More 2014 in Review

What a year this has been! We learned much, laughed a lot, and made a lot of great memories!

January seems like a very long time ago, and it was a pretty quiet month. We started the year with the biggest snowstorm St. Louis has seen since we’ve lived here, plus some wickedly cold temperatures, which resulted in a cracked window in our house. Chickadee helped bake Christmas cookies for the first time…yes, after Christmas Day, but still within the 12 Days of Christmas! Ryan celebrated his 4th anniversary working for Automattic with a brand-new, customized laptop. Every member of our family got to visit the Cardinals Winter Warm-Up for the first time.

February was even more quiet. We spent a lot of time watching the Olympics and learning about Russia…we even had a Russian/winter-themed tea party. We also said “Happy Birthday!” to St. Louis and joined in the kick-off weekend at the Missouri History Museum for the 250 in 250 exhibit, part of the larger Stl250 celebration.

March was when things really started to get busy. We began our epic Stl250: Cakeway to the West cake hunt on the 5th at one of our favorite local places–Eckert’s. At the time we didn’t realize that it was just the beginning of a journey that would take us all over the St. Louis metro area (and a little beyond), to find every single one of the more than 250 cakes. St. Louis wasn’t the only city celebrating a milestone year, however…our home town of Belleville celebrated its 200th birthday, as well. And Schnucks, our favorite local grocery store, celebrated 75 years in business, and even had a special birthday event for customers. We began another year’s Lenten observance, including another appearance on KFUO’s Faith ‘n’ Family for me. The Missouri History Museum had a fun St. Patrick’s Day event planned for homeschoolers. The following day, Turkey turned 11, and a few days later, Chickadee turned two. We got to be part of a cake unveiling at Concordia Seminary. And at the end of the month, we rejoiced at the beginning of another season of Cardinals baseball!

Things remained busy in April. We took a day off of our regular schoolwork to go to the “Weather Bash at Busch,” and take in a Cardinals game in the bargain. We celebrated Easter. Fredbird’s “Facebook Friday” finally made it to a metro-east location we could get to. The Belleville200 events continued with a parade. Bunny finished another session of parks and rec volleyball. We said goodbye to our old pastor.

In May we visited Grant’s Farm. Did I mention that they celebrated their 60th anniversary this year? It was a big year in the St. Louis area! Bunny and Ladybug got their ears pierced. Ladybug turned seven, and finally got the American Girl doll I had purchased and put away for her almost a year earlier. We wrapped up another school year. Ryan and I celebrated our 13th anniversary with the children at Busch Stadium. I put together a book list for our latest summer school unit–all about baseball. Speaking of baseball, Turkey started a new season with our parks & rec.

There were more Belleville200 events in June, including a street fair in one of the town’s historic neighborhoods and a classic car show. We spent my birthday doing the perfect birthday activity…cake hunting! We also got to go to a Gateway Grizzlies game with Moose for his school’s honor roll night. Our baseball-themed summer school got started.

July was an especially busy month. We finally had the somewhat ironic Independence Day tea party I’ve been wanting to have for a few years. Chickadee ran into her pal Fredbird at Busch Stadium. We visited the Schmidt Art Center to see the Belleville Bicentennial: 200 exhibit. Turkey and Ladybug entered Lego creations in a contest at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Ladybug came in third in her age group! While we were at the Garden, we also got to view the Nature Connects Lego exhibit. As part of summer school, we took the children on a tour of Busch Stadium and then a tour of the new Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum. Bunny turned ten. After all these years of living in St. Louis, we finally journeyed to the top of the Gateway Arch. We had a fun week at Vacation Bible School. The children and I went to our first vintage base ball game, and discovered how different, and how much fun, that game is.

The busyness continued in August, starting with a trip to Chesterfield Mall for a Play Nintendo event, where Turkey got to compete in his first video game tournament…he came in second! We wrapped up our cake hunt at Lafayette Square…it was amazing to look back and see all the places we had visited…our local newspaper even had a story about our journey! The children got to visit a Big Boy restaurant for the first time, on the way to our epic summer school field trip at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.  At the end of the month, everyone started a new school year.

The highlight of September was the big Belleville200 weekend. We had the privilege of attending a Naturalization ceremony, went to a Beach Boys concert on the town square, danced to German polkas, attended another vintage base ball game, and watched the grilling of a record-breaking 200-foot-long brat.It was a great time! Bunny played in her first season of competitive parks & rec volleyball. We attended the St. Louis Scottish Games for the second time, and this year, Ryan was able to go with us! And, lest you thought that finding our 250th cake in August meant that our cake hunt was complete, we found a bonus cake (one to grow on?).

In October we visited Eckert’s for our annual pumpkin picking trip. Bunny had the game-winning serve in the first round of her volleyball tournament! We also welcomed a new pastor to our church, after a fairly short vacancy. I went on a Busch Family Estate Walk at Grant’s Farm, and finally saw (and photographed!) the elusive Busch family mansion from all sides. The cake hunt continued when we went to the unveiling of another bonus cake.

November meant a lot of fun in school, including the return of our Thankful Tree, the reading of some of our favorite Thanksgiving books, and building a Lego: The Hobbit set to celebrate having finished reading the book. We had another tea party, this time to celebrate St. Louis’ 250th birthday, and Moose’s golden birthday…the first one of those we’ve celebrated! We visited Belleville’s new Bicentennial Park and admired the beautiful fall colors, and then returned less than two weeks later to see it covered in snow. Ryan and I went to the Three Sixty rooftop bar for a spectacular view of St. Louis. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a record seven pies (in addition to all of the other Thanksgiving foods)! The following day, we went downtown for Belleville’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the annual gingerbread walk. We also visited St. Charles Christmas Traditions on opening weekend for the first time, and even got to eat lunch in a bank vault!

December was, as always, insanely busy, and insanely fun. I got to see a “cake in progress” when I dropped off my entry for the Soulard Art Market “Everywhere there’s Cake” exhibit. I had a moment of insanity when I decided we should rearrange the furniture in our schoolroom (and den!), but it turned out really well, so it was worth it. We celebrated an Italian Christmas at Christmas on the Hill, and then drove immediately to Cahokia, where we learned about French Colonial Christmas celebrations. The brewery opened their Christmas lights display to foot traffic again this year, so of course we went. We also got to see nativity scenes from all over the world at Belleville’s cathedral. The children enjoyed playing their roles on Santa Lucia morning. After not making it last year, we got back to Tuba Christmas. We also returned to the Old Courthouse, this time to see what an 1864 Christmas ball would have been like. The first-ever Belleville Christmas Market had us visiting the town square several times over the course of the month. Of course, all of our celebrations culminated on Christmas Eve and Day, and again on Boxing Day, when we enjoyed our English Christmas feast. And there was one more cake visit (our way of saying goodbye), before the end of the year!

This is just a glimpse into the fun we had throughout this amazing year. Much of our fun was tied to both St. Louis’ and Belleville’s birthday celebrations. While those festivities may be over, I can’t wait to see what kind of adventures the next year holds for our family!

Happy New Year!

2014 in Review

Ryan moved my website to a new host in March, so this isn’t even the full year’s worth of stats, but I’m proud to say that I published at least one post every day, including at least one picture every day, this year, and this has been the best year for blog traffic that I’ve had yet!

Your 2014 year in blogging.

This Year in St. Louis

With apologies to Charles Dickens and everyone else I quote in this post.

I tend to think in quotes. Movies quotes, book quotes, TV quotes…it doesn’t matter. My brain seems to search for some quote to fit any situation. It should come as no surprise, then, that this 250th birthday year in St. Louis can be described by me through a variety of quotes.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. A Tale of Two Cities

This is the overarching theme for this year in St. Louis. It should have been the best of times, celebrating St. Louis’ 250th birthday, cheering the Blues and Cardinals in their respective playoffs, so many festivals and events and fun things to look forward to.

But life sometimes has other plans. There has been so much violence and unrest in the city (and surrounding area this year).

I think of my beautiful city in flames, Lennier. The streets where I walked, the temples, the great crystal spires .. that sighed music whenever the wind touched them. I think of it, and I cry, Lennier. Babylon 5

The city of St. Louis proper didn’t burn this year. But there were flames in surrounding communities, and it breaks my heart to remember those images. They are a part of our city’s story and history now though, and it’s impossible to forget them.

If there’s one thing you learn in my job, it’s that nothing is certain. Nothing that seems very bad, and nothing that seems very good. Nothing is certain. Nothing. E.R.

Along with the general unrest, we spent a lot of time this year wondering what would happen. There were times when we assumed it would be the worst, but then again, as this quote so aptly says, nothing is certain…not the good or the bad, and we certainly saw both, often when we least expected them.

Although I have long loved the words and music of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” I have never before understand Longfellow’s Christmas poem (written during the Civil War), better than I do this year:

And in despair, I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said
“For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!”

Hate has been strong here, and at times it seemed as though there would never be peace.

But Longfellow’s poem has a concluding verse, and he, as we all should, remembered that God is in control, and never dead or asleep, no matter what is going on, wether it be war or protests or violence of any kind:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!”

There have been many profound quotes that apply to this year, but none more so than the Word of God:

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”My heart says to you,
“Your face, LORD, do I seek.”

Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.

Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD! Psalm 27

And so this is where I end the year. No matter what happens, or where it happens, good or bad, I know I have, and will, seen the goodness of the Lord, here, and in eternity.