Category Archives: Life in General

3C’s for Sunday

It’s Sunday morning and school is in full bloom and my bucket is full, in fact it’s overflowing. Trying to rationalize how time will be spent between the ‘want to dos,’ ‘need to-dos,’ and ‘have to dos’ is the challenge to leading a balanced life. I am thankful to the time I devoted this past summer break for helping me develop a new habit of starting the day with 20 minutes devoted to thinking about what happened yesterday, what will happen today, and how it will shape tomorrow. It’s in line with my first thing…

my Sunday morning view from the deck…

Curiosity
It takes curiosity to Make the Days Count. I am naturally a curious person and according to my principal in 2014, that’s why he picked me to teach 8th grade science. This is my fourth year as a science teacher and I finally feel like I really know what I am doing. It all comes back to that trait – curiosity and wonder. Last August, in 2016, I wrote a post about the 100 most influential Americans. I promised to reveal who the nine Americans I chose for my classroom were, I never did until this post. Continue reading 3C’s for Sunday

Three things for Saturday

It’s Saturday morning and I am Up North for three days – Saturday, Sunday, and part of Monday. I am not counting Friday, because we arrived a little after midnight this morning. We left home Friday afternoon along with thousands of others escaping Chicagoland for one last moment along the lakeshore with family.

sunset. standing on the dock looking west in the sprinkles

It’s an old photo, but it perfectly captures the spirit of the lake.

Houston AstrSchool is back in session and the routine and structure of a daily schedule has returned. It’s a good thing, but it means less time to write. I’ve been yearning to write, but haven’t, I’ve had other things besides school on my mind.

First thing – Harvey
If you’ve been reading Making the Days Count for a while you may know that I am from the Houston area and all but one of my family members live in the area. I lived in the Houston area for the first part of my life from the early 60s until I moved away in 1987. In all that time, I remember only a couple of tropical storms and one hurricane – Alicia in 1983. Since then, the area has been hit by several large hurricanes and tropical storms. Recently by Hurricane Harvey this past weekend. Fortunately, all of my family are safe and their homes weren’t affected by the flooding. But there were thousands of area residents and many folks who my family members know who were impacted by the flooding.

Last night as I drove north, I talked to my mom and she shared all of the good things that are happening in the Houston area. I’ve read the stories about how the community is coming together to help those affected by the storm. It renews my faith and makes me #HoustonSTRONG. Continue reading Three things for Saturday

Thankful Thursday

It’s mid-afternoon Thursday and I am thankful. I am thankful other days too, however this was a planned post, or at least the topic/subject was planned. In full disclosure, I started writing earlier this morning but I wasn’t able to finish the post, proofread, edit, and publish before an appointment, so I had to finish this afternoon.

At the beginning of the calendar year I began a quest. The quest, really a task or goal, was to write a handwritten thank you note and post it in the mail to someone, somewhere, each day. I was inspired by a book I had read several years before about being thankful by John Kralik. He had written the book about writing thank you notes to people he knew and encountered and how in doing so his life changed for the better. The book, A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life was published in 2010 and I first learned of the book in early 2011. I bought the book and read it and passed it on to a couple of people…but that was several years ago.

This past December I was writing thank you notes to my students for their thoughtfulness and generosity with their Christmas gifts. Writing thank you notes is not new, I have always written thank you notes at Christmas and at the end of the year – even before I read the book. However, this year I could identify with Kohn Kralik. The past several years have been incredibly difficult – personally and professionally.  If you’ve followed me for a while, you may know or remember posts about the passing of my in-laws and my sister-in-law in the brief period of 18 months. When it rains, it pours. You may also recall, I my teaching assignment shifted from teaching English Language Arts to teaching science and moved from one grade to another. The transition has not been easy – in fact it’s been incredibly difficult. However, I have persevered, been resilient, and learned from my (many) mistakes and have continued to move forward. It’s been important to remind myself – I am passionate about social studies. In 7th grade it was geography and I loved it, in 8th grade it’s U.S. History and making social studies fun and relevant for kids is my passion. But above all, I teach kids, not a subject or a content area. Continue reading Thankful Thursday

Marvelous Monday

It’s Monday morning and I am in my summer Saturday morning writing spot, the deck overlooking the path and the back yard and garden. The lawn crews don’t work our neighborhood on Monday, so it will be peaceful. Ivy joined me earlier, but decided she wanted to go back to sleep, plaintively whining beside the backdoor, so I let her back in. She went inside and laid down curling up on her pad. Later, when I went inside to refill my coffee cup, I asked her if she wanted to come back outside, she lifted her head, and sighed as if to say,

“It’s Monday morning, let me sleep, please.”

I can empathize, the past couple of days have been a blur.

photo by O – a Black-eyed Susan is a rest stop for a moth

It’s a new week and it’s going to be a great day, a marvelous Monday.

Thursday, I laid low and took a day to relax and rejuvenate and of course, to make a salad. Continue reading Marvelous Monday

Tuesday’s Tune – ‘Roam’

Flashback to 1989, I was younger and living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had roamed west in ’87 away from south Texas – yearning to make it on my own.

Roam if you want to
Roam around the world
Roam if you want to
Without wings, without wheels

Summers are for exploring and roaming. I am fortunate to have a profession where I have summers off and time to rest, relax, restore, and explore. Many folks think all teachers do over summer break is play, but that’s not the case most teachers are busy with learning or rethinking ways to be a better teacher. But that’s not what today’s Tuesday’s Tune is about.

A Farmer’s Market in Good hart, MI

Flashback to 1989, Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – ‘Roam’

satisfaction: bottled sunshine

It’s late July, and it’s that time of the year. Back to school. O and I were out shopping today and stores are in full swing with their back to school shopping sales. I read Jen H.’s Weekly Photo Challenge post and I certainly identify with her, I love school supplies and office supplies. School is around the corner; 24 days and counting for my colleagues and I.

Monday’s sunset – getting in position….

Summer break has been satisfying, though I feel my bathroom scale is lying to me. Perhaps, summer has been too satisfying. O and I returned Tuesday morning for marching band camp. B and Ivy remained Up North by the lake. B’s awaiting her sister and her son – our nephew – who arrives later today. O and I will be back for the weekend. We’re both excited to see them and have fun at the lake. This weekend is race weekend and there will be fun by and on the lake, then fun as spectators watching the canoe race. And who knows what else we will find to do. It will be a great weekend.

At this point during summer break, I begin to panic. Usually, it’s where did summer go? Not this summer, it’s been largely a summer full of satisfaction. I read the week’s photo challenge and as always, it’s wide open. I checked the meaning of satisfaction and Merriam and Webster define satisfaction as:

2a: fulfillment of a need or want
2b: the quality or state of being satisfied: CONTENTMENT
2c: a source or means of enjoyment: GRATIFICATION

Summer break comes along at the perfect time in the school year for kids and adults. The learning and growing and teaching that happens requires a great deal of mental energy and by year’s end we’re both exhausted. This summer has had the right amount of contentment, perhaps according to my scale, a tad more contentment. Continue reading satisfaction: bottled sunshine

unusual: a photo challenge

It’s summer break and I’ve been on the road, that’s not unusual. Summer is travelling season for me and the family. Wednesday morning, I was in North Carolina – really, no Raleigh, Wednesday night I was back home in Chicagoland, and Thursday evening I was in northern Michigan. I rejoined my family after a professional conference – it was good and I realized I have much to do and learn. I am here for the weekend and then we return home Monday or Tuesday.

an unusual sight – a wind turbine blade

Driving to Michigan is sometimes a gamble, sometimes I can make it in 6 hours, sometimes quicker, but most of the time the drive stretches to almost 7 hours. The time depends on weather, accidents, or construction or a combination of all three.

Thursday afternoon had elements of all three and I arrived before the sunset and our guests from Ohio.

the sign says it all….

Along the way, I stopped at the Michigan Welcome Center near New Buffalo so I could take a selfie with the Welcome to Michigan sign to go with my Welcome to North Carolina selfie from my last post. When I pulled off the highway into the rest stop, I saw something unusual – wind turbine blades on the move or rather, off the road waiting for a better time to move. Several years ago, we watched a trainload of wind turbine blades travelling through Chicago. I went back in time – it was long time ago, and yes it was unusual to see wind turbine blades on a train or a truck. Continue reading unusual: a photo challenge

a ‘prime’ (math) day

2017 is prime. I realize tomorrow, 7-11-17, is PRIME DAY if you are an Amazon customer. Regardless, as of today – this post – we are 191 days into 2017; there are 174 days remaining in ’17. I don’t mean prime in the sense of the best, rather prime in the math sense. 2017 is a prime number.

this wise old owl keeps the dock duck-free, or is supposed to…

2017, the number, is prime Continue reading a ‘prime’ (math) day

bridge – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday morning and I’m home, on the deck. I’ll be back at the lake later this evening, but for the moment I am home. I drove home Friday. I left in the morning hoping to avoid the weekend traffic and it almost worked.

I was able to catch up with W, run a couple of errands, workout, and eat dinner before calling it a day. I have an appointment later this morning, then I am returning to the lake.

This morning I woke, made the coffee, and enjoying my morning on the deck. It was peaceful and calm, until the neighbor’s yard crew arrived. My yard crew (W) is still sleeping, he mowed yesterday and the yard looks grand. Continue reading bridge – a photo challenge

Tuesday’s Tune – ‘America the Beautiful’

Yesterday was American Independence Day. It’s the day Americans, like me, take to celebrate our freedom and independence. Many gather to barbecue and watch fireworks, still others, like me and my family, travel to be with family. We are by the lake, where we have celebrated the Fourth of July as a family for as long as I can recall.

Our family tradition began in after B and I married in ‘91, and with exception of a handful of years, I’ve been here on the Fourth ever since. At first, we celebrated with B’s parents and her sisters and their families. Then they moved away and they weren’t able to be here for the holiday and it was just our family and B’s parents. Then life intervened and her dad passed away in June of ‘14, then her mom followed in late ’15. Now it is us and we continue to get travel north and enjoy the lake with our friends we’ve grown to know along the lake.

We celebrated as we always do: we went to the town parade, then spent time on the lake, barbecue and enjoy dinner, and finished the day with the town fireworks celebration, and of course the traditional popcorn. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – ‘America the Beautiful’