2013 was a much calmer year than 2012 was, but we were still plenty busy!
In January, I started the new year by rearranging the school room again. This has become a fairly regular occurrence, and I’m not sure that it will ever really be “done.” I had one of my worst kitchen disasters ever, but corrected it a few days later. We enjoyed our final feast of the holiday season. In school, we made an Alleluia banner to (kind of) match the one at church. The entire city of St. Louis mourned the passing of Stan Musial in January, as well.
In February, we celebrated our 100th day of school. I made a big deal out of it, as I always do for a student (this time, Ladybug), in kindergarten. Chickadee celebrated one of her last remaining first holidays…Valentine’s Day. We had a tea party to celebrate. How I love all of my valentines! Our school received a wonderful gift of a microscope, and we had a great time playing with it. I got hooked on Downton Abbey, and the children got hooked on Jem. Chickadee entertained all of us by learning to say “uh-oh,” as well as dropping things intentionally so she could try her new word out!
March was arguably one of the busiest months of 2013, filled with big events. Bunny attended a park district volleyball clinic and loved it. I received a piece of mail from Buckingham Palace. We celebrated Chickadee’s first St. Patrick’s Day with a tea party…my favorite one of the year! Turkey turned ten…we could hardly believe it! We finally tracked down some zeppole for St. Joseph’s Day. Chickadee turned one…it was a big day! We had a snowstorm that will always be remembered as the “Palm Sunday Snowstorm.” We made a Paschal candle on Holy Saturday and (hopefully) started a new family tradition. We had a very blessed Easter, complete with a new Easter bonnet for me.
We started April still celebrating Easter with another tea party. The Cardinals started another awesome season of baseball. We didn’t make it to Opening Day, but we did take the children on their first train ride to Stan Musial Night at Busch Stadium. The blossoming trees were especially beautiful this year! We took lots of pictures and did lots of tree identification. Chickadee started walking unassisted…watch out world! She also had her first ride in a swing. She wasn’t too sure about it at first, but it turned out to be a lot of fun! St. Louis finally got a Lego store, much to our excitement (and to the dismay of our checking account)! We went on a farm tour at Eckert’s, and learned a lot. I finished planning the year’s summer school. We watched with interest as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated the throne to her son, Willem-Alexander (one of several abdications this year).
In May, Ladybug turned six, although we had to wait for her big birthday celebration, because Ryan was gone on one of his many business trips (almost two months’ worth!) on her actual birthday. Our Lego store celebrated its grand opening, and we stood in line to be a part of it. It was a lot of fun, and the wait was worth it…unfortunately, it didn’t take the children too long to put all of their sets together! As we do every year, we went to Art on the Square, and this time, bought a print of our town’s beautiful fountain from our favorite artist. I took the big girls strawberry picking for the first time. We had our last day of school for the 2012-13 school year. We used some of the strawberries we picked for our Pentecost tea party. Memorial Day weekend, we made the trip to Kansas City to see the Cardinals play the Royals. Ryan and I started building the Lego Tower Bridge. We finished making a full set of church year banners for our school room.
June began with our biannual (apparently) “Park Day.” We had a lot of fun visiting different playgrounds and splash pads. Turkey started another season of parks and rec baseball. Ladybug lost a tooth for the first time. Ryan and I continued working on the Lego Tower Bridge. I took the children to a “Dock Dogs” competition at Eckert’s, which was definitely a first for us! We also went to Grant’s Farm. We celebrated the Queen’s birthday with another tea party. To celebrate “Beer Stein Night” at the ballpark, Ryan and I went to the Flying Saucer for the first time with a friend. The children and I (minus Chickadee) went to the International Center for the service of blessing for the new KFUO studios. Ladybug was very disappointed to learn that the American Girl doll she’s always wanted was going to be retired by the end of the year (stay tuned…). We went blackberry picking for the first time, and really enjoyed the fruits of our labor!
We were very happy that this July had much cooler weather than last July did. We were able to be outside doing things a whole lot more! We went to Six Flags St. Louis for the first time, and the children had their first experiences with roller coasters. And I remembered why I hate roller coasters! Moose took us with him to “Honor Roll Night” at the Gateway Grizzlies game. We had a fun Fourth of July, and celebrated with an adorable little patriot and a big feast. Bunny and I went out for a Mother-Daughter sushi lunch. Twinkies made a comeback! We went to the zoo, and got to see the very cool new sea-lion exhibit for the first time. Turkey’s baseball team had an unexpected victory in the playoffs, which allowed them to play one more game. Bunny celebrated her ninth birthday. We had all-inclusive tickets to a Cardinals game…a rare, but very appreciated, treat! While we were there, Turkey got beaked! I volunteered at the LCMS convention, and then took the children back to see it in action. We also finally visited the Gateway Arch (although we didn’t take the ride to the top). We celebrated the birth of Prince George with yet another tea party (I’m getting to be a professional at putting those together!).
In August, we went peach picking at Eckert’s. There’s no end of things to do there! We added Lego Big Ben to our architecture collection. Bunny and I went to Star Wars Night at Busch Stadium, and even got to sit in the Champion’s Club. We took another road trip, this time to see the Cardinals AA affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals, play. Ryan and I repainted and redecorated our den/his office. The whole family (but especially Chickadee!), got hooked on Dinosaur Office. We visited the St. Louis Art Museum. All of the older children went back to school, and I made schultüte for them again…I guess it’s a tradition now! We took a field trip to the St. Louis Science Center. Fredbird celebrated his birthday, so we went to Busch Stadium to help him.
September was a big baseball month. I went to Social Media Night, and even won an autographed Jason Motte photo! We also got to see a walk-off victory the night we went to Busch Stadium with Moose’s school. We went downtown to see the fountain at Kiener Plaza dyed red in honor of the Cardinals going to the playoffs. We celebrated Oktoberfest. We took another trip to Eckert’s, this time to pick apples. While Ryan was out of town (again!), the children and I went to the St. Louis Scottish games for the first time. We celebrated Michaelmas with an angelic feast.
Moose brought home a really cool piece of art he made in October. We were back at Eckert’s…this time for pumpkin picking. Even the Lego store caught Redbird Fever. I shared what a day in the life our homeschool looks like. I also rearranged the schoolroom…again…which allowed Chickadee to move in with her big sisters. Red October really started to heat up in St. Louis (before it fell flat in the World Series). I put together one last tea party for the year (number seven!), for Reformation Day.
Things got really busy in November. The children and I (minus Chickadee, again), spent a fun day in Forest Park, looking for leaves and seeds and any other nature items we could find. We even looked at some of it under the microscope! Moose turned eight. Ryan took me to my first-ever hockey game. Chickadee was very excited when we put up the Christmas tree! Ryan and I finally finished the Lego Tower Bridge, complete with mini vehicles assembled by the children. I made my radio debut on KFUO. I also baked a lot of pies for our Thanksgiving dinner. We finished our Thankful Tree for the year. The day after Thanksgiving, we started what I hope will become a new tradition…we spent a few hours as a family, putting together a Lego Christmas Market. I already can’t wait to see what next year’s Christmas set will be! When we finished that, we went down to main street for our town’s tree lighting.
December was, as it is every year, crazy. Due to an illness that we couldn’t shake for several weeks, we had to cross a few things off of my to-do list, and Christmas school fell a bit flat. We did get around to all of the important stuff, though, even if it didn’t all quite happen as planned (our Christmas baking this year, for example, got spread out over several weeks, and was still happening after Christmas was over!). Other than the illness, there was one low point in December…Turkey had to have some baby teeth pulled. He was very brave, though, and it was soon forgotten. We went to Christmas on the Hill…it was very cold! That meant that we didn’t walk around as much as usual, but we still saw La Befana, looked at the nativity scenes, and ate salamites! For the first time, we got to walk the Anheuser-Busch brewery at nighttime, and see all of their beautiful Christmas lights. We celebrated Santa Lucia Day, with Bunny playing the title role, and handing out Lussekattes for breakfast. Even though we had looked at Belleville’s gingerbread houses at night after the tree lighting, we went back to see them a little better in the daylight. Of course, we made it to our favorite event, St. Charles Christmas Traditions. We all fell in love with this sweet video of Sweden’s adorable Princess Estelle baking cookies, and Ryan even bought Chickadee her own tiny rolling-pin just like the Princess. To kick off his Christmas vacation, Ryan played video games for 25 hours straight (with some help from the children), to raise money for the children’s hospitals in St. Louis. The children worked hard to prepare for their roles in the Sunday School Christmas program. Ladybug lost a tooth right before we left for church on Christmas Eve! We had a very merry Christmas. For the first time ever, each member of our family received a Lego set (well, Chickadee’s was a Duplo set, but it counts!), but mine was the best…the now-retired Lego Winter Village Cottage. Now I don’t have to worry about what we’ll build the day after Thanksgiving next year! We continued our celebration the day after Christmas, when I made a pork crown roast for the first time for our fancy Christmas dinner. Ryan’s mom and I went on the “Beermaster Tour” at Anheuser-Busch…it was both fun and informative!
Writing this up is always a huge undertaking, but I love the chance to look back at all of the fun things we’ve done over the last year, and wonder what the next year has in store for us! It has been a busy, fun, crazy year, and I am so Thankful for all of the moments with which God has blessed us. I pray that He also blesses your days with joyful, noisy moments!
Happy New Year!
Eckert’s has become a very important part of our family’s traditions throughout the year. This year, we did almost everything they offered, although we did miss blueberry and tomato picking, and we always have an artificial Christmas tree, so we’ve never picked our own. I haven’t taken a class at Eckert’s yet, either, but that’s on my to-do list, hopefully sometime next year!
In April, we went on a farm tour. This was the first time we really got a behind-the-scenes look at Eckert’s, and it was fascinating. We learned about their greenhouse, blackberry trellis, and new vineyard. It was truly an educational experience!
In May, I took Bunny and Ladybug to go strawberry picking for the first time. It was a lot of fun, and we really enjoyed the fruits of our labors!
In June, we saw a Dock Dogs exhibition in the Eckert’s parking lot. This was another new experience, and also a lot of fun.
Later in June, and again in July, we went blackberry picking for the first time. I think this may have been my favorite thing to do at Eckert’s this year, and we went back a few times. They were easier to pick than the strawberries, since they climb trellises, instead of growing on the ground, and they were so incredibly delicious!
In July, and again in August, we picked peaches. I think this was our least favorite activity, because although fresh peaches are amazing to eat, it was much more challenging to find the fresh ones in the orchard. Some things are best left to the professionals, I guess. It was still fun, though, and I made some nice peach desserts (one of which also involved a homemade blackberry syrup).
September saw our annual trip to the apple orchard, where we picked several varieties. I thought we had picked a lot, but they were all eaten before I really had the chance to bake with them, so I guess we didn’t get enough!
Also in September (and again in October), we enjoyed seeing the newest additions to Eckert’s family…two adorable baby goats named Jonathan and Goldie!
In October, we went on our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, and picked pumpkins so big we didn’t know what to do with them all! Chickadee really loved this outing, and kept kissing the pumpkins every time she walked by one!
The Holiday Open House is an annual event in November. In the past, it’s been a big weekend event, so we were a little disappointed to learn that this year was a scaled-back weeknight event. We still enjoyed lots of samples, live music, and looking at all of the pretty Christmas decorations!
That brings us to the end of our Eckert’s year. We were there for specific events in every month from April through November, although I don’t think a month goes by where we don’t visit the Country Store at least once for something. I’m so glad we live near such a wonderful place that allows to experience a little sliver of country life!
This was another busy week! We made our annual trek to the Eckert’s pumpkin patch, to pick the biggest pumpkins we could carry. I’d like to say that we learned something while doing it, but pumpkin picking is just one of those fun field trips that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with school (although, some years it has).
Our religion lessons continued to focus primarily on Martin Luther. We learned a lot about his years at university, and finally the moment where he realized that we are saved by grace through faith. From here on, we’ll be learning about his work as a reformer, which is the more familiar part of the story to the children, but still good to hear again.
Turkey and Bunny had a brief introduction to exponents in math today. This scares me a little bit. Meanwhile, Ladybug is learning how to add two double-digit numbers in her math lessons. I remember when that scared me, too, but now it’s just a welcome relief from more difficult math concepts!
I’ve noticed a big improvement in Turkey and Bunny’s narrative writing over the last two weeks. I have to admit, I’m kind of relieved, because I was a bit worried about their progress up until now. But they seem to be getting better, and are more on track with where I think they should be.
We learned about some famous ancient Egyptians in history this week, including Queen Hatshepsut and King Tut. The children were very amused to learn that Queen Hatshepsut went so far as to wear men’s clothes and even a fake beard. Bunny, of course, was also outraged that she wasn’t supposed to be ruler in her own right at all. We also enjoyed reading the story of King Tut’s mummy again, even though we read it once a few weeks ago when we first learned about mummies. That’s been a favorite book for quite some time around here!
Our science lessons brought us to our home planet this week. We spent a lot of time discussing why the tilt of the Earth is important, and how we wouldn’t have seasons without it. This can be kind of a hard concept to grasp, but having a globe that they can look at makes it a lot easier.
We finally finished our romp through British history this week. When I stop to think about how much time we’ve spent learning about British history and culture over the last two years (in addition to our regular school work), it kind of boggles my mind. I don’t regret a moment of it, though, and I’m kind of sad to be done with it. I think I learned as much (if not more!) as the children did. But, we’re going to be starting on Scotland’s history next, so there’s that to look forward to.
Next week we’re taking a break. We’re a week short of full quarter in, but this teacher needs some time to rest and get her house back in order. Plus, the weather is looking awesome, which is why we break in the fall in the first place! Oh, and playoff baseball. But that’s just a happy coincidence…go Cards!
Today we made our annual trek to Eckert’s pumpkin patch. The children had their best year to date, picking just over 60 pounds of pumpkins. Turkey won, with a 20 pound gourd, and Bunny wasn’t far behind with a 17.5 pound beast. Moose and Ladybug picked pumpkins that were pretty close in size to each other, as well…they were all very happy with what they found!
Chickadee wasn’t too sure what to make of the pumpkin experience. This was the first time she was able to get down with the pumpkins, and she wasn’t sure if they were drums, or chairs, or something else altogether. She did decide that whatever they were, they were fun!
Since Ryan wasn’t with us when we went apple picking, we also had to go back and visit the baby goats so that he could see them. They’ve gotten a lot bolder in the last two weeks, so the children got the chance to really pet them…it was adorable!
I was thinking to myself while we were riding out to the pumpkin patch, that I wonder how many more years we have of the children wanting to do this. They still love it, especially since they’ve turned it into a competition to see who can pick the biggest pumpkin. I know the year is coming, though, (and probably soon!), when they decide it’s just not cool to do this as a family, and that will be a sad day indeed. It was good to remember that I need to cherish every moment like this while they’re all still young and like being together!
I was starting to worry that we weren’t going to make it to the apple orchard this month, because we’ve been so busy. So, today, I decided that our best bet was to just go to Eckert’s right after Moose got out of school. It actually turned out that this was a great time to go…we didn’t have to wait in line at all!
They had Jonathan, Golden Delicious, and Red Delicious apples available for picking. We tried all of them! They really should take the children’s weight before and after they go out to the orchard, because they ate a lot of them while they were picking!
We also stopped by the petting zoo area, and saw the two new baby goats…they were adorable!
Next month, we’ll be back at Eckert’s, picking pumpkins!
Well, I guess now that fall has officially begun, summer is really over. We had a lot of fun these last few months, starting when school let out, until the last official day of the season…here’s a look back at some of the things we did!
We visited a lot of playgrounds:
And spray parks:
We saw a dock dogs competition:
We went to Grant’s Farm (twice!):
And had a few tea parties:
We saw a lot of baseball games:
We went to Eckert’s and picked blackberries:
We visited Six Flags St. Louis for the first time:
And celebrated the Fourth of July:
We visited the zoo:
And saw the new sea-lion exhibit for the first time!
Turkey played in his fourth season of baseball:
We celebrated some birthdays:
And had fun at VBS:
We volunteered at and/or visited the LCMS convention:
And toured the Gateway Arch for the very first time!
Bunny met a few famous people, who happened to be married to each other!
We went on a few road trips:
Ryan and I repainted the front room of our house…it looks so pretty in blue!
We visited the Art Museum:
A new school year began:
We toured the Science Center:
Some of us were just cute!
Did I mention baseball?
I worked hard to make this a fun summer, even though, as always, we didn’t go on a vacation. It’s going to be hard to top this amount of fun next summer!