Sunday, 18 September 2016

Pedernales Falls State Park

 Now that the temperatures have cooled down, ever so slightly, we decided to take another stab at camping. Our destination this weekend was Pedernales Falls State Park.  Because it has a relatively small campground, the only night we could book was Friday night. I'd been planning on doing all of the camping preparations during the day Friday, including looking up some good geocaches in the park, but at the last minute I got a call to substitute at a nearby elementary school. As it was the first time this year, and the first time ever at that particular school, I decided to give it a go. So, while Young-Hoon was able to get all of the standard preparations done when he got home from a short day at work, we'll have to save the treasure hunting for next time. But we did have some fun anyway, starting with a delicious dinner and some spectacular glow stick shows by the camp fire.

 In the morning we did a little bit of light hiking - just enough to get us down to the river. Turns out it was a pretty low river with lots of rocks, so our kayaks stayed tucked safely in the van. That was ok though, because the kids found plenty to do. In fact, as long as there is dirt, they are happy. I don't know why they don't find the dirt around home this exiting!
 After leaving the park, we continued on to the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch and State Park not far away. It's actually the site of LBJ's childhood home and the "Texas White House" where he conducted many of his presidential meetings. The first stop was a working historic farm. Everything was original from 1918 and the staff there does all of the usual chores on a farm. The woman even let the kids gather some eggs, which they loved! Then we could see a school house, more family homes, his family cemetery, a couple of barns, and the airplane hangar where the Air Force 1 was parked outside of the main home. And we had to drive to these because all of this was spread out over the land that was his. Miles and miles. It is mind-boggling to imagine having that kind of a back yard when I can barely maintain my tiny swatch of land.

Oh, and this was definitely one of our more animal-tastic trips. In addition to seeing deer almost literally every time we turned around, we saw an armadillo, lizards, bison, chickens, longhorn, and a turkey. It's definitely an area we'd like to return to.

Monday, 5 September 2016

And Johan, too...

Today was Johan's turn for a swimming photo shoot. He got a little help today, but overall he's really improved a lot in the last 2 months. From barely being able to take 4 strokes without stopping to going all the way across the pool!


Saturday, 3 September 2016


The kids are still working hard at their swimming. They started the new fall season the same day they started school with new coaches, and Irene's moved up a level to Bronze Advanced. We're looking forward to her first meet next month to see how much time she's shaved off. And as for the boys, it's remarkable (to me) how quickly they have gone from zero swimming skills to being able to swim across the pool and back again. We're also looking forward to seeing how they do in their first meet ever! 

I was worried that they might regret their decision to go from taekwondo to swimming, but so far they haven't looked back.  They almost never even mention taekwondo, but they talk about swimming all the time.  In fact, Oscar's 1 request for the long weekend was to visit the neighborhood swimming pool at least once. Because I guess swim practice 4 days a week isn't enough for him. So today I took Irene and Oscar to our pool (Johan wanted to stay home to help Young-Hoon do some woodworking). Since there were no other people swimming in the pool, I was able to get some shots of them swimming. Above you can see Oscar doing his butterfly, and below is Irene's breaststroke and then the butterfly. SO excited for the 1st meet!!

Here's a video of them swimming freestyle. I'd say Oscar's improved considerably in the last two months!


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

First Day of School!

 Today was the first day of school for the kids: 3rd & 1st grade! I think we all were looking forward to it.  Not only is this the first year that the kids will be returning to the same school as the previous year, but this is the first year that Irene and Oscar will be in separate classes. They will still have the same "specials" (gym, music, art) and the same recess period, so it shouldn't be an issue. After day 1, they are all eager to go back tomorrow, so it must have gone well! I'll admit it, I enjoyed the breather as well.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Nature Channel

I mentioned in a previous post that we got some new neighbors, Henry and Mavis,  in our garden a couple of months ago. Although some told me I was crazy, I was hesitant to shoo them away because I found it fascinating to see such a big spider so close up. It's paid off in many ways! The other day both Irene and I got the opportunity to see Henry catch a bug in his web and roll it up, preparing to eat it. Then the other day after some fairly heavy rains, we went out to check on the garden and found Mavis busily weaving her new web. We've all seen spiders hanging from the ceiling, but I've never seen one building a web. It was especially exciting because she's so big that we could see each movement clearly. The way she used her legs as hands to place the web was particularly interesting to us. 

Saturday, 13 August 2016


Today we attended our 3rd annual back-to-school musical. It's something we discovered by luck the first year we moved here, and have looked forward to each year since. This year it was "The Big Bad Musical," about the wolf being taken to court over his misdeeds. 

 Unlike the previous 2 years, there were actually empty seats this year, which was strange. But that also helped us keep the streak alive - each year they have a drawing at the beginning of the program, and at least one of our kids gets picked. I'd stressed to the kids that the likelyhood of one of them winning again this year was very slim, so don't be disappointed...and then the first name called was Irene. It wasn't as cool a prize as the first year, but it was still exciting for her to win.
 In other news, we've been watching the Olympics almost non-stop since they began a week ago. Of course our favorite is swimming. The kids have been inspired by a number of the swimmers, including Phelps. This week was a break from swim practice, but we've been going to the pool for fun. They've taken to flapping their arms around and splashing themselves with water before each lap. And Johan keeps his game face on while watching the races. I can't wait to see how they use this in their practice on Monday.
 Ok, he doesn't always have his game face on...

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Garden, etc.

We're winding down our summer here in Texas. It's really amazing how quickly it's all gone by considering that we didn't really have any major plans. After our first camping trip of the summer in June, we decided to hold off on any further camping until fall because it's just too hot.  Of course we have swimming every morning for the kids, and often they want to continue swimming at our pool when we get home. There have been a few $1 movies, and some play dates. But the best thing so far was a trip to the waterpark thanks to birthday presents from grandma and grandpa.  We took our time in making use of it, and I'm really glad we did! Their favorite part by far was a rock cliff from which they could jump off a 12 foot platform into a 12 foot deep pool, or do some rock climbing and fall backwards into it. In order to do these things, they had to pass a swim test. If we'd gone earlier in the summer, I doubt Johan could have made the cut, but 2 months of swim team and he was good to go! Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for the fun day!

Another thing that took up a few days is Irene and I worked on sewing her a new dress. While she will no longer wear a dress or skirt on a regular day, she likes to wear them to church. About 5 months ago she picked out some fabric and I had yet to turn it into anything. Irene decided that she wanted to do it instead and I was all for that! It's not finished yet...let's hope it gets done before she goes back to school or maybe it never will be done. 
 And I've been a little lax in my garden care recently as well. My cucumber plants, once so abundant, turned bitter and dry, so I finally got around to ripping them out. After producing 2 zucchini, my huge zucchini plant abruptly died. We got one melon from our watermelon plants, but there are a more growing. The okra (our most abundant crop) is finally starting to slow. And our korean melon plant is finally starting to produce big fruit. The pumpkin and kabocha plants I planted last month (pictured above) seem to be doing great, and I'm looking forward to September when I can start filling in some spaces with a new round of crops like more tomato plants for fall, carrots (Johan's request), and a few other crops.  Below is one of our garden pets, Mavis. She's been hanging out in the corner of our garden with her even bigger friend, Henry for well over a month. Seeing no reason to kick them out, we've watched them grow. I have to admit though, if I see either one of them in the house, it's lights out for them!