The New Normal

For the first time in over three months, we left the house as a family! Actually, it’s been almost three months since any of the children left the house, and it’s certainly the first time any of us has gone anywhere we didn’t absolutely need to. But the weather is beautiful today, so we drove out to Cahokia Mounds.

In the end, we didn’t even run into anybody. Monks Mound was pretty crowded, but we stuck to the trails on the other side of the road, and while we did see a few people in the distance, we never crossed paths with anyone else. It was a lovely day to be out, and it was so nice to get out of the house! We even saw some baby egrets (I wish I had gotten a picture…they were so cute!), and of course, some goslings.

Hopefully we’ll make it back to the Missouri Botanical Garden before too long. I know that will be more crowded, but their safety plan looks good, and now we’ve all had some experience wearing masks outside, so I think we’re almost ready!

2019-20 School Year–Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving week is always a light school week for us…just two full days, plus some fun activities on Wednesday. We do manage to cram a lot into a short time, though! The main theme in our two regular school days last week (aside from our scheduled Thanksgiving reading about modern-day Thanksgiving celebrations, especially the Macy’s parade), was tests, tests, and more tests. It was nice to have so many of those out of the way before the holiday, though!

We always visit Cahokia Mounds around Thanksgiving (well, except for last year, when my ankle was broken), and this year, we went twice! The second time we went, later in November, was actually a more pleasant trip, weather-wise, than our first was…it was a beautiful day!

We also played a game based on one Native American children might have played. I made the pieces years ago, following the directions in More than Moccasins, and it’s still just as much fun to play!

In between helping me make pies on Wednesday, the children also found time to make their hand-and-footprint turkeys for the year. Well, except for Turkey, who discovered that the paper we use is now too small for his hands and feet, so he went with a Minecraft-style bird, instead…I love how creative he is!

Tomorrow we’re back to our regular schedule…I haven’t decided yet if we’re going to have two or three weeks of school before our Christmas break. I also haven’t figured out what ornament we’re going to make this year…I guess I should get started on that!

2019-20 School Year–Week Twelve

Today is the end of a long weekend for us, so I figured it’s a good time to wrap up what was a short week of school last week…except, I waited so long, I’m not really sure what we did! I do know that Turkey and Bunny finished the chapter on the senses in health, Ladybug learned about Frederick the Great and Prussia in history, and Chickadee worked on borrowing when subtracting in math.

Since we did have some time off, we decided to make our annual visit to Cahokia Mounds a little earlier than we normally do. We had a beautiful and brisk morning for our walk (and climb up Monks Mound!), and we spotted lots of wildlife, including many deer, while we were out!

Hopefully we can get a lot accomplished with the time we have left this week, because there’s only one full week of school in November before Thanksgiving, and we really need to make the most of our time!

A Year Later

Just over a year ago, I broke my ankle. While at the time it seemed like my recovery would be interminable, it actually went pretty quickly, and my life was pretty much back to normal before I knew it.

There was one big test of my ankle left, though, and it was just as much psychological as physical. Every year as Thanksgiving approaches (well, except last year, due to the aforementioned ankle), we visit Cahokia Mounds to take a long walk, which includes climbing the 154 steps to the top of Monks Mound. I always love this outing, because we see lots of beautiful fall foliage and encounter wildlife we don’t see a lot (mainly turkeys and deer), but I was dreading it a bit this year. Not because I didn’t think my ankle could handle it (although it does still get sore sometimes, especially in the cold), but because I still have a mental pause every time I go down a flight of stairs, and the staircase at Monks Mound is way more than a single flight! I didn’t know how I’d react when it was time to descend the mound, and that scared me.

I try not to let my hangups get in the way of doing fun things, though, so off we went in the brisk weather today. Our walk was amazing as always (we saw tons of deer!), and it was a beautiful morning. And I made it up (and back down!) Monks Mounds without re-breaking my ankle or having a panic attack. We also went over to Woodhenge, something we don’t always do, and enjoyed the views there, as well.

I have a feeling that stairs will always make me a bit uncomfortable, because now I know how easy it is for something to go wrong really quickly, but I’m determined not to let that get in the way of doing things I enjoy!

2017-18 School Year–Week Thirteen

This was only a four-day week for us, but boy, did we cram a lot into those four days!

We’ve been so busy, I don’t even have much time to summarize. So I’ll be brief. Turkey and Bunny have been studying circles in math this week, while Ladybug has continued to work on long division. Ladybug’s history focused on Assyria and Babylon, while Turkey and Bunny have bounced all over the place, visiting ancient China, India, Egypt, and Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. They also finished up their study of the chemistry of life in science, while Ladybug finished her study of primates.

We added in our traditional Thanksgiving studies, focusing on Native Americans, the Mayflower voyage, the first Thanksgiving, and the Pilgrims. This has been especially fun for Chickadee, who has been too small in previous years to really remember much of it. We also took our traditional field trip to Cahokia Mounds, to learn about the natives who lived in this area many, many years before the Mayflower arrived on the shore of Cape Cod. We even got to see some native animals…last year we saw a flock of wild turkeys, but we topped that this year, because there were deer everywhere!

Next week will also be a short week, because…Thanksgiving! So I’ll be back in two weeks with a wrap-up of the few days of school we’ll have then, plus the week following!

Chickadee Thursday

Today we had our annual November field trip to Cahokia Mounds. It was a bit chilly, but Chickadee still enjoyed the climb to the top of Monk’s Mound.

What she really loved, though, was seeing lots of deer!

2016-17 School Year–Week Twelve

This was a fairly normal week in the midst of the chaos that is November!

We’ve been learning about the means of grace in Lutheranism 101. So far we’ve covered how the Bible has been translated over the centuries, and how it’s organized. Today we discussed Holy Baptism. Next we’ll be learning about confession and the Lord’s Supper.

Turkey and Bunny finally finished what seemed like an endless string of math lessons on systems of equations. While the equations took some time to work through, both of them found the lessons to be pretty easy, which was nice. Ladybug worked on estimation when multiplying two and three digit numbers. She always wants to make it harder than it needs to be, by not rounding one of the numbers, but at least she understands the multiplication!

Ladybug started a new chapter in science this week, one that focuses on primeval reptiles. She’s in the middle of learning about the ancient “saurs.” Turkey and Bunny finished the study guide for the chapter they wrapped up two weeks ago, in preparation of the test they have on Monday.

The only really different thing we did in school this week was our study of the first Thanksgiving instead of our regular history lessons. I’m still using the same basic framework I came up with years ago, but our discussions of the pilgrims and Native Americans have become more complex. As we do most years, we also visited Cahokia Mounds, and learned about the people who first lived in our area, and who built an impressive network of mounds over a thousand years ago. And just to make things a little extra Thanksgiving-y, we even came across a flock of wild turkeys while we were walking one of the trails!

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We’re only going to have two days of school next week…I have to make sure we have plenty of time for all of the cooking, eating, and family fun I have planned!

Chickadee Thursday

This morning, we took a field trip to Cahokia Mounds, something we try to do around Thanksgiving most years. Chickadee enjoyed the climb to the top of Monk’s Mound, but she was a little reluctant to make the descent!

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A few years later, and Chickadee still gets excited when we see a “Cakeway to the West” installation when we’re out and about!

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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!