four more

It’s Saturday morning. The forecast is rain – by the time I finish writing it will be raining – and softball will be cancelled, again. O’s game Thursday was cancelled due to wet fields. It’s the same every year, April showers bring May flowers, and softball rainouts.

Last night, I stayed late at school and wrapped up the World War II unit. The WWII test is Monday and then we’ll find out just how much my students have actually learned about America’s involvement in the war. Since we returned from spring break it’s been more and more challenging to get their focus. Most of my students seem to be more focused on ‘four more’ and how many days are left than they are in making them count. It’s a ritual which plays out every year. It’s when I work the hardest.

truman_quote_WWII

April has been busy. We had our annual state testing the first two weeks right after break. After testing, we took a field trip to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. It was excellent and it helped many of our students understand the magnitude of the Holocaust. We study the Great Depression and World War II in social studies and they all read Night by Elie Wiesel in their English Language Arts classes. The last two weeks we’ve been learning about the war – I’ve used video clips from The War by Ken Burns and Band of Brothers to help, but the most significant clip I showed, was yesterday when I screened the video below. The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.

It’s staggering to watch. Continue reading four more

future: a photo challenge

Saturday morning, again. It’s the best day of the week. Saturday gets the nod for the best day of the week because I get to pick the pace and choose how it begins. Sunday is a close second, Monday through Friday are tied for third place where the pace is dictated by getting to school and teaching.

daffodils in the morning light, cold and waiting for warmer days
daffodils in the morning light, cold and waiting for warmer days

Spring Break is over and we are home. My landscape is landlocked and the future is certain, Spring is here, though you wouldn’t recognize it from the weather we had yesterday or this morning. It’s cold this morning, but sunny and clear. Which makes a difference.

I got out of bed, made coffee and decided to visit the daffodil glade at the Morton Arboretum to see Spring’s progress. I’ve been visiting since Spring sprang and enjoying etching Earth return to life. Continue reading future: a photo challenge

Landscape: a photo challenge

It’s Saturday morning and like most Saturday mornings go, I find myself the only person awake in the family. That’ll change soon. O will be up before long, then B, and finally W. Once B wakes I’ll need to get busy and pack to go home.

Friday morning at Seven-Mile Bridge
Friday morning at Seven-Mile Bridge

We’ve been on vacation, spring break, in the Florida Keys. The break came at a perfect time for all of us especially B. She remembers coming down to the Keys on winter and spring vacations as a child with her family and the trip has helped her heal the wounds of her parent’s passing. The trip has given me time to slow down and catch my breath and think ahead. When we get home later tonight we’ll unpack our bags and memories, then get ready for the week ahead, but until then I can continue to breathe at a different pace.

Wednesday morning at sea - going diving
Wednesday morning at sea – going diving

This week, my landscape has been a seascape, Continue reading Landscape: a photo challenge

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

reminders

I have wonderful children and they teach me as much as I teach them, most of the time. Sometimes more. It’s been hectic this week, I’ve been Mr. Mom and Mr. Dad. B’s out of town helping her sister and I have been the only sheriff in town, so to speak. B’s on her way back tonight and we’ll be whole again tomorrow.

Dulles Jr. High Vikings - seventh grade gold - can you find me?
Dulles Jr. High Vikings – seventh grade gold – can you find me?

This afternoon, we were running errands and on our way home. O was talking about her day at school. I don’t know how it came up, but she was explaining what happened in math class. It went something like this……

“Dad, do you give your kids homework passes?” O asked.

“No, I don’t.” I replied. “Why do you ask? Continue reading reminders

Time – Weekly Photo Challenge

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, cold, but it is February, after all. This morning was gray and cloudy and for February, relatively warm – 37 degrees F or 3 degrees C. Warm for February. But, it’s all relative. I didn’t get to spend much time outside yesterday. I spent the day catching up on grading – grading Civil War tests – timelines and essays. And it’s not likely I’ll get much time today, either.

essays - what is central idea of the Gettysburg Address - they don't grade themselves
essays – what is central idea of the Gettysburg Address – they don’t grade themselves

I had promised time to B, my wife, but grading the tests took longer than I expected. I went to school to grade – the tests needed to be scanned and the only scanner I can use is at school. I was sort of married to school. The school was open Saturday, the local youth athletic league had rented the gym for the basketball season and yesterday was picture day.

I donned my lanyard with my school ID and keys and ambled in. I found the library open – a bonus of sorts. The library is being transformed to a modern library use – space to sit and read, use laptops, and other devices and maintenance workers were in on the weekend finishing work on a charging station and a printing station they had started the day before. The library still has books, but times are changing and our school will be issuing all students a Google Chrome laptop for use next fall and the librarian is trying to get ahead of the curve. We, meaning teachers, are, too. Continue reading Time – Weekly Photo Challenge

Bittersweet Sunday

It Sunday morning. It’s a typical Midwestern January morning – cold and overcast. Yesterday was the same and tomorrow will likely be the same. It’s all right, cold and overcast January days are the rent we pay for the rest of the year.

W looks on and waits for his next match. I snapped this and texted it to him and got the reply 'go get me a sub' followed by 'thank you.'
W looks on and waits for his next match. I snapped this and texted it to him and got the reply ‘go get me a sub’ followed by ‘thank you.’

Jonas bypassed us. We’ve had storms come through and shut us down, but nothing as severe as Jonas. Since, I’ve been blogging we’ve had several snow days, one in January 2011 that brought 21 inches of snow and shut schools for two days. We’ve had bitter cold and severe wind chills and we’ve had torrential rains that closed our schools, too. In all that time, we stayed inside and waited. When it was over, we went outside shoveled snow and cleared our drive and our neighbor’s, too. It’s the rent we pay.

Saturday was a bittersweet day, it was sunny in the morning, then overcast, then the clouds disappeared in the evening to reveal a full moon.

It was bittersweet for more than the weather; it was W’s last wrestling match. W is my son, my favorite son, and he turns 18 Wednesday.

W was born late in the evening Tuesday, January 27, so late it was close to January 28. Like all parents, especially dads, I remember the moment I held him for the first time, I remember the moment well. I can close my eyes and picture myself holding him and feel the tears well in my eyes and roll down my cheeks. They still do, the tears that is. I remember his first of many things, I remember his first day of pre-school – 9/11. I remember his first wrestling match, a loss in less than 15 seconds and I remember his first win – in overtime. He was our first, and only, for almost five years, then O came along and I had another favorite – a favorite daughter. Continue reading Bittersweet Sunday

a frigid Monday morning

It’s cold outside, that’s why I am inside sitting at my desk in the basement. Yesterday, O, my favorite daughter, and I braved the elements and took off for the big city. She wanted to take the train in and I opted for the car. It was a good choice.

chicago_selfie2
a Chicago selfie – it’s colder than it looks, the lake is frozen along the shoreline

Saturday morning, she came downstairs to the basement and plopped down in the chair beside my desk proclaiming she an adventure and trip to the city. She wanted to visit the Shedd Aquarium and after listening to her plea, I decided Saturday wasn’t the day to go – I had too much to do and she didn’t ask until almost noon, too late to drive into the city. So instead, we planned and plotted for a trip Sunday.

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day even if temperatures hovered near zero.

a Revolutionary War hero - Polish born Tadeusz Kościuszko
a Revolutionary War hero – Polish born Tadeusz Kościuszko

This morning it’s -1 F, or -17C; yesterday it was a five degrees warmer when we drove in to the city. It was still cold. The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill weather advisory for today because it feels like -21 F, or -30 C, and that is fine with me it’s safer and easier to stay inside and take care of business. I still have a lot to do.

Traffic was light on the expressway and the biggest hurdle was finding a parking spot close to the aquarium. We arrived just as another family was leaving and we took their spot.

It was a short walk to the aquarium but the cold and the wind in our faces made it seem longer than it was. The return trip seemed shorter a few hours later.

The Caribbean Reef exhibit
The Caribbean Reef exhibit

We had a good time. We both took pictures and took in the exhibits. O surprised me with her patience as she read about the exhibits as she passed them. We started with the Caribbean Reef and watched the diver feed the fish. The Caribbean Reef is in the center of the aquarium and in the rotunda with rooms shooting off like spokes of a wheel. Several years ago when we were in Florida, O and I visited the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. It was there we learned about the dangers sea turtles face as the human world intersects with the natural world. One of the biggest dangers to turtles are boat strikes. The boat strike isn’t always fatal, but it renders the turtle unable to dive as it creates an air bubble between the shell and turtle’ body. O and I watched as ‘Nickel,’ the Shedd’s green turtle, paddle around the aquarium with her rear pointing to the surface. O remembered our visit.

waiting for the aquatic show - lake Michigan and the Adler Planetarium in the background
waiting for the aquatic show – lake Michigan and the Adler Planetarium in the background

We took in several more exhibits and watched the aquatic show in the main aquarium facing Lake Michigan. Continue reading a frigid Monday morning

Circle – Weekly Photo Challenge

It’s is Sunday morning and life has turned full circle for me. A scant two weeks ago, Christmas Break began and now, two weeks later, it is over.

early Sunday morning, the lake has changed and the ice is moving and Ivy patrols her yard
early Sunday morning, the lake has changed and the ice is moving and Ivy patrols her yard

This year’s break is like all the others before it, I have enjoyed the time with my family and I have rested, relaxed, and rejuvenated for the new semester and I am ready to go back, to return to a routine and a schedule.

We’ve enjoyed the last several days Up North by the lake. Our place by the lake has incredible restorative properties; the kids spent a day skiing and snowboarding and another day resting and relaxing. I spent a couple of days cooking and enjoying the cottage with Ivy. B and I have enjoyed relaxing with friends and ringing the New Year in with a roaring fire and a full cottage. Now, it is time to pack up and return to our lives. For W, it is finals and his last semester in high school, for O it is seventh grade and halfway through middle school. Next year, is seemingly far away, but it is closer than we all realize. Continue reading Circle – Weekly Photo Challenge