7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 215)

May 3, 2013 | 39 comments

— 1 —

I think I have Postpartum Ennui, a condition I just invented to describe why I don’t want to do anything, ever. This is especially true with anything that involves my brain: I can get myself motivated to straighten the kitchen or make the bed, but someone sends me an email asking if I can go to an event next weekend and I stare at it like they just asked me to derive the quadratic equation. I find this rather unsettling, since it’s normally the opposite with me. I’m the person who aspires to be a brain in a jar, for goodness’ sake! Why is it that I suddenly can do all this physical activity but cannot seem to get my brain to work at all? (I know, I know, I just had a baby recently, but normally I don’t still feel like my brain is a bowl of oatmeal a month out.)

— 2 —

Scott Jurek - Eat and RunI’m reading Scott Jurek’s memoir Eat and Run, which is probably not surprising given my love of reading about people who survive physical challenges that would kill me ten times over. Jurek is an ultrarunner, meaning he regularly competes in races that are over 100 miles long (those of you who read the amazing Born to Run will recognize Jurek from that book). He runs these things without stopping, so he often runs continuously for over 24 hours at a time. It’s all so insane and foreign to me, it’s like reading about an alien lifeform. As I read I’m thinking, You get up before dawn? To run? For hours? Until you’re vomiting and about to collapse? And then you run some more until your toenails fall off? It makes for fascinating reading for us couch potatoes.

— 3 —

Interestingly, Jurek’s memoir has had a significant impact on me, even though I mainly read it to gawk at the insanity of ultrarunning. Check this out:

Back when I was jogging a lot before this pregnancy, I still never built up any impressive endurance. At the peak of my jogging routine, when I was in the best shape of my life, I never could jog for more than about 3:45 without stopping to walk for a while (in case there are any ultrarunners in the audience, I should clarify that that’s 3 minutes, 45 seconds). I went out for one of my first post-pregnancy jogs yesterday, many pounds heavier and much more out of shape than the last time I exercised, and I was able to maintain a slow jog for an astounding 5:20. I thought it would take me months to work up to that level!

I give most of the credit to Jurek’s memoir. I can’t pinpoint any particular tip or passage that changed things for me; I think I’d just been spending so much time immersing myself in reading about people who run, run, run until they can’t run anymore, and then they run some more anyway, that it rubbed off on me.

— 4 —

I realize that what I said in #3 would seem to contradict what I said in #1. It doesn’t sound like I have Postpartum Ennui if I’m out there breaking personal records for jogging. The reality is that I’m not all that motivated to exercise, but I am extremely motivated to get some time to myself. I don’t think of my jogs as opportunities to burn calories and get in shape as much as I think of them as “that thing I do when I get 30 whole minutes where nobody asks me for a snack or a sippy cup or to put on Shaun the Sheep the entire time.”

— 5 —

One of my biggest surprises of this year is that homeschooling has gone very well, despite all the craziness we’ve had to deal with. In terms of the “three R’s” (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic) the kids are not only ahead of grade level but ahead of my own goals that I set back at the beginning of the year. The philosophy I’ve adopted that has simplified everything and made it easy for me to keep up with is that we do structured work (following prepackaged curricula, doing worksheets, systematically working through lessons) for the three R’s, and we unschoolย for everything else. I even combined spelling with handwriting, so that each spelling test is also a handwriting test and therefore I can get it all out of the way at once like a boss.

So, when I found myself too exhausted to undertake too much (which was most of this semester), I would do a Survival Homeschooling day, which looked like this:

  • I teach each kid a brief math lesson from their Saxon Math books.
  • I go over a grammar lesson from the awesome Growing with Grammarย curriculum.
  • I give them math, grammar, and spelling worksheets to do on their own.
  • After they finish their worksheets they have 30 – 60 minutes of reading time, when they can read whatever they want from our selection of nonfiction kids’ chapter books. (I stocked up on a bunch of cheap ones from Amazon, so we have a whole shelf full of books that tell stories of interesting people and events and things).

Notice that it requires very little hands-on time from me. As the kids get older and I regain my ability to deal with life I’ll probably attempt to do more, but this improvised Survival Homeschool routine is working really, really well for us right now.

— 6 —

Have I ever mentioned that I am sunglass blessed? Sometimes I think that if a Sherlock Holmes type were to analyze my appearance, he’d be completely thrown off by that detail. He’d say: She’s carrying a purse from the discount rack at Kohl’s that shows that she doesn’t spend money on accessories, her scuffed shoes show that she has little attention to detail when it comes to her clothing, and those flare pants show that she has no awareness of what is currently in fashion. And yet she’s wearing the very latest Versace sunglasses?!

You see, my mom has done the finances for the same eyecare corporation for almost 30 years, and she has tons of friends who are sales reps for the big eyeware companies. They all love her and are constantly offering her free products, and she generously passes many of them along to me, and so my purse is filled with gorgeous sunglasses from Anne Klein, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, and other fabulous brands. It’s almost a shame that I don’t have bad vision so that I can get great eyeglass frames too!

— 7 —

It is going to be unseasonably cool here in central Texas this weekend, which is unheard of for May, and I can only imagine what that might mean for more northern parts of the country. Stay warm, and hopefully we’ll get some real summer weather here soon.

Have a great weekend!



  1. Melody

    I cannot think of a SINGLE good reason to run until one’s toenails fall off. Not one. But congratulations on your 5:20! I have never been able to build up much endurance for running, either, but it is one of my goals for this summer. I would LOVE to be able to do a 5k someday!

    • Bobbi

      I’m an ultrarunner as well and have NEVER had my toenails come off. Good Luck on your 5K! You can do it!

  2. nancyo

    We’re having unseasonably cool weather this spring too, and I’ve been hoping that it just keeps on going into a cool summer. Hey, a girl can dream!

  3. Michael Bascon

    Great Post , loved the running aspect and at Melody you can run a 5k you just need to sign up, start by walking and work your way up!

    • Melody

      Thank you for the encouragement!

      • TRS

        There’s an app for that. Couch25K (couch to 5K)
        I loved it until my feet decided to quit being feet. No running for me – hardly any walking either.

  4. Hevel

    #5. That is more or less how homeschool around here works for me. I am going from one high schooler to 10 from the last year of gan to sitting the bagrut (matriculation exam) in a year and it is scary!

  5. Claire @ Everything is Grace

    Major failure with cropping my thumbnail. Doesn’t help that I was on my ipad trying to do it…or that I am still in bed with no glasses on, with one eye still rather adamant that it is staying closed!

  6. Dianna Kennedy

    I appreciate the getting up before dawn to run for a ‘few hours’ — not for 100 miles. ๐Ÿ˜‰ In Kentucky, if you don’t want to roast, better get your running shoes on early. I’ll bet TX is the same if not worse. I’ve lost a toenail or two while training for a half marathon. I’ve never vomited.

    I’m totally jealous that you were able to run for 5 minutes post partum. I felt like a whale, felt like my insides were falling out, and wasn’t able to run. I’m SO glad to be to the point where I can run 3 miles and not feel like I’m going to die.

    And dude, I am so jealous of your sunglass habit — if your momma gets overwhelmed with sharing with you ….. you can spread the love!

    Seriously, you should do a post on which ones you like best. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. TracyE

    On oatmeal brain: I think you should just accept that you are not necessarily a month out; your time didn’t REALLY Start until you brought baby Joe home. Before then you were on pure survival. I think it’s realistic to say you haven’t been down THIS road before and to just roll with it and give your brain some time to catch up. It’s all good and it will all come back!!

    As for running: when I used to run (before my 4 knee surgeries….), it wasn’t that I loved the act of running but more that I coveted MY time when I was running that made me love running. Make sense? No? Sorry, only on one cup of coffee…..

    Kudos to all your homeschooling gains! I think those kids have summer as the prize and they are FOCUSED!!!!

  8. Amelia

    I love your homeschooling survival plan. That is what we are going to be on this summer, with a lot of moves and changes coming up.

    Good job for running on 5.20 minutes. I know what you mean about coveting that blessed time alone.

  9. kjp

    Oatmeal brain: have you had a full blood work up, especially complete thyroid panel and hormone(progesterone, estrogen, etc) If it continues for a few more weeks, that might not be a bad idea. This is coming from a long time lurker, long time supporter and constant prayer warrior for you! Added bonus- I have an oatmeal brain all the time. Well, until thyroid and hormone meds leveled me out ๐Ÿ˜‰ So happy you are home and Joe is doing well.

  10. Erika Evans

    No! No wishes for summer weather! Let’s enjoy this and hope it lasts! I opened all my doors and windows yesterday evening and got it down to 66 in the house and it was blissful to get all that stale, muggy air GONE. Down here in Corpus Christi it’s 54 out and delicious this morning. Such a gift! Although my kiddos have field day at school, so that’s a bit of a bummer for them.

  11. Bonnie Way

    First, congrats on the baby (it’s apparently been a little while since I’ve dropped by here). I can totally understand wanting time to yourself! I’ve been trying to figure out how to get out exercising (my youngest is 7 weeks old now) and it hasn’t happened yet. I like your homeschooling plan. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was homeschooled and we used Saxon math, and what I remember of homeschooling (the later grades) was doing a lot of my work by myself, from a prepared curriculum. So I’m glad it works for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Kathy

    You mentioned hoping to get some summer weather soon. Here in Nebraska, we had snow on May 1 and 2. We’re still waiting for spring!

  13. Maria

    Nice job on the jogging PR! I just started back myself. If you liked Scott Jurek’s book, check out Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes — it had quite the same effect on me that you talk about. Love those kind of books!

  14. Elizabeth

    Ultrarunning….man. I used to really struggle with depression and lethargy (I still have the same struggles but they don’t lay me as low as they used to before I became Catholic). Sometimes I would be in the middle of one of my bad patches and I would hear about a human being pushing him- or herself to the outer limits of possibility like that, for no good reason except the sheer joy of it (e.g., I would see a few minutes of Cirque de Soleil on PBS), and paradoxically it would lift my spirits, like, wow, there is such LIFE FORCE in the world despite the enormous pressure of entropy. I think people like that give glory to God in a particular way.

  15. Deanna

    I’m not touching the running thing. Be glad you don;t need glasses, it’s a pain. Really, even if you get cute frames. And we have cool temps and rain here in S. Fl just in time for First Communion on Sunday. Lucky us ๐Ÿ™‚ at least it’s not snow. global warming?

  16. Margaret

    On #3: Oh, I know that feeling so well. When I started the Couch to 5K training program a few years back, I had NO IDEA how I was ever going to last 5 minutes together. (30 minutes was straight-up pie-in-the-sky nonsense.) Working my way through the program (it totally works! everyone try it!), I remember thinking a lot about Tour de France cyclists and other super-fit endurance athletes, and reminding myself when I wanted to die that, no, I actually *hadn’t* reached the outer limits of human endurance on my 15-minute jog, no matter what it felt like, so maybe I could suck it up a little?…

    Anyway. Running is hard and awesome and really great head-clearing time. Good luck with it! I’m cheering you on from a distance — but, you know, maybe stop before your toenails fall off…

  17. Carol@simple_catholic

    I can’t run to save my life but admire those who can (and do). Kudos to you for running so soon after having your baby!

    Love, love your sunglasses, too, by the way!

  18. Camille @ Assorted Joys

    Ha! Love the homeschooling survival plan! We’ve been on a similar plan since my son was born. I am writing to mention though, that while I did Saxon math and loved it – I found it to be too mom-intensive and was looking at other non-computer options (not sure why I have that hang up, but I do). I found MathMammoth and it is a life-saver! Easy enough instructions that they can do it nearly on their own step by step. Worth looking into (I don’t work for them, just excited about their product and how much we all love it!)

    Also, I found that in my survival plan I can add read alouds without too much added stress but with great results. We’ve been using books from lots of lovely sites with reading lists: Amongst Lovely Things (her Read Aloud Revival series of posts is great) and Ambleside Online mainly, with a few thrown in from Andrew Pudewa’s site as well.

    Happy Homeschooling!

  19. Catherine

    Hi, what do you use for spelling?

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      We use Soaring with Spelling, from the same company that I linked to that does Growing with Grammar. LOVE it.

  20. JC

    #7 “hopefully weโ€™ll get some real summer weather here soon.”

    Please, not that again.

  21. Cate

    If you haven’t read Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes yet, I highly recommend it! It was the book that got me hooked on extreme fitness memoirs. He’s a total machine! It’s so inspiring, but made me very comfortable in my running mediocrity… When I’m having an off day I just think to myself: “Well, that’s okay. How sad would it be if I didn’t have toenails to paint?!” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. Amy @ Consecrated Housewife

    #3 – I just went for my first run this morning after not running since last spring. I decided to change my form to the “barefoot running” style they talk about in the Born to Run book. I was amazed that I was able to run farther than my longest distance last summer (that I had to work up to). Crazy! Surprising that a little change could have such a big effect.

    #5 – Love the stripped down “basic” version of homeschooling. My first year homeschooling my son advanced two reading grades in spite of my emergency appendectomy 1/2 way thru the year (think book “Heaven is for Real”). Two surgeries, 13 days in the hospital, followed by 4 months of bed rest and home health care.

  23. Trisha Niermeyer Potter

    Hey Jen, I’m impressed that you manage to do so much with so many children, a sense of humor, time to read, write, and pray. Just wanted to thank you for your stories and inspiration. Today I finally reached triple digits with my 7 Quick Takes Vol. Of course, the first one is shout-out to the friend who encouraged me to join in on your super-hip blog carnival. I’ve enjoyed the ride!

  24. Katie @NFP and Me

    Can I have this Postpartum Ennui without actually being postpartum?

    Running for 100 miles? For 24 hours! Surely this book is fiction.

    Love those glasses and so jealous of your awesome hookup! Rock the Versace girl!

  25. Jane Hartman

    Jennifer, I think you might be a contemplative by nature. I think I have just “non-specific ennui.” Oh, well.

  26. Jessica

    I must have Postpartum Ennui too! I’d invite you over to discuss our conditions, but I’m afraid I’d either forget all about it or bail at the last minute… which I all I seem to be doing successfully lately!

  27. Micaela @ California to Korea

    Oh, Jen. Have I ever told you that your 7QT is one of my favorite weekly reads? This (every week, really) is so funny and so real. It just struck me that I’ve been following you for some months now and perhaps have never articulated that. Funny thing: one of my best friends lives in Austin and recently I was tryng to figure out a way to get out to see her. My next thought was, “On a scale of not at all to certifiable, how weird would it be to look up Jen F?” Enough with the stalker stuff. Moooooving on.

    Barefoot running: Have you tried it? I really like #5, too. I may have to that route next year.

  28. Erika Marie @ Simplemama

    Ha! This was a fun one – actually all your 7 QT’s are fun. You’re just a fun person in general – and I don’t even ‘really’ know you. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Anyway, am I the only one who thought of Forrest Gump when you talked about the running guy? Now I’ll dream about running all night long and “Run, Forrest, run!” playing throughout all my dreams. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Sounds like an interesting book.
    Oh and I love the name “postpartum ennui” – perfect. It sounds more exciting than post partum depression. I’m 8 months post-birth and I still can’t get my brain to function properly. I did read a study once many years ago that showed CAT scans of a woman’s brain before, during, and after pregnancy and amazingly the brain actually DOES physically shrink in size during pregnancy and from what I remember it can take 1 – 5 years or more for it to return to the pre-pregnancy size. Here’s a link I found http://www.ajnr.org/content/23/1/19.full that you’d need a high-functioning brain to understand… ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Nice shades. I have terrible vision and hate my glasses but am too cheap to spend $ on nice ones so feel free to send some cool frames my way!

  29. Stephanie

    Well done on your running! I will say that you don’t have to be a crazy long distance runner to lose toenails. I started training for medium distance runs (like half-marathon distance), and my toes will never be the same. It’s ironic that all my running means that I get in shape for summer only to be semi-horrified to wear flip-flops ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Bobbi

    I’ve been an ultra marathon runner for many years, I’ve NEVER had my toenails come off or turn black. The trick has to do with shoe size… my running shoes are 1.5 to 2 sizes bigger than my everyday shoes. Ultra running is any distance over a marathon 50K to 100 or more miles. The majority of us walk during the race. I walk for a short distance on races that are 1/2 marathon and up!

  31. Andrea Parunak

    Ha! Postpartum Ennui! I love it. And I definitely have it, too. I’m so glad to have an awesome name to call my condition..

    • Andrea Parunak

      See? I’ve reorganized all six of my children’s clothes, but I didn’t have the mental capacity to close my HTML tag and only italicize the name of the condition, rather than nearly my entire comment.

  32. Jessica @ housewifespice

    If you had a sunglasses giveaway, I would be all over that.

    Sorry(not sorry) you got the cold end of the weather stick! It’s sunny and 70 here in Chicago this weekend! Alleluia!

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