Central America Day

The first thing I did when I got up this morning was to thinly slice a head of cabbage. I had to get a head start on making the Salvadoran curtido to go with our Geography meal. After making that, I worked on class prep and in between I made regular and gluten-free peanut butter cookies and then some low-carb gluten-free pupusas for me and my GF student. And rice. This week’s designated chef brought a Guatemalan chicken dish and some black bean pupusas. Everything seemed to go over pretty well! I keep forgetting to take photos of the food!

We had an enjoyable afternoon learning about Central America. So many beautiful places!

After the gentlemen left I had a quick errand to run, then came home and took care of Scotchguarding my suitcase. And . . . I started packing. Even though I’ve done a practice run, I can see it’s going to take some fine tuning to cram everything in. I like to think I am up to the challenge.

I did take some time for my walk in the gym. I think my new walking sandals are as broken in as I can get them before I leave. I can easily walk two miles in them now.

A Field Trip & Dinner Out

Where has the month gone? It seems like August just started a couple of minutes ago.

Thursdays are Geography days around here. I had two reports to update and some other prep work to do this morning. At least I felt much better prepared than I did last week!

When the gentlemen arrived, we all piled into the car and set off for the Mexican grocery store. This is a field trip I always do at the beginning of the school year, since we were going to be talking about Mexico today anyway and going to that store is a great cross-cultural experience. Not to mention the fact that the food is fabulous and affordable.

The guys all picked drinks and ordered food from the kitchen and then we brought it back to the house and ate it while watching a documentary about Mexico. Later, we also discussed the USA and Canada. Then it was time to walk them through the tedious process of drawing their own maps using pencils and tracing paper. They will each have to do six maps this way during the course of the school year. Some enjoyed it more than others!

My reward for making it through a full schedule of teaching this week was to go to my ladies’ night out for dinner tonight. We’ve never had more than four ladies, but the attendance varies and it’s always a good time. Tonight I was so delighted because my friend Kathy came, and I hadn’t seen her in several years. We keep up on Facebook, but it’s not the same. My neighbor Sylvia also joined us, and Susan, a friend from earlier homeschool days. The restaurant we chose was not crowded when we arrived, and as we sat talking it emptied out until we had the place to ourselves. It was such a lovely little respite.

Parting Shot:

My Geography Gentlemen

A Long Two Days

This has been an exhausting week for me—and I don’t see any sign of things letting up before the end of April! So I will somehow have to get used to this level of activity and effort. At least I didn’t have to do any tutoring this week.

Yesterday was my “prepare for Geography” day. I planned to work on Geography in the morning and then leave for the airport to fetch Janet’s brother Sammy, who was flying in from Zambia to attend a local junior college for the coming school year. But then his flight was canceled, and his new flight was not due to arrive until about 10:00 p.m.

So, I did what I could in the afternoon and then left for the airport at about 7:00 p.m.—only to find out when I arrived that his flight had been delayed! I had parked in the “one-hour parking” area so had to go out and move my car.

His flight finally landed shortly after 11:00, but of course it was half an hour before passengers appeared and the luggage began arriving. Even though I hadn’t seen him for 19 years, I located Sammy quite easily as he looks like his father and brother. We waited for his luggage but one of his big suitcases did not arrive. He had to file a missing luggage report and that took a while as well. So it was midnight by the time we left the airport.

My primary entertainment on the long drive home (other than taking Sammy to Buc-ee’s) was watching the half-moon slowly rise in the sky. It seemed huge—much larger than normal for some reason. We arrived at 2:30 a.m. and I went straight to bed.

It was so, so hard to get up this morning! I don’t do well on less than five hours of sleep. I made Sammy some breakfast and then drove him over to Kilgore to register. I had hoped it would be quick and easy but they hadn’t told him what building to go to and we had to try a couple of times before we were directed to the correct one. So there went a couple of hours out of my morning that I really needed for class preparation.

Sammy finally got sorted out and I raced home and enlisted Jasper’s help. Geography starts at noon with a meal, and I didn’t have time to make anything fancy, especially after the week I’ve had, so I made a batch of keto crepes. I filled half with ham and swiss cheese, and saved the others for dessert during the break.

I hate feeling unprepared or underprepared for anything. I have worked so hard all week and I felt there just weren’t enough hours in the days! There were several moments this morning when I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry—but I didn’t have time! Jasper helped me with some of the food chores and set up the projector in the living room.

And you know what? Despite my feelings of panic and anxiety, it was okay. Everything that had to be done did get done. Well, except taking a photo of my class! This class is just four boys so I call them my Geography Gentlemen. I’ll try to get a photo next time.

All the material I wanted to cover I was able to cover. The boys seemed to like the crepes, especially the dessert version with cream cheese and strawberries and whipped cream! I think it’s going to be a great class! Everyone seems eager to learn more about the world. And yes, I took a nap after everyone left.

We have not heard back from Sammy so are assuming he is spending the night in his dorm room. Maybe tomorrow his missing suitcase will appear and I can get the rest of his luggage to him.

Meanwhile, my husband has been having a very interesting and unexpected week at work. There may be a change in his future.

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!