Saturday, January 9, 2010

Spinning Saturday

No, I don't mean a spinning workout. Although that sounds interesting. I mean what was going on in my head at about 5 a.m., not too long before the dogs whined for me to let them out this morning. The spinning in my brain has happened on several previous occasions when I get congestion in my ears. Vertigo. It is a very unsettling feeling that I have had to learn to manage. My first episode was about five years ago and it was really bad as I didn't know what was going on and I tried to get up and move around. The spinning room sensation generally creates nausea, which is just as debilitating as a spinning bed, chair or floor. Through the advise of my doctor and my experiences with vertigo, now I know to quickly take a decongestant to get relief at the first sign, prop my head up on lots of pillows or sit in a recliner and start drinking lots of water.Then I lay still until the medication starts to work and hope that I don't have to get up before relief comes. Today I was able to keep from the nausea altogether and relief came quickly.

Although I didn't do any spinning at the gym, my workout is finished. I was a bit cautious about working out today, and delayed it until the middle of the afternoon. I am pleased that I decided to go ahead, and I'm really feeling good about my increased energy level. I have also spent much less time with pain in my joints this past week of moving daily.

Denise Austin: Boot Camp - Total Body BlastOver many years of doing a wide variety of workouts, Denise Austin is one of my favorite exercise personalities. I used to watch her program each morning on cable television and have also bought many of her workout videos over the years. The reason I like her so much is because she is so positive and very consistent in giving lots of encouragement during each part of the workout. I also like that she gives me a lot of information about the parts of the body I am working on and what research shows is the safest and most effective ways to exercise. Today I did two sections of her Boot Camp Total Body Blast; a 20 minute Strength Boot Camp and 10 minutes of Flexibility. There is also a 20 minute Cardio Boot Camp session on the DVD, but I didn't do that today as I was trying to limit my maximum heart rate. Both the strength and cardio boot camp sessions on this DVD use intervals, a researched based method of increasing the bodies metabolism by raising and lowering the heart rate throughout the workout.

And continuing with today's topic and my goals for life, here is my spin on happiness. I have not always been a happy person. I can get down and depressed if left to focus on how hard the world can be, and I have had my share of tough times and rough weather. Thinking about that today, I am reminded of one of my favorite Mother Goose rhymes;

 Cross Patch
Cross patch, draw the latch,
Sit by the fire and spin;
Take a cup and drink it up,
Then call your neighbors in.

I enjoyed the rhythm of this childhood verse when I as very young and remember my Dad reading the poem to me when I was only five or six. I read The Real Mother Goose book many more times to myself or my younger siblings and cousins as I learned many of the nursery rhymes rote. It wasn't until I was a mother myself, reciting it to my oldest boys that I sat down and really thought about what the words meant. How do you get happy when you're feeling upset or ever a martyr? Take some time to be alone, do something productive, get busy, spin, enjoy a cup of tea and then invite family, friends and neighbors in and get on with life and the people in it. I love it!!! And it definitely works for me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Frigid Friday

The dipping low temperatures are here in Kansas, and schools are closed in the area for yet another day. So on bonus day number three, I am going to do something unusual for a Friday. Hang around the house. Well that's a bit of a joke since this is now the third Friday in a row I am hanging out at home. It is funny, but as much as I love home, I am starting to feel very restless. Over the past three weeks I have been out of the house exactly five times; for work and errands for two days, out shopping on two days, and to my aunt's for a party the Saturday before Christmas. That means that 16 of the past 21 days were spent here at home. I think what I am feeling may be cabin fever, so I really need to get something productive going so I won't feel so restless and listless.

Dancing with the Stars: Latin Cardio DanceMy workout report. Today I did a second round of Dancing with the Stars: Latin Cardio Dance. This workout started with a five minute warm-up with Cheryl, who is a two time champion dancer of the show. After warming up I followed the lead of Maksim, also a pro dancer from the show, for the cha-cha. There are four different 10 minute dance workout sessions that can be programed into the routine. Besides the cha-cha, there is the merengue, the samba and the mambo. I chose just to do one dance session today, as I was shooting for a 30 minute total workout.  I ended the workout with the 15 minute dancer's toning workout that included basic lunges and other cardio steps, and some abdominal work with a cool down stretch.

Besides getting my workout behind me, I worked on some room rescues and did FLYLady's mission for the day. Today's mission was to really clean the kitchen floor with a thorough sweep and mop. It took a bit longer than the suggested 15 minutes, but it really is (was) clean including all around the edges.

Dinner was a very easy stir fry made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts that went into the screaming hot oiled pan first followed by a bag of frozen veggies and soy sauce and that was served atop brown rice. I also made monkey bread with bread dough pieces dipped in cinnamon and sugar, placed in a greased bundt pan, with a brown sugar and butter mixture poured over and then baked for 35-40 minutes. Both the stir fry and monkey bread were absolutely awesome. Finicky Daniel didn't get past the stir fry tonight, so he missed out on tonight's after dinner treat. Silly boy!!!

A Bonus Day with Boys

Disney Aladdin Cartoon Movie - Magical Blue Genie PatchThursday was snow day number two and I was joined by the younger boys. This time we didn't have to wait until morning to find out, so the boys stayed up "late" (9 p.m. insead of 7) Wednesday evening and got to enjoy watching the Disney movie Aladdin. I was so funny watching Danny watch the movie, as he was catching a lot of the jokes and laughing until he gave himself the hiccups (Robin Williams as the genie is hilarious). While we were sleeping, the last of the new 7 inches of snow fell, and Thursday morning, I enjoyed a bit of a sleep in. 

The Biggest Loser: The Workout - Boot CampThursday's workout went well. I did the Biggest Loser Boot Camp for the second time doing the Level One 30 minute workout. This is one of the new DVD's I bought just before New Year's Day and it is my favorite of the three DVDs I picked up. Instead of doing the recommended repeat of this workout four or five times a week, I am mixing it up with other workout videos and shooting for moving somehow everyday. I love Bob Harper's training style, but rest assured, this is not his last chance, in your face workout, but a very positively supportive set of workouts that gradually increase in intensity over a six week period. After that, a 45 minute maintenance workout is recommended.

Normally Thursday is my errand day, but this week I tried to get them done on Tuesday before the bad weather hit. It was extremely cold Tuesday after work, but I managed to get to Aldi's for some milk, eggs, fresh veggies and a few other things we needed to take us through the week. I also stopped at the pet store for crickets for Gex (our leopard gecko) and had to tuck them into my coat because it was too cold for them even with the heater on in the van for most of the drive home. Fortunately I had already filled up the gas tank on Monday as the gas gauge measured below a half a tank, and that's my winter signal that it's time to stop an fill up. Since Tuesday is my desk day, I probably should have spent part of Thursday at least clearing off my desk. Instead I played board games and Wii with the kids, read with Daniel, hung out on the computer with Twitter and Facebook friends and watched a couple of movies.

I did get a chance to listen to FLYLady's Blog Talk Radio show. She and Pam Young started the show talking about Pam's book, Sidetracked Sister's Happiness File. Since being happier is one of my goals for the year I really enjoyed listening to why it is so important to find things to make you smile and laugh every day. I was in the show's chatroom as others that were listening were listing what it is that made them happy. Shiny sinks, favorite music, reading good books, flowers and many other ideas were shared. I will have to listen to the archived show in my iPod later so I can think about the idea some more. It has been about a decade since I read Pam's book, but the ideas on collecting and surrounding yourself with things and people that make you happy is very important for each person's well-being.

We spent the last part of the afternoon making a pot of soup with leftover grilled steak, some fresh and frozen veggies and mushrooms. There is nothing like a pot of soup when the weather is cold and the wind is blustering. We also made a batch of drop biscuits. Daniel helped me with dinner (stirring and directing) and Steven helped with the chopping (my sous chef). As we cooked we also were waiting on the news as to whether or not school would be in session for Friday. The word came for the little boys early in the afternoon, and dinner preparations were nearly complete before I got the news. Snow day number three, coming to a cabin near you. Watch out for the fever.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Arctic Blast

Baby, it is cold outside! I'm still wondering why I'm at home this morning, as it's not snowing yet and the morning temperature is about 15 degrees warmer than yesterday. I am a bit confused as to why, but I am still enjoying the bonus day with no work responsibilities. I am also anticipating that we will not return for the rest of the week as the snow is supposed to arrive this afternoon and continue overnight with arctic temperatures moving in and blizzard speed winds blowing the snow around.

My bewilderment started late last night. I had felt pretty good about getting to bed at the reasonable hour of 9 p.m., although I was a bit stiff and sore from my previous days' workouts. I was not only surprised, but a bit disoriented, when the phone rang at almost 10:30 p.m. and woke me up. Okay, the no school message was received, and then I had to pass on the information to the next person on the phone tree. When she ansered the phone, I said, "Hi J, this is Sheila. I just got the call that we are not having school tomorrow." I obviously had woke J up as she said, "Okay, there is school today, but not tomorrow then?" It took me a second to figure out she thought it was morning already, so I explained it was just late and still Tuesday. Well, I was really awake by then, and it took me at least an hour to get back to sleep. I started checking to see whether the little boys would have school. No message, so I finally went back to bed and slept until nearly 6. This morning it was determined that the boys were having school, so I bundled them up and sent them off to the school bus.

So now I'm thinking, what should I do with my "snow" day? Hmmmm... there are many possibilities.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's a Great Day at Work Today

I went to work today 100% prepared for the day and caught up with all grading and preparations for the coming week's lessons. When I turned off the lights in my classroom and locked the door behind me all the reports I am responsible for are completed, meetings have been attended, new meetings and a training date that were planned today are marked on the calendar and e-mails and phone calls that required a response have been answered. This is a monumental day as it is the first time this school year I have gone into work and left work with my job complete. I love it, love it love it.

Why is this the first time I have had this feeling all year? My school district went through some very big changes over the past summer in how they manage technology. As the school year approached and limped into session there were many technology glitches and new program updates. The glitches added many, many extra hours to work around them and too much time discussing the frustration with administrators and teachers on my team. There were delays in many tasks that are normally completed before the students arrive for their first class. Pretesting that usually is scheduled during the first weeks of the school year did not happen until the end of the first quarter, and there were computer labs that could not be used because they were not part of the network for many weeks. Once we could get on the networks, then computer programs were updated, and it took time to learn how to use those with no initial training. It was not a stress free start.

Hindsight and feeling refreshed after a nice long winter break bring me a great appreciation for this day, today. Even as the students arrived to start the new semester, I felt prepared for the weeks ahead and good about the coming year.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Transitioning Back to Normal

I was up at o'dark thirty when the alarm rang (here that's 4:30 a.m.). Old Man Winter has moved in even though I told him he was no longer welcome, and is continuing his deep freeze with temperatures again dropping down to 0 degrees F. this morning. The forecast is calling for more colder temps and snow on Wednesday and Thursday.

So after I slugged out of bed and started my morning routine, dressed for my workout and filled the coffeepot with water for my morning cup of tea, I did my workout. Today's scheduled plan was level one of Jillian Michaels' 30-day shred. I made it through. Jillian is a tough, and not very nice, trainer. I am thankful she is not actually at my house as I know what I want to do, and what I don't want to do. I did make it through most of the workout, but didn't push myself to the maximum level as I am still feeling the effects of The Biggest Loser Boot Camp workout from yesterday and the Dancing with the Stars workout on Friday.

Then I set off to work after putting the kids on their school bus for their first day back. It was a nice day for me, getting things in place for the coming month, briefly visiting with friends and colleagues with few time restraints and enjoying a late lunch that we had delivered to school with some of my teaching team. Since there were no students, I had my list of tasks and a few blocks of uninterrupted time. My list included papers to finish marking, new seating charts to make after rearranging the classroom furniture, lesson plans to create for the month and preparing materials for lessons over the next few weeks. I left work for the day feeling that I had accomplished enough to feel ahead of the game. Woo Hoo!!! Tomorrow....bring on the kids. I am ready for them now!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

End of Christmas Vacation

Bittersweet. That's one word to describe today. Feeling a bit sad that spending some time with the boys and being able to do things that are on my own agenda is near over. Despite that bit of sadness I do have to admit that I also feel refreshed and ready to meet the long second semester coming up for the school year. I feel blessed that the little boys and I have had a very long break together, and last night I stayed up late one last time and slept in (after one early morning check to make sure Rick made it to work safely in all the new slick snow).

You may notice that I have finally updated the counter at the bottom of this page. It is now counting the days until Spring Break. We do have a couple of extra days off between now and then, but Spring Break is the halfway point for the semester, and includes a week off of teaching classes. So that's what I am shooting for, making the best of my time between now and then, keeping on track and staying positive all along the way.

So my plans are to get everything set up for tomorrow and then enjoy a laid back, easy evening. I wonder if I can pull it off.