED to see me. It was the sweetest thing ever. We asked him later what his favorite thing that he did was at Gramma’s and G-Mama’s and he said “when you came home.” It melted my heart for sure!!! I could NOT stop kissing all over them and this time Brittlynn did remember us 🙂 I was excited to NURSE rather than pump and I nursed her at Mrs Charlotte’s house before we loaded them up and came home. We spent the whole day just cuddling and loving on each other!!!

Sights for sore eyes!!! Rocking out their new Italy shirts!

I know a lot of people judge me for leaving my children like I do. I know most people tell me “I could never do that!” It’s not like it’s easy for me to leave them. But I know that God calls me to ALWAYS put my marriage FIRST. Zach needs to come before Kye and Brittlynn. As a mama that’s a tough thing to remember. But it’s important. These trips Zach and I take together are important for US and for our marriage. Someday our children will grow up and have their own lives. I have to always stay mindful of that fact. 

I don’t want to be one of those mothers who makes my entire life about my children. I don’t want to be a “helicopter mom” or one whose daughter-in-laws and sons-in-laws hate me b/c I can’t cut the apron strings loose from my children. It’s my job to raise MEN and WOMEN. They will grow up. They will leave. As God calls them to do. And what will happen to Zach and I after our children are gone? By traveling like we do it’s a way to keep our focus on each other. It’s a way to ensure that we will still love each other and LIKE each other when our children do grow up and leave. Yes, we go on dates and such and I’m not saying if you don’t travel and leave your children that you’re not putting your marriage first…it’s just one way that we do it. We’ve always enjoyed traveling together and we don’t want to wait until we have an empty nest to take these trips. We live once. We want to enjoy traveling together while we’re young enough and healthy enough to do it!!! I also think it’s good for our children to see us spending that quality time together as it gives them an example to follow when they become married someday.

Also, I think it’s healthy for the children to have a break from ME. I’m a stay at home mom. They are with me ALL day EVERY day. We need time and space from each other. It’s healthy to have a little space at times and let them have a vacation too. They adore spending time with their grandparents. It’s nice for their grandparents to get that individual quality time with them and for them to stay at another house for awhile. It helps keep them good, easy travelers 🙂 It’s not a huge transition for them to stay with other people because they are on such solid schedules. Their routines stay exactly the same and we’ve never had any issues come from us leaving. We miss them WAY more than they miss us, for sure!!!

All of that being said…I will NOT be taking a trip this long away from them for awhile. By the end of it, I had a hard time enjoying myself. It was just too long. We had to go that long in order to fit everything in and I’m not saying I regret it in anyway, I just know I can’t do it again for a LONG time. 5 days is the PERFECT length for a trip and even that amount of time we won’t be doing again until October. 🙂 

When Zach first started with Aflac and we started going on all of our big trips I couldn’t ever understand how people would turn them down!!! I mean it’s a FREE TRIP. Duh! Now though, I get it. Now that we’ve been to so many places we will probably be more selective about which trips we go on. We will probably start trying to figure out ways to bring the children along when possible and when it makes sense to do so. We’ll also probably choose the money over some of the trips (Aflac will give you cash if you opt out of the free trip…but it’s only $500 and the trips are worth WAY more than that!). It’s about finding a balance, and I think we do a pretty good job of that 🙂 

I am SO thankful that the Lord blessed me with my amazing husband. Five wonderful years of marriage. Growing closer to each other, learning together, raising a family…it’s all so amazing and I couldn’t have ever imagined a better life for myself. I always knew I wanted to be a stay at home Mom but I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams in every area possible. I’m thankful we were able to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip like this. I’m thankful that we both value quality time together and both think travel is a valuable thing that is worth saving up for and worth experiencing!

In celebration of our 5 year wedding anniversary here’s a look back when we FIRST starting dating…early 2004 so 8 years ago 🙂

I’m also thankful we have people that we can trust with our children. Who do keep their schedules and take good care of them while we are away. And I’m especially thankful that after all of our adventures we are able to come home to these precious babies who we both love and cherish more than anything!


  1. vaughnm
    July 7, 2012 / 6:59 pm

    I feel the EXACT same way about flying!  I was never a nervous flyer until we had kiddos.  Our last trip made me so nervous that I decided I could never fly WITH  him again unless we had the kiddos with us.  I know it sounds crazy, but I am thinking our next trip we will take separate flights.  I just couldn't get over my anxiety thinking about my kiddos if something happened to the plane.  Not sure what to do about it, but you aren't the only one that thinks like that! Looks like you guys had a blast!  I say take the trips, because you guys are making some awesome memories!

  2. Sandimunson
    July 8, 2012 / 1:12 am

    I enjoyed your trip posts, it never felt like too many, your photos and descriptions were great as always.  BUT… my favorite post of the trip was the end of this one.  The reasoning for your trips and your heartfelt explanation as well as your obvious joy at coming home to those two adorable kiddos just leapt off the page!  Glad you had a fabulous trip, it is not a trip on my list of dream trips so I took it vicariously through you :)Happy belated anniversary, we celebrated 8 years the same weekend as your celebration!

  3. Chelley
    July 8, 2012 / 2:23 am

    I read every post on your Italy trip, and enjoyed it so much! I will say though, I didn't read for like 4 days last week and it took me an hour (or more!) to catch up, haha! Just like the comment below, I loved the end of this post. Chris and I have not yet traveled without the kiddos, but we were married 8 1/2 years before having them, so we got a TON of traveling in then. It's so refreshing to hear someone who believes (like I do) that your marriage MUST come before your kids. So many in the world DO NOT believe that, but it's how God wants it!

  4. Rachael_Copponex
    July 8, 2012 / 5:40 pm

    Weird how you developed a fear of flying, btu i agree 100% it is the kiddos thing.  I have heard of people taking seperate flights intentionally in case something happened.  Get some medication- or drink a few glasses of wine 😉  hahaSIDE NOTE I would have handed that ice cream back and said NO THANKS

  5. Madhuriananth
    July 9, 2012 / 1:46 pm

    Love ur dress! Where did u get it from????

  6. Brandy Andrews
    July 9, 2012 / 8:31 pm

    I love that you guys still take trips just the two of you!  I agree it is so important!

  7. Rachael_Copponex
    July 16, 2012 / 7:44 pm

    Where's my shirt?

  8. Rachael_Copponex
    July 16, 2012 / 7:45 pm

    You MIIIIIGHT have inspired me to travel to Italy.  I mean maybe.  I really have no desire to travel outside the US, so this is big.  But it's just a maybe.

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