Category Archives: Teaching and Learning

Day 18 – Friday, not just another day?

This morning as I stumbled through my morning routine, I noted in my reflection and gratitude app that it was Friday. Normally Friday would bring joy and be amazing, but during the summer when it is summer break, Friday is simply another day.

Thursday evening’s sunset

Fridays during the school year bring joy and anticipation of weekend plans and a less structured day. During summer break, almost every day is less structured! I try to keep that in mind as I plan and execute my day and my week. As the summer winds down, structure is what I look forward to about returning to school.

Years ago, I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Reading the book was difficult. It was full of ideas about personal management and was more of a textbook for life. I finished it and every so often, I open it, and re-read or leaf through the pages. The habit I rely on most during the unstructured summer is Habit 3: Put First Things First. Reading that book, changed my life. Continue reading Day 18 – Friday, not just another day?

W^2 – summer

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, June 21, 2023

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I have two, errr three, images of summer captured in the spring. I chode baseball, but I could choose just about anything as an image of summer.

It is summer, officially at 10:57 AM CDT, but it’s felt like summer since school let the kiddos free June 2ndand me free the following Monday, the fifth.

a summer game played in the three seasons – April 6 at Target Field Minneapolis, Minnesota. Game time time temp low fifties. Beautiful day and great game Astros 2, Twins 3 in 10 innings

Today is Day 16 and it is a very different day than my first Day 16 post on MtDC:  Day 15 and 16: Takeoff and Landing – Day 1 in Paris. I look at those photos and remember each moment.

Last summer I got serious about my bucket list goal of visiting every major league baseball stadium with a seven day, seven game, six city, and ten baseball team trip beginning in New York City winding west finishing in Cleveland before driving home to Chicagoland. In all last year, I attended ten ballgames and watched one half of the teams in the MLB. I finished the 2022 season having seen 20 of the 30 present day ballparks.

T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Washington. Looking to left field. May 6th, Astros 5 Mariners 7.

This season, Continue reading W^2 – summer

Tuesday’s Tune: Fire and Rain

It’s Day 8 of summer break and I have completed one FULL week. Mostly it’s been catching up on the tasks that I said I’d do when school ended or working on the things that needed to be done to close out school, like packing my classroom and moving to another classroom, my twelfth classroom in twenty-two years. Moving is incomplete and I’ll finish moving later this week when I return home.

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.

I have spent Days 4 through 7 (and Day 9) at our lake house.

day lilies, drenched in June rain, awaiting July blooms

Our daughter is spending the summer by the lake working at a local veterinarian. The lake house is about a two-hour drive to where she attends university at Michigan State. When I was in middle school, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but by the time I finished high school I had changed my career path to being an engineer, and a couple of years later I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. It wasn’t until I went back to school in 1997 that I finally realized my middle school career aspiration of working with animals. Yes, there is a joke there, a dad joke, but a joke, nonetheless.

It’s been a dry spring in the Midwest and throughout southern Canada. Dry understates the problem.

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.

Wildfires have ravaged southern Canada and for the past month the air has been filled with smoke particles. The skies, normally a brilliant sky blue, have been a grayish white with the sun’s rays scattered as they pass through the atmosphere. Last week major league baseball cancelled three games in the northeast due to wildfire smoke in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

Last week Saturday, June 4th a wildfire, sparked by an untended campfire, burned over 2000 acres near our lake house. Our daughter was here, she sent photos of Forest Service fire planes scooping water from the lake’s surface and helicopters filling buckets filled with water to douse the wildfire’s flames.

Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: Fire and Rain

W^2 – Old Glory

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, May 31, 2023

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I have ‘Old Glory’ and the moon on a late spring night.

It’s been, too long since I’ve published a post, but there have been many I’ve done in my mind. Things just get in the way of writing and posting.

Speaking of which, there are two school days remaining in this school year and I harken back to a school year gone awry and the birth of Making the Days Count dot org, at first a dot com. That was thirteen years ago; this post is the first of year fourteen.

I spent the evening marking papers, then realized I needed to run a quick errand and walked outside to discover the moon and the flag.

A lot has taken place since that first post thirteen years ago, but theirs is more to tell in the years ahead, just like the flag and moon. There’s more left and beginning Monday at noon, there are 76 days to practice for the time when I won’t be teaching.

Today was a great day, I think I got 140 sixth graders to think about energy transfer when they really wanted to think about summer break and sleeping in. Tomorrow we are on a walking field trip to a local park and Friday will be here and gone before I know it and I’ll be outside waving to school buses as the leave the parking lot one last time.

I’ve got a little formatting to do and then I’ll press publish and this will go live. The day is done, and I am headed to bed to catch some rest before it starts all over anew. Making the days Count, one day at a time, it’s all in a cycle.

What are your plans this summer?

Mother’s Day – 2023

It’s been five years since my mom, our mom, died. I miss her dearly. Especially on Mother’s Day and her birthday.

mom as a young girl, I think I got her curly hair. photo from early 1940s

When I started blogging, she became my reader and my critic. I miss those conversations and so much more. She taught me how to be who I am today. She taught me to be curious, to ask questions, and so much more.

Last year her sister, and our aunt, died. Those two sisters taught us more than I realized, and I miss them both.

Lynne, my mom, and Joyce, my aunt

Today, we are non-sequential, 61-60, and 58. In October, we we’ll be in order again until I mess it up and turn 62 a month later in November.

mom’s last birthday in 2018, she turned 80 and we celebrated as a big family. Left to right, David, Warren, and me. At the time it was 54, 56, and 57. We’ve gotten older and wiser.

It’s because of mom that I keep working at Making the Days Count. Each day, in some way, I work at it. I am thankful and full of gratitude for her patience and kindness when what I really, I needed (and deserved) was a kick in the pants and tough love.

It’s Mother’s Day and I’d better get going on it and jump in, jump out, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, looking back, looking forward, but always remembering.

What is one thing you learned from your mother?

W^2 – terminus

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, March 29, 2023

terminus of westbound Seven Mile Bridge looking east over the Gulf of Mexico – Big Pine Key, FL Tuesday, March 28, 2023, 7:48 PM

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I have the old section of the historic Seven Mile Bridge which is the dividing line between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico in the Strait of Florida. I love how in the evening light the line between the ocean and the sky blend together.

My wife and I are enjoying a spring break vacation in the Florida Keys. Sunrises and sunsets mark our days and are often spectacular. Sadly, after three days in the Keys, this was our first ‘watched’ sunset though I have yet to miss a sunrise.

The bridge was constructed as part of the Overseas Railroad extension from Miami to Key West in the early twentieth century. The railroad operated until 1935 when massive hurricane wiped out a portion of the railroad. The right of way was sold to the state of Florida and the bridges were used to build a highway from Miami to Key West. The railway bridges were replaced in the early 1980s and the old bridges were disabled and left in place. A portion Seven Mile Bridge and several other bridges were set aside for fishermen. Additionally, a two-mile segment of the old Seven Mile Bridge connecting Knights Key with Pigeon Key.

It is always peaceful and calm when we visit. The temperatures have been in the 80s (28-31C) and there has been plenty of sunshine in between sunrise and sunset.

This morning, I watched the sunrise and I know today is gonna be an awesome day, I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. And press publish for the first time in a long while. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, always looking, always watching, wondering.

How is your world looking this morning?

W^2 – kitchen window

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, February 8, 2023

momma cardinal at the feeder, Wheaton, Illinois January 22, 2023 1:10 PM

It is Wednesday and I have written or posted in a very long while.

Birds have been visiting the feeder this winter and I looked out the kitchen window a couple of weeks ago to see a pair of cardinals feeding – a couple a male and a female. The male with his bright red plumage caught my eye and I took photos of both. I am saving the rest for a future post.

Today is going to be a great day, an amazing day, in fact. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, enjoying the longer days and the sunshine we’ve had of late.

What do you see when you look out your kitchen window?

W^2 – last time?

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, January 4, 2023

I’ve been in northern Mississippi since Monday afternoon. I flew Southwest Airlines, yes that Southwest Airlines. The airline that melted down and cancelled hundreds of flights for an entire week beginning the day after Christmas. It’s been my go-to airline since I began travelling to Mississippi to visit my stepmother or care for the house these past three years.

the moon rising at 5:08, cant’s see Mars and my stepmoms home in Oxford

Yesterday, I engaged a realtor to sell the property. The day began with thunderstorms racing through the area and a tornado warning. By noon, the skies were clear. I took care of a few errands and decided to walk around her neighborhood one last time. Oxford is a beautiful town, and I understand how she and my dad came to love it.

fifteen minutes later and mars is visible

As I finished my walk, the sun had set, and the moon was rising. I’d gotten a message from an app that the moon and mars would be in conjunction and the best viewing time would 5:06 PM. It was still light out and the moon was visible, but Mars wasn’t. I pulled a lawn chair out onto the drive and sat and watched. Within twenty minutes Mars became visible as a small dot above the moon.

I savored the moment; it was a beautiful January evening, and it was pleasant enough to sit outside without a jacket.

twenty-seven minutes after sunset

I’ve enjoyed my visits over the years, but I am hoping this is my last trip to Oxford.

I had entertained the idea of driving to Vicksburg and staying at the Baer House and visiting the Vicksburg battlefield one more time but decided to get home and finish up a few things before school restarts Monday.

It’s a beautiful sunny day at the Memphis airport, but it will be good to get home later this evening.

Today is already an amazing day. I got to the airport ahead of time, I am checked in, and waiting on an airplane. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, looking forward to getting home.

How is the weather where you are?

annus mirabilis

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, I reserve life changing promises for the new year which begins at the end of school, when teachers and students have an entire summer to reflect and reset for a new year. Sometimes these promises work and sometimes, they don’t.

The beginning of 2023 is no different. I’ve been reading posts on the blogosphere and social media disparaging the recently completed year, 2022. I suppose for some 2022 wasn’t the year for them. I read support for the recently completed year, as well.

On the whole, 2022 was, at least for me, an improvement on the previous year. It wasn’t perfect, but most years aren’t.

Early this morning, I discovered a new word – annus mirabilis, or a remarkable or notable year. I found it checking the meaning of another word with my Merriam-Webster app.

I’ve been blogging since the end of the school year in 2010. Blogging was a resolution then, but really it was more of a reaction to an annus horribilis. This post will mark my 728th post that I have published across fourteen consecutive years. That one resolution has changed my life in so many ways.

a Northern Cardinal at the feeder, Monday December 26, 2022

As I reflected this morning, Continue reading annus mirabilis

W^2 – five thousand plus seconds

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Last night I was on my way home from purchasing a lottery ticket, two tickets, one for last night’s drawing and one for tonight’s drawing. I know, the chance of winning is minuscule, maybe even infinitesimal, but I purchased them anyway.

the waxing crescent moon and Jupiter over Danada Forest Preserve, Wheaton, IL, December 27, 2022 8:41 PM

On the way home, I looked up to see the setting waxing crescent moon and Jupiter. A cloudless or less clouded December sky is a rarity here in northern Illinois and I suppose my four-dollar purchase of lottery tickets could be construed as an admission ticket to a Tuesday evening light show.

I pulled to the roadside and waited patiently for traffic to pass while I snapped photos of the prairie, the moon, and Jupiter; all of which are reflecting our sun’s light. It takes the sun’s light 5080.32 seconds to travel from the sun to Jupiter and reflect toward Earth so we can see it. That’s an hour, twenty-four minutes, and forty seconds.

My last post was titled ‘light’ and I almost named this post ‘light, again,’ but I decided that the title above would be better. Things take time and cloud free nights in winter are rare. This morning the sun rose, as it always does, and we welcomed a new day. Today is going to be an amazing day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, being patient with the universe.

When was the last time you looked up to see the light of a night sky?