Beef Stoop and Porcupine Scat (or, Adventures in Homeschooling)

Today, the kids and I were all in ornery moods.

It was sunny outside and it might not be nice out much longer, so I decided to embrace the pleasant weather and head outside instead of arguing my daughter into a math lesson.

First up: a walk to the grocery store for some horseradish!

It was a bit chilly and windy and below 40 degrees out, but we warmed up quickly and our fear of getting hit by cars on the sidewalk-less road kept us feeling energized.

At the grocery store, I discovered another difference between the West Coast and the East Coast. When I tried to find horseradish in a regular non-specialty grocery store in California or Utah, all I could find was horseradish sauce (creamy stuff, not very spicy, lots of preservatives). When I asked an employee where I might find the plain horseradish, they had no idea there existed any horseradish-related condiment like I described. Here, I asked where I could find the horseradish and the employee not only knew the difference between the sauce and the plain prepared horseradish, she directed me to the dairy case where they stocked three different brands of just plain old horseradish. I bought the one from Detroit because it had the fewest ingredients and because I like Michigan.

Back home, we had a quick lunch, then we put an audiobook in the car stereo and drove an hour to a homeschool program about porcupines at the wildlife sanctuary. My daughter showed off her knowledge of Erethizon dorsatum while my son and I read books and did puzzles and petted the office cats.

We rejoined the group for an off-trail search for porcupine dens (marked by piles of scat at the openings of small caves) and some hair-raising adventures in toddler rock climbing, then did a quick tick check and headed back home.

On the way back, we listened to Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

“That one’s my favorite!” my daughter said. She’s always excited to listen to Beverly Cleary, but she seemed even more appreciative after having listened to Mommy’s Dalai Lama audiobook on the way out.

About halfway home, my son said from the backseat, “Mommy, I berry hunger-y!”

“When we get home, we’ve got beef stew to eat. It’s in the slow cooker, and it will be done very soon.”

“What [is] beef stew?” he asked.

“It’s like a soup, but with beef in it. And potatoes and carrots and peas.”

“Woo-hoo! Beef stoop! I wuv beef stoop!”

And then he broke into the ABC song.

Even though we’ll have to wait for another day to learn about identifying parallel lines and to do a grammar lesson about verbs, I think we made the right choice in skipping “school” today.

3 comments

  1. Pingback: Beef Stoop (A Recipe for a Sort of Soup, Sort of Stew) « Imperfect Happiness
  2. Melanie Meadors · November 19, 2011

    I miss having very little ones around :(. Porcupine “hunting” sounds awesome! The only experiences I’ve had with them have been on the side of the road (deceased) and then in a dark cave in Arizona… where my only thoughts were to get out of there as fast as possible! Was that at the sanctuary near us?

    Like

    • CJ · November 19, 2011

      When I was working at a conference resort near Lake Tahoe, we (some of the other staff and I) were delayed in getting out to a movie in town because a porcupine was lumbering along down the middle of the one-lane road, and we had to wait for him to move aside enough before we could drive past. That’s the extent of my experience with porcupines in the wild (I’d much prefer seeing a live on from the car than in a cave!), but my daughter and I are well acquainted with Ereth, the porcupine from the Poppy book series by Avi. These books are the reason we know the Latin names for the North American porcupine and the beaver.

      Yesterday’s program was at Wachusett Meadow.

      Like

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