After the Storm

after the storm.4

after the storm.3

After the storm.1

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We've been having almost daily late afternoon thunderstorms.  (It reminds me so much of our beloved Colorado!).  Friday afternoon, I decided to grab my camera to catch some of the post-storm loveliness.  I think, in both life and nature, some of the best moments come right after the storm.

I hope you all are enjoying a nice, long weekend to kick off summer.  As we enjoy the pool, BBQ and birthday celebrations (at least at our house) may we not forget what today is really all about. 

This Week in My Kitchen

Once again I'm joining Heather for her This Week In My Kitchen blog hop (though I'm a day late).  








This week we were back in our own kitchen but our week was a bit different as we had two evenings and one whole day spent at soccer tournaments plus a sick day.  I also helped with a bake sale for a new private organization I'm involved with.  Thus, there wasn't a lot of cooking and was much more baking that I usually do in a given week (aside from bread).  

Jack and I did make the Layered Panigacci with Pesto and Ricotta which all five of us liked a lot (a major win!).  Morgan and I dug out my huge binder of recipes and made "Jim's Cupcakes" for the bake sale.  This is a recipe that my dad got from one of his best friends at least 20 years ago.  It's been our family's go-to ever since.  Both my sister and I noticed immediately when Heather shared a very similar recipe with great updates in one of her workshops.  

Connor also joined me in the kitchen when we made snickerdoodles for the bake sale.  Just the old fashioned, Better Homes and Gardens recipe for that.  

I have high hopes for next week.  It should be a bit less busy and I plan to be more deliberate in making time in the kitchen a priority.  


This Week in My Kitchen

This week (and hopefully for many to come) I'm joining Heather in sharing images from my kitchen.  This past week our cooking moved south as we were on vacation in Tuscany.  We also had (many) treats that we don't usually cook including s'mores.  It's become our tradition to take them every where we go to share with locals and others who may have not ever had them.  Yum! 









These Days





These days I'm…

Planning :: A girls’ trip to Paris with my mother/sister-in-law and a week in Tuscany over Easter break.

Listening :: To birds chirping in the mornings along with Haim, St. Paul & the Broken Bones and a variety of podcasts.

Moving :: Thanks to yoga, Barre 3 and a crazy loop from our town, up a hill ( small mountain) to the next town and back.

Dreaming :: Of a vacation somewhere tropical, just Jeff and I and knowing that I need to be dreaming of southern Italy, Croatia and the UK (with kids).

Thinking :: About summer plans and our last year in Italy. 

Watching :: Scandal and House of Cards.  I’m no longer shocked by any news I hear out of DC. 

Enjoying :: Each of the kids’ right as they are at 10, 8 and 7.  (Though I could do without some of the sass.)

Noticing :: How easy it is to get used to the sunshine and how much I miss it when it goes away.  I think Colorado spoiled me and moving back to the Pacific NW may be a tougher transition than I think.

Pondering :: Love, justice, why people focus on “the minors” and grace. 

Loving :: That all three of my babes are downstairs making birthday "surprises" for me. 

Feeling :: blessed, grateful, loved.


Clean Slates and Expectations


 I entered the New Year refreshed and energized, excited for all that was to come with the clean slate of a new year. 

I’m big on fresh starts, and clean slates. 

One reason I love Mondays is because they mark the beginning of 7 days of fresh starts.  My motiviation and enthusiasm is typically at its peak on Monday before reality (and the mundane) can kick in. 

The start of 2014 felt the same way. 

Our Christmas was lovely and the time off we enjoyed together was very needed.   I had some goals set for myself related to health, my volunteerism and getting back to my RHN program.  Jeff was eager to get back to work knowing that there were some big projects ahead. 

We knew that January and February would be a challenging 8 weeks as both boys would be playing basketball which meant two practices and a game for each every week.  On top of that, Jack would continue with soccer practice (and as it turns out a few games/tournaments we weren’t expecting).  

Sure, it would be crazy but we wanted to give the boys the opportunity to play.   Plus, we had all of these plans and new boundaries and goals.

We can do anything for 8 weeks.  It’ll be great.

While that’s true, now that we’ve lived those 8 weeks and seen how the hectic schedule affected us we’re reflecting on whether it’s something we’re willing to do again. 

Those goals and plans that seemed really realistic on January 1 take a lot of work.  Maintaining boundaries is hard when you’re already tired and overwhelmed.  Projects that you thought would go one way end up being something different.

It turns out, that 3 hours of drive time and 8 hours of practice each week while juggling Jeff’s schedule, ensuring homework was done and bedtimes were reasonable resulted in nothing less than craziness. 

We ended up in a state of constant rush and then, in an attempt to be respectful of the two kids that weren’t practicing, Jeff or I would hand them off to the other and hurry home for dinner and bed.

Jeff and I would finally meet on the couch at 8:30 or 9:00 exhausted (and often frustrated). 

March arrived with its sunny days, blossoming flowers and a little more margin in our days. 

We have had a few unexpected, challenges but I’m beginning to recover from the frustration and exhaustion and am now looking forward.

Yes, I now have with more realistic expectations but also the knowledge that I need to be firm in the boundaries we set as a family and those I set for myself. 

My goals and those of our family are important but they won’t happen on their own.  It takes time, dedication often going against the grain and sometimes saying no to good things. 

2013 in Review

January 7

January :: basketball, lunch dates and Connor turns 6


Eiffel Tower, Feb 2013

February :: Carnivale, snow and Paris



March :: cooking classes, Jeff goes to Texas, Mom & Fred visit and I turn 36



April :: Jeff does Seattle, Portland and NYC, light returns


Monday 3

May ::  Friends, Gymnastics and Jeff turns 37 


Not a shabby view.  Lake Garda

June ::  Morgan turns 8, Summer kick-off with friends at Lake Garda, summer fun 



July ::  Celebrating 14 years at the Opera in Verona, swimming, girls' trip to Florence 



August ::  Mondays at Barcis, more swimming, Switzerland 



September ::  a bit more swimming, back-to-school (1st, 3rd, 5th) and Italian Soccer



 October ::  More soccer, hikes, and Halloween



November ::  Alice & Mindy visit, Jack turns 10 and we give thanks with friends



December :: Jeff takes a quick trip to Belgium, we celebrate and let go.

This type of looking back is really fun for me.  Sometimes, it's hard to remember just how much fun we've had over the past year and this is a simple way to do just that.  While there is definitely a need to acknowledge the less fun aspects of previous 365 days, for me that's best done in quiet solitude.  (Also known as when the kids go back to school.)  

This past year has been especially full of connecting with friends.  New people have come into our lives and we're connecting more deeply with others.  For that, I'm especially grateful.  And the travel, Paris and Switzerland were huge highlights for all of us but there were smaller trips that were just as full of fun and memories.  

I do hope to be in this space more in 2014.  It's fun for me to write and share my images (and I know my mother-in-law especially appreciates my posts).  

It's strange to think about, but 2014 will bring us the first of our "lasts" here in Italy and with that will come the beginning of another shift for us and a reminder that if you want to come visit time is running out!  



The Season of Letting Go


Also known as Advent and Christmas 2013.

This has been the best Christmas for our family in several years. Maybe ever.

Our Advent was full of most of our usual traditions and activities. Some were let go of due to the ever-changing shift in what is age appropriate. I just didn't think I could squeeze hand and foot reindeer out of the kids another year. Our schedule was a bit busier with Jack’s soccer schedule continuing right up to Christmas and that meant fewer nights at home as a family. We added a few new things and embraced old favorites.

For the past eight months, Jeff's schedule has been much more regular than it has been in nearly two years. This is a huge help in planning and just plain old life living. It also means that he has been able to attend the kids' events, parties and other activities with us. 

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were nearly perfect. One of the biggest reasons was that I let go. I worked really hard this year to not worry if I didn't get all of the cookies made (no candy cane cookies this year) or that Christmas cards didn't happen or that the kids didn't get to shop for gifts for each other until Christmas Eve.

For me it was bigger than that. I'm a huge tradition girl. It's important to me to maintain traditions for our family so that regardless of where we are any given year it still feels like our Christmas. I've always clung to the things we do; new PJs, opening one gift, lasagna dinner at home and reading Luke 2 before bed on Christmas Eve.

The thing I realized this year is that clinging so tightly to traditions that I love has left me sad and lonely the past few years.

Some dear friends hosted an Open House on Christmas Eve and we went. It was slated to run from 1-6 which was perfect in my mind as that would still give us time to come home for our dinner and evening events.

These people have become like family as we’ve lived life and explored Europe together. It was a loud, joyful evening topped off laughter, gifts and food. Just like Christmas Eve should be.

Listen, I left our house that afternoon determined to stick with doing it all (including feeding my family lasagna because that’s what we do every year. Yes, I’m a slow learner.) As the hours passed, we realized we needed to head home to wrap up our day. We were all full in the best possible ways.

We came home and enjoyed the rest of our Christmas Eve traditions, deciding to save lasagna for Christmas lunch. Christmas day was full of gifts, movies, FaceTiming loved ones and a quick stop next door for prossecco and panettone.

It has struck me over and over the past few days that sometimes I cling so tightly to the things that connect me to the past and our extended family that I miss all the goodness that is right in front of me. While all of those things of old are great and have huge value, there’s just as much value in embracing the ebb and flow of the new, especially with the life that we are living.

Well, then.


So, there went October. Here's the thing about living in Italy. We're actually living in Italy. That means that work demands (or in my case, volunteerism) get crazy.  Soccer practice and games take place.  Friends throw parties and we have a tire blow on our way to Austria for the day.  (That was today's dose of real life.)  

The fact is, we've been in survival mode for the past two weeks.  Life has been crazy busy and I've been working hard to stay off the computer when the kids are home.  

Here I am.  

October came and went along with my 31 days…and I'm ok with that.  Even though it didn't all get put in writing or caught through the lens.  We lived out each day.  

Sometimes barely squeeking by but that's life. In Italy or in Seattle.  

Now we start stepping toward the holidays.  For November and December don't just mean Thanksgiving and Christmas but several big birthdays (10, 60 and 70!) with a few others thrown in, a visit from dear friends, travel, a few additional projects all along with the usual merriment.  

It will be good but it will be full and I want to choose each step carefully.