Haley "Paint"

I am a four-year-old Kindergarten teacher at Dauphin Way Child Development Center. I have nine wonderful children in my class-- Colbe, Corby, Jackson, Logan, Mackenzie, Meredith, Madison, and Morgan. And then, there is Haley Anne Pate. And she is my favorite.

Haley reminds me a lot of myself-- she is strong-willed, stubborn, keeps to herself and funny, but only at times. Haley somehow, and I can't remember when, won my heart. I went into my class knowing a few of my students, and I had another "favorite" child. But, Haley came through and swept me off my feet.

Once, Haley was sitting in my lap (like she almost always did daily while other children were playing), and she said, "Why did you cut that circle out of yellow paper?" Then, almost instantly, she replied to herself, "Because you love yellow paper." Haley looked at me and said, "You know it's ok to talk to yourself sometimes." I had to laugh. I gave her a squeeze, and I sent her to fetch me more yellow paper.

Logan, a trouble-making, adorable little boy in my class, always lovingly called Haley Pate, "Haley Paint." No matter how many times I corrected him, he always called her "Paint," and not "Pate."

Jackson, my favorite little boy, was Haley's best friend. Haley and Jackson were "Mary and Joseph" in the Christmas Pageant in December. If Haley were going to play with anyone, it was Jackson. Jackson and Haley were always coming up with some little game where they would laugh and laugh together. And my heart would smile at their laughter. They would always find some small little toy to make a huge game out of. Their favorite was a small little red motorcycle, which they played with until both wheels fell off. My Haley and Jackson...

Sadly, Haley's last day with me at the CDC was yesterday. Haley's mom and dad have worked together to make it where Haley, her little two-year-old sister Katie, and her older brother, Jacob can stay at home with their mom. This absolutely is so bittersweet for me. I will miss Haley so much, but I am overjoyed at her parents' decision to exercise Biblical parenting. It thrills my heart to know Haley will get to stay at home and learn from her wonderful mother. Alex and Stephanie Pate (Haley's mom and dad) are great people who truly care for all three of their children. Jacob, Haley and Katie are three brilliant, sweet kids. I will miss Haley, though. She really does brighten my day, and she makes my job easier. I always know Haley will do what I say (even if I have to coax her a little).

Bottom line, I truly, truly love Haley Anne Pate. She is beautiful, and I can't wait to see how great she turns out. I will miss Haley. But I am overjoyed at her parents' decision for their family and for their children.


Valentine's Steak at the Alexander Home

We had a banner Valentine's Day at the Alexander Household this year. It was a great day for Whit and I just to hang out and spend time with each other. I wanted to prepare a fine meal for my bride on that special day, so I have decided to share with you my Ruth's Chris-style Valentine's Day steak recipe.

First off, you are going to need a large cast-iron skillet. That is most important!

2 thick steaks (We use NY Strips or Filets, and we usually buy our steaks at Mosley's Meat Market here in Mobile, which to me is the best steak at the best price.)
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Garlic Powder
Fresh Ground Pepper

Turn the broiler on high in your oven and put your skillet in at least 45 minutes before you are ready to cook your steaks. This will get the skillet extremely hot, which is what you are going for.
Wait 15 minutes, take the steaks out of the refrigerator, and set them out to get to room temperature.
Take the steaks and lightly oil each side. This is to help with heat transfer on the surface of the meat, plus it helps the seasoning stick to the steak better.
Season the steaks to your preference, but here is what I do:
I take kosher salt (coarse) and sprinkle enough to lightly coat each side of the steak, then I rub it in with my tongs to make a nice crust. Then, in a small bowl, I take my pepper grinder and grind a lot of pepper really fine, then readjust the grinder and grind some big, coarse pieces out. Then I mix some garlic powder in with the pepper. I rub the steaks with the fine mixture, then sprinkle on some of the big peppercorn pieces and press them in with the tongs. Do this to both sides of the steak. Pressing in some good seasoning helps a lot when getting the nice crispy outside to the steak.

Now, turn on the eye on your stove to high heat, grab an oven mitt, and place the skillet on the eye. This skillet will be very, very hot which is what you are looking for!
Place the steaks on the skillet (It is not necessary to grease the skillet. As a matter of fact it would probably be detrimental to this process.) Sear each side of the steak for 2 minutes. DO NOT move or flip the steak in any way until the 2 minutes are up!!
After the steaks are done searing, then place a little butter on top of them them, then put them under the broiler. We had 9oz NY Strips, cooked them for 5 minutes in the oven, and they came out between medium rare and medium, so just adjust cooking time accordingly!
During the five minutes they are in the oven, put some butter on the plate you will be serving them on. Have two large pieces of foil ready for the last step.
When you get them out of the oven, take them off the skillet, place them on the butter, then make a foil "tent" over the steaks on the plate. Let the juices settle in the meat for about 5 minutes, then add a Sister Schubert dinner roll and Whitney's famous mashed potatoes and you have one great date night meal!

This results in a very happy family...


Don't Waste Your Life Chapter One

Hello there blogland. Whitney just posted a nice little guest post over at my blog. Some guest reviewers are reading through and writing reviews of the John Piper book Don't Waste Your Life.
She was the first guest, so go check it out!

Read the blog here.


A promise...

Just so the world wide web and everyone who reads my blog knows...

I am never, never, NEVER eating Mexican food again.

I will miss you, Los Arcos. I will miss you chips and salsa. I will miss you tacos. I will miss you all.


Cleaning Stuff Out

Yesterday, Mat and I spent almost all morning and afternoon cleaning out a room in our house. The room is a little blue room just off of our dining room. It was supposed to be Mat's office, but it has kind of turned into our "Junk Room," because of the lack of closet space and just space in general in our little cozy house. Anyway, we cleaned it out, and the result is a much better organized room and lots of stuff to give away to the Salvation Army.

The room had two Christmas Trees, a box of my collegiate school supplies, Mat's nunchucks, some wedding gifts we haven't unpacked yet, three lamps, tons of Mat's tools and other hardware stuff, and all sorts of other knick knacks and stuff.

After the cleaning out was finished, we ended up feeling much better about our Saturday morning being completely gone. We had accomplished something!

Also, last night we went to see the movie "Frost/Nixon." It was a really great movie about the interview with David Frost and President Richard Nixon. It was done in documentary style, which made the movie a little different. It was a great film depicting a time in American history we'd like to change, but we still seek answers about.

Mat's sick today, so we stayed home from church. This is the second Sunday in a row I've missed Sunday at Dauphin Way. I was sick last week. And next week, I have to travel to Auburn on Saturday to go to my baby cousin's baby shower, which is on Sunday. Three Sundays away from Dauphin Way will be hard. I miss my family there.

I'm still working on training for the 5K. I've found two races in Mobile that I will run in May. I'm very excited about it, and I'm trying to convince Mat to run along with me.

Thanks for reading. More later...