Apple Cider and Pumpkin Bread; Fractions and The Universe

Today was one of those rare days in homeschooling: we were home. As in, we did not even get in the car. No art class, no teen group, no soccer practice, no music store, no grocery store, no doctor’s appointment, no orthodontist.

The morning started slowly, with me picking my way through emails, getting some work done, and still not getting caught up.  Nick played guitar and did more research to convince me to allow him a new video game. Rick had left the wood stove roaring when he left for work, so we kept it stocked through the day, but the sun eventually came out strong enough for us to let the fire die down.

After being busy-busy-busy, today I decided to get domestic, so I baked pumpkin bread and organized the kitchen. Nick and I enjoyed lunch–the warm bread, some apple slices, ham and provolone pinwheels, apple cider–while watching an episode of The Universe. This episode of the documentary series was on nebulae, which we both admitted to not understanding or enjoying quite as much as others we’ve seen recently (“Dark Matter,” “Jupiter,” “Black Holes,” etc.). We’ve recently become subscribers to Netflix and can’t believe the value it provides. We love being able to stream any geeky documentary we want to the laptop and watch it any place in the house. Myth Busters gets a lot of play. Anyway, we know we want to find out more about gamma rays and the rest of the electro-magnetic spectrum, and then maybe we’ll be able to understand how nebulae are studied, which is mostly through astrophotography that uses filters to capture different parts of the electromagnetic system that humans don’t normally see.

We did some research on some basic questions Nick’s asked recently. For one thing, we read about porcupines and learned that they are the only animals with antibiotic in their skin, which is helpful since they tend to fall out of trees and injure themselves on their own quills. We also looked up dogs’ intelligence compared to humans, and we found that a lot of dogs have intelligence comparable to two-year old human babies. Newer breeds–those more recently developed–tend to be smarter than the more ancient breeds. The breeds of our own dogs are in the top ten for intelligence, since Sunshine is a golden retriever (number four) and Bella Lu is a half Labrador retriever (number seven). The smartest breeds are said to be border collies, poodles, and German shepherds. We talked about different ways intelligence can be measured in animals. We also talked about how dogs have superior skills in reading the faces of humans.

We finished the last chapter of The Seven Songs of Merlin by T.A. Barron. That’s the second novel in The Lost Years of Merlin series, which tells about Merlin before he became the wizard of King Arthur fame. Nick was good at connecting details from The Lost Years to the Arthurian legend.

Today we started a new math series, Life of Fred: Fractions. This is a really different approach to math. The book uses stories and humor, and so far, Nick liked it better than math curricula we have used in the past.

Nick went running on the treadmill while I started dinner. I put some chicken breasts in foil with some brown rice I’d cooked while I was making bread, and added some thinly sliced potatos, some sugar snap peas, diced onions, mushrooms, and carrots that I’d tossed with some garlic salt and olive oil. I put the rice under the chicken and baked at 350 degrees, while also baking some extra chicken breasts I can use for recipes in the coming days. Chicken soup and chicken enchiladas, probably.  We each had a little computer time, then Rick made it home and we had dinner. Some guitar time and more computer time after dinner clean-up. Then tonight we read in front of the fire from Grimm’s Tales, which are classic and funny and odd and old all at once. Rick went to bed early because he plans to hunt tomorrow, so he missed out on the fireside.

There aren’t that many days like this. I wasn’t doing laundry, didn’t have to go anywhere, and kept most of my editing-related work relegated to the morning hours. Nick’s college age brothers weren’t visiting, and I left my cell phone somewhere halfway through the day and didn’t realize it, so didn’t talk on the phone.

When I was homeschooling three boys at once, even the rare less busy day like this had three or four separate threads woven together. In those days, I was doing very little outside work, but each of the boys had his interests and studies to facilitate. It’s still a juggling act, but it was nice to take a break from keeping some of the balls in the air and enjoy the best parts of being with a 12 year old on a fall day.

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5 Responses to Apple Cider and Pumpkin Bread; Fractions and The Universe

  1. Robin says:

    These are the kind of days that Cade and I enjoy most. We are total homebodies and really savor that time at home. He loves going to co-op and doing the extras that he gets to do because of the homeschooling group, but time at home is definitely premium.

    We also are huge fans of Netflix. I’ve looked into other services and they just don’t have all the documentaries. And Cade really loves documentaries. We’ll have to give that ‘Universe’ a try because it coincides with what we’ve been covering in his science material.

    I got a pie pumpkin in my harvest box this week, so I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m going to do with it. And now you’ve given me the inspiration that I needed. Pumpkin bread, here we come!

  2. I have to laugh, Robin. One of my college sons says — in addition to regular social life, video game fests, and parties — sometimes he, his brother, and their friends stay up too late watching documentaries and arguing about them. They seem to lean toward political, historical, cultural and behavioral. (“Buncha Eagle Scouts and homeschoolers,” he jokes about their shared geekdom).

    Love your comment, “Time at home is definitely premium.” Sometimes it is hard to keep the “home” in “homeschooling.”

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Ohh, what a lovely day. I love those kind.

    My 15yo has one or two of the Life of Fred books—we haven’t used them formally (she’s a lifelong fan of Math U See) but she enjoys them as companion-reading. What fun!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Definitely check out the Nova show Dogs Decoded (it is on Netflix streaming). Kyle and I watched it last week and really loved it…focuses on the evolution and science of the dog-human connection. I had not fully appreciated how human-oriented dogs really are.

    I have to be careful or I may start betraying my life-long “cat-person” identity.

    • Stephanie,

      Nick and I watched Dogs Decoded today! Really enjoyed it. Had to laugh when they were doing the section on dogs communicating by barking and our dog began intently listening and watching the dogs on TV! She was very interested!

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