Thursday, August 28, 2008

Homeschooling: Day 1

After years of thinking about home schooling and months of preparing and a whole summer of happily "unschooling," the day of reckoning has arrived. The school bus is going to pull into the neighborhood this morning to ferry all the children off to their first day of school, and our kids are not getting on.

Nell would have been in second grade, Simon in kindergarten and Ben in nursery school.

Mostly I am hugely relieved. I have always hated the first day of school. The ripped feeling in my heart lasts all day. All year, really. Such a brutal tearing asunder. The bus pulls up, the kids get on, the bus pulls away, and they're gone. Just gone.

On the other hand, Nell has always liked school. She used to come home exhausted and distant, but she still loved it. At least I think she did. I keep asking her if she is sad about not going back and she looks at me funny. She saw some of her friends from school at a birthday party last weekend, and she didn't seem particularly thrilled to see them. She moved comfortably between her friends and her brothers and me. A creature of both worlds.

I am making sure she gets lots of time to make new friends. We have joined several homeschool groups and classes: Mystic Seaport, Nature Center, Groton Library, piano lessons, homeschool sports. Looking at our schedule, I wonder when we will have time to get any Real Work done. (But Real Work is just a myth, isn't it?) Nell and Simon will start swim team next week. That will keep them both in touch with old friends.

I started homeschooling the boys yesterday. Nell said she would prefer to start today, the official first day of school. Of course, I honored that request. So she went up to her room to read and listen to her Fudgie books on tape while the boys and I did some math. Simon is working on Singapore Math, book 1A, and Ben has a Building Math Skills book by the Critical Thinking Co. designed for 3- and 4-year olds. He likes to do his workbook just like everyone else.

And then we all went for a hike at Beebe Cove. No one wanted to go. Everyone was crying getting into the car. But once they got there, they loved it. They "fished" with sticks, climbed rocks, and walked about a mile around the lake. Actually, Nell and Simon walked. I carried Ben most of the way. He got stung by a bee (as did I) and decided he could no longer bear his own weight. It was easier to carry him than to argue that point.

Later in the evening I was able to sneak a bit of Real Work into Nell's brain. We read the first chapter in the first volume of Joy Hakim's much praised The History of US. She grumbled a bit, and then she loved it.

Me: We'll just read 2 pages, Nell

Nell: Oooooooo-kaaaaaaaay.

Nell: (after 2 pages are up) Can we read a few more?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I have been more or less injured for the last month. Plantar fasciitis, or so I am told, in my left foot. I do not have the classic heel pain -- my trouble is soreness around the top of my foot probably due to a high arch -- but my PT is treating it as plantar fasciitis and the treatment is working. Who am I to question why?

More worrisome to me is that I am starting to feel some early morning twinges in my right heel as well as a bit of soreness around the ball of my foot while running hills. Methinks the right foot is next.

I am switching shoes. I like to wear Saucony. I have been using the Grid Trigon Ride for the past year or so. Based on the little test I took on the Saucony website, I should probably be wearing the ProGrid Triumph 5, so I ordered a pair from my favorite running shoe supplier, Zanzabar Bazaar. I am also stretching more (up from never, ever stretching), icing both feet after most runs and cross training.

After more than 30 years of running (started doing 10Ks in the fifth grade) this is my first real injury. I guess I should count myself lucky, but I still hate it.

I did my first long run since mid-July last Saturday and the foot felt fine, so I must be on the mend. As long as I lace my shoes around the affected area I can pretty much run pain free.

Started early Saturday morning (5 a.m.) at my friend Grace's house up in the hills. We ran 20 miles on roads and trails, saw the sun come up over a pretty farm pond, and talked about our own private insanities. We are similarly driven and similarly perceived as bizarre and elitist by our respective families.

I saw a great bumper sticker on my run yesterday afternoon: Elites for Obama. I want to find one to send to my parents. Give them a giggle.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Starting from DNF

I started training last spring to run the Vermont 100 Endurance Race. Perhaps I had no business thinking I could do such a thing: what with three little kids and a harried husband at home, who has time to train for 100 miles?

But train I did. Lots of long runs early on Saturday mornings, schedule juggling, childcare begging, late night jaunts through town after the kids were in bed, pushing the jogging stroller so many miles that the tread is worn smooth.

Some weeks I got in 50 miles, some weeks 80. Sick kids cut down on mileage, as did end of school year picnics, swim meets, home school meetings, even the proverbial butterflies fluttering their paper thin wings in Madagascar. Who knows why some weeks brought so many miles and other weeks so few?

I loved the training. I loved every minute of it. Long hours out on the roads and trails of Southeastern Connecticut (perhaps not the most ideal training topography for Vermont, but it's all I've got). I never got bored. Never got sick of my own stream of thoughts or those of my running partners. Which tells me that I am either the most dull or the most fascinating person I know. ("Don't you get BORED?" everyone asks me.) No. Surprisingly, no.

So I toed the line at 4 a.m. next to Josie's Field in Vermont, and got unceremoniously pulled from the race at Camp 10 Bear, mile 70, sixteen hours later. Not to put to fine a point on it, I was having diarrhea. I probably went out too fast. Rookie mistake. You can read all about it here.

So I am starting this blog to avenge myself. I hope that a year from now I will be posting about my glorious finish in Vermont.

In the meantime, I have quite a bit of work to do. I need to figure out what I can eat, drink and keep down for the long haul (my stomach is always my biggest bugaboo), strengthen my quads (the downhills killed me), and continue working the hills, hills, hills.

I plan to run a bunch of 50K and 50 mile races this fall, provided the childcare gods smile kindly on my efforts. I need to train my body to run all day without breaking down. And I need to train my brain to stay positive all the way through.