summer’s last gasp

Yesterday was the last full day of summer, in a little more than three hours fall arrives.

9:21 AM CDT – September 22.

Today is split summer and fall. Tomorrow is first full day of fall.

driving west - storm clouds rolling in from the northwest
driving west – storm clouds rolling in from the northwest

It was a good summer, but it had its moments. Yesterday, we got our last summer storm and it rolled through the area as I was on my way to school. Fortunately, it hadn’t started raining when I arrived, or I would have been drenched walking in.

At the end of the day, another wave of rain arrived as I was leaving school and it sprinkled on me as I walked to my car. That was it, summer’s last gasp. We’ve needed the rain, it’s been dry.

The shorter days are already here. Last night, I noticed it when I got home and I reset the front door light timer to come on earlier. Soon the leaves will turn and then fall. Cooler nights and then frost. And, we’ll probably get a few storms into fall, the worst storms seem to be the fall storms that blow up over the Great Lakes.   Continue reading summer’s last gasp

We the people

It’s Constitution Day, again. This year it falls on a Saturday, so I won’t be celebrating with my students until Monday. In the meantime, I am reminded of the importance to share and celebrate today, even if I only catch the end of Saturday and post late in the evening.

one of the many buckeyes we rescued today at the softball field....
one of the many buckeyes we rescued today at the softball field….

Saturday is always a busy day, even if it is Saturday. The past several years we’ve spent our Friday nights watching a high school football game, but W, my football playing son, graduated from high school in May and is no longer on the team. So we don’t have to be at all of the games. We’ll still root for the Tigers, but we won’t catch all of the games. Besides, O, my softball playing daughter, had a softball game Friday night and we rooted her and her team on to a win.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Preamble to the Constitution.

Seven Articles. Twenty-seven Amendments. 229 years and the framework is still valid. It still works. At the time, it was divisive. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay came together to collaborate on articles to influence the passage of the Constitution. These articles published anonymously are better known as the Federalist Papers and have been used by the Supreme Court justices to help decide many of the decisions they’ve handed down since the Constitution became the law of the land on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire became the 9th of 13 states to ratify the Constitution. Virginia and New York, the two most populous states would become the 10th and 11th states to ratify the document before George Washington was elected our first president. North Carolina and Rhode Island would join the Union while Washington was in his first presidential term. By the time Washington made his farewell address in 1796, the Union would grow to 16 states with Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee joining the original 13 states.

But you don’t follow me to read Constitutional theory or even U.S. History, though it’s interesting. Just admit it, it’s okay. You click MtDc to find out what’s happening and read a little bit of positive in a world filled full of negativity. Continue reading We the people

Bible Sunday

Fifteen years ago today, I was teaching seventh grade geography and the counselor walked into the room at the end of second period, she looked upset and out of sorts. After the bell rang and dismissed my second period class, another class entered, the students got to their seats, and the bell rang. Before the third period class began, the counselor read a short prepared statement that changed my day and told us that the course of history for our nation and the world had changed forever. I don’t remember what she read, but she left immediately afterwards and the room felt like the air had been sucked out of it. Somehow, we all made it through that day and over the course of the next few days we learned the true horror of that day.

our flag flies at half-mast today,
our flag flies at half-mast today,

This morning, fifteen years later, 9/11 is a Sunday. This time it is Bible Sunday for our church’s third and eighth graders. Eighth grade is the confirmation and class and O waited excitedly for her Bible. She was born over a year after 9/11 and for her, 9/11 holds only the meaning that we have tried to share with her. She didn’t experience it, nor did she know what the United States was like before 9/11. She only knows what it is like now.

In April 2015, on our way home from Spring Break in Washington, D. C. we stopped at the Flight 93 – 9/11 Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We will never forget.

This morning, I watched my sweet daughter O beam with excitement when she received her Bible and she could barely contain herself when she returned to the pew to sit with us for the rest of the service. She fidgeted throughout the sermon and helped me find the closing hymn in the hymnal – “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations.” We sang it as John Wesley instructed congregations in his Instructions for Singing from 1761, we payed attention to #4,

“Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength …

It was a wonderful service and the hymn was a reminder that though much has changed for our nation and the world, our principles continue to survive. May we never forget. Continue reading Bible Sunday

Math Day

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Nine plus seven equals sixteen.

Today is Wednesday, September 7, 2016. I am certain momentous events have occurred on this day: marriages, births, deaths, and so much more that is meaningful in our lives as we track the slow passing of time, making each day count.

I have always been fascinated with numbers and ‘created’ math days when the alignment of the month, day, and year created a math equation. In today’s case it is an addition problem. This year there are fifteen math days – twelve addition days and three multiplication days, if you were wondering.

This year, I teach U. S. History and science to eighth graders. I don’t teach math and it’s the only CORE subject I have not taught in my teaching career. I’ll point out the date to my eighth graders and they’ll note it, then we’ll move on. It’s an interesting way to look at the day, another way to count the day, while making the days count. Continue reading Math Day

mirror: a photo challenge

Labor Day weekend – 2016. I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for three weeks. We’re up north at the lake for the last weekend of summer; and while it makes me happy to be here, it does make me bit sad.

the lake, the fog, and Shamu - the Seadoo - standing where the dock was....
the lake, the fog, and Shamu – the Seadoo – standing where the dock was….

I awoke this morning to a fog shrouded lake. It was still and cool outside and the temperatures were in the forties. In late summer, the lake is still warm, or relatively warm and the cool nights cause the fog. Before long the cool nights will chill the lake. This morning surface was like glass, almost a mirror, and the quietness of the lake made my morning coffee special as I remembered the mornings sipping coffee with grandma talking and gazing out over the lake.

I have many memories of being up North for Labor Day weekend. I was scanning the guest book and came across grandma’s handwriting about the time W and I came up to help grandpa and grandma in 2003. B stayed home with O because she didn’t want to deal with a baby in the car and the awful Labor Day weekend traffic. She remembered W and I sailed through and made the trip without traffic jams. And then there are Labor Day weekends like this year when traffic was snarled and we crawled out of Chicago before breaking out of the traffic when we got past Lake Michigan’s eastern shore near Holland.

The year is a cycle – summer – fall – winter – spring and over and over again. Each year brings us new ends and new beginnings and it seems sometimes, as if I am peering into a mirror reflecting on the past. Continue reading mirror: a photo challenge

rare: a photo challenge

It is Sunday evening. It rained most of Saturday, so my Saturday chores – mowing the lawn and caring for the yard were postponed until today.

Yesterday’s rain brought with it cooler weather, and it was welcome. It was nice to be able to sleep with the windows open overnight, sleeping with windows open at night is usually a Late-September early fall treat. Mowing the lawn was much more comfortable than the typical late August Midwestern summer afternoon. It’s rare for August, but very welcome.

I was sitting outside contemplating all that I had left to do when I caught the sun streaming through the trees at exactly the right moment.

catching the sun at the right moment, rare
catching the sun at the right moment, rare

Sunsets at home are enjoyable, but not nearly as spectacular as they are at the lake. So when I can catch the sun in a rare moment, I do.

Even Ivy recognizes the rare moment and has been stalking some critter under the deck. Ivy has been obsessed by some critter that has burrowed under the deck. It could be rabbits or worse, skunks. She’s been skunked twice.

Ivy begs for more 'outside' time..."Please, can I stay outside?", the expression on her face seems to say
Ivy begs for more ‘outside’ time…”Please, can I stay outside?”, the expression on her face seems to say

Sunday’s the quickest day of the week, especially Sunday’s during the school year, and it always comes before Monday, the first day of the school week. Tomorrow is the last day for me to prepare before my students start school Tuesday. I spent most of last week preparing my classroom for the coming year and I have a few final touches before it is ready and I spent part of yesterday working on school tasks.

Today has been a great day and tomorrow could be a million and six times better. So, I’d better put a wrap up today and get a good night’s rest before the first full week of school. I am counting on making it count. Making the Days Count, one rare moment at a time.

What rare moment did you catch today?

Today’s post is inspired by last week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare. For this week’s challenge, share a photo of something rare: a family heirloom. A cloudy day in a normally sunny desert. A sad frown on a cheerful kid’s face. Or anything else you think of as scarce and singular. I can’t wait to see what “rare” means to you!

the one hundred most

Yesterday was my first day back to school. Summer break was great, but it’s time to get back to school\work and a regular schedule. I’ve been busy all summer getting ready for today.

I know it looked like I was having fun at the lake, but I was really thinking and planning about how to begin the new year with my brand new 8th graders. AND, this year I have a bonus, I have my very own 8th grader at home – so I can experience 8th grade 24/7 without interruption.

I vaguely remember my own 8th grade experience. I struggled all year, and if it weren’t for an amazing teacher – Mrs. Atlee in RWS (reading, writing, and spelling) reaching out and giving me a hand when I needed it – the year might have turned out differently. I am grateful for her help and continually try to pay back her assistance by paying it forward to my students.

The key to getting a great start to a school year is how the first few days of school are organized and set up. My most successful years have been the years when I spent the first few days creating a climate in the classroom that fostered learning and curiosity.

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when finished, these bins will be used to demonstrate creative learning…
In the 41 years since I was in 8th grade (the first time), the classroom has changed significantly. It’s changed because as educators, we better understand how students learn and grow, and technology has had a hand in changing how students learn as well.

I am going to sound old, but let’s face it, I AM old – relative to my students. When I was in 8th grade, television had seven or eight channels, tops. Television, books, and movies – that was it for media, oh and radio. We had the major networks CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS as well as three or four independent channels. Today, television has hundreds of channels and comes in all sorts of flavors, and then there is the internet and the media programming available online. What is available to my students is overwhelming, but the reality is my 8th graders are still 8th graders with 13-14 year-old’s brains still developing like my brain was developing 41 years ago. Today’s students are exposed to more content, but in reality, they learn it differently. Continue reading the one hundred most

fun: a photo challenge

Fun, funner, funnest. Yeah, there are red squiggly lines under funner and funnest. Every year some student will challenge me when I use funner and funnest in class, but they are correct; just as swim – swam – swum are. They just don’t sound right, but they are.

fun - waiting for the boat to get moving, photo courtesy of O
fun – waiting for the boat to get moving, photo courtesy of O

Summer has been fun. It went quickly as summer always does. I was going to sit down Sunday night and write this post and hit publish, then life, summer life, got in the way. It always does.

this was funner - but, sometimes things I get out of control and we lose focus - funnest
this was funner – but, sometimes things I get out of control and we lose focus – funner, photo courtesy of O

Continue reading fun: a photo challenge

Final Friday

82 days go quickly, believe me. They fly past. School starts next week and today is Day 77, the last Friday of summer break. Five days remain in my summer break. It’s been a good break, just the right amount of time. Almost.

I keep telling myself, ‘If I had a more time……’ but, I’ve had enough time. I’ve done the things I needed to do to get ready for the coming year and I’ve done the things that I needed to do to rest, relax, and restore.

baseball game in Manzanar War Relocation Camp - 1943, photograph courtesy of Library of Congress
a baseball game at Manzanar War Relocation Camp – 1943, photograph by Ansel Adams,  courtesy of Library of Congress

We’ve spent time as a family. We’ve watched softball games, and I’ve listened to and watched my Astros and a couple of Reds games. We’ve been to the lake – boating, swimming, fishing, and hanging out. We’ve gardened, removed weeds, and painted a shack. We’ve sung songs and blasted Coldplay, before and after the concert. It’s been a good summer. Continue reading Final Friday

morning: a photo challenge

Saturday morning ….
It’s Saturday morning at the lake. The sun is shining, there is a light breeze, and all is well. 
We have friends visiting for the weekend and last night we enjoyed a campfire as the moon and Jupiter set in the western sky. 

the western sky, the moon sets takong with it Jupiter, and the fire comes alive
Every morning is followed by a night; and it repeats day after day. What I do with the space in between makes the difference. The sun is rising and Earth is slowly waking up, as are our guests. It’s gonna be a great day. Making the Days Count, one day at a
time.

This post is inspired by the Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning and Margaret at Pyrenees to Peninnes
Note: this post was composed entirely on my smartphone – an iPhone 6s.