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Nature Camp (Pics)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This will have to be a short blog as I have to squeeze it in both between activities and at the lodge since our cabin does not have wifi.

We got the 'cool' cabin with the front porch, large yard, comfy common room, and a kitchen.



The boys set up their chess games right away. Today they actually built an entire village out of their dorm room. I don't have pics with their alterations since the photos have the children in them.



The girls wanted to win the coveted Golden Dust Pan award, so they have been keeping their room meticulously clean. So far, they are the winners.
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This is our common room for our morning meetings, story time, and quiet time activities. We are rarely in the dorm; we are out hiking for most of the day, rain or shine.




And this is my cozy corner; my flamenco guitar and ukulele tucked neatly in the corner.





And at the foot of the bed, the school guitar and some ukes for the children to play. The other bunk is where the science teacher sleeps.

I am getting lots hiking in, up and down hills, in this lovely (but wet) fall weather.

A great time is being had by all.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LMB-ESQ 10/2/2011 5:08PM

    How fun!

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VALERIEMAHA 9/30/2011 5:46PM

    I wanna' go!
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Maha

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BADASSBLONDIE 9/29/2011 11:47AM

    Love this!!!!!

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MARY1313 9/29/2011 11:41AM

    Awww that looks wonderful! this is a very special school you teach in!

Mary

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LITTLEFARMMOMMA 9/29/2011 10:18AM

    That looks like SO MUCH FUN! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MCGS62 9/29/2011 9:16AM

    Beautiful cabins ! That's almost like camping in a banquet hall !!
I still think you are crazy camping with all those kids.
When I camp I am trying to leave all the noise at home.
It will be good for teaching them how to tune the guitar and ukulele's- with all the moisture in the air they will " be a needin a lots a tunin !! " emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 9/29/2011 9:17:52 AM

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IUHRYTR 9/28/2011 10:54PM

    Such fun. -- Lou

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IUHRYTR 9/28/2011 10:53PM

    Such fun. -- Lou

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HIKETOHEIGHTS 9/28/2011 8:48PM

    Looks perfect, I wanna go too!

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WATERMELLEN 9/28/2011 8:46PM

    Looks glorious!! You are building wonderful memories for your lucky students!!

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R.I.P. Sweet Eleanor

Tuesday, September 27, 2011



My favorite chicken, Eleanor, was killed by a hawk in our back yard and I am very sad about this.

Most people think of chickens as mindless egg machines or meat providers. Anyone who has raised them from eggs to adulthood and let them free range knows that they can be full of personality.



Eleanor and her flock were hatched in the kindergarten. We all watched them as they struggled out of their eggs, wet and tired from the hard work of cracking the shell to emerge into this world.



Everyone was in love with the babies, and they had quite a fan club at school. Some of the children even wrote books about them. They were a bit sad when the chickens were big enough to come home with me, but also glad that they would have a big yard and a happy home.



Stella knew they were part of the family, and I think she though of them as her Peeps. She watched over them when they were wee babies, but hung out with them in the yard like they were her companions when they were big enough to roam free in the yard. Stella likes to play chase, and would try to engage the chickens in a game of chase. It was funny to see her disappointment when they wouldn't chase her. When she chased the chickens they looked like they were thinking, "Sheesh, Stella's on a rip again." They would scatter for a moment, then go about their business hunting for bugs in the lawn.


Baby Eleanor

Eleanor was always the smartest of the chickens. She was the first to discover how to sit on a perch, how to fly over the baby pen where they were kept as chicks, and how to get up and down the ramp to their coop. She would lead the other chickens to bed at night and on their adventures exploring the yard. She was also very sweet and affectionate.

Early in her life, just after she reached maturity, we almost lost her to disaster. We were babysitting Stella's BFF, Daisy the Doodle. While Stella likes to try to play with the chickens, she would be mortified if she hurt one. Daisy, however, had no such compunctions. She saw the chickens and went in for the kill. Her victim was Eleanor. Mike had to spray Daisy with a fire extinguisher to get her off the chicken. Eleanor was sliced by Daisy's teeth on her back and abdomen, was in shock and appeared to either have a severe back and/or leg injury that prevented her from walking. She was pale and panting.

I got some Rescue Remedy, sprayed it in her mouth, and made her a comfortable nest with food and water nearby. I did not expect her to survive, but continued giving her Rescue Remedy and making sure she was as comfortable as she could be. It was the weekend, and there was no possibility of taking her to the vet. I was surprised to find her still alive the next morning, but wondered if I should be thinking about putting her out of her misery since she could not walk. She seemed unable to move her legs at all. I just couldn't bring myself to do that yet. Then a couple of days later, to my surprise and joy she had actually moved about in her coop renewing my hope for some kind of recovery.

By the next week, she was walking with a severe limp, but walking and hanging out with the other chickens again. She limped all through the fall, and into the beginning of the winter, but by spring there was no lingering evidence of how severely she had been injured.

It makes me sad to think of how this sweet little life was bracketed on both ends by violence. I know she had a happy life before the first attack and after her recovery ~ and that is some consolation. But it does make me sad to lose her and that her life had to end so violently.

Do I hate the hawk? No. I have enjoyed watching the mother hawk raise her babies in our back meadow each year. I love seeing them soar and hearing their cries. When people ask me what I do about hawks and my bird feeder, I have always responded, "It's a BIRD feeder." I like feeding all of my birds. Eating prey is the way of the hawk. I admire their strength and grace and beauty. I am very sad that Eleanor was their 'victim', but I still love my hawks.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OBOIST61 10/5/2011 11:03AM

    Beautiful blog, and great pictures. So sorry about the loss of sweet Eleanor. And isn't it wonderful how Stella behaves toward your chickens? I think it must be a poodle thing. My baby Albert is very fond of our guinea pigs (licks them!), and it always shocks people to see that.
We are blessed by our animals and it is so hard to see them go.
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Ann

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HANNAHV 10/4/2011 3:22AM

    emoticon emoticonso very sorry for your loss

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FIFIFRIZZLE 10/3/2011 1:13AM

    All chickens are characters; some chickens are just special and Eleanor was obviously one of those. We have a rare native falcon in the valley where I holiday, and she predates the chickens and other much loved birds. It is her nature and we have to accept that.
What a blessing that chickens live so much in the moment.
I'm sorry Eleanor is gone.
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LMB-ESQ 10/2/2011 5:04PM

    Oh, I'm so sorry to read of Eleanor's loss. What a sweet thing she was. I'm glad she had a good home and good care with you.

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KRITTERKEEPERS 10/1/2011 12:58PM

    I am so sorry to hear you lost Eleanor. I lost one of my favorite hens a month ago, and reading your blog brought tears to my eyes. Knowing they had a great home for the time they were with us brings a measure of comfort. God bless.
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BAKER1009 9/29/2011 8:15AM

    I'm sorry for the loss of your pet. I loved the story of her life though, and all the pictures. I know what you mean, the circle of life is what it is, even though it can be very difficult at times.
Hugs to you!!

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INITANURSE11 9/28/2011 8:51PM

    sorry to read about your lost emoticon

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INITANURSE11 9/28/2011 8:47PM

    so sorry to hear about your loss emoticon

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INITANURSE11 9/28/2011 8:47PM

    so sorry to hear about your loss emoticon

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INITANURSE11 9/28/2011 8:47PM

    so sorry to hear about your loss emoticon

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ROSEWCI 9/28/2011 6:55PM

    It's never easy to lose what we love. And I'm sorry Eleanor met such a dreadful demise. I know she will missed...

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AQUAJANE 9/28/2011 4:16PM

    emoticon How bittersweet this blog. I have no idea how long a chicken's life expectancy is, but I do remember appreciating your many posts about Eleanor and her brood. What a fighter she was! But some fights are too lopsided, and, as you mentioned, the hawks too have their lifestyle.... Somehow I think Stella too is missing Eleanor emoticon

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TISHTOES 9/28/2011 12:44AM

    Love the picture of Stella.

We had bantam chickens when we were young and they were "pets".

Sorry for your loss.

At least you have great memories and great pictures and stories to tell!

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PCOH051610 9/27/2011 6:37PM

    What a beautiful story of love! So sorry for your lost but yet, I'm touched by your respect of nature!

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NANHBH 9/27/2011 5:31PM

    WOW, what a story! So sorry for your loss. Love the pictures of Sweet Eleanor.

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HIKETOHEIGHTS 9/27/2011 1:54PM

    Eleanor was a beauty and obviously loved. She lived a good life! We so often admire hawks soaring we forget they can be dangerous to our beloved pets.

My sincerest sympathy.

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OLDERDANDRT 9/27/2011 12:40PM

    Oh, darlin', I'm sooooo sorry about Eleanor!!! She was a beauty! I remember you posting as the eggs hatched and their growing and then their laying eggs and all......being a mature lady. I, too am so very sorry she had to meet her end that way. Yeah, I understand about the hawks and I still love them, too, but............ emoticon to you and Stella. I know you both will really miss sweet Eleanor!
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ARMONIA 9/27/2011 12:14PM

    Wow I loved this blog. I think it's a really beautiful summary of how wonderful chickens can be. Thank you for putting it together and sharing. It's clear that Eleanor had a very nice life and that she shared in making your life more joyful which is about all we can hope for in this world.

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BADASSBLONDIE 9/27/2011 11:54AM

    I'm so sorry about Eleanor. Thank you for sharing this! It was truly beautiful (and baby chicks are adorable!!!).

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TRULYVISIBLE 9/27/2011 11:41AM

  So sorry for your loss. You are a beautiful writer. This may be a good story to read to your students with pictures and all. They will learn how each creature should be respected and treated with love like your chicken and realize how much more the human gets from that experience. They will learn to respect nature and not hate the hawk. The picture of Stella looking lovingly and in a protective way at the young chicks is the sweetest ever.



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MARY1313 9/27/2011 10:30AM

    Awww I am so sorry about Eleanor! I eagerly read each blog on these chickens and feel like they grew up in my back yard too. how sad, but you are right, it is the way of the wild. RIP Eleanor, you were very much loved. I know how affectionate chickens are too. My oldest Brother had chickens as pets and they are very affectionate.

Sorry Chris. Hugs.

Mary

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SASSYBLONDE69 9/27/2011 9:51AM

    I admire how philosophical you are being about the hawks. I have to say, I was one of the ones who always thought chickens were stupid and mean. Eleanor sounds like she was a love!


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LUCYBEE73 9/27/2011 9:31AM

    Our companion animals are just like family members. I am sorry that you lost Eleanor. I hope your happy memories of her will bring you comfort while you grieve. She's in a place with no more suffering, that's for sure - and I can guarantee she felt loved at your house.

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LITTLEFARMMOMMA 9/27/2011 9:10AM

    Oh, your poor barred rock chicken! She was pretty! I, however, am just not a lover of the birds, unless they're pumping out eggs for me! LOL Our chickens just never warmed up to us, I guess! emoticon

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MCGS62 9/27/2011 8:57AM

    AWW!! I know you and Stella are both going to miss Elanor.
She was family to you and was also an important provider to your family.


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VALERIEMAHA 9/27/2011 8:54AM

    emoticon
Awwww...RIP Eleanor.
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Maha

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SATYAGRAHA 9/27/2011 8:49AM

    So sad to hear! I can see how precious Eleanor must have been, just as all creatures are. May she be in a better place!

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IDLETYME 9/27/2011 8:42AM

    Losing any pet is sad - especially one you have raised from a baby. (My grandpa had a pet rooster that followed him all around his yard). Any chance of you having another chicken pet?
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IUHRYTR 9/27/2011 7:35AM

    Losing any pet is always a sad time. We feel like she was one of ours after watching her grow up through your pictures. The one here of Stella with her nose to the cage is precious. -- Lou

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CHLOE453 9/27/2011 6:59AM

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I totally understand how you can become attached to ANY animal that you have raised. I personally have never been around chickens but I truly imagine that they can have a personality all of their own once you get to know them. Again so sorry about Eleanor. emoticon emoticon Kelly

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MEOWMAMA3 9/27/2011 6:53AM

    So sorry you lost your friend. I never thought I'd cry over a chicken's death, but your story is told so tenderly and sweetly that I'm actually crying my mascara off right now. You remimd me of me in so may ways. Ever since I was a kid I've had a huge mushy heart for animals, and am so in awe of them. I'm not Catholic, but as a teenager I discovered that my birthday is the same as St. Francis of Assissi Day. He is the saint of lost animals and is always depicted with all of the little woodland creatures trailing along behind him....May Eleanor join the heavenly trail and peep peacefully for all eternity.

RIP Eleanor.

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Sleeplessness = Weight Gain

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seriously, not sleeping leads to weight gain. I have been exercising like crazy including two days a week of Body Pump, one day of Zumba, and regular walks. Not to mention my yoga practice. I have been eating well. But last week, when I couldn't sleep for more that 3 or 4 hours each night, I gained 5 pounds. FIVE! I have been taking a small dose of anti-anxiety medication every other night before bed, which seems to be helping, but I really don't like to take medication. In this case, I think I needed it. In addition to getting better sleep at night, I was actually able to take a power nap for the past three days. That may not seem like a huge accomplishment, but I have a very hard time falling asleep for a nap - even harder than falling asleep at bedtime.

On Friday I felt like I was coming down with the infection the children have been passing around involving a sore throat and a cough. Adding to my suspicions, when I got home I fell asleep for 2 hours, something I rarely do unless I am ill. My Saturday morning Body Pump class was already paid for, so I decided to go in spite of feeling a bit borderline but to ease off a bit and not pile on too many weights. As usually, I was really glad I went. I felt energized afterwards and if I HAD been coming down with something, I felt like I was successfully kicking it back.

I had to work at a school fundraiser on Sunday from 12:30 - 4:00 , so I made chicken soup in the crock pot before I left. I wanted something hot and nourishing when I got home and the extra anti-infection voodoo endowed in chicken soup.

My chicken soup recipe:

one organic chicken
2 C organic chicken broth
1/2 C chopped carrots
2 C coarsely chopped fresh kale
2 C cannellini beans
5 sliced shiitake mushrooms
a dash of sea salt
fresh ground pepper

Throw it in the crock pot for a few hours and serve with a salad.

fresh spinach
diced avocado
dried cranberries
pecans
toss with dressing made with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Both my husband and my son had to have seconds on both ~ they loved this dinner!

So today I have not yet weighed myself. I am hoping that getting better sleep has assisted my metabolism in its calorie burning function. After the scale went skyrocketing last week, I gave it a rest for a few days while I worked to readjust my sleep/exercise/nutrition. This was the largest weight gain that was not holiday related since my success with losing 40 pounds and keeping it off.

I'm looking forward to this week. Today will be a regular school day. On Tuesday, we will pack our backpacks and hike to the Outdoor Education Camp for a four day session there. The children will go on hikes and have classes with the naturalists during most of the day each day. The science teacher and I will be chaperones and teachers during the rest of the day and over night. We will be staying in a cabin which has a teacher wing, a girl's wing, and a boy's wing plus a small common room where we can have our morning meetings and evening sing-a-longs. It might be a bit rainy tomorrow, but the temperatures are supposed to be in the mid 60s during the day and 50s at night ~ fall weather. We'll add jackets for our night hikes. It is really a lovely time of year to spend at nature camp.

Then on Friday night is my treat, my band and I will be going to a Tommy Emmanuel concert. A perfect way to end the work week! emoticon

Have a wonderful week, my friends.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARY1313 9/27/2011 10:42AM

    Oh I am living proof of the sleep/weight gain connection. Since menopause, I have not had a good night's sleep in I don't know how long. I can't remember when. And I've gained and gained, exercised, eaten right, and gained and gained. blech.

I'm glad you are getting to go to the concert! I'm Jealous! LOL

Hugs

Mary

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IUHRYTR 9/27/2011 7:38AM

    Insomnia has plagued me for years and, as you point out, is a contributor to weight gain. I'm getting away from the prescription sleep aids that didn't work well and am going to try some natural suggestions like passion flower or melatonin. Hope you find something that works for you. -- Lou

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WATERMELLEN 9/26/2011 5:53PM

    Both soup and salad sound delicious! My kind of food, absolutely . . .

And in my experience, sleeplessness and weight gain are very much linked. I hit 230 when I was commuting to school and averaging about 4-5 hours of sleep a night . . . from midnight to 5 AM.

But like you: hate to take meds.

No question that typical "depression" meds are linked to weight gain: typical "anxiety" meds (there is some cross-over) probably also, but in addition have a very high rate of addiction . . . and don't want that either. Want to deal with whatever is making me sleepless rather than masking the symptoms. You are sooo dedicated to your job: and it requires such a huge amount of energy/commitment/hours at work. Hugely beneficial to your students but . . . big price for you during the school year.

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TISHTOES 9/26/2011 5:02PM

    I read that in a magazine somewhere in the last year. If you sleep 8 hours regularly you will lose weight, without altering anything else. Since I burn the candle at both ends I rarely get enough sleep on a regular basis.

Life "could" be so simple if only we would allow it. It's a sign of the times.


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OLDERDANDRT 9/26/2011 1:39PM

    Sounds like you're beating the bugs and I wish you much luck with your sleeping. I've been having trouble getting to sleep at night, too. I think it's the weather change! (I blame everything on that!) emoticon
Have a great week emoticoncamping!

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BADASSBLONDIE 9/26/2011 1:27PM

    IMO, the weight gain is definitely due to the lack of sleep. *hugs* I'm glad to hear you're getting some better sleep and nom nom chicken soup!!!

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MAWRTIAN 9/26/2011 1:07PM

    Hey Chris!
You know I feel you on the sleep issues! I had a great night last night, what I would do with a full week of good sleep I don't know but I'm going to make it a priority! That recipe sounds wonderful too! Have a great week dear!
margo

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HIKETOHEIGHTS 9/26/2011 10:30AM

    I have read & heard that also. Sleep is becoming more & more important as we learn about health. Soup sounds yummy too!

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VALERIEMAHA 9/26/2011 10:09AM

    A TOMMY EMMANUEL CONCERT -- You Lucky Dog (sorry Stella)!!! WAAAAAAAAAAH! Oops, I came here to commiserate with you about the damned sleep deprivation...and see that great news at the tail end, and forget my original intent.

Maybe Tomm's concert will help you move back into body-mind-spirit balance somehow some way??? One can always hope!

Sorry for the challenges you're facing...you're doingSO MUCH RIGHT!
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Maha

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MCGS62 9/26/2011 10:06AM

    don't forget that exercise has about a two week delay for its benefits dont be surprised if next week the weight slips off easily. nice recipe and enjoy the show!! emoticon

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LITTLEFARMMOMMA 9/26/2011 9:34AM

    I've been fighting the throat and cough thing, too. Makes me so tired, but can't sleep for the coughing! I hope your week is full of fun times and you're feeling top notch quickly! emoticon emoticon

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NANCYBOAT 9/26/2011 7:08AM

    man - that soup recipe sounds great. Will have to give it a try. I think I agree with you on the sleeplessness.

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MEOWMAMA3 9/26/2011 7:02AM

    Soup sounds yummy! Your school projects sound so exciting, 4 dayswith kids out in the woods ought to bring some much needed shuteye! enjoy, and thanks for all your kind words! Every day is a new start!

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Wear Purple for Alzheimer's Day ~ Sept. 21

Wednesday, September 21, 2011



I am reposting this post from Spark member Tishtoes with a few minor changes. Alzheimer's is a terrible affliction which has a devastating impact on both the person who has Alzheimer's and that person's family and friends.

Wear purple to show your support. Turn Facebook purple by posting the Alzheimer's logo (you can get it at Alz.org).

Tishtoes will be Walking to End Alzheimer's October 1st. There is probably a walk in your area. Check the website for locations. So far she have raised $310 on her way to her goal of $500. Her concert raised almost $1000.

September is World Alzheimer's Month. Check out the link to see what you can do to help!

www.alz.org/wam/wam.asp#boxTwo

emoticon to those who are caring for loved ones affected by Alz. emoticon

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FIFIFRIZZLE 10/3/2011 1:18AM

    I meant to, but I forgot!


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IUHRYTR 9/27/2011 7:40AM

    I watched my grandmother suffer from this for the last two years of her life. It is emotionally draining and depressing to deal with. Let's hope and pray a solution to it is found soon. -- Lou

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TISHTOES 9/23/2011 4:58AM

    Thanks for posting this and spreading the word. I went to a fundraiser tonight: dueling pianos. It was fun, but I had an extra cosmo. emoticon All for a good cause. I'll walk the dog tomorrow! emoticon



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WATERMELLEN 9/21/2011 7:23PM

    Reading this late in the day . . it'll have to be a purple nightie, but I can do that!! yeah! Very important cause.

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MARY1313 9/21/2011 3:37PM

    k I have my purple!!!

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MAWRTIAN 9/21/2011 2:47PM

    wow! I didn't even know but I'm wearing purple today emoticon

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HIKETOHEIGHTS 9/21/2011 12:32PM

    whoa, I am wearing pink shorts and t-shirt. I will go change right now!!

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LITTLEFARMMOMMA 9/21/2011 9:21AM

    I wore purple yesterday, too. emoticon

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MCGS62 9/21/2011 8:45AM

    I was wearing purple yesterday! I hope that is close enough.


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VALERIEMAHA 9/21/2011 8:26AM

    Good. Just joined the group on Facebook too.

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MRE1956 9/21/2011 7:13AM

    Thank you for sharing this important info!

I don't do FB, but as luck would have it I am actually wearing a purple top today - I've seen ALZ impact people close to me - I'd like to do a "Memory Walk" at some point when one is available in my area......

Thank you again!

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SWEETANGO 9/21/2011 7:09AM

    Thank you for posting this. emoticon

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Pulled Muscle and a Day to Rest

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm taking today off from exercise. I went to my Body Pump class on Saturday, took it easy with just yoga on Sunday. Yesterday, I went on a power walk before work. I think I did not stretch enough before hand as I pulled a muscle, which was bothersome throughout the day. In the evening, I went to Zumba and had a wonderful time dancing. I was drenched with sweat, so I know I burned some serious calories. But - it did nothing for my pulled muscle. I was in pain after I got home. I took some aspirin and some arnica but decided that today is a good day to lay low and physically regroup. Tomorrow is the day I take my students for a long nature hike for observation, writing and drawing, and it is also Body Pump day, so I want to give myself the opportunity to recover a bit.

I had a hard time falling asleep last night, then woke up at 4:00 and couldn't go back to sleep. Since I was up anyway, I left for work extra early, tuned all of the instruments, and got the day ready for academics. I have been having a lot of fun with the children with their music and continue to be impressed with how quickly they are learning. For music class, I spent time teaching them to read standard musical notation. Afterwards I had 3 children on guitar, and 13 on uke, playing and singing 'Obladi Oblada.' One thing about children, they are generally not afraid to jump right into something; they were game to try it and we had a blast!


My one fitness activity for the day, the one I won't miss - time playing music.



  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 9/27/2011 7:42AM

    Our friend the guitar star, following in the footsteps of other guitar greats like Duane Eddy and Carlos Santana. One curious question: do guitars and ukes need constant tuning because of heat and cold effects on the strings? -- Lou

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SM-ARTGIRL 9/24/2011 11:27AM

    emoticon you are fabulous!

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WATERMELLEN 9/23/2011 10:02PM

    Great picture of you: you look terrific!!

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LUNADRAGON 9/23/2011 7:32PM

    I love your picture of you playing guitar! You rock!

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MARY1313 9/21/2011 3:41PM

    Nan I just read the same thing, warm up then stretch afterward.

what a great song to teach the kids! I bet that was so fun!!!

Mary

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NANHBH 9/21/2011 3:24PM

    The track coach that I am training with says that we should never stretch before working out. Instead, warm up the muscles by doing a low level of the activity for 5 minutes. Stretching comes after the muscles have been used. I hope you are feeling better soon!

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KRITTERKEEPERS 9/21/2011 11:13AM

    Great photo! emoticon emoticon

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VALERIEMAHA 9/21/2011 9:07AM

    What a life-affirming journal...in spite of it all! And I LOVE that photo of lovely you!!!
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Maha

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