Tag Archives: travel/trips

Carlsbad Caverns

At the end of August, the girls and I were able to take a field trip to New Mexico, my home state. We visited a couple of sites that are pretty special to me and enjoyed our time there and with family quite a bit.

This is the highlights of our time in Carlsbad. We did see the Bat Flight program the night before we hiked the cavern but it is not safe for the bats to have any kind of a device on, so we turned off the cameras and phones and just enjoyed watching. The estimate was that there were about 500,000 bats the night we were there. The Brazilian Free-tailed Bats are a migrating bat so they are not there year round. We truly enjoyed seeing them. The next day, we hiked the cavern and saw lots of beautiful sights. The girls really seemed to enjoy it and we had a pretty good time.

Carlsbad was a specific destination for us since watching the videos about the National Parks. This was one that Miss E has been asking to visit. It was not difficult for us to get there and we definitely enjoyed checking this one off her “bucket list.”

Enjoy our pictures.

At Home.


We Stood Upon Stars ~ a book review

We Stood Upon Stars review

Travel is such a unique, inspiring opportunity. It is different for each person travelling the road, even following the same directions. And, when you approach it from the aspect of looking for God and meaning no matter where you are heading, it becomes something that shapes your life.

We Stood Upon Stars by Roger W. Thompson will take you on the adventures you dream of, finding peace and life and hope in the wilds of the continent. From a secluded fishing spot to the highest peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park and back down to the lowest lows of Death Valley, Mr. Thompson explores life at its fullest. Because in those adventures, life happens and meaning, purpose is found.

Full of tidbits of life learning, I found myself smiling along with the adventures filled with beauty and biting my nails when there was tenseness. From a family outing with his children to remembering the outings from his own childhood, there is much wisdom to be found by looking at nature and what God has placed all around us.

While the presence of God is found throughout the many stops in the book, Mr. Thompson’s observations are right in line with a peaceful, pleasant outlook. The magnificence of God’s handiwork is just part of life and it is treated that way in these memories. It is there and there is no denying it. This was so pleasant and encouraging to read.

Not to be ignored are the wonder-full maps that express some of the beauty and special places along the road. These hand-drawn, personalized maps show not just the main stops along the book’s discussion but they highlight many other moments that can help you find yourself and connect with friends, family, and more importantly, God.

Read about Roger W. Thompson or read the first chapter or just look up more information on We Stood Upon Stars.

I have had a desire for a while to take my girls to many of the natural wonders of our nation and this book just solidifies that desire within me. Finding these peaceful, hopeful, and inspiring outlooks from nature, seeing God through his world, that is what We Stood Upon Stars shares with the reader and what I want to take my girls to do. And this book? It just might be a guidebook to take along.

At Home.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Cutest Travel Book

T Travel Book
I am cheating a little bit today so that I can use Travel Book for my letter T in the Blogging Through the Alphabet series. But I have to tell you about this darling book! I am currently planning a trip to England now because of this book! Seriously – I would go tomorrow and I just finished the book today.

Traveling is a dream. I like to do it but I don’t like to plan it. This book, well, basically plans my trip for me. Of course, that is not her purpose, but it works for me. 🙂
T Travel Book cover

A Fine Romance: Falling in love with the English Countryside by Susan Branch is her diary of a 2012 trip she took with her husband to England. She talks about where the dream originated and then goes through their two month trip (yea – 2 whole months!) through all the dreamy places in England that I would want to go.

The visit begins on the voyage over, aboard the Queen Mary 2. They visit Tenterden in Kent, Aylesbury, London, Wirksworth in the Peak District, Ambleside in the Lake Distict, the Yorkshire Dales, The Cotswolds, Bibury, Tetbury, Chawton in Hapshire. They visit the homes of Beatrix Potter, Ellen Terry (actress), Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf), Rudyard Kipling, Vita Sackville-West (author), Jane Austen, and so much more. There were stunning gardens galore. Beautiful footpaths that led through breathtaking views. And plenty of foods to experience.

While all of these diary entries are unique and fun and interesting, the pages have been illustrated in watercolors done by the author herself. They are beautiful! Words cannot describe. This is a stunning beautiful book. I have spent quite a bit of time just looking at how lovely each page is. The watercolors, sketches, and photographs are a story in and of themselves.

T Travel book page

I cannot forget to tell you about the quotes. Throughout the book, Mrs. Branch puts quotes from various authors and other people that fit in well with the place they visit or the idea she is expressing in her writing. They are often hand-lettered and add such whimsy and character to the book. Just another part of what makes this book such a joy.

Add it all together and this is a “not to be missed” kind of book. I am kind of sad that I have to return it to the library because it is so pretty and so interesting. But, I am keeping track of the title and if I ever get the chance to spend some time just wandering the English countryside, this  book – A Fine Romance: Falling in love with the English Countryside by Susan Branch – will be my guidebook.

At Home.

This is part of the Blogging Through The Alphabet series.

Please visit A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

Weekend Experience

Ever had one of those weekends that you know has just renewed your desires and strengthened your resolve? This weekend was one of those for me.

We attended the 2015 Lads to Leaders convention with our church family this year. I had attended another convention of a different type several years ago but it was very different from this.

What we saw this weekend at L2L was inspiring. We want our kids involved and we want to see this available at a high level to all of the young folks in our congregation, not just our girls and not just elementary aged students.

2015 L2L collageWe fell in love with the love of God and encouragement we saw among the youth at the convention. We found great encouragement in the encouraging they did with each other – not just our youth to each other but from youth to youth that didn’t even know each other. When someone was on stage and waiting for the announcement of winners, they were high fiving, hugging, and telling each other what a great job they did. There is nothing that can replicate that. Yes, they cared about placement but not nearly as much as the new friends they had made. One of our girls spent time chatting and braiding hair with another of the participants while they waited to be called back to the main participation room. Another of our girls made a friend that she was sad she didn’t get a phone number for. We sat down on the floor in the middle of everything and sang songs of praise to our God with 30 people. We didn’t know their names, may not see them again until next year, if then, yet we are family and had a bond of connection that made praising God together a joyous experience. L said that was her favorite part of the whole weekend – sitting and singing with others, lifting our praises to God together.

Seeing kids that didn’t know each other shake hands and encourage, seeing the help given when someone was struggling, seeing the smiles on faces when a young lady was struggling to get through a speech without tears, the pats on the back, and the camaraderie – we need to have our kids involved in that as often as possible. They need to see that the world of Christ is so much bigger than their Bible class, their congregation, their sight. They need to see that there are others across this nation and world who are striving along the same path they are and want them to succeed. Christ is so much bigger than they know and every opportunity they have to see and learn that is one that needs to be embraced.

We met another homeschooling family who lives 30 or so miles from us. Our girls now have new friends close by and we are in the process of making plans to go visit their farm and get to know them better. We met them during the final night of ceremonies and we chatted until the kids were running out the doors without us parents. We also attended Sunday morning worship with the L2L participants. A worship service with 1,000 people! That is not an every day experience for us and I hope it was an encouragement to the girls. It was a tremendous service hearing the young men lead singing and lead our minds in thoughts regarding the theme of ONE. What a wonderful way to close out the weekend.

At Home Dad and I are going to be doing a lot with our girls. We will be doing it, digging in deep, and helping them learn a lot. I encourage you to research Lads to Leaders and participate. Bring your children to a deeper love of the Lord and stronger knowledge of who He is and how to serve Him. We can do nothing better than to prepare our children for a life of service to God and what better time to start than now.

At Home.

F is for … Finding New Mexico

F finding NM

There is an ongoing joke amongst New Mexicans. Well, it is not really even a joke. But it can be heard in any number of different ways. But they often go something like this:

New Mexico? Isn’t that south of the border?
You’re from New Mexico? Can I see your green card (or visa)? (Seriously! I was asked that growing up!)

New Mexico is an amazing state that is, in fact, part of the United States of America. Since 1912. You can find it between Texas and Arizona. It is an amazing state and I am proud of having grown up there. I am thankful that I can travel home (my parents still live there) several times a year. It is always beautiful. It is always peaceful. It is always relaxing. There is just something different about New Mexico. It is enchanting. Thus it’s nickname: Land of Enchantment.

vacation 2013

When you are looking around, you will see amazing vistas. Mountains, plains, lakes, rivers, trees, grass, mesas, plateaus. It is all there. One of my favorite views is sitting on the porch at my parents house, a glass of iced tea in hand, no bugs bothering me, staring out at the mountains in the distance. Peaceful. Another favorite: driving across the plains but surrounded by mountain ranges on all sides. It is just so beautiful.

I could talk forever about why I love New Mexico. But, you might quit reading. I’d rather you keep reading and find something interesting to do to help you find some of the enchantment that New Mexico holds.

Tradition is huge in New Mexico, especially this time of year. Last year we shared with you all some of our traditions, including luminarias and bizcochitos. Other traditions that you could study include any of the puebloan Indian tribes and their dances. Las Posadas is a tradition among many of the Spanish speaking people worth a study. It is fun and interesting. We read “The Night of Las Posadas” by Tomie dePaola every year and enjoy it each time.


There are tons of amazing foods from New Mexico. Christmas enchiladas make my mouth water just thinking about them. They aren’t really anything fancy but we call them Christmas enchiladas when we would like to have enchiladas served with both red AND green chili sauce. YUM! Anything made with chilis is good, if you ask me. I shared a recipe with you for Green Chili Goat Cheese Burritos. It isn’t a traditional recipe but it is one that is very New Mexican. Bizcochitos are a cookie that is traditionally made a Christmas time but, really, is good any day of the year.  (You can find a picture of us making these cookies in the post E is for Enchantment.)

We took the girls on a New Mexico vacation last year where we did some learning. We visited Carlsbad Caverns. We went to White Sands. We saw The Last Escape of Billy the Kid and walked through Lincoln. We studied the desert, its animals, and its plants. I shared a post with you about the vacation books that I made for the girls. It included lots of links and information so you can make your own or use the links to learn more about New Mexico.


Little footprints in White Sands


Other posts I have shared about New Mexico:

Vacation 2013 – New Mexico Desert – A synopsis of our vacation time in New Mexico.

Carlsbad Caverns – A beautiful place to visit with unique opportunities. From the amazing underground cavern to the mass exodus of bats at sunset, this is a stop that is worth making.

Smokey Bear – This is a must-stop place in my opinion. Of course, I grew up with Smokey so he is very closely associated with New Mexico for me.

E is for Enchantment – This is a book about New Mexico and I shared some ideas about things to do with the book. It has some little known information about New Mexico. It is not your typical ABC Book.


I hope you have found something fun and new to study about New Mexico. Thanks for stopping by as part of Learning through the 50 States, a link up hosted by AdenaF.com

 photo af476399-be9e-4d50-a2d2-1a3a7c3fe9dc.jpg

At Home.

Ticket To Ride: Texas State Railroad

Train TicketA few weeks ago, we heard that the Texas State Railroad ran an education special during the month of September. The girls had never ridden on a big train before so we decided it would be a fun day trip.

Train getting onAfter securing tickets, we headed that way on the morning of the ride. Our planned 3 hours for a trip that should have taken about 2 was a very good thing! It took us every bit of 3 hours to make the drive. They were waiting the train on us! (We technically had a couple of minutes to spare but since we were the last ones…they were waiting on us!)







Train girls


We rode in the open car. This meant that there was no glass in the windows. The breeze went through so nicely and the day wasn’t too hot. It had wooden bench seats and the back rest flipped so that you could be facing forward with whichever way the train went.




Train platform

We rode along and the girls took a trip to the back platform to look off the back end of the train and watch the rails go by. We sat back, talked about how blessed we are to be able to travel the way we do now and talked about various characters from books that we remembered that traveled by train. We wondered whether their experiences were very much like ours. We wondered who might have sat where we were sitting and what their lives would have been like. One of the girls observed that it wasn’t as fancy a car as others we had walked through so maybe this was for the poorer folks or slaves.




The folks with the railroad did a wonderful job of talking to the girls about the history of the train and railroading. And, after we had been going for about 30 or 40 minutes, we came to the turntable.

Train turntable use

This was a train turntable. It was designed to help turn trains around without a huge rail yard to do it in and is from the 1890s. They talked to the students about how it worked (compressed air, just like the engine), what it accomplished (turning the engine around so that it can continue to run forward), and the history of this particular turntable (moved from Paris, Texas). They talked the students through the process as they watched the engineers do through it. The train crew has to balance the engine on the turntable exactly right. It was really quite interesting and fun to see just how precise they had to be and how effective engineering was so many years ago.

Train engine

After the engine was turned around, it rehooked at the other end of the train and we made the return trip to the depot. On the return trip, the engine was hooked up to the open air car so when the whistle blew, it was LOUD! This time, the platform was looking down on the hinge where the engine was hooked so when the girls went up to look at it, they were looking at something completely different.

Train whistle

A very neat thing that the Texas State Railroad did for us was to give us a number of different lessons that we could use related to trains and safety. They handed us so much information, all printed out and ready to go. It was wonderful! And we used all of their lessons. I’ll be doing another post about those resources because they are worth knowing about.

Train picnic



After the train ride, we got our picnic lunch and sat down to eat. We enjoyed the nice breezes blowing off of the lake at the state park. After we were finished eating, the girls enjoyed exploring the edges of the lake a bit and feeding bits of bread to the minnows they saw.





This was such a fun trip. I cannot say enough about how much fun it was. I hope we are able to do it again another time. We are looking at whether we can manage to go for their Polar Express trains around Christmas time. Another train ride would be lots of fun and give us lots to talk about.

At Home.

T is for…Talking about Mammoths

T Talking About Mammoths

What do you know about mammoths? Recently, we visited the Waco Mammoth Site to talk about mammoths. The Waco Mammoth Site is an important paleontological site because it is the first and only site to have fossils of a nursery herd.

What is a nursery herd, you ask? If you have ever seen elephants defend the young, you will recall that the females adults of the herd tend to circle around the young elephants to protect them. When the dig began at the Waco site, they found a circle of adult female mammoths surrounding a group of young mammoths. The first ever nursery herd discovered.

T girls and Quincy T thigh bones

The mammoths at the Waco Mammoth Site are Columbian mammoths. They are much larger than the wooly mammoth, which is what we often think of when discussing mammoths. The Columbian mammoth bull that is being excavated, fondly known as Quincy, is estimated to be over 14 feet tall and weigh more than 20,000 pounds. The tooth of a Columbian mammoth is as big as shoe box for an adult’s shoe. The Columbian mammoth is believed to have six sets of teeth which get progressively bigger as the mammoth aged. The set of teeth in the mammoth’s mouth when it died is one of the ways that scientists can help guess the age of the animal. The Columbian mammoth’s tusks are a type of tooth, could grow up to 16 feet in length, and weigh up to 200 pounds each.

T pathway

The Waco Mammoth Site dates to the Ice Age. We don’t know exact dates for that since we believe what the Bible says about creation. This provides some difficulty when discussing the actual dates with the girls, especially when trying to be tactful during a tour. So, the exact date is unknown as far as we are concerned. We did, however, learn a lot about the Ice Age in Texas. Guess what? Many scientists actually believe we are in an Ice Age now! When you think about the Ice Age, you probably think of the same kinds of things that I do: glaciers, snow fall, packed snow, lots of wooly animals, etc.
T picture outside visitor center




Well, the Ice Age in Texas looked nothing like that! It looked much like it does today, without all the trees. (I know – you guys from true T T picture outside visitor centerpicture outside visitor centerforested lands – quit T picture outside visitor centerlaughing!) Really, though, Texas was believed to be a savannah and, during the Ice Age, to have high temperatures that were somewhere around 80-90 degrees. That makes these hundred degree temperatures seem even hotter if 90 was an Ice Age! This area that was a savannah was home to rabbits, white-tailed deer, birds, and more of what we see around here today. With a couple of big exceptions. And I do mean big! Giant sloths, which stood 20 feet tall when on their hind legs, lived in this area. Saber-toothed cats (we found out they don’t call them tigers anymore since they have determined they are not related to tigers in any way) lived and hunted here. And, of course, the Columbian mammoth lived here.

The dig site is terribly interesting and we were blessed to have Dava be our guide. She is the education coordinator for the Waco Mammoth Site so the girls got a wonderful, educational tour with lots of information. She asked plenty of thinking questions that the girls were anxious to answer and she allowed them to ask any questions they had. She encouraged them to continue to study and learn, which I always appreciate.

T QuincyA visit to the site will show you all that they are uncovering, though they are not digging currently. There is not a lab on site and the bones are extremely fragile and cannot be moved, even down the road to Baylor University, without extreme damage occurring. So, when you visit the dig shelter, you see all that they have uncovered to date. Dava talked to us about the animals that are currently exposed, including a couple of female mammoths, a bull mammoth, a juvenile mammoth, leg bones from yet another mammoth, a camel (yep you read that right – they believe that camels traveled with the matriarchal herds for protection), the tooth of a saber-tooth kitten, and a couple of bones from an unknown animal. These are in additional to the 20 or so other animals that have been excavated. It truly is an interesting site.

T fossils T female mammoth T camelT saber-tooth kitten tooth

Discovered in 1978, this site has been full of information for the scientific community. After a fund-raising campaign and building period, the site was turned into a municipal park and opened to the public in 2009. It is a wonderful experience and I highly recommend this field trip if you are in the Waco, TX, area or will be traveling through sometime.

T field journal

Join us later this week for part 2 of T is for…Talking about Mammoths. (Here is the link to Part 2.) I’ll share with you some of the worksheets and activities the girls have done with a mammoth theme, many of which are found on the Waco Mammoth Site’s web page under the education tab. At Home.


Linking up with Benandme.com for ABC Blogging.

Ben and Me
%d bloggers like this: