2018 in Review

This has been a weird year. There were some major highs (especially our vacation to Orlando!), but there were also some maddening lows, mainly, I don’t know, everything in our house breaking…roof, dishwasher, garage door, hot water heater, my ankle… I’m actually not sure how I feel about it in the end…but I’m looking forward to starting fresh with 2019! Before that, however, a look back at 2018…

January kicked things off with a bang, as our dishwasher broke at the same time our town had a multiple day boil order. Talk about frustrating…I couldn’t even use the sanitize cycle to make sure things were really getting clean! Even with all that hassle, I managed my first attempt at Japanese cooking for Ryan’s birthday dinner…but I think I’m still recovering from cleaning up all those dishes! We also took a weekend trip to Chicago, where we visited the Adler Planetarium, the Legoland Discovery Center, the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Little Popcorn Store, and Portillo’s.

February was fairly quiet. The highlight of the month was the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. I learned how to cook some Korean dishes, and we had a taste of Asia to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

March is always a busy month, and this year was no exception. Chickadee lost her first tooth! We had our traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Turkey turned fifteen!!! A few days later, Chickadee turned six! The Hofbräuhaus finally opened, but we wouldn’t make it there until the following month.

In April, we celebrated Easter, and then the Cardinals home opener. I won a Nintendo Switch?!? We attended Chinese Culture Days at the Missouri Botanical Garden. We finally enjoyed a meal at the Hofbräuhaus!

May is another busy month every year. I got to see my name in print as a published writer! We enjoyed a beautiful spring in Forest Park and Tower Grove Park. Ladybug celebrated her 11th birthday. Ryan and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a tea party the day before the Royal Wedding. Turkey, Bunny, and Ladybug received choir awards on Ascension Day. Pinup Girl Clothing sent me a box of Mary Blair print items which I joyfully reviewed. I had a very pleasant Mother’s Day. Turkey, Bunny, Ladybug, and Chickadee finished the 2017-18 school year, and then Moose finished elementary school! We went on what is now an annual Memorial Day weekend trip north for Combo Breaker, where the Fab Five and I spent a fun day in Chicago and took a Wendella boat tour. We also visited the Chicago Botanic Garden for the second time in the year, and had a Rainbow Cone.

And then June. It started off fairly calm, but that didn’t last long! We took a trip to Bowling Green, KY, where Bunny attended WKU’s volleyball camp. While we were there, I celebrated my first 39th birthday…we even went to Mammoth Cave! Back home, the children attended a very busy week of Kantorei Kamp…and that was the calm before the storm, because we had a big, Harry Potter-themed vacation up next! We headed to Orlando, where we visited Legoland, Universal Studios Florida, (including Diagon Alley), Islands of Adventure, (including Hogsmeade), and had a fun cabana day at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. We even saw a SpaceX launch (from a distance) early one morning..so many dreams came true on our trip!

Our vacation wrapped up in July…we even visited the ocean on our way home. It was the most amazing vacation ever! Bunny and Ladybug joined Turkey for a week of RSCM camp. While they were away, Moose, Chickadee, and I took a little train trip. Bunny celebrated her 14th birthday when she got home from camp.

In August, we finally made it to the special summer event at the Missouri Botanical Garden: Flora Borealis. Our summer school wrapped up. We got ready to begin another year of school…our first day of homeschooling for the 2018-19 school year saw Turkey and Bunny starting 10th grade, Ladybug starting 6th, and Chickadee starting 1st. Moose had his first day of junior high! Moose, Chickadee, and I went to a Cardinals game and hung out with Fredbird.

We were back at the Missouri Botanical Garden in September, this time for the Japanese Festival. The girls and I went to Art Hill to experience the Great Forest Park Balloon Race’s Balloon Glow for the first time. Bunny and I went to Powell Hall to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the big screen while the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra played the score.

In October, we finally got to see the much-awaited Olympic Spectacular in St. Louis. The Fab Five and I went to Braeutigum Orchards to pick pumpkins and baby porcupines, apparently. We headed west to St. Charles for the third year of Legends and Lanterns.

And then November. The month started out so promisingly, with our annual Extra Life for Kids fundraiser…which also turned out to be the day I broke my ankle. I was really afraid that would be the end of our fun for the year, but I was determined not to let it ruin things, so we eased into the celebratory season with Moose’s 13th birthday. Garden Glow was a bit of a challenge, but I was able to (slowly) make my way through the event. Thanksgiving was a scary proposition this year, but somehow, we got everything done, and had a nice dinner, even if I did overcook the turkey. We even made it to the Boar’s Head Festival for the first time since Chickadee was a baby!

December started with a Christmas Getaway north to St. Charles, IL and Pheasant Run. We got to experience a rainy Christmas in Chicago while we were there. We celebrated Santa Lucia Day. Moose and I got to go to Powell Hall and watch Home Alone on the big screen while the St. Louis Symphony played the score. We traveled west to St. Charles, MO, for Christmas Traditions. Our hot water heater died right before Christmas, but we pressed on and enjoyed a mostly typical Markel Family Christmas.

There was much about this year, and especially the last two months, that was difficult. But I found strength I didn’t know I had, and accomplished almost everything I set out to, and really, what more can you ask for? I hope that in 2019, I will continue to conquer every hurdle I face!

2017 in Review

As much as I wanted 2017 to be an improvement over 2016, in many ways, it was just as difficult a year as its predecessor. No matter what is going on in the world around us, though, we always manage to have fun times and make happy family memories!

January was a pretty quiet month. I got to attend the One Nation Classic at Busch Stadium, after Ryan was there for the first ever St. Louis Winter Classic on January 2nd. It was so cold, I was certain my feet were going to snap off before the end of the day, but it was also a lot of fun, and a unique way to view the ballpark! We also had fun visiting the snowy Missouri Botanical Garden, the Missouri History Museum, and especially the St. Louis Science Center, where we had a membership for the year.

In February, the children and I took the train downtown to visit the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, which was held outside the St. Louis Public Library Central Library…and they were hosting a special exhibition called “50 Years of Blood, Sweat and Cheers” in honor of the Blues 50th season in St. Louis. We attended the Orchid Show at the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is always a nice bright spot in the middle of the winter. Bunny got a major hair cut, and donated what was cut off to charity. We celebrated our fourth annual “Seamus Day,” which is one of the most delicious days of the year!

March is always a busy month. Our new refrigerator was welcomed with much excitement after the unexpected demise of the old one. We visited the Butterfly House. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, and then Turkey’s birthday. Right after that, it was time for Chickadee’s 5th birthday, just proving how time flies!

April was a very exciting month. Moose was confirmed! Spring in St. Louis is always beautiful. April finally had that baby giraffe! We celebrated Easter. We visited the St. Louis Art Museum and saw both art and hats.

I’ve come to realize that May rivals November/December in busyness! The American Kantorei performed their last concert at Concordia Seminary. Ladybug celebrated her 10th birthday! Twitch ran a Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood marathon, and we all fell in love with Fred Rogers and all his neighbors all over again. We wrapped up our ninth year of homeschooling, which included Turkey and Bunny completing the eighth grade!!! Ryan and I celebrated our 16th anniversary. We attended Art on the Square. The Missouri Botanical Garden opened their outstanding “Garden of Glass” exhibit. The four oldest children received choir awards again on Ascension Day. We attended Combo Breaker for the second year, and while we were in Chicago, we also visited Medieval Times, the Naper Settlement, and the Museum of Science and Industry.

We traveled to Bowling Green, KY, in June so Bunny could attend volleyball camp at Western Kentucky University. While we were there, we drove to Nashville, TN, and used our reciprocal membership through the St. Louis Science Center to visit the Adventure Science Center. Right after we returned home, the four oldest children attended Kantorei Kamp.

July was another busy month. The Magic House was hosting a Clifford the Big Red Dog exhibit, so we went to see it for the second time in just over 10 years. We had a German July 4th. We visited Purina Farms for the very first time. Our air conditioner broke down on one of the hottest days of the summer during Vacation Bible School. We had summer school field trips to the Lewis and Clark Confluence Towers, Camp River Dubois, and Faust Park Historic Village. I found out I was an honorable mention winner in the “PUG Changed My Life” contest. Bunny became a teenager! Turkey attended his second summer of RSCM camp. We visited the St. Louis Carousel on National Carousel Day.

Things didn’t slow down in August. While Ryan was out-of-town for work, the Fab Five and I had a tea party, went roller skating, and had dinner at IKEA…and our air conditioner broke down again. We saw the Wienermobile, and all of the children received Weenie Whistles, which may have been a bad life choice on the part of their mother. We visited the “Dressing Downton” exhibit at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens in Nashville. While we were in town, we also visited the Parthenon! We had our 11th first day of homeschool, and Moose started sixth grade!!! We all really enjoyed the Great American Solar Eclipse.

September was a month of firsts. We attended the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden for the first time, and it was AMAZING! We went to the Great Forest Park Balloon Race for the first time, too, and even though it started late, it was a lot of fun. I entered a St. Louis Post-Dispatch recipe contest for the first time, and I came in second place!

I guess we kind of had a chance to catch our breath in October. Turkey, Bunny, and I went all in on Hogwarts’ House fashions. We attended the second season of Legends and Lanterns in St. Charles, MO, and visited the most sincere pumpkin patch in Belleville. We discovered how difficult it is to be a Ninja Warrior. We celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, with Bunny, Moose, and Ladybug participating in a mass children’s choir at Concordia Seminary on Reformation Day.

As always, things really picked up in November. The American Kantorei, in a never-say-die movement, had a concert at St. Paul, Des Peres for Bach at NOT the Sem. We visited Creve Coeur Park, and took a walk around the lake. Moose turned twelve! We went on our annual field trip to Cahokia Mounds, where we saw lots of deer! We attended the Conference USA volleyball tournament at Western Kentucky University, and the girls posed with Big Red. We celebrated the Platinum Wedding Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh with a tea party. I made all of the pies for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We visited the Missouri Botanical Garden’s “Garden Glow,” which is one of our favorite Christmas activities of the year!

And that brings us to December, which is always the busiest month of the year! Way too much of this month was taken up by various family members having what I have to assume was some strain of influenza, but we made the best of the time we had. Christmas Traditions in St. Charles, MO, is always one of our favorite events of the whole year, and this year was no exception, even if it was one of the coldest visits we’ve had! Our St. Lucia celebration was as fun as always. We visited nativity scenes from around the world at Belleville’s Cathedral Basilica, learned about Hanukkah, and rang the Salvation Army bell. IKEA has an annual Swedish Julbord dinner, and we attended for the first time. We enjoyed a traditional Belleville Main Street Christmas. And our Markel Family Christmas celebration was a big, three-day event this year!

Of course, no year is perfect. This seemed especially true this year, because there has been so much bad news everywhere you look.  But we hang together, and find our own joy in the everyday, as well as special events, and what more can you ask of family? It’s us against whatever part of the world tries to interrupt our happiness!

2016 in Review

It’s that time of year again, when I look back over the past 12 months, and try to summarize all of our family’s activities. There’s no denying that 2016 was a difficult year for many people in various ways, but there were also many good times for our family.

January began with the first of many trips to the St. Louis Zoo, where we had a membership for the year. We also visited the St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park, to see the St. Louis Modern exhibit before it closed. The day we took down all the Christmas decorations turned into something much bigger, and resulted in massive furniture rearranging across almost all rooms of the house, and the purchase of some new pieces of furniture, as well.

In February, I completely lost my mind, and decided to paint the children’s bathroom while Ryan was out-of-town. We also painted Ryan’s new office, and finished rearranging the furniture…that one bookshelf that sparked the decision to move things around when we took the Christmas tree down in January certainly had a domino effect!  We celebrated the Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras back-to-back. I got my first new pair of glasses in several years…I fell in love with their vintage vibe! We made several trips to visit the Orchid Show at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

As is usually the case, March was a busy month. Ryan and I finally finished building my Christmas present from the children…my dream Lego set, the Brick Bank. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, and then the following day, woke up to discover we had a teenager living in our house! Ladybug was confirmed on Palm Sunday, and two days after that, Chickadee turned four. The following week, we celebrated Easter.

April was, mercifully, a fairly quiet month. A new season of Cardinals baseball began, and we enjoyed our standard Opening Day baseball dinner. We visited Forest Park to see all the beautiful spring flowers. The Missouri History Museum debuted a new exhibit about the history of the Little Black Dress, and we toured it for the first of several times. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 90th birthday, and we had a tea party in her honor.

May was a very busy month. Turkey, Bunny, and Ladybug received choir awards on Ascension Day. Ladybug turned nine. We attended Zoo Friends Day for the first time. Art on the Square was fun, as always. Ryan and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. Moose completed fourth grade. We took a Memorial Day weekend trip to Chicago for Combo Breaker. While we were there, we visited the Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institute, rode the escalators all the way to the top of Marshall Field’s (of blessed memory), and took in all the sights…the Tribune Tower, the “Bean,” Buckingham Fountain, the lakefront, and all of the architecture.

Our busyness continued throughout the month of June. Turkey and Bunny completed seventh grade, and Ladybug completed fourth. Bunny attended a volleyball camp at Western Kentucky University. While we were in Bowling Green, we also visited the Historic Railpark at the former L&N Depot, Aviation Heritage Park, and Chaney’s Dairy Barn. When we got home, “The Bigs” attended Kantorei Kamp at Hope Lutheran Church in St. Louis for the second summer.

July was a bit less crazy. We celebrated Independence Day. The new Route 66 exhibit at the Missouri History Museum opened, and we toured it for the first of many times. Bunny turned 12. We spent a busy week at church for Vacation Bible School. Turkey spent a week at an RSCM choir camp, and even got to sing at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis!

In August, we visited the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library for the very first time, to tour the building and see the Fantasy Maps on display there. After that, it was all Olympics, all the time, for over two weeks, as we watched as many of the events from Rio as we could. We also ate Brazilian food, held our once-every-four-years family Olympics, and sat on the edges of our seats for Michael Phelps’ final race. Moose began fifth grade, and a few days later, we had our first day of the homeschool year, with Turkey and Bunny beginning eighth grade, Ladybug starting fourth, and Chickadee entering the world of Pre-K! I took a morning for myself at the end of the month to visit the traveling Baseball Hall of Fame exhibit, which stopped at Ballpark Village across from Busch Stadium.

September was very quiet, possibly in part due to a bad streak of car trouble. We were also busy with school and trying to get back into our regular routines. We did visit the Flags of Valor installation on Art Hill in Forest Park, which was a sobering sight indeed. We picked apples and pumpkins at Eckert’s. Mostly, we just waited and hoped for cooler weather to arrive!

We continued to wait for fall to arrive in October. While we were waiting, the children and I took a walk across the Eads Bridge. We celebrated 10 years living in our house. The Missouri History Museum had a “Homeschool Day” that focused on the Route 66 exhibit. We reached the breaking point with our car problems, and said goodbye to our Volkswagen, and hello to a new Dodge Grand Caravan. Historic St. Charles, MO held their inaugural “Legends and Lanterns” festival, and we were there. We finally made our yearly visit to Grant’s Farm…just before they closed for the season!

November saw things ramping up, as the holidays approached. First, though, we participated in Extra Life 2016. Moose celebrated his 11th birthday. After another field trip to the Missouri History Museum, we spent a beautiful fall afternoon in Forest Park. We attended the Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Our annual Thanksgiving feast was enjoyed by everyone. We participated in one of our very favorite events of the year…Christmas Traditions in St. Charles, MO.

And finally, December. We visited the Gingerbread Walk in downtown Belleville more than once. I was worried that we might miss our annual Santa Lucia celebration, as Chickadee was sick the day before, but she felt better the morning of the 13th, and none of her siblings fell ill. We went to see the holiday lights at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis. I upped my Christmas fashion game. And we had our traditional family Christmas celebration.

There are other things about this year I’d rather forget (or pretend never happened in the first place!), and those are best left in the past. Mostly, I’m looking forward to a fresh start in 2017, and excited to see what kind of adventures our family will have in the coming year!

2015 in Review

I can’t believe we’ve come to the end of 2015 already!

January, mercifully, was a quiet month. I finally had the courage to do something wild with my hair that I’d wanted to do for years. We put our membership to the Missouri Botanical Garden to good use with the first of several visits to the Orchid Show, which was a lovely bright spot in the middle of winter.

In February, I enjoyed the first of many meals from Belleville’s new BBQ restaurant, Beast Craft BBQ…it didn’t take long for word to spread and everyone to learn what I had realized at first bite…it’s an awesome place to eat! We celebrated Mardi Gras. I wrote the first of about two dozen articles for the Sisters of Katie Luther, something I hope to keep doing in the new year. We went with our church on a field trip to the LC-MS International Center.

March is always a busy month, and this year, it came in like a lion. We celebrated an epic Pi Day, and three days later, celebrated one of our favorite holidays, St. Patrick’s Day. The day after that was Turkey’s 12th birthday, and a few days later, Chickadee turned three. Spring arrived at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

In April we celebrated Easter. We had a lovely walk through the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden during cherry blossom time. We visited Forest Park and marveled at how beautiful the tulips were. We had our traditional Opening Day dinner, and a few days later went to our first game of the season at Busch Stadium. I met KSDK news anchor Nichole Berlie for lunch at my favorite restaurant, Seamus McDaniel’s.

As always seems to be the case, life got even busier in May. We had a fun Cinco de Mayo dinner, followed the next day with a tea party to celebrate the birth of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Ladybug turned eight. We went to Art on the Square. Ryan and I celebrated our 14th anniversary with a family trip to the zoo and lunch at Seamus McDaniel’s. I went with Moose on a school field trip to Willoughby Farm. We were blown away by the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

We went to the St. Louis Zoo to visit its newest resident, Kali the polar bear, in June. We celebrated my birthday. The oldest four children attended a choir camp, which included a few field trips, like one to see an organ being built. While they were singing, Chickadee and I got to hang out and have fun. We didn’t go to many of Turkey’s baseball games, because almost half of them were rained out. We celebrated the beginning of Ryan’s 11-week sabbatical with a Grand Opening visit to St. Louis’s first Tim Horton’s. We went on the first of many summer school field trips.

July was the highlight of our year, without a doubt. We celebrated the Fourth of July, and the day after Bunny got home from a week at camp, we celebrated her 11th birthday. A few days later, we left on our first-ever family vacation! We started in Bowling Green, KY, where we visited the National Corvette Museum. We then drove to Atlanta, Georgia, where we took in a Braves game at Turner Field. After that, we headed to our main destination of Charleston, SC, where we got to visit historic locations like Fort Sumter, see amazing architecture, eat fantastic seafood, meet great people, and, most importantly, see the ocean! Back home, we went on the second of our summer school field trips when we visited the first location of the Illinois’ State Capital.

In August, we wrapped up summer school with even more field trips. We visited the oldest standing Capitol Building in Vandalia, the Old State Capitol Building in Springfield, and the Illinois State Capitol Building. We also toured the Illinois Museum, and saw some Lincoln sites, including the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and Lincoln’s Tomb. On our way back home, we visited a Route 66 attraction, the Cozy Dog Drive In. Moose started fourth grade, and a few days later, I became the teacher of a pre-schooler, a third grader, and two seventh graders!

Moose got to miss a day of school in September to go with us on a field trip to the Magic House. We had a tea party to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s historic reign. A new exhibit opened at the Missouri History Museum, and we enjoyed walking through it. We attended the St. Louis Scottish Games at their new location in Chesterfield.

We went to Eckert’s in October to pick pumpkins and apples. We had to replace our washer and dryer. Bunny’s volleyball team came in second place! Lego announced an upcoming set for which I have waited years (and which I will be purchasing tomorrow, thanks to my children’s generosity at Christmas!). Ladybug and I went on a Clydesdale tour at Grant’s Farm. We helped the Gateway Arch celebrate its 50th birthday.

At the beginning of November, I dyed my hair another wild color, but this time for a purpose. We spent a beautiful fall morning in Forest Park. The children got hooked on Bob Ross. Seamus McDaniel’s celebrated its birthday, and the next day, Moose turned ten. We went to the Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. We had our traditional Markel-family Thanksgiving. We visited the St. Charles Christmas Traditions festival and the Holiday Lights at the Brewery in the same day.

December was a whirlwind of activity. Moose got to really enjoy Tuba Christmas for the first time. We celebrated St. Lucia Day. All seven of us (and a friend) went to Star Wars opening night, and had an amazing time! My blog hit a milestone. We had a very merry Christmas, and enjoyed a delicious Christmas feast (even I agreed that the turkey wasn’t dry!). I finally picked my favorite photos from the year.

As always, I’m left wondering how next year can possibly top this one, but I am also excited to see what 2016 has in store for us. God’s blessings on your coming year!

More 2014 in Review

What a year this has been! We learned much, laughed a lot, and made a lot of great memories!

January seems like a very long time ago, and it was a pretty quiet month. We started the year with the biggest snowstorm St. Louis has seen since we’ve lived here, plus some wickedly cold temperatures, which resulted in a cracked window in our house. Chickadee helped bake Christmas cookies for the first time…yes, after Christmas Day, but still within the 12 Days of Christmas! Ryan celebrated his 4th anniversary working for Automattic with a brand-new, customized laptop. Every member of our family got to visit the Cardinals Winter Warm-Up for the first time.

February was even more quiet. We spent a lot of time watching the Olympics and learning about Russia…we even had a Russian/winter-themed tea party. We also said “Happy Birthday!” to St. Louis and joined in the kick-off weekend at the Missouri History Museum for the 250 in 250 exhibit, part of the larger Stl250 celebration.

March was when things really started to get busy. We began our epic Stl250: Cakeway to the West cake hunt on the 5th at one of our favorite local places–Eckert’s. At the time we didn’t realize that it was just the beginning of a journey that would take us all over the St. Louis metro area (and a little beyond), to find every single one of the more than 250 cakes. St. Louis wasn’t the only city celebrating a milestone year, however…our home town of Belleville celebrated its 200th birthday, as well. And Schnucks, our favorite local grocery store, celebrated 75 years in business, and even had a special birthday event for customers. We began another year’s Lenten observance, including another appearance on KFUO’s Faith ‘n’ Family for me. The Missouri History Museum had a fun St. Patrick’s Day event planned for homeschoolers. The following day, Turkey turned 11, and a few days later, Chickadee turned two. We got to be part of a cake unveiling at Concordia Seminary. And at the end of the month, we rejoiced at the beginning of another season of Cardinals baseball!

Things remained busy in April. We took a day off of our regular schoolwork to go to the “Weather Bash at Busch,” and take in a Cardinals game in the bargain. We celebrated Easter. Fredbird’s “Facebook Friday” finally made it to a metro-east location we could get to. The Belleville200 events continued with a parade. Bunny finished another session of parks and rec volleyball. We said goodbye to our old pastor.

In May we visited Grant’s Farm. Did I mention that they celebrated their 60th anniversary this year? It was a big year in the St. Louis area! Bunny and Ladybug got their ears pierced. Ladybug turned seven, and finally got the American Girl doll I had purchased and put away for her almost a year earlier. We wrapped up another school year. Ryan and I celebrated our 13th anniversary with the children at Busch Stadium. I put together a book list for our latest summer school unit–all about baseball. Speaking of baseball, Turkey started a new season with our parks & rec.

There were more Belleville200 events in June, including a street fair in one of the town’s historic neighborhoods and a classic car show. We spent my birthday doing the perfect birthday activity…cake hunting! We also got to go to a Gateway Grizzlies game with Moose for his school’s honor roll night. Our baseball-themed summer school got started.

July was an especially busy month. We finally had the somewhat ironic Independence Day tea party I’ve been wanting to have for a few years. Chickadee ran into her pal Fredbird at Busch Stadium. We visited the Schmidt Art Center to see the Belleville Bicentennial: 200 exhibit. Turkey and Ladybug entered Lego creations in a contest at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Ladybug came in third in her age group! While we were at the Garden, we also got to view the Nature Connects Lego exhibit. As part of summer school, we took the children on a tour of Busch Stadium and then a tour of the new Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum. Bunny turned ten. After all these years of living in St. Louis, we finally journeyed to the top of the Gateway Arch. We had a fun week at Vacation Bible School. The children and I went to our first vintage base ball game, and discovered how different, and how much fun, that game is.

The busyness continued in August, starting with a trip to Chesterfield Mall for a Play Nintendo event, where Turkey got to compete in his first video game tournament…he came in second! We wrapped up our cake hunt at Lafayette Square…it was amazing to look back and see all the places we had visited…our local newspaper even had a story about our journey! The children got to visit a Big Boy restaurant for the first time, on the way to our epic summer school field trip at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.  At the end of the month, everyone started a new school year.

The highlight of September was the big Belleville200 weekend. We had the privilege of attending a Naturalization ceremony, went to a Beach Boys concert on the town square, danced to German polkas, attended another vintage base ball game, and watched the grilling of a record-breaking 200-foot-long brat.It was a great time! Bunny played in her first season of competitive parks & rec volleyball. We attended the St. Louis Scottish Games for the second time, and this year, Ryan was able to go with us! And, lest you thought that finding our 250th cake in August meant that our cake hunt was complete, we found a bonus cake (one to grow on?).

In October we visited Eckert’s for our annual pumpkin picking trip. Bunny had the game-winning serve in the first round of her volleyball tournament! We also welcomed a new pastor to our church, after a fairly short vacancy. I went on a Busch Family Estate Walk at Grant’s Farm, and finally saw (and photographed!) the elusive Busch family mansion from all sides. The cake hunt continued when we went to the unveiling of another bonus cake.

November meant a lot of fun in school, including the return of our Thankful Tree, the reading of some of our favorite Thanksgiving books, and building a Lego: The Hobbit set to celebrate having finished reading the book. We had another tea party, this time to celebrate St. Louis’ 250th birthday, and Moose’s golden birthday…the first one of those we’ve celebrated! We visited Belleville’s new Bicentennial Park and admired the beautiful fall colors, and then returned less than two weeks later to see it covered in snow. Ryan and I went to the Three Sixty rooftop bar for a spectacular view of St. Louis. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a record seven pies (in addition to all of the other Thanksgiving foods)! The following day, we went downtown for Belleville’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the annual gingerbread walk. We also visited St. Charles Christmas Traditions on opening weekend for the first time, and even got to eat lunch in a bank vault!

December was, as always, insanely busy, and insanely fun. I got to see a “cake in progress” when I dropped off my entry for the Soulard Art Market “Everywhere there’s Cake” exhibit. I had a moment of insanity when I decided we should rearrange the furniture in our schoolroom (and den!), but it turned out really well, so it was worth it. We celebrated an Italian Christmas at Christmas on the Hill, and then drove immediately to Cahokia, where we learned about French Colonial Christmas celebrations. The brewery opened their Christmas lights display to foot traffic again this year, so of course we went. We also got to see nativity scenes from all over the world at Belleville’s cathedral. The children enjoyed playing their roles on Santa Lucia morning. After not making it last year, we got back to Tuba Christmas. We also returned to the Old Courthouse, this time to see what an 1864 Christmas ball would have been like. The first-ever Belleville Christmas Market had us visiting the town square several times over the course of the month. Of course, all of our celebrations culminated on Christmas Eve and Day, and again on Boxing Day, when we enjoyed our English Christmas feast. And there was one more cake visit (our way of saying goodbye), before the end of the year!

This is just a glimpse into the fun we had throughout this amazing year. Much of our fun was tied to both St. Louis’ and Belleville’s birthday celebrations. While those festivities may be over, I can’t wait to see what kind of adventures the next year holds for our family!

Happy New Year!

2014 in Review

Ryan moved my website to a new host in March, so this isn’t even the full year’s worth of stats, but I’m proud to say that I published at least one post every day, including at least one picture every day, this year, and this has been the best year for blog traffic that I’ve had yet!

Your 2014 year in blogging.

This Year in St. Louis

With apologies to Charles Dickens and everyone else I quote in this post.

I tend to think in quotes. Movies quotes, book quotes, TV quotes…it doesn’t matter. My brain seems to search for some quote to fit any situation. It should come as no surprise, then, that this 250th birthday year in St. Louis can be described by me through a variety of quotes.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. A Tale of Two Cities

This is the overarching theme for this year in St. Louis. It should have been the best of times, celebrating St. Louis’ 250th birthday, cheering the Blues and Cardinals in their respective playoffs, so many festivals and events and fun things to look forward to.

But life sometimes has other plans. There has been so much violence and unrest in the city (and surrounding area this year).

I think of my beautiful city in flames, Lennier. The streets where I walked, the temples, the great crystal spires .. that sighed music whenever the wind touched them. I think of it, and I cry, Lennier. Babylon 5

The city of St. Louis proper didn’t burn this year. But there were flames in surrounding communities, and it breaks my heart to remember those images. They are a part of our city’s story and history now though, and it’s impossible to forget them.

If there’s one thing you learn in my job, it’s that nothing is certain. Nothing that seems very bad, and nothing that seems very good. Nothing is certain. Nothing. E.R.

Along with the general unrest, we spent a lot of time this year wondering what would happen. There were times when we assumed it would be the worst, but then again, as this quote so aptly says, nothing is certain…not the good or the bad, and we certainly saw both, often when we least expected them.

Although I have long loved the words and music of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” I have never before understand Longfellow’s Christmas poem (written during the Civil War), better than I do this year:

And in despair, I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said
“For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!”

Hate has been strong here, and at times it seemed as though there would never be peace.

But Longfellow’s poem has a concluding verse, and he, as we all should, remembered that God is in control, and never dead or asleep, no matter what is going on, wether it be war or protests or violence of any kind:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!”

There have been many profound quotes that apply to this year, but none more so than the Word of God:

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”My heart says to you,
“Your face, LORD, do I seek.”

Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.

Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD! Psalm 27

And so this is where I end the year. No matter what happens, or where it happens, good or bad, I know I have, and will, seen the goodness of the Lord, here, and in eternity.

More 2013 in Review

2013 was a much calmer year than 2012 was, but we were still plenty busy!

In January, I started the new year by rearranging the school room again. This has become a fairly regular occurrence, and I’m not sure that it will ever really be “done.” I had one of my worst kitchen disasters ever, but corrected it a few days later. We enjoyed our final feast of the holiday season. In school, we made an Alleluia banner to (kind of) match the one at church. The entire city of St. Louis mourned the passing of Stan Musial in January, as well.

In February, we celebrated our 100th day of school. I made a big deal out of it, as I always do for a student (this time, Ladybug), in kindergarten. Chickadee celebrated one of her last remaining first holidays…Valentine’s Day. We had a tea party to celebrate. How I love all of my valentines! Our school received a wonderful gift of a microscope, and we had a great time playing with it. I got hooked on Downton Abbey, and the children got hooked on Jem. Chickadee entertained all of us by learning to say “uh-oh,” as well as dropping things intentionally so she could try her new word out!

March was arguably one of the busiest months of 2013, filled with big events. Bunny attended a park district volleyball clinic and loved it. I received a piece of mail from Buckingham Palace. We celebrated Chickadee’s first St. Patrick’s Day with a tea party…my favorite one of the year! Turkey turned ten…we could hardly believe it! We finally tracked down some zeppole for St. Joseph’s Day. Chickadee turned one…it was a big day! We had a snowstorm that will always be remembered as the “Palm Sunday Snowstorm.” We made a Paschal candle on Holy Saturday and (hopefully) started a new family tradition. We had a very blessed Easter, complete with a new Easter bonnet for me.

We started April still celebrating Easter with another tea party. The Cardinals started another awesome season of baseball. We didn’t make it to Opening Day, but we did take the children on their first train ride to Stan Musial Night at Busch Stadium. The blossoming trees were especially beautiful this year! We took lots of pictures and did lots of tree identification. Chickadee started walking unassisted…watch out world! She also had her first ride in a swing. She wasn’t too sure about it at first, but it turned out to be a lot of fun! St. Louis finally got a Lego store, much to our excitement (and to the dismay of our checking account)! We went on a farm tour at Eckert’s, and learned a lot. I finished planning the year’s summer school. We watched with interest as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated the throne to her son, Willem-Alexander (one of several abdications this year).

In May, Ladybug turned six, although we had to wait for her big birthday celebration, because Ryan was gone on one of his many business trips (almost two months’ worth!) on her actual birthday. Our Lego store celebrated its grand opening, and we stood in line to be a part of it. It was a lot of fun, and the wait was worth it…unfortunately, it didn’t take the children too long to put all of their sets together! As we do every year, we went to Art on the Square, and this time, bought a print of our town’s beautiful fountain from our favorite artist. I took the big girls strawberry picking for the first time. We had our last day of school for the 2012-13 school year. We used some of the strawberries we picked for our Pentecost tea party. Memorial Day weekend, we made the trip to Kansas City to see the Cardinals play the Royals. Ryan and I started building the Lego Tower Bridge. We finished making a full set of church year banners for our school room.

June began with our biannual (apparently) “Park Day.” We had a lot of fun visiting different playgrounds and splash pads. Turkey started another season of parks and rec baseball. Ladybug lost a tooth for the first time. Ryan and I continued working on the Lego Tower Bridge. I took the children to a “Dock Dogs” competition at Eckert’s, which was definitely a first for us! We also went to Grant’s Farm. We celebrated the Queen’s birthday with another tea party. To celebrate “Beer Stein Night” at the ballpark, Ryan and I went to the Flying Saucer for the first time with a friend. The children and I (minus Chickadee) went to the International Center for the service of blessing for the new KFUO studios. Ladybug was very disappointed to learn that the American Girl doll she’s always wanted was going to be retired by the end of the year (stay tuned…). We went blackberry picking for the first time, and really enjoyed the fruits of our labor!

We were very happy that this July had much cooler weather than last July did. We were able to be outside doing things a whole lot more! We went to Six Flags St. Louis for the first time, and the children had their first experiences with roller coasters. And I remembered why I hate roller coasters! Moose took us with him to “Honor Roll Night” at the Gateway Grizzlies game. We had a fun Fourth of July, and celebrated with an adorable little patriot and a big feast. Bunny and I went out for a Mother-Daughter sushi lunch. Twinkies made a comeback! We went to the zoo, and got to see the very cool new sea-lion exhibit for the first time. Turkey’s baseball team had an unexpected victory in the playoffs, which allowed them to play one more game. Bunny celebrated her ninth birthday. We had all-inclusive tickets to a Cardinals game…a rare, but very appreciated, treat! While we were there, Turkey got beaked! I volunteered at the LCMS convention, and then took the children back to see it in action. We also finally visited the Gateway Arch (although we didn’t take the ride to the top). We celebrated the birth of Prince George with yet another tea party (I’m getting to be a professional at putting those together!).

In August, we went peach picking at Eckert’s. There’s no end of things to do there! We added Lego Big Ben to our architecture collection. Bunny and I went to Star Wars Night at Busch Stadium, and even got to sit in the Champion’s Club. We took another road trip, this time to see the Cardinals AA affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals, play. Ryan and I repainted and redecorated our den/his office. The whole family (but especially Chickadee!), got hooked on Dinosaur Office. We visited the St. Louis Art Museum. All of the older children went back to school, and I made schultüte for them again…I guess it’s a tradition now! We took a field trip to the St. Louis Science Center. Fredbird celebrated his birthday, so we went to Busch Stadium to help him.

September was a big baseball month. I went to Social Media Night, and even won an autographed Jason Motte photo! We also got to see a walk-off victory the night we went to Busch Stadium with Moose’s school. We went downtown to see the fountain at Kiener Plaza dyed red in honor of the Cardinals going to the playoffs. We celebrated Oktoberfest. We took another trip to Eckert’s, this time to pick apples. While Ryan was out of town (again!), the children and I went to the St. Louis Scottish games for the first time. We celebrated Michaelmas with an angelic feast.

Moose brought home a really cool piece of art he made in October. We were back at Eckert’s…this time for pumpkin picking. Even the Lego store caught Redbird Fever. I shared what a day in the life our homeschool looks like. I also rearranged the schoolroomagain…which allowed Chickadee to move in with her big sisters. Red October really started to heat up in St. Louis (before it fell flat in the World Series). I put together one last tea party for the year (number seven!), for Reformation Day.

Things got really busy in November. The children and I (minus Chickadee, again), spent a fun day in Forest Park, looking for leaves and seeds and any other nature items we could find. We even looked at some of it under the microscope! Moose turned eight. Ryan took me to my first-ever hockey game. Chickadee was very excited when we put up the Christmas tree! Ryan and I finally finished the Lego Tower Bridge, complete with mini vehicles assembled by the children. I made my radio debut on KFUO. I also baked a lot of pies for our Thanksgiving dinner. We finished our Thankful Tree for the year. The day after Thanksgiving, we started what I hope will become a new tradition…we spent a few hours as a family, putting together a Lego Christmas Market. I already can’t wait to see what next year’s Christmas set will be! When we finished that, we went down to main street for our town’s tree lighting.

December was, as it is every year, crazy. Due to an illness that we couldn’t shake for several weeks, we had to cross a few things off of my to-do list, and Christmas school fell a bit flat. We did get around to all of the important stuff, though, even if it didn’t all quite happen as planned (our Christmas baking this year, for example, got spread out over several weeks, and was still happening after Christmas was over!). Other than the illness, there was one low point in December…Turkey had to have some baby teeth pulled. He was very brave, though, and it was soon forgotten. We went to Christmas on the Hill…it was very cold! That meant that we didn’t walk around as much as usual, but we still saw La Befana, looked at the nativity scenes, and ate salamites!  For the first time, we got to walk the Anheuser-Busch brewery at nighttime, and see all of their beautiful Christmas lights. We celebrated Santa Lucia Day, with Bunny playing the title role, and handing out Lussekattes for breakfast. Even though we had looked at Belleville’s gingerbread houses at night after the tree lighting, we went back to see them a little better in the daylight. Of course, we made it to our favorite event, St. Charles Christmas Traditions. We all fell in love with this sweet video of Sweden’s adorable Princess Estelle baking cookies, and Ryan even bought Chickadee her own tiny rolling-pin just like the Princess. To kick off his Christmas vacation, Ryan played video games for 25 hours straight (with some help from the children), to raise money for the children’s hospitals in St. Louis. The children worked hard to prepare for their roles in the Sunday School Christmas program. Ladybug lost a tooth right before we left for church on Christmas Eve! We had a very merry Christmas. For the first time ever, each member of our family received a Lego set (well, Chickadee’s was a Duplo set, but it counts!), but mine was the best…the now-retired Lego Winter Village Cottage. Now I don’t have to worry about what we’ll build the day after Thanksgiving next year! We continued our celebration the day after Christmas, when I made a pork crown roast for the first time for our fancy Christmas dinner. Ryan’s mom and I went on the “Beermaster Tour” at Anheuser-Busch…it was both fun and informative!

Writing this up is always a huge undertaking, but I love the chance to look back at all of the fun things we’ve done over the last year, and wonder what the next year has in store for us! It has been a busy, fun, crazy year, and I am so Thankful for all of the moments with which God has blessed us. I pray that He also blesses your days with joyful, noisy moments!

Happy New Year!

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 30,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

More 2012 in Review

This has been A Year. There’s really no other way to describe it. It was, by far, the best year of my life to date, and there’s a part of me that doubts that there will ever be another year quite as good. The events that occurred, and the timing of those events, was so outstanding that all I can do is sit back and thank God for the way He arranged this year of celebrations for my family!

January was by far the quietest month of the year. We celebrated our 100th day of school, and Ladybug joined in, as she unofficially started kindergarten during that month. We finished preparing our home for Chickadee’s arrival. I was sad to see the end of One Life to Live, although, if it had to end, it certainly went the right way. We also re-subscribed to cable TV, so I spent a lot of my pregnancy-induced sleepless nights catching up on What Not to Wear!

In February, things started to get busy. Ryan rejoined the American Kantorei for the Bach at the Sem series, and we all enjoyed attending his concerts. I got to see Chickadee holding onto her umbilical cord during an ultrasound…it should come as no surprise, then, that she loves holding onto my hair now! We also made sure she’d be well-equipped for her first Opening Day and Cardinals game. Turkey had two teeth pulled, and hardly even noticed it happening. Ladybug picked out new animal print glasses. We had a fun field trip, started a new Lenten tradition, and celebrated Leap Day. Above all, we spent all of February excited knowing that Chickadee would be arriving the next month!

Without a doubt, March was the craziest, most exciting month of the year. The highlight was, of course, the birth of our little Chickadee. A few other things happened, too, though. We finally got a Dunkin’ Donuts, which was very exciting for me. We had fun celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, and even got to help Moose make a Leprechaun trap for school. I spent a lot of time baking, even though I couldn’t indulge in eating many of my creations due to gestational diabetes. Turkey turned nine. The children got to meet their new sister, and we brought her home!

April was almost as busy as March. Turkey and Bunny were confirmed on Palm Sunday, the same day Chickadee was baptized into God’s family. That was one of the most amazing, emotional days of my life. We celebrated Easter a week later. We had our traditional Opening Day food fest at home, and less than a week later, took Chickadee to her first Cardinals game. Much to Bunny’s delight, an American Girl store opened in St. Louis. We found that last year’s bird’s nest was once again in use. We also had the interesting experience of oven shopping.

Things remained busy in May. Chickadee started smiling at us–so cute! Our new oven was delivered. I got a new pair of glasses for the first time in over five years, and I must have been inspired by Ladybug, because they, too, have an animal print. The next generation of baby birds hatchedLadybug turned five. Ryan and I got to go to the Cardinals game (along with Chickadee), where Tony LaRussa’s number was retired. The following day, Ryan and I (and Chickadee, again), went to the Science Center to see Star Trek: The Exhibition. Moose graduated from kindergarten. We not only went to Art on the Square, but actually bought something for the first time ever. We spent an afternoon at Grant’s Farm, one of our very favorite places to go. Ryan and Ladybug went to a Cardinals game, just the two of them, and got to meet Fredbird and get autographs from two players. We celebrated the birthday of the church on Pentecost  Turkey started his third season of parks and rec baseball, and loved every minute of it.

Life finally slowed down a bit in June (but only a bit!). We celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee from afar. As part of our celebration, we had our first tea party of the year. This was one of my favorite non-family related parts of the year, learning all about the Queen and her reign. Turkey and Bunny finished third grade. The summer really started to heat up, making everybody miserable.

July brought an end to the slower pace we enjoyed in June. I spent my first-ever day at the spa, and hope I can go back again sometime. We celebrated the Fourth of July in our typical fashion, but sans fireworks, thanks to a ban on them due to excessive heat and drought. Turkey had his last baseball game of the summer. Bunny turned eight, and we enjoyed tea party number two of the year to celebrate. Chickadee attended her first-ever VBS at our church, along with the rest of the family, of course. She also gave up being swaddled at bedtime, which was a little bittersweet. We enjoyed the beginning of the London Olympics, which included tea party number three, and special lessons in school.

At the beginning of August, we managed to tear ourselves away from the Olympics long enough to go to Build a Bear day at Busch Stadium, which also included a walk along the warning track. It was also a “turn back the clock” night…I loved the throwback uniforms and high socks! We had our own family Olympics, in which “Team Markel” won. We got rid of cable TV–again. I got ready for the start of our fifth year of homeschooling by rearranging the school room–again. Moose started first grade, Ladybug officially started kindergarten, and Turkey and Bunny began fourth grade. We went apple picking and got 12 pounds of apples. Chickadee was our little tagalong in school, and constantly kept the whole family amused with her antics.

At the beginning of September, I worked on creating a logo for our school, with help from the children. We were quite happy with the results. I discovered that one of my favorite books ever had finally been reprinted. Chickadee started crawling. We saw the Thunderbirds perform at the Scott Air Force Base air show. We took in another baseball game, and had a kind usher take the best picture of the seven of us to that date. Chickadee reluctantly started eating solid foods. We had fun making handprint angels on Michaelmas.

We spent the month of October learning about the Reformation and enjoying the beautiful fall colors. We had our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, where we picked over 40 pounds of pumpkins. Moose lost three top teeth…eating became a very interesting activity for him! Ryan and I enjoyed the “Kozmania” that overtook Cardinal Nation, especially since we had seen his very-first major league at-bat the year before. I finally found a hat to wear to church. We watched Felix Baumgartner’s incredible, insane skydive from practically outer-space, some of us with morbid curiosity.

In November, Chickadee figured out how to pull herself up to a standing position. Moose turned seven. I had my best-ever game in Bookworm, and promptly stopped playing so I could go out on top. We started Thanksgiving school, and a “Thankful Tree.” We had a nice Thanksgiving…it was especially fun to share Chickadee’s first Thanksgiving with her! We went to our town’s tree lighting, and then went back downtown on a nicer day to look at all of the gingerbread houses. I rearranged our schoolroom–yet again. I think it will stay this way for quite a while! We started our Christmas celebrations a little early by taking the children to their first Boar’s Head Festival, in preparation for our “Christmas in England” theme in school this year.

December brought our favorite time of the year…the Advent and Christmas seasons! Many of our favorite activities take place in December…Christmas on the Hill, Tuba Christmas, and going to St. Charles for the Christmas Traditions festival. In school, we continued making banners for the church year, and learned about Christmas throughout England’s history, which included reading some great books, such as A Christmas Carol. We had a Christmas tea party (number four for the year!), and an English Christmas dinner to accompany our lessons. It was great fun being so very British this whole year! We added readings for the Great “O” Antiphons to our Advent traditions. We spent a lot of time baking, decorating, and delivering cookies and other treats, and basically kept busy right up until Christmas. It was especially fun to get to celebrate a first Christmas again! We even had a white Christmas, although a few days late…but it was still during the season of Christmas, so it counts! I did a lot of work on my blog this month, too, adding pages for liturgical year things such as feasts, festivals, and commemorations, the Jesse Tree, the Great “O” Antiphons, and the Jesus Tree, that are important to our family.

I can’t wait to see what 2013 holds for our family…I know that there will be lots more holidays and celebrations to look forward to sharing together. I pray that God blesses all of your families as greatly as He has blessed mine!