Torn ACL Leads to Uncute Fashion Choices, Public School

September 11, 2012

As you know, I hurt my knee a few weeks ago.  It turns out I tore my ACL, which is a common injury among athletes, apparently. Also a common injury among dogs, according to Brook Gideon. I am neither a dog nor what one might call an athlete (although I’m super athletic in my head). Just unlucky, I suppose.

The nice thing is, I guess, that it’s such a common injury that the medical establishment knows what to do. Some people don’t do anything about it, and just work on getting stronger. I can’t really walk, so I’m opting for surgery. On October 1 I’ll have allograft surgery (allograft is a euphemistic medical term for “putting a dead person’s ligament in where yours used to be”).

Being on crutches is a pain. You can’t really carry anything. I’m kind of crutch-walking now, so I can maybe carry something, very slowly, if I shove one of the crutches into my armpit and hold it there. For the next three weeks I am working on regaining my full range of motion (I can’t straighten my leg, and can barely bend it) and putting weight on my leg.

It also turns out that my wardrobe is not at all suited for a knee injury. I mostly wear skirts. You can’t wear a skirt if you’re lying on a table with your knee bent, having a medical professional mostly looking underwearward. I have one pair of decent shorts, and I mostly only wear them for hiking or biking or house renovating. I do not look cute in hiking shorts. Not awful, mind you, but not really like I’m paying attention. Not that it’s about that. At all. It’s just: isn’t September all about dusting off tights and scarves? Not about hiking shorts. June is about hiking shorts.

Goodbye, cute skirts, I'll see you when my knee heals | World of Julie

Oh skirts and dresses, I miss you.

The worst part is truly that our bedroom is in the attic, and, because we’re renovating our second-floor bathroom, the only bathroom is on the first floor. So I now cut off liquids (for me) after 6 pm, like I’m a 4-year-old giving up nighttime diapers or something.

So many stairs. Crutches are hard. | World of Julie

This is the SECOND set of stairs I have to ascend to get to my bed. It takes me a good five minutes to get all the way up there.

The other thing that has been happening, for a few months now, is that we’ve been going back and forth about whether to keep homeschooling. I love it, and we all love it, but it was also causing a LOT of stress. A few days before I hurt my knee, we found out that we could maybe send the boys to one of the “better” schools in our town. We were still debating, and then I tore my ACL, and we figured we might as well apply. Our feeling was that, if they got in, that’d be good, but if they didn’t, that’d be ok too. And they got in.

So today marks one week of school. So far it has been really, really good. Both boys are making friends and love their teachers. Henry’s teacher seems to be book-obsessed (though are there 4th grade teachers who aren’t?) (not that they’re all Colby Sharp or anything, but I would imagine every 4th grade teacher loves books), so that suits book-obsessed Henry. Eli’s teacher is sweet and kind, and about two inches taller than he is.

We didn’t really tell them that we were viewing this completely as a trial, and if they hated it, we’d pull them out. I mean, they knew, I think, but I didn’t want them to go in wanting to hate it. But they don’t hate it, at all. Eli is still not completely sure (“She made us do the hokey pokey. Do you have any idea how embarrassing that is?”), but Henry is clearly loving it, all of it, from kickball to multiplication worksheets.

Eli’s mood about school increased 1000-fold on day 3, when he got a love note:

My first grader Eli's love note | World of Julie

So, to sum up: I’m ok. Tore my ACL. Can’t quite walk, but I’m working on that, and I’m hoping to be walking and driving by…what? November? I’m feeling surprisingly vain about my inability to wear skirts and cute shoes. And the boys are in school, and that’s ok.

yellow Camper platforms, red Miz Mooz heels | World of Julie

Goodbye for now, cute shoes. I'll see you in the spring.

CATEGORIES: homeschool, Julie

Latest Innovations in our Household

June 25, 2012

Remember how I started drinking coffee? And how suddenly I became productive? I know you want to see what exactly all that coffee has led to. Here are three things, in order of how much coffee it took to complete them.

Provide Cheerios for your boys to throw into the toilet, and they won't pee all over the bathroom. From World of Julie

1. (1 cup of coffee) Who knew it was this simple? For years I’ve been enduring puddles on the floor and gross…well, just grossness on the back of the toilet. But you know, I don’t really understand fully how all the boy equipment works. I thought maybe it was an uncontrollable thing? The all-over spraying? I tried to teach them to clean up after themselves, but that wasn’t really working. Turns out all it takes is a sign and a bowl of Cheerios. Done! (And I’m totally kicking myself for not seeing the possibility of “Peerios” until two days after making the sign.)

A sign on the door tells the neighbor kids when you are homeschooling. From World of Julie

2. (1.5 cups of coffee) We are homeschooling over the summer. Mostly because, this being our first year homeschooling, I kind of did it wrong for the first 11 months, and if we stopped now, we’d all forget any of the things we happened to do right. I didn’t realize, though, that the neighborhood kids would have trouble grasping this concept. Which makes sense, really, since they’re on summer break. But that doesn’t mean they can swing on the swings in our backyard while we’re doing math. Or keep yelling my kids’ names into the front windows.

The extremely helpful community at the Hip Homeschool Moms Facebook page told me to make a sign. And I’m always looking for a reason to use my laminator. This was as astonishingly effective as the bowl of Cheerios on the back of the toilet. Sign went up, and no one bothered us. Done.

Sturdy gate at the end of your driveway keeps your kids in, other kids out. If that's what you want. From World of Julie

3. (4 cups of coffee) I’m trying to figure out how to word this so I don’t sound like I hate everyone in my neighborhood. Because I don’t! Really! I truly, truly love how many kids are in our neighborhood. We used to live on a street where no one left their houses during the day, and it was like living in a sad little ghost town. Where we are now, people are walking around and planting things and chatting on the sidewalk, and it makes me so happy.

I love kids. I wouldn’t have had four of them if I didn’t. But you know what? I have four kids. And sometimes I can barely attend to them. And then they are all miraculously occupied, and I sit down with a cup of coffee and the newspaper and suddenly there’s a kid I’m not sure I’ve seen before, standing in my garden, peering into my dining room window. Hello! Please leave!

Look, I know we have a really smooth driveway and a basketball hoop and an awesome huge playset. But, um: we have that stuff for our kids. And you all can use it, but ask first, ok? It totally stresses me out to be wearing my bathrobe and snipping at my kids about the importance of breakfast, and then turn around to see some kind of scooter gang doing figure 8s in the driveway.

Ok, breathe out. Also let’s not forget that we have wee children who shouldn’t let their newfound tricycling skills propel them into the middle of the street.

We’ve discussed various driveway barriers for years, but nothing really seemed feasible until I saw a picture of a free-standing gate somewhere. The hardware store sold single pickets, so we could build a custom-length fence that matches the fence on the other side of our house. This took us about 2 hours once we had all the materials at home. We still need to paint it, and I think we might put locking casters on the bottom to make it easier to move and get bikes out when we want to (you can still squeeze around the side, technically).

But now we have a nice fence that keeps balls and trikes in, and gives us some privacy. Done.

CATEGORIES: homeschool, housekeeping

The Church of Henryism

January 27, 2012

Yeah so it’s totally normal for your 8-year-old to decide to start his own religion, right? (And it’s also normal for him to randomly choose ideas that sound good to him from all the world’s religions?)

I cannot tell you how much I love finding lists like this strewn about the house. Can you read it? It says:

1. Let there be world peace

2. Let there be equality among men and women

3. Ego’s cause suffering

4. being kind ends suffering

5. the bible proves faith

6. Do not drink or smoke

7. belive the bible

8. You are born with 3 things: your body, your beleif and your soul

We’re still waiting for the services to start. Although I think we’ve all been attending the Church of Henry for years now, without even knowing it.



Go sit in the corner, Angry Mommy

January 23, 2012

I love homeschooling. I love the idea, the concept, the warm fuzziness.

I’m having a bit of trouble, though, with the execution. For one thing, it’s just really hard to teach anything when Ramona is going through the shrieky “I have a voice!” phase she’s going through right now, and Zuzu continues her habit of  nonsequitor interruptions (“Julie! Julie! You have really long hair!”).

So there’s that. And then there’s the whole thing of: are they learning anything? Sure, they’re learning to get along. But are they learning anything?

After sending out a plea to one of the local homeschool email lists, I received many, many responses (which I’ve printed out and stuck in my homeschool organizer) that all said: “Don’t worry about it. The first year is crazy. We were all crying and shaken the first year. You will look back on this year and laugh at how ridiculous you were being, at how much emphasis you were putting on things that don’t actually matter. You are in survival mode. If you get to the end of the day, and they’re all happy and healthy, then your job is done.”

I will admit that, while these messages were massively reassuring, I’m still a weensy bit skeptical. If they want to learn Latin, shouldn’t we be, you know, learning Latin? And, more importantly, how will they learn to focus and work hard if we’re not all working on that? (Especially since it’s something I still have to work so hard on. I’m the most distractable person on the planet.)

Someone else said I should not worry about the younger kids, but should just focus on Henry, and the others will come along for the ride. So, for the rest of the year (until May, I mean), that’s mostly what I’m doing. Focusing on the three R’s, with Henry. If other educational inspirations come up, as they surely will, then we’ll pursue them to the best of our ability.

Because here’s the other thing: freaking out about getting enough academics is making me freaked out. When I’m freaked out, I tend to be Angry Mommy, especially when the kids sponge up every molecule of my attitude and are sassy and defiant in response. Vicious-homeschool-angry-not-learning cycle. So now I just try to breathe. Deeply. A lot.

I also am trying (well, today, at least) to speak slowly. I’m a fast talker, but eight or so years of sleep deprivation means my brain can’t keep up with my mouth, and I say things like, “Time for breakfast…lunch…dinner! Zuzramona!” Which definitely adds to the harried homeschool vibe. So I breathe, and speak slowly. If one of the kids asks me for something, and I’m doing something else, rather than sighing, dropping my own task, and resentfully going to the kid, I’m trying to say, calmly, “I’ll help you with that as soon as I finish with X.” And then I finish what I was doing, without rushing. They can wait. And they do.

Maybe you are all rolling your eyes at the common sense of this, but this is a revelation for me. Today, Angry Mommy was nowhere to be found.

What about you? Any veteran or newbie homeschoolers out there with words of wisdom/feelings of panic to share?

CATEGORIES: homeschool

Sewing School

November 21, 2011

This, my friends, is what homeschool is about for me. I can pick an activity that interests us all — learning to sew — and we can spend days and days figuring it out. We got this great book called Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make by Amie Plumley and Andria Lisle, which broke things down very well for us beginners. It was very, very satisfying to have the boys learning a running stitch and both saying, excitedly, “I’m doing it! I’m really doing it!”

From there, Henry has been methodically working his way through the book (needle book, pillow, superhero cuff), while Eli is making up his own stuff (sleeping bag for Soup, backpack for his stuffed animal Puppy). When we went to the fabric store to get supplies, I suddenly heard Zuzu gasp, and there was a bolt of the same fabric that her sleepy bunny is made out of. So of course we had to get some, and are working on making sleepy bunnies for her dollies.

CATEGORIES: crafts, homeschool


September 28, 2011

Oops. In all my excitement over homeschooling, I completely forgot to give the children haircuts. (We fixed that yesterday.)


CATEGORIES: Eli, thirty second post

Cumberland County Fair

September 27, 2011

So it turns out that a super-nice perk of homeschooling is that you can finish your schoolwork at 11:30 on a beautiful Monday, get in the car, and go to the county fair. And you’re there with the best weather ever, and there’s essentially no one else there.

Here we are, feeding some goats. See how the place is pretty much deserted? So nice. (Um, let me amend to say that I’m sure it’s better for the vendors and all if the fair is packed, but for us, especially with our huge honkin’ stroller, it was great to have it be so quiet.)

Here’s Henry on the Bungee Jump. I told him he had to jump really high because it counted as gym.

She looks relatively happy, doesn’t she? This was 30 seconds before the carousel started and she started wailing and jumped into my arms. And can you see the look on Zuzu’s face in the background? Apparently that look means, “As soon as this carousel starts, I’m going to throw a tantrum. That should be fun.” If you look closely, you can see that there’s a stationary bench right behind us, but who knew that merry-go-rounds would be quite so dizzy-making? I found it completely impossible to carry one screaming girl under each arm, turn around, and make it to that bench. So we just stood there. Not my favorite part of the fair.

Here are the boys, about to go on this grownup hang glider ride. Henry had his eyes closed the whole time, and Eli’s face had a look of pure horror, and I could swear I saw him mouthing the word, “Help.” I was stricken. I was sure they were going to get off and either barf or burst into tears. I stood there at the gate, arms wide open, ready to tell them how proud I was that they went on such a scary ride. Instead, they ignored my waiting arms and said in unison, “That. Was. Awesome.” And then they went on again. Shows what I know.


CATEGORIES: homeschool

Homeschool Curriculum

August 24, 2011

Monday was our first official day of homeschooling. Yes, yes, we’ve been doing it all summer, but I now we are official (that is, I told the state, so Monday started our 175-days-and-counting for the year).

So far it’s gone pretty well. I’m still figuring out our organizational system. Also I didn’t really realize that you can have a class clown if you’re homeschooling (Eli), so that’s been something to contend with. But kind of fun, too, I’ll admit.

Now, this post might be boring to a lot of you, but I for one love curriculum posts, so here you go. Here’s what we’re doing for the year:

Teaching Textbook for Henry, Saxon Math for Eli (and for Zuzu when she feels like joining in).

I was using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons but Eli and I thought it was a total snooze, so now we’re just working on BOB books and random board books we have around the house.

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Life plus extras from books like Exploratopia and the Science Snackbook.

History Odyssey Level One, Ancients

Song School Latin, Minimus, and Getting Started with Latin.

French is Fun with Serge the Cheeky Monkey! Also Play and Learn French, and lots of singing from Chantons by Michael Parent.

Handwriting Without Tears (printing for Eli and Zuzu, cursive for Henry)

Art is Fundamental and The Usborne Art Treasury

Plus: flute lessons for Henry, and (soon, I hope) fiddle lessons for Eli. Daily forced physical activity. Daily reading of some fun-but-slightly-advanced book (so far we’ve done James Herriot’s Treasury for Children and Holling Clancy Hollings’ Seabird and Minn of the Mississippi). I’m looking forward to doing thinking projects from Teach Your Child How to Think. I’m making Henry read some things that are a bit more challenging, and he’s going to start doing monthly research papers. And we use a ton of resources in all subjects from Plus all the intangible stuff we did anyway that now maybe counts as school, like going to the library, hiking, making beds, cooking, and writing thank you notes to grandparents.


CATEGORIES: homeschool

The Time Has Come, the Walrus said…to Homeschool the Children

July 6, 2011

If you homeschool, you can pick strawberries from the garden while still wearing your pajamas.

Yes, well, let me say from the get-go that I love public school. I pretty much think it’s the greatest thing ever. I love school in general. But public school — oh! such great times! You get to go to this building with all your neighbors and learn things together. And there are the pencils, and the textbooks (checking to see who had your science book the year before) and covering your books in brown paper bags. There’s wondering who’s going to be in your class and what your teacher will be like, and what you’ll get to read. There’s getting that giant September issue of Seventeen magazine and scouring the pages to decide which plaid skirt is best and what kind of blouse do you wear with a calico prairie skirt?

But it turns out that all that isn’t really the experience that Henry’s having. He actually seems to love school too, but during the three years he’s been there, there have been increasing stories of students not learning anything, as well as students behaving badly (Bullying, Advanced Bullying, and the Bullying Doctoral Program). Plus teachers leaving, or just being burned out.

If you homeschool, you can wear mismatched clothes and visit the ducks mid-morning.

So! Two things are happening with our local school. The first is that, because it’s so seriously underperforming, we now have the option of transferring to another school in the district. The second thing that’s happening is that (because it’s so seriously underperforming) they are completely revamping the curriculum to be project-based. Which is awesome. Everything I read about that makes it sound great.

But roundabouts April I said to Henry, “So, well, you can stay at your school, and do the project-based learning stuff, or you can go to another school, or you can homeschool.” Well, what I actually said was “…or you can homesch-” because he didn’t even let me finish the word before he jumped in and said, “I want to homeschool!” I gently told him that, if we homeschooled, it wouldn’t mean sitting on the couch and reading all day, and he replied, “I know! If we homeschool, I can learn stuff they don’t teach me at school, like ancient history, and Latin!”

If you homeschool, you can be dragged out in the freezing rain to tour replicas of the Nina and the Pinta.

And how can you turn that down, I ask you?

And let me tell you, once you contemplate homeschooling, and get over the initial “wait, what? where would my free time go?” reaction, you suddenly realize that it would be awesome. No more running out the door at 8:45, or waking people up from naps to go pick up at 3:00! Being able to go on vacation when you want! Teaching your kids 100% more in half the time!

Plus there’s that whole notion of trying to stick your very active kid into the box of school. I completely understand why they have to have a million rules about being calm, because it would be complete bedlam otherwise. But if you’ve got a wiggly, active, Big Movements kind of guy, he’s going to hold it in all day at school, and then pretty much explode when he gets home. I’m talking here about Eli. He’s kindergarten-age in September, and about a month after we really seriously started contemplating homeschool, he was outside using a full-size axe to chop up twigs. He looked like John Henry. I turned to Dave and said, in my sweetest pretend-girly-mom voice, “You know, dear, I just don’t think public school could provide our son with the daily axe work he so clearly needs.” And we laughed, but then we got kind of quiet. Because it’s true.

So! Exciting! We jumped right in on the Monday after public school ended, figuring that we’d try it over the summer to make sure we could make it two months without me going insane/the kids starting to loathe me/the house developing a two-inch-thick crust of dust and toast husks. And so far it’s going really well, I have to say. I’ll write another post later about what materials we’re using (because I love those what-we’re-using homeschool posts) (and because if I don’t stop now this post will be way, way too long). But that’s what’s happening here in the World of Julie!

If you homeschool, you can be super cute and sit in chairs backwards, posing adorably. Oh, wait, no, you can do that anyway.

CATEGORIES: homeschool