In advance of our trip to Bolivia, I decided to get a new camera: An Olympus E-PL5. It’s a mirrorless DSLR, which means it is capable of taking much better photos than a point and shoot, and it uses fancy lenses.
Spring has been wild this year in St. Louis. A tornado hit Hazelwood in April, and then last Friday a much bigger tornado came through. It began in St. Charles and swept across North County, including Ferguson.
Technically it is spring. But if you can overlook that, the Winter of 2012-13 turned out to have several good snowfalls. Yesterday we got about a foot of snow. Last year around this time spring was in full bloom.
Saturdays are busy days for us now. Ludi and Josie have a dance class early in the morning, and Jadzia has one later on. Today, in between the classes, we took a trip to visit Ferguson’s new fire house.
It was fun to see all the rooms and talk with the firefighters. Josie had some pressing questions for one fire fighter that we met in the training room. She found a whiteboard with a diagram of the Christian Care Home (which is near our house) drawn with black, red, blue, and green dry erase markers. “Why didn’t you use the PURPLE marker?” she asked, picking it up and showing it to him.
Purple has always been an important color at our house.
Anyway, hope you enjoy the photos.
This has been another weird, warm winter. We have had only one decent snowfall all year, which I previously posted photos of. Since then we’ve had some slight sprinklings of snow, but it has been too warm for anything to stick around.
But this morning everything was blanketed in a very thin layer of white. Yoli and I took Joseph and Josie to Jadzia and Ludi’s school for a special program featuring storyteller Bobby Norfolk. When it was finished we came back home, and already the white was melting away. I figured I should try and grab some photos while I still had a chance.
Yesterday we had a decent snowfall of maybe 5-6 inches in North County. It was regular snow with some sleet and rain on top. Combine that with temperatures slightly above freezing and you have a recipe for sticky snow and slick hills. Perfect for sledding and snow forts.
A weird morning. My tummy was rumbly, but I had promised to accompany Jadzia on her field trip to Little Creek. So she and Ludi and I walked together to school. When I got there, the teacher said chaperones would have to ride separately, not on the bus. Oh well. I walked back home to get my minivan.
After arriving at Little Creek I waited about 20 minutes for the kids to arrive. As a children’s ministry teacher for many years, I know that it can take a while to get them all rounded up. Just as the bus from Vogt Elementary pulled into the lot, I got a call from the school — Ludi had thrown up. So with quick apologies to Jadzia and her teacher, I drove back to Ferguson to take Ludi home.
The rest of the morning went well. Jadzia and her class learned about groups of vertebrate animals: mammals, amphibians, fish, reptiles and birds. They got to interact with real animals and do a lot of activities and games. It was a fun way to learn.
After the field trip was done, I headed home for lunch. The kids were in the backyard playing, Yoli told me. After spending some time upstairs, I was headed downstairs to do some work. As I looked out my bedroom window, there was Josie talking into the gutter extension pipe, making announcements to somebody. Across the yard, Joseph was standing at the old brick grill cooking a muddy concoction. I couldn’t resist.
I grabbed the camera and went to capture a few scenes from a lovely fall day in our backyard. Enjoy.
There was a lot to do on this Saturday morning: it would be the final Ferguson Farmers Market, plus a “Homecoming” at the Little Creek Nature Area.
Yoli made waffles for breakfast, and then we hit the road for the market. Jadzia and Ludi decorated pumpkins; Yoli, Josie and Joseph listened to the live music; and I bought lots of goodies — apple cider, peppers, fresh ginger, garlic, ground beef, and green beans.
Then it was off to Little Creek. We have visited there many times over the years — it is a frequent field trip destination for preschool and elementary school kids in the Ferguson-Florissant school district.
But this time offered some new experiences. We got to drink nice, hot apple cider and eat some baked goods. Then a high schooler took us on a long hike around several of Little Creek’s trails. We got to see the pond and the actual creek, sites I had never seen on any of my previous visits. Along the way we gathered various items for a scavenger hunt for the three girls.
Ludi had been the one begging us to go to Little Creek in the days leading up to the event. As it turned out, the somewhat chilly hike was too much for her, and she was whiny for much of it. But then we went into the educational building to try some hands-on activities and she perked up. She got even more excited when we headed back to turn in our scavenger hunt bags and pick up little prizes.
We took a look at the apple cider press. We lamented that we had missed an earlier demonstration of how to make cider. And one of the Little Creek workers kindly put on one more demonstration, even though it was noon and the event was technically over. All the kids got to try crushing the apples, and then Jadzia and Joseph took turns with other children turning the press to squeeze out the liquid.
All in all, it was a fun morning. Here are some photos:
Last year was a summer of waiting, as our house was rebuilt. This year was a summer of change.
The biggest change was unexpected and swift: My dad lost his job of 25 years, but in short order found a new job — in San Antonio. He and my mom finished a number of projects on their house and then put it up for sale. Thankfully they didn’t have to wait long, and before we knew it, they were preparing to move.
Amazingly this all coincided with our family’s already-planned vacation in Texas. My mom and dad showed up in San Antonio several days after we arrived, which allowed us to spend more time with them post-move than we otherwise would have.
Unfortunately, during our vacation I got news of impending layoffs at the Post-Dispatch. Each time we go through this is harrowing. This time moreso because I had heard rumors my own department would be affected, and because of the experience of seeing my dad lose his job. Thankfully, the rumor was false, and we gave a sigh of relief. But many talented friends and colleagues were let go.
There were other changes, too. First was our yard. It was pretty much a disaster after the tornado, pitted and weedy and laden with tree and construction debris. We hired a landscaping company to re-grade it and put down some sod. Little did we know we would be in for the worst drought St. Louis has seen in years. But thanks to Yoli’s faithful watering (and our neighbor’s granddaughter while we were in Texas), the grass survived. Now it is thriving.
As we wrote previously, all four of our kids took swimming lessons. When we were at Clearwater Lake with my parents and when we were at my Nan’s pool in San Antonio, the kids put the lessons into practice. We were thrilled to see their progress. Jadzia and Ludi have also become bike riders, though we still have work to do there.
This was also the kids’ first summer attending VBS. They attended two different VBS programs at Ferguson churches and had a blast.
During our trip to Texas, the kids visited the coast for the first time. And Jadzia was able to visit the Houston Space Center.
And just as quickly as that, school was upon us. Jadzia moved up to 2nd grade, and Ludi began kindergarten. Both are flourishing in their classes.
We were thrilled as two different friends had their weddings. I was honored to give a toast at the first wedding reception. The second wedding was held at the Shrine of St. Joseph in downtown St. Louis, which was significant to me because my immigrant Becker ancestors were married there in 1860.
But 12 hours after that second wedding, I was in a car with my brothers, driving through the night to San Antonio to mark the saddest change of the summer — my dad’s sister, my Aunt Carol, died. It wasn’t totally unexpected, but still it surprised us and hurt anyway. The blessing of all this was that the funeral brought us together with our parents and all my dad’s siblings for a few days. That doesn’t happen often.
So much happened. Summer slipped by.
Josie cruises through the play supermarket at San Antonio’s Children’s Museum.
Yoli and I at Mission Concepción.
Ludi celebrates her fifth birthday at Nan’s house.
Family photo of us (plus Grandma Renaud) in front of my mom and dad’s new house in San Antonio.
Josie enjoys the waves at Galveston Beach.
Yoli, Jadzia, and Xena pose at the Houston Space Center.
The kids got all dressed up for Doug and Kristin’s wedding reception.
We visited Tio Jonny and Tia Brittney at the St. Louis Zoo on Labor Day.
Ludi, Jadzia, and I after completing our first game of Monopoly — Lord of the Rings Monopoly, that is.
My dad, Aunt Joyce, Uncle Jerry, and Uncle Jim at the open house the night before the funeral for their sister, my Aunt Carol.
Justin, Dion, and Jon engage in a sports debate at lunch at my parents’ house after the funeral.
Grandma Renaud, Justin, me, mom and dad went out for steaks on my last night in San Antonio.