Kantorei Kamp Week

For the fourth summer in a row, “The Bigs” have participated in a Kantorei Kamp at Hope Lutheran Church in St. Louis. It’s a busy, fun week for everybody, because while they’re at camp, Chickadee and I go adventuring…sometimes, I think she has more fun than her siblings do!

On Monday, while the Kamp had a full day of music theory, handbell practice, and choral rehearsals, Chickadee and I went to the playground in Forest Park and to the Missouri History Museum, where we visited the History Clubhouse and the new “Muny Memories” exhibit:

On Tuesday, Chickadee and I went to the Missouri Botanical Garden in the morning, and then joined the Kantorei Kamp for some swimming at the YMCA:

Wednesday was a little bit cooler, so Chickadee and I walked around the St. Louis Zoo and the St. Louis Art Museum:

We only had a little bit of free time on Thursday morning, so Chickadee and I visited the St. Louis Public Library and read some books before joining the Kantorei Kamp for a backstage tour of Powell Hall, a picnic lunch, concretes at Ted Drewes, and a concert by a quartet from the Greenleaf Singers for Make Music St. Louis Day:

And today we went with the Kantorei Kamp to the LC-MS International Center to hear them sing for chapel. After that, Chickadee and I visited the St. Louis Science Center before picking up “The Bigs” from their last day of Kamp:

And a bonus handbell piece from church on Sunday, which I managed to record while they rehearsing before the service:

Chickadee Thursday

Today was another super busy day for Chickadee. “The Bigs” have Kantorei Kamp this week, so she and I have been starting every day with them in Morning Prayer. After that, she and I went to my favorite branch of the St. Louis Public Library for a little reading time:

There was an extra-special Kamp field trip today, and since I was one of the drivers, Chickadee got to go, too. We toured Powell hall, which is the home of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, had a picnic lunch, stopped for a treat at Ted Drewes, and then heard a Renaissance quartet from the Greenleaf Singers as part of “Make Music Day St. Louis.”

Today was just one busy day in an extremely busy week…I can’t believe Chickadee isn’t as exhausted as I am!

2017-18 School Year–Week Twelve+

Two weeks ago, I mentioned that we had a busy week ahead, and I wasn’t sure how much school we were going to get done. We did have school, but only for a few days, so I’m going to combine that with this week’s wrap-up.

In addition to a couple of days of regular school work last week, we did a few fun things, as well. We celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and three of the children even got to participate in a mass children’s choir at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. It was very exciting to be part of that historic event!

We started on one of my favorite November traditions last week…we’re assembling our yearly “Thankful Tree!” As far as I can remember, the first year we did this was 2009, and that tree had handprints for leaves. We’ve also done some other variations on it over the years, including a Thankful Wreath, and maybe a Thankful Turkey, as well. Since at least 2011, though, we’ve used the current format. Laminating all those leaves was a pain at the time, but they sure have served us well!

We also went to the St. Louis Public Library Central Library to see the “We Are Shakespeare” exhibit. I almost ran out of time on that one, because it closed last weekend. It was a really cool exhibit, and I’m glad we made it!

We also took advantage of the nice weather on one of Moose’s days off last week to take a nature walk around Creve Coeur Lake. We saw snakes and birds, lots of cool leaves and fruits/nuts, and tons of other people out on bikes and boats enjoying the beautiful day.

This week was a little more standard. We got back to our regular religion lessons, after taking a break for the Reformation. Turkey and Bunny wrapped up another unit in their books, but not before they learned about the Tabernacle, and the positions of all the different tribes when the set up camp around it. Ladybug read a story that was not too familiar to her…the tale of Gideon. Chickadee learned about Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

Ladybug is working on long division in math. She does not enjoy it. She is good at it, though, which is important. Turkey and Bunny worked with regular polygons. They found out how to find the measures of the interior and exterior angles of various shapes. Chickadee is still working on counting larger numbers, and she’s getting pretty good at it!

We had a lot of fun in science this week. Turkey and Bunny have been learning about diffusion and osmosis, and they got to do a few cool experiments to see how they work. Their favorite experiment involved an egg. First, they soaked it in vinegar to remove the shell (which they’ve done in the past). Then they soaked it in syrup, to see which way the liquid moved (out of the egg into the syrup). After that, they soaked it in water, again to see which way the liquid moved (from the water into the egg). They took measurements along the way, and were very impressed with the differences they recorded! Ladybug watched every step of their experiment and was fascinated by it, even as she was learning about Old World apes in her science class.

History has also been interesting. Even though they’re using different texts, Turkey and Bunny’s and Ladybug’s lessons have overlapped again. They’ve all been learning about Babylon and Assyria. We’ve talked about rulers such as Tiglath-Pileser III and Shalmaneser V. We’ve also made some connections to Bible history, even though our religion lessons haven’t gotten there yet.

The girls had a fun little activity this week. We’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the Lego Ideas “Women of NASA” set, and we finally received our copy. I decided since there are exactly three vignettes in the set that the girls should be the ones to build it. Turkey still enjoyed reading about the women depicted in the set (I love that Lego included that information in the instruction book) even though he didn’t get to help build it. It’s a great little set, and looks right at home next to our Saturn V rocket!

Next week, we’ll be starting on our annual Thanksgiving study…I can’t believe how quickly that holiday is approaching!

50 Years of Blood, Sweat and Cheers

There’s a new exhibit at the St. Louis Public Library Central Library, and since we enjoyed the Fantasy Maps exhibit so much last year, I knew we’d also have to check out 50 Years of Blood, Sweat and Cheers, which celebrates the St. Louis Blues 50th anniversary year.

We started in the Great Hall. Like the Fantasy Maps exhibit, they covered a wall with art plus history in an amazing mural of players and coaches. There are also trophies on display, actual dasher boards from The Arena, an all-time Blues roster, and Blues honors and awards, including all the numbers retired by the Blues. We apparently just missed seeing Bobby Plager, as he added his number, which was retired the night before, to the wall right after we were there!

After that, we went upstairs to the Carnegie Room. This is the main exhibit, and includes every kind of Blues memorabilia you can imagine. Equipment, ticket stubs, apparel, newspapers, giveaway items…it’s all there. There is also information about the different places the Blues have called home, and information about various players.

We almost missed it, but there is also an additional two cases of memorabilia in a restricted-access archive area!

If you have any question about where the exhibit or the library is, you can follow the pucks on the sidewalks from Scottrade to the Library:

This is a really fun exhibit, but it’s only open through March 4, so there’s less than a month left to check it out! I can’t wait to see what the Central Library has on display next!

NHL Centennial Fan Arena

Yesterday, I took my students on a field trip downtown to the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, a traveling exhibit which is set up outside the Central Library this weekend. It reminded me a lot of the Baseball Hall of Fame Tour I visited last summer, in that is uses a truck to create a traveling museum, and incorporates virtual reality, artifacts, and video into the experience.

The children loved all the hands-on activities outside, including a virtual reality zamboni challenge and floor hockey.

The big attraction, for me at least, was the museum. If you know me, you know I love history of all kinds, and this exhibit did not disappoint. There were tons of artifacts from the last 100 years of NHL play, and a few special things set up that are specific to St. Louis and the Blues, so you get a good feel for sports history, as well as a bit of local history. It is fascinating to see how much the equipment has changed over the years!

The exhibit will be open today and tomorrow in St. Louis, before it packs up and heads to the next city on the list (Nashville). If you’re a hockey fan, and have time some time this weekend, I highly recommend stopping by. And it’s even a free event, so it won’t cost you a cent (unless you decide to buy a funnel cake from the stand set up next to the exhibit!). I even heard the Stanley Cup will be stopping by, as well as some members of the Blues organization!

2016-17 School Year–Week Nineteen

This has been a topsy-turvy week!

I don’t know if it was because Ryan was out-of-town, or because Moose had an unexpected day off from school due to a water main break (which also had us dealing with a boil order for over 24 hours), or if was the field trip we went on today, but everything about this week seemed backwards and upside down. We even did a lot of our schoolwork in the evenings, which is very unusual for us!

We only made it through one lesson in One God, Many Gods this week, but it was a big one…we studied Islam. Actually the information wasn’t as new as I was expecting…I guess we studied Islam more in history than I had remembered, so the children already had some knowledge of it.

Turkey and Bunny started a new chapter about the weather in science. They’re currently tracking daily highs and lows of temperature and pressure. Ladybug began a new chapter in science, as well…she’s learning all about crustaceans!

Math and history have been the two big topics of study this week. Turkey and Bunny have finally been introduced to quadratic equations and the quadratic formula. It wasn’t quite as painful as I was expecting, but they’re still early in the lessons! Ladybug is still learning different geometry terms, which she likes, if only because it means a break from long division!

Our history studies focused primarily on WWI. This also led to some interesting conversations about family history, and I was able to show the children all of my grandfather’s old papers from when he came to the US from Austria following the war. We also covered the Mexican and Bolshevik Revolutions. Bunny, in particular, is interested in the history of the Romanovs, so this was a good week to be studying history!

Today we took a field trip to downtown St. Louis. The Central Library currently has an exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the St. Louis Blues, and today, the traveling NHL 100 exhibit, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Hockey League, hit town, appropriately right outside the library. We enjoyed touring both exhibits, and learning a bit of local history!

Hopefully next week will be a bit more “normal!”

St. Louis Public Library–Buder Branch

The St. Louis Central Library is like a cathedral for books. It is a truly remarkable building. But even before I saw that library branch, I was intrigued by another member of the St. Louis Public Library family…the Buder Branch at 4401 Hampton.


This was actually one of the first buildings I noticed when we moved to St. Louis over 15 years ago, probably because it was located right by the Target store at which we first shopped. The turquoise details, the windows, the unique shape all make it a very notable structure.



The interior, while modern, also fits the exterior of the building perfectly.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the library is the spiral staircase, which goes from the basement to the third floor, and is flanked by curved windows made of wavy block glass.



The library wasn’t the first resident of this building. It was originally built as the Hampton Bank of St. Louis in the 1950s (which explains the mid-century modern vibe), and was also home to Missouri Savings and Loan and the Metropolitan Sewer District of St. Louis. The library moved in in 1998, relocating from another mid-century modern building on Hampton which now houses the Record Exchange. It’s good to see this unique building serving the community and busy with students, families, and other people who have a love of books and learning!

The Central Library

Although I photographed the STL250 cake there in 2014, I never actually visited the St. Louis Central Library before this August. The Fantasy Maps exhibit drew me in, however, and we also took a tour while we were there. I was back again last week, and I’m astounded by what an amazing building it is, inside and out!

The building (actually buildings, as it is a group of five separate buildings that are joined), was a Carnegie library designed by Cass Gilbert, and was first constructed in 1912, and renovated to be completed in time for the 100th anniversary in 2012.


The brick plaza out front lets you know you’re in a special place:


Our tour began in what used to be called the “Delivery Room.” There are so many beautiful details on the walls, the ceiling…even the lamps!




There are many different rooms in the library, and they are all stunning:


Intricate details abound:



There are Gorham stained glass windows and skylights (one of which was recently rediscovered!):

The children’s and teen areas are bright and colorful, and seem like fun places to be:



The part of the building that faces Locust Street has a more modern feel (a relative term for a building over 100 years old), inside and out. I especially love the use of subway tiles on the interior walls! The tiles themselves may be old, but they’re so timeless, they play up the contemporary, urban vibe:

There is a cool marker in the exact center of the library:


Here’s another look at the beautiful exterior, which includes names, sculptures, quotes, fountains, and more stunning lamps:





You could spend all day in this library, and not even come close to noticing all the details. The guided tour is an excellent way to learn about what you’re seeing, and I highly recommend taking some time to take a walk through the building to see how beautiful the design is and discover the library’s importance to St. Louis!

Fantasy Maps: Imagined Worlds

Yesterday, the children and I hopped on the train into downtown St. Louis so we could visit the big Central Library.


While I’ve been meaning to take the tour there for quite some time, I really wanted to see the maps exhibit they currently have on display. We started in the Great Hall (which I learned used to be called the “Delivery Room”), where they have covered the floor with a whimsically illustrated map of St. Louis. While most of the pictures are easy to identify, there is also a legend on the wall, giving the history behind every location. We were able to find almost all of our favorite St. Louis places…except for Seamus McDaniel’s and the Missouri Botanical Garden!




There were also a few maps from literature in the Great Hall, including Bunny’s favorite from the Harry Potter series:


The exhibit continued in the third floor Carnegie Room, where they have different fictional maps from many great books on display. We all enjoyed locating some of our favorites, including Hogwarts, Middle Earth, and even the map from my favorite childhood book, The Phantom Tollbooth.




This exhibit will be on display through October 15, so if you’ve been looking for an excuse to visit the Central Library, you still have plenty of time!