Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas is Over


Well, Christmas is over. The wrapping paper flying, and the kid's adrenaline, is over. My kids are acting a little different this year. My son had the flu on Christmas day. He threw up all day! How terrible is that? 9 years old and you have the flu on your favorite day of the year. He didn't get to play with any of his new stuff yesterday. He is busy today trying to make up for lost time. My daughter, on the other hand, didn't quite know what to do with herself yesterday. She didn't have to defend her toys from her brother or aggravate him when he was playing with his. She did play with her new stuff all day yesterday but didn't stay occupied with one thing for too long. As far as Christmas dinner, we didn't have it. My wife didn't feel 100%, and as I said, my son was "sickly".

Christmas Eve was a pretty good time. We were in Iowa to celebrate Christmas with my wife's family. Her uncle always has a Christmas Eve party and pretty much everyone made it back this year. It is always nice to see everyone and revisit the last year. We played Euchre and enjoyed some good conversation. We got back home around midnight and put the kids to bed so Santa could make the stop at our house.

We get to celebrate Christmas with my parents and brother this coming weekend. It should be fun, if everyone is healthy. I hope everyone had a good Christmas. Enjoy the new year and stay safe and healthy!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Friend Revisited

I returned home yesterday from a visitation and funeral. I left Thursday after school and returned Friday after the funeral. It is nice to be back home but seeing my close friend was truly special. I have not seen him in a long while. We spent almost the entire time at the visitation, and at his uncle's house afterward, reminiscing about all of our adventures as teenagers. I feel that me being their really lifted his spirits, and mine, and took us both back to a time when we had no worries. The thing that was amazing to me is that we shared these memories and each of us seemed to have the exact same warm feeling about these specific times. I know that sounds weird but after so many years of just keeping memories to yourself you begin to wonder if you embellish on them in your mind to make them more desirable. In a way, it was validation, in our minds, that we have lived full and happy lives up until this point. We both spent a lot of time laughing. We even took the time to talk about some of the important things in our lives going on currently. You know, bragging about our kids and wives, how our jobs were going, etc. We talked about points such as "What are the advantages and disadvantages of private school?", "Large schools and small schools?", "Should kids be playing sports year round?", "How much of what we learned have we put to use in our lives?". Deep conversation, right? Somehow it didn't feel that way. It was amazing how we talked. I mean, we haven't seen each other in around fifteen years and we started talking like we hadn't been apart a day.

Friends are truly special! I know that all of us are guilty of this, taking friends for granted, but I think we should all step back and take a look at how lucky we are to have close friends and people that love us. Who knows, we could be the next person to be celebrated at a funeral. Wouldn't it be nice to know that we all took the time to talk and stay in touch with our true friends, and family? As we both said several times, it would have been nice to get together under different circumstances, but at least we got together.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Reminiscing


An email from by best fried from high school started it all. I haven't seen him in probably fifteen years or so. Anyway, I got an email from him last night. The email was not a good one. His sister, who raised him, died yesterday morning from cancer. She was a good woman, obviously. My friend, who we will call "John", is one of the most inspirational stories I know of. He did not have a good home life until he moved in with his sister and her husband. John was always well behaved and at the top of his class. John was a hard worker and loved sports, especially baseball. He was in my class from the early years. John worked hard so he could attend college, which he did, and became a nuclear engineer. He has a wonderful family and enjoys coaching his kids in baseball. I have always respected and admired John and I am deeply sorry for his loss.

As I am thinking back I remember a lot of good times with John. He caught in baseball and I pitched and played shortstop. He was a heck of a good catcher! He was skinny for a catcher but he was tough as nails. We won our conference all four years in high school and our senior year we had five MVP's for our team. We were two of them. I remember going out to his house (his sister's) and watching movies, hanging out, and eating pizza after his sister got home from grocery shopping. One time, when we were playing tackle football down at the school, John got drilled and broke his collarbone. I drove him to my house and I remember him saying when it happened that "It doesn't really hurt". As we rounded the last curve to get to my house he said "Ok, now it does!". We posed for choir pictures in high school and we weren't even in choir! How did we get away with that? The picture made the yearbook! We spent a lot of time chasing girls in different towns. We had girlfriends in Manito at the same time and girlfriends in Delavan at the same time (the one in Delavan later became his wife). He had a purple Gran Torino in high school. What a beast! I remember getting in trouble one time because I missed my curfew because the "beast" wouldn't start. I, with a couple of friends including John, also remember going home between final exams in high school and getting to watch the Cub's 21 inning game. We had many good times and it's amazing that some of these things that occured so long ago can still bring a big smile to my face. So this is to my best friend from high school, although we have times in our lives that are not joyous, don't forget all the good times that have made all the bad times worth it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holidays



I love holidays...most of the time. At Christmas I love the excitement in my kids, and myself. I love the food, the conversations, and the time to get reacquainted with family and friends. I enjoy having the time to do things with my kids, like see a movie, go to the mall, have a snowball fight, go sledding, etc. I have always loved Christmas but I guess I am growing up because the same things that excited me even ten years ago don't even get a second thought from me now. Instead of me worrying about how much fun I am going to have over Christmas break I find myself worrying about how much the rest of my family is going to enjoy the holidays. I guess that is part of being a dad.

Of course with the good comes the bad. I find myself a little more stressed around the holidays. The house has to be clean for company. We have to move people around to get the proper sleeping arrangements. We have to attend all the Christmas programs and festivities. We have to feed family, usually with some extravagant meal, and disrupt our daily routines so that we can get together with our extended family and make sure they are taken care of. Sometimes we have to travel long distances to family's homes with large amounts of Christmas gifts and extra luggage. Loading and unloading...that's fun! I guess what I am saying is that I am getting old and set in my ways. My wife and I love to be home and spend time with our kids, living our own routine. I still love holiday time but have realized that there is a lot of work to enjoying the holidays. I guess in the end all the work is worth it, although sometimes we seem to be so busy that we don't have time stop and enjoy what the holidays are about.

Sincerely,
Ebeneezer Scrooge... :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bookmarks Everywhere!




Did you ever wish you had your bookmarks (favorites) on every computer you sat down at? If you have then you need to use delicious. It is easy to use and makes your bookmarks accessible from any computer that can get to the web! Check it out!

Keeping Up With Technology


I am feeling a little "technoed-out". What I mean by that is that whenever I learn how to use some new technology then it seems like ten more new technologies pop up! I blog, audio podcast, read my Google reader, use Google docs, and try to implement this technology into my classes in a timely manner. As I read about other educators, and what they are doing with technology, I feel as if I am in the dark ages. I love technology and feel very strongly about how it has to be implemented into education so that our kids are ready for the world that will exist when they start, and continue, their occupation. I will continue to try to blaze a trail at our school, as far as technology goes, but I sure feel like a speck right at this moment.

I use Will Richardson, David Warlick, Karl Fisch, Vicki A. Davis, and TechLEARNING.com as resources currently. Does anyone have another site, or blog, that is really good at keeping educators up to date?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Slacker.com


The name says it all. If you have a fairly fast connection to the Internet and you like to listen to music then I suggest you try out slacker.com. It is basically a Internet-radio. It has every imaginable type of music and is really easy to use. You don't have to sign up and using it is pretty self explanatory. Try it out!

Second Semester

I thought I would update my students on my very optimistic goals for the second semester in Payson Seymour Junior High Science classes. Goal number one is to get all the students in my classes a Google account so we can all keep up on our interests and learn about an excellent research tool, Google Reader. Goal number two is to introduce all of my science classes to writing blogs for personal, and class project use. Goal three is to get all of my science classes involved in at least one project involving them doing an audio podcast. Goal four...teach myself and students how to do a video podcast. I know, sounds like a lot of work. It probably will be but I think the excitement and interest of the students should make it all worth while. If any fellow teachers have done any of these things in your classes please share any "dos" or "do nots" and any hints you may have to make all of this run smoother.

Quincy Is Known For Something!


It seems that lattice fries were invented in Quincy! I don't want to steal a fellow bloggers story so I will direct you to his blog.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Steroids in Baseball


A list of professional baseball players that are suspected of using steroids is to be released today at 1 p.m. central. Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte are expected to be named. Of course, names like McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Giambi, and Segui are all mentioned in the article. Whose names will come out? Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snow (Ice) Days



The first "snow-days" of the season fell upon us this week. The "snow-days" allowed us to have, at least, a four day weekend. My kids enjoyed yesterday but fell into the "boredums" today. I kept telling myself to get writing on my blog but blogging has recently taken a back seat to my podcasting. I think my students enjoy the podcasts more and I also think they have more personality to them.

Anyway, what did I do with the two days off? On Monday I went for a walk with the kids in the mall, went and did some grocery shopping, cleaned the house, and made my "famous" chili. I was busy most of the day. I felt very accomplished and got a lot done. Today (Tuesday) I didn't do much until around 3. I mean, I did the normal things to keep the house running with two kids in it. I cooked lunch for them and picked up the house. I got to spend quite a bit of time on the computer. I took the kids to see "Enchanted", which by the way, was a very good movie, at 4:00 and then I dropped them off at home. I then went to the mall to do my walk. I really needed the walk. It was nice to get out of the house for awhile and just "chill". School is still up in the air for tomorrow but I really need to get back in a routine. You students know how I am!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Snow in Quincy


The first measurable snow fell in Quincy, Il yesterday. It wasn't much but it was enough to cause some problems on the roadways, get the kids excited, and get me into the Christmas spirit. We received around 2 inches of snow in Quincy. It sounds like we are in for an interesting weekend, as far as weather, also. Freezing rain is in the forecast again. My kids were so excited about the snow yesterday! They couldn't wait to get out in it. My son did just that but my daughter was angry because she had dance and didn't get the chance to get out in it. I think Christmas tree shopping is on the agenda this weekend. Hopefully we can get that done before the weather hits. Enjoy the snow and be careful on the ice!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Fitday.com



Do you want a really good web site for keeping track of your diet and exercise habits? My wife found this site, fitday.com, and I am impressed with all the features that it has. I started using it yesterday and it is very user friendly! You can keep track of exactly what you eat and the amount of exercise you do in a day. You can also set goals for yourself. Check it out if you are health conscious or if you just want to get an idea of where you are at.

Omaha Shooting



Once again it has been proven that it can happen anywhere. A shooting occurred in a mall in Omaha, Nebraska. The gunman was a 19-year-old named Robert Hawkins. It seems that the shooter fired down from a balcony. Eight people were killed and the gunman took his own life. Robert was described as a depressed individual and he did leave a suicide note.

In another article the shooter was described as "gentle" but depressed. He had recently broke up with his girlfriend and lost his job at a fast-food restaurant. He was said to have a drinking problem and occasionally smoked marijuana.

Every time I see, or hear, about something like this I just cringe. I just don't understand it! Why would you bring other people into your problematic life and create such sorrow? Maybe I don't understand depression and what it can do to people. Maybe there was something else going on with this individual. Whatever the case may be, let's keep all the families involved in our thoughts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Parkour and Free Running


"Parkour is the art of moving through one's environment in the fastest, most efficient way possible." A person that practices Parkour is called a traceur. Free running involves more tricks than just Parkour.

I have seen these guys on TV and they are pretty impressive. I would venture to say that YouTube or Myspace would have quite a few videos on this "art-form". This "sport" originated in France. If you happened to see Live Free or Die Hard you have seen this sport in action. One of the "bad guys" used Parkour to become a deadly weapon. In the article it is said to be like a combination of martial arts skateboarding without the board, and gymnastics.

Search Xin Sarith Wuku on YouTube. He hosts one of the most popular parkour videos on YouTube. It has had more than 18 million views!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Positive Thinking Put To The Test



In the past two weeks my positive thinking has been put to the test. I am going to give you a brief description of the recent things that have made me realize how important positive thinking is. I recently changed nephrologists (kidney doctors). After the transition and the initial consultation, tests were done and I went back to the doctor to find out the results. Most of my results were decent but there was one result I was not prepared for. During an ultrasound of my kidneys they found, what appeared to be, a mass. I was told that I would probably have to have a CTscan or a contrast MRI (where they shoot dye into you so they can see what is going on). I was referred to a urologist and met with him. He decided to try a MRI without the contrast. Contrast MRIs are dangerous for people with kidney disease, like me. I did the MRI, without the contrast, the same week and it turns out that the mass seems to be just my misshapen kidney. What a relief! It was a pretty stressful time but I have to say that my wife, my friends, and I, all had very positive thoughts going into this. I definitely believe it helped. The good results were shared with me on Tuesday (11/27).

On Thursday (11/29) I get a call from my wife at about 12:30 saying that her father is being sent, airlifted, to Davenport, Iowa to have bypass surgery. I immediately get permission to leave from the principal and high tail it home. On my way home I decide to call my mom to see if she could possibly watch the kids if we both decide to go. She says "no problem" and we are set. I get home, we pack, and are off to Davenport (about a 4 hour drive with a pit stop at her parent's house). By the way, one other problem, we have my 40th birthday party planned for Friday (11/30). We have about 40 people showing up and we have to cancel on the way to Davenport. My wife got all of that taken care of with the help of some good friends. We get 5 miles, or so, from Davenport and they say they aren't going to do the surgery! Can you believe that? My wife's sister was on the way from around Springfield, MO. We still go to see him, and Sue's mom, and stay the night. When we wake up the next morning and call the hospital to see how he is doing, we are then told that they will do the surgery Friday morning...make up your mind! Well, the surgery went great and Sue's dad is doing great! Once again, a lot of positive thoughts! We are rescheduling my birthday celebration.

To my students and friends at school: Thanks for all your patience, and thoughts, during the last couple of weeks and hopefully we can all get back in the groove of things before Christmas break is upon us.
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