Thursday, January 29, 2009

My first day at school

i wake up to a buzzing alarm on the a.m. side of 5:30, which i cannot tell you for sure the last time i saw. i think it might have been one of those saturday mornings matt and i hoped to get up bright and early to ski, but usually left closer to 7:00. thank God i showered the night before, so now all i need to do is drink coffee, eat breakfast, get dressed and straighten my hair. i kiss matty goodbye and leave the apartment by about 6:10. my car is covered in frost (luckily i was actually expecting it), and i take a few minutes to get it thoroughly defrosted.

i drive the cold, dark road to base and over to the school. it is 6:28 when i pull in the parking lot. there is one car there and one coming in behind me. i get out and loiter for a minute, hoping the other person getting out of her car might be my teacher. i'm not sure if the building is unlocked, so if i can't get in, i think i might pace around looking for a turned on light and knock on the window. it turns out to be the librarian. we exchange introductions and she kindly leads me to my teacher's classroom.

i walk down the hall to the unlit room and stand outside for a minute. surely, she'll be here any minute. she said 6:30-40. two other teachers walk down towards me and explain that they are walking the halls. i'm not sure if it's for exercise or security. they invite me to come into their classrooms while i wait. i gladly accept their invitations while they finish walking. we talk for about 10 minutes or so until my teacher arrives. she comes by the room to say hello to the teachers and we get to meet. i feel overdressed.

i was told to dress for my first day as if it was a job interview. they said, "you are to dress to a higher standard than your cooperating teacher". i am wearing tweed pants, a pretty blouse, a black jacket, and black heels complete with knee highs in addition to my black peacoat and colorful scarf. jennifer is wearing fitted bootcut khaki pants, layered pink and gray knit shirts with heart buttons, leather loafer-type shoes, and a carhartt jacket. i am hesitant to take off my peacoat to reveal yet another black jacket. i want to say, "i really like jeans and t-shirts too. i'm not fancy. i'm simple." some teachers are dressed up and many are in velour jogging suits. i know it is better to overdress.

it doesn't matter how we are dressed. i just hope she cares about this as much as i do. i am tired because i did not sleep well last night. i tried to go to bed early, but was not used to it and couldn't fall asleep. i read for a bit and then forced myself to turn out the light, which meant i tossed and turned all night. i had a terrible dream that marcy died in a plane accident (marcy, i hope you're not traveling anywhere soon). and i kept waking up thinking i must have missed my alarm. apparently i was a little nervous. i just wanted to make a great (okay, the best they have ever seen, blow-your-socks-off) first impression because i really want to get a good teaching job when this is said and done.

my teacher shows me around the classroom, and tells me about all the kids (which ones to watch out for, which ones can't sit together, which ones are sassy). i want to know which ones are sweet and kind. she is very honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly. i can tell she really enjoys this profession and that we will get along well. i agree with most of the things she says and her way of teaching. i, of course, would love to redecorate the room completely and begin thinking of how i would change it if it were mine to change. i would probably say that about any room because it is something i love to do.

the kids come in between 8:00 and 8:30. they all look at me with curiosity. some hug me instantly just for smiling. they wonder about my name and i wonder about theirs. eventually i am introduced to the whole group. i tell them they can remember the pronunciation by thinking "smilin' keilen". this brings a sweet giggle and i am accepted as a cool teacher, or at least a cool kid. they are surprised that i don't let them walk on me when they try. they do a worksheet about Simon and the pieman. they laugh when i ask them what a pieman is. they have great thoughts about this. by 9 o' clock i am ready for more coffee, a nap, and a second breakfast.

the day goes well. the kids mostly rotate through small group areas, working on handouts and playing with manipulatives. they watch an episode of "the magic schoolbus", have lunch, a rest time with a show from discovery kids, have music with another teacher, recess, a snack, and a story. they even get to sing some silly songs. two children have drawn pictures for me. one has cut it out into a small square. another child has cried, partly because i would not draw a pumpkin for him or give him a new index card for his puppet. sorry, teacher's rules. it'll help you in the long run, kid.

the children go home between 3:20 and 3:30. my teacher and i go back to the room, talk for a few minutes, pack up and go home. it is 3:52 when i get in the car, utterly exhausted. i'm glad i didn't bother bringing gym clothes because i wouldn't make it. i am starving again. as soon as i get home i eat a piece of left-over pizza and two cookies. i'm starting to feel better. i decide to take a bubble bath. the hot water runs out half way through running the water, but i am already in and enjoying it. i sit for a few minutes thinking about the day until i realize the water is running out. i cannot get the plug to stop leaking. it won't close like it usually does. i quickly wash and rinse and get out of the now-cold water. that wasn't exactly relaxing like i had hoped, so i will sit and type. ah, that's better. amen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow day no. 2

Yesterday afternoon we got a light dusting of snow, less than one inch. I hope all the Texas children got to go play in it all afternoon!

Here's Matt scraping the ice off the car as the snow floats down. We got cabin fever and decided to go for a little drive.

With a forecast of more freezing rain during the night, this was enough to call off school again today. I don't think there was any more precipitation last night, and we have blue, sunny skies now so the ice and snow are melting. Matt is at work, hoping they might get to fly by this afternoon!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Our snow day

We had a "snow day" today, and this is -no kidding- how it looks outside. It's about 23 degrees and there's a thin sheet of ice over everything. And we haven't seen a single salt or gravel truck come by...

That's Texas for ya! Truly, I'm sure the road conditions on the crazy-high, triple decker overpasses are treacherous, and the temperatures are still decently below freezing so nothing is melting, but it's still funny to us.

Matt and I were reminiscing about the last time we remember school being closed. We went home a couple hours early because the snow was coming down at a rate of about six inches per hour. We went over to his house and played in the snow. Then he tried to drive me home, but the truck got stuck. Eventually Pat from Mancino's (the pizza and grinders place I worked at at the time) came and picked me up in his four-wheel-drive truck because he needed me to come into work (they didn't want people who lived in the country to try coming into town). We closed at about 7:00 pm that night.

In other news, I have a new product endorsement, and Matt couldn't be happier (for once)!

For a long time I bought Smart Balance "buttery spread" which is a blend of plant oils. I liked it, but there were a few ingredients that were weird to me (such as BHT and TBHQ). I haven't looked them all up to find out what they are exactly, but they sure don't sound like butter to me. And then I began thinking I didn't really want to spread oil on my toast anyways. I thought I should get some real butter, so I found Organic Valley whipped butter. We tried this and it is like spreading rocks on your bread unless you let it sit on the counter for half an hour. That's just not practical.

All along Matt is saying, "Can't we just get regular ol' Country Crock or something?" So I go to the grocery store again and find this: Country Crock Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil. Perfect! And I love the simple ingredient list: butter (cream, salt), canola oil, buttermilk, water, salt, lactic acid, vitamin a (palmitate). "I can't believe it's really butter!"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A white Christmas, part 3

I know these are long posts about our wonderfully white Christmas, but I sure hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Even though I treasure the family photos and memories from the last two posts, this one is my favorite. All the pictures in this post are from after Christmas, but they are still part of our "Christmas vacation".

Above is a photo from our drive up North on US-27. There was plenty of snow on the ground and fresh snow coming all around. Possibly even more than the snow, Matt and I love the trees! There are few trees here in Texas and they are certainly something we miss. The drive up North, as many of you know, brings more and more trees, and then more and more pines (my personal favorite!).

This is more of our drive to our anniversary destination: Traverse City.

We splurged and got a room at the Grand Traverse Resort. It had a beautiful view of the bay, which is why we splurged, but it was a little tricky getting what we asked for. When we first arrived, we were a little early for check-in, but asked if there our room was ready just in case. Lucky for us, they had one on the 3rd floor and we dashed up the glass elevator to see what was in store for us. We walked into a beautiful room with huge windows and a huge bed and a huge tub, and a view of the parking lot! (Oh, there's the Jeep right there...)

So Matt went back to the front desk and asked if they possibly had a room with a bay view (pretty please) because we would love it if they did! And truly, that was the whole reason we paid what we did. They had a bay-view room, and said it would be about an hour before it was ready. Yay! We wandered around the hotel while we waited. Later they called and gave us our new room keys. We ventured upstairs, now to the 5th floor, and walked into a beautiful bay-view room that smelled so much like smoke, you couldn't even get over it. We tried to see if we would get used to it or if there was a fan of some kind... At this point we thought, wow, we had no idea we could be so picky. We felt sort of bad. We think the room used to be smoking and wasn't anymore, but clearly a carpet replacement was in order. Nonetheless, not only had we paid for bay-view, but also non-smoking.

So this time I went to the desk to give Matt a break. I explained about the smoking and without an instant of hesitation, she assigned us a brand sparkling new room, now on the 11th floor! We're moving up! Again we ventured upstairs and found just the right room.

With a terrific view of Grand Traverse Bay. Happy two years!

The next day we drove to the cottage in Elk Rapids. Along the way, we stopped on Bayshore Drive for these beautiful views of the bay.

These might be cherry trees, but I'm not sure. Does anyone out there know? The red foilage is gorgeous against the white snow.

The land you see on the opposite side of the bay is the peninsula that runs between the West and East arms of the bay.

We are so enthralled with the beauty in this area of the country and while we were there we imagined a day when we may own a place here. Until then, Mike and Cindy will always have visitors at the cottage. In fact, next year we will forego the hotel altogether and just enjoy Birch Lake.

If you like the distant views of the bay, you will love these. These photos are taken near the water's edge. Can you believe it, turquoise waters in the middle of a freezing winter! It was frigid that day and a strong winter storm was blowing in. You can see it on the horizon.

The piece of land you see is Old Mission Point, which is the tip of that peninsula.

The storm moves in further and the surf against the icy beach is sooo captivating. There are literally mini icebergs floating in the water in front of us. It's stunning! (Nice work, God!)

Here you can really see the floating ice.

And here's more of the splashing surf.

One of these will definitely be going on our wall soon. Let me know if you have a favorite. Feel free to cast your vote in a response:)

Here are Matt and I in front of the bay at the harbor in Elk Rapids.

The snowy beach.

There were seagulls sunning themselves on the concrete. You need all the warmth you can get when it's zero degrees outside. As Grandpa Clare would say, "Damn seagulls!"

Eventually we made it to the cottage. This is the front (lakeside) of the cottage. It took me the longest time to get used to the "front" of the house being on the opposite side of which you enter the house, but that's how those Keilen-folk say it when they're up North. The reason, I realized, is because then you get to open your front door to beautiful Birch Lake.

There was just a touch of snow in the back, about a 3-4 foot drift across the backyard.

Perhaps this summer we will post some pictures of the inside of the cottage. Mike and Cindy have spent the last few years renovating and it looks phenomenal. Renovating isn't quite the right word though because the changes they have made have not redone the cottage, but truly enhanced it's original charm and character. Rita and Clare would love to see it and be so proud!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two good recipes

You know how it goes: a new year comes and then we all pledge to eat better... Well, here are two recipes that are healthy, but also very tasty. We have enjoyed them and maybe you will, too. Enjoy!

Apple Nut Oatmeal

Measure 1/4 cup plain oatmeal and enough water to cover it into a bowl and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.

Add about 1/4-1/2 cup chopped apple, some sliced almonds, chopped pecans, a bit of ground flaxseed, a dash of cinnamon, and a spoonful of brown sugar. Microwave again for abou 30 seconds.

Add a bit of milk and stir until it is the consistency you like.

Rigatoni with kidney beans and sausage


2 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 lean beef sausages (ground sausage is just as good)
2 x 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes (the fire roasted kind is excellent)
14 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. chopped basil
1 tbsp. chopped sage
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 lb. rigatoni
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated parmesan cheese (optional), to serve

*We also added some sliced orange and yellow mini sweet peppers, maybe 1/2-3/4 cup.

Serves 4-6


Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove the sausages, chop and return to the saucepan.

Add the tomato, beans, basil, sage, and parsley and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well. Divide among bowls and top with the sauce. If you like, sprinkle with parmesan before serving.

I even have the nutrition information from the cookbook if you are interested.

This recipe is from Healthy Eating: Using the Glycemic Index for optimal health.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A white Christmas, part 2

Normally, I would do my darndest to put all these pictures in chronological order, but there are just too many! When I load pictures to my computer they are in chronological order, so I then add them to the blog in chronological order. The problem lies in the fact that the way the pictures show up on the blog is then in reverse chronological order! Or perhaps the problem lies in the fact that I am an eensy-weensy bit perfectionist when it comes to things like this:) For the sake of conquering this disease, here is a free-for-all of Davy Christmas pictures! I will, of course, describe each image directly below the place it occupies on your screen;)

Ah, Christmas at Grandma's. I thought this was going to be a nice picture of us, but somehow I ended up with one eye closed and Matt with his tongue out. I guess we know what's going on the christmas card next year!

We traditionally always had Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa Miller's house on one of the weekends surrounding Christmas. Several years ago, we changed the tradition and celebrated at Holly and Dave's (my aunt and uncle). Perhaps this was because their family had the largest representation of family members at the party. Or maybe it was so that G & G didn't have to do as much prep. work. Either way, it works out well for all of us. This year, however, we were back to G & G's because Holly and Dave lost power due to the windy snowstorm.

These pictures are random shots of everyone beginning to open presents. Above is Derek's knee and foot (sorry, Derek), Chrissy, Aunt Cathy, Aunt Janet, Ross, and Marcy. I was attempting to get a sampling of who was at the party, but didn't manage to get everyone. If anyone has more pictures, I'd love to see them.

Here is Ross again in the white, then Uncle Dave, Mark, Chris, Aunt Holly, Scotty, and Marcy again on the floor.

My cousins Derek and Chrissy: Chrissy the perpetual prankster and Derek taking it like a champ.

Here is my Grandpa Miller taking the roll of santa. He still gives the best bear hugs.

This is my Aunt Holly and cousin Scotty. Scotty received a wonderful "technicolor dreamcoat" from Grandma this year. He was ecstatic!

I love how this picture turned out. These are my beautiful grandmothers: Great Grandma Donna Bradley on the left and Grandma Carol Miller (her daughter and my Mom's Mom) on the right.

Now begin the pictures from the Davy Christmas at Mom's house. We took a dozen pictures of the Davy girls three on the couch. I have a hodge-podge of them here; some good, some not-so-good.

This is Charlie-man, Mom's dog. Lisa and Brad gave him this green lobster toy for Christmas. In about 15 seconds he had ripped off the eyes, one of the pincher claws, and a leg or two. Maybe it was meant for dogs over three years old.

Here's Momma Jeanne happy and content in the midst of post-present paradise. I said to her later: I think we're all getting better and gift-giving. We all received such personal, fun and even functional gifts.

Here is Chris trying out his new waterproof stuff sack and waterproof camera case, and Marcy in her waterproof photography debut.

Lisa and Brad enjoy their new presents, too. Actually, Lisa was struggling to open the Leatherman box for a while. Brad eventually put down the book and helped her. If only we could somehow use the handy Leatherman to help us open its own box?

I just thought Matty looked handsome here. For once, he had no idea I was taking the picture.

Well, that didn't last long and he's trying to cover the dog with a gift box!

Lisa and Brad are smilin' big. This was actually before all the gift-opening began, when we were drinking rum and cokes and listening the Beatles on the record player as loud as it would go!

Even Brad caught the dancing fever!

Here's Mom in the kitchen, working on her Christmas dinner masterpiece.

Lisa Jean Bean. Is she smiling big because it's Christmas or because school is finally over? Probably both, I think.

We went to a family Christmas with the Keilen side, too, but didn't manage to get any pictures. That was they day we drove to Remus for the Miller Christmas and then back down to St. Johns for the Keilen Christmas, so we weren't into taking pictures any more. We enjoyed seeing all of you though!!

Here's a sneak peak at part 3.
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