school days

L’s been back at school now for about a month.  Homework started in week 2, and it’s more or less ramped up since then.  Occasionally she has a worksheet to do, and those are no big deal.  What’s much, much harder are things that require studying.  First of all, she has two spelling tests each week, one in French and one in English.  Trying to get her to study has been like pulling teeth.

Then, she had to memorize a French poem that was about 16 lines long.  Now, Jonathan and I both studied French in school, but that was a long time ago, and many parents are in the same boat, so the teacher sent home a recording of the poem being read.  But that just makes it that much harder to learn, as we have to try and play the recording over and over again, at least until we can pronounce it properly.  (To our ears anyway – L is not impressed by our French.)  Learning a 16 line poem or song in English wouldn’t necessarily be a walk in the park, even.  So that was a challenge and nearly brought us to blows.  After a couple weeks to learn the first poem, we all heaved a sign of relief . . . and then L brought home another French poem to learn today.

We’re also struggling to figure out what she’s supposed to have done when.  I expected she’d just bring home a worksheet or something due the next day, but we’re getting a bunch of these studying tasks with a few days lead time that require our participation.

Friends with kids . . . is this similar to your experience?  I don’t see why homework is necessary in first grade anyway.

On the plus side, L told me she made a new friend today, with a new girl who only speaks French.  (It’s funny how L classifies kids in her class.  Last year she insisted – accurately no doubt – that she didn’t speak French.  All the other kids in her class were classified as English speakers, French speakers or both – no wiggle room.  You either speak a language or you don’t.)  Anyway, even after a year, L hadn’t owned up to actually speaking any French except on rare occasion.  But now’s she’s starting to admit she does speak a bit, and she apparently had a conversation with her new friend in French, which is kind of cool.

 

in my mind, in my head

Loving the Gigi d’Agostino mix of In My Mind.

I’ve been reading to Isla for about four years now.  Every night.  It’s one of the most effortless parts of parenting for me.  The kids are happy, and I’m happy.  Reading kids books, the picture books, can make me a little crazy.  I don’t mind the good ones (Ox Cart Man, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, Make Way for Ducklings, etc.) but the lame ones are just horrid.  Chapter books, though.  I love them.  The kids are still letting me pick, and I’ve been picking ALL my childhood favorites.  I wanted to make a list, so here goes.

Surprise Island (Boxcare Children #2), The BFG, Stuart Little, Where The Mountain Meets the Moon, Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories (I can’t recommend this one), The Moffats, Abel’s Island, Strawberry Girl, Island of Blue Dolphins, Caddie Woodlawn (twice), The Secret Garden*, Over Sea Under Stone, Heidi*, The Trumpet of the Swan, The Family Under the Bridge, Betsy-Tacy, Little House on the Prairie* (thrice), Pippi Longstocking, Little House in the Big Woods* (twice), Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Winnie-the-Pooh, Danger in Ancient Rome, Rescue on the Oregon Trail, Charlotte’s Web (twice), James and the Giant Peach, The Tale of Despereaux, The First Four Years, Those Happy Golden Years, Little Town on the Prairie* (twice), The Long Winter (twice), By The Shores of Silver Lake (twice), On The Banks of Plum Creek* (twice), Matilda*, Anne of Green Gables*, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I may have missed one or two, but that’s the bulk of them. 45 readings of 36 books.  There are still a good few I want to read.  A Little Princess.  Joan Aiken’s series, including my favorite, The Stolen Lake.  Maybe James Herriot.  Little Women.  What am I forgetting?  I finally bought the first four of The Magic Treehouse, mainly to appeal to Briony.  I’ve actually read her a few Amelia Bedelia.  She’s been slower than Isla to take to the chapter books.  Isla loved LHOTP at age 2, whereas Bri is only really now having the patience and vocabulary to appreciate them at age 4.  Anyway, I thought the treehouse books might appeal to her.

I can see Isla’s reading comprehension growing by leaps and bounds these days.  Whereas before she definitely missed a lot of subtleties (in the early days, she missed a lot of important story points, never mind the subtleties), she follows the story much more closely these days.  Bri still misses a lot, but she seems to enjoy listening anyway.

Kipchoge

Great article about Eliud Kipchoge. It’s well worth reading.  Kipchoge is one of the true greats of sport, up there with Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and Serena Williams.  he just broke the marathon world record by a greater margin than it had fallen in fifty years.  I also love that he is so well-spoken and such a philosopher.  He looks so tall and skinny, but he’s apparently an inch shorter than I am.  Anyway, I wish I could have witnessed history, but reading about it is nice as well.

Personally, I am still struggling with my leg.  I couldn’t resist running the company 5K last week, and then I couldn’t resist going for a short “hike” with a friend from out of town yesterday, and my leg was hurting as a result.  I went running today and stopped after two miles.  I am very frustrated, and I guess the only way is to cut back and rest more, again.  I think the hiking I’ve done both yesterday and on previous occasions is as detrimental as the running.  My leg really does not like walking downhill on uneven ground right now.  It’s very frustrating because in order to run on flats I have to drive a good ten minutes from my house, and I just do not have time for that right now.  It’s already mid-September so that fall running season is pretty much shot at this point.  Argh!

serena

I am a big fan of Serena.  However, when I was reading an article about what went down at her match yesterday, I literally had to stop reading.  I was cringing too badly, and I don’t like reading about people I like doing stupid things.

I think I stopped when I read that her coach had acknowledged coaching Serena but excused it by saying “everyone does it.”  (I’m inclined to believe him.)  The problem is that Serena swore up and down that he wasn’t coaching her, going so far as to invoke her daughter.  So there are only two scenarios in which Serena wasn’t lying.  (a) Her coach lied when he admitted coaching her.  This seems extraordinarily unlikely.  (b) He was coaching her, but she didn’t realize it.  It seems unlikely this is the only time he’s done this, so we’d have to believe that he’d been up there waving his hands around and she’s just been completely oblivious.  Possible.  But unlikely.

Was the umpire’s handling of the coaching unfair?  Given that Serena’s coach was in fact apparently was coaching, it doesn’t seem like it, though if it is extremely common for coaches to do this, then perhaps it was.  This is a really important point because this is what kicked off the whole thing and set the tone for the match.

The racket penalty was caused by the coaching thing; because there’d already been a warning, that turned into a penalty.  In and of itself, it wasn’t unfair.  The controversy arises from Serena calling the umpire a “thief” and he giving a penalty as a result.  I’d love to see some data on whether this is in fact irregular or not.  From what I’ve read, it seems that it may in fact have been, but I haven’t seen anyone actually compile data.  Even if it was irregular, it seems a little over-the-top to attribute it to sexism.  Maybe it was racism.  Or maybe he was just mad because she was so aggressive.  It would be really useful to see data on this particular umpire.  Honestly, if I were an umpire, I’d be very disinclined to take that kind of hostility.  But I don’t follow tennis, so I don’t know what’s normal and acceptable.

Maybe Serena was so angry because she’s witnessed this ump behave in a sexist manner before, or something he’d done led her to believe that he was in fact sexist.  Sometimes you just get that sense from people.

Honestly, though, I found the French Open’s comments and policy change based on Serena’s attire far more sexist.  I thought that was egregious.  In that instance, Serena responded very politely; to me, that was blatant sexism and I wish she’d called them out on it and not been so polite.

There is a great deal of sexism in the world, but I think it’s important to be careful about calling out people for sexism when it’s not clear that it actually exists.

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Update – Doesn’t sound to me like the umpire is sexist.  Possibly an overly strict (bad?) umpire, but not sexist.  “No sexist issue there,” said Chris Evert, the former world No. 1, on Sunday. “His history with men players shows that.”  Interestingly, the umpire also gave Venus a coaching penalty.  She stated at the time, that at age 36 it was the first and only penalty of that nature that she’d received (and disputed it).  Same coach?  Legit?

back to running

I’m slowly getting my running back on track.  I ran 9.2 flat miles last week over four runs.  This week, I’ve run 9 miles so far over three runs.  Two of the runs were around my very hilly neighborhood.  I’ve been avoiding hills because my specific injury is exacerbated by running downhill.  I felt fine, though, maybe a little tight, but definitely no pain.  I’m hoping to run at least four miles this weekend, maybe five, in my “long” run.  I’ll drive to the flats again, though, to lessen the impact on my leg.  I think from the perspective of stress on my leg, three very hilly miles is at least equivalent to four, maybe five, flat miles.

I’m excited about getting into shape again, but getting up in the morning is BRUTAL.  It’s so easy to make excuses.  The important thing is form a habit.  Once the habit is formed, it’ll get easier, right?  But right now, temperatures are ideal, it’s not raining, and it’s light.  In four to six weeks, it’s going to be cold, rainy and dark.  Eek.  Better not to think about it.

Goal-wise, I’m contemplating the Seattle half marathon. For obvious reasons – weather – there aren’t a lot of races in midwinter Seattle.  The Seattle half is the only major race, and it is extremely hilly with over 1000 feet of elevation gain.  Unfortunately, though, there aren’t any flat options with more than a hundred or so runners, and I like having company.  I could give the long races a break and train for a 5K or a 10K, but I find the long distance motivating.

Having taken a few months off running, I’m seeing all the down-sides of starting again: less time, not just due to the time of running, but also because I’m more tired and need more sleep, even with a 3 mile run.  The tiredness is really a big deal – I just want to relax and watch TV in the evening rather than knit or do other productive things, and I definitely need to go to bed earlier.  They say running makes you energetic, but I have not seen any evidence of this.

the first of september

It’s the first of September today.  Good riddance to bad rubbish as far as August goes.  And July.  Will September be better?  Who knows.  I’d never have guessed what this summer would hold, and now fall is approaching, and I hope it’ll be better.  The general philosophy of just putting one foot in front of the other is encouraging to me.  It’s just about getting through the day, whether it’s good, bad or horrible, and then the next one.  I know my mere presence is huge for my kids, if not for anyone else.  Life is a lot better now than it was even a couple weeks ago, though I still feel this need to replace what I lost, and I just don’t know if that’ll happen, and I fear going through morning sickness again.

QOTD – Lay down.  Bleed awhile.  Get back up, and fight again.

I’m not really feeling it though.  Only some things are worth fighting for.

I ran 3 miles today, longest run in a while.  The short-term history is that after missing five weeks due to my “illness,” I went out, angry and upset, and ran 7 hilly miles and injured myself.  Pretty sure it was my IT Band.  Taking two weeks off didn’t fix it, so I started more stretching, foam rolling (aka self-massage), and strengthening.  A week after that, and I was able to run 2 miles pain free.  Today I ran 3 flat miles and felt good.  9:30 pace, 150 HR.  Tired, hot and very out of shape, but still good.  The nice thing about starting from zero is that the fitness gains are very obvious with (relatively) little effort.