Our latest Lego creation is done!
Again, tons of details. My favorite on the third floor is the chandelier:
The Grand Emporium’s third floor is the toy department, and there are a good selection of toys available for sale:
The roof went on tonight, as well…even more details:
I love that the billboard is 3-D!
And let’s not forget the window washer!
Next up (not sure exactly when), we’ll be building the new Parisian restaurant, which was Ryan’s birthday gift this year. It’s also a beautiful set, and I’m looking forward to seeing what details we discover as we build that one!
We got back to work last night, and the second floor of the Grand Emporium came together very quickly!
Just because it was a fast build doesn’t mean it isn’t full of details, though! The second floor is housewares, and there are some really cool plate pieces, plus the standard wine goblets. We also added the rest of the escalator, lots of windows, and flags to the outside:
Even without the top floor, the building already looks really cool!
We’re looking forward to capping it off, although maybe not for a few days. We still have Ticket to Ride to play, too!
You didn’t think that just because we finally finished the Tower Bridge that we were out of Lego projects, did you?
We’ve had the Grand Emporium stashed away for several months now. It’s my second favorite Lego set (after the Tower Bridge, of course), and now that Christmas has come and gone, we needed a new project, so last night, we broke it out.
This one is easier to assemble than the Tower Bridge for two reasons. The first is obvious…it has a lot fewer pieces! But, even more importantly, it’s designed so that instruction book one goes with the bags labeled one, and the same is true for books and bags two and three. With the Tower Bridge, we had to open all of the bags at the beginning, and sort through everything. It is much easier just having to open a specific set of bags, and work on one part at a time!
Last night, we built the first floor, which included a lot of really cool features, especially my favorite, a functioning revolving door:
There’s also an escalator (which will continue to go up as we add the remaining floors):
And the way the “Shop” sign is assembled is ingenious!
I also love the mannequins in the windows!
There are so many details in just the first floor of this set…I continue to be amazed with what the Lego designers are able to do with the bricks at their disposal!
In related news, I have come to learn this week that I actually have a favorite Lego designer…Jamie Berard. I didn’t know it before, but he designed the Tower Bridge and the Grand Emporium, as well as the new Parisian Restaurant, in addition to many other sets. I’m amused that all of my favorite Lego creations were imagined by the same person…I’m nothing if not consistent!
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!
The children enjoyed their Lego Advent calendars again this year!
The boys had the Lego Star Wars calendar. They couldn’t decide if this year’s special minifig was “Jingle Fett” or “Jango Claus!”
The girls had the Lego Friends calendar. They were excited to get ice skates for their new minifigs…that was a first for their collection!
They’re already looking forward to finding out what the calendars will hold next year!
This was a very light week of school…only about two-and-a-half days. We read a lot of Thanksgiving books and did a few crafts.
We also finished our Thankful Tree…isn’t it beautiful?
Today we got an early start on Christmas School, and learned about Christmas markets. This included watching a travel DVD about European Christmas markets, and what you can expect to find there, and building the Lego Christmas Market. Such a fun day!
Next week, we’ll be back to a mostly normal schedule, with a little Christmas School thrown in for fun!
Instead of braving the crowds and shopping today, we spent the day at home, working on our Lego Christmas Market. It was a far superior way to spend our day…all the fun of putting together a puzzle, but far easier to display and much more enjoyable to play with, and not a manic shopper in sight!
There were enough stalls that each child got to build one…if Chickadee had been big enough, there would have even been one for her! Since she’s not ready for Lego bricks, I helped her out. (Ryan and I also got to build the carousel.)
We also had the two holiday exclusive with purchase sets…they go perfectly with the Market!
We finished the bridge itself last night, but the set wasn’t complete until the children built the vehicles for it today.
There’s a taxi (built by Bunny):
A truck (built by Moose):
A car (built by Ladybug):
And, of course, a double-decker bus (built by Turkey)!
Now the set is done…and just in time, too! We need to get to work on the Lego Christmas Market next!
I bet you thought we had either given up on finishing the Lego Tower Bridge, or I had simply forgotten to post the completed pictures. Well, it did take us this long to sit down and put the finishing touches on (What can I say? Sometimes life gets in the way!), but we didn’t forget about it, and tonight we finally finished the bridge!
All that was really left were the caps to the two towers:
And the bridge cables on either side:
I’m not too proud to admit that we needed Turkey’s help with part of it. Sure, we could have figured it out ourselves if we had actually stopped to think about it, but it was something he could do without thinking…he just knows Lego stuff! It is a grand Lego set, and it just barely fits on the table in the living room! We still have to build the mini vehicles for it, but we promised the children they could do that part, so tomorrow, we’ll really, finally finish the Lego Tower Bridge!
This is the back of the birthday card that Turkey made for Moose:
He created a mini Lego set with a construction theme, and taped it to the card. This was from Turkey’s own personal Lego stash, and even though he had already purchased a present for his brother, he also wanted to make something for him.
It may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re a boy who loves Lego bricks, it’s a huge deal to give some of them away, especially completely unprompted. Turkey’s generous heart is one of my favorite things about him!