A Belated Bunny Day

Since Ryan was in Scotland and Turkey was at camp on Bunny’s actual birthday, we waited to celebrate her turning thirteen(!!!) until today. I think it was worth the wait for her, though…she received a lot of nice gifts, including some gift cards, a Lego Elves set from her siblings, and a Harry Potter charm bracelet!

I think it’s very convenient that the “Happy Birthday” candles count exactly 13 in number, so that’s what topped her traditional bunny cake.

It might have been a little late, but it was a very nice birthday celebration! Happy (belated) Birthday Bunny!

A Birthday Trip to the Zoo

Since we don’t have too much school work left to do, we took the day off and spent Ladybug’s birthday at the zoo! I think just about every school in St. Louis was there on a field trip, but we still had a fun time, even though we had to battle the crowds to see anything. The animals were unusually active and playful today…we especially enjoyed getting splashed by the penguins! It was a fun way to celebrate a birthday!

An Early Birthday

Ladybug’s birthday isn’t until Tuesday, but we celebrated today…I can’t believe she’s turning 10!!!

After lunch, she opened presents…Lego sets with horses, which is pretty much Ladybug’s dream come true!

After Ryan’s Bach at the Sem concert this afternoon, and dinner at Seamus McDaniel’s (of course!), we came home and had cake. She wanted a lemon cake shaped like a music note this year, in her favorite colors of pink and purple…maybe if it had been blue and yellow instead, the Blues wouldn’t have lost their last shot at advancing in the playoffs! It was just like Ladybug wanted it, though, which is all that matters!

Happy (almost) Birthday, Ladybug!


As hard as it is for me to believe (do I start every birthday post that way?), Chickadee turned five today. These five years have gone by faster than any others in my life!

We spent the day at the St. Louis Science Center, or, as Chickadee calls it, the “Monster Museum.” We saw all her favorite exhibits, went to the star show, and saw our very first Omnimax film…Extreme Weather. And Chickadee and I even wore our matching Pinup Girl Clothing outfits, which feature her favorite animal: the elephant, in a fun Mary Blair print!

When we got home, it was present time. She received two Frozen Lego sets, which she loves, but the biggest hit was the Batcave, complete with a Batmobile, and some characters to play with!

She asked for a cake with a flower on it, which was super easy for me to decorate. The cake got pinker and pinker as the week went on. It started with pink frosting, then she wanted a strawberry cake, and then pink candles, and we even got strawberry ice cream to go with it. I’m pretty sure it’s the pinkest cake I’ve ever made!

Happy Birthday Chickadee!


As hard as it is for me to believe, Turkey is fourteen! It seems like just yesterday that I was freaking out over him being a teenager, and now he’s just two years away from getting his driver’s license.

I think he had a nice day. He received several new Lego Minecraft sets, as well as a big Star Wars set he’s been admiring ever since we saw the movie in December. I tried out a new cake recipe at his request, which included my first-ever attempt at a cooked frosting. I’m always nervous to make something new on a birthday, but fortunately, it turned out great! It’s so exciting to see him turning into a young man before our eyes…I feel very fortunate to get to be Turkey’s mom!

Happy Birthday Moose!

Today is Moose’s eleventh birthday!!!

Despite the fact that he has three days off of school this week, he had to go to school today. So we waited until after school to open presents…luckily, Wednesday is early dismissal day! He was very excited about his new Lego sets…especially the police station, a set he’s wanted for a long time. He has already assembled it, and put it on display with the fire station he received in 2013!



For his birthday cake this year, Moose requested a s’mores cake. Because I’ve never actually made one before, I had to do a little searching to find the right recipe…he loved it, so I guess I was successful!



It is so hard for me to believe that Moose is 11 already…the years are slipping by so fast. I’m so proud of him, and today, especially today, I’m very glad to have a chance to celebrate him, and the amazing young man he is!

Ten Years

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


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.


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!


Hoppy Bunny Day!

It’s hard to believe, but today is Bunny’s 12th birthday! After church, she opened her presents, which included a sewing machine!!! I can’t wait to see what she creates! I made one of her favorite dinners, and then we had the obligatory bunny cake for dessert:


Happy Birthday Bunny!

Tasty Tuesday–El Mazatlan

We were in Bowling Green, KY, for my birthday, and Ryan insisted that we go out to celebrate (a day late, but that’s a long, car problems involving story!). I decided that I wanted to find a Mexican place, and after a great recommendation from my mother-in-law, we went to El Mazatlan. It looked very unassuming from the outside:


But the interior decor was amazing! I was impressed from the second we walked in the door!

And the food! I am not kidding when I say this may have been the best Mexican food I’ve ever had…and I’ve tried a lot. We were only supposed to split an appetizer (the choriqueso dip, which was amazing), but Ryan insisted we also share an order of fajitas Jalisco, too (I’m so glad he doesn’t like shrimp, because they were cooked perfectly, and I got to eat them all!). And a margarita, because, well, margaritas!

Next time we eat there (and there will be a next time!!!), we have to order the Pina fajitas, which is pretty much the basic fajita fixings stuffed in a fresh pineapple. I must try that…so fun!