Long time, no blog

Wow, I see my visits here have become few and far between. It has been nearly a year since I have updated, with the exception of my ongoing book list. Glancing back at several of the more recent, however non-recent, posts, I see a lot of focus on child-related issues. That is no surprise. As a homeschooling mom, a huge part of my time and attention is directed toward my children. I do give a lot of thought to how our culture, and how our own parenting and educational decisions, will influence them. In fact, the infrequency of my posts here is largely a result of my effort to be more available to my kids. As homeschoolers, we do spend a lot of time together. I found that it is pretty easy to let other things overtake our free time – my free time – and I don’t want all our time together to be about doing schoolwork. I want to have time to play together and work together on meaningful things other than school.

Since I spent a lot of time talking about running in the past, I will update briefly. After an injury in 2012, I have to admit, I fell apart on the fitness front. If I couldn’t run, I wasn’t going to exercise at all, darn it! I didn’t consciously decide that, but it turned into my reality.

One great thing I’ve noticed when I am in a good exercise routine is that I also tend to eat well. I called it my virtuous circle.

virtuous circle


A recurring cycle of events, the result of each one being to increase the beneficial effect of the next:
‘economic expansion would itself produce a virtuous circle of increased productivity, increased exports, and increased growth’

Sadly, when I wasn’t running, I didn’t make an effort to eat well. I was very lax about my food choices. It’s not by any means as if everything was bad at that time, but I certainly put my health on the back-burner.

When I saw people running, I felt a longing. For a long time, I thought I could just dive back in at any point once my injury had resolved. I would decide to start running again, run a few times per week for two or three weeks, then fizzle out. Boo. Finally, in 2014, I acknowledged the reality that I needed to start over. I did Couch to 5K all over again, and was so pumped to participate in a local 5K as the culmination of that training program. I’ve also joined a local chapter of a national women’s running group – Moms RUN This Town – and the community has gone a long way in encouraging me to keep it up this time. I have been running pretty regularly again since July of 2014. I’m slower than I used to be, but I have run several 5k’s, a 10k, and even a half-marathon last fall. I have enjoyed getting to know some great mother runners in my community as well. How did I do it without community before?

I have no races coming up, but I should pick something out and sign up! While unnecessary, I feel that races add a lot of FUN and motivation to things. I did enjoy a four miler today. A sunny 60+ day in Minnesota in March? I’ll take it, with gratitude. My virtuous circle also seems to be functioning fairly well again. It’s hard balancing work, parenting, health and all the rest. I am a constant work in progress in all aspects of life.

How about you? Have you dealt with injury with more grace than I did? Do you notice virtuous circles in your life? Do you have any advice on balance?

An exercise in futility

During my Couch to 5K Part 2, I’ve been running time rather than distance.  Still, I find that if I know I’m almost done, say 3 minutes to go, I start to speed up.  This makes sense only if I’m going for distance.  News flash to myself:  time won’t move faster just because I do.

Ever catch yourself doing something like that?


After taking three months off after an injury, I am taking tentative steps (literally) back into running.

I referred back to the Couch to 5K training program, which is how I got started in the first place.  I want to take things slowly – easy on the joints – so I started toward the beginning of C25K to suit my current running ability.

My daughter wanted to run a 5K with me this summer.  Though technically not still summer, I have my sights set on a local 5K at the end of September.  I hope this will do.

When planning my training routes, I prefer running a loop over an out-and-back when possible.  It’s a psychological thing.  It feels more fulfilling, less boring.
A conversation with my cousin came back to mind yesterday.  He runs along the edge of a rural highway.  He told me that he switches sides periodically, so his body doesn’t continuously face the same slant.  Although proper pedestrian etiquette calls for sticking to the left side, his method of alternating sides has helped him clear up and avoid further aches and pains.

I need to be more aware of the slant issue on my own runs.  I run on a paved trail, and it is definitely a bit slanted.  If I’m doing loops, I should at least change my direction from one run to the next.

I once read about a marathon that was run on a track.  (Can you imagine?). Apparently, the runners change direction every thirty minutes so the same side isn’t always the outside.

On my loops, I don’t think outside/inside is an issue (we’re talking 4, 6, 12 mile loops – the curve is hardly noticeable), but the slope of the trail can’t be discounted.

I’m just out there to enjoy myself.  I don’t always think about the details that can ultimately help or harm my long-term ability to continue this hobby.  Thanks, cous’, for making me think about one of those details.

I hate to say it, but…

If anyone out there is wondering how the marathon training is going, I have bad news. The marathon is less than two weeks away, and it’s not going to happen for me this time. My knee started to bother me a bit in early March. It really didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. I thought that taking a few extra days off and taking it easy would be all I needed. In the end, I took more like two weeks off before gradually building my mileage back up. But then I was feeling great. I was feeling optimistic. I had certainly gotten behind on my training, but I felt like I would be able to do it.

I had gotten back up to a pain free 12 miler and felt fantastic. Yes, there are still many more miles in a marathon, but at that point, I thought I had time to slowly build up to a 20 mile training run. My particular training plan would have taken me all the way to 26 if I had been able to keep up with it, but I know some training plans only go up to 20. I felt okay with how things were going.

Then, the last straw.

I had set out for a long training run about two weeks ago, and just over 6.5 miles into it, my knee started to kill! I hobbled home and told my husband that this was probably it. No longer enough time to let it rest and build back up.

You’re probably wondering if I have sought any medical care. I have not.

Like I said, back when I had that first pain, I really thought it was no big deal and that some TLC would do it. Now, I could go get it checked, and maybe I should, but I haven’t. It’s too late to get ready for the marathon (this time), and it doesn’t affect me in regular life. Someone did advise me that it could be caused by unequal muscle strength in my legs (i.e. the front leg muscles, and to a lesser extent, the back leg muscles are strengthened through running, but the side muscles really are not – I haven’t been doing anything to hone in on the side muscles of my legs).

I should also admit that I dislike going to the doctor. I go for my annual check-ups, and I take my children for their check-ups and for other needs as they arise. For myself, though, I usually have to be pretty concerned to go in. I think it’s an effect of growing up poor.

So, when and if I decide to try tackling a full marathon in the future, I think I just might go have things checked out and seek some expert advice based on my personal experiences. But not necessarily before then. Feel free to offer your two cents if you have strong opinions about any of it. I’m willing to listen and consider advice.

On the bright side, with the exception of about two weeks off in early March, this was the first time I’ve run through the winter since I took up running in 2008 with the C25K.

In other news, I’m keeping busy making plans for school next year, including putting thought and research time into the idea of giving my kids more choice and flexibility in their learning. If you happen to look at my book list, you’ll see a couple titles that hint at that. If you’ve read about why we homeschool, you also know that tailoring learning to the interests and abilities of our children is one of the reasons we decided to homeschool in the first place. I don’t know if I could ever go all the way to unschooling, but I do think people learn more when it is something that they are interested in and have a reason for learning.  It has been interesting reading at the least.  🙂  So far, we have a science curriculum purchased at the special request of my daughter ~ it looks good, a music theory curriculum purchased at the request of both children, and a lot of historical novels selected (some purchased, and some available from the library) to read together next year.  We have a math program that both kids are loving, each at their own level, and phonics and grammar programs that have been helpful.  I went to a talk on literary analysis last month, and I’m all stoked to incorporate a bit more of that into our discussion of the books we read.  See, that’s something that particularly interests me.  I will try to restrain myself a bit if they don’t share my interest.  The last thing I want to do is turn them off books and reading.  I always try to walk the fine line of challenging them, but not frustrating them, and spending time on things that they enjoy, but instilling the discipline it takes to do something even when it isn’t fun.

I’ve also been to some used book sales recently and purchased books on geology projects, how various machines work, Greek mythology, a family devotion book ~ things that we can enjoy together that aren’t necessarily part of a curriculum.

In the food world, we have just started a new CSA season.  Thank goodness!  I had gotten into a cooking rut.  The CSA provides a lot of inspiration, and so far, the recipes in the newsletter have been outstanding.  I’ve finally found a recipe for sunchokes that I liked!!  I’ve mentioned that we had an unseasonably warm winter in MN this year.  We were having an especially warm spell in mid-March, and my husband decided to plant radishes, arugula and spinach.  We had to cover them a few times, but now we are enjoying eating a few fresh veggies from the garden.  We weren’t even able to start planting by this time last year!  What a difference from one year to the next.  Our mint has also come up in full force.  My word, that is one prolific plant!

So, there it is.  Some good.  Some bad.  Keeping busy with my little ones.  Looking forward to summer and all the new adventures it may bring.

I hope life is treating you well.  🙂



What’s Up?

Hi there. What’s up world? I hope life is treating you well. Things have been as busy as ever for me. I spend the bulk of my day doing schoolwork with my kiddos. I’ve got projects galore at work right now, as well. That’s good, right? I think so. I’m fortunate to not only have a job (especially in this rough economy), but to have a job that is flexible enough to allow me to be home with my children and still contribute to my formerly full-time workplace.

I picked up our CSA boxes yesterday. It was a vegetable AND fruit day, so my refrigerator, hanging baskets and counters are FULL. We’ve got squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, oranges and greens in mass quantities. Oh, onions too. We have a three tiered hanging basket full of onions and garlic. It’s a good thing I like cooking with them! We got a new item in our fruit share this week. I hear all the time how wonderful pomegranates are for us, but I never buy them. Why not? Because I’m really not sure what to do with them. Now that I have received several in my CSA box, it’s time for me to take the plunge and finally figure it out. We haven’t experienced as many new foods in the fruit share as we did in the vegetable share, but there have been a few. Pomegranates, persimmon and figs come to mind. It’s still fun trying new things, but I must admit, I don’t like all of them. I found out that I don’t care for figs (though I like Fig Newtons – go figure), and I’ve found that a cheese share goes largely wasted on me. In my defense, I did decide to sign up for the cheese share before I discovered that dairy bothers my stomach. Now that I’ve figured that out, I’m not eating all that much cheese. (And I’m a little picky about the cheese. Shh. Don’t tell. I don’t like to think of myself as a picky eater. Thankfully, my husband is not picky about cheese and enjoys all of them.)

In fitness news, I started the 30 Day Shred on November 1st. My goal is to do it everyday of November. With Thanksgiving coming up, we’ll see how that goes. I’m not sure when/if/how long we might be away from home, so that might throw me for a loop. I’m also keeping up with a minimal running schedule. I’m dreaming and scheming of races for next year. I plan to put the focus more on running starting in December or January (depending on exactly what training plan I will be doing).

With Halloween just a few days past, I have to admit, I am proud of myself. I ate a few pieces of candy on Halloween, but I haven’t had any since. I usually gobble up any leftover candy that we have, and then I dip into my kids’ candy. I don’t think it’s a big deal to eat a little candy here and there, but I have overindulged in the past. If I think about it, I would rather have a quality dessert now and then than eat Halloween candy. My husband’s homemade pumpkin pie is WAY better than Halloween candy! And I would like to eat nourishing foods for the most part, not fill up on a lot of sweets. So there you have it, my choice to stay out of the candy.

Hasta luego! (Have I mentioned that I’m helping my daughter practice Spanish?)

P.S. If you have any tips for me on how to eat the pomegranates, I welcome your tips!

My second half

I ran my second half-marathon on Saturday ~ The Dick Beardsley Half Marathon in Detroit Lakes, MN. You might be surprised to hear that. I talked about my training a lot for my first half-marathon in May. If I’m not mistaken, I didn’t say a peep about the second. The reason is that I didn’t decide to do it until fairly close to race-day and didn’t put in the training that I did the first time. I suppose part of me thought if it was a total flop, no one had to be any the wiser. 😉

I can confirm that it was a different experience from the Fargo half-marathon in May. I wasn’t as prepared, and I felt it. Whereas at Fargo, I jogged along feeling great and grinning the whole way, for the Dick Beardsley, my legs felt pretty sore when I still had several miles to go. Not an injury, nothing I couldn’t live with for a few more miles, I just had sore legs.

I ran this half-marathon with my sister-in-law. It was her first half, and I hoped that having company along the way would be helpful. I know it meant a lot to me having another of my sisters-in-law running with me at Fargo.

Now she can check half-marathon off her list, and now I’ve got two of them under my belt. (Still dreaming of a possible full someday, but I’ve got a long way to go in training…)

Here we are with Dick Beardsley himself at the end. That’s me on the right with the dopey grin. I think I must get a little of that runner’s high that we hear about. Or maybe I was just that happy to be done. Or that happy to meet Dick Beardsley. Probably all of the above. 🙂

Running the half on Saturday has renewed my enthusiasm. Now I’m kicking myself for not signing up for the TC10. I’m not sure if I’ll have any more races in 2011, but I want to keep running and working toward 2012!

Fellow runners, do you have any big events still coming up in 2011? Do you typically run throughout the winter or take some time off?

Good Monday Morning!

Good morning! I hope you had a nice weekend. I did. I was not quite as ambitious as I might have been, particularly in the cooking department, but I did tick off some of the things that I had really hoped to do.

I went out for a long run on Saturday. After a good four to six weeks of running for 30 minutes at the maximum, getting back to longer runs has felt challenging (and good). Staying in shape is as important as getting in shape! You know the saying, “Use it or lose it,” – well, I think it’s quite an accurate statement. I covered 8 miles running and taking occasional walking breaks, and I’m happy with that.

Another great thing to check off the to-do list was mowing the grass. I don’t always enjoy the task itself, but I love it when it’s done! My husband putzed around in the garden a bit too. We have several green tomatoes. I’m looking forward to eating them someday! (I hope.)

We also did some shopping – did you know that kids can grow out of their clothing astonishingly quickly sometimes? We did some reading – we finished book six of the Narnia series. Only one book left! We played some games – bocce ball in freshly cut grass anyone? 🙂 (Yes, I know. I’m obsessed about cutting the grass. I think it’s because it can be hard to find the time to get it done.)

As for cooking, I really didn’t do a lot. We had BLTs with some of our big beautiful tomatoes from the CSA. Great tomatoes always beg me to make BLTs, I swear. I also made some veggie stuffed pobalanos, roasted and stuffed with summer squash, onion, garlic, carrot and cheese. Yum! We also ate canteloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, arugula – basically a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits with no cooking required, supplemented with one dinner out. Who can complain about that? Not me!

On today’s to-do: grocery shopping (done!), a training for work (done!), paying bills, preparing for a meeting for our homeschool group, playing outside with my kids, and from there, we’ll see. Looks like a beautiful day!

I hope you have a fantastic day!!