Category Archives: country

Bump in the road, moving forward

It’s Saturday morning and it’s quiet. Ivy was excited to see me this morning when I came downstairs. We we sat together outside for a few moments while I sipped my coffee and listened to the world. She followed me in when it was time to begin the day. It’s always quiet Saturday mornings, before the kids awake and move on to their activities.

Sicily-Rome Amereican Cemetery photo courtesy of of http://www.abmc.gov
Sicily-Rome Amereican Cemetery photo courtesy of of http://www.abmc.gov

Several weeks ago, I alluded to working on a BIG project and handing it in.

from : Quiet Saturday Mornings (9/5) ……. I reached a milestone, too, I finished a big project and I turned it in yesterday afternoon. I got the confirmation this morning. It’s too soon to write about, but I’ll report back when I receive news – keep your fingers crossed for me. Thanks.

Thank you for good wishes. I received the news yesterday morning, and I wasn’t selected. Continue reading Bump in the road, moving forward

Hope and good deeds – 9/11

Yesterday was 9/11. We will never forget. Ever.

For my students it was 9/11, they do not know. Most of them were not alive when the day unfolded and our world changed, forever.

neverforget

9/11/2001 was my son W’s first day of pre-school – he was three. He remembers momma standing in front of the television crying and asking her what was wrong.

Momma replied, “Bad news.”

To him, and all of us, 9/11 is the day of the ‘Bad News.’

Yet, it doesn’t have to be the day of the Bad News.

At school, we were looking for a way to mark the day and remember. The flag flew at half-staff, we observed a moment of silence, and the above ‘Today in History’ slide  appeared in the daily announcements. Then, our school went about our day – learning, guiding, leading, assessing, re-teaching, and so many other verbs. We do it every day.

After the announcements were finished, I showed the video below. Please take a moment to watch it – the video is 2 minutes and 19 seconds long. It will be time well spent, I promise.

Continue reading Hope and good deeds – 9/11

Failure is expected….

The 2015 high school football season started this weekend. It’s W’s last season of high school football and perhaps ever as a player. Friday night the Wheaton Warrenville South Tigers began the season against their cross-town rival, Wheaton North. I watched from the North sidelines as part of the chain gang. I kept my mouth shut and my enthusiasm to myself. I kept my eye on the field and moved with the ball.

my shadow cast upon the sidelines
my shadow cast upon the sidelines

It was a good game and the Tigers came out on top, barely.

The game was scoreless at the half. 0-0.

The third quarter began and The Falcons quickly scored a touchdown to lead by seven. The Tigers answered with a touchdown of their own and the game was tied at seven all. It stayed tied until the end. Then, the game moved to overtime.

Overtime rules are different. Each team gets the ball on the ten yard line and gets four downs (plays\tries) to score. The team that scores the most points wins. Simple.

Both teams failed to score in the first overtime and the teams switched ends and started over. In the second overtime, the Tigers failed to score on three downs, then, kicked a field goal to lead for the first time in the game. Then it was the Falcons turn. They ran three plays and failed to score, then lined up for a field goal, too. Continue reading Failure is expected….

Today in History

Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” ― George Santayana, The Life of Reason: Five Volumes in One

This fall, I’ll be teaching history full time for the first time in my teaching career. I am excited and I am worried. History gets a bad rap, especially with 13-14 years olds. Many folks believe history is remembering all sorts of dates and facts, and while that’s part of it, it’s not the reason we study history. We study history to learn from our mistakes and move forward as a people, as a society.

This past year, I taught one section of history and it opened my eyes, again. American society seems to repeat itself every other generation – the issues my great grandparents faced, my generation  faces today.  In the 1840s immigrants – the Irish – were blamed for the country’s ills. Three generations later in 1900 – 1920s a different group of immigrants – eastern and southern Europeans were blamed, today it’s yet another group of immigrants longing for freedom.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
From the “New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

In the last quarter of the school year, I suggested a daily dose of history and volunteered to manage it. Administration ALWAYS appreciates initiative and follow through. Each school day I’d select an event and create a slide for the morning announcements. My colleagues knew I was behind it and let me know they appreciated the reminder of the importance of each day. Sometimes, I’d tweet it with my school twitter account – @ScullenWatkins.

Continue reading Today in History

Door

“Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.” ― Pablo Picasso

Our cottage has two doors, one in front and the other along the side. A key unlocks the side door there is no key for the front door. The front door faces the lake and I’ve spent many a morning sipping coffee talking to grandma, B’s mom, or sipped coffee alone and thought of the times we shared our morning coffee. Lately, it’s been only Ivy and me. Ivy curls up on the footstool leaving barely enough room for my feet and gazes out over the front yard as I enjoy my morning coffee. She keeps an eye open for ducks in summer and deer in winter.

the front door and the view over the lake
the front door and the view over the lake

In the afternoon, the doors open to yard and the sounds of play, wind, and the lake.

I’ve seen every season through that door and it’s held back every season, too. It’s kept the cold and snow out and allowed the sunshine in to bring us light. I’ve watched the sunset in the evening and the sun creep across the yard from behind the house each morning.

W on the fourth of July in 2001 - my he's grown and the doors have remained the same....
W on the Fourth of July in 2001 – my he’s grown and the doors have remained the same….

Yet, not all doors are physical. Sometimes doors are barriers keeping us from exercising our free will and then, there are those that declare our freedom to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Continue reading Door

Vivid: memories, colors, and flowers

poppy5
the poppy is a brilliant, vivid orange and yes, that is my foot

It’s Saturday morning and I am finishing a few school tasks before heading out to do some yard work. There is one more day, really two – but only one with kids. It’s been a good year and I had my end of year meeting with my principal Wednesday afternoon, sort of an exit interview – but I’m not leaving. He was new this year and his approach is different from previous administrators. He asked the questions you want to hear, but do not want to answer – but I did anyway. He asked what was good, bad, and ugly. I have many vivid memories of all of them – the whole gamut. In the coming weeks, I’ll be reminded that the good outweighs the bad and the ugly. It was a tough year full of learning and growing for me, and my students. I am not certain who learned more; regardless it’s always a fair trade.

Last week, I posted photos of the peonies along the fence in our backyard. We had rain last weekend and the peonies that had bloomed are beginning to fade and shred. They continue to bloom and provide glimpses of vivid brilliant color from the kitchen window and almost everywhere in the backyard. Earlier this week, the poppies began to bloom. The poppies bright orange bloom is in sharp contrast to the pink and white peony blooms. Continue reading Vivid: memories, colors, and flowers

Forever in Blue Jeans

It’s Sunday, the day before Memorial Day, and the Indy 500 starts in less than a half hour. The pre-race is on and I wish I could watch it with my science students. It’s speed, physics, material science, and adrenaline all wrapped into 500 miles. I’ve been to the race track many times before, but this year I’ll be watching from the family room with B, W, and O. We’ll be thinking of B’s dad who was our ticket to the track. JD passed away last year after a long life of service to his country, community, and his family. He’s always in our thoughts.

JD Weaver (1926-2014), B, and my nephew - JD's grandson
JD Weaver (1926-2014), B, and my nephew – JD’s grandson

In my last post, I honored my dad, whom also is never far from my thoughts, either.

 There is irony in my last post because my dad’s birthday – 5/20/1933 – is also another birthday, of sorts: blue jeans were born, or rather patented by Levi and Strauss. Irony. I shared this with my classes and reminded them that education was the key to not wearing blue jeans as my dad believed deep in his core. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with hard, physical work – it needs to be done – but, most folks don’t aspire to it. Continue reading Forever in Blue Jeans

Ephemeral: The Wall – 03/26/1967

washmonWe are in DC, as you can see. It is Spring Break and we needed a getaway place. There other reasons we are here, but for now, we are here to take in the sights, sounds, and the tastes of our nation’s capital. I have been here before and so has B, but this is the first trip to DC for our kids. By the time, I was W’s age, I had visited several capital cities across the globe, but never had been to DC.

Ephemeral – \i-ˈfem-rəl, -ˈfēm-; -ˈfe-mə-, -ˈfē-\ – lasting a very short time

That’s how life is. You blink and it’s gone. Life is about being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not good. It depends, and my good might be your not good and vice versa, it’s perspective.

There is a lot to see in DC and if you blink it will be gone, but I always try to visit The Wall. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I visited it for the first time in 1995, and again in ‘08, and again yesterday. Visiting The Wall never gets old. I always look for the same name, Douglas E. Dickey. 17E 50. Continue reading Ephemeral: The Wall – 03/26/1967

The state bee

Today is gonna be a great day. I usually end my posts with this, but today I’ll start AND end with the quote. The quate is aline is from a song, aptly named “Today is gonna be a great day” and it was in part, part of the inspiration for Making the Days Count almost five years ago.

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

It is gonna be a great day, because today is the National Geography Society’s state Geography Bee and my student qualified for it. Actually, he really isn’t my student he’s a sixth grader and he goes to my school. I just happen to be the Geo Bee coordinator and very passionate about geography. I’ve been helping him prepare, first for the state qualifying test and then for the state competition. We’ve had two study sessions where I’ve helped him and guided him by asking questions from past geography bees, but he really knows his stuff. Today will be the big test and he’ll be up against 100 other kids from across Illinois from grades 4 to 8 or ages 9-14. Most of them will be boys, about 80-90% and I wish him the best.

The best part is that I get to go and watch. Continue reading The state bee

Word Press Challenge – Shadowed

It’s Sunday morning and I’ve had a good start to the day – I’ve read the paper, caught up on news, and finished watching CBS Sunday Morning’s weekly broadcast. I am full of ideas for the day, and the coming week – which usually stares me down at this time in the weekend. Tomorrow is martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday holiday and I have an extra day to prepare for the coming week. Friday was a planned teacher workday – school without kids and NO MEETINGS and I spent several hours yesterday working on school work.

animal tracks leading into the shadows of the woods and vegetation and safety
animal tracks leading into the shadows of the woods and vegetation and safety

I took these photos last week at a Forest Preserve I pass on my way to and from school. A narrow shallow rock-bottomed river runs beside the road and the cold weather has iced over much of it, except for the space where it trickles over a natural dam and opens up before running downstream. I visited the preserve last weekend. The sun was shining and the world was full of shadows. I found tracks in the fresh snow which I could only see because of the shadows and I startled a Canadian goose. I took my shots, captured the shadows and retreated home to where it was warm.

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It’s been cold here – we have had two days of no school due to the frigid temperatures, and even more frightful wind chills, the week before last. Continue reading Word Press Challenge – Shadowed