2018 in Review

Happy New Year!

New beginnings inspire reflection. The journey to 2019 was incredibly memorable and rewarding…it was, without a doubt, the BEST year yet for our little family! It was a year of planting seeds, saying YES, taking risks and reaping the rewards. Here is a look back on all of the best moments of 2018. It was full of surprises, big steps, and proud moments!


In February, we sold our very first home to dear friends before we moved overseas. It was a very memorable chapter for us in Delaware!
All three kids learned how to ski their FIRST TIME! How exciting!
I took my first pottery class and fell in love. I want to find a way to continue this here in Hungary ASAP!
The kids had their first visit to my alma mater, St. Anselm College in New Hampshire! It was a proud moment to tour the campus with the new AD and see all the changes over 14 years!

ALL the countries we visited were “firsts” for mommy and the kids…

All three kids learned how to ICE SKATE their very FIRST TIME skating!


Derek became a MAJOR!
We are officially a family of bike riders! AND this girl no longer wears diapers, so we are finally DIAPER FREE!
This girl lost her first – FOUR! – teeth! And she is. no longer a thumb sucker. BIG milestones!
After 10 years of marriage and 20 years together, we (finally) paid off ALL of our debt! This showed us that hard work, discipline, planning, teamwork and persistence pays off! FREEDOM!


A quick sisters’ getaway in Vienna thanks to Billi’s big surprise trip to Hungary to see me!

Billi (and Derek, and everyone involved in executing this awesome around-the-world surprise) outdid herself, buying a plane ticket to visit us in Hungary 5 months in advance that just coincidentally landed on the day we moved into our new home. Everything about the visit was so perfect – except it wasn’t long enough! I will never forget how it felt in that moment when I realized she was HERE in my new home, across the planet. What love! I’m already looking forward to your next trip, sis! My blog about Billi’s visit is here, and a video of the moment of surprise can be viewed here.

We came a lonnnnng way to surprise you for your surprise retirement party, mom!
John Cariani from NYC, and me, from Hungary!

When my siblings and I found out that our mom would be retiring from education after 45 years, AND when she told us she expected to “slip out quietly,” we knew we had to act! This was the perfect opportunity for an epic series of surprises. Not only did Billi plan a beautiful surprise party with most of mom’s former coworkers, but several people came long distances to see her (including me!) and many of her former students sent me the loveliest videos to surprise her with a tribute video that day too. She was totally blown away! The highlights of the afternoon can be viewed here. Her response to all of the unexpected attention and appreciation was the best…but her reaction to realizing I was standing right next to her was priceless! Surprises are all about love…and mom is one well loved woman!

Meryl chooses her brand new puppy!

Meryl was the very first friend I met here in Hungary. We arrived at the same time in April, and happen to hail from the same region of the states, so we quickly learned that we “speak the same language” and hit it off from the start! We have already shared so many special moments, conversations, and adventures! Shortly after Meryl and her husband Josh moved here, they had a very tough loss. Their first dog, Luke, lost his battle with cancer, and they couldn’t be there to say goodbye. After many months of mourning and adjusting to life with only Moose, their Great Pyrenees, Meryl began talking about wanting another dog. What’s this we hear? Sounds like another opportunity for a surprise…aka showering the people you love with love! With her birthday coming up in January, her friends and I sprang into action! We searched and searched, and with the help of some local friends, managed to find the perfect litter of purebred golden retriever puppies that would be ready to take home on January 8th, just a week before her birthday! It was meant to be. With the blessing of Meryl’s parents and her husband Josh, the plan was set into motion and the most special “puppy surprise!” selection day took place. She chose the beautiful, gentle big boy above (no name yet!) and the surprise can be viewed here.

We are so thankful for the opportunities we have living here in Hungary, and we plan to savor it and make the most of every moment! I’m excited to see what the new year brings. We’re ready for you, 2019!

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