Weigh In Wednesday: Week 34

No change in weight this week. I know I’d hoped that returning to work and a more predictable schedule would help me lose a little more weight, but I think it’s too soon in the school year. The first week was anything but predictable, and the second week is off to a crazy start as well with too many long days to concentrate on eating and exercising.

Things will settle down in the next couple of weeks so I’m sure the weight loss will begin again soon.

My goal for the upcoming weeks…finish emptying my closets and drawers of clothes that no longer fit. The thought of buying new larger sized clothes should I gain any of the weight I’ve lost is not something I want to entertain. Knowing there’s nothing left for the heavier me to wear should serve as another motivator to keep moving in the right direction.

Riding Close to Home

Less than five miles from home, the Baseline trail head of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway provides quick and easy access to a recreational area perfect for walking or bike riding when time doesn’t permit an all day adventure. A series of loops connect to give walkers and cyclists five miles of paved trails.

We’ve ridden the Baseline section of the trail a couple of times. It’s a great place to go for a short ride after work since we can load up the bikes and be there in 15 minutes.

The Cross Florida Greenway occupies the land formerly set aside for the Cross Florida Barge Canal, an abandoned project that’s provided a recreational corridor with trails for hikers, equestrians, and paddlers as well as cyclists. Picnic areas, campgrounds, and boat ramps are also enjoyed by users of all ages.

We’ve ridden the Withlacoochee Bay Trail at the western end of the Greenway but much of the remaining trail requires a mountain bike due to the rough terrain so we’ll have to walk the Land Bridge and Marshall Swamp sections. More close to home opportunities to explore another of Florida’s State Parks.

Memorize Something

Albert Einstein said, “Never memorize something that you can look up.”

That’s a quote that inspires debate about the need to memorize anything in today’s world, and while I agree that it’s not necessary to memorize a great deal of information so long as you have the ability to look it up either in a book or online; I do believe memorizing adds value to humanity. It’s also a great way to stimulate the brain.

As a child I entertained adults with my ability to memorize useless information. I enjoyed a game in which my Dad would hand me a dollar bill and ask me to memorize the serial number. At the age of four or five, I’d impress friends and relatives my recalling this series of numbers both forward and backward. Did this serve any useful purpose? Probably not, but I loved the attention, and I learned early on that the ability to memorize helped me to be successful in school. It also made me feel special as adults commented that I was “so smart”.

I don’t want you to think I believe that school should be all about memorization, but spelling and math facts certainly depend on a student’s memorization. If we followed Einstein’s advice literally, we would not be able to write or compute without using a dictionary or calculator. Can you imagine trying to have a conversation and constantly stopping to look things up on your phone? I don’t think that’s what he meant. In fact, I’m sure Einstein committed many mathematical and scientific principals to memory. The things he needed in his everyday life.

I don’t know if it’s Einstein’s advice, laziness, or over dependence on electronic devices, but it seems to me as if no one is memorizing anything today. I’d like to reverse that trend.

I’m surprised at how many of my students do not know their telephone number or address. These are middle school students, not kindergarteners, but their parents aren’t much better. I frequently hear, what just a minute, let me look up that number for you…that number is their child’s cell phone number.  How do you not know your child’s phone number?

Over the years, I’ve required my students to memorize not only spelling words and math facts but states and capitals, poetry, and passages from historical documents. Do I expect they all know the capital of North Dakota or the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution? No, but I hope they recognize Bismark and Raleigh and Cheyenne as capital cities and “When in the course of human events” and “We the people of the United States” as the words of documents upon which our nation was founded.

Another benefit of memorization: memory training helps prevent cognitive decline. According to the Radiological Society of North America memorization is an effective way to combat memory loss. Sure, we’ll be walking the the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, “the Memory Walk”, but maybe it would be a good idea to memorize something to stimulate our brains as well.

My recommendation on things everyone should memorize:

  • Personal information including address, phone number, parents’ full names and birthdates, and place of birth (city, county, and hospital).
  • Phone numbers of the most important people in your life. Probably between five and ten numbers.
  • Birthday of the people with whom you live. You can’t afford to wait until the last minute for a reminder resulting in a missed birthday or anniversary.
  • Financial information such as your bank account number and social security number. These aren’t numbers you want to store in an electronic device. Just commit them to memory.

So my challenge to you…memorize something. A poem, a Bible verse or prayer, a joke or story, or the phone numbers of your family and friends and when you see me in two weeks don’t forget to ask me what I’ve memorized.




Perhaps It Is the Tobassco

On Sunday’s I’m posting poetry written by my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou. Writing poetry was a form of therapy after losing her husband and then her youngest son in 1985.

Perhaps It Is the Tobassco

I can’t imagine my life without you.

It’s no fun watching herons alone,


Drinking coffee without a dash of salt

            When you’re not with me.

Even eggs taste better when you are around,


Perhaps it is the Tabasco.


Bettie Lou died in February, 2010 from Alzheimer’s disease. We’ve organized a team to participate in this year’s Memory Walk on Saturday, September 7th to raise funds for research and awareness of Alzheimer’s in her honor. If you would like to donate, please visit Team B. Lou.

B. Lou...the reason we're walking!
B. Lou…the reason we’re walking!

What’s a Mother To Do: 3 months & counting

Technically last Saturday was the three months to go point so we’ve been busy. The invitations are at the printer. The proof will be ready Monday and the order should be completed by the end of the month. The guest list has been finalized, stamps ordered, and envelopes can be addressed during the next three weeks.

Decisions have been made regarding rentals. Music is still in the process of being selected. DIY projects abound…while I’m working on some at home, Emily’s working on others. It will be important to spend time crafting every week to complete the details to make the day special.

Emily and I are talking cake and dessert…a great job since taste testing is required.

I’d like to share pictures and more details, but I’m not at liberty to do so since guests should not know what to expect when they arrive.

The pace is picking up. It’s going to be a busy three months!

Dinner Disappointment

I jumped on the Crock Pot meal bandwagon recently. After seeing many recipes posted or pinned on Pinterest, I decided that preparing meals and freezing for later would be the perfect way to insure we ate at home more often now that school’s starting and I’ll be returning to work.

I searched Pinterest for recipes, selected several that sounded appetizing, and then purchased ingredients last Friday. That evening I labeled Ziploc bags with lists of ingredients and cooking directions. Then on Saturday John and I got to work. He chopped and opened cans while I measured spices. After a couple of hours we’d put together seven meals. The freezer was well stocked for the coming weeks.

On Tuesday, I opened the bag labeled “Mediterranean Pork Chops”. Eight hours later we cooked rice and made a salad for our quick and easy dinner.

Seven slow cooker meals ready for freezing.
Seven slow cooker meals ready for freezing.

While the meat was tender, the flavor was terrible! John was a good sport and ate it all, but I could only handle about three bites. This is a recipe I will NEVER make again…very disappointing.

I still have six additional meals in the freezer waiting for the crock pot. I’m sure we’ll have better luck with others, but I must admit that much of my enthusiasm for my time-saving dinners has diminished.

Nevertheless, I’ll take the Teriyaki Chicken bag out of the freezer on Tuesday and give this another try. I sure hope the results will be better. If not, I may have found another way to drop a little more weight.

Support Team B. Lou

B. Lou...the reason we're walking!
B. Lou…the reason we’re walking!

Three and a half years ago, my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou, died after an extended battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s affects more than 5 million Americans and it is expected to grow to as many as 16 million in the next 25 years.

In her memory and to celebrate what would have been her 86th birthday, our family is participating in this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Ocala on Saturday, September 7th.

We need your support to help us reach our fundraising goal to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s by raising funds for Alzheimer’s research, care, and support. Please click here to Donate to Team B. Lou.

Thank you for joining our movement.


Weigh In Wednesday: Week 33

At last! The scale is moving in the right direction! I lost almost a pound this week!

No big changes, just more exercise…mostly walking.

But it’s time to make another change to my diet. As I began in January, I stopped drinking soda. This important change helped me get in the weight loss mode. And then in March I stopped eating candy of any kind, another important change. Now it’s time to cut out chips. I know this is bad news for Frito-Lay because I buy between four and eight bags of chips every time I shop at Sam’s Club; and I not only buy the chips, but eat them as well.IMG_0666

I eat Fritos, Doritos, Cheetos, or some other chip most every day. Breaking the chip habit is the next change I’m making in my weight loss plan. Surely this will result in losing three more pounds and reaching my next goal.

So if you currently hold stock in Frito-Lay, beware…you may find your stock reversing the upward trend of recent months!


It’s Ferry Time

I’m not sure why, but I love ferries. We’ve taken a ferry across the Mississippi River in New Orleans, across the Pamlico Sound in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca from Port Townsend to Friday Harbor off the coast of Washington state. Of course, a ferry ride was required to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island a couple of years ago as well.

Last month we rode the St. John’s River ferry from Ft. George Island to Mayport Village as we traveled on A1A from Fernandina Beach to St. Augustine, and in fact, a ferry ride is required for anyone who wants to take the route down A1A. The fee of $6.00 per car can hardly be collected from all passengers in the time it takes to make the 0.9 mile “voyage”. And while we spent only a few minutes aboard, I stood along the rail taking in the St. John’s…something I couldn’t do while driving or even as a passenger at 50 miles an hour.

For as long as I can remember, there’s been talk of closing the St. John’s ferry as well as effort to save it (Save the St. John’s River Ferry). It’s a costly enterprise that many feel isn’t worth the money required to keep it operational, but since building a bridge at this location is not an option and since it’s an essential link in connecting Maine to the Florida Keys on A1A, I hope the ferry can be saved.

The St. John’s River ferry is one of three ferries operating in the state. The Dry Tortugas Ferry takes passengers from Key West to Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas National Park. This 70 mile, $169 ferry ride is quite a contrast from the one we took across the St. John’s River.  However, this is really an all day adventure. We splurged on the Dry Tortugas Ferry several years ago and started the morning with fruit, bagels, donuts, and juice served onboard while we sat on the deck traveling at 30 m.p.h through the Florida Straits. A guide provided information about our surroundings as we cruised to the island, and then when we arrived, a tour of the fort, a buffet lunch, and snorkeling gear were included. Over nine hours later we arrived back in Key West exhausted. If $169 sounds like too much to spend on a ferry, just think how many people spend that much or more for a day at one of Florida’s theme parks. I’ll take the ferry ride and a real Florida adventure.

Oh, and the third ferry? It’s the oldest one in the state and located right here in the Ocala National Forest at Salt Springs. The Fort Gates Ferry carries a maximum of two cars from Salt Springs to Fruitland on the east side of the river for a fee of $10. It only runs from 8:00-5:30, but not at all on Tuesday and from the Ocala Forest side, drivers need to turn on their lights, honk, or call to get the attention of the ferry operator. This sounds like another ferry adventure waiting for me!


A Dozen Don’ts!

Since I go back to work tomorrow and students return to school next Monday, it seems like a good time to reflect on rules, especially those that begin with that word we all hate: DON’T.

When I first started teaching elementary school, Ruth Marcos, our principal, introduced a positive behavior program. Our goal: catch them doing good. As part of the plan, she required that all rules be written in positive terms. Instead of Don’t talk while others are talking…Be courteous. (An opportunity for a vocabulary lesson as well.) No fighting or touching other students…Keep your hands and feet to yourself. Don’t run in the halls…Walk. Every class rule ever written had to be modified to fit the new requirement.

Maybe I would have had more success on DON’Ts if they’d been written in positive terms. Here’s my list of the DON’Ts I wish I’d taken a little more seriously.

Don’t bite your nails. My nail biting habit began when I entered kindergarten so for the next dozen or so years I heard the words, “Don’t bite your fingernails.” Anyone who’s seen my hands can attest to the fact that these words did not result in a change of behavior. Since I still haven’t stopped biting my nails I hate to wear rings because I don’t want to draw attention to my hands. I’d love to wear rings proudly.

Don’t sit on your legs. These words were always followed by a warning that doing so would result in varicose veins. There’s still great debate as to whether crossing or sitting on your legs can cause these ugly and sometimes painful veins to appear, but I wish I’d heeded the warning if doing so could have prevented even one of them from appearing.

Don’t worry about what others think. Much easier said than done! Failure to follow this advice has kept me off the dance floor, and it’s the main reason I cancelled my membership to the YMCA. The conversations regarding how other members dressed and whether they were wearing too much or not enough make-up ended my visits.

Don’t wash your hair after a perm. I guess this is suppose to be common knowledge, but I somehow missed this important direction. As a result I looked like a chia pet for the next three months following my first perm.

Don’t go outside without putting sunblock on your face and hands. Age spots, dry skin, and wrinkles…yuck! They announce to all I ignored this warning.

Don’t hang on to the ski rope when you fall. In the summer after I completed fifth grade, I spent a week on a lake with my best friend, Rosemary. My head was so full of directions about how to get up on skis that I somehow missed what may have been the most important…don’t hang on to the rope when you fall. However, I learn pretty fast. I only did this once!

Don’t eat too much corn. You’ll make yourself sick. This “Don’t” came as I bit in to the third ear of corn, and I suffered as a result of not listening. This applies to other food as well…don’t eat too many of those berries.

Don’t lose sleep over it. Right! Easier said than done. I can lose sleep over most anything. Too excited to sleep. Too worried to sleep. Too tired to sleep. Too nervous to sleep. Would someone please tell how to do this? Put it in positive terms. I’m ready to take some advice.

Don’t drink orange juice after you’ve brushed your teeth. I thought this was a matter of dental hygiene. Of course you don’t eat or drink after brushing your teeth. Little did I know that it also leaves an awful taste in your mouth. Once was enough on this one. No OJ after brushing.

Don’t sail out farther than you can paddle back. We’ve had paddle practice twice this summer. Great wind as we left shore followed by dead calm less than an hour later. The good news…on the lake it’s not possible to sail farther than we can paddle, but I want to keep this in mind as we sail off the coast.

Don’t try to be perfect. Perfectionism is paralyzing. I know on more than one occasion I’ve quit a project because I couldn’t do it perfectly. I’m trying to learn that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be good enough.

Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today. I’ve been pretty guilty of this at times. When I just don’t feel like doing something, it’s pretty easy to just put it off for another day. Cleaning, paying bills, doing yard work, shopping, grading papers, the list goes on and on. I’m doing better on this one. Make a plan and stick to it as a way to avoid procrastinating.

So what Don’ts have you ignored?