2014-15 School Year–Week Thirty-Two

Another school year is complete!

I’ll be honest…I kind of phoned it in this week. We had three field trips (St. Louis Zoo, Missouri Botanical Garden, and Eckert’s), only one of which was directly related to our lessons this year. They were all fun, though, and that’s all that matters at the end of the year, right?

Other than that, we did some religion, some math, some spelling, some writing, and some grammar. I think that’s about it. We finished the year strong, with everyone scoring 100% on their spelling tests today, which was nice. Today really was a great end to the school year in general, with a trip to Eckert’s to pick strawberries and visit the farm animals, and the assembly of our latest addition to our Lego Architecture collection–the Trevi Fountain.

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Overall, I think this was a great school year…sure, there were some bumps along the way, but we all learned a lot (even me!), and had fun doing it. We’re taking a break for a few week before we begin our Illinois state history summer school unit, and then we’ll be back in August, with two seventh graders (when did I get old enough to have students in Junior High?!?), and a third grader!

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Today we went strawberry picking at Eckert’s, and Dolly came along. She certainly fared better than Chickadee, who was quite stained by the time we were done! While we were there, we also walked around, and saw some animals…plus the Stl250 cake, which we were glad to see out and in good condition!

Maybe next month, Dolly will get to go blackberry picking with Chickadee!

Another Year with Eckert’s

2014 has been another good year for our family at Eckert’s. It all started in March, when we stopped by to see their STL250 cake. We went on to visit it many more times, and enjoyed seeing how it changed with the seasons, but there was something special about seeing it that first time with the snow around it.

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In May, we went strawberry picking for the second time…but it was the first time for Chickadee! She loved it because the strawberries were right at her level.

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June found us picking blueberries for the first time ever. I loved the way the nets covered the bushes to protect them from birds…it looked like a fog over the blueberry patch!

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We picked blackberries more times than I count from the end of June through July. Most of them were eaten plain, but I did make a few special desserts with some of them, including the conclusion to our Fourth of July feast!

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Sadly, due to weather-related reasons, there were no “pick your own” peaches this year. Eckert’s made up for that with “pick your own” vegetables, though, and we had a great time doing that in July. Picking corn was everybody’s favorite, although it was also fun to find ripe tomatoes, summer squash, and cucumbers!

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In September, we finally visited Eckert’s restaurant. It was the first time for the children, and the first time in over a decade for Ryan and me. The biscuits and apple butter were just as good as we remembered, and all of the food was delicious!

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Of course we had to go apple picking in September…another first for Chickadee!

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And October found us in the pumpkin patch, where we picked a family record of 70+ pounds of pumpkins!

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In November, we celebrated a family birthday at the restaurant for the first time…Moose has decided it’s one of his two favorite restaurants.

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And the end of November meant time for the Holiday Open House, where we got to try lots of samples, see all the pretty Christmas decorations, and do some crafts.

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Eckert’s has become such an important part of our family’s year that I can’t remember a time when we weren’t constantly visiting and doing something fun there. I still haven’t taken an Eckert’s class yet, but that’s about the only thing left on my list of things I haven’t done at Eckert’s yet, and I look forward to finding a fun learning opportunity to take part in sometime in 2015!

Through the Year at Eckert’s

Eckert’s has become a very important part of our family’s traditions throughout the year. This year, we did almost everything they offered, although we did miss blueberry and tomato picking, and we always have an artificial Christmas tree, so we’ve never picked our own. I haven’t taken a class at Eckert’s yet, either, but that’s on my to-do list, hopefully sometime next year!

In April, we went on a farm tour. This was the first time we really got a behind-the-scenes look at Eckert’s, and it was fascinating. We learned about their greenhouse, blackberry trellis, and new vineyard. It was truly an educational experience!

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In May, I took Bunny and Ladybug to go strawberry picking for the first time. It was a lot of fun, and we really enjoyed the fruits of our labors!

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In June, we saw a Dock Dogs exhibition in the Eckert’s parking lot. This was another new experience, and also a lot of fun.

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Later in June, and again in July, we went blackberry picking for the first time. I think this may have been my favorite thing to do at Eckert’s this year, and we went back a few times. They were easier to pick than the strawberries, since they climb trellises, instead of growing on the ground, and they were so incredibly delicious!

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In July, and again in August, we picked peaches. I think this was our least favorite activity, because although fresh peaches are amazing to eat, it was much more challenging to find the fresh ones in the orchard. Some things are best left to the professionals, I guess. It was still fun, though, and I made some nice peach desserts (one of which also involved a homemade blackberry syrup).

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September saw our annual trip to the apple orchard, where we picked several varieties. I thought we had picked a lot, but they were all eaten before I really had the chance to bake with them, so I guess we didn’t get enough!

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Also in September (and again in October), we enjoyed seeing the newest additions to Eckert’s family…two adorable baby goats named Jonathan and Goldie!

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In October, we went on our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, and picked pumpkins so big we didn’t know what to do with them all! Chickadee really loved this outing, and kept kissing the pumpkins every time she walked by one!

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The Holiday Open House is an annual event in November. In the past, it’s been a big weekend event, so we were a little disappointed to learn that this year was a scaled-back weeknight event. We still enjoyed lots of samples, live music, and looking at all of the pretty Christmas decorations!

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That brings us to the end of our Eckert’s year. We were there for specific events in every month from April through November, although I don’t think a month goes by where we don’t visit the Country Store at least once for something. I’m so glad we live near such a wonderful place that allows to experience a little sliver of country life!

Strawberry Picking

On Thursday, the girls and I went to Eckert’s to go strawberry picking. It was our last field trip of the school year. Sadly, Turkey was sick that day, and couldn’t join us, but he really wanted us to go so that he could at least have some strawberries once he was feeling better, so we ventured out for a girls’ morning!

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We saw strawberry blossoms:

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And green strawberries:

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Bunny and Ladybug had a great time looking for strawberries. We were all shocked at how quickly our hands (and their faces!), turned red! It was obvious that they had been sampling strawberries along the way.

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When it was all said and done, we picked about 5.5 pounds of strawberries (I think), and only spent about $13. For how amazing they taste, I would have gladly paid much more!

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In addition to eating tons of themĀ plainĀ (and some with fresh whipped cream), I’ve also made strawberry bread and strawberry muffins.

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After having lived basically down the road from Eckert’s for almost seven years, I’m glad we finally got around to going strawberry picking. Up next…blackberries in June!

2012-13 School Year–Week Thirty-Three

That’s a wrap!

After approximately 186 days of school (probably a few more…I sometimes forget to record field trip days!), we have finished the 2012-13 school year!

We did a lot of work this week (unlike, say, the public school, which appears to have been on vacation for the last two weeks of classes!). We had to finish up American history from Nixon to the present (a lot of fun stuff to explain in there!). We had math lessons to complete, and reading lessons for Ladybug, who finally made it through the whole alphabet, and all 27 of her “Fun Tales” readers! Turkey and Bunny also finished their spelling books, and one last writing assignment. We haven’t finished our read-aloud, but we can continue reading that for fun every day!

We also had some fun this week! On Thursday, Bunny, Ladybug, and I went strawberry-picking at Eckert’s, which seemed fitting since we went apple picking during our first week of the school year. Turkey, unfortunately, was sick, but he wanted us to go anyway, which was very kind of him. We had a fun time in the strawberry fields…it was the first time any of us had picked strawberries!

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Today, after our last two tests of the year, we had a tea party for Pentecost. We were supposed to have it on Pentecost itself, but I ran out of time, and since it’s still Pentecost week, I figured I could still use red as a theme!

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It’s been a great school year. There were tough times, trying to figure out how to balance three students in two grades, with an infant (and then toddler!), besides. There were challenges as I had to look for new materials to use for Ladybug when some of the things I used for Turkey and Bunny didn’t work for her. There was the difficulty of trying to teach long division! But the good times and the successes and fun events far outweighed any problems we came across. We’ve finished five years of homeschooling, and I’m already looking forward to year six…see you in August!