Picture Day

 

8th grade - 1975
8th grade – 1975

Tomorrow is picture day. School picture day. I get my picture taken every year. I’ll be in line early and looking my best for this year’s school picture. Last year, I wore a pink shirt with a blue tie and the year before, a blue shirt and a pink tie; beyond the last two years I cannot remember which year is which. It will be my school ID photo for the next year; and it will be in the yearbook. So, when my students look back on middle school, there I’ll be along with the rest of my colleagues.

We got an e-mail from the principal reminding us, but I knew picture day tomorrow.

Earlier this week I heard about a story about Dale Irby, a teacher from Dallas, Texas who wore the same outfit for all forty of his school pictures. In the beginning, it was by accident; then, he made a conscious effort to wear the same sweater every year. I looked back at my school photos, at least those I could find – and for the most part, I was like Dale Irby. I stuck to the tried and true blue shirt and sensible tie. There were a few ties that weren’t so sensible or more likely it was ‘what was I thinking?’ or ‘did get dressed in the dark?’ I am not sure. The portraits will have to speak for me.

Nevertheless, I didn’t stop there. I went back further and found pictures from elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. When I finished college the first time and started working, I stopped having an annual photo taken so there is a gap from 1982 to 1999. It was fun going back in time and refreshing my memory of what I looked like then and now. About the only thing that is different from all of the school pictures is that for the past couple of years, my hair is longer than it was in middle school OR high school.

Tomorrow is school picture day and I’ll be ready. Blue shirt, sensible tie, and a great smile. Thirty-nine years ago, I smiled an eighth grade smile and had my photo taken. Today was a great day and tomorrow will be a million and six times better. Making the Days Count, one day a time, one school photo, one lasting memory at a time.

When was the last time you went back in time and took a peak at your school photos?

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Adventure

I am a city boy, a suburbanite. B is a country girl. Sometimes we clash, but most of the time we don’t. I met her 30 years ago this past summer. It seems like the other day and I suppose it was.

the open road, a barn, and an endless blue sky
ADVENTURE – the open road, a barn, and an endless blue sky

It sounds sort of harsh – suburbanite conjures up visions of “Real Housewives of ……” or some other recent popular television show. Several years ago, I read a book, Death By Suburb: How to Keep the Suburbs from Killing Your Soul, a writer’s view of living in the suburbs and the author poked fun at suburban culture and offered advice. Regardless, I am a suburbanite.

I’ve always lived in a city or near a city – in the suburbs. The jobs I had out of college meant I had to live in or near a city. When I went back to school to learn how to teach, I dreamt of moving to the country, we dreamed together. Nevertheless, we never did. Instead, we became more firmly entrenched in the suburban life. We had kids, our kids grew, went to school, played sports, joined clubs, and the dream of moving to the country faded. But, I still dream of moving to a place where a five-mile commute includes driving through fields of corn, soybeans, wheat and pastures. Where a drive to the grocery store is a once a week adventure to the city or a snowstorm means we stay home inside and I plow the driveway with my truck or better, a tractor.

Dreams are what keeps us moving. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge – Dialogue

I’ll admit it, I enjoy high school football. I grew up watching high school football in Texas on Friday Nights. Friday Night Lights is a true story in just about every community across America. I never missed a home game and when I was a high school senior, I attended all ten games – home and away. B grew up much the same – except on a smaller scale and was in the marching band throughout high school. It was the same high school where her dad and her older brother played football, too. And a couple of decades later, our nephew.

Then I went to college – Texas A&M – never missed a home game and was part of the 12th Man. Never sat down as an Aggie, unless the opposing band was marching.

I played football, but I wasn’t very good. I didn’t have much talent, and didn’t work hard enough at it. I played a couple of years, but quit playing. It’s the story of my early life and it’s one of my life’s regrets – not finishing, not playing through. That’s why I admire W, my son. He’s not any more talented than me, but he’s far more persistent. He’s tenacious and he works his rear end off. It’s not just sports but scouting and school, too and just about all he does. He pushes himself to better at just about everything he does. I admire him, because I would have given up when I was his age, in fact I did.

Then adulthood set in, we went off to college, got jobs, got married, had kids, and began spending Friday nights watching the local high school – the Wheaton Warrenville South High School Tigers. At first, we took W in a stroller and then, when he could walk; we’d stand along the fence in the end zone and watch. Then O came along, same story. Time passed, W grew, and O grew, too. W played youth football for a few years and took a couple of years off in middle school to focus on scouting and run cross-country. Something I never did, I admire him. Then it was time for high school and joined the football team, and wrestled and played lacrosse – three seasons – three sports. We stayed along the fence watching until last year when we moved to the grandstand.  As a sophomore, his team played at 5:00 PM Friday afternoon then the varsity would play at 7:30 – under the lights. We’d stay and watch. This year, he’s on the varsity and he’s on the team. We’ll watch we’ll be in the stands. Most juniors do not play, seniors play and juniors watch, honing their skills waiting for their senior year and their chance to play Friday night. Juniors get their chance to play the next morning. Then on Monday after school, they’ll be back practicing, working hard, focusing on getting better, stronger, and faster – waiting for the next year.

But, there is more to life than football, more to life than sports. Continue reading

Let’s Go!

It’s not about what you’ve done
It’s about what you doing
It’s all about where you going
No matter where you’ve been
Let’s go!

The first day has come and gone. I now have four days as an eighth grade science teacher under my belt. The first four days of school were amazing and I have 116 energetic eighth graders who are excited about learning, or at least they seem so. I’ve a lot of work ahead of me and I need to work on remembering ALL of their names, because after four days, I can get about only 60% of their names correct on sight – in the hallways, at lunch, or just sitting in class.

I also have a three-day weekend to sort through the coming days and weeks. I’ve got a lot to learn and a lot to do.

I am past my first day jitters. It rained that first day and the next – we got close to 6” of rain in two days. Last weekend was wet and muggy and then the August warmth rolled in just in time for the first day of school.

I love the first day of school. It’s a chance to learn, grow, and make the difference in a new set of adolescents. That’s WHY I became a teacher. Because, it’s not how much you know that matters to kids, it’s how much you care. That is why I do it, that’s why when I drive to school; I drive to school, and not to work. Yeah, there are days when it feels like work, but most of the time it feels like learning and learning NEVER ENDS.

the first day, first morning, new principal address the student body - 'make difference in our school... make it better... make it happen'
the first day, first morning, new principal address the student body – ‘make a difference in our school… make it better… make it happen’

The week before last when O was getting ready for school, she and I took some time together and distracted ourselves. We had all sorts of diversions – movies, airplane watching, and just plain ignoring the fact that school was about to begin. Continue reading

first day jitters

dog_homework

BOOM, CRACK, boom, BOOM, crackle, zap; that was a couple of hours ago. Ivy came running into our room And jumped into our bed – startled and out of sorts. A line of thunderstorms was moving through and it upset her. It woke us up, too.

She curled up at the bottom of the bed – B never lets her sleep there – and snuggled up to my leg closely in a tight ball. I was able to get back to sleep, sort of, but my alarm woke me less than hour later. I am not sure if B was too sleepy to care about Ivy, or understood. We’re all kind of jittery today.

I am up now and Ivy is, too. The storms moved through and she’s snuggled up in a chair beside my desk downstairs sleeping fitfully. I can’t go back to sleep. It’s the first day of the new school year. It’s the kids first day, too. I’ll get kids next Tuesday and I’ll be jittery, again.

W is going to be a junior and O is off to middle school. How did that happen? It seems everyone is getting older and I am just getting wiser. B and Ivy get their house back today and have it all the way until early June. She’ll miss us and then get back to her routine; we will, too. Ivy will miss us, too. I love coming home and having Ivy meet me at the door or in the yard. It’s the best.

Last night I packed lunches, made breakfast sandwiches so we would have something to eat for breakfast this week, I’d spent the day on last minute details – there is always something which lies unfinished at the end of each summer. I have a longer list of unfinished projects this year, but it is understandable. Those jobs will get done, eventually.

Today is our first day back to school. I’ve got a new lunch box and it’s ready for my lunch. O’s got her backpack packed and W’s is, too. It’s gonna be a great day and tomorrow could be a million and six times better, but this could possibly the best day ever, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one first day over and over every year.

Do you have first day back to school memories? Do share, thank you.

my lunch box - new this year....

my lunch box – new this year….

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Silhoutte

an A340 glides out of the sun for a landing at O'Hare - Sunday August 17th
an A340 glides out of the sun for a landing at O’Hare field – Sunday August 17th

Lately, it seems I have been very good at coming up with diversions. Errands, movies, games, practices; and on the surface, they appear legitimate, but really, they are distracting. O and I have been distracting ourselves quite well, lately. Honestly, I think we are both nervous about the coming year. She is headed off to 6th grade in three days and I am headed to 8th grade science. Saturday, I took her to O’Hare to watch airplanes land and takeoff after getting her new eyeglasses, and we did it again yesterday after the softball game. Granted, O’Hare was close, but there were so many more important things we could have been doing, but we were distracting ourselves from what’s important.

1999 was my first year of teaching. I was in 6th grade and I lasted a year at the grade level before my promotion to 7th grade. Continue reading

summer flowers, summer memories

olivia_lilies1
O among the lilies – one of my favorite photos of her – July 2004… she was not quite 2 years old

I started the summer with seventy-two, and now I am down to seven days. It seems like yesterday and yet, it seems like so long ago. Summer is a magical time for me. I met my wife thirty summers ago and I get to spend my summers reinventing myself, year after year. Summer is a time for family, growing, trying new things, traditions, and enjoying being outdoors. Twenty years ago, the new summer cottage opened for the first time. I spent that first summer, or as much time as I could, up north moving rocks, planting lilies, working, and getting the cottage settled. I’ve been doing much the same around the cottage since; and I enjoy every minute of it. Summer is also the time when I remember my dad’s passing and my trip a year later to France and his final resting place. This summer, five years after my dad, my father-in-law passed away.

Ironically, it was five years ago when the deer ate the lilies. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge – Texture

 

peach and blueberry crisp with salted caramel ice cream...hmmmm
peach and blueberry crisp with salted caramel ice cream…hmmmm

Texture – the way a food or drink feels in your mouth – smooth, crispy, crunchy, chewy….

MW_textureThat’s Merriam-Webster’s definition, but like most words we use we end up having a working definition of the word. To me texture means many things, it’s the way I wear clothes, to the way our house is landscaped, but I love to cook, to create, and have fun but the food on the plate needs to have a different texture and different feel when you eat it.

Continue reading

Sparks fly

The song begins….

There’s 104 days of summer vacation
Till school comes along just to end it
So the annual problem for our generation
Is finding a good way to spend it
“Today is gonna be a great day” – Bowling for Soup

I’ve been finding all sorts of ways to spend it: playing, campfires, s’mores, water sports, fireworks, driving, remembering, visiting, learning, thinking, writing, and so many more. This morning, grandma heads home. I’ll be driving her halfway home to meet my nephew who’ll get her all the way home. It’s been a great visit, it’s been nice to see her and I think she had a good time, I know we did.

At last night’s campfire the ‘sparks flew’ and I captured a slice of summer.

the campfire, the lake, the moon, and 'sparks fly'
the campfire, the lake, the moon, and ‘sparks fly’

There’ve been so many days this summer and though I wish we had 104, I don’t think I could have used them any better than I have. The chorus repeats…..

And the forecast says that tomorrow will likely be
A million and six times better

So make every minute count
Jump up, jump in and seize the day
And let’s make sure that in every single possible way
Today is gonna to be a great day
“Today is gonna be a great day” – Bowling for Soup

Today is gonna be a great day, I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, because all it take is one spark.

How have you made the ‘sparks fly’ this summer?

Weekly Photo Challenge – Zigzag

There is nothing as fun as hanging onto an inner tube tied to the back of the boat as the driver tries to shake you off – zigzagging over the water, especially when the driver is your wife. Just hanging on was fun, trying to shake me was more fun for the driver.

me, hangin' on - photo by O
me, hangin’ on – photo by O

I stayed on the tube and had a blast, though my arms and shoulders are screaming this morning.

O took the turn before me, and the turn after me; we both had a blast. It was a fun afternoon on the lake.

Otube
O, slippin’ to the outside, must be a zig or maybe it’s a zag – photo by me

Our summer has been full of zigzags – highs and lows. I am grateful we were able to squeeze a little zigzagging fun.

Yesterday was GREAT DAY and today is going to be a million and six times better…. I know it and I can feel it. As the the chorus wails……

This could possibly be the best day ever
And the forecast says that tomorrow will likely be
A million and six times better

So make every minute count
Jump up, jump in and seize the day
And let’s make sure that in every single possible way
Today is gonna to be a great day
“Today is gonna be a great day” – Bowling for Soup

Making the days Count, one day at a time, one zig, one zag, one and one zigzag at a time.

What do you remember from middle school science?

Today’s post is in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge – prompt – at Word Press.  The week’s prompt is “Zigzag.” For this week’s challenge, share with us your own take on zigging and zagging. It can be a winding path, the Herringbone pattern on your coat, a scar: any jagged line that tells a story. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.