Thursday, December 10, 2009


November FLEW by us! It was a wonderful month, full of memories and activities! Of course we enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving at home, my parents flew out from CA to spend the holiday with us. They also were able to be here to celebrate Ellie's 5th birthday. Ellie and my mom share a birthday, its a pretty special thing! November 24th is a wonderful day. We had a Chinese food feast with our family in the area, Andy and Teresa and their kids, Dan and Kelly and their little ones, as well as Grant and Alene and cute Penn. I made beef and noodle stir fry, soup with dumplings, shrimp fried rice, and chinese bbq ribs. It was so good! Of course we had plenty of cake and ice cream too! The cousins had a blast running around together, it has been so great being so close together. Unfortunately Dan and Kelly are moving to Lemoore CA for his next set of orders (we are so happy for them) and Grant and Alene are hoping to match in San Diego for his intern year and residency in orthopedic surgery. We will definitely enjoy the last few times we will be all together!
Thanksgiving was a busy day of cooking. My parents were wonderful about helping to prepare the feast, and the girls helped me make the rolls and pies. It is so fun having them in the kitchen! (Most of the time). We enjoyed leftovers for DAYS afterwards, and now we are winding up to Christmas! Where does the time go!??
At this joyous time of year we are ever grateful for our health, strength and the love of family and friends. We miss GREATLY our friends in Naples. Italy was such a wonderful 2 years for us. We are looking to many great years and memories here in Maryland.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Is nearly over, I know, but I must enter a blog about this month, one of my favorites of the year.
We are officially 90% moved into our house, the other 10% will take about 3-4 years to complete, probably once Chris is done with med school, its just the way we roll! The girls and I are totally into a routine, which for me is so important. We spend our morning at the gym, run an errand or two, come home, eat lunch, Sophia takes a nap, Ellie and I do preschool. Our afternoons are pretty loose, we play, have a snack and the girls patiently await Daddy's return home from school. Ellie is in ballet once a week, and Sophia recently started gymnastics.

Both girls are doing so well, and I feel so incredibly blessed to be their mom. I love fall, the cool weather, the change of pace from the busy and yet lazy summer days. Instead of playing at the pool we spend our days in the backyard swinging on the new swing, or baking goodies.

Here are my top five things about October:
5. October for me officially begins the autumn season which means candy, pumpkins, costumes and Halloween!
4.The fall colors, leaves of every shade of orange, red, yellow and brown, EVERYWHERE
especially here in Maryland.
3. Pumpkin Picking with my kiddos
2. Cooler weather means sweaters and scarves!
1. Baking yummy goodies at home with the kids

I love making costumes for the kids. This year I tested my weak sewing skills with a lovely fairy princess costume for Ellie. It almost took my sanity, but the costume is finished! The girls looked so cute in their costumes at the ward's trunk or treat. My little Sophia in her monkey costume was a big hit. We are looking forward to November. Ellie will be turning five, which is totally a shock to me. She is totally a little girl now, responsible, helpful, sweet, SMART and funny. I love being around her. Sophia is constantly making me laugh, and is so sassy. She is fearless, brave and strong. I love that about her. My folks will be coming out for a visit and we look forward to taking them into DC and to other things close by. We are totally enjoying our new life that we are creating here in Maryland.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's September, where has the Summer gone??

Okay, I am really terrible at blog writing, which is strange since I love the internet, and am on here through out the day. So, here goes, quick recap of our whirlwind summer!

WE HAVE MOVED! We left our beloved Bella Napoli for the Eastern Coast of the US. We are now in Columbia Maryland, and we really love it! Chris is attending medical school at USUHS. He is really busy, as busy as he was in the fleet, and sleeping less! He is enjoying learning new things, and has just started his lab section where he has the opportunity to disect human bodies. Ewww! But seriously, here we are.

June was our last full month in Naples. Chris and I took a day trip to Capri without the kids, and it was a wonderful day, well deserved rest prior to our long voyage home. The kids and I hopped on a plane in Rome on July 2nd, headed to LAX. We spent a week in Disneyland with my parents, and my brother and his wife. It was a great way to get back into the groove by spending time at the Happiest Place on Earth! The girls LOVED Disneyland, and I loved being home. The next two weeks were spent trying to purchase a home in Columbia while I was in California, and Chris was still in Naples! It was a disaster. We finally decided on the home we are living in now, and are very pleased with our purchase.

After our two week stint in California the girls and I met up with Chris in Kent, WA for a Cochran family reunion. It was quite a week! We really enjoyed spending time with everyone, and really had fun at the Luau that Charlene and Deford put together for the family, complete with roasted pig! While in Washington we were putting the final paperwork together to be in our home once we arrived in Maryland. Unfortunately, we were not able to immediately move in once we arrived. By the time we signed the paperwork for our house on August 31st, we had stayed in 9 different places!! I was definitely ready to be in our house with or without furniture!! Our stuff arrived from Italy on September 8th, and the weekend prior we painted the inside of the house. It is now the 21st of the month, we have made great progress in getting through boxes and organizing the house. I am beginning to feel like this is my home. The girls are really loving their room, and our huge back yard. I just feel so blessed to be in a house again. So happy we are all safe, healthy and moving forward in this new path.

Some days I really miss Naples, and my friends. I just want to look out my window and see the Mediterranean Coast or taste some delicious Mozzarella di Buffala, or take a shopping trip to the local markets, pottery shopping on the coast, or planning our next trip around Europe. I know that the friends we made in Naples will be ours for life. The dream of living in Naples was one that came with highs and lows, but the overall experience was incredible. I would do it again. I hope we can spend another tour over seas somewhere. Europe is a fantastic place to live. Italy is an incredible place, truly a 'dream that will follow me throughout my life'. One that I hope to return to again, and again.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Trips trips trips!

Well, we have really been enjoying the spring weather here. Its been a little unpredictable sometimes, but the sun and flowers in bloom are so uplifting. It's the middle of April and we are beginning to wonder if we are going to be here another year. Some days I am very anxious to go home, buy a house, return to normal life...have some conveniences again. Other days I look out my window and can't believe I live in Italy...its a crazy feeling.

Chris and I took a quick trip to Austria in March to visit Salzburg and Vienna. It was wonderful and COLD! It was wonderful to see where Mozart was born, and walk the streets where composers such as Beethoven, Strauss and Mozart were kings. It was great! The food was wonderful and the people were lovely. I loved Salzburg the most, it still has a quaint charm, not so over run with tourism.
Spring break in April we took the kids and went to Provence, France. We travelled with two other familes, and the kids had a great time. We rented a "Chateau" in a little town south of Arles, France. The accomidations weren't really what we had hoped for, but we made the best of the situation. We took frequent day trips to the surrounding towns, and my favorites were Aix en Provence, Arles, Nice and Pont du Gard. French food is so wonderful! The cheese is fabulous. We met a couple that cooks for travelers in the area, and they made us two wonderful dinners, and we hope to keep in touch with them over the years. On our way home from France, we took a detour and stopped in Milan. I couldn't pass up seeing Da Vinci's "The Last Supper". It word: amazing. I am so glad we didn't miss it!

Easter was a very busy day. Some friends of mine from Fresno were due to arrive for a visit, so Chris and I worked diligently to get the guest room ready again and get the house organized. The girls loved hunting for their easter baskets, and they enjoyed dyeing eggs. Both girls looked so darling in their Easter dresses, I look forward to being perhaps near to family next year for Easter, I miss being able to share these moments with them. Happy Spring Everyone!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Holiday Joy!

We had such a busy wonderful holiday! First, we spent five days up in Garmisch, Germany. The girls had a wonderful time playing in the snow, making snow men and snow angels. We visited the Neuschwanstein castle, also known as Cinderella's castle. It was a very foggy day when we visited, but the interior was beautiful and the tour was interesting. Ludwig II of Bavaria built the castle as homage to his friend the composer Richard Wagner. The castle is entirely painted in scenes from the composer's operas and works. (As a singer, this was really cool!) We also spent a day visiting Munich, and had a great time shopping at the Christmas market, and ate lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. We also made a day trip to Oberammergau, home to the Passion Play
The Oberammergau Passion Play was first performed in 1634 and is the result of a vow made by the inhabitants of the village that if God spared them from the effects of the bubonic plague then sweeping the region they would perform a passion play every ten years. The play is now performed in years ending with a zero, except 1984 which was the 350th anniversary, and involves over 2000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technicians, all residents of the village. (
Germany is so beautiful, clean picturesque. So charming! I would love to return.

After our trip to Germany, we came home and had a lovely Christmas. The girls got their new jeep, and Sophia especially has really enjoyed it. Ellie got several barbie dolls, and sophia got elmo books and a new elmo plush doll. We enjoyed dinner at our good friends' the McCullaum's.

The day after Christmas was spent in the car travelling to Sicilly! Chris was so sweet and planned a trip for my birthday. We loved Sicilly, it is an amazing place. Lots of history and interesting sites packed into a small island. We loved Taurmina. Unfortunately, it was raining most of the time we were there, but we enjoyed our stay. I had a great birthday, and Chris took me out to dinner once we got home to celebrate even more!

New Year's Eve was spent again at the McCullaum's house, great food, fun games and fantastic fire works, courtesy of Naples. We are excited for what the new year will bring!

Garmisch, Germany

Christmas Morning:

Ellie and Rachel McCullaum Singing on Christmas Day: