At the Apple Orchard

At the orchard

One of the things we love about where we live is that there are very few Americans.  That might sound bad, but we really hope to take full advantage of our time here in Italy by immersing ourselves in the culture and community.


We have been blessed with having wonderful neighbors on either side of us and we’ve especially connected with one family.  It’s actually the Grandma and Grandpa that live next door but as with most families here, their children and grandchildren are there very often.   They own the flower shop in our town and part of that shop is a 200 tree apple orchard.  Their apples are primarily used to make vinegar however this year they are also making something similar to prosecco.  (YUM!)

This weekend was apple harvest weekend and we spent our Saturday morning picking apples.  It was such fun. Not only were we able to enjoy the gorgeous early Autumn weather but we made connections with our friends and neighbors.  (And helped them out in the process).

Apple blossom in Autumn

Wins all around. (And clearly some of the trees are a bit confused as to the time of year.)

A and M at the orchard

Excited and Nervous



Our three started school this week.  Connor returned to his Asilo for one more year while Jack and Morgan started at the elementary school in our town.  For them, this is the third school they have attended in the past year.  As one, who save the first seven months of kindergarten, attended the schools in the same neighborhood with the same kids for the first 13 years of education that’s hard to swallow.

To be honest, it’s not my first choice for them.  But as a military family there are some (okay, many) situations we can’t control and we have to make the best of those when they come our way.

For many reasons, we decided that sending the older two to the American school last year was the best choice at the time.  However, our ultimate hope was to send them to Italian school as that seems to be too good of an experience to miss.  About mid-way through last school year we knew that they would be moving even though it meant another transition.   After meeting with the teachers and seeing the school, I knew that while it would be hard, it would be a great move.

Bags are packed


As we prepared for school to start I asked the kids to tell me what made them excited about the transition as well as what they were nervous about.

The answer to both:  going to Italian school.

Their responses really struck me.  As I thought about it in the following days it occurred to me that the same can be said about most of the very rewarding experiences in life.  The thought of them actually happening makes you feel excited and nervous, often at the very same time.

1st day of Italian school


When Monday morning finally rolled around we were all a bit nervous.  Stomachs were queasy and this mama was on the brink of tears as we walked to school.  I knew this was the best decision and that it was really a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I’m so excited for all three of them to leave here fluent in Italian and for our entire family to have spent our time here so immersed in the Italian life.

Yet it will be hard.  It already has been.

We are now three days in and so far things are going even better than I’d hoped.   There are still nerves, of course.  But each day both kids walk out of those school doors with big smiles on their faces and tell me that they had a great day.






Connor's first day of School


As for Connor, he too had a big adjustment.  Last year.  We had days when he clung to me crying because he didn’t want me to leave.  Yet this year, he couldn’t get back to school fast enough.  He’s nearly fluent in Italian (for a 5 year old) and he loves his teachers and classmates.  That is an amazing reward.

In the Garden

Having a new yard brings all kinds of surprises.  This one has had many more than any of our other yards (probably combined).  We have our first rose garden, the hydrangea that I’ve been pining for and pear trees that seem to be very fruitful.  We also have an unimaginable amount of weeds.  From what we’ve been told, the yard has been properly cared for in about 20 years.  That means a lot of work for us.
We love it and are moving slowly but surely (and with the help of paying the kids in 15 minute increments to weed).  We’ve tended to what was already here and put in a garden which we are watching in anticipation.

I thought I’d share a glimpse around the prettier parts of our yard.

First rose.

We’ve lived in 6 houses so far and these are our first rose bushes.  This one smells like lemon.

Pear babies

We have at least five pear trees and they all seem to be fruit bearing.  I see a lot of canning in our future.

Wild strawberry

Oh, wild strawberries.  You vixen.  You’re so cute on the surface and then I look closer and see your vines everywhere.  The chicks love your fruit so you do have an up side.

Bees and flowers

I have no idea what this is.  I really wish I was more knowledgeable when it comes to plants.  I loved watching this bee do his thing.

Yarrow, I think.

I think this is yarrow.  It seems it’s popping up not only all over my yard but in tons of my reading material.  Whatever it is, I like it.

Week in the Life {Tuesday}

I’m a huge Ali Edwards fan.  I’m not a scrapbooker but I love her perspective on life and how she documents the daily things.  Last week she documented a week in her life.  I noticed several people doing the same via their blogs and I thought I’d follow suit.

I have no grand plans of documenting what we do each minute or even every hour.  My hope is to catch a glimpse of our days for us to remember and share.

Games at dawnI

The light coming through our rolldown shades always makes such cool shapes.  Plus it makes the messy areas look better.

My boys

Jack was up much of the night with a cough.  Connor had a school holiday.  They hung out all day.

Always laundry

Laundry, always laundry.

Headed to the bus stop.

This was my view as I walked to the bus stop to get Morgan.  Pretend you can feel the 80 degree temps.

Jack, a book and a 35 year old blanket

This boy of ours loves to read.  See that blanket, it was made for me when I was born.  Yes, 35 years ago.  That’s vintage, right?

Dinner prep, Morning edition and homebrew

I love to listen to NPR’s Morning Edition on Oregon Public Broadcasting (yahoo iPad) while I make dinner.  Tonight I also had some home brew.

No words.


No words.  I just love them.


The past few weeks have been very full.  Not only have we been in the midst of a major change in Jeff’s work schedule but my sister and her family have been visiting for three weeks (with one more to go!).  We’ve been busy traveling, playing, adjusting and living.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Slowly and steadily, I’ll be returning.

A Little of This and a Little of That

Wednesday Morning

This morning didn’t get off to a very good start. Actually, it really is last night’s fault. I had a commitment right after dinner and Jeff left for one right after I got home. Amidst the craziness, the kitchen didn’t get completely clean, clothes weren’t laid out and I stayed up too late reading. Throw in a rough night with bad dreams and coughing kids, I decided to sleep in until just before the kids got up.

Not a good idea.

I relearn this lesson every few weeks (yep, call me a slow learner) get back on track and then decide after a few good mornings that I really don’t need that hour to wake up, read a little, empty the dishwasher, start lunches, etc. I’ve spent all morning trying to make up for those darn 30 minutes and it’s not happening.


I got to catch up with a dear friend yesterday. She shared some about her recent month long, extreme focus on whole foods. The results amazed me. It felt like another gentle reminder that I’m on the right path. We’re continuing to make additional improvements and changes in our own family as well. It feels good.


School has been a struggle for our three since we got here. There is a whole host of reasons for that but it has been heartbreaking for me as all three of them always loved school in the past. They are too young to not be excited to go see their teachers and classmates each day. We’re gearing up to make some changes next year. Rather than all three of them being at the American school on base, Connor will stay at his asilo one more year and Morgan and Jack will move to the Italian elementary school in our town. We’ve spoken with lots of different people, toured the school, met the teacher and are making plans to ease the transition. It will be hard. I have no doubt about that. But in the end, our hope is that it will be so worth it. This is after all, the experience of a lifetime.

right path

A Breath of Fresh Air

Thankfully, my mood lifted significantly after my last post.  We have had a really great week.  Jeff has been off and we’ve enjoyed hanging out just the five of us.  Somedays, were spent just hanging out at home and others we were out and about.  Of course there have been moments, every family has those, but overall it’s really been delightful.  I guess that’s the good thing about having such a hard Christmas is that the next one can almost always be better.  So, after last year with Jeff in Iraq and the rest of us enduring “Puke Fest 2010” I should have known it would be good.


On Friday, we loaded up the car and drove to Trieste for the day.  As soon as we stepped out into the ocean air I felt at peace.  Once again I was reminded that the water is my happy place.  I mentioned that to Jeff but of course he already knew.  That’s why we were there.  Our main destination was Miramare Castle.  It was beautiful.  We did go in and all enjoyed that but the best part was walking around the grounds and surrounding park.  More than one of us commented that it was like being at the zoo (without the animals, of course!).    We enjoyed a delicious lunch (fettuccine frutti di mare for me, yum!), walked along the water a bit and then headed home.

new jammies

We spent Christmas Eve mainly at home.  I used the morning to prep dinner and breakfast for the following day.  We watched movies and hung out.  There is a town near us, Poffabro, that has several hundred nativities set up.  Hoping to miss the crowds and parking nightmare, we went in the late afternoon and enjoyed walking through the town.  After that it was our traditional lasagna for dinner, new pjs, FaceTime with Grammy and Grandpa then reading the Christmas Story from Luke.

The Christmas Story

Sharing the duties

Jeff read most of it but Jack read the last few verses.  I loved that they shared the duties.

Checking out their stockings


Spy Connor

I woke at 4:55 to sweet Connor saying “I can’t believe it is Christmas, I’ve waited the whole calendar for today.”  How can you argue with that?  He cuddled with us until 5:30 when Jack and Morgan came in and we headed downstairs.  The day was full of gifts, more FaceTime, guitar hero, playing with new toys and just hanging out.  Jeff and I each even took naps.  It was like a breath of fresh air.  Just what we needed.


On Monday we got back in the car and headed up into the mountains to sled.  My word are the Dolomites gorgeous!  We found more snow than we expected (and thus weren’t fully prepared) but we enjoyed a few runs, a picnic lunch and coffee at the rifugio. The kids fell asleep on the way back so Jeff and I were able to enjoy the view and some actual conversation.

On a walk/ride

Yesterday was another chill at home day as is today.  We went down to the bike/walk trail this morning and it felt good to get some exercise and fresh air.  Jeff’s back to work tomorrow so I’ll need to be on my game for the long days ahead with all three home until next week.

It feels good to have caught our collective breaths heading into the new year.  I hope each of you feel the same way.

Here we go.

Venice canal

One of the first places we wanted to visit when we got here was Venice. Jeff was here years ago on his way home from a deployment and always said it was the favorite of all the cities he’s every visited. So, our second weekend in Italy we hopped on a train and headed to Venice. I should have been a bit concerned when we saw at least five cruise ships in port. But it didn’t really register until we started walking around.

Holy cow, that is a lot of extra tourists in an already very busy city.

Don’t get me wrong, Venice is beautiful. But I was a bit disappointed. Jeff had built it up so much and our experience with the kids was a bit different than his (with friends, at age 22, after 6 months in the middle east and with likely vast amounts of wine involved).

We didn’t plan our visit well enough and started following the signs to St. Mark’s square but that’s a long walk when your four, six and seven. Plus, despite how often we tell them what a great opportunity living here is, our three still haven’t fully grasped the idea of going on a trip to see the pretty sights. They want to know what we are going to do.

Our only saving grace was the gelato.



St Mark's

Outdoor cafe in Venice

So, yes, we did go to Venice. We had a nice lunch, saw some sights and had a few family “moments.” Thankful for all of it and the reminder to adjust expectations.

Experiences, indeed.

Benvenuti Tour

The first week we were here in Italy was spent house hunting and getting settled. The highlight for me (besides finding a house) was taking part in a welcome tour.  I went solo as someone had to be able to get the kids from school.

Not only was it a great opportunity to get out and see the local area it was also incredibly helpful as our guides pointed out local shopping areas, taught us how to ride the train, and took us to one of the local wineries.  Plus, we enjoyed a fabulous three-course lunch.


Italian prettiness

Pews in Pordenone

The altar

Waiting for the train

At the winery

A vineyard in Roveredo

A Day in Italy

Ciao, amici!

There is so much to catch up on.  Not only have we been living in Italy for five weeks already but we had much excitement leading up to our move.

For now, I thought I’d share images from yesterday.  Just a day in the life here in our Italian home.

Thursday 1

The view from our wash room balcony as I hung laundry at sunrise.

Thursday 2

Another angle from the washroom balcony. The persimmon tree huge.

Thursday 3

Our dining room with fruit fresh from the weekly market.

Thursday 4

Looking out the dining room window.

Thursday 6

Planning food for the freezer (aka Jeff’s lunches).

Thursday 7

The focus is off but I loved how the light came through our shutters.

Thursday 5

A sick boy lounging in the family room.

Of course, what these images don’t show are the many boxes still hanging out in the hallways.  We’re close but not there completely.

More soon including Disneyland, Venice and the Cougs in Colorado.