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Back on the Right Coast

Sorry for the lack of blogging.... but I am spending time on the "right" coast with friends and family. I will be back to blogging from the wrong coast after the New Year.

Merry Christmas.


31 is the new 29

I turned 31 yesterday. And, it wasn't so bad.

Now, to fully understand why my 31st birthday NOT being an issue is truly blog worthy, I must take you back to this time last year.

I was freaking out! I did NOT want to turn 30. Mostly because I am a thinker an over thinker. I was comparing myself to the people around me in graduate school and the friends with whom I had graduated high school and it seemed like they were all a little farther ahead in the game of life. Everyone seemed to be married. Most had kids. Many owned homes. And I was turning 30 while still in grad school, boyfriend-less, and renting a room in a house.

So I did what anyone would do... I went to CABO. My sister was in desperate need of a vacation as well so we packed up, found a warm destination, and spent 6 days in January reading, sunning, drinking, swimming, whale watching, snorkeling, eating and just NOT being a grad student (me) or an overworked, mom and wife (sister).

I know it's not healthy to compare myself to others. And, in this situation it was meaningless. I was still in school, but I was getting a PhD - pretty cool. I had owned a house... a house I loved. I sold it to move away to grad school. I had been in a couple long term relationships, but the truth is that I had just not found the right guy. And, kids... well, let's not go there, but suffice it to say I am thankful that I was able to go through the madness that is graduate school and academic job hunting without the worries of parenthood.

So my 31st birthday came yesterday and was actually quite enjoyable. (I think it is the "funnest" day to be on Facebook and enjoyed birthday wishes from friends and family.) I got to talk to my mom, my dad, my sister, and my brother (an an attempt at birthday wishes from my 2.5 year old niece). I had a great catch-up phone call with Claire Cook! I had a productive day at work with well wishes from colleagues. I got my hair cut and ended the day at dinner with friends.

God really does know what he is doing. Why do I insist on measuring him against some crazy, self-imposed timeline?


Brooke Fraser

Despite the hectic pace at the end of the term and the crush to both finish classes (read: grading) as well as have two papers ready for the Western region deadline (Dec 20), I have decided to try and have a life. Ambitious, I know. That meant holding to my decision to attend a Tuesday night Brooke Fraser concert at the Douglas Fir in Portland with my friend Trina. The show rocked! (And Brooke blogged about the show, too.)

As recently as October, I had never heard of Brooke Fraser. I committed myself to go to the show and then decided I should download some tunes so I would know what I had gotten myself into. Brooke is sometimes described as pop, but there is no way you can listen to her music and not know what she believes. If you don't know Brooke's music, listen to some and you will love her. She is multitalented - writing the songs, playing the keyboard and multiple guitars as well as providing the vocals on the songs. It was a true artist show. She is touring on her new album FLAGS. You should own it :-)

Sorry about the generic photos. I took some at the show, but with no flash photography, they didn't really turn out. And that is a shame because one of them featured the accordion.


Civil War

This weekend was the Civil War in Oregon... when the Beavers face their arch rivals... the Ducks. There is more hype for this game than most any game I have experienced. On the line this year was a birth in the National Championship game if the Ducks won. If the Beavers won, they became not only bowl eligible but also "Giant Killers".

This year's game was hosted in Corvallis and it was the College Gameday Game (apparently their are people on the planet who do not know about College Game Day so here is the explanation: The crew -Chris Fowler, Desmond Howard, Lee Corso, and of course, Kirk Herbstreit - of ESPN take their show on the road and do nationwide pre-game coverage from a college campus. Students come, cheer in the background, and hold up some hilarious and borderline inappropriate signs. They commentators talk about all the big games of the day and predict a winner.

I did not go out to the quad at midnight when the fun apparently kicked off (though not officially until 4:30am), but apparently Beavers know how to do it up right.  While walking across campus on Friday, I did manage to catch Kirk on set shooting some early segments.

So the game didn't turn out like we wanted UofO won 37-20, but the Beavers definitely did not let the Ducks play their game. And I loved the new throwback uniforms....especially the gloves.


Go with the Flow

I don't want to stress. I don't want to wake up dreading my to-do list. I don't want to seem short and snippy with everyone around me because they are interfering with my ability to get work done. I don't want to lay awake at night - unable to sleep - because the term has reached that critical point where all the work needs to be done at one moment.

But I do.
I wanna be a go with the flow person. I wanna truly believe that it will all get done. I want to lay down at night knowing that I worked all day and was productive and that, even though it did not all get done, it was good enough. I want to be nice to people, even when I have a lot on my plate.

How do I do that?

My StengthsQuest results indicate that I am an Achieving, Deliberative, Focused, Competitive Learner. I think that people with this combination should come with warning labels. We are, by nature, focused on checking things off the to-do list and doing it better than anyone else.

NOTE: Among a group of my Missouri friends, we talked about "being a duck" and letting the small things just "roll off your back." Since we are in the middle of the build up to the Civil War game between OSU and UofO, and College Gameday is setting up out on the Quad today, I don't think I can use the term "Be a DUCK." I could say "Be a BEAVER".... but I don't know if it has the same connotation.


Wordless Wednesday is a go...

I follow a number of other blogs... and more than one of them uses the concept "Wordless Wednesday". I think it is a fabulous idea and I am officially using it. The idea is that each week I post something on Wednesday that needs no explanation. It could be a great photo or something I come across that is worth sharing. I will start tonight with my favorite photo of my niece Katie - who will turn one on New Year's Eve.


Where did I pack that social calendar...

I know I used to have a social life. In Columbia, it always seemed to be filled with tailgates, departmental get-togethers, movie nights, Encore desserts (I miss y'all Annie, Claire and Sara), and Office nights ("That's what she said" Heidi and Jonathan).

But, as anyone who has moved to a new town without knowing anyone could attest, that social calendar doesn't get put to much use when you first move... unless it is to pencil in the cable guy. And, I don't make friends that easily. I am not exactly a social butterfly. (I know, you're shocked!)

Apparently, 4 months is the magic mark. Today, I was looking at my Outlook calendar and expecting to see more of the same: Days jam packed with meetings and appointments and classes from 8-5 followed by a sad, lonely existence in my apartment from 5-bedtime. No, my friends - I have a life.

I don't know if it's because of the season (because some of my appointments are no doubt obligation holiday invites and everyone is included) or because I am really starting to build a sense of community in Corvallis. In the next two weeks as the workload for the term is at it's most intense and with a research deadline looming large, I have:

  • A Collegiate FFA Christmas party
  • A First Friday game night with NW Hills Grad and Career...including pot luck dinner and games
  • Harry Potter and dinner out
  • Page CXVI concert....performing at Dox during Sunday morning service and at 1st Presbyterian Corvallis on Sunday night
  • Departmental Christmas Party
  • Dinner and Brooke Fraser concert in Portland
  • Book club (Gulliver's Travels)
  • WeightWatchers Meetings (I include them in my social calendar because the people at my meeting are really nice and I need to control SOMETHING in my life this time of year so this works!)
  • My birthday (Yup, turning 31 - not freaking out like I was when I turned 30... more to come on that in a future blog post.)
I want to come out of this with stronger, deeper friendships. And, maybe, just maybe, there will be part of me that wants to come back from NC after the holiday break because it feels like I am connecting here. Here's hoping!


Anchoring Myself

When trying to lose weight it is helpful not only to have a goal, but to have an anchor... a reminder of what you need to be doing when times get tough. It can be any object but for many people, it is a "before" picture. 

How's this for a motivation picture? Eeek. 

Let's forget the fact that I had just come back from a retreat to the coast with the CFFA officers and overslept and didn't get a shower and didn't pack a belt: this picture was taken without my knowledge and posted to Facebook. I was horrified! It is just awful. It is the heaviest I have been in my life and it was captured on film. Ugh. 

I can make a lot of excuses for how I got here: "The PhD process is stressful". "I've had two miserable back surgeries that have compounded the weight issue and complicated any weight loss efforts." "I've been heavy my whole life." "I am a picky eater." They are all true, but they are still excuses.

Since this picture was taken (September 25th), I have started a water aerobics class and began using the Weight Watchers program. I am currently down 15 lbs (I even lost weight this week with the Thanksgiving holiday) and hope to never see another picture like this one. Until then... it is posted on my fridge as a reminder of where I will never go again. 


My Thanksgiving

What a great day. . My colleague invited me over (only a 20 minute drive) to their small family gathering....and, man, did they put on the real spread: Ham, Turkey, stuffing, rolls, pumpkin pie with ice cream, salad, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, bean dip, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, gravy, peppermint bark, Marionberry cobblery-goodness, pecan pie bites, and Martinelli's. My contribution: no-bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies - because it just isn't a Lambert holiday without them!  I am happy to have found friends who are willing to let me crash their family Thanksgiving. I am truly thankful to be finding a sense of community in yet another new place.

No travel and no airports... and, yet, through the miracle of SKYPE, I was still able to see my whole family and the decorated Christmas tree at the Lambert House. It's not the same as sitting around the table with them, but the next best thing when you have 3000 miles separating you and only a 4 day weekend. It was nice to chat "face to face" with my mom and dad, get a compliment on my outfit from a sister across the country and wave at my nieces and nephew --who always manage to make me smile when they are excited to see me :-) Thanks for setting that up, little brother!

And, now I have on my "I ate too much" pants and am going to settle in for a slow evening on the couch. But, Thanksgiving makes me all the more eager to get home for the Christmas holiday. And with a mom that loves Christmas as much as mine, this holiday is sure to be epic. Check out this shot of a Lambert Christmas tree from the past!


I'm dreaming of a White Thanksgiving?

I will admit it. I was being a bit whiny about the 40degree rain we have been having. But I wanted the rain to STOP... not change into the white stuff. I guess I should have been more specific in my whining.

As I went to bed last night it was snowing. And, when I woke up this morning....This is what I saw. 

This is the view out my back door this morning.

The view out the front door.

There was enough snow to close the local schools.

And, on the up side...I think the Murano looks good covered in snow :-)

Seriously... snow on November 23rd? I am okay with it because as early as it might be snowing it is still not nearly as cold as the bone chilling Missouri winters I have been experiencing for the last few years.


Top 5

Ok, I will admit. At first, I didn't watch The Office. While in Columbia, a friend invited me to join a Thursday night Office watch party and since I needed both friends and something to do on a Thursday night, I said yes. Even as I watched the first episode, I remember thinking... I don't know if this is really funny.

Let me just clear it up for you: It is!

So, I am going to make some tough choices... and try to decide on a Top 5 list of my favorite Office moments. Most of them involve Jim doing something to Dwight :-) but not always.

There is a great cold open scene where Jim dresses as Dwight: "Bears, Beets, Battlestar Gallactica!"

The Jim/Pam Wedding episode in general was completely epic.. but the mental picture bit made me tear up a little... at an episode of The Office. Well done!

The episode where Jim gives Dwight an Altoid every time the computer "dinks". Ah, Classical Conditioning

While Jim was working in Stamford, he still manages to get Dwight to use Gaydar! Did you know they sell it at Brookstone?

And, finally... a cold open from this season where the coworkers try to figure out exactly how oblivious Stanley really is at work...What will Stanley NOT notice! The things he missed included Pam with a mustache, Kevin dressed as a woman, a shirtless Andy, replacing Stanley’s computer screen with a cardboard box, having a meeting in the backwards conference room full of ridiculous reports, Michael with a puppet, and Dwight with a pony. Stanley doesn’t notice a thing, except that the office clock is five minutes slower than his watch. He leaves at 5:00. Loved it!

So, why is this included in a blog about my happenings on the West Coast?.... because all I have to do on an evening when I am feeling alone and missing friends is watch an episode of The Office and think about my forever friends I met through this wacky Thursday night show. It always makes me smile. 

What's your favorite?


Home for A holiday

I took an unexpected trip home October 28-November 10 for my dad to have open heart surgery. Dad is doing great.... and I am mostly caught up from missing 1/5 of the term (Eeek!)

This is me, my dad Phil, and my older sister Melissa around 1980.

It is never fun to face the fragility of life, but it was nice to be home. I had a chance to celebrate Halloween with the family for the first time in 4 years. My brother's girls were both Oregon State cheerleaders. My sister's kids were a mobster and a devil woman. This is the obligatory pre-trick-or-treat picture in the front yard of grandma and grandpa's house.

It is easier to see the big kid costumes in this picture.  I love it!

Because I was just home for a random mid-term trip, I will not be home for Thanksgiving. I will, however, still be feasting with friends here in Oregon. And, I will still get back to NC for a long Christmas holiday.



We had a speaker (Dr.Gary Ferngren, a professor from OSU) during Tuesday night's NWHills Grad and Career Group who gave a talk: "Why doesn't God want me to be happy". I found it not only intriguing but exactly what my heart needed to hear. The gist of the talk was that God promised a lot of things in the Bible... never once did he promise happiness. However, the point was made that the more you have, the more you want.  And, in a culture blessed with wealth, like our own, happiness doesn't follow. With this being the time of the year when we are obligated by a calendar specific holiday to be thankful, I shall count some blessings (in no specific order). I would encourage you to make a list of your own... perspective is a good thing.

1. God's love and eternal salvation
2. A supportive and loving family
3. A sister I can share my life with
4. Friends who know me on a level no one else could
5. A brother who serves selflessly
6. My health
7. Reading for fun
8. Skype to see the faces of friends and colleagues who are too far
9. DVR and the flexibility to entertain myself :-)
10. An income
11. Mentors who care
12. Music that moves the soul
13.Colleagues who value me and allow me to contribute
14. Students
15.A warm place to sleep at night
16. A healthy, safe, abundant food supply
17. Truly connecting with friends, family, colleagues, and students
18. Contentment
19. An Active lifestyle... especially my water aerobics
20. Freedom
21. The ability to continually learn and grow daily
22. Weight Watchers, and new found confidence
23. Sunshine and storms
24. Facebook (seriously) and the ability to stay connected with friends I wouldn't otherwise
25. Getting to re-center with my Grad and Career friends every Tuesday night
26.God given talents and quirks that make me uniquely unique 
27. The beauty of nature
28. A boy who sends me flowers
29.A happy childhood where I always felt safe and loved
30.Nieces and a nephew I can spoil any time I want


Stupid grin

I got flowers!

I had a blog post all thought out and ready to go, but I am finding it difficult 
to think straight with a silly grin on my face. Maybe tomorrow...


I'm back

I'm back. The OSU term got rolling and I had tons of blogging topics in my head, but no time to blog about them. I kept a list as I had ideas so now I have a giant list to blog about and I plan to find time every other evening to write about one of them.

In the meantime...remember how I was raving about the weather back in the summer? Well,..... this is pretty much the forecast from now til May.

Thank goodness for Christmas travels home (Dec 14-Jan 1) and the spring conference season (Orlando, Fresno, Coeur D'Alene). Those breaks will give me a chance to dry out a little.



When I finish school.
What I have more money.
When the kids are older.
When I have less debt.
When I find the right guy/girl.
When I finally get to the right place in my career.

We all have various rationalizations for when the "right" day will come to get started with changes we want to see in our lives. I am beginning to learn that I have been rationalizing my whole life. I hear statements like this from friends, family, students and coworkers on an almost daily basis. I am all for honesty, so let's be honest - what we are really saying is we don't want it bad enough to make it happen right now.

The days we have been granted on this Earth are numbered and finite. Time isn't waiting for you to find the right relationship or get "financially stable" (whatever that means). Time Marches On, and, if you have goals in mind for your life, you had better be marching, too.

I have long been saying I would do things when I finally finished graduate school or when I had more money or when my back felt better. The waiting is over. I am now proactively doing things to save money and taking steps to reduce my weight and improve my core strength so that my back doesn't hurt as bad. No more excuses...because let's all be honest. They are not reasons, justifications or rationalizations, they are excuses.
I will step off my soap box now because I have goals I need to go make happen.


1st day

I am excited to start the first day of fall quarter today. When I was a student, and even as a high school teacher, there was always a feeling of anticipation (butterflies even) until the class got up and going. That was the feeling over the weekend and last night. Today: Bring it on!

Just FYI... I am teaching a Lab Pedagogy course Monday 1:00-3:50 and a writing intensive Leadership Development course Tuesday/Thursday from 12:00-1:20.


When The Wrong Coast is Too Far

Let me begin by saying everything is fine!

That said, however, Friday was not a fun day and definitely made "The Wrong Coast" feel too far from home. I got a call from my sister around 4:00 PST that my dad had been rushed by ambulance to the hospital with chest pains. My sister is a smart gal and knows how worried and helpless I would feel being so far away that she didn't actually call me until she made it to the hospital and had seen dad for herself. At that point, he was still in the ER and they were running tests to find out what happened, but he was already doing better. They were telling him he was going to stay all weekend and perhaps have a procedure on Monday. Ugh.

It was scary, to say the least. Being 2900 miles from home means that you can't get home quickly, even when your boss is phenomenal and says "go if you need to go" without the slightest hesitation. An hour or so later I got to talk to my dad (probably breaking the rules with a cell phone in the ER, but at that moment, I couldn't have cared less!) and he said stay put here in Oregon. He wanted me to "save my vacation days for Christmas when we could all be together and not in a hospital." Vacation days isn't exactly the way things work at this level, but, he really was feeling better by that point so I didn't make the trip. But, that is what dad's always say, isn't it?  If it was really urgent, would he have told me to come?

In my head, I know the reality is that this will happen again in the future...as it will to any child that lives long enough. Reality just doesn't make me rest any easier. In the end, it wasn't a heart attack. In fact, they gave him a stress test on Saturday which he passed, so they sent him home late afternoon. He is back at work today (AMAZING!), following up with his doctor in the coming weeks, and on some new medications. And, I am eagerly awaiting Christmas break, now more than ever. But, once all the dust settled my mother was quick to point out that I have been lucky to work with some phenomenal people who put family and health above all else. I must agree! Ag Ed people (at all levels) really are the best people.


Eastern Oregon

FYI...I am aware I have been falling down on my blogging duties. Things have gotten really busy at work AND I have been using all of my free time on a "crafty" project that will be a Christmas gift - so I can't blog about that until after Christmas or it will ruin the surprise for someone!

I have spent the last few days (9/12-9/15) in Eastern Oregon visiting student teachers. I thought I would share the journey. We (Dr. Greg Thompson went with me so I didn't mess up anything :-)) visited Hermiston, Heppner, Joseph, Cove, and Imbler (in that order).  I didn't think to take pictures until we were leaving Heppner so GT took my picture with the Mustang mascot. Notice the terrain behind me... that is Eastern Oregon.

They grow mint in eastern Oregon. You can really smell it when it is raining (which it did while we were out there! That deserved the exclamation point because it always rains on my side of Oregon and it hardly ever rains on the east side. I must have brought it with me.)  Below you can see the mint which is dumped back into the fields after it has been processed and the oil removed. You can buy it to compost in your yard and it will smell minty-fresh every time it rains.

This is Joseph High School. We had a great visit.

 We started the day by meeting the cooperating teacher for breakfast at Old Town Cafe...super cute and the food was great!

Then we hopped on a yellow, straight-drive bus and wound our way around a mountain to a mountain trail head tucked back in the woods to watch a lesson on riparian areas. This was the view out of the front of the bus.

This is the scenery we viewed once we got there. One of only a few deciduous conifers you will find in the US

This was the view looking down stream.

And our student teacher doing a great job "learning" some kiddos. 

It was gorgeous out on our field trip, but the view is just as good from the school parking lot. Yup, there is a little bit of snow up there.

Then we went to Cove HS which is one of the smallest schools I think I have been in. This is literally the view from the front door. I stood in one place and snapped three pictures. You can see the sign over the door (to show that I am coming in the front) and you can also see out the back of the school down the only 2 hallways! 
Finally, we were off to Imbler High School (Tara King: this is where JD Cant teaches. He says "Hi".)

And, we got to see Chelcee doing great things in the classroom at Imbler.

My favorite part of the trip was getting to go to the eastern Oregon teachers' district meeting at Mamacita's in La Grande. What a fun bunch! But, a close second would have to be the small independent hotels (I can highly recommend "The Indian Lodge" in Joseph, Oregon) and independent restaurants (like The Cock and Bull in La Grande. Yup, that was really the name).

I will definitely be back to eastern Oregon.


The Best Part

The best part about being on the "Wrong Coast" today is that I am nowhere near this! 

Stay safe everyone!


Student Teaching Sites

We have 12 Ag Ed student teachers going out this year. They are scattered all over Oregon. We are required to visit each of them 6 times... yup 6! I have placed a blue star approximately where they are located (OSU is in Benton County - the pink one in the middle, one county in from the coast).   As you can see, I am getting ready to do some traveling in order to supervise this group.

Special "Dorkiness Indulgence Section" for any teacher education folks:

Our student teachers go out in the fall from State Fair until Fall quarter begins at OSU (August 27-September 27) and then come back to OSU for fall quarter (Sept 27-Christmas break). Our program is a master's program (they have already completed an undergraduate degree in another area) so fall quarter is when they learn about curriculum design, lesson planning, teaching methods, etc. Then they go back out to their student teaching sites for all of winter quarter (Jan-March wrapping up at State FFA Convention) to teach now that they have had some coursework. They come back to OSU for spring quarter (April-June) and complete their coursework and finish their master's degree.



The last few days have marked my first Oregon State Fair and i.am.exhausted.  SERIOUSLY EXHAUSTED. I learned a long time ago that I am a pretty intense introvert (meaning I draw my energy internally, not from interacting with others) and with days and days of introductions/ names/ places/ handshakes/ meetings, my reserves are tapped. It was all good stuff so I wouldn't trade any of it, but I definitely need a night to "recharge".

Thursday marked the first meeting with our student teachers and we have spent the days since supervising them while at the fair. I have also watched some livestock shows, visited the OSU booth, attended an FFA Alumni meeting, a FFA Board of Directors' Meeting, and a Team Ag Ed Meeting, watched the OR Livestock Judging CDE, and made it through my first awards ceremony. I have also met a ton of ag teachers and started learning the in's and out's of Oregon Ag Ed/ FFA. I am feeling more connected and hope I am on the track to becoming a useful, contributing member of the team.

In the interest of controlling the waistline, I didn't partake in a lot of the fried food that makes the fair so fabulous, but tomorrow I will begin detoxing from my daily dose of dairy goodness from the Dairy Women's Ice Cream Barn. "Regular Chocolate Cone" - I will miss you!

The Oregon State Fair SkyLift Ride
(Image from http://www.oregonlink.com/postcards/skyliftferriswheel.html)


The Oregon Garden

I have admitted before that I am a geek. I love plants! Who doesn't? They can make ugly places prettier and cheer the spirit when you are feeling sad.  So...I spent Saturday (August 21) bumming around The Oregon Garden. On the way in, you pass The Gordon House (1959) - the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oregon and the only one in the Pacific Northwest that is open to visitors. I didn't spring for the $10 tour, but I did snap a photo of the outside.

Once I arrived, I paid my fee to get in to the gardens. The views start the minute you leave the visitor's center.

I snapped tons of photos. Here are a few of my favorites.

Everything grows here.... including Fuschia!

This is the Hobbit house in the Children's Garden. I don't think a buried corrugated drain pipe has ever been so cute (and fun- this little fella was havin' a blast)!

I couldn't resist... I like any flower that appears Daisy-like.

There were numerous water features, but this was my favorite.

Sculptural, natural garden art

Numerous pollinators made it into my photos between the time I lined up my shot and when I snapped...

Of course, I needed a shot of the beaver (among some purple cone flowers and rudbeckia!)

There were some fabulous moss covered rocks scattered around the gardens.

Some pot people in the Children's Garden.

Sculptural plants among sculpture

Now I feel like I need to see the garden during multiple times of the year. I mean, August is definitely not peak season. It will definitely not be my last visit to The Oregon Garden.