Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking back at 2013

It's the morning of New Years Eve here in Bella Napoli and I find myself reflecting back over the past year.  It's that time of year when people decide to change their lives and come up with how, yet never plan to stick to them.  I was just looking over my goals for 2013 and realized I really didn't stick to mine either.  Here is my recap...

1. Become a better cook.  Well, when you have 3 little mouths to feed and they aren't too interested in trying new things, I stayed in my confort zone. 

2. Craft more, work my CTMH business...  I did that!  I got my Cricut machine buzzing and made so many projects, started making cards to sell, and got myself involved with some opportunities in the community here in Napoli.  I didn't see my sales reach the levels I wanted, I had fun being creative and it will all come together.  The best part is I'm HAVING fun crafting again!  I have a sweet craft room and hopefully I can get more people to join me down in my basement.

3. Run-Run-Run!  Well, we did one half marathon and one marathon, the "Original" in Athens.  It was amazing to say I ran a Marathon FROM Marathon to Athens.  Will I do one again... Not sure.  ;) I did log some miles not sure how many, I did find that I was happier when I was running.  

4. Raise funds and awareness for the Semper Fi Fund.  I feel we did that, we raided over $1500 from our runs and have raised over 50% of our total goal.  Thanks to everyone who helped so far!!!  If you would like to help us reach our goal, head over to  Or better yet join our team!  The more people we have sharing the Semper Fi Fund the better!  

So there you have it...  NOW for 2014...

1. Run-Run-Run!  Not sure how many half marathons or if I will ever do a marathon again.  One thing I know running makes me happy and as long as I can run, I will be logging some miles.  We found out that it's 6474 miles from Bella Napoli to Beautiful Carlsbad, so we are going to try to "Run Home". I would like to log 1200 miles this next year.  Better lace up those shoes and pound some serious pavement.  It will be a whole family event, let's see how far we can go.

2. Craft more, work my business, and have fun!  It's funny how it's my 'job' to craft and I'm so far behind on so many projects.  I'm going to focus the first part of the year on getting caught up on our travels, Christmas album, and the younger 2 baby albums.  After that I'm going to work on my hubby's college years and his Marine life up until now.  Look for more blog updates about crafting and traveling, too.  

3. Travel more!  We did a great job last year of going to new places and yet the list keeps growing.  I would like to visit more in and around Napoli, we seem to forget that we have cool places right here.  AND it's cheaper when we don't have to pay for 5 plane tickets or hotel rooms.

4. Focus on learning... Italian for the hubby and I, keeping track of standards for the girls (Italian school are SO different than California), and increasing our little guys vocabulary and get him off his Speech IEP.  I find that my understanding of Italian has improved and I'm starting to try to say more, then I get nervous and end up speaking in English.  Really need to just put myself out there and laugh if I get it wrong.  

5. Have Fun and Be Awesome!  These are the kids goals!  I love how they keep it real.  When talking about what they want to do in 2014, their answers were simple.  Study hard, learn lots, travel, have fun, and (my favorite from my little guy) PLAY ALL THE TIME!!!  Yes, he did yell it and right in my face.  Love him!  I always say "Be Awesome" to the kids.  Not in a bragging way, just be you and everyone will see how amazing you are.  My parents had sayings growing up, "Keep your powder dry" and "remember who your mother is" I think those would go over the kids heads right now.  So "Be Awesome", it is!

There you have it, 2014 is going to be the best year for Team Martin.  Watch out world, we are coming and we are going to "Be Awesome"!  

Happy New Year!  Felice Anno Nuovo!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Oktoberfest 2013 and a few Small Countries

Sometime in late spring/early summer I got an email from a friend who said why don't you join us for Oktoberfest.  It took me all of 2 seconds to respond with YES!!!  COUNT US IN!!!  We went to Oktoberfest in 2006 and were excited to be going back.  In planning the trip we decided we would drive, it was the best way for us to hit a few other spots on the way up and back.  So the first stop was the Republic of San Marino, a small country totally surrounded by Italy.  A very nice little place, we spent the afternoon walking around, exploring the castle and had dinner overlooking the Italian country side.  The views were amazing.
License Plate in San Marino
 Then a night outside of Bologna and off to Germany via Austria!  Once in Bavaria, we stayed in a great little town, Murnau am Staffelsee.  It was just want this Momma needed, a great Germany town full of happy Germans and good beer around every corner.  We started our tour with a visit to a great brewery and then the next day into Munich for some Oktoberfest fun and it was fun.  We started out in the Oilde Weisn, which is the more traditional/family friendly part.  There was music, dancing, food, and of course BEER!  After a few hours in the tent it was time to venture out.  We rode some of the fun rides, had some yummy fest food, and hit a few tents.  This picture is taken inside the Lowenbrau tent, hands down one of my favorite.  

 The music was fun, the people were great, and our little guy fell asleep!  He was quite the novelty, as many people took pictures with him.  Such a little smoozer even when he is asleep.  From there we headed back to Murnau via the train, it was a great day and everyone was ready for bed after a long day of whooping it up.  The next day it was back into Munich for a bike tour with the kids.  What a great way to see the city, via a bike… only in Germany!  We had a fun tour guide and the kids enjoyed riding and seeing the sights.  A lunch break with a playground was a big hit and we all enjoyed a pretzel (adults had beer too!).  Another night of good sleep, being in the fresh air will do that to you.  On our last full day in Germany (sadly), we did walking tour of Munich with a visit to the Hafbrauhaus before going back to the Weisn.  After some more rides and yummy fair food, it was time to head back to the train station and head back to the hotel.  The next day was German Unification day, so the fest was packed, people were getting silly, and I had had enough of dealing with people.

One of the things we did the first European Tour was visit Liechtenstein, unfortunately we forgot our passports.  This time I was ready, we were getting a stamp and it didn't matter how much it cost.  The drive through the Alps was beautiful and the kids missed most of it due to iPad time and naps.  Ugh!  Once we got to the small country to Liechtenstein we found some license plates to take some pictures.
 This is now becoming a thing with us, so why not keep up the tradition!  If anything it is a great way to show the kids the different country codes.  We spend time walking around and even sent ourselves a postcard with local stamps.  Then it was over to the Liechtenstein Postage Stamp museum for some fun.  The kids were able to draw their own stamps and I took a few pictures of the stamps with my stamps, sorry Sticky Boys!

It was getting late, so back into the car we all went.  We took the Swiss route back into Italy, thru the Lake District (amazing) and finally stopped in Parma for the night.  Too bad we had to get home to Bella Napoli the next day, it would have been nice to get some cheese.  :)  All in all it was a great trip and one all of us will remember for a while.  More Italian fun coming up, involving some chocolate and some wine.  All good things here in Italy!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Paris in the Fall!

 Oh la la!  Paris in the Fall, the leaves were changing, the weather was cool, and the rain didn't stop the whole time we were there.  No worries, we have (well most of us) been to Paris before and know all that goes with the 'City of Lights'.  We arrived and after finding our hotel we went to the Jardin du  Luxembourg.  This set of gardens also has the Palais du Luxembourg built for Maria de Medici, queen of France from 1600 to 1610.  Now houses the Senat, the upper house of the French parliament.  The kids weren't interested in that once we found an awesome park to play in.  Didn't matter that it was misting/raining on us, the playground was protected by huge trees and only a few drops would come down every now and then.  It was just what our kids wanted to do after being in the car for 3 hours, a plane for 2, a train for 1 and then the Metro for 30 minutes.  Yes, it took us over 6 hours from our house to the hotel!

The next day we took the Metro out to the main train station and out to Disneyland Paris where they are celebrating 20 years since they opened.  It was fun to be back at Disney, a little different since the announcements were in English and French, not English and Spanish.  The kids really enjoyed themselves and we never got rained on, it was just grey sky like the picture above.  We ALL went on Big Thunder Mountain, the first time for the younger two.  That is a memory I will have for ever, I got to sit by them and listen to them hoot and holler with excitement and then a little bit of fear set in.  Really hope I didn't do too much damage to them.  There was a classic Disney parade and the kids loved singing, dancing, and waving to all their favorite characters.

Saturday found us back in Paris and ready to see all of the city via the Hop On/Hop Off tour bus.  We walked from our hotel over to the Notre Dame, in a downpour, and went to the center of Paris!  The picture on the right is of Sticky Boys by the marker stating it's the center of the city.  There was no real line and everyone was jumping in front of each other to take their picture.  I totally channeled my inner Italian and just went in.  Quickly (and in front of some nice college girls), I took this picture and then 3 more of my 'other' children.  I don't think the girls knew what happened, as I was finished with my shots in a matter of 60 seconds.

Then it was off to see more of the city, via the bus.  We hopped off at the Champs Elysees and walked to the Arc de Triomphe.  As we were walking back down the Champs, we saw a car on fire.  It was amazing and the people around us thought it was something out of a movie, looking for the cameras.  Silly tourists!!!  We popped into Haagn Dazs for ice cream, it's now become a tradition to eat ice cream in each city we visit.  Then it was back on the bus headed to the most iconic tourist trap in all of Paris, the Eiffel Tower.    We walked up to the second floor, yes walked, looked around and headed back down the stairs.  It was a great day and despite the rain we all had a great time in Paris.  Adieu pour l'instant!