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!

The Illinois State Museum

When we visited Springfield a few weeks ago, one of our stops was at the Illinois State Museum, which is a free museum at the Capitol Complex that focuses on the history and natural resources of our state (there is also a children’s play museum and a paper weight collection on the lower level). There were a lot of cool things to look at, even though we didn’t find the reproduction tully monster we were hoping to see!

Tasty Tuesday–Cozy Dog Drive In

On our way out of town when we were in Springfield a few weeks ago, we had to stop for an early dinner at the Cozy Dog Drive In, an old Route 66 attraction that claims to have invented what is generally referred to today as a corn dog.

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The inside is exactly what you’d expect from a Route 66 diner, and I loved it!

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The food was exactly what you’d expect, too…very delicious, and very reasonably priced. We all enjoyed the “Cozy Dogs”…just don’t call them corn dogs!

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This was a fun and kitschy addition to our Illinois history unit, combining a historic location with an Illinois original food!

 

A Trio of Capitol Buildings

I have now seen all three existing Capitol buildings in the state of Illinois. It’s funny how similar they are in some ways, even though they vary wildly in size. It’s also strange to realize that they were all built in a span of just over 30 years!

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