29 October 2004

Ah, the joys of laying out the practices in the field. I’m such a whiner. When I sit at my desk all day, I complain I never get out to the field. And days when I’m stumbling through corn stalks helping Dave lay out terrace projects, I just wish my lazy butt could be back in the office. The last terrace that I assisted with was 0.9 miles long. Yeah, just one terrace on the farm with lots more to be done there. Walking through cornstalks sucks. Some of the stalks are so tough that I could stand and put all my weight on them and they don’t budge, they’re like little trees. My shins usually get pretty roughed up while the guys are tall enough they can step right over them. PTL, we just got a “new” guy here at the office. He’ll be working Monday and Friday which means he’ll take my place in the field. And for terrace layout, I’d gladly give that up

27 October 2004

I kinda changed my links on the side so check them out.
ps. Ryan, when I try Eric's website it works.
About the middle of the month, Ryan’s Grandma and Grandpa Buitenwerf came up to visit for the weekend. We had such a fun time with them. Friday evening we viewed some old pictures with them. We also had a nice supper together. The highlight of the evening was sitting around listening to Gram B play old hymns on our piano. Oh, it was such fun! I wish that I was blessed with musical and vocal talents. Saturday we cruised around the country side in cold and windy weather. We stopped at this apple farm in WI which was no comparison to Gays Mills, a place that Ryan’s grandparents visit annually. By request, we ventured up along the Mississippi River to Gays Mills. It’s a big apple orchard that brings lots of visitors each year. Apple orchards aren’t as common here as back in Kingsburg which explains why people flock to them. We taste tested apples, drank some cider and had a good time looking around. We purchased some lovely honeycrisp apples, caramel, cider and apple butter. On the way back, we stopped at Pike’s Peak. This place is absolutely gorgeous – what a great overlook of the mighty Mississippi. The Autumn leaves are just full of color and the air was cool and crisp – a little too cool for me. That night we had supper at the all famous Sabor Latino, the only “real” Mexican restaurant for miles. This place is so good! My folks joined us for supper and afterwards we went back to our house and taught them to play Mexican Train, a dominoes game. Sunday after church, Mom and Ralph had coffee and chatted with G&G B while we were in a meeting. We all had lunch at moms and the grandparents left from there to go home. I think we all had a good time.

25 October 2004

Alpha Delta Chi - The Christian Sorority
I just wanted to send this to everyone so you can see what is going on with my old ADX chapter (theta) and what has been happening. They were recently contacted and interviewed for the Faith and Values section of the Fresno Bee. Well this comes out every saturday and in it today was this article. Check it out:

What fun stories to I have to share today? Oh, there’s been lots of things lately, let me begin with Cardinal baseball.
Last week we invited Sarah (one of our JV kids) and her dad, Marty, over for to watch the Cardinals baseball game. Both are die hard fans. Well, that happened to be the night that the Yankees went 14 or so innings and interrupted the Cardinals game. Fortunately they moved our game to the FX channel but unfortunately, we don’t have that channel. Marty had that channel at home but was a good sport and hung out with Ryan waiting for the Yankees game to end. It was about 10pm when the Yankees game ended, about the time that Marty was walking out the door to take his daughter home so she could get to bed. The poor guys, they ended up watching some game they didn’t really care about but they had fun. And it was fun to have them over. I had brought Heather (our friends daughter who is also Sarah’s age) home with me to hang out with Sarah. It was good for the two girls to meet since the JV Youth retreat was coming up and Heather wouldn’t know anyone else.
Last night, Marty calls and invites us over to watch the game at his house. Probably didn’t want to chance not seeing it at our place :) So, we at supper with them and watched the game. Sarah left for her church youth group activity (she’s in our youth group but doesn’t attend our church). Marty showed us around the house and talked a little about life as he knows it. His wife and he are divorcing and it was a very touchy subject but I’m sure he needed to chat with someone. The “chatting” was mostly about Cardinals baseball cards – they were both like little kids sharing their ancient cards. We headed back downstairs for the start of the game.
The guys watched as I read a book (and finished in one sitting I might add). It was called Learning to Breathe Again by Tammy Trent. Great book about how she’s walked through the last 3+ years after suddenly losing the love of her life in diving accident in Jamaica. Yeah, a must read but have some Kleenex ready. You can also listen on line at FamilyLife and click HERE. It was so good that I read while we drove home from Marty’s, while waiting for Ryan to finish brushing his teeth and put it down briefly for our bible reading. I picked it right back up when we were done and read till almost 1am this morning when I was finished. Oh, so good!

14 October 2004

The following is an excerpt from LifeFocus' Challenge Newsletter. It was written by Jerry Foster, Financial Planner, CEO and founder of Foster Group. He's also one of the speakers for Family Life Marriage Conferences - where we ran across him. Take a look at what he had to share this month:

The underlying question that most of us ask ourselves is; "How do I get from here to there?" We have all created an ideal by which we live, strive for improvement and measure our success. The first thing we need to determine is where we are getting the information that determines the criteria we use to create that ideal. What we are talking about is "success". How do you define success? The input we get for creating our own definition of success comes from television, movies, billboards, commercials, books, magazines, friends and even church. We are impacted by the way our culture sees success and that means virtually everything around us influences the way we think. The key to resisting the alluring temptation of "cultural success" is to create a personal success filter. This filter is built by internalizing several strategic questions that will help us determine what is most important to us as we evaluate opportunities and make strategic choices. The way this happens is to take part in what I call "The Life Reflection Exercise". Imagine this scenario:
See yourself in your nineties, moving a little more slowly, but still mentally sharp. You step out onto the deck of your cabin by the lake, a favorite vacation spot of yours for decades. You ease into a comfortable chair to enjoy another glorious sunset. Caught up in the wonder of the moment, you begin to reflect on your long and pleasant life. The memories flood back, and even the stunning radiance of the setting sun is no match for the glow of satisfaction and fulfillment that warms your heart.
Putting yourself in this ideal setting, what do you hope you could say about the life you have experienced? In other words, what would you like to see as your life draws to a close?
You see, you have defined the life you want to live. This is your personal definition of success. In order to have a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction with the life you have lived requires intentionality. Here are some strategic questions that need to be answered:
1. What accomplishments have been the most rewarding for you? Why?
2. What brought you the most excitement and joy? Why?
3. What relationships meant the most to you?
4. What did those relationships look like?
5. Where did you have the most influence?6. What words do others use to describe you?
These questions help you create a filter for creating your preferred future and give you a basis for making decisions and forging new paths in your life. Whatever choice you are making, or whatever goals you are putting before you, ask yourself this question;
How will this choice or new opportunity change my answers to the above questions?
If the outcome will enhance the picture of your preferred future, then go for it. If it alters it in a compromising way, then it requires some rethinking.There is one last question we must ask ourselves when painting a picture of our preferred future.
What needs to happen today in order for that preferred future to become a reality?
You are now on the way to pursuing the life you want under your terms. Don't let others tell you what your life should look like. The outcome of your life is a personal journey that is forged out in the context of what is important to you.
Until next month, enjoy your personal journey of "influence".

For more information on lifeWealth, check it out at www.lifewealthstrategies.com

12 October 2004

Praise the almighty for paid holidays! Yeah, I had a nice 3-day weekend in honor of Columbus. And as usual, another busy weekend is gone. Our company ended up not coming till Saturday which gave me some time to pick up the house. That was very nice to have done and not worry about. Saturday I coached some 4th-6th graders in soccer which is always a blast. I had the typical go-getters and lazy kids. What fun! The Tafoyas showed up around 1pm for the quick visit. We ate a few meals, played with William (the goat), fought off Asian Beetles and chatted. The two kids (10 and 8 years old) did a good job of entertaining themselves by finding things to play with. Sunday morning we all had a wonderful breakfast that Ryan made. We headed off for church and they headed home. It was a short visit but good to see them.

Yesterday I just got to hang out and not be too rushed about a whole lot. I cleaned the JV room in the basement, had a nice chat with the Culligan Man, had lunch with my honey, designed the JV retreat t-shirt on the computer and hung out with friends. Things were so nice and relaxing until I started cooking. I made a cheeseburger casserole, wild rice soup, breaded shrimp and raspberry dessert. That was a little difficult in itself. For those of you who know me well - I really can cook :) The problem came when I was in the middle of making wild rice soup and didn't have chicken broth. I sub'd it for cream of chicken and decreased the amount of half and half to put in. Well, it didn't have the flavor I expected and I should have used more cream but it was still good. Then while making the casserole, I found that I didn't have any eggs. A quick drive to the neighbors fixed that. Renessa and I were in the kitchen cooking and playing with Caleb (her 8 month old son) while the guys were out tearing off our old porch. It got a little crazy in the kitchen but things turned out okay.

Renessa and I are growing much closer and she's a wonderful friend. I'll be sad to see them go when the go into full time ministry and leave our area. Just as I'm getting used to having a girl friend that is my age. I've threatened to follow her and Ryan (her husband) when they meet with people for support raising. I thought I'd meet with them and ask them not to support them so they'll stay local. Its been a fun joke and I wouldn't do that at all but I will miss them as God leads them away.

Last night, after our company was gone, Ryan and I were chatting. He told me that Denise (our friend who's been in Ethiopia for over a year doing veterinary missions) is home. She emailed him about getting together for a super bowl party like old times. Well, I was okay with that. Then Ryan told me that he invited her to Thanksgiving at our house. I was quite surprised that he invited her without asking since he hates when I spring something on him like that. He proceeded to say "since mom and dad are going to be here and she's always been dad's favorite". About that time, my mouth dropped wide open. That kinda hurt. He might as well have said "Tammy, since Denise is dad's favorite, I want her here for Thanksgiving". I didn't know to be hurt or pissed at him. I just put my head down, bit my tongue and sat for a minute. Ryan didn't say anything else and since just before these comments I mentioned taking a shower and going to bed, I got up and did just that. I knew that if I said anything to him, he would be so defensive with me and nothing would get across for communication. Denise is great and wonderful but there was a time when I questioned if Ryan liked her instead of me, if I was 2nd best to her. This, of course, didn't make things any better. I know, I know, I'm the one he married and goes home to every night, etc. I just shared all these things with Cori but I hate having to eat my own words! Denise is great and I'm excited to see her but Ryan's words were quite a surprise to me. I almost want to blurt out "Well then, you marry her and let her fix you supper, launder your clothes, pay your bills and feed your animals!". Yeah, obviously I have a little work to do with my attitude. Don't get me wrong, I love Ryan and wouldn't wish for anything else but I was so ticked. So, pray for me and my stinky attitude!

Not much else noteworthy. Just another cram packed week ahead. I'm looking forward to the Women of Faith conference in 10 days or so. I'm also looking forward to hearing about Cori's new adventure. I'll never forget when she tried to hook me up with Will by "marketing" me while she was introducing me in front of our whole class one day. Now, she's got another perfect boy that she refers to as a "non-sinner". That status means that he's not someone who would date her typical friends. She wants me to hook him up with someone I know - maybe an ADXer. He works in our Visalia office. So, I'll find out more about him for you girls I :o)-->-----<

08 October 2004


Oz was great last night. Dorothy did an amazing job - especially for a 14 year old girl. The cast was great, the scenery was very appropriate and there was even some pyrotechnics. Yeah, a big show for little Elkader. Its almost like being on Broadway! After the play, went went back to Jen and Ryan's. And as always, we had a great time with the Royers. The two Ryans share and re-live fun veterinary stories . Of course, Jen and I appreciate a little variety in our conversations. Last night was a bit interesting when we got into politics since Jen was the only democrat in the house. But we had a great time. When the clock started chiming midnight, it was well past time for us to leave. So, this morning I'm exhausted. With 5 and 1/2 hours of sleep, I'm dragging. And we have compnay coming and I need to clean. Fortunately God knows I need some time to clean and sleep. Rick called this morning and shared that his son won't be back till late from his field trip. That means that they wouldn't arrive here till midnight so they've decided to leave in the morning. HOORAY! I can clean and sleep. AND, this is a 3-day weekend for me. WOO HOO!

07 October 2004


Did you know that the word Oz comes from the word Australian? I find this a very interesting thought to ponder as I will be sitting at the theatre watching the Wizard of Oz with Ryan and a few friends. Last time we saw a play with the Royers, it was Run For Your Wife. It is a British comedy and although hilarious, I was quite embarrassed that I invited some friends to see it. I’m not sure which was worse, that every other sentence was a sexual innuendo (I didn’t know what a british comedy was) or that much of the audience fell into the over 50 crowd. Here were all these “old” people watching a “dirty” play. And I was there too. Tonight’s entertainment should be much more family friendly although I’m disappointed that I won’t be seeing Jay (the pharmacist in town) wearing make-up and I won’t be seeing one of the local chiropractors playing a gay character.

It seems like everytime I post something, I comment on how BUSY we are. That continues to be the case, of course. Last Friday, Ryan and I worked half days and then left for Minneapolis. We’ve learned that the only way to travel is with a book on CD. It makes 3-4 hour drives much easier to travel. That evening we splurged and went to Taco Bell for supper. Its been years since I’ve had Taco Bell (with the exception of when I was home in June). The location and price range really got our attention quickly. Plus it was a Friday night in a “big city” and I didn’t want to wait to be seated. After scarfing down several tacos and a nacho bell grande, we headed across to the mini mall for a walk. While there, we got some good Christmas shopping done. Saturday we headed downtown for a conference at a beautiful church. Sat all day for that and when it was over, got back on the road. Stopped at the Old Chicago for supper and headed towards home. We had planned to stay one more night to join some friends at church for the dedication of the twins but Ryan had a cold and didn’t need to give it to the twin babies and staying another night in the hotel won’t help us save money for the garage we’d like to build. So, we got home around 10pm. Sunday morning, we were “bedside Baptists” and didn’t go to church. Ryan still wasn’t feeling well so we had breakfast together (which is rare) and watched a service on TV.
I thought Monday morning would never end. I sat at my desk on the phone with different people ALL morning. One of those days that nothing gets accomplished for the benefit of my office but everyone else got some assistance. Monday afternoon I left for Des Moines for work. I serve on the state Civil Rights Advisory Committee (CRAC) which takes me to DM for meetings. Monday night I made arrangements to meet with Mike and Naphtali Crouse for supper. Mike was called active and went to the middle East a few months after I got here. He was gone for 8 months and I’ve been eager to see him again. Naphtali, last I heard (2 years ago), was mad at me for hanging out with Mike (LONG story). Needless to say, I had very mixed feelings about seeing them. I was so nervous that I was almost shaking, I felt like it was my first job interview or something. We had supper together, visited for a bit and I jumped back in my car and headed for the hotel. Monday I sat in a meeting till 2pm and then got in my car and started down the road AGAIN. Picked up groceries on the way home and pulled in the driveway @ 7pm. In just four days, I put over 1,000 miles on my car. Yeah, a lot of time sitting on my fat butt. Tuesday night we had plans to have some friends over for supper. (Do any of you remember Hugo, the 90 year old, who talked at my wedding?) Yup, Hugo and Gladys were supposed to come over but in the mix of travel, I forgot to call and confirm details (since we missed them at church on Sunday) and I also forgot to call and reschedule. I felt horrible. So, I got groceries put away and immediately had numerous phone calls to return. One of which was to Rick Tafoya. Rick used to be the USDA laiason at Fresno State when I was a USDA scholar. He’s now working in Iowa for NRCS (like me). Yeah, so I called him and he confirmed that he would be bringing the family (his wife, 2 kids plus a 6 month old) up for the weekend. We had an open invite to him and Monday he called to see what our weekend looked like. So, here it was 730 Tuesday night, I’m exhausted from traveling and I now have company coming on Friday. Need I remind you that I had been gone that weekend so clothes were laundered and the house didn’t receive its routine weekend cleaning? No big deal, I have 2 nights right.. Wrong! Wednesday night is JV youth group and tonight is Wizard of Oz. So, I warned Rick that the house won’t be spic and span clean like I’d prefer. He didn’t seem to care since I went down and helped them move into their house and unpack boxes when he moved to Iowa. So, its Thursday, my house is not as dirty as it was, but its not clean either. Yikes. I’m waiting for the magic fairy to show while we’re at the play tonight. We’ll see what happens.

On other fronts… has there been anything else??? Things at work are good but continue to be wildly busy – especially with my collateral duties that I have. I guess the big thing as usual is that I miss my friends. PTL though, I got to chat with Weenie for a whole hour the other day without interruption of her daycare kids. Today, right now, I especially miss my ghetto Fresno girls – Cori and Katie. Katie seems to have fallen off the face of the earth so I miss her. I do get to chat with Cori which really makes me miss her too. I eagerly await the visit of Ryan’s folks. For one, they’re great, even though they’re “in-laws”. I’m excited to see them and for our parents to get together again and hang out. Plus, we (or should I say “I”) loving having guests in our home. I love entertaining even though I really don’t know how to. I’m also looking at a very busy calendar in the near future. This weekend the Tafoya’s are coming. Next weekend is Ryan’s Grandparents. The weekend following that I’m headed to the Women of Faith conference in Minneapolis (while Ryan deals with the Junior High Retreat for NAB conference). That’s the basics I guess. I’m so thankful that Fall is here, the leaves are gorgeous, I have a great view from my office desk! Crisp autumn air, football and hot chocolate are so good to imagine if I ever slow down enough to enjoy them. God is SO, SO good. I’m enjoying having a quiet time and reading through the Psalms. I wish I had/took more time to do that.

Oh, that reminds me… I was cleaning in the spare bedrooms for our company and came across an old journal from around the time I graduated college and moved out here. What fun that was but that’s another post and another day! I gotta go see the Yellow Brick road.