Last weekend, we went to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis to look at the Christmas lights. This was a special event, because this year, for the first time, they’ve opened the brewery to foot traffic on the weekends. In the past, you’ve only been able to drive through and look at the lights. It was quite a display, and a lot of fun to get to see the brewery in a whole new “light!”
Today we made our annual trip to The Hill neighborhood of St. Louis to see the nativity scenes, hear La Befana tell her story, and eat salamites. This was an especially good day to be there, because today is the commemoration of Ambrose, the saint for whom the church that is the center of Hill life was named.
This year, while we were at Gelato Di Riso for the La Befana storytelling, we actually bought some gelato. Even though it was incredibly cold today, the gelato was a very welcome treat. I definitely want to go back there in the future (although, perhaps next time it will be when it’s warmer)!
Well, this was about as normal a week as we can expect to have between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our religion lessons now include the Jesse Tree reading for the day, in addition to our usual Bible readings. We’re also working on memorizing another Advent hymn (my personal favorite): “Savior of the Nations, Come.” This is doubly beneficial, because the children are also memorizing part of it in Sunday School.
We didn’t fully delve into Christmas School this week, but we did learn about Christmas in one country: Greece. In addition to learning the Greek Christmas greeting, which I think we did a pretty good job of pronouncing, we also learned about other Greek Christmas traditions. The children particularly enjoyed learning about the Greek Christmas goblins (Kallikantzaroi), and drew some elaborate pictures of the mischief they might make. We also spent an afternoon making baklava, which is a family favorite, but doesn’t get made too often. The children did a good deal of the work this time!
Our other Christmas activity was learning about the real Saint Nicholas, since today is the commemoration of St. Nicholas. This tied in nicely with our Christmas in Greece study, since St. Nicholas is an important figure in a country with so many miles of coastline, as patron saint of sailors. We’re looking forward to learning about Santa Lucia a week from today!
We did do our regular history and myth studies this week, as well, which also tied in nicely with our Christmas in Greece lesson. We learned about the Medes and Persians, as well as Athens and Sparta, in history. The last time we studied ancient history, I asked Turkey and Bunny if they would rather have lived in Athens or Sparta, and their answer this time remained the same–definitely Athens! I completely agree…it sounds like a much more civilized place!
We spent two full days of our mythology studies learning about Heracles (Hercules), and his many labors. I also had Turkey and Bunny write their own Greek myth, based on the gods and goddesses they’ve come to know so well. And, as long as we were learning so much about Greece and myths, we played a new game that I bought: Zeus on the Loose. This is a fun little card game which involves stealing Zeus from other players, and having him in hand when the discard pile totals 100. This is also good practice for mental math, as you have to keep a running total going of the discard pile (usually via addition, but occasionally subtraction, too). I highly recommend it…it’s doesn’t take long to learn, and plays quickly, plus, if you’re into mythology, it’s just a fun concept.
In math, Turkey and Bunny got a break from long division this week, and instead got to focus on equations and finding areas and perimeters. They were very relieved! Ladybug kept working on subtraction, which thankfully isn’t giving her too much trouble. They also kept up with their usual language arts assignments, except for Writing Strands, because I wanted them to work on creative writing with their myths.
We started Bartholomew’s Passage as our current read-aloud, in place of Scotland’s Story. We won’t get back to that until after the first of the year, now. The three Advent story books by Arnold Ytreeide are family favorites, and it’s our second time reading Bartholomew’s story. I can’t believe we’ve been reading them for so long!
The only thing we really didn’t get to was science. Between the baklava making, a rather unpleasant dentist appointment for Turkey, and a Moose snow/sick day, something just had to give. We’ll get back to astronomy next with, with a unit on Mars.
More Christmas School to come–we still have Christmas in Germany, France, Sweden, and Russia to learn about, plus a few field trips on the schedule. It’s a fun, busy time of year!
It’s sleepy outside today. Chickadee thinks so, too!
I bought Chickadee her permanent Christmas stocking this year, after using her “Baby’s First Christmas” stocking last year (a family tradition). Our family theme is snowmen…the stockings don’t all match, but they all feature a snowman (or snow woman, I guess), of some sort. Chickadee needed something a little extra special, though, and when I saw this one, I knew it was perfect…it fits with our family theme, but it’s also so her!
I can’t wait to see if the snow we’re getting tonight is still around tomorrow…it will be just like the first time she sees it again!
Turkey had to have two teeth pulled today. We were hoping it would be a quick, low-key appointment…he had two teeth pulled a few years ago during a routine cleaning, and didn’t even require novocaine. They basically just fell right out with a little help.
I guess things are different when the teeth aren’t already loose, because today’s appointment required novocaine (and lots of it!), and nitrous.
It was…interesting. At one point, Turkey looked at the dental assistant and said, “I feel like I’d normally be scared right now, but for some reason I’m not.” She and I both started laughing…we knew exactly why he was not!
It was a pretty rough appointment, though, because it took so long, and because those teeth really weren’t interested in coming out. Chickadee was very worried about her big brother, which was very sweet. A milkshake on the way home (that Turkey had to eat with a spoon), seemed to help improve things a bit.
Hoping we don’t need a repeat of this procedure any time soon!
This recipe is so easy, and looks so pretty! It would make a great addition to anyone’s Christmas baking! (Also, did you know that you can buy pre-crushed peppermints? No more hammering with a rolling pin, and never getting them fine enough, or running them through the food processor, and ending up with peppermint dust!)
- 1 package (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 package (10-11 oz.) white chocolate chips
- 2 tsp. vegetable oil or shortening
- 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy pieces
Line a jelly roll pan (about 10×15) with parchment paper.
Melt semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler. Spread over parchment paper.
Melt white chocolate and vegetable oil in a double boiler. Spread down center of semi-sweet chocolate, and swirl with a skewer.
Sprinkle peppermint pieces over the top.
Refrigerate until firm, then break into pieces.
I shared this quote a few years ago, but it’s been on my mind a lot for the last few weeks. The older I get, the more true it seems to be!
The world has become more worldly. There is more of dissipation, and less of enjoyment. Pleasure has expanded into a broader, but a shallower stream, and has forsaken many of those deep and quiet channels where it flowed sweetly through the calm bosom of domestic life. Society has acquired a more enlightened and elegant tone; but it has lost many of its strong local peculiarities, its homebred feelings, its honest fireside delights. Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories, ”Christmas”
Last night, we went downtown for our city’s tree lighting.
It’s a charming event. It begins with a community sing, and I’m always rather impressed that people show up after a long day of shopping!
Even though the tree has been up and on downtown for the last week, there’s still something magical about that moment they flip the switch!
Still to come…details on the annual Gingerbread displays!
This was a very light week of school…only about two-and-a-half days. We read a lot of Thanksgiving books and did a few crafts.
We also finished our Thankful Tree…isn’t it beautiful?
Today we got an early start on Christmas School, and learned about Christmas markets. This included watching a travel DVD about European Christmas markets, and what you can expect to find there, and building the Lego Christmas Market. Such a fun day!
Next week, we’ll be back to a mostly normal schedule, with a little Christmas School thrown in for fun!