2019-20 School Year–Week Twenty

Now that we’ve started the 21st week of the 2019-20 school year, I guess I should wrap up week 20!

Turkey and Bunny worked with polar coordinates in pre-calculus, which was very new and different. They finished the chapter on work and energy in physics. Their study of The Hound of the Baskervilles finally took them to Baskerville Hall. In history, they read about the seventh crusade, and to be honest, it seems like the Crusades will never end!

Ladybug calculated the perimeter and area of different shapes in pre-algebra. She also finished a chapter in science. In history, she learned about several European wars that led up to the American Revolution. Bunny accidentally gave her a spoiler about what is coming up in Anne of Green Gables, and she was not happy about it!

Chickadee had a very light week of school, because she was sick for a few days (she even had to miss catechesis, which made her very sad!). She did a lot of reading, and started her second math book of the year, where she learned how to write fractions. She also started learning about Mars in science.

And, in kind-of-related-to-school activities, Turkey and I went to see Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back live in concert at Powell Hall with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra last week. I think an important part of any education is music appreciation as well as exposure to cultural events. I’m trying to make sure each of the children has an opportunity to see the symphony play something, and so far, the three oldest children have all accompanied me to Powell Hall for an event. It’s a lot of fun, and a good introduction to live orchestral music without the pressure of a more, shall we say, high-class, event!

Markel Family Winter Weekend Getaway–Day Three

The final day of our weekend getaway was fairly low-key. We started with a trip to the Jewel to (finally) buy an I-Pass to make driving on the Chicagoland tollways a bit easier…and then proceeded not to need it at all on the way home. Oh well…at least it will be ready when we go back up in May!

We had planned to walk around the Chicago Botanic Garden on the way home, but wind chills in the single digits made that a less than appealing prospect. So instead, we stopped by the Chicago Baháʼí Temple to marvel at its architecture:

We also drove through the city, just so we could see the skyscrapers:

Of course we had to stop for a moment so I could walk along Lake Michigan. Have you ever walked on frozen sand before? It’s a weird sensation!

And, as always, we stopped for lunch at Portillo’s, where I had my favorite, the Italian beef (dipped, of course!):

So that ends another road-trip wrap-up. It was a pretty short trip compared to what we’re used to, and we didn’t get to do everything I had planned, but it was still a fun getaway!

Markel Family Winter Weekend Getaway–Day Two

Last Saturday morning, we finally got a good look at the snow that had fallen the day before. What we couldn’t really see from our seventh floor hotel room, though, was all of the ice, because once the snow stopped, the freezing rain and sleet started! So we decided to just hang out in the hotel and visit Frosty Faustings, with some breaks to watch cable TV, because I had no desire to get back behind the wheel!

We were there as the event began for the day, and we started by checking out the games Ryan was working on (including, as he calls them, the “old man games”).

Of course we walked around…you never know what you’re going to see at these events!

We had plenty of time to play some games. A new favorite of the children was Them’s Fightin’ Herds, while I enjoyed a track and field game that was about as far from a fighting game as you can get…that figures!

For the first time ever, I even bought a piece of event merch…it turns out that if you slap a logo on a Chicago skyline, I can’t resist! (Also, Frosty Faustings has the most awesome logo ever!)

Of course I had to get a picture of the Fab Five:

And of the crowds in general:

We saw the cosplay contest finals…I’m always impressed by how creative people can be!

We ended up going back up to our room to watch the stream of the Tekken 7 finals on my phone, because the one downside to Frostys is that you can’t hear the commentary in the ballrooms, and we really wanted to hear what Tasty Steve had to say!

Up next: A little sightseeing on the way home!

Markel Family Winter Weekend Getaway–Day One

It’s that time again…time to look back at another winter weekend trip to Chicagoland!

Last Friday, we were up extra early in attempt to beat the expected winter weather out of St. Louis so we could meet Ryan up north in Wheeling for Frosty Faustings. And we did beat all of the weather on the way up (even though Moose’s school ending up canceling classes for the day!). It was a fairly uneventful drive, even though it was a bit nerve-wracking for me, as I don’t usually drive in that part of the Chicago suburbs, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

It was nice and cold when we arrived at the Westin, but still pretty much clear, weather-wise, if not clouds-wise:

I’ve never stayed at a Westin before, and it was quite nice from the moment we walked in the lobby (the infused water was especially popular with the children!)…I especially loved the Lego model of the hotel they had on display!

The room was also nice, although it felt a little small compared the giant room we had last year at Frostys!

We took only the briefest of walks through the tournament area, because we realized that all of the things we had planned to do over Friday and Saturday would have to all be accomplished on Friday, thanks to an impending snowstorm.

Our first stop was the Brookfield Zoo. Just as we did last winter, we had an amazing visit, where we witnessed some new-to-us animal behavior (did you know that camels bark?!?), and enjoyed a walk around a very empty zoo. And the snow held off right until we left.

Then it really started coming down. We had tickets to Medieval Times, and it took us over two hours to drive from the zoo to the castle…traffic was horrible, and driving was very sloppy! We did finally make it, though, just as the castle doors were opening, which was a relief!

I didn’t pay for the VIP experience this time, but we had the best seats we’ve had yet…the second row, and right in the center. We also supported a different knight for the first time…instead of yellow, we were cheering for the red and yellow knight from the County of Perelada. As always, we had a great time, even though, as always, our knight didn’t win…at least our side won this time, and Bunny caught one of the carnations, which means that all three girls have now received one!

And then the harrowing drive back to the hotel. About a half foot of snow had fallen in just a few hours, and it was a mess. But there wasn’t much traffic on the way back, and everyone on the roads was content to go slow and careful, so it may have taken a while, but at least there was no pressure to keep up with traffic, which made it much easier to stay on the road!

Up next: Saturday spent at Frosty Faustings!

The Ottoman Garden–January

Time for another installment of “Mobot Through the Year!”

For the sixth year of this project, I’ve chose one of my very favorite spaces in the Missouri Botanical Garden to photograph each month…the Ottoman Garden. And because I love this small, but beautiful, garden so much, I’m not just going to share photos from one or even two angles, but from three, because I know how beautiful this place will be throughout the year, and I want to capture all of my favorite plants as they change with the seasons!

As always, I will be hoping for an opportunity to capture this garden covered in snow at some point this winter, but for all I know, I’ll have to wait until November or December to even have a hope of seeing it snow-covered!

Lego Bookshop–The First Half

I’m taking a departure from my usual Lego modular building summaries to try something new. Since the new bookshop splits down the middle into two buildings, I’m going to look at the building process for each half. First up, the eponymous bookshop. The first set of bags (there are four sets for each part), contains one minifig and builds the foundation for both the shop and the birch tree out front:

The second set of bags finishes off the first floor of the building and contains another minifig:

No additional minifigs in the third set of bags, but the second floor does contain the living area of the upstairs apartment, including a really cool grandfather clock build:

The fourth and final set of bags does introduce another minifig (the bookshop owner and resident of the aforementioned upstairs apartment), and my favorite parts of the whole build so far, the bedroom, which includes a really cool chameleon piece with a tank, a lovely autumn birch tree, and an awesome roof!

The other half of the building is residential, which my modular Main Street really needs…I’m looking forward to putting it together!