On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.

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Another One of Those Back to School Posts

Today I might lose my mind.

It’s the first day of school for G, but we didn’t get any pictures. That’s because someone “forgot” to set her alarm and decided that applying makeup was more important than eating breakfast, getting dressed, or being nice to her parents. Today was also the first day of carpooling to a new campus. At least we were on time to meet our ride.

After dropping off G, I headed to the local YMCA. I have permission to start pool running again. Just three times a week for 30 minutes at a steady state. It’s been 5 weeks since I had surgery to remove my torn ACL, and I’m excited to move past the tedium of front leg lifts, side leg lifts, and back leg lifts. So of course the pool was closed for electrical problems today.

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It wasn’t a pretty ACL. And now it’s gone. ACL #3 should arrive in November.

Back at home, H accidentally spilled half a box of Rice Krispies. Right after I finished cleaning the floor. And our vacuum is out of service until a new shipment of bags arrives tomorrow.

So I started school with S and H. All was going fine until science. We have been using a fabulous, hands-on curriculum for the past two years. There’s an experiment for every single lesson, and we’ve been learning scientific principles according to their chronological context. The downside to all this great hands-on learning? It’s the perfect opportunity for H to start a fight with S. Today H decided that S was not holding two yardsticks at arms’ length properly; therefore, she wouldn’t participate and needed to storm out of the lesson.

Today the girls were supposed to continue learning about Copernicus and the scientific community’s shift to a heliocentric view of the universe. Instead I learned that an 11 year old can tick off her little sister by holding two yardsticks off to the right instead of holding them off to the left like the illustration in the book shows. Does any of this make sense to you either?!

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Ignore the missing punctuation. This is my back-to-school gift from my father-in-law.

It’s our lunch break now. S and H have mended hurt feelings and are fixing themselves of nutritious organic mac and cheese from a blue box. I’m going back to the Y. If I can’t pretend I’m running in the water, I’m going to sit on a bike and ride to nowhere for 30 minutes instead.

Maybe we’ll take back-to-school pictures this week. Or maybe we won’t. Maybe we’ll make it through a school day without tears or tantrums. And if comes down to a choice between pictures or good behavior, I’ll choose the latter every time.

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Turning a Corner

We’ve made it to Day 28 of this deployment, and as my title suggests, we’ve turned a corner. Life seems to have settled into a manageable routine for the girls and for me. Of course, I had a little lots of help last week. My dad spent nearly four days with us, and that seems to have made a huge difference in my outlook and the girls’ behavior.

Last Monday, I had my semi-annual homeschooling review. Our county schedules reviews at the local public libraries, and I usually bring the girls with me. Last school year, two of the girls decided to have their very first fistfight during my review. Can I just say that it was one of my most embarrassing moments as a mom? I had just finished explaining that G was singing in our church choir–because that fulfills a music requirement–when H rushed over to tell me that G punched S. Let’s just say that I needed a few minutes to find different time-out spots for the girls before I could continue the review. This week I went to my review solo, and it was so relaxing not to be interrupted by a child asking questions or contradicting one of my statements.

On Tuesday, we prepared for Round 2 of snow and sub-freezing temperatures. And Wednesday did not disappoint: four more inches of snow arrived! As has become our snow day routine, we complete math and language arts and then head outside for P.E. (i.e. sledding). My dad and I shoveled snow instead of sledding. While I managed to shovel out one neighbor’s driveway, he shoveled two driveways. He’s an overachiever.


Wednesday evening brought H’s biggest meltdown of the week. On the previous day, she had a long sob over the fact that both pairs of favorite leggings were in the washing machine at the same time, and then she remembered that her daddy was gone, and it took a long time to stop her tears. But on Wednesday, she discovered that her two big sisters had destroyed her only Barbie doll. By destroyed, I mean that S tattooed a skull and crossbones (in Sharpie) on Barbie’s thigh. G finished her off by removing every. last. piece. of. her. hair. No kidding. Somehow my dad and I managed not to laugh or crack a smile while G cleaned up the bathroom and I doled out the appropriate punishment.

G can also use her powers for good. Here she is demonstrating her snow tunnel!

G can also use her powers for good. Here she is demonstrating her snow tunnel!

By Friday, life seemed to be approaching normal. We worked through the morning without taking a break to play outside, and we ventured out for afternoon art lessons.

Today was not-so-exciting. Dragging three children along for an oil change is nobody’s idea of Saturday fun. Nor is grocery shopping. On the plus side, one of my neighbors kept an eye on the girls while I managed an 8-mile training run. I’ve decided to celebrate my next birthday–and new age group–by running the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Columbia, MD, so it’s time to hit the road again. And yes, we did visit our local Target so that H could pick out a replacement for the maimed Barbie. As she stood in the Barbie aisle pondering the many choices, G kept telling me that Barbies were ridiculously expensive and that she didn’t want to spend all of her money. As I calmly explained to her, I hope this is the first and last Barbie she ever buys for her sister.

And that brings us to 28 days. 4 weeks. A full lunar month. I think we’re going to survive.

[Note: I’m not being callous or self-centered when I omit my husband from our family’s activities. I can’t give details on his location, and I’ve learned not to ask how he spends his days. In good time, he’ll share what he can. For now, I simply pray that he does his job well and returns home healthy and whole.]