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August 30, 2013

Welcome Martina

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I have been VERY busy for the past two weeks, but for a GOOD reason. We have welcomed Martina, our new Italian exchange student into our home, family and hearts.
This was not a planned "adoption". When Federico left us in June, we had no plans for another teenager, but I believe things happen for a reason. Two weeks ago, I was included in a thread on Facebook, where a group of expats from Italy, and a couple Slow Travel friends were discussing something. I was "friended in", and learned that two students, Martina from Italy, and Marie from Norway had been placed in an abusive situation in Nebraska. They were removed and now had no host family. I spread the word to dozens of friends, neighbors, and families from Palm Desert High School, to see if I could find a family for Martina. She is from Lecce, in Puglia, (close to my mother's town, and very close to where Federico's paternal grandparents live) and I wanted to help her.
It was a few days of emails, texts, facebook messages and skype calls. The girls were very upset and still saw their BAD host mom every day as she worked at the high school they were attending. When I spoke with Martina, she melted my heart. By then, through the grapevine she had learned of my blog, and read all about Federico's year with us. When she said, "I just want to go to school and study and have host parents who will take care of me and love me", my heart melted. I hung up the i-Pad, looked at Brad, and we both said, "We HAVE to take her!" We decided we needed to speak to Federico first, as it was a "family decision", and we wanted him to know the circumstances that had changed our decision to have another exchange student. Of course he was fine with it, and actually encouraged us. He friended Martina on FB, told her about his great "Mom & Dad" in Palm Desert, his high school and how it was "the best year of his life". We were quickly processed in 3 days (new application, criminal check, house photos, interview, school, school district letter, etc.), and Martina flew out last Sunday (to Las Vegas where I was attending a sorority sister reunion weekend), and on Sunday afternoon, we drove back to Palm Desert to meet Dad and Luigi! It has been a whirlwind! This week, we moved not just mountains, but mountain RANGES to get her Norwegian friend out of Nebraska.She is on a plane TODAY to San Diego to live with her new host family, Casey, Sarah, Noah and Gabriel (MY wonderful GODCHILDREN!)

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Martina speaks fluent Spanish, French, German English, and of course, Italian! She got all her classes at PDHS and starts Tuesday. She enjoys, cooking, baking, photography and SHOPPING! What a fun year we have in store!

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September 2, 2013

Day Trip to Escondido

We decided to get Martina and her friend, Marie together for a Labor Day weekend BBQ with their new host families! The girls were happy to be together and meet each other's host families.

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Proud Dads: Casey and Brad

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Happy Moms: Sarah and Palma

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Silly girls:

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Uncle Casey:

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We enjoyed a great BBQ, seeing Sarah's sister, Beth, and brother, John, and tons of good food! Noah and Gabe are getting SO big!

September 4, 2013

1st Day of School 2013

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Martina had a great first day of school! She made friends, enjoyed her classes, and saw many cute boys. Homework was done by 4:00. Whoo Hoo! Off to a great start.

September 12, 2013

Day Trip to Idyllwild

Sunday was time to get out of the heat!

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We headed up Highway 74 to the mountains with a quick stop for a view of the whole Coachella Valley.

Soon we were at 6000 ft! The temperature went from 106 to 85!

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Martina enjoyed the change of scenery, and we kept an eye out for Bigfoot.

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After a brief tour of Idyllwild, a small mountain community, we took a walk around Lake Fulmor.

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Nice place for a Sunday drive!

September 29, 2013

Apple Farms in Oak Glen

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Saturday, we took Martina, and her friend, Anita (another Italian exchange student from Civitavecchia), to see the apple farms about 45 minutes from us in the hills of Oak Glen.

The weather was a bit cooler, and they had never seen apples growing before. They enjoyed every stop and all the samples. They tasted a dozen kinds of apples, cider, apple donuts and apple pie with ice cream! After all of that, no one was very interested in the picnic lunch I packed, but we all had a fun day!

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There just might be a few apple recipes in my family's future!

October 6, 2013

Eye Surgery

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Some of you have asked why I haven't been posting many photos of Martina. She arrived from Nebraska with a large stye, she had since August 5. We immediately took her to urgent care, and it was treated with antibiotic drops. It didn't go away in a week, so we went to another doctor, and he gave her a different medication. The next Friday, we went to an opthamologist, and he gave her a mixture of cortisone and antibiotics. She has had 7 doctor appointments, and finally needed a small surgery to remove the sack the stye had made it's home in, inside her eyelid. The procedure only took a few minutes, but the worst part was a shot to numb her eye. Poor kid didn't want her picture taken, but here she is with her eye surgeon after Friday's procedure. Almost good as new, with just a little swelling this weekend!

November 14, 2013

Martina Update

While we were in Italy, Martina attended her first American dance: Palm Desert High School's Homecoming. Here she is with her friend, Anita (another Italian Exchange Student), and very pretty in her new dress and "special night" hair and makeup!

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This month she spent a weekend at EF Beach Camp in Carpinteria, had lunch with us and friends in Temecula, has spent lots of time with her many friends, had her Senior picture taken, and is looking forward to her first Thanksgiving in LAS VEGAS!

December 18, 2013

The BIG Surprise

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Martina's parent's flew into LAX on Monday night. They arrived at our house in time to pick her up after school. She had NO IDEA they were coming. We arrived at her school. At first she was surprised I was in the car with Brad, as I am usually at work. Her parents were hiding, and came up behind her as she was getting into the back seat. It was a tearful, happy reunion!

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Palmabella's Passions in the Martina category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Luigi is the previous category.

Missing Italy is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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