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I am a
Off to a great start this morning with a cool night’s sleep. Thanks to Robert for his help with the air conditioners.
Tried something new for breakfast and will tell you about it tomorrow. Pulled pork in the crock pot for tonight’s dinner. Tiny little buns…honest… and veggies on the side.
Good weather and the promise of more for the next few days. I will start working on the garden early in the morning!
Discovered last night that the raccoon is actually nesting under the house. Not to panic. I read online that as long as she has easy access and a steady food supply she shouldn’t damage anything.
I’ve uploaded new photo albums on the left. Working on a couple more. Enjoy!
We ARE a full service critter restaurant. LOL You remember what dinner looks like-
This is what breakfast looked like this morning at 7am (shot through a window and screen, so they aren't great)-
At one point the bird was actually down on the ground next to the bunnies, but I missed that shot.
Gary and I slept in until 5:30am!! Still managed to get to WalMart, do our shopping, and get home by 9am. It was great to beat the crowds and the heat.
Met my Dad,cousin Billy, and Great Aunt Peggy at the cemetery this morning. Aunt Peggy is Grandad's youngest sister. He was born in 1907 and she was born in 1933. Aunt Peggy was hammering flower holders into the ground and threatened to knock some sense into Dad--much too late. She should have done it years ago. :)
Went back to the house and had lunch with Gary and Robert. Robert helped get the air conditioner installed in our bedroom. Must have cool air now! It is 70 degrees at night!
As I walked by the window I noticed the squirrel was also having lunch. She is so used to me that I just went outside and started shooting pictures. I got about six feet from her before she decided she'd had enough.
I have been thinking some serious thoughts lately. I’m sixty years old. I hope to live another thirty years; a reasonable expectation given my family history, especially if most of my genes were pooled from the women in the family. Many of my great-greats lived into their eighties and nineties. I realize I have some health issues, but I’m working on them and I have a good doctor. I’m confident that we will be able to maintain this old body for many more years. If God has other plans...well, we all face that possibility.
I plan to teach for five more years. Then what? Giving some serious thought to the answer because two of my friends and several acquaintances are retiring this year. I don’t want to just take a “wait and see” approach. I want to start moving in a new direction and planning ahead. I know that I will not have enough Social Security or retirement income to just stay home and work in my garden, so I will have to find a way to generate some cash for at least a few years beyond my time in the classroom. I’m wondering if continuing in education as a substitute, tutor, or assistant will be the answer for me. I don’t see that as a physical reality unless a couple of my health problems completely resolve. I’m leaning toward greater use of my mind and creative skills.
One of my goals for the summer is to prayerfully consider what might be ahead for me and set a goal for retirement. In the past I’ve always assumed that I would return to writing as the basis of my income. If that is still the case then I’d better figure out what I want to write and how to make money doing it. I’m not going to be paying the rent with that dusty novel that has been in my closet for fifteen years!! Perhaps I should try my hand at a children’s book, or write about gardening or genealogy. Whatever I decide should be started now, so that I have some income established before I retire. Believe me, I have been very, very neglectful of my writing skills since I started teaching. It is amazing how focused one can become on the daily demands of the classroom.
So…as I’m puttering in the garden and stalking critters this summer I will give some thought to what else I might be doing in five years. It’s really a very short span of time.
Whew! Last day of school! I don’t count tomorrow because we are just having breakfast and the awards ceremony. Today is about art, play, bubbles, friends, autographs, photos, and fun. I try to stick to my routine because children out of control are…well, out of control. So we will have handwriting, but will write the names of our classmates. We will have writing, but will write a thank you letter to our parents for their love and support this year. We will count. We will sing. We will clean! And we will have the talk- everyone will not be in the same class next year. Things will be different, but they can be successful. We will all see each other in the cafeteria. Right now they are very concerned about leaving me. In two months they won’t care. That’s the way it should be! Although I was touched yesterday when a former student brought me a little gift because he is leaving our building to move on to second grade. J Sweet.
I stopped at Dollar Tree last night to buy a few books for my students. Each will go home with a first grade workbook. If you are a teacher and you haven’t been to DT I urge you to go. I buy books, word strips, award cards, stickers, etc. They have a great series of desk stickers- money, US map, number charts, alphabet, times tables. I put the number charts on 5x7 cards and laminate them so each student has a copy.
As I was leaving DT I ran into an old friend from another school and she told me some great news! My former mentor teacher is now the principal at her elementary school. She will be a great one! I’m happy for her and for the children who will benefit from her leadership. Being a principal is a tough, tough job. Yes, I have my masters in administration. No, I don’t ever want to be a principal. I had to major in something, and I thought that administration would give me the “big picture”. It did. It also convinced me that I belong in the classroom and it makes me very happy to be there.
I got a bit of a surprise and revelation last night. The raccoon visited the feeders at 8:30pm. Early! And I noticed that this is a nursing female. Yeah! Perhaps my fears of roadside death were unfounded. Or perhaps this is a different raccoon. Whatever the reason, nursing means we may soon have babies visiting the yard again. I am very happy! I am also pleased that my plan to transfer the raccoon feeding station to the feeder nearest the security light has apparently worked. I put out a tub of water and some corn last night. Both seemed to be appreciated. Now I have better lighting for photographs.
So…it’s not officially over until the fat lady sings…but I promise you I will at about 3:30pm today! J
My title today comes from a friend’s blog post. She talked about making time to write and asks the question, “…if we do not honor that which matters most can we truly say we are living our best lives?” There is so much honesty and depth in her brief postings. She has a gift for penetrating the soul of creativity and asking questions that stay with me all day long.
I, on the other hand, can ramble on forever and not find the answers. Am I living my best life? Maybe. At least I think I’m getting closer. Teaching is very important to me and brings me joy. Yesterday one of my students asked me a burning question that had apparently been on his mind. “Mrs. Maurer, what do teachers DO when they are just watching kids?” I replied, “Thinking, W, I’m just thinking about a lot of things.” Teaching provides me with the time and opportunities to think, observe, create, organize, and interact with others- all components of my best life.
However, in order to really live my best life I must also make time to write, be outside, feel strong, create beauty, and nourish my soul. We all get so busy that sometimes we are just doing things to pass the time. It is easy to get caught up in activities that serve no purpose and do not really matter.
I woke up in pain this morning, almost to the point of not being able to function. That doesn’t happen very often and I feel I am blessed to usually start off the day in good health and in a good mood. It has taken over an hour to finally feel that I will indeed be fine, but in the meantime I had a choice between simply sitting down and feeling sorry for myself, or going through a routine of actions that I knew would help me achieve my goal of finding relief and strength. Mornings like this make me realize that in order to continue to live my best life I must, MUST, continue to do all that I can to take care of my body. My best life will not be lived in pain.
I made the comment to my children last week that I was bored, so I went down the road and took a few photos of my neighbor’s cattle. I seldom use the term bored because I’m so busy trying to do everything on my “to do” list. Yet, there are times when having something to “do” isn’t enough. I am, contrary to the beliefs of my children, somewhat adventurous, and sometimes I just want to wander off the beaten path. I know that driving a short way down a dirt road isn’t much of a wander, but at least I didn’t stay here in front of the computer. J Perhaps this summer I will wander somewhere truly exciting.
My best life must include some beauty. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m so at home in the garden. It must include creativity; hence my enjoyment of art and photography. And my best life must include animals. I was born to hear the birds sing and watch the bunnies nibble grass. During the years that I lived in the city I kept birds in cages and fish in tanks and plants in pots because I couldn’t function without them. You can take a woman out of the country, but you can’t take the country…well you know.
So today I leave you today with my own version of the question.
Are you living your best life?
I was having major internet problems this morning so I didn't post all of my photos. I also want to take the time soon to create a couple more albums, but that will wait until school is out. I hope you don't get tired of my pictures. Sometimes I feel that I need a support group- "Hi, my name is Mary. I'm an addict. I can't seem to put the camera down." :)
I’ve been making my list and checking it twice! I’ve even printed the nutrition charts for a couple of favorite restaurants. I’ve learned some very important general guidelines:
1. Never, never, never eat the appetizers. Anywhere. Anyhow. Anyway. Do not even read about them- they are so overflowing with calories and sodium that I suspect you might absorb some from the menu! Texas Cheese Fries at Chili’s- 1930 calories, 5530mg sodium, 135g fat. And don’t excuse yourself by saying you are sharing, unless you mean with five people! Firecracker Stuffed Jalepenos with Queso at On the Border- 1950 calories, 6540mg sodium, and 134g fat!
2. Do not stop at On the Border. Stay in your car and just keep driving. If you stop you will just be tempted to eat, and then I fear you will be sorry, very sorry. If you must stop, don’t touch the enchilada dinners. They range in calories is from 920-1590, 2000-4120mg for sodium, and 44-95g fat.
3. Beef items are often better choices than chicken. Many chicken items are either breaded, or soaked in salt, or both.
4. Rice pilaf usually has more calories and sodium than mashed potatoes.
5. Salad dressing is NOT our friend. High in calories. High in sodium.
6. Portions size is the killer. I don’t care what Mom said, don’t clean your plate.
7. Pizza is not bad…it’s the pepperoni, and the cheese.
8. Don’t add insult by drinking more calories. Drink water or unsweetened tea.
9. Vegetables can be sneaky. Many contain more sodium than the entrée!
10. Buffet=Bad, Bad, Bad. Too many variables in cooking. Too many choices. Too many opportunities to overeat. Too much frying.
So… now for some details and a game plan. (I apologize now if I’ve made any errors in numbers. I’m dizzy from all the numbers!)
The first thing I noticed in reading the fine print of nutrition guides is that “low calorie” and “high sodium” often goes together. So I was forced to try to balance the two. Sometimes I think it is actually better to opt for higher calories and lower sodium, especially if the calories aren’t just fat grams. Second, serving sizes are misleading. I can’t even figure out the P.F. Chang nutrition chart, so if you eat there often perhaps you can explain how the meals are served. Most of the items listed on the chart are 2-4 servings, but the chart information seems to be for a single serving. The Vegetarian Bowl says 235 calories, 575mg sodium, and 1g fat, but the serving size says 2. Someone check that for me, please!
Of course I was most interested in my favorite restaurants: Chili’s, Burger King, and Arby’s. Also checked Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Denny’s, Olive Garden, Panda Express, and On the Border. Each has at least one menu item that wouldn’t leave you guilt-ridden. But there were some surprises.
The Market Fresh sandwiches at Arby’s actually have as much sodium, and most have as many calories, as the beef sandwiches. The Market Fresh Chicken Roast has 360 calories, 1030mg sodium and 10g fat. The standard roast beef fare is 350-650 calories, 900-2200mg sodium. The chicken salad is 260 calories, 720mg sodium, and 14g fat. So it seems that most choices are about equal. Stay away from the cheese and go easy on the sauce.
I was pleased to see that my usual choice, Margarita Grilled Chicken, was one of the better offerings at Chili’s. It has 260 calories, 370mg sodium, and 2g fat. That is for the chicken however! The veggies and rice that are served with it also have their own sodium, so I decided I should finish off the veggies and eat half the rice. The salad is only a good choice if you skip the dressing.
At Taco Bell I would be better off to eat a bean burrito and a chicken soft taco than the Chicken Ranch Taco Salad. The burrito has 340 calories, 1290mg sodium, and 8g fat. The taco has 190 calories, 660mg sodium, and 6g fat. The taco salad packs 910 calories, 1660mg sodium, and 10g fat. Of course the general advice is don’t eat the shell. I’m not sure how that would compute.
At Olive Garden I will order the herb grilled salmon or the linguine alla marinara. The salmon has 510 calories, 760mg sodium, and 26g fat. The pasta has 430 calories, 900mg sodium, and 6g fat. And they are some of the best items to choose! Better not eat there often. J Watch their salad dressing- the difference between salad without it and with it is 550mg sodium vs. 1930. That’s quite a difference!
Craving pizza? I’ll be okay with one slice of Pizza Hut’s “Fit and Delicious” Pizza. Depending on toppings, the calories range from 150-180 per slice. Sodium is 400-720mg per slice. Fat is 4-4.5g per slice.
At Denny’s I’ll still eat the senior grilled chicken. At 140 calories, 590mg sodium, and 2g fat it is the lesser of many evils. However, the sides are dangerous. Coleslaw adds 260 calories and 520mg sodium. Veggies aren’t much better. Mashed potatoes are better than the pilaf.
Burger King wasn’t as much of a disappointment as I feared. After all, it is a fast food burger joint. They do offer unsalted fries. I can add or subtract anything from my burger. The surprise was the grilled chicken burger. It has 520 calories, 1410mg sodium, and 19g of fat, while the cheeseburger has 310 calories, 740mg sodium, and 15g fat.
I guess if On the Border is the only place in town I can eat the chicken enchilada with cream sauce. At 210 calories and 490mg of sodium it really isn’t too bad. However, I need to eat half the rice and skip the beans. The beans add 230 calories and 730mg of sodium. That’s a lot of salt for beans!
Panda Express seems to have the best lunch- steamed rice and mixed veggies. The rice has 420 calories and no sodium. The mixed veggies have 70 calories and 530mg of sodium. Black pepper chicken and mixed veggies entrée is 270 calories, 1270mg sodium, and 12g fat.
So…a few items to enjoy on the road. I plan to read menus more carefully and cut my portions by not cleaning my plate. I urge you to do the same. I’ll still be getting too much sodium, but I’ll try not to worry.