Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #NewBloggers – The Importance of a Good Sense of Humor by Pete Springer


This series of Posts from Your Archives is exclusively for blogs that are under a year old. It is an opportunity to meet new readers and to show off your writing skills.. All the details are in this post along with some tips on how to make your blog more reader friendly.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/08/28/new-series-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-new-blogger-promotionand-setting-up-your-blog-for-accessibility-readability-and-sharing/

This is the third post from educator and author Pete Springer who began blogging in April this year. I am sure you will agree that he has made a fantastic start to his new project. Humour is one of the elements of my life that I would miss if it disappeared. Thank goodness that around here laughter is always a daily shared activity. Pete shares some incidents that could have been a lot worse if laughter had not been the outcome.. and there there is the mystery of the knocking in the pipes!

The Importance of a Good Sense of Humor by Pete Springer

You’ve probably heard the saying, “laughter is the best medicine.” My experience has taught me that this is one of the wisest pieces of advice. A study done at the Mayo Clinic showed that laughter is one of the best ways to relieve stress and puts us in a better overall frame of mind.

The funniest things to me are the humor which I find in human nature rather than watching a stand-up comic perform—although some comedians base much of their act on this concept.

When I was still teaching elementary school, I found that laughing about some of the absurdities of the job was a healthy way to handle the ridiculousness of a situation. How could I ever forget the time when one of my students smuggled a garter snake on a field trip without my knowledge? The only reason I found out about it was that the snake decided to make an appearance at the museum and scared a poor lady half to death. Of course, I wasn’t exactly happy with my student, but I also found myself laughing when I retold the story to my colleagues.

Then there was the memorable time when a student’s parent showed up uninvited to my classroom during the middle of class to do a chemistry exhibition. Not only had the nervy adult bypassed the office, a requirement of any person on a school campus, but she expected me to drop everything for her demonstration. After recovering from the shock that anyone could be that brazen, I told her that she was not allowed to hijack my class. I suppose I could have responded with anger, but the whole situation was far too bizarre for that. Laughing about the entire thing later with a friend was a better solution.

Part of having a good sense of humor is being able to laugh at yourself. Aren’t we all guilty of doing things that humble us? Last month I had one of those moments that is too priceless not to share.

One of the challenges of being a homeowner is we must be able to deal with the unexpected expenses that inevitably occur. Six weeks ago, my wife and I began to hear what appeared to be the rattling of the water pipes under the house. In the beginning, the noises seemed to happen at intermittent times. Sometimes we didn’t hear it for several days.

When the sound resumed, and with greater frequency, I decided to do some research before calling a plumber. After searching on my computer, I learned that this occurrence is quite common. The articles I read indicated that most of the time, the problem was a minor fix, but it also could be a symptom of a more severe situation.

The next time it happened, I decided to play detective and see if I could figure out what was going on. I crawled under the house (something that is getting a little harder to do with age) to investigate. By the time I was scurrying around like a mole, the noise had stopped. There were no signs of a leak or other apparent problems.

After a few more days of silence, a new pattern developed. The metallic sound started up every morning around 6:30, while we were still in bed. The other curious thing was the noise now appeared to be coming from somewhere in the backyard rather than under the house.

By now, I was baffled but determined to discover what was going on. The following morning the noise came back right on time again. I got out of bed, went out the back door as quietly as possible, and tried to track the sound. Sure enough, my hearing was correct—the pipe rattling was no longer coming from under the house.

I tracked my prey the way a mountain lion pursues its next meal. I tried to be as silent as possible because I was concentrating on the location of the noise. The other problem was our two yellow labs. (They spend the night in our three-car garage which has a dog door to their pen). If they heard me lurking about, they would most likely start barking.

I followed the noise to our back gate at which point it stopped. Okay, what gives? Just then, one of our neighbors drove down the alleyway between our properties as he was going to work. I’m sure that I was quite the sight standing there in my pajamas with a mop of disheveled hair. He stopped his truck, and I explained that I wasn’t losing my marbles. He said that he was unaware of any noise, but he would keep his eyes and ears open. (By the way, how do you keep your ears open?)

By now, I was fully invested and determined to figure out what was happening. I went back into the house and reported my findings to the other detective (my wife) assigned to the case.

The following morning the noise started again at precisely 6:30. I shot out of bed like a cannon ready to get to the bottom of this mystery. I went out to the back gate again and heard the metal sound coming from the top of a nearby telephone pole.

As I looked up trying to identify the source of the sound, a bird swooped down from the pole and landed on the neighbor’s roof. I didn’t think the bird was the culprit, but then the little bugger gave himself away. He tapped his bill rapidly against the small metallic satellite dish atop the neighbor’s roof. As soon as it struck the object, I recognized the familiar sound. I had found the mischievous scoundrel.

What else could I do at that point but laugh at my stupidity? I got all worked up over nothing. That bird got the best of me, and I felt embarrassed for not figuring out what happened sooner.

In retrospect, there was no need to be too hard on myself. My previous experiences with woodpeckers involved watching them drill into trees in search of insects. That was a much different sound. I could only deduce that the noise, which appeared to be coming from under the house, was the vibration from the metal vents that run vertically from the roof.

I’m sure this won’t be the last time I am forced to laugh at my gullibility as life provides us with so many opportunities. Instead of being privately embarrassed about it, I’m hoping that you get a chuckle and can also laugh at yourself from time to time. Maybe we can bring a little more laughter and joy to a sometimes troubled world with a good sense of humor

©Pete Springer 2019

About They Call Me Mom

Who Will You Inspire Today? Teachers face this challenge and responsibility each day, but in the process, the author discovers that his students can also have a profound influence on him. Pete Springer takes you on his memorable thirty-one-year journey in education as an elementary school teacher and offers the many valuable life and teaching lessons he learned along the way. Get ready to laugh out loud at some of the humorous and memorable experiences that all teachers face, feel inspired by the inherent goodness of children, and appreciate the importance of developing a sense of teamwork among the staff. Learn valuable tips for working with children, parents, fellow staff members, and administrators. This book is ideal for young teachers, but also a reminder to all educators of the importance and responsibility of being a role model. This book is a must-read for all new teachers and those teachers that need a reminder they are human! Mr. Springer educates others in his easy-to-read, story-like, first-hand manuscript. You will laugh, cry, and get motivated to be the best educator you can. After reading this, I have a better outlook on relationships with my colleagues and am reminded to savor every moment. -Tami Beall (Principal, Pine Hill School)

One of the reviews for the book

Bradley Livingston 5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Story! February 2, 2019

I personally love this book. Peter Springer was my second grade teacher in my elementary school days and I have to say he was one of my favorites no doubt. You could tell that he truly valued the significance of early education. I can’t think of a single one of my friends that were not excited about going to Mr. Springers class everyday!

When I was informed that Mr. Springer was finishing his lifelong dream of developing a book to pass down his experiences, I knew I had to get a copy of the book. It was no surprise that the book was absolutely inspiring. Reading his book brought back some of those wonderful memories of growing up and being excited to go to school everyday. Peter Springer really has a way with kids and the story of how he found his passion for helping kids reach there dreams is a story that everyone must hear!

It is crucial to provide a foundation for kids to dream, learn, and grow. In this book, Peter Springer emphasizes how important it is to give kids this type of environment to ensure that they reach their dreams and goals in the future.

Peter Springer inspired me as well as many other students throughout the years. If you read his book and learn his story, I’m sure you will be inspired as well!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/They-Call-Mom-Difference-Elementary/dp/1977200052

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/They-Call-Mom-Difference-Elementary/dp/1977200052

Other buy links: https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/buy/

About Pete Springer

My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over two years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.

When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.

I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!

Connect to Pete

Website: https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peter.springer.5876

My thanks to Pete for allowing me to access his archives posts and share them with you.. Please head over and explore Pete’s blog further.. thanks Sally.

 

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Smorgasbord Posts From Your Archives #NewBloggers – #DogLovers – My Buddies by Pete Springer


This series of Posts from Your Archives is exclusively for blogs that are under a year old. It is an opportunity to meet new readers and to show off your writing skills.. All the details are in this post along with some tips on how to make your blog more reader friendly.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/08/28/new-series-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-new-blogger-promotionand-setting-up-your-blog-for-accessibility-readability-and-sharing/

This is the second post from educator and author Pete Springer who began blogging in April this year. I am sure you will agree that he has made a fantastic start to his new project. I know how many of you are dog lovers, and this one is for you…

 My Buddies by Pete Springer

Jake and Lulu

I’ve been around dogs my whole life. We have raised all breeds and sizes. Over the years, I’ve lived with Pat, Smokey, Rusty, Oscar, Lady, Tango, and now Jake and Lulu. I have nothing against other animals, but I have always connected with dogs. The most appealing quality of dogs for me is their never-ending unconditional love. They aren’t prone to moodiness, tantrums, or giving the cold shoulder treatment the way that some people can.

We’ve raised our last three dogs since they were puppies. Having a puppy in some ways is like parenting a child. You give them love and discipline with the hope that they will grow up at some point. Just like some humans I know, a few of my dogs never quite reached full maturity.

Each dog I’ve lived with has had his/her own set of challenges. The only one we ever got from an animal shelter was Lady. She was a black lab mix and three years old (we think) when we got her. Labs are usually one of the most gentle and loving breeds, but she did not fit that profile. If ever there was a dog misnamed, it was Lady. Now that I think about it, she was the only dog we didn’t name.

My wife and I liked the idea of rescuing an unwanted dog from a shelter. One of the risks of adopting a shelter animal is that you don’t know the pet’s history. Lady was skittish around us at first. Was she mistreated when she was younger? After a short time, Lady bonded with us and was excellent around people. Unfortunately, when she was with other dogs, she became aggressive and psychotic.

After she attacked two dogs in separate incidents, we had to do something. She wasn’t playing rough with other animals; these were attacks with the intent to do serious harm. I’ve only owned sweet and loving dogs before, and this was the first time I ever felt nervous as a pet owner. We could not live with the threat of impending vet bills, lawsuits, and the fear of our dog doing extreme harm to somebody else’s pet.

I tried to return the dog to the shelter, but the owner claimed he had no room for it. We intended for Lady to be an inside/outside dog, but there was no way she could be outside unless she were in her pen. Since my wife and I both worked in the day, this meant getting up at dawn so she could get some exercise. I put Lady in the back of my pickup and drove to a place where I could get her on the leash. If she saw another dog, it was like a switch turned, and she became enraged throwing herself against the windows of the truck.

Despite my efforts to try to keep her away from other animals, we occasionally encountered another pet owner walking his dog. I remember one incident when I had Lady on a leash, and we met an elderly gentleman who was walking his poodle. At first, the man wanted the dogs to socialize and began to approach me. I warned him that my dog was not friendly with other animals, but he either didn’t hear me or assumed I was exaggerating. The guy wanted to talk, and we attempted to have a conversation. After a short time, I had to walk away; he probably thought I was antisocial. I’m a relatively strong man, but I had to do everything in my power and forcefully pulled the leash to keep Lady from attacking his unsuspecting pooch.

After that incident, I called the animal shelter again and begged the owner to take the dog back. Fortunately, this time he agreed. I felt sorry for Lady, but at least I no longer feared that she was going to maim or kill another animal on my watch.

Our current dogs are Jake and Lulu. They are healthy yellow labs weighing in around ninety pounds. Jake is seven, and Lulu is five. They may be reasonably close in age, but their personalities couldn’t be more distinct. If Jake were to set up a dating profile, it would read, likes—food and chasing the ball. Oh, did I mention food? The prospect of victuals drives everything in Jake’s behavior. Wow! Sounds a lot like me! No wonder I have such an attachment to him.

We have to remember not to ever leave food out on the counter. If we forget, there is a good chance that Jake will get it. He gets on his back legs and drags food from the countertops. Jake has a distinctive gait when stealing something. I may be reading in the living room, and I can tell from his quick dash across the floor in the kitchen that he has just taken a snack and is about to have a picnic under his favorite tree.

Jake has to be the smartest dog we’ve ever owned. He has reached the age where he naps a lot. (another similarity we share) He uses his keen sense of hearing to determine whether it’s worth his energy to get up. I am convinced that he has learned to discern the various sounds in the kitchen. If I grab a snack, Jake’s radar is activated. His sonar tracking device tells him, “Do not disturb,” when he hears me grabbing a piece of fruit or some carrots.

On the other hand, he can be at the other end of the house sleeping, and will magically awaken when he hears me going for the crackers or the peanut jar. He never begs, but he walks into the room and stares at me with the kind of laser focus that any strict teacher would admire. I know I probably shouldn’t feed him human snacks, but I have to smile thinking about this quirk.

Another thing that reflects Jake’s intelligence is his incredible memory. My wife and I take turns during the day throwing objects for the dogs to chase. We usually tire of the game before them. At some point, the game ends when one of us puts the ball out of sight and reach. One amazing thing about Jake is he will recall the exact cabinet in which we’ve stored the ball, frisbee, chew toy, etc. I may be walking through the house twenty-four hours later and find him staring at a closed drawer. He doesn’t whine like one might expect a dog to do when he wants something. Instead, he fixates on the location as if he is using telekinesis. It is so comical that I often begin laughing.

Like most pet owners, we have rules for the dogs. There are two couches in our home. The more expensive one is leather, and they know not to get on it. Then we have another sectional sofa in the family room that is known as “the dog couch.” They may get on this one when a sheet covers it. Despite daily brushing, the dogs shed a lot. The sheet prevents the hair from covering the couch. They understand and follow our rules about the sofas.

Jake tests the rules when it comes to our bed. Debbie, my wife, does not want the dogs on the bed. This is a reasonable expectation, but I have to admit that I have enabled Jake to break it on occasion. When Debbie is home, Jake knows better and stays off. I told you he was intelligent. When she is out with her friends or traveling, he becomes the teenager who decides to test the limits. I’ll get involved with something and forget about the dogs. Suddenly it occurs to me that I haven’t seen Jake in a while. I go to check on him, and many times he is fast asleep on the bed. He looks up at me with eyes that seem to say, “Do you need something?” I’m sorry, Debbie, but I find this hilarious.

Another skill he possesses is catching. I throw the tennis ball as hard as my sixty-year-old arm allows, and he will snag it more often than not. Some major league ballplayers would have a hard time keeping up with Jake, and they are using gloves instead of their mouths.

I’ve determined it is the act of chasing that gives him the most pleasure. He wants to get to the object before Lulu, but once he has it, he allows her to take it right out of his mouth. He seems to understand that this is one of the necessary steps to keep the game going. The dogs have figured out a way to make the game work that provides each with some satisfaction.

Here is the game that they have managed to organize on their own:

Step 1: (Insert any human here) _______________ throws a dog toy. Squeaky and bouncing objects are preferred, but the dogs will chase just about anything including socks or a chewed up frisbee that is one-tenth of its original size. It’s humorous to think they are so enthralled with a small piece of plastic.

Step 2: Race to see who can get the prized object first. Jake possesses a distinct advantage in snaring flying toys. He catches them 75% of the time. Lulu is in the below 5% range. It is much more likely to hit her in the nose or head. I try not to laugh at her, but that is a challenge. If the ball hits the ground, the odds even out. Lulu has reached the point of superior athletic ability, but Jake relies on his intelligence and plays the probabilities of where the object will go. For example, to amuse myself, I sometimes will throw a bouncing ball onto the roof. (It doesn’t take much to entertain me.) Lulu waits for it to come down, but Jake runs to a spot where he anticipates it will land.

Step 3: Lulu either gets to the toy or barks incessantly at Jake in frustration if he retrieves it first. She waits for the moment when he turns toward her and takes it away from him. He might turn his body away from her occasionally, but he doesn’t try very hard to prevent her from taking it away once he has it.

Step 4: Lulu prances around with the prized possession. Sometimes she pretends she is going to return it to the thrower and changes her mind and struts around some more. Her indecisiveness has the potential to end the game if we get tired of waiting for her to give it back. I think she is smart enough to understand this and eventually gets around to dropping the toy at the thrower’s feet.

The game ends when the person gets bored, or Lulu decides to lie down and keep the object. This system makes the game work, and each has a hand (make that a paw) in keeping the game going. Funny how things work in the world of dog hierarchy.

Sometimes when I’m messing around, (I imagine the dogs like playing with someone of similar mental ability.) I like to do little tests to measure their intelligence. Our house has two and a half bathrooms. The half bath is an odd setup because it has two doors. One door connects to the computer room and the other to the living room. (I know, having a bathroom next to a living room is pretty weird.) The bathroom is so small that I can reach both of the doors while on the toilet. Sometimes while I’m sitting, one of the dogs will show up with a ball. To amuse myself, (Once again, it doesn’t take much to entertain me.) I drop it outside the other door and then shut it to see what the dog will do. Jake, the crafty veteran, takes off before I’ve even dropped the ball and makes the loop to retrieve it. Lulu, not the sharpest tool in the shed, will sit and stare at the closed door for 5-10 seconds after the ball hits the ground. Suddenly, her light bulb goes off, (better late than never) and she sprints around to the other side.

Although Lulu is not the smartest dog, she has many other redeeming qualities. When it comes to sweet and loving dogs, Lulu is everybody’s friend. It feels good to be loved, and she always thumps her tail in excitement whenever we’re near. She also is one of the best watchdogs we’ve ever owned. That barking comes in handy sometimes. On Wednesday nights I have to remember to put out the garbage can. We have a dog door which connects our third garage (their bedroom) to the outside pen. When I’m taking out the trash, I can always count on Lulu’s greeting, regardless of the time. Since food is not involved, Jake remains sleeping soundly on his dog bed.

One of the risks of being a delivery driver is you are going to encounter dogs. Hopefully, the dogs are friendly and don’t interfere with a driver doing his/her job. Jake and Lulu have formed quite the relationship with our UPS driver. Go brown! Perhaps I should add this to Jake’s dating profile: (Enjoys men in uniform) These days I do a lot of typing at my computer, and the dogs are frequently in the house with us during the day now that we’re retired. When they hear the sound of the UPS driver’s truck, they run to greet him. Yes, they are friendly dogs, but they also know that food comes with these visits. At first, I was embarrassed when I realized they were climbing into the truck with him. “Hey, dogs. Didn’t your parents ever warn you about getting rides from strangers?” The first time it happened, I ran outside to gather my dogs, but the driver was enjoying himself too much. Someday I’m going to have to film this beautiful love story. Now, this has evolved into another routine for them:

Step 1: Wait for the sound of the UPS truck and spring into action.

Step 2: Climb into the truck with great enthusiasm in a most-friendly manner with lots of tail wagging and excitement.

Step 3: After the driver has completed the delivery, wait for the inevitable dog biscuits that their friend will provide them.

Step 4: (This is the highlight of the visit for the dogs and me.) Jump from the truck to pursue the dog biscuits that their friend has tossed from the open door. While they are tracking down their grub, the driver makes his quick getaway. The old diversion trick works every time.

Perhaps you think I am exaggerating for story effect, but I assure you that I’m not. The relationship between the UPS driver and the dogs has reached a whole new level. Sometimes he makes deliveries on the dead-end street behind our fence. One day we couldn’t figure out why our dogs were barking. The UPS driver (I have yet to learn his name, but it’s time that he met the parents.) also heard them carrying on and backed his truck down the street. He promptly tossed two dog biscuits over the fence and drove off. Is that sweet or what?

Two weeks ago, we drove up to the house (Jake and Lulu were in their pen.) and saw a package waiting for us on the front porch. Jake has a digestive problem that requires a specialized type of dog food. It wasn’t unusual to see the box there as we order his food every three weeks. There was one pleasant surprise on top of the package: two dog biscuits. “Just what are your intentions with our dogs, young man?” Too cute!!!

By now you can tell that our dogs are important to us. I guess I’ll leave you with this thought, “If you’re going to be my friend, then you’d better like dogs. They are part of the family.”

©Pete Springer 2019

About They Call Me Mom

Who Will You Inspire Today? Teachers face this challenge and responsibility each day, but in the process, the author discovers that his students can also have a profound influence on him. Pete Springer takes you on his memorable thirty-one-year journey in education as an elementary school teacher and offers the many valuable life and teaching lessons he learned along the way. Get ready to laugh out loud at some of the humorous and memorable experiences that all teachers face, feel inspired by the inherent goodness of children, and appreciate the importance of developing a sense of teamwork among the staff. Learn valuable tips for working with children, parents, fellow staff members, and administrators. This book is ideal for young teachers, but also a reminder to all educators of the importance and responsibility of being a role model. This book is a must-read for all new teachers and those teachers that need a reminder they are human! Mr. Springer educates others in his easy-to-read, story-like, first-hand manuscript. You will laugh, cry, and get motivated to be the best educator you can. After reading this, I have a better outlook on relationships with my colleagues and am reminded to savor every moment. -Tami Beall (Principal, Pine Hill School)

One of the reviews for the book

Bradley Livingston 5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Story! February 2, 2019

I personally love this book. Peter Springer was my second grade teacher in my elementary school days and I have to say he was one of my favorites no doubt. You could tell that he truly valued the significance of early education. I can’t think of a single one of my friends that were not excited about going to Mr. Springers class everyday!

When I was informed that Mr. Springer was finishing his lifelong dream of developing a book to pass down his experiences, I knew I had to get a copy of the book. It was no surprise that the book was absolutely inspiring. Reading his book brought back some of those wonderful memories of growing up and being excited to go to school everyday. Peter Springer really has a way with kids and the story of how he found his passion for helping kids reach there dreams is a story that everyone must hear!

It is crucial to provide a foundation for kids to dream, learn, and grow. In this book, Peter Springer emphasizes how important it is to give kids this type of environment to ensure that they reach their dreams and goals in the future.

Peter Springer inspired me as well as many other students throughout the years. If you read his book and learn his story, I’m sure you will be inspired as well!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/They-Call-Mom-Difference-Elementary/dp/1977200052

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/They-Call-Mom-Difference-Elementary/dp/1977200052

Other buy links: https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/buy/

About Pete Springer

My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over two years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.

When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.

I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!

Connect to Pete

Website: https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peter.springer.5876

My thanks to Pete for allowing me to access his archives posts and share them with you.. Please head over and explore Pete’s blog further.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #NewBloggers – Making Healthy Changes by Pete Springer


This is the first post from educator and author Pete Springer who began blogging in April this year. I am sure you will agree that he has made a fantastic start to his new project. I selected this first post as becoming healthier and fitter requires mental, physical and in most cases emotional adjustments. Pete shares his weight loss and fitness challenge and offers some commonsense #truths about the process.

Making Healthy Changes by Pete Springer

The notion that I was suddenly going to get healthy as I approached my fifty-eighth birthday seemed farfetched at best. After all, getting fit isn’t as simple as turning on a light switch. For me, it would require significant changes in diet and exercise. Could I develop the self-discipline and commitment that such a goal would take?

I’ve been overweight my entire life. The earliest family photos of me are pictures of a happy but chubby toddler. I can’t blame my weight on genetics. Mom and Dad had regular builds, and my three older brothers are not heavy.

My parents exemplified healthy living. Dad walked to work if the weather was decent and the distance was reasonable. Mom walked daily on the hilly terrain of Sunny Brae, a section of Arcata, where I spent most of my high school and college years.

My brothers and I were encouraged to get outside by our parents. To promote physical activity, Mom and Dad had strict rules about the use of television. Sometimes they limited us to one program per day. That wasn’t a big issue with me—I was an active kid who enjoyed playing with all of the kids in the neighborhood.

My parents were not the type to offer extra helpings of dessert. One of the house rules was that sweets were not permitted unless we had first eaten a portion of everything. Mom paid extra attention to healthy foods with low-fat content.

Despite my parent’s efforts at setting a good example, I adopted some questionable eating habits as a child. Sugar was my drug of choice when I was in elementary school. I used to spend my meager allowance on trips to the Dairy Queen. It was a half mile away, and the distance provided cover from my parents.

When I couldn’t afford my favorite treat, a chocolate ice cream cone with nuts, I used my leftover coins on bubble gum. I developed the ability to cram twenty pieces into my mouth at once. I shoved them in as fast as I could unwrap those Bazooka Joe treasures. If I wanted to impress my elementary friends, I put on a legendary bubble blowing exhibition. Nothing grabs the attention of fourth-grade boys like a bubble so big it covers your entire face when it pops. Who said I didn’t have talent?

Soda and sugary cereals didn’t exist in our house. That is, they didn’t until my three older brothers all became employed by A & W during high school. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when they would bring home extra gallons of this sugary wonder. The sheer size of the large brown gallon jugs left a soda-deprived nine-year-old like me in awe.

I’m surprised that root beer made it past the quality control efforts of my parents. My saving grace was my dad didn’t believe in throwing things away.

The only way I was going to get my lips on that delightful, sweet liquid was to move into full spy mode. It was virtually impossible to sneak into the kitchen during the day, but what was to prevent a scheming boy from a late-night visit? I had to make sure there was no evidence left behind, which meant not leaving a used glass in the sink. I tiptoed down the hall in the dark to raise that monster bottle directly to my lips. The dark-colored glass prevented anyone else from noticing how much the level had gone down overnight. Did I feel guilty sneaking to the refrigerator? Nope. Well, not enough to stop me.

After I became an adult, I paid more attention to what I was putting into my body, but I still had some bad habits to break. One of those was the late-night snack. Rationally, I knew it made no sense to eat right before bedtime, but I found myself rummaging through the kitchen cabinets in the evening.

Another huge key to fitness is regular and sustained exercise. I’ve always enjoyed playing sports, so this wasn’t as big a challenge for me as my diet. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve never liked to run for the sake of running. On the other hand, when I’m competing at any physical activity, my adrenaline kicks in and I forget all about the exercise.

Sometimes I played in organized leagues, and at other times I enjoyed individual sports. I was a pretty good athlete although I don’t ever remember being the best one on the team. I threw a no-hitter in little league baseball before there was such a thing as a limit on the number of pitches kids could throw. The individual sport I dominated among my friends was racquetball. I played for hours until blisters would form on my feet.

As a young adult, I liked being outdoors. After I moved out and came over to visit, it was a safe bet that Mom would propose a walk. I pictured the weatherman saying, “It’s going to be a beautiful day in Humboldt with temperatures approaching seventy degrees. There is a 100% chance that Virginia and Pete Springer will be taking a brisk walk in today’s sunshine.”

Losing 10-15 pounds was easy when I was in my twenties, but by the time I was fifty, it was a different story. I poured everything into being a teacher, and I was exhausted by the end of the workday. I became more sedentary as I aged. While getting out and exercising sounded good in the morning, by the end of the day I was coming up with excuses to avoid it. I’d go through brief exercise phases where I’d overdo it and quickly burn out.

Fast forward, and suddenly I’m approaching sixty. I’ve gone through a few weight swings over the years, but I’ve never been what anyone would call trim. I’ve made so many attempts at losing weight that I should be co-hosting a TV show with Oprah. She’s made a living out of describing her struggles to the world.

There are certain times during a school year that are extra challenging for teachers. The days before winter break are a particularly stressful period. Not only are there a lot of things going on at school, but your classroom becomes a germ factory. Everywhere you turn it seems there are runny noses, persistent coughs, sneezing fits, or children with their head on their desk because they’re running a fever. Many teachers limp to the vacation at the point of exhaustion. Each day we were counting the days down looking forward to the two weeks off. Unfortunately, more times than not, I seemed to get sick as soon as the break started.

For some, the thought of considering retirement is a gradual process. For me, it was an avalanche. I lay in bed sick for the third Christmas in a row feeling sorry for myself, but I was hardly an innocent victim. I finally concluded that I couldn’t keep doing this to myself. My wife and son were gone to my mother-in-law’s house to celebrate the holidays. After three years in a row, my wife’s family decided I must not like them. They were all together, and I was in bed hacking away with my usual winter sinus infection.

After I let the idea of retirement creep into my head, there was no turning back. I loved being a teacher right up until my last day, but it was time to either retire or make some significant life changes. I decided to do both.

Shortly after retirement, I discovered the sport of pickleball. I thought this was the gateway to improving my overall fitness. What a great game! Pickleball is similar to tennis and racquetball. The object of the game is to hit a plastic ball over a net with a racquet into a designated court. I loved the combination of power, finesse, and strategy.

I took to the sport right away. I started playing a couple of times per week. I was enjoying both the game itself and the social aspects of playing with many other people. Most people play doubles, and players regularly switch partners.

One day I was in the middle of a game and suddenly felt a twinge in my bad knee. I’ve had two prior knee surgeries, but I have generally been injury-free over the past two decades. My main symptom for the previous fifteen years was that my right knee was weaker than the left. I was able to finish the game without too much problem, and I decided to call it a day. I did not realize the severity of my injury at the time.

By the next day, I could hardly put any weight on my leg. It was a difficult situation. On top of it, one of my good friends was getting married outdoors later that day. My wife and I attended the wedding, but I was hobbling on crutches. We left early and went to Urgent Care to have an x-ray.

A week later I was still limping. Even though the x-ray had revealed no serious injury, I knew something was not right. Perhaps an MRI would show something. The test results indicated I had the beginnings of arthritis. What? I thought that only old people got arthritis.

I spent the next month not being able to do much. I began with crutches, moved to a cane, and eventually got back on my own feet again. There were many setbacks as my knee would hurt after any physical activity. If I worked out in the yard, I had to take the next week off.

My wife convinced me to go to an orthopedist, get a second opinion, and take a more proactive approach. The doctor looked at the MRI and gave me some encouraging news. He had me do some bending exercises and tested my range of motion. He said, “The good news is your knee is still in relatively good shape. I would categorize this as an early form of arthritis.”

I was looking for ways that would allow me to return to my usual, more active lifestyle. The orthopedist told me the best thing I could do was to lose fifty pounds. He also suggested it might be time to try a cortisone shot.

I’d been reading about cortisone in the weeks leading up to my appointment and had spoken to friends who told me about their experiences. Everything I learned indicated that results differed significantly from person to person. Some people enjoyed a great deal of relief for up to a year, and others saw virtually no change.

I’ve been one of the lucky ones. The day after I had my cortisone shot, my knee began to feel better. A week later I was able to resume some light exercise for the first time in over two months.

When I was able to start exercising again, I felt like I had a new lease on life. As the weeks passed, I felt better and better all the time. I returned to my gym (no pickleball) and began gradually rebuilding my stamina through cardio exercises. After a short time, I was able to start going five days a week. I began riding the stationary bike and swimming to add other activities to my workouts. A short time after that I added weightlifting to my regimen.

Now it has been over two years, and I am still going strong. I’ve also made significant changes in my diet. No more soda, junk food, or late-night snacks. After decades, I had finally found my groove. I’ve lost the fifty pounds that the doctor recommended and then twenty-five more.

I don’t like talking about my weight loss because it sounds too much like bragging. We all struggle with things in life, and it’s hard when you’re in the middle of those challenges, and someone starts preaching about all of the things you need to do.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m now a fitness expert because I’ve gotten myself in better shape. However, as someone who has battled weight issues, I would like to reveal some truths I’ve learned about myself in the process.

Truth #1 I don’t tie my weight loss to self-esteem. I was lucky enough to be raised by parents who taught me that I was a good person, regardless of my weight. I liked myself when I was severely overweight, and I like myself now. There are plenty of skinny people who are miserable. My weight is not going to define me or determine my happiness.

Truth #2 I understand it is normal to want to tell people about your success in whatever you’re doing. I’m not comfortable reporting my daily weight loss and trips to the gym the way some people do on social media. I think it sets a person up for failure when one makes everything so public. We all know those people who faithfully report each workout, weigh-in, etc., but what happens when you have a setback? I think it is better to remain humble and realize that there are going to be good and lousy days.

Truth #3 I look for mental tricks that help motivate me because no wonder drug is going to make this simple. If someone tells you it’s easy, they are lying or exaggerating. For me, it requires hard work and a lot of self-discipline. The same thing doesn’t work for everyone. I have another teacher friend who has lost more than one hundred pounds since he retired. Weight Watchers has been his ticket to success. One commonality that we have discovered about each other is a desire to be active and vibrant grandparents. Since retirement, I have been writing. My dream is to someday read one of my children’s books to my grandchild. If I don’t take care of myself, that isn’t going to happen.

Truth #4 I take inspiration from people around me. Watching anyone go after a goal with a sense of dedication and purpose motivates me. I find motivation from anyone who is giving up smoking, drinking, or making any healthy change. If someone is going to school at night after working fulltime during the day, how can I not respect this? It also inspires me when I observe people who are giving of themselves to their community. I think it is smart to use the successes of others as motivational tools. If they can do it, so can I. It is a mindset.

Truth #5 It is much easier for me to commit to exercise now that I am retired. Life is hard when you’re working full time, raising kids, and have a lot of other things going on in your life. I always made my students one of my top priorities, but how much can you help them if you don’t also look after yourself? I struggled with being a workaholic; teaching is a demanding job. I know it is possible to live a more balanced life because I’ve watched others do it. The kids will still be there for you tomorrow. I think it’s important to take at least thirty minutes per day to do something active for yourself.

Truth #6 I don’t beat myself up when I have an off day. When you fail at whatever goal you’re pursuing, look at it as a minor setback that all people experience. It works for me to think, “Oh well, I’ll do better tomorrow.” I like the concept of lifestyle changes rather than crash diets. I try not to step on the scale every day and let that affect my mood. It is healthier to remind myself how far I’ve come rather than being depressed because I’ve gained a pound or two back. I also treat myself occasionally to one of my favorite foods without any guilt.

The best part of my journey is feeling healthier and more energetic. I am grateful that my knee has held up, and I’m proud of myself for sticking with my exercise program and improved diet. I believe in living life with passion and going after the things I want. I feel lucky to have been given this second chance.

©Pete Springer 2019.

Congratulations to Pete on achieving his weight loss goal and surpassing it.. What a great way to greet your 60s.

About They Call Me Mom

Who Will You Inspire Today? Teachers face this challenge and responsibility each day, but in the process, the author discovers that his students can also have a profound influence on him. Pete Springer takes you on his memorable thirty-one-year journey in education as an elementary school teacher and offers the many valuable life and teaching lessons he learned along the way. Get ready to laugh out loud at some of the humorous and memorable experiences that all teachers face, feel inspired by the inherent goodness of children, and appreciate the importance of developing a sense of teamwork among the staff. Learn valuable tips for working with children, parents, fellow staff members, and administrators. This book is ideal for young teachers, but also a reminder to all educators of the importance and responsibility of being a role model. This book is a must-read for all new teachers and those teachers that need a reminder they are human! Mr. Springer educates others in his easy-to-read, story-like, first-hand manuscript. You will laugh, cry, and get motivated to be the best educator you can. After reading this, I have a better outlook on relationships with my colleagues and am reminded to savor every moment. -Tami Beall (Principal, Pine Hill School)

One of the reviews for the book

Bradley Livingston 5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Story! February 2, 2019

I personally love this book. Peter Springer was my second grade teacher in my elementary school days and I have to say he was one of my favorites no doubt. You could tell that he truly valued the significance of early education. I can’t think of a single one of my friends that were not excited about going to Mr. Springers class everyday!

When I was informed that Mr. Springer was finishing his lifelong dream of developing a book to pass down his experiences, I knew I had to get a copy of the book. It was no surprise that the book was absolutely inspiring. Reading his book brought back some of those wonderful memories of growing up and being excited to go to school everyday. Peter Springer really has a way with kids and the story of how he found his passion for helping kids reach there dreams is a story that everyone must hear!

It is crucial to provide a foundation for kids to dream, learn, and grow. In this book, Peter Springer emphasizes how important it is to give kids this type of environment to ensure that they reach their dreams and goals in the future.

Peter Springer inspired me as well as many other students throughout the years. If you read his book and learn his story, I’m sure you will be inspired as well!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/They-Call-Mom-Difference-Elementary/dp/1977200052

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/They-Call-Mom-Difference-Elementary/dp/1977200052

Other buy links: https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/buy/

About Pete Springer

My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over two years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.

When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.

I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!

Connect to Pete

Website: https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peter.springer.5876

My thanks to Pete for allowing me to access his archives posts and share them with you.. Please head over and explore Pete’s blog further.. thanks Sally.