It’s Great to be Eight!

Time for another birthday, self-isolation (family-isolation?) style! Hey, at least the last one was less than a week ago…this hasn’t been going on that long (yet)!

Today is Chickadee’s eighth birthday…I can’t even believe it! It was kind of a strange birthday, starting with church live-streamed into our living room, plus an unexpected snow shower. And of course she opened presents this morning, too…she got a lot of fun stuff, and I’d like to play with it all, too!

Since we couldn’t do the things Chickadee wanted to do on her birthday (particularly going to the zoo), we spent the day watching some of her favorite movies and TV shows…both Frozens, Harry Potter, The Lego Movie, and Sailor Moon. And of course we couldn’t go out to dinner, so Chickadee asked me to make a family favorite: breakfast for dinner. She picked breakfast sandwiches on bagels, which is a real treat!

For her birthday cake, Chickadee chose sticky toffee pudding instead of the elephant-shaped cake I’ve made for the last few years (that hurt my heart a little!), with homemade caramel sauce and whipped cream. We all really enjoyed it!

So that’s another birthday celebrated in a very unusual fashion. At this point, I’m wondering to myself how many other family birthdays/special occasions will fall under the shadow of current events. One thing is for sure…we certainly know how to celebrate at home!

Christmas in March

Today was like Christmas in March, because today was the long-awaited day when Animal Crossing: New Horizons finally came out, and I was ready for it!

I’ve had a great time playing this game all day. My island started out with two villagers, Rocket and Antonio, and while the two of them aren’t my personal favorites, I’m looking forward to seeing who else will move in (I hope Roald shows up sooner rather than later!). I’ve also really enjoyed all of the new elements to the game, and I can’t wait to see what I unlock next!

Don’t think the irony of this timing is lost on me. While I’ve been looking forward to my “Christmas in March” for months, suddenly, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Our local radio station is playing a week of Christmas music, I hear the Hallmark channel is showing Christmas movies, and Anheuser-Busch has even turned the Christmas lights back on at their brewery in St. Louis. What can I say? We all “need a little Christmas” right now…mine just came in the form of Animal Crossing!

Seventeen?!?

The world is crazy right now, but that didn’t stop us from celebrating Turkey’s SEVENTEENTH birthday today! An added bonus: Moose was with us all day, as he’s now doing school from home!

We started the day with gifts. There were quite a few Lego sets, which Turkey started building right away.

We spent most of the day watching episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager. All while enjoying the scents of…Thanksgiving? I had an extra turkey in the freezer, and Turkey asked if we could have a mini-Thanksgiving dinner for his birthday!

Instead of pie for dessert, he went with birthday trifle, topped with what has turned into an alarming number of candles:

I think he had a nice day, even with all of the uncertainty in the world around us. I know I had a great time celebrating him!

St. Patrick’s Day 2020

St. Patrick’s Day is one of our favorite holidays, and I was determined to celebrate it as we usually do, which honestly wasn’t too difficult, because our observation of the day very rarely takes us out of the house!

I started preparing for the day a few weeks ago, which in retrospect was probably a good thing. New this year: a lot of my supplies were purchased at Aldi!

I was so well-stocked that our celebration began last night, with a dinner of Irish-style ale & onion bangers, plus homemade colcannon:

We set our leprechaun trap as we usually do, and, as always, caught no leprechaun. We did find some nice mint patties, though!

We enjoyed our traditional breakfast of Lucky Charms, and Irish Breakfast tea for those who weren’t interested in coffee:

We had a few special treats with lunch:

Even with nowhere to go, I wore green for St. Patrick’s Day (and Mary Blair March!):

And we enjoyed our traditional dinner of corned beef and cabbage, roast potatoes and carrots, and soda bread with Irish butter (plus leftover colcannon from yesterday):

And for dessert, we had our favorite Guinness cake:

We celebrated as we always do, and it was a fun and delicious day. There was something low-key about it, though…it’s hard to ignore world events, even when we’re having fun at home!

The Ottoman Garden–March

No photo from the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Ottoman Garden this month. The Garden is shutting down for the foreseeable future, and we’ve already been isolating at home for a few days. At this point, with things being so uncertain, I have made the decision to abandon this project for the year…but I hope to have 12 full months of Ottoman Garden pictures in 2021!

The Top Five–Episodes of M*A*S*H

Time for another “Top Five” list…this time, I’m taking a look at my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H! This could have easily been a “Top Ten” list, but for once, it was easy for me to pick my five very favorite episodes, so I’m going to leave it right there.

  • “Movie Tonight” (season 5)–This episode, where the camp gathers to watch Colonel Potter’s favorite movie (with many interruptions), always makes me laugh, and also has me singing along!
  • “The Party” (season 7)–I love the idea of the family members of those working at the 4077th getting together and having a reunion of sorts…and when Klinger’s mom told them all that of course she knew he was in Korea, it always make me cry.
  • “Nurse Doctor” (season 8)–This may be my very favorite episode ever, because it has me laughing from “I think the sun was in my ears” to “You stop talking about her, you stop hating her, and you stop dating her!”
  • “A War for All Seasons” (season 9)–Because of how fluid time usually is in M*A*S*H, this episode is especially interesting, because it looks at the events of a whole year. It’s funny, but also bittersweet.
  • “No Sweat” (season 9)–Between Colonel Potter being constantly dragged out of bed after taking sleeping pills and Margaret’s unfortunate case of prickly heat, this episode is hilarious from start to finish!

I realize that there are no episodes on my list from the time Colonel Blake and Trapper John were on the show, and there’s a reason for it…I hate those three seasons. I know that’s sacrilege to some, but I don’t like those two characters at all, while I love Colonel Potter and B.J. So when we watch through the show, as we’ve been doing recently, I always start with “Welcome to Korea” and just pretend the show started from there!

Lovebirds

As soon as I got the Valentine Photo Spot in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, I knew I was going to have to get a picture of Roald and Aurora together. I finally did (and just before the snow melted, too!)…have you ever seen a cuter couple?

The Complete Ticket to Ride Collection–2020 Edition

I know I’ve talked about my very favorite series of board games, Ticket to Ride, in the past (it even made my “40 of My Favorite Things” list last year!). After adding the newest map collection, Japan and Italy, plus a special, available-only-in-Europe board of Poland that Ryan ordered for me, I thought it would be fun to get a photo of my entire collection. Even I was a little surprised by just how large it is!

Yes, I have it all, including the card game, the dice expansion, the My First Journey boards, and even a set of character score markers. As far as I know, I’m only missing two significant items (and one of them really isn’t even that huge). I never did get around to purchasing the Halloween freighters, which really aren’t necessary, but look fun. I also didn’t buy the 15th anniversary game, which I still have mixed feelings about. Ordering a whole new game just to have a set of translucent trains seems a bit extravagant, but as a completionist, it bothers me that I don’t have it, plus translucent trains!

I can’t wait to see what they come up with next…they’ve done everything I’ve hoped for (including a London board), except for one map…I’d love to see Ticket to Ride Chicago, which could have some fun twists by combining all three of the passenger trains that come into the city: Amtrak, Metra, and of course, the “L!”

A Saturday Afternoon in Red Bud

Yesterday before Ryan got home from his trip, the children and I wanted to get out of the house, so we drove south to Red Bud, a town we’ve passed through a few times, but never really looked at.

It’s a charming town. We loved the architecture and all of the lovely local small businesses.

I’m going to have to see if there are any festivals or events we could attend in town…I’d love to see how they celebrate!

Farewell, Pheasant Run

Tonight is Pheasant Run Resort’s last night in business.

What can I say about a place that in just a few short years brought our family so much joy, and helped us create so many special memories?

The first time we went to Pheasant Run in 2016, I was the one who was excited. It had always been that “fancy place out west” when I was a child growing up in Chicago’s suburbs, and I couldn’t believe we were actually going to have the chance to stay there! And we had so much fun exploring the resort that first trip…swimming in the indoor/outdoor pool, visiting Bourbon Street, and of course checking out Combo Breaker (my first, but definitely not last, fighting game tournament experience), at the Mega Center.

After that first long weekend, it became a place we all looked forward to visiting. As we approached St. Charles, no matter which direction we were coming from, we’d compete to see who would catch the first glimpse of Pheasant Run’s impressive tower. And as soon as we were settled in our room (seriously, the should have named it the Markel Room, because we stayed in the same tower location three out of the five times we were there!), and admired the view from the top of the tower, which on a clear day included some of Chicago’s tallest buildings, we always wanted to hit the pool first thing. There were also lots of Combo Breaker memories made over the years in the Mega Center.

Pheasant Run made me feel like a rock star, and helped me make some dreams come true. In 2018, upon arriving in our room, we found fresh cookies and milk and a lovely note waiting for us, and I felt so special. And in 2019, we had a full goody basket of cookies and candies, chips and sodas, plus Kane County Cougars caps and vouchers for tickets to a game during our stay, which was an experience I had always wanted to have…do you see what I mean about feeling like a rock star? And in between those two stays, Pheasant Run hosted us for a Christmas weekend, which allowed us to make some extra special family memories, including taking the children into Chicago to experience a full city Christmas, another dream of mine.

I am so sad that the sun is setting on Pheasant Run, a Chicagoland staple for hospitality and entertainment since 1963, but I will always be grateful for the memories we made there!