Archive for November, 2011


third 5K!

   Posted by: liz    in health, running

i think i’m addicted to 5Ks.  they’re still not an easy run for me, but they’re so much fun, i feel so great, and my training for them keeps me active. for the two weeks leading up to this race, i ran at least 2 or 3 miles several times a week (8-9 miles a week).

thanksgiving morning, i woke up, had coffee and stretched…then left around 7:00 a.m. to drive about 45 minutes away to the new castle, pa YMCA turkey trot. it was a smaller turkey trot than the Butler one i did a few weeks ago, but almost completely flat (one hill, run twice since the race was a repeated loop around downtown new castle).

i went alone, ran alone, and drove home alone. of course, i texted kenny and my friend courtney (who has been my running encourager since training for my first, ever race this summer!) with my finish time within 1 minute of finishing. i think i do much better when i’m running the race alone. i love competing against myself (previous times).  i ran my record time of 31:16 for the 3.1 miles which put me at a 10:06 minute mile.

the race was a repeated loop, so i knew when i hit the halfway mark, passing the time clock at 15:00 minutes. that was exciting, as i knew that if i kept up my running pace, i would definitely beat my previous 5K time of 34:43 minutes. and i did!  that second loop of the race wasn’t easy, but i kept myself running (and not walking when i really, really wanted to walk!).

there was one hill, which i allowed myself to walk, but my walking pace was MUCH faster this race than previous races, and walked for much less time than in my previous races.

the race itself still wasn’t easy, and i remember the following thoughts going through my head a few times:
“what the hell am i STILL doing running? i’m CRAZY!” and
it would be so much better sitting at home with a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll than running on thanksgiving morning!”

i finished, i have great memories (already!) of the race, i can’t wait to run it again next year, and there is nothing better than starting thanksgiving morning than running a race. i can’t wait for next year’s race!

one of the best parts of homeschooling that homeschoolers always refer to is the personal tailoring you get to attach to your child’s education. just in my three boys alone, i have a contemplative learner, a tactile learner, and a busy learner. they seem to change their basic style of learning quite frequently, and it’s good that i can observe, and be on the ready to change up how they’re learning math, for instance, one day to the next. overall, they all learn differently from each other, and i love being able to teach them in a way that they learn best.

some people have asked me recently what it means to learn classically – especially at the age of four!  so i thought i’d post about how it works in our family, specifically using a classical co-operative to supplement our home studies.

following something called the Trivium (described here in full), we teach according to how our brains are designed to retain information. every parent has observed that their child can repeat and retain information very easily at a very early age. since memorization comes very easy to young children, we spend their  first several school years filling their heads with facts. they memorize important dates in history, rules of english grammar, geography, latin vocabulary and conjugations, science facts and definitions, math facts (skip counting/times tables, math definitions, and formulas etc.) we also read. a lot.

i tutor a class of four-year-olds in our weekly co-op while my three boys are in their own classrooms, with different tutors. all of us, ages 4-12, are learning the same facts in each subject and doing the same science experiments and art projects. all of the students have to do a 3-minute presentation in their classroom each week. our current co-op cycle is doing US History and Geography (last year was European History and Geography, and next year’s cycle will cover world history and geography). here is a peak of our classroom whiteboard, three weeks in a row (click to enlarge):

i only spend 30 minutes of our 2 1/2 hours together on introducing these facts-in-each-subject to the four year old students. we use motions, songs, dance moves, tactile objects, or games to introduce these facts. the parents then reinforce memorization of these at home and then the following week, all the students review all the material learned so far in review games.

in addition to all of this information, we memorize a World History timeline using the Veritas Press History cards. this week’s facts find us in 800 – 1200 A.D.: “Alfred the Great, Otto I and the Holy Roman Empire, The East-West Schism, The Feudal System, William the Conquerer and the Battle of Hastings, Cathedrals in Europe, The Crusade, St. Francis of Assisi.”

it’s up to the parents to fill in any gaps, if the child wants to learn more about each of these “periods” in history. it’s not necessary, however, especially to a four year old (or even a 7- or 8-year-old!) to know more than the order of these events. their minds are just capturing a timeline that they’ll be able to refer back to in later years of their education – the years when their brains are more developed to dive into the subjects.

i love where we are in our education “timeline” right now. i love seeing the boys learn all this and i love being able to learn and relearn it all with them. as i look ahead into the Logic and Rhetoric stages of the Trivium, i can’t help but be excited about those stages as well. i look forward to the educational atmosphere our home will be under for the next 13 years and can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

learning is GOOD.





running thoughts…

   Posted by: liz    in health, running

i was talking to another runner the other day about how on earth i can possibly ever get past the 5K (3.1 mile) mark in running. because although i don’t need to fall over and lay on the ground after a 5K and i actually feel pretty great when i’m done, i still can’t:

a/ run the entire 3.1 miles. and…
b/ possibly think of running more than 3.1 miles at a time!

this person was wise in pointing two things out to me:

a/ just 6 months ago, i could barely run one lap around the high school track. and now i’m running/walking the equivilant of 12 laps every time i do a 5K. and…
b/  when training, you’re supposed to s-l-o-w-l-y add to your mileage. afterall, marathon runners don’t run the marathon automatically without training.

over the past few months, i’ve been reading posts by other bloggers-who-run, and i’d notice that they’d post their times would either stay relatively the same (by a few seconds) or they’d improve their 5K time and move onto bigger, harder races. my experience has not been this so far.

although running has gotten easier for me, i have yet to feel that running a 5K is a piece of cake. because they’re still really hard to run! for me, i have to work really, really, really hard to get better at this. and there are so many moments in a race, so many moments in my weekly runs, so many moments through this running experience when i just want to give up and quit. life would be so much easier without all this pushing myself, right?

but then i read this: you will only regret the runs you don’t do.

so, to get over last week’s (disappointing) 5K, i was back out on the pavement again this week: a 3 mile run on wednesday (i re-ran the 5K course from last week), and a 2-mile run this morning (in my neighborhood…with HILLS. that go UP!). i’m pushing even harder than before, and slowly, ever-so-slowly adding more mileage to my runs. which right now is trying to do an entire 3.1 without stopping to walk.

in august, i had a goal to run two more 5Ks before the weather turns. i’ve done that goal…and now i’m itchy to add to that goal. so i’m planning another 5K before christmas. after this next mini-goal, i’ll add miles to my runs. and eventually, i’ll be able to say, “yeah, i ran that entire 5K/10K/half marathon.”




preparing for the preparation…

   Posted by: liz    in advent, Christmas, seasons

i went grocery shopping this morning and was amazed at how crazy the store was. the balloon turkey decoration next to the lit christmas tree was slightly jarring, but maybe i’m just being persnickety.

i thought the grocery shopping craze happened the monday- wednesday before Thanksgiving, not two weeks before? i am vowing right now that i’m going to treat this coming weekend and week as normal, and not as crazy preparation for a fun Thanksgiving celebration. how about you?

we’ve been observing Advent in our home for the past decade. since our family was just the two of us, we’ve observed the quiet waiting of Advent, and breaking out in full Christmas spirit on Christmas Eve at 10:30 with the Holy Eucharist. i know the world wants Christmas to start on November 1st, but it’s not necessary, especially since you have a full 12 days of celebrating it through the end of December, into the New Year!

Advent starts directly following Thanksgiving. again, the world thinks you need to get the best deals on christmas gifts the day after Thanksgiving. but if gifts are not what christmas is about, then why get caught up in the sales and give real gifts this year, and prepare your home, your family, your hearts for the biggest birthday celebration of the year.

last year, i suggested starting simply.  and here is last year’s blog post on St. Nicholas Day ideas (St. Nicholas Day is December 6th). stretching the fun of the season by adding Advent into your family celebration is one way you can fight the Christmas craze.

so…perhaps you can start two weeks early for thanksgiving preparations AND advent, and ease into a lovely Advent, preparing for the joyful celebration of His birth.


revolutionize Christmas

   Posted by: liz    in Christmas, seasons

in the past, i’ve blogged every day in november. 

i don’t know if you noticed, but….i kinda had a “31 days fail” event this past october. so i won’t be repeating that mistake this november!

but i do love blogging during this season…the cozy thanksgiving days, the solace found in Advent’s hopeful waiting, and the joy of Christmas. before we get into this season’s crop of thanksgiving, advent, and christmas posts, i have a huge admission to make:

the christmas season makes me anxious.

don’t get me wrong: i love everything about christmas. except the presents.  if we could be just as joyous about christmas without the pressure of the perfect gift, and making our children happy (based purely on material things), i would enjoy the season so much more.  why can’t we enjoy the music, the christmas shows, the stories of sugarplums and love-coming-down, of christmas cookies, and waiting for the christchild without the big ripping apart perfectly good paper, and gazing upon shiny new…things.

last christmas, my littlest threw a tantrum in the biggest way during our extended family christmas present opening. i was mortified because it felt as though all eyes were directed on me and how i taught him to view what was underneath the shiny wrapping paper. perhaps our parental lessons about the reason of christmas (giving to others of ourselves) backfired? i have no idea what went wrong (well, i know what happened: he was 4, and the spirit of the “season-of-getting” got to him…and i still feel i am to blame). i don’t know how to approach this season again. so…i’m dreading it.

i used to love receiving gifts, and i still love the act of giving gifts. but what if i changed everything up one christmas, and gave…something else?  what if i gave my time, my resources, my hard work?

if someone were to gift me this christmas, i’d love it most of all if it were something given to someone who needs something. i need nothing right now. i love spending time with family and friends, good conversation, a great run with good music blaring in my ears. these are all things i enjoy so often…i don’t need anything else! so how can i convince you to give to someone else besides me?

here’s what is on my wishlist this christmas:

  • another “penpal” (this is what we call our friend Ayeko from Uganda) from Food for the Hungry or Compassion International.
  • buy a family a flock of chickens, honeybees, ducks or goats so they can make a living, or eat homegrown food at Heifer International.
  • help me by finding a local retirement home and visit (with our family) once a month a lonely a resident with our family. let’s commit to visit a home and spend some time talking to the residents. i’ve wanted to do this with the boys for so long, and it’s time to actually DO IT.

so…who is with me to revolutionize christmas this year in baby steps?  we can do it bit by bit each year. and in a few years, after our slow, revolutionary changes that we’re making in our families, Christmas will once again be about the birth of a Savior, and not about black friday. perhaps we will truly know REAL JOY and completely elliminate the stress of the season.

please leave in the comments a near and dear to your heart ministry or organization that serves the meek, those who mourn, the merciful. i’d love to be able to get the word out of places that need our christmas money.

because i don’t need another article of clothing, or dish for my cupboard.


running update: second 5K

   Posted by: liz    in health, running

i had my third running race this weekend, my second 5K. (remember, the first race was a 4.1 mile obstacle course trail run that i ran with my friend courtney in 1.26 hours. that time doesn’t count!)

i wish i could say that i shaved even 30 seconds from my time. but i didn’t.
i wish i could say my inner voice that taunts me each time i start running was silenced. but she wasn’t.
i wish i could say that i embrace running up hills, but they’re still my worst running fear (well, that and falling down in front of everyone).

so two things i need to keep up with: running and squelching that inner voice. i’m so inspired by this blogger, who i really look up to in the running department, and who is running her first half marathon this weekend!  go kris!!

running notes: Butler YMCA Turkey Trot 5K: 34:43 (short, slight uphill at the start, then flat/downhill until 1.5 mile mark. uphill between 1.5 and 2 mile mark. flat on the return).

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

karen, and courtney (my trail run partner!) and me…2011 YMCA Turkey Trot