Monday, October 20, 2008

Sleep... I Can't Get No Satisfaction

But I try, and I try, and I try, and I try...

Not many of you recognize these lyrics probably (if they are the actual lyrics), but it's an old song that popped into my head when I began thinking about Octamom's post regarding sleep.

When she asked what others think about sleep, she opened a trunk-load of issues that I have developed about sleep. In fact, from the time I was nursing my daughter, I believe I developed one major sleep disorder. Staying awake became a common occurrence, and I'm still having issues with sleep.

First of all, I need it! Desperately. Although the past few weeks have been better, I will go for days getting only four to five hours of sleep. I watch the clock tick rapidly toward morning, and I try, really try, to go to bed. But the problem is, I'm a night owl. Which isn't a problem if you can sleep late the next day. But when you have to be at work by 7:30, and it takes nearly 30 minutes to get to work and to the dreaded sign-in sheet, being a night owl is not a wise thing to be!

Night, it seems, is when my creativity fires up. I can create things for my students to do, I can grade papers, I can create lessons, I can scrapblog, I can get on our blogs and follow link after link just to see what's new. (I can't clean or iron though. That would disrupt my sleeping family!)

Then, after mere hours of sleep, I drag myself out of bed feeling not-so-creative any more!

There was a time, however, when I was an early-bird. I woke up each morning at 5:30to run before the day had begun. And oh how I loved those morning runs. As I began a slow jog down my road, I would often spot shooting stars streaking across the heavens. Deer would wag their white-tails off the shoulder of the road (often giving me a fright before I figured out what they were). No watch was needed to tell me when it was time to head home. A train's whistle did the job -- same time every single day. And the sound of a Chuck-will's-Widow greeted me as I made the final turn back towards home.

Sure I've read a lot about creating a bedtime ritual. And I do start off with one. I take a warm bath with drops of lavender scenting the water and the air around me. I "feel" snuggly and warm... just right for sleep. I usually prefer to browse through a magazine (no heavy reading at bedtime). And all is well until I decide to check my e-mail - for just a minute. And the minute turns into an hour, and e-mail turns into writing a new lesson plan, and the lesson plan turns into additional materials to be used at school, and the additional materials turn into... Do you get the picture?

But I digress. I prefer seven to eight hours of sleep, although I can get by quite well with five (for a day or two). And the culprit really is having too much to do and too much that I want to do. There are just not enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done. And when I am at home, I try not to do too much work while everyone's awake. I save it for their bedtimes, which means I can't get no... satisfaction when it comes to S.L.E.E.P!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

I loved the book... now, the movie is out. At least it opened this weekend in the U.S. I haven't seen it yet. I'm trying to decide whether the PG-13 rating is okay for my 12-year-old or not. Probably not. Most movies with the PG-13 rating are really okay for those 18 and older... not 13. So, if you see the movie, let me know what you think. I, for one, can't wait to see it!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Comfort Foods... What's Yours?

As my daughter and I were driving home from a football game this past week, I asked her what she wanted for dinner. It was one of those rare nights when my husband is out of town and it's up to me to put dinner on the table. Now, granted, I'm not a great cook, but I did learn a new dish this past summer that is delicious (thank you, Paula Dean), and I can put some tasty vegetables on the table, but my daughter knew just what she wanted.

"Red Noodle Soup," she said without an ounce of hesitation in her voice.

"Are you sure?" I asked. This would be pasta night #2 if we went with Red Noodle Soup.

"Yes," she replied. "Definitely."

When most people hear what the ingredients are for my family's own Red Noodle Soup recipe, they make faces. Sometimes they even vocalize their distaste with a "yuck." But for my daughter, Red Noodle Soup is comfort food. It's what we eat when her dad's away. It's a Saturday lunch. It's comfort.

It's what I ate as a kid -- probably because my mother had worked hard all day and didn't have the energy or the time to put a meal on the table. Perhaps it was all my sisters and I knew how to cook. At least it has seemed that way as I've gotten older and acknowledged, regretfully, my shortcomings in the kitchen.

And fortunately for my daughter, its three ingredients place it directly where it needs to be on the food pyramid. It's healthy. Really. It counts as a grain, it doubles as a powerful cancer-fighting antioxidant and fruit, and it's a dairy product.
  • 3/4 of a box of sea shell noodles (too many and it doesn't leave enough sauce) Why sea shells? They hold the sauce in them like tiny cups. When you bite into a sea shell, you get to savor the flavor of the sauce as it seeps out. Preferred brand: Mueller's. (Yes, there's a difference).

  • 1 16-ounce can of tomato sauce (it can't have oregano or basil or any other added ingredients... it can't be stewed tomatoes or anything resembling a jar of spaghetti sauce. Only tomato sauce. Preferred brand: Hunt's.
  • A dollop (rather big) of butter or a butter-wanna-be.

I saw that! You scrunched up your nose and nearly said, "yuck." But I urge you to not turn your back on my daughter's comfort food unless you try it first.

Now, I certainly claim Red Noodle Soup as a comfort food, but for me, creamed potatoes rank at the top of my list. ... a side dish my mother always cooked for me when she knew I was going to be driving up for a visit. ... Not too creamy, though. Probably "mashed" is more like it. Just chunky enough to let me know that real potatoes were washed and peeled and cut and boiled and mashed... not some fake flakes packaged in a box.

So what's your comfort food? What do your children ask for when it's just you and them scraping together a quick dinner? I want to know... And, as you can guess, I can use a few recipes, too!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Me, Quirky? Say It Ain't So!

Quirky might actually be an understatement....

Okay, I was tagged by Miruspeg and Mommy2Twinkies and had to come up with seven quirky things I do. Problem was, after counting seven I could have continued, but I decided to combine a couple and disregard the rest. No one wants to read that much about me!

1. To get the ideas rolling, I asked my daughter if I had any quirks. "Yes," she said with a snicker. "You read magazines from the back to the front." Actually, I don't begin reading an article until I get to the first page of the article, then I proceed to read it the way it was meant to be read. But she's right. I always start in the back and work my way forward.

2. When I worked full time as a writer, I would walk to the restroom and wash my hands before starting a new writing project. And if I got bogged down with the details... a/k/a a small moment of writer's block... I would take that little walk again and re-wash my hands. I guess I was clearing my mind while cleaning my hands.

3. Combo #1: I never let my tennis partner or opposing player change the score. If someone changed it, I always had to "straighten it up," before I could start playing again. And this "straightening up" had to be done with me never changing my grip on my racket.

4. I doodle ceaselessly while waiting for my computer to catch up with whatever I am attempting to do. Boxes, faces, letters, and words. You name it; I doodle it.

5. I organize the books in my home office by subject.

6. Combo #2: After taking my shower in the morning, I put my PJ's back on until I've finished putting on a little make-up and drying my hair. I also wear socks - always - while in my house.

7. I leave e-mails in my inbox... forever. It may soon runneth over.

8. And, although I was only supposed to come up with seven, I have to add one more. For a while I woke up at 3:16 a.m. every morning. Last night, I was trying to remember what time I used to wake up (thanks to another post). And although I knew it was sometime around 3 a.m., I couldn't remember exactly when. This morning I woke up, but kept my eyes closed for about a minute. When I opened them, it was 3:17 a.m. Then I remembered! 3:16 a.m....

9. Okay. One more. Just one more. After checking out the quirks of MCMGrad89, I had to add this one: I love tomato sauce, spaghetti, and even drink tomato juice. But I HATE ketchup. I won't even touch the bottle. Can't even imagine closing the lid. I don't, and I mean absolutely won't, touch ketchup.

I call these little habits "quirks." Please don't call them anything else!
P.S. I'm afraid everyone I know has already been tagged. It looks like the quirks stop here.