Archive for September, 2011


my husband is a rockstar!

   Posted by: liz    in family, family fun, health, running

i ran my first 5K this weekend all by myself. but i didn’t do it without the support (and encouragement, and transportation, and care-of our boys, and pride) of kenny.

i’m so thankful for the incredible support kenny has given me since the moment i said to him in May: “will you go running with me?” he didn’t even look at me like i had two-heads (because he has heard me say on more than one occasion that i will never, ever run. at least willingly)! he said, “sure! if you want to.”

and then he started running with me in the wee hours of the morning (while my dad or mom stayed at our house while the boys were still sleeping during those wee hours) because i won’t run on our roads at 6:00 a.m., even in the summer, because of our “black bear problem.

and then he stayed with the boys while i would go running at our local high school track.

and then he bought me a pair of running shoes: the most expensive item of clothing i own!

and then he signed up for a 4.1 mile trail run with me (he loved it. i hated it.).

and then he bought me a long-sleeved running shirt because it was forecasted to be 51 degrees at the time of my run this weekend. he also made sure that my phone was filled with all of my favorite Muse songs to get me through the run.

and then he drove us down to pittsburgh on saturday, we stayed at my old house that evening, and woke up at o-dark-hundred to drive me and three sleepy boys down to the starting line. they all stayed with me for a little while, then he drove through a city full of closed streets to find parking near the finish line.

and as i neared the end of the race, i spotted him and the three boys yelling my name, cheering me on. and i was able to run faster towards that beautiful FinishLine.

i have a rockstar husband who helped me conquer a huge fear of mine this weekend, and who continues to encourage me to keep on climbing.


running notes: Great Race 5K: 33:13 (mostly downhill and flat with one long very slight uphill part on the Blvd. of the Allies)

about 2 minutes into the race (yes, it only took two minutes!), i was starting to have those, “what the heck am i doing? i can’t run 3 miles. i’m NUTS!  i’ll never finish this race without walking more than half of it. what was i thinking?” and then i remembered kenny encouraging me to “be careful, but push yourself!” and i remembered the quote i say to myself while training: “pain is temporary, but giving up is forever.” and i kept going. i stopped to walk a few times, for a total of about 3 minutes (mostly on the Blvd of the Allies, as it was a slight uphill grade and my heart was yelling at me to take just one little break!). as we entered the city streets, i kept running, and never stopped again.

rowan drew me this picture, showing me running to the finish line, coming in 1st place with my trophy waiting for me (with all those dots behind me being the runners in 100th place).




after last week’s math meltdown in our home, we’ve had a week of nothing but pure joy, and absolute mayhem. and it INCLUDED more math. one evening last week, after sitting down to dinner at 7:30, i sighed heavily with a smile on my face and said, “i love our crazy, full life together!” and i really, really meant it.

i love that from the time the boys roll out of bed in the morning, we are together. we are together for math, for spelling, for soccer, for swimming, for lunch, snacks, dinner. i love that they love it. sawyer said the other day, “it’s just impossible to stop loving our family.” and i could have just eaten him up!

Family Presentation: our classical homeschool co-op meets on Mondays, and each week, a new family opens the day with a presentation on anything they want.  we were given september 26 (which is TODAY!). so we started brainstorming on what to do. last year we recited pasalm 23 as we had just memorized it together, so we wanted to do something a bit different.

during the classroom time of our co-op, we all memorize facts in different subjects including history, math, science, latin, language arts, and geography. i was hoping we’d have the “Pilgrims landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts” week since we took a family field trip to Plimoth Plantation last Fall, but we were one week late (that was last week’s sentence).  fortunately, we were given something much more interesting (at least to our family!).

kenny has been dabbling in his family’s geneology for the past year or so (with the help of Linda Wightman from Lift up your Hearts!) and one interesting fact about his (mother’s) line is that we are distantly related, by marriage, to Daniel Boone.

so guess what our homeschool history consisted of last week? we gathered a few resources at the library on Tuesday afternoon, spent all of Wednesday afternoon reading through them, coloring, and gathering our facts on Daniel Boone, frontiersman, (relative! new best friend! bearer of our blue eyes gene!) and founder of Boonesboro, Kentucky.  last week kind of reminded me of the old “how many homeschoolers does it take to change a lightbulb” joke.

we discovered that Boone died on September 26, 1820. our presentation was on September 26, 2011. I, for one, was very excited about this 191-year-old coincidence in our family presentation.

School and Homelife: of course, we still did math last week (you didn’t think I threw math out the window, did you?). more than a few times. with no tears on my part. i gave Rowan his review sheets and when i went to check on him to make sure he was focused on the work, he was sitting at his desk on the back porch with Kayle, our outdoor cat, sitting right next to him (he snuck her inside). “now this is how I like to do math!” he said as he pet her back while she purred.

i don’t think i’ll ever love math. but i’ll never tire of the way the boys soak up information, discover things they love, gain confidence as they understand newer, harder concepts. no matter how frequent the “bad bits” sneak up on us, i can’t for the life of me imagine being a family any other way.


weeks in review ~ the real story

   Posted by: liz    in homeschooling

last year, when i had my weekly ducks in a row, and had enough energy to blog at the end of some weeks during the school year, i published homeschooling weekly reviews on fridays.

i haven’t done one yet this year, and here we are, three weeks into school already!

one reason is that i can’t bring myself to list the lessons we’ve accomplished in curriculum that most of you have never heard of, without going into details, sometimes tremendously tedious details, of how we finished the lesson. i have a day planner (one that my husband designed, printed and bound for me – it’s LOVELY!) for that, and none of you want to read my day planner.

another reason i haven’t published a week-in-review yet is that although this school year is off to a great start, i’ve failed so many times already. and i don’t want you to see that part of homeschooling. i want you to see the 95% of homeschooling that is good, and beautiful, and fun. that 5% is just plain ugly. but…i feel the need to be honest about all parts of homeschooling. so here goes:

rowan and sawyer and i have shed some tears over MATH already this year. they did so well remembering all what they’ve learned so far, and that first week of school, i was amazed at how much they remembered. then we started getting into new concepts – concepts that were difficult for this literature/theatre/language-loving momma to explain to my bright, energetic boys. i grew so frustrated with myself, and they interpreted that as frustration with them.

that is humbling. that is HARD. and that, my friends, is why several of you have told me you’d never homeschool.

fortunately, that’s not the end of the story.

we have a great, supportive husband/daddy who is involved in all aspects of our homeschool. afterall, it’s called HOMEschool, not MOMschool. we did a few math lessons in the evening which took a long, long time (bad time of day for focusing attention!), and i did a lesson first thing in the morning, after breakfast. the latter worked best of all, but it’s still not perfect. yesterday, we had another frustrating math lesson, where i think all three of us shed some tears.

but here’s the beautiful part: we closed the math books, had a big chat and then headed off to soccer practice where they hung out with their closest friends, and i got to chat about my day with another homeschool mom. who had been there, done that, and was still learning.

and then we gathered around the dinner table as a family and talked more about it. after the boys were in bed and kenny and i were talking about it, he encouraged me to take a “mental math day” – a day where we just don’t do math. i decided to leave that up to the boys. and then this morning, i asked each of the boys what they wanted to learn in school today.

i’ll bet you can guess that math wasn’t on their list at all.

rowan and sawyer both chose Bible and Spelling. adam chose “how a bean grows a flower.” so, we’ve finished Bible, we took a long break to make applesauce, there are beans in a glass of water in the fridge in order to “disect” later today, and the spelling lessons are on the kitchen table waiting to be finished.

on today’s homeschool agenda is learning to deal with the hard parts, learning to forgive each other, learning to ask God for help, and learning to put others before ourselves. because our learning here isn’t just academic. that’s an imporant part of our schooling, and we will make sure our children understand things like number division, present participles, and Newton’s Laws of Motion.

but in order to provide the best academic atmosphere for their learning minds, we have to love, trust, and respect each other.

of which i am the biggest student.

it’s okay to have imperfect days. they help you make perfect ones. like applesauce-making and Spelling and Bible-only days.
it’s okay to have imperfect days. they allow you to talk honestly and openly as a family, on an hourly basis.
it’s okay to have imperfect days. because we are all imperfect. and we can learn much from that knowledge.

and learning together is one amazing gift to cherish.



   Posted by: liz    in family

happy birthday, sawyer cole!

you bring us so much laughter on a daily basis.

we love you, star-wars maniac!


ten years.

   Posted by: liz    in family

it was kenny’s second day of his new job in my office building.

it was six weeks before our wedding day.

it was a lovely end-of-summer, beginning-of-autumn morning. i planned to do some pumpkin-bread baking that night. i was excited about all the newness in the air – fall, our upcoming nuptials, kenny’s great new job.

the details are fuzzy after that. i remember thinking it wasn’t real because i wasn’t aware of such hatred and evil. i was naive in my my 28-year-old mind.

my niece was 16 months old. i wanted to hug her – she was the most innocent thing i could think of – to get the evil images out of my head. i remember wondering if my brother and his wife were scared, because they had a child to raise, and to protect. and i felt as though i needed to be protected for the first time in a long time. how could i be the protector?

two years later, kenny and i had a child of our own. three years after that, to the day, we welcomed sawyer into our family. and less than two years after that, adam joined us. we brought children into this world, despite the fear and anxiety that day introduced into our life.

our boys know nothing of september 11, 2001. i will protect them from hearing about it for as long as i can (which is probably only a few more months as it is covered in their history curriculum this year). they have no idea what war is, so i’m not sure they would be able to process anything as evil as the events of that day. which is why the television has remained off for the past week. i am happy to keep them completely ignorant of such evils in history like the Holocaust, American slavery, and 9/11 until they are able to process this information with more maturity.

and once they learn, we will mark the anniversaries of 9/11 as we always do: with cake and ice cream, in celebration of sawyer’s birth. i always quote her, but my friend ellen’s comment on our announcement of sawyer’s birth back in 2004 rings in my heart each time i see his smile, hear his laughter, and listen to his prayers: “Sawyer’s birth stakes a claim for life and love on such a complicated day.”

may we always celebrate beginnings of life, and commemorate the ends with love and prayer.