30 July 2004

Cori, I ate your pet for dinner one night when I was in Nicaragua last year. Posted by Hello

26 July 2004

wonderful weekend...
Oh how I love the weekends. Usually my Saturday involves cleaning up the house while Ryan works. But our maid (me) has been on vacation! Saturday morning Ryan headed to the office and I went outside and piddled around the flower beds. I plucked out lots of weeds that don't belong. Then I watered some of my potted plants and re-potted some others. After a quick shower, I headed for mom's house to play with Kaleb and Ryan. I took Kaleb to the Clermont Days Parade. Since Kaleb hadn't been to a parade before, he didn't even know what it was and definitely didn't grasp the whole candy thing. Thanks to the help of some college and HS kids from the area, he quickly learned. His to-die-for eyes got everyones attention and by time we left, he had two bags full of candy. Cody and Erin taught Kaleb that waving at people meant more candy and they were definitely correct. He had a blast and even tossed candy to the guy on the tractor that didn't have any to offer him :) Talk about a cute kid! He loved the clowns and tractors; we had a blast. After the parade, we went back to mom's for a bite to eat and a nap. The nap lasted about 5 minutes because he was so excited to go fishing instead. So, mom and Ryan joined us on our little fishing trip. We went to the pond at Gilbertson Park just outside town. Kaleb had fun watching his grammy cast out his line and then he liked reeling it back in. Needless to say we didn't bring home any fish but we had fun. Ryan went home and we dropped grammy off and headed back to Gilbertson. There we walked around the little "petting zoo" and through the informational building. That was fun too. I had a blast hanging out with him. Sunday morning mom and Ralph left to take the kids back home but it was great to have both of them here for a while. When I download my camera, I'll bring pictures.

21 July 2004

Me and my honey - we are so cute! Posted by Hello

20 July 2004

Its only Tuesday. Wait a second, my glass is half full – PRAISE THE LORD, its no longer Monday :) Lots going on in my little pea brain! I have the weirdest dreams. I wonder how Megan is, how the Sonksen’s and Whitney’s friends are mourning her death. I wonder why I’m afraid to confront someone I love when they’re making harmful decisions. I’m thankful to have so many friends involved in ministry but sad to see the Zurbriggen’s leave here. It amazes how God created our bodies so intricately – that a deer in the middle of the road can cause us to instantly break out in a sweat. I appreciate my little rural town where people value families and fellowship. The list goes on and on about the random thoughts in my head.

I had these wonderful plans yesterday. Leave the office at noon, get a haircut, go home for a quick shower, prepare a picnic for supper, take my nephew fishing and then meet up with Ryan for the HS baseball game. Well, things didn’t run so smoothly. I didn’t have the guts to chop my hair, instead she took off 2 inches. Then I get home, showered and started making chicken salad sandwiches. I quickly realized that we didn’t have any mayo in the house. I grabbed a burrito for a quick bite to eat and sat down to watch some design show while I ate. A news interruption came on to tell of thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch (a watch means that storms are forming in a patter that can create a tornado but a tornado has yet to be spotted) in the county. I debated on the whole fishing thing but the sky wasn’t too dark. So, I packed my fishing gear (what little I have), the picnic, a hat for the baseball game and headed off to moms. Kaleb didn’t take a nap and therefore couldn’t go fishing. I ended up taking him to the store to buy a fishing license and mayo. The place I thought sold fishing licenses didn’t and so we went on to the grocery store. Meanwhile Kaleb, who didn’t care to go with me to the store, talked non-stop. We stopped at the Ciszewski’s for a few minutes for Kaleb to play with their 4 girls. Mom called my cell to say that a tornado had been spotted 40 miles North and there was damaging sized hail. It started raining so we jumped in the truck and headed to my house for the tricycle. It just didn’t seem dark enough to be a major issue. While on the road, Ryan calls to say that he can’t meet me for the baseball game. The office staff scheduled him for a 430 appt (way too late) 25 miles from the office. Ryan would have to meet me at the game. We got the tricycle and headed back for moms hoping the weather would stay favorable. It’s not like we need anymore big rains anyway – we’ve had plenty of those this year. I made a few phone calls to see if the baseball game was still planned. Nobody knew so I mixed my mayo in with the chicken and headed off for the game. Just 15 minutes down the road was a road block. All I could think was “great, I only know one way to Fayette and the road is closed”. So, I asked the police officer and found out that it was just routed around an accident. Okay, to recap: I didn’t chop my hair as much as I planned, I didn’t take Kaleb fishing as planned and I didn’t get to meet Ryan for the game. We get to Fayette about the same time but neither of us knew where the baseball stadium is. After a quick tour of the town, we found the field. Fayette is the only town in America that has a university but not a high school (question from Who wants to be a Millionaire). The game started early in hopes to beat the weather so we missed the top of the inning. Our town is super supportive and the stands were full so we stood and watched over the homerun fence. Not my idea of fun at all. But within a few minutes, some friends had joined us in the “cheap seats”. Ryan snacked on a few chips and I ate sunflower seeds but we never did have our picnic. Leann invited us to come over after the game for supper and to hear some friends share about going into ministry. We had a great time hanging out with them. It was 11pm when we left the Carlson’s and way too late for us old married people. Good times even though the day didn't go quite as planned.
Today is Ralph’s birthday so I’m headed to mom’s to celebrate with them. Mom is cooking up ribs and some other good stuff. Happy Birthday Poops!

13 July 2004

UPDATE on Megan Babtista
This one was received Tuesday @1140am
Well, the praise comes first - Megan will be seen by a facial nerve specialist at Stanford on Monday! Yeah! God is good, all the time.

Next comes prayer - last night, the right side went paralyzed also, stopping her tear ducts, saliva, taste buds, and part of her hearing. She is having a really hard time choking down any food, and she can't close her lips or eyes anymore. It's really hard to understand her when she speaks - I have to be right in her face in order to "translate" what she's saying. This probably means that there is still bleeding and swelling going on in her skull - she sees a neurologist today at 1 PM. Whew - she really isn't out of the woods yet, but we know that God has a plan for all of this.

UPDATES on Megan Babtista
This one came Monday @504pm
On Megs - well, she had a setback on Thursday. Wednesday night, we noticed that her left eye looked a little droopy, but we figured that she was just swollen and tired, so we put her to bed. Thursday morning, she woke up unable to smile, and by Thursday evening she couldn't close her eye or her mouth on that side. We took her to her scheduled appointment with the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist for the bleeding out of her ear (who, incidentally, was trained in neurology and worked at Johns Hopkins) He confirmed that the left side of her face is paralyzed, probably due to the bleeding on the brain, and is referring her to a doctor at Stanford. He pointed out that the sooner we get her an appointment there, the better, since the longer she goes without treatment, the more permanent the damage becomes. We have left messages for the doctor she was assigned, but we have not received the call as of yet. She is really different now - her personality has changed somewhat, and she is really bitter and angry about the accident. Tulare County Sheriff Department is charging the boat driver with criminal negligence and involuntary manslaughter. Megs has a neurology appointment tomorrow in Fresno, and my appointment with the Gastrointoligist (sic) to schedule surgery is Thursday. Please pray also that she'll eat - it has become a huge fight, and my mom is about ready to shatter. Sorry, not a very encouraging report, but her recovery is going to be really slow and hard, and it does help to have people praying specifically for these things. God has a plan for all of this, and I praise Him for having broken me through these things. Take care, Tam - it was great to see you while you were here.

12 July 2004

Highlights from the weekend:
~ Ryan and I shared in celebrating the marriage of my friend Anna Cardwell to Hal DeLaRosby. I met Anna while in Nicaragua in January 2003. They will make their home in Waverly, about 1 ½ hours from us.
~ Ryan found 17 empty chocolate candy wrappers in the basement when we got home last night. Our dalmation had quite the meal while we were gone yesterday. Bad dog!
~ It took me way too long on Saturday but I gave the kitchen a very thorough cleaning. Ryan worked outside spraying weeds and in the basement all day.
~ Saturday night after the contemporary service, we joined the Rich/Cardo home for a jam session and fellowship time. Way relaxing and fun!
This caught my attention today:

Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.
Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.
For he has delivered me from all my troubles,
Psalm 54:1,2,4,7a

09 July 2004

Okay, I know it may be confusing but I'm slowly adding my updates from my CA trip. So, bear with me. And don't forget to pray for Megan and the Sonksen family.
SATURDAY the 26th
After a late night, I woke up first thing and went out to visit Grandma Martinez. We chatted for a while and she gave me some tortillas she made me since she heard I was coming to town. While sitting there, I saw this “thing” that is music related (I can’t think of the name for it). She was using to hold letters in. I commented that I liked it since we have a room decorated in music stuff and before I left she gave it to me. I didn’t want to take it but she insisted. When I left, I stopped by Walmart and purchased her a new letter holder.
Yeah, river day! Us girls went floating. Of course it wasn’t that simple though. We started with meeting Nicole at her house @ 1pm. I met Tebbe (Kristine Johnston) at her house and we left to air up the rafts. We stopped at the gas station and Robert, the owner, said to meet him in the back and he’d help us. Well, I went to the back of the shop, grabbed the air tool, attached it to the compressor hose and aired up the rafts. Robert was kinda surprised that I knew what I was doing and so I reminded him that I grew up around that stuff. He chuckled. We then stopped at Taco Bell for a quick bite. Let me just remind everyone that I don’t even like Taco Bell. I ate it so much in high school that I wouldn’t go there anymore (except when I was starving in college and had no where else to go on campus). Since I hadn’t had Taco Bell for a few years, it actually sounded good. We rushed to Nicole’s as I ate in Kristine’s truck. We were a few minutes late and thinking that Baker would be ready to walk out the door. Duh, of course she wasn’t; she hadn’t even changed into her tanning suit yet. So, anyway, we finally made it to the river, parked Nicole’s car at Del Rey bridge and then headed for the top. Nicole decided to leave her car unlocked so that her windows wouldn’t get broke in case someone wanted to break in. Only in California! Anyway, we have a nice little float down the river. Not too cold, not too many people. As we were floating, the Workman’s came by on wave runners. [Let me explain all this: We were floating in the lower river where there is no public access for boats etc. When I lived back home, we would spend Sunday afternoons at the Workman’s riding waverunners and splashing all of our floater friends.] All three of us were nervous and just knew we would get soaked. We prepared for the worse: Kristine hid her face, Nicole tried to hide and I got to the outside since I’m the least recognizable. We waited and waited. Finally one guy came back passed us but our buddies never returned. As we floated a little farther (not too far from the bridge) I could hear an alarm going off. I jokingly asked Nicole if she had an alarm on her car and she said no. As we got in sight of the bridge, there was this guy standing looking up river towards us. He shouted out to us and informed us that someone had been up there breaking into vehicles and asked which one was ours. I was a little nervous that he might be the trouble maker and was on the look-out for his buddies. But, as we got out of the river and headed up to the road, we saw that multiple cars had been broke into. Everyone of them, except Nicole’s, had windows broken out. The guy shouting lives around the corner, heard the alarm sounding and headed over. He saw the guys in action, called the Sheriff, etc. The idiots were too stupid to steal Nicole’s cd player. Anyway, we waited for the Sheriffs, gave them the basic information and scurried off. They asked Nicole for her information and she didn’t have her license on her, but at least she has a license now :) She had taken her wallet out and left it in Tebbe’s truck. So, here we stand in front of two sheriffs, none of us with a license on us, and we walk off to the car to leave. A little unnerving!
We got back to the truck and Nicole went home. Kristine and I then stopped by the Workman’s to chat with them. They were quite surprised to see me. I then took Luke’s wave runner out for a short ride. AND, I was nice and didn’t splash any of those floating. Instead, I would slow down as I passed them. When I slowed down for one group, I recognized the guy in the raft. It was my cousin, Chris, and so we chatted for a bit. He was quite surprised to see me on the river, let alone California. Finally I headed back to the house, put the wave runner on the trailer, chatted for a bit longer and went home for a shower.
That night was my relax night. I made a quick run to Walmart, ate a frozen burrito and don’t remember much else.
SUNDAY the 27th
Ya know, I’m writing this some time after getting back home and today there is so much more emotion that comes with the memories of these events. But, my point here is to share about my trip to CA not the events that occurred just days later.
Back in the day, when I lived in Kingsburg, Sundays were always an important day. Time to gather together and worship the Lord, time to sit at the table with family for a meal, it was and still is the Lord’s day. The last two years of college, summer Sundays meant we were out at the river. We’d go out to the Workman’s place that sat just below the wier on the lower Kings River. There was no public access below the wier which kept much of the traffic out. So, as were most Sunday afternoons, I went out to the Workman’s to hang out and visit. We did just that. Sat on the lawn in the shade of some old oak trees, ate junk food and hung out. It was good for me to see old friends and learn what they’d been up to in the last two years. I rode wave runners again, only this time it wasn’t such smooth sailing. I must have got something caught that wouldn’t allow me to accelerate beyond 5 mph. I was several miles down river and at this point Shanna, for the first time, took the lead. So, here I am putzing along passing people who were floating down river feeling like an absolute idiot. Finally Shanna realized that the wave runner behind her was not me and came back. I told her what I thought was wrong and she took off to find her dad (the owner of these expensive toys). I continued slow-poking along trying to pretend like I was enjoying the scenery. Finally Ronnie showed up to help. I pulled over in an open area, we turned the thing over, couldn’t see anything, Ronnie then jumped on to try it out. Of course it went perfectly down the river. I felt like a huge idiot, must have been God knowing that I need some humility at the point in time cause it worked. Ronnie tried to make me feel better by telling me that these things happen easily. I’m just thankful that I didn’t break anything! So, I headed back to the house and didn’t play around anymore on the river. About 5pm, I decided to go back to Dad’s and hang out with him for the evening.
I got to his house and he was gone. When I called his cell phone, it clicked with me that he had one more night of the Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde musical. Dad answered the phone and asked me again if I wanted to see the musical. I had at first said no, then the second time I wanted to go but didn’t have anyone to go with. All of a sudden, I need to rearrange my plans so that I could hang out with Dad on Monday night instead. So, I called Mike Fagundes to reschedule with him. With only a little coaxing, I talked Mike into coming down to the play. By this time it was 545pm and the play started at 7pm. I called Dad back and asked him to get us some tickets, jumped in the shower and rushed to get ready. Of course, if I was going to be in public, I wanted to make sure that I looked good :) By 630, Mike had showered, eaten a few hot dogs and driven to Selma. I, to no surprise, was not ready. A few minutes later, we walked out the door and I was carrying some homemade tortillas (thanks to Grandma) and tea. I stuffed my face as we drove to the theatre. It was sold out but thankfully Dad had already reserved the tickets for us.
We got inside the theatre and there were two empty seats next to us. They must have been running late since it was sold out. About 5 or 10 minutes into the musical, the couple walks into the now dark theatre. Much to my surprise it was Aaron Colby and his girlfriend. (Aaron is a childhood friend. He and my brother were buddies and I always referred to him as “my little boyfriend”. Even when he was half a foot taller than me and no longer little, he still had the same title. He’s always been a fun guy.) As he walked past me in the row, I smacked him half way on the rear and half way on the hip. Aaron’s eyes had yet to adjust to the dark and he had no clue who just smacked him. He looked at me and said “don’t hit me”. It was later in the play that he saw who was sitting next to him. Intermission came and we all got up for a quick break. First, we chatted with Aaron and laughed at the fact that he had no clue who was harassing him. As we all 4 walked out together, I saw Joe and Lisa Babtista. (Joe and Lisa are also good friends of mine. And Aaron grew up in church with them. Joe and Lisa’s daughter, Nikki, was in my wedding. The Babtistas are dear friends of mine. Mike went to elementary school with the Babtista kids and also knows their family. All that said, here’s the story:) I hugged the Babtistas and said hello. Joe, who has yet to meet Ryan, turns towards Mike and asks “so, is this the special one?” (or something real similar). I turned to Joe and said “no, this is Mike. He was special 6 years ago.” Joe was so embarrassed and I thought it was hilarious. Joe was just trying to be nice and introduce himself, thinking it was Ryan, since I didn’t bother to introduce them. But I didn’t feel the need to introduce him to Mike, someone he knew. But Joe didn’t recognize Mike, in fact, its been several years since he’d seen him and Mike no longer wears glasses. It was a good laugh for all of us.
We eventually sat back down and enjoyed the rest of the play/musical. After that we went to Denny’s for a late supper, since I was still HUNGRY! After Dad finished cleaning up some lighting and sound stuff, he met as Denny’s. During the time in between, I used that opportunity to ask Mike about his faith, where he is at and where he’s going. Following the food, we went back to the house and I continued to ask Mike questions. I just know that someday he’s going to call me and tell me that for the first time in his life he’s experiencing the true love of Christ and has a joy in his heart. In the meantime, I’ll continue to pray and hope that the Holy Spirit doesn’t wear out his knuckles knocking.
It was an interesting few hours. Although I dated Mike in the past, there’s no akwardness being around him. Praise God that in His time, he restored that friendship; one that I greatly value. Going to bed that night I missed Ryan so much more. I was so thankful that I have a husband who loves the Lord and desires to lead me in such a direction.
MONDAY the 28th
What a blessing Monday was. I got to hang out with my Nanny and little cousins, Taylor and Shannon Gilbreath. And for the first time since I’d left my house on the 18th, I had a home cooked meal. Yup, biscuits and gravy and bacon – good stuff! I hung out there all day playing with the girls and chit chatting with Nanny. She made lunch too; some more good stuff – fried potatoes and beans. Oh, how I love simple foods.
That night Dad and I planned on supper together. So, I went to his house and made an enchilada casserole. It turned out pretty good even though I forgot to use some sauce over the top. Well, Dad said he’d be home at 6pm and I was irritated when he wasn’t. Not much later I called his cell phone to see where he was. He was at the theatre cleaning up since he had left early the night before. About 7pm, Dad came in and not much later Jen called and chatted with him for a little bit. We ate dinner and chatted for a short period of time. He ended up helping me cut some roses to take to Dorothea.
About 930 that night, I showed up at the Fagundes house to visit with Jim and Dorothea. I wanted to surprise Dorothea and had been keeping tabs on them without them knowing it. Monday night was the only night I knew they’d be home. I stood outside and rang the doorbell. The boys (Jason and Mike) both knew I was coming so they made her answer the door. She was so surprised because she had no clue I was in town. It was lots of fun to visit with them. I tried to talk Jim into hunting deer out here instead of Montana but I don’t think I have him hooked yet. It was late and I knew they needed sleep so I went in the living room to harass Mike. Jim went on to bed and Dorothea came in there and we talked till 315 in the morning. I was so stinkin’ tired!!!!!!!! Another late night but well worth the time; it had been quite a while since I got to sit and visit with them.

07 July 2004

Megan Babtista and Whitney Sonksen (both of Kingsburg) were in a boating accident on July 4th. Megan and Whitney were riding a wave runner when a boat came around the corner and collided with the girls. Whitney died later of multiple injuries. Megan has multiple skull fractures and is bleeding out her ears. I just found out this afternoon that Megan, although still bleeding, was scheduled to come home last night. Her doctors said that she's recovered 2 weeks worth in just 2 days. The doctors comment to the family was "you must have a lot of religious people praying for her". Everyone is amazed at Megan's recovery. Please join me in praying for Whitney's family and friends as they mourn her loss. For those who saw the accident happen. Pray for Megan as she will likely feel guilty (she was driving the wave runner) and question God. Lets also pray for ultimate healing in Megan and a testimony that reaches millions. Praise God that people have been sharing with Whitney's family about her sharing her testimony with others. Join me in praying for that testimony to continue as she leaves a legacy of loving the Lord.

02 July 2004

Where do I begin? It’s been a very long two weeks so I’ll just start at the beginning and share as much as time will allow:
FRIDAY the 18th
Ryan was gone for 2 days in Galena, Illinois at the Eagle Ridge Resort for work. We then joined up in Des Moines Friday night. Ryan was already relaxing at the hotel when I met up with him. It was so good to see my honey! He presented a gift to me and it has a wonderful story behind it. It's a lap harp. I don’t remember all the details of the story but I have to share it with you. It just creates a picture of how sweet and wonderful my husband truly is. Praise the Lord.

Several months back I joined Mom, Ralph and Dad on a trip to Galena when Dad was out visiting. While there, I saw this lap harp in a store. It was the neatest thing. You might have to check out the website to understand but you slide this card under the strings and the notes are placed right under the strings to pluck. It was the perfect cheat sheet for someone like me who has no musical talent. I thought it would be a great addition to our music room but didn’t want to spend the money on it. So instead I bought one for mom as a Mothers Day gift. Anyway, when Ryan was done with the conference on Friday, he went into town to find the lap harp for me. The only thing Ryan knew was that it was in a store in downtown Galena. When Ryan arrived just one store was open. So he walked around for an hour waiting. Then at 10am, he began his hunt. It was very much like a wild goose chase! One store sent him to another place who sent him to another place and on and on. Sick of getting the run around, Ryan tried calling my mom to find out where the store was but he didn’t have cell phone reception. Galena sits in a little valley area along the river with a very steep hillside on the other edge of town. So, he climbed up these long stairs to try to get reception. I’m not at all exaggerating; they must have taken him forever to walk up. The picture isn’t clear or I’d show you the proof. I’m way too lazy to ever walk up those stairs! He hiked up and still no reception so he headed back down to search some more. Finally he found the right place – it was the one that had been open at 9am. Ryan had taken cash so that he could buy the lap harp without me knowing and then give it to me for Christmas. Little did he know that it cost a pretty penny. So, he ended up having to use the credit card. And since I pay the bills and would see the purchase and question him on it, he decided to just give it to me early. There was lots of effort involved in his thoughtfulness! He’s so wonderful!!!!!!

Back to my travels, after relaxing for about ½ an hour in the hotel, we met Ryan’s folks, Eric (his brother) and Shelly (Eric’s wife) for dinner at Okoboji Grill. I had yet to meet Shelly and was both excited and apprehensive. Things went great, I think :) All six of us had a good time even though my salmon was not cooked! Its too bad that Eric and Shelly live in Bemidji, MN. It would be fun to get together with them on a regular basis. After supper we went our separate ways. Ryan and I stopped and had a shaved ice together after making a few purchases at Dollar General. Then we headed back to the hotel and I fell asleep as we watched Princess Diaries on TV.
SATURDAY the 19th
We started our day by having breakfast with my Mom, Ralph, Nanny and Aunt Janie. Nanny and Janie had flown into Des Moines airport to hang out with in beautiful NE Iowa for a week. Unfortunately I had already made plans to be in CA the same week. So, we swapped states. Fortunately, they flew into DM (which is farther than Cedar Rapids) so I got to see them briefly. From there, we headed to Prairie City. We were there to celebrate 60 years of marriage for Ryan’s Gramma and Grampa Buitenwerf. First things first – Gramma made her famous pressed chicken sandwiches. We had just eaten so I tasted the sandwich and snacked on a few chips. Everyone began to arrive. Unlike that of my own, the Buitenwerf’s are a small family. Gramma and Grampa Buitenwerf have two sons who each have two children. None of us grandkids have “kids”. Instead, we all have animals instead. *** Side note: I come from a big family with lots of cousins and love that. Seeing such a small family got my attention and helped me be a little more open to have “several” children. We’ll see what the Lord provides us with :) After everyone showed up and had a bite to eat, it was picture time (check us out here and here). We all took some very cute photos outside near the garden and in the front yard. I’m excited to see those when they come back. After pictures we went back in the house and snacked some more. Gram B is very good at feeding people. Then she took us out to the farm where she grew up, where her brother still resides. We mostly toured the 3 story 100+ year old barn. It was amazing and so neat to hear Gram B talk about milking the cows, putting up hay etc (pictures of this coming soon, I hope). Living history fascinates me; especially when it involves my family. We then headed back to the house and visited with family. There were a few gifts and cards to open which was really a blessing to watch. Grampa B was quite emotional (possibly related to his recent stroke 2 weeks prior). He was teary-eyed over the cards and gifts and it was really neat to see that he cares. After 60 years, he still cares. What a legacy he’s living for his family to see. At 6pm, we had dinner scheduled. It was a home cooked meal by a man who caters small parties in his home. The place was out in the country on a farm with lots of animals (peacocks, dogs, horses, etc), gorgeous flower gardens and other pretty things. It was a huge meal, very nicely planned. We had a nice salad, bowl of fruit, and bread. The main course was a nice cut of beef (I can’t remember what it was called. All I know is that I don’t eat much beef and it was good) with vegeta… wait, I can’t remember what all was on the plate. I just know I cleaned my plate because the food was excellent. We had Better-Than-Sex cake for dessert. Mom and Dad B (Ryan’s folks) provided the wine which I heard was superb. After supper, we toured the home which was filled with antiques and beautiful pieces of furniture, art etc. It was a grand evening and lots of fun to celebrate with everyone.
SUNDAY the 20th
Woke up, not that I slept the night before, and had breakfast. Toast with homemade strawberry jam. Oh so delicious. Everyone rushed around getting ready for church while I packed and got ready to head to the airport. I hugged the B’s and kissed my honey goodbye before heading off to Cedar Rapids. It was a long day – approximately 14 hours by time I got into my hotel. I was tired and sick of sitting all day. It felt so good to lie down and go to sleep. It was the best night of rest in some time.
MONDAY the 21st
The NOPHNRCSE conference begins. Those of us on National Council met at 7am to go over the business agenda and sort through some other basic items. I “worked” all day helping out with registration and other little tasks. During my lunch break, I wandered over to the mall and had fish and chips with a few of the members. We held the business meeting on Monday night. There was a good turnout of food and members :) We chose a site for the 2005 conference and dealt with several other business items. I led the ad hoc committee for the site ballot and left the meeting carrying the votes. BUT, I forgot the bios for the sessions I was scheduled to moderate. After chatting on the phone with Ryan and relaxing, I realized what I was missing. I knew that they cleaned the ballroom already but hoped I could dig through the trash for my bios. As I exited the elevator, I was embarrassed to see Chief Knight socializing and tried to cover my NRCS logo on my shirt with my hair as I rushed past. Praise the Lord, they hadn’t cleaned the ballroom and my bios were exactly where I left them! So, I rushed back past the Chief and headed to my room to work on my introductions of speakers. Another night of good sleep but the bed seemed so empty without Ryan there next to me.
TUESDAY the 22nd
A day packed with opening ceremonies, educational presentations and lots of sitting. We had opening ceremonies, messages from partners, panel discussions, concurrent training sessions and more. Tuesday night was the scholarship auction and social hour. More great food, I loved all the fruit they had there. We made ~$5400 in scholarship funds from the items that were donated by members and auctioned off. Needless to say, I donated my fair share to the cause and will save it for a Christmas gift.
WEDNESDAY the 23rd
We started the morning with a State Conservationist Breakfast. It was a great way for students who were there to solicit themselves for a job and network with others. Several students were Fresno State Bulldogs and pursuing engineering or agricultural degrees. One student is currently a USDA Multicultural Scholar. I made sure to introduce myself to her since I was in her shoes during my college days. It was a neat connection since I was a USDA scholar and have met someone else going through those same experiences. Wednesday was another full day with a conservation tour after lunch. I stayed back in the hotel during that for medical reasons (mostly because Eve at the apple from the tree).
Wednesday night I was free to do whatever I pleased. Yah! I had plans with the girls – Katie and Cori. Those two girls are my best college buddies and I love them dearly. Early that afternoon, Cori called and cancelled because of all the things going on with her. Katie and I missed our buddy but we had a good time together. We ate at Hard Rock CafĂ© and shopped in the mall next to the hotel. It was fun but I’d like some more of those days to catch up with my girls.
THURSDAY the 24th
Getting closer to the end. Amen, Amen, Amen. When I know I’m going home or finishing up, it always makes me eager to get through it and get home. Thursday had some good things on the agenda but I was enjoying learning from my new friends. At lunch time I went up to my room and packed my things. After lunch I met with some other NRCS staff and learned about conservation in other areas, met a few state cons and relaxed. Thursday night was the banquet where they handed out awards, had a comedian as the guest speaker and introduced new officers. They also announced where the next conference would be held. Louisiana, here we come! My brother, DJ, came to Sacramento to pick me up. He arrived early so I brought him into the banquet to hear the comedian. When it was over and the dance started, I said my adios’ and hit the road. DJ and I had an interesting chat on the way back to Fresno. I love my brother and try to be a good sister but I’m not sure what good I do. Anyway, we stopped at his girlfriend’s house so I could meet her. She seemed really sweet and I hope to get to know her better in the future. Then he took me to Dad’s house where we chatted for a bit and then I crashed.
FRIDAY the 25th
Ah crum, what did I do Friday. Oh yeah, first thing in the morning, I had an appointment with Dean Bartell, the dean of the College of Agriculture Sciences and Technology at Fresno State. The four years I was at Fresno State, I joked and chatted with Dean Bartell on numerous occasions. When he heard I was out in CA last December and didn’t visit him, I got scolded. It was a nice visit. Then I tried to find Dr. Nef, who was the Associate Dean and in charge of us scholars. After a little effort, I sat in his office and chatted a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see my friend Amy who works for Associated Students. I then wandered back to Selma, changed and ended up at the McCaron’s where Nicole Baker was babysitting / hanging out. We chatted and laid out in the pool for a while.
Friday night Nicole Baker, Susan Kredit, Paul Nyberg and I went to Red Lobster for dinner. The shrimp scampi was good but I make better. And I never have cared for lobster tail so I’m not sure why I tried that again :) We stopped at Starbucks where the carpool began and went in for a coffee. There I saw Stephanie Nyberg, a high school buddy of mine. Good times.