Slowing Down

As I mentioned in my last post, it was a huge disappointment to end up with a severe ankle sprain just a few days before what is one of the most important races of the year for me.

I spent the first week after my injury wallowing in my mire and eating lots of chocolate.  I tried to continue with my 10,000 steps a day, but it soon became obvious that this was more than my ankle could tolerate right now.  The doctor kept telling me, “You’re going to have to lay off.”

The first thing I did was to cut my daily step goal in half to 5,000 steps.  This is equal to a couple of walks around the block each day, which is enough to make my ankle feel better, but also enough to make it want to swell.  I’ve also been concentrating on my eating.  No more chocolate and back to Bright Line Eating.

This time of year is always a big switch in schedules for me.  Our running group has quit meeting three days a week and it’s now back to school time, so there’s a big switch up in our daily activities anyway.  This year’s switch up has been bigger than expected.

I started a project last summer of going room by room, closet by closet, and drawer by drawer getting rid of things we no longer need or use.  We have gotten rid of so much “stuff” and have so  much more that needs to go.  I’m continuing that project as I can.

The time that I spent running in the past is now spent doing strengthening exercises for my ankle every day.  I’ve discovered that they can easily be done while sitting in the recliner with the footrest up, so that makes them more comfortable and enjoyable.  After those are done in the morning, I then spend time getting my electrodes placed and then wrapping my foot in some way to help keep them in place.  I use a TENS unit all day every day, 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off.  Yes, these are my electronic shock treatments.  At night I’m sleeping with a compression sock to help with the swelling and a brace which immobilizes my ankle and helps with the pain.

I’ve had to face one of my biggest fears:  If I stop running or exercising, I’ll never start again and go back to being a couch potato.  I’ve finally decided that this is not true.  Where I am now is temporary.  I’ll do what I can, slowly increasing my activity, until I’m back to where I was.  It will probably take months, but that’s ok.  There’s nothing like having goals to work towards!

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever
circumstances I am.  Philippians 4:11

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Totality Awesome!

This past Monday was a once in a lifetime total eclipse.  We were fortunate enough to live right in the path of totality!  We’ve been preparing for this day (August 21, 2017) for a few months now.

We were told that the protective glasses would sell out so to order early.  I ordered my glasses in early July.  I made sure we had enough for the extended family and was glad that we were all prepared.  Then, about eight days before the eclipse, I got an email from Amazon.com saying that our glasses could be fake and not to use them!  So, we went into search and find mode at that point.  Everyone in town was sold out, but someone told my husband that Menards might have some.  He gave Menards a call, and he was told that they had 500 glasses in stock.  I couldn’t help but think that something wasn’t right if everyone else was sold out, but Menards had plenty.

My husband went to Menards, located the glasses, but could not find a manufacturer on the glasses.  He gave me a call and we were talking about it on the phone.  He even sent me a picture of the glasses, but all he could find on them was “Made in China.”  A passerby heard my husband talking to me on the phone.  He was a science geek and understood our concern.  He told my husband that he lived close by and had bought a package of 50, so he would be glad to let us buy some from him at $2.50 a pair.  They were made by one of the companies listed as safe by AAS, so we thought he should snatch them up.  So, yes, my husband entered the home of a total stranger to buy our solar eclipse glasses!

We did some research to find out just when the eclipse would fall in our area.  We poked around NASA’s website which was full of information.  We did some reading.

IMG_20170821_114632861.jpg
Sporting our one-of-a-kind, designer t-shirts.

Cinderella made multiple trips to Grandma’s to make several solar eclipse t-shirts for extended family members.  They came out really nice.

My mother and I reminisced about the 1979 total eclipse.  I was in school that day, and it was only a partial eclipse for our area.  If there were viewing glasses at that time, we didn’t know about it.  We made the cardboard shadow boxes and went outside during the eclipse to view it in our shoeboxes.  I’m not sure what was more exciting, actually seeing the eclipse or the fact that my shoebox really did what it was supposed to.

We watched a couple of videos.  We thought this one did a great job of explaining the various stages of the eclipse.  I also downloaded the Solar Eclipse Timer app.  It was totally worth the $1.98 that I paid for it.  It gave you an audio warning of the various stages of the eclipse and told you what to look for.  The developer did a great job making this app.

We were fortunate that we could watch the whole thing right from our front yard.  It rained and rained all morning, but it stopped raining and cleared off ten minutes before the eclipse started.  We dawned our eclipse t-shirts and glasses and went outside right before C1.  The app counted down to contact time, we looked at the sun with our glasses, and really didn’t see anything.  We noticed what we thought might be a little indentation in the upper right hand corner of the sun and thought that might be it.  As we waited and watched, the indentation became bigger and bigger.  The big moment was finally here!

It would be nearly an hour and a half before totality, but we were able to occupy our time with occasional looks at the sun and observing our surroundings.  The lighting became dimmer and dimmer, but it was different than how the light gets dimmer at dusk.  It was almost like the bad lighting of a soap opera.

At about fifteen minutes before totality, we walked around the corner and up to the top of a hill.  There is a vacant field there and we wanted to have a good view of the 360 degree sunset.

It got quieter and quieter.  By the time totality arrived the temperature had dropped several degrees, the birds had stopped chirping, the squirrels were quiet, the crickets started chirping, and small children had put themselves to bed.  (It was wishful thinking, anyway).

Once totality was here, we were able to take our glasses off and look directly at the sun.  The view of the sun’s corona was amazing, and something no camera could ever truly capture.  It was very, very dark as if it were early nightfall.  The street lights came on.  It was truly an incredible event.

We had totality for two minutes.  Once C3 started, we had to put our glasses back on to look at the sun again.  The sun was a sliver once again, our surroundings slowly became lighter and brighter.  And within a few minutes, the sky became completely overcast and we were no longer able to view the eclipse.  We felt so grateful to not only be in the path of totality, but to also view as much as we did considering the weather.  It rained for the rest of the day and throughout the night. There was record flooding all across town.  We received a total of eleven inches of rain that day!

Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40:26

305 lbs. Making Progress

The summer went by very, very quickly.  I did the Couch to 5K program again in hopes of improving my running abilities.  Running was still hard.  There were days that I struggled.  I was still towards the back of the pack, but I was no longer the very last person.  Doing it with a group of friends was what made it fun, and I was determined to run every step we were to run.

I liked running very much, but I wasn’t in love with it yet.  It was still difficult at times.  There were times when our group met or when we had a race, that I dreaded it and didn’t want to do it.  I always made myself do it because I always felt so much better afterwards.  But, before we started, there were often thoughts of dread going through my mind.

I was relieved when August and my birthday rolled around.  Knowing that the eights stink, I was very glad to no longer be 48.  I was determined that life was going to be better.

August also meant that it was time to start getting serious about school again.  God led me to an organizing system for homeschoolers that I was sure was going to be the answer I was looking for.  It was a compact, easy way to organize our school and also encouraged Cinderella to do what she could on her own.  I was really expecting this system to be a miracle worker for us.

August was also an eventful month in that my oldest daughter and her husband bought a house just down the street from us.  Hopefully, this would mean more time with them and our granddaughter.  Is there ever enough?

Now that school was in session, my schedule was even tighter.  All the errands and chores that I used to do during the day now had to be done in the evening.  Our Couch to 5K group was still meeting three nights a week, so most of my grocery shopping and errands were done on my way home from running.  There was no such thing as spare time.

When September rolled around, the Couch to 5K program came to an end.  The big finale this year was a different race in a nearby city, hence a different route.  We made the mistake of not previewing the route before the race, so we did not know what to expect.  It was an out and back, so at least we knew what to expect on the way back!

This race was on a Saturday, so I had to get the day off.  Cinderella wanted to run in the race so I signed her up for the one mile fun run.  This race included a one mile fun run, a 5K, and a 10K.  All the races started at the same time, they just had a different turn around point.  The only problem with this is that Cinderella didn’t turn around at the one-mile mark.  She kept running, and I was afraid she would end up in the next county or something.  Thankfully, she stayed with people she knew, and ended up running the 5K.  Unfortunately, the one mile fun run was not timed, so she did not have a bib and there was no record of her time.  Otherwise, she would’ve gotten a medal simply because she was the only one in her age group.

This was a small race with few people in each age group, so many in our group received medals.  After watching my teammates work so hard all summer, it was great to see them receive medals at their very first race.  Cinderella was very disappointed that she didn’t get a medal, so my son-in-law gave her his–which she still has to this day.

In the end, I was glad that I did the program again.  I tried to be an encouragement to my friends that were new to the program, but they ended up being a great encouragement to me.  I always hoped that some lightbulb would come on and I would suddenly realize what I needed to change to become a much faster runner.  That never happened and still hasn’t happened.  Still, my endurance was way up, and my speed was increasing with each race I ran.  I was making progress, and I was content with that.

First Place Runner!

One evening during a meeting, I received a phone call.  I recognized the number as coming from the family that I grew up next door to.  My first thought was that something horrible had happened.  Instead, I was asked if I wanted to run a 5K–in two weeks.  A business had purchased bibs and had two that were unclaimed.  My daughter and I could have them for free if we wanted.  No runner is going to turn that offer down!

April 22 was my second 5K for April, and one that was not planned.  The money for this 5K went to support a local Christian school.  This school is attached to a church that many, many years ago my two older kids took co op classes at.  So, I was familiar with the church and school and felt like it was a worthwhile cause.

At packet pick up we got some cool swag.  Lots of local coupons including $5 off at a local grocery store.  We also got red t-shirts and glittery headbands that aren’t supposed to slide on your head.

The race itself was at a local park with a trail.  We were somewhat familiar with the park but not the trail in particular.  We had to drive by it to get to packet pick up, so we took a drive through the park and looked over the trail the best we could.  Upon leaving we noticed a big hill with a monstrous grade.  The only question was, were we going to be running up it or down it tomorrow?

The forecast for the race was 45 degrees and a light rain.  The only race I’ve had to run in the rain was warm enough that it wasn’t cold.  I didn’t know how I would handle this one.  I’ve been told by veteran runners that the secret is to stay dry.  How to do that, I wasn’t sure.

As Friday progressed, I kept checking the weather forecast for Saturday morning at race time.  The temperature kept going up and the chance of rain kept going down.  By the time I went to bed, the forecast was 53 degrees, windy and cloudy, but no rain.  I was thankful and dressed for the forecasted weather.

Saturday morning arrived and it was 53 degrees, very windy, and the sun was shining.  I was thankful not to be running in the rain, but I was also a bit overdressed since I was expecting it to be cloudy.

The race course was interesting.  We were told that last year the course was a bit short, so we had a little out and back we had to do before running on the paved trail.  We had to do two laps around the trail.  It didn’t take long to realize that we had to go up that gnarly hill twice!

Other than the hill, it was a nice course.  I mostly ran up the hill the first time around and did more walking up the hill the second time around.  I knew it wasn’t worth it to wear myself out running up this hill.

I crossed the finish line huffing and puffing.  Then, when I saw my time I was very disappointed.  It was the worst I had done in a very long time.  Once I caught up with my daughter (literally), she told me that she was also disappointed with her time.  We blamed the wind, we blamed the hill, we blamed everything except ourselves!  Then, I looked at the stats on my Fitbit.  We had actually run 3.3 miles–nearly a quarter of a mile further.

I’ve been telling people that I’d get first place as soon as I found a race small enough.  As far as participants go, this was probably the smallest race I’ve ever run.  In fact, it was small enough that I was probably the only runner in my age group.  Which, of course, put me in first place!  Yah, check out that white ribbon around my neck that says “1st Place.”

305 lbs. The Phone Call That was Never Made

I went into my second day of work with one hour of sleep under my belt.  Shortly after my phone call with Mr. G., he sent me a text reiterating everything he had said to me on the phone.  I kept reminding myself that hurting people hurt people.  I could not imagine how this whole experience of the past several months must’ve been for Mr. G.  Three hours later I got another text taking back some of what he had said–mostly anything that could be considered slander against his former employer.  He did not take back anything hateful he said about me personally.

I was devastated and had no idea how I was going to make it through the day.  Unfortunately, I had about a 20 minute drive to work, which was just enough time to think about the events of the night before.  I walked in the door sniffling, and my boss, Mr K., asked me if I had a cold coming on.

Once I got situated, I went into Mr. K.’s office and gave him a Reader’s Digest version of what had happened the night before.  I told him that I thought it would be a good idea if the number on the phone was changed since a lot of the drivers and probably Mr. G.’s friends already had it pre-programmed into their phones.  Mr. K. called Charles about the matter and I heard, “. . . she’s very upset about the way Mr. G. treated her.”

Before the day was even over, I got a text from one of Mr. G’s friends.  I ignored it.  Mr. K. and I went online and tried to change the number, but we were not allowed access.  I stopped by the cell phone store on the way home and tried to get the number changed.  I personally was not listed on the account, so I was not able to do so.

I went home that evening physically and emotionally exhausted.  I had huge doubts about accepting this job, and a very bad feeling about it once I did accept it.  Was this what the bad feelings were all about?

I was concerned about it being a strain on the family.  I knew we could make it through the summer, but my main concern was the fall once school started.  We would have to make some huge changes to our homeschool.  Every negative concern that I had about taking the position, my husband had a solution for.  I reluctantly accepted the job after he convinced me that we could “make it work.”  Moments after I called Charles and accepted the job, my husband walked in the front door and said, “I think maybe it would be better if you just stayed home.”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  I told him if I wasn’t going to take the job that I needed to call Charles back right that moment and tell him.  That phone call was never made, and at this moment I was truly regretting it.

A friend loves at all times . . .  Proverbs 17:17a

305 lbs. The Eights Stink

I was totally unaware that the last time I would work was that meeting in January to introduce us to our potential new employer.  I was never given a termination date.  After the third consecutive week of being told that Mr. G. was going to cover my shift because of changes coming, I told him that I was going to assume that I was out of a job unless told otherwise.

My communications with Mr. G. became fewer and further between.  I told him that I knew that would happen and that eventually they would come to an end.  However, he promised me that we were friends for life.  I so wanted to believe that.  He also promised me a job as soon as he was given the reigns, so to speak.    I wanted to believe that too.

Even though I rarely actually saw the people I worked with because I worked from home, I missed them terribly.  All of our communications was through text or telephone, so I would spend time talking to each one of them while we were working.  It was my connection with the outside world.  After spending Monday-Friday homeschooling a seven year old, I was ready for some adult conversation.  Since my employment came to a blunt, unexpected end, there were no goodbyes.

I knew the drivers were not allowed to use their phones while driving and I certainly didn’t want to cause any problems, so I did not try to contact any of them.  These were men with families that needed their jobs.  I could pray for them and hope they were doing well, but I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize their income.

The Commit to Get Fit program had just started, so I continued with it.  My daughter had talked me into trying some boot-camp type classes.  Burn, Build, and Tone was on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and it was as tough as it sounded.  Then, she talked me into trying Metcon on Saturday mornings.  It was equally as tough, but I enjoyed it.

We had to weigh in and do our BMI each week with our trainer.  Our age was required for the BMI machine, and I had to tell Cole every week my age.  I would tell Cole, “Forty-eight.  Don’t you remember?  The eights stink.”  And that’s how it had been for me.  Every age ending in eight really did stink.

The Commit to Get Fit program was over in mid-March.  This year, there was a closing ceremony that was very nice.  We all met one evening in a room with tables and chairs at the community center.  There were healthy snacks and drinks available.  Everyone in our group sat at a table with our trainer, Cole.  Each trainer had an opportunity to say something about their group and to hand out awards if desired.  Some did more than others, but Cole definitely stood out.

Cole spoke about our group in general, and then had an award for each one of us.    Cole had very kind, yet humorous words to say about each of us as well.  We were all laughing and crying at the same time.  When Cole got to me, he mentioned that I had been with him for two years in a row, and that both times had been around very stressful events.  Until then, I had completely forgotten about the year before, but my mind immediately flashed back to Bob and his illness.  And, with that, Cole presented me with the “Veteran Award.”  We hugged, and I cried.  It’s a simple-looking award printed on white card stock, but it means the world to me because of what it represents–a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (literally) with a true friend.

Feeling Fabulous

I wrote in a previous post how this past summer had been a stressful one.  I think most of the time we don’t realize how detrimental stress is to our health.

I spent the summer (starting in May, actually) working a part-time job away from home.  I had worked this same job from home for three years.  The company I worked for was sold, and the new owners would not allow me to work from home.  This meant a lot of changes for our household.

Just being absent from home two days out of the week meant that I had seven days of home management to cram into five.  I came up with a schedule of how to get everything done.  It was tough and often meant running late at night.

Still, there were some things that were unavoidable with my absence.  The biggest of these was missing family time with my children and grandchildren.

And then, there was my health.  I spent the summer losing two pounds, gaining two pounds, losing two pounds, and gaining two pounds.  I was not able to exercise as often or at optimal times.  Often, I was running later at night which meant trouble sleeping that night.  There were times that I just didn’t feel up to par or felt that I was not getting the nutrients my body needed.  My last visit to the dentist started out with, “Have you been clenching your teeth again?”

However, it was not a total loss.  I was forced to find more efficient ways to do things around the house.  I found an awesome system for our homeschool that is working fabulously for us.  I also had to figure out how to prepare salads in a jar and other snacks that I could take on the run.

I had absolutely no complaints about my job or the people I worked with.  In fact, it was easy money.  Still, I had to let it go.  It was not something I wanted to do.  The extra income was nice.  I loved the people and the industry I worked in.  However, it was not worth the stress it was causing at home and the time I was missing with my family.

My last day of work was November 26, and I’m already enjoying the benefits.  My home is more relaxed and less stressful, I’m spending more time with my children and grandchildren, I’m running or going to the gym six days a week, I’m drinking lots of juice, the needle on the scale is steadily going down, and I feel fabulous!

Back to Homeschool

All across America, whether you have school age children or not, this time of year is often thought of as “back to school.” We had the recent sales tax holiday where many school supplies were tax free for a weekend. We’ve all been inundated with “back to school” ads from various retailers, and most of us are once again seeing the yellow school buses in and around our neighborhoods.

Most homeschools also experience a “back to school” transition this time of year. Even those that homeschool year round often take a shortened summer break or go with a lighter schedule during the summer. Sometimes the transition back to spending more time every day doing school work can be difficult for the whole family. Here are some things you can do to help make that transition smooth and peaceful.

Start your school year in the middle of the week. By starting your school year off later in the week (let’s say Wednesday), you will only have three days of school before the weekend is here and you have a break again. You can make it an even lighter transition, by starting your school year the Wednesday before Labor Day, taking the weekend and Labor Day off, and then you will only have four days of school your second week of school. Even if you don’t start the week before Labor Day, you can still take the next Monday off.

Regardless of when you start cracking the books open again, you most likely will find that there are some supplies that you forgot to purchase. The fast approaching three-day weekend will give you a chance to go out and purchase those supplies that you find you need.

Make your first day of school a day of fun. Instead of cracking the books open right away, take some time to play some educational games. If you use binders or notebooks, let your children make covers for them. Take pictures and record some vital statistics such as your children’s height and weight. Have your children fill out an annual survey asking about all their favorite things. Do very little bookwork on this day. Let your children review and get excited about the materials you plan to use this coming year.

Also remember that you do not have to start all subjects on day one. Another way to transition into the school year is to start with a few subjects and then add a subject or two each week. This method can help the whole family transition back into a regular routine.

Regardless of how your school operates, remember that it’s your school and it is up to you to customize it to fit your family. If something isn’t working (and you will have something that doesn’t), change it or get rid of it. There is nothing that says that you must educate your children Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Education can happen any time of the day and any day of the week, so take advantage of it and do what best fits your children and your family.

AP makes one million minutes of historical footage available on YouTube

An incredible, FREE resource for homeschoolers!

LONDON — The Associated Press and British Movietone, one of the world’s most comprehensive newsreel archives, are together bringing more than 1 million minutes of digitized film footage to YouTube. Showcasing the moments, people and events that shape the world, it will be the largest upload of historical news content on the video-sharing platform to date.

The two channels will act as a view-on-demand visual encyclopedia, offering a unique perspective on the most significant moments of modern history. Available for all to explore, the channels will also be powerful educational tools and a source of inspiration for history enthusiasts and documentary filmmakers.

The YouTube channels will include more than 550,000 video stories dating from 1895 to the present day. For example, viewers can see video from the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, exclusive footage of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Marilyn Monroe captured on film in London in the 1950s and Twiggy modeling the fashions of the 1960s.

via AP makes one million minutes of historical footage available on YouTube.

Why Does Common Core Require Teaching Islam? ⋆ The Constitution

If this won’t convince you to homeschool, I don’t know what will.

However, Common Core really originated from the Connect All Schools program, which is part of the “One World Education” initiative orchestrated by Qatar Foundation International (QFI). The director of QFI’s Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics is Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Hassan al-Banna who was the founder of The Muslim Brotherhood.

via Why Does Common Core Require Teaching Islam? ⋆ The Constitution.