Nice weekend!

by John McNichol on October 14, 2016


Hey, all!
Where to begin…

The THS Blazers won last weekend! Playing great football, and I got to do the ‘Dab’ again …this time flanked by Susie and the Cheerleaders afterwards to celebrate! Unfortunately, they had me try a new dance afterwards on Monday called (ahem): Ju-Ju-On-The-Beat. ;)

Despite my attempts to learn from a recent video tutorial, it didn’t turn out quite as well as my last attempt at Dabbing….but the kids still apparently liked it enough to put it on Snapchat. :)

Susie got asked to Homecoming! A nice young man in the 10th grade asked her, and she said yes. I had to play the part of the concerned father a bit, but I’m not worried about him or her. :)

Saturday, a fair bit of stuff going on. Cleaning up around the house, then…date night! Dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, and then a movie at the Discount theater [Masterminds- a dumb criminal movie that had us both laughing. :) ]

Mass on Sunday at Holy Family of Nazareth, and then to homework and a restful Sunday afternoon. This week, the kids are bouncing off the walls a bit in expectation of Homecoming. All kinds o adventure and excitement and events next week, culminating in the “HOCO”, or the Homecoming Dance. :)

Neat to see the kids getting involved in a number of the activities and the local culture. Susie’s date will apparently buy the ‘Mum’, an enlarged, artificial Chrysanthemum flower worn like a corsage, while she’ll buy him a garter that goes on his arm.

Term ends soon- a bit of grading to catch up on, but that’s ok.  This place is great, and I’m having a great time. Jeanna made a family favorite for dinner this week, her apple sausage bake, which she learned from my Mom, and she smiled all day. :)

This weekend, an away game. Susie still doing cheer, and I’ll get her later at night. Dan has a fever, but I found a fellow gamer through the ICON network out here, and we played the Blade Runner tile / card game with Chris. Chris tuned me into a Replicant, but Stephano rallied and…I got beat at my own game! :)

I also figured out a simple & cheap costume for Halloween- since I like the Fallout series of games, I’m going out dressed up as the Fallout-Boy! Got my blue jumpsuit already, and now to get some yellow tape and Voila!

Please keep one of our school parents who is suffering with & being treated for brain cancer in your prayers. St. Peregrine, Pray for him!
God thank you for this job, this house, and my family. Please give us a good weekend and good end of term.


Play the Ponies! Release the Anthology!

by John McNichol on September 25, 2016


Hey, all!

In writing news: less than a month before Image And Likeness,  the anthology of fiction themed with JPII’s Theology of the Body, hits the virtual shelves! My story, Two Kinds of People, is among the accepted pieces in the group. Great stuff, and I fully encourage everyone to get a copy & download it once it’s released. Compiled by Erin McCole Cupp, herself an accomplished Catholic author, I’ve read several of the other pieces, and have found them easy, enjoyable, and thought-provoking reads. Go to it!

In McNichol family news:

-getting more things fixed! Had the hot water heater tweaked this week. Going to look at some other bits this week, including some potential leaks in the house. Thus far, nothing has been evident, and we’ve had some lovely instances of warm rain this weekend.

-I got to play the ponies! AND I WON! :) Well, not enough to retire. :) Our amazing realtor, David Ross, took Jeanna and I out to dinner at Silks, a restaurant connected to the local horse racing track out here in Grand Prairie, TX! We had an amazing evening, hearing & trading stories! Best of all, I bet the $2 minimum on a horse with 99 to 1 odds of winning….and it came second! I bet on it to show (come in 1st, second or 3rd), so I only tripled my money…getting back $7.80! Still, whoo hoo! What a great evening!

Later, a bit of rain started up. David Ross has several times proven himself able at spontaneous & enjoyable metaphors, and from the beautiful viewing windows of the restaurant that looked down on the track, he noted that when it rained in that place, the light made it look like “…God just up-ended a bag of diamonds on us.”

And he was right. It was beautiful- my phone-camera didn’t capture it, but it was a lovely sight.
Later the Rosses had to go home, but we were encouraged to stay. Jeanna loves horses, and we went down to the picnic-area that is outdoors (by Portland standards, this wasn’t really rain y’see.), and got to stand at the rail separating the track from the spectators. The lightning show was amazing , but the races were looking like they were gonna be cancelled. We still had a wonderful time, and drove home…just ten minutes from the place! How great is that? :D

Today, mass at St. Alphonsua, a Syro-Malabar Catholic Church out here in the Dallas area. It’s a Catholic Church of a different rite, which serves the East Indian community, and is under the Bishop of Chicago. A beautiful place, and while it’s unlikely it will become our full parish anytime soon, I do love the opportunity to show my kids the actual diversity that exists in the faith, and how diversity is beautiful when linked with a common thread of true, full faith in the only Church founded by Chirst Himself (Matt 16:18).

God, thank you for the wonderful people in our lives, please keep helping us feel settled and comfortable with the wonderful people you’ve put in our paths,


Just arriving- isn’t it lovely? And the food was amazing!


There she is! Jeanna, my good luck charm! Holding the betting slip where Rockaroundit beat 99 to 1 odds and made me triple my money! Whoo hoo! :D


Wonderful blessings to us, David Roos and his wife Jocelyn, and their youngest, who was a treasure to be with all evening! Thank you, folks! People moving to the Dallas area, I cannot recommend David enough as your realtor- he’s received awards as the best realtor in Dallas fro D. Magazine, and has become a wonderful friend besides. Call him at: DMAGAZINE’S 2015 & 2016 “BEST REAL ESTATE AGENT IN DALLAS AWARD” David Ross, Broker REALTOR 972-424-9266


On the track at the end of the evening- isn’t she lovely? :D

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by John McNichol on September 12, 2016

Monday, Sept 12th/2016


What a lovely weekend!
We’ve had a busy one, but a productive one!
Friday night:
Football game! My Sophomores asked me: Will you come to the game, Mr. McNichol? Will you dab (the latest dance move) if we win?
Heh, I said. “If you guys win, I’ll do a dab for every point you win by!”
So what do they do? They win!
Dang! Looks like I’ll be doing the ‘dab’ this morning over 40 times! The boys ran in from the field, cheering their victory…and some went even louder when they saw me, doing the ‘dab’ right then and there! A great night.

Saturday, spent the day working on the house. Fixed the latches on all the kitchen cabinets, using the new drill I got on a bargain from Lowe’s. Then off to get a dresser for Susie, who also noted that we could stop by Lowes and get some carpet for Clairebear, so she could (ahem!) move out of Susie’s room and into her OWN room downstairs….
And she did! The carpet fit perfectly, after Susie and Dano cut it with a pair of specialized snips which they reduced to half price for us (whoo hoo!). Coupled with the paintjob they did last week, it looked like a real rom, and had a new-carpet smell to it as well. Claire was a tad nervous the first night, but loves her room now. :)
There was a HUGE high school event at my new school. Called ‘The Blaze,’ in honor of the new school mascot, it was a huge bonfire, and a laid-back, pickup soccer tournament. Susie and Dano went, and I was prepared to go home and come back later when it was done, until…well, the adults there were fun to talk to, and it was a wonderful, mild night for mid-September in Dallas. The sunset was lovely, and the skyline was just sitting there… : )  I found myself alternating between chatting with my new colleagues, and enjoying seeing the kids playing soccer, chatting with each other, being silly with water balloons…

And I realized something. At least to my eyes, The Highlands School has a unique point about its culture:

No one is shoved aside. There are no outcasts.

I know that may be difficult to believe for some, but from what I see, there’s no one who wants to join a group that is shunned. Some folks may * want * to be alone, and that’s fine, too. No one, it seems, is called weird or shunned for having good,clean fun. Here were a group of kids tossing a football. There were a half-dozen kids kicing the soccer ball. Here was a young man sneaking up on others with cups of water, and there was a girl sitting on a beach blanket with a few other kids, cracking everyone up with an improvised song on her ukulele. Groups shifted, formed, and reformed, without respect to looks, ability or economic status. In many other schools, kids would have slandered each other or engaged in the kind of vicious Darwinian social jungle activity that has been endemic to middle and high-school life for so long it’s  become a tied and sad cliché.
But I don’t see it here.

And that’s wonderful. : )
Sunday, happy birthday, Susie! She turned sweet sixteen, and spent the night at a friend’s. Picked her up and then Mass at St. Ann’s, where they were having a huge and fun carnival! Growing up, my Mom and granny often took me to things like this, and I love having the chance to bring m guys to it now. Rides, live music, petting zoos…I remembered how much of a simple joy it was to eat a barbecued burger and an icy coke on a hot day, while in a tent listening to folks play hits from yesteryear on simple 3-chord music.
Home to relax for a few hours. Jeanna twitches sometimes when we’re like this, because like many moms she sees all the things than * need * to be done, and has a hard time relaxing until they are * all * done. The trouble is, the things are * never * ‘all done…’ as every mom knows.
Night fell. Celebrated Susie’s birthday with raspberry cake and presents! She loved her ukulele, and the strings, tuner and book on how to play we got her, at her request. Thank you,! Even got a little hug from her, which was awesome. : ) Dano had to mow the lawn with the newly repaired lawnmower. I did my lesson plans for the week, and at about 8pm we said the Divine mercy chaplet and started herding the little ones off to bed. It was still light out, so Jenna and I took a little walk around Grand PRiaire, and even found a vintage toy store….my kinda pace. :)

It was when things were calmer that I realized, too, that being out here now in Texas gave a lot of change in a good way to my family. My instincts knew we needed a little change. Scratch that: A big change. And a fresh start. There were many things in life working very, very well (my job at St. John’s, some parts of the kids’ lives). But there were, without going into too much detail, a number of factors in our lives as a family that made it less than ideal. At times, it felt like I was fighting an emotional and spiritual war on two or three fronts. Here, those things (so far) are simply not factors in our lives now. And it feels great. The family is relaxed more in so many ways, and it’s led to a lot of healing and…well, I feel a quiet joy. Even when the kids are grousing at each other or unhappy with a rule, it’s not a titanic fight-to-the-death, but a quick event that we move on from quickly.
God, thank you for helping me and y family make it out here. Help me and my family to know your will, to love you, your Mother, your Church, and our siblings, the Saints, more and more,


Friday Night Lights, Saturday night fire pit action!

by John McNichol on September 4, 2016

Hey, all!

Hi guys!
Every now & again I have an experience that makes me think of a nostalgic Ray Bradbury novel. Not the kind with rocketships and martians, but the kind where he waxes with poetic nostalgia about his idyllic, smalltown childhood

Here’s Susanna and Jeanna and Chris at the game last night. Susanna was doing the cheerleader thing!  :)  Yep, she’s joined the cheer squad…and even wants to help out with Precious Pearls, a group that teaches virtue to little girls like her little sister, Claire.  :)

The game was wonderful. Yes, we lost 12-50. But for me, the Highlands itself was the reason the night was a success. Parents were hanging out in the bleachers while watching the game, coming up and introducing themselves and finding common ground with my wife and I. Teens were in the small field behind the announcement booth, chatting and going back & forth between the game and their own worlds. Little kids were running up and down the hills, both they and their parents heedless of the kinds of fears to many have in larger cities.

Middle schoolers were on another hill, playing thier own fb game in anticiation of the day they could themselves play under lights as the big kids were doing, the night was warm, redolent with the smell of grilled hamburgers and fresh popcorn, and my daughter was the most beautiful of all the cheerleaders on the field.

That was Friday. Saturday, I ran a bunch of errands, and we tried out the fire pit. It worked great, and we made SMores!

Chris making the fire

Chris making the fire. Not only do I have a real Backyard, it came with a fire pit! Whoo hoo!

Jeanna chris susanna at the football game

Jeanna, Chris, and Susie after the game. She’s on the cheer squad! Yay! And she’s awesome!

Yeah, I had a good night.  :)


What a Weekend!

by John McNichol August 28, 2016

8/28/16 Hey, all! Made it through the first full week of school, and life is GREAT! Not only do I have amazing students and colleagues and admins….(yes, one of my friends recently said that the place sounds like one of those pacs where everything is so awesome, it hides a lot to take over the […]

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She Drove on the Highway, and our First Houseguest! :D

by John McNichol August 13, 2016

8/13/16 Hey, all! Nice little milestone out here this week: When we had our amazing realtor, David Ross, look for our house, we told that that (among other things) we needed to be close to side streets & able to get around without the highway. Jeanna, since her stroke, has had difficulty driving in unfamiliar […]

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by John McNichol August 11, 2016

Hey, all!Busy, busy, Busy! Getting ready for the new school year, kids getting tested, going for orientation, and me getting curriculum ready for my future students! Just a few pics for now:1) The Arlington Mall at night. Like Standing in a a sauna, but the sky was beautiful. 2) Family arrived in Dallas! The poor things had […]

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Moving….FORWARD! :D

by John McNichol August 9, 2016

Hey, all! Well, the house is good and I like it! It’s older, which means it has a few things to be fixed. Some of the Things that Jeanna and her mom have said were broken turned out to be fine…whew! Moved the fridge into place with Dano and the help of an appliance dolly, […]

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Saturday, Saturday…

by John McNichol August 7, 2016

Hey, all! Summary of Saturday: -woke up, after sleeping for 8.75 hours (that’s a LOT for me!) -Picked up a Washer & Dryer from a couple moving to Edmonton (Thank you, Mike, Sarah and the ICON network!) -Unloaded the truck, with the help of some old and new friends! -waiting for the internet to get […]

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Days 3 and 4….

by John McNichol August 6, 2016

Hey, All! Nope, I  didn’t disappear. Just got very, very busy. Starting over from… Day 3 I rolled through Wyoming, and saw the most beautiful mountains I think I will ever see. The best parts couldn’t be photographed, since I was in motion and had to make time each day.   Colorado was beautiful too, […]

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