Princeton Review

I just found this article about the University of Dallas from Princeton Review. Thought you might like it!

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First Day of the Flexing Poplars

The day has finally arrived that I, Jesse, have become The Enemy – I have become an Algebra teacher. It was my first day teaching at the school I affectionately call “Flexing Poplars”, a rather expensive and small private high school comprised primarily of troubled kids from white suburbia. But before entering the ranks of the despised Math Teachers I first had to survive my 1st period Speech class.

All the classes at Flexing Poplars are small (usually 5-8 students), but I currently only have three in my Speech class. However even this is misleading because, as the director of the school warned me, one of the kids never gets to school earlier than an hour after it starts. So when the bell rang I found myself sitting in a room with a freshman who wouldn’t look me in the eyes and a senior who only met my gaze with sustained defiance. The defiance was probably born from my refusal to (and I know that it’s hard to believe that I could be such a Nazi) let him play cards in class. The defiance seemed to turn to curiosity quickly, and soon I found that this Senior was a self-improvement junkie who was analyzing my body language and trying to understand “what made me tick” so he could manipulate me with skills he learned from Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Clever kid, and a natual conversationalist, but I don’t think that class turned out to be what he expected. For the rest of the class we held a discussion about “why we celebrate Holidays” and analyzed our discussion. There was no card playing.

The rest of the day consisted of Algebra classes, where concepts weren’t nearly as challenging as class control. Conversation breaks out perpetually, especially when the students want to get out of school work – which is always. I told the students right away that I don’t tolerate interruption and text messaging… and all day long I fought those battles.

After school was out I found myself in conversation over cofee with Katie, John, and Benjamin and tried to explain what the atmosphere is like. Sorrowfully I told them that I have no choice but to allow crass joking and “F” words in my class, because to combat that directly would be a losing battle that would consume all of class time and pit them against my authority.

Katie told me that at Cambridge, Christiana’s school, the students stand when the teacher enters the room, and may only sit once the teacher grants permission. That sort of behavior is incomprehensible at Flexing Poplars.

Our Blessed Journey Home From CA

Last Post of the day. I really am going on a binge blogging spree here, probably because I am on my lunch break and I just had some LOVELY mac and cheese…ahhh!

Anyways, I just really wanted to relate what happened on our way home from California on Sunday.

The first thing that happened was aboard our first flight, I spotted a celebrity! Well, sorta, he’s a little young to be an actual celeb. His name is Noah Gray-Cabey, and he plays “Micah” on Heroes. Here’s his picture.

He was only sitting a few aisles up from us, so I pointed him out to Jesse. It sorta made our day, seeing as we are practically addicted to Heroes.

The next cool thing that happened was on our way home from the airport with Katie and Noel. Noel dropped off Katie and Christiana at a PSAT center and then asked if it was alright to run an errand before driving home. He then proceeded to tell us about a family living in Highland Park. The daughter was a classmate of Christiana’s. About 7-8 months ago her brother, Ryan, was in a tragic skiing accident after which he was in a coma for months. He just recently came out of the coma, but has severe brain and muscle damage. For this reason, he is confined to a wheelchair and cannot control even his mouth.

The reason they called was because Noel is known for going around and anointing sick Christians with the oil from Saint John Maximovich’s tomb in San Francisco (Courtney, Michael, Jesse and I made a pilgrimage up there this summer to see his still undecayed body!). Saint John is known for miracles of healing both while he was alive and also after he died. Noel has been using this oil to pray that the Holy Spirit would use St. John to heal them. So far, many have been. This family specifically asked that Noel come to anoint their son with oil in the hopes that he too might be healed.

Noel asked if we wouldn’t mind coming. Jesse decided to join him, but I had been feeling ill all morning and opted to sit out. We arrived at the house and the boy’s sweet mother was there to greet us at the gate. She took us back around their huge house to a small apartment in the back. This was her son’s own private house that they had set up to be a sort of hospital.

Even though I had been previously told of the severity of this boy’s condition, I was still pretty shocked and moved by what I saw. It was also hard seeing various paraphenelia in his room, exactly the way a normal 16 year old boy left it only 8 months ago.

Noel, Jesse and the boys two parents (both of whom attend a PCA church just down the road) began to pray the Akathist to St. John Maximovich. The boy’s nurse and I sat aside and watched. It was an incredible 25 minute long prayer, during which Noel broke down several times. At the very end, Noel anointed the boy with oil on his forehead, cheek and back. It was hard not to think of how this very same thing used to occur in the early church.

Afterwards, Noel, Jesse and I got back in the car and headed toward the freeway home. As I was sitting there stunned by the whole thing, wondering at the grace which Noel went about this act of service, we passed a homeless man walking along the road near the 35 freeway. Noel did an instant U-turn, pulled two cans of beans from the console of his car, and rolled down his window. Noel knows most of the homeless in downtown Dallas by name, and knew that this man, Robbie, loved to have cans of beans to “feed his dog”.

As we pulled away, Noel told us more about some of the homeless people he had encountered and ministered to in Dallas. He told us an interesting story about a couple of the occasions that he brought a much younger Christiana along with him. One day, when it was just Noel alone, this man came up to him and said, “Noel! I had a dream about your daughter last night!”

Of course, this wasn’t exactly what every father wants to hear. Great, my daughter’s in your dreams! Weird!

But the guy continued. “In my dream, Christiana kept trying to tell me something, over and over again! I couldn’t hear her. Please, would you ask her what she was trying to tell me?”

The next day, Noel was in the car with little Christiana and he asked her, “So, what do you think of Mr. —?”

Christiana replied, “He seems like a really nice man. Sometimes though, I feel really sorry for him.”

A couple minutes went by before she added, “But you know, Daddy, I’ve been REALLY wanting to tell him that he NEEDS to come to church with us sometime. I think he would like it.”

Jingle Bells

This year has shown me why I like being a preschool teacher around Christmastime. Especially for super rich kids.

A sampling of what I got from just around 5 families:

$50 Anthropologie Gift card, $25 to Chilis, $20 check, $10 gift card to Target, $10 gift card to Linens and Things, a vase with candle holders all around it, a CD, a Chenille Throw, a lapdesk, tons of Avon products, a cross from Venice, a big bottle of nice perfume, and gourmet hot chocolate.

I wish it were Christmas every week!

There You Have It.

Yesterday, I heard one of the most disturbing things in my life.

Here it is. In a nutshell, I was told why some of my high school students just WILL NOT LISTEN TO ME. As if I needed more proof after last month when one of my students was HITTING ON ME before he knew I was the teacher.

Exact quote from yesterday’s class (and Jesse was there, so he can collaborate if need be):

LA: I just have a hard time respecting you.

Kelly: So I’ve noticed.

LA: It’s just because…ohnevermind.

Kelly: What? (shouldn’t have asked this)

LA: For, personal reasons.

Kelly: Personal?

LA: Well, I hook up with chicks older than you!

And there you have it. Now I am going to crawl into an aging machine and not come back out until I actually look older than 16.

Holiday Marathon

This post will probably have to be a little longer than normal, as I am going to briefly relate our wonderful holiday California reunion (try saying that 10 times fast!).

We left our apt. on December 24th at 4am. Katie and Noel were super gracious and took us to the airport. They were pretty bright and chipper, seeing as this is their normal wakeup due to Christiana’s 5am rowing practices 5 days/week!

We arrived at 10am in LAX, and waited a few hours for Ben Rhodes to pick us up. From there, we took our time, stopping for lunch at Rubios. We said goodbye to Ben when he dropped us off in Yorba Linda at Mitch and Trenna’s, our godparents. Two of our godsisters, Valesca and Lori came over, and we had a good time talking and catching up with everyone, even little Lola!

At 6pm, we went to the Christmas Eve Vespers at Saint Barnabas where we were reunited with our wonderful and dear friends, Michael and Courtney. Jesse and I were on the verge of tears the entire service- there is nothing like being with your godfamily and taking the Eucharist all together:) My brother showed up about halfway through (apparently he was late since he was trying to find my ever-elusive Christmas present!).

After we broke the fast with all of our Saint Barnabas family at the church potluck (I had 5 huge helpings of Mac and Cheese…:) we went to Inn-n-Out with Mike and Courtney, Drew, Buhler, Krause, Michael G., Keith, and Jason. We were having so much fun, we forgot that we still needed to make the 4 hr. trek home to Atascadero that night! We left Inn-N-Out with Keith and made it to Atascadero at 4am where we stayed up at least another hour to wrap all of our family’s presents (hey, airline restrictions say NOT to wrap anything!).

Sleeping in was not an option, as Janelle, Keith and Joe woke us up with a huge pillow/plastic bats fight the next morning. After nearly breaking a few lamps, m y mom fed all of us a huge a yummy breakfast filled with MEAT. Next we opened our Christmas presents, the highlights of which were Janelle’s American Girl Doll and Jesse’s Brand New outfitted LAPTOP!! I had been secretly orchestrating both Cone and Honeycutt family funds together to buy Jesse this much needed item, as my laptop is a little small for all of his various studying needs. This took many nights of waiting until Jesse fell asleep before calling my dad quietly out in the living room to research online with him. Jesse is super stoked, and I am just happy to finally have my laptop back! We do have a nice desktop, but since we have been borrowing internet from our neighbors or the apt. lobby for the last 4 months, our desktop is not connected. It has put a definite cramp on my blogging style, that’s for sure;)

Wow, at this rate I’ll never finish! Better speed it up a bit. We left my house at around 5 and headed over the Cone’s where I met my new niece RACHEL for the first time! We ate a wonderfully yummy dinner and opened our Cone presents. The next 4 days with the Cone family saw me getting a haircut with my sisters-in-laws, getting my nails done with Esther, watching all of David’s excellent basketball games, watching Hairspray and Bourne Ultimatum, and hanging out with Tim and Hope:)

On Saturday, Jesse and I borrowed one of my parent’s cars and drove down to LA again to have dinner with our wonderful friends, Kevin and Colleen. Our godparents Mitch and Trenna were there, along with Mike and Courtney. The night was so much fun, filled with great, much needed and missed conversation. We also watched an excellent movie called, “Ostrov” which won the Russian equivalent of the Oscars.

After the party we drove to Mitch and Trenna’s and spent the night. The morning saw us back again at wonderful Saint Barnabas. Afterwards, we went out to lunch at Red Robin with as many of our godfamily as we could track down, including the soon to be married Andrew and Mary:) The minute we got done with our CRAZY waittress (Mitch doesn’t call it “Dead Robin” for nothing!) Shannon Berry and I went shopping at JCPenney to burn a little hole in our Christmas money.

That evening, we all got together for a fun joint Michael and Jesse birthday party at the boys’ apartment. We had yummy fajitas and talked until 1 in the morning. It was good to simply “exhale” verbally with friends. The next day, Monday, was our last day in LA so we had to make sure to pack it full of visits! We met Andrew and Mary at a pancake house, packed up and said goodbye to Mitch and Trenna and finally proceeded to go hang out at the boys’ house one last time. From there we drove out to El Segundo to have one last dinner with Mike and Courtney. We will be counting down the months, guys! Hang in there!

From El Segundo we drove up again to Atascadero to make it in time to my parent’s annual New Years Eve party. It was great seeing all of our Covenant Family and giving Janelle her first sip of Champagne! She hated it, thank God!

The rest of the week we spent with my family, just hanging out. I shopped with my mom and Janelle, went on a date with my mom to see “Atonement”, saw MORE of David’s games (can’t get enough!), took my brother Joe out to lunch, hung out with my Dad in SLO, and ran around in the rain with Tess at San Simeon and San Luis (IT WAS WET!!). Jesse hung out with his grandfather, went to a pub with his Dad, had breakfast with his mom, coffee with Brooke, tried to hang rain gutters with my dad but ended up at Starbucks, and helped Janelle to torture Joe (complete with planting an amp at Joe’s bedside and serenading him with a guitar and microphone until he woke up..:).

LAST but not least, we had a wonderful joint birthday dinner for both Tess and Jesse at the Trinidade manor, since both of their birthdays are on the 5th. The Black, Cone, Honeycutt and of course, Trinidade families were all there, making it a ton of fun for all. I gave Tess a fun picture frame filled with fun photos of our time in San Simeon.

That’s all for now! Our trip home was quite eventful, so I will save it for tomorrow. If you want to see some photos, go here. It’s not complete yet, since Tess hasn’t sent me some from the party.