Thursday, August 28, 2008


The perfect ecosystem! Mosquito larvae, tadpoles, snails, minnows, and algae.

On a hunch, we decided to take our nets and walk to the creek by our house. We had hoped to find some Crawfish and baby turtles like last time...
Instead, we were astounded to find THOUSANDS of tadpoles! JACKPOT!


He managed to pee on Pamela's foot!

This morning we turned our backyard into a lab. Pamela found a toad inside one of my vacant planters -- it was full of rain water. We got excited when we saw tadpoles swimming around.

Click to zoom - larvae we had collected.

Upon further inspection, we were disappointed when we realized those swimming little things were MOSQUITO LARVAE. After collecting the specimen's and transferring them to a jar, we started to get excited. We were able to spot several larvae in numerous stages of development.

I guess we had interrupted the Toad's LUNCH.

Here's some interesting facts:

ONLY a female mosquito bites. She lands on your skin, sticks her proboscis into you, and then sucks your blood into her abdomen. Her saliva contains proteins that prevent your blood from clotting and leave behind an itchy bump (that's always nice to know.)

Mosquitoes rely on sugar as their main source of energy. Both male and female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, fruit juices and liquids that ooze from plants. The sugar is burned as fuel for flight and is replenished on a daily basis.

SO, the next time you're stung, be aware that your blood is being used for EGG PRODUCTION.

If you're planning to visit any Texas State Parks --- make a point of going inside the office. Some of these parks offer really cool educational books! (Not to mention, free Texas road maps!)

At Brazo's Bend State park, we picked up a couple of books on identifying native insects, and Texas fishes. These books were a BARGAIN at $2.99 a book! On hindsight, I wish I had picked up a couple extra books for some friends and family. Some parks also offer free worksheets for kids and coloring books. If you're a homeschooler in Texas, a Texas State Park pass is a great way to take advantage of FIELD TRIPS.

Mini video clips of mosquito larvae hatching -

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BAD Squirrel!

Well, we've been blaming it on the Robin's...

But this morning we caught him in the act!

On the upper left corner of this picture you can see who's been munching on our veggies!

I've been scratching my head over the missing flower blooms, cucumbers, and baby tomatoes...
Thank goodness he doesn't like hot peppers and Bell peppers! We've been finding ACORNS in our yard. We don't have an acorn tree.

It brought to mind some things I've been reading on the web --- LARGE amounts of acorns, nuts, etc., is a sign of a SEVERE WINTER to come.

The Farmer's Almanac predicts a ROUGH WINTER this year...

I'm going to HOPE for a GOLDILOCKS winter...

This summer it was too hot, and I hope this winter isn't too cold!

Friday, August 22, 2008


This morning I woke up to this gorgeous sky and thought about my shoes.

Last year, I woke up frantic! My family was flying to Vegas in the morning and Pamela and I were sick! The doctor's office agreed to squeeze us in -- if we could be there in 20 min.

Quickly changing our clothes, we dashed out the door and rushed to the office. We glumly pulled into the parking lot. Ooooh what poor timing ---- it's too late to reschedule our flights!

With a heavy heart I glanced down as we walked towards the door. My eye's widened as I noticed my feet.

"Oh NO!" I gushed.

"What is it?!" Pamela replied.

"My SHOES!" I covered my mouth. "They don't match!"

We both stopped and stared at my shoes.

For a moment I considered turning around and heading back home. We can squeeze you in if you can be here in 20 minutes - the nurse's voice echoed.

Pamela laughed. It was the first time I saw a spark in her eyes since we both became sick.

I shrugged. "Maybe nobody will notice?"

Pamela giggled.

We walked into the doctor's office with our SECRET.

I stood at the nurse's window and signed my name. Pamela hid her smile and took a seat nearby. I looked around the waiting room and counted two other ladies -- both engrossed in magazines. I sat down and tucked my feet under my chair. Pamela's eyes danced and she tugged at my arm.

A nurse appeared at the door and called our name. She checked our weight and marked something into her files. Was she looking at my feet?

We were pointed to a room to wait for the doctor. Pamela sat on the examining table and I grabbed a chair.

I tucked my feet under my chair.

We both giggled.

The doctor arrived. She asked us questions and tested us for strep. She momentarily left the office.

Pamela and I shared a smile.

The doctor reappeared and reassured us to go ahead and make that trip! We followed her out of the office.

We headed for the car with a bounce to our step.

That day my shoes were PERFECT!

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, August 16, 2008

ROAD TRIP - Palmetto State Park

We left this morning for Palemetto State park and stopped along the way. We actually missed our turn while in Luling Texas, and happened upon the 1800 Zedler Mill and Gin.

The San Marcos river runs through and as always -- BREATHTAKINGLY blue. Due to underground springs, the water's always crystal clear.

Our map said that Palmetto state park is located in Gonzales Texas, but we passed through Ottine. Upon investigation, we discovered that Ottine is a small ghost town. Ottine is known for the infamous swamp monster that's been roaming/reported in the area for more than 300 years. I wanted to ask the park ranger about that, but we had a crowd in her office and her phone kept ringing. There was a sign in the office about this creature. I don't know if I believe in such a thing, but I WILL say that my family being stalked by SOMETHING at Guadalupe State Park, takes away SOME of my skepticism. (Click my Texas Park's link and scroll down to bottom for story.)

Palmetto is a swampy tropical oasis, brimming with wildlife. We spotted wild turkey, and lots of animal tracks. We forgot to look, but the area has mud boils.

Pamela caught her cat.

Since we were near the town Gonzales, we decided to visit THEIR pioneer farms.

We got to grind some cornmeal.

Wooden pitchfork.

We thought it would be a shame to pass through the BBQ Capital of Texas (Lockhart) without eating barbecue, so we decided to eat at the historic -- Blacks Barbecue.

Wow! I must say, their briskett was juicy and melted like butter. Some of the best I ever had!

Kent, (the 3rd generation) owner of the Blacks barbecue stopped by to warmly say hello. I asked him if it was true that the OTHER BBQ joints in town were relatives and he said, NO. (The Internet said that Black's descendants had opened up their own barbecue businesses.)
While in Lockhart, we decided to check out the state park there as well.
Nice park, but small. It has camping, fishing, swimming pool and golf course. While walking the creek trail I got excited when I spotted an egg in the bushes. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a golf ball! Figures!
Well, I'm tired. It's been a busy busy week. I've had enough of mosquitoes, 100+ temps, stinging horseflies, and sweat. I can't believe it, but I'm actually looking forward to WINTER. We're already looking at our roadmaps and trying to decide where we'll camp next --- hopefully in October. September, we have a wedding, and a whirlwind of activities. Till then!