Category Archives: growing up

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.

IMG_4899[1]
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

One small step….

Last night was a full moon and the skies were clear. B, O, and I were headed to dinner and the moon was up, yes it was late. The sun sets after 9 PM at this time of the year and we were working and playing late. Dinner was late, but its summer and we’re on a different schedule.

the moon between the trees, rising.
the moon between the trees, rising.

I stopped the car in the lane, climbed out, and captured the moon with my camera. The I got back in the car and pointed out that 47 years ago, man walked on the moon.

Except, I was wrong. The anniversary is today – July 20.

“One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong July 20, 1969.

I recall the day forty-seven years ago clearly, or rather the evening. We were in Venezuela and it was a late summer night. My dad had taken a job working for Creole, an American Oil Company and we had moved to Venezuela in June 1969.

I was seven years old and had finished first grade. It was summer. Continue reading One small step….

Monday morning awakening

It’s cool this morning outside on the deck. The sun is slowly creeping across the yard toward my ‘office,’ the birds are singing, and the wind is gently rustling the leaves above me. It’s quiet and peaceful outside.

Ivy rests at my feet, always with eye open, always
Ivy rests at my feet, always with eye open, always

W's location Monday morning - the crew will be kayaking room island to island until Friday.Yesterday morning, W took off on an adventure of a lifetime – kayaking the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior with his Boy Scout Troop. Saturday night was a late one for all of us packing and final details for his kayaking trip after dropping him off and waving goodbye, we went home and back to sleep.

I felt mildly guilty waking when I did, but feeling much more refreshed than I would have been had I stayed awake. We spent the afternoon talking, planning, and laundry – doing, folding, and putting away. B wanted to get outside to her garden and I suggested we wait until the evening, when it was cooler.

It was much cooler and the beds where we were working were shaded. Ivy joined us but spent most of her time scanning for bunnies and squirrels. B needed me to help plant and spread mulch, but it was a wonderful way to decompress from a busy hectic weekend and plan for the week ahead. I am not usually a good gardening partner, but I can tell a weed from a plant – most of the time – and I am quite handy with a shovel and a wheelbarrow. I am the strong back in the operation and B’s the strong mind. It’s a good partnership. Continue reading Monday morning awakening

Partners – a photo challenge

Yesterday was our 32nd anniversary. Actually, it was 32 plus 1, but after eleven thousand six hundred eighty-eight days, what is another day? It all depends on how you count it. I mentioned it to B and I got a smile, I think.

B and I at the Morton Arboretum April 2016
B and I at the Morton Arboretum April 2016
I’ve known my wife a few more days longer than 11,688 days, but yesterday was the anniversary of our first date. We went to the zoo and it was a blazing hot day as most days in Houston, Texas are in June, or late May, July, and August. The night before we had gone out with a group and had fun dancing, listening to music, and talking and sharing a beer or two, it’s what twenty somethings do. At the end of the night we exchanged phone numbers and the rest is history, of sorts. Continue reading Partners – a photo challenge

The Greatest

courtesy @FearlessMotivation
courtesy @FearlessMotivation
I was young, very young when Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. And, I remember kids calling me Cassius, but I didn’t understand until later that it should have been taken as a compliment, even if that wasn’t the intent. Kids.

I began using the quote, “Don’t count the days, make the days count” long before I began blogging and even longer before I knew it is attributed to Muhammad Ali.  It is likely that Ali is not the origin of the saying either, but Muhammad Ali is the one gets the credit. It doesn’t matter who, or when, or how, he was the Greatest.

I can imagine how he said it, though. It was days before a big fight, could’ve been Frazier, or Foreman, or a lesser known fighter and Ali was asked by a reporter if he was ready for the fight with only days away. His response was classic Ali,

“Only a fool counts days. I am the Greatest, I don’t count the days, I make the days count. And when I step into the ring the only countin’ that’s gonna be goin’ on is the referee counting to ten when I knock that sucker on his back. I am the Greatest.” Muhammad Ali

That’s how I’d like to believe that Muhammad Ali said that he made the days count. Continue reading The Greatest

First day, again…

It’s the first day of summer, again. I’ve been looking forward to this day, I always do. This year is different, this day has been marked on the calendar for four years, maybe even longer.

my 'decades' selfie - living the fabulous Fifties for a day!
my ‘decades’ selfie – living the fabulous Fifties for a day!

Today, W graduates from high school. He’ll cross the stage and think this is it. Yet, it is only the beginning of a long journey.

Summer is like that. It marks an end, and a beginning. They, the ends and beginnings, tend to blur and meld over time. It’s a reboot, of sorts.

Each year, I have my own reboot. A time to reflect on what I’ve learned and where I’ve been, adjust my bearings, and chart a new course. And, for the last six years I’ve gone back and re-read what I blogged the year before at Making the Days Count dot org.

It had been six years since I began the journey at MtDC.org.

First Day Posts

And my first ever post – precisely one day short of six years ago.

I re-read those posts this morning and as I usually do when I read an old post, I edited a couple of them correcting misspellings, updating bad links, and a finding a new video to replace one which had gone private and was no longer viewable; and I remembered writing the words with uncanny clarity. Continue reading First day, again…

picture book

March 31. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 90th birthday. I remember celebrating his 70th and his 80th birthdays and several in between. We miss him.

We’re on spring vacation in the Keys. The Keys are a special place, it’s place he and his daughter introduced to me in 2002. B has fond memories of her time in the Keys – visiting with her folks. I had never been to Florida, outside of Miami International, until that trip. I fell in love with the Keys and we’ve been back several times – 2004, 2007, 2013, and this year. Each time I come here, I think of him and grandma and enjoy the sun.

The first time we came, they met us at the airport – it was B, W, and me. B was pregnant with O at the time, so I suppose you could say that O came along, too. Continue reading picture book

reminders

I have wonderful children and they teach me as much as I teach them, most of the time. Sometimes more. It’s been hectic this week, I’ve been Mr. Mom and Mr. Dad. B’s out of town helping her sister and I have been the only sheriff in town, so to speak. B’s on her way back tonight and we’ll be whole again tomorrow.

Dulles Jr. High Vikings - seventh grade gold - can you find me?
Dulles Jr. High Vikings – seventh grade gold – can you find me?

This afternoon, we were running errands and on our way home. O was talking about her day at school. I don’t know how it came up, but she was explaining what happened in math class. It went something like this……

“Dad, do you give your kids homework passes?” O asked.

“No, I don’t.” I replied. “Why do you ask? Continue reading reminders

Bittersweet Sunday

It Sunday morning. It’s a typical Midwestern January morning – cold and overcast. Yesterday was the same and tomorrow will likely be the same. It’s all right, cold and overcast January days are the rent we pay for the rest of the year.

W looks on and waits for his next match. I snapped this and texted it to him and got the reply 'go get me a sub' followed by 'thank you.'
W looks on and waits for his next match. I snapped this and texted it to him and got the reply ‘go get me a sub’ followed by ‘thank you.’

Jonas bypassed us. We’ve had storms come through and shut us down, but nothing as severe as Jonas. Since, I’ve been blogging we’ve had several snow days, one in January 2011 that brought 21 inches of snow and shut schools for two days. We’ve had bitter cold and severe wind chills and we’ve had torrential rains that closed our schools, too. In all that time, we stayed inside and waited. When it was over, we went outside shoveled snow and cleared our drive and our neighbor’s, too. It’s the rent we pay.

Saturday was a bittersweet day, it was sunny in the morning, then overcast, then the clouds disappeared in the evening to reveal a full moon.

It was bittersweet for more than the weather; it was W’s last wrestling match. W is my son, my favorite son, and he turns 18 Wednesday.

W was born late in the evening Tuesday, January 27, so late it was close to January 28. Like all parents, especially dads, I remember the moment I held him for the first time, I remember the moment well. I can close my eyes and picture myself holding him and feel the tears well in my eyes and roll down my cheeks. They still do, the tears that is. I remember his first of many things, I remember his first day of pre-school – 9/11. I remember his first wrestling match, a loss in less than 15 seconds and I remember his first win – in overtime. He was our first, and only, for almost five years, then O came along and I had another favorite – a favorite daughter. Continue reading Bittersweet Sunday

Thankful, once more and always…

The turkey is roasting and it smells delicious. B and O, my wife and daughter, are still out of town. They’ve loaded the car, but haven’t hit the road, yet.

I’ve alluded to it in the last several posts but haven’t been direct. B’s mother and my mother-in-law, my favorite mother-in-law, I might add, passed away a week ago Monday morning. The funeral was last Saturday. Her wake, funeral, post-funeral gathering was a beautiful tribute to a wonderful woman who led an extraordinary life. She leaves behind three children, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and seven grandchildren. We will miss her.

I drove home with W, my son, Sunday afternoon. He slept, I drove thinking about the two days I had to teach my 8th graders.

Instead, I thought of all of the parts of my life for which I have to give thanks.

I am thankful for so much. I am third.

I am thankful for my faith in God, who has sustained me over the last several years as our families have struggled with loss.

I have a wonderful family, a great wife and kids, and a great dog, too. My mom, step-mom, my brothers, my wife’s brother, sister-in-law, her sister, and all of nieces and nephews, who are strong role models for my two children and always make time for them. Continue reading Thankful, once more and always…