Home Again!

I have spoken here before about ‘home’.  And it still surprises me that the official definitions of home can be quite cold, quite distant.  Here are just a few:

a)  one’s place of residence
b)  the social unit formed by a family living together
c)  a place of origin
d)  an establishment providing residence and care with people of special needs

These definitions are all functional uses of a home and have absolutely nothing to do with the ‘heart of a home!’

Homes are not perfect.  Even the best of homes have their flaws and missteps and perhaps are not quite as peaceful and loving as one would hope.  But for me, the concept of home is acceptance.  It’s not found in brick and mortar… or wood, stone or stucco.

HOME is a chance to breathe again — to settle into who you are.  To relax into the space and connect with the environment around.  To accept the path in front of you…. and fully understanding that every single step is a gift from God.

Once that is achieved, HOME is also WHO you share the journey with…. be it spouse, lover, or friend ~ or all of the above.  Our lives are an individual journey, but we create our home — in many places — with those we hold dear and love most.

I am so incredibly thankful to all those that make me feel at home with them, wherever we are.

 

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Strength and Grace

downloadYesterday was Mother’s Day ~ one special day each year where we honor and love our moms in specific, often traditional, ways.  Cards, flowers, candy… brunch is always popular!  Or perhaps a spa day or excursion to a local park or museum.  If your mom lives far away, maybe a nice long chat via Skype.  Or like me, a visit to the cemetery and some time in prayer is the new tradition.

But that is just one day.  For the past two months, I have been reflecting deeply on what it means to be a mom every single day, many times a day.

I was not blessed with being a mom.  Of course it was hard letting go of that dream, but quite honestly, I am fine with it now, and that really is not the point of this post.  But one of things that I realized early on is that by missing out on motherhood means I am missing out on the full spectrum of emotions.  As a non-parent, sure I feel joy, love, sorrow, fear, and all of the human emotions.  But moms (and dads, of course!!) experience a wider range.  Their hearts go to the outer edges of every feeling ~ the depths of love, the deepest despair ~ they are their children’s fiercest protectors and loudest cheerleaders ~ moms intimately know their children, every cell of their being.  What an amazing gift!

Over these past two months, in the most tragic of experiences, it has been an honor to watch some women in my family demonstrate the greatest strength of a mother’s spirit — from mom to grandma to great-grandmother.  God has given each of them so many graces to be able to walk through the pain, and they each have a true and sincere faith that they still come out joyful on the other side. The scars will remain forever, but so will the love for one sweet boy, and God’s light will continue to shine through each of them.

Kaitlyn, Terri, and Nancy ~  Happy Mother’s Day ~ With much love always

Procrastination Sets In!

I have fallen into the retirement trap of procrastination!  It has gotten so bad, that I finally needed to make a ‘to do list’ on Sunday, and it included making two more lists!!!

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not sitting in front of the TV binge watching Netflix all day.  In the past month, I have been super productive — I work out most every day, I made 36 tote bags for family and friends, I’ve tried several new recipes, I ran a half-marathon on Saturday, have done my volunteer work, and it all sounds great.  But those are the fun things that are easy to make time for!

Each night when I go to bed lately, I think about the chores or errands that need to be done, especially in preparation for Christmas… then I wake up in the morning and my book calls my name!  That’s a dangerous mistake!  It will be an hour or so of lazing in bed, then my whole idea of a productive day goes out the window.  Case in point, my trunk is STILL full of photo albums and the other things I put in there TEN days ago in case we were evacuated due to the fires.  Now that’s procrastination at its finest!

Last night, I made a little headway on my to do list.  Got an overdue thank you card and sympathy card written and mailed, helped a friend with a project, and organized my office a bit.  This morning, I woke up energetically, got a few things done around the house and am now off to tackle my list.  FOURTEEN big items on it… And writing this blog post was one of them, so I’m off to a great start.  Car wash and grocery store are next, and I am hopeful by this evening, I will have time to read in front of our beautiful Christmas tree!

My Summer in Numbers

Three days remain of our second summer in Idaho.  It’s been another glorious few months, and I have found myself trying to fill these last days with a little bit of all the things I love up here.  Call it my Sandpoint Smorgasbord perhaps!  Romantic sunset paddle down Sand Creek with my husband and dinner at The Hound.  Sunrise photo expedition up at Schweitzer Mountain.  Quilting by the fire as I work on a gift for someone special.  Pat and I watching our wildlife out back.  And so much more.

As I reflect on the past fifteen weeks, numbers keep popping in my head of all the new experiences we had, so I thought I’d summarize a bit of our summer in numbers.

ONE… beautiful great-niece was born!
Welcome to the world, Luna Marie Lateer!  Born September 12 at 3:32am.  We cannot wait to meet you, sweet girl!

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THREE… new kayak adventures!
Pack River ~ Priest Lake Thoroughfare ~ Round Lake
One trip was for our 27th anniversary.  We did a three hour trip on the lower half of the Pack River.  Actually hit a few small rapids that we maneuvered surprisingly well!  Except I stopped along the bank to take a picture of Pat, and my kayak broke loose leaving my paddle on the shore!!  My hero paddled and portaged upstream to save the day (note the paddle on the far left bank) and then it was smooth sailing!

FIVE… new trails!
Starting on August 1, our skies were smoky most days with wildfires in surrounding states and Canada.  So thankful we did not have any fires that threatened our area, however, it did shorten my hiking season.  But before that all started, I found some amazing new trails.  Burton’s Peak Fire Lookout was my surprise find… aka… I kind of got lost, so decided to follow a random logging road for ten miles, only to discover a trailhead at the end of it… just not the one I was looking for!  My favorite kind of day!!  It was an incredible climb to a phenomenal 360 degree view of mountains in Idaho, Montana and Canada.  I took Pat, Diana, and Leo back the next week to check it out and was accused of trying to kill the boys!  But we, girls, rocked it!

Tried SEVEN… new restaurants!
Last year, every restaurant was new to us, and we quickly found our favorites!  Connie’s has the very best bacon in town, and The Hound is a favorite for outdoor seating, wings, and ribs.  But this year, one of my goals was to find some new great spots, and we succeeded.   Among them is the Kootenai River Brewing Company in Bonner’s Ferry.  It is a perfect after hiking/biking place to refuel with good beer and great food before heading home to relax with the deer out back.

NINE… quilts created!!
Oh my gosh, there are threads everywhere!  On the table, on the floor, on our cedar posts, and all over my leggings and sweatshirts!  I absolutely love my new obsession.  Picking or creating patterns, mixing and matching gorgeous fabrics, and then cutting and piecing them all back together to create something new.  And even though my brain is intent on precision in all I do, it is a most relaxing and rewarding endeavor.  As I have only been quilting since December, my style continues to develop.  I focus on designs and patterns that suit the recipient (all three of these are gifts), however, my personal preference is clearly migrating towards the contemporary, clean quilts with geometric designs (more like the one on the right).  It is reminiscent of my scrapbooking style as well.

TWENTY… batches of cold-brewed coffee!  YEP, folks, I am addicted!  But I do share! All you need are these items, 24 hours, a dash of sweetener and a splash of heavy whipping cream ~ so worth the splurge!  If you want directions, or a sample, just message me!    

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THREE HUNDRED, SIXTY-THREE AND 91/100… miles I hiked, walked, biked, or kayaked!!
Last year, I figured out that I had logged over 250 miles on the roads, trails, and waterways, and I set a goal to beat that by a hundred miles this season.  I just calculated 366.91 miles!  woo hoo!
In addition, I did the Scenic 10K last year here in town and set my eye on doing the half-marathon this year.  Unfortunately, the smoke last weekend kept me from participating, however, I set out yesterday morning and did my own half ~ actually did 13.7 in the cold rain!  It was awesome!  Next up is the Margarita Madness 5K (we all know what that’s about!) and the Holiday Half with my niece, Talia, and cousin, Anthony.  Can’t wait!!

INFINITE NUMBER of wildlife photos!!!!!
I have been editing, and editing, and editing, and……. editing a zillion wildlife photos! What a phenomenal place we now call home with these gorgeous creatures we have surrounding us! We look at them with awe and wonder and every sighting is a gift!!

Also included in all this fun were four sets of visitors!!  It was so great sharing our piece of paradise with family and friends.

We head south on Monday, will arrive home on Tuesday.  Pat and I are both ready to be back in Oceanside, surrounded by the ones we love most, and looking forward to enjoying some time reconnecting with everyone!

Thanks for reading ~~ xoxo

 

Love and Laughter

30 years ago today, yes THIRTY!, this man walked into my life!  It’s hard to fathom three decades together when I still feel so young, but time does march on.  Gosh, we look like babies in this first photo just starting our lives together!  We definitely know each other so very well, but every day there is still more to learn and discover as our life changes paths.

One of the best parts of being married to this man is his ability to laugh!!  Our home is such a happy place because of him.  He is light-hearted, quick-witted, and has taught me not to take life too seriously.

I shared with some friends last year that, in retirement, I thought I would miss laughing with the kids each day.  I said that has not been the case, though, because Pat and I laugh together every single day.  How lucky am I?

Our life together has been filled with so many blessings, however, we have had our fair share of struggles, tragedies, and losses, too.  Humor, and lots of hugs, still got us through it all.  Laughter has often helped us break the tension, dispel the fears, ease the heartaches, regroup and look at what’s important for us both.  This has allowed us to move forward, in good times and in bad, focus positively on the future, and truly have a ton of fun together!

So, I owe a lifetime of thanks to my in-laws, Sam and Sandy, for introducing Pat and me thirty years ago today.  I appreciate you raising such a loving, loyal, intelligent, hardworking, and witty man for me to share my life with!

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New Endeavors!

 

It’s been a tough week.  I woke up last Friday morning (May 5) and knew I had hit the proverbial wall.  It had been building the whole month of April, and I just ignored the signs.  Most people who know me know I have several chronic illnesses that need daily management, and ignoring the signs is not a good idea for me.  I have felt so good since retiring, and started filling my days with more and more activities, cuz isn’t that what retirement is about?  Having the time and freedom to do it all?  Well, oops!  I kind of, sort of, “forgot” that my number one daily goal is to take care of my health and fitness.  So, I built in some quiet days for recovery this week, am feeling better, and I will most definitely be reprioritizing and restructuring my days.  Lesson learned!

Now on to the fun stuff!  A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about it being time to give back in new ways and have begun two new endeavors that I am really excited about!

#1 ~ SAFARI PARK (aka Wild Animal Park) VOLUNTEER
I have had a membership to the zoo/park for 27 years!  I joined when we were first married and would head to the park on weekend mornings while Pat slept after his shift. It kept the condo quiet for him, kept me busy until he woke up, and gave me some time to myself with my camera.  My nieces and nephews were babies at the time, and the park also became Auntie Lorna’s place to take them for outings as they grew up over the years.  One nephew has always teased that there will be a bench with my name on it one day!

I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of volunteering there, but as I went through the training in April, I realized it was a perfect fit.  I worked my first solo shift on Wednesday and absolutely loved it!  It’s all about hospitality which is right up my alley.  Greeting guests, answering questions, guiding them, and making them feel welcome…. all the while in a gorgeous outdoor setting… it was great.  I talked with some wonderful people from around the world, discussed photography with several others, and met some talented ladies who made a quilt to auction off at the next park charity event.  One of the best parts of this new ‘job,’ is working with old friends.

Dale and I taught together in Temecula from 1990-1997.  He volunteers at the park and was one of my training mentors!  We still make an awesome team!!

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I’ve known Val forever, too, because her daughter, Michele, taught with Dale and me at Temecula Elementary, also!  Being reunited with my Temecula people is an unexpected blessing!

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#2 ~ QUILTING FOR OTHERS
As mentioned above, I have some chronic illnesses, the most serious being Addison’s Disease.  It’s a complicated disease, but this checklist of facts describes it succinctly. When I was finally diagnosed in January 2010, I had been deteriorating for five months, was in organ failure, bedridden, and the doctor said I was about a week from death.  I only share all this to demonstrate the fear that I lived with at that time.  And although I celebrated getting a diagnosis, getting treatment, and knowing I would indeed live, that fear continued as Pat and I learned how to manage this disease in those early years. Having a rare disease that can be life-threatening changes your life and there are many, many times when I have felt very afraid and very alone.

7+ years later, I am so happy and grateful to say that those scary moments are now few and far between!  I am healthier and stronger than ever and have learned to manage things well most of the time…. minus these last six weeks!  haha

So, I wanted to do something to help support those newly diagnosed with Addison’s Disease.  Those who are in the early days of healing and learning.  Those who are still in the stages of feeling scared and alone.  Therefore, I decided to use my new passion for quilting and create ‘comfort quilts,’ for lack of a better term, for new patients.  On a practical level, the quilts will provide them cozy warmth on those days when the fatigue hits and they cannot make it out of bed.  On an emotional level, my hope is that the recipients of the quilts will feel less isolated and that someone else understands what they’re going through.

This week I started working on my first gift quilt for a fellow Addisonian.  Check out these gorgeous fabrics!  IMG_7230I do not know yet who I will give it to, but am already praying for them as I press and cut the fabric.  When it is finished, I will find someone who needs some encouragement through my Addison’s support group and send it their way.

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend, and God bless all of you moms as you celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday!  xo

 

 

 

What I Miss

IMG_0277-1So…. last night at church, I was hit for the very first time on what I will miss as a teacher. For those that do not know, I have been the volunteer photographer at my parish since fall 2008.  Since my parish and my school are in the same area, many of the Empresa students also attend St. Margaret’s Catholic Church.  This has given me a special and sacred connection between the public school forum within I teach and the sacred forum within I worship.  Although much of the time I crave anonymity, some of the greatest blessings I have received have being asked to be a Confirmation Sponsor by a former student.  This blending of the spiritual influence as a Catholic,  with being a public school teacher, is a humble gift from God.

On Friday night, as I stood in the Narthex connecting with friends, one student from last year, shyly approached me to say hello.  Not one minute later, another former (adult) student came to greet me warmly with a huge smile and tight hug!  After Communion, a young girl, perhaps 4th or 5th grade, caught my eye and smiled in recognition of me as well.  And that’s when it hit me.  I will tremendously miss the connection I have had between Church and School.  Sharing in the sacred moments of Baptism, First Holy Communion,  and Confirmation with those children I teach in the pubic domain has been a huge blessing which I will miss tremendously!