Merry Christache!

Keith has been plotting this for quite a while now :) We hope you all enjoyed a great and meaningful Christmas day!


This says a lot of it.

For the other lot of it that this doesn't say, this is a good starting point for wanting to write more about school on this blog. The funny things, the tough things, the thoughtful things . . . you know. So here goes . . . 

We Are Cornerstone from Cornerstone Schools of Alabama on Vimeo.


Kids Say . . .

Referring to the Pickle-in-a-bag he brought for breakfast, "Man I wish I had some cool whip to go with it." (4th-grade boy)

"Ms. Señora Davis . . ." (is pretty much my official name).

Me: Are you having a good day?
Student: No.
Me: Why not?
Student: Because my brain is tickling me and it wont stop.
(K5 Boy)

"Hey Buenos Dias Girl!!!" (K5 Girl)

Student 1: Spanish teacher, you got swag.
Me: Excuse me? What was that?
Student 2: Swag, you know.
Me: Swag??
Student 2: He mean you rockin' your clothes!
(7th-grade boys)

I want my students to know . . .

That listening really, truly works better when there is no sound being made by the hearer. 

That I want them to invest deeper into their contribution to the learning environment than responding to a punishment and reward system.

That I would love to see how they dress when they aren't wearing uniforms. 

That there is life after middle school.

¡¡¡Ojos a-freakin'-qui and bocas cerradas!!!

That I care more that they are learning to learn, than how much Spanish they're learning.

That I will listen to them.

That they need Jesus, and that  He is faithful to love and save and redeem.

Tomorrow we'll start the day with an activity called "I want my teachers to know that. . ." 

I can't wait.


Update Style

It seems the only time I think to post anymore in this whirlwind that I call normal life these days is when someone gently reminds me that I never post anymore. That and that it's kind of lame to leave a post about rice as the latest entry for so long. Thanks Dad.

So here's what I've been up to.

Loving fall. Especially because I love my fleece.

Ambitions to ride my bike to work which haven't come to fruition yet.

Keith finished the CPA exam and has passed 3 with flying colors. The 4th is 99.99% in the bag, so we're done with that "lovely" season!

Bought tickets to Nicaragua for Spring Break! To see these awesome people!

Camping with my hubs to celebrate no more CPA. At a campsite that overlooked a spectacular view.

Being diagnosed with Mono and dormant TB in the same week. Fun times. LOTS of doctor's appointments.

Not watching TV.

Trying to be a creative and intentional teacher, plan ahead, invest in students' lives, communicate with parents, etc. Not there yet, but praying a lot.

And seeing these beautiful faces, clamoring to hug me in the halls, calling out "hola!" and "Señora Davis!" everyday.


Baked Rice

Warning: This just might change your life.

Rice. A food staple the world over. Something so simple, yet so elusive. Why is it so hard to get it right? Look no further. I've finally discovered a fool-proof way to cook perfect, moist, fluffy rice. And it's actually quicker than the stove-top method. Seriously people, why am I just discovering this?

Baked Rice Method (for long-grain white rice): Preheat oven to 375. Just like stove-top rice you use a 2:1 water to rice ratio. Start by heating a bit of butter or olive oil in a sauce pan. Add rice (not water) and cook until fragrant and a little glassy looking, just beginning to toast. Add water and bring to a boil (which will happen quickly because the rice and pan are already so hot. Season it at this point. After it comes to a boil, cover, and put it in the preheated over for exactly 13 minutes. After 13 minutes, take it out and let it rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork (because it will be fluffy), and serve!


So good we licked the plates.

It's interesting. When I was working at a desk, sitting all day, I would come home from work and sit more. Now that I'm on my feet all day, I actually come home with more energy. And I've been channeling that energy into cooking. So get ready for some food posts.

Tonight I made a delicious dinner. I modified this recipe and I want to share my version with you (because it's better ;). I served it with baked rice, which I'll share more about tomorrow and green beans. Yum!

Lick-the-Plate Chicken with Tomato Saute

2 chicken breasts
1 small container cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves*
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
dried tarragon
italian seasonings
2 Tblsp olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
small pat of butter

*You can also used chopped regular tomatoes, I added in one of our homegrown heirlooms today and it added a lot of flavor.

To prepare chicken, take one sheet of plastic wrap and sprinkle it with water. Place the chicken breasts on top of it and sprinkle with a little more water (the water prevents the chicken from tearing by reducing friction). Cover with another piece of plastic wrap and pound out the chicken breasts into an even 1/2-1" thickness with a meat pounder, rolling pin, or the bottom of a jar.

Spoon about a half cup of all-purpose flour on a plate. Mix in a pinch of salt and pepper and a dash of tarragon and italian seasoning. Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a stainless steel skillet over medium high heat. Dredge the chicken directly in the flour-seasoning mixture and shake off the excess. When a sprinkling of flour sizzles in the oil, place the chicken in the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the tomatoes to the pan. Season with a little salt and pepper. As they let out juices, use a spatula to scrape up the burnt bits from the chicken. Saute for about 5-7 minutes until very soft and beginning to caramelize. Add wine and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to med-low and add chicken back to the pan for about 5 minutes. The sauce will reduce and thicken a bit. Right before serving stir in a small pat of butter to finish the sauce and ENJOY! Like I said, we like this best with rice, it soaks up the delicious sauce perfectly.


Los Niños

(click to view large)


First Day/Classroom Pictures

I can't believed I've crossed the first-day milestone! Today went so well. Thank you for the prayers! I start out this week with only middle school classes and will add the rest of the grades next week. The middle schoolers come separated boys and girls (GREAT idea). Today was just the tip of the iceberg, but first impressions are that the 6th grade boys are polite and eager, if not a little sleepy at 8:30. The 6th grade girls are hilarious. The 7th and 8th grade boys are chatty, but super enthusiastic, willing to use a lot of Spanish. And the 7th and 8th grade girls were very well behaved and bright! I am praying that the enthusiasm continues throughout the year. Some highlights included catching a 6th grade girl, unprovoked, taking notes on everything I had labeled and everything  I said in spanish throughout the class on her name tag. Way to go above and beyond! On the flip side, another highlight was a 4-year-old baby girl telling me in the hall that "I ain't goin' to your classroom, and I ain't learnin' no spanish." Hate to break it to you sweetie . . . Adding K4-5th next week should be interesting!

Here are some pictures of the classroom that Kristen, a friend and student's mom took this morning. Hopefully tomorrow I'll snag some pictures of the kids. They are ADORABLE.


Back to School!

Sorry for the long, iced-coffee-filled absence! Thanks for sticking with me. There is a good reason for my lack of blogging . . .




School starts tomorrow! It has been a whirl-wind couple of weeks trying to get my classroom ready and my mind wrapped around a plan for how to teach Spanish to 4 year olds all the way up to 8th graders. There have definitely been some stressful moments, but going into tomorrow, I feel good. A surprising lack of stress. I've learned over the few months of trying to get ready, thanks to some good advice, to be flexible and graceful with myself. Now I'm just looking forward to meeting the kids. Having them in my classroom finally, will be a much needed reminded that they are what all this craziness is really about. I'll start the day tomorrow and every morning with by 6th grade boys class! What a way to start the day! So please be praying for me tomorrow. For energy, peace, and a heart that would be set on Christ's glory and loving my students.

I brought a camera to school today to take a picture of my classroom for you guys, but I forgot to take it, so it'll have to wait for tomorrow! (Rest assured, thanks to a little help from my friends, it looks awesome!)


Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

(image from google images)
I learned a new trick this week. Lately it has been just way too hot to drink hot coffee in the morning, but we all know that I get a little grumpy if I forego the morning caffeine fix. In the Davis household we use a french press, which is great, but let's be honest: French pressed coffee doesn't really make the best iced coffee, it comes out kinda grainy tasting and watered down.

That is, until I stumbled upon a wonderful little tip: cold-brew it. You follow the same process you normally would with the french press, except you use cold water. Put coffee grounds in the bottom of the press, fill it with cold water, and put the lid on without pressing it down. Then you put the whole thing in the fridge at least over night. When you're ready for your iced coffee, press the grounds down, pour,  and stir in some sugar and milk, and voila! you've got yourself some really tasty french-pressed ice coffee with a really clean, strong coffee taste. (Agave nectar is easiest to dissolve, but I promise if you stir regular sugar for long enough, it works just fine)


Reinventing the wheel (at least for me)

This week I started a wheel throwing class at Imagine Clay studios in Avondale. I've been wanting to learn how to throw pottery for a really long time. It was really an amazing experience. I want to kind of bask in the process and learn what it means that God calls himself a potter and us the clay. A process that is both gentle and forceful. This week was just a start, but I loved it and I'm really excited about learning more and walking through the whole process of firing and glazing. I didn't bring a camera to my first class, but I was so excited that I grabbed a few pictures with my camera phone.

My first pot, made with a lot of help from the instructor. I really like it's form:
The next one was my first solo attempt, which collapsed a bit because I let the wall get to thin. But it was a lesson learned, and a pretty cool looking mistake. I'm going to try to make a handle out of the collapse:

And this is my pride and joy. A little honey pot of love:

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. -- Isaiah 64:8


Hazel Marie Davis!

We have the most beautiful nieces in the whole world! Hazel is just a week old and tiny, tiny, tiny! We got to spend a lot of time with her this weekend and she is just so sweet. It's so amazing to think about what the Lord has in store for the little life and personality that is waiting to blossom inside of her. 

Misty burping her :)

Tiny hands!
Keith is a great uncle :)



Wow! I just saw that 17 books on my wish list have been purchased! I'm totally floored. I really wasn't expecting that big of a response so fast! Thank you, thank you, thank you! You guys are awesome!


Guatemala: Village Medical Clinic Girls

I finally got the rest of my pictures from Guatemala back, minus one roll of film. Also, Stephen just got back his film from the trip, so check out the Bedouins International site as he uploads so good stuff. Eventually we'll be sharing Lupita's story on the Bedouins blog, so I'll give you a heads up about that. Over the next week or so I'll post some of my favorites every day. 

These shots are of some girls at the medical clinics that we did in a small village outside of Guatemala City. Tom and the interns examine the kids and dispense anti-worm pills, vitamins, antibiotics, cough syrup, and ibuprofen. The basic medicine really helps the kids avoid common but potentially serious illness. These girls were so sweet and gentle, and sat at my side for most of the afternoon.

AND . . .
As promised, I want to let you all know about a way that you can help me stock my classroom to share the joy of learning about another culture and language with the kids of Cornerstone. I've started a Amazon wish list of books for my classroom! I'd love to stock the classroom with all sorts of great books, activities, and music, and this is a huge way that you can help me accomplish that! (notice the automatically updated widget to your left.)


My New Job!

It's time to finally announce on here what I've been up to for the past few months. As many of you know, and probably many don't, I just started a new job as a Spanish teacher/Development Associate at Cornerstone Schools of Alabama. I wanted to let know know what I'm up to, and point you the blog where I'll be assuming my Spanish teacher identity. And stay tuned friends, because I'm also going to let you know what you can do to HELP!

First, a little bit about this wonderful little school.

Cornerstone (check out the website) is an excellent private, Christian school in an urban area of Birmingham called Woodlawn. When I say urban I don’t mean “of or relating to a city or town,” I mean urban. You know, that word we white folks use when we try to politely describe a place that is majority black, majority poor, higher than average rate of crime, drugs, dilapidated houses, lower than average rate of opportunity, optimism, justice. That kind of urban. Which happens to be a few blocks away from my quaint and cozy little carriage-house apartment. Literally, the other side of the tracks. Well, I’m hoping to cross the tracks.

I will be teaching Spanish to all of the close to 275 beautiful children who attend Cornerstone, 4-year-olds through 8th graders. The school has never had a language program, so I’ll be developing the curriculum from scratch. In my spare time (ha!) I'll also be helping out with the development side of things by working on grants, updating the website, and such.

I have never taught before. Though I lived in Spain for 9 months, I am no where close to native proficiency. Until about 3 months ago I knew little to nothing about methods and curriculum for teaching Spanish to elementary schoolers.

Needless to say, I am (slightly) overwhelmed.

But, what matters, is that I know this is where I am called to be. Throughout the whole process I kept asking God, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” “I really don’t have to do this if you don’t think I’ll be good at it.” “In fact, maybe I really shouldn’t be getting myself into this so, uh, you can stop this at any point, just shut that door in my face, I’ll be okay.” But he didn’t. The doors were actually pretty much flung wide open, and the peace of knowing that the Lord would not call me to anything that he would not equip me to was enough to nudge me right on through.

So that’s where I am. I'm at the school now working on development, developing my curriculum, setting up my classroom, etc. I’m learning, gleaning every little bit of information I can out of websites, online journals, established programs, teacher blogs, books, friends. And I’m praying, not just to survive as an inexperienced, first-year teacher, but that I would fall in love with each and every child who walks through the doors of my classroom; that the Spirit would produce his fruit in my interaction with each of them; that children would love to learn in my classroom and that they would leave it filled up with knowledge, discovery, confidence, and love.

I don't want to hit you with too much information all at once, but stay tuned for more details on my Spanish teacher blog, and for information about how you can HELP me stock my classroom!


.Beautiful Faces.

We're back! With modern air travel, leaving a place like Guatemala and ending up in a place like Atlanta in such a small span of hours always seems so abrupt. We're having a little bit of a slow time processing it all. You really have to fight not to forget where you've been. I don't feel much like story-telling right now, though hopefully those stories will come. And I mostly used Stephen's camera, so I don't have a whole lot of pictures, but I will leave you with two of the sweetest faces you'll ever see. Zaida and Vani: there's really no other way to say it except that these two precious ones were our favorites. Zaida's mom is Lupita, the woman who honored us by sharing her story with us, and Vani's dad, Alfredo, was our faithful driver, bodyguard, and fútbol compadre. These kids are amazing.


Hola de Guatemala!

Hey everyone, sorry I never posted about my trip before we left, but we're still down here in Guatemala having a great time. Only two days left. I wish I could post a picture but I don't really have a way to upload any. It's been beautiful and I can't wait to tell stories and share images when we get back. The next couple days will be filled with interviews and taking pictures for the stories we are doing through Bedouins International. We'll be making one multimedia presentation for the ministry, Hearts for the Children, to use to share about their ministry as well as hopefully helping them update the website, and we're also putting together a presentation of the amazing testimony of a woman who came from a really harsh life on the streets--drug addiction, prostitution, violence--to meeting Jesus and receiving a completely new life free from all those things, working in ministry, with a stable marriage and family. Just reading it and hearing it from her has been a huge encouragement to me and to my faith in the power of the gospel to change lives. It's been good to use my Spanish, I wish I had more time for that, and don't worry . . . we haven't been lost in an earthquake or tsunami! Although the earthquake did wake me up on Wednesday night (everyone thought I was crazy until we saw the headlines!) Keep praying for us! Hasta Luego!



This week my beautiful friend Mandy came down to Bham with her sweet son Bennett and let me take some pictures of her for an EP she's working on. It was such a fun day, both for the chance to play photographer and to hang out with my friend. Here are a few of my favorites that we took in Stephen's studio. (Click the image to view it larger.)


.The Miracle of Life.

No, we're not having a baby . . . 

We're having cucumbers! 

We planted our plot in the Crestwood community garden last week. We started with nothing, dug up the dirt, pulled up weeds and roots, transplanted some grass, added some compost, planted our seedlings, and voila! We have a garden. It was so much fun, and it's amazing how much hard work makes you invested in what you're doing. We have been like anxious little parents, talking about our plants, visiting the everyday, and hoping and praying that they grow big and strong! We planted cucumber seeds, which I've never done, and frankly I was a little skeptical that anything would come of them. It's hard to believe that a big plant will come of a little dry seed. But sure enough, yesterday morning we went to look at the garden and a tiny, baby sprout was poking up through the top soil. By the afternoon there were about six strong and healthy sprouts. I don't mean to sound cheesy, but it really is a miracle to observe! If you live in Birmingham, go down to Crestwood park and check out our garden!


AFTER: (We're planting Zinnias, bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, and heirloom tomatoes.)


Homemade Falafel and Tzatziki Dinner

You may have noticed, but the blogging juices just aren't flowing too freely these days. That's okay. Maybe we'll get to the important stuff sometime soon. In the meantime, I'll keep posting about food and stuff. I hope you'll stick with me :) One thing on the radar is that we're leaving for Guatemala in a few days. More about that before we go. 

Last night I had the pleasure of cooking "family dinner" for our friends and it was a hit. A few folks asked for the recipe, so I thought I'd post it on here. I didn't take any pictures, but you get the idea. It really is an easy recipe, and I tend to like the falafel I make at home a lot better than in restaurants. 
Homemade Falafel and Tzatziki

1 15 oz. can chickpeas
1 handful fresh, flat leaf parsley
1/2 white or yellow onion
1 small shallot
1 clove minced garlic
*1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
red pepper
2 tablespoons all purpose flour (optional)

1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded or pureed cucumber
**2 tablespoons lemon juice
red pepper

* I forgot the baking powder last night and it was fine. They will hold together better though if you add it. 
** I totally guessed on these quantities. Work based on the flavors and consistencies you are going for.

In a food processor combine first 10 ingredients (chickpeas to pepper). Pulse until coarsely chopped and combined. You don't want to make hummus. Heat a couple tablespoons olive or vegetable oil in a sautee pan over medium-high heat. Form chickpea mixture into small patties and if you so desire dredge in a little bit of flour before placing in the heated oil. Brown the patties for about 2 minutes on each side until medium-dark brown. Place on a paper towel to cool.

To make the Tzatziki sauce mix yogurt, pureed cucumber, lemon juice, and season to taste. Add yogurt or lemon juice to make it thicker or thinner for your preference. You could also add a little hot sauce if you want.

To serve, slice warm pita bread and stuff the pocket with two falafel patties, your choice of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, sprouts, etc. and top with tzatziki. I served it last night with a simple balsamic pasta salad. Enjoy!!!