The Good Stuff | 2023

Here are some of my most memorable moments from this past year.

The Good Stuff | 2023
Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Last year, I decided that I would take some time to reflect on the great moments and memories from the past year. I grab my beverage and look back through my journal to compile my "Good Stuff" list. It's a great way to cultivate gratitude.

You can find my previous list here.

Here are some of my most memorable moments from this past year.

  1. My family bought me snowshoes for Christmas and I really enjoyed using them over vacation. It’s strange that as I type this we have absolutely zero snow on the ground.
  2. My daughter marched in the Rose Bowl Parade and we were able to watch her on TV.
  3. Thankful that my oldest daughter still likes to Fat Bike with me on the local trails.
  4. My students and I created one-word resolutions after we returned from Winter Break.
  5. From My Journal - One of the biggest ways I am involved in my community is through my role as a teacher. I’ve been teaching in the same community for over 24 years. I’ve even started teaching the children of my former students. I’m also on the YMCA Camp Jorn Board of Directors. My camp experience was a defining time in my life. I felt like it was important to do my part to support it and for my kids to see me in that role. They both love going to camp.
  6. Did my part to help another group of 8th graders sign up for their high school classes. This is one of my favorite parts of being an 8th-grade teacher.
  7. Thought - The brain loves change and novelty. Lifelong learners have happier brains.
  8. February 12th - This was my daughter’s swim banquet. One of the coaches talked about many of the lessons that can be learned swimming such as how to win or lose and how improvement comes after effort. She also talked about one of her “go-to” coaching euphemisms. - FIO, which stands for Figure it Out. I like that. Sometimes people forget that they are capable and all it takes is a teacher, coach, or friend to simply tell them to Figure It Out.
  9. The halftime score isn’t the final score. This year during the Super Bowl the Eagles went into half-time with the lead. The Chiefs came back in the second half and won the game. Adjustments that were made at half-time ended up being the deciding factor. It’s a great life skill to be able to figure out what’s not working and then be able to make the appropriate adjustments. It’s not over unless you stop learning.
  10. Journal Entry - “Your worth is not a negotiation.” - author unknown
  11. Restorative yoga is where it’s at. We have monthly professional development days and yoga was often a part of them. It’s not something I knew I needed until I tried it out.
  12. I asked my students to write a haiku to demonstrate their knowledge of “net force”. They did not disappoint. I was most excited that some students who normally don’t share decided to speak up.
  13. I enjoyed watching the movie “Hustle” on a family movie night.
  14. Scratch paper is a technology dynamo and it’s often underutilized.
  15. My youngest daughter participated in the state swim meet. I loved watching all of the athletes experience all of their hard work paying off. It’s also worth noting that so many kids peed in the pool that the chloramines literally made the spectators cry - poor air filtration.
  16. Another family trip to the Wisconsin Dells to visit Wizard Quest. My wife has our children sufficiently brainwashed.
  17. Thirty-Day Challenge - A month of six-word stories.
  18. My oldest daughter played in her first varsity soccer match.
  19. Went tent camping in May and experienced the greatest mosquito outbreak of my life.
  20. Managed a few great biking adventures this year. I bought my youngest a new mountain bike and completed some great shredding sessions.
  21. Finally stained my back deck. It turned out quite nice.
  22. Attending another Michael Franti concert, this time with the whole family. It was an absolute blast.
  23. My oldest is learning how to drive. This is both a pain point and a joy. Time flies.
  24. The pontoon boat, NTLB, was functional for another summer. What a great investment.
  25. Celebrated my mom’s birthday. My youngest daughter made the cake.
  26. Family fishing trip with my dad and brother. We stayed at Vintage Vermillion. We even caught fish this time.
  27. Attended another family camp at YMCA Camp Jorn. We continue to stay in the same tent each year. There was a fireworks malfunction that was pretty scary.
  28. It was another successful year of painting in the summer. This makes it 24 summers in a row.
  29. The family reunion this year was in Gatlinburg, TN. I never knew this small town was so much like the Wisconsin Dells. We had fun at Dollywood, hiking, rafting, tubing, and driving across the country. I even jumped off a small cliff and lived to tell the story.
  30. I decided to pay more attention to my lawn near the end of the summer. The backyard was getting pretty ugly.
  31. Celebrated Camp Jorn’s 70th year. A camp alumni surprised everyone by donating 1,000,000 dollars towards the outdoor adventure program. Here’s more of my Camp Jorn story.
  32. Started my 25th year teaching middle school.
  33. Complete another Door County Ride of 70 miles with my friend Doug and brother Jaysen. I almost bonked but survived.
  34. Started to lift weights regularly again after reading how good it is for a person as they age. There were many aches and pains, but I also felt great after doing it.
  35. My daughter decided to swim for the high school team. I’m super happy this happened. They have a great coach and a solid team atmosphere, plus the meets are only an hour and a half long.
  36. I stepped out of my comfort zone and applied to be an ELfluencer. It turned out to be a pretty cool experience. Here are some highlights from my experience.
  37. I started working on creating a STRONG student and teacher framework to use with my students and share with teachers. More on that to come.
  38. I’ve enjoyed watching my youngest daughter play drums in the school band.
  39. My family participated in Food for Kids this year at the local high school. We shared a table with good friends.
  40. I was interviewed for the Teacher’s on Fire podcast. It was my first live interview and I think it went pretty well. You can watch/listen here.
  41. Used one-pagers with my science students for current events. Some of them were amazing.
  42. Had a nice Thanksgiving in Lake Zurich, IL with family. Had a front-row seat for an exciting wedding proposal followed by a “yes”.
  43. Went to the EL Education National Conference in Denver, CO. These conferences are always amazing. I don’t know if I will be able to attend another one, but I’ll keep hope alive.
  44. I learned some slang this year - Rizz, No Cap, Slay, and Goated. Old dog. New tricks.
  45. Making LED light cards for our 3rd-grade buddies was a hit.
  46. I sent an article proposal to Edutopia and it was accepted. I am in the drafting process and hopefully, it will be published. This was on my goal list for this past year. The article is about learning teams in the science classroom.
  47. I managed to send out a newsletter each week on Friday. My streak is almost two years long now. The benefits of doing this week continue to grow.
  48. Even though teaching seems to be increasingly challenging, I'm proud that I have still found ways to enjoy it. Writing on this site has helped me stay positive and focused on improving.
  49. My health is good overall. I look forward to making that more of an emphasis in the upcoming year.
  50. I played in my 25th staff versus 8th-graders basketball game. It wasn't pretty. I feel. We won. The streak is still alive.
  51. I achieved my goal of completing three 30-Day Challenges throughout the year.
  52. I’m alive. I’m grateful for this every day.