Lost Maples State Park

Hi, everyone! I am still around…..just not enough time in the day to keep up with everything it seems! I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I last posted. I’ve changed Connor’s age on the sidebar-he’s had a birthday and is a whole 8 years old now!

Well, we have been exploring around our area quite a bit and I wanted to share some of our goings and doings with you all.

I’ve become friends with another homeschooling mom in the area that has 2 boys close in age to mine, so we get together every couple of weeks and do something fun. These photos are from our day at Lost Maples State Park.

The drive to the park was beautiful in itself. It took a little over an hour and part way we drove alongside the Guadalupe River, which snakes back and forth in this area.

The trees in the park usually turn colors mid-October to early November, depending on how cold it has been. On the day we visited, we hadn’t had a real cold spell yet, so they were just starting to change colors.

Here is a shot of a large limestone rock the rises above the river on one side.


As we hiked through the park, we stopped to observe some minnows in the creek.


Here is a shot of one of the trees that had started to change colors already.


We stopped to rest and play on a large limestone rock that had a shelf to climb and walk on and an outcropping over it. In the pictures it looks like we standing in an ice cave!



A view back up the creek on our hike back.


The boys discovered if they moved a few rocks, the water was running directly under us. They liked the idea that we were “walking on water.”


This little guy dropped out a tree, almost directly onto the boys. We had never seen anything like him, but I’ve been unable to identify him. If any readers out there know what he’s called-please let me know!


I’m going to try to post some more of our adventures and stay caught up!

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Our Trek Up Cross Mountain

I know I’ve been missing in action for a while now, but I don’t want to totally ignore my blogging friends! It seems like my life has been much busier now that we’ve moved, than it was back in California! We’ve become involved with a home group at church and the kids are in AWANA and youth group, so along with still discovering things in our town, we’re running to and from these activities, also. But it is definitely a satisfying busy; not a crazy busy.

One thing we did today was take a walk up to the top of Cross Mountain. These links offer a little bit of information about the history of Cross Mountain:

Cross Mountain Blog Post

Native Plant Society of Texas

City of Fredericksburg

One thing we did notice was the abundance of poison oak on the mountain.

Here’s some photos from our trip to the top:

The Cross and the kiddos in front of it.

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Laina took a minute to sketch the cross. Blake did a sketch of it, also.


Here is the view from the top. It was absolutely magnificent. There was also several different types of butterflies playing around in the flowers.


I have several other trips I’d like to share with all of you! Please be patient, I may get to them yet!

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Day Out at Oktoberfest

We spent yesterday enjoying the activities at our town’s Oktoberfest celebration. This is a big deal here, and people come from all over the country to visit it.

Oktoberfest originally began in Munich in 1810 to celebrate a royal wedding. It has continued through the years and has turned into an event celebrated by people everywhere.

We started the day off in the kid’s section. We bought some game tickets and the boys jumped around in the bounce house, played wheel of fortune, fished a duck out of the tub for tokens, swung the sledge hammer and rang the bell for strength and flung a chicken into a bucket.

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They traded their tickets in for silly bands, shutter shades and an inflatable sword.  Great choices.

Then we headed over to the food area and dined on German potato pancakes, sausages and applesauce, while listening to the band.

There were several vendors set up with homemade wares, including jewelry, pottery, quilts, wood carvings and more. I brought home a soap dispenser painted with cactus and windmills for the kids bathroom.

We were able to tour the Vereins Kirche Museum and read about Fredericksburg history. We have a Pioneer Museum membership and can take advantage of this museum with it, also. That is it in the background of our picture in front of the gigantic beer keg!


We snuck away for naps in the middle of day, after grabbing a bag of roasted pecans to snack on.

We returned at night for more food and entertainment. Dinner consisted of “Texas taters,” which are potatoes cut into long, curled slices and deep-fried, popcorn chicken, curly fries and a kraut dog. I know, not healthy, but definitely delicious!

Here the boys show off their German side. (They do have a little German blood in them.)


The weather was beautiful, the food was great and the music was lively. A great day!


Have a lovely Sunday!

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Hysterically Funny!

I just have to share this link to Carol Barnier’s post on her Sizzlebop blog. These are some entries in her “I’d Never Thought I’d Say That” contest. If you want a good laugh, hop on over and read this post!

If you are not familiar with Carol, just let me say, you should be! She is the hilarious author of How To Get Your Child Off The Refrigerator and On To Learning and If I’m Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where’d I Leave the Baby?

I noticed she has some new books out that I haven’t read yet, but will definitely be ordering. Her refrigerator book was the first one I read about homeschooling a “spirited” child when it was time to start schooling Connor. So, if you have a “sizzler,” as she likes to call these energetic kiddos, I would recommend perusing her website.


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The Finished Project

Some time ago I had shared that Laina was working on a hand-stitched quilt project. She started this with her 4H group last year, but did not complete it with the group.

Not long after we moved, I suggested she dig it out and work on it. In a matter of minutes, she finished it up and was ready to move on to something new.

Here is the finished project:


It’s about the size of a doll quilt or small lap blanket.

Pretty darn cute.

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How I Incorporate the “Extras” Part V: Composer Study

This is the last in my “extras” series. I’m going to be honest and tell you that of all the  subjects, I have the hardest time with composer study. Our composer for this term is Chopin; however, we have yet to listen to anything by him!

I have this scheduled for Thursdays. Ideally, I would like to introduce the composer, read a short bio on him, put him in our Book of Centuries and listen to pieces by him. Our day tends to get busy and I don’t bother to put on the music, though. So, if you are interested in trying this out, it should only take a few minutes a week. You could play the music while the kids are working or even in the car if you have a cd to listen to. The website www.classical.com has several pieces you could listen to over the computer also. I used it last year while studying Bach.

Happy studying!

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How I Incorporate the “Extras” Part IV: Hymn Study

I don’t know about you all, but there are so many hymns that I am not familiar with, nor are my children. These are songs that are not sung as often in church (at least in mine) as they used to be. I liked the idea of introducing my kids to the old fashioned hymns, while learning some myself.

We do hymn study on Wednesdays. It only takes about five minutes. I use the outline provided by SCM. The Center for Church Music offers a lot of the words, music and history for the hymns Sonya recommends. If I couldn’t find one that was on her list, I just substituted another. The site also offers a devotional you can read if you choose to.

I print out the words ahead of time for the entire year-six hymns total. Then the first time I introduce one, I have the kids listen to the short (about 4 minute) history for the hymn on the website. The narration is interspersed with the hymn being sung. So the kids read along with the song and get the history all at once. In the following weeks they listen to the hymn a couple of times through. Usually by the 3rd week they’re singing along; although, sometimes they get a little silly in trying to keep up with the high notes!

As a side note, I also do our Trial and Triumph reading on Wednesdays, and we come across hymns written by some of the martyrs that we’ve read about. It’s a neat way to tie the history of the songs into the lives of the people we’ve read about.

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How I Incorporate the “Extras” Part III: Poet Study

Along with Shakespeare, we also do poet/poetry study on Tuesdays.

Again, I referred to SCM’s poetry study recommendations in choosing our poets for the year. We’ve begun with Robert Frost this year, as last year we studied Robert Louis Stevenson and Lewis Carroll. I’ve chosen to study one poet every six weeks, so my list will be much more extensive than SCM’s over the years.

I use www.famouspoetsandpoems.com to choose my poems and obtain a biography if I haven’t picked one up at the library. I choose one poem by the author for each week, six in total. On the first Tuesday, I read about the poet and pass out the poem for the week. Each of the kids take a turn reading it aloud and then we just discuss what it meant to them. This gives them a chance to practice oral speaking, pronunciation of new words, etc.

We read poetry from other poets throughout the rest of the week, just so the kiddos can see the different styles of poetry writing.  Some of the poetry books we’ve read from are: Favorite Poems, Old and New by Helen FarrisThe Earth is Painted Green; A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson; choices from  The Book of Virtues and Everyday Graces; and we have even enjoyed some Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky and Goop Poems!

There your have it-our poetry study.

Enjoy your day!

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How I Incorporate the “Extras” Part II: Shakespeare

We’ve never attempted to study Shakespeare before this year; however, it seemed pretty easy to tackle by following SCM’s recommendations. Sonya suggests a play every other year. I’m going to try and tackle a play each year. We’ll see how it goes!

I have scheduled our Shakespeare reading for Tuesdays. I’ve broken our study up by six week terms. The first term we’re reading a condensed story version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales From Shakespeare. We read half of it last week and we will finish it next week. Because it’s relatively short, I don’t mind drawing it out over a couple of weeks. The kids are actually enjoying this story. Probably because it contains fairies and such. After reading, I just have them narrate back to me. Dover publications has some great coloring books, so I may get one for the kids to color. Even Laina enjoys these because of their details.

For the next six weeks I plan on reading the full version from a Complete Works of Shakespeare book I have.

After that I would like to obtain an audio version and either a play on video or a movie based on the play for them to watch.

And that’s it! An easy introduction to Shakespeare.

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How I Incorporate the “Extras” Part I: Artist Study

Part of what drew me to the CM technique, besides all the living books I get to use, was the teaching of what I’ll dub “the extras.” The extras are subjects that were commonly taught back in Ms. Mason’s day, but not so common in education today. These include our artist/picture study, poet/poetry study, Shakespeare, hymn study and composer study. Now, these are not necessarily topics that are of utmost importance to my husband or myself, but they are ones I wanted my kids to have some exposure to, and the CM style fits right in with this.

One of my readers asked if I could share how I incorporate these into our school days, so I’ll do a short series of posts describing what we do for each subject.

Basically, I schedule one subject per day of the week, with the exception of Tuesdays, when we do both poetry & Shakespeare.

Artist/picture study is scheduled for Mondays. I like doing it at the beginning of the week so that once we’ve discussed the artist and picture, the kids have all week to enjoy the current painting.

I chose the artists based on the Simply Charlotte Mason curriculum guide, module 1. We actually studied Audubon and Cassatt last year, so I’m using a couple of my own choices to make my six artists for the year. I will use one artist for each six week term I have scheduled.

If I’m well prepared, I’ll check a short book out from the library on the artist and we’ll read this the first Monday to familiarize ourselves with him/her. If not, then I’ll just read a short bio off the internet. I choose six pictures ahead of time that we’ll study and print them out. I try to pick ones that have enough detail or that will be appealing enough to the kids to generate good discussions. I don’t have a certain website I used. I just googled the artist’s name and browsed the pictures.

On Monday, I will set out the picture, we’ll read about the artist, I’ll give the kids the name of the picture and then have each one look at it for a short while and then narrate to me all that they remember from it. That’s it. Very simple! I then post the picture on the wall and by the end of the six weeks we have six pictures to compare. We’ll have a discussion usually about what is similar in the pictures, what the kids think they mean, which one did they like best, etc.

A couple other things I have done are:

  • Print a coloring page and have them color it similar to the artist’s style. Again, I usually just google the artist name & coloring page and print off what I can find. I don’t have a specific website I use.
  • Create a small lapbook page that we adhere to a folder to keep track of the artists we’ve studied. I think I received this free from www.homeschoolinthewoods.com, but I’m not entirely sure!
  • Add them to our Book of Centuries.

We are currently on Monet, and I happened to find a large book of his work that included a biography for $2 at a thrift store. So I’m also leaving the book out in case the kiddos want to browse through it.

I hope this helps!

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What We’re Using for School This Year

We’ve been back at school for two weeks now. They haven’t been full weeks by any means, so we’re still trying to get back in the flow of things. Here’s a little peek at our curriculum for this year.

For our family (group) time we’re using:

  • History/Bible/Geography: Simply Charlotte Mason-Genesis through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
  • Read Aloud: Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder this term, then Charlotte’s Web, Wind in the Willows, Hans Brinker, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and Pippi Longstockings
  • Artist Study: Monet, Christian Riese Lassen, Maxfield Parrish, P. Buckley Moss, Diego Rivera and Durer (one every six weeks) Using www.famouspoetsandpoems.com for poetry and bios.
  • Scripture Study: Starting in Genesis using SCM’s scripture memory system
  • Poet Study: Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Robert Browning, Rudyard Kipling, Tennyson and Carl Sanburg (one every six weeks)
  • Hymn Study: Selected hymns from SCM recommendations. Using www.songsandhymns.org for music, lyrics and brief history of hymns.
  • Nature Study: Using ideas from www.handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com and things we find in our own backyard!
  • Composers: Chopin, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Williams, O’Connor and Stravinsky (one every six weeks)
  • President & State Study: Read about one per week and complete notebooking page.
  • Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream-reading and watching the play on video. Maybe listening to an audio version if I can find one.
  • Church History: Continue reading one story per week from Trial and Triumph.
  • Fridays are reserved for art and field trips.

Laina is now 8th grade. I can’t believe I’ll have a high schooler next year! She’s using:

Blake is 5th grade. He’s using:

Connor is now 3rd grade: He’s using:

We are using the Charlotte Mason methods more full time this year. Lots of reading, narration and copywork. Connor really enjoys it. A few months ago he declared he was going to give up reading. A few days ago he exclaimed that he loves reading! 

I may have forgotten a few things, and I know this looks like a lot to do, but we don’t do every subject every day. This week will be our first full week and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes!

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The Diary of Anne Frank Play


Last night Laina, Grandma and I attended this wonderful play put on by the Fredericksburg Theater Company.  This was the first time we’ve attended a play here, and what a way to be introduced to this amazing Theater Company!

If you’re like me, then you remember the first time you read this story. This young girl could not help but touch your heart. The actors in this production out on a performance that brought Anne, Margot, Mr. and Mrs. Frank and the four other inhabitants of the secret annex to life.

The setting of the play was the rooms those in hiding had to share. The main focus was on the relationships that were tested and developed during this time. Part of the play was narrated by “Anne” reading from her diary. The timeframe was from the beginning of their time in seclusion to their discovery by the Nazis two years  later. At the end, Anne’s father, Otto Frank, revisits the annex and gives a touching monologue about the fate of his family and friends. I’m pretty sure there weren’t many dry eyes in the room. The play goes dark on Anne’s words from her diary:

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

A bonus to attending was being able to view the special Anne Frank exhibit that was on display in the lobby.


We will definitely be attending future performances put on by this theater!

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My New Schoolroom

It took me all of yesterday, but I took my new schoolroom/office/scrapbook/game/craft room from this:

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To this:

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Things are not organized exactly how I would like them; however, I did manage to get everything out of the boxes and put on a shelf or in a cupboard before our first day of school today!

I do need to invest in another bookshelf to store the kid’s current school books, which are now being housed in the three red crates. I also want to put all the craft and coloring supplies out on a shelf where they will see them and have ease of access. Right now the supplies are under the cabinets, where they will probably be forgotten. Once those couple of things have been rearranged, I’ll have room to put my scrapbooking supplies in a cupboard, since they don’t need to be out continually.

The one corner of the room that I did not take a picture of contains a table with our computer and office supplies. This is also temporary until we find a desk, or at some point my husband will redo this room to include all built-ins, which should give us better storage/working options.

Now it’s off to some errands. School is done. It was a fairly easy first day!

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What is That Thing?

A couple of days ago we found our first Texas bug to identify.  My husband was outside working and called for me to “Come out and see this.” I wasn’t sure what “this” was going to turn out to be. It turned out to be-this:


Handsome guy, isn’t he? I think he looks kind of like a stinkbug on steroids.

We called the boys out to take a look and they were pretty impressed. I went online and discovered this is commonly known as a  Leaf Footed Bug, from the True Bug family. They have thick thighs with spikes on them and make a loud noise when they fly and can emit an odor when bothered. I’m glad we didn’t bother him, other than to snap his photo.

Not a bad way to start off our nature study for the year!

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My First Official Texas Blog


I wanted to start my post with a picture of the beautiful blue sky here in Texas. This was taken on a drive to Austin last weekend. While we were there we visited the Whole Foods grocery store, which is also their U.S. corporate headquarters. This store was huge! The bagger informed me there are three levels of parking, with enough room to house 1,000 cars. If you happen to park on the lower two levels, they will send your groceries down the dumbwaiter and valet them into your car at no charge. We had arrived there early enough to get a front row park, but I thought that was a pretty neat service.


Life has also been very full around our new home. We’ve been spending plenty of time cleaning, unpacking, making runs to the Super Wal-Mart, looking for missing boxes and doing more cleaning & unpacking!

We have managed to squeeze some fun into our days, so that we’re not so tired from all work and no play. Our county fair started on Thursday and ran through today. We quickly learned that this little fair is a really big deal. It is in it’s 122nd year of running, and is the longest consecutively running fair in Texas. Businesses close down and school is let out on Friday so that everyone can enjoy the kick-off parade! We took ourselves down and found a cool spot on Main Street to enjoy the show.

Here’s the kiddos waiting for it to begin:


Here are several shots of the parade participants. I found some of these to be very unique and unlike anything I’d seen in a parade before.

The first picture is a of the Jr. Texas Rangers. The next is of the Fair Queen contestants. We’re learning there are queens for every festival, fair, farm bureau, chamber, well, you get the picture.

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This is the H.E.B. float. H.E.B. is a large grocery chain around here. It’s a great store, and carries a ton of organic and gluten-free items, which makes me very happy!  My husband said the police car belonged in Mayberry.100_2313 100_2314

Conman especially liked the little cars and scooters, and bugged me to take pictures of all of them. 

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When was the last time you saw one of these driving down the middle of Main Street?


This seems to be a slogan around here. They even had it painted on some of the horses.


This gentleman was representing Luckenbach, which is about 10 minutes away from us.


Lyndon B Johnson State Park is also right down the road from us. Their float represented life from the past.


And last, but not least, the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine made an appearance. What fun!


We spent that evening at the fairgrounds where we watched the queen coronation, ate plenty of fried foods and ice cream and wandered through the exhibit buildings. Conman was so excited that he got to ride some of the carnival rides, and we realized this was the first time he’d been to a fair. Back in California, we just didn’t take the kids to the fair, and we certainly wouldn’t have taken them down the midway at our local fair. Here, the fair was the midway.

Saturday morning my mother-in-law and I checked out some local yard sales. It was so nice, because everything is within a 10 minute or less drive! I found some Southern Living and Country Living magazines for a dime a piece and a set of 6 cute little glass jars for $1.00. I’ll probably use them to hold scrapbooking supplies.

This morning we started the day out at what we hope will be our new church. We’d attended it a couple of times on prior visits and were pleased to see it hasn’t changed much. We met quite a few people and received an invitation to attend the small group meeting this week and I was invited by the pastor’s wife to her scrapbooking day at her house. We greatly enjoyed the service, and the fact that it was a much smaller congregation than what we were used to. We finished up the afternoon with lunch at Cracker Barrel, where the boys took on a game of checkers on their front porch.

                                                           playing checkers

Tomorrow holds a few errands to continue getting us situated. We plan on signing the boys up for the AWANA club that is just starting at a local Baptist Church and Laina is excited to start volunteering for the SPCA.

Whew-that’s a lot for one post, but I think I’m all caught up!

Till’ tomorrow~

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