Monday, June 2, 2014

London, Days 3 & 4

K and I have spent the last couple days kind of just meandering around. Here are some of the things we've seen:

Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park

Kensington Palace (Former home of the young Victoria)

Victoria's tribute to Albert (or as Kate said, "Austin")

Buckingham Palace

Lion King in London at the Lyceum!

Chillin' at the Somerset House on the banks of the Thames

Killer Indian food at Kahn's. Another top notch recommendation from Haley. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

London, Days 1 & 2

Our first hostel in London

Climbing to the pinnacle of London in the "Eye" 

(With Big Ben and Parliament in the background)

In front of Westminster Abbey

 The Tower of London

 Apparently Ravens are kind of a thing at the Tower? Ask wikipedia..

Eating at Nando's (one of Haley's recommendations, and it was delicious!)

Searching for "hip" records at a London record shop for an unnamed missionary in Scotland

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Beginning of Something Beautiful

If my last blog post was like one of those stretches that comes after a long, deep sleep and retirement, then this post is like one of those stretches that comes after carrying a heavy burden up an endless incline. Arched backs, deep breaths, sighs of relief. Kate and I have finally reached our first checkpoint along this steep, and often strained TFA mountain and we are so ready to stretch our legs and do some recreational walking. And those legs are taking us to Europe.

Master Calendar (May - June)

Leave Baton Rouge
Arrive in London and 9:40 AM
London Eye after lunch
Big Ben

Westminster Abbey


House of Parliament

Tower of London

National Gallery


Portobello Square

Thames River Cruise  
Hyde Park/ Kensington Gardens
Bike Rental

Globe Theatre

Buckingham Palace

Leave For Paris 6:30 PM
Louvre and around
Notre Dame and Around
Versailles and Around

Maybe Dinner by the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower and around

Leave For cologne  5:58 PM
Go to Bonn


Leave Early
Go to Frankfurt
Zeil (Downtown)

Leave early for Heidelberg
Spend the night with Brian & Jess

Leave for Munich in the night
Mittenwald Hiking


Leave for Salzburg
Sound of Music Tour
The Alps Hiking in Berchtesgarten

Leave for Vienna
Pick up boys choir tickets

Vienna Boys Choir
Mass 9:15

Get into Budapest
Opera  house
Bike Tour
Bath Houses

Castle Walking Tour

Margaret Island
Flight leaves at 9:30 a.m.

Our route is as follows:
1) Land in London and do as the British probably don't do. We'll spend the first couple of days downtown on the river, take a cruise on the river Thames, then grab some bikes and see some parks (Hyde, Kensington) and finish with the Globe Theatre.

2) Next it'll be on to Paris mingling with the Parisians. We are splitting our 4 days between 4 locales: Versailles, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, and Le Louvre.

3) "Ze German Peeples" are next. Germany was my job to plan and -- you guessed it -- I am leaving it open for all kinds of spontaneity (which Kate called 'unplanned' makes her deservedly nervous). Some of our plans include: Cologne, Bonn, Frankfurt, Heidelberg with friends, Munich, the Alps, Dachau Concentration Camp, and the castle at Neuschwanstein. The hostel we're staying at came with high recommendations; it is apparently a huge open tent with 100 beds.

4) All kinds of Austria. We'll take a train from Munich to Salzburg, which is on the edge of Austria, and will spend a day and a half there remarking how "alive the hills are with music". We'll head up to one of the more famous Alp cities (Berchtesgarten) and hike around and enjoy the Alpen ways. Then we'll head to Vienna for a few more days and catch Catholic Mass with the Vienna Boys Choir on our way out.

5) Our last stop is in Budapest, Hungary. Why, you ask? If a giant, tourist metropolis can ever be considered as "off the beaten path", we considered Budapest to be a little "off the beaten path" compared to our other destinations. We are taking a biking tour of the city and will take a dip with the locals in a bath house.

(it felt like our duty as teachers to organize all our information into a a booklet and to have that booklet spiral bound.)

As is usually the case for those who emerge from some life-altering, stretch-you-to-the-bone kind of experience, we can't help but see life as a gift. Since school ended, any time we have to spend on ourselves or see something we've never seen before comes across to us as a beautiful gift. And I can tell Thursday is going to be the beginning of something beautiful.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


It's like that awkward, gargantuan stretch your body instinctively undergoes after a really long and peaceful sleep. I was watching a live performance by alt-j this morning (I recommend starting around 3:20) and became cognizant of my slothful blogging slumber. I made a personal resolution to write more frequently since coming to Louisiana. Hopefully the move here will inspire some uplifting and insightful thoughts that I can put on (virtual) paper and later refer to, when I need a pick-me-up.

Kate and I have had a few conversations recently about the manner in which we feel we are changing. And not just our habits or our routines, but how our souls are changing. I doubt it is possible to jump so purposefully and passionately into the lives of other people and not experience a changing of one's own soul. Teaching is undoubtedly such a jump--and inner-city teaching is more of a free fall, at that.

I have never had to dig so deep, no never. I have never been so challenged to understand the perceptions and held-truths of another person, nay, 30 other people at one time in one classroom for 50 minutes, then again 7 other times that day. Kate and I fight monsters all day. And I'm not even referring to our kids -- I'm referring to the human walls that separate us from understanding another human being, or more specifically, the monster walls that prevent our kids from catching our vision and the walls that prevent us from seeing why our kids act the way they do. Now, our kids are very nearly monsters to us, don't get me wrong. I don't know how many times Kate has been called a bitch and I've been referred to as "aggravating" or worse in the past month, but it's a lot.  And this gets me to what I was trying to say about our souls being changed: your soul starts to change and harden when you battle monsters.

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” 

This is the essence of our many conversations about our souls. If you go to battle long enough, you lose the softness and delicacy of the maritime soul. I've thought a lot about that as I've gone to school this week and placed my heart and soul on their desks, and watched my students handle it brutally. 

Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul.

-Oscar Wilde

My point is, I don't think there is a way to escape such an endeavor as teaching a troubled soul, without letting "the abyss [gaze] back into you." You have to put your soul into it. You have to let your body and mind ache. You probably have to let your soul take on some of that "troubledness", some of that misdirected anger, some of that neglected sorrow, some of that learned cruelty, in order to fully understand and empathize. Sometimes I wonder if the Savior of all mankind, when He took on a fleshy body, ever found Himself accidentally mimicking the behaviors and personality vices of those he associated with and loved so much. I bet He would have chuckled to Himself in those moments--the Son of God allowing His soul to be influenced so deeply by the souls around Him. Who knows, but I like to think He loved so deeply that His own soul would not have been able to escape such smudges and smears from time to time. How can one soul reach out to touch another without both receiving the other's mark?

The work on the soul is fast and slow. It hardens swiftly and softens slow. It takes a thousand entreaties toward it for a moment of softening to show. Perhaps like a girl in one of your classes who frequently yells at and insults you, but then warmly introduces her dad to you at a football game :)

A sensible man will remember that the eyes may be confused in two ways - by a change from light to darkness or from darkness to light; and he will recognize that the same thing happens to the soul.


Here's to the journey from darkness to light for both me and my kids. It will be confusing and hard, and our souls will smudge and smear against the childhoods of troubled souls, but we'll make it to the light and we'll make sure our kids make it, too.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Our Lady of the Rockies--My Lady of the Rockies

I recently got back from an expedition and thought I should share some pictures of the event. It was a bachelor's trip to Montana with some friends. A bachelor's trip seemed appropriate because soon approaching is my own wedding next Friday. I don't think I gained any wise insight from the trip, so I won't be too wordy, but I will share some sweet pictures.

To explain the choice of destination, we'll have to go back 2 years while I was scouring the internet for cool places to visit. A web search returned a description of "Our Lady of the Rockies" in Butte, Montana that left me envious. Envious of my future self who would one day visit her. We decided to visit the Lady and make a trip of it, by visiting Glacier National Park (also in Montana) thereafter.

We arrived in Butte late in the evening, and decided to park ourselves next to the freeway and pitch our tent for a night of restful and safe sleep. We thought parking next to the freeway would help keep us safe from any creeps lurking the countryside.

Unfortunately right behind us was a creepy gulch/highway underpass combo.

This is a picture of Our Lady of the Rockies at night. She is radiant.

I think we hiked about 1300 feet in elevation and a couple miles in distance to get to Our Lady.

Paying my respects. We would note later, when reading a more detailed description of the builder's intentions of Our Lady, the irony of us four guys visiting a statue dedicated to women everywhere, while on a bachelor trip.

The view from Our Lady's perch. The road in the bottom part of the picture is the highway from which we hiked.

With bull, twisty cone in hand.

 These pictures are from Glacier National Park. It was beautiful, and looked eerily like scenes from Jurassic Park.

A log dam on Avalanche Lake. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

Alfred Lord Tennyson