Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why not today Tuesday? ...I love my Husband

I start lists. I write blogs in my head. Only a few ever make it to the screen. I think that for something to be effective, it should be a grandiose, start-to-finish, loooong list. This means my faithful readers only see a tiny portion of the goings-on in my head. Only a smattering of my grand ideas are seen to completion.

I want to embrace the idea: "Why not today?" Why do things have to be perfect and complete to be shared? This is a blog after all - not my term paper.

A friend of mine is starting a "Why I love my Husband" series on her blog, in the effort to counteract the culture by building up - not tearing down. As one in need of practice building up, and rehearsing the good, I'm jumping in.

There are many things I love about Dan. For today, I will share a story about why I really love him.

This morning, we were completing our daily readings and Advent prayers/reflections. Today's scripture readings are from Isaiah and Matthew, and both focus on the Shepherd and his sheep. At the closing of the gospel, Dan said, "Today's readings are brought to us by the American Lamb Council, reminding us to 'eat American lamb from American land.'"


That man makes me smile...and we fit so well together.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christ The King & Rite of Welcome

This past Sunday was "Christ the King" Sunday. Two years ago, I received the Rite of Welcome from the Catholic Church on Christ the King Sunday. This caused me to go back to my "other blog" and remember the occasion. Now, I am sharing those thoughts with you, here:

I wanted to recount a little bit of the Rite of Welcome service. It was so powerful and beautiful - beyond anything that I had expected. What exactly I had expected, I'm not sure. But I didn't think it would be so powerful or captivating. Certainly, Sister Lorraine had kept back most of the details because she wanted us to be caught up in the moment. As a few of us "planners" were lamenting this prior to the service, (because we need to plan to be spontaneous) she was right. We needed to NOT know all the details, so that its beauty could captivate our senses.

As she described it, we would each state what we ask of God and His church; then we would all grasp the cross; then be signed with the cross. Bada-bing, bada-boom, done. So, we thought the hardest part would be coming up with something to say. (Which wasn't that hard, it just required really thinking about, "why am I here?") I said something to the effect of, "to share in the fullness of their faith and for a place to serve, to give, and to love." Of course, I could've said much, much more - but we were limited to a sentence. (see how I joined two sentences with that lovely conjunction "and"? Yep, always getting around those rules, I am!)

As a group (there were 10 of us), we grasped the cross in response to the question, "Are you ready to take up your cross and follow Christ?" Then, we moved onto the signing. I thought it would just be a one-time sign and we'd be done. But noooo...

Our sponsor (someone who is already a member and will serve as a mentor for us through the next phase) signed us with the cross. The priest would read what I am about to write, Mary would sign me, and then the choir would sing, "Christ will be your strength, learn to know and follow Him."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your forehead. It is Christ himself who now strengthens you with this sign of His love. Learn to know and follow Him."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your ears, that you may hear the voice of the Lord."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your eyes, that you may see the glory of God." (at this point, as Mary signed my eyes - I felt such heat and was reminded of something that a friend prayed about my eyes once.)
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your lips, that you may respond to the word of God."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your heart, that Christ may dwell there by faith." (which reminded me of the time I was in 1st grade and wanted to see Jesus, so I closed my eyes and 'looked into my heart' and saw Him calming the waves.)
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your shoulders, that you may bear the gentle yoke of Christ."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your hands that Christ may be known by the work you do."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your feet that you may walk in the way of Christ."

After each sign, I would look out at Mary - and the joy that radiated was incredible. The joy that radiated from me was incredible. I really have no way to completely capture what I felt - but I have never felt so welcomed, so loved, so connected, so much a part of something so much bigger than myself. As I took part in this, I really felt connected to all who have gone before me, throughout the centuries, those now, and those to come.

I truly feel part of the Body of Christ. I know that, yes, before this I was a Christian and I was a part of it...but, trust me, I now KNOW it deep within...that I am connected to the communion of saints, which has strengthened my bond with the head, which is Christ.

To close, an appropriate Psalm for today:

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come into His presence with singing!
Know that Lord, He is God; it is He that has made us - not for ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him and bless His name.For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations!

(Psalm 100)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mother Goose & Michi-Gander visit

Dan's parents have been visiting us for the last ten days. It's been wonderful spending time with them and catching up. Here's a run-down of a few of the things we've done.

  • Welcomed them to town with a dinner at Reilly's Pizza - wood-fired, gourmet pizza in a revamped funeral home. (You could never tell what it'd been it's past life.) DEEElicious!
  • Celebrated my birthday with a home-cooked meal.
  • Watched Lincoln on its opening weekend. EXCELLENT. You must go see the movie!
  • Took in our first opera. One of my students gifted me with 2-free tickets to La Traviata. It was a first for all of us - and maybe not a last for all of us.
Dan and I after the opera.

  • Enjoyed being treated to home-cooked meals and not doing dishes....
  • Treated Dean to some Papa Murphy's Take-and-Bake pizza.
  • Made 2 pies (pumpkin and pecan), green bean casserole, and Grandma's cranberry salad for our Thanksgiving feast at my aunt's.

  • Attended mass - 3 times this week.
  • Scrap-booked (finally got that wedding one started) and crafted for the girls.
  • Watched football (including atteding the UA-ASU game) for the guys.
  • Checked out breakfast at Frank's - always a treat to enjoy good breakfast on a patio in November.
Good ol' Franks by Day; Francisco's at Night. I got to have 1 banana and 1 chocolate chip pankcake - delish combo!

  • Visited the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Definitely worth many happy returns.

Michi-Gander and Mother Goose are enjoying the balmy "fall" weather!

Whew! Tomorrow, they're on the road to California for a few days...and we're going to relax. :)
Some of us have already started relaxing....

Gallery Shelves: DIY + 3 others

Have you seen these gallery shelves on Pinterest under the heading: DIY?

Pinned Image

Well, I did. A friend had pinned it; I took note of the idea - but didn't pin it. I should have paid closer attention to the picture AND searched for the pin - because my project could have been a lot easier. Alas, shoulda-woulda-coulda. Instead, this project turned into a bonding experience, what could be better than that?

For some reason, I thought they used moulding. According to the picture above, they used 1x2s and 1x4s. At any rate, Dan and I headed to Home Depot (it's close to us), picked out some molding that has at least a 1" flat spot, a lip on the edge and pretty decorative backing. We cut out 3, 3' pieces and kept the 17" remaining. (Who can't use a shelf, right?)

We bought Kona Brown, high gloss spray paint. I spray painted all of the shelves. I was UBER excited to get this project completed before our in-laws came. We bought sawtooth hangers to afix the shelves to the wall.

The next weekend, Dan was out of town and I afixed the sawtooth hangers. I hammered in 2 nails. I put the shelf on the nails. ...and it hung at 45-degree angle...not ideal for putting any picture or figurine onto.

I did what any girl would do; I called my dad. It was rather difficult to explain the problem - and understand (on my part) possible solutions. The next day (the Sunday before the in-laws arrived 4 days later), I went to Home Depot and bought (and cut) 3, 3' L-shaped moulding pieces - and kept the remaining 12" for the spare 17" piece from above. I sprayed these with the Kona brown - and bought wood screws.

Then, I chickened out. My dad had explained ways to afix the L by drilling a hole, then screwing in the woodscrew. Truth is, I've only used a drill once. I wanted these to work, so I really didn't want to screw these up. So, I waited until Dan got home (the day before his parents came) - and there wasn't time in that day to finish these up.

Therefore, the first weekend that Dean and Linda were here, Dean and Dan set to work to finish these shelves. The result? Awesomeness. They drilled 3 woodscrews through the L-shape into the top piece of moulding. Then, they drilled the shelf into the wall through the lower L.

After such a great bonding experience, Dan felt the need to crawl up in his daddy's lap. Dean was...thrilled....


This picture was my birthday present from my mom (and dad).  This picture and shelf is now located in our "tv" cubby hole.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Proud to be an American

Well, it's the day after. How are you handling your Election Day hangover? Some are elated; others are nursing their wounds. And me? I am...content.

It's interesting to be content after an election. I'm not talking about "content because my guy won." [Honestly, other than the Presidential election, I have no idea how the candidates I voted for did.]  That's not contentment, anyway. That's joy, happiness, adulation. I don't feel that. I also don't feel bitter, angry or despondent. I feel...settled; peaceful...whether or not my candidates won.

I feel content for a few reasons.

1) Americans exercised their right to vote. Many Americans voted for the first time. This is great reason to rejoice - even if they vote for your guy or not. We have been given the privilege to participate in our government - to have a voice in the laws that regulate our activities - and people are freely choosing to participate. That is awesome.

2) My students voted. In my 301 course, Applying Critical Thinking to Critical Discourse, my goal is to assist my students in developing their critical thinking skills by analyzing issues. One of their assignments is analyzing an opinion piece (usually political). Their analysis needs to include the author's crediblity, the intent of the article, the claim and evidence used to support the claim. Then, they reflect on what they learned.

Most of the students in my class share that they don't really think about politics, "so I learned a lot." Many of my students reveal at the beginning of the class that they get political information from their parents. Their lack of political information was evident from their second writing assignment where they described their American dream and then were tasked with explaining how their dream relates to their political choices. While students could describe in great detail what they wanted their future to look like, they couldn't connect that to political issues or stances, much less, candidates. [At this point, you begin to wonder if age and citizenship should be the only two factors necessary to vote.]

But, then a funny thing happens on the way to the voting booth.... For my students' third presentation, as a group, they had to choose an issue, evaluate the issue's arguments and counter-arguments, choose a side, and defend their stance (with evidence!) to the class. They did great. The pieces are starting to click. They can identify positions and defend them.

Yesterday in class, their roll call was to share if they voted, and if not - why. 90% voted; the few that did not had good reasons to abstain (lack of information about issues).

Because they can identify positions and defend them with evidence, I have hope for the future, regardless of how they vote. We may not see eye-to-eye on issues all the time; we may question evidence used to support positions. The promise is that they can reason and consider other points of view when establishing their own.

3) States are not just red and not just blue. I really enjoyed the election coverage highlighting voter break-down in the "swing states." The fact that many states are not overwhelmingly one color or another signals this (to me): we're not a one-color country. We. must. compromise. in order to serve our country.

In my students' American Dream papers, many indicated that they're independents. They don't want to pick sides. They think there is value in thinking about an issue and choosing the best course - not being tied to the party's position. There is such promise for America. What if we could discuss the merits of an issue without disparaging the merits of the person presenting the idea?

My students' growth gives me hope that maybe one day in America, we can discuss the merits of an issue or policy. That American government will be "of the people" - meaning that many will participate (not just vote) in a manner that is respectful of individuals for the good of our country and its citizens.

Therefore, I will leave you with my favorite American song: God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wacky Wednesday

Hello, my name is Gert.

My brother is Ranger Gord, whom some of you may know from Red Green fame. I desired to follow in steps, but alas, Canada would not allow a female to serve in part of the famed Mounties. Therefore, they gave me the privilege as serving as the lone ranger at their southern-most post, La Canada.

The locals pronounce it, La Cahn-yah-da. While I have yet to convince them of the proper pronunciation, I have adapted some of their flare to my uniform. BTW, this is how I pose when I go out at night, here.

Though I may be far from my home and native land, I still salute you, Oh Canada.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Misleading title. There are some words here.

IOWA - you make my heart smile. Here are some reasons why:

OMG! Peanut Butter Bars

At Iowa State, I had one favorite dessert. Sure, I ate more desserts than this one...but, I only had one favorite. For a good decade now, I have wanted a recipe for this little rectangle of deliciousness. Last week, I finally found a recipe that closely resembled peanut butter bars.  "Tried and Tried Again" posted a recipe for "School Lunch Lady Bars" here: http://triedandtriedagain.blogspot.com/2011/06/school-lunch-peanut-butter-bars.html.

They are almost Iowa State Dining's peanut butter bars. Almost. Iowa State's bars had a middle layer of chocolate and a peanut butter frosting. (Her bars have a middle peanut butter layer and chocolate frosting.) So, I had to modify. (Of course I had to modify!)

Here's my recipe:

1 1/2 c. flour
1¼ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking Soda
¾ c Butter
¾ c Sugar
¾ c Brown Sugar
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla
3/4 c. Creamy Peanut Butter (split)
2 Eggs
1 ½ c Quick Oats (BTW, I used regular and it turned it out fine)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugars, peanut butter, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Then, stir in the oats. Spread onto a greased 11 x 15 Jelly Roll Pan (cookie sheet). Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes.
I melted 8 squares of 60% dark Ghiradelli chocolate in the microwave. I microwaved them for 45 seconds; stirred; melted for 30; stirred; spread. You want to make sure the chocolate layer is hard before spreading the frosting. If crunched for time, stick the pan in the freezer for a bit. (You bet your bottom dollar I did that.)
I like dark chocolate and I had 4 squares leftover from...some earlier time this year - and had individually wrapped Ghiradellis on hand. I'm sure chocolate chips would work great for this; I just haven't really mastered melting chocolate chips.
1/2 c. peanut butter
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 T. butter
Blend peanut butter and powdered sugar together. Add milk and vanilla. Depending on the consistency, you may need to add the butter and 1-2 T more milk. The frosting (without the added 1-2 T of milk, but with the butter) spread really nicely. So nicely that our friend Ryan (also an Iowa State grad) commented on its spreadability.
I did take tried to take pictures of the bars. My camera does not take food pictures well. Here's the obligatory food picture ANYWAY. Trust me, the taste better than this picture does justice.
By the way, these are the only ones that we had left. We gave the rest of the pan to friends. I love them, but I also want to keep wearing my clothes. :)

Pumpkin-y Goodness

Here in Tucson we are *finally* prepping for Halloween. Given that our daytime temps are still in the upper-80s, it just doesn't work to carve your pumpkins too far ahead of time. So, Tuesday night pumpkin-carving it is!

This is what love looks like.

Sometimes, you can love too much....
Left: the state of Michigan with a heart on Dan's hometown. (I had a mishap with the outline. I was trying to put MI toward the top/inside...oh well.)
Right: the likeness of "our" cat Rufus (the local stray who has adopted us)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kick-off to Pork Month

Dear Friends,

I am writing early on a Sunday morning for one purpose: to share with you an AMAZING, healthy recipe - perfect for fall and pork month (October). I made this soup last night and Dan could not stop raving about it!

The recipe? Bacon-Cheddar-(Almost Potato) Soup. The 'almost potato' ingredient? Cauliflower! Dan really liked the texture and thickness that the cauliflower provided. His exact words: "I like that it's thicker and not soup-like (a thin consistency)."

Pinned Image
The recipe and photo are courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats.

If you know me at all, you know that I just *have* to substitute ingredients. In this case, I used evaporated 2% milk; worked like a charm. For the cheddar, I used Trader Joe's "Extraordinary Cheddar" (or something like that); it's sharp AND creamy...and made some delicious soup. For the hot sauce addition, I used Srichacha sauce - because that's what we have on hand - and it's a great addition of heat. Dan calls it "Chi-chi" sauce; I love that guy.

Make it! Enjoy!

Friday, September 14, 2012

F.C.'s Impact

Yesterday in the upper-division writing and presenting course that I teach, I was able to share the story of how Dr. F.C. Parrish, Jr. impacted my life. My students had just finished their first round of presentations to the class. In this presentation, they shared about how their major was the perfect fit for them and their future career. As I read my students outlines, thesis statements, and their first written presentations, I realized that they weren't writing their thesis statement first. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how the thesis statement can drive an entire presentation. What follows is similar to what I shared with my students, though not the same, as is this is the first time it has been written in its entirety and not in an outline format.

I was sitting the back of the darkened lab classroom, just waiting for class to be over, when my instructor uttered words that any student longing for anonymity dreads to hear: Jessica Rohrig, will you please see my after class?

My mind started racing in anticipation. Why did he want to meet with me? As I talked with him after class, he informed me [and my friend, who'd also been called up] that he wanted to meet with us individually and to make an appointment with his secretary. Now, my heart was racing. WHY would he want to meet with me? I wasn't cheating or doing anything dishonest.

As I sat with him in his office, he commented on how well I was doing in the class. So far, I had received A's on all of my quizzes. I studied at least twice a week for this class, Introduction to Meat Science, Animal Science 270. I hadn't meant to take the class; I was originally enrolled in Agronomy 206 (Meteorology) and knew that after the first day, that class wasn't for me. I took this class because my friend, Kelli, was adding it and encouraged me to. Now, about 3 weeks into the class, I really liked. I enjoyed the professor; he made learning fun; I enjoyed the subject - though, I needed to study.
So, yes, I was doing well.

Then, came the question and a statement that has stuck with me for thirteen years:
Jessica, why are you an Ag Ed major?  You're so smart, you should be doing research and go to grad school.

I don't know that I had an immediate answer. I was surprised by his frankness. Ag Ed seemed to be the perfect fit for me. ...and Grad School? My goal after college was just to get married...Grad School? Really?

As I contemplated his answer, I wrote him an email detailing why Ag Ed was the right major for me.  In doing so, I became more convinced that this was my calling. Twelve years later, I can see even more clearly that the impact of one, passionate, caring instructor can permeate a young mind so wholly that the effects are felt long after the course ends.

As a sixteen-year-old, my major chose me. Driving into school one day, it hit me: agricultural education is my major! Why? I had "narrowed" my purpose in life to be this: to exert a positive influence in the lives of others by helping them realize their potential. As a young woman active in many school activities, the opportunity to not only teach, but to work with young people in FFA career development events provided the perfect opportunity.

I shared with F.C. that choosing a field other than Ag Ed simply wouldn't provide me that opportunity. I had no desire to work in a lab all day. My passion was obviously people - not science. A degree in Ag Ed would provide me with an opportunity to work directly with others, even if I didn't choose to teach high school.

...which I didn't. However, my education prepared me perfectly for my position as an Advisor for the TRiO Educational Talent Search program. I understood how to organize lessons and workshops into a curriculum that could build off of the skills gained at each grade level. I understood how to manage a classroom - which is harder when you never meet in an actual classroom!  I understood how to design educational experiences that utilized critical reflection to promote learning from the doing. Furthermore, I was able to directly influence hundreds - maybe even thousands - of young people during my time as their advisor. Some of them believed that attaining a college education was actually possible for them - for the first time. Others received the reinforcement needed. And, a few...just got some time out of class and candy.

I still receive emails today from my former students excited to share the news that they are going to college - even if it's been a year or two or three since they graduated. I wouldn't trade that for a labcoat, anyday.

However, there came a point in my professional journey where I realized that I had a gift for administration and leadership. To attain a position administering or leading, though, I needed a Master's degree. When I told F.C. that I was (finally) going to pursue graduate school, he was elated - and more than happy to write a recommendation for me.

My Master's of Science in Agricultural Education provided me with the perfect foundation to teach college students. I love teaching my students. Yes, it is still new enough that it surprises me when they write down what I say - and I do get a little nervous before each of my lectures (though I'm not sure they can tell). What surprised me about grad school, though, was that I really enjoyed  research. I really enjoyed my master's project...enough to think that pursuing a PhD wouldn't be all that bad. Someday.

I will conclude with the 'rest of the story.' I got an A in Animal Science 270. I loved that class. During winter break, F.C. recommended my friend Kelli and I for a job translating his overhead slides into powerpoint slides. She accepted before me...but, then took an internship with Farm Bureau - so, I ended up translating F.C.'s slides into powerpoints.

My junior year, I was offered an 'undergrad research assistantship' and had to choose a professor to work with; I chose F.C. I spent that year updating his lab manual for publication and serving as a TA for the class. While the experience was valuable, I really enjoyed my time chatting with F.C. about life. I remember so much about his office - the piles every.where., the amazing Cyclone marble table that I begged him for every time we met, the 'Peachy Paterno' ice cream box that he used as a demo in 270.

My senior year - and even the first six months after college, he still employed me to help me out with different odd jobs. I took another class at F.C.'s urging - ANS 476C "Intro to Meat Judging." After my success with Animal Science classes, I also took ANS 305, 'Livestock Judging.' Only God knew that the man I would marry would be interested in a woman who liked animal agricultural better than plant agricultural. (An actual question Dan asked me on our first date.)

Once I landed my Talent Search job, F.C. would call me up every month or so for a lunch date. Then, I moved to Nevada, about 3 blocks from F.C. and Fern. We went out for breakfast; I stopped by on my walks and we'd chat. Fern helped us with some of the planning for my wedding. The week of, she and F.C. were visiting Missouri, so they let my parents stay at their house - so that they were living in a home and not a hotel during that week.

About three weeks ago, F.C. passed away after a bout with cancer. That day, I didn't lose a professor, an employer, or a mentor; I lost my friend. While my heart aches at the loss, even more so, it is filled with an indescribable sense of joy and gratitude. I know that F.C. is in heaven; that I will see him again.

I am most grateful for F.C.'s impact upon my life. I am so grateful that he not only recognized my potential, but that he invested in it - and he called me out. I am so grateful that he planted that seed. After he passed, I realized something very unique about humanity. God has given us each gifts, and a calling that we are to fulfill, yet we often can't recognize it. This is why he made us for community - for each other: so that we can recognize others' gifts and call them to that same realization.

As I asked my students, I will ask you: What seeds are you planting?

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Friday" Fail

Well, I had a major 'FAIL' this week.

(Honestly, I've had more than one major 'fail' this week - this one is just a funny fail; the others are 'Jessica is a sinner and fails to be good, kind, loving and gracious' fails - which, let's be honest, I don't want to post about right now. I'd rather be funny.)

This week kicked off the first week of school at the University of Arizona.  This also kicked off the first week of Dan's crazy schedule. He teaches on TR (that's Tuesday/Thursday to you non-academics) until 7; has livestock judging practice on W from 6:30-9 and F from 4 - 8/9 and Saturday morning/early afternoon.

In my effort to be a great, supportive wife, I did some meal planning that revolved around me making this on Tuesday night: Pinned Image

Anyone else love how giant this picture is? That's about how much I built it up in my head, too...my effort & success at being such an awesome wife. (Remember that loving, kind, gracious area I'm failing at - yeah, that MIGHT be more important than fall-off-the-bone rotisserie chicken.)


On Tuesday nights, we made plans for Buffalo Wild Wings - so my meal plan got delayed a day. (This is not the fail part, BTW. Agreeing to go to BWW's is a major win.)

Wednesday morning came around and I got the bird ready, complete with removing the gizzards and what not from the middle. Gee-ross. I used this recipe as a guide: http://busy-mommy.com/2010/02/how-to-make-your-own-rotisserie-chicken.html. Again, let's be honest, I just put Emeril's Original blend on because it basically contained all the ingredients she used.

Before Dan's practice on Wednesday night, he came home to have dinner. On the drive home, he asked what we were having - and I described to him. He was well pleased.

We walked in the door...and were not greeted by the smell of delicious chicken. We were greeted with no smell at all. I looked at the chicken and said to Dan, "This doesn't look done at all!" (It should have; it had been cooking for 8 hours.) He says, "Well, it's [the crock pot] not on."

I looked at the knob - it was on the off position. I looked back at Dan, incredulously. I knew that I turned that to 'Low' this morning before I left; I could see me performing that step in my mind. Maybe he had just turned it off when we walked in. He must've known what I was thinking, and said, "I haven't touched it."

I felt the crock pot. Stone cold.

No fancy-schmancy rotisserie-style chicken for us that night.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tetanus Tuesday

July 1995:  Received my second tetanus shot at the Adair County Fair. The Adair County Memorial Hospital was giving away free shots. It had been 10 years since my last one. Awesome.

August 9, 2012:  Received my fourth tetanus shot because of an incident at the Shiawassee County Fair.

The scene:  After a hearty dinner of brats and delicious sweet corn with the extended Kiesling and Riley clan at the camper, my sister-in-law, niece, nephew and Dan's brother's girlfriend headed to the horse barn. 
(You know what's exciting about being married? Kim is my sister-in-law now, not just Dan's.)

As we strolled through the barn, Brenna and Henry (niece and nephew) wanted to pet the horses. So, I thought that I would be the 'test dummy' - who sees if the horse with his/her head near the gate is friendly and nice enough to allow a little petting. Things were going along swimmingly. In fact, at one point, while I stroked a horse's face, I thought, "Hmm. This (the fact that I was really enjoying petting horses) is proof that I am away from animals too much." Normally, I'm not a big horse 'petter.'

Then, as we were nearing the exit of the barn, we saw the last horse with his face near the gate. I tested him with a little pat. He seemed fine. Kim and Henry came up and were petting him. Then, I pet the side of his face...and he reached over and nipped me!

We all jumped back, startled. I've never been bit by a horse before. In fact, I've never really been bitten by any animal before. (although once, I kicked at a sow and my foot went into her mouth. Remember that, Matt? She did not bite down. All was fine.)

It was a small bite - not any larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser. First, it turned white around the outside and in the middle. It stung. Then, it started to bleed.

We headed to the arena were all the guys were watching the steer show. I told Dan that we had a "medical emergency." Brenna started to get freaked out by the cattle and what had just happened with the horses. She said, "I am never touching a horse again." I felt guilty - for I don't want my poor choice to pet that horse to cause her to write off horses forever.

Dan, Tim, Brenda, and I headed to the first aid building. When I informed them that I had a horsebite that needed to be treated, they looked at me incredulously. "A horsebite?"
Yes. A horsebite. For goodness sake, we are at a county fair where there are horses present.
They informed that all they could do for me was clean it up.
Great. That is exactly why I came to you, actually.
Then, they told me that I should probably get a tetanus shot.
"Probably - like I'll be okay if I don't get one?"
"You should get one...sooner rather than later."
"Sooner - like I will be in Tucson next Monday and get one then OR I should go get one right now?"
"You should probably get one before you're back in Tucson."

Umm..okay. Thank you. Very helpful advice there, medical professionals.

Very soon afterwards we ran into Dan's Aunt Polly, a nurse, who informed me that while tetanus shots are good for ten years; once you're past 5 and you get bitten, scratched, step on a nail, etc. - it's time for a new one, and I had a 72-hour window to get one. Excellent. Thank you, Aunt Polly for that very helpful and timely advice. :)

So, I got a tetanus shot on Thursday morning at Walgreens.

My bite is healing very nicely. My arm did not fall off. My jaw did not lock up.
It was so small that most people looked at it and said, "Oh. I've never seen a horsebite that small. I've seen much bigger."  Later in the week, one of the EMTs recognized me and asked how my horsebite was doing. How nice that he remembered. Must've been a slow week. :)

In fact, the Sunday that we left to come back, Brenna checked out my bite and said, "Oh! That is healing very nicely."  She also made multiple trips back to the horsebarn during Fair Week - so apparently, she was not traumatized.  (She's still not crazy about cows, though.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Matt Monday - Michigan

For at least one and a half years, Dan has told me that I had to experience the great Shiawassee County Fair - "the BEST county fair in all of Michigan." So, we planned to come visit. Then, he was asked to judge the youth swine showmanship competition. Well, he couldn't turn that down! Isn't that the sign that you have officially made it? When your old stomping grounds asks you back as an official?

The deal was sealed; we would go to Michigan - and we would need to be there by Sunday, August 5. We were able to score some pretty sweet tickets on Allegiant airlines. If you are familiar with Allegiant, you can only fly on certain days. Flying from Mesa to Grand Rapids, we were limited to travelling on Thursdays or Sundays. This paved the way for us to get away to our beloved Midwest for TEN. WHOLE. DAYS!

I digress. This post is supposed to have pictures and have something to do with my brother.

Well, I must admit that the Shiawassee County Fair's youth swine show was quite impressive. There were just over 200 youth showing hogs. This meant that Dan had quite the job to do! Judging those youth split into 4 divisions took about 5 hours! During each round, he spoke to each child about the ways that he/she could show the hog off better to the judge.  While it took a while to deliver that kind of personal advice, I must admit, it was far more attention than I got while showing. :)

Dan's brother Tim is a leader for one of the 'hog clubs.' (For the Iowans, Shiawassee County Fair has 'project clubs' as opposed to the community clubs that we're familiar with.) One of Tim's club members has purchased pigs from my brother and been very pleased with them.  This year, she bred one of the gilts purchased from Matt and ended up with a litter of 14 show pigs.  Nine days later, the barn was up in flames.  So, she, her parents and Tim headed to Iowa in April to buy some more "good Iowa pigs."

Let me tell you what, those were some gooood Iowa pigs! One of the show superintendents told her, as they were weighing in, "Those are the largest boned pigs I have ever seen!" When Lindsay came into the ring for showmanship, I thought the same thing. He was a big boned, heavy muscled beauty.  I was impressed. Then, I was told that this one didn't even compare to the one being shown as the market individual.

The next day during the market show, it was very fun to watch since I had a 'stake' in it. Of course, I wanted the judge to choose my brother's pig! However, as the day wore on, I saw the judge consistently pick Hamp and Spot pigs...and not the York or blue-butts. I wondered if he had a bias against the more 'maternal' breeds.

Well, I had little reason to worry.  As soon as that pig entered the ring, the judge spotted it.  He won his class handily.  He won the Heavyweight Market Individual easily.  So, it was no surprise - but we were certainly elated - when he was selected as the Grand Champion Market Hog. He was explosive! (Unfortunately, my pictures don't quite do him justice.)

Cindy, Lindsay and Greg Richmond with "Cy"

Lindsay with her hardware. (If I was a better show-animal photographer, Cy would have his head up, so that you could really see how long and stout he is.)

Lindsay with Cy's buyers at the sale. Here you can see more of Cy's length and power.
It was very fun to watch Lindsay win. This win could not have come at a better time or to a better family.  It has been a tough year for them, and success never tastes sweeter than when it follows a time of suffering.

It was also very gratifying to watch one of my brother's pigs win.  His foray into the show pig business really began from similar circumstances.  In January of 1999, our farrowing house caught fire - killing 14 sows, each with a full litter.  The loss came at an awful time in the pork industry - when producers were receiving $.05/hundred pounds.  While the decision wasn't easy, it was clear. Our family would not continue in the pork industry.  However, my brother would still have enough pigs for 4-H and FFA.  At this point, he had an opportunity to build a herd with show characteristics.

Growing up, we showed pigs selected from our herd. They did alright - but they weren't bred for the show. They were bred for market.  ...and they looked like it. ...and, receiving a blue was expected. Getting penned was a highlight. Winning?  A dream...but not too likely.

Then, Matt had this opportunity.  Has he ever capitalized it! He has invested so much time, sweat, and effort into transforming the herd and our farm. It is amazing to see his vision take shape.  Every victory that he experiences has been hard earned.  I am so proud of him.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pure Michigan, Pure Joy

We have officially been returned from our wonderful, ten days of rest, relaxation, fair and family vacation to Michigan.  To describe the trip as 'amazing' or 'blessed' seems to fall short.  Both Dan and I felt wholly refreshed in our souls, our calling, and our place in the world.

I feel like Michigan is our place.  I feel incredibly blessed with an amazing family by calling (in-law doesn't capture the warmth or love they bring).  When Dan first took me to Michigan (again, for an extended vacation) to meet the family, that was when we both knew...where Dan first said, "I love you," where I cried when we drove away because I felt so welcomed and accepted.  This trip reinforced that acceptance. I truly feel like I belong; like I am part of this family, immediate and extended - even though many miles separate us. It is a beautiful and BLESSED thing. 

It was so nice to see Dan rest and relax.  He needed a chance to just connect with those who know him best - and he got to do that many times over.  We're contemplating making this trip an annual event.  Being 'stationed' at the Shiawassee County Fair allowed us to spend many days and quality memory-making moments with family and friends - far more than we would have done on a holiday trip.

I will recap the week using pictures on the blog this week. (Yes, I took pictures!) Just know that it was everything we needed to return refreshed & relaxed!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Juno: aka didjunowhatthekieslingsweredoing?

June was a great, but stressful, month for us.

1)  Dan defended his Master's thesis! AND PASSED!

     He defended last Thursday, June 28. He finished the first draft last December and has been waiting for edits. He received them this month and spent a good chunk of his Saturdays, Sundays, and a few late nights/early mornings making edits and working on his presentation. He does have edits to make (as all who go through the process do) - and the goal is to have those edits done before school starts. Yea! Master Dan!

2)  I taught my first summer course.

     We met 2 hours a day, Monday - Friday. My class was small (9), but they did very well. The course is the same one I teach throughout the year - Applying Critical Thinking Skills to Critical Discourse in Family & Consumer Science Organizations. Boring title, huh? The title needs work - but the class is excellent. In a nutshell, our students develop their critical thinking, writing and presenting skills while analyzing and developing rhetorical acts (arguments). I have learned so much from teaching the course and my writing has definitely improved as a result.
It was really fun to teach - but, stressful - as I want my students to succeed and I want to be sure that they are grasping the concepts and that I am doing the best I can.

The class ended yesterday. They all showed improvement and I loved their end-of-class reflections, always helps me appreciate the efforts.

3)  I presented at my first academic professionals conference: North American College Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA), June 26-29, River Falls, WI.
 I feel like I have officially arrived in the academic world. Honestly, I felt like I was missing out on the 'grad school' experience many times because my Master's courses were all online. Don't mis-hear me, I had great professors and excellent courses; but, I missed the 'experience' of attending conferences, presenting and doing research. Granted, I was only a full-time student one semester - but still, I missed it. SO, I was very excited to present TWO oral presentations about my research and one poster about the Ag 450 Farm.
     My "ex-post-facto/de-facto" 'advisor' and friend, Ryan, helped with the brainstorming process, for which I am very thankful. I had never made a poster before and it's pretty intimidating to start. Ryan also helped with the process of planning my two presentations. I had approximately 10 minutes to present each oral presentation. My defense presentation went 40 minutes longer than it should have; brevity is not my strong suit. I want to give ALL the background information; I needed to just keep it simple.
     The result? Awesomeness. I am not saying that to brag; it really went very well. I now feel confident to take on the next area! What is that, you wonder? Journal articles!

4)   It was in the triple digits nearly the entire month.

      I think that is enough explanation about why it was stressful. =)

5)   Monsoon season started. 

That means that is more humid than normal - and I love it! It also means that there is a chance of rain most days - and I love it! There are more clouds in the sky and more gray days - and I love it! (Trust me, when you have 360 days of sun, a little gray in your day is such a treat.)

6)   I was diagnosed with esophagealitis.

Every day for at least a week, I would have a pain in my upper-back/chest right after eating. Not a burning sensation - just a sharp pain. Then on a weekend, I had heartburn/burning for a day. It was awful.  At the doctor, I had an EKG - normal; blood drawn for the bacteria that causes ulcers - none. So, I'm taking Nexium and it's been helping.
      BUT, I want to get to the cause - have any of you who have been diagnosed with food allergies/sensitivies experienced similar symptoms? Any recommendations?

7)    I got a 'promotion'!

My title is now Advisor/Lecturer and I got a raise. Now, for Dan to get a raise.... That man works harder than most in his department and he doesn't get recognized for it.

8)    We got to spend time in the Midwest!

Ah, it was so good for my soul.  A blog post will follow. However, 1) I did not realize how beautiful Wisconsin is. Good on ya, Wisconsin! 2) I tell people that I miss humidity - but one of those days, I swear we were at 90% humidity - and I don't miss that.  3) I love my friends. We spent about 36 hours with my college roommate and dear friend, Pam and her family. It was excellent.  4) I love my family. My mom and dad drove all the way to Wisconsin/Minnesota just to spend about 40 hours with us. It was excellent.

9)     We enjoyed quite a few happy hours in June. We may not have a lot of friends - but we have good ones. =) We also got to host one of Dan's college friends for a night while she was on a short work trip. It was such a fun time!

10)    June 4 marked one year completed in Arizona! (for me; July 22 will make 2 years completed for Dan)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Anniversary Celebration

On Memorial Day, we headed back to Tucson. This time, we took 'the 8' to San Diego - then along the border, to Yuma and home. In San Diego, we had lunch with my good friend (and country cousin) Marijo and her husband, Lawrence. They are moving to Japan next month for 2 years, so it was wonderful to see them and introduce them to Dan.

Tuesday was our "official" anniversary. We spent the day working. On our way into work, we stopped at Wheel Donuts (the local donut shop that Dan loves) for breakfast.

After work, we went out to Buffalo Wild Wings. Sure, it's not fancy - but we love it. AND it was 'Traditional Tuesday,' which we love - and I love a good deal...so, yeah, it may not be fancy, but it's us. We walked out stuffed and satisfied and then Dan said, "SO - wanna buy a cake?"

"No." Disheartened Dan replies, "You don't?"

Well, no, not really. I was stuffed - and I don't really like cake. BUT, I know that look and after a year of marriage, I'm starting to learn which battles are just not worth it. SO - we got a cake.

Wait - Happy WHAT? Annivershfhsdlkfsdy?
Cake Wrecks, anyone??

His idea. Seriously, what a cutie. :)

...and sorry about the sideways pics. I didn't flip 'em before adding.

Honeyversary Day 3: Chillaxin'

On Sunday, we relaxed. We read the paper, drank coffee, at breakfast, watched the Indy 500 (our hosts are Indianans, after all).

Then, we visited Irvine's city park, a former Navy training base (I think; I may not get these facts right). When the City of Irvine bought the land, they created a plan to transform it into the largest city green-space/park - larger even than Central Park. A community garden and Farmer's Market are housed there. Currently, there is a giant orange balloon (tethered) that you and 29 of your friends can rise 400 feet into the air and peruse the cityscape.

There is also a CAROUSEL! We couldn't ride the balloon due to winds - but we could ride the carousel.

After visiting the park, Dan and I went for a walk into the hills beyond Larry & PJ's. At the top of the hill, we found this little guy: a real roadrunner!

If you look really closely above the hill, you'll see an orange circle. That's the balloon at the Irvine park.

That night, we were able to enjoy dinner with my great-uncle Bob and great-aunt Ruth. It was such a blessed evening. It was terrific to spend the weekend celebrating our marriage with family that hadn't been able to come to the wedding!

It was a really wonderful weekend. We needed a weekend to just completely relax and let go. Larry and PJ were excellent hosts. We can't thank them enough!

Honeyversary Day 2: Relaxation

On Saturday, Larry and PJ had arranged for us to have brunch 'on the ocean' in Laguna Beach. The restaurant is the former home a Hollywood star. It was excellent food, service - and even better company. We were able to have a 'window seat' and look out directly onto the ocean.

Our anniversary mouse

Family as Friends: PJ, Larry, me, Dan - what a view!

After brunch, we walked along the ocean (not on the sand, but along a 2-mile sidewalk above the 'beach'/rocks). It was beautiful.

Can't pass up a photo op with some unique art! I tried to get Dan to pose like the whale, but I think he took offense to the suggestion. I wasn't trying to insinuate that he's like the whale....

9/11 Memorial - beams from each of the Towers

Fun fact: though near the ocean, southern California is still a desert/arid climate. Thanks to the Hoover Dam and the canal system, California has lush, rich vegetation and farm fields due to water from the Colorado River. Just think, Arizona could have gotten that water.... 

We found a beach wedding!

So, I had to take several pictures. Dan thought I was totally weird for doing this; I think it must have been the nostalgia.

DOLPHINS!  We saw several dolphins swimming out in the ocean.

After vising the beach and walking along the ocean, we went wine tasting. It was glorious and fun.
After wine tasting at two places, we took naps. Then ate delicious tri-tip, soaked up the sunshine, laughed, and watched the Disney fireworks - all from Larry & PJ's backyard.