They Grow Up So Fast!

Last week on the way out of church, we noticed a bird sitting on a nest in a tree, and we even saw a little wing peeking out from underneath her. Yesterday, we walked by the same nest, and were shocked at how much the two baby birds had grown in just a week…they hardly even fit in the nest anymore!

I’m also a little shocked at how fast my children have grown up…time certainly does fly!

2020-21 School Year–Week Thirty-One

Hymn of the Week–“Holy Spirit, the Dove Sent from Heaven” (Lutheran Service Book #502)

Fun things first…on Wednesday, we actually left the house for a little field trip when we visited the St. Louis Zoo for the first time in almost two years! The weather was not supposed to cooperate, and while it did pour on us at one point, most of the time we were there it was actually quite pleasant out!

As for the rest of the week…Turkey and Bunny completed their final calculus lesson, where they put many of the concepts they’ve learned this year together to solve some real-world problems. We took another look at WWI in American culture and geography. In advanced biology, they continued to learn about the respiratory system…the slide of lung tissue they looked at under the microscope was really cool! They submitted the topics for their final term paper…I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to say!

Ladybug used what she learned about the Pythagorean Theorem to solve problems using the distance formula, as well as the midpoint formula, in algebra. She learned about magnets in science. In writing, she wrote a review of a book (that happened to be written by her big sister!). Since she’s finished with literature studies for the year, she’s reading a favorite book from my childhood, Henry Reed’s Journey.

Chickadee worked on subtracting while rounding in math. In science, she learned about different kinds of beetles, including scarab beetles and fireflies. We started reading Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. In history, she and Ladybug read about the Chernobyl disaster and the fall of the USSR.

Three more weeks to go!

2020-21 School Year–Week Thirty

Hymn of the Week–“Jesus Christ is Risen Today” (Lutheran Service Book #457)

We actually went somewhere and did something! On Sunday, we visited Origami in the Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden. It’s a really cool exhibition, and we’re already looking forward to going back…it definitely fits in with our postponed-from-last-year Japan-themed summer school!

As for school…things are starting to wrap up. Turkey and Bunny finished the second-to-last chapter in their calculus text. They made it through the last chapter in their study of psychology. They’re still working on finishing up 1984. We started a chapter on the respiratory system in advanced biology.

Ladybug (and Moose, by coincidence), learned the Pythagorean Theorem in algebra. I think this is the first time all school year that their lessons actually lined up! She learned about electricity in science, and we got to make an electroscope that actually worked! She finished reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer…I gave her a few options of books she can read to finish out the school year since her official literature studies are done.

Chickadee worked on drawing lines of symmetry in math. She learned about antonyms in grammar. In science, she read about wasps and termites. We finished reading The Boxcar Children. She and Ladybug learned about conflicts between Iran and Iraq as well as between India and Pakistan in history.

I finally did the math, and now I know we only have four weeks of school left to go!

Easter in the Time of COVID-19

Time for another look at a Markel Family holiday in the time of COVID-19!

Last year, I was all about keeping as many things as normal as possible for everyone. This year, I decided to embrace the new and different as much as I could. For starters, even though I’m now back to grocery shopping once a week instead of every two weeks, and could have bought hot cross buns from the bakery, I decided to make a batch again this year:

We went to our new church for the evening Maundy Thursday service to begin the Holy Triduum, and it was short, but very nice:

On Good Friday we were back at our new church for an equally moving (and equally short) Tenebrae service:

On Holy Saturday, we watched Rick Steves’ European Easter and made our Paschal candle for the year, as is our tradition. This one didn’t turn out so well, but it still gets the job done!

We attended the Great Vigil of Easter at our new church…I’m so glad they offer that service. More of it was spent outside than we are used to, and that was really nice!

After church, instead of getting sundaes from McDonald’s like we usually do, we got Frosty’s and fries at Wendy’s, and I introduced the Fab Five to the culinary experience that is dipping the fries in the Frosty:

We didn’t have a sunrise service this year, but I was still up early enough to see the sunrise:

And even though we didn’t need to leave the house super-early, I still bought our traditional Pop-Tarts:

It was a beautiful morning!

I took pictures of the Fab Five in the garden outside of church:

Since I couldn’t really take pictures of them inside the church (and especially by the baptismal font) like I usually do, I did that the day of Chickadee’s confirmation:

Our new church is beautiful!

After church, we came home and made Easter breakfast…eggs and sausage, English muffins, pomegranate juice, and every flavor of mini donut I could find…seven varieties. Maybe we’ll be able to go to Easter breakfast at church again in the future, but for now, it’s nice to have the meal at home!

I may have completed all of the Bunny Day goals in Animal Crossing: New Horizons last year, but I still checked in with Zipper T. Bunny:

We had fun watching some of our favorite Easter movies today, including My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, Easter Parade, and It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. While we did that, I made sure the table looked pretty for dinner:

And made our Easter feast for dinner. I tried a new leg of lamb recipe in the crock-pot, which was both amazingly delicious and easy. We also had Greek potatoes, carrot fritters, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, breaded artichokes, cherry Jell-O, and popovers:

For dessert, I made carrot cake Oreo truffles:

No matter what stays the same or what is different from year to year, our reason for celebrating remains constant. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!!!

Christmas in the Time of COVID-19

Time for a look at this year’s scaled-back Christmas celebration. Some things were the same, like starting Christmas Eve with a bowl of Christmas Crunch:

Some things were different…but not necessarily because of COVID-19. I had a fun time playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons and helping Jingle deliver his gifts yesterday morning:

The Fab Five finished this year’s Advent project, Lego Diagon Alley:

And I played Animal Crossing some more:

Our Christmas Eve dinner was different this year…I ordered tamales from Portillo’s, and we had them before church.

I always take pictures before church. This year, I took two sets. One with the year’s hottest accessory:

And one without:

This year, we attended an outdoor Christmas Eve service. It was cold, so we weren’t too sad it was short (although I missed all off the familiar Christmas hymns!). We did chuckle when a helicopter flew over during “Silent Night,” drowning out the singing!

We drove through the Way of Lights on the way home:

For Jesus’ birthday cake this year, I made a peppermint chocolate cake with two kinds of frosting (white chocolate peppermint buttercream inside, and an Italian buttercream outside). I think this is one of the best cakes I’ve ever made!

Of course there were new Christmas jammies:

We skipped playing Ticket to Ride on Christmas Eve, so I just had to fill the stockings and set up the nativity scene under the tree before bed:

We didn’t have to get up early, so we enjoyed our traditional Christmas morning coffee cake a little later than usual (but not much):

And since we didn’t have a Christmas Day service to go to (probably the biggest disappointment of the holiday for me), we opened presents in the morning, which was very strange!

We had our traditional Christmas Eve “pick out dinner” for Christmas Day lunch…and dinner (we’re saving our fancy Christmas feast for Sunday…stay tuned!). Here’s a look at some of the things we had:

We spent the afternoon watching Christmas movies, including my very favorite, White Christmas. We played our annual Christmas Eve game of Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries tonight. And since we were a day late, we also played the new Ticket to Ride game Ryan gave me, the 15th anniversary edition with clear trains, which I love! Everything is different this year…we might as well embrace it!

“Hail, O everlasting morn!
Hail, redemption’s happy dawn!
Sing through all Jerusalem:
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!'”

Merry Christmas!

2020-21 School Year–Christmas School

Hymn of the Week–“Where Shepherds Lately Knelt” (Lutheran Service Book #369)

It’s been a long time since we’ve dedicated a week to “Christmas School,” but if ever a year needed it, it’s 2020. So this week was spent making ornaments, baking cookies, reading Christmas stories, and watching different versions of The Nutcracker.

I was especially excited about the ornaments. I had originally planned for the children to make them two years ago, but that was the year I broke my ankle, and I just didn’t have the energy to deal with it. Last year I found ornament kits that I really wanted to make, so these beautiful sequin ornaments got pushed back one more year. We had lots of options for colors and sizes:

They were definitely worth the wait (and the seed beads that may be rolling around the kitchen forever!), because they are beautiful!

We also decorated gingerbread houses, something we have done in the past, but it’s been a few years, and I’ve never had a house for each child (the mansion was a group project).

Speaking of gingerbread houses, we did get out of the house to see the gingerbread creations in the store windows on Main Street. We might not have been able to do most of the Christmas activities I had planned this year, but it was nice to do one familiar thing!

This was also “Cookie Week.” I decided we should bake a different kind of cookie every day, and they should all be cookies we don’t usually bake. On Monday, we made eggnog blossoms, Tuesday was chocolate crinkles, Wednesday we baked kolacky, Thursday we made both Madelines and palmiers, and today we baked spritz.

We did a lot of reading this week, too. We finished A Christmas Carol, and made it through most of Letters from Father Christmas (I plan on finishing that next week). We also read a bunch of storybooks:

  • Lucia Morning in Sweden
  • Lucia: Saint of Light
  • The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • Jackie’s Gift
  • The Carpenter’s Gift
  • Fear Not Joseph
  • Madeline’s Christmas
  • The 12 Days of Christmas
  • The Three Wise Women of Christmas
  • The Nativity

It was also “Nutcracker Week.” This is not totally unheard of for us, although this year we were supposed to see a live production. We watched a different version every day:

  • Monday: Ballet Company of The National Opera of Ukraine
  • Tuesday: Dutch National Ballet
  • Wednesday: Wiener Staatsballett
  • Thursday: The Royal Ballet
  • Friday: The Bolshoi Ballet

We saved our favorite, the San Francisco Ballet production, to watch tomorrow. If we have time next week, we’ll watch the Berlin Nutcracker, too…that’s the only one we have on disc that we didn’t schedule for this week.

This was a really fun week of school, but I’m looking forward to taking a break for a few weeks. Merry Christmas!

2020-21 School Year–Week Fourteen

Hymn of the Week–“Now Thank We All Our God” (Lutheran Service Book #895)

I always enjoy the week before Thanksgiving in school, because not only do we read all of our favorite Thanksgiving books, this is also usually the week we visit Cahokia Mounds, which we did on Wednesday. It was a beautiful, clear, chilly day, and we had most of the trail to ourselves, which made our masks pretty unnecessary. I’m extra thankful for the few traditions we can continue to do in this very strange year!

As for the rest of the week…Turkey and Bunny continued to work with derivatives in calculus…I guess that’s pretty much all they’ll be doing for the near future. They started reading A Tale of Two Cities…I think the themes of the book are going to very timely and appropriate. They read about Yankeedom and New Netherland in American Nations.

Ladybug multiplied binomials by trinomials in algebra. She finished the first section of Treasure Island. In science, she read about cohesion, adhesion, and surface tension. She and Chickadee learned about the Russo-Japanese War and the Treaty of Portsmouth in history.

Chickadee continued to practice division in math. She finished the chapter on birds’ nests in science. Instead of starting a new book right before Thanksgiving, we read some extra Thanksgiving stories together. She learned about conjunctions in grammar.

Next week will be a super short week of school because of Thanksgiving, so I’ll save my next wrap-up for two weeks from now…have a happy Thanksgiving!

2020-21 School Year–Week Thirteen

Hymn of the Week–“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” (Lutheran Service Book #892)

This has been A Week. It started out well enough, with a Sunday evening visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden for Garden Glow.

And Monday was nice, too, as it was Moose’s birthday (although we did still have school). Things kind of fell apart after that, however, as my mom was admitted to the ICU on Tuesday. So we did school this week, but I have to admit, I think we were all pretty distracted.

Turkey and Bunny did derivatives of trigonometric functions in calculus. In advanced biology, they learned the names and functions of a lot of muscles. Ryan commented that it learned like we were casting spells from Harry Potter one day! They learned about language development in psychology. They read about “El Norte,” “New France,” and “Tidewater” in American Nations.

Ladybug continued to work with systems of equations in algebra. She and Chickadee read about the Boxer Rebellion in history. In science she learned about valance electrons and how chemical reactions occur. We started reading Treasure Island.

Chickadee started some simple division in math…I was not ready for that! We finished reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins…she wanted it to last forever! In science, she learned about several different kinds of nests. She was relieved to have a review week in spelling…that means no test!

I don’t know what next week will look like, but hopefully it’s a little better than this week has been!

2020-21 School Year–Week Twelve

Hymn of the Week–“For All the Saints” (Lutheran Service Book #677)

I’m so happy it’s finally November (even if it has been unusually warm the last few days)!

On Monday, we took our annual walk around Creve Coeur Lake…it was the perfect day for it, and there was still plenty of fall color to see. And most importantly, we got out of the house!

After our very rare field trip day, we got back to our regular work. Turkey and Bunny learned the chain rule for derivatives in calculus. They started reading two new books for history: American Nations and Light in the Dark Belt. Now that they’ve learned about how muscles work in advanced biology, they’re learning about specific muscles/muscle groups.

Ladybug worked with adding, subtracting, and multiplying systems of equations in algebra. She learned how elements are grouped on the periodic table in science. She also learned how to write a scientific paper. We finished reading The Trojan War. In history, she and Chickadee read about the Oregon Trail.

Chickadee started carrying in multiplication in math. Her writing lessons focused on passages from 101 Dalmatians. She learned a bit more about migration in science. We read about the first theater performance of Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

Ladybug and Chickadee put the finishing touches on their election lapbooks this week. The biggest addition was the “Vocabinet,” which summarized all the terms they’ve learned over the last month:

Both Ladybug and Chickadee were very proud of their finished projects!

Next week will be a pretty normal week, and then we’ll add in our Thanksgiving studies!

2020-21 School Year–Week Nine

Hymn of the Week–“Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word” (Lutheran Service Book #655)

This week was a little strange. We had Monday off as part of our long weekend, and then we had what I’m calling “Documentary Day” on Tuesday. We watched various episodes from different shows covering nature (Frozen Planet), architecture/history (Great Estates of Scotland), American history (America: The Story of US), and biography (The Diamond Queen). This was a nice way to have a different and laid-back day of school, especially since we don’t have our usual field trips that we would enjoy going on for a break, and I think we may do it again at some point!

On to the rest of the week. Turkey and Bunny learned about the different kinds of joints in advanced biology. They read more about dreams and states of consciousness in psychology. We discovered that even our hymn study can include some humor, and although we weren’t expecting it, we had a good laugh when reading the text background for “Lord, Keep Up Steadfast in Your Word,” because it include a parody lyric that was popular at one point. They finished reading There are No Children Here for our study of US geography and cultures.

Ladybug learned about atoms and molecules, compounds and solutions in science, as well as the states of matter. She and Chickadee learned about the Boer Wars in history. She read about the death of Achilles in The Trojan War. Both she and Chickadee continued to work on their election lapbooks…here’s a look at some of what she added this week:

Chickadee continued to multiply two-digit numbers by one-digit numbers in math. We started reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins together. In spelling, she worked with “ee” and “ea” words. She learned about what gives feathers their color in science.

Also, we finally had an outing today! Our local pumpkin patch is offering some different options due to COVID-19, and I was very comfortable with how they’re doing things, so we went a picked a pumpkin (or four) this morning!!!

This was a nice, low-key week of school, and just what we needed!