Big Bend, Pt. 1

We made a speedy trip to Big Bend National Park a few weeks back. This was another national park that I had wanted to visit for a very long time. We have a few friends who love this park, so I was very curious. It is indeed an amazing park. It is so, so, so big and so, so dry. I enjoyed the visit to the opposite type of place from where I live.

We took so many pictures, that I will have to split the post up into a few parts, so that I can share all of my favorite ones!

The first night that we were there, we stayed in campground called Cottonwood Campground. It was quite a nice spot for birding. It was very close to the Rio Grande River, plus there was a stream or spring or some water source that kept the campground green and it has quite a few trees. Here are a couple of shots of the Vermillion Flycatcher that lived in the campground.

Vermillion Flycatcher

Vermillion Flycatcher

In that campground, we also saw Cardinals, Pyrrhuloxia, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and some other more common birds.

One of the fun things we did that evening was to drive down to the Rio Grande. I was a little disappointed. It was my first time to see the river with such a big name. To me, it seemed like just a little more than a stream. But we had fun throwing rocks across the river and knowing that we were throwing rocks into a different country–Mexico.

Then we drove up the road and climbed around on hills made of volcanic ash, while my husband had fun playing with his camera. Here are a bunch of pictures that he took from this spot.

The above picture is of an Ocotillo bush. Someday, maybe I will get to see one with flowers on it. We saw hints of buds on a few of the Octotillos. The picture below is one that my husband and father-in-law spent a lot of time working on. It is of my father-in-law’s van driving down the curvy road at dusk, while my husband had a very long exposure on his camera. You never knew that a van could give you the race-car impression before, did you?

Car Lights in Big Bend

After we returned to our tents from this excursion, we were greeted by Javelinas. We were all excited to meet Javelinas, as long as they didn’t mess with any of our stuff. Well, one of them chewed the zippers off of one of our large duffels. Oh, well. This was a new animal for all of us. It was dark when we met them, so we don’t have any pictures to prove our story, but a few of my kids added pictures of Javelinas to their Junior Ranger Booklets. Here is one of Zippy’s drawings of the Javelina. It is the pig-like animal on the left.

Javelina and Road Runner Drawing in Big Bend Junior Ranger Booklet

Boys Can Do Handicrafts Too

Who says that girls’ projects are only for girls to do and vice versa? JD Boy has taken an interest in several of the handicraft type projects that Zippy and I have been doing together. He’s tried his hand at knitting and crochet. He knitted this scarf that he is wearing in this picture. He was quite proud of it.

JD Boy's (age 9) Scarf that he Knitted

He especially took a fancy to this embroidery machine that I got. Maybe it was the machine part that was interesting to him, since he’s a boy, I don’t know; but he had fun making this present for his grandparents.

JD Boy's (age 9) First Punch Embroidery

If you’re curious about the machine, here is the link to the Easy Punch Machine.

p.s. Sometime I will post about my daughter learning about small machine repair. I thought that was a good thing for girls to learn. Like I said, who said only boys can do boys’s things and vice versa.

Geography Notebook

Sometime ago, we started making a Geography Notebook. We started out by learning a few of the basic geography terms and locations–such as, North, South, Tropic of Cancer, hemisphere, etc. The main book we used was one that we checked out from the library called, Geography From A to Z: A Picture Glossary. This is a fun and easy book to learn basic geography terms from, partly because the illustrations are so nice. We also checked out and read the book, Maps and Globes by Jack Knowlton. This also has nice illustrations and simple text to help us understand how to read maps and globes. We enjoyed this book too, but the first one was more of a favorite.

All three of my older children joined in this endeavor, even the preschooler. Here are some pictures of the covers. Each one has at least one picture of Earth and then they each have a compass rose fold-up book. I can’t remember the name of this fold for my lapbook buddies, sorry. We just folded each of the four corners into the middle.

Front Page of Geography Notebooks

When you open up the compass books there is a map inside. Here is a picture of JD Boy’s hand-draw map of our culdesac.

Map of Culdesac

We also have some pages on Latitude and Longitude. All of the Latitude pages are available at my Homeschool Launch profile. Here is the link to these Latitude Notebook Pages.


I made this layered book of the important latitude divisions with G’tums, my preschooler. Each division is it’s own layer. This one is also available at Homeschool Launch. Here is the link.

Layered Latitude Book

Zippy designed her own Longitude/Prime Meridian page. But I designed JD Boy’s and it also can be downloaded from my Homeschool Launch profile. Here is the link to that file.

Prime Meridian/Longitude Pages

We also worked through this glossary of geography terms. This page is from the Homeschool in the Woods World Maps CD.

Geography Vocabulary

Now that we have all these terms learned, we are working on learning about places. We are having even more fun with this part. We have been reading some interesting stories and biographies about different countries, but I will save that for another post…or several.

The Purpose of the Christian Family

The Father and Jesus were discussing the future. They wished to help everyone to understand a little better. They wanted everyone to understand Their character, Their character of love. They came up with a plan. They would create an example that could perpetuate love forever. They would call this model “the family”. This family would multiply and thus love would multiply. This family would live forever and so would their love. The universe could see that love has no limits, that it can grow indefinitely. Even the angels could look in and get a better glimpse of the happiness that love brings.


This is why God created the human family. Sadly, humans set a different course and introduced hate into our families and then everything changed. Rather than the universe getting to observe God’s character through the families of earth, they had the chance to observe Satan’s character and the results of sin. The good news is, however, that the true Christian family can still demonstrate to the universe what God’s love is like. We can still fill the role that was originally set out for us. In fact, there is not a better witness that can be given for Christianity than the truly Christian home.

Nature study with Daddy

“A well-ordered Christian household is a powerful argument in favor of the reality of the Christian religion–an argument that the infidel cannot gainsay. All can see that there is an influence at work in the family that affects the children, and that the God of Abraham is with them. If the homes of professed Christians had a right religious mold, they would exert a mighty influence for good. They would indeed be the ‘light of the world.’” Adventist Home, p. 36

“One well-ordered, well-disciplined family tells more in behalf of Christianity than all the sermons that can be preached.” Ibid., p. 32

Young Happy Cooks

“The mission of the home extends beyond its own members. The Christian home is to be an object lesson, illustrating the excellence of the true principles of life.” Ibid., p. 31

“The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences.” Ibid., p. 15

Mommy and two kids

I believe that the purpose of the family is an important concept to keep in mind. We need to remember that our family as a unit is a teacher. The pupils are the world, the universe, even the angels. If we were to take a student evaluation today, what would it look like?

This is a post that I wrote for the Adventist Home Educator Blog, February, 2011.