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Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Earlier this week, College Roomie did a post of ten fun facts about herself, so I figured I'd join in the fun here.  This is what I've got.

1.  I'm part Mexican.  Don't let my white skin fool you, hombre.  My great grandma was a 100% Mexican lady who married a gringo.  Actually, she had three sisters and my great grandpa had three brothers and the three sisters each married a brother.  Crazy, right?  Anyway, I blame my love for all things tortilla, green chile, and salsa related on this heritage of mine.

2.  I always try to sit either in an aisle or in the exit row on an airplane.  I'm a bit claustrophobic, but the main reason is that if that plane goes down, I want a direct path out of there.  I don't want to be stuck trying to climb over people because I was napping by the dang window.

3.  I've got quite the history of motion sickness.  Off the top of my head, I can think of hurling in 6 states and 3 countries.  Yep.  I'm the girl you want to travel with for sure.

4.  There are few smells in the world that I like more than a mixture of sawdust and revive (a hair and skin conditioner that we use on livestock before a show).  It automatically takes me back to my showing days and makes me simultaneously nervous and excited like I'm about to enter the show ring.  My brother and his friend were talking about this same thing once and he said, "You know, if a girl showed up for a date and wore revive instead of perfume, I'd marry her on the spot."  Apparently it's an ag kid thing.

5.  I was the fourth best chicken judger in America in high school.  Mind you, my family didn't raise chickens, rarely ate chicken, and I touched one until we went to judge them at the National FFA Convention.

6.  In Poland, I stood line to kneel before the remains of St. Faustina and even kissed a glass case that holds one of her bones.  Everyone before me and everyone behind me kissed it too.  It was really gross from a hygienic perspective, but I figured that she's a saint and wouldn't let me die of some loathsome disease contracted there.  Plus, when in Poland....

7.  I faint when medical procedures are done to me.  I know this happens to other people like when blood is taken, but for me it's much worse.  Blood being taken, eye doctor puts drops in my eye, cast being cut off my foot, one time just my blood pressure being taken.  It's not pretty.

8.  I went to more proms in high school than I went on other dates.  Not sure what to think about that really.

9.  I almost drowned white water rafting in Costa Rica.  You can read the whole story here.  When another boat pulled me out of the water, there was a lady who was crying and just kept saying, "I thought you were dead, I thought you were dead" and her husband, a doctor, said, "What was it like?  Did you see a bright light?"  Only me.

10.  I've got a serious obsession with eating raw cookie dough. I know it's bad for me. I could die of food poisoning or get really, really fat, but I just don't care.  I really don't.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Just Rock and Roll

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”  ~Bl. Pope John Paul II

The priest at church told a pretty great story this Easter Sunday.  It was about an Anglican Bishop who had flown to London and hopped in a cab.  The cabbie asked him what he was doing in town and he said he was a Bishop there for an Anglican conference.  The cabbie asked him a few questions about the church and his faith and then said, "You guys are the ones having all the drama over women being in the clergy, right?"  "Yes," the Bishop replied.

The cabbie just shook his head and said, "If it's true as you believe, that Jesus rose from the dead, isn't the rest really just rock and roll?"

San Francisco - Fourth of July - 2008

That's pretty much it, isn't it?  The petty disagreements between denominations, the drama between church members, who sits by whom in a Bible study, how big and fancy our church building is, what color of strobe light should be used during worship.....none of it matters.  Jesus rose from the dead.  JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD.  That's what matters.  That's what's important.  That's what we should be living our lives in light of.

The rest?  Doesn't matter.  Not important.  That's all just rock and roll.

Monday, April 21, 2014

You Never Know

“If there's one thing I learned, it's that nobody is here forever. You have to live for the moment, each and every day . . . the here, the now.” ~Simone Elkeles, Perfect Chemistry

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of a friend suddenly died.  It was her bachelorette party weekend.  The girls had decided to participate in a run.  The bridesmaids ran a 5K.  The bride ran the half marathon.  As she crossed the finish line in her white shirt that sported the word "Bride" across the front and a pretty pink boa, she collapsed.  And she was gone.

Her wedding day, set for two weeks from that date, was never to be.  The OME concluded a congenital heart defect that generally kills a person suddenly and without warning during childhood. The fact that this girl lived to be 27 was a miracle in itself.

I suppose this hit me for a lot of reasons.  The first was the fact that I know one of the bridesmaids who was there and had to live through this absolute nightmare. Also, the reminder that no matter how old we are or how good of shape we are in, we really just never know when our time will come. And then there is the fact that one summer in San Francisco I ran a half marathon and my best girlfriends ran a 5K and cheered me on at the finish line.  Similar story....very different ending.

SF Marathon - 2011

We never know how much time we have left.  So today, try to take that to heart.  Say what you need to say.  Offer forgiveness or tell someone you love them or speak a kind word to a stranger.  Do what you've always wanted to do.  Sign up for the class, take the risk, book the trip.  Make the change that you know is necessary.  Step out of your comfort zone, follow your heart, make a leap.

Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.  Don't wait.  Stop over-analyzing.  Quit thinking of why it might not work.  Forget waiting for the right time.  Just go.

And please say a prayer for Kaytie's family, her friends, and her fiance as they try to find their way through this terrible time.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Over the last 47 days of Lent, I've been reading a reflection from Fr. Robert Barron each day.  Here is part of the final reflection that he sent out today.

"Easter is significant because it reveals that love is more powerful than death. Death is what frightens us most. It hems us in and it sets the ultimate limit to everything. If death has the final word, then all the evil in the world wins and there's no hope because there's nothing after death. That's the end. 
But Easter is the declaration that God's love, the love that made the world and sustains it, is more powerful than death. That's a moment of liberation. It means death no longer enslaves us. The first Christians saw that the bursting forth of Christ from the tomb is the shattering of death's bonds." 

Amen, and Happy Easter to all!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Book Club: It Is Well

"Faith in God means we live with hope.  It means often times hoping even when it seems futile.  It means believing that God can deliver us, and often times, He will.  But it also means that at times, He may not, and if He does not deliver us in the way we desire, it means we still have faith and trust that his plan is perfect and He will make good of it all."  ~Chris Faddis, It Is Well

Today I'm joining in with Friday Book Club.  I just finished reading what might be the most heartbreaking and inspiring book that I've read in my life.  (If you want to order a copy, click here.)

It Is Well  was written by a man who lost his wife to cancer at age 32.  He was left behind heartbroken with two little ones to raise.  Hearing of him losing her---his love for her, the pain, trying to explain it to the children, seriously had me in tears multiple times.  And I'm not at all a crier. 

But for all the heartbreak, the book really is about inspiration.  Devout Catholics, both he and his wife faced this tragedy with courage and trust and amazing faith.  I usually share a list of quotes from a book.  I have dog-eared a ton of pages and could do that.  But today, I'm going to just share one.  It struck a chord with me the moment that I read it.  Being that we will all celebrate Jesus' rising on Sunday, it seems particularly appropriate.

What do you say when your lover lies in a bed, hearing the same words as you, knowing what it means, what it all likely means?  Death.  End.  Loss.  Words, they come easy for me.  But not now.  Not in this moment.  I try.  I attempt to muster some sort of comfort, but the words, they don't come.  She, the one who has a hard time with words, the one who needs comfort in this moment, she says the words, the only words that matter:  "Jesus still rose, so we will trust."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ode to HEB (and a recipe)

There are a few things I don't really like about living here.  Mostly the whole 9 hours from The Boy from Texas thing.  And lack of green chile.  And humidity.  There are a few things I really like.  My job.  My house.  My roommate.  The plants in my hard that are not trying to freaking die on me.

But I've got to admit that my favorite thing about this place.....a grocery store.  Enter HEB.

Y'all.  I'm serious here.  It's the mecca of all good things about a grocery store.  Wide aisles.  Clean.  Fresh produce.  Good deli.  Free samples.  A homemade tortilla station (which also always has free samples).  Lots of checkers.  I've never liked grocery shopping, but HEB has changed all of that.  I'm not sure what I'll do if I ever leave and have to go back to regular grocery stores!

So there I was last night munching on my tortilla sample while perusing around the store, when the sample guy had a jalapeno popper dip to try.  I like jalapeno poppers, so of course I said yes.  Y'all.  Holy moly.  I bought the ingredients right away and whipped up half a batch last night.  Here's the recipe.

Jalapeno Popper Dip
Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time:  20 minutes
Serves:  A crowd

2 pkg softened cream cheese
3 oz. real bacon bits
1/2 C Roberts Reserve Jalapeno Pepper Dip (not really sure what to do if your store doesn't have this...)
1/4 C mayo
3 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 C French fried onions

1.  Preheat oven to 375.
2.  Mix cream cheese, bacon, jalapeno dip, mayo, and cheese together.
3.  Spread the mixture into a casserole dish.
4.  Top with the French fried onions, cover with foil, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
5.  Serve with chips and crackers.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gems from Little Cowboy

I know this is everyone's favorite thing on my blog.....quotes from Little Cowboy.  For those of you who are new, he's my 7 year old little nephew and pretty much the funniest kid on the planet.

He spent the weekend selling lambs and I mean he was in the middle of it all....showing them, shaking hands, talking to customers, whole deal.  Here we go.

*Little Cowboy, The Boy from Texas, and I are out bottle feeding a lamb on Friday night.*
Little Cowboy:  I'm going to name this lamb Tiffany because you're my favorite aunt.
Me:  Well thanks, buddy!
Little Cowboys:  The Boy from Texas, one day you can be my favorite uncle!
[Awkward silence.]

*Little Cowboy is describing some kid that was picking on him at school.*
Little Cowboy:  Well Little Brother (my brother) said that if he got me in a headlock again, I could just punch him in the nuts.
Me:  Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Little Cowboy:  And I could do it too, he's tall, so his nuts are about right here [punches out in front of him].

Little Cowboy:  I have a girlfriend in my class.
My mom:  A girlfriend?!
Little Cowboy.  Yea.  Well, I was playing hard to get.  Little Brother taught me that.

Little Cowboy to various buyers at the lamb sale who asked him how much a lamb cost:  That's $1,000.  Cash.  Only cash.

*After showing sheep pretty much non-stop for two days*
Little Cowboy:  We get to show MORE sheep?!?  YES!!

*At the sale, I wrote the ear tag numbers of the lambs on an index card and handed them to Little Cowboy who then handed them to the auctioneer.  I made a mistake and had to mark a few out.*
Little Cowboy to the Auctioneer:  Tiff did this.  I'm going to tell her not to let it happen again!

And lastly, I'll leave you with a picture of what sheep sale weekend did to the poor kid.  This was him on the way home.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sheep Sale Weekend Report

“When you do what you love, the seemingly impossible becomes simply challenging, the laborious becomes purposeful resistance, the difficult loses its edge and is trampled by your progress.”   ~Steve Maraboldi

To set the background, my family raises show lambs....this means that we raise lambs and sell them to kids in 4-H and FFA to exhibit at various fairs in their state.  The kids will buy the lambs in April, take care of them all summer, and then show them at the fair in the fall.  If they do well, they will sell the lambs in what's called a premium sale hopefully for a profit.  Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The first time we decided to have our own lamb sale (rather than going to a sale where multiple breeders each sell a few lambs a've read before about that first sale) was probably about 8 years ago or so.  The sale was at our little show barn.  About 7 buyers came.  My dad just called off the various ear tag numbers and asked if anyone was interested.  We started the bidding low, sold about 10 lambs maybe, and I don't think anyone paid much.  But it was a start.  It gave us something to work on and grow and aim for.

This weekend, we had our best sale to date.  There were over 100 people there.  We sold 59 lambs in about an hour.  It was pretty cool to look around and know that all of these people were there because of the work that we (my parents in particular) have done to continue improving the quality of our lambs.  It was even cooler to know where we started and what we've been able to create.

Of course, the sale is first and foremost a revenue generator for us.  Obviously, we've got to pay the feed bills for all of those sheep we have hanging around having babies!  But beyond that, it really is a little bit like a reunion of sorts.  We are blessed with great neighbors and friends who show up to help us every year.  We never have to wonder if they will come, we never have to pay them, we never have to ask if they remember.  They're just there, ready to help.  And we've got several long-time customers...some who were there at our house that day 8 years ago buying sheep and did the same thing yesterday at the fairgrounds.

I suppose I could end this blog in a lot of ways.  Thoughts about setting goals and working hard.  Or wrap things up by talking about the sacrifices that my parents have made in order to keep things afloat during the worst drought in history.  Or look back on the winning lambs we've had over the last few years. 

But in the end, I think it's about the people.   Isn't it always?  It's about spending time as a family, be that feeding show lambs or sorting ewes or making a sale list the night before the big day.  It's about having a day to visit with people who have been part of my life since I was a little kid who I might just see in a barn a couple of times a year now.  It's about doing our part to be sure that the kids showing today make those same memories that we got.  That's what's important.  That's what matters.  We're blessed to be a part of something like this.

Oh, and by the way, stick around tomorrow to hear some of Little Cowboy's best quotes from the weekend.  You won't want to miss that.

Friday, April 11, 2014

You Know You Live In Texas When....

"Y'all may go to hell, I am going to Texas!"  ~Davy Crockett

I go to the doctor and he walks in wearing scrubs.  Maroon, of course.  I do live in Aggieland, after all. 

Guy has the obligatory Texas twang, which I certainly appreciate in a medical professional (or any man, really). 

Then I noticed it.  The boots.  Tan.  Square toed.  Worn with his scrubs. 

I asked him about it only to learn that he was the son of a vet and an animal science major who grew up helping his daddy doctor animals and that's how he got into medicine.

God bless this state.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

American Country Music Awards

At the risk of sounding like an 80 year old grandpa, country music ain't what it used to be.  There were several songs (and outfits) that made me sort of cringe watching the ACM awards on Sunday evening.  But there were a couple of winners in my book.

1.  Tim McGraw and Faith Hill sang "Meanwhile Back at Mama's".  I love them, I love this song, all good.

2. Blake Shelton and some girl from The Voice that I don't know sang  "My Eyes"  I do love me some Blake Shelton.  I think he's super good looking, hilarious, just enough of a bad boy, and I really do love almost all of his songs....with the exception of that stupid one about chewing tobacco and spitting.  What exactly was that crap about anyway?

 3. George Strait won Entertainer of the Year.  Do I really need to say anything here? He looked genuinely shocked. He kissed his wife.  He bragged on his fans.  Mentioned his family.  Thanked God.  And did it all whilst rocking a black hat.  Sigh.  That, kids, is why he's the King.