Category Archives: Teaching and Learning

W^2 Home of the Brave

A nest of paper wasps has made a home at the corner of the garage under the eaves up north at the lake. The wasps aren’t bothering any humans so the humans will leave them be, so they can do their job in the environment.

Making the Days Count, one day at a time, letting nature do its job.

What have you observed in the natural world lately?

less words for a Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! It’s the final Wednesday in July and the back garden is in full bloom. Late July and early August are the most colorful months of B’s garden.

It’s been a summer full of hard work, reflection, and good amount of rejuvenation and restoration.

This morning as I began my day, as I skimmed through e-mails, I was inspired several blog posts for Wordless Wednesday. I decided to post a picture for word less Wednesday, but I can’t do it without words, so I’ll do it with LESS words. Perhaps next week will be a true wordless Wednesday.

Last summer, B found pictured coneflower and brought it home for our garden and planted it. Monday morning, I was surveying the garden and discovered them. I love the brilliance of coneflowers and how they bring bright color to the garden in mid-summer.

I’ve been working on a new post for several days, but I am wordless at the moment, so I’ll press publish and jump in to the day because today is going to be a great day, I know it and I can feel it. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one photograph, one memory of summer to hold on to in winter.

What stands out to you in a garden?

curiosity

We can learn a lot from our dogs. I’ve learned a lot from Ivy, our Brittany Spaniel. Fern, our Brittany puppy is a work in progress. She’s made a lot of progress since we brought her home seven weeks ago, but we have a lot progress to make.

Ivy’s perch and Fern’s new spot…someday she’ll outgrow it.

A couple of mornings ago, Fern and I were out for a walk. I needed to move and so did she. Walking a dog is an exercise in curiosity, walking a puppy is a course in curiosity and patience.

Fern is learning and so am I. As we walked, Fern was discovering a new world, even though we had walked part of the same route a day earlier. Fern discovered objects I didn’t see – pine cones, sticks, and sadly, trash – paper and plastic.

Fern saw insects and birds – I could see them, but she noticed them and followed them with her head and would pull on the leash give chase to them. Continue reading curiosity

Three things for the FIRST day of summer

It’s Saturday morning, the first day of summer, and for the moment it’s not raining – though rain is in the forecast. Three things to celebrate.

Saturday morning used to be my ‘go to’ writing time, but for the past year I have been letting it slip by filled with other tasks. I have been occupied with other things and Word Press stopped its Weekly Photo Challenge. I went back in time to check out my last WP Photo Challenge posted exactly a year ago tomorrow. All-time Favorites… a photo challenge.

Motivation
It’s the first day of summer according to meteorologists. Meteorologists, or weathermen, consider summer to be June, July, and August. Of course, some of us believe summer won’t officially start until the solstice, or in my case until school is out. And there are the folks who hold fast to the idea that summer begins with Memorial Day and ends with Labor Day. But however, you define it, it’s summer.

The school year is a little longer this year. We had five days added to our calendar; two days for snow, two days for extreme cold, and another day was added to school calendar for Good Friday – somehow the Good Friday was overlooked when the calendar was adopted last year. Nevertheless, school is out next Friday for me and next Thursday for my eighth graders.

Every year about his time I look back to where I was in August when the school year began and reflect on the successes and failures of the school year. It’s where the blog began and this post marks the first post of my tenth year at MakingtheDaysCount.org.

As I look back at the year of 2019-19 and the 2009-10 – the two years have much in common. I used that first summer of blogging to practice writing and process the previous year. It was an exciting to write and I began to read and explore other blogs. I hope to reignite that writing passion this summer.

In with the new….
But, not out with the old. Nine years ago, we had adopted a puppy. That puppy is now a dog and she is the best dog ever. Ivy has woven herself in to the fabric of our family.

Ivy as a puppy – four months old. June 2010

Two weeks ago, we added Fern.

Continue reading Three things for the FIRST day of summer

Where do I start?

Really, where do I start?

March has been brutal, in like a lion, out like a lamb. It’s an old saying to describe the March’s weather and while it’s true in the upper Midwest that’s not the reference I am making.

It’s been a while since I started a post, even longer since I finished and published one. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write, it’s that I’ve been distracted and not sure what to say and write.

a lone tree overlooking the Atlantic Ocean

I’ve been thinking about what ‘making the days count’ really means the past few months going back to this this past summer. I’ve been a in writing drought of sorts. Four posts in six months.

A friend of mine recently shared with me that he thought I was ‘one of the most positive people’ he knew. The compliment buoyed my spirits at a time when I needed a boost.

It’s spring break and I am, or rather, we are in the Florida Keys for a week of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. I know I am need of all three.

Four weeks ago, tomorrow morning, I opened my Five Minute Journal and was greeted by,

“Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.”  Ann Brashares.

It was the day I knew, we all knew, was ahead of us. Continue reading Where do I start?

a first Sunday and two sunsets

It’s been a while since I’ve penned regular posts. I’ve gotten out of the habit writing weekly or writing at all.

As the new calendar year began, I made note of some things I wanted to change. I suppose I could have selected another place on the calendar, but the timing coincides with my return to work (tomorrow) after five weeks off due to my second knee replacement. I now have matching scars.

The past half year has been busy…..

In June, I had my right knee replaced at the beginning of summer break and I planned my left knee replacement to coincide with winter break knowing I would be missing the last three weeks of ’18 in recovery. Ironically, two of my other school colleagues were experiencing similar journeys with their knee or a spouse’s knee.  

In November, our son graduated from marine boot camp and we traveled to southern California to be with him. Our son left home for boot camp in August and I replaced blogging with letter writing. In all, I wrote seventeen letters. I haven’t written a letter since late October, but it is on my list. Our son is still training but he has his phone and computer and it’s easier for him to communicate electronically – he texted me several times yesterday and it was nice to hear from him. But I’ll resume the old-fashioned way with an envelope and a real stamp. We had a day to unwind after his graduation and I snapped the photo below of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. It was a peaceful end to an exciting couple of days. The day after our son’s graduation from boot camp was my birthday and it also happened to be the USMC birthday.

the sunsets at Imperial Beach, California – 11/9/18

After our son’s graduation, he was home for a week before he returned to finish his training.

Continue reading a first Sunday and two sunsets

In the beginning…

Merry Christmas.

I was 7 years old when the photo above was taken. Every time I see it, I remember listening to the Apollo 8 astronauts reading the first ten verses of Genesis as their space capsule orbited the moon. I can remember sitting in front of the black and white television in my pajamas with my two brothers. I was in first grade and enamored with the American space program.

50 years later, I am still amazed by what lies beyond Earth. The past few weeks, I have awakened early in the morning to see Venus brightly illuminating the pre-dawn sky. The sun brightly illuminating the sky. This morning, it was a reminder of what lies beyond.

Each time I see the moon, I marvel at the achievements of America’s space program – despite what a professional basketball player recently denied, men did reach the moon and return safely.

But today, I marvel at the photo and the possibilities that exist for our world. As Bill Anders, one of the three Apollo 8 astronauts, remarked,

“We came to explore the moon and what we discovered was the Earth,”

Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders
Continue reading In the beginning…

Letter No. 8

It’s Sunday morning and it’s quiet for now. I enjoy the weekend mornings because I can sleep a little later than I normally do during the week and there isn’t the urgency to get up, move, and be someplace. Though sometimes that isn’t always the case.

I let the group walk ahead…..

Last weekend I took a bird walk and had to be out of the house by 7:30 AM Saturday morning. It was an organized bird walk with a trained naturalist at the Morton Arboretum. I signed up in August when I was excited about learning about birds. I still am excited about learning more about birds but the time to learn and watch birds is fleeting with school back in session. The bird walk, added a bit of urgency to last Saturday morning’s get up and go, but it was worth the time. I enjoyed the walk with a group of folks walking the paths and trails and seeing things I don’t normally see. It helped me model the science homework I assign my students daily – be curious and full of wonder. I shared last weekend’s adventures with them last Monday when they asked how my weekend was – a few were interested and pressed for more questions and others were the typical 8th grader. I shared that my newfound curiosity was inspired by a book I had started to read – Where the Poppies Grow by British author John Lewis-Stempel. I discovered the book while reading post on Margaret’s blog, From Pyrenees to Pennines in April. I make the headway with my students anyway I can and I am still reading the book.

This weekend is a little different. O and her marching band have a band competition, but she didn’t need to be at school early Saturday morning as she has in the past couple of weekends. This week’s competition was across town and her band won top honors in its class. So far, this marching season, they’ve had three competitions and I’ve seen them all. Next week they are on the road and we will be, too.

The weather turned for the weekend and there is a fall-ish chill in the air. The skies are clear and it is cool. Yesterday at the band competition the stands faced the afternoon sun and it was in our eyes, but when the sun dipped beneath the horizon it cooled down and there was a definite nip in the air. My body is not quite use to the cooler air, but by November and December my body will be ready for the cold which lies ahead. 

It’s that time of the year when keeping up the blog is a challenge. School is taking time and other activities – parenting, being husband, and taking care of the home and myself take precedence over writing a blog post. This past summer, I didn’t write as frequently as I had in previous summers. But, I had many things going on with a new knee and my son leaving for marine boot camp. In place of blogging, I’ve been writing him letters. So far, I am up to No. 8. I penned it yesterday morning and I’ll pen another this afternoon or evening.

Friday Night’s Lights – the sky was orange (our colors) before the game, but turned red (their colors) to finish the sunset – the Tigers came up short 41-20 but it was never close.
Continue reading Letter No. 8

The ant and the grasshopper

It’s Sunday morning of Labor Day weekend and it’s quiet by the lake. It’s the last weekend of summer, at least if I define summer as having boats in the water.

image courtesy of read.gov

Definitions of summer are plentiful, though I firmly believe summer is almost a state of mind in addition to being a season. For O and I, school has been in session for two weeks. Both of us have eight days of school under our belts.

The autumnal equinox will arrive in a few weeks and all the earth will be equal for a moment then slowly fall will advance in the northern hemisphere and summer in the south. It’s time, it happens each year and again, year after year. There is time for everything under the sun.

O and I drove up North yesterday morning. B had come up earlier in the week bringing Ivy with her. Ivy was overjoyed to see us, though you’d hardly recognize that now as she sleeps curled up on the footstool. B was too, but Ivy was more enthusiastic with her welcome.

When summer ends, there is much to do. Boats, dock, lifts, and lawn furniture to store, gardens and beds trimmed, and the garage organized for the next season. Yesterday one of our neighbors remarked it was Labor Day weekend and we were working, working hard to get the chores accomplished. I reflected and replied – this is the weekend we pay the rent. We work hard at the beginning and the end and reap the benefits of our work in the middle. It’s different from Aesop’s fable the Ant and the Grasshopper, where the ants toiled tirelessly all season long to be able to rest (and survive) when summer ended. Along the lakeshore, we all work together and help each other with the heavy work pitching in when needed. We know that fall is coming and winter is not far behind.

There are few grasshoppers here this weekend, most of us are ants. There is a time for everything under the sun.

Continue reading The ant and the grasshopper

Day 72 – the last one

It’s the last day of summer break, tomorrow is the first day of a new school year. It will be twentieth year as a teacher and it will be my 45th year spent in a classroom as either as a student or a teacher.

This morning, Ivy and I enjoyed one final morning of summer freedom together. I sipped coffee and she guarded the bird feeder from the pesky squirrels. The squirrels chirped at her from high in the tree but Ivy stood her ground.

a Monarch and a zinnia

Yesterday, I took time to visit my classroom and help with the schedule and locker distribution. It was nice to see so many excited faces and help students with locker jams or even simply help with a locker combination. Yes, even 8th graders forget how to work a combination lock. Most locker issues were jammed lockers or the wrong locker combination was given to the student – that happens. This will be my 18th year at this school and the lockers are 18 too which explains why there are jams. 17 years of use can wear on locker.

The past week has been a whirlwind of sorts. We’ve been back from the lake for a couple of weeks but it has been busy at home with W, my son, who’s been preparing for Marine Corps Boot Camp. He reported this past Sunday.

The reporting and shipping out process is complicated. W reported to the recruiter’s office and then was transported to the hotel where he would spend Sunday night before being taken to the processing center before shipping out Monday. Once he had checked into the hotel, he was free until 8:30. We had time for dinner with some time left over.

But, where to go?

Continue reading Day 72 – the last one