My First Plane Ride

by Gus

First, the pilot showed me the parts of the plane.  Then I got in the plane. I got strapped in really tight. We went up on the runway and we flew up into the sky. We flew around really fast. Then he asked if I wanted to take over the plane. And I did and I did some turns and stuff. Then he asked if I wanted to do a roll. I tried but I only got halfway. Then he took over and did two rolls in a row. Next, he went upside down and flew upside down for 15 seconds. I sat in the front and he sat in the back. We had headgear so we could talk to each other. He would tell me to do this or that so I could fly the plane. Finally, we landed. It was SO FUN!


It has been a great 24 hours here in Kingman. Last night, we had our Telescope Night for the 3rd and 4th graders. My awesome telescope expert friend Steve came out and about 30 kids got to see the rings of Saturn, spot constellations, and play flashlight tag. An hour before it began, I was stressing about all the things that could go wrong, but it all exceeded my hopes. I think the kids will have some great memories of last night.

Then this morning we went to the air show here in town. I do love small town life on days like today, where the boys got to each go for free rides up in the clouds. I am not sure exactly how factual Gus’ account above is. He always has had the hardest time distinguishing fact from fantasy. Sometimes I think his imagination is so overactive, he ends up believing something he daydreamed about happened. Regardless of whether or not the pilot actually did a barrel roll, his smile was my favorite part of the day.

We came home during the downpour and decided to have a Family Movie Afternoon, watching The Sandlot, which is just the best. We went exploring down by the creek to see how wide it was with all the rain. Since our day had pretty much been a Sabbath, we decided to go to Saturday evening Mass. A fine, fine day.

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When Will the Next Chapter Begin?

Well, I started typing a deep dive into my thoughts on teaching for another year, complete with a reading metaphor (see title) and a running analogy (sprinting towards the finish line) but it was boring to write and I can’t imagine how mind-numbing it would be to read. So, to sum it up:
-I fully prepared myself in case last year was my final year teaching. I gave my all. With 22 students, that was very tiring. Incredibly rewarding, but very tiring. I finished strong.
-But then teaching didn’t “finish”. I’m back again. And who knows if this will be my last year or not. There is a good chance no principal positions will open in the spring. Who knows?
-I don’t like being in Limbo. I like knowing what lies before me.
-That said, I am loving teaching this year. I only have 11 students, and they are all wonderful. It has been a great start to the year. If I have to live in uncertainty about the future, this is probably the best school, the best community, to wait and wonder.
-Now that I have half as many students, and am not busy taking classes for my masters, I feel like I have time to be much more reflective and purposeful about my work. And one of the things that has been revealed is how ridiculously low my patience gets. I have already had a few times, where at the end of the day when I’m doing my examen, I’ve had to say to myself, “You were being Vizzini.” So…I’m working on this. It seems I’ve always been working on this, but this year I feel like I’m making some actual progress. The other morning after Mass, this line from St. Francis’s prayer wouldn’t leave me, “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Oh, mercy me.

-Once again I have a son as one of my students. THAT could be a post in and of itself, because Gus is VERY different than Jude in the classroom. But as I did with Jude last year, I let Gus pick the classroom theme. Did he pick ninjas, or lifeguards, or astronauts, or chefs, or cowboys, or explorers, or any of the other themes I have prepared and ready to go? No, he picked knights. It was a labor of love, but I was really pleased with how it turned out, and most importantly, the students love it, and it filled them with the wonder and excitement of learning from Day 1.

medieval 3
Class Theme: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
Noteworthy Decorations: The Word Castle and the Knights of the Hexagon Table
Best Posters/Puns: Crowning Achievements, We’re on Fire for Reading! and of course Put On the Armor of God

medieval 2

The throne was in the basement of our church. The kids helped me paint the Word Castle and designed their own heraldry banners. When Fr. Jim Weldon left our parish, he gave Jackie two rolls of starry sheer fabric, explaining they were there when he arrived and he was passing them on to somebody who would put the material to good use. Well, it took a few years, but I found a good use for it.

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The medieval theme has provided a great avenue for some new topics I’ve always wanted to explore more. We’re doing more Latin than I’ve done in the past and have heard some great saint stories. We stretched the theme a bit to include the Renaissance so I could do some Shakespeare, and the kids really loved Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest. Midsummer Night’s Dream is next after we finish The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

So, I’m very excited about all the possibilities this year holds with such a neat bunch of kids. Every day when we do our closing prayer, I shout our battle cry “Ad Majorem!” and the students respond “Dei Gloriam!”

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Jesus, Peter, and Roger Deakins

Happy birthday to my dear friend Erika and thank you for picking out such a great movie for this month’s Catholic Community Cinema Society! My brain suffers from extreme tunnel vision in August, so I have really enjoyed getting to veg out with some good movies. Tonight was Back to School night, and my thoughts are pretty mushy, but I shall try to gather some ideas together into a somewhat cohesive post.

I can still remember the first time I saw this movie, and for years I counted it as my all-time favorite movie. But it had been several years, and I wondered if maybe I would watch it again and realize it was time for a new number 1. Nope. I still love this movie. It is pretty much the perfect movie. How can that be the case with the very adult subject matter and all the language?

The movie is honest. It is not cheesy or censored or saccharine. It has real characters that make real choices and face real consequences. Before seeing this the first time, I don’t know if I’d ever seen Morgan Freeman or Tim Robbins in anything. It was easy to believe they were Andy and Red, and they lend a truly genuine quality to their characters. Neither is perfect, but both have virtue within them. While the movie is not smaltzy, it is not too dark either. Above all, it is about hope. Redemption is right there in the title. The way the redemption unfolds is natural and believable. That is my favorite kind of inspiring, the movement from dark to light.

My favorite scene:

Over at Simplemama, Erika’s favorite scene is right after mine. Her write-up is excellent!

The movie made me grateful in many ways, many of them surprising. First, I wasn’t expecting this to be the perfect movie to watch during the first week of school. This movie put things in perspective. A new bunch of students (and throw in 100 new chicks and electric fence and lawnmower problems) might be stressful, but at least I don’t have to worry about abusive prison guards and sadistic inmates! I love the character of Red, and watching him this time really reminded me of my Uncle Rick. So I was grateful to have such a wise, witty, and down-to-earth neighbor I can turn to. Finally, I found myself very grateful for the camaraderie of friends I am blest with, as I watched the bond between Red and Andy.

Though I had never picked up on it before, that relationship between Red and Andy struck me as a fine allegory for Peter and Jesus. Andy spends much of his time trying to break through Red’s belief that hope is a dangerous thing. Red stares in disbelief into the cave in the wall where Andy finds freedom. Their reunion by a boat alongside the water is stirring. There are other interesting parallels, all unintended by the director. But every great story borrows from THE great story, whether intentionally or subconsciously.

Great movies reveal new layers to appreciate on further viewing. That was certainly the case with this movie. The final element that I appreciated so much this time was a name I saw in the opening credits. Director of Photography: Roger Deakins. I can only name two cinematographers, and Roger Deakins is one of them. The way he guides the camera, the skill with which he uses shadows and light, the inventive ways he shoots in darkness, the manner in which his camerawork reveals the depth of the characters and sets up the enviroment, it is all nothing short of miraculous. He makes it all look so easy; his work is rarely showy. It is only on re-examination that you start to notice all these incredibly composed shots. I started thinking about the decisions that went into Deakins work-when to shoot up close and when to go wide. The video below is revealing in hearing how much thought goes into every shot.

Years ago I became a big fan of Emmanuel Lubezki, the amazing cinematographer behind Children of Men and Tree of Life. I began rooting for his success. And sure enough, he has now managed to win the best Cinematography Oscar three years in a row. I am sure there is a correlation between my devotion and his awards. So now I have turned my powerful support to Roger Deakins, who has been nominated for 13 Oscars-his very first nomination was for The Shawshank Redemption. It is time.


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12, My Favorite Number

Look! A baby in a paper hat. I mean really, we are just begging for you to look at our blog with that kind of lead picture.

Hello! Jackie here (gasp, I know). Today Joel and I celebrate the 12th anniversary of when Joel proposed to me. In a wheat field. With roses and the morning sun just rising. It was romantic, and gushy, and perfect for us.
Joel sent me a sweet text to celebrate (he remembered people, and it really was sweet), and I thought the mediocre dinner I prepared didn’t quite say “I really do love you” enough. So, I am posting this in the last minutes of the day:
happy day to us babe!

Oh those babies.

These were some of our engagement pictures. My roommate Monica was such a good sport to humor us and take them. My mom was such a good sport to let us put the photo on the right in the “Wichita Eagle” as our engagement announcement. (Remember when people did that?)
(Also, remember film cameras? I had to get these photos out of an album and scan them in! We are such a lazy society.)

Also, I realized I have a bunch of cute pictures on my phone that other people should really see.

These were from the fair: cousins joined us for a fun evening at the carnival. Grandma loved seeing the kids’ entries.

My dad and Paschal spending some chill time together. And Grammie and Papa being as patient as saints at a Zelie (the dictator) tea party.


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Another Year of… Family Movie Night!

8 random thoughts before I get to this year’s list of movies we’ll be watching together this year.
-The Goonies! This is the year I finally get to watch The Goonies with the boys!
-And the Sandlot!
-I think the first draft of this list had over 60 movies. It was tough to trim it down.
-As always, Common Sense Media was so helpful in choosing which ones to see this year, and which one’s to wait on.
-If I were as purposeful about all the other aspects of parenting as I am about movie selection, we would be golden.
-My lack of spontaneity could be a genuine criticism.
-I did not see “It’s a Wonderful Life” until I was 20. I loved it enough to put it in my all-time top 10 list a few years later, but haven’t watched it again since. Curious to see how it holds up.
-I would love suggestions for movies Zelie would love with strong female protagonists.

Family Movie Night 2016-2017 Season

The Sandlot
Finding Nemo
The Goonies*
Oliver and Company
The Boxtrolls*
Wallace and Grommit: Curse of the Were Rabbit
Fantastic Mr. Fox
It’s a Wonderful Life
Rise of the Guardians
The Nativity Story
Tale of Despereaux
Night at the Museum
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones*
Alice in Wonderland (j)
Mulan (a)
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (z)
Iron Giant (x)
Searching for Bobby Fisher
Castle in the Sky*
The Adventures of Milo and Otis
James and the Giant Peach
The Jungle Book (2016)*
The Sound of Music
Scarlet and the Black *
The Secret Life of Pets
Rookie of the Year
Captain America: The First Avenger*
Finding Dory

Before my boys can watch the Nazi-fighting hero on the right, they need to watch the Nazi-fighting hero on the left (and Maria von Trapp-not pictured :)

Before my boys can watch the Nazi-fighting hero on the right, they need to watch the Nazi-fighting hero on the left (and Maria von Trapp)


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