Pete’s newest word is “horsey.” He first used it two days ago to correctly identify a Fisher Price toy. Yesterday, he picked up a stuffed giraffe and said “Horsey!”

Jenny corrected him. “It’s not a horsey,” she said sweetly. “It’s a zebra.”

Later, I took the three little ones to the grocery store. Jenny brought a headband with reindeer antlers on top. She asked if she could bring the “binoculars” in the store.

Katie corrected her. “They’re not binoculars, Jenny. Binoculars are what you use when you go swimming.”

I sat there in silence pondering that one. After a minute, she said, “Oh, no. Those are goggles.” I’m really glad we cleared that one up.

Some days, I feel superfluous, much as Danielle Bean described earlier this month. Other days, well, zebras are spotted and deer are prized for their nice goggles, and I know I’ve got a long way to go with their education.

So, you’ll get a thousand words instead.

Bill keeps asking me when I’m going to post some photos. I’ve tried. Blogger is unable to complete my request. I see Blogger is able to do this for lots of other people, so I don’t know what gives. I DO know that Blogger couldn’t spell check my posts for about 2 weeks – a problem that went away as mysteriously as it came. Coincidentally, now that I can be assured that the most egregious of typos are spotted, I can’t share the blinding glare of over 2000 lights on a 7 foot tall tree.

Holy Innocents

Lully, Lullay, thou little tiny child.
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay thou little tiny child
Bye, bye, lully, lullay

O sisters, too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor Youngling for whom we sing
Bye, bye lully, lullay

Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

Then woe is me, poor child, for thee,
And ever mourn and say;
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye lully, lullay.

Since Blogger isn’t letting me upload photos.

This is what the LORD says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because her children are no more.”

Jeremiah 31:15

PT goals

Back in October, I wrote about two out of three PT goals for this year: one was to run the Army Ten Miler, the other was to run 250 miles in total. I never did write about the other one, and I really wasn’t sure I would actually accomplish it.

My third PT goal was to pass the Army PT test (also known as the APFT). There are three categories for the test: push-ups (for 2 minutes), sit-ups (for 2 minutes) and a two mile run. For each event you earn a score based on how many you do or how fast you are. You must get at least 60 points in each event for a minimum of 180 points to pass. Your gender and your age influence your score; I, a 35 year old female, am not expected to do as many push-ups as my husband, a 38 year old male, who is not expected to do as many push-ups as a 30 year old male.

I needed to do 15 push-ups and 42 sit-ups to pass. My run time had to be faster than 21 minutes and 42 seconds. Back in June was the first time I tested myself, and I had the run time down, no problem. But I could only do 2 (yes, TWO) push-ups and 18 sit-ups. By September, I was up to 8 push-ups and 31 sit-ups.

By the way, sit-ups are really hard, especially if you’ve had 5 babies. I’ve done crunches over the years, but hadn’t done full sit-ups since high school. When I first started working on this goal, I could not do a single one. Not a single one.

And push-ups? I have never been able to do those. My husband looks so beautiful doing them. Really. He can knock out the fifteen that I have to do without breaking a sweat. I think he does some ridiculous number like 60 when he takes the test. Sixty!

Sorry, I just got distracted there for a bit daydreaming about my husband’s rippling muscles.

Anyway…oh, yes, my push-ups are not nearly as pretty, and if my husband were counting them, I probably would only have earned 3 or 4 (there are strict rules about what actually counts as a push-up), but I did manage to wobble through 15 of them to get the minimum 60 points. I also did 42 sit-ups – disappointing since I’ve done more, but I’ll take the 60 points. And my run time was 18 minutes 48 seconds which earns the average score of 80 points for a grand total of 200. And so, I passed.

For this coming year, I think I’ll stick with the same goals: 250 total miles; some race, perhaps a 10k instead of 10 miles; and passing the APFT – maybe with 15 good push-ups. This seems like a downgrade – after all, shouldn’t I run more miles (currently, I’ve run 379 for the year), run a longer race, or improve my test score? I’m just being realistic. I’m not pregnant right now, but maybe soon, and if so, I don’t see me running a marathon.

The Carnival of Homeschooling – Anniversary Edition…

is looking for submissions.

Fortunately, they’ll take things that were written in the last few months. I had to go back a ways to the last time I blogged about homeschooling. We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. I recently read an article about unschooling. In this past month, I can say that perhaps unschooling would work for my daughter, Katie. Katie nags me to death to give her work to do, to teach her to read, to give her projects. She can barely be convinced to take the weekends off. Yet, still, I say only perhaps unschooling might work for her. I’m sure that her love of learning a particular subject might wane should the work prove to be a bit tedious. And math, though I do really love math, is tedious.

Unlike Katie, my boys would be quite happy to ride bikes or scooters or skateboards or roller blades all morning long. In the afternoon, for a change of pace, they’ll play football or baseball or basketball. If pressed to sit at the table, they may be inspired to draw pictures of Batman or pirates or the characters from Star Wars. It is possible that a die-hard unschooler may say that I need to encourage their creativity and point them to a career in comic-book illustration or animated movie production. Alas, the dialogue between characters would be unintelligible. I know. Bill and I have puzzled over some of the speech bubbles on their drawings. It’s a bit mysterious, and that may make it interesting…or it just may make it completely worthless for entertainment.

In their teenage years, said Grace Llewellyn, author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook, unschooling kids can study biology with a textbook, in a community college or with software. Or they can befriend a doctor and brainstorm on books to read or projects to do. Or they can volunteer to work in a veterinarian’s office.

Or they just may never learn biology at all. If they get to choose what to study, naturally, their interests may not direct them to certain subjects. And I don’t think that’s a good thing. I have a hard enough time trusting that the classical education approach is enough. I believe it in my heart, but honestly derive much comfort from checking the blocks of education, from the memorization of facts and data, from the passing of tests and the writing of dissertations. Unschooling is not for everybody. It’s definitely not for me, and I think it’s probably not right for most.

Eat, drink and be merry (part 2)

It’s that time of year when many people worry about those holiday pounds. Eggnog, fig pudding, sugar plums – all these indulgences threaten our waistlines and can make what should be a fun time of year rather torturous. It’s tough going to a Christmas party and seeing a table laden with a large selection of delectable goodies and feel that you must refrain from having one of everything. Or maybe two of everything.

One pound is 3600 calories. In order to lose one pound in one week, you would have to eliminate 600 calories every day (with Sundays off for good behavior). A 3 oz portion of roast chicken breast is only 140 calories. You would need to not eat nearly 13 oz (more than 3/4 of a pound) of chicken every day for one week to lose that one pound. That’s quite a bit.

Or perhaps you could exercise instead. A person who weighs 140 pounds burns 160 calories walking for 30 minutes. You would need to walk for nearly 2 hours every day for a week to lose one pound. Or you could run at a 6 mph pace and only have to exercise for 43 minutes every day to accomplish the same goal.

All the women’s magazines right now are full of advice about avoiding all these extra calories. Drink lots of water before meals or before going to a party. Fill up on the raw veggies before facing the dessert table. Honestly, if you feel you have to do these tricks, it would be better if you just stayed home and locked the doors. Pull a Healthy Choice frozen dinner out of the freezer and go to town.

My best advice for avoiding weight gain this time of year: forget about it. Eat your heart out. Don’t count any calories from December 24th through January 1st. You can go on a diet or start an exercise regime beginning January 2nd. For now hide the scale, wear clothes with some extra give in the waistband and enjoy yourself.

Not convinced? Still worried about how hard it is to lose a few pounds? Don’t think you can manage an extra 2 hours of walking every day? Let’s look at things the other way.

Suppose you are completely happy with your weight right now. Congratulations. You are in the minority! Let’s pretend you are happy with your weight. You would need to add 600 calories to your daily diet to gain a pound this week. Eggnog is 190 calories for 1/2 cup. You would have to drink 3 servings every day – every day – to gain one pound. It’d be worth it, I tell you! Suppose you love Hershey Kisses. It takes 24 of them every day for a week to gain that pound. You could do it, but it’s a lot of chocolate. Granted, it’s not too tough to have one serving of eggnog and a few Christmas cookies every day. Add to that one or two Hershey Kisses every time you pass by the candy dish and there you are a pound or two heavier. But in the end, isn’t that better than carrot sticks and water and trying to ignore those Russian tea cake cookies that are calling you by name?

Soon the cookies will be gone and the stores will even stop stocking eggnog. It wouldn’t be a new year without a resolution to lose weight. And failing that, Lent isn’t too far away.

On the second day of Christmas…

…we buried our noses in books.

Bill is reading two Christmas presents at once. He’s flipping randomly between Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans and The Devil’s Sandbox: With the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry at War in Iraq. Occasionally, he will read an excerpt to me or tell me about a section he just finished. It gets pretty confusing if I’m not paying attention, and I find that I have to stop and think, “What devil are we talking about?”

Pretty scary stuff – both of them. Must be good reads, though, since he keeps hiding in the bathroom.

I’m just happy he’s home. Today is his last day off, but it’s only a three day work week followed by a three day weekend. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!