Saturday, April 30, 2011

packing...yet again

Hopefully, hopefully, this might be the last time I have to sort and pack the books we will use next school year before we have finished the current one, and do the same for clothes we will wear in the cool fall weather while currently it is 85F. I won't say anything more than that, since I don't want to jinx it, but currently I am organizing things and starting to stack up boxes throughout the house.
The children and I leave for Maine in about a month, ready to leave suburbia and get to the farm. The little boys are asking twice a day now, "How many days until we leave for Maine?" They are looking forward to riding up and down the driveway, making bike jumps out of scrap lumber, climbing up to the treehouse in the big oak, and helping Mommy gather rocks from the garden beds after Tim tills them with the tractor. I am looking forward to seeing my 99% completed home and am dreaming of landscape designs, "How far out should I plant that perfect specimen cut-leaf Japanese maple on the corner of the front flower bed?"

But while we are looking forward to lazy summer days of sitting on Adirondack chairs and sipping lemonade, we must focus and wrap up our current life here. The final piano recital is tonight, and guild competition is this week, ballet pictures and recitals are next month, and Will is being confirmed toward the end of May. In between all the activities and intensive schooling will be the on-going list making and taping up of boxes all directed toward rooms that barely had the paint dry the last time I saw them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

sweating and gasping for breath

I'm so grateful that my next-to-last race in Virginia was last weekend, the last day of cool weather before we had to crank up the AC. I placed first in my age bracket with 23:40 time and went back to run with Mary, only to find her so far back that I thought I had missed her. With no training whatsoever she ran a 5K in 35 minutes, not so great, but she promised to start running with me in Maine. 

Starting Sunday afternoon it has become so muggy that I have been forced to stop every mile and carry a bottle of water in one hand, while my safety stick is in the other. Between the heat and a minor procedure I'm having in a few weeks, I don't know if I will be able to compete in an upcoming 4 miler. It seems hard to believe that less than 2 weeks ago I ran 13 miles without stopping, but now I can't run 2 miles without feeling like my heart is going to explode.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

cry rooms- a form of purgatory?

Over the past week our family has spent a great deal of time in church. Will had his foot washed as part of the Maundy Thursday Mass as the altar servers took on the role of the 12 apostles. If I had known, I would have made him scrub his feet beforehand in the tub. Of course, being a Traditional Latin Mass, there were no women taking off their shoes, just 12 boys all wearing black socks and black shoes. I was grateful that I had bought him new socks and shoes a few weeks ago, the soles of his old church shoes separated from the tops during Mass, even after my attempt to superglue them back together. Luckily I found a great pair (size 7, my baby is now wearing men's shoes!) at the thrift shop for $2. Friday afternoon found us sitting in our usual pew for 3 hours and of course we repacked the tote bag with religious coloring books and crayons for Easter Sunday morning.

Julia Ellen and I spent about half of the service on Friday and Sunday in our new church building's cry room, a good-sized room with huge glass windows and plenty of chairs in the back of the sanctuary. The sound system doesn't pick up much of the service, except the homily, but it is far preferable to standing in the vestibule or sitting in the classroom watching the service on TV like we were doing before. Of course, my squirmy, fussy thing automatically transforms herself into idyllic toddler as soon as we set foot inside the cry room. Who wouldn't want to cling to their mother when in the midst of fussing and screaming angst of 10 short people? Perhaps there could be a middle ground, a space where non-perfectly behaving children might go so their mothers don't have to distract folks in adjacent pews, but one that doesn't require parents to subject themselves to listening to everyone else's tots who are much more ill behaved. (It is just the age, I have seen many children exhibit the ugliest behavior in Mass transform into genteel little people in just a few years).

I figure that between all my children, I have only physically been present during the entire Mass a handful of times (we converted when Will was not yet 1). While I am grateful our parish has a cry room (when we attended Mass at Sacred Heart in NC the only options were the sanctuary or outside), I will be grateful when our youngest is able to sit on the kneeler and color quietly for 90 minutes so I can stay in our pew and hear all of the Mass.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

what a crock

More than 45 million Americans now belong to a health club, up from 23 million in 1993. We spend some $19 billion a year on gym memberships. major study — the Minnesota Heart Survey — found, more of us at least say we exercise regularly. The survey ran from 1980, when only 47% of respondents said they engaged in regular exercise, to 2000, when the figure had grown to 57%.

And yet obesity figures have risen dramatically in the same period: a third of Americans are obese, and another third count as overweight by the Federal Government's definition. Yes, it's entirely possible that those of us who regularly go to the gym would weigh even more if we exercised less. But like many other people, I get hungry after I exercise, so I often eat more on the days I work out than on the days I don't. Could exercise actually be keeping me from losing weight? Time Magazine

I found the link to this article at Why Homeschool and it kept nagging at me for the past few days. Yes, if someone works out for 30 minutes a day they could theoretically not lose any weight because of increased hunger and an entitlement attitude, "I exercised so I can indulge in this McMuffin with cheese." But after running for several years and resuming my running this past year, I promise that if you push a little further than just doing the stair climber for 20 minutes you will lose weight.

In training for my half-marathon I have lost almost 10 pounds in the past month and my cravings for sweets was more easily controlled than when I was only running 4-5 miles a day. I took it seriously and after reading numerous books in the past few months about women who lost some serious poundage, including the first female Biggest Loser winner, found that they really counted every calorie, and exercised a lot more than taking an aerobics class at the YMCA.

As for the obesity rate, that seems to be an entire different class of citizen than those who attempt to stay in shape. The majority of obese aren't doing much more than pushing the grocery cart around the store and filling it with soda, candy, meat, snack cakes, and ice cream.     

Go to any serious athletic event: dance competition, soccer match, or running race and you won't find many overweight competitors. Exercise does help you lose weight, you just have to put in more than the minimal effort and practice some self control.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Standing at the starting line...

on Saturday, someone asked, "What is that thing?" pointing to my Sony Walkman strapped to my upper arm. "It's a radio," I replied, "haven't you ever seen one before?" Well, surrounded by 900 runners all wearing their ipods and listening to their own favorite tunes throughout the race, while my technologically repressed self had to listen to 5 minutes of ads, making me slow down, I decided that a lovely gift to myself for having completed a half-marathon would be an ipod shuffle. At only $50 it does everything I want and my technologically savvy son found free downloads for me of my favorite '80s tunes.

Who can't help but run faster listening to Billy Idol's Rebel Yell or Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun? I made up a 2 page list of cool songs with a fast beat and Will took charge of putting together a 6 hour playlist. Not that I'm going to run for 6 hours, but it was so much fun watching the videos, so much so that Mary rolled her eyes again and again at my pathetic attempts to sing along to the lyrics of Deelight's Groove is in the Heart and ZZ Top's Legs. I promise that my next race time will be at least 1 minute faster due to me being able to relive the music of high school.   

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

made my day

I took some of the kids on errands after we did school today and saw a lovely sight in the grocery store parking lot. Imagine, if you can, an almost 13 year old boy holding a 2 year old girl's hand as she skipped across the pavement.

Now that is priceless.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

glad that is over...

This morning I got up after about 4 hours of sleep (due to nerves) and left the house at 6:30am for the 8am start of the Dismal Swamp Stomp half marathon. I did pretty well until the last 2 miles and then I was just putting one foot in front of the other. If I could have maintained my pace then I could have come in 3rd in my age bracket. Here are my results:
Congratulations in finishing the Dismal Swamp Stomp 1/2 Marathon on April 16, 2011.  We
hope you enjoyed this event.  For your records, the weather at the start was mostly cloudy, 59 degrees F, 88% humidity, ESE wind 8 mph.
There were 61 finishers in the Female 40 to 44 age group and 805 finishers in the 1/2 Marathon division.

Your overall finish place was 162, your age group finish place was 5 and your gender finish place was 40.  Your  time 1:50:22.60 gave you a  8:25 pace per mile.

 My body aches and one of my toes is bruised under the nail, but next Saturday Mary and I are running a 5K. After today it will seem like a walk in the park. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

should we ban salads too?

After all, salad dressing is loaded with fat and salt so therefore an entire salad meal should be bad for us. "Ridiculous," any nutritionist would say. Likewise, a dash of Nesquick or Ovaltine doesn't take away any of the nutrients or protein in a glass of milk.

Throughout middle school and high school I ate a greasy chocolate chip cookie, a bag of raw mushrooms, and 2 pints of chocolate milk for lunch. Guess which item was brought from home?

Lately the school district of Chicago has decreed that their food is somewhat superior to mom-made meals and has banned brown bagged lunches. Other schools have warned local shops not to sell snacks to kids. Having never had children in government schools, it was news to me that the standard lunch of pb & j is not allowed due to allergies and homemade treats for birthdays or class parties are refused as well. Between the cost and quality of institutional food, I'm glad we homeschool and we have the added benefit of not having a cafeteria lady glaring at us for spooning a little chocolate syrup into our glasses. 

School lunches and childhood nutrition have been the subject of much debate in recent
years, prompting heated arguments over whether or not governments and schools
should regulate what children are allowed to eat.
Last year, some schools across
the country banned chocolate milk, saying that it was too high in sugar and fat, and that healthier, lower calorie
alternatives should be substituted. The move was applauded by some, but
protested by others.

The Washington Post reports the 2009 chocolate milk ban in
Fairfax County, Va. sparked outrage from parents who felt that the calcium-rich
beverage shouldn't be outlawed.
Responding to months of calls
and emails, district officials have announced they will reintroduce chocolate
milk in local cafeterias. Huffington Post

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Saturday is my big race: 13.1 miles and it could go well or I could do very badly, mostly depending on the weather. This past Saturday afternoon I took off in 60F and ran 11 miles without a hitch and felt like I could easily do another 5 miles. Since then the temps have been in the 80's with higher humidity and I have gasped and wheezed my way to a walk every day at the 2 mile mark. 
Two things: I don't think I will ever sign up for something like this again and I really am amazed that anyone voluntarily runs a full marathon. More power to all the "real" runners out there, that's for sure.    

Saturday, April 09, 2011

shovel out the stalls

This morning was the only Saturday we had left before we leave for Maine with nothing on the schedule. No altar boy practice, no Boy Scout event, no Little Flowers, no running race, no ballet recital. So, I woke up with a clear agenda: to clean the children's rooms before stuff started growing underneath the beds. We started with the girl's room, crammed full with 2 twin beds, 1 toddler bed, 2 dressers, 1 enormous dollhouse, and all the normal stuff preteen girls accumulate.

Maggie almost got stuck underneath her bed after pulling out a wall of trash, food, papers, enough hair doodads to stock a beauty parlor, and enough pens, pencils, and crayons to supply an entire art department. After 2 hours of cleaning, sorting, pitching, and sanitizing (including throwing away a moldy yogurt container, even though we have a food-allowed-only-in-the-kitchen rule) the place looked and smelled wonderful. Luckily the boys had taken most of their work on themselves and all I had to do was sort the last bits in the closet (thank you Charlie for the gift of a slice of bread I found) and vacuum.

Now the house is clean and tidy, at least for the next 12 hours, and hopefully I can keep it relatively good shape for the next 6 weeks. There is something to be said for having less "stuff," the house in Maine is much easier to clean, mostly because it has been a toy and TV-free zone for the past few years. While I don't want to throw away all their toys and American Girl doll clothes, I am grateful for the few months of the year when I don't have to organize and pick it up so much.       

Thursday, April 07, 2011

how thoughful, Mr. President...NOT

Yesterday at a wind-turbine plant, Obama was asked about gas prices (which have gone up almost $2 a gallon since his inauguration):

Obama needled one questioner who asked about gas prices, now averaging close to $3.70 a gallon nationwide, and suggested that the gentleman consider getting rid of his gas-guzzling vehicle.

“If you’re  complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting eight miles a  gallon — (laughter) — you may have a big family, but it’s probably not  that big.  How many you have?  Ten kids, you say?  Ten kids?   (Laughter.)  Well, you definitely need a hybrid van then.  (Laughter.)

What Obama is suggesting is that all contractors who keep their equipment in the back of their vans, all business owners who drive full-size trucks, all moms of more than 2 kids should trade in their vehicles for sub-compact cars. It doesn't matter that they wouldn't be able to fit all their supplies in a Chevy Volt and it is illegal for me to cart around my family in anything smaller than a E350 (well, there was that one trip from Union Station in DC up to Capitol Hill in a Prius, but I had to shove everyone's head down so we wouldn't be arrested).

I particularly liked this comment someone posted on Michelle Malkin:
Only in Obamaland does it make economic sense to buy a $40,000 car to save $30 a week on gas.

Monday, April 04, 2011

first 10K

Over very bumpy ( I did twist my ankle during the last 1/2 mile) and muddy terrain I managed a 8:14 pace, but by the 6th mile I thought I was slogging after getting passed by at least 4 people. I did stick around for the awards ceremony and picked up 3rd place in my age group.

Someone asked, "So was this a training run for the 1/2 marathon?"

"I homeschool 6 kids. I don't have a training plan. Some days I run 4 miles and some I shoot for 8-9." What a shock to find that all 3 people I was chatting with were homeschooled themselves! The dad of a very cute 8 month old never set foot in a classroom until college.

So I'll baby my ankle for a couple of days and then pour on the miles so I can manage twice Saturday's distance without collapsing. Mary and I are going to do a 5K together in a few weeks and then my last race here before we leave for Maine will be a 4 miler complete with a free pancake breakfast afterwards.  

Saturday, April 02, 2011


On Friday evenings for the past two years Mary and I have taken Maggie to her ballet class followed by a supper in a restaurant. Lately we have been going to the local Mexican place, where the girls can get a cheese quesadilla and I can order shrimp fajitas and a Corona. But with a 10K race this morning, I didn't want to risk upsetting my sensitive stomach so we hit Olive Garden instead (which proves to me that even salad and veggie soup in a restaurant is fattening- I gained 2 pounds).
But while Maggie is dancing, Mary and I go to Michaels and pick up craft supplies, or last night visit the mall for something to do. After we found a new outfit for her, she asked to walk down to Claires and check out the cheezy jewelery. A middle age woman was getting her ears pierced and I asked if we could watch. Mary was horrified and fascinated at the same time and I jokingly asked her the same question I have posed to her several times before, "Do you want to get your ears done?" We drifted around the mall for another 10 minutes before she pulled on my hand, and said, "Yes." With determination she sat in the chair, clutching a stuffed bear, and starting to go cold and clammy as the woman cleaned her lobes and marked dots on her ears with a purple marker. "Yes, those are even," I said after making the woman re-mark one side. Ten minutes later, we walked out of the mall, Mary clutching her bag with cleaning solution. We agreed to let Maggie discover the change in her sister for herself, but Mary's triumphant grin just provoked the younger girl until we had to tell her what we had done.

My prediction of what Maggie would say was right on the mark, "Why can't I get my ears pierced?" she whined. "When you are 11 and show some responsibility, like keeping your side of the room clean," I replied.

No one else in the family knows about Mary's mutilation, so who knows how long it will be noticed, perhaps not until Tim reads this blog or looks at the credit card receipt. But I do know we passed a milestone of childhood last night and I am proud of my little girl for learning to overcome a natural fear of pain to accomplish one's desire. I look back at my neurotic fear of childbirth and reflect that if I hadn't overcome that terror, I wouldn't have 6 beautiful children who keep me company as well as pester me every day.