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.
It is Memorial Day and I am reminded of the sacrifice of America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.
I had planned to write a fitting post to commemorate the occasion, but words failed me.
Yesterday we watched the Indy 500 (on television) and I remembered the many trips to Indy and back with my father-in-law, then watching him march in the town Memorial Day parade the following day. I remembered the drive to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery with my dad in May ’97, attending the Memorial Day ceremony at Suresnes American Cemetery in Paris in May of ’97. I remember the trip back to France in 2010 with my brothers, step-mother, and my dad’s cremains.
I searched for words to put together and failed, seeking inspiration I opened and e-mail from the American Battle Monument Commission and found the two videos below.
Today is also the anniversary of my first post: Day 1 – What am I doing? I still wonder what I am doing and there are a lot of words between then and now. I am still humbled by the sacrifice of America’s men and women in arms.
The peonies opened up in yesterday’s sunshine and today promises to be another glorious day, weather fitting for a parade and Memorial Day ceremony. It’s gonna be a great day, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, it’s all that I can do.
It’s Sunday morning and tomorrow is Monday, yesterday was Saturday. That’s how it rolls every week. Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and we were able to tackle the Christmas decorations. Usually, we take down the decorations in February or March when the snow melts, but the snow has been gone since Christmas day and yesterday’s temperatures were more like spring than winter and we both worked in our shirt sleeves.
Friday was the inauguration of the new president. It happens every four years or every four years and a day, if the January 20 falls on a Sunday. It was a day of anticipation for many people across the United States of America. A day of anticipation because we are a nation divided. Continue reading Preserve, protect, and defend→
Sunday comes after Saturday, and a full week; so it’s no surprise that it’s another Sunday morning. CBS Sunday Morning is on the television in front of me and I can watch with one eye and one listen with one ear. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t because I am easily distracted and drift off and watch with both eyes and listen with both ears, not good for a day with several chores and much schoolwork lying ahead.
But, I watch and listen adjusting the volume up and down as needed, because sometimes I get an idea for a lesson, or maybe even a post. Or, maybe it makes my life a tad bit richer than it was before I switched it on.
Last week slipped by in a blur of days and activities. The week was four days long due to the Columbus Day holiday and when Friday’s 3 PM dismissal bell rang school was done, but I was not finished. There was more to do with the time than I had, a common problem I encounter.
Tuesday afternoon, I volunteered to play music at the 8th girls’ volleyball game after school. Tuesday was pink out – for Breast Cancer Awareness and the 8th grade girls played in homemade pink jerseys. A week earlier, I had given each of my students a pink pencil in honor of Melinda and her mom who was taken too early in July 2000. The same day I changed the banner of my blog to pink pencils – the odd colored pencils in the banner, represent women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. I enjoyed playing music between games and during timeouts, and so did the girls and their parents. One of the girl’s teams won, the other lost, but it was time well spent. Thursday in class, the girls asked if I would play music for their playoff game that afternoon, so I did. They came up short and their season is finished, but the lessons they learned this season will last a lifetime. Sometimes, what is pressing is not as important as building relationships.
Last week in history class, we finished studying the American Revolution and began our study of the next steps in democracy – for the young nation, it was figuring out what was next. They started with the Articles of Confederation and soon discovered the Articles needed amending and wrote the Constitution. It was messy and each state and each delegate had their own ideas of which direction to move. Several men stepped forward and advanced their ideas – Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Hamilton are the few we remember – here are the rest…. Founding Fathers.
My eight graders were wondering what was in it for them, they wondered,
It’s Saturday morning and it’s quiet. Ivy was excited to see me this morning when I came downstairs. We we sat together outside for a few moments while I sipped my coffee and listened to the world. She followed me in when it was time to begin the day. It’s always quiet Saturday mornings, before the kids awake and move on to their activities.
Several weeks ago, I alluded to working on a BIG project and handing it in.
from : Quiet Saturday Mornings (9/5) ……. I reached a milestone, too, I finished a big project and I turned it in yesterday afternoon. I got the confirmation this morning. It’s too soon to write about, but I’ll report back when I receive news – keep your fingers crossed for me. Thanks.
For my students it was 9/11, they do not know. Most of them were not alive when the day unfolded and our world changed, forever.
9/11/2001 was my son W’s first day of pre-school – he was three. He remembers momma standing in front of the television crying and asking her what was wrong.
Momma replied, “Bad news.”
To him, and all of us, 9/11 is the day of the ‘Bad News.’
Yet, it doesn’t have to be the day of the Bad News.
At school, we were looking for a way to mark the day and remember. The flag flew at half-staff, we observed a moment of silence, and the above ‘Today in History’ slide appeared in the daily announcements. Then, our school went about our day – learning, guiding, leading, assessing, re-teaching, and so many other verbs. We do it every day.
Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”― George Santayana, The Life of Reason: Five Volumes in One
This fall, I’ll be teaching history full time for the first time in my teaching career. I am excited and I am worried. History gets a bad rap, especially with 13-14 years olds. Many folks believe history is remembering all sorts of dates and facts, and while that’s part of it, it’s not the reason we study history. We study history to learn from our mistakes and move forward as a people, as a society.
This past year, I taught one section of history and it opened my eyes, again. American society seems to repeat itself every other generation – the issues my great grandparents faced, my generation faces today. In the 1840s immigrants – the Irish – were blamed for the country’s ills. Three generations later in 1900 – 1920s a different group of immigrants – eastern and southern Europeans were blamed, today it’s yet another group of immigrants longing for freedom.
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” From the “New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
In the last quarter of the school year, I suggested a daily dose of history and volunteered to manage it. Administration ALWAYS appreciates initiative and follow through. Each school day I’d select an event and create a slide for the morning announcements. My colleagues knew I was behind it and let me know they appreciated the reminder of the importance of each day. Sometimes, I’d tweet it with my school twitter account – @ScullenWatkins.
It’s Sunday morning and I’ve had a good start to the day – I’ve read the paper, caught up on news, and finished watching CBS Sunday Morning’s weekly broadcast. I am full of ideas for the day, and the coming week – which usually stares me down at this time in the weekend. Tomorrow is martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday holiday and I have an extra day to prepare for the coming week. Friday was a planned teacher workday – school without kids and NO MEETINGS and I spent several hours yesterday working on school work.
I took these photos last week at a Forest Preserve I pass on my way to and from school. A narrow shallow rock-bottomed river runs beside the road and the cold weather has iced over much of it, except for the space where it trickles over a natural dam and opens up before running downstream. I visited the preserve last weekend. The sun was shining and the world was full of shadows. I found tracks in the fresh snow which I could only see because of the shadows and I startled a Canadian goose. I took my shots, captured the shadows and retreated home to where it was warm.
What do dynamite, Teddy Roosevelt, and Malala have in common?
I posed that question to my eighth graders last week. It was how I began my science instruction for the day and I tweeted it on my school Twitter account. It was Thursday, the day after Wednesday; because that is the way the week usually plays out. Friday came and went, then Saturday, and now it is Sunday morning.
dynamite – image courtesy of NobelPeacePrize.org
Teddy Roosevelt – image courtesy of NobelPeacePrize.org
Malala Yousafzai image courtesy of NobelPeacePrize.org
I’ve been feeling guilty lately. I haven’t written, blogged, or read much outside my realm of eighth grade science and history since Thanksgiving. I was looking at my blog and reflecting about its purpose and my commitment to the blog – writing, and in life in general. I looked back at the history of the blog back to my first year, 2010, and every afterward. In December, I fell off a cliff. It wasn’t just this year, it was last year and every year in December my posting dropped off and in each month there is a significant gap between Thanksgiving and the next post, today’s post is 17 days after Thanksgiving. I find comfort in the fact that every year I seem to be consumed by a vortex. It’s every year, not just this year.
There is nothing like a parade, especially on the Fourth of July. We took in two – the parade in town at 11 AM and the boat parade on the lake at 3PM.
July always seems like a busy month, I suppose all of the months are busy, but it’s July and I am in the moment. I’ve been flashing back and forth from past to present and present to past lately, some of it triggered by where I am and some where I’ve been. I needed something in between.