Happy Birthday Robert Burns!

Today is the anniversary of the birth of the great Scottish bard Robert Burns. In honor of the occasion, I’d like to share a poem he wrote about the season of his birth, “Up in the Morning Early.”

“Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
The drift is driving sairly;
Sae loud and shrill’s I hear the blast,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are cover’d wi’ snaw,
I’m sure its winter fairly.

The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
A’ day they fare but sparely;
And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are cover’d wi’ snaw,
I’m sure its winter fairly.”

And here’s a look at the Burns Supper we enjoyed over the weekend…our menu is pretty much always the same (cock-a-leekie pie made from the Scottish Arms recipe, with sticky toffee pudding according to the Schlafly recipe for dessert), but someday, I just might make Scotch eggs!

“And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.”

2021-22 School Year–Week Sixteen

Is there ever a good time to get back to schoolwork after a vacation? I don’t think so, but at some point, you just have to jump in, and that’s what we did this week!

Ladybug worked on calculating the surface area of different solid figures in geometry. She started a unit on Calvinist church bodies in religion, beginning with Presbyterians. Her new literature study is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In biology, she began to learn about genetics, how different traits are passed on from parent to child, and how to create Punnett squares. She worked on using foreshadowing in a story in writing. We also took a break yesterday to visit the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit that is currently on display in St. Louis…it was really cool!

Chickadee got right back to working on long division in math…how thrilling. We backtracked in her overview of the Bible…after going through all of the Christmas and Epiphany stories, she’s back in the Old Testament with Kings David and Solomon. The new chapter in her science book is about rays and sharks. We continued to read Greek myths, including stories about Pan, Narcissus, and Daphne. After our break from world geography over the holiday season, we moved on to Africa, where we learned about South Africa and Nigeria, and made a a cheese and apple crumble and banana fritters.

Next week may be a bit bumpy, as Turkey and Bunny start a new semester of college, and we all learn our new schedules!

2021-22 School Year–Week Nine

This week has felt really busy!

Ladybug learned about the Christian Scientists and Scientology in her study of comparative religions this week. She calculated the area of different shapes in geometry. In astronomy, she read about wavelength and frequency. Her new biology chapter is about cells. She started adding direct objects to her sentence diagrams. We have made it to the part of Little Women where we want to put the book in the freezer, because Beth is really sick. We also did a lot of cooking from The Little Women Cookbook this week. We made apple turnovers for dessert one night, and Jo’s much-improved corned beef for a dinner. We also made a trio of recipes for lunch…roast beef picnic sandwiches, Jo’s shellfish relish, and cheese, butter, and celery sandwiches.

Chickadee made it to the end of the Israelites’ time in the desert in religion, and started the time of the Judges. She started making factor trees in math. She learned about the different species of sea turtles in science. She started identifying the complete predicate in a sentence in grammar. In geography, we visited Argentina, and made Argentine butter cookies and Dulche de Leche…Chickadee thought it was hilarious that we literally cooked a can!

I’m hoping that next week, we’ll get to go pumpkin picking!

2021-22 School Year–Week Eight

I can’t believe we’ve already completed eight weeks of school!

Ladybug reviewed finding the perimeter of different shapes in geometry. She finished the chapter on ecology in science. In history, she read about the fall of Sumer. Our theme for recipes from The Little Women Cookbook this week was desserts…Parisian cream puffs, apple slump, and Meg’s “plum” pudding with a delightful orange caramel sauce:

Chickadee started solving equations with parentheses in math. She added direct objects to her sentence diagrams in grammar. We started reading about sea turtles in science. We visited Central and South American in Another Trip Around the World. We made both beef empanadas and dessert empanadas filled with blackberry preserves when we learned about Panama, and Pan de Jamón when we read about Venezuela.

It looks like next week we’re going to have some real fall weather, and I can’t wait!

Tasty Tuesday–Cooking with “A Trip Around the World”

As part of Chickadee’s geography lessons this year, we’ve added some cooking and baking to our school days. We just finished A Trip Around the World…Before we start Another Trip Around the World, here’s a look at the recipes we’ve made so far, either found in or inspired by the first book:

Here’s the full list:

  • Brigadeiro (chocolate truffles) from Brazil
  • Palace Bread from Egypt
  • Tapioca Pudding with Pineapple from Kenya
  • Dutch Egg and Cheese from The Netherlands
  • Pflaumenkuchen (plum cake) from Germany
  • Cucumber Salad from China
  • Hummus from Saudi Arabia
  • Damper Bread from Australia
  • Meat Pie from Australia
  • Blueberry Crumble with “snowballs” (vanilla ice cream) from Canada

I can’t wait to start the next book and try even more new recipes!

Oktoberfest 2021

For the second year in a row, we didn’t get to go to the inaugural Great North American Oktoberfest in St. Louis (and at this point, I’m kind of thinking that the event will never happen), but we did have a happy Markel Family Oktoberfest at home! I started last week by assembling all of our favorite German foods from Aldi’s Deutsche Küche:

For lunch, we had cheddar and beer fondue with homemade pretzels, German pickles, and Nürnberger Bratwurst, plus more pretzels with beer mustard and nacho cheese sauce for those who don’t like fondue:

Dinner was schnitzel with optional Jäger sauce, spaetzle, sauerkraut, artichoke and cheese strudel, and red cabbage with apples:

And dessert was, of course, Black Forest cherry torte:

I also had a fun Oktoberfest celebration with my neighbors in Animal Crossing: New Horizons:

It wasn’t quite the Oktoberfest I had hoped for (again), especially after I derailed our pretzel-making to go to Urgent Care to have a splinter removed (that was unpleasant!), but it was a fun day of celebrating our German heritage!

2021-22 School Year–Week Six

Fall is finally here and this was a beautiful week for school! On Tuesday, we enjoyed a cool (albeit rainy) walk around Forest Park and the St. Louis Zoo:

Ladybug learned about complementary and supplementary angles in geometry this week. In her study of comparative religions, she traveled to the Far East, where she read about Shintoism, Confucianism, and Taoism. She started learning about ecology in biology. We finished the first book of Little Women, and made a bunch of new recipes from The Little Women Cookbook: Meg’s chicken and macaroni soup (plus more maple-cornmeal drop biscuits), oatmeal porridge with apples, cinnamon, and maple syrup, Meg’s macaroni and cheese, vanilla butter cookies with Mr. Bhaer’s chocolate drops, Hannah’s smoked sausage and potato “mess” and Meg’s currant jelly sauce:

Chickadee worked on rounding in math, including rounding money. She started learning about pinnipeds in science…so far, we’ve learned how to identify a true seal. We worked on diagramming adverbs in grammar. We finished our first trip around the world, and made three new recipes…a meat pie which was surprisingly well-received, plus damper bread, both from Australia, and a blueberry crumble with “snowballs” (vanilla ice cream) from Canada:

Since the weather was so nice, we spent some extra time doing our school work outside this week…I especially enjoyed reading Little Women under the tree in our yard!

It’s supposed to warm back up, so I guess next week won’t be quite as pleasant as this one was, but more beautiful fall days are on the way!

2021-22 School Year–Week Five

I realized this morning that we’re already a quarter of the way though our countdown to the 100th day of school, and that’s really hard to believe!

Ladybug got to have fun with her compass in geometry this week when she bisected angles. She read about pyramids in history…not just the Great Pyramids with which everyone is familiar, but the different styles that led up to them. She practiced writing both sides of an argument. In science she wrapped up the second chapter by learning about hydrolysis. We made four new recipes from The Little Women Cookbook (maple-cornmeal drop biscuits, New England fish chowder, black raspberry jelly cake with lemon cream, and “Indian meal” griddle cakes), plus a variation on the cheese and jam turnovers we made previously.

Chickadee reviewed rounding numbers to different place values before adding them in math. She learned about baleen whales in science. She started diagramming adverbs. I introduced a new poem for her to memorize. We moved farther east to Asia in geography, where she learned about Saudi Arabia and we made hummus, as well as China, which featured a delicious cucumber salad:

I’m starting to hope for a fun, outdoors field trip for fall…I just need it to cool off a bit more first!

2021-22 School Year–Week Four

Another busy week is complete!

Ladybug identified different types of angles in geometry, so nothing too difficult there. She learned a bit about the pH scale in biology, and we did a fun experiment with water, vinegar, antacids, baking powder, and baking soda. She read about Gilgamesh in history. In writing, she worked on adding to sentences to make them more interesting. We continued reading Little Women, and we got to the part where Beth gets sick for the first time (we discussed putting the book in the freezer). We tried a lot of new recipes from The Little Women Cookbook…a dinner of apple orchard chicken, Hannah’s pounded potatoes, Jo’s much-improved asparagus and Amy’s lemonade (again), with “lemon cheese” tartlets for dessert, and another dinner of Hannah’s cottage pie, which is the best shepherd’s-style pie I’ve ever had!

Chickadee practiced word problems in math, including identifying if she had not enough or too much information in them. She finished memorizing “The Land of Nod,” and ahead of schedule, too! We read about dolphins, porpoises, and killer and beluga whales in science. Our geography study took us to Europe, where we learned about The Netherlands and she helped me make Dutch egg and cheese for dinner one night, and Germany…we made a Pflaumenkuchen (plum cake) for the first time!

I’m looking forward to more adventures in school and cooking next week!