Category Archives: Reading

#FinishSTRONG

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.

Memorial Park – Sunday, April 23 – today was just as sunny, but the tulips weren’t as vibrant.

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.

A couple of weeks ago I got the email below from a student. Continue reading #FinishSTRONG

Road Taken – a photo challenge

It’s late Saturday evening and the day is almost done. The sun set hours ago, and it’s dark now. The moon is visible in the clear western sky. Last night it lightly snowed and this morning when the sun rose its warmth melted the fresh layer of new snow. Spring, at least official Spring, is a little more than a fortnight away, but all indications are that Spring is here.

the road taken – this morning and most Sunday mornings to church

I woke early, made coffee and began work before the sun rose this morning. I was driving to church when I snapped the photo. It’s the road I take to church or downtown or whenever I visit the Northside of town. This morning was the monthly men’s group gathering and I joined this year. Most of the time I am the youngest member of the group. It was my turn to get donuts. Continue reading Road Taken – a photo challenge

A Time for Everything

I’ve been blogging for almost seven years and writing for even longer. It doesn’t seem possible, but I’ve written more than 500 posts and when I click ‘Publish’ it will be 525. Over that time, I’ve written mostly for me and I have developed a small modest following. I am grateful to the friendships and e-relationships I’ve developed. My mom reads and occasionally comments when we talk, but doesn’t leave public comments. But, the original focus was to develop as a writer and maybe, just maybe, write for a broader audience.

the first crocus of 2017

In early January, I noticed an advert in our church bulletin looking for writers for the Lenten Devotional. The advert in the bulletin asked for a scripture reference and I tore off the slip and dropped it in the office message box. A week or so later, I got an e-mail and it read:

Hi Clay,

Thank you for registering to contribute to the Lenten E-devotional. I have you on the list for this scripture passages: Ecclesiastes 3.  Please submit your devotional to this email address by February 10. I look forward to reading it.

Blessings,

So, I sat down and wrote a draft and came back to it a few days later. When I was finished, I called a work colleague asked for editing advice and she told me I had nailed it and offered only a couple of revision and stylistic edits and I submitted the piece.

Yesterday morning, my FIRST piece of public writing landed in my e-mail box, promptly at 5AM. I had no hint of when my devotional would be selected, but it was first. I beamed. I forwarded the e-mail to my mom, my brothers, and my colleague. It felt good. Then, I went about my day.

Before I left the house for school, I received an e-mail from a friend with the message – ‘Enjoyed your devotion. Great Job!’

Below is the Lenten Devotional I wrote.

A Time for Everything

Seasons. That is what I love most about living in the Midwest. I grew up in Southeastern Texas along the Gulf Coast. Most of my family still lives there and my mom still lives in the house where I grew up. Southeastern Texas has two season – HOT and mild, with an occasional dip into cold.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 1:1

Continue reading A Time for Everything

Solitude – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday and I find myself searching for solitude. It’s been a peaceful day, so far: Men’s group at church, a Saturday morning webinar on Tinker vs. Des Moines, a bit of school work, and a power nap. Earlier, I found a bit of solitude at my desk after the webinar and I’m back after the nap. At the moment, I have the sounds of “Still Wild” by La Mar playing. It has a pleasant beat and it’s peaceful and calming.

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl and an unofficial national holiday. I don’t have a preference who win, I only hope it’s a good game. In previous years, I have made my predictions known, not this year. Tomorrow will be a busy day getting ready for the coming week.

I read the WordPress e-mail and post WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude yesterday after school. I pondered the topic this morning; I was stumped. Finally, it came to me this afternoon.

The lake: magic – a photo challenge.

Saturday afternoon’s view the sun shines

We were up at the lake last for Thanksgiving. We had a good time and celebrated Thanksgiving and enjoyed the peace and solitude of being Up North. We invited our neighbor, Mr. Bill over for Thanksgiving dinner, he’s retired and a full-time resident along the lake. He’s also a diehard Detroit Lions fan and they had won the Thanksgiving Day game with a field goal as time expired. I always look forward to seeing him. When we talk, it was always about family, friends, and the peace and solitude along the lake. Especially, the lake.

At school, my science classes Continue reading Solitude – a photo challenge

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

Final Friday

82 days go quickly, believe me. They fly past. School starts next week and today is Day 77, the last Friday of summer break. Five days remain in my summer break. It’s been a good break, just the right amount of time. Almost.

I keep telling myself, ‘If I had a more time……’ but, I’ve had enough time. I’ve done the things I needed to do to get ready for the coming year and I’ve done the things that I needed to do to rest, relax, and restore.

baseball game in Manzanar War Relocation Camp - 1943, photograph courtesy of Library of Congress
a baseball game at Manzanar War Relocation Camp – 1943, photograph by Ansel Adams,  courtesy of Library of Congress

We’ve spent time as a family. We’ve watched softball games, and I’ve listened to and watched my Astros and a couple of Reds games. We’ve been to the lake – boating, swimming, fishing, and hanging out. We’ve gardened, removed weeds, and painted a shack. We’ve sung songs and blasted Coldplay, before and after the concert. It’s been a good summer. Continue reading Final Friday

“You Raise Me Up” a Tuesday’s Tune

Today, I am honored to have Patricia from jansenschmidt: Blogging From the Edge of Eternity guest post here at Making the Days Count dot org. I am not certain when I first ‘met’ Patricia, but I’ve been reading her blog ever since. I’ve followed her from northern California to Vicksburg, Mississippi where she moonlights with her husband at the historic Baer House and blogs at jansenschmidt BLOGGING FROM THE EDGE OF ETERNITY. Where imagination abounds, nothing is impossible.  Indeed, nothing is impossible, it’s gonna be a great day. Thank you Jansen/Patricia. I’ll let her tell the rest of the story.

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First of all, thank you Clay for inviting me to be part of your Tuesday’s Tune project. I am honored to be included, as I am a fan of your blog, primarily for its positive message.

You asked me to write about a song that gives meaning to me for making each day count. I chose “You Raise Me Up,” by the group Celtic Women because I feel certain it must have been written for me to remind me that, even though I lost my mom in 2008, she is still here, still supporting me and still encouraging me. She raises me up to more than I can be. Her absence reminds me to make each day count.

mother daughter quote

I never thought myself to be much like my mother, but I’m everything I am today because of how she raised me. So often I feel her presence pushing me on. I never would have said that my mother was particularly encouraging when I was a kid, yet I feel courageous today. I feel strong and empowered and beautiful because she instilled in me good values and the desire to do what’s right. As the song says: “I am strong because I am on her shoulders.”

little girl on shoulders

I especially like this version of the song, because there’s a piano solo (I play because my mom played) and fireworks (one of my favorite things).

Again, thank you for this opportunity to share my special song. I hope it inspires everyone who reads this blog to never lose sight of the little things or take for granted the things that matter and, most especially, to make each day count.

For more information about me please visit:

Website: http://www.jansenschmidt.com
Find me on Facebook at JansenSchmidtAuthor
Follow me on Twitter @JansenSchmidt
Blog: https://www.jansenschmidt.wordpress.com

last Sunday in July

It’s Monday, August 1. Yesterday was Sunday, July 31 – the last day of July. It’s always a bittersweet day. The first day of August means the month of August is here and it means school is coming, soon.

the sun sets, day is done
the sun sets, day is done

Back to school shopping, school supplies, a regular schedule, and wearing pants (soon) every day.

Yesterday I spent the day boating, reading, and cooking.

I’ve been reading Hamilton by Ron Chernow, but it’s not easy reading. I picked it up last fall and read the first two chapters before setting it down for something lighter. It’s full of facts and details that are interesting, incredibly interesting, but it is difficult to sit and read at the lake. I discovered Audible and have listened to several chapters while driving home and back this summer. I am at the point in the book where Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds is revealed and his reputation takes a hit. ’Say No To This’. America’s first sex scandal.

I needed something lighter, easier to read so I picked up Dead Wake: The Last Crossing by the Lusitania by Erik Larson. I spent much of the afternoon and early evening reading. Despite the subject it is much a lighter topic and an easier read.

After dinner, I enjoyed B’s blueberry crisp. A perfectly sweet finish to the day and remembered I needed to cover the boat.

blueberry crisp, a book, and summer
blueberry crisp, a book, and summer

The sunset. Continue reading last Sunday in July

Saturday morning spring in your step

Saturday morning by the lake.

“Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young, the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step.” Mark Twain from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Friday was a great day. We got a few chores off our list. But, there are more, there is always more. Always.

But, after the chores there was the lake and fun.

We took the boat out for a test ride and some fun. O ‘surfed’ and so did a couple of her lake friends from down the lane. It was a fun evening.

I stayed in the boat and ‘filmed’ and shot stills. I still got wet putting the boat away. Continue reading Saturday morning spring in your step

details – part 2

Sunday afternoon, it rained. We needed the rain, it was dry and the fire conditions in the area are low, yesterday they were listed as moderate, but the rain was enough to lower them. No one wants a fire in the forest. On the flipside, no one likes rain, especially at the lake.

the view through the screen, the large gray dot - the boat
the view through the screen, the large gray dot – the boat

I used the rainy day to relax – actually binge watch several episodes of Madame Secretary on Netflix. I am embarrassed, but not really. I watched my first episode a couple of weeks ago and now I am hooked. I watch few television shows but I did get caught up in Downton Abbey, and when it came on Sunday evening we’d watch it together, B and I. We’ll miss that show.

The rain began gently, then it poured. I love the sound of rain on the roof, it’s peaceful and calming. Exactly what I needed, yesterday. Continue reading details – part 2