Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy December!

Whoa, how did that happen? Every day I have to remind myself that it isn't August anymore. I feel like life has been on fast forward for the past few weeks! I'm pressed for time, so I'm just going to post some random photos that I took over Thanksgiving weekend...

On Wednesday, we celebrated at our business. Every year we have a party to thank the wonderful people that work there. Dad and I cooked 6 turkeys, 20 pounds of potatoes, gigantic pans of cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes, a gallon of gravy, and 8 pies!

Over the years, we've perfected our methods. We cook and freeze the turkeys and pies several days ahead. Dad makes mashed potatoes (with help from the kids) and I make several batches of gravy and cornbread the day before. On Wednesday morning, all I have to do is bake the dressing and heat up the green bean casserole and sweet potatoes. Dad thaws the turkey in an electric oven and pours broth over it to keep it moist.

I was so busy chatting and eating during the party, I didn't take a single picture! So here are some photos of the prep. Step one: pumpkin pie factory. This year I baked at a friend's house because she has two ovens. Besides, it's more fun to bake with a buddy!

Got some great help from a very cute assistant.

Step two: cornbread. I LOVE my giant iron skillet! This was one of 3 batches of cornbread I made for the dressing.

My kids went "veggie" last February, and this was my first attempt at making dressing without chicken broth or fat. A good, buttery batch of cornbread and milk thinned with vegetable broth did the trick. Not one person at the party noticed the difference.

This is what twenty pounds of potatoes look like peeled, cooked, and mashed. They had almost a pound of butter in them and they were sooooo good!

This was our first year to celebrate with friends on Thursday instead of traveling to see family. We had so much fun! We ate another great meal, the kids played together, and we shared some silly family stories. Late in the evening, we played the rowdiest game of chicken foot I have ever seen! Don't check my math--wine was involved!

We traced our handprints and wrote something we were thankful for...

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Miss Coffee Crisp Bars!

Just got home from ten exciting days in British Columbia! What an amazing place! It has everything: beautiful mountains, gorgeous beaches, peaceful forests, and fun cities.

We saw totem poles in Stanley Park and in Victoria, visited the aquarium, Science World, and several museums, and took an amazing wildlife tour. (I guess it's clear now why Super and Dude completed a Canadian unit study in October!)

It was fun to watch the sea planes take off and land.

We got to feed Schoona, the green sea turtle. She was rescued in the chilly waters near Prince Rupert. She probably rode a warm current that took her way off course on her way to Hawaii! Luckily, the Canadian Coast Guard spotted her and brought her to the aquarium.

And here's Izzy, the Stellar sea lion. Look at those cute whiskers! Izzy is part of a fascinating scientific study. The Stellar sea lion population is dropping dramatically, and marine biologists at the aquarium are studying the problem. We learned that the sea lions need lots calories to survive and reproduce, and salmon is the most nutritious food for them. Unfortunately, salmon populations are also declining.

Speaking of calories, we treated ourselves to lots of candy bars that they don't sell in the States. (Hey, it's important to experience the culture when you're traveling, right?) Super and Dude prefer Aero Bars. Dad liked Maltesers and Mr. Big. I liked Maltesers, too. And Coffee Crisp!

Here's the sunset at English Bay...

...and the Sun Yat Sen Garden.

The Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC has a blue whale skeleton! It's so big, the building had to be specially designed with a huge room and tall ceiling just to display it!

The Beaty museum also has lots of Victorian nature collections. Apparently, doing amateur nature studies was all the rage in Victorian times. These bird eggs were part of someone's living room display. Good thing we can just take pictures today!

Did you know people can use different lichens to dye yarn?

The Anthropology Museum displays amazing art from Coastal First Nations.

This is a giant three-car rolling sugar bowl! It's big enough for a person to sit in. It was used at potlatches to bring gifts of sugar to esteemed guests. The tongue is a giant wooden spoon!

We took a wildlife tour and saw sinister-looking jellies floating by.

Look at the creepy tentacles on this one!

We passed a rowdy gang of Stellar sea lions. We didn't feed these--but they look pretty well fed already!

And we saw humpbacks!!!!! Two of them, swimming together, surfacing every 5 or 6 minutes. They were so massive--by the time you see the little dorsal fin sticking up, most of the whale has already gone by!

We would have enjoyed the boat ride anyway, but seeing whales was definitely a highlight!

This was my third trip to Canada, and I can't wait to go back. There are so many beautiful places to see and fun things to do! Also, at least in my experience, Canadians display the kind of civility and politeness that America is so often missing these days.

Maybe it's just too cold there, but I have to say that I didn't see a single person, male or female, wearing their pants in a way that showed their underwear. I watched the CBC news several times and never heard anyone yell at anyone else. People still bother to say "Excuse me," or "Sorry," when they bump into you, and they kindly offer directions to lost tourists. Most of all, Canadians will actually ALLOW YOU TO MERGE INTO TRAFFIC WHEN YOUR LANE IS ENDING. I'm not kidding! This didn't happen just once or twice, but every single time I needed to change lanes. Here's a big thank-you wave, Canada!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rain, rain, whatevs.

We've definitely been keeping busy here at the Super Awesome School! Rainy days kept us inside for a while, but we still found plenty to do!

We've been studying the Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian, and other coastal peoples. It rains a lot where they live, too! We had fun making these beautiful totem poles.

We also made chilkat blankets (using craft foam instead of mountain goat wool!) We learned that the Salish people kept a special breed of white, fluffy dog for its wool.

And here are our coppers! Super drew the face of the lightning snake...

...and Dude gave his a bear face.

Coppers were a sign of prosperity. If a chief wanted to show his wealth, he might break a beautiful copper, challenging a rival chief to do the same.

We also enjoyed this book plus a huge stack of library books that I returned only three days overdue (except for the one I found under the couch yesterday.)

We haven't done any hands-on math lately--we're too busy practicing skills on IXL. We just joined up and the kids are really motivated by earning the little cyber-prizes and certificates.

We're also practicing math with lots of games! Mythmatical Battles is still Dude's favorite. Super prefers Roll-n-Multiply. And we all love chicken foot...

The kids did go a little stir crazy and combined bowling with remote control cars.

Nana has an October birthday, so Dude made her an amazing pop-up card...

...and Super drew one of her favorite cervidae. (Super loves using the Latin classifying terms. I frequently have to ask her to speak English!)

Not much nature study during these soggy days. We did get to observe this lovely lady, who stayed dry on the front porch.

When the rain finally went away, it was time to carve pumpkins! We had a couple of friends over for a pumpkin party. Dad toasted the seeds with a bit of cayenne pepper!

Then, we had to get outside and enjoy the sunshine!

There are still a few pretty leaves, but many trees are looking bare.

This crab apple tree is spectacular!

Hope you're enjoying the best of this beautiful season!