Chickadee Thursday

Ryan and I are celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary today, and Chickadee is having a fun time saying “Happy Mommy and Daddy Day!” to us!

Ten Years

Today is the 10th anniversary of the day we closed on and got the keys to our house!

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It is almost impossible for me to believe that it’s been that long…there are days when I walk downstairs, and I still catch a whiff of that “new house” smell. But 10 years it’s been, and a great 10 years at that!

So much has happened since we moved in here. Five of us moved in that day (although Ladybug was already a stowaway), and we had so much less stuff. The house seemed huge after living in cramped apartments. And my very own laundry room! I still stop and marvel over that occasionally.

Of course, things do change over the course of 10 years. There are now two more people living in this house than the day we moved in…and yet, I can’t really remember what it was like before Ladybug, and then Chickadee, joined our family. And we have so much more stuff. More furniture, more clothes, more shoes, more books…so many more books. Homeschooling wasn’t even on our radar back then, and yet today, an entire room of our home is dedicated to it!

There have been so many happy days…and a few sad ones, as well. So many holidays and birthdays celebrated here. So many guests we have welcomed into our home. So much music and laughter that has echoed off the walls. When we moved in, I told Ryan that he could bury me in the backyard someday, and I still feel that way. While I sometimes wish our house was a little bigger, had another bathroom, or was located a little more conveniently to this location or that, there is still no place I’d rather be after all these years!

Of course, I had the perfect skirt to wear for the occasion…one featuring houses! And I wore this very denim shrug the day we closed on the house…it’s probably the oldest piece in my wardrobe that’s still in regular use!

Since it’s our house’s “birthday,” we had to have a family feast. I don’t remember the very first meal I made here, but Turkey and I both remember one of the earliest dinners prepared in our kitchen…slow-cooked beef and mushrooms served over buttered egg noodles. I remember it because, as I was pregnant with Ladybug at the time, I didn’t get to enjoy it due to “morning” sickness, and instead went and laid down on an air mattress in our den, surrounded by boxes that still needed to be unpacked. I don’t know why Turkey remembers it, because he didn’t even like it much back then, but it’s a popular meal now, so we enjoyed having it for dinner today. Since I cooked the beef in Boulevard’s Funky Pumpkin beer, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to also try out Funkier Pumpkin, which was delicious with the meal. I also added the children’s two favorite vegetables, roast carrots and brussels sprouts, to the menu.

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Of course, no Markel family  birthday celebration is complete without a cake, so I looked back and found the first dessert recipe I published on my blog (that didn’t include nuts), and made that. The children insisted we get some candles for the occasion, as well.

We’ve had a great decade in this house, and I look forward to many more…happy birthday, house!

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Anniversary Dinner

Today is our 15th wedding anniversary!

We started our celebration a day early, with Chicago-style pizza for dinner last night…the same meal we had at our rehearsal dinner 15 years ago, only this time, it was homemade, and not from the kitchens of Giordano’s.

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I wanted to make something fancy-ish for dinner tonight, but I also wanted it to be something that we would all like. With Ryan’s help (and a bit of input from Turkey), I decided on a pan-fried chicken and grapes with a creamy white wine and mustard sauce, plus couscous and sautéed asparagus. For dessert, I made a strawberry Moscato torte, which my family liked, but sadly I didn’t really enjoy.

15 years later, and still just as happy as we were on the day we got married!

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Five Straight Years

My blog’s “birthday,” if you will, is coming up exactly one month from today, on January 23rd. It was on that date in 2008 that I published my first post.

Today, however, is a much more significant anniversary for this website. On December 23, 2010, I committed to blogging every day. This was supposed to be an experiment for a little over a year, as I was was gearing up for a post-a-day challenge in 2011. After that first year, however, I realized that I enjoyed looking for something to write about (or photograph), everyday, and I decided to keep going. And keep going I have, for the last five years. I’ve found something to share at least once a day, every single day, without taking a break, for five years.

Some days were easier than others. In 2014, when we decided to track down all 250+ “Cakeway to the West” installations, I had over 250 blog posts planned, without too much thinking (but lots of effort!), on my part. Other days were more difficult, and I struggled to even find a quote to share.

I’ve blogged through it all. Sickness, miscarriage, childbirth, those early sleepless days with a newborn, homeschooling from kindergarten through junior high, a road trip…nothing has stood between me and the “publish” button. I’ve written through good times and bad, laughter and tears, holidays and everydays. I’ve reviewed things, talked theology, shared some of my favorite things, complied curriculum lists, and talked about my family and my community constantly.

This is a significant day for me. I’ve mentioned before that I began blogging because Ryan really enjoyed it and asked me to try it out. I keep blogging, though, because I fell in love with it, and because I can’t imagine not writing, photographing, or sharing something everyday. I can’t promise that I’ll never miss a day in the future, but I am committed to continuing to publish something daily as long as I am able. I may just be talking to myself most of the time, but that’s ok by me, because at heart, I’m a writer, and even though “it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket,” it’s still a hobby that I love, and I will continue to write for myself, even it not for anyone else!

An Anniversary Trip to the Zoo

Today we spent the morning at the St. Louis Zoo. We covered a lot of ground…we saw the elephants at the River’s Edge, the sea lions at Lakeside Crossing, the penguins (including an adorable chick), and puffins at The Wild, and a whole bunch of animals at the Children’s Zoo. The only thing we really missed seeing was the giraffes, but the smallest member of our family had had enough walking, so we’ll have to save that for another day!

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Today is our 14th wedding anniversary, and I can’t think of a better excuse for being sentimental, so you’ll have to forgive the trip I’m taking down memory lane today.

Our first home in St. Louis was at Park Clayton Apartments in the Dogtown neighborhood. The apartment itself was pretty basic, but the neighborhood was the perfect place to live in and get to know St. Louis.

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Shortly after moving in, Ryan and I both got jobs at the Brentwood Target…he worked security, and I was the store’s operator, answering the phone and doing some basic clerical work.

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I can’t mention our early days in St. Louis without mentioning Concordia Seminary. I’m not going to lie…I have more mixed feelings about this place than any other St. Louis location. But it was the reason we moved down here in the first place, and it was a focal point of our lives for several years, and continues to be part of our lives even today, so I have to give credit where it is due.

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Another place we spent a lot of time was at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Bridgeton. In his first year at the Seminary, Ryan was assigned this congregation as his field work church for two years. In his second year of field work, I also started working there, as a DCE intern.

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We have lived in two other apartments in the St. Louis area…first at The Pavilion in Maryland Heights, following our move back to St. Louis after Ryan’s vicarage in Green Bay, WI.

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And then at Village Green in Chesterfield, for just over a year. This was definitely the nicest apartment that we lived in, even if it wasn’t in a charming neighborhood like Dogtown!

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Of course, we landed permanently in Belleville about eight-and-a-half years ago:

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There are other important to us places from our early marriage I could mention…places we both worked, like the International Center, Circuit City (of blessed memory) in Chesterfield, and Concordia Publishing House. I could also talk about the hospital where four of our children were born (Mercy Medical Center, formerly St. John’s Mercy). I could even mention other specific Dogtown locations, such as the former Chuy Arzola’s Mexican restaurant or the former Gewinner’s Market (both places that were significant to me in the pregnancy cravings department when I was awaiting Turkey’s arrival). I will mention the St. Louis Zoo, as we spent the morning of our first wedding anniversary there…what can I say? It was within walking distance of our apartment, and free, which was great back then when we had no money! We did the same again today, thirteen years later, this time with five additional Markels joining us!

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And of course, Seamus McDaniel’s in Dogtown, also within walking distance of our first apartment, and home to many family celebrations over the years, just as it was today.

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Sure, we’ve gotten older, but we still look happy to be together, don’t we?

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I can’t really think of a better way to spend our anniversary, than going to a fun place as a family, enjoying a meal together at our favorite restaurant, and then taking a walk (or drive, as the case may be), down memory lane!