World War I Centenary

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. Much in our world has changed since then.

Today, most people, in our part of the world at least, have their own car to travel for business or pleasure. Air travel to the far corners of the globe has become standard. Man has landed on the moon. Vaccines have been developed to combat deadly diseases, even while new diseases are discovered that terrify us. Televisions are commonplace in most homes. Most people own computers, and those computers can fit inside a pocket. Nations that were enemies during the War have become allies, and countries that were allies out of necessity have become true friends, even while new enemies have been discovered. Queen Elizabeth II, who could, in a short time, become Britain’s longest reigning monarch, wasn’t even born yet. Her grandfather, King George V, was praying for the safe return from battle of his second son, the then Prince Albert, Queen Elizabeth’s father. Even the geography of the world has changed…there are new names and borders for many countries, and yet the people who inhabit them haven’t changed.

But much remains the same. We still turn to family for love and support in good times and bad. There are still fears and triumphs, joys and sorrows. Music still reflects our emotions, and we still look for a good story to entertain us and transport us to a new place. There are conflicts around the world over trivial and not-so-trivial matters. We have the potential to show great mercy, or to be cruel and unforgiving. We are always looking to discover new things. There is always childbirth, death, and, of course, taxes.

And the Cubs still haven’t won the World Series.

Yes, much has changed since the beginning of World War I. But, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same, which is why we must never forget, lest we make the same mistakes again.

Belleville Bicentennial: 200

To celebrate Belleville’s 200th birthday this year, an exhibit, Belleville Bicentennial: 200, has been put together at the Schmidt Art Center on the campus of Southwestern Illinois College.


Similar to the 250 in 250 exhibit at the Missouri History Museum that celebrates St. Louis’ 250th birthday, this display has 200 items that illustrate Belleville’s long history.

It is broken up into six sections, which focus on Belleville’s beginning and growth, the jobs that people in Belleville have had, the opportunities for service in the city, and education and recreation:

How else to illustrate “Belleville Begins” than with a copy of the original hand-drawn plat map of the town?


The children liked that baseball was displayed in the “Belleville Plays” section:


And of course you can’t have a “Belleville Learns” display without some report cards:


This Civil War drum in the “Belleville Serves” section looks like it has a lot of stories to tell:


Our old our county courthouse was so beautiful, and the model of it in the “Belleville Grows” display showcased its beauty even more than old pictures do!


And a big part of the “Belleville Works” display was this architect’s drafting table, which I thought was really cool!


The section of the gallery dedicated to Belleville’s German heritage was of particular interest to me:

Of course there was a tribute to one of Belleville’s most famous sons, Buddy Ebsen:


There were so many other cool things to see…I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story!

And at the end, you have a chance to ponder a final thought:


Even though it is in a very small space, this display was very well done, and does a good job of telling the Belleville story. If you have a chance, you should go take a look at it yourself!

250 in 250

To celebrate the 250th birthday of St. Louis (which was officially observed over the weekend), the Missouri History Museum has a special exhibit entitled 250 in 250.


It contains the 50 people, 50 moments, 50 images, 50 places, and 50 objects that make St. Louis great.

The first part of the exhibit is a history of St. Louis in 250 seconds. This is, as you can imagine, the briefest of overviews, but it gives a good chronological foundation for all of the items in the displays.

Following the video, you get right into it, with 50 great St. Louisans.

From people you move on to moments. This was the one area we really didn’t get to explore too much, because most of the headsets were already in use. We were very excited to see that Game Six was one of the moments, though!

The 50 images are displayed on screens on the wall:


The 50 places are done in chalk art form. There’s also a pillar where people can write in (and illustrate) their own choices in a variety of chalk colors. We made sure to add Ted Drewes and Busch Stadium!

The 50 objects was our favorite part. There were so many cool things to see, from an old fire truck, to the original Ted Drewes uniform, and even a debutante’s gown.

I can’t say enough good things about this exhibit. I’m looking forward to going back at least once during this year-long birthday celebration, so that Ryan has a chance to enjoy it, too!


Learning About the Reformation

Every year that we’ve been homeschooling, we’ve had some sort of special lesson on Reformation Day. It usually involved reading a book about Martin Luther and doing a craft (often some kind of Luther’s Seal). I realized this year, though, that while the children know a lot about Martin Luther’s corner of the Reformation (of course), they don’t know much about the rest of what was going on in the Church. So, I’ve decided that this year, throughout the month of October, we’re going to replace our regular religion lessons with a special unit on the Reformation, as well as some general Lutheran history!

I started by replacing our Olympics “Special Event Wall” with one on the Reformation. The central focus of the wall is a “Reformation Era Timeline” I picked up at CPH. While the focus of this timeline is the Lutheran Reformation (naturally), other world and Reformation events are included on it, and I really like having a visual representation of just how much was going on in Europe at that time, from exploring the New World to the creation of famous works of art and literature. I added the “Solas” to the wall, as well as a list of key reformers, a map of Europe with key Reformation countries highlighted, a copy of Luther’s seal, and the LCMS seal. We’ll also be adding some things to the wall as the month goes on.

There are 23 school days in October this year, including five Wednesdays, which culminate on Reformation Day itself. I’ve planned something special for each of those Wednesdays, having each Wednesday be a special craft day:

  • Personal Coat of Arms
  • Stained “Glass”
  • Illuminated Letters/Scribe for a Day
  • Reformation Day Banner (to be used in the schoolroom for occasions such as future Reformation Days and Pentecost)
  • Tissue Paper Luther’s Seal

There are a few books I’ll be reading aloud, either in part or whole:

And book basket selections from the “Hero of Faith” series for the children to choose from:

Plus a few other book basket choices:

As well as workbooks for varying ages:

The bulk of our lessons will come in the form of a lapbook (actually several lapbooks)…our first ever! We’ll be learning the “who, what, where, when, and why” of the Reformation while we make these books. We’ll focus on seven reformers (John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, William Tyndale, John Calvin, and John Knox), who will each have a mini-unit and lapbook dedicated to him.

We’ll also learn about seven rulers (Charles V, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor, Philip II, Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scots) who were either supporters or opponents of the Reformation. Instead of a lapbook, the rulers will each have a dedicated notebooking sheet.

Over the course of the month, we’ll make a lapbook that provides an overview of the Reformation, including where each of the rulers fits, and their relationships to the reformers, where applicable.

Since Ladybug is too young for a lot of the lapbook activities, I got her the previously mentioned The Story of Martin Luther Activity Book to color in while Turkey and Bunny complete their books. It’s technically a preschool book, but I thought she’d have fun doing the sticker activities, and it will give her something of her own to work on, so she doesn’t feel left out…very important for a little girl who has two older siblings who “get to have all the fun!”

And field trips are a must. We’ll be visiting the Saxon Lutheran Memorial and attending a Bach at the Sem concert, where “Ein Feste Burg” will be performed. I don’t think we’re going to visit the International Center to see the Concordia Historical Institute Museum, but it has been a few years since we’ve been there, so we’ll see. We’re also going to be having a special Reformation Family Night at church, which, while not technically a field trip, should help reinforce some of the things we’ve been learning at home, and maybe even teach us some new things!

Music is a huge part of the Lutheran church (just ask the “fifth evangelist, J.S. Bach!), so we’ll be listening to some special selections throughout the month. We have both the Martin Luther: Hymns, Ballads, Chants, Truth and the Heirs of the Reformation collections from CPH. We’ll also be listening to various works by Bach…I’ll let Ryan pick which ones. To reinforce what we’ve learned in Luther’s Small Catechism, we’ll also be playing our copy of Sing the Faith.

Our children are a little too young for these kind of strategy games, but I do have some good ideas for games that have a Reformation-era or theological feel. I’m looking forward to future game nights in keeping with this theme!

I’m very excited to get started on this, and really dive into church, and Lutheran, history. It should be a fun month!

Third Grade: Week Two Wrap-Up

A funny story from this week:

We’ve been learning about Columbus, (and other early American settlers from Spain), in American history. So, one day while I was making lunch, Ryan was asking Turkey and Bunny questions about what they’d learned. This continued on for a bit, the way school questions tend to, but finally, Turkey wandered over to me, and under his breath muttered, “Daddy sure doesn’t know very much about Columbus, does he?” My favorite part was the way he said it to me quietly, like he didn’t want to hurt Daddy’s feelings–he may be blunt, but he’s also compassionate!

I can’t believe that after all this time, they still think that when we ask them questions, we don’t actually already know the answers!


That's a lot of scrapbooks!

One of my favorite obsessions, oops, I mean *hobbies* is scrapbooking. Sure, I have lots of things I like to do in my free time (ha, ha)–some practical, like cooking and baking, some educational, like reading, and some mindless, like studying fashion and watching TV. But the one hobby I have sunk the most time (and money!) into is scrapbooking.

I started my attempt at chronicling events and memories in college. My early attempts were pretty crude, as I had no idea what I was doing, what kind of tools were available, or even what albums were good. Those early attempts got the job done, though–not only do I have the memories recorded, but it served to hook me on this new hobby, and I never looked back.

There were people who laughed at me when Bunny was born, and told me I’d never keep up with it now that I had two children. I heard the same story when Moose and Ladybug were born. Yet, even though I’ve allowed myself to fall behind as much as a full year from time to time, I always get caught up, and I’ve devoted equal attention to all four children’s scrapbooks, as well as our family album, and the special albums I work on from time to time. I really view myself as “family historian,” and given my love of history in general, it should be no surprise that I take this job so seriously.

Baby Ladybug's Hands and Feet


...and Girls!

Possibly My Favorite Layout Ever!

I like to think my layouts have improved over time. One thing I know for certain–I love putting the pages together, and I love even more that I have concrete records of the fun times we have shared together.

Book Review: “5 Cities that Ruled the World”

Douglas Wilson’s book, 5 Cities that Ruled the World, about how major cities throughout time (Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and New York) shaped global history is a fascinating read. I can’t say that I know enough about each city to identify any possible bias regarding their histories, and I’m little surprised at the exclusion of some cities, namely Constantinople, but I think that this is a great book for understanding world history.

Each city’s story is contained within one chapter. Things that are revealed about each city include its history (origin, major leaders, and wars and other events), its effect on the world stage, and its current state.

I found that the chapter on London contained the most “unknown” information. I guess perhaps I just didn’t know much about London history, especially the *very* early years (did you know London burned 15 times before the year 1300?!?).

My only real complaint with the book has nothing to do with its content, and instead is an issue with the materials. I can’t stand what the cover is made of–it’s a paperback, made of a textured paper, and I find it weird to touch. Other than that, the book is a great tool for learning more about our world’s major cities, and how they shaped the society in which we currently live, even from across the centuries and around the globe.

What Now?

The Olympics are drawing to a close.  I don’t know what we’re going to do with ourselves.  In the last 16 days or so, we’ve lived the Olympics.  We’ve watched it all.  Anything that’s been on network TV, we’ve seen (it’s the first time I’ve really missed having cable!).  We started our day every morning with “Today” in Beijing, and then on days when we didn’t have various appointments, we kept the TV on to see the morning/early afternoon coverage, breaking only for our Olympics school.  We watched all the primetime stuff (and I do mean all–I planned all the grocery shopping and other errands for the last few weeks so that I was always home in time for the games).  I even stayed up and watched some of the late night stuff.

The traditional favorites were, of course, enjoyed–gymnastics, swimming, diving, and volleyball.  Turkey also added cycling to his list of favorites, and I discovered a new love of water polo.  Heck, we even watched stuff we didn’t really like, including the entirety of both the men’s and women’s marathons (not necessarily by choice, but because we kept hoping they’d break in with something more interesting!)  We saw many records set, and cheered on our team.  We even turned into the NBC Nightly News and the Olympic Zone, because apparently we just weren’t getting enough of an Olympics fix without them!

Our school allowed us to really immerse ourselves in the Olympic spirit, and we covered almost every subject you could imagine studying about the Olympics, China, and sports.  We learned a Bible verse and talked about working your hardest, playing fair, and sportsmanship.  We learned a lot of geography in mapping the torch route, and in studying one country from each continent (save Antarctica, obviously), and added in history and government with our country studies.  We used counting our team’s medals to learn math, including counting by fives.  We learned more about our favorite sports, and then talked about events we’d never even heard of before.  In studying China, we learned about everything from architecture to fashion to history.  We had music appreciation and art (we colored a lot of pictures!)  We even studied a bit of foreign language, learning a smattering of Chinese, and even some Latin.  We read stories from around the world, and compared and contrasted the world’s flags.  We snuck in a bit of physical education with our family olympics, and craft time with making medals.  We even had fun with cooking–one night we made Chinese food for dinner, and then all ate with chopsticks (Turkey was surprisingly proficient in that area!), and we made an Olympics cake, complete with the Olympic rings made from M&Ms (brown is the new black!).

Yep, we’ve really enjoyed our Olympics experience.  It’s hard to say what we liked best, because we liked it all.  I just don’t know what we’re going to do tomorrow!