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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Last Q&A Before the Big Day!

Okay blog readers.....I'm going to do another Q&A session this week.  So comment below with your questions and I'll do my best to answer them.  They can be wedding related, life related, ag related, football related, or none of the above.  Whatever you want to know, ask away.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Best Advice

Thursday, September 25, 2014

30 Days Left...

"How long as it taken me to find you?  500 years, 500,000 miles.  It don't matter now, love's always on time..." ~Miranda Lambert, Oklahoma Sky

I've waited 30 years, 10 months, and 25 days. 

Now, there are just 30 days left to go.  The wedding countdown is on, folks.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What I Will Miss

"You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place.  Like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and place because you'll never be this way ever again."

I'll start this out by saying I absolutely cannot wait to be Mrs. The Boy from Texas.  I cannot wait to live in the same zip code and have dinner together every night and not have to say goodnight on the telephone anymore.  I would trade all of the things below for that in a heartbeat.

But, I'm also mourning a bit what all of that means leaving behind.  It's funny, isn't it?  I spent years---YEARS--wanting to find Mr. Right.  We don't appreciate what we have until it's gone.  We overlook the chapter that we are in because we are so busy looking forward to the next one.

As the current chapter of my life comes to an end....the moving truck will be here in less than 20 days....I've been rather reflective on what I will miss, both about living in College Station and about being single.

Late night adoration.  Hands down my favorite part of College Station is the perpetual adoration chapel at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.  It is open 24 hours a day.  There is a perpetual adorer, meaning someone is there praying constantly, day and night, rain or shine.  There is something about it---you can feel God's presence in the room, which, of course, is the point. It has served for me as a place of reflection and peace, prayer and analysis, realization and understanding, pain and celebration.  I love going late at night, when it is quiet and dark and there are only a couple of other people there.  I do my best praying there....and I like to think I do my best listening there as well.  It is an experience I will miss.

Eating Wheat Thins for dinner.  I suppose this one is about more than Wheat Thins, although I do love those little crackers. I will no longer be responsible only for me.  I'll have another person to think about, whose needs matter, and who probably is not going to be satisfied if I offer him up a few crackers of out a box and pass that off as dinner.  Being single for so long has really allowed me to focus on me.  In some ways, I've been selfish---traveling where I want, doing what I want, buying what I want.  Bucket list trip to Chicago to see the green river with one of my favorite girls?  Yep.  Europe twice?  Yep.  Football games out the wazoo?  Yep. 

But I also think on some ways it has let me be more generous--I am able to donate to causes, help others, send surprise gifts without ever having to run these expenses by another person.  I know the transition into taking another person's feelings and opinions and needs into account is going to take some adjusting.

Sleeping sans snoring.  The Boy from Texas snores.  There.  I said it.  I'm quite used to sleeping in the quiet of my own room.  Well, with the exception of the train that comes blowing by a couple times a night.  I remember the first night I was in my house, I was sharing an air mattress with College Roomie.  The 2:00 am train whistle about gave us both a heart attack.  Now?  I don't even hear a thing anymore.  I sure hope this snoring situation will turn out like that train situation did.  Because if not, we're going to some sort of sleep doctor and investing in some nasal spray.  Pronto.

  La Bodega Tacos.  I mean, y'all don't understand. People can yap about the Dixie Chicken burgers or Lane's chicken or whatever the heck else is famous about College Station, but this place has a little taco bar with the best steak tacos that I've ever put into my mouth.  And I like to think I'm quite the taco connoisseur.  Those little bits of goodness on a plate, I will certainly long for when I'm gone.

Seeing other runners out and about.  I run solo.  Well, I used to run with College Roomie and listen to her whining about how none of it was fun, but then I moved.  Then I ran here with Cowgirl in Aggieland, but then she moved for the semester.  So, I've been hitting the pavement with just my trusty "New Running" playlist. But there are always lots of other runners on the sidewalks.  And for some reason, that's motivational to me.  Sort of a "you're not alone in this" type of feeling.  When I've run around the neighborhood where The Boy from Texas and I will be living, people have just stared.  I guess it's not too often a young, blonde girl comes jogging through a town of 1000 people.  They don't seem to understand me.  But they usually do prevent their dogs from attacking, so that's a bonus.

Decorating my house with my stuff.  For the most part, I really like the style of decor The Boy from Texas uses in his house.  It's more western than me, but not punchy.  I think we're going to be able to agree on most things just fine.  But as I pack up some of my stuff here, I feel like I'm not sure where it fits anymore.  The water color paintings of San Francisco are a great example.  They are beautiful.  They remind me of an amazing, life-changing summer.  Of a dream I went after and then decided to let go.  Maybe if something didn't fit in my life, it doesn't fit on my wall?

My sweet work friendsEspecially my office neighbor who brought me this smorgasbord of goodness yesterday for no reason.  Yes.  Her, I will miss.

HEB and Bucees.  I've written odes to these places before.  HEB is the most amazing grocery store.  It even makes you sort of enjoy grocery shopping.  They have all the best stuff.  Amazing produce.  A homemade tortilla stand.  With samples.  Sigh.  I get sad just thinking about having to shop anywhere else.  And Bucees, well, it's a gas station.  I know, you're thinking this is a strange thing to miss.  But this is not any gas station.  As Mrs. Arizona said when she saw it, "We just pulled up to a gas station the size of Target."  They have everything.  Candy, baked goods, smoked meats, jerky, warm pecans, brisket sandwiches, great chicken salad, homemade chips, a wall of candy, paintings, beautiful gifts, and Beaver Nugggets.  My Cousin Mem introduced me to those.  I asked her what was in them.  She said, "I don't know, just goodness."  She was right.

So listen up single girls.....enjoy these things.  Be selfish.  Be generous.  Don't ask permission.  Eat Wheat Thins.  Hang your pictures on the wall.  Enjoy the chapter you are in now, but know that the next chapter coming?  Well it's gonna be even better.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Today I'll Remember

“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.”  ~Czeslaw Milosz

Five years ago today, Mr. Franklin lost his battle with ALS.

As I've watched all of the ice bucket challenges on Facebook--some of you people (ahem...Mr.and Mrs. Lee....) are quite creative with those--my mind always turned to him.

But the truth is, we can dump all of the ice that we want but awareness--true awareness--of this disease, unfortunately, can only be gained by watching someone you love go through it.  It is an awareness I would wish on no one.  Ever.

Today, however, I refuse to think of disease or death or sadness.  Instead, I will think only of good memories of one of my favorite people.

I will think of chicken gizzards and ass kickin' peanuts.  Forcing me to swallow the green Mexican pills that he was sure would cure food poisoning and him lining up the entire basketball team and making everyone drink an Alka Seltzer.

I remember sideways glances about jokes only he and I understood.  His uncanny ability to remember even the smallest details about every show animal anyone ever had.  Ducking chalk he sent flying when someone missed a parli pro question.  I'll remember him chasing us up the hill with scissors and paging people to the golf cart at his last sheep sale.

I'll remember that the man who would lecture me for an hour about not finishing my orange juice or who would make the boys run until they puked in practice was the same man that would get tears in his eyes and a quivering lip anytime you won a contest or said goodbye to leave for college.   He may have had a loud bark, but his heart was bigger. 

And even five years later, I still miss him every single day.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cooking Up a Storm (Part 2)

Today we'll continue on with the recipe sharing we started on Monday.  How impressed are you guys with me?  I'm trying to expand the ol' recipe repertoire so that I don't run out of recipes the first week I'm a wife.

Actually, on a side note, once we are Mr. and Mrs., we're going to each pick out one new recipe a week out of all the cookbooks we've received for wedding gifts!  Very excited about that.  I'll keep you posted.

Anyway, back to the task at hand.

Crockpot Beef and Broccoli.  This recipe was excellent.  Absolutely excellent.  It's going to remain a mainstay.  I made a couple changes....I used fresh broccoli instead of frozen and I added some carrots.  Oh, and I used garlic powder instead of real garlic because I'm lazy.  Serve it over rice (I use brown) and enjoy!

Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocci Soup.  This is another in the win column.  It was easy to make and allows you to include a lot of fresh veggies.

Snickerdoodle Apple Cobbler.  This is a super easy dessert that The Boy from Texas absolutely loves.  It's almost like cheating because it is super tasty, looks fancy, but is SO easy!  Serve with ice cream for sure.  We like Blue Bell.

Lasagna Dip.  This is a great appetizer and think it would be awesome to take to a Super Bowl type-party.  I used beef instead of turkey (duh!) and it was really tasty!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Old Man's Birthday

Today is my old man's birthday.  It may be hard to catch him to wish him well....he has been at the State Fair for several days helping kids with show lambs we raised and then he's headed to a motorcycle rally with his cousins.  No, he has never had a motorcycle.  Yes, he attends this rally every year.  If you are there, you'll recognize him as the guy in the cowboy hat.

I thought I'd share an article I had published last year in Seeing the Everyday that I think sums him up pretty well.  Happy Birthday to my old man!

Best Gift

Ask my dad about the prohibition on admitting hearsay testimony at trial. Ask him about how many minutes a quarter lasts in girls high school basketball.  Ask him the weight of a typical Holstein cow. He’ll be able to tell you about them all.

These are examples of my father's best gift to me. Did my dad have some inner love for the Federal Rules of Evidence or high school sports or dairy cows? No.  He is a simple mechanic and rancher who did not play high school sports, has never been to court, and does not raise dairy cattle.  He had no interest in these things, but my dad had an interest in me.  And, because of that, he took an interest in the things that were important to me.

I remember shooting baskets and my dad coming out to rebound for me or make suggestions about my form. He had never played basketball, and perhaps in a private conversation he would tell you that Single A girls athletics were boring. But he was there helping. When I judged dairy cows in high school he helped me study for the test by asking me the average weight for each different breed.  We spent hours studying for that test.  That work and time together was special.  Our relationship wasn't the only benefactor of that time side by side - we were State Champions and Reserve National Champions.

His commitment to our relationship hasn't changed since I've become an adult. When I would prepare for a mock trial in law school we would talk about the issues in the case, the motions in limine, and how we planned on getting certain statements in. Again—with no legal background at all, he simply cared because I did. And when we got the evidence in and won the trial, he sat in the back of the courtroom, beaming with satisfaction. 

Even last month when I was running a 5k early one morning  Dad called the night before to be sure I knew it was going to be cold and that I could wear tights and a jacket to stay warm. 

Knowing that you have someone behind you, who supports your interests even when those interests are completely different than his own, is a gift,  maybe the best gift that a father could give. I know that my dad is always in my corner truly supporting every effort.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cooking Up a Storm (Part 1)

I've been cooking up a storm lately.  Up a storm.  Seriously, I think maybe I'm "nesting" since I'm only 46 days away from marrying The Boy from Texas?  I'm not sure, but I thought it might be fun to share a few recipes with you all this week!

Blueberry Scones  This is hands down the best new recipe I've made in a while.  I don't think of myself as much of a scone eater, but The Boy from Texas loves them.  I know, it's weird.  Here's this total rough and tough country guy ordering a scone like he's off to tea with the Queen.  But he likes them and I like him, so I gave them a whirl. These were also the very first recipe made using my new Kitchenaid mixer.  They were SO good!  I'm a huge, huge fan.  Use fresh fruit.  I used blueberries, but may try strawberries next time.

Crockpot Chicken Alfredo  I love anything that can be cooked in a crock pot.  I also love chicken alfredo.  This ended up being pretty good....I'm not going to say great, but pretty good.  I added broccoli to the recipe to try and give it some sort of health value.  Tip----add the broccoli about an hour before you are ready to eat.  I added it too early and it was really mushy.

Brown Sugar Baked Peaches  This was super easy and really tasty.  I made some for The Boy from Texas and he greatly approved.  We didn't add ice cream, but the bottom line is that ice cream makes anything better, so go for it.  One note....don't make extra because the peaches do not re-heat well.

Zucchini Carrot Oatmeal Muffins  I struggle with knowing what to eat for breakfast.  First off, I don't like to get out of bed early enough to cook anything.   Second off, I have a pretty sensitive stomach so I need something that's not too crazy.  Lastly, I'm trying to really up the number of veggies in my diet.  Enter these muffins.  They turned out really, really good and I'd highly recommend them!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Wedding Shower

I've got to admit....I really didn't want a wedding shower.  The idea of everyone feeling like they had to buy us something and me having to sit there and open presents with everyone watching me was sort of terrifying.  But when I had three people offer to host such a shower within 24 hours of our engagement, I knew this was happening!

And, as usual, they were right, I was wrong.  The shower was awesome.  It was amazing to catch up with ladies from so many different parts of my life all in one place, to hear their warm wishes and advice, and to receive so many absolutely perfect wedding gifts. 

There were lots of interesting moments.

The aunts misbehaved.  No one was surprised.  That one in the white was the ringleader.


Some of my favorite girls helped me open presents and show them around.... I remember babysitting one of them and selling sheep to the other two when they were little bitty things and now one is in high school and the other two are off to college.


Just like high school, Mrs. Filpi and Connie J. kept me focused, sane, and safe (Mrs. Filpi took the knife away from me more than once.)

Little Cowboy bought us a huge wire horse.  And then he instructed us it should live on the mantle.

 And then, in all its glory, there was the Kitchenaid Mixer.  I waited a LONG time to get this baby in my kitchen.  While being a bridesmaid, I've seen all of my girl friends get theirs and I've got to tell you, it was pretty dang awesome to take this baby home with me!

 I, like a doofus, didn't know what two items in the very first present were for.  It was from his grandma.  Said items were to be used in the kitchen.  Pretty sure she thinks I'm an idiot.

We took lots of pictures with the family (including the new mixer).

These sweet ladies put this entire thing together and are also some of the sweetest people I know.  Well, sweet might not be the word to describe the one in the black with the crazy hair, but ya know, we love her anyway.

These girls made a road trip to be there, which meant the world to me.  Cue tears.

This group.....well, they're family and that's pretty much that.

 Oh and there was a table full of cookies and fruit.  You can't go wrong there.

My entire life I feel like I've been an example of the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child."  Never was that more evident than at this wedding shower.  Women of all ages, from multiple counties (and even states!), with varying backgrounds, who each know me from a different chapter of my life all gathered together to celebrate this whole wedding situation we've got going on.  I couldn't be more grateful.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

State Fair Did That

“You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”   ~Steve Jobs

This year I will miss the New Mexico State Fair for the first time in about 18 years.  I'm not happy about it, but between wedding stuff and job stuff there was just no way to make it work.  But this got me to thinking.....that fair prepared me for all of the things going on in my life now.

 Dream big.

The first time I showed at the State Fair, I came home with no sale slot and a 9th place ribbon.  I remember telling my dad that one day I wanted to raise a lamb that would win his class at the State Fair.  It was a lofty goal--even owning a lamb that would win his class was probably a stretch at that point in time--but it was something I knew I wanted to do.  And so we worked.  Me.  My family.  My ag teacher.  Friends who helped us.  We all worked harder and longer to improve.  I ended my State Fair career with several of those blue ribbons, a shiny belt buckle, and my very last State Fair landed me a winner with that lamb we raised ourselves.

State Fair taught me to dream big and go after what I want.  This skill has come in handy many times over the past 18 got me into law school, landed me a job at a Top 25 firm in San Francisco, got me this job at Texas A&M, and most recently gave me the courage to ask to be able to keep doing this job while living in the Panhandle.  It was a crazy request.....but it got approved and I'll be moving just before the wedding.  State Fair did that.

Find people who you can trust. 

I didn't meet Teacher Friend at State Fair.  We met at our local county fair and then went to school together.  But our friendship--which has now lasted about 21 years--was solidified in the dorms at the State Fair.  Every year, without fail, she would hightail it to the dorms the second her feet hit the fair grounds and claim us bunks in the best location---back corner, away from the doors, away from the showers.  I never once had to worry about where my bed would be located, because Teacher Friend was on it.

When people told me I needed to find someone that I could trust to handle details on the wedding day so that I wouldn't have to, there was zero question in my mind who to ask.  I know Teacher Friend will be all over it and make sure I don't have to worry about anything.  State Fair did that.

And know who you can't.

Conversely, I learned quickly, particularly after being successful in the show ring, that there are people you can't trust.  People who will say one thing to your face and another behind your back. 

And if you ask me, life's too short for dealing with those kind of folks.  I refuse to do so now.  State Fair did that.

It's important to talk to people about what we do.

I'm the first to admit that the "city folks" walking through the show barns asking questions can get annoying.  "Do they bite?"  "Will he kick me?"  "What is that thing on his mouth?"  "He's a boy because he has horns, right?"  "Can I have some of this hair you just cut off of him?"  Aye yai yai.  And normally this goes down right in the middle of the most stressful day of the day.  But dealing with this for over a decade taught me how to talk to people about showing and sheep and agriculture.

Turns out.....talking to people about agriculture is what I do for a living.  That's what I'll be doing on Monday that prevents me from going to the fair this year. I get paid to educate folks--albeit usually not city folks--about agricultural law.  It's the dream job and I really do feel like I've got a great background to do it well.  State Fair did that.

Make friends and keep them.
The best part of State Fair was seeing my friends from all over the state for a week every year.  It was sort of like a week-long slumber party with your friends.  (I mean, you slept in a cold, nasty dorm and hung out in a dusty barn all week, but it was great!)  Some of my best friendships were forged at that fair.
Over the years, I've been reminded of this over and over.  When I've needed rescuing after a near-death experience, I called a State Fair friend.  When I've needed help trying to prep materials for my ag law class, I called a State Fair friend.  I've been in their weddings, mourned with them and for them at funerals, and know the value of friendships that started when we weren't even old enough to drive.  State Fair did that.
Know what love looks like (and doesn't).
Ah, State Fair romances.  Many a broken heart started right there in the courtyard of the ol' dorms.  The truth is, we probably learned more about what love wasn't at the State Fair, but we learned a lot about what it was too. 
It was watching parents holding hands on the way back to sleep in two different dorms.  My dad taking me to the mall after I won Champion Cross to buy a new shirt for the dance.  Mr. Franklin waking up with me at 3 am to drench lambs the morning before the show.  Eric clipping legs on finewool lambs for umpteen years.  My mom with her video camera in the stands.  My brother coaching me from outside the ring.  Taking the Little Blond Haired Kid for ice cream before the sale.  High fives from Wade after things went well, and pep talks after they didn't.  There really was a lot of love in that big barn. 
(I'm not blind...there were a lot of major family disputes in that barn too....I remember and was involved in one or two of those babies).
As I look forward to marrying The Boy from Texas in 45 days (who's counting?), I'm glad to have seen examples of fair family relationships and hope that we can raise our kids in the same environment.  State Fair did that.