Spring at the Chicago Botanic Garden

When we visited the Chicago Botanic Garden in January, I knew we would have to go back in the spring if we had the chance. The final day of our weekend getaway was that chance. It was nice to see signs of spring everywhere…we had already moved on to summer in St. Louis by that point. My favorite part of the whole visit, though, was the beautiful field of poppies, something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before!

Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Six

Last Monday morning, it was time to say goodbye to Pheasant Run and Combo Breaker.

But we weren’t quite done with our trip. We headed east, for a visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden, where, despite the extreme temperatures, it still looked like spring!

We then drove to the south side of Chicago to try one of the Windy City’s specialties: Rainbow Cones. We were not disappointed!

We took the long way south to Normal, where we had one last taste of Chicago at Portillo’s before heading home:

And so our vacation came to an end. We have more fun trips planned for this summer, but I’m already looking forward to next year’s Combo Breaker!

Winter at the Chicago Botanic Garden

When we were in Chicago two weeks ago, one of the things of the things I wanted to do was visit the Chicago Botanic Garden using the reciprocity that comes with our Missouri Botanical Garden membership. I’m so glad we had time to go!

The weather was actually very nice for Chicago in January, but there was still snow on the ground, which made our walk even more fun. Without question, our favorite part of the Garden was the Japanese Garden, Sansho-en. There were two islands we were allowed to visit (a third is visible, but not accessible), and the winding paths were lovely.

The rest of the snow-covered garden was beautiful, too. We saw as much of it as we could with the time we had.

We did eventually get cold (nice or not, it was still January!), so we enjoyed a walk through the greenhouses to warm up:

And we took a look at the bonsai trees  on display in the Regenstein Center. Don’t let their small size fool you…some of them are over 80 years old!

We loved our wintertime visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden, and I’m really hoping we’ll have a chance to go back in the spring.  know there is a lot more water throughout the Garden than it looked like because of all of the snow, and I really want to know how it  looks when you can see it all!

2017-18 School Year–Week Eighteen+

I’m wrapping up two-ish weeks of school, and I’m late with it to boot! But when you see how busy we’ve been, I think you’ll see why!

The week of the 15th-19th was just INSANE! Moose had off school that Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we always do some different things on that date, so while we had school, it wasn’t exactly our normal schedule. And then Moose’s school cancelled school Tuesday on account of cold (don’t even get me started…I enjoyed having him home, but I really think the schools in the St. Louis area have a different definition of cold than I do after having grown up in the Chicago suburbs!), so that wasn’t really a full day of school for us, because we wanted to hang out with him at least part of the day. We did have a normal day of school on Wednesday, but on Thursday, we hit the road dark and early to go to Chicago, where we did manage to cram a few educational activities/field trips (visits to the Adler Planetarium, the Chicago Botanic Garden, Legoland Discovery Center, and Wheaton College, to see the Perry Mastodon, which went perfectly with Ladybug’s science lessons from that week) into our weekend:

The last week wasn’t exactly standard, either. We had school on Monday, but we spent the day at the Missouri History Museum, where they were holding a “homeschool day” focusing on immigration to St. Louis. It was really interesting learning about some of the groups that settled in this area (particularly Bosnian and German immigrants), as well as what their journey might have been like, and what kind of cultural arts they brought to the area with them (we loved trying Bosnian “carpet” weaving and Scherenschnitte, which is German paper cutting). We even got to try our hand at a bit of translation!

After that, the week was more or less normal…except for the half-day we had on Friday, because Moose had another day off. Turkey, Bunny, and Ladybug all finished up chapters in their science texts. We finally got back to our literature studies of Heidi and Beowulf. Ladybug has been doing some simplified versions of the things Turkey and Bunny have been working on in geometry (volume, surface area, and drawing circles with a compass), while they have moved on to working with radicals. I never thought I’d say it, but I am so glad their curriculum for the last few years has been so demanding, because it made everything seem much easier this time through! And we tried to observe National Lutheran School Week as best we could, even though I have never really figured out how to incorporate it into our homeschool!

This week should (hopefully) be completely normal, and I’m hoping we get a lot accomplished to make up for some of the weirdness in our schedule since basically before Christmas!

Markel Family Winter Weekend Getaway–Day Two

We were up pretty early again on day two of our winter weekend getaway because we had somewhere very important to be…the Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg! Turkey has always dreamed of visiting Legoland, and while this wasn’t the full amusement park, it was as close as he has been, and he (and the rest of us) was very excited to see it! Lego never disappoints us, and we had a great time!!!

After a stop at the very big and busy Woodfield Mall across the street, we headed east to the Chicago Botanic Garden, to take advantage of the reciprocity we have with our Missouri Botanical Garden membership. The weather was kind of amazing for Chicago in January, and we all enjoyed our visit to the very beautiful garden!

Since we were already pretty far east, and I can never see enough of Lake Michigan, we drove through Ferris Bueller’s neighborhood, and stopped at Glencoe Beach, where we enjoyed the playground, a nice walk down to the beach itself, and the unusually gorgeous weather!

That was a lot of driving around for one day (and included me getting on the 290, which I have spent the last 20+ years trying not to do!), so we headed back to what was a very nice room at our hotel (the Clarion Inn), where we turned the Food Network back on, and just chilled out for the rest of the evening!