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

fun: a photo challenge

Fun, funner, funnest. Yeah, there are red squiggly lines under funner and funnest. Every year some student will challenge me when I use funner and funnest in class, but they are correct; just as swim – swam – swum are. They just don’t sound right, but they are.

fun - waiting for the boat to get moving, photo courtesy of O
fun – waiting for the boat to get moving, photo courtesy of O

Summer has been fun. It went quickly as summer always does. I was going to sit down Sunday night and write this post and hit publish, then life, summer life, got in the way. It always does.

this was funner - but, sometimes things I get out of control and we lose focus - funnest
this was funner – but, sometimes things I get out of control and we lose focus – funner, photo courtesy of O

Continue reading fun: a photo challenge

Final Friday

82 days go quickly, believe me. They fly past. School starts next week and today is Day 77, the last Friday of summer break. Five days remain in my summer break. It’s been a good break, just the right amount of time. Almost.

I keep telling myself, ‘If I had a more time……’ but, I’ve had enough time. I’ve done the things I needed to do to get ready for the coming year and I’ve done the things that I needed to do to rest, relax, and restore.

baseball game in Manzanar War Relocation Camp - 1943, photograph courtesy of Library of Congress
a baseball game at Manzanar War Relocation Camp – 1943, photograph by Ansel Adams,  courtesy of Library of Congress

We’ve spent time as a family. We’ve watched softball games, and I’ve listened to and watched my Astros and a couple of Reds games. We’ve been to the lake – boating, swimming, fishing, and hanging out. We’ve gardened, removed weeds, and painted a shack. We’ve sung songs and blasted Coldplay, before and after the concert. It’s been a good summer. Continue reading Final Friday

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.

————————————————————————————————————————-

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

last Sunday in July

It’s Monday, August 1. Yesterday was Sunday, July 31 – the last day of July. It’s always a bittersweet day. The first day of August means the month of August is here and it means school is coming, soon.

the sun sets, day is done
the sun sets, day is done

Back to school shopping, school supplies, a regular schedule, and wearing pants (soon) every day.

Yesterday I spent the day boating, reading, and cooking.

I’ve been reading Hamilton by Ron Chernow, but it’s not easy reading. I picked it up last fall and read the first two chapters before setting it down for something lighter. It’s full of facts and details that are interesting, incredibly interesting, but it is difficult to sit and read at the lake. I discovered Audible and have listened to several chapters while driving home and back this summer. I am at the point in the book where Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds is revealed and his reputation takes a hit. ’Say No To This’. America’s first sex scandal.

I needed something lighter, easier to read so I picked up Dead Wake: The Last Crossing by the Lusitania by Erik Larson. I spent much of the afternoon and early evening reading. Despite the subject it is much a lighter topic and an easier read.

After dinner, I enjoyed B’s blueberry crisp. A perfectly sweet finish to the day and remembered I needed to cover the boat.

blueberry crisp, a book, and summer
blueberry crisp, a book, and summer

The sunset. Continue reading last Sunday in July

Narrow: a photo challenge

Friday afternoon getaway traffic all boiled down to the last mile.

the lake is directly ahead, one more turn and a one lane dirt road...
the lake is directly ahead, one more turn, a right, and a one lane dirt road…

The roads get smaller and the trees make them narrower. The last road is the narrowest with trees towering to the sky. The road bends to the left and I go straight, onto the one lane dirt road.

Leaving Chicagoland on a Friday is always a gamble. Accidents and construction, or both. I never know. Yesterday’s drive took over seven hours. It could’ve been longer. Regardless, the drive always ends with the last narrow mile and a one lane dirt road.

I am here. By the lake. It’s race weekend on the river.

Today is gonna be a great day. Summer is winding down, it’s the last weekend in July and Monday is August 1. Gonna make the day count, I always try, especially when summer is narrowing like the last mile of a drive to the cottage.

How’s your summer? Is it narrowing, or widening?

the second to last mile, a slight right turn, then another right, and the lake.
the second to last mile, a slight right turn, then another right, and the lake.

Today’s post is inspired by last week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow. This week, let’s keep things narrow (but not narrow-minded!): share a photo with your take on the theme. You could focus on a slender object, or shoot an image where your field of vision is restricted. Alleyways and half-open doors, seesaws and water slides, spaghetti and electric cords… the world is full of narrow things. I can’t wait to see which one you’ll pick for your entry.

Up&Up – a Tuesday’s Tune

I believe in the power of music. Once upon a time, when I listened to music I’d open the album, read the liner notes and pour over the words searching for meaning in the lyrics while singing along. Now, I listen to what sounds good, what has a good beat, and I don’t worry about the words, though sometimes I listen carefully or think I know the words.

one of the first songs
one of the first songs

When the British alternative rock band Coldplay announced they were coming to Chicago, B decided she wanted to go. I had heard a few of their songs and seen their Super Bowl 50 half-time show. With O by my side, I bought the tickets in February right after the Super Bowl. I put the event on the calendar and got back to the business of life.

Oh, and I downloaded a couple of their albums – Head Full of Dreams, their latest and Mylo Xyloto.

One song, “Up&Up,” became a quick favorite. I’d play and listen, and replay. I liked the song – it fit middle-aged music criteria – it sounded good, had a good beat, and it had an added bonus – I could hear the chorus and it spoke to me.

we’re going to get it get it together right now
going to get it get it together somehow
going to get it get it together and flower
oh oh oh oh oh oh
we’re going to get it get it together I know
going to get it get it together and flow
going to get it get it together and go
up and up and up

“Up&Up” landed in my life just when I needed it. The past couple of years have been a tough stretch for our family. We’ve experienced several losses and we haven’t completely come to grips with it all. The weekend after I bought the tickets, we drove to B’s hometown and began packing and sorting furniture and household goods in her parent’s home to be split between she and her older sister. It was a tough weekend.

we filled this truck.....
we filled this truck…..

The house sold in March and the house she knew as home, is someone else’s home now. It’s been a struggle. Continue reading Up&Up – a Tuesday’s Tune

Saturday morning spring in your step

Saturday morning by the lake.

“Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young, the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step.” Mark Twain from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Friday was a great day. We got a few chores off our list. But, there are more, there is always more. Always.

But, after the chores there was the lake and fun.

We took the boat out for a test ride and some fun. O ‘surfed’ and so did a couple of her lake friends from down the lane. It was a fun evening.

I stayed in the boat and ‘filmed’ and shot stills. I still got wet putting the boat away. Continue reading Saturday morning spring in your step