Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fun Fest

Today our office shut down at 1pm so we could all go outside and enjoy some team activities - I had the best time with my team and it was all so much fun!

My team was called the El Dorado Hill 'Billies' and our team chant was:

Well I know that we ain't pretty,
But we're the best in this here city,
We'll take that reward if you please,
We're the El Dorado Hill Billies - YEE HAW!

Our attire consisted of straw hats, bandanas, a piece of straw (but it was actually lavendar), and as you can see, I fit the part with my Completely Cornfed t-shirt from Iowa!

Dipna (of the Krazie 8's) and Marcie (El Dorado Hill Billy)

Front: Dustin, Kam, Me
Back: Clint, Tres, Doug, Kevin, Tracie, Rian

For starters, the organizers had the Back 40 come in and cater our lunch for us, which consisted of chicken, a beef bisque (I think), potato salad, baked beans, and salad. It was super yummy...

The first event that was held was a hot dog eating competition. My teammate, Tres, was voted to do this since he was out of the office the day we had our team meeting :) I, however, was his back up... thank goodness he pulled through! I think it was a tie for 2nd place, but he got bumped to 3rd place... bummer...

Tres man handling the hot dogs

Shayne, Garnto (The winner), Jeff, and Bert

Second in events was a group balloon toss - those things always make me nervie for some reason. And true to my form, I had to toss it to Veronica and in mid-air it turned all long and lop-sided and splattered all over the tennis court. A bunch of people got knocked out at the same time as we did, so I didn't feel quite so sucky.

The third event was the 3 legged sack race, which Kam and I did together - we could not get coordinated and she even tried to carry me during our 'practice' time! Luckily, we had to run bases at the ball field, so we just went from home plate to first and handed it off to the next couple on our team - who by the way, made up for the time we lost!

Fourth was the bat-n-beer (root beer by the way) race, which I was 'lucky' enough to participate in. I thought I had a good plan in my head of how I was going to do it, but it went straight out the window once I went around the bat about 4 times. I swear, the guy keeping track of our 10 turns kept saying '7' over and over! At one point I even shut one of my eyes because I always thought that 'helped' when I was drunk! It didn't... I spent most of my time in the sand fumbling around and after the 10th turn, I was handed a cup of root beer to guzzle - needless to say, I decided to just dump it on my face and make up some time... but trying to run back was a feat and I ended up stumbling and crawling over the line to tag my next partner.
Justin spinning

Dina drinking after spinning

The last line of events was the dunk tank. We got to select somebody to dunk and most of the people were upper management and a couple other guys who were good sports... I never did get to throw the ball, which I'm ok with now. It made me think back to last month when my nephew made fun of how I threw the ball when we were playing catch (ok, I was catching and he was chasing) and I decided that if an 8 year old was making fun of how I threw, at least my coworkers wouldn't be joining in! See, hindsight is 20/20...

Dipna and Me - too cool for the dunk tank

Once the dunk tank was done, awards were handed out and guess what? The Hill Billies took 2nd place!! That's right, baby... we got gift certificates to a place in town and a nice silver medal that our team captain claimed!

We're 4th from the bottom - 2nd place!

Kevin and his Daisy Dukes taking 2nd Place for the team

The weather was great, the food was good, and the atmosphere was in high spirits - I wish we could do this every day....


I'm reaching out to the masses here... my friends, Shonda and Theron, sent me this email and hopefully you can help out:

As some of you may or may not know; Theron and I have 2 boxers; Roxie is a reverse brindle (with papers) and approximately 2 years old (she's a smaller boxer too; only about 55-60 lbs.). She is also fixed. She had a litter of puppies at an early age and then we had her fixed.

Roxie and Jesse (our other boxer that is about 90 lbs.) just feed off each other and they both are starting to get aggressive with others that come in our yard. When one or the other are inside they seem to act FINE. Roxie is fully potty trained the ONLY criteria for getting her is that she stays an inside dog. Her shot are all updated and she's regularly groomed (to say the least she's a tampered princess) and we really don't want to get rid of her but it's just for the best. Roxie is extremely timid with others; she'll come to her owners but she takes a while to warm up. We have taken her to dog obedience (10-week training session) and she did a really good job. Walks great on a leash. We have an invisible fence collar if that interests you that we paid a couple hundred dollars for (you can have for free).

Since we've moved to the farm we have a LOT more people in and out with the horses and I just can't have my dogs aggressive. Anyone who knew Jesse before Roxie entered the picture knows that he use to be the sweetest dog ever; now's he's just extremely protective and it's more when Roxie is around him.


Thank you!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Sorry I've been a little M.I.A. lately - I feel like I've been writing about some superficial topics, but I've really needed a chance to collect my thoughts and step back from this for a while. Thanks for letting me take a little break ~

What I have found is that some of you don't like to hear how things are REALLY going with me personally when I write out in the open like this ... it is, after all, an open diary! I have let you into some really emotional things that have happened, experiences that I have had, and thoughts that come across my mind.

(I'm not going to change how I've been expressing myself... I'm being honest with you and myself and I totally want you to see how God is working on refining me. Things like this aren't supposed to be a walk in the park and I need to be able to share myself with my friends and family - it's because you love me and I love you!)

What you do need to know, is that I'm fine - I really am - I think we all go on a bit of a roller coaster ride from time to time and we don't share these interpersonal feelings with one another, so when I do tell you about a situation, I get a lot of email feedback. Don't get me wrong, I love feedback and seeing comments, but you have to understand that this is an incredibly trying time for me, too.

My close friend and I describe what we're going through as a wilderness. When I was home last month and spoke to my pastor, he even stated that when I do come out of this wilderness that I'm in, that I will be able to turn around and finally see the trees - each one will represent a specific time, place, situation, or experience and I'll be able to see the wilderness as a whole - but through the trees. At this point, I wish I could chop a couple of those trees down.

For those of you who have asked, yes, I have come out of my Post-Iowa Funk after visiting last month. It lasted a lot longer that I had anticipated, but I've finally gotten back into the swing of things with work, church, and personal things that needed to be addressed. My mind had been clouded emotionally for too long and that veil is being lifted... I feel a sense of peace with a couple of decisions that had to be made and a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders just in this past week.

I went out with some friends last night and while we were talking, I thought about how God brought us together. Isn't it ironic that a year and a half ago, I was so worried about moving because I wouldn't know anybody? And here I was, in the middle of a group of 10 strangers, sharing my life - but they're my friends now - I felt safe with them. While we were out, I had another friend from church texting me asking me to come spend time with her and her boys at the drive-in... what? I'm getting invited places?! Who would have thought? By no means is this journey I'm on over, but I am seeing the true heart and intentions of people that I've become to know while being here.

The same is true for my bible study group that meets on Tuesday nights. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love these ladies - we marvel at God's perfect timing and the structure that He has just for us. You have me (an Iowa hay seed), our group leader is from Nebraska, another woman is from Ohio, my friend from Illinois, and another woman from New Jersey, all sitting around the same table in California learning about the 'Experience of God' and capitalizing on our new found relationship with one another. Seriously, how cool is that?! He brought us together for a perfect reason and I'd like to humanly try to figure it out and say it's because they're all like a 'mom' to me, but I believe it's much deeper than that... we are all learning something new from one another and it is so awesome.

I even chuckled today as I met up with a new friend down in Elk Grove early this morning. While we were at this place talking, an old coworker of mine came in - somewhere WAY out of the way for me (and for her as well), but here I am in this HUGE state and I'm seeing people that I know! I didn't leave until early afternoon and on the drive back up to my place, I kept thinking to myself, "I'm living in California... I'm seeing people that I know in the most random places....and God totally has my back." Talk about comforting.

Changes are taking place and the trees are being shaken....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


For those of you who don't know me, Coldplay is by far, my most favorite band! Mind you, I like a lot of different kinds of music (except country), but as soon as I hear a song being sung by this group, a little sigh comes from within...ahhhh....

I had the chance to go to San Jose last Friday to see them in concert - for the third time - and it was their best show yet! They had an opening band called Picture Atlantic who had won a local contest to open the show and they were energetic, got the crowd excited, and were genuinely glad to be in the arena.

The second band that came out about put me to sleep... I have no idea what their name was - I thought it sounded like 'Shoes' and my friend thought it was 'Sugar' something... either way, they were not good. When they announced that they were singing their last song, the crowd erupted in cheers!

Finally, Coldplay came out at 9:15 and played until 11 or a little after - and nonstop! The BEST part of the whole show was when they ran through the crowd on the floor and up in to the stands where we were sitting - maybe 2 rows in front of us! All I kept saying was, 'I Can't Believe This!' I Can't Believe This!'
Yay! Coldplay!

I could see Chris Martin's SWEAT on his face :) Oh how I wish I could have ran down and hugged Gwenyth's husband! (sigh)

I think he was singing to me...

They sang all of my favorite songs, like 'Clocks', 'Yellow', 'Yes', and 'The Scientist', plus a lot of songs off of their new album... I'm still on cloud nine thinking about it!

Singing 'Yellow'

Viva La Vida Tour
During the day, we went to Santa Cruz to spend a few hours looking at the ocean off of the pier, walking the boardwalk, which by the way, is not made out of boards. Am I the only person who didn't know this?? I can honestly say that I was incredibly bummed out that it wasn't made out of boards... and I thought it would be longer... regardless, it was fun having ice cream, riding on the sky lift, and overlooking the beach and ocean/Monterrey Bay. I love the ocean.

The pier

The Boardwalk from the sky lift

Ocean waves

All in all, it was a beautiful day outside and the night was even better listening to the best band EVER!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Father Knows Best


For one of the first times in my life, I'm taking my dad's advice.

He has two pieces of Dove Dark Chocolate per day - it's for medicinal purposes, really...

But now I'm hooked - only because I'm addicted to chocolate.

Seriously, what a great excuse...antioxidents, reduces blood clotting, and it's heart healthy!

I love Dove. And Dove loves me.


While I was on vacation in Iowa last month, I received an email from one of the women in my small group from church. It told us that our small group leader, Kathi, had been hit by a drunk driver and she sustained life threatening injuries which included severe head trauma.

A lot of things go through your mind when you read something like this and my first thought was that she must have been driving somewhere late at night.

Unfortunately, she was on her bicycle training for a bike race that is taking place this very weekend and it was at 10:30 in the morning! That's right, in the morning... her and one of her friends, Kathy, were in training and were struck by a young woman who had leaned over to pick up her water bottle and drifted in to the bike lane.

It's such a sad story... here you think that you're going out for a couple hours worth of riding and then you don't come home.

Here is the link that was posted on the local news channel last month:

A lot of healing has taken place since last month, but both women (and I should say the young woman who hit them, too) have been through so much since then. I couldn't imagine what would be going through her head, how her family is dealing with something like this, and what is going to happen to her in the upcoming trial.

On the flip side, you have two remarkable women who have been dealt a lot of physical injuries that will take months of rehabilitation and an even longer amount of time to pay off medical bills.

So tonight after church, my roommate and I went to Ernie's (a little cafe down the street from church) for a benefit that would give 50% of the proceeds towards these two women and their mounting bills. What a great cause! We had cheeseburgers, fries, and pop for a flat rate, but you could obviously give more to help out.

I love things like this... seeing people come out to help families in need. There is a small thread that connected all of us in that little room for a short period of time... a thread of love, a thread of giving, a thread of caring.

There was a gentleman taking pictures of everybody at their tables (Frank hates his picture being taken) to show the two women what was going on tonight once they are able to understand and grasp the magnitude of a stranger's love and what was going on in the "outside world". How awesome!

Here is a link to my friend's blog if you want to pray for her, see her progress, and read about how it all began... it's cool to see God answering SO many prayers and letting us be a part of their miracles. Each day gets better and there is so much hope in sight...

I didn't know the other Kathy, but 'our Kathi' always, always has a smile on her face and has such a great demeanor. One night I came in to small group with my Chicago Cubs t-shirt on and she came right over and wanted to know if I was from IL because nobody wears a Cubs t-shirt out here! We had a great talk about Iowa, our love for the Cubbies, how she moved out to Illinois and then came back to CA, etc. She is such a neat woman and I hope she can recover and move on from this quickly - I bet she'll have quite the stories to tell once she gets through all of this!

Please pray for all three women and their healing processes..

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Smoke (cont.)

This is ridiculous... the smoke is so intoxicating. Today was the first day I had a massive headache accompanied by a scratchy sore throat...and I'm blaming the smoke from the wildfires.

The last two weeks have been a roller coaster of smoke, "clear" skies, and back to smoke again. I would assume the news coverage of the fires surrounding us would be comparable to what I was seeing on tv about the floods when I was home visiting, but obviously on a different scale.

Here is a view off of our patio that I took at 6pm this evening.

And here is the view on a clear day - notice the round, flat water tower on top of the hill - you can barely see it in the picture above. That is between 3/4 to one mile away...

To top it off, today was a scorching 108F - AND the air conditioner at work was broken when everybody arrived this morning. You know when you expect to walk into an office and feel the blast of cool air? It was actually cooler (at 82F) outside this morning when I got to work at 7, than it was in the building. We shut the lights off on our side of the building and everybody had their little personal fans blowing. Too bad for me, I don't have a fan because 99.9% of the time, I'm freezing and wearing a sweater, but they soon got it fixed and we were getting cooled off around 10am. But still... it was hot.

I just hope we can catch a break from the heat and smoke here before long...this is getting tiring.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hands Free

This is hilarious - my friend in MI sent this to me today and I can't stop laughing...

In case you haven't heard, California passed a law on July 1st that you cannot be on your phone and driving at the same time, so a lot of people have acquired a Bluetooth in order to be 'hands free'. Which by the way, looks like a roach sucking on your ear, in my opinion.

Anyway, thanks for the clip, Big Daddy!