Painting baseboards reminded me of recess.

Nick sometimes brought his mom’s walkman to recess. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. The earbuds were just buds and the device only took one battery. I’m pretty sure it cost a fortune as there wasn’t anything else like it.

We listened to Billy Joel endlessly. Sometimes rewinding and listening to the same track over and over again.

Today I was painting baseboard listening to Pandora. Some Billy Joel song came on it and it transported me back. I hated school but hanging out with Nick made it worth showing up for.

I always thought if you had just one good friend in life it would be all be OK.

That is maybe my only regret from joining the Corps, it kinda broke something inside me when it comes to friendships. I can’t really explain what it is or what is missing. I think it is only something a vet can relate to.

Close reading.

I should really have read the cans much closer.

The day was kinda a disaster but this was the worst.

I bought a small quart can of satin white for the baseboards in the bathroom. They needed some work and I thought I could get it done while my wife was at work. I’m not super handy, painting makes me stressed.

There was something totally wrong with the paint, it was like I was painting with milk. It was thin and didn’t cover anything. I kinda thought it was like the glaze you use for ceramics.

I googled and even called my in-laws to see if they could help. No luck.

I did stir the paint. I stirred it for maybe ten minutes. It was still as thin as could be, couldn’t cover anything.

I took a picture of the baseboard and the paint can label and returned to the store. The guy took one look, maybe like only a second long, and grabbed a new can. Told me this is what I needed.

The cans were 99% identical. There was one tiny set of words I did not read, I didn’t even see it. The thin paint was a deep base, the other just said pure white.

All my frustration solved in one second by an expert. So easy for him but so hard for me.


Spring break…

I’m not sure I will survive this break.

We have imposed a no electronics until further notice.

No netflix. No streaming of any video. No social media. No fortnite. No texting friends. Nothing.

The kids were not being nice to us or each other. They did not do the simplest of tasks around the house. They were not following the electronic guidelines so we took all devices and access away.

Today we spent hours doing yard work.

Tomorrow it is supposed to rain all day. I’m thinking a trip to the public library.

We have crafty stuff to build and board games to play. I’m thinking that will last about five minutes.

They are playing the game of life right now. It teeters between arguing and laughing.

Feeling this creeping darkness seeping in.

Is it ever enough?

How do you get your kids ready for the world?

What conversations do you have to get them ready for what might happen?

How do you balance it between the good and evil?

Both kids have been in karate for years, maybe 7-8.

We chose this place because it is a bit gritty. The messages they are given and the lessons that are taught are exactly what I think they need.

Last night they had a chat about what is happening to another classmate at school. Something that terrifies me as a father of a middle school-aged kids.

Tiny Store.

Many years ago they opened a new tiny store in St. Louis. The idea was to create a tiny space where people could come and buy or get their stuff fixed.

They took a normal storefront at the mall and reduced the size of it to make it a mini version of their larger stores.

It hit me today, the purpose was to make it appear busy even when there were five people shopping.

Put twenty people in there, it was hard to get around.

Most days it was packed. So packed it was difficult to get from the front to the back.

When there was a hot selling item there was a line that stretched as far as you could see. People would stop and ask if the store was giving stuff away. Nothing was ever given away.

I don’t really know why I thought of this today. Maybe it was the eight billion meetings. Maybe there are times when things don’t always appear as they should. Maybe things are created by design but it takes a long time for it to sink in.

Is luck given or made?

I know a guy, who is now retired, who told me the secret to getting ahead was to hustle. Not swindle, but work hard and make your own luck.

That tiny bit of advice stuck with me. Make your own luck.

What does that even mean?

To me, you gotta hustle and volunteer for everything. Don’t say no, say yes.

I jumped at a few opportunities in the Corps, lots of personal growth came from it. I also learned how ships get gas when they are in the absolute middle of the ocean.

I think I was the only person who applied for the job I have now. Work in the summers and get paid the exact same amount? Sign me up!

Last year I had been out of the classroom for ten years. Ten years is a very long time. A mentor talked me into co-teaching a class on literacy. I was waaaaayyyyy outside my comfort zone. I’m pretty sure I did a terrible job but it opened me up to many new ideas and possibilities.

Make your own luck.

I think every PD or learning opportunity has the potential to open new thinking pathways. Those new ideas lead to new opportunities. New opportunities might be seen by some as luck, but really I think luck is the result of hard work. Hard work and taking risks. Sometimes that results in not executing things well but learning something in the process is a huge reward.

Action Steps

  • There is a brand new elementary in town. Their approach to learning is nothing like anything else here, I’m going to visit. In April.
  • I’m overwhelmed all the time. There are counterparts in the neighboring districts that I’m sure face the exact same issues. I’m reaching out to them. Going to visit in April. Maybe I can learn a new idea that will help me.
  • Asking for money to bring in an expert about design. We have a lot of people working on alternative seating in the classroom but I’m not sure we know why we are doing it.
  • Writing a grant. There are things we need to do and I can’t wait.

Some of the above will fail. I’m sure of it. I bet I will learn more in my failures than if I just let time go by without doing something about it. Sometimes what I try does not go very well, but I learned. I’d rather learn that way then just stand by wondering and thinking about it.


One day or day one?


Hurd posted this and it got me thinking about all the false starts and random plans I had. I’m pretty sure you can relate.

  • Planning… next year I will do/teach differently.
  • Well, next semester I will redo that lesson and try teaching it another way.
  • or the most famous when the calendar hits 2018/2019, etc I will start:____ (fill in the blank with the million and one resolutions we all make)

What I really liked about this is the idea of starting right now. It is really important to start and there is no better time than right this very second.

I know I sometimes fear change and it is way easier to just say I’ll do it differently next time. Next time is awesome because it sometimes never comes.

So what is my day one?

Planning to change PD. I want to call some of our cohorts PD+1 or maybe +1PD like a +1 you see on a wedding invitation. So when you join one of our training cohorts you bring a +1, you bring a friend who will attend all the trainings with you. I’m hoping that we can pair up some department heads with teachers, that small team has a much better chance of making an impact than any single teacher.

Summer PD. What if we had a series of classes called What are these kids on? Have one hour sessions on Fortnite, snap, Instagram, etc. The teacher spends one hour exploring one single topic. Maybe this will help teachers overcome the disconnect some have with their students. Brian storming some options today.

Assistant Principal PD – they get left out of a lot. We could create a shorter session to make sure they are on the same page. Principals meet at least once a month, why can’t the assistants?

Slack book study – I already did two of these but I feel we need to make it bigger. Starting now I want to see if we can create some channels that are dedicated to just one grade level or department. Get people to talk more, share more.

Appy Hour – I’m just gonna send out an email about it. Today. We did this years ago with some success. We just met at a local shop before and after school.

The song that changed the day, or maybe just my outlook for five minutes.

If you have kids I’m sure you can relate.

Ours are 12 and 14. It seems these are the ages they are kinda short-circuiting as they struggle to figure out who they are. Sometimes that means they are not nice to me. That is hard to deal with some days.

I have not heard this song in a long, long time but it somehow popped into the rotation on Pandora today. No idea how but it was like the universe somehow knew I needed to hear it.

There are a few lines that just hit home. It helped me think back to growing up, and it just sucked on so many levels. Maybe this song can help me be a tiny little bit more empathetic today. Maybe I can be a tiny bit more patient.

  • Every know knows it hurts to grow up.
  • And you’re so much like me. I’m sorry.
  • Every know knows it sucks to grow up. And everybody does.

48 seems so small.

Today you should be 48, but will be forever frozen at 47.

Or at least I think you would have been 48. I was never very good at remembering how old you were.

I really can’t recall any of your birthdays or parties when we were young.

Here are 48 memories I have of you. 48 things that I hope I can hold on to. 48 things that we shared.

  1. Huge spider we saw in Georgia in the creek behind the grandparent’s house.
  2. Being somewhat scared of the crawl space in Athens.
  3. Sharing a room in the duplex.
  4. Metallica
  5. Telling me to buy the Beastie Boys but I somehow bought a very, very different album because I mixed up the names.
  6. Paper routes.
  7. Sneaking beers.
  8. Sneaking more beers.
  9. Sitting on the highland hill drinking beers and getting caught.
  10. The NASA phones.
  11. Your damn, damn class ring.
  12. Getting called into the school office over and over again because the bill wasn’t paid.
  13. St. Johns weekend visit.
  14. Telling me the QP story.
  15. Chasing me around with the hot wheels track.
  16. That weird ghost gun thing.
  17. tricking Meghan into thinking we had a ghost but it was really a flashlight.
  18. Shooting the BB gun in the basement.
  19. Sneaking in some TV time when we were never allowed to watch TV.
  20. Eating horrible french fries at Bridgemans.
  21. Using the little window upstairs as a crossbow and shooting stuff into the street.
  22. You telling me what a tornado was and I thought we were doomed.
  23. Hide and seek at the duplex. You shadowed me and I never found you.
  24. You disappearing in Florida.
  25. Playing cowboys in Wisconsin.
  26. Playing in the dirt patch in Wisconsin.
  27. Sleeping in the park in Pentwater.
  28. You always wanting to smooth things over, or sweep them under the rug, but I wanted to air it out! (with a lot of choice words)
  29. The only vacation we took as a family.
  30. Me stealing your Steven King books and mostly putting them back before you realized.
  31. Dove ice cream bars.
  32. David Letterman.
  33. Dr. Who.
  34. Coffee.
  35. Adventures in Grandmas attic. Remember all those old pencils?
  36. Adventures in the rec room, what was up with all the little booze bottles?
  37. Your stories. Telling me something that should have taken two minutes but you just went on and on and on.
  38. Suprised me on my 30th.
  39. Suprised me for my masters graduation and brought Colin.
  40. Your damn pocket knife. Aidan is obsessed with them because of you. I never told you that.
  41. When I texted you on some old system that alerted you it was an emergency. You freaked and I laughed.
  42. Cheeseburger, coke and fries. What we always ordered when traveling with the grandparents. They were always annoyed when we did that.
  43. That purple drink I spilled on grandma and we both thought I would be banished from the family for making a mistake.
  44. When Dad kicked that duct when your brand new BMX bike was stolen.
  45. food fight at dinner when I threw spaghetti at you.
  46. Corey – your dang bird.
  47. Our red metal fire trucks
  48. Watching Emergency.

What you see 3/11. I see 0311.

snowy drive

Today is a special holiday, kinda like a lot of others that are made up and only celebrated by the few.

This one is based upon a set of numbers that indicate a particular job that I held for a number of years.

Like it or not every workplace has a hierarchic way of organizing people, the job I used to hold was at the absolute bottom. There were days when I found bugs in my food, mostly just bees for some reason. Some days you looked under the tables and found roaches clinging to the underside. Some days we were served this beef stew in little envelops, the sucking noise the cold stew made as you scooped it up still turns my stomach.

Don’t get me started on the overcrowded living conditions.

If it was miserable outside, we were outside. There were days when 80 degrees felt freezing after living in 120. Sometimes 30 felt sweltering. Other times it was odd to be dry.

We had a saying, embrace the suck. Maybe that is what the job was all about, understanding how to deal with life when things didn’t go as planned. We lived that way for years that it just slowly became part of our souls.

Today is March 11th or 3/11. The job I had, infantry, was assigned the number 0311.

Odd how I sometimes miss the pain and chaos of it all.