Figuring out where to stay in Apache Junction, Arizona…Visiting more family…How long will we be in the US?…

We stopped by the pier on the last sunny day we’ve had in a week or more.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“The population of Ireland still has not bounced back from the famine it faced years
ago. During that time, the population was 8 million. Today, the population lingers
below 7 million.”

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With our cruise from Southampton in October/November, after a transatlantic sailing ending in Fort Lauderdale, as mentioned, we’re planning to visit Minnesota first, then Nevada, and then on to visit Tom’s sisters at their winter homes in Apache Junction, Arizona.


In Nevada, we’ll be staying with son Richard at his home in Henderson for two to three weeks (yet to be determined).  The US holiday, Thanksgiving, transpires during this period which we’ll celebrate at his home.  He has the same diet as mine and thus, making Thanksgiving dinner, will be especially enjoyable.

“Fish cages are placed in lakes, bayous, ponds, rivers, or oceans to contain and protect fish until they can be harvested. The method is also called “off-shore cultivation” when the cages are placed in the sea.”

Our plan is to head to Apache Junction, Arizona in early December and spend Christmas with three of his six sisters.  Tom is the youngest in his family and every opportunity to spend with his siblings is precious and meaningful.  

His elder brother Jerome (24 years older than Tom) lives in the Minneapolis area along with his sister Patty whom we’ll see in Minnesota.  We hope to see his other sisters, but one, Rita, lives in Rapid City, South Dakota and his other sister, Sister Beth, is a nun living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.    

It will be a busy time in Minnesota for both of us.  Most likely on several occasions, as we did last time we were there in May and June 2017, we’ll each go separate ways.  

There are many types of fishing equipment located on the pier.

I’ll be with my son Greg and his family, while Tom visits with his family.  Of course, we’ll spend some time together with each other’s family members. Somehow, although time is shorter for this visit, we’ll work it all out.


But now, with Minnesota and Nevada arrangements set, we need only to figure out where we’ll stay in Apache Junction and for how long.  We’re hoping to find a caravan rental where his sisters live to escape the cold winter months in Minnesota.  We’ve inquired at the caravan park where his sisters are located and his sisters are also inquiring for us. 


If we’re unable to find a caravan we can rent we’ll have to either find a holiday home for rent or a nearby hotel.  We’ll see how it goes.  We still have six months until we’ll be there.

An array of fishing equipment is situated on the Glinsce Pier.

Slowly but surely we’re filling in the gaps in our itinerary.  Each night, during our hour-long Happy Hour, we discuss our options as to where in the world we’d like to travel.


I feel confident I’ll be able to continue on.  Tom, on the other hand, is feeling as if we should wait to book plans well into the future after our recent experiences with my open heart surgery and subsequent slow recovery.


I feel confident we’ll be able to make plans.  Tom’s concern is associated with my ability to do a lot of walking on uneven surfaces, which seem to be a substantial part of world travels.  

Old boat on the pier.  I wonder what stories it could tell.

Tom’s right, at this point…such walking is a challenge but it’s only been a little over two months since I had two surgeries on both of my legs.  Surely, in time as they continue to heal, I’ll be able to tackle the often strenuous walking associated with sightseeing.  


In the interim, I continue to walk up to 10,000 steps a day inside the house in an attempt to build up cardiac strength and endurance.  But, my legs aren’t strong and stable yet.  I get his point.  We’ll wait to start booking more venues for 2020 until I can do a little more.  


Currently, we have several cruises booked well into 2020.  After this first cruise (since the surgery), sailing on August 11th, we’ll have a better idea of how I’ll do on tours and living aboard a ship.

The side wall of the boat launch.

Today, another cool and cloudy day, we’re off to Clifden to shop  The hustle and bustle of the small town (population 1,600), often packed with tourists, is entertaining and energizing.


Have a fabulous day doing exactly that which you love to do!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 13, 2018:
Check out the wear and tear on this old elephant’s right ear.  For more photos, please click here.

Logistics of the final days…

Our estate sale will occur from Thursday, October 25th through Sunday, October 28th. Our estate sale guy, Jim Anderson of Caring Estate Sales explained that we must be gone for those four days.  

He’ll start pricing items a week before the sale officially begins.  At that point, we must have all of our personal effects and items we want to keep, out of the cabinets, drawers, cabinets and off of the walls and a week later, out of the house.

In regard to most estate sales the homeowner is dead, obviously not around, pestering with comments such as, “Oh, that’s not enough money for that!”  We must be out of the house the entire four days of the sale.  

Dilemma #1:  Where will I go for those four days with no car (mine will have been sold)?  Tom will be at work during the hours of the sale.

When the sale is complete on Sunday, October 28th,  Tom has to go to work three more days, planning to be done by 9 am on Wednesday, the 31st where he’ll go to work only to receive his “retirement cake” a tradition at the railroad for all retirees.  (I guess he’ll eat gluten that day.  Oh, well. After 42 years he deserves to eat cake).  

End result, we need to stop using our house as we’ve known it around October 18th.  We’ll be able to use the built in appliances to cook and a few old pans, plates and flatware that we don’t plan to sell, tossing them when we’re done.  

Dilemma #2: Do we stay in the house (after I find somewhere to go for the four days) until the 31st when Tom’s work ends, at which point we sign the papers on the house and begin the drive in Tom’s car to Scottsdale? Do we live in the house after everything is gone, TVs, our two comfy chairs, sofas, bar stools at the huge island in the kitchen?  How will it feel to watch everything we’ve loved and enjoyed dwindle down to a bed in which we’ll fitfully sleep until we leave?

Our dear neighbor Jamie kindly suggested I hang out at her house for those four days. (Our three adult kids have cats to which I am allergic. I can’t spend more than an hour in their homes  plus I won’t have transportation). How will I feel watching the cars driving down our narrow road toward our home, later driving away with our belongings in their cars, trucks, and SUVs?  Yikes!

Yesterday morning, thinking aloud to one another, we considered the following realities:

  1. I won’t have transportation
  2. The four days of the estate sale, we’ll have to be out of the house by 7 am each morning, most difficult on the weekend when we are both here. What will we do all weekend from 7 am to 5 pm?
  3. How will we live in our house, stripped of all its accouterments, with only a bed for several days, no chair, no sofa, no table?
After multiple possible scenarios we narrowed it down to this:  We must entirely move out of the house beginning Wednesday, October 24th, coming back to inspect the status, make decisions on remaining items and collect our money.

The estate sale guy will remove all refuse, haul items to be donated to various organizations and our dear long term house cleaner, Teresa, will do the final cleaning.  We’ll pay fees for this additional support, but have determined it will be well worth the cost, reducing our stress at such a crucial time.

Sure, we could stay in a hotel for a week. Used to the reasonable cost of vacation rentals, I cringed at the price of a decent hotel, a car rental (or I’d be trapped in a hotel room for a week) and meals for a week at a total cost of around $1500, a cost for which I hadn’t budgeted.  

One of my closest friends has offered that we stay at her beautiful and spacious home, a mere 15 minutes away, an offer made with the utmost of sincerity.  Tom and I adore her and her two sons and have been to their home many times, as they have ours.  It will feel comfortable.  They eat the same healthful diet as we do.  I can prepare dinner for all of us each day.

Alone at her home during the days, I will work out when Tom returns when we go to see the house in the evenings during the sale. My laptop on hand, I’ll continue to write here, do additional research for our travels and fine tune our spreadsheets. It will be fine. Thank you, dear friend.

On Saturday afternoon the 27th, we’ll head out for the hour’s drive to Tom’s retirement party for his co-workers and family members, close to his work at a large hall. Youngest of 11 children, his family alone will account for over 100 guests. Add 42 years of co-worker/friends, we could be looking at 100’s. Oh.

Busy planning the food, the invitations, the cake and other necessities of party planning, need I say, life is busy. It’s no doubt, that we’ll need a multi-year vacation!

Bite sized pieces….

My feet hitting the floor at 5:40 am, a surge of energy running through me, I rushed around the house performing the morning’s usual tasks.  

The bath water ran while I turned on the teapot, emptied the dishwasher, threw the sheets in the wash, folded a load of laundry, checked my email and looked in refrigerator contemplating tonight’s dinner.  

The tub was full. Time to get ready for the day. Having worked for 45 years, I can put myself together in 20 minutes, providing I don’t get distracted stopping to watch the news story of the day on the TV in our room.
By the time I got the sheets into the dryer for the 70 minute cycle, I found myself walking in circles around the house, my eyes scanning the cupboards, the drawers, the closets, filled with the “things” of our lives, yet to be tackled.  I felt my heart race; a little bit of fear, a little bit of angst, a tinge of sorrow. 

Letting go? Letting go. Day by day. “Bite sized pieces” keeps running through my mind, the words I used daily to remind my precious sister Julie to hang on as she went through lengthy and agonizing breast cancer treatment about 4 years ago. She survived, thank God, with  a level of grace that I so admired and with a hope for the future, that has proven to serve her well.
Of course, there is no comparison with these life events, but the simplicity of thinking in terms of “bite sized pieces” has a magical way of putting our apprehension and fear in perspective, allowing us each day to bite off a little piece of the challenge while continuing to deal with it, day after day. 

I keep reminding myself of the upcoming sense of freedom and adventure facing us.  But now, with 3 months and 23 days to go, the reality of the looming tasks, many of which are too soon to complete now, I could easily  throw myself into a tailspin.  
Taking a deep breath, I don’t choose the tailspin, thinking, “What can I bite off today to lighten the load?”

We have found as we age, our ability to handle challenges changes. Somewhere along the way, both Tom and I have accepted that emotional upheaval is pointless, “drama” is used to elicit a response from others, stress is damaging to one’s health, and loud vocalization (yelling) to those you love (or not) doesn’t solve problems but creates them. Again, simple, again magical with the ultimate goal of contentment, entirely attainable, not at all elusive.

At 8:30 am, I packed up our six year old grandson Vincent, driving him to Gale Woods Farm for his second of five days in “farm camp” a short jaunt from our home. Three hours later, having completed multiple errands, I returned home, feeling a sense of accomplishment for having taken several “bite sized pieces” out of the daunting tasks that are looming. Walking into the familiar smells in our home; remnants of last night’s dinner along with the orange organic cleaner I used this morning to clean the kitchen, a wave of accomplishment washed over me.In only a few short months this life as we’ve known it, will be over with a new life to begin its place. We’ll continue to take “bite sized pieces” with contentment, joy and wonder as our ultimate goal.

Looking around the house at the cupboards, the drawers, the closets and the “things” I knew it will all get done and, it will all be OK.

Not roughing it…

We aren’t backpackers. We aren’t hikers, mountain climbers, white water rafters or campers. Maybe, just maybe, we’re zipliners. We like air conditioning, iced tea with lots of ice, salad with dinner, fluffy bath towels and 600 count Egyptian cotton sheets. 

Oddly enough, we don’t care for sightseeing.  We force ourselves to go to the Minnesota State Fair, every three or four years, rarely trying any of the overpriced, unhealthy “things on a stick.”  

We seldom go to the movies, instead preferring to watch it later “On Demand” in our own time, sitting in our comfy chairs while enjoying a low carb, gluten free homemade dessert.

But, we do like the laughter of our grandchildren running wildly through our house, the smell of my mother’s recipe for pot roast slowly baking in the oven on a cold day, sitting at the end of the dock watching the bottom feeder fish jump into the air on a warm summer night before the mosquitoes start biting.

We love entertaining family or friends for brunch or for dinner, serving foods we know they’ll like, befitting their “diet of the week” or special dietary needs. We love the ease we feel whether preparing an awe inspiring gourmet meal or simply burgers on the grill.

We love the well-fed and appreciative smiles on our guests faces as they finally go their way, giddy from the copious glasses of good wine, good food and the constant laughter.

We love nature; the cardinal alighting on a branch, the white albino squirrel leaping from tree to tree, a miniature red cedar sapling growing in the stone patio or the spunky yellow day lilies that bloom every year with so little care.

We love the fluffy white pillows created from the falling of fresh snow when we know we can stay inside, feeling that special sense of comfort that we Minnesotans somehow find so familiar and peaceful.

Will we see the Sistene Chapel?  (Last week, a young pop star on David Letterman’s show referred to it as the “Sixteenth Chapel! Hahaha!).

Maybe we will, depending on the crowds, our mood, the weather, the convenience. But, we’ll walk with the locals and their chickens along the road in Tuscany to the outdoor market each day to buy fresh brown eggs and freshly picked brightly colored pesticide free produce. 

No, we’re not backpackers or sightseeing fanatics. We’ll be two 60 something retired people living an ordinary life, that are easily entertained by simple pleasures, many of which will change, many of which won’t be available and many of which will be new or different.

As long as we can breathe the fresh air, be a part of Mother Nature’s bounty, mingle with the people and their way of life, have a comfortable place to sleep and a couple of comfy chairs or sofa, we’ll only enhance the joy we’ll have carried along with us, not in our overloaded suitcases but, in our hearts.

He liked his shoes!…He liked my shoes!…

Buying gifts for Tom has always been a dilemma.  His hobby is ancestry.  What does one buy for a person obsessed with their ancestry?  He recently purchased another year of his annual dues for Ancestry.com.  Only a week ago, he purchased his DNA test from Ancestry.com to discover yet more about his roots. 

I could have presented him with a trip to Ireland to look for his ancestors, but duh, our travel plans are set for the next three years or more and, he’s already traveled to Ireland twice, BJ (before Jess).  

In the past, I have presented him with books, tools, electronic gadgets and household “fix-it” paraphernalia and, every other year, swim shorts with matching, colorful tee-shirts. This year I was at a loss. I couldn’t buy him anything other than that which he could put into his suitcases.

In an effort to ensure he had a nicely wrapped gift to open for Father’s Day, I reviewed the remaining items he needed for our adventure, deciding on the double duty aspect of giving him gifts while fine tuning his packing. Ah!

Yesterday morning after a breakfast of low carb, gluten free coconut flour pancakes, eggs and meaty bacon, I presented him with his gift, neatly wrapped in one big box with Happy Birthday paper (have to use that up) adorned with a matching black “guy” bow.  We were celebrating the last Father’s Day we’ll spend in our Minnesota home.

For Father’s Day I purchased three swim short sets for our travels.

When Tom left for a few hours yesterday morning for a traditional Father’s Day activity with some of our kids and grandchildren, I decided to do the unthinkable;  go to a mall!! His enthusiasm over his water shoes piqued my interest while I had visions of fancy high heels floating around my head for the many formal nights on the seven (so far) cruises we have booked.  

Tom has always loved seeing me wear high heels, mainly pumps, no toes showing. Over the years, I have worn them less and less, fearful of falling and injuring myself.  As the fashion trend to wear high heels (over 3″) has escalated (no pun intended) these past several years, I kept convincing myself that wearing high heeled shoes is bad. 

One pair “water” shoes on left, dress sandals on the right and “insect guard” long sleeve shirt and, what Tom refers to as the “French Foreign Legion” type hat with a neck protector that also has been treated with insect guard” 

Generally speaking, high heels aren’t comfortable. They pinch. They cause blisters. They cause corns and bunions neither of which I surprisingly don’t have, after years of wearing heels in the 70’s and 80’s. 

Adventuresome spirit possessing me lately (zip line still a maybe), I decided to do whatever I could to find a few comfortable pairs of three or four inch heels to wear with my dressy dresses on the formal nights aboard ship.  Comfortable heels? Oxymoron?

I decided to put my shoe size vanity aside (81/2) and buy a wider width of my otherwise normal width feet to see if this would reduce the discomfort.  Don’t get me wrong, I can easily walk in high heels after much experience, but comfort seems to be more of a need than a want once a person hits their 60’s.

While at the shoe store, I only grabbed the 81/2 W.  Amazing!  I found these two pairs of perfect styled shoes, albeit not the pumps Tom prefers, that will be divine matches for two of my three fancy dresses, but I had to order the third pair when they didn’t have them in stock.  Not only were they comfortable, I could almost jog in these heels.

Rather pleased with myself after the successful trip to the mall, I reveled in spending a grand total of only $73 for the four comfortable pairs of shoes.

Note that my new “water” shoes on the right are almost identical to Tom’s (although mine were less than 1/2 the price of his)!  Imagine, we’ll match!

Returning home in the early afternoon, I began preparing his choice of dinner, a repeat from only two weeks ago: low carb, gluten free, sugar free, wheat free, grain free homemade pizza. 

When Tom arrived home, I rushed him off to the bedroom to see the shoes.  He giggled that the water shoes matched his and he liked the bargain price of $73. But his eyes narrowed as he contemplated the strappy high heels sitting on the bed, as opposed to a closed, no-toes-showing, pump.  

One solution to those narrowed eyes; I put on the most strappy of the two pairs and began prancing around the room awaiting a reaction. He waited for me to wobble.  I didn’t.  He breathed a little sigh of relief.

And then, that appealing toothy smile came across his face along with the crinkling of the little lines around his blue eyes.  He liked the shoes.  

The continuing prescriptions saga…

On May 17, 2012, I posted concerns about our prescription refills when we are out of the US. As is the case with most insurance plans, the servicing mail-order pharmacy will not send more than three month’s of medications at any time.

Writing that post prompted me to contact the mail order pharmacy to request an exception, due to our unusual circumstances of our being out of the country for years as opposed to months.

Here was the conversation with them: 

“We’d like to request that we receive 12 months of prescriptions in October 2012 before we depart for our journey. A year later, we will ensure we are at a location with an address and have you mail them to us for another year. Our doctor has approved this.”

“Oh, we don’t send the prescriptions outside of the US,” he said with authority in his voice.

Hum…I mused to myself. My choice was either to alienate him by complaining about their policy which was surely futile or, give him a proposal. Here’s what I proposed:

“Sir, we will be getting a new address in the US when we establish residency in another state in December 2012.  Also, we will be obtaining the services of mail handling company in the same state.  Could you send the prescriptions, 12 months at a time, directly to that address?”

“Gee, I don’t know,” he quips, question marks flying around his head.

“Can you find out?”  I asked.  This was like pulling teeth!

“Uh, yea. Can you hold?”  The authority was gone from his voice.

On hold for 15 minutes, he returns with his answers. “Thank you for holding. We’ll be sending you forms in the (snail) mail with instructions.” 

“Oh, I have poor handwriting (true).  Can you email them to me or are they available online?”  I asked with the utmost of sincerity.

“No, they have to be snail mailed and completed by hand,” he says, sounding annoyed with me.

Good grief! Where’s my old typewriter?

Within days of my inquiry, we received a packet of complicated forms, stating not only our standard identification information (OK, I get this) including every word on our ID cards (they have this). We were asked to list one prescription per page, reasons for the prescriptions, how long we’d had the illness, the diagnosis and the prescribing physician’s information.  

With our regular daily prescriptions plus an additional prescriptions for preventive and emergency travel conditions, this would result in completing 20 pages!  It would take days.  

Yes, I could manually enter the repeated information, for example; ID information, addresses and prescribing physician information, etc. and then proceed to copy and print the 20 pages, subsequently, manually entering the requested lengthy medical information.  This still would take days!

Yesterday, I called asking to speak to a supervisor, asking that our conversation be recorded (it was) and documented (hopefully, it was) and here was my proposal:
1. Complete one page with the pertinent basic information.
2. Print all of our prescriptions directly out of their system. (They could have done this!)
3. Write a letter, signed by both Tom and I, explaining our circumstances, reasons for the request, including our itinerary for the next 949 days thus far.
4.  Staple this together.
5.  Snail mail.

The supervisor agreed to my proposal.  I reminded him to post it in the system as to his agreement with my proposal.  Otherwise, they will receive the packet, send it back to me, complaining I didn’t fill it out correctly and this entire process would begin again.  Of course, I made copies of everything.

Does this scenario sound familiar?   I’ll keep you posted on the end result.

Wheat, grain, starch, sugar free low carb pizza crust?…Yep!…

Each night, as I make dinner either for myself when Tom works late, or for both of us, I wonder how we will eat in a foreign land.  As I lay out our organic produce, grass fed beef, wild caught fish or free range organic chicken, I anticipate these items won’t be readily available where we are going.

As I have mentioned in prior posts, as of last August, we became gluten free, sugar free, starch free, grain and wheat free and low carb. Whew! Yes, it’s a challenge, but worth it! 

For me, this way of eating has been a huge improvement in blood lipids, including glucose, triglycerides, HDL and cholesterol.  With a family history of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obesity, years ago I became mindful of a healthy lifestyle.  

Over the years I have been able to combat the obesity factor with a careful “low fat” diet and regular exercise while painstakingly sacrificing the pleasure of enjoying my most favorite foods: desserts, with a proverbial sweet tooth.

Alas, all this effort was to no avail. I found myself with heart problems for which I had surgery two years ago, hypertension for which I still take medication and borderline diabetes with spiking blood sugars an hour after eating a carbohydrate rich meal.  How could this be?  I followed the USDA guidelines, MY PLATE and yet, my health continued to decline.

After hundreds of hours of reading the various Harvard, Mayo Clinic, UCLA Medical, Cleveland Clinic, etc., medical studies I, ultimately, ending up reading a book that changed my life forever, “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis about the destruction of the wheat that our ancestors knew, formerly 14 chromosomes, now 44 chromosomes, genetically changed with the intent to increase the world’s wheat production; a faster growing, shorter crop that can withstand the use of Monsanto’s ROUNDUP!  Oh, good grief!

Last August, Tom (who went kicking and screaming) and I both gave up wheat, rice (both white and brown), grains, bread, doughnuts, cake, cookies, pies, grain fed meat, farmed fish, corn, sugar, soda pop, MSG, potatoes, starchy vegetables, and on and on.  Tom has now lost 30 pounds.  I didn’t need to lose any weight, but desperately needed to change my health.  This way of eating did exactly that!  

A few weeks ago, a full round of blood tests confirmed that finally eating healthy fat and eliminating wheat, grains, sugar, starches and reducing carb consumption did indeed change my health for the better.  Tom, now a believer, will enjoy a favorite item from time to time. But I adhere to this way of eating strictly, realizing the risk is too high if I don’t.

Tonight, we’re having homemade pizza made without wheat or any form of flour or starch.  Here is our homemade crust with the recipe which is easy to make.

Homemade Grain Free Pizza Crust
Recipe for Jessica’s Homemade Grain Free Pizza Crust
Ingredients:
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 beaten egg
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line a pizza pan with the dull side of Reynolds Non Stick Tin Foil

Mix cheeses and beaten egg in a bowl. Spread mixture evenly over  parchment paper placed into the pan.  If necessary to fill holes, sprinkle a little more cheese. This doesn’t have to be exact.

Bake in preheated oven for about 14 minutes, keeping a close eye to ensure it doesn’t get too brown.  Let cool before adding toppings.
The challenge had been to find a pizza sauce without  sugar.  The best sauce I have found thus far is Rao’s Marinara Sauce, easily found at most grocery stores.  Although pricey at $8.95 a jar, it does make four pizzas, which is less than a standard jar of sugary pizza sauce.
For the balance of the pizza, we like to add one pound of pre-cooked and drained hot Italian sausage, 3/4 cup sliced green olives, one cup, sliced mushrooms and 1/2 cup diced onions, all topped off with about 12 oz. mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes, again checking frequently for a perfect bubbly golden top.  We love this pizza!
The question becomes, will we be able to make our pizzas in in Belize, Madeira, Tuscany, Mombasa or Mallorca?  Will we have access to Rao’s or a good substitute, a pizza pan and parchment paper?  How readily available are grass fed beef, free range chicken and organic vegetables?
Will we be able to find sugar free maple syrup for our low carb coconut flour pancakes? Will we be able to buy coconut and almond flour or coconut oil, staples in our diet? What about our Crystal Lite Iced Tea? Liquid Stevia?  Alpha lipoic acid supplements?
If anyone knows the answers to these questions, please comment at the bottom of the post.  Love to hear from you.  Love to stop wondering what we’ll make for dinner!  With our way of eating, it’s been challenging enough!

Changed the look of our WorldWideWaftage blog…

Web design is not my forte. Last night I changed the design of this blog more out of my boredom with the prior design, than anything. 

If you find this is difficult to read, please comment here.  Our readership is growing rapidly…where are all of you coming from???   We want this blog to be reader friendly so please offer any suggestions.

In time, when we move along on our travels, I will have more time to work on the design and maybe, once and for all, learn web design. Duh, while I am learning to speak Italian and Spanish?  

Thank you all so much for sharing this experience with us.  Have a happy day!