Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mummifying the Chicken - Update

Well it's been a couple of days, and the chicken needed fresh salt solution. We opened him up, wearing rubber gloves this time because who knows what else is in there besides the salt, and put him on a cookie sheet. Yummy. We rubbed off his wet salt as best we could, and then dusted and stuffed him with new, dry stuff. Then back in the bags! (new bags) He really didn't smell bad at all, I think it's more a psychological effect that makes you feel so squeamish. Just imagine doing this to a whole human body! Yikes!

Monday, September 28, 2009

In Which We Start Mummifying a Chicken

As part of our homeschooling curriculum we use Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World, and the accompanying activity book. For the Ancient Egypt section, there are instructions on how to mummify a chicken, so we thought we'd give it a try. It's a rather long project, so we're not done yet. But here's how you get started:

To Mummify a Chicken:

1. Unwrap supermarket chicken

2. Wash with water

3. Pat dry

4. Wash with wine

5. Pat dry

6. Prepare "natron" substitute (in this case it's a mix of salt, baking powder and baking soda). Natron was the natural salt the Egyptian's used to embalm their dead.

7.Dust chicken liberally with salt solution, stuff with salt

8. Double Ziploc bag, and let him rest for a while!

Now you keep an eye on him, and when you notice his salt solution around him is wet (it's sucking the moisture out of him!) then you get to open him up and change his salt for new, dry stuff. It should take about 6 weeks all together, we'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Art Class

Isn't it just like a Van Gough? Pip drew this! The others did pretty well too. The gallery is up on our dining room wall right now, four versions of "Sunflowers". We went outside, and the children sat on the grass to observe and draw. Here they are, (sorry for the thumb!):

That was a good art class! The next week (last week) we looked closely at a painting Van Gough made of sunflowers (his were in a vase) and then tried to draw it. I don't need to tell you that the painting was in a book, alas for us, not on our wall! So now we have two sets of "Sunflowers" on the dining room wall. They're pretty bright and sunny! Good thing, because just on Saturday we cut down the sunflowers, all dead now, and started drying the heads for the seeds!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Well, we're back at school! We had a good first week last week, starting off the year with a trip to Marine Land! But then we got down to business again! Every year it is a little different. This year is busier in some ways than others, but easier in other ways. We follow a classical model of homeschooling, where the entire school career is divided into three basic sections. The first section (roughly grades 1-4) is called the grammar stage, where the student takes in a lot of information, but doesn't act on it too much. The next stage (grades 5-8) is called the logic stage, and here the student is expected to start thinking about and analyzing the information they take in. The final stage (high school) is the rhetoric stage, and that seems so far off right now!!

The big change for us this year is that Emmi is moving into the logic stage! (Grade 5!!) She is becoming a much more independent student, able to do a lot of her schoolwork by herself. My role is changing with her from direct teaching, to coaching, and marking. She is also able to help me by teaching the younger boys some of their lessons. And she seems to have taken over lunch duty of late, which lets me get in "just one more" lesson with someone else, or small household job.

Tim is in Grade 3, and is moving towards greater independence. But for him, Grade 3 looks a lot like Grade 2, just a little more of it and a little deeper. Ben has started into the grammar stage, he's in Grade 1, so he is starting to study in a more serious way than in Kindergarten, and he needs a lot of one-on-one help. Pip does not want to be left behind! He is asking for phonics worksheets, and loves his math lessons! The great thing about a younger sibling is that they learn so much from the older ones. Pip works on a phonics question beside Ben, and Ben shows him the right answer. I don't know how much Pip really understands about what Ben is telling him, but it gives Ben a chance to use his knowledge, and it can't hurt Pip's ability to learn to read! Emmi loves to play school with the younger boys, and she teaches them all sorts of basic math and reading concepts!

Our history studies follow a 4 year cycle (you do one cycle with each stage), and last year we finished off history (aren't you glad to know there's an end? Just kidding!) with the Persian Gulf War. This year we are back to ancient history, to great rejoicing from all the children! Our very first history lesson was about archeologists, and how we can know what happened so long ago. Acting on the suggestion in our activity book, I staged an archeological dig in the sandbox!

The archeologists are examining the site:

Looks like Emmi has found something!

Pip is pretty happy to be digging!!

The archeologists examine their findings, and try to draw some conclusions about the civilization that left the artifacts.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Productive Summer

This has been a good summer for our tomatoes! We were away for a week in August, and when we came back, Granddad came and helped us harvest the tomatoes that had ripened while we were away. I gave him a small basket. Tim came into the house and emptied it, then he came back again. Eventually Granddad went and found our bushel basket. Here's what we ended up with!

Those little cherry tomatoes - so yummy!! The little yellow ones are less acidic, more mellow, than the reds - but both had fantastic flavour! We also had a few zucchini that were on the vines:

Most of these found their way to other homes, but a couple made their way into my zucchini bread. We gave away a lot of the cherry tomatoes, but the bigger ones I sauced, and canned. Here's what's on my pantry shelves now:

Only six quarts (plus the equivalent of another we ate right away) but what wonderful flavour! I look forward to having some pasta with bottled sunshine in "the bleak midwinter"!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

At the Cottage

We spent the day recently at the cottage of a distant family relative (we're talking great-grandparents being aunts and nieces....) of David's. The cottage was built in 1887, (by a great-uncle type person) and has remained in the family ever since. It has a wonderful, peaceful, atmosphere, and a lovely old smell (not the musty-yucky old smell!). It is on the shore of Lake Erie, and we met up there with David's mother and aunt (and her daughter) to visit Aunt Eleanor.

Here are the children on a large rock on the shore. I know the exposure is off, but I liked the dreamy quality to the picture!

The children really enjoyed playing on the shore. They did a lot of "exploring", and jumping!

Here is the amazing Tim!

A lovely summer day!