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Househunting in North Carolina

Meanwhile Paul and I were trying to figure out what life is like in North Carolina. Here’s what we found. Natives love the fact that you can get to either mountains or the beach, either one in 3 hours max. The Research Triangle of Raleigh-Durham seems to be teeming with interesting, educated people from all over, all finding good jobs with award-winning companies right here. The local YMCA seems to be teeming with vibrant families seeking everything from mini swimming lessons to “Mommy’s Morning Out” nursery school programs. I’ve never been to a Y before but apparently that will change if and when we arrive in NC!

In both Charlotte and Raleigh there were many, many strip malls and shopping centers plus more housing developments than one could ever count. Neither are our style but lucky for us, there were also charming downtown areas, historic houses, bungalows and more than a few “farmettes”, a term one realtor used to describe my dream of a nice house on 5 or 10 acres full of rolling hills, chickens, dogs and maybe a miniature goat or two. Plus, they’re located withing a reasonable commuting distance from Research Triangle Park, a likely location for Paul’s next job. So, we’ll see! (Also, we test drove the car I’ve had my eye on. The Mazda CX-9, a 7-seater crossover with such great reviews that I nearly bought one the moment I finally laid eyes on it. I didn’t. But I will!)

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Happy Halloween

We’re behind. So. Far. Behind. But it’s Halloween and I couldn’t resist skipping ahead to our latest adventures. And by that I mean, we had 15 kids plus parents and 1 million mini candy bars in our house this weekend.

It all started with a chicken costume. Last year I begged/coerced Paul’s mom into making it for us. Naturally Phoebe refused to wear it. Ever. Not that it mattered because we didn’t have anywhere to go. No Halloween festivities that we knew of, so… Cut to this year when our two-year old “big girl” is all about dressing up. She even put on last year’s outfit for the invitation.

Then it was one garden gnome and one flower, ordered online in the US and delivered by Ben and Mary during their fall visit.

The party was fun, full of food, candy and of course, the Monster Mash. You can see more pictures on the new and improved Foodlets now!


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Lavender fields

One of Paul’s only requests during our week in Provence was to see a lavender field. The other was to sit by the pool.

We found one at Senanque Abbey near the hilltop town of Gordes, which is totally beautiful and full of spa hotels, just as a note.

It was a great day for taking pictures.

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Phoebe’s 2nd Birthday Party

The garden party was somewhere between a complete disaster and a pretty good day. On the plus side, we had sunny weather, friends, food and a pink tutu. On the annoying side, the picnic tables that I expected to use were all “reserved” when we arrived that morning.  And by reserved, I mean other people’s Italian grandparents were parked at each one with a newspaper and morning coffee, just waiting for the rest of their party to arrive. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible for our group since the Atlantic Ocean separates our grandparents from the party space.

So, to the benches we went. Laying out the carefully prepared food, drinks and cakes. The nearby playground made up for the impromptu picnic setting. And the dirt cups were a hit–even though they were packed with “secret” ingredients like spinach, berries and wheat germ. Yep, Phoebe is that kid. At least so far.


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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 4 fully loaded ships.


In 2010, there were 118 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 373 posts. There were 400 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1gb. That’s about 1 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was February 1st with 357 views. The most popular post that day was Welcome Phoebe Ann Mathews .

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for rome report wordpress, romereport, phoebe ann mathews,, and what does spqr mean.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Welcome Phoebe Ann Mathews May 2009


About Us November 2008


What does SPQR mean? January 2009


Carter (2001-2010) February 2010


Say it with a shirt: Phoebe’s big news August 2010

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We did it again

We flew from Rome to Florida this week, 21 hours of travel. With a 14-month old. Who walks. A lot.

There were some laughs, some tears and a few other fluids involved as well. I wouldn’t say it was our easiest trip but we’re in Palm Bay now and it’s been very fun ever since we arrived.

Photos to come (beach, pool and cousins!) and Seattle is next. Wish us luck!

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2009: Our family’s first, the aughts’ last

We’re about to ring in a new year, a new decade and here’s the scene in Rome: Phoebe’s asleep, Carter’s sacked out, pasta is cooking on the stove and Paul is working at his computer. Unless something drastic happens between now and midnight, I’d say the next decade will likely look a lot like the first…but who could mind?

Best arrival: Phoebe Ann in May (second: Carter in March)

Phoebe’s first family member to visit: Charlene

Number of countries visited: 6, not including Italy


Phoebe’s first plane ride: to Amsterdam

Most difficult task: finding an apartment in Rome

Weirdest apartment toured: tie between the triangle kitchen and the dropped ceiling with florescent lighting


Number of castles toured: countless

Number of times visited Villa Borghese: (see above)

Best Italian speaker in the house: Charity

Best Italian listener in the house: Paul


Hottest month: August, near 100 degrees

Number of visitors to Rome: 9

Classes attended: Italian (Paul – 3 & Charity – 1), Natural Childbirth (Paul & Charity), Bible Study Fellowship (Charity)


Fitness plans/best intentions: yoga (Paul – hot, Charity – prenatal), aquagym (Charity), sit-ups/push-ups/squats (Paul & Charity)

Favorite foods: all (Phoebe)

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Phoebe’s first Thanksgiving

Her first holiday has come and gone. Thanksgiving this year was spent with friends–American, Italian, British and Colombian–all eating turkey at Molly and Giuseppe’s gorgeous family villa in Sabina. Except Phoebe. She ate pureed apples. But the eager look on her face definitely said “grateful”, so she gets it.

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Happy Halloween!



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