Tag Archives: outdoors

Erosion Help – Middle School Monday

While we were at my parent’s house a couple of weeks ago, we took a picnic to a favorite area. We sat under the pine trees (oh did they smell good!) and ate lunch, enjoying a pleasantly warm day.

After lunch was over, we took a short walk up the creek to where one of my brothers had constructed a bridge while in high school. He had created the bridge so that bicyclists would be able to ride across the creek without getting off their bikes. Over the years, erosion had washed out the banks of the creek and it was no longer a bridge bicyclists could ride over.

In addition, due to floods and time, the under side of the bridge had become clogged with debris and rocks. The creek no longer flowed smoothly under and was beginning to pool and create a new path. So, with assistance from grandpa, the girls set about dealing with cleaning out the bridge and moving rocks to assist with and help prevent some of the erosion.

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The girls, especially Miss E, determinedly worked at digging out the bridge. She worked really, really hard at pulling out the nasty pine needles and sticks and pinecones that had wedged their way under. She moved rocks, big and small, working and working and working. She kept making progress and having to reach farther and farther under. I was honestly afraid I might see her go headfirst off the bridge but I didn’t want to stop her because she was so determined!

creek work 9

And her determination paid off – after an hour or so of working really hard, there was obvious progress made in the flow of water and its course. Additionally, they removed a few items that don’t belong in the wild – toy boat, rubber duckie, utility flag. All in all, a successful project. And the middle schooler had lots of fun. She finished it all with a huge smile.

Another successful project for this middle schooler.

At Home.


Lake Field Trip – always new

Always New

Do you have a field trip that you take over and over because it is always new. Can fresh eyes, looking for something specific, or a change of season make this place seem very different? No matter how many time you go to this favorite place, there is always something new or different about it?

For me, that place is the lake. It seems like no matter how often we stop by the lake and walk the dam, we always find something new to admire, “ooh” and “ahh” over, or just marvel at. Yesterday was no different.

Always new - flood

We were driving home from church and we noticed that they were letting water out of the lake, trying to lower the water level. (If you know our area, you know that we have had a lot of water in the past few weeks and the lake was quite flooded, though no people were injured and no houses flooded that I know about.) It is interesting to see the lake level being lowered and the water coming through the dam gates. So, we decided that we would walk along the dam to look at it.

Along the way, we observed wildlife, insects, plants, and people. The area always looks different, especially when we are looking at flooded areas as we were last evening.

Always new spider Always new insects Always new deer

The water coming out of the dam was rushing and loud, powerful. It is a marvelous experience and I never tire of it. And, it is always new and different. There was more water being released than I have seen before and the river downstream was rolling from the power of the water flow. The rush of the water created a roar that we could hear long before we could see the it. It left me in awe of God and His power, no matter the situation. His beauty is everywhere and I enjoy visiting the dam and the lake because His presence is always evident, always new.

Always new water


Y is for … yesterday outside

Y outside

Yesterday was a beautiful day so we decided to spend some of it outside, enjoying a local park before the summer fully arrives and it is hot. So, we took our normal Friday library trip. And then we had a picnic at a park. We packed a lunch and found a place without very many people around. We ate lunch while reading “The Door In The Wall”. Then the girls did some of their school work. We got some journal writing done, which includes a sketch each day. We did some independent reading, as well. All in all, it was a nice day outside.

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I spent some time getting familiar with a new product. Take a look at the new Field Trip Journal from Apologia! This review will be coming up in a few weeks.


That is, until the bees got to bee too friendly! So, we packed up the schoolwork and headed off to explore some of the other parts of the park. (Our local park has several hundred acres and lots of different sections.) We checked out a place where two rivers meet and talked some about boating as we watched a buoy float in the water. The girls have had very little to do with boats so we talked a bit about what I know. I also have had very little to do with boats. Well, we did have a canoe that we took to Elephant Butte just about every year while growing up but the boats around here are very different from a canoe! We also went to a place that is titled Lover’s Leap. I imagine you guess the local lore that is associated with those cliffs. The girls enjoy the view from there and at this time of year, it is beautifully lush and green.


We headed home after that and finished up a bit of school work. It was a relaxing day with experiential learning going on. That is a successful school day in my opinion. And, it was fun!

At Home.

W is for … water and wildflowers

W water and wildflowersIf you are in Texas, know someone in Texas, or used to be from Texas, maybe even if you are within 1,000 miles of Texas, you know that it has been bluebonnet season down here. Everyone goes crazy for bluebonnets. Even me. And I am not a Texan. (I’ve been here for a long time now and once in a while, I’ll claim Texas but I will always be a New Mexico girl at heart. Just sayin’.)

I love the bluebonnets, though. They are beautiful. They are fun. They smell amazingly sweet. They brighten up my days for about two weeks. And then they are gone until the next year. So, I take pictures of them and of my girls in them. There is nothing better to mark their growth than an annual picture. And Texans tend to choose to do them with bluebonnets. (Yep, there’s one of those times that I guess I have to claim being a Texan.)

W smiles in wildflowers

We took a fun field trip to hunt down a really good, publicly accessible field of bluebonnets. And Indian paintbrushes. Because around here, they grow together. We drove about 20 miles and found a lovely little lake to have a picnic by, explore a bit, and enjoy the bluebonnets. It even had a cute little playground for the girls to play at.

W pirate ship playgroundW study wildflowers

After our picnic, the girls sat down and drew the bluebonnets. They got down on the ground and studied them. It was interesting to see the differences in what they noticed about the flowers. And, of course, we took pictures in the bluebonnets.

W water

We also spent an hour or an hour and a half, exploring the edges of the lake. Climbing over limestone, seeing the erosion water creates, finding shells from freshwater clams, seeing how trash gets trapped and rots (gross but educational), and so much more.

It was a terribly fun day. We enjoyed Water and Wildflowers.

At Home.

I is for … Inspiring Beauty

I is forWhile visiting family this holiday season, we have been treated to beauty that can only be created by The Creator. God is amazing in what he places all around us and in what he gives us through the Bible. The beautiful scenery by which we have been surrounded is awe inspiring and I am blessed to have seen it. Even if it did delay our travel plans by several days. Enjoy the scenery. At Home.weather 1 weather 2 weather 3 weather 4 weather 5 weather 6 weather 7 weather 8 weather 9 weather 10

Field Trip with Friends

FW Bot Gar field tripA couple of weeks ago, we were able to meet some friends in Fort Worth at the Botanical Gardens. We hadn’t seen them in almost a year, even though we live as close as we do. They are almost finished with their time at the Brown Trail School of Preaching. We are praying with them for a wonderful ministry opportunity to be presented for their family.

J has been writing to their daughter, whom we will just call S on here, since they met a year ago. S visited worship services with her family one evening and she and J just had a blast! They have been penpals ever since. J talks about her often and last Halloween, they both dressed up as Cinderella without even discussing it. They are two peas in a pod.

So, we met up with S, her mom and her brother at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. All I can say about that experience is that I want to go back to the Botanical Gardens again. It was peaceful, beautiful, interesting. There was so much to see and do.

FW Bot Gar treasures

Of course, along the way, J collected all sorts of treasures. One that I found particularly fascinating was the cap to an acorn from the giant burr oak. She collected some beautiful flower petals that just didn’t make it all the way home intact. The required rocks and feathers were also among her treasures.

FW Bot Gar scavenger hunt




They had a neat scavenger hunt brochure for the kids that had them looking for things that they could see, hear, smell, and touch. It was printed on a nice paper that could be folded up and used as a telescope to view things. What they were looking for was presented as pictures with words so that even non-readers could use it easily. J and S did look for some of the things on it but they also just went along on their own observant way, finding what was interesting.

FW Bot Gar bird calls


The Botanical Gardens had a trail that is called the Texas Native Forest Boardwalk. It is extremely kid-friendly! It is a lovely walk through a forested area. It is grown so that you can see an unmolested native forest on one side and a native forest with invasive, non-native plants affecting it on the other side. Along the boardwalk, they have set up learning stations and at each station there is a theme. The theme is FW Bot Gar bird calls 2addressed through a question with answers presented in an interactive way. At one station, the question was “what is an insect?” It had pictures of several animals that we typically call insects. You lifted the picture up and it showed whether or not you were right. At another station, the kids got to press buttons that shared the call of different birds. Still another station had examples of birds’ eggs. I don’t know how much J remembers about each of the stations but I know she had fun looking and spending time with her friends.




One section that J really liked was the lily pad ponds. There are two large ponds in front of the main building that have several varieties of lily pads growing. When we first got there, not all of the lily pads’ flowers were open but by the time we went back at the end of our visit, the flowers were all open. And, the favorite part was all of the frogs that were in the ponds. These are not big, jumping frogs. These were teensy-tinesy little froggies. They ranged in size from about 1/2″ to 1″. They were so small that we missed them for the first 10 minutes we were looking at the lily pads. It was fun to find them hiding on lily pads or swimming through the water. Sometimes, they just hung out there, still as can be, in the water.

FW Bot Gar tree hugging

We easily spent a couple of hours at the Botanical Gardens and everything that we did was free. We also could have gone into some of the other sections of the gardens that they charge a small fee to enter. We chose not to on this day but perhaps another time we will.

This was a relaxing, fun field trip that was right up our alley, though we had to travel a bit to get there. It was definitely worth the trip. Seeing friends and having fun – it is hard to ever get enough of those things. At Home.

S is for…Searching for Sauropods

S Searching for Sauropods

Ever go searching for a sauropod? We hadn’t either and felt that it was about time to do so. In order to accomplish this, we took a day trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park. It is about an hour and a half drive away. I can’t believe we hadn’t gone before. It was so much fun and I think we all learned a lot.

S dinosaur tracks from Dinosaur Valley

S tripod track


At Dinosaur Valley, we found trackways and prints from theropods (three toed dinosaurs, thought to be carnivorous) and sauropods (very large, plant eating dinosaurs). It is believed that the theropods were probably Acrocanthosaurus, a smaller relative of Tyrannosaurus rex. This dinosaur probably ran on two legs and was 20 to 30 feet long. The tracks from Acrocanthosaurus ranged rom 12 to 24 inches long and 9 to 17 inches wide. J’s whole foot fits down inside of these tracks. These tracks were first found in 1909, a year after the river flooded, probably exposing these tracks.




S dino tracksThe sauropod tracks are probably from a dinosaur species, Paluxysaurus jonesi, that was named in 2007, after a find in Hood County in 1996. Hood County is upriver from Dinosaur Valley and they believe that the sauropod tracks were made by the Paluxysaurus jonesi because the bones seem to fit the tracks. This dinosaur is believe to have been about 20 tons, standing 60 to 70 feet long and 6 feet wide at the shoulder. It had a 26 foot long neck! This species was named the official dinosaur of Texas in 2009. These tracks were so large that sometimes you wondered if you were looking at a track or just a large hole.



S checking out the ledge

S track


We climbed up and down the river bed, searching for tracks. We found out that the river was fairly low and a number of tracks were exposed that might not have been at other times. It was hot but what would you expect at the beginning of September in central Texas? In the shade and down by the river, it wasn’t too bad. We learned about the history of this site – from the native tribes that used this area to the current use as a state park and historical site.


S prints in water


We got there around 10:30 and paid the entrance fee (only $7 per adult, no charge for the girls). We hiked for about an hour, studying various tracks in the river bed. Then we sat under the shade and ate a picnic lunch, which you should definitely take with you since the park is a couple of miles from town. After lunch and a lot of water, we hiked for about 2 more hours, seeing a lot of tracks and having fun.



S studying the riverWe found ourselves in the riverbed, the girls jumping from rock to rock, playing with the minnows and exclaiming every time a they saw another dinosaur print. When we were ready to go, we had to work to find the trail and then it ended up going up and heading back the way we came. So, we decided to be adventurous and go rock climbing. We found a ledge that wasn’t too far from the top and just took turns scrambling up it and helping the girls up. It was fun to hear them exclaim their surprise when they stood at the top and looked straight down the side of the canyon we had just come up.

S scrambling up


I definitely recommend a trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. I would like to go back when it is a bit cooler and spend more time on some of the longer trails, maybe taking the binoculars with me so I can search for some of the birds that have been spotted there. It was fun going searching for sauropods and theropods. At Home.


Linking up with ABC Blogging at Benandme.com.

Ben and Me


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