Sunday, October 03, 2010
Yesterday was a stellar day. The weather was cool, crisp and autumnal. I started the day with a walk in the meadow with Stella, then went to the gym to meet with my personal trainer. I walked a mile at 3.5 mph and an incline on the treadmill, worked with 5 lb. hand weights and the weight machines (I have upped most of the settings to 70 - 80 lbs.), went another mile on the elliptical machine, and ended with stretches. I felt wonderfully energized after my workout.
I needed to get to the Farmer's Market, so I called a friend before heading back to town to see if she wanted to go, too. Since she also wanted to go, I parked at her house and we walked the 3/4 miles to the Farmer's Market. My treasures were a gorgeous winter squash, honey crisp apples, red amaranth leaves, Brussel's sprouts on the stalk, freshly dug sweet potatoes, and a lovely mix of different kinds of deep purple, and red/green mustard greens.
After our trip to the Farmer's Market, we walked back to Judy's house. From there, I took my guitar to another friend's house for an afternoon of music with my singing group. We played our instruments and sang for 2 hours. It was glorious!
One more walk got included in the day. I treasure my evening walks in the meadow and woods with Stella, and yesterday evening was perfect for a long walk, albeit chilly.
While I made last night's dinner, I roasted the squash and one of the sweet potatoes for tonight's soup - Squash/Pear/ Ginger Soup. It is vegetarian (but not vegan - for vegan, leave out the sour cream or yogurt).
Squash/Pear/ Ginger Soup
In advance, roast 1 winter squash and 1 sweet potato.
Prepare brown rice.
Remove seeds and peel the squash and sweet potato
Simmer in 2 cups of either homemade vegetable broth or some from the store. Watch the store brands as they may be very high in sodium.
Add 1 pear, 1 Tbs. freshly grated ginger, 1 cup silken tofu, 1 tsp. fresh tarragon, and simmer until the pear is soft and the flavors blended.
In small batches, blend together the soup ingredients (including the broth) and 1 cup cooked brown rice. The soup will be very thick and creamy. Return to heat to keep warm until serving, salt to taste.
Before serving, clip more fresh tarragon for garnish, and swirl in either non-fat sour cream or some Greek yogurt.
My sides included:
steamed fresh Brussel's sprouts with a little olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper
Braised purple mustard greens - saute garlic in olive oil, add greens, stir until wilted, add balsamic vinegar to taste, and cover to steam.
The corm bread was an unsweetened packaged mix, cooked and served with a little hot pepper jelly.
We don't always have dessert, but I often fix it on Sunday. This evening's dessert is apple crisp.
Chop Granny Smith and honey crisp apples (organic of you can get them), add chopped walnuts, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. Grate a little lemon rind over the apples, then cover with the crisp.
The crisp is old fashioned oats, wheat germ, softened butter, a sprinkle of brown sugar, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Mix together with your fingers, then cook for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
My singing group and I met again today for another 2 hours of music, and after blogging, I will take Stella out for our evening walk, then get a little yoga in before my evening reading.
My big failure this weekend was sleep. As I posted in an earlier blog, I have joined the Better Sleep Challenge. After yesterday's great music and exercise, I was certain I would sleep long and soundly. I followed my goals, entered my sleep journal data, read my book (The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton), had a hot and luxurious bath and curled up in bed at 10:00. I felt relaxed and unstressed. However, after 2 hours, I was no closer to being asleep than I was in the middle of the day! At that point, I gave up and got up to read. I read until, finally, after 2:00 AM, I drifted off to sleep. I 'slept in' until 7:00.
I have to say, I was very confused about this because I had made a point of de-stressing and relaxing. Then it occurred to me that before our music session, my friend had prepared coffee, which, silly me, I thought was decaffeinated. I checked with her today, and indeed, it was caffeinated. I love my coffee and have a couple of cups of delicious, dark, strong, bold coffee each morning. But never, ever in the afternoon because it does keep me from falling asleep. Hopefully, tonight will be a good sleeping night.
Here's something I do not understand, not that it's a big thing, but it is a curious thing. Several people have congratulated me on my Consistency Award. The thing is, even on the months when I log in every single day, I never get a Perfect Attendance Award. I know there have been many months, including Sept., when I logged in every day, but I continually get Consistency Awards. Like I said, it isn't a big thing at all, but I wonder if there is a piece of logging in that I miss, so my data isn't entered in the data bank.
Overall, with the exception of last night's sleeplessness, it has been just the restful and enjoyable weekend I needed after a long and difficult work week.
Have a lovely week, my friends!
Friday, October 01, 2010
I joined the Official Better Sleep Challenge yesterday. I have been sleeping more comfortably since I got my Sleep Number Bed, but I am just not a good sleeper. While I am not being woken up every half hour with searing hip pain any more, my mind does not shut off very well, so falling asleep can be difficult, and deep sleep, elusive. Since this is a chronic problem, I have spent years reading about good sleep habits and trying many techniques for falling and staying asleep. If you have a recommendation for me, I've probably already tried it. One thing I haven't tried before is sleep journaling, so I am trying this in conjunction with the Sleep Challenge.
Last night, I made certain I got off the computer an hour before going to bed and spent time reading instead. After that, my normal bedtime routine: a warm soak, Alexander style 'Constructive Rest', and slow deep breathing, with my warm poodle curled up in a ball next to me. It took me an hour to fall asleep and I woke up 5 times during the night.
Stressors before bed were:
This has been a really tough week at work for me. The classroom dynamics and some individual children's behaviors have been challenging. I am a seasoned teacher, so none of this was out of control, but the very act of controlling it and making a positive learning environment in spite of the difficulties posed, was tiring and stressful.
In addition to having had to work a six day work week, I have had to conference with a couple of parents about their children's behavior after school. It is time well spent, since resolving behavior issues is really a collaborative effort. But, on a week that has already been difficult, those extra hours take a toll on my stress levels.
Last night was also my Room Meeting night, so I worked another 10 hour day. I was sad to have only 5 parents show up; I put a lot of time and effort into providing time for parents to come in and talk about the program and share ideas.
One more stressor has been preparing for my trip to Martha's Vineyard in two weeks. As I have reported earlier, I have a phobia of flying which I have been keeping under wraps, but honestly, keeping it under control takes energy! And of course, I am worried about my brother's battle with cancer - the reason I am going on the trip in the first place.
I see all of these things as contributors to my inability to shut off my mind and fall into a deep sleep when my head hits the pillow.
Keep working on reducing stress as much as possible
Keep up stress management
Stay off electronics before bed
Keep a sleep journal
Include in bedtime routine - music, reading, warm soak, relaxation breathing, Constructive Rest.
Ultimately, be able to sleep like Tex and Stella!
Wish me luck!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Is it the full moon?
The change of seasons?
The change of barometer?
My students were bonkers both yesterday and today.
I knew this school year would be difficult. The group I have now is the one of those that have a ripple effect through a school because the group is challenging to teach. I chose not to be on the board this year because I am looking to keep stress at a manageable level.
But these last two days, I have just wished I was in a good financial position to retire.
And I am a positive person.
Too many children with impulsivity control issues, oppositional behavior, and obsessive behavior in one class makes teaching very difficult. And very stressful. Add to that a few children who constantly interrupt...
It's not that I'm not up to it. It's not that each child isn't individually a good person at heart. It's not that I don't believe each and every one of them can mature into absolutely wonderful people who make the most of their lives. It's not that I don't have the classroom under control.
It's just that I have come home from work with a gi-normic head ache the last couple of days, I have been grinding my teeth at night, and I feel stressed out. Being calm, level, and firm all day takes it out of me. I am missing the joy of teaching right now.
I know this will pass, things will smooth out again, but friends, right now, this evening, I wish I were retired.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Today was Stella's first day back at school since school began. The children, and even the parents, have been asking after her since August. I have delightful children in my class, but a few of those delightful children have a hard time settling in. I wanted to wait until everyone was settled in to the routine and calm before bringing back their favorite little silver therapy dog.
Stella was as happy to be back as the children were to see her. She has really matured over the summer; as excited as she was, she was a perfect angel all day. I think her favorite job at school is snuggling in with the children while they are working or reading. She seems to know just who to snuggle up with.
Now that she is home, she is a total maniac. It is as if she knew she had to be calm at school, and held in all of her rambunctiousness. Once at home, she has had a bad case of the ZOOMIES! Weeeee!!!!
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