Pumpkin Picking in the Time of COVID-19

I was kind of worried about pumpkin picking this year. Actually, I had pretty much given up on the idea of us going, and I was planning on just buying a pumpkin when I went grocery shopping, because there was no way we were comfortable with piling into a tractor-pulled wagon with a bunch of people who would hopefully be wearing masks. But then I found out that most sincere pumpkin patch in the area, Braeutigum Orchards, was not only requiring masks and social distancing, they were also offering the option to walk to the pumpkin patch, and that was something we were all comfortable with! Yesterday was the perfect fall day, so we took a break from school to find the Great Pumpkin.

Actually, in some ways, in addition to being a slightly new and different experience, it was a superior experience. We got to see some parts of the farm up close for the first time ever, and it was beautiful:

There were still quite a few pumpkins left, even though it’s pretty late in the season. One thing I love about Braeutigum’s is the wide variety of pumpkin shapes and colors they offer. Being able to borrow one of their hand wagons was a fun new experience, and made our job much easier, too, which is how we ended up with four different pumpkins in three colors!

We stopped to visit the animals while we were there…we always see the chickens and turkeys, but we don’t usually get to see barn cats…we came across at least six of them!

Taking pictures was a little different this year, what with the masks and all, but it’s a memory.

Did I mention it was a beautiful day?

Of course we picked up apple cider and apple cider donuts to enjoy at home:

This was a really positive experience in a surreal time, and made yesterday feel almost like a normal day!

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!

Tasty Tuesday–Cooking Through a Pandemic, the Seventh Month

I guess I’m still doing this!

I think I have the school/cooking routine down pretty well at this point, although some days, it seems like I go straight from the school room to the kitchen. That’s weird, because I usually cook all of our dinners, even in pre-COVID-19 days. But for the last seven (?!?) months, I’ve certainly been putting more effort in, because it’s really the only thing I can do for my family, so it’s still kind of a learning curve, even though it doesn’t seem like it should be. We’ve had some favorite recipes in the last month (both chicken and steak shawarma, plus our favorite chicken with grapes and couscous, not to mention breakfast-for-dinner several times), and tried a few new things (a stir-fry of my invention, creamy chicken noodle soup, and a new kind of chicken for tacos):

There has also been baking (and some frying), including apple cider donuts, pretzels, my award-winning apple and pumpkin bread, and our every-Sunday cookies:

I guess I’ll keep this up through the end of the year, because it’s always fun to keep track of what we’re eating during the holidays, and they’re getting awfully close!

COVID Dreams

I’m not the only one having weird dreams in the time of coronavirus, right?

I have a specific recurring dream that always ends one of two ways. I’m in a store…Target, Walmart, Schnucks, wherever…and I’m happily shopping when I suddenly realize that I don’t have my mask on. The more common ending to that dream is one where I freak out because I realize no one else is wearing a mask, either, leaving us all vulnerable to whatever germs everyone might be carrying. Occasionally, though, the dream ends with an angry mob chasing me out of the store for not wearing a mask, and me feeling stupid, and also like I should explain that I always wear a mask everywhere, honest, but this one time I forgot.

I’ve also had a weird dream about using hand sanitizer, and what was supposed to be a normal application ends with me having a handful of the stuff. Which sometimes seems like it’s actually happening, because if you don’t squeeze the bottle just right, you end up with way more than you were expecting.

Have you had any weird COVID-19 related dreams?

Oktoberfest 2020

This year’s Oktoberfest celebration was a weird one, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising in 2020. Normally, a Markel Family Oktoberfest is an at-home event. We listen to our Germany’s Greatest Hits CD, make some of our favorite German foods, and watch The Sound of Music and any episode of Rick Steves’ Europe set in Germany (or the Alps) we can find.

But this year was supposed to be different. The Great North American Oktoberfest was going to have its inaugural event in St. Louis this fall, and I had Plans. We were going to spend a day downtown, and listen to music and try out the rides and I was going to eat a steckerlfisch and maybe buy an authentic dirndl. And then COVID-19 happened. So we were back to our traditional Oktoberfest at home, which happens to be a very nice event. I started my shopping at Aldi a few weeks ago:

We made pretzels (of course):

And fondue:

We played Ticket to Ride–Germany:

We had a traditional German dinner

And our favorite German cake for dessert:

I even got into the spirit of the occasion in Animal Crossing: New Horizons!

So we had a fun day. Like so many other things this year, it wasn’t exactly what I had planned, but I’m glad we already had a tradition in place so we didn’t miss out on anything familiar!

Quote of the Day

Haven’t we all felt like Hawkeye and BJ in M*A*S*H at some point in the last six months?


So bored.

So bored, it’s boring.


Boronus, boreetus, boreemus. I came, I saw, I bored.

He bored, she bored, they bored.

All aboard.

Quote of the Day

This is kind of how I feel every time I get ready to leave the house.

‚ÄúThat’s three hours of boredom, followed by seven seconds of sheer terror.” Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell in Apollo 13

Tasty Tuesday–Cooking Through a Pandemic, the Sixth Month

Time for the sixth installment of cooking through a pandemic…can you believe it’s been a half a year?!?

Cooking for the last month or so has been a little more challenging for me now that we’re back to school. I did have a little help though…the night before school started, we had Portillo’s via mail order, the first day of school was frozen pizzas for the first in I don’t know how long, we ordered Pizza Hut one night when I just couldn’t anymore, and just yesterday, we tried out the newest concept by Beast Craft BBQ, Wing Runner STL. We also tried quite a few new recipes in the last month, some of which were huge hits!

We’ve kept up with baking cookies every Sunday after church, and we even added a new chocolate twist. We also baked brownies, a few cakes, and made baklava over Labor Day weekend since we couldn’t go to the St. Louis Greek Festival.

Maybe I’ll do this again next month, maybe I won’t…only time will tell!