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

 

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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!

Planning for Retirement

When people think and talk about ‘Planning for Retirement,’ typically it is all about the financial piece which makes sense. We all need to consider setting up a secure future for home, healthcare, and such. Thankfully, I chose to marry a man who always had a clear, financial direction for us, and after years of hard work and sacrifice, we are reaping the rewards.

For me, though, ‘planning for retirement’ was more about lifestyle and how I would spend my time.  And to be honest, I have been consciously moving in this direction since I was 26 years old.  I can remember talking to older people in my life back then and listening to their stories.  I watched how some struggled with the transition from worker bee to retiree, while others embraced the new-found freedom.  My ‘ah-ha moment’ was recognizing that most people do not develop new hobbies later in life, and the time to start was now.

As I thought about my interests and activities at that time, almost all were sports related. Realizing that injuries or an aging body might preclude me from enjoying those things when I was older, I made a purposeful decision to explore new hobbies, such as photography and scrap-booking. And my natural enthusiasm to try and learn new things has allowed me to develop a wide range of interests over the years.  I am so grateful for the lessons my older friends taught me so long ago.

In August of 2015, when Pat and I made the decision that I would resign at the end of that school year, I started a retirement list in the notes app of my phone.  That might sound a little anal… okay, a lot anal!… but it was a place to jot down any and all ideas that popped into my head, totally unfiltered.  If I thought it, I listed it, using these categories:

PROJECTS ~ ACTIVITIES ~ JOBS ~ LIFESTYLE CHANGES

I only occasionally actually look back on it, but when I do, it has been fun to check off the things I’ve tried or done so far!  And laugh at some of the things that will never happen… like no dishes in the sink and no clothes on the floor!  Ha!

When friends ask how retirement is going, I still get giddy when responding!  Recently, I have even told a few people that I think I was ‘born to retire!’  It has been an interesting journey of mixed emotions (more on that soon) and a lot of self-reflection as Pat and I build this new life together.

Playlists and Podcasts

As do most people, I love listening to music.  It has the power to lift my spirits and make me dance.  Certain melodies can instantly take me back to another place and time, and emotional lyrics can remind me of special people who have shared my life. And, of course, I love to crank up the radio and sing along ~~ although, my dear, sweet husband has told me often to ‘never sing in public!’ I wasn’t blessed with a singing voice, but I don’t let that hold me back!

Just like they have wine pairing, I think everyone has their own style of music pairing. For example, classic rock makes my workouts on the elliptical machine so much better, while mellow songs from the 70’s are perfect when driving late at night on those long open roads to Idaho. The activity and time of day most certainly impact my choice of playlists.

With that said, I must admit, I am much more of a talk radio girl! I started listening to KFI-AM640 during the commute to Temecula in my first decade of teaching (1987-97). Bill Handel in the morning, John and Ken on my way home. In the evenings, while Pat was at work, I would also listen to late night psychologists while I putzed around the house doing chores.

Since the advent of podcasts, my love of listening to talk radio has expanded greatly.  I appreciate how convenient it is to listen to such a wide variety of shows and topics. Opening my ears and mind to what others have to say has a way of expanding my world and engages me to think about issues in whole new ways. I love that!

When I bring up podcasts to other people, I have found that about 7 out of 10 people don’t even know about podcasts, and most are free entertainment! So I thought I would share a few of my favorites that you all might want to explore.

My #1 pick is Dr. Laura. Her show is not free, but the fee to access her podcast library is minimal. I found Dr. Laura in the early 90s on KFI and have listened consistently since then. She is definitely a controversial figure on radio, and is not a fit for everyone, but I find her dedication to upholding morals and values so inspiring. I have greatly appreciated the perspectives she has on marriage, friendship, and family, and I can honestly say I am a better woman because of the lessons learned from her show.

Catholic Answers Live is an excellent show, not only for those that share the Catholic faith, but for everyone.  It’s a call-in program that allows listeners to ask leaders of our church (Priests, Catholic authors, etc.) questions about the tenets of the faith, the Mass, Catholic prayers, the history of the Church, and just about anything. Sometimes they have a theme to the show, other times it is just an open forum, and they also have days where only non-Catholics can call in to ask and learn more about the Catholicism. This program has helped me grow in knowledge of my Catholic Christian faith and also has aided me in then being able to more effectively answer questions from my non-Catholic friends about some of our beliefs and practices.

My most recent find and podcast addiction is The Moth.  These podcast episodes are a compilation of true stories, told in front of live audiences around the world.  The storytellers (both experts and amateurs) share short tales from their lives around a center theme, and there is usually some sort of lesson learned or poignant message revealed. Pat and I often listen while on the road, or I’ll listen while quilting at night, and the stories have made me laugh out loud, gasp, and even cry. What I absolutely love about these episodes is that they expose me to people and experiences I would typically never have the opportunity to interact with. I am hooked and highly recommend this one!

Be it music or talk, Pandora or Podcasts….. my phone sure gets a workout and helps keep me entertained!

Giving Back

Nine months ago today, I walked out of my classroom for the last time! Wow! It really has gone by so darn quickly.

When I quit teaching, I knew I wanted to give myself six months before committing to any new endeavors ~ six months just to breathe. I needed, wanted, craved a window of time to unwind from my career, to focus on my health, to get strong again, to explore new hobbies, to create a new home in Idaho with Pat, to deepen my Catholic faith, and a few other things. Yep… I know I said breathe, and this sounds like a big ‘to do’ list, but these are many of the things that do help me relax and feel grounded. Nothing on this list committed me to anyone else except myself and my husband. My time, our time together, was used for healing, creating, exploring, and enjoying new adventures.

As that time frame stretched out past six months, through the busy holidays, and has rounded the corner into the new year, I am finding myself ready to reach out again. It feels like I have been self-indulgent long enough, and that it is time to start giving back in some way. I expressed this to Pat, and we ended up having this unexpected conversation over several days about what it means to ‘give back.’ He told me he doesn’t understand the concept. The giving he gets, but what or who are we to give back to? For me, ‘giving back’ is a spiritual concept. I want to honor God and show appreciation for the gifts He has given me by sharing with others. With the help of a friend joining in the discussion, it ended up mostly being about semantics. If we use the social term of ‘paying it forward,’ that seems to satisfy both of our notions of the importance of giving to others and sharing our blessings.

So, now what? How will I use my time, treasure, and talent to do some good in this world? Exciting question for me to explore! As I’ve considered several options over the past 4-6 weeks, a few guiding questions have become clear:

1.  Who am I being called to help?
2.  How am I supposed to serve?
3.  What will be flexible enough to fit our lives?
4.  Will it be meaningful enough?

This fourth question is the one that keeps hanging me up. A couple of my ideas would not benefit many people. In reality, perhaps only 2 or 3 a year. So, is that ‘enough?’ This is the concept I have been praying on and trying to wrap my head around. My bold approach to life has always pushed me to do more, be more, etc. Perhaps in this softer new phase of my life, it is time to look at things a little differently.

I spent some time with a close friend last week and shared my thoughts. She has a solid faith and such tremendous insight into life’s big questions. I love her sage advice, and she helped me clarify a few things in my head and heart.

A new endeavor is in my future….