I just have to share this story with you…
The other day after football practice, JoAnn A. brought pizza and Gatorade for the football team and varsity girls volleyball team to share in Stevie’s birthday. Mrs. Angela T., Mr. Nick P., and I were helping her set up for the boys at the picnic table area. Well, Coach released the boys and they didn’t make a mad dash pushing and shoving. They formed a line and waited to be served. And they each said thank you upon receiving their pizza and drink. Then, once everyone was served, they prayed together. Talk about bringing tears to our eyes! Mrs. A. said, (this is why I am broke every month) and this is why I send my kids here! And we all whole heartedly agreed.
With seeing the children praying on their own and acting in such an orderly manner, this isn’t something that they learn over night. It sets in over time. So, here’s to all your teachers and staff, because at one point or another every one of your staff has had one of these kids at one time or another and they have made an impact in their life.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Classes for the first part of the day were superseded by the crowning of the homecoming princes and princesses for pre-k through grade 5. The court is determined by who can bring in the most donations to the school and missions, which I think is a cute way to fund raise and a much better way to pick homecoming court than a popularity contest.
In the middle of the day we had three "classes". I say "classes" because the kids didn't want to learn a blessed thing, and even the teachers were more interested in spray painting the students and dressing them up as footballs.
A few of our players. Our team is fairly small, both in number and size. We always seem to have about 2/3 as many people as the other team. There there's the 6th graders, who I would guess constitute almost half the team. Ricardo, #8 in front there, is a 6th grader. He plays hard but is none the less smaller than 90% of the people he plays with and against. There are several 6th graders on the team of Ricardo's size.
Can't blame it all on the 6th graders, though. 6th grader Jacob, #7, has an 8th grade brother on the team who is smaller than him.
We played Holy Spirit, whose mascot was the Flames. This is logical and sounds like a good idea, but they don't seem to realize that it encourages all kinds of "put out the flames" jokes and visual puns like the one above (our blue Eagle is carrying a fire extinguisher). Their actual mascot, the one that runs around the games, wear more or less a giant red bag -- he looks like a big drop of blood. I personally found it very distracting and, moreover, faintly disturbing.
See? Even the sisters were more interested in painting the children than teaching them. As Sr. Roseann said, it's important to have crazy days and just let loose once in a while. I love the sisters.
Here's Crystal dressed as a football. This was my brilliant partner teacher's idea, and is probably a large part of the reason the 7th grade won the spirit award (that, and my cow bell).
The 5th graders, who gave us a run for our money in the spirit contest. They give me a run for my money when I teach them, too. Every. Day.
This is just a funny picture. What's funnier is that as I was standing there laughing and taking pictures, one of the other teachers came over and told them to cut it out. Oops...
Saturday, September 29, 2007
I decided well before I graduated from college that I wanted to spend the year following doing service work. My reasons for this are many, and more personal than I really want to get into here, but being intelligent adults you can probably guess about an idea. If you want to really boil it down, God said so and I said, "Well, alright."
In March and April, I was filling out applications to service programs like mad (a process I touched on here). While home for Easter, I looked over those applications and suddenly realized I wasn't really excited about any of them. Not that they were not good and worthy programs for one to be involved in, but I myself didn't feel strongly drawn to them -- and I've always been big on gut feelings.
I scoured the internet one more time, and found VIDES. Looking at the web site, I finally felt that little push, that little "Yeah, do that" that told me it was a good thing. This was in April, but it said "or until positions are filled" under the March deadline. I called Sr. Gloria and told her I what I was about, and she said that their school could use a volunteer teacher. That was more or less that.
Fast forward to almost-October, which finds me teaching grammar and writing to 5th-8th graders, who are already telling me not to leave next year, at St. John Bosco School in San Antonio, where people speak Spanish and say y'all in equal parts. I live at the school in the convent with the Salesian sisters, who take very good care of me and always make sure I get enough to eat.
There is, of course, much much more to it than that, but that's part of why I'm keeping a blog. Keep reading, or read backwards, and you'll get the idea.
Now, the unveiling! I had a hard time picking from the names suggested, probably because I have a hard time deciding between Rice Crispies and Cheerios, or between red and green Gatorade. In fact, I kinda copped out (but that was Erin's idea, she told me to), and found a way to mush almost all the names into one. You know how sometimes people have nick names that have nothing to do with their real names? Andie is a natural derivative of Andrea, but Fish, for example, really has nothing to do with Melissa.
So this is what I've come up with: Lazarus Fiachra Hopkins, who goes by Gnorm. Gnorm and I talked about it, and he likes it. Done and done.
My "gnome son", as Erin put it, Gnorm, ne Lazarus Fiachra Hopkins.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Upon removing him from his bubble wrap, I was quickly inspired to join in the venerable practice of "roaming gnomes", that is, carrying the dainty chap around with me and taking pictures of him. In my case, since Erin gave him to me, I think they will go to Erin. They will probably also go here, unless all this excitement tapers out into a "I almost did that once" story. Knowing me and my friends, that's unlikely.
Anyway, the diminutive dude requires an appellation of some sort. I can't think of a good one, so I open it up to you, dear readers. Things to keep in mind when christening my mythical friend:
- This is, in it's tiny every-day way, a Catholic blog. Additionally, I bear an abiding fondness for all things Catholic. A name hearkening to some aspect or person of the church would be delightful. A saint, perhaps, or a Biblical personality.
- I like smart things, too (probably why I like Catholic things ;-) ). "Bob" simply will not do. Be clever!
- He IS, after all, a gnome. Make it gnomish, whatever gnomish turns out to be.
Leave a comment with your suggestions. In a few days, I'll christen the mini man.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Entertain yourselves for now with the video I posted late last night/early this morning of my kids soulja boying, and the new links I've added to the side bar (including a whole new category of blog: Secular, but Swell!).
Look, I'll even give you a picture of boys spaying blue stuff in each other's hair.
Heck, I'll even go the extra mile and give you another video.
Yup. That's a girl dressed as a paper football dancing to... something. It's a variety of Latin music I confess myself totally unfamiliar with, but which I found rather entrancing, like a train wreck.
And if I don't know who you are, leave me a comment and introduce yourself. Heck, if you're my parents or some other star-crossed person fated to know me, leave me a comment anyway.
Two of my girls on the dance team actually taught it to me last weekend at the football game, then spent this whole past week telling other students I'd learned how to soulja boy and trying to get me to do it in class. I did not, promising instead to do it at the Homecoming dance. When the moment came, I was attacked on all sides by middle schoolers who insisted I make good on my promise. Which I did.
Thank God, to my knowledge there exists no video evidence of that event, but I do have video of my kids doing it. Enjoy.
My first reaction was a good hearty chuckle. Then I thought, "Well, hey, he's just doing what we're all supposed to be doing, and he's putting it out there." After all, don't all of our vocations and jobs please God when they're done well, with integrity, with Him in mind? I don't see why carpeting should be excluded.
Rock on, Dave!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I've been in San Antonio for almost five weeks now (a fact that I can't wrap my brain around. I'm still working on accepting having been here a month), and tomorrow is the end of our first month of school. Plenty of time to settle into a routine. Those who know me know that I'm really not so good with getting into routines, although routines are invariably good for me. Fortunately for me, here at the convent life is pretty prescripted (at least more so than it is in the outside world).
Here's a typical weekday.
5:30 - My first alarm goes off.
5:42 - I start thinking about getting out of bed when the second alarm goes off.
5:58 - I usually actually get out of bed and throw on whatever teacher monkey suit I've put together for myself.
6:24 - Enter the chapel (next to the living room, under the sisters' rooms, and across from the cafeteria) for mass. Some weeks (like this one), the whole process moves up twenty minutes and I join the sisters for morning prayer. Otherwise, I say it on my own after mass before I go over for...
7:05 - Breakfast, where the sisters remind me why it's good to be alive. Not that I'd forgotten, but it's always nice to be reminded.
7:20 - Pick up various items of paper work from the office, silently thinking it must have been nice when kids just wandered in off the corn field and wandered back out. On to my class room to check e-mails, get settled, start acting like I know what I'm doing.
7:30 - Faculty prayer followed by faculty asking and telling each other things. This sometimes involves thinly-veiled-but-maturely-and-Christianly-handled hostility. These are the exciting days.
7:45 - The entire school assembles in the gym for prayer, announcements, and the president of the student council dressed as a bee handing out ribbons to children with birthdays. During this time, the kinder and first graders give their teachers a hard time, the second through fourth graders clap and sing and respond to rhetorical questions, and the fifth through eighth graders make every effort to hide even the faintest signs of interest.
8:00 - Home room. I attempt to talk over 7th graders who think I'm their friend.
8:15 - My free period, usually spent trying to make various computer programs essential to my ability to teach work, and failing in the attempt.
9:03 - Classes. Math, math lab, and 7th grade English.
11:20 - Lunch, praise be to God. Glory in the highest.
12:07 - More classes. Two sixth grade classes, one eighth grade class, and one fifth grade class. I consistently forget that I cannot make jokes of any variety with these kids, as I could with my high schoolers, because they loose their blessed little minds every time anything remotely amusing happens, and all the more so if it comes from me. I also wonder if I lapse into another language when I utter the phrase, "Be quiet", because they never seem to understand me.
3:15 - Dismissal. Picture the exodus in Texas with punchy teachers and junior high schoolers instead of oxen.
3:30 - Tutoring, or a faculty meeting.
4:00 - 6:20 - Heck, I don't even know. I usually think, "I'm going to do X, Y, and Z between tutoring and dinner," and usually end up getting a call from the sisters at 6:15 informing me it's time to come eat. I've developed a theory in which I am abducted by aliens daily during this time frame, and they have me run in circles just so I feel like I did something, but give me nothing to show for it.
6:20 - Dinner. The sisters remind me that not only is it good to be alive, I am indeed still alive, despite all evidence to the contrary.
7:00 - Chores, during which Sr. Thuy invents "la, la, la" songs that always, always, always make me laugh and delight me. Who knew scrubbing the pots from a meal for eleven every night could be relaxing?
7:30 - Back to my class room, usually. I think the aliens draw me back and re-abduct me, because I usually leave with exactly the same amount of work as I entered with.
9:00 - Sit in the VIDES office, check e-mail, read, blog, and other wise waste time. See -- I haven't changed a bit.
10:00 - In my room. Clean things, make sure I don't smell, write letters, call people... possibly get abducted by aliens yet again because next thing I know it's...
11:00 - Bed time, believe it or not.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Tomorrow is Homecoming (yes, middle schools have homecoming). Expect massive post on that sometime Saturday!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the first usage of an emoticon, a simple smiley face first used by a Carnegie Mellon professor on an old school bulletin board system. It turns out that the emoticon was not just an afterthought, but a much discussed idea addressing a problem early users of the system were having in separating sarcastic comments from serious ones. Professor Scott Fahlman proposed a smiley face to indicate joking and an upside down one to indicate unhappiness in a thread (captured below).
The original message with the first smiley had been lost for years, but a rather intensive research effort lead to its recovery. Fahlman details the invention and the “dig” to find the original message on his page.
You might be thinking, "Andie's got a lot of time on her hands, blogging daily about this sort of thing."
If you are thinking that, you probably don't know me very well. The amount of time I spend on fruitless activities bears no correlation to the amount of time I should be spending on productive labors. The convent hasn't changed me that much. I actually have a 4-inch stack of papers to grade... in the next two hours... I guess I should go do that...
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I may pass out from the sheer awesomeness of the fact that this event is
going to happen. Then I'm going to get my affairs in order because I'm
pretty sure putting that much "amazing" in one space will cause the world to
...I really don't think I'm exaggerating much here.
AFI showing 11 classic films at once
LOS ANGELES - Theis celebrating its 40th anniversary by simultaneously screening 11 classic films, each with a live introduction by a star or filmmaker.
The screenings, on Oct. 3 at thetheater, are open to the public. Among the presenters will be for " ," for " ," for "Unforgiven" and for " ."
"I cannot think of another event when movie makers and movie lovers have come together in such a spectacular fashion," Lucas said in a statement. "I'm proud to be part of this historic night — both as movie lover and a movie maker."
Other introductions will be made byfor " ," and for " ...," for " ," for " ," for "The Birds" and for "Rocky."
Tickets for "Target Presents AFI's 40th Anniversary" go on sale Wednesday for $25.
If you're within four hours of Silver Spring, Maryland, and don't go, you're priorities are totally off.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
In other news, found on Whispers in the Loggia:
In a related development, a friend sent word some time back that, indeed, "Stephen Colbert, a devout Catholic, teaches Sunday school every week."
Thursday, September 13, 2007
For good measure, I also bring you the original "Mother's Day" short, upon which the Barenaked Ladies video is based and which introduced most of the free world to the viral genius of Barats and Bareta.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Oh, that's what that noise was... I've been here a month as of today. School has kept me so busy, I wouldn't have noticed had the janitor not asked me tonight how long I've been in San Antonio.
That about sums it up, actually, I've just been really, really busy. Being a young and socially adept person, I still lament my social life a little and miss my family and friends immensely, but at the same time I have to admit this is probably the best possible set up for me. I'm in my classroom from 7:30 am to 9:oo pm everyday, minus about an hour and a half for supper and clean up. Part of it surely is my long-standing inability to focus except under very particular circumstances, but I think the larger part is that I'm still wet behind the ears and (don't tell Sr. Roseann) actually have no idea what I'm doing 96% of the time. Don't feel too bad for me -- on the first day of school, that was true 100% of the time.
I love it here. I love it here. The sisters are beautiful, my students melt my heart when they're not driving me out of my mind, the community at this school just blows me away, and I really think the sky here is bigger. I'm not kidding. It's huge, and absurdly blue.
A few pictures from these last 31 days.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
But my fifth grader was three or four at the time and it's unlikely she had the presence of mind to register what happened. I thought about that and I wondered -- we will never forget, but what can our children remember?
I hope that 9/11 will never totally loose its tangible, visceral quality, never fade into just another tragedy of mythic proportions, like Pearl Harbor. I hope that somehow we can preserve the enormity of it to show our children. Not to scare them, but to show them how important it is to watch out for each other, to let our families know we love them, to live life. How important it is to remember the dead, because they were not always names on tombstones. They were sons and wives and mommies and daddies, breathing and loving persons, individual lives that made a difference somewhere.
For our children, and for us, to remember that what you stand for and what you stand up for, have consequences, and you'd better be ready to follow through.
I know as long as anyone who saw it happen draws breath, it will not be forgotten. I pray it is somehow remembered, not only memorialized, long beyond that.
Swiped from Happy Catholic:
The 4th of July isn't the day the 13 Colonies won their independence from Britain; it's the day they declared their independence. On the 4th we celebrate their eventual victory, but more than that we celebrate the resolve, vision, and determination which led to that victory.
Today, September 11th, we remember those thousands of innocent American civilians who died in the brutal attack on the Twin Towers. But 9/11 is more that. It is the day we resolved, as a nation, not to knuckle under to the terrorist threat -- and more than that, to stomp it out.
We must not turn 9/11 into a simple day of remembrance. We have not earned that blessing.
We must not lose our determination.
Peggy Noonan also had something beautiful to say, as usual.
Monday, September 10, 2007
The Roman Catholic Church holds that abortion is the deliberate killing of a human being. Catholic liberal politicians since Mario Cuomo have said they personally accept the doctrine of their church but nevertheless believe in a woman's right to choose. This is silly. There is no right to choose murder. Either these politicians are lying to their church, or they are lying to us. (Emphasis mine)
Michael Kinsey, liberal journalist. H/T Diogenes
Away with you, then, shenanigans. I shall ignore thee whilst I spend my days with people who actually work for the well being of others... and work on prying the beam from my eye.
I don't usually talk about politics. Actually, I never talk about politics except to mention how much I loath politics. This is quite intentional -- I find the style and tenor of contemporary American politicking to be truly and instantly nauseating, so I avoid the subject whenever possible. I confess it to be a view at best myopic and at worst hypocritical, but when I hear politicians and pundits of whatever party blather on for any length of time, my mind tends to turn to that part in the Bible where Jesus slaps the Pharisees around and says, "Hypocrites!"
I cannot convince myself, though I have tried, that any more than a tenth of people in politics really and truly have the best interests of the people at heart (that is, the politicians themselves, not he good folks who work for/with them). This is not because my views on most things differ from the views of most politicians. I have many, many friends whose views differ from mine, but they are sincere and honest in their beliefs, and for that I regard them highly. Politicians, on the other hand, churn out chum like that described above. This is why I don't trust politicians and really, really don't like politics.
Politics is a game of putting on the best possible face to as many groups of voters as possible for the sake of your party and of your election. The result is utterly impossible sayings like, "As a Catholic, I personally am opposed to abortion, but support a woman's right to choose."
B and in b. S as in s. Impossible, as a Catholic. But it's such a convenient opinion to have, why fuss over the unbelievably of it?
I wouldn't mind this particular matter so much if Catholic politicians didn't push their religion as part of their image. I can conceive how a person not morally opposed to abortion could, rationally, personally choose not to have one. That's like me saying, "I'd never jump out of a plane, but there's nothing wrong with it." For the record, I still think that view is wrong (yeah, I said it), but it is at least sincere.
Do not. Tell me. You believe something. Then stomp on one of its most sacred tenants. That makes you a liar, and it makes me angry. Have enough integrity to actually stand up for what you claim to believe -- or to claim what you actually believe.
The "personal opposition to abortion" trick is just one shining example of the things I detest about politics, but its scores of second cousins have filled up Congress. This is not at all the sort of thing that I have tended to talk about here, but I felt compelled, I guess, to publicly denounce the shenanigans that have already begun in the lead-up to the 2008 election.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
I will blame this on global warming. Works for a lot of other things, why not try it?
Our first football game was this Friday. The little dudes in white are our St. John Bosco Eagles. They were fewer and smaller in stature than our opponents from St. Paul, but still far cooler because I teach half of them (and, clearly, having me for a teacher makes a middle-schooler inarguably better than average). Additionally, they had several of these folks on their side of the stands:
Sr. Anna is on the left, Sr. Carmen on the right, both wonderful, joyful women. I accompanied them and Sr. Esther to the game. When they asked during dinner if I wanted to go, my response was to half fall out of my seat and knock over my glass -- I'm not kidding. Ever since Rampart, I've loved going watching teams from schools I am somehow associated with play football (Air Academy, Air Force, Delaware), and this is the first time I've gotten to see MY students play, and hang out with MY students while I'm at it.
The SJB Pep Squad, upon whom I have bestowed the alternate name of "Sinking Cutest Thing Ever". Appropriate, no?
Then the weather changed on us. It's been unusually wet here in San Antonio this summer. Ultimately, this is good, because the region has been in drought for a long time. When you're trying to watch a football game, the blessing of rain gets lost. Still, most of the parents and fans stayed, God bless 'em.
This is one of the things I love about St John Bosco School: it really is a community, and the people in it really stick by each other in matters great and small. Football, of course, being a "great" matter.
Our dance team (half of whom are also in my classes) stuck it out for a while, braving smeared eye make-up and donning ponchos before their grown-ups finally told them to go home. The football team played through, but no sense in these lovely ladies getting pneumonia -- or electrocuted.
A stranger saw me getting doused and handed me his umbrella before he left (thank you, Mysterious Sir!), allowing me to keep watching and photographing from quasi-dry space. Sr. Anna broke out the heavy-duty umbrella, while two more of my students were real men about it and just got wet.
If you look very closely at the scoreboard way behind Sister and the boys, you may notice the score of 23, Visitors, and 0, Home. I'm sorry to say, "home" was us. I was disappointed, I'll admit, but it was fun.
What's not so fun is that I'm not coming down with a cold, and if my abuelita were alive she would surely blame it on my standing, soaking wet, in the rain for two hours. On that note, I'm going to go drink some orange juice and sleep.