Saturday, September 22, 2012

the whole shebang

Two weeks ago the kids and I ran in the Orono Pie in the Sky 1 mile fun run and 5K. Charlie was phenomenal with a 6:48 mile, Mary and Maggie each ran around 7 min, and Timmy brought up the rear for our crew at 7:48. I got a 5K PR with 21:38, bettering my time over last year's race by 1:17. I ran the first mile a little too fast, but my sub-6 min start didn't seem to affect me later. I won a very tasty apple pie, which I ate for breakfast every morning, heated up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

This morning, after picking Maggie up from her classmate's sleepover party, I ran a revised course for the Multiple Myeloma race and won the entire thing, male and female. Now, I'm not going to suddenly obtain an inflated ego about this, there are several big races today and tomorrow and all the real runners are in one of those. The field was pretty small and in fact, I only recognized two faces from Sub-5, but it was a nice thing to pick up a gift certificate to the sporting goods store for new running gear. 

Or maybe I'll find something nice for Mary, who scored her very first goal, in her first year of playing soccer. I was so impressed by the sportsmanship of her teammates afterwards and a few of the girls even came up to me and said how proud they were of her for her efforts. She has really come out of her shell while playing soccer, showing some aggression that my super-shy girl rarely exhibits.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

preparing for winter

Everyone know the fable of the industrious ant and the feckless grasshopper. When cold snows come, the ant is snug and well stocked, while the grasshopper begs for assistance. Now that the leaves are beginning to turn color and the roof shingles show a touch of frost in the morning, our larder is well stocked. 

Starting in early summer and continuing through this week, I started blanching and freezing peas, beans, carrots, cauliflower, blueberries, tomatoes, and peppers. I dug up all the onions and potatoes and stored them in boxes down in the basement. Through the local homeschool group, I ordered 150 pounds of wheat flour to bake bread and cookies all winter, but now I must figure out how to to store it so it doesn't get eaten by rodents, bugs, or weevils. 

For dinner last night I made a green bean and sausage soup in which 4 major ingredients: carrots, potatoes, beans, and onions all were grown in our garden. I don't know if it was healthier than soup made from store-bought items, but it sure did taste better to me.   

Sunday, September 16, 2012


The saying, "You never know how much you have until you have lost it," has certainly struck home this week.  Homeschoolers have so much freedom in their daily lives to get up when they wish, start school when they want, and have their lives centered around their family, rather than around other's schedules. For 9 years we were able to sign the children up for multiple activities because their schoolwork could be completed by mid afternoon most days and they didn't have homework to interfere with evening events. 

Now our days begin with 5:40 revilie, followed by the van driving away at 7am. I do have a lot more time now to work with the boys on their schoolwork without the big kids monopolizing all my attention, so we do play many games and they have more educational computer time. But our afternoons are complete chaos. Last Tuesday was a good example with having to pick up the 3 big ones at 2:40, drive them 25 minutes to their soccer games, pull Will out just after the first half and drive like a mad woman back home to get him to piano lessons at 6:15 (he was still 15 minutes late). Then I had to fix dinner for everyone else and the poor kid was still doing homework at 9pm, when my eyes closed for the night. We have piano lessons for various children 3 evenings a week, Boy Scouts on Wednesday, Cub Scouts on Thursday, and Tim takes over on an occasional Monday so I can go to quilt group. I have spent over $100 in gas this week just to drive everyone up and back to Bangor 2-3 times a day. 

There isn't any activity I am willing to give up right this moment and soccer only lasts another 3 weeks or so. But it has been quite an adjustment going from staying home and doing school in our jammies to being like the Zizzer-Zoof salesmen in Dr. Seuss' Sleep Book,
 "All day they've raced around in the heat, at top speeds, Unsuccessfully trying to sell Zizzer-Zoof Seeds Which nobody wants because nobody needs. Tomorrow will come. They'll go back to their chore. They'll start on the road, Zizzer-Zoofing once more." 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

1st day of school

Tim starts his new job next Monday, so for the kid's first week of Catholic school he is driving the 30 minute route and dropping them off and I am picking them up in the afternoon. Our first day of homeschooling just the little boys was so peaceful, they did their work, did their chores, and I let them watch a movie while I organized and cleaned my quilting room. Charlie doesn't have half of his books yet since I put off enrolling him until yesterday, but he did read aloud, practice his catechism questions and prayers, listen to science and history, and do an art project with his little brother and sister. 

When I went to pick up the big kids Maggie was so exuberant that she almost hit her head on the ceiling, "I loooove school!" Will related a teacher's warning about, "don't get near the cars, you might get run over," that he got in gym class. He was so disgusted, "Mommy, I'm a Star Scout and was directing traffic at the Strawberry Festival when I was 10," at being treated like a little kid that we both pretended we were that safety conscious about other activities. "Don't touch that paper, you might get a boo-boo on your little finger." 

Mary was a completely different story, she was incensed that I sent them on the first day wearing "the wrong thing." Apparently every other girl wore a skirt and she felt like a dork wearing khaki pants. Even after admitting that she was making friends and that they use the same Saxon math series she has worked through for the past 3 years, she couldn't sleep last night due to nerves about a math test today. I sat with her, gave her a pep talk, and gave her a stuffed animal to hold before going back to bed myself. Math is not her weak subject by far, I'm far more concerned about her spelling and writing skills. My worry is the time factor, between soccer practice, practicing the piano, and homework, I don't know how much free time they will have each day. We seemed to have jumped onto the busy family bus and I doubt we will disembark until next June.         

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

labor day race

Sunday night I had nightmares, all involving people not understanding how important it was for me to get to the start of the Labor Day 5 miler before the 9am start. Despite all my anxiety-inducing dreams, I managed to be at the start in plenty of time and ran the first mile in 6:10, perhaps a bit fast, but I knew that if I wanted an overall 7:30/mile pace I would have to go fast the first two miles to make up for the "goat path" hill around mile 3 that seems to go straight up and up and up and finally flattening out in front of Stephen King's house with his creepy bat-themed wrought iron fence. 

I finished in 35:40, a 7:08 pace, a full 4 minutes faster than last year's time, but not fast enough to win my age group. I was bummed for a bit, but then found out the women's overall winner was 41, running a 6:20/mile pace, just not something I am capable of. My guilt mitigated, I met the rest of my family at the Sub 5 track club party, where we ate, played games, and talked running. The season is beginning to wind down and I will be looking forward to more restful dreams and sleeping in on weekend mornings. 


Sunday, September 02, 2012

all in one house

Tim finished up his last day of work down in the southern part of the state and starts his new job next week. So, for the first time in a decade all our family is residing in one location all year. No more deployments, no more admitting "summer people" status, no more waving goodbyes on Sunday afternoon. I can't recall all the times over the past 10 years when I thought I packed an item and realized too late that it was 1000 miles away in a drawer, or a piece of music for piano lessons was left behind, or I couldn't remember if I had enough pillowcases and needed to pack more. This morning was the first nippy day of the season, chilly enough that I had to pull out a wool blanket to cover myself at 2am. 

My box room with its neatly organized bins for kid's clothes was raided for Julia Ellen's fall wardrobe instead of the usual September scramble as I forgot to pack enough larger warm clothes for the smallest child. She is now adequately prepared with 5 pairs of footed pjs, long pants, and a half a dozen turtlenecks. It is so comfortable feeling that if I need an item it is somewhere in this house and all I have to do is unpack the rest of the boxes to find it.