Friday, July 29, 2011

Candid and Open Conversations (in nature)

This week I put on my hiking "boots" and went for a few good hikes.

We were fortunate to have my outdoor education professor from college come and visit us for a night. We shared stories of our trip to Alaska and her trips to Colorado, Tanzania, and Ireland this year.

But the next day we hit the road and then the Appalachian Trail to hike up to McAfee's Knob. During our hike we never stopped chatting and talking about our lives. The same was true when we hiked up to Table Mountain in Wyoming three years ago.

Nature has that calming ability to relax your temperament and let you be real with the people around you. It's back to the basics.

I really appreciate a good conversation with a good friend. It feeds my soul. I'm so thankful that one of these friends came to visit. And thankful for the discussions and the sentiments shared.

Three years later we had another great hike. Hopefully it won't be another three years!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And Sew it Begins

As a child I grew up watching my mom sewing gifts for teachers, costumes for Halloween, fleece hats, and create patterns for various projects she needed for school, at home, and for her children. She made an absolutely gorgeous quilt for The Pinery. It incorporates the cabin, wildlife, the river and more. It's beautiful.

Though I watched her create item after item with such joy, I never found this thrill while attempting to sew my own tiny projects. But those were few and far between. I was just not interested.

Last summer my mother in law, Kim, asked me if I would like a sewing machine. Her principal told her that she should just throw away the old sewing machines in her classroom and she did not have the heart to do that. Seeing as a sewing machine is a useful thing, I said yes. Who can pass up a free sewing machine, right?

Well, the machine came home with us after Jim retrieved Zeke from his parents' house. Kim had taken it to her sewing machine repair man and he got it back into tip top shape. But I was nervous about using it.

We came back to our house and saw everything with critical eyes. We needed throw pillows on the couch. The bamboo blinds that we couldn't stand all year HAD to go. We were sick of having a blind that did not actually blind anyone's eye from the outside.

So, we went to the fabric store and chose some fabrics. While Jim was calculating exactly how much we needed I was worried and insisted that we get much more than we actually needed. I needed a lot of mess-up room.

Still anxious I sat down and cut the fabric and channeled my inner mom. I attempted to remember each step I would watch her take while sitting at her machine. I called both of our moms when encountering a hiccup and watched a You Tube video when I needed a little more visual assistance. (For those of you wondering why I didn't just read the manual, I don't have it yet. Kim is tracking one down ;)

But let me tell you- I am addicted! As soon as I finished the two pillows I was hooked. Next, I started on the curtains and we now have the whole downstairs complete with new curtains. We were so excited that we actually stayed up until 2 AM on Saturday taking down the old bamboo blinds and putting up our new, brighter curtains.

(Bathroom- batik!)

(Landing- sorry it's dark and I used the Photo Booth on my Mac. Lazy, I know!)

(Kitchen- same fabric as landing and dining room, since they are all the same room)

They're not the most beautiful, but we love them and they are WORLDS better than the blinds.

But this whole project got me thinking. It's a fascinating thing to think about passions and interests. There's definitely a time and season for everything. An activity which I would have caused me to up and flee in prior years has now brought me such joy.

When speaking with mom I apologized for not taking an interest in sewing before. She quickly said that the time was not right, but now it is. How very true.

It's amazing how maleable our passions and interests seem to be.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Family Pictures

This summer has been a wonderful whirlwind and it is NOT over yet. I demand that it slows down a bit. If it wouldn't mind, I still have a bit of living to do before the school year starts back up!

But during this time we had so many great moments with our families.

To start our summer off, John, Kim and Christine Barlow came to visit for a weekend. We took them on our favorite hike... yup, you guessed it! We went to the Cascades. It's beautiful and a must see in this area.

Next we packed up our Subaru, dogs and all, and booked it to The Pinery! Time in the river. Extended family. Kayaking. Biking. Cornhole. Badminton. Always a good time. Love it.

Leif learned how to swim AND was a pro at fetching sticks. Woohoo! We have a water dog!

Then we headed to Lebanon, PA to visit the Barlows. We had a great visit there! We went black raspberry picking, walked around the beautiful houses at Mount Gretna, were treated to a day at Hershey Park, spent quality time with John and Kim, and went to Philly to visit Erin and Christine. :)

And then we went to Alaska!

It's been a great summer so far. Thank you to our families for hosting and sharing such precious time with us. We love you.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Our Alaskan Adventure

Adventure is rooted so deeply in our bones.

It's how we met and it's what we love to do together. So how perfect was it to make the trek to Alaska where we could combine that passion with a visit to an amazing family.

Christoph and Marianne are two incredible, artistic, and talented people. Two years ago they packed up their camper and drove across the country to make the life they had dreamed of during their years in Germany. They've made much of this dream come true in the last two years. They are determined, dedicated, and motivated learners who have tackled life in Alaska with ease. We are honored to call them our family.

And they've made one amazingly relaxed and happy baby, Annaliese!

Our time in Alaska was full. We only had 10 days but we made the days count. We hiked Skilak Lake Trail with some of Marianne's friends from work- gorgeous views on a beautiful day. See the picture of Jim, CK, and me below. Jim and I took an anniversary hike up Skyline Trail, which was a steep and strenuous climb where we went all of the way past the saddle (where you were supposed to stop) and got to sign the book on Mt. Aspiring! That seems appropriate for our second anniversary as we are aspiring to be better and this year was strenuous with med school and a second first year of teaching. It was great!

We also spent time with almost all of their awesome Alaskan family and friends, visited Homer and Hope, crafted, went beach combing for agates and did Andy Goldsworthy art on the beach, went to Midnight Sun Brewery, searched for and saw wildlife (but no bears), played with their wonderful baby, learned how to (me) and shot a 22 and a hand gun (Jim and me), built a greenhouse (Jim was in heaven!), and saw incredible views.

We are ecstatic about Alaska and all of the possibilities. There are so many things to do there and seasons for fishing and clamming and hunting and... and... and... The list just never stops.

The most amazing thing to me was the light. The sun would rise around 4 AM and set after 12 midnight. That means that it almost never gets completely dark before the sun rises again! This definitely messes with your head and makes you ready to stay up until the wee hours and then get up early. Quite interesting. It's easy to be sleep deprived, but the winter would be a whole different story.

Our hosts were gracious enough to help us set up an overnight trip. We rented a double sea kayak and paddled across Kachemak Bay to Gull Island, and then eventually to Halibut Cove. We scouted our campsite before heading to hike Alpine Ridge Trail. We started our hike at 5:30 PM but didn't have to worry about the light because it didn't get "dark" until almost 1, and even then it was dusk. We hiked up to a beautiful view of a glacier with a lake with icebergs below, while we could also see the Homer Spit, which is where we began our paddle, and the rest of the water we had covered during that day.

That evening we set up camp and Jim used the coals from the fire to make a heated bed for us to sleep upon. He dug a trench and then filled it with the coals and hot stones from the fire and then covered it with sand. Then we put our sleeping bags on top. The ground was still warm in the morning! Jim also made shell spoons for out utensils (even though we had brought some)- just for fun and they worked well!

We saw many bald eagles, puffins, gulls, cormorants, and a few sea otters and seals. The sea otters were our favorite because they would roll and watch us, rub their bellies, and then repeat the whole process. We got to watch a few off in the distance as we sat around our campfire that night. The next day we paddled back and again got to see the sea otters, which you can see in a picture above.

It was the perfect overnight for us.

We loved our time and we love this family. Thank you Kasch family for a great 10 days! We miss you.

Here's a picture of all of us on our last day, while we did the Russian River hike. A friendly hiker offered to take our picture. Good thing he did because it was the only one we got of all of us on the entire trip. I love this picture.

Monday, July 18, 2011


This word was written in my mother's most recent blog ( about my father's second day in the hospital. It struck a chord with me immediately as just yesterday my father was taken to the hospital because he had chest pains. It's the first time he's ever been taken anywhere by an ambulance and the worry wart in me was awakened.

Fortunately, he is fine. He had blood clots on his lungs which they think may have occurred because of his recent travels and long stretches of time spent sitting on a plane, in the airport, and in the car.

But he is resilient and so is his family. We will make it through this. Resilience is the key.

And then I think and am reminded, WOW- people are incredibly resilient beings.

Jim learns about this every day in his classes. He comes home bursting with excitement at the newest facet of our bodies that has caused him to stop with wonder. I can only nibble at the surface of his new knowledge, but I am swept up in the excitement of our resilient systems and functions.

The plan is for my dad to stay one more night and then hopefully be discharged tomorrow to relax at his (and my) favorite location, The Pinery. That's where he knows how to truly rest and recover. Hopefully he will be able to set his projects aside and give himself a break.

We're so glad he's okay.

He is, after all, resilient.

(Dad at The Pinery with the newest family member, Heidi - his niece once removed. Adorable, eh?)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Where to begin...

I cannot even start because it would take me too much time on this last night here. Just know that many pictures and descriptions will be coming your way once I get settled back. To help and appease some of my desperate family and friends, I have attached some pictures :)

What can we say- we've had incredible hosts!!!

Some highlights with more details to come later:

More details to come! :)