2017-18 School Year–Week Thirteen

This was only a four-day week for us, but boy, did we cram a lot into those four days!

We’ve been so busy, I don’t even have much time to summarize. So I’ll be brief. Turkey and Bunny have been studying circles in math this week, while Ladybug has continued to work on long division. Ladybug’s history focused on Assyria and Babylon, while Turkey and Bunny have bounced all over the place, visiting ancient China, India, Egypt, and Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. They also finished up their study of the chemistry of life in science, while Ladybug finished her study of primates.

We added in our traditional Thanksgiving studies, focusing on Native Americans, the Mayflower voyage, the first Thanksgiving, and the Pilgrims. This has been especially fun for Chickadee, who has been too small in previous years to really remember much of it. We also took our traditional field trip to Cahokia Mounds, to learn about the natives who lived in this area many, many years before the Mayflower arrived on the shore of Cape Cod. We even got to see some native animals…last year we saw a flock of wild turkeys, but we topped that this year, because there were deer everywhere!

Next week will also be a short week, because…Thanksgiving! So I’ll be back in two weeks with a wrap-up of the few days of school we’ll have then, plus the week following!

Chickadee Thursday

Today we had our annual November field trip to Cahokia Mounds. It was a bit chilly, but Chickadee still enjoyed the climb to the top of Monk’s Mound.

What she really loved, though, was seeing lots of deer!

2016-17 School Year–Week Twelve

This was a fairly normal week in the midst of the chaos that is November!

We’ve been learning about the means of grace in Lutheranism 101. So far we’ve covered how the Bible has been translated over the centuries, and how it’s organized. Today we discussed Holy Baptism. Next we’ll be learning about confession and the Lord’s Supper.

Turkey and Bunny finally finished what seemed like an endless string of math lessons on systems of equations. While the equations took some time to work through, both of them found the lessons to be pretty easy, which was nice. Ladybug worked on estimation when multiplying two and three digit numbers. She always wants to make it harder than it needs to be, by not rounding one of the numbers, but at least she understands the multiplication!

Ladybug started a new chapter in science this week, one that focuses on primeval reptiles. She’s in the middle of learning about the ancient “saurs.” Turkey and Bunny finished the study guide for the chapter they wrapped up two weeks ago, in preparation of the test they have on Monday.

The only really different thing we did in school this week was our study of the first Thanksgiving instead of our regular history lessons. I’m still using the same basic framework I came up with years ago, but our discussions of the pilgrims and Native Americans have become more complex. As we do most years, we also visited Cahokia Mounds, and learned about the people who first lived in our area, and who built an impressive network of mounds over a thousand years ago. And just to make things a little extra Thanksgiving-y, we even came across a flock of wild turkeys while we were walking one of the trails!

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We’re only going to have two days of school next week…I have to make sure we have plenty of time for all of the cooking, eating, and family fun I have planned!

Chickadee Thursday

This morning, we took a field trip to Cahokia Mounds, something we try to do around Thanksgiving most years. Chickadee enjoyed the climb to the top of Monk’s Mound, but she was a little reluctant to make the descent!

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A few years later, and Chickadee still gets excited when we see a “Cakeway to the West” installation when we’re out and about!

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Summer Fun 2015

Now that everyone is back in school, Labor Day has come and gone, all of our regular activities have started up again, and Ryan’s sabbatical is over, I guess summer has really ended. But what a summer it has been!

We kicked off our summer at the end of May by going to the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Turkey played in his sixth season of parks and rec baseball…or tried to. We had so much rain in the first half of the summer (including a tropical depression that made it to the St. Louis area), that almost half of his games were cancelled, which was a huge disappointment.

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We visited the St, Louis Zoo to see Kali, the zoo’s new polar bear. We were impressed not only with the bear, but with the new exhibit, Polar Bear Point.

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The four oldest children attended a week-long choir camp at one of our sister congregations in the city of St. Louis. They had a great time learning about music, got to go on a few field trips, and decided that they want to join the Kantorei at Hope. Chickadee had a fun time that week having me all to herself!

Tim Horton’s finally opened a store in St. Louis, and we were there on opening day! (This was also the week that Ryan’s sabbatical began!)

This summer in school, we learned about Illinois state history. We went to Cahokia Mounds on the first of our summer school field trips. We’ve been there several times, but there is always something new to learn!

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July was the busiest month of the summer. We started with our traditional, Markel family Fourth of July celebration, which is always lots of fun.

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Bunny went to Camp Wartburg for a week of theatre camp. We missed her at home, but she had a great time!

The week after she got home, Bunny celebrated her 11th birthday. The celebration included a trip to the spray park and a bunny cake, of course!

A few days after that, we left on our first-ever Markel family summer vacation/road trip. We visited Bowling Green, KY, Atlanta, GA, and our main destination of Charleston, SC. Even though there were a few bumps along the way, it was more fun than I could have imagined, and we covered all the vacation bases–family, food, baseball, history, architecture, and the beach!

Back home, the girls and I went with Grandma to American Girl Night at Busch Stadium.

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We also drove to Kaskaskia, IL, to see the location of the first Illinois state capital and the Liberty Bell of the West.

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August saw a bit more road-tripping. First, a drive to Vandalia, IL, to tour the oldest existing Capitol Building in Illinois.

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We also drove to Springfield, IL, to visit the Lincoln Home, the Old State Capitol, and the current Capitol Building, as well as a few other locations.

Moose went back to school…he’s in the fourth grade this year! Still not ready to say goodbye to summer, though…

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Turkey, Bunny, and Ladybug also went back to school. Since Ryan was still on sabbatical, though, I still wasn’t convinced that summer was done.

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We had a fun time taking Little Luther with us on all of our travels!

Ryan and I even found time to build not one, but two Lego modular buildings!

Moose got to miss a day of school for our field trip to The Magic House, where we learned what life is like in China, and did a lot of other fun things, too.

That same day (and the day after), we also drove down to Carbondale for a college women’s volleyball tournament.

And just last week, we celebrated the historic reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with a tea party!

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We traveled this summer…a lot. We visited not only spray parks, but pools and the beach, as well.

Most of all, though, we spent a ton of time together as a family, creating memories that I hope will last several lifetimes! It was a more amazing summer than I could have imagined, and I’ll never forget it!

Summer School 2015–Wrap-Up

Summer school this year, in which we learned all about our home state of Illinois, was very busy!

We had a great reading list, which helped us learn about the people, history, and regions and resources of our state. Turkey and Bunny were able to use these resources to write pretty detailed reports about our state.

In addition to reading and map work, we took a lot of field trips this summer. We visited Cahokia Mounds, which is the site of the largest ancient population north of Mexico. I gathered up all my courage for the drive to Kaskaskia, the home of the first state capital (even though it’s now on the “wrong” side of the Mississippi River), and current home of the “Liberty Bell of the West.” We also drove to Vandalia to visit the oldest capitol building still in existence in the state (even if was only the Capitol for a few years). Of course, we also had to visit Springfield, the current capital of our state, and home of the Old State Capitol, as well as the current Capitol building. It was very interesting to tour all three of those buildings, and see what was the same and what was different from one to the other (for example, the Vandalia State House had no space for an office for the governor!). The Illinois State Museum is also part of the Capitol Complex, and we walked through it, as well. It was fun to learn about the history of the natural resources and animals in our state! While we were in Springfield, we also visited Lincoln’s Home (and surrounding neighborhood), his Law Office just across from the Old State Capitol, and Lincoln’s Tomb. (We also stopped for dinner at the Cozy Dog Drive In in Springfield, which is reportedly the home of the original corn dog!)

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We learned a lot about Chicago this summer, as well. Partly because it’s the largest (and most famous!), city in Illinois, and partly because I grew up in one of its suburbs. So, to end our lessons, I made one of our family favorites, Chicago style pizza! (Made the Giordano’s way, for those of you in the know!)

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I’m not going to lie…it wasn’t quite as much fun as last year’s baseball-themed summer school. But it was close, and definitely involved the most field trips we’ve ever taken in one summer!

A Summer School Field Trip to Cahokia Mounds

Since we’re learning about the history of Illinois in summer school this year, and since we hadn’t visited in longer than I care to admit, we spent yesterday morning at Cahokia Mounds, the place in Illinois with basically the oldest known history.

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It’s an amazing place to visit, because when you see it in person, you really get the magnitude of a 100-foot high, man-made, earthen mound. When you just look a pictures, you don’t really get the scale of it.

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We walked around outside, visiting Monks Mound (the tallest of the over 100 mounds), Woodhenge (a prehistoric solar calendar), a “borrow pit,” and the reproduction stockade:

We also spent time in the interpretive center, where we watched a short movie about the history of the settlement, and then walked around the various exhibits, which are really well done.

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Because we’re not on the East Coast, where all of the colonial and Revolutionary War memorials are, it can be easy to think that there’s nothing really old here. A quick trip to Cahokia Mounds, however, you will remind you that the opposite is true!