Monday, August 06, 2012
I had an amazing time at the fair Friday evening--oh, the "Great Mississippi Valley Fair" and the REO Speedwagon Concert. It was so much fun--I have photos and hope to download them by tomorrow, so I'll share them then. I haven't been to a concert in a while, but it was everything I wanted it to be. I knew all of the songs--one of them threw me for a few moments, but then I got it. I sang and tapped my feet and played my air guitar and even danced a bit. I have seen REO other times and this was one of their best. Their showmanship was awesome. We sat in a special area reserved for folks with disabilities and I was a bit amazed at some of the people there. Many of these people were overweight and smoking and in wheelchairs. I almost became judgemental until I thought about who I was before SparkPeople and I knew that I didn't have the right to think what I was thinking. I wanted to reach out to a couple of them, but it wasn't the time or place for that either, especially with strangers. I am sure glad that I found Spark People and I am glad that I lost 140 pounds. I cannot imagine what shape I'd be in with that still on me--I'm sure I'd still be using that wheelchair to start with.
I have done an awesome job of analyzing my daily menus--after measuring a lot of my food so that I am not imagining what I am eating. I still have my own age-old problem of not eating enough. I ignore those red messages that I get from SP on my trackers--and I have booted it up quite a bit, but I am still below 1000 calories most days. I have been drinking up to 12 glasses of water daily and I am wondering if I should cut back on that or substitute beverages like mild and fruit juice to beef up some of my calories. I suspect that I am not going to have quite the loss I need for my hip replacement if I don't get things fixed.
My job is at a frustrating place right now--I have to collect all of the kids' reading scores to select students before I can make a schedule and I am short about 60 scores that I am trying to find. I think they may let me help with some of the assessment which will make a lot of sense. As I called other schools in our district, I found that they did not replace another Title 1 teacher who retired--and that drops us down to a department of between 8 and 10, depending on what the junior highs have done. I am very alarmed at this type of choice because having reading specialists in elementary schools makes a good deal of sense. We are trained to assess and diagnose reading issues--and reading is at the core of any and all learning. I don't know what administrators are thinking these days.
Grant's farm (yes, no segue...) is located in the St. Louis area. It formerly belonged to President Ulysses S. Grant and was bought by the Busch family (of Budweiser fame) in 1908, I think. It is beautiful. One of the things that has been done is an effort to care for local wild life and to bring some other animals has been a goal of theirs. One thing that people can do at Grant's Farm is taste a variety of beers without cost, just with reminders that with drinking comes responsibility. Admission is free, actually the only costs are for food, non-alcohol beverages, animal feed, and souvenirs. When you arrive, you start out with a ride on a tram that takes you into areas of the farm that are only for viewing and then, it drops you off in the area where all sorts of activities for families are. I tried to take photos on the tram, but I didn't have much luck because of the pace we were moving at.
This is the actual home, it is a one level home and looks quite lovely.
There were loads of animals--especially deer, birds, plains animals--but I just couldn't photograph them on the tram. I do have photos from other parts of the farm though...
There was a wonderful petting zoo--this is the goat section. They sold bottles that you could purchase to feed the goats. If you went into their very busy pen, you got mobbed by goats who wanted a special drink.
There were many animals in the petting zoo-many farm animals and thse rather large guinea pigs that my kids were quite interested in. We have had guinea pigs forever, and none of them were quite so large. They stayed huddled up around a log, most likely seeking out the coolest place to be in the 108 degree temps.
Not surprisingly, at the home of the Budweiser Clydesdales, there were lots of interesting buggies and carts around.
The variety of animals was surprising--it is almost as if the Grants family and the Busch family were creating a zoo out of their farm.
The eating area reminded me of a traditional Oktoberfest in appearance, sound and menu. They were playing polka music and the food included brats and sauerkraut as well as some more traditional items like pizza slices. It was a fun place to eat! Next to this area was a stable that contained some gentle hirses, ponies, and donkeys. After we ate, we went on to check out the pond and the birds--my kids had a lot of fun feeding them.
After spending a lot of time with the birds, we decided to go back--so it was back on the tram to the entrance and the big souvenir shop.
After buying some gifts for those who couldn't come with us, we walked back across the wooden bridge, to the parking lot, and over to the stables for the Clydesdales.
Finally, we were on the way home and I snapped a few photos of a very interesting bridge that we had crossed on the way to St. Louis and again on our return trip. We had quite a conversation about its design.
SP couldn't upload any of the other bridge photos--they were too large...I fell asleep trying .
Tuesday is my day to teach kids the proper way to use our bathrooms--and supervise four half hour recesses. I have so much important work to do, but TPTB decided that this was far more important. Hmm? Anyway, after school, I have to go for my second SI injections. I won't be allowed to go to the pool so hopefully, I will be able to do more work in my garden.
Take care of yourselves and I will share concert photos soon!
Friday, August 03, 2012
I meant to add more photos from the zoo on Wednesday after my first day of work, but things didn't go as planned. I got off work and went to the pool for my work out. It was really nice and I got two good hours of swimming and exercise in outside in the fresh air and under sunny, blue skies. After that, I went grocery shopping and headed home which sounds tame enough until I tripped over nothing coming up the one little step into our house. I fell right on my face, tummy--banging my right knee good and hard. My poor knee hasn't healed from the car accident yet and I scraped it up leaving new bruises over the old bruises and a bloodied up mess. To add insult to injury, one of my doggies had pulled their food dish just to the right place by the door that my face went right in spraying kibble everywhere. It really hurt a good deal, possibly more than the car accident. Grr-rr. I have had a couple of accidents too many in recent months and my body cannot take it. I cannot explain why I fell or what happened, I think I just lost my balance on that little step that I have climbed thousands of times without a problem.
Our first day of work was a big long meeting setting us up for the program we will be initiating. It was interesting, totally put together by the Franklin Covey people, based on the 7 habits of highly effective people. It seemed like a combination of a couple of other programs I have been trained in. I have to admit that if it works the way that they suggest, it will be good for everyone in the school. I am willing to do this with enthusiasm.
Our second day, today, was a different kind of meeting day. It was like the first of such meetings that I attended as a teacher in our district. They started with a nice breakfast and social time--I got there too late for much social, but I enjoyed a lot of wonderful fruit--melon, pineapple, grapes, strawberries, apples and I topped it off with a half of a cup of grape joice. Yummy. they also had a lot of other things--bagels, cinnamon rolls, muffins, oranges, other juices, coffee, milk and tea. I typically have fruit and protein for breakfast, so I left the carbs alone. (I took a beautiful chocolate chocolate chip muffin and gave that and an apple to my son for driving me around. We had our traditional motivational talks from central administration and a chance to hear the names of new employees, and they let us out a half an hour early. I went back to my school and started working on my reading levels before our building meeting. I actually forgot to have lunch, I was so busy. It was another day of candy on every table and lots of cookies and rolls at the door. I ate a tiny Twix bar and left the other stuff alone. I am not sure why the principal feels that she must put all of that stuff out but it is something she always does. Anyway, I got past all of that and when the meeting was over, I went to the pool and then my daughter and I went back to Weight Watchers tonight. I am glad that she is thinking this way--I hope that she really starts to track food, it would be the one tool she needs to lose some weight. She works out and does a good job. I want to be pushed to start weighing in weekly and a bit more accountability than I have had in recent months. They were a bit surprised that someone who they haven't seen in 6 months came in with a weight loss since they last saw me. It wasn't quite 5 pounds, but I am glad of that and it is more reinforcement that I am able to maintain after all of these years of losing weight and gaining it back. However, I want to lose some 25-30 pounds before I have my hip replacement to make this as easy a procedure as possible. I need to be consistent and serious--not weighing in for over 3 months won't help me continually lose weight. I make good food choices that could be a bit better for losing and I am active and enjoy my exercise in the pool. I should be able to do this with a bit of focus. I suspect that I will get more support here, but I am pulling out all of the stops to get to my goal.
On a related note, our PE teacher is going to start doing the "Insanity" exercise videos in the school gym for staff members after the kids leave starting next week. Does anyone know much about these? In particular, can someone with my physical issues participate without looking entirely foolish? Can I get anything out of it or would I be better off to pass on this and stick with what I am already doing? I appreciate hearing from people I know on this--I can look up some reviews and may do that over the weekend, but I thought I'd ask you all.
Tomorrow, we are going to the Mississippi Valley Fair to check it out and then, after that, enjoying their grandstand event, an REO Speedwagon concert. I have seen them maybe 4 other times in my life. I know most of their music and am planning to enjoy this as well. Maybe, I can snap some photos of this as well...
Back to the zoo photos--we had just went to see their big bird display. They were really awesome, I love birds and I enjoy them a great deal. Quite honestly, I am a bit nervous around big parrot type birds. They can really hurt people with those beaks that are designed to break open heavy duty nuts and fruits. I saw a guy get hurt pretty awfully after messing around with a bird that was tethered to a perch at a pet store once. I am sure he ended up with a fractured finger or two (that he deserved,) but it was enough to make me respect their beauty and want to avoid them.
Nest on the path, we went to see the sea lions and the seals. They were busy and it was hard to get pictures because they were so active. If it is hard to see them, you can see how beautiful the water and the display was. :)
The next big display was the penguins--now maybe they were so inviting because it was so chilly in there on such a hot day, Maybe they were so inviting because Micah loves them and has collected stuffed penguins, penguin books, and penguin statues and figurines for several years. For whatever reason, we enjoyed them so much. They had three different breeds adn they were so close by that it took everything I had in me to do as the sign said, "Do not touch the penguins." I have actually regretted not touching one just to see how they felt in the water... Oh my. I almost forgot to mention the puffins that were part of the display--they were really busy and hard to get photos of, but I tried.
On our way to the carousel, we saw the flamingos before my 21 year old son rode on the giraffe (with a lot of prodding by his younger sister.)
We went back by the monkeys for a quick effort to see the remaining "big animals" before the zoo closed. The big animals weren't so cooperative for photos ops, but I got a couple of almost pictures.
Some of the last photos weren't quite as good as I had wished, but I think the heat of the day and the late hour together worked to make the animals tired and looking for cover. I still have a boatload of photos that I took at Grant's Farm to share and I will try to add those in next--but the concert make come first. I am excited to build play into my life a little here and a little there.
Thanks for reading my blogs and being my friends. I am back on top of my game and am ready to tackle the things I need to feel as good as I can. I have lost over 140 pounds--30 more should be a piece of fruit, huh?
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Tomorrow is the big day and I have to say that I am not ready to return to school at all. As I soaked in the sunshine while I did my work out at Whitewater Junction tonight, all I could think of was losing some opportunities to be in the sun and water. I love the summer and am truly not ready to see it end in this fashion. I had about 7 days to enjoy the entire summer and I made it the best i could. I have an amazing tan that even my doctor commented on. I know they aren't really a sign of good health, but I enjoyed every chance I had to get in the garden or pool or park that I could grab and I used sunscreen 20 minutes after I got into the sun each time I was there. This tan is the result of a lot of time outdoors and me being active to the best of my ability. I think a teacher with a failing hip and a back that keeps me using a walker has a few bragging rights. I also can thank SparkPeople for helping me to understand the value of activity and exercise. I am faithful to a daily workout and stretching to help my body and to burn calories too. I wonder what shape this body would be in if I had learned to appreciate and enjoy exercise and if I still had another 140 pounds... I doubt that a hip replacement would be the biggest of my needs.
Anyway, I have a plan. I am going to get Marshall to come and pick me up at 3:30 tomorrow when our meeting ends and drop me off at Whitewater. I will enjoy the pool and my workout and the fresh air and sunshine. My husband can take our youngest son to the doctor and then join me or pick me up, whichever he prefers. That way, I get to do it all. I was going to go to a WW meeting tomorrow evening, but after talking to my daughter, WE are going to go on Thrusday instead. This is a better deal for me because my final class to earn my ELL endorsement will be on Wednesday evenings this semester and I want to get back at meetings to give me a bit more accountability. I want to lose another 30 pounds before we do the hip replacement. With Spark People and WW meetings, I should be right on target as I build my schedule for the coming season.
A good part of this tan came from our trip to St. Louis. I want to share some of the photos I took at the world famous St. Louis Zoo. It is wonderful that it is free to families--obviously none of the extras like beverages and souvenirs are either free or cheap, but a family who has a cooler can have a wonderful experience there--We went through about a half a case of water and we had a great time. I got to taste toasted ravioli there and it was a great shack (although probably not something someone should eat on a regular basis)
The entrance to the zoo built up a lot of excitement with many interesting animal sculptures.
After entering, there was a wonderful pond/ fountain with more sculptures.
Not knowing where to start in this enormous zoo, we picked a road at random and found ourself at the Herpetology House. There was a gigantic collection of snakes, lizards, and a few amphibians too...
The photo of the crocodile and alligator skulls came with a lecture explaining the differences in their anatomies. The final critter in the photo is:
The name of this guy amused a couple of my kids to no end--okay, I didn't quite get it either.
We went on to see the primates next--they were mainly in hiding when we went by the first time. I got far better photos when we were on our way out and traveled back through their neck of the woods. Of course there was a statue to start with and my husband and Miles hamming it up a bit....
This guy was stealing blankets from the others first time around and they were all huddled under them, out of sight with lots of wiggling under the covers.
This guy was eating big heads of lettuce and was pelting the others with the rubbish that he didn't want.
We moved on to see some birds and some big animals in a couple of parts of the zoo that overlapped.
This last bird is a Hornbeak. I love the birds and have a lot more photos--but this big zoo certainly had more to offer. I will do a "Zoo Part 2" and share more photos with you in my next blog.
Have a great Wednesday--I will be dreaming of being outdoors and in the water during my meeting. If you get to go out and about, think about me, trying to be in my teacher role far sooner than I want to be!
Monday, July 30, 2012
Before I share some of the photos from our trip, I need to apologize to everyone who knows me. I am stubborn and try to do too much, often things that are too difficult for someone with my body. I saw in full color what this bad habit of mine can cause last evening. I decided to spend some time working in my gardens last evening when I got home from the pool because the weather was a bit better than it usually is. I even convinced the guys to do some mowing--and they got going on it. One thing they tend to ignore is moving things out of the way, especially our swing. I decided to move it myself and then I'd get them to come back and mow where it usually sits. It is big and heavy--but I scooted it out of its former spot. My husband came right over to find out what I was doing and why. I told him and went over to move one side of it a bit more. I failed to notice the swarm of yellow jackets that I had stirred up when I moved the swing and something got in my face. It took a bit before I realized that I was being stung, a lot. I ran to my husband and took at least one bee with me that stung him on his ear. I have only been stung once in my life and it ended up being a trip to the ER. I had trouble breathing that day and the folks at the hospital told me that I was allergic. After I realized that I had been stung--3 or 4 times on my nose, once on my jaw, twice on my arm, a couple of times on the back of my neck--maybe a couple of others--I went in the house and took my medicine and some benadryl, and we got out all of my ice bags to treat the stings. My daughter put tea tree oil on all of the spots and I sat in a daze for a quite a while. I don't remeber much after all of that, the benadryl put me to sleep. I have to go to the doctor today and get a refill on that other medication now. Yuck. I have some bruises and sores and a very sore jaw, but I am okay. I feel badly because it was all of my fault in the first place and I drug the bees over to sting my husband. I need to harness my stubbornness in. However, anyone who moved the swing would have upset those bees--and I am the one who usually uses the swing, so it probably would have been my issue at some point. My son cleared them all out. They had made a nest inside the bar of the swing, creating all of the excitement that I didn't need. Oh yes, it cancelled out our cook out as well...
Anyway, here are some of the photos I took on our trip to St. Louis:
This is the Gateway Arch and the beautiful sky on the 22nd.
This photo and the next few photos were taken from the top of the Arch--it was a glorious view...This first is Busch Stadium during a Cardinals game--the red of the audience was so amazing!
I took a lot of photos from up in the Arch because the beauty of the day along with the Mississippi River and the busy city were just wonderful to look at. (I especially loved the rooftop swimming pools that you can see in the photo above the last one in this group.)
I also took many photos in the Museum of the Westward Expansion. Many of them are my kids, being silly and showing off, but I will try to share some "good" ones!
One of many statues, depicting Jefferson for his role in the Louisiana Purchase.
The museum was full of great artifacts from the Lewis and Clark expeditions, from Native Americans, and displays depicting the countryside of that time period. Many of our photos contained early weapons and the like, and as I learned from a Spark Friend of mine, those photos aren't really allowed here. We spent about 2.5 hours in the museum and I learned quite a lot that I hope to remember and share with students as needed.
I will share photos from the amazing St. Louis Zoo and Grant's Farm in coming blogs. We had a fabulous time even with temps that reached 108.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
We had a nice, but very active and very short trip on pretty intense heat. It was awesome. We got to St. Louis early Sunday morning and after we located our hotel, we went off to find the Gateway Arch. It was a busy, busy place. We got tickets to ride the tram to the top and then spent a couple of hours checking out the museum. I didn't realize a lot about the Arch. I didn't realize it was a creation to celebrate Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase. The museum is full of information about Lewis and Clark, and that period of time during the US expansion. However, for everyone, it was also a waiting place for that ride to the top of the Arch. They took us to a pretty tiny car that held five people and we rode to the top in what felt a lot like a ferris wheel. When we got out, we were at the top. You cannot really stand straight up and it is definitely an arch that you are standing in. The view is amazing in every way. There was a Cardinal baseball game in Busch Stadium and all of the red that people were wearing made quite a sight. We could see roof top swimming pools and the historic courthouse. On the other side, we could see the Mississippi River, a few barges, the highway that looked amazing, and more. It was simply phenomenal. I took a ton of photos, when I get them all downloaded, I will share some of them here.
On Monday, we spent the entire day at the St. Louis Zoo. We didn't have time to see everything and we didn't even see any of the shows or presentations. I am sure that out of everything--the reptile house, the apes, gorillas, and monkeys, the birds, etc... Our favorite display was the penguin habitat. First of all, it was cold, cold, cold int here for obvious reasons and since there were temps of over 108 at the zoo that day, that was a pleasant change for a short while. Those critters were so fascinating and "cute." I realize they were wild animals and I totally resisted the strong urge to break the rules and pet one of them. They we=ould jump in the pools and swim, swim, swim. They played and had a ton of fun together, chasing each other around. the King Penguins stood up there so triumphantly, stately, and tall, as if they were overseeing the others. The smaller breeds were the active ones. The little rockhoppers were splashing people as they dove in and flitted about. It was absolutely amazing to watch. After some 7-8 hours on our feet, we also went to a nearby mall to please Marissa's 16 year old need to go shopping. Hmm, maybe I am getting old when I don't give much for shopping any more. It is a functional necessity in my mind, not entertainment, lol.
On Tuesday, we went to see Grant's Farm. That was also an amazing time. It started with a tram ride to show off the Busch property that had once belonged to former President (and Genreal) Ulysses S. Grant. It is a wonderful, low-key place that does have a wonderful home on it, but the property is a lot about being a home to amazing wildlife, some imported to the premises. Animals are all around from the sweet goats in the petting zoo to the big, wild animals from zebras to elephants and all. Another big part of the farm was their main dining area that brought our church's Oktoberfest celebrations to everyone's mind. We heard those polkas and they had brats and other things on their menus--yummy snow cones were my favorite. My husband and son enjoyed a couple of beers--which were all free at the Busch family farm and estate. When we returned to the car, we went to see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. They are simply majestic and handsome horses. They are valued, cherished animals there. I couldn't help but to think that all animals deserved to be cared for and loved in such a way.
travel time was around an hour each way and we stopped many times which was good for me and even better for the three people who were in the back seat. We had some great food--a couple of St. Louis foods: toasted ravioli and thin crust St. Louis pizza, both items that I really enjoyed a great deal. ?We brought a few servings of the ravioli home with us, but they sure didn't last long. I am surprised that they cannot be found around here or anywhere else I have ever eaten. I guess that is what makes them a "local favorite."
I have told my children that the sign of a good trip is that when you leave you are both sorry to go and you can think of things that you wanted to do that you just didn't have time to do... That describes our time in St. Louis. I want to go back, maybe when it is some 10-15 degrees cooler and maybe to take some of the other kids with us. Micah, Marissa, and Miles came along but the others all couldn't get off of work. I can recommend it greatly and I promise that we got in a lot more exercise in those three days than I usually get in. (I learned how to sweat until I was soaked all the way through!!) I am so glad that we went, it was a welcome change of scenery in many ways.
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