Hot Chocolate for New Year’s Eve

This New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar tradition has really stuck! The children look forward to it all month, with suggestions for what we should have. Well, all the children except Chickadee, who is opposed to all warm beverages. She had chocolate milk with whipped cream and sprinkles on top instead!

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This year, we had three different kinds of hot chocolate…mint, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate. We also had three kinds of marshmallows…cinnamon, vanilla, and regular. There were also various sprinkles, crushed peppermints and candy canes, and two kinds of Pirouette cookies. Plus chocolate syrup for drizzling on top, and a little bonus addition for the adults. We also added our Christmas crackers to our New Year’s Eve celebration, since we didn’t use them earlier in the week…they just added to the fun!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

The Final Feast of 2015

I’m not sure that our annual New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar really counts as a feast, but the children seem to think it is, and who am I to argue with them?

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In addition to all of our standard favorites, I made some hot chocolate cookies to go along with our drinks…they were a huge hit!

Chickadee Thursday

Chickadee had fun making the little hot chocolate-themed craft I got for New Year’s Eve:

What a great 2015 it’s been…I’m looking forward to seeing how Chickadee grows and changes in 2016!

2015 in Review

I can’t believe we’ve come to the end of 2015 already!

January, mercifully, was a quiet month. I finally had the courage to do something wild with my hair that I’d wanted to do for years. We put our membership to the Missouri Botanical Garden to good use with the first of several visits to the Orchid Show, which was a lovely bright spot in the middle of winter.

In February, I enjoyed the first of many meals from Belleville’s new BBQ restaurant, Beast Craft BBQ…it didn’t take long for word to spread and everyone to learn what I had realized at first bite…it’s an awesome place to eat! We celebrated Mardi Gras. I wrote the first of about two dozen articles for the Sisters of Katie Luther, something I hope to keep doing in the new year. We went with our church on a field trip to the LC-MS International Center.

March is always a busy month, and this year, it came in like a lion. We celebrated an epic Pi Day, and three days later, celebrated one of our favorite holidays, St. Patrick’s Day. The day after that was Turkey’s 12th birthday, and a few days later, Chickadee turned three. Spring arrived at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

In April we celebrated Easter. We had a lovely walk through the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden during cherry blossom time. We visited Forest Park and marveled at how beautiful the tulips were. We had our traditional Opening Day dinner, and a few days later went to our first game of the season at Busch Stadium. I met KSDK news anchor Nichole Berlie for lunch at my favorite restaurant, Seamus McDaniel’s.

As always seems to be the case, life got even busier in May. We had a fun Cinco de Mayo dinner, followed the next day with a tea party to celebrate the birth of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Ladybug turned eight. We went to Art on the Square. Ryan and I celebrated our 14th anniversary with a family trip to the zoo and lunch at Seamus McDaniel’s. I went with Moose on a school field trip to Willoughby Farm. We were blown away by the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

We went to the St. Louis Zoo to visit its newest resident, Kali the polar bear, in June. We celebrated my birthday. The oldest four children attended a choir camp, which included a few field trips, like one to see an organ being built. While they were singing, Chickadee and I got to hang out and have fun. We didn’t go to many of Turkey’s baseball games, because almost half of them were rained out. We celebrated the beginning of Ryan’s 11-week sabbatical with a Grand Opening visit to St. Louis’s first Tim Horton’s. We went on the first of many summer school field trips.

July was the highlight of our year, without a doubt. We celebrated the Fourth of July, and the day after Bunny got home from a week at camp, we celebrated her 11th birthday. A few days later, we left on our first-ever family vacation! We started in Bowling Green, KY, where we visited the National Corvette Museum. We then drove to Atlanta, Georgia, where we took in a Braves game at Turner Field. After that, we headed to our main destination of Charleston, SC, where we got to visit historic locations like Fort Sumter, see amazing architecture, eat fantastic seafood, meet great people, and, most importantly, see the ocean! Back home, we went on the second of our summer school field trips when we visited the first location of the Illinois’ State Capital.

In August, we wrapped up summer school with even more field trips. We visited the oldest standing Capitol Building in Vandalia, the Old State Capitol Building in Springfield, and the Illinois State Capitol Building. We also toured the Illinois Museum, and saw some Lincoln sites, including the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and Lincoln’s Tomb. On our way back home, we visited a Route 66 attraction, the Cozy Dog Drive In. Moose started fourth grade, and a few days later, I became the teacher of a pre-schooler, a third grader, and two seventh graders!

Moose got to miss a day of school in September to go with us on a field trip to the Magic House. We had a tea party to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s historic reign. A new exhibit opened at the Missouri History Museum, and we enjoyed walking through it. We attended the St. Louis Scottish Games at their new location in Chesterfield.

We went to Eckert’s in October to pick pumpkins and apples. We had to replace our washer and dryer. Bunny’s volleyball team came in second place! Lego announced an upcoming set for which I have waited years (and which I will be purchasing tomorrow, thanks to my children’s generosity at Christmas!). Ladybug and I went on a Clydesdale tour at Grant’s Farm. We helped the Gateway Arch celebrate its 50th birthday.

At the beginning of November, I dyed my hair another wild color, but this time for a purpose. We spent a beautiful fall morning in Forest Park. The children got hooked on Bob Ross. Seamus McDaniel’s celebrated its birthday, and the next day, Moose turned ten. We went to the Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. We had our traditional Markel-family Thanksgiving. We visited the St. Charles Christmas Traditions festival and the Holiday Lights at the Brewery in the same day.

December was a whirlwind of activity. Moose got to really enjoy Tuba Christmas for the first time. We celebrated St. Lucia Day. All seven of us (and a friend) went to Star Wars opening night, and had an amazing time! My blog hit a milestone. We had a very merry Christmas, and enjoyed a delicious Christmas feast (even I agreed that the turkey wasn’t dry!). I finally picked my favorite photos from the year.

As always, I’m left wondering how next year can possibly top this one, but I am also excited to see what 2016 has in store for us. God’s blessings on your coming year!

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Quote of the Day–New Year’s Eve

Houston, we’re at stable one, the ship is secure. This is Apollo 13, signing off. Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell in Apollo 13

A Belleville200 New Year’s Eve Celebration

To celebrate the end of 2014, and the Belleville200 year, we had our New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar with a Belleville200 twist. Instead of our standard Christmas mugs, we used the mugs we bought at the Belleville Christkindlmarkt. It seemed like a fitting way to end a spectacular year!

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