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!
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!
It struck me when we were at Grant’s Farm on Friday that there’s always something new to see, no matter how often we go there.
It could be something really new, like this baby camel:
Or a young Clydesdale:
It could be something new to us, like seeing a peacock display his feathers (and hearing him scream…disturbing!):
Feeding the goats isn’t new, but the children actually going into the goat pen is…very brave of them!
Riding the carousel isn’t totally new, but it is a rare treat!
I couldn’t even tell you if the murals on the entrance to the Tier Garten are actually new, or if I’ve just never noticed them, but they seemed new to me!
This butterfly sculpture is fairly new (I think)…I noticed it for the first time last year:
But I didn’t realize until Friday that it’s covered in coins!
Sometimes one of the children likes to strike a new pose:
I wanted to get a new perspective on one of my favorite details of the Bauernhof…inexplicably, I take a picture of it every time we go to Grant’s Farm (it’s not like it changes!), but I really wanted something new and different this time.
We saw some other new animals, found a new gift shop and a new deli, and had a new family picture taken. I even sampled a new beer! This is why, no matter how many times we go to Grant’s Farm, I never, ever, get tired of it…there are just so many new things to do and see!
A few pictures from the Grant’s Farm elephant show that we saw a few weeks ago, starring Bud:
Yesterday afternoon, we took a field trip to Grant’s Farm. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Grant’s Farm is one of my very favorite places to go, and it’s not just because I can get a free beer while I’m there. It’s a great family destination. Extremely affordable–yes, you have to pay for parking, but park entry is free, the tram ride is free, the shows are free, the walk through the Tier Garten is free, and you can see all the old Busch carriages and visit the Clydesdales for…you guessed it…zero dollars! If you want to add to your experience, though, there are things you can spend money on…feeding the goats, riding the carousel, having your picture taken with a Clydesdale, or just buying lunch at the Bauernhof. There are even several gift shops to give you great souvenir options if you like that kind of thing.
My favorite part about Grant’s Farm, though, is that every time we go there, we see something new.
An iguana, who I don’t think was there last season…
A new calf…
A show we’ve never seen before…
Plus, we see all of our old favorites.
Like Miss Budweiser…
The beautiful buildings of the Bauernhof…
Or a favorite animal or two…
It’s always a fun trip to Grant’s Farm, and we never get tired of visiting!
Yesterday, we finally made it Grant’s Farm for the first time this summer. We usually make it out there much earlier in the year, (and usually multiple times by this point!), but it was a very busy summer, and it just hadn’t happened yet. We did try to get there last month, but when we got there, we discovered that they were closed for the week…note to self: always double-check the website before leaving home, just in case!
Anyway, we went, and the weather was beautiful. Cool, which was a nice change from the hot weather we’ve grown accustomed to encountering when we’re there. As always, it was a unique trip–it doesn’t matter how many times we’ve been there–we always see something new!
We saw an adorable baby buffalo. I wanted to bring it home, but my family vetoed that plan. Hey, I figured it would keep our lawn nice and short!
We also got to see an elk with a very impressive pair of antlers–I wouldn’t want to get too close to that guy in the wild!
We also saw many, many peacocks and peahens wandering around…plus some peachicks, too. I couldn’t get a great picture of the male’s tail feathers, because he kept trying to get away from us, (I wonder why?!?), but they were just as impressive as I’d imagined they would be!
Of course, we had to visit the Clydesdale stable. We didn’t get to see any of them too close this time, but we did see a lot of them eating!
It was another fun family outing. I’m very grateful that we live in a place that has so many interesting, (and often free or inexpensive!), places for us to visit!
On Saturday, we got to take a private tour of one of my very favorite places–Grant’s Farm. The experience was beyond awesome–we had a group picture taken with a Clydesdale, and not just any Clydesdale, but the one that kicks the football in the Budweiser TV commercials; we rode the “safari van” all around the park, including on many trails the regular tram can’t go on; we learned all kinds of cool stuff about the property from our very nice tour guide, J.R., (and saw a mysterious mansion that I didn’t even realize was there!); we fed some animals (including the buffalo, which totally made the day for me!); we got to tour Hardscrabble cabin, which usually isn’t open to the public; and once we were done with all of those fantastic things, we got to do all the usual Grant’s Farm stuff, including strolling through the Tier Garten, where the children all got to ride the brand-new carousel and feed the goats, and having a snack down at the Bauernhof (and visiting the hospitality room for a free “adult beverage” or two!).
It was totally the best day ever–our family loves Grant’s Farm (we go there at least twice a year) but this was a totally different experience. As always, I was impressed with how nice all of the employees are, and how much they all seem to like their jobs. I was also very impressed with the way the tour was put together. I can’t imagine anything that would have made me enjoy myself more (except maybe if we could have actually taken a photo of the previously mentioned mysterious mansion!).
This was truly the nicest gift our family has ever received–we all had a fantastic day!