A couple of weeks ago we had a most unique dining experience. We went to the Dodging Duck which is probably our favorite place to eat in Boerne - it's kind of a pub with a big front porch and it's across the street from the river that's full of ducks (hence the name). Anyhow, as we were waiting for our food two ladies walked up to the porch leading horses and proceeded to hitch the horses and some feed bags to the porch posts. We met the horses, one's name was Charlie I remember, and the ladies encouraged us to take pictures and such. It was pretty neat, and seemingly uniquely "Texas" to dine with horses.

It got more unique a few minutes later though. You may be guessing what happened, but the waitress brought out my food, Paul says he saw the horse's eyes get really big, and, well, all of a sudden there was Charlie with his great big head between me and my plate, his nostrils quivering. I, trying desperately not to look like a Californian, tried to nonchalantly push my plate out of his reach, but Charlie just kept straining toward the plate with his bashful eyes looking at me as if to say, "please?" He never did eat any food (do horses eat cow anyway?), and his owner came over and flicked him on the nose and said "no" in a firm voice (and instructed me to do the same!) and got him to back off. Charlie went back to his feedbag and Paul and I started to laugh so hard at the absurdity of it all. It was a very memorable evening. Oh, and this is going to sound like the punch line to a really dumb joke probably, but in all seriousness - guess where Paul had said he wanted to go for dinner before we chose The Dodging Duck? Are you ready? This is no joke. THE HUNGRY HORSE! Seriously. I'm really not joking.

I think we moved to Hazzard County.

We went to a parade downtown on Saturday. It was two hours long and mostly consisted of hundreds of Shriner's club men (A cult? They have a prophet and a priest? So weird.) and tons of beauty pageant queens, princesses, and little misses. Above is a girl doing gymnastics on the bed of a moving pick-up truck.

Oh, and here come Charlie and his friend!

We then went from the parade to the county fair. There wasn't anything there to see except some goats. It really was an unimpressive fair. I was hoping for the Hall of Flowers but we're just not in Sonoma County any more. =) There was even only one cow on the grounds and she was just there for a milking demonstration. I'm sure there must be better fairs in Texas, but this one was just lame.

The highlight of the fair was this cute little girl trying to get her floppy-eared goat to stand in the correct position.

They did have horses at the fair, but they seemed destined for the glue factory. Most of them came right up to the gate as we approached them, seemingly desperate for attention. Except apparently one horse couldn't be bothered. (I don't know why but that picture just makes me laugh, it looks so snoody.) They were all very old, very tired looking creatures, but the one whose tongue just hung out of the side of its mouth was the worst. It was both funny and sort of gross and sad.

Our ticket to the fair did include admission to the rodeo later that night which was much, much better than the fair itself. Coming from California we could hardly believe this, but they actually prayed (in the name of Jesus) before the events started! I'm wondering when that kind of stuff will fail to shock me. Anyway, just as the rodeo was starting it began to pour and then as the sun set we saw lots of lightning. The rain continued to come down forcefully for at least half an hour and it made the rodeo so fun and exciting! I tried to take a picture of how huge the puddles were but our camera doesn't capture things well at night. The first time I took a picture the only thing I accidentally left the flash on so the only thing I got was the cowboy hat of the man sitting in front of us, but I thought that was appropriate.

Parking lots at fair grounds typically aren't paved and this one was no exception. And due to the rain this parking lot was a huge vat of muddiness. With each step I took my shoe would get sucked into the mud and be completely submerged and then only my foot would resurface and I'd have to dig around with my toes for the missing flip flop. After a few slow steps (slow both because of the mud and because we were laughing so hard), Paul took a cue from a young cowboy and hitched me onto his back for a ride to the car. Yep, our little Honda Civic with the Apple sticker on the back, looking as out of place amongst the F-350's crowded around it as we probably did amongst the cowboy boot-clad Texans.


These pictures were actually taken a few weeks back. I can't believe how cloudy it looks in these photos because it seems like nearly every day we wake up to the sun blazing brightly at 7AM, its rays already heating us up to 80 degrees. (According to our computer it's a balmy 84 degrees right now and it's nearly midnight. Is that crazy or what?) The day we took those pictures though was a very hot and sweaty day, in spite of the clouds. Which is weird coming from California. If I see clouds or rain I automatically think - bake cookies, curl up on the couch and watch an old movie, read under the covers. But here it tricks me. My brain still associates those things with rain but then I step outside and it's not 60 degrees, but 100 degrees. Not the best kind of day to bake.

As long as I'm already on a little rant about Texas weather peculiarities, it's funny too how our bodies have acclimated to the heat. Take for example the other day - we walked out to the car to head to the grocery store and said to each other, "Wow, it doesn't feel very warm today." Then as we were driving we passed by a bank thermometer that said 93 degrees. Normally it says 98 or 100 so we were right in thinking that it was cooler, but how demented have we become to think 93 degrees is not very warm?? Did I mention that we have no air conditioning in our car?

These pictures were taken in the King William Historic District in downtown San Antonio. The photos pretty much speak for themselves, so I don't really feel that I have anything to add except to point out that in the one vertical picture of Paul he's standing on what we believed to be some sort of step for getting out of your carriage. Neither of us had ever seen that in person before. Also pictured is the checkerboard sidewalk - I don't know if it's original or not (it didn't really look like it) but a few houses had patterned walkways instead of boring pavement between the street and their gate. Pretty nifty.

Oh, and the cat. A random cat came up to us and then proceeded to follow for quite a distance. Remember the cat we saw at Becker Vineyards? Cat karma. Which reminds me that we have been watching a lot of My Name is Earl lately. Carson Daly.


Oh, how we have longed to be back at St. John's Anglican Church! We miss the beautiful historic building (which is no longer theirs now anyway), we miss our friends, we miss Rev. Miller, and we miss having a place where we feel at home on Sunday mornings. St. John's was the first and only church we ever attended in Petaluma, no "church-hopping" required. It was too easy.

It has not been so easy to find a church here in Texas, even if we do now live in the so-called Bible Belt. Prior to today we visited three churches in Boerne: St. Helena's Episcopal Church (too liberal), St. John's Anglican Church (no one under the age of 60), and St. Mark's Presbyterian Church (just not right).

The Sunday that we attended St. Mark's Presbyterian church Paul and I were discouraged - to the point of wondering aloud if we weren't really supposed to move to Texas. It seemed like everything fell into place so naturally when we had moved to Petaluma. Though we realized three weeks of visiting churches is nothing compared to how long some people search, we were eager to become a part of a new church family in the same way that we had been at St. John's in Petaluma.

So that Sunday afternoon we sat down in a cafe and wrote out on the back of an old receipt a list of the things that we were really looking for in a church in order of importance. I'm pretty sure it went something like this:

1. Liturgy - Basically any church where we would actively take part in the service by reading Scripture and praying corporately.

2. Communion - This is really #1 for us, but we didn't think we could place it in the top spot because so few churches in Texas celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday. At St. John's I loved/hated saying the first line of the confession every week that reads, "we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone." For me at least, that means a lot of repenting if it includes my thoughts, words, and deeds, and then, if that weren't enough sins to confess, it goes on to include not only the things that I have done, but the things that I have not done?! I never once got callous toward saying that every week, it always stung a little. But then you feel a great relief from confessing and receive the assurance that your sins are forgiven through Christ's death, and you get to celebrate the feast! It is a great way to start a new week! Perhaps for selfish reasons alone, I don't want to go to a church that relegates this to once a month.
Here's the full confession in context, by the way:
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.
This confession alone seriously almost makes me want to become an Episcopalian, no matter what else they may get wrong.

3. Fellowship - Preferably we would like to find a church with some younger couples/single people/families to befriend, but also older, wiser people too. We're finding in Boerne that it's difficult, and maybe even impossible, to find a church that meets all of the first 3 criteria.

4. Proximity - We used to be able to walk to St. John's and I think the majority of the congregation lived in Petaluma, maybe even the on west-side. =) We would prefer to find a church in Boerne, but know that this should not be the most important factor in deciding upon a church.

That was our list and we set out today with that criteria in mind. (But knowing that no matter what kind of Church service it turned out to be, we were there to worship and glorify God - I hope I don't give the impression that it was like we were out apartment hunting or something. We've been glad to be able to go to church at all every Sunday since we've been here.)

And this is the church we attended today. Well, really this not an actual picture of the place, but it did meet in a school cafeteria. (Quite a stark contrast to the old St. John's building in regard to aesthetics.) Despite its not-so-reverence-inspiring- appearance however, I am soooooo happy to be able to say that it meets criteria #1, #2, and #3 beautifully. It is in San Antonio, meaning a 35-45 minute drive, so it doesn't fit criteria #4. We don't feel like we can complain about the distance too much though as there were people there from Austin (who, by the way, recognized Paul from attending Redwood Chapel in the late 90s/early 2000s - small world).

But most of the elements of the liturgy that we so enjoyed at St. John's were present - we read Scripture responsively, sang the Doxology, confessed our sins corporately and privately, recited the Nicene creed, prayed the Lord's prayer (but not necessarily in that order), and stood up, sat down, stood up, sat down, stood up, sat down. We both found the sermon to be very thought-provoking and challenging too. And, hooray, they celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday! (I like that rhyme.) We even got to eat lunch (melt-in-your-mouth brisket, no less) after church with everyone and the people at our table included a young couple with a 4 month old baby, a single guy who was also there for the first time, a middle-aged mother with 7 kids (who was so nice that even though we had just met, she hugged me when we left - and it didn't seem weird), and a dad in his early 30s - a pretty nice mix to enjoy fellowship with.

We came away feeling like we were finally at home in Texas.


Some day last week we visited a really neat town called Fredericksburg. (As a side note, we spend every day of the week except Sunday not knowing or really caring what day it is. It's strange - like we're old people or something.)

This is a really nice winery just outside of Fredericksburg. Yep, a winery! We moved from wine country to more wine country apparently. By the way, there are trees everywhere in Texas it seems, so it's hard to take panoramic-type pictures. I probably could have moved to get a better shot, but I'm trying to convince Paul that I need a better camera. =) (Hey, he tricked me into buying a Wii because he needed a better video game system...)

A lavender field at the winery.

It might not show up well here, but there were huge ants where we stood to take a picture of the lavender. It was fascinating to watch them, but from a distance as we were wearing flip-flops and have been warned to stay away from ants in Texas.

I told Paul I wanted to take his picture on the porch of the winery and as he was about to pose he noticed a cat sleeping peacefully next to him atop a wine barrel. So we took pictures of the cat instead.

Another building on the winery property. Every building is made out of stone in Texas.

Part of the inside of the winery. We didn't taste any wine because it was morning, but we did purchase an award-winning bottle. (And we're waiting until YOU visit us to open it!)

After visiting the winery we went to a place called Wildseed Farms. It's basically just a nursery but they have flowers and grasses planted too and you can take a walk around the mini-fields.

Fredericksburg not only has wineries, but also a local brewpub.

Paul was pleased. (Not necessarily ecstatic about taking this picture though.)

I was excited by this bread muffin thing that came with my salad. It was half pumpernickel (or is it rye?) and half wheat! We have a new-found love of pumpernickel/rye since moving to Texas because of all the German culture here.

There is a lot more to share but it's now 12:20AM CST. So, goodnight.


I found this sign in a store window near our house in Boerne and I love it. It seems to speak volumes about our new hometown. As does Jim's Beverage Barn, a drive-through liquor store. Er... a beer, wine, soda, water, cigarettes store - Texas has interesting liquor laws. But more on that later. (I'm sure you're dying to know!)

So there's your first peak into our new neighborhood. A more formal update will follow soon. =)


Life here in Texas sure is rough. I don't know if I can handle it, it's so awful. There are rattlesnakes rattling and scorpions stinging and you can barely breathe the air is so heavy. Everyone drives a huge truck, says y'all, and moves sooo slowly. Sike! Well, okay, there are a lot of huge trucks. With bumpers that are made of steel. But hardly anyone has an "accent", people work noticeably fast (almost too fast when they are making your sandwich at Subway - it's just thrown together), it doesn't feel Wisconsin-humid, and we've yet to encounter any poisonous wildlife. However! We did spot a pink Mary Kay Cadillac being driven by a truly stereotypical big-haired southern woman which was sort of surreal. And at a church we visited on Sunday (where, by the way, we were at least 30 years younger than anyone else in the congregation) we did also see a woman who had white hair but thickly penciled brown eyebrows and overall garish make-up taste. I'm sure these two ladies aren't typical of Texas since they stood out, but I kind of wish they were. I'm not sure if Texas has turned out its promise as being "a whole other country."

Here is our small slice of the real Texas though. These pictures show (off) how we spent our morning - lounging in the pool while catching up on some summer reading. We spent two hours out here after working out for an hour at the gym and had the whole pool area to ourselves. I must say that although I would never consider choosing a home based on such amenities, they are a pretty nice perk and something we intend to enjoy while we can.

I promise to put more pictures up soon, but here are a couple of photos of our new home from the outside.

Our car is officially a Texan!


To celebrate the arrival of spring (although I guess technically it has not quite yet arrived), Ava and I planted wheatgrass and some herbs. Amazingly enough, the picture of the wheatgrass was taken only 1 week to the day after we sowed the seeds. The herbs are so slow in comparison with only the basil barely sprouting above the soil's surface. As you can see we also had a lot of fun smudging dirt on our faces and pretending to eat it since we were using spoons as makeshift shovels. I even tricked Ava later by eating an oreo and convincing her that it was dirt. (I'm sweet like that.)

Yep, we're Roman Catholics now. Really we go to an Anglican church which does have an Ash Wednesday service because as our pastor would say, "we look like Catholics and preach like Baptists." (He also likes to say that "he dresses up like mother to play 'father.'") So on Ash Wednesday we looked like Catholics. It turned out to be a really good, humbling service and we're both really glad we attended it, but there was a lot of debate over it beforehand (in our house, not in the church) based on this passage from Jesus' sermon on the mount:
Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:16-18
Unbeknownst to us, Matthew 6 is the gospel reading for the Ash Wednesday liturgy! We understand it better now though. And our pastor just advised us to go home and wash our faces. (But here I am posting pictures for all to see. Our countenances are not sad, so maybe that helps??)

Last weekend we decided to mow through our jungle of a backyard with the knee-high grass as we finally saw a break from the rain. I decided to wear my Wellington boots, and from the looks of the picture it's a good thing I did! Besides the grass clippings, I was trying to guard myself from all of the spiders, beetles, potato bugs, slugs and other creepy things that could have crawled up my pant leg if I had not been wearing those boots. Our lawn doesn't look so hot in the after photo, but it at least looks so much more tame than it did. And, it reminds me that summer is on the way!! I cannot wait for the barbecues. (Paul takes over the making of meals!) =)


It's been two months since the last blog post, and i feel it's high time for another. Unfortunately, I don't have much to write about. I guess it's been a bland two months.

This morning though, as I was organizing our collection of children's literature, I was thinking that I should make a list of the books that I really adore reading to Ava (and to myself!). I am quite lucky to take care of a girl who loves reading as much as I do. We seriously read for an hour to an hour and a half every morning and then again for about an hour as we eat our lunch. I know it may be unique to Ava, but I think it's funny when you take a child development class in college and are taught that a child's attention span is roughly 3-5 minutes per year of age. Ava is four so that would make her maximum attention span 20 minutes. Hogwash. I know that I built up her listening endurance though as the first day she came to my house we read half of a book before she wanted to move onto another activity (although the first thing she asked me the very next day was if we could maybe finish that book we started) and then slowly I just kept adding books until we were reading at least ten in one sitting. I choose the books (so we have a little more variety) and she gets to choose the order in which we read them. I have really come to love reading out loud and I especially enjoy all of the illustrations - we have lots of Caldecott medal books on our shelves. Perhaps if I could go and do it over again I would be a children's libarian (oops, librarian). =)

So, here, in no particular order, are my favorite children's books to pour over again and again:

A Child's Garden of Verses written by Robert Louis Stevenson, ill. by Alice and Martin Provensen
In the Forest written and ill. by Marie Hall Ets
Chanticleer and the Fox adapted from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, ill. by Barbara Cooney
Three Little Kittens written and ill. by Paul Galdone
Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pocks written by Erin Dealey, ill. by Hanako Wakiyama
Blueberries for Sal written and ill. by Robert McCloskey
The Story of Johnny Appleseed retold and ill. by Aliki
The Biggest Bear written and ill. by Lynd Ward
Cinderella translated and ill. by Marcia Brown
Many Moons written by James Thurber, ill. by Louis Slobodkin
Wee Gillis written by Munro Leaf, ill. by Robert Lawson
Doctor DeSoto written and ill. by William Steig
A New Coat for Anna written by Harriet Ziefert, ill. by Anita Lobel
The Story of Ferdinand written by Munro Leaf, ill. by Robert Lawson
Frog Went A-Courtin' retold by John Langstaff, ill. by Feodor Rojankovsky
The Storm Book written by Charlotte Zolotow, ill. by Margaret Bloy Graham
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel written and ill. by Virginia Lee Burton
Ox-Cart Man written by Donald Hall, ill. by Barbara Cooney
Millions of Cats written and ill. by Wanda Gag
Stone Soup written and ill. by Marcia Brown
Bread and Jam for Frances written by Russell Hoban, ill. by Lillian Hoban
Billy and Blaze written and ill. by C.W. Andersen
The Best Loved Doll written by Rebecca Caudill, ill. by Elliott Gilbert
The Story of Babar written and ill. by Jean de Brunhoff
Harry the Dirty Dog written by Gene Zion, ill. by Margaret Bloy Graham
Make Way for Ducklings written and ill. by Robert McCloskey
The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher written and ill. by Beatrix Potter (all of her stories are lovely)
Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea written by Cynthia Rylant, ill. by Arthur Howard (we LOVE all of the Mr. Putter books)
Flicka, Ricka, Dicka Bake a Cake written and ill. by Maj Lindman (again all of the books in the series are great!)
Frog and Toad are Friends written and ill. by Arnold Lobel (we love the whole series plus Owl at Home)

since our computer crashed it's not quite the same yet so this will probably have an odd font and font size. and i don't have any pictures right now. so sad...