Priorities

I missed writing last weekend. Truly. We went away for the weekend – we went north to the cottage. I had a lot to say, or so I thought. Somehow, time got away from me and I didn’t write. In fact, I didn’t even open my laptop. I existed solely on my iPad and phone; and did precious little on them. It was time to restore – a time to rest and relax.

It was our last long weekend of winter and we wanted to head up north for one last snowy weekend. The kids could ski, snowboard, and play in the snow. I know we had a lot of snow here, but it is different up north. B and I could relax and just breathe. We did all that, but the kids didn’t ski or snowboard: they did play in the snow and had fun outside, even Ivy got into the mix playing in the snow. We had a fire Saturday night and I cooked. Just as dinner was ready, we sat down to play cards. Then, some of our lake friends joined us; and we played a very spirited card game. The rules are somewhat confusing, but it is a favorite of our friends and we’ve enjoyed playing it at their cottage. I am not sure what it is called, it probably has several names, but it is a lot of fun. The card game involves a separate deck for each player but there is a place to play on everyone’s hand. Each player plays on their hand but the goal is to get rid of your cards and play them in the middle on the group’s cards. You get points for playing in the middle and the winner is declared when they have cleared their own cards. The game moves quickly and players have to be paying attention. Regardless, it was a lot of fun and when it was over, and we had a winner, we sat down to dinner and the Winter Olympics.

Sunday night's sunset - it was warm enough to sit on the deck in the sunshine, but we had to be wrapped up!
Sunday night’s sunset – it was warm enough to sit on the deck in the sunshine, but we had to be wrapped up!

I have enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics. I have always enjoyed the Olympics. B loves them too, especially the figure skating and ice dancing. W enjoyed watching the sledding and alpine events. O just takes it all in. The Olympics are the ultimate example of nationalism and source of American pride. It was in 8th grade when I first remember watching them. That was the year of Franz Klammer on the downhill and Dorothy Hamill on the skating rink. Every 8th grade girl seemed to have her haircut. Four years later, I was a senior in high school and the world was much tenser. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan and the Olympics were in Lake Placid. I remember the hockey game. I am not a hockey fan, I do not understand the game, I don’t get icing or off sides, but I understood what it meant for the Americans to defeat the Soviet Union in hockey and earn the gold medal. It was huge. When the Summer Olympics rolled around and we didn’t go, I understood what it meant. Then I was off to college. I have watched every Winter Olympics since – Sarajevo, Calgary, Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin, Vancouver, and now, Sochi. They are quite the spectacle and an opportunity for the host nation to strut its stuff and show its best. As American’s I think we should slow down, take it all in and see things from another nation’s perspective. Nevertheless, I am a lone voice. I admit, I have enjoyed sneaking a view on the live feed and we even watched the women’s preliminary game against Canada in geography the week before. We watched the last period of the game when Team Canada beat Team USA 3-2. The kids cheered and rooted for the American women. I rooted for the red, white, and blue, too. I was also pulling for them because a former student is on the team. I remember her well from my second year of teaching. She was the girl who always did her work, and did it well. She won silver in Vancouver as the backup goalie, and earned another silver medal in this Olympics. I know the team is disappointed, but they have nothing to be ashamed of, not one thing. They played well, but they came up against a better team. That’s how it works. That year I had 153 students in my five classes and not one of them had anywhere close to that opportunity.

If you’ve read Making the Days before you will know I love sports. I love football, especially high school football. Friday night is spent standing in the end zone cheering for the Tigers. I also enjoy college football and pro football. However, high school football is special, it’s personal, it’s local. This year, I was able to watch a game live at all three levels – high school, college, and pro. I don’t believe I had ever done that before, WOW. My kids take part in sports, but I know deep down, they will go pro in something else, like so many high school and college athletes do. O plays softball and basketball and she is a good athlete. W plays football, lacrosse, and wrestles. Lacrosse is the perfect game for a boy – running around the field carrying a stick! He works hard and does well in wrestling. But, both kids do well in the classroom, too. They work hard and we expect them to work hard. I played sports as a kid, but I didn’t have the kind of success my kids have had. I was inconsistent in my participation – I played and quit. In high school, I ran cross-country my freshman year (and did not finish the season), played football my sophomore year, and tried out for the tennis team my junior year. That was it. I flamed out athletically. B didn’t play sports but was in the marching band all four years. Marching band is not a sport, but in terms of commitment and the demands on your time, it might as well be. Of course, times were much different then.

Several weeks ago, I was dropping W off for wrestling at 6:30 in the morning. I noticed there were already three or four buses in the parking lot and the parking lot was filling up. I watched several students in suits and dresses walk in to the building. It dawned on me that it wasn’t just sport at the high school that weekend. There was a speech tournament and show choir. I am sure there was more, it is a big high school and there are many activities for students to get involved.

Last Wednesday, the Lady Tiger basketball team had a playoff game on the road. I love to watch them play O does too. That is why we go, for her to see female athletes, not just football or wrestling. The Lady Tigers are special group and recognize the young girls who come out to watch them and cheer for them. High schools in this area celebrate sports and their athletic wing hallways are decorated with photos of their former athletes and awards across all sports. I am reasonably certain high schools across America do the same thing, but I have only visited high schools locally, so I don’t know for certain. Occasionally, a school will have an athlete who went pro – most likely in football, but occasionally basketball or baseball. They’ll frame the pro jersey on the wall along with the athlete’s name. I usually stop and look, though I rarely recognize the names below the photos at other high schools and can only remember a few in the Tiger hallway. The Lady Tigers won Wednesday and played again Friday night. O and I went; the Tigers won handily and play again Tuesday night. After the game, O and I were slowly walking out and I was looking at the photos along the wall, when I came across something I had never seen in an athletic hallway, or in any hallway. I took a photo and it is below.

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WOW. I was awed. I still am. I would have missed it, if I had not slowed down to stop, look, and read. here is more info, if you’d like to slow down and read. Astronaut Daniel M. Tani

Every school has someone who makes it big, but most of us make it small in a big way. As a seventh grade teacher, I try to teach to the whole kid. I had BIG dreams in seventh grade and I realize many have big dreams as I did. I dreamed of being a pro football player, it didn’t happen and I was relying on the wrong thing. I am glad I have the opportunity to do what I do now. I love teaching and I especially love to teach the kids the lessons I learned and still learn along the way. We’ve been reading Sherlock Holmes in English Language Arts. It is a complex text and difficult to read, even confusing to seventh graders, but we have worked hard to get through it and I think many of the students finally understand the text and the story. But, the important lesson wasn’t Sherlock Holmes; it was what to do when you come to a complex and difficult text. It is what we all do, we re-read it, read it slower, look up words we don’t know, or we talk to someone about the text. In geography, we’ve been doing the same thing with text, but in a different way – making connections and working to make them think more critically. It’s hard work, they are seventh graders and they are still learning, growing, and making their way.

As for me, I am always learning and making my way. Even if I am, almost forty years removed from seventh grade. Today is bright and sunny. We had rain this past week along with warmer weather much of the snow we had amassed by Monday evening has melted away is a greyish brown mass of ice along the streets. Every day the sun shines just a little longer and there is the feeling that winter is almost over. Though I have lived here long enough to know that the arrival of March does not mean the snow and cold are finished for the season. Today is gonna be a great day, I know it and can feel it. I have grading, planning, and housework to do although not in that order. It’s the last day of the winter Olympics and the last day of the weekend. Monday will be here before I know it, so I had better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day a time, especially one day at a time.

What have you noticed when you have slowed down to look and listen?

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10 thoughts on “Priorities

    1. When I read your comment I smiled. Thank you. It’s Sunday and I’ve been working on lessons for the coming week and enjoying the bright sunshine. I saw the sunrise this morning and it was pretty, I could see Venus shining brightly in the eastern sky and watched the light slowly make the bright planet disappear in the daylight. It was a great way to welcome the day. Spit sounds like a good name for it, but whatever it is called it’s a lot of fun! take care enjoy the coming of Spring – it’s eleven days away, officially!

  1. It was only when I slowed down (not by choice) that I realized how many of my passions I’d given up for a career that I didn’t even enjoy very much anymore. Thankfully things changed. Life slowed down. I gained balance….and rekindled my love for board game nights with friends, writing, and singing. These days I actively do all of the above and refuse to take on another career that prohibits me from having that balance and those joys. BTW, I know that Glenbard East of your photos. My alma mater, Hinsdale Central, used to compete against them. ;-) Oh, and my fave card game? Euchre.

    1. My kids go to Wheaton Warrenville South – you probably remember it as Wheaton Central – things have changed… the old Central was demolished and the land turned into a grocery store in the last two years… Central had famous alums of Bob Woodward, the Belushi boys, and Edwin Hubble.. it is nice to have balance, the balance we achieved over the past weekend was a blessing. O and I have been playing Gin Rummy – she’s pretty good at it. I bought a Hoyle’s Rules book and rests on the table at the cottage. can’t wait to get back up there. Take care!

  2. Hey Clay! Nice sunset pic. I am sure there will be some more snowy weekends coming to ski and play. I didn’t watch much of the Olympics this year. Only a few events. I like summer games better. As you said there are some people who make it big after high school. We had one who made it on daytime soap operas. The rest of us are doing our thing.Have a great week.

    1. Thanks Phil….. we were sitting on the deck – some parts were still crusted with snow and when the sun went down it got really cold… the next morning it was -15 no clouds and you could see ALL the stars. It was great to get away. Through FaceBook I see folks I went to high school with and we are all doing well – nothing BIG and famous like some, just making it BIG in a small way.

    1. thanks for stopping by – I was glad to be able to read some other folks thoughts and adventures this weekend, too. Glad you are cleared for adventure. The days are getting longer and you can sense there is a change in the air, some positive energy.

Let me know how YOU are Making YOUR Days Count!