It’s is a wonderful world, indeed. When I first heard Sam Cooke croon,
Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took
I was watching Animal House with John Belushi and laughing as only a teenager can. I’ve grown up, it’s been almost 40 years since I watched Animal House. I was in high school and dreaming of college, and I didn’t know much about history, or the French I took. I knew everything, or thought I did.
It was the start of my junior year in high school and it was the year which changed my life. Seriously, no kidding.
Fast forward and I am much older, more experienced, and I still don’t know much about history and every day I am reminded of how much I still don’t know, and yet I still yearn to learn more and grow each day – to make every day count.
Being a father is not easy, becoming a father is…. well, not the point of this post.
Today is my twentieth Father’s Day as a dad, my fifty-fifth as a son, and eighth Father’s Day without my dad. My dad passed away July 20, 2009 after a brief illness and my brothers and I took his cremains to France in June 2010 and he remains at rest and peace with the world.
7:41 AM Somewhere in the middle of the paragraph above my brother, David, called and we talked… when were finished talking, I got back to writing – 8:11 AM.
I don’t believe there has been a day since, when I haven’t thought of my dad; just think of him, no judgement one way or another. There are days, like today, when he is constantly on my mind. On these days, I call my brothers and check in, or they call me and check in, either way we talk. Sometimes, we talk about dad, or we talk about our kids, or we talk about growing up; mostly we talk about the thread that holds us together – mom and dad and being brothers.
The interesting thing about our heritage is that we don’t get to choose it, it’s been selected for us and we have to wear and share it forward, or it ends.
Today, May 20 would’ve been my dad’s 84th birthday. I was looking for a photo to post on Facebook and I found a flash drive loaded with photos I had scanned on a visit home in August ‘11. I found family photos ranging from before I was born until my early twenties. It brought back memories. I remember that trip home as if it was the other day. Where have I been? – August ‘11.
I live almost a thousand miles from mom and I don’t get to see her as often as I’d prefer, but we talk and I occasionally write a letter or note. She responds and I love reading those letters and notes.
A couple of weeks ago, I took off to see my mom. It was a quick trip down and back in about two days. Mom still lives in the house where we all grew up. When I was home, I got to sleep in my old bedroom for the first time in a couple of years. On the morning I was to leave, I texted her that I was excited to come and visit,
Can’t believe I am going to go to sleep in the house where I grew up – can’t wait to see you. Love Clay
and she responded with,
The corner room you and Robert painted ORANGE. It’s still showing on the screen.
Yeah, she let me paint my bedroom orange. I don’t know what I was thinking or why I thought orange was a good color for my bedroom, but she let me paint the walls orange. It stayed orange until a few years later when I left for college, and when I came back it wasn’t orange anymore.
My mom let me do all sorts of things that taught me lessons that her words or my ears would not allow.
She let me make the mistakes that she knew would hurt, but the experience would help me grow.
When I pulled into the driveway at 1:45 in the morning, she was up waiting. It was wonderful to see her. I gave her a big hug and we sat down to talk. An hour later, I had to excuse myself and go to bed, but if I could’ve stayed awake, we would’ve talked until the sun rose.
My brother took the photo above Saturday morning. It was great to see her and to see my two brothers. We celebrated her birthday Friday night and on Saturday morning my brothers came over and we all went for coffee before David had to go to work- that’s when the photo was snapped. Warren and I spent the rest of the day together and I gave my mom a BIG hug before I left Saturday afternoon. Continue reading Thanks, mom→
It’s that time of the year. It’s the end of the school year. As of this moment, there are 19 days remaining in the school year, that is if I count school days only. Sandwiched in between those final four weeks are three weekends and one of them is a three-day weekend. The kids know it, the teachers know it, there is no good way to hide it. So, I don’t try to hide the fact that the days are slipping away towards summer break.
Right now, it’s the middle of spring. The flowers and trees are blooming and today is a beautiful sunny spring afternoon. The sky is so blue, I can almost taste it. Last night, we had a frost warning, but I didn’t see any frost on the yard or on the rooftops when I looked out across the yard this morning. It was cool, but evidently, not cold enough.
But warmer days will soon be here, then summer, summer break, and before I realize it, I’ll be back in school again. It’s a cycle, the always repeating cycle of life and the seasons.
I teach 8th grade and sometimes I feel like I am the ringleader in a circus.
“There’s a sucker born every minute.” P. T. Barnum
In January, when the I first heard the news that the Ringing Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus would be ceasing operations in May, I did a quick search to find out where the circus would be before it ended it’s 146-year run. I discovered it was in Cincinnati, Ohio – a short five-hour drive away. 317 miles, give or take. I did a quick search of tickets and found they were available. I mentioned it to B and we remembered the summer we met and when went to the circus with a large group. We laughed about the memory and then, I forgot about it and the idea shifted to the bottom of the pile.
Last weekend the memory came back and Monday night and I sent O a short text, ‘Circus?’ and another six minutes later, Circus?’ No response.
The next morning, I mentioned the circus before I left for school and left it that. No response.
This past Friday night we went to watch the movie, A Dog’s Purpose. I cried and O noticed, and she pointed it out to B, who admitted she cried, too. O was perplexed, why did we think the movie was sad? O didn’t like the movie and had spent the entire movie trying to figure out why the movie didn’t follow the book. The critics didn’t like it either. O read the book and was disappointed, I reminded her that the book is almost always better.
I enjoyed the movie, not because it was a wonderfully crafted story, but because it made me thankful for the unconditional love of our dog, Ivy.
The movie made me wonder what really is the purpose of many things. I think the purpose of dogs is to remind us to be better people; and some days I don’t measure up.
Ivy joined our family almost seven years ago, in April 2010. The day before Easter, how we got Ivy is a strange story in itself. In the time, she’s been with us, she’s done all the things a dog should do:
She’s caught a bunny
She’s caught a squirrel
She’s been blasted by a skunk – more than once
She’s run away – well, not really run away, more of gotten loose and taken off
She’s destroyed every one of her stuffed animals
And, she’s made a place in our hearts
and, i am sure I am missing something.. O or W will remind me, or even B.
When we got Ivy, O and W both promised they’d feed her and pick up the poop. They promised they’d walk her and take care of her. They promised they’d brush her and take care of her. Sometimes they actually do those things, but most of the time I feed her in the morning and let her out when I get up in the morning.
This morning, I went downstairs and she stayed upstairs asleep. I was pouring my first cup of coffee when I heard her come down the stairs, clip, clop, clip. She came into the kitchen, then walked over the back door and looked at me, as if to say, ‘hurry up, I gotta go.’ I opened the backdoor and she pawed at the screen door and sat down. It’s her routine and I let her out. She walked across the deck to the first patch of ivy, which is how she got her name, and did her thing. Then she patrolled the yard for several minutes before she came to the back door, barked to let me know she was ready to come inside. Once inside, she checked her dish, then sat down beside the couch, placed her head on the seat cushion, as if to ask, ‘may, I please join you?’ Then she jumped up and lay beside me and went back to sleep.
We (we Americans) are in the midst of a contentious presidential election. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and, so far, I’ve successfully avoided talking politics. AND, I am not going to break with tradition, I’ll keep my opinion on the presidential election to myself.
But, “all politics is local,” former Congressman and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil is credited with the phrase, bit it’s a moot point.
I vote, or should vote, for the candidate that most closely aligns with my political, and economic, interests. That is what makes the election for a national leader local.
I teach 8th graders US History (and science) and my students are itching to know who I am voting for or planning to vote for this year. I am not telling them who I am planning to vote for, either.
Sunday morning, October 2 – it’s fall. Fall means cooler nights, shorter days, pumpkins, apples, Halloween, and Friday Night Lights – high school football.
B and I have been going to high school football games since we were kids. We started taking W when he was young, then O came along. B and I would watch from the end zone along the fence and the kids would watch until they were old enough to hang out with their friends, then we ‘graduated’ to the stands when W reached high school. In ’14 and ’15, W was on the sidelines. He’d getting his playing time on Saturday, but he hung in there for four years as a high school football player. I admire him and have great respect for his stick-it-to-ed-ness. W graduated in May and is off testing his wings at the next step at the local community college, but we still go Friday night to watch and root on the Tigers.
Friday night, we were in the stands. It was the final home game of the season, and it was Homecoming. Tigers were winless in five starts. It’s been a tough couple of years for the Tigers – last year ended 2-7 after making it to the quarter-finals of the state playoffs in ’14.
Watching the game brought back memories from when the kids were younger. I remembered back to ’09. W was in sixth grade, his first year at middle school, and O was in first grade. The Tigers had made the playoffs and the first game was Friday, October 31 – Halloween. Continue reading Nostalgia – a photo challenge→
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.
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→