First Day of School 2022

Today marks the start of my 15th year as a home educator!

We started the day with the Schultüte, as is our tradition:

I think they were a hit!

And of course I took pictures of my students…it’s still a little hard for me to believe that I’m down to two, and one of them is in her second year of high school!

We did some light schoolwork…religion, math, a read-aloud, and a bit of language arts. We’ll get into the rest of the subjects tomorrow, but the first day of school is mostly about fun, including building a new Lego set. I got something really different this year…an art set of Mickey Mouse, which was the perfect way to bridge summer school and our vacation to the new school year! And since we started school before everybody else, the rest of the children were still here to help!

It was (I think) a really fun build!

Here’s a closer look…I think I may get a second copy of this set for our last day of school, because there are alternate building instructions to make Minnie Mouse, and I would love to have a matching pair!

I think we got the school year off to the right start!

Schultüte 2022

Time for a look at my favorite first day of school tradition…the Schultüte! I enjoyed putting them together even more this year since I’ve been putting so much work into making our German/Austrian heritage a bigger part of our daily lives. I included all of the items you would expect…candies, school supplies, and a few fun things:

I wanted the fun items to reflect our vacation, so I added some Goofy blind bag pins, and some Lego Muppets minifigs:

This is always a fun beginning to the school year!

Summer School 2022

What can I say about this year’s summer school? One thing is for certain…I know I’ll never top it!

Yes, we had a reading list, and there were some amazing choices on there (Ladybug in particular really enjoyed many of the titles), but this summer was all about travel and experiences, including visits to Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. It was like four days of field trips on steroids, where we went on rides, built things, and even learned things! (And let’s not forgot the three days of field trip equivalents in Washington D.C., where we visited monuments and memorials and museums, toured the US Capitol, and walked the grounds of George Washington’s Mount Vernon! Plus the day at Kennedy Space Center after our Disney fun concluded!)

Back at home, we kept the Disney magic going with art projects:

And games:

And lots and lots of cooking! We had 12 “Disney Dinners” at home over the summer (plus the one we indulged in at The Hollywood Brown Derby), which let us sample copycat recipes from the theme parks and the Disney World resorts:

Ladybug and Bunny especially enjoyed baking and decorating some Mickey Mouse cookies:

It wouldn’t be summer school without a Lego build, and we found the perfect set to reflect our summer fun!

And we squeezed in a few craft projects, including an amazing pumpkin coach, a cupcake liner lei modeled by Stitch, and a string art Mickey Mouse head that left glitter everywhere!

We also watched a ton of Disney documentaries (thank you Disney+) and classic Disney movies, some we had seen before, and some that were new to us. I especially loved the mid-century documentaries from when the theme parks were just getting their start, but the more modern ones, that focused on attractions we saw at Disney World (and their California counterparts) were fascinating, especially after we had the experience of seeing them first-hand.

Like I said, there won’t ever be a summer school like this again, where we were able to blend fun and learning and so many experiences together, but I’m really glad we got to do it once in our lifetime!

Chickadee Thursday

Chickadee was very excited that the Lego “I am Groot” she pre-ordered got here sooner than she was expecting!

Isn’t he adorable?!?

I’m really happy that Lego made a set of one of Chickadee’s favorite characters!

Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Ten

Disney Springs; 13,011 steps

The theme for the tenth day of our trip was shopping. Since we were staying at a Universal property, we decided to take the bus to the Universal CityWalk, where we picked up a few wands we regretted not buying at our day at the theme park a few years ago, and visited the iconic symbol of Universal Studios:

We didn’t spend too much time there, though, because our main destination for the day was Disney Springs, which is a huge outdoor mall that I think is supposed to make you think of Rodeo Drive:

I’m not sure what we were looking for exactly, but we did find an enormous Disney store and a huge Lego Store, both places that gave us the opportunity to buy a few more souvenirs.

There were lots of other cool shops, too, including Cherry Tree Lane, where I assumed I’d find a dress I’d want to buy (I didn’t), and where I didn’t expect to find Orange Bird!

There was also a pin trading store with some familiar faces:

We stopped to try the poutine at The Daily Poutine:

There were displays for Pride Month:

It was a fun place to visit!

We continued the theme of shopping at Publix to stock up on a few additional food supplies since we were running low…I really like that grocery store chain!

When we got back to the hotel, we headed to the Bayliner Diner to use our complimentary dinner tickets.

I had the Cabana Bay burger, which, if it hadn’t been so well done, would have been possibly the best burger I’ve ever had. Even being so well done, it was delicious, and that’s high praise coming from me, the person who likes her burger to arrive at the table still moo-ing!

Everyone else enjoyed their meals, too…Ladybug’s tuna looked especially amazing!

Up next: Our final day at Disney’s parks.

2021-22 School Year–Week Thirty-Two

And just like that, the 2021-22 school year has come to an end! The week was mostly spending time outdoors (our daily walk is now at about four miles, even in the unpleasant heat we’ve been having!) and wrapping things up.

Ladybug took her final geometry exam (and got an “A”!). She finished the chapter on mammals in biology by reading about learned and innate behaviors, and various forms of conditioning. She also finished her astronomy course by learning about celestial navigation…she even used Google Earth to find the approximate coordinates of our house! We finished her study of religious writings by reading about the Book of Mormon. She read about Constantine in history. To conclude our study of Henry V, we watched The Hollow Crown, episode four.

Chickadee also finished up math by reviewing equations, fractions, and how to cross multiply and divide. We read about sponges in science (we do still have one field trip left related to her study of aquatic animals…stay tuned!). She reviewed all of the parts of speech she’s learned by diagramming some fairly long sentences. We wrapped up our study of US geography by learning about Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington D.C.

As always, we built a Lego set to celebrate the last day of school (and since Turkey and Bunny were home at an unusual time due to their finals schedule, they were able to lend a hand):

This was a different year for all of us, and it took some getting used to. I’m really glad we did some very different things this year instead of trying to force things to be “normal” (reading Little Women, especially outside under our tree when the weather was nice, and cooking together were my favorite moments of the school year), and even though things felt strange a lot of the time, as always, I’m sad to see the school year end!

Scrooge and the Penobscotts

The Fab Five gave me a really cool gift for Mother’s Day!

Even before we watched Turkey play through the Kingdom Hearts video game series, and long before we started planning our trip to to Disney World, I’ve had a fascination with the extended Duck family. Donald and Daisy are my favorites…his temper always cracks me up, and I love her fashion sense. And one day, I was doing some reading about the Ducks, and their associated relatives (including the Goose family), and I realized that Donald Duck’s mother, Hortense, was Scrooge McDuck’s sister. Which means her maiden name, if you will, was also McDuck, and if she had wanted to, she could have hyphenated her name to McDuck-Duck, and that thought made me happy.

But then I thought about it further, and realized that one of Hortense McDuck-Duck’s children could have married a member of the Goose family, and that hyphenated name would have been McDuck-Duck-Goose, and that thought made me practically delirious!

All that to say, I love the Ducks and McDucks. But wait, there’s more! Because Huey, Dewey, and Louie, the Duck triplets, have also become one of my favorite M*A*S*H* jokes. There’s a scene in my favorite episode where Frank Burns is rambling on about Margaret’s fiancé, Donald Penobscott, and he imagines them introducing their children, Huey, Dewey, and Louie Penobscott. It’s probably the funniest thing Frank ever says, and now whenever we talked about Huey, Dewey, and Louie, we always tack “Penobscott” on at the end!

I love how thoughtful my children are in choosing gifts!

Advent 2021–Day Twenty-Seven

Today Turkey put the finishing touches on the Lego Millennium Falcon!

He added the radar dish:

There is also an alternate build for the radar dish to correspond with the sequel trilogy, which I think is pretty cool:

There were a few stickers in the set, including this big one…you’d think a set as high end as this one wouldn’t include stickers, the bane of every Lego fan’s existence, but you’d be wrong!

Here’s a look at it from all four sides:

And a few more angles:

The whole set is massive (no, we don’t actually know where its permanent placement in our home will be):

This was a fun build as we look forward to a big family trip next summer!

Thanksgiving 2021

Time for a look at our annual three-day-long Thanksgiving celebration, beginning with a beautiful sunrise on Wednesday morning, which gave me encouragement to bake nine pies, prep two different kinds of stuffing, and make the cranberry sauce.

On Thanksgiving Day, we had fun watching the Macy’s Parade and playing Thanksgiving Day Parade Bingo, picking our favorite dogs at the National Dog Show, and playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Of course, there was dinner to attend to, as well. I thought the table looked extra pretty this year…maybe that’s because we had guests to set it for!

The menu was a mix of old and new. I made our traditional stuffing to go with the turkey, but also a new recipe for everything bagel stuffing. I also tried a new roasted winter vegetable dish to go alongside our usual green beans with almonds. Of course we also had mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, and cranberry sauce:

It made a very pretty plate!

For dessert, all of the pies. Sadly, the pie I was most looking forward to trying, cranberry custard, didn’t set right, so even though it looked pretty, it didn’t come out right at all. I guess that’s the risk you run when you try a new recipe on a holiday!

This morning started with one of our favorite traditions of pie for breakfast.

I was very happy to get to go see Moose march in our town’s Santa Parade for the first time since 2019, and for the first time with the high school marching band! We honestly weren’t planning on staying for the whole thing since his group was near the beginning, but it was fun as well as short, so we ended up seeing it all!

I enjoyed having a place to wear one of my new Erstwilder Christmas brooches:

Turkey sandwiches for lunch are another great thing about the day after Thanksgiving!

And more pie:

We built the annual addition to our Lego winter village:

And had turkey soup for dinner:

After dinner, some of us went back downtown for the tree lighting and community sing:

And more pie for dessert when we got back home:

There you have it. It was a mostly normal holiday, and it was good to do things that felt familiar again!