Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mesquite Rodeo

Grandma and Grandpa Brown are always ready for sharing adventures with the kids.  This time we made a trip to the Mesquite Rodeo.  It was fun, despite Lindi wanting to have free reign of the bleachers.  My favorite part was watching the only legal form of child abuse in Texas (putting your kid on top of a sheep and letting it run free)!  The announcers made the whole night enjoyable with their wise cracks and jokes.  I loved it!

Something I want my kids to always remember is how much their Grandma loves horses.  She shared the following with us:

In high school, my uncle LN Johnson gave me my first horse, Cannonball. To have a horse of my own was a dream I had from the time I knew what a horse was. Cannonball was a reject because he was too slow and none of LN's kids wanted him. He was just an ugly plow horse. What they didn't know was that he had a specific skill set. With that skill set, we rose to the top of the high school rodeo world and my senior year, we won the regional championship and later that same year won the district 4-H championship and advanced to the state championship. Not too bad for a girl that had to borrow a saddle and rent a horse trailer. We competed against girls that had very expensive trailers with their names painted across them and their saddles and bridles and clothes were beautiful. Their trailers were pulled by color coordinated pickups. We would drive up with a very humble, ugly trailer pulled by a paneled van. We were an eye-sore but we could compete and win against all those fancy high dollar horses. It was a miracle.

I love that.  I love it because she was passionate about it and she was good, but she was forced to be humble.  I want my kids to always strive to be the best, even if they aren't the fanciest or the richest.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dallas Arboretum

One of our August activities was to take advantage of the Dallas Arboretum "Dollar Days."  In other words, we fell for the "It's so hot we know people won't come for $15 or even for $2 so come for $1!"

It was ridiculously hot, but we had a great time and there were plenty of places to cool off.

We started off by doing a science experiment.  We used a refractometer to measure the amount of sugar in three different flowers.  Based on our results and our knowledge of bees, we selected which flower a bee was most likely to visit.  It was simple, but fun.  We got to use real life science equipment and a scientist was there to lead us all along the way.

They had a fun water area where you could get wet and learn about turbines, water wheels, etc.

The Children's Garden was huge and we probably only saw half of it before we left to see "Planes 2" so we'll have to go again another day.  We also really enjoyed the other areas of the Arboretum.  My favorite were the decorative peppers.

Lindi got all tuckered out.  Hooray for our hiking backpack.  Best Christmas gift EVER.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mini Golf

One of Hyrum's summer reading prizes was a free round of mini golf.  It was the first time he had ever been and he sure had fun.  It took him a while to finally understand how to hold the club.  Even then, he thought dragging the ball was a much more successful way of getting the ball in the hole.  It was fun to watch him enjoy himself and enjoy a beautiful evening out.  I got a few hole-in-ones, including the final hole, so I was pleased.  Lindi rode along happily for a while, but discovered that running around the course was so much better.  She kept us busy.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Initial Homeschooling Thoughts

If you had asked me a month ago if I would ever homeschool my kids, my answer would have been "Heck no!"

So why the sudden and complete change of heart?  Why am I suddenly addicted to learning about innovative approaches to education, homeschooling, unschooling, creativity, and how my family is going to be different?

It's interesting to look back and see how the Lord prepared me for this.  Husband and I have had the conversation in the past, but "No" has always been the answer for one reason or the other.  I shared my story recently about deciding to pass on an active nursing career in order to focus my time and effort on my family.  Now I can see how that decision was a small piece that needed to be in place before homeschooling could be an option.

Tony and I had been reading "The Turning" by Richard and Linda Eyre.  (If you believe in the importance of family, or if you want to be convinced, read it!) It lead to a conversation about family culture and how right now, with two little ones, we control 100% of our family culture.  But, in a couple of years, Hyrum will head out the door and he will bring back ideas, values, etc. (for good or bad) that will influence that family culture.  One option?  Homeschool.  For the first time, I wasn't immediately turned off.  Husband, who is obsessed with innovative disruption and who has been talking for years about how public education needs to be disrupted, sent me an article about innovative approaches to education, many of which were trying to bring back the one-room schoolhouse.  From one article to another, this website to that, I was hooked.

Not only was I hooked, but I was convinced.  Convinced that I could provide much more for my children, by way of education, than any public school ever could (at least until some major disruption occurs).

Soon we were formulating our own education philosophy.  What do we want education to provide for our kids?  What does that kind of education look like?

We haven't been able to articulate it succinctly and clearly yet, but here are a few things we know...

Children are inherently creative and creativity is key to success.  Public schools, as they now stand, kill creativity.  It's not teachers or administrators that are to blame, but the system and what it has become.  If you want to see what I mean, watch the following videos:

How Schools Kill Creativity by Ken Robinson

Changing Education Paradigms by Ken Robinson

In our home, creativity will be developed and championed.  Creativity is squashed when failing is looked upon as a negative thing.  Kids stop trying to create their own solutions when those solutions don't work and they are looked down upon because of that.  In our home, we will encourage failing as a path to excellence.  Try, try, and try again.  Learn along the way.  Become a critical thinker and never, never believe anyone who says "You can't."

Hand in hand, our education will be innovative.  We will go against what is normal and accepted because what is normal and accepted does not always work.  Who said that English and Math and Physics and History all had to be separate subjects?  We don't believe they should be.  Our schooling will focus on project-based learning, where kids will learn how math and science and history are intertwined in one common experiment and then will use their English knowledge to present what they have learned.

Our homeschool will be fun and challenging because it will be customized to each individual child.  They will be able to work at their own pace, study things that interest them, be exposed to hands on activities that will allow them to learn skills and develop ideas regarding a variety of topics.  If they think chickens are the best things since eggs, boy howdy, you better believe we'll be building a chicken coop before long.  I want happy kids who love learning.  Watch the following video to see that in action:

Hacking School by Logan LaPlante

And for the big question you all want answered.  What about socialization?  Husband's first response is, "Who said sticking a 13 year old in the same place as hundreds of other 13 year olds was the best way to socialize?"  The home is a great place to learn social skills, and a safe place at that.  Plus, there will be city sport leagues, music lessons and groups, church activities, homeschool co-ops.  I promise that our kids will not suffer socially because we won't let them.  We will provide them with ample opportunity to build relationships.

So, are you as excited as we are?  Are you ready to jump on the boat?  You don't have to be.  I just wanted to share our excitement.  Please, send me your thoughts and ideas and concerns.  We're ready to start our new adventure!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Pillows and Laundry Baskets

I was sick and tired of my sleeping  pillows being shanghaied to become play pillows.  So, some fleece was acquired, some sewing was done, and the kids had pillows of their own.  It wasn't long until a laundry basket was added to the collection.  Those six pillows and laundry basket have been played with more than any other single item in our entire house over the last two months.

What "toys" do your kids love?

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Lindi Beth is a walker.  She's independent and adorable and her personality is blossoming.  She loves her brother with all her heart, except for when he tries to make her do something she doesn't want to do.

If brother is asleep, she sits on his bed or pokes him in the eye until he wakes up to play.  Her brother doesn't appreciate it, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do.

She has a new-found love for spaghetti and all it's messy glory.  She's also had a few episodes of high chair sleeping lately.

We love our Lind.  She keeps us busy.  She keeps us smiling.  Her hair finally stays in ponytails. Woohoo!  She's a happy little body and I think we'll keep her.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


We had planned to go kayaking on the Fourth of July since everyone would be off of work.  With lingering food poisoning, Husband missed out, which was a bummer.  However, we still had a lot of fun.

Hyrum went for a ride with Mom and Grandpa.  At first he wasn't so sure about being on top of the water like that, but it was an adventure.  He still shouts out "There's our dirty lake we went to!" whenever we drive by.

I did a lot of kayaking that day while Grandma and Grandpa rotated.  I was tired, but I had a grand time.  I'd go back to play any day.

Little Miss Lindi just sat on her little camp chair and ate snacks and watched the goings-on around her. She wasn't one bit interested in going in the mucky water.  Such a girl. ;)

Since Husband missed out, a few weeks later we wrangled Grandma into watching the kids so we could go for an adventure of our own.  Pardon the photo through the plastic baggie, but we're cool like that.  It was so good to get out, just the two of us.  I'm glad I found a man who loves adventures as much as me.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fourth of July: Part One

With the Fourth of July breakfast on the horizon, Hyrum needed a bike to ride for the parade.  He was so excited!  We took it across the street to an empty parking lot and let him have a go.  He did great.  

We did a few sparklers with Grandma and Grandpa the night before.  Dad missed out because he got food poisoning.  Darn it.  He toughed it out and went to the Fourth of July breakfast with us, but that about wiped him out for the day.

(Another shout out to our awesome library, where the kids made these really fun hats!)

So, aside from bikes and sparklers and donuts, we are so glad to live in a land that is free.  I think we probably take it for granted some, but oh how wonderful it is!  What a blessing it is to worship our God as we wish.  I'm so grateful that I can teach my kids the principles of faith, family, and service.  God bless America!