shine/sunshine: a photo challenge

Sunday was a beautiful day in the Midwest. Actually, Saturday was a beautiful day, too and I am not referring to the Chicago Cubs.

We’ve had a run of beautiful days. Warm sunny afternoons followed by cool nights. Tonight, the sky was clear again when I took Ivy outside. Since she and Mr. Skunk met in August, she gets an escort out in the evening. I looked up and I could see several stars. Living so close to a major city, my stargazing is limited by the light pollution. I am thankful for the stars that shine bright enough for me to see.

ivy leaves shine a brilliant red-orange
ivy leaves shine a brilliant red-orange

I spent most of my day hunkered down in the basement working on school and other things. I popped out of my cave to enjoy a slice of O’s birthday cake. It was O’s birthday and W was over to help celebrate.

It was that time in the afternoon when the sun’s angle illuminates and shines across the landscape in a special way. It makes the grass greener and the fall leaves redder, oranger, and yellower than they are in the midday sun or morning sun.

the leaves of the maple tree peak through the other trees lit by the sun
the leaves of the maple tree peak through the other trees lit by the sun

The backside of our home faces west and is surrounded by mature maple trees and a lonely ash tree. Among the maples is a maple tree that turns the brightest orange-yellow in early fall. It is so bright it appears to be afire. The other maple trees turn a pale yellow and drop almost simultaneously after the first heavy frost in mid-November. One of the maple trees has a vine that climbs the trunk and had turned a brilliant red-orange. Continue reading shine/sunshine: a photo challenge

“All politics is local.”

“All politics is local.”

We (we Americans) are in the midst of a contentious presidential election. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and, so far, I’ve successfully avoided talking politics. AND, I am not going to break with tradition, I’ll keep my opinion on the presidential election to myself.

But, “all politics is local,” former Congressman and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil is credited with the phrase, bit it’s a moot point.

I vote, or should vote, for the candidate that most closely aligns with my political, and economic, interests. That is what makes the election for a national leader local.

I teach 8th graders US History (and science) and my students are itching to know who I am voting for or planning to vote for this year. I am not telling them who I am planning to vote for, either.

pink pencils and the 'freedom rock'
pink pencils and the ‘freedom rock’

Continue reading “All politics is local.”

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

25 years ago…..

25 years screams by in an instant. It seems like the other day, I was standing outside of a church in Versailles, Ohio nervously pacing….

Our wedding day - Warren, B, me, my mom and David
Our wedding day – Warren, B, me, my mom and David

The post below is from 2013…

Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. 25 years ago, today was a great day and there have been many more in between. Today is gonna be a great day, I know it and I can feel it. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, every day, all day.

Thanks for stopping in….

22Yesterday was our 22nd anniversary. I have known B for much longer, almost thirty years. The time has flown by. If I close my eyes, it seems like yesterday when we met, got married, and had kids. It was also my younger brother’s birthday. For a short time, we will be consecutive 51-50-49. I am the oldest, the smartest, the best looking, and the most humble, in case you didn’t know. Yesterday was also homecoming for W and it was a day full of activity finishing with a dance. Oh, the memories it brings back. It’s fall in the Midwest, again. It happens every year. The days get shorter and cooler, and the trees begin to turn and then leaves begin to fall. It happens, always. Continue reading 25 years ago…..

Nostalgia – a photo challenge

Sunday morning, October 2 – it’s fall. Fall means cooler nights, shorter days, pumpkins, apples, Halloween, and Friday Night Lights – high school football.

Olivia and William root on their Tigers! State Championship game 2009
Olivia and William root on their Tigers! State Championship game 2009

B and I have been going to high school football games since we were kids. We started taking W when he was young, then O came along. B and I would watch from the end zone along the fence and the kids would watch until they were old enough to hang out with their friends, then we ‘graduated’ to the stands when W reached high school. In ’14 and ’15, W was on the sidelines. He’d getting his playing time on Saturday, but he hung in there for four years as a high school football player. I admire him and have great respect for his stick-it-to-ed-ness. W graduated in May and is off testing his wings at the next step at the local community college, but we still go Friday night to watch and root on the Tigers.
Friday night, we were in the stands. It was the final home game of the season, and it was Homecoming. Tigers were winless in five starts. It’s been a tough couple of years for the Tigers – last year ended 2-7 after making it to the quarter-finals of the state playoffs in ’14.

Watching the game brought back memories from when the kids were younger. I remembered back to ’09. W was in sixth grade, his first year at middle school, and O was in first grade. The Tigers had made the playoffs and the first game was Friday, October 31 – Halloween. Continue reading Nostalgia – a photo challenge

wind in my sails

I teach kids, kids that are 13 to 14 and getting ready to enter high school. It’s fun and exhausting; and even though it’s work, I don’t call it work, because when it becomes work, I think I’ll quit and never go back. I hope that day never comes, I mean the day when it becomes work.

That’s why, when I get an e-mail like I did today, it gives me the energy to keep going.

Hi Clayton,

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into the Recap Pioneer program! Here’s a badge for your blog. Please send us a short bio and photo for the Pioneers page.

I am excited.

2016-pioneer-badgeLet’s Recap is free software that teachers can use to assign a question and students can respond by recording a video response. It’s easy to use and easy to use for my students. I’ve used it twice, once on a test run and more recently last weekend to gauge how well my students understood why the American colonists were upset with England and King George III in the period leading up to the American Revolution. In previous years I’ve assigned a protest letter and students wrote the letter and handed it in to me. This year I tried Recap and I was impressed with the results. My students still used the traditional planning with pen and paper- though it wasn’t required – but the results showed deeper thinking and I believe better transfer of the content. I’ll discover how well it worked next Friday when I give the unit assessment.  Fingers crossed.

Teaching is an art. Continue reading wind in my sails

summer’s last gasp

Yesterday was the last full day of summer, in a little more than three hours fall arrives.

9:21 AM CDT – September 22.

Today is split summer and fall. Tomorrow is first full day of fall.

driving west - storm clouds rolling in from the northwest
driving west – storm clouds rolling in from the northwest

It was a good summer, but it had its moments. Yesterday, we got our last summer storm and it rolled through the area as I was on my way to school. Fortunately, it hadn’t started raining when I arrived, or I would have been drenched walking in.

At the end of the day, another wave of rain arrived as I was leaving school and it sprinkled on me as I walked to my car. That was it, summer’s last gasp. We’ve needed the rain, it’s been dry.

The shorter days are already here. Last night, I noticed it when I got home and I reset the front door light timer to come on earlier. Soon the leaves will turn and then fall. Cooler nights and then frost. And, we’ll probably get a few storms into fall, the worst storms seem to be the fall storms that blow up over the Great Lakes.   Continue reading summer’s last gasp

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

Bible Sunday

Fifteen years ago today, I was teaching seventh grade geography and the counselor walked into the room at the end of second period, she looked upset and out of sorts. After the bell rang and dismissed my second period class, another class entered, the students got to their seats, and the bell rang. Before the third period class began, the counselor read a short prepared statement that changed my day and told us that the course of history for our nation and the world had changed forever. I don’t remember what she read, but she left immediately afterwards and the room felt like the air had been sucked out of it. Somehow, we all made it through that day and over the course of the next few days we learned the true horror of that day.

our flag flies at half-mast today,
our flag flies at half-mast today,

This morning, fifteen years later, 9/11 is a Sunday. This time it is Bible Sunday for our church’s third and eighth graders. Eighth grade is the confirmation and class and O waited excitedly for her Bible. She was born over a year after 9/11 and for her, 9/11 holds only the meaning that we have tried to share with her. She didn’t experience it, nor did she know what the United States was like before 9/11. She only knows what it is like now.

In April 2015, on our way home from Spring Break in Washington, D. C. we stopped at the Flight 93 – 9/11 Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We will never forget.

This morning, I watched my sweet daughter O beam with excitement when she received her Bible and she could barely contain herself when she returned to the pew to sit with us for the rest of the service. She fidgeted throughout the sermon and helped me find the closing hymn in the hymnal – “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations.” We sang it as John Wesley instructed congregations in his Instructions for Singing from 1761, we payed attention to #4,

“Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength …

It was a wonderful service and the hymn was a reminder that though much has changed for our nation and the world, our principles continue to survive. May we never forget. Continue reading Bible Sunday

Math Day


Nine plus seven equals sixteen.

Today is Wednesday, September 7, 2016. I am certain momentous events have occurred on this day: marriages, births, deaths, and so much more that is meaningful in our lives as we track the slow passing of time, making each day count.

I have always been fascinated with numbers and ‘created’ math days when the alignment of the month, day, and year created a math equation. In today’s case it is an addition problem. This year there are fifteen math days – twelve addition days and three multiplication days, if you were wondering.

This year, I teach U. S. History and science to eighth graders. I don’t teach math and it’s the only CORE subject I have not taught in my teaching career. I’ll point out the date to my eighth graders and they’ll note it, then we’ll move on. It’s an interesting way to look at the day, another way to count the day, while making the days count. Continue reading Math Day