It's Official!

I am Arizona's newest Kindergarten teacher! One of the elementary schools in the Paradise Valley School District (the district we actually live in) experienced an increase in student enrollment and decided to create a new Kinder class - with me as the teacher! My new little peanuts will have their first day in our new room (Room 407) on Monday! In the meantime, I have been in the classroom everyday preparing for the munchkins. I feel especially blessed to have this position with all of the current education budget cuts, though I did go through a bit of a trial gathering all the Arizona-specific paperwork before I signed yesterday (nothing a trip to the state Department of Education couldn't fix). After teaching fourth grade for four years, kindergarten will be a totally different experience and I am excited to keep growing as an educator, and thrilled to have this challenge.

Don't Mess With Texas

During our Texas trip, we left Dallas for a few days to head up to John Jackson's ranch in Ivanhoe (north of Dallas). Max and I got just a little lost on the way heading too far north until we saw the "Welcome to Oklahoma" sign and realized that we had passed the ranch! Oops!

You might remember that Max was hard at work before we left Arizona making his UGS devices (shown in Ivanhoe above), the unmanned ground sensors that radio back to a base whenever they sense movement. We put these out by the deer feeders the first night to try to catch the raccoons and hogs that had been stealing the deer's corn. We were in fact alerted to their presence at 3am that first night! We tried out the new night vision goggles, too, and followed a couple of rabbits (but never saw any hogs - darn!).

All ready to head out to the woods on the four wheeler:

We started off our first full day by going duck hunting on the property. This entailed waking up before dawn, bundling up for the frosty weather and pulling on waders or boots, climbing in the Kubota (the amphibious vehicle) and then driving into the marsh water - yes, into! After that we climbed through the millet filled water into the duck blind. Whew! The whole process was new and exciting, even though the ducks didn't make a big appearance for us that morning.

The Kubota that took us into the water:

There was a full house out at the ranch which was so much fun and Max played "gun expert" teaching everyone how to shoot his 45 handgun and 223 assault rifle at balloon targets.

Max and sister Meredith:

Our balloon target setup:

Shooting the rifle:

And more fun...

Four wheeling during the day (and one of the feeders in the background):

A pretty branch:

I just love these skulls (I know - so random!):

We also rang in the new year out in Ivanhoe, and of course celebrated with fireworks (Max would set off fireworks everyday if he could). Max's mom made sure there were black-eyed-peas for everyone since Texas tradition calls for eating black eyed peas on New Year's Day for a year of good luck : ) And looking back on 2009 was especially neat for us to do as it was full of big, life changing events: our move from California to Arizona, Max's completion of his Ph.D. and our wedding! We're excited to start our first full year as husband and wife, and our first full year in our new state. Happy 2010!

Blue Moon

Once in a blue moon, snow falls on the Dallas area. It hit the day before Christmas this year, giving Dallas its first White Christmas in 80 years. It surprisingly came back last week and Max and I were lucky to see this beautiful sight while staying with his mom. Below is a high speed (210 frames per second) video of snow falling in the backyard:

So pretty! And speaking of Blue Moons, we were also sure to get a glimpse of the real Blue Moon (the second full moon of the month) on New Year's Eve night : )
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