Category Archives: Writing

Three things for a rainy Saturday morning

It’s been a long since I sat at my desk and wrote a blogpost on a Saturday morning. Saturday morning was once my ‘go to’ day to write. But things change and as I believe all have learned, and experienced, this past year is that if there is one constant in our lives it is change.

As I do from time to time, I looked back at the blog. Over the past year or so, most of my posts have been on Wednesday – those Wordless Wednesdays with a few words or more, so the posts aren’t truly wordless, but wordless at least for me. The second most frequent day I have posted has been Sunday.

I remembered every post and picture; I suppose that it’s your experience when you look back at your own blog.

Oddly, the last time I wrote a Saturday morning post it was a ‘three things’ post and it was raining. So for this week here are my ‘three things’ – hope, spring, and change. Continue reading Three things for a rainy Saturday morning

Light Mode

It is Friday, Good Friday, and our spring break is winding down. Last year for spring break we were in Michigan and we watched the lake ice melt. I spent the remainder of last school year – April and May – teaching from our cottage in Michigan. This year, we are in the keys of Florida and it has been very relaxing. We’ve been safe or as safe as one can be in the world of COVID19, social distancing, and mask mandates.

Monday evening’s sunset from Sunset park, Key Colony Beach, Florida

This year spring break has a different outcome. Last year I was returning from break to remote learning – something I had never done – posting assignments by 8AM and monitoring student progress, using ZOOM to connect with my students and using email and comments on assignments to provide feedback. This year I am returning to having most students in class four days each week and the remainder joining class remotely via ZOOM.

Much has changed since last year and I am thankful, very thankful. This year there is hope, while last year there was fear and uncertainty. Even with hope, there is still some fear and uncertainty, but I have found that when I focus on what I can control and for the rest what I am unable to control, I rely on my faith and pray that hope rises above fear.

Sunday morning’s sunrise. Key Colony Beach, Florida

A week ago, Monday, I opened my email and found that my Lenten Journal had been published. I smiled and shared it with a few folks, and now I share it with you.

I had written the reflection in mid-January as we were preparing to begin hybrid teaching and learning. Hybrid teaching is having some students in class and the remainder remotely on ZOOM. In January, we had divided the students who wanted to be in school into two groups an A group – last names A-L and a B group – last names M-Z. The A group attended Tuesday and Wednesday and the B group attended Thursday and Friday. In all, I had a little more than a third of my students in class for at least two days of instruction and those students who were not in class attended class remotely via ZOOM. It took a bit of learning on my part and my student’s part but we figured it out. We made it work.

Below is my Lenten reflection.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)..” Ephesians 5:8-9

I teach 6th grade science and recently added an iPad as an extra screen to help manage my classroom with students in class and those following along at home. It helps me to create a single classroom and bring together the students who are in the room with those who are at home on Zoom. The iPad suggested I try ‘dark mode’ to help me better see the screen and improve the battery life of my device. But I soon discovered that it made reading more difficult for me and following along in class, dark mode became a burden and I turned off ‘dark mode.’ Continue reading Light Mode

W^2 – shenanigans  

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, March 24, 2021

a whimsical monument to school by one of my 6th graders. Naperville, IL March 9, 2021 12:49 PM

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We started with a few students coming back to school. The change was immediate. The change happened because our building became a school again where children’s laughter filled the halls and the classrooms. School isn’t school without a little bit of shenanigans and tom foolery, now and then. Making the Days Count recognizing that a little tom foolery and shenanigans boost the soul from time to time.

When was your last shenanigan? What did you do?

still silent, Stille Nacht

It’s Christmas morning and Fern and I are the only ones awake, really I am the only one awake. Fern is curled up in her favorite chair overlooking the lawn and the lake. It was grandmas favorite spot, though the chair has changed. Grandma passed away a little more
than five years ago but her memory lives on.

our Christmas tree with the reflection of the fireplace in the window… Merry Christmas…

We drove north to the lake Wednesday morning. O drove one car with Fern and B and I took another with Ivy. We’ve spent the last couple of days readying the cottage for Christmas and it looks and feels like Christmas. Snow is gently falling and all is silent on the lake and in the cottage.

This morning I came across a memory and tweeted it….


And I went back and re-read my post about reading the story to my mother-in-law. Please read, if you have time – Stille Nacht. Continue reading still silent, Stille Nacht

Sunday morning, November 8th

If you had told me that I would be sitting outside writing a blog post on the second Sunday morning in November, I am not sure if I would have believed you.

But I am. The sun has shifted in the sky from where it is in the summer. I can feel the sun on my temple, and I can see my shadow in the laptop screen in front of me. Like many summer mornings when I have written a blog post outdoors on the deck at home or by the lake, I am wearing a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt. The temperature is 67F or almost 20C , there is a gentle breeze, and the sun is shining. It is a beautiful morning.

Yesterday morning, the puppies and I, sat outside and I enjoyed my morning coffee instead of inside on the couch. They sat side by side staring into the backyard, seemingly on watch for the critters they long to catch. The two puppies are really dogs, but they behave like puppies do full of curiosity and eagerness to run, jump, and play. Ivy, the older one, will be 11 years old in a few months and Fern, the younger one, is a little more than a year and a half.

 

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looking for squirrels and I am watching the leaves fall – yesterday the deck was clear… #fallleaves #raking #fallchores

A post shared by Clay Watkins (@makingthedayscount) on

We are repeating yesterday morning’s unusual opportunity – sitting outside in early November. Continue reading Sunday morning, November 8th

1:14 or 15 AM, one year later

The ringing phone woke me, but my B, my wife, answered it. It was Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

It was the phone call every parent fears and it was 1:15 AM.

I climbed out of bed and started getting dressed listening carefully as my wife listened and responded. She was serious locked in and her look and tone gave it away. The phone call was short, but it seemed like an eternity.

She hung up and shared details of the call. It was William our son, he’d been in an accident and it was serious.

We dressed and left for the hospital.

A lot of things went William’s and our way that night and in the days since. That was a year ago tonight. William’s accident happened around 11:09 to before 11:17. The accident report has the emergency crew arriving on scene at 11:17 PM.

We called William’s girlfriend on our way to the hospital.

When we arrived at the hospital the fire chief for the fire department William had begun working for was waiting to greet us and share details of William’s accident. He asked us if there was anything, he, or the fire department, could do for us before the doctor came in to talk with us. It was a single vehicle crash William and the motorcycle had left the roadway and struck two mailboxes before coming to a stop.

When the doctor came into talk to us, the fire chief gave us his card and left.

It was serious, but William was stable. He had sustained a serious head injury even with wearing a helmet. He had a serious scrape on his left knee but no broken bones. Beth asked a few questions and the doctor shared it was early and William was being transferred to a Level 1 trauma hospital in Chicago.

We were able to see William briefly before he was transported. He was sedated and it was severely injured, but he was stable. Some things in life can never be unseen. At some point William’s girlfriend arrived and she was able to see him with us.

A lot of things went William’s way that night and, in the days, weeks, and months since.

William and I on a walk- September 2019

His accident was a year ago this evening and he is doing well and continuing his healing.

William spent a month in the hospital and a rehabilitation hospital. He relearned how to walk and talk and lot of other things we take for granted. After his release from the hospital, he then spent another three months in extensive out-patient rehabilitation.

William worked hard. We prayed and cried. He grumbled, he wanted to be exited early, but he stayed the course. In late December he was exited from out-patient rehabilitation services and cleared to return to normal activities.

A lot of things went William’s way that night and, in the days, weeks, and months since. Continue reading 1:14 or 15 AM, one year later

Day 42: bears and puzzles

Actually, it’s only one bear and one puzzle. I’ve been toying with a puzzle for a while and I finally mastered it. It’s two bent nails seemingly locked together. But the two nails do come apart.

it’s been cloudy most of the day, threatening rain

The twisted nail puzzle is one puzzle in a boxed set of puzzles I received as a Christmas gift from my daughter a few years ago. I decided to leave them here, at the lake, with her permission. This past week I re-discovered the twisted nails and I have been playing with them as a diversion – off and on. Twisting the two nails back and forth was a wonderful way to pass time and focus on something besides the future – COVID19 and the approaching school year.

Continue reading Day 42: bears and puzzles

Father’s Day – 2020

It’s Father’s Day and I am in northern Mississippi visiting with my stepmother. Last year on Father’s Day, I was on my way home from visiting her.

My father died 11 years ago this summer after a fall and a brief illness, and I began writing a year later.

My stepmother had been living independently in Mississippi since he died. Neither my father nor my stepmother is native to Mississippi, but they decided to relocate here after my father retired in 1998. It’s a beautiful town and they have a lovely home.

However, this past winter that independence came to an end after a fall and brief hospitalization. I am grateful that my brothers and I were successful in moving her into an assisted living facility before the COVID19 lockdown shutdown the country.

But life is full of next steps, our next step is convincing her that living in northern Mississippi 621 miles from me in Illinois, 621 miles from one of my Texas brothers, and 630 miles from my other Texas brother is no longer sustainable, especially in the time of COVID19.

visiting on her porch – social distancing and being safe.

Tough conversations. Much like the conversations my dad and I had years ago.

Life is full of twists and turns; it’s full of beginnings and endings where one ending is a new beginning. Continue reading Father’s Day – 2020

hidden

It is a glorious day. The sun is brightly shining through a cloudless sky.

I’ve been up since six this morning. I have been awake since before five this morning when I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I gave up trying to sleep after almost an hour of tossing and turning in bed.

Through my bedroom window I could see the faint outline of the trees as earth came back to life early this morning. I remembered reading that three planets: Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars were aligned and visible in the early morning. So, I climbed out of bed, dressed, and started the coffee.

deep blue lake, predawn

The lake was still, and the lake was shrouded in a deep blue hue in the pre-dawn light. Along the southeastern I could see one planet with the naked eye and could faintly make out the other two. I quickly snapped a shot and then used an iPhone app – Skyview Light – to visualize the early morning sky.  What my eye could see, my phone could not – not enough light.

But the three planets were there – hidden in the light.

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” Henri Bergson

Continue reading hidden

Asynchronous

I love complex words. I am teacher and a learner or a learner and a teacher. The two go hand in hand. Learning never ends.

I began blogging at MakingtheDaysCount dot org almost ten years ago when I was teaching 7th grade English Language Arts. Really 7th grade ELA was my teaching assignment and I was really teaching kids. Teaching 7th grade ELA sharpened my curiosity and honed my knowledge of words and word parts……

chron means time, -ous means full of, syn- means with or together, a means without or not

asynchronous – without any particular time or timing or as Merriam and Webster defines it, not simultaneous or concurrent in time

A few years after my first blog post, I was reassigned and moved to science and a new grade level. I embraced the change because that’s who I am – curious, positive, passionate, resilient, flexible, and determined.

 

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Yesterday’s walk in the woods – fresh air and sunshine – good for the heart and mind #makeitaGREATday

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Last week I learned I was moving again, this time to 6th grade. I’ll will be teaching science (and social studies) but most importantly I’ll be teaching kids. Continue reading Asynchronous