Sunday, April 26, 2009

San Antonio spring break

Writing about my spring break trip to visit Matt in San Antonio is long overdue (it happened over a month ago), but here are the pictures anyway.

This is the outside of the officers' quarters Matt is staying in at Randolph AFB, viewed from the courtyard outside. It's basically a hotel with a tiny kitchen area inside (only a microwave to cook with). Matt has been eating lots of sandwiches and frozen dinners. Oh, and don't forget Chipotle and Coldstone. He is ecstatic to have those restaurants down the road again. He and the other people from Sheppard who are there with him frequent them often!

I took this picture to give you a glimpse at the state pride around here. In this one little corner there is a Texas flag bench, a large concrete boot with the state outline etched into it, and a Texas state embossed flower box. It was sunny, warm and with flower blooming in mid-March though, which is nice.

This building is situated at the end of a long straight road coming from the main gate and they call it the "Taj Mahal". At first we thought it was the headquarters building for AETC (Air Education and Training Command), but later I found AETC to be located somewhere else. There is a theatre on the back of this building, but other than that I'm not sure what it's for...impressive nonetheless.

This is that main street I was referring to. The gate is at the very end and the flags are for each state of our country.

Yes, indeed, I took a picture of the gas station. It took me a minute to realize this was the gas station because it looks just like every other building on base: cream stucco and red tile roof. It's amazing how pretty they can make a gas station look.

They even dec'ed out the price sign with shnazzy red tiles.

The missing man formation. This sculpture stands about 15-20 feet tall. The inscription on the bottom reads: We who came home must never forget those who could not. I just stood in awe for a few minutes and thanked God for Matt.

As I walked around the base, I fell in love with this place. The sign says "Bachelor Officers". I say, what a nice place for bachelors. The southern style porch and rockers look so chill for a lazy afternoon with a glass of sweet tea, especially mixed with the palm trees.

Another nearby palm tree. I haven't seen any of these since we were in Hawaii.

I stayed in San Antonio for a little over a week. The last full day I was there, we drove the boat up to Canyon Lake near New Braunfels, Texas. IT WAS GORGEOUS! This is in the top two prettiest things I have seen in Texas (tied with Palo Duro Canyon four hours west of us). The water was totally blue, beautiful blue and clear. The lake was created from a dammed up river, and is lined with rocky canyon. I'm guessing the bottom of the lake is pretty rocky, too, as this would keep it from becoming a mud puddle like other lakes around here.

"Toad" (Paris) was the only one interested in posing for the camera.

You can see the dam in this picture.
When we first got to the lake, I dipped my feet in for a second. One of the guys asked how cold it was, to which I replied, "about like Lake Superior in July". As a Minnesota guy, when he dipped his feet in, he agreed that was exactly right! We skiied and boarded anyways! It was gorgeous. Freezing, but wonderful.

Since then Matt has taken the other IPS with him out to this lake again a few times. The canyon wall blocks some of the wind, which means there are some great calm places out there, a rarity around here. If this lake was closer, we'd go all summer long!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wichita weather

Today is our first 100 degree day in Wichita Falls! I started welcoming summer back when we were having 70 degree days, but now I think the Texas version of summer is officially beginning! I am thankful for two little letters: a/c.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nothing like it

I am just finishing this wonderful breakfast as I write this morning. Now that I see the picture here I realize it looks a bit like a chicken breast. It is not -chicken breast is not among my favorite breakfast foods. It is a pancake with bacon, raspberries, butter, and Grandpa and Grandma's maple syrup. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, enough said.

My family has been in the maple syrup business for generations. I think it began at the same time that Remus was first being settled by the Millers, Baumans, and the Wernettes, among a few other families. At one time I could summarize the history, but it escapes me now. Anyway, the syrup is the important part for now. Out behind my Gramma and Grampa's home, they own a woods. (There may be a more grammatically correct way to say one own's a wooded patch of land, but this makes sense in my mind.) Even though I can't go there often now, to me this woods is still one of the most treasured places in the world.

[Tangent: I remember being soooo upset when they made the decision to sell the piece of land between their home property and the woods to the Wernette family for cattle grazing. At the time, the 10-year-old environmentalist in me thought the cattle were going to destroy the land or something. I thought they would also prevent us from getting to the woods on the other side. I have long since forgiven them, and now I see it was a good thing and certainly meant a good partnership for both families.]

The woods hosts a meandering trail that that is home to leeks and things like boys (look like pants) and girls (look like skirts) flowers in the spring time. It is a cool place of respite in the summer, as well as the home of many past forts and childhood stories of me, my sisters, my cousins, and my aunts and uncles. There are such mysterious things there as the swamp and the rock pile. In the fall, the colors are beyond beautiful and the hayrides are the best. Two times of year, though, bring the most memories. One is the fall-to-winter transition, which marks deer hunting season. Many delicious venison meals have come from the bucks and does of this woods. The other time is winter-to-spring when the sap runs.

Just inside the path in the woods, lives the sugar shack. It has a tin roof and walls, dirt floor, and an old arm chair for resting in while you wait for the fire to need stirring. This is the place where the collected sap is boiled down into syrup. I've never learned all the ins and outs of the process (so feel free to fill them in, Gramma), but I know this: it involves more five gallon buckets than you can ever imagine, many hours of boiling on that hand-built, fire-fueled "stove", and a truckload of mason jars. The result, seen here, is pefect!

I wish I could pass out jars of this syrup to everyone I know. You would be hooked! If you're ever in Remus, Michigan though, just stop by Carol and Vince Miller's place on M-20. They're the ones with the maple leaf sign out front and the big fifth wheel parked in the drive way. You might even catch a glimpse of the woods out back.

In the meantime, enjoy this recipe for whole wheat pancakes. It is another family tradition, but this time from my favorite Stedman family in Colorado Springs.

Whole Wheat Pancakes
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
1-2 eggs
1 3/4 c. milk (maybe 2, depending on how thick or thin you like your cakes)
5 tbsp. brown sugar
4 tbsp. oil
6 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt

The simple directions are close to the best part: Mix dry, add wet, whisk together.

Enjoy! I'm going for seconds!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Adventures in student teaching and other interesting tales

I wish I had some pictures for my posts lately. Matt has the camera in San Antonio though, so it will be a while before there are pictures here.

I have shared with some of you the news about my student teaching, and have been meaning to write it here for a while. It's almost not even news anymore. Our spring break was the week of March 15th, and the two days before break were my first two days in Mrs. Allen's first grade class. I had laryngitis those two days so when we came back from spring break was the first time the kids had heard me really speak. That Monday morning after break I learned that Mrs. Allen would be absent from school for the week because of an infection in her hand. I saw Mrs. Allen briefly that morning because she came to show me the essentials in the room. Her hand was very swollen. I later learned that she was bitten by her dog. She was out walking the dog when another dog came up and got her dog all wriled up. In the commotion of trying to get her dog away from this other dog, she bit her, leaving just a small puncture wound. A bacteria on her dog's tooth, not a disease, caused the infection in her hand.

She ended up being hospitalized for a few days and then at home with a nurse while they tried to get an antibiotic that her infection would respond to. I believe her infection is beginning to heal, and we now know she won't return to school any sooner than April 20th. Please pray for Julia's healing.

The first week after break I was in Mrs. Allen's class with a substitute, but once we found out how long she would be absent, my supervisor had me move back to Mrs. Cannaday's kindergarten class. So now I am in my second week back in kindergarten. I do really love these kindergarteners, and am having a pretty good time with them. Today was a trip though. Due to TAKS testing (the state test here, similar to the MEAP), we had to be super-quiet ALL day. Let me just say this is quite a feat for five-year-olds...

On another note, Matt is doing well in San Antonio. He had his dollar ride (first ride in the plane with an instructor) last Monday and has had a few rides since then. Thursday is his check ride, which he is studying for at this very moment. Wish him luck! Overall he seems to be both doing well and having a good time. He has frequently enjoyed the luxury of having Chipotle and Coldstone nearby. And, he and the other IPs down there with him had a great time at Canyon Lake last weekend. I will have some pictures of this when Matt sends them to me (from when we went there over spring break). The lake is really beautiful and much different than our usual Lake Arrowhead. The water is actually clear and blue!! The rocky canyon walls of the lake also provide a nice wind barrier, which makes for some great skiing and boarding conditions.

I have been really convicted lately about God's desire for us to pray big. He is huge and I think he is delighted in the faith we exercise when we pray big prayers. Even though our prayers, big or small, don't always end up aligning with his plan, he truly has amazing things in store for all of us. I am constantly amazed at the way he has answered the big prayers of our friends Ryan and Debbie in their desire for a child, need to sell a house, hope to build a house, and need for Ryan to get the right job. Please help us in our big prayer: a teaching job for Brooke and an A-10 flying assignment for Matt (I need this part to be as specific as possible and actually pray that he not only gets assigned to this but actually gets to do it because assignments aren't always carried out in the Air Force.). I pray that our requests can be in alignment with God's will and plan for us, and that he will know this desire of our hearts. I pray he will fulfill our every need and be the source of our satisfaction and hope. I pray we will believe him tremendously and exercise continuous faith through each moment of every day.
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