Turkey Time

Last week we spent our first Thanksgiving in our new house! Since Max's mom and sister came out, we had a lovely Southern spread complete with the famous Greenberg Smoked Turkey, monkey bread, chocolate pecan pie and sweet potato casserole:

Before meeting Max, I had never tasted any of these Southern treats! I'm loving that I'm now learning how to make it all. Here is the prepping of the monkey bread. Part of it involves dipping the squares of dough in butter, mmmm!

We were so excited to break out our monogrammed napkins and vintage silverware:

And we used our china for the very first time!

We were also able to take a field trip to Max's work:

The best part was entering the new anechoic chamber- check out the door:

The chamber is full of a special type of foam that absorbs radio waves so that radio equipment can be measured accurately:

The foam is shaped into many spikes that cover the floor, walls and ceiling, giving the room a slightly creepy dungeon-like feel. That's to me, anyway. I would guess that my husband gets a warm, fuzzy, happy-engineer feeling upon walking in. He does look quite excited in the photo : )


There's An App For That

Max has been here in Scottsdale for four weeks in a row! That's the longest he's been here consecutively since May! He's been putting all his spare time into the house (our number one hobby) and Max recently put a new app on my iPhone:

Yes, it says: Klein House. Klein like us! Here's what it looks like once opened:

It's actually a "web app" which means it links to a website that you can use on any computer. Max created it himself to control our home lighting and entertainment systems. Seriously. The lighting section isn't up and running yet, but the sound is. Here's what I'm now using to turn on our wall and ceiling speakers:

I just press the buttons on the phone and poof! The radio is on, the radio is up, the radio is switched to the DVR input, etc. It's magic. Or, like living in some futuristic house out of a movie. I'm not exactly sure how he did it. I think it has something to do with these, the wires that he ran through our attic:

And probably something to do with this, the rack where the wires all run to:

Most of what he does around the house I don't fully understand but I so appreciate that I get to partake in the benefits!


Teaching Is... Stealing?

Good teaching often involves "borrowing" ideas (one might call it "stealing" but I think "borrowing" sounds nicer). I love walking into other classrooms and just looking at the walls to get new ideas for lessons, crafts and projects. I recently walked into one of the other first grade classrooms and saw that the teacher had had her students write dialogue on blank pieces of paper using elbow macaroni for the actual quotation marks. The macaroni was ingenious! I combined the idea with another "borrowed" project that I think I picked up in grad school, which was using sentence strips to record sentences said aloud by students. We did this last week after returning from our field trip to see a live production of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, and I just love how they turned out!


Pie for Dinner!

I keep a recipe binder with fun dinners that I have pulled out of magazines and, since the temperatures finally dipped below 80 last week, I brought out this one for Beef, Cheddar and Potato Pie. It's from the Rachel Ray magazine last November, but is also posted on her website now : ) The dinner is great for making ahead and oh-so cozy.

My pastry rolling skills are still sub-par:

I'd also advise to use less than the 2 pounds of beef that's advised - 2 pounds ended up making a really full pie. With less beef, the meat-to-vegetable ratio would be closer as well which is always a good thing (especially when you're talking pie for dinner).


What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving
Eggnog lattes at home (about $5 cheaper than Eggnog lattes at Starbucks):

I'm loving the lululemon bag that's been repurposed for carrying my lunch to school:

I'm loving that our indoor house temperature has dipped to near 70 (that's without the use of the heater at all this season) so it's finally chilly enough inside to break out the Ugg slippers:

Finally, I'm loving that my first graders counted just 8 more days until Thanksgiving during calendar time today : )


Love and SCUBA

November 14th is such a special day that just thinking about it makes me smile! November 14th, 2007, is the day I met Max and November 14th, 2008, is the day Max asked me to marry him : ) Looking back on how special he made our engagement still fills me with with so much joy and amazement. Not only did he coordinate with my student teacher and principal at the time so that he could come into my classroom for the big moment, but he also planned a surprise trip to Mexico to celebrate! This included lining up a substitute teacher for my classroom without my knowledge, and secretly taking my passport out of my apartment to make sure I'd have it for the flight. How incredible was he? Never in a million years could I have even dreamt of a man as loving, caring and attentive as my (now) husband.

Officially engaged!!

Apparently when Max actually popped the big question (after coming into my classroom at 8:30 in the morning with the principal, secretaries, and my student teacher in tow) I was so completely surprised and shocked that I forgot to say yes! Max got to turn to my sweet little 4th graders and ask them what they thought I should say. At the time, they knew him as "Mr. Max" and knew of course that my answer should be yes. The proposal will always be one of the best moments of my life.

The next thing I knew, we were off to SFO. Having only been wearing my engagement ring for a couple hours, I held it up to the window as soon as we boarded the plane and continued to tilt it from side to side and admire it until a woman walking down the aisle to her seat commented on what a nice ring it was, to which I replied "I got it today!!" Max was my fiancé! I don't think I ever stopped beaming. After landing at DFW just long enough to grab a bite to eat, we caught our connecting flight and were on to Cancún! It was seriously out of a dream.

It was night when we arrived, but by morning it looked like this:

Turquoise water! And the dream weekend continued - Max had arranged for me to do my "checkout dives" in the water off of Cancún. At the time, I had already taken my written/pool SCUBA classes and was ready to "show my skills" in the ocean for certification! Max has introduced me to many new things that I would never think of doing on my own and diving was one of them. The idea of breathing from a tank of air seemed so foreign and dangerous to me that, when we first met, I thought Max was crazy to be a diver. If it hadn't been for his support, I know I wouldn't have even tried it, and diving has now become one of the most incredible, amazing experiences I could ever imagine having. But at the beginning, it just seemed super scary. Part of the pool class entailed sitting at the bottom while my dive instructor turned off my air valve - eek! Then came the ocean checkout dive: I would have to sit on the ocean floor, take off my mask, and put it back on. Seems simple enough, until you realize that by taking the mask of you 1. Pretty much lose your vision and 2. Risk breathing water through your nose. It's quite challenging. Max watched the whole time (even though he could have swam on ahead). Just one of the reasons why I love him.

I waved to all the fish:

My favorite photo from diving:

Our dives in Mexico were my first dives in the ocean and I instantly knew I was hooked. There is seriously nothing else like being able to float above beautiful corals and fish, just flying and being one of them. It's a gorgeous experience and I couldn't be more thankful to Max for giving me the gift of diving, and of course, the gift of a life together with him : )


Things I LOVE About My New School

As part of their adopted art program, there are fantastic prints everywhere. I especially love this one of my favorite Mary Cassatt painting:

The hallways have fun names. Here's where I live:

Everyday I walk by murals of all the continents! What fun:

Seeing this one reminds me of my hubby (who lived at the South Pole for a few weeks back in 2009):

Although I get this sweet reminder, too, when I step into my classroom:


Daylight Savings? No, Thank You.

Last year when the rest of the country (or just about) stopped Daylight Savings to "Fall Back" it was nice to not have to change (Arizona doesn't believe in Daylight Savings). I liked being an hour ahead of everyone in California and closer to all those East Coasters. The sun sets early enough in those winter months anyway; it really doesn't make any sense to make it even earlier. Oh, happy was I. This past weekend when it rolled around again, I basked in the glory of not having to do anything. That is, until I looked down at my iPhone on Sunday afternoon and realized that my phone had decided on its own to "Fall Back." Hmmm. This "not following Daylight Savings" was beginning to present a problem. It was back on the correct time when I went to bed though, so all was well, right? Um, no. Apparently this year, there was some sort of Daylight Savings iPhone bug. It hit Europe last week when they set their clocks back and I'm wondering why I didn't get the memo because the effect of this bug was an alarm going off one hour LATE. So not the way to start a Monday. I looked down and while the alarm on my iPhone (which I always use to wake up) displayed 6:30am, the phone itself revealed that is was 7:30. Eeek! I thought maybe the rest of the faculty at my school would have been affected but no - I drove up to a full parking lot this morning. Of course saying your alarm "didn't go off" seems like a fabricated story (even for a blog) so I thought I'd post a news link here. I'll still gladly pass on Daylight Savings but am slightly bitter at the price I had to pay this year.


High-Tech Halloween

Being our first Halloween in the new house, Max and I really wanted to get into the spirit (or, at least I did and he played along) so we donned matching Superman/Supergirl costumes for the big night, which we spent handing out candy : ) It was darling to hear the little trick-or-treaters run back to their parents exclaiming they got candy from Superman and Supergirl.

We also got to try out the new cameras above the porch and on the front of the house that give us live video feed - we had to get our X-ray vision somehow ; ) Max set the feed to be displayed on our laptops since our T.V. was set to the World Series (by the way, my "seasonally appropriate attire" prediction for the Giants was totally proven true - perhaps if the series was played over the 4th of July the Rangers might have had a chance). Being able to watch the groups come up the driveway was quite handy. Below are the displays in all their night-time vision glory (the feed changes to color in daylight).


Let There Be Light

I grew up going to California schools which, given the mild climate, all had doors going directly outside, and windows looking out as well. In my five years of student teaching/teaching, I encountered schools around the state featuring the same setup. Room Q in Campbell had a particularly nice setup with not one but four windows (which were all huge). Windows I sometimes even covered to post posters or student work. Sigh - I didn't know what I had until it was gone. Upon entering my first Arizona classroom, I noticed something was off... it took just a bit before I realized there were no windows in the room. This brought me back to the infamous Psychology building at UCSB that was notorious for being windowless. Supposedly this was to control variables in experiments, but I had a class of kindergarteners to teach!

I later found out that the windowless classrooms and indoor setup of the school were designed to withstand the Arizona heat. Less windows would mean less energy going to cooling the school, and the indoor arrangement would allow students to stay indoors on our "hot days" (equivalent to rainy days but instead of the rain keeping the kids in, it's the heat). I also found out that it wasn't an arrangement specific to my school, but schools all over the area were created the same way. When I was offered the first grade position at my new school, I had no hopes for windows. I had resigned myself to a windowless existence. I would have to take extra Vitamin D and watch out for that seasonal depression that afflicts upstate New Yorkers who never see the sun. But then, I saw them. Three glorious little cubes high up on the wall that looked outside! Granted, you can't actually make out shapes behind the glass, but you can see the sunlight! I'll take what I can get!

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