Archive for December, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011—Keeping a weather-eye on the horizon…

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, I got very used to my Dad checking the weather several times each day. When the weather came on the TV or radio, we knew to be quiet. As an adult, I’ve always been in the habit of checking the weather every morning. Now that we are full-timing, we all check it several times each day. We don’t check it out of panic, but out of necessity. Our new home is more susceptible to wind, rain, hail, or other types of weather related damage. We check the wind speed each night before we go to bed. Our awning and screen room could be ripped apart in seconds which would be expensive to replace. A camper is not sufficient shelter during severe weather so every now and then we discuss with the girls our severe weather plan and what to do in different situations. We always make sure that we know the best place to shelter in every park in which we stay.

We’ve been through a few severe storms already. Once we bailed, and went to a Wal-Mart when a tornado was spotted close by. Wal-Marts aren’t tornado proof but one has a better chance there than in a trailer or campground bathroom. Most of the time we aren’t close enough, however, so the campground bathroom or laundry room has to do. Two of our daughters went through a very severe storm in Michigan that was unexpected and sudden. Fortunately, they kept their heads, did exactly as we said via the phone and made it to safety. Keeping them educated is essential.

Today has been one of those days in which we’ve had to check the weather several times as there has been a possibility of severe weather all day. We aren’t used to this area yet we know how bad their weather can be. The lightning alone is scarier than what we are used to in MI. Everyone knows about Texas tornadoes. The bottom line is that first we trust in the God who created the storm and who cares for us. Second we prepare as much as we can.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011- A History of US

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

We still have nasty head colds but it seems like we are all much better. The weather hasn’t been conducive to doing much outside so we’ve been concentrating on school. I know the girls are ready to climb the walls but next week we’ll be in an area with a lot more to do and they won’t have as much school to do.

In my last blog post I wrote on our National Parks Service. It has been wonderful to have our girls attend lectures by NPS Rangers and to have them see firsthand areas of history, geography, and Science. Another tool we feel that is invaluable to their education on this trip is A History of US by Joy Hakim. We purposely brought the 10 volume set with us. Not only are they the core of our U.S. History course but we have referenced them again and again as we study the different places we have visited.

When our oldest was in 8th grade she was ready for a high school history credit. I decided to use Mrs. Hakim’s books. I was using a history textbook for the two younger girls. It was just ok and I found that I had to supplement it a lot either through additional books or the internet. Once when Jenna was sick, I helped her by reading A History of US aloud. The younger girls soon stopped what they were doing and came to sit with us. When I finished that day’s lesson, they asked me to keep reading! Mikayla was in 5th grade. Eva was in 1st grade. They asked so many questions and even mentioned it to their Dad that night at supper. I ditched the textbook right then and there and used A History of US for all three grades for the rest of the year and since.

Joy Hakim makes history come alive. She writes in a very conversational manner and presents history in a way that is memorable. It’s not watered down. It’s not white-washed or sugar-coated. It is, however, written in such a way that it appeals to and is understandable by all ages. Her books are entertaining and thought provoking. Instead of hiding from controversy, she presents all sides and then asks questions that make the reader decide for themselves. I highly—HIGHLY—recommend her books. If you love history, you will love and enjoy the books. If you’ve never liked history, you will come to love our history and long to learn more.

I’ll let you read about Joy and her books at the link below. You may have seen her PBS special.

December 11, 2011—Our Wonderful National Parks Service

Monday, December 12th, 2011

St Louis ArchThe last of us fell prey to this sickness so it was a pretty quiet day around here. I’m not sure what we have, but it’s got a good hold on us. Mikayla wanted to make her first camp cooking video but that’s going to have to wait until we are on the mend.

I’m often asked to name the favorite place we have visited so far. That is a very difficult question to answer. I can’t even say that we’ve liked one state over another. It’s all been so amazing. I would visit each state again and recommend any of the stops we have made.


December 10, 2011—Rest, Baking and More Robins

Sunday, December 11th, 2011


Today was a beautiful day so what did we do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It felt so good to take a break from school, chores, moving and even sight-seeing. Because of all the rain we had earlier in the week, we did a lot of school. So much that I think we all feel as if it’s been a few weeks since we’ve had a break.

Three out of the five of us have nasty head colds. We thought about going to a state park but that was as far as it went. The weather was warm enough for Barry to make the screen room his office so Mikayla and I took advantage of the extra space and started our Christmas baking.

DSC00381 Last year, we didn’t do any baking because we had just found out that Eva had to go completely gluten-free. Cooking everyday meals were overwhelming enough for me at that stage. This year, we feel ready to tackle our traditional baking. We made fudge and reindeer cookies. Mikayla is going to make a video tomorrow of some more of her baking in our little kitchen. We’ll post it on her sister’s blog.

The robins were back tonight. They chatter away as they come in but as soon as every last one of them has found a perch for the night, it is very quiet. Tomorrow morning they will be gone before we awaken. I think I have seen more robins in the last two days than I’ve seen in my entire life. They have been unexpected but very welcome guests!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

DSC00343 We didn’t have far to drive today. It was nice not having to rush, pack a lunch or take school in the suburban. Driving through the back country to get to our new destination, we felt like we really saw Texas. The big ranches with their sparse land, gnarled trees and cacti were breathtaking. The land was quite hilly so there were times that we could see for miles. It’s so different from what we are used to that we felt like we were in a different country.


December 8, 2011—Beautiful Tres Rios, Glen Rose, Texas

Friday, December 9th, 2011

DSC00315After school, we walked the nature trail around the park at which we are staying. Named Tres Rios for the three rivers that border the resort, it has an abundance of beautiful water fowl that we don’t have in Michigan. There were also a lot of huge fish. The binoculars once again came in very handy but my anglers were wishing they had their poles!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011: Dinosaur State Park

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Dinosaur State Park, Glen Rose, Texas


The sun came out today!! It’s been awhile. Quite awhile. It’s been cold and rainy since we arrived in this part of Texas. It was so cold last night that our pipes froze. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for them to thaw out with the sun and the temperature rising to 46 degrees.

After we finished school, we headed out to hunt for dinosaurs. Dinosaur tracks that is and it was amazing! Dinosaur Valley State Park has an abundance of tracks from more than one specie of the huge animal. It really is unbelievable how big these creatures were. It’s quite the experience to look down into a riverbed and see not one but several tracks.

DSC00290The park itself is beautiful and worth the trip. It was so nice to be outside that we hiked a lot more than we had planned. A lot of our hiking was along the riverbed. We commented more than once that it was nice to hike in weather that was still cold enough to keep us from being afraid of encountering any snakes! Two herds of deer were in the park today. One herd was rather large. They were only whitetails but they weren’t at all afraid of us. We kept our distance but were able to get a little closer to them than normal. Barry’s binoculars also came in handy.

The day was beautiful and educational! Perfect!

Dinosaur Valley State Park–


Dinosaur Track. About 8 of them that disappear under a ledge of rock. These tracks were about 10 feet apart showing the immense stride of this large animal.


The picture below is a footprint with Vibram soles Open-mouthed smile


December 4, 5 and 6, 2001

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Sometimes, it’s really hard to find time to blog. The weather has been horrible so our focus has been on school. I like to get a little ahead when we can.

On Sunday, December 4, we visited a nice church in the area. We enjoyed it so much that we may make the drive back from our next location to visit it again next Sunday. After a long afternoon nap Barry surprised us with tickets to see The Muppets. It was a very cute movie for the girls and a trip down memory lane for Barry and me.

Monday and Tuesday weren’t much different from each other. The park we are currently at has a recreation room just a little ways from our site. It’s warm and we have it all to ourselves. The girls have enjoyed the foosball table and other games during their breaks. It’s really been nice to get out of the camper since it rained very hard Friday through Monday and was very cold and gray today. I’m sure that spending time in the rec room saved our sanity!

This afternoon we took a drive into Glen Rose. It’s an older town with a lot of history. Unfortunately, the town pretty much closes up this time of year except for the weekends. We still enjoyed walking around a bit. This area has a lot of petrified wood that is used for building houses, fountains and other structures. It’s very beautiful and unique.

This area has a lot of dinosaur footprints. It was really neat to see one footprint today that is built into the band shelter in Glen Rose. The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow so we are planning on a ‘dinosaur hunt.’ This is very timely as Eva is earning her Jr. Ranger Paleontology Badge from the National Park Service. 

December 3, 2011

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Today we met with a friend from college and finally got to meet his wife and daughter. His wife and I have become friends on facebook so it was really nice to meet her in person. It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed since college.

We ate lunch and then went to a huge church in the area that had an arts and crafts fair. My two crafty girls got a lot of ideas. I didn’t think I could get into the Christmas spirit this year since we’re not in the north but after tour our friends’ beautifully decorated church, I think I’m getting there. A little snow would probably push me over the edge.

It’s raining…a lot! It’s supposed to rain through Monday. I’m not sure that we know how to camp in nice weather anymore!

December 2, 2011—Another Move

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Today was another moving/school day. The campground we left was so full that RVs were plugged into the registration building. I’m sure there was an RV in that group that was happy to see us pull out.

It was a rainy, foggy day but we were still able to put our screen room up. It’s always so nice to have things organized. When we can’t put the screen room up, we have to store things that don’t ruin under the camper. Everything else is crammed in with us.

Eva and I set up the Christmas tree in the screen room. It will have to come in the camper when we move so I sprayed it very well with bug killer! We will decorate it tomorrow after we buy some lights. Two of the three strands I brought with us no longer work.

Barry and I went to a cook-out tonight at the campsite. We were told that we can have one of the rec rooms to ourselves for school next week. That will be very nice!