Oh yes. Now I remember why I have never, ever celebrated Pi Day before.
I like pie just as much as the next guy. In fact, I actually really like pie and have spent more time than I should have the last two years creating, baking, and eating them – especially lemon ones.
But I really strongly dislike and avoid-like-the-plague doing things just because it’s popular. Did I mention I didn’t watch the Lord of the Rings movies until the third one came out? Or that I’ve NEVER read the “Harry Potter” books? Or that I have no idea what happened on the last (or any) episode of “This is Us,” but I do know maybe 6 people who ugly cried during the whole thing?
(I’ve probably just lost half my followers, but I can’t be the only one out there like this, right?)
Anyway, to me Pi Day has always been one of those pop culture have-tos that I purposely avoided. Until this year.
Because I needed something to distract the kids’ attention away from my lack of energy, enthusiasm, and any semblance of celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Reduce and simplify. And somehow making a big deal out of Pi Day fit my logic for de-stressing and simplifying my life.
I don’t actually follow that logic either, but two days ago, it sounded good enough.
(Maybe just eating pie sounded good.)
This is how it all went down.
The night before, I went online to look for easy, meaningful, and memorable Pi activities or videos. I found a few videos I thought were good, and one craft I figured we could do that would be fun and give us something colorful to hang on the wall. I also made a chocolate pudding pie (I cheated because I had no energy for an actual chocolate silk pie and I already had the Oreo crust in the pantry) and a key lime pie (also cheated, store bought graham cracker crust.)
***Fast forward through the next morning, the tears and frustration during piano practice, the teasing and bickering during chores, and the long and tedious drudgery of getting through grammar and spelling… ***
Now we get to the fun part! Yay! We all get to make pie!
A cute way to involve kids in pie making is to use mason jar lids and rings as mini pie plates, have them form their own mini crusts, and then fill the crusts with pre-made pie filling. Simple and easy.
If there is a difference between mini pies and tarts, then I don’t know what it is.
So we did this. Each kid made 6 mini pies. I know what you are thinking. “Six pies for each kid? You mean 24 mini pies? Why in the world?” Well, my version of the Walk Up was to give mini pies to our friends, neighbors, widows and widowers in our neighborhood. You know, spread some love. And I thought for a moment, maybe somehow we could be really clever and add something about Caesar and the Ides of March AND St. Patrick’s Day to it so we could just kill 3 holidays/historical anniversaries with one stone! But that was way too ambitious and honestly, just pure ridiculous.
In the end I think we only gave away 3 mini pies and just ate all the rest ourselves. Because truly, sometimes, we are underachievers, and that is ok. It is for my sanity’s sake. Speaking of making pies with 5 children and my sanity…
The toddler screamed the entire time. For toddler reasons, of course. He wanted to roll out his pie dough, so I let him.
You would have thought I had banished him to Siberia.
The kids fought over the jar lids, threw the jar lids around the table, and bickered back and forth the entire time as I was trying to multiply the dough recipe by 7. It didn’t work out too well. Besides the excessive noise and general bad mood in the kitchen, my blood sugar dropped (I have type 1 diabetes) so I was irritable, touchy, overheated, and snappy for a while before I realized what was physically going on with myself. The toddler kept screaming (so I banished him to Siberia/his bedroom), I yelled a few choice admonitions to my kids warning of the untimely end to Pi Day and the possibility of mom really blowing her top if people didn’t shape up right now!
And then I ended up with super dry, tough, unmanageable, and all around gross pie crust dough.
And children who were afraid their mother’s head might actually explode.
But boy! Let me tell you. For a good 45 minutes those were the sweetest, most considerate and polite children ever to have sat at my kitchen table! The things we will do homemade desserts.
In my defense, once I realized the whole tanking blood sugar thing, I downed a few fruit snack packs, apologized to the children, and let them know a great deal of my stress was internal and I was taking care of it. And I was sorry for possibly overreacting. The Honest Homeschool = honest mother, or at least I am trying. I actually do take these things seriously.
One of my favorite parts of mothering/homeschooling is taking those minutes where we are sitting together, engaged in an activity, when I can begin teaching a new concept or explain a new principle to the children. This time, appropriately, it had to do with circumferences and diameters. My kids are in the habit of listening, asking questions, and honestly trying to learn. They have picked up that these are the moments mom has something to say and she really wants the kids to know and understand it. Questions are always welcome, and mom will always answer the very best she can. I am amazed at the connections the kids make on their own. And I feel blessed and grateful that they want to know what I have to say, and theyremember the lessons the best they can.
And that was about the only thing I did well yesterday. Find the good, no matter how small, I guess.
Things actually went pretty smoothly for awhile. With four children and one rolling pin there is a lot of down time, opportunities to practice patience, juggling of needs and wants, and spilled flour on the floor. But I can deal with these things, and the kids are learning to deal with them, too.
Time was quickly ebbing away, most of the mini pies were finishing up, but I realized I still had two chicken pot pies and a berry pie to make. That is an entirely different story of stress, dirty dishes, poor time management, and an oven that had a hard time actually heating up all the way.
Plus a really ugly pie.
Too much to do? Cue the YouTube videos! I picked multiple videos on purpose so the kids would get a good deal of repetition. This is one of the best ways for things to actually sink into their brains. Whatever hadn’t made complete sense during my blissful little teaching minute at the kitchen table was explained in 3 or 4 different ways so that hopefully it would click and make sense in the end. And by the end, they had got it! At least, as much as I thought was important to know for now.
If I had been more on top of things I would have actually checked this book out from the library. But I suppose it all worked out anyway. This is a great series of “math” books if you are in the market!
And this last one, I just thought was creative!
The rest of my day was spent in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning, cooking again, cleaning again, and not blissful. I am not a kitchen person. I have little to no idea what my kids were doing, but by the end of the day they were all safe and happy so I figured it was ok. I, however, was tired, grumpy, a little bitter, and covered in yet more spilled flour.
I meant to have the kids make a Pi chain. The children were supposed to choose a color to represented each digit from 0 to 9. Then, using the color code they had chosen, link strips of paper together to represent Pi, I don’t know, maybe for 100 links/digits or so. This was supposed to help the idea of irrational numbers sink it. But we didn’t get around to it, although the kids in the photo below obviously took this idea to a whole new lever of awesome.
Another cute activity is to make a Pi skyline picture. Using graph paper, use a black marker to color 3 units vertically, then next to that 1 unit, and next to that 4 units, and so on and so on following the digits of Pi. Then cut out the black “city skyline” and glue it onto a sunset scene.
Maybe my favorite Pi activity is Pi-ku, as in Pi Haiku poetry (I got the idea from here). Instead of 5/7/5 syllable pattern, you follow a 3/1/4 pattern. For example…
Wow. This day!
It is over.
But I think it would be fun to see how far you could go, you know, how may digits of Pi you could represent in so many lines of poetry.
Yeah, well, we didn’t do any of those. I slightly remember completely a biology chapter with my 5th grader about predators and prey, and then being too overwhelmed/lazy and cancelling biology for the younger kids. (I already cancelled Latin for the week. Oh the doldrum that is the month of March!)
But we had chicken pot pie for dinner! And plenty of it!
After which I promptly took a nap.
Yes, I took a nap after dinner.
I’m not saying Pi Day is a waste of time. I’m not trying to belittle people who really love Pi Day (I know they are out there) and really go all out to make it a fun, enriching, and memorable experience for their children and/or classrooms. It is a fun idea. And with so many people feeling overwhelmed and “less than” when it comes to all things math, it is good to show how fun, interesting, and applicable it truly is. And that math is so much more than just numbers. Oh that glorious moment when my child started solving his own life problems with math equations, knowing how it applied, how to set up the equation, and then getting an answer all by himself! See! This is why we spend so much time on math every single day. It really, truly, is important and useful!
But next year…
No thanks, I’ll pass.
Well maybe. We’ll see.
It’s much too much to think about now.
Did I bite off too much?
What should I have done?
Just a graph
Or a worksheet?
Maybe nothing at all.
Chocolate, Cherry, Banana Cream,
Apple, Lime, Triple Berry.
All the leftovers are killing us.
Let’s be done.
Next year, maybe a different day.
Et tu, Brute?
Whatever it will be
It doesn’t have to be)
A real one.
I won’t make this mistake again.