Tag Archives: Spring Break

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 – Irma and time

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, March 31, 2021

demolition is almost complete on this piece of ocean frontage. Key Colony Beach, Florida March 28, 2021 12:49 PM
a black and white version of the same photo, Key Colony Beach, Florida March 28, 2021 12:49 PM

Hurricane Irma came ashore on just east of this location on September 10, 2017. Irma was a category 4 hurricane with winds in over 100 mph and a storm surge of 6 to 10 feet. She left behind damaged homes, buildings, and this condominium complex in her wake. Most were able to rebuild, but for some the damage was too great to rebuild. Sometimes, it’s easier just to start over. Making the Days Count, even when I must press the reset button and begin again.

When was the last time you pressed re-set?*

*Full disclosure, I went back to ”play’ with Adobe Photoshop and decided to add a black and white version of the photo.

my favorite place – a photo challenge

sunrise Sunday morning – first full day in the Keys

It’s spring break and we are in Florida. Specifically, the Keys. It’s a favorite place of ours for spring break. Summer, of course, is a different matter.

As a teacher I get Spring Break and fortunately, for me, our children’s spring break is the same as mine.

The past three spring breaks, we’ve come here – Key Colony Beach – in the middle Keys. We’ve been here several other times as well going back to our first visit in 2002. My wife’s memories date back to her childhood. It’s where my son earned his scuba certification before his summer Boy Scout high adventure trip to the Florida Sea Base a little further east from where we are currently staying.

We booked our trip well before school started and we’ve been looking forward to coming back since last year’s trip. We were worried that the adventure would be a little different this year due to Hurricane Irma’s visit in September ’17 – six and half months ago.

Where we staying appears to be back to normal. However, there are signs everywhere that there is a new normal. The landscaping where we are staying is all new and many of the properties around us are still being repaired. Several properties have not re-opened and we discovered yesterday Bahia Honda State Park, our favorite Florida State Park, is still being restored, or at least our favorite spot – the beach along the Atlantic Ocean. Continue reading my favorite place – a photo challenge

April Fool

It’s our last day of spring vacation and I awoke early to watch the sun rise over the ocean, one last time, or at least until next Spring Break. At home, I can always wake to see the sunrise, but it doesn’t have the majesty of the sun rising on the horizon over the ocean, though the very act of the sun rising bring a new day and a new opportunity to make the day count is something special.

Saturday morning’s last ocean sunset, for me at least

I’ll get to see the sunset one last time before we take off and head home. Here 77F (25C) and home 32F (0C), Spring is just around the corner I keep reminding myself. Seemingly, April’s April Fool prank on me – April Fool.

Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortuga National Park – from our trip Thursday

Continue reading April Fool

it IS easy being green

It’s Spring Break: the annual time in the year when people in the northern parts of the United States flock to warmer climates ahead of the warming temperatures where we live. I’ll admit it was ‘spring-like’ when we left Friday afternoon with temperatures soaring to the low 80s (mid to upper 20sC) but today the temperatures are back to normal – highs in the 40s (8-9C) and lows close to freezing overnight.

white sand, green seas, and blue skies…

We’re in south Florida – the Keys – where we spent break last year and have been several times before. Here it’s green year-round and the temperature variance is quite small for this time of the year. During the day, the highs reach the low 80s and overnight it cools to the low 70s, It’s pleasant. Continue reading it IS easy being green

picture book

March 31. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 90th birthday. I remember celebrating his 70th and his 80th birthdays and several in between. We miss him.

We’re on spring vacation in the Keys. The Keys are a special place, it’s place he and his daughter introduced to me in 2002. B has fond memories of her time in the Keys – visiting with her folks. I had never been to Florida, outside of Miami International, until that trip. I fell in love with the Keys and we’ve been back several times – 2004, 2007, 2013, and this year. Each time I come here, I think of him and grandma and enjoy the sun.

The first time we came, they met us at the airport – it was B, W, and me. B was pregnant with O at the time, so I suppose you could say that O came along, too. Continue reading picture book

Half-light – a photo challenge

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

We are away this week, but I have my laptop. I never travel without it, though sometimes I don’t use it, or can’t use it. It is Spring Break, a much needed break. We left town Thursday night and arrived here, at the beach, Friday evening.

this morning's early half-light, a new day is coming
this morning’s early half-light, a new day is coming

It’s been a while since I posted anything, my last post was early February. It has been a long break from writing, I’ve been overwhelmed with life, seemingly been in the half-light of the world. Sometimes we need to press the ‘reset’ button. Continue reading Half-light – a photo challenge

The state bee

Today is gonna be a great day. I usually end my posts with this, but today I’ll start AND end with the quote. The quate is aline is from a song, aptly named “Today is gonna be a great day” and it was in part, part of the inspiration for Making the Days Count almost five years ago.

This could possibly be the best day ever
And the forecast says that tomorrow will likely be
A million and six times better

So make every minute count
Jump up, jump in and seize the day
And let’s make sure that in every single possible way
Today is gonna to be a great day

It is gonna be a great day, because today is the National Geography Society’s state Geography Bee and my student qualified for it. Actually, he really isn’t my student he’s a sixth grader and he goes to my school. I just happen to be the Geo Bee coordinator and very passionate about geography. I’ve been helping him prepare, first for the state qualifying test and then for the state competition. We’ve had two study sessions where I’ve helped him and guided him by asking questions from past geography bees, but he really knows his stuff. Today will be the big test and he’ll be up against 100 other kids from across Illinois from grades 4 to 8 or ages 9-14. Most of them will be boys, about 80-90% and I wish him the best.

The best part is that I get to go and watch. Continue reading The state bee

Weekly Photo Challenge – Relic

reidcropLast April, for Spring Break, we came to visit my mother-in-law and father-in-law. In fact, that’s where I found myself yesterday morning, in Ohio. We arrived Saturday night in time to watch the Reds score five runs in the fifth inning with my mother-in-law, then watch the Pirates tie it in the ninth, and win it in the eleventh inning with home runs by the same batter. The reds lost, but, I digress. I usually do, apologies.

It was an odd spring break, while most of our contemporaries were enjoying time away with their kids, B and I were dealing with end of life issues with her older sister and her father, my father-in-law. We still are. B’s sister passed away in April, and her dad passed away in June. We are reeling. While B has been driving back and forth to Ohio, I’ve had the kids. It’s easier for us because of our flexibility during the summer. I am relatively free.

I couldn’t have been more fortunate to have found the family I did – my in-laws are like second parents, like friends. Several years ago, I began joking with my mother-in-law that she was my favorite mother-in-law and she retorted that I was her favorite son-in-law. Every now and then I’ll start a conversation with, “you know, you are my favorite mother-in-law….” And she will respond in kind. We’ll howl and sip our coffee and talk about the day or what is happening, or just talk baseball. She’s a big Reds fan and part of the reason I pull for the Reds. As for the ‘favorite’ business – it is a no contest, as she and I are the only ones of each kind. I suppose it would be a tight contest if my brother-in-laws were still around. I lost one to divorce in ‘92 and I lost another when he passed away unexpectedly in ‘03 at the age of 52. Both were great men and treated me like a younger brother. I certainly could’ve used their support this spring and summer.

For Spring Break, we divided and conquered – B went to Ohio and I went to Michigan with the kids and the dog. We, the kids and I, went to Michigan to ski and relax while she went home to her parents to help her sister and her dad, as well as her mom. It’s a complicated story.

Regardless, her mom is still in her home and doing well. Her dad was dealing with dementia and steady decline in his physical capacities – he’d lost a lot of weight and was struggling to walk and get around, as well as dealing with balance issues. His decline began a few years ago in 2011 or 2012 and he began requiring daily assisted living care in the summer of 2012. It was difficult for all of us because until then, he’d lived a fairly vigorous life – gardening, working, playing, fishing, and just plain, living. My kids have many wonderful memories of grandpa up at the cottage or at Christmases or other visits. Continue reading Weekly Photo Challenge – Relic

Postcards from Spring Break – 2013

a warm sunny day at Bahia Honda State Park with the Atlantic in background
a warm sunny day at Bahia Honda State Park with the Atlantic in background

It has been a great day, a great week, and a great month. I just don’t know where it went. Three weeks ago, I was on a beach on a warm sunny day with the breeze in my hair. It felt like it would last forever and I guess it has. Memories of our vacation to the Keys has sustained me over the past few days – from torrential downpours to flurries in the air, it has been quite a few days.

Yesterday morning, it was raining and I went to the basement and I discovered water pouring in through a crack in the foundation. I soon realized I wouldn’t be able to keep up and woke W who jumped in to the job grudgingly, but soon embraced the task. By 5:30, I knew I had to stay home and was busy writing a quick sub plan when W’s school called the day off. An hour later, my school called off, too. So, I spent the second day of summer vacation (see a NO SNOW snow day) fighting with the water in the basement, moving furniture, bookcases, pulling up soggy carpet up and hauling it to the curb. We were lucky our water was just that, water. Other homes in the area had water coming in from the sewer (yeah, ewwwwww). Continue reading Postcards from Spring Break – 2013