Social Studies

No sewing for me this morning. I had sort of committed to going to a social studies curriculum share meeting tonight, so I had a bunch of work to do to get ready. It meant Jasper had to miss his bee meeting, and that I had to do a bunch of updating and create some new materials. But if someone wants to talk about geography, I’m there.

Of course I also did a bunch of math with Jasper. And then after lunch I taught my class. Tomorrow they turn in their first essays! Today I bored them almost to death with a revision work session.

Meanwhile, I had a worrisome talk with Mercy about some health issues she’s been having. I really hope we can figure out what is going on! Please pray for her.

I made pizza for the family before leaving for my meeting. Once I got there, I was kind of sorry I hadn’t had time to pull together all my history resources also. I kind of got the impression that I am more into social studies than some of the other ladies. I can’t help myself. I think my approach to geography went beyond what most people are interested in, but I also think that maybe I need to follow through on publishing it as an actual curriculum, which I’ve been thinking about for some time.

A Birthday and the End of an Era

Arabella 1

Today is my sweet daughter Mary’s birthday. She is 25! The child who couldn’t allow me out of her sight as a toddler is now a fiercely independent and competent woman of whom I am so very proud. We can’t be with her on her special day, but she and her husband will be here in a couple of weeks and we will celebrate then. Boy, will we celebrate! Two graduations and two birthdays!

Today was our last geography class. I tacked on an extra hour because we had to cancel class last week and I knew the girls would need extra review time before taking the final test.  Haley made a vegetarian stew from the Solomon Islands, Chandler made some Puerto Rican stew and pastries, and we provided rice, lamingtons, and birdseed bars. We watched a video about Tahiti and Samoa which made us all want to hop on a plane to Tahiti. I also showed the girls a slideshow I’d put together of sunsets in 229 countries, all of which we have learned at least a little about. I thought they’d think it was cool, but I think they actually found it rather boring . . .

It was a pleasant afternoon. Even though the girls had to study and review, there was a lot of laughter as they did it. It was a bittersweet moment for me. Every year I have students who come and students who go. Sometimes, though, I have a student who stays in my classes for years, and when those students graduate, I definitely feel a sense of loss.

4-21-16 Geography girls

This year, of course, is Lucy’s senior year and I have been teaching her since kindergarten! My other two geography girls are seniors too. I have been teaching Haley for the last four years, and I have also taught Chandler a couple of times in the past, so this year is harder than most because of the history we have together. Next year will be completely different!

I always give my geography students a souvenir or memento as a reward for surviving my class. Since I had all girls this year, I gave them matching bracelets with a world map printed on them. I am going to miss those girls. They, meanwhile, are planning a graduation trip together that I think is going to be a wonderful experience for them.

Parting Shot:

4-21-16 Geography girls 2

I love the shots they aren’t expecting.

A Two-Event Day

If you’ve been reading my posts for long, you know that most of the time I am a one-event-per-day kind of girl. I am not a high energy person. Sometimes, though, I can’t avoid having multiple events in a day, and obviously I survive them because I am still here!

Today, I had my geography class and I also had invited guests for dinner. So this morning I got going on the geography stuff. Lucy and I made lamingtons (Australian cubes of heaven coated in chocolate icing and coconut). I also made “birdseed bars,” which are purportedly a New Zealand recipe. I also made rice, and my student Chandler made a Solomon Island recipe of curried  papaya.

We have finished with Africa and are on Oceania now. I enjoyed showing my Australia and New Zealand pictures. The food was a hit. Don and Gwen even joined us for a while.

After my students left, it was time to start working on a company dinner. It was a recipe I normally make in the crockpot, but since I was busy all day I never had time to do it! So I had to speed things up and cook on the stove after starting my second batch of rice for the day. I made an orange chicken recipe that has been a big hit in the past, even though I knew I couldn’t eat it myself. The last time I tried it sent my blood sugar into the stratosphere.

The couple I had invited are dear friends of ours who are also friends with Don and Gwen. It didn’t work out to get together during Don and Gwen’s last visit, so I’m glad it worked out today.

It was a fun dinner with ten people at the table. The chicken was a big hit! I tried not to feel sorry for myself as I ate my plain chicken and cabbage. I knew it was not worth it to let myself be tempted.

After supper we had a nice visit in the living room before our guests had to leave. Despite painful arthritis in my fingers, I even managed to get some knitting done.

Rainy Friday

I had a reason for not posting last night. I was up late grading research papers and I was just too tired by the time I got done!

Yesterday was our last day to study Africa in Geography class. We had Zambian food–nshima and relish. Of course the relish had to be vegetarian, but it was still good. For dessert I tried a recipe from a South African cookbook. It was cookies flavored with lemon and cumin, of all things. Nobody spit them out so I guess that’s a win!

I enjoyed getting to show photos and talk about Africa. Yes, it made me homesick!

This morning I had to go to Aldi again to get supplies for the chai party. Jasper came with me and nothing unusual happened.

After lunch I headed up to visit my friend Robin. She had offered to initiate me into the ways of essential oils. I have quite a few oils that I’ve been given, but have never really used them much. We did a lot of research and then she and her daughter helped me make some things to try. It was interesting! Afterwards, we still had time to visit for a while before I had to head home.

It was a cold rainy day, and I reveled in it. We are getting to that time of year when every cool refreshing day makes me wonder if it will be the last one until the fall!

East Africa Day

The last two Geography classes, we learned about North Africa and West Africa. Today we finally got to parts of Africa that I have actually been to, so that was fun for me. We had a Kenyan meal. One of my students made irio, a vegetable dish:

3-24-16 irio

And I made a bean stew:

3-24-16 Kenyan bean stew

I also made mandazis.

3-24-16 mandazis

We followed it up with real Kenyan chai, of course.

After class I had a brief break before taking Jasper and his friend Sam to the local beekeeping meeting. I got some knitting done and saw one of my former students there too.


Geography & Preparations

Today was our last full day at home. There was so much to do, and I tried hard to do it all. I had a class to prepare and cook for too, however!

We were studying North Africa today, so we had a menu from various countries. The appetizer was an orange and radish salad from Morocco:

Geography North Africa 1 Tunisian salad

The main course consisted of couscous (duh!):

Geography North Africa 2 Couscous

And a vegetarian stew from Algeria:

Geography North Africa 3 Algerian stew

We finished with a rich nutty cake from Egypt:

Geography North Africa 4 Egyptian semolina cake

We were supposed to go to the bee meeting tonight, the one that is an hour’s drive away, but the main reason I had hoped to go was to pick up some new beekeeping supplies for Jasper, and the man who sells them didn’t respond to my email, so we stayed home and worked on various trip-related tasks. We did laundry, washed dishes, packed and sorted belongings, etc.

I also had bills to pay and paperwork to do. Believe it or not, Walter and Jasper will be going to their yard job in the morning and plan to work all morning and then leave after lunch. I’ll pack while they’re gone tomorrow. I’m going to be very strict with myself!

Parting shot:

3-2-16 Lucy's dragon

This is an adorable dragon that Lucy drew for her art class this week.

A Happy Curry Birthday

I had a good reason for not blogging last night. I was helping someone else set up a blog! I finally convinced Don and Gwen that the time had come for them to join the cyber world so that all their friends can keep up to date on their ministry. It got late and we didn’t finish, so we will have to do that when they get back from Dallas this weekend. They took off this afternoon to visit friends in Dallas for a couple of days.

Yesterday was also my husband’s birthday. We are not celebrating it till the weekend, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t have a nice dinner and a cake. He had requested beef curry. I have a great recipe from my dear Sri Lankan friend, Anita (Janet’s mother), but some of the amounts and instructions were a little vague, so I have been tweaking it a little every time I make it. Last night I hit the jackpot. It was to die for. So, so good.

Today we had a review day for Geography, which meant a little less preparation for me. I made crepes for lunch, and I am embarrassed to tell you that I was stupid enough to eat a couple. (They were not gluten free.) I felt very, very sick for the rest of the day. Not doing that again any time soon . . .

In fact, I felt so poorly that as soon as my class was over I lay down for 20 minutes before taking Lucy to her friend’s house. Then I came home and lay down for another 20 minutes before taking Jasper to his bee meeting. (I just did not feel well enough to sit through the whole meeting.) Then I came home and lay down for half an hour before leaving to get Jasper! I am doing a little better now.

Parting Shot:

Sleepover at Gwen's

Since Don and Gwen have been visiting, I dug out some old photo albums to look through. Here is a photo of Gwen and me at one of our early sleepovers. When I spent the night at her house, we got to sleep in the “patient’s room” off the kitchen (her dad was a doctor). I’m not sure if this was the time we scared ourselves spitless by telling each other that the local crazy man was lurking outside trying to look in the window at us. Or the time we scared ourselves spitless by convincing each other that the noises coming from the kitchen were made by a burglar who might burst in at any moment to murder us, and not by their two innocuous little dachshunds, Susie and Pudgy. We were experts at scaring ourselves. We don’t do that anymore, but she still comes to visit!


Last Shoe Hope Dashed

Yesterday I just ran out of time to post before I got too sleepy. One thing that I did yesterday was to take my broken clog to the cobbler. I didn’t want to throw out my only pair of shoes without making at least an effort to resurrect them. He took one look at the damage and proclaimed, “The only thing to do with those shoes is throw them in the trash.” *Sigh* That was one time when I would have loved to be wrong!

In the evening Jasper and I went up to the church. We don’t normally attend prayer meeting because of Walter’s work schedule, but last night was different because we’d be participating in a group Skype session with our dear friends Don and Gwen, who will soon be coming for a visit. The members of the church wanted a chance to talk to them and learn a little more about their ministry in Zambia before they get here. It was good to see and hear them!

Today was a geography day. It was the easiest one for me so far, since Haley made the main dish and since I didn’t have to go pick her up. So I had more time to prepare for the class. We were in Central Europe today, so we enjoyed a Swiss and German meal and watched a video about Poland and Prague.

Jasper and I were supposed to go to the bee meeting in Whitehouse this evening, but I was so tired after class and he really didn’t want to go either. I feel a little guilty about not going, but we will try for sure to make the local meeting this month as we start getting closer to the season when we are going to be needing to get more bees.

Tomorrow, Walter and I will be going on a little adventure in the Dallas/Fort Worth area before he flies east early Saturday morning.

Greek Food & a Rare Indulgence

I’m not sure what happened to yesterday. I took Lucy to her art class and waited in the car for her. On the way home, we picked up her friend Martha to spend the rest of the day with us.

In the afternoon I took Jasper to his piano lesson and Lucy made spanakopita for today’s Geography class.

Every other spare minute I was researching and preparing for Geography class.

One thing is worth mentioning, however. During the time I was waiting in the car, and while Jasper had his piano lesson, I was reading a book. I finished the book–the first one of this new year. I so rarely have time to read for pleasure these days, it was a real treat. The book I read was The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine, the 16th installment of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith.  This series, set in Botswana, is like a brief visit home for me. I hope I can find time to read another book soon.

Today was all about Geography. We were studying southeastern Europe, which was a great excuse to make a Greek meal. Lucy had made the spanakopita yesterday, of course, so this morning I got up and made the gluten-free Greek honey cake and then while I was off getting Haley, Lucy made the salad and the egg-and-lemon soup.  I should also confess that when I drove out to get Haley, I was wearing fuzzy socks and slippers, since I don’t currently own shoes. I rarely sink that low, but my feet were cold and I knew I wasn’t going to get out of the car! Oh, and I found the house much more easily this time.

When we returned to the house, we had a delicious meal. I love Greek food. We also enjoyed watching a couple of videos about Greece and then talking about many of the other countries in the region. I have been to Greece, but I want to see all the rest too!

Tomorrow I’m going to the doctor. I’m pretty sure she’s not going to be happy with me because I was supposed to go see her in October.

In Which a Surfeit of White Churches Leads to Tears

It is hard to maintain the delusion of your own intelligence and competence when you keep producing evidence to the contrary. Today was my Geography class, and my student Haley still doesn’t have transportation, so once again I offered to pick her up.

Last week’s attempt was kind of a nightmare, but I was pretty confident that this time I would find her house without a problem, since I had just been there a week ago, and I knew now to start counting the twelve miles a lot sooner. It would have been nice if it wasn’t pouring rain, but it’s not like I had any control over that.

So I set off full of confidence. The rain got harder. There was lots of water on the road. There was lots of lightning. I do not enjoy these driving conditions. The crucial landmark I was looking for was a white church on the right-hand side. I knew if I saw a white church on the left side, I would have gone much too far.

I was a little frustrated that my trip odometer went on strike, but I thought I was still pretty on top of things. I saw the white church, and immediately started looking for the other landmarks Amy had mentioned. Nothing seemed quite right. I kept going (in a deluge, mind you) until I was sure I had somehow overshot it, then turned around and inched back until I was at the church again.

Then I did it all over again. After not finding the driveway for the third time, I called Amy as I turned back into the church parking lot. “What color is the church door?” she wanted to know. Gray. Well, it seems the white church that is near their house has a purple door. By this time, I was in tears. It is so hard to deal with one’s own shortcomings sometimes.

After discussing the situation, we agreed that this time, instead of overshooting my destination, I had not driven far enough. So I drove and drove and drove. It didn’t seem possible I could have been that far off. Then I saw a white church with a purple door and purple steps. Moments later, I found Amy’s driveway with no trouble.

Then, as I was driving Haley back, I had a coughing fit and spent a traumatic few minutes trying to keep it from turning into puking emergency. Also, we passed yet another white church.

So, I think we can all agree that the real problem here is that there are too many white country churches lurking about on rural roads. My life would have been so much more enjoyable today if instead of three white churches there had been a red church, a blue church, and yellow church!

In geography today we were studying Russia and the Balkans. I had made a nice big pot of borscht, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite the way I like it since I had to make it meatless. The same problem arose with the pirozhki. I found a meatless filling recipe, but it was pretty blah. Lucy made the Russian apple pie, which turned out to be more Russian apple goo. It was not our most successful geography class from a culinary standpoint.

However, we really enjoyed learning about that part of the world, despite the fact that it seems to be very cold there a lot of the time!

For supper tonight, there was leftover borscht. I added meat to it and it was better that way.