Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We hope this note finds each of you happy and healthy. We have been truly enjoying this Christmas season and are thrilled to currently find ourselves in the midst of a foot or two of snow with more on the way. We made the trip to Michigan this past weekend (about a twenty hour drive), and have been enjoying the snow -and family, of course- ever since (we don't get much cold weather in Wichita Falls!). The picture above is our "Christmas card". We opted to send it through blog and email to save a little money. You can click the image to view it full size.

The past year has been new and interesting. This is our second year of marriage, which has been quite the adventure. We don't know if we could have ever predicted all that marriage would be, but it is a blessing to be happily in the midst of it. We are still living in Wichita Falls, Texas and will be for about the next two years. The area of Texas in which we live is not our favorite climate, but there are a few recreational opportunities that make it enjoyable. We love to camp and mountain bike, so we have started a tradition of camping and biking at Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo each spring. The canyon is beautifully filled with colorful cactus, wildflowers, and red rock formations. There are some biking trails closer to our home as well as nearby in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma, where we also enjoy camping. In the sweltering summer months though, we find refuge on the lake in the boat we bought last summer. We go there as much as possible and are lucky that the boating season in Texas lasts from May through October! We were also able to spend a wonderful week in Colorado this summer. We were a part of Beth's wedding, and also backpacked through Rocky Mountain National Park for a few days. It is always great to be back there!

Last fall Matt began his T-37 "Tweet" FAIP (first assignment instructor pilot) assignment at Sheppard AFB. He started teaching his first flight of students last January and is now beginning his third flight of students. He comes home every night with great stories about all the crazy manuevers the students tried to pull. Basically it is the perspective Brooke never heard when Matt was in pilot training, as now the roles are reversed! Matt also started a masters degree in Aeronautical Science through Embry Riddle this summer. Overall, Matt is really enjoying teaching the new students, is proud to be a part of the 89th flying training squadron, and is thrilled to have flown over 500 hours in his first year on the line. Oh, one more thing, Matt expects to go to transition training for the T-6 (the new trainer plane that is gradually replacing the T-37) in March. He will be in San Antonio for about two months to complete the training.

Brooke has been teaching two-year-olds at School for Little People since we moved to Wichita Falls. This fall she has also aided for a four-year-old class at the school. It has been a really good experience, and she has learned so much about children and education. She really hopes to teach elementary school, though, which is why she began a teacher preparation program through the state of Texas in August. The program lasts less than a year, and consists of a set of classes, which she finished in November, and student teaching, which begins in January. Brooke will student teach at Sheppard Elementary (the on-base school) in both kindergarten and first grade classes. She is really looking forward to this change, and hopes to land a teaching job next fall.

Through all the seasons of the year and changes in our lives, it is the peace and joy of Christ that sustains us. In Him we gain strength to live and love based on His example. This freedom is invigorating and freeing. We pray you, too, carry it with you always.

Much love and God bless,
Matt and Brooke Keilen

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Peach-Berry Betty

I made this delicious dessert last week. I was looking for a way to use up all the extra rolls from Thanksgiving. I had made whole wheat rolls, and since we ate about two, there were about 22 left over! I froze them, which is a good thing because they were perfect for this "dessert" -as the cook book calls it- that I think counts as a great breakfast!! Here is the recipe if you would like to try it.

3 cups fresh red raspberries or one 12-ounce package frozen red raspberries (I used one 10-ounce package of frozen blackberries.)
2 cups sliced, peeled peaces or frozen unsweetened peach slices (I used one 10-ounce package frozen peach slices.)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger (right, where do you find this?) or 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger (that's better;)
5 cups soft whole wheat bread cubes (about 7 slices)
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1. Thaw berries and peaches, if frozen. Do not drain. For filling, in a large mixing bowl combine sugar, flour, and ginger. Add berries, peaches, and their juices; toss to coat. Add 2 cups of the bread cubes; toss gently till combined. Transfer filling to an ungreased 2-quart square baking dish.

2. For topping, place remaining bread cubes in a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle with melted butter or margarine; toss to coat. Sprinkle topping over fruit filling. Bake in a 375 degree oven about 30 minutes or till fruit is tender and topping is golden. If desired, serve warm with whipped cream. Makes 6 servings.

3. Note: the rolls I used were rather dry (that's probably why we only ate two!) so I drizzled about 1/4 cup of water over the top layer of bread cubes before putting it in the oven. I also sprinkled about 1 tablespoon of sugar over the top. It was delicious!


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oh, the anticipation

About once per month our church bulletin contains an insert called "Growing in Faith". This week's insert is about advent, and the advice therein was inspiring. It is all about keeping peace in your mind and heart during this time that can be a frenzy. Here is a glimpse of what it said.

It started with this quote from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "[Christianity] does not call us to abandon the world, but to help shape it. This does not mean leaving worldly tasks and responsibilities, but transforming them".
  • Giving handmade gifts is a way to show our love and honor the artisans who make them at the same time. Your gift-giving dollars also support good causes and the artisans who made the things you choose.
  • Include in your Christmas cards a note about the blessings you have received this year. Not only will your friends and family enjoy reading about your good news, your card will be a testament to God's loving care.
  • To increase the excitement and anticipation of Christmas, set up your tree, put on the lights, but don't decorate it. Instead, add one ornament a day throughout Advent. On Christmas Eve, add the rest and light the tree on Christmas morning.
  • Advent is exactly the right time to reflect on the ways we can honor God. Make a heartfelt confession and decide to start fresh. Reconciliation will let you greet Christmas with a heart full of peace and joy.
  • While you are cleaning out closets or sorting laundry, make a phone call to someone you haven't seen in a while.
  • Pick a bad habit you would like to kick and resolve to do it during Advent. Offer your sacrifice as a birthday gift to the Savior at Christmas.
  • Remember to make time during advent for quiet prayer and reflection. The graces you receive from the time you spend with God will be your gift for Christmas.
I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. These snowy pictures are not from here, by the way, though they are calling for snow today. The low is only supposed to be 35 degrees. They really need to learn that the freezing point is absolute; snow cannot happen at 35, not even in Texas:) Anyways, the pictures are from the cottage in Elk Rapids. The one above is the frozen over lake and the one above that is in the front yard. Much love!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree . . .

Our little Christmas tree is, well, little. Given the size of our apartment and the fact that a regular-size tree would have to travel up to the second floor though, this one is perfect. I have had this little tree since college when Cindy sent it to me during my freshman year. Thanks, Cindy:)

And little though it may be, there is no lack of gifts underneath it. This is our pile of presents to bring home with us (in two weeks!). Sorry guys, no peeking!

The stockings hung with care. Is that how the song goes? I've been trying to remember the words to all the Christmas carols to sing with the children at school. Usually the words escape me, so we mostly sing the chorus of Jingle Bells . . . a lot! The sweet two-year-olds know it by heart.

In other news, my muffler was in pretty bad shape. The fastener rusted through - again. It and some of the exhaust pipe rusted through a few years ago in Fort Collins, too, and the whole muffler fell off while I was driving down the street! Beth, do you remember? Anyways, Matt said it sounded like a semi when I was driving down the road. In fact, he could hear me start my car from our apartment, which is on the second floor and opposite side of the building from the parking lot. So Matt sawed through some rusty pipes and clamps and detached the old muffler. He put on a shiny new one and repaired the exhaust pipe, which was just about dragging on the ground. I don't have a picture of the new muffler. Just imagine bright silver shining out from underneath the car and that new car sound.

P.S. Matt has done two more fly overs. One was a few days before Thanksgiving in Colorado Springs. He was part of a fourship that flew over the Air Force Academy for the Commandant's Challenge. He said they flew over Garden of the Gods (a place with beautiful red/orange rock formations). They even flew right around Pikes Peak. He said it was awesome! I wish I could have seen it! Matt got to do another fly over yesterday. He and five other guys flew to Tampa, Florida. They flew their threeship over the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) Championship football game, which was Virginia Tech and Boston College. They even got to sit down on the field for part of the game. The T-37s are almost out of commission so they have been requested for fly overs a lot recently. Pretty exciting stuff:)
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