Category Archives: Life in General

The speed limit

Thursday was my birthday. I turned the speed limit, the speed limit in the United States, in miles per hour, or at least the speed limit that President Nixon signed into law when I was 12. Earlier this year, I was following Sammy Hagar’s example and got a citation for exceeding the posted speed limit. It was an expensive reminder to stay within the boundaries.

photo courtesy of University of Michigan - Dearborn
photo courtesy of University of Michigan – Dearborn

I am 55, not 70, this year and I am comfortable with the number and idea. Each year, I gain a bit more wisdom, realize I have much more to learn, and realize that I have limits. We all have limits.

Since November ’13, I joined the Movember movement and have been growing a moustache to bring awareness to men’s health. At the beginning of November, the moustache is barely noticeable, but after twelve days the whiskers are visible and several people have asked, ‘Growing a moustache?’

I reply, ‘yep.’ And the conversation begins….

I am growing the moustache, not because I look amazing with one, but because the moustache opens a conversation with men my age about the importance of a regular checkup. There are two other men whom I see regularly at school – they both teach 8th grade and we eat lunch together and talk about school, sports, politics, and teaching. But the conversation came up and I asked,

‘When was the last time you had a checkup?’

Neither could recall their last visit for a checkup and were fuzzy when they were last at the doctor’s office and why. Several years ago, that could have been me, but I’ve had a checkup going back to ’09 and the only reason I’ve had a checkup every year since was that I couldn’t go to Boy Scout summer camp without a medical form which included a physical signed by a doctor.

Each doctor’s visit ends with the same reminders – lose weight, watch you what you eat, get some exercise and each year I’ve promised myself to do better and I begin and then, I am back to my old habits.

Earlier this year, I restarted and I am working hard. I have several friends – real and blogger friends – who’ve influenced me through their actions and blogs about the importance of getting and staying active. So, I am moving. I feel much better and my knees are thanking me for it. I am watching what I eat, taking time to exercise, and feeling better.

movember_me_1112So, my moustache grows and it looks ridiculous. The more ridiculous the better because it opens the dialogue and the chance for me to ask, Continue reading The speed limit

Home

I am HOME for the weekend. Not the home where I live, but the HOME where I grew up, where my roots are, where my mom, brothers, and their families live. Texas. All of us are here: me, B, W, and O. Ivy stayed back and, I am told, is sulking: we’ll return Sunday evening and hopefully all will be forgiven. In the meantime, it’s a family reunion on both sides of our families.

great backdrop... perfect
great backdrop… perfect

The reunion is Three funerals and a wedding, sort of twist on the Hugh Grant movie from the 90s, Three Weddings and a Funeral. Continue reading Home

water – a photo challenge

I’ve had this weekend circled on my calendar since Labor Day. It’s been awhile since we’ve been up here, by the lake, in the early fall. The past few years, we’ve been able to come up only after football season was finished and even then it was for a short two-day weekend, not the longer three-day weekend that Columbus Day brings.

the sun lights up South Bay, the wind whips the lake, and we're here... by the lake, Up North.
the sun lights up South Bay, the wind whips the lake, and we’re here… by the lake, Up North.

Last year, it was W, O, Ivy, and I for fall cleanup, the year before in ’14 we all of us left on early Saturday afternoon (after football practice) and only had Sunday to work, and in 13’ I came by myself.

I’ve been searching back in my memory and the cottage guest book and it’s been a long time since we’ve been Up North at this time in the year.

B and I reminisced on our way out of town Friday evening as the sunset in the rearview mirror about our trip in ’96. It was BK – before kids – her parents met us and we had a great time. We drove through the countryside looking at the fall color and we did some yard work, but I remember the deep breaths I was able take by the lake. It does that for me, the lake helps me relax and refocus. Continue reading water – a photo challenge

We the people

It’s Constitution Day, again. This year it falls on a Saturday, so I won’t be celebrating with my students until Monday. In the meantime, I am reminded of the importance to share and celebrate today, even if I only catch the end of Saturday and post late in the evening.

one of the many buckeyes we rescued today at the softball field....
one of the many buckeyes we rescued today at the softball field….

Saturday is always a busy day, even if it is Saturday. The past several years we’ve spent our Friday nights watching a high school football game, but W, my football playing son, graduated from high school in May and is no longer on the team. So we don’t have to be at all of the games. We’ll still root for the Tigers, but we won’t catch all of the games. Besides, O, my softball playing daughter, had a softball game Friday night and we rooted her and her team on to a win.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Preamble to the Constitution.

Seven Articles. Twenty-seven Amendments. 229 years and the framework is still valid. It still works. At the time, it was divisive. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay came together to collaborate on articles to influence the passage of the Constitution. These articles published anonymously are better known as the Federalist Papers and have been used by the Supreme Court justices to help decide many of the decisions they’ve handed down since the Constitution became the law of the land on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire became the 9th of 13 states to ratify the Constitution. Virginia and New York, the two most populous states would become the 10th and 11th states to ratify the document before George Washington was elected our first president. North Carolina and Rhode Island would join the Union while Washington was in his first presidential term. By the time Washington made his farewell address in 1796, the Union would grow to 16 states with Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee joining the original 13 states.

But you don’t follow me to read Constitutional theory or even U.S. History, though it’s interesting. Just admit it, it’s okay. You click MtDc to find out what’s happening and read a little bit of positive in a world filled full of negativity. Continue reading We the people

mirror: a photo challenge

Labor Day weekend – 2016. I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for three weeks. We’re up north at the lake for the last weekend of summer; and while it makes me happy to be here, it does make me bit sad.

the lake, the fog, and Shamu - the Seadoo - standing where the dock was....
the lake, the fog, and Shamu – the Seadoo – standing where the dock was….

I awoke this morning to a fog shrouded lake. It was still and cool outside and the temperatures were in the forties. In late summer, the lake is still warm, or relatively warm and the cool nights cause the fog. Before long the cool nights will chill the lake. This morning surface was like glass, almost a mirror, and the quietness of the lake made my morning coffee special as I remembered the mornings sipping coffee with grandma talking and gazing out over the lake.

I have many memories of being up North for Labor Day weekend. I was scanning the guest book and came across grandma’s handwriting about the time W and I came up to help grandpa and grandma in 2003. B stayed home with O because she didn’t want to deal with a baby in the car and the awful Labor Day weekend traffic. She remembered W and I sailed through and made the trip without traffic jams. And then there are Labor Day weekends like this year when traffic was snarled and we crawled out of Chicago before breaking out of the traffic when we got past Lake Michigan’s eastern shore near Holland.

The year is a cycle – summer – fall – winter – spring and over and over again. Each year brings us new ends and new beginnings and it seems sometimes, as if I am peering into a mirror reflecting on the past. Continue reading mirror: a photo challenge

rare: a photo challenge

It is Sunday evening. It rained most of Saturday, so my Saturday chores – mowing the lawn and caring for the yard were postponed until today.

Yesterday’s rain brought with it cooler weather, and it was welcome. It was nice to be able to sleep with the windows open overnight, sleeping with windows open at night is usually a Late-September early fall treat. Mowing the lawn was much more comfortable than the typical late August Midwestern summer afternoon. It’s rare for August, but very welcome.

I was sitting outside contemplating all that I had left to do when I caught the sun streaming through the trees at exactly the right moment.

catching the sun at the right moment, rare
catching the sun at the right moment, rare

Sunsets at home are enjoyable, but not nearly as spectacular as they are at the lake. So when I can catch the sun in a rare moment, I do.

Even Ivy recognizes the rare moment and has been stalking some critter under the deck. Ivy has been obsessed by some critter that has burrowed under the deck. It could be rabbits or worse, skunks. She’s been skunked twice.

Ivy begs for more 'outside' time..."Please, can I stay outside?", the expression on her face seems to say
Ivy begs for more ‘outside’ time…”Please, can I stay outside?”, the expression on her face seems to say

Sunday’s the quickest day of the week, especially Sunday’s during the school year, and it always comes before Monday, the first day of the school week. Tomorrow is the last day for me to prepare before my students start school Tuesday. I spent most of last week preparing my classroom for the coming year and I have a few final touches before it is ready and I spent part of yesterday working on school tasks.

Today has been a great day and tomorrow could be a million and six times better. So, I’d better put a wrap up today and get a good night’s rest before the first full week of school. I am counting on making it count. Making the Days Count, one rare moment at a time.

What rare moment did you catch today?

Today’s post is inspired by last week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare. For this week’s challenge, share a photo of something rare: a family heirloom. A cloudy day in a normally sunny desert. A sad frown on a cheerful kid’s face. Or anything else you think of as scarce and singular. I can’t wait to see what “rare” means to you!

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

morning: a photo challenge

Saturday morning ….
It’s Saturday morning at the lake. The sun is shining, there is a light breeze, and all is well. 
We have friends visiting for the weekend and last night we enjoyed a campfire as the moon and Jupiter set in the western sky. 

the western sky, the moon sets takong with it Jupiter, and the fire comes alive
Every morning is followed by a night; and it repeats day after day. What I do with the space in between makes the difference. The sun is rising and Earth is slowly waking up, as are our guests. It’s gonna be a great day. Making the Days Count, one day at a
time.

This post is inspired by the Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning and Margaret at Pyrenees to Peninnes
Note: this post was composed entirely on my smartphone – an iPhone 6s.

“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