Thursday, May 11, 2017

2017 THSC Convention in Arlington - Day 1 Highlights

Today was the first day of the Texas Home School Coalition convention in Arlington, Texas.  

There was a leader conference earlier in the day as well as some workshops talking specifically to new homeschoolers plus the vendor exhibit area was open for shopping.  General admissions is free on Thursday night for shopping and general workshops so it is a great time to check it out.  

I only attended the two evening workshops.  First, I heard Kathy Koch talk about "Cultivating a Christian 'Willing Good Behavior' ".

Here are some highlights from Dr. Kathy's presentation:

We have to teach and disciple our children in what it means to have character, not just tell them what to do.

Good character means
1. They know what to do
2. They want to do it
3. They are willing to do it
4. …even when the burden is heavy and no one is looking

If they are obedient just to win a prize or avoid punishment then they will only be obedient when  you are present.

In order to raise children with good character, the home should have

1. God-centeredness, not just God-knowledge - The Bible is our life letter, our love letter – not just another homeschool textbook.
2. Consistent JoyConsistent joy is based on ones character, heart, and beliefs, not circumstances.  Relies on a personal relationship with Christ for if you don’t have the One in your heart who gives joy then you can’t wake up each day feeling joy.  We need to trust in God.  We need to believe that His best really is the best for us.  God is the author of my life and I will trust him amidst any circumstance.
3. Consistent Gratitude - Based on personal relationship with Jesus Christ – grateful for His sacrifice.  Grateful that God made you in His likeness.  The word thankfulness comes from an old Saxon word which means thinkfulness.  Thankfulness should be stimulated by the things we are thinking about.  God is enough.  We have to discern between wants and needs.
4. Self-Efficacy - Children have to believe they can make a difference.  Our children need to know that who they are is who they are supposed to be for the glory of God.  They need to know that they are change agents.  

Next, I attended Todd Wilson's workshop "This We Believe".  Todd is a homeschool dad to 8 children.  He is a great speaker and a funny guy.  His talk gave me goosebumps one time and tears another, with a lot of laughter in between.

Here are a few highlights from his workshop:

When we think about homeschooling, it is not just the “how to” but the “why to”.  We need to remember the reason we do this and the joy in the journey.

1. Home is the best place for my kids.  Learning takes place 365 days a year.  It's more than just 180 days of "school work".  Those are not the important things.  You won’t see an adult in tears because that they don’t know the Pythagorean Theorem.  It just doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things.

2. Parents are the best teachers of their children.  You may not be the smartest but YOU are the best teacher for YOUR children.  God gave your children exactly the mother they need.  Most moms don’t believe this.  They don’t feel adequate.  They worry about skipping days and not getting as much done or doing too much and taking the fun out of learning.  Even those qualities are perfect for your child.  You are exactly the kind of mother God thinks they need.  You know what’s best for them.  You lie away at night thinking of your child.  There is no better educator for your child.  

3. Every child is a masterpiece – "Experts" disagree.  They say there needs to be standards then we’ll measure everyone against those standards and give them a letter grade of A,B,C,D, or F.  Those are powerful letters but they really don’t mean anything.  They aren’t an accurate measure of anything.  Don’t keep grades. If you have to, at least don’t show them to your children.  Grades aren’t really about the kid but a measure of how well the teacher did.  You should feel good no matter how they did.  Each child is a masterpiece – a piece made by the Master.

Todd's book – Lies Homeschool Moms Believe (I need to buy this!)

Children will become exactly what God created them to be regardless of what you do (and in spite of you).  It isn’t because you are a great teacher or use an awesome curriculum.

4. Relationship first.  We let homeschooling get in the way of relationships.  We plow through the day with kids crying and carnage everywhere but we got that school work done!  We’ve been hijacked and told that what matters is the subject but what really matters is the child who happens to be doing the subject.

Mary and Martha – Jesus said what Mary has chosen to do will not be taken away from her.  Mary chose relationship, to be still and listen.  What does your homeschool day look like?  Maybe we need more time sitting and listening to our children and less time accomplishing.

I can't wait for more great speakers tomorrow and especially the mom's night event, Encouragement by Chocolate hosted by the Trim Healthy Mama team of Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett!

About the THSC Convention:  The convention takes place at the Arlington Convention Center, from Thursday, May 11 - Saturday, May 13.  If you did not pre-register with an early bird discount, general admission is $50 and that gets you and a spouse (or grandparent) into everything for all three days - vendor shopping AND the workshops.  If you want to come just to shop then you can get a Shopping Only pass for $15.  Of course, admission is free for THSC primary member adults.  For more information about the convention, please check out the website.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Getting Ready for her Dance Recital

Rachel has loved taking a jazz class at Footlights this year.   She took ballet and tap lessons a couple of years ago at a different dance studio but she didn't seem to really get into it.  This is her first year at Footlights and she loves it.  Her teacher is amazing and fun.

They are gearing up for their big end of the year recital and I caught some videos of them practicing in class.  I can't wait for the actual performance! She's pretty excited too because she loves their pink costume!

Here is a quick video of a dance leap she did.  She loves doing those!

The girls were able to get professional pictures taken in their costumes.  I snapped this cute picture of her while she was waiting for her turn.

I took a few pictures while Rachel was posing for the photographer.  She loved feeling like a model!

Way to go, Rachel!  I can't wait to see it all come together at the recital!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Kid Fish

Our town hosts an annual event called KidFish to encourage parents to take their kids fishing.  The town stocked the pond with 500 pounds of catfish!  They provide rods, reels, and bait if kids don't have them and all kids ages 16 and under and encouraged to come out and fish for free.  There are even prizes for the longest fish in different categories.  Our family loves fishing and we all have our own gear so we were happy to participate in the event.

Rachel even has her own pink and purple tackle box which Stuart helped her stock with all the supplies she might need.
The kids were excited to watch this mama duck and her little babies swim right in front of them.

Nicholas caught a fish rather quickly.

I think it is called a Green Sunfish.

Nicholas found a spot with some nice cover.

He changed bait but didn't catch anything but some weeds.

Rachel wasn't too concerned with catching anything.  She just kicked off her shoes and relaxed.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Nuggets - Our First Baby Chick

We buy fresh eggs every week from one of Stuart's co-workers who has backyard chickens.  Her husband homeschools their children so they appreciate hands-on learning opportunities and she also knows we have been at least a little interested in having our own backyard chickens.  So now that she is ready to get a few more chickens, she asked us if we would like to watch them hatch.  She said we can give them back or even keep them if we decide we want to.

She gave us 32 eggs and let us borrow her incubator and rocker.  The incubator keeps the eggs at 99.5 degrees.   The trays in the bottom hold water to keep humidity in the air. The rocker very gently rocks the eggs and slowly turns them.  The eggs stay in the rocker for 18 days then we will remove it and allow the chicks to position themselves property for hatching. 

The eggs started hatching on the morning of day 21, just as expected.  We woke up to this fun sight!!

A little while later, the chick had completed hatched out of his egg but he didn't look much like a chick.  He was very wet and very small.  He was also very chirpy!

We left him in the incubator until he dried out and his feathers fluffed up.  By the end of the day we were able to take him out and hold him for a little while.  He still needed to be kept warm so we only took him out for a little while at a time then we put him back in the incubator for a while. 

Nicholas made a play area for him in a cardboard box!

Here's a video of him checking out his home.  Listen to the cute chirps!

Newly hatched chicks don't need food right away because they fill their bellies with their egg's yolk right before they hatch. They can go a day or two before they need food. Stuart was able to bring home some baby chick medicated food crumbles so we were able to get some food to him by the end of the day. Here's a video of him trying out his crumbles...and then walking through it.

The kids just love holding and talking to our baby chick.

I finally had a chance to hold this little fluff ball myself.  He is so little and cute!

I can't believe this is the same chick that came out of his egg earlier today looking so wet and scrawny!

Stuart decided that this baby chick would be named Nuggets.  When the next chicks are born they will be named Rotisserie and BBQ.  Ha ha!

Stuart is so gentle with little Nuggets. I think he likes him :)

I think Nuggets likes him too because he fell asleep in his warm hands.  Or perhaps he was just worn out from all the attention he got today!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Family Fun at Lone Star Park {Grand Prairie, TX}

I was invited to a media party at Lone Star Park for their Opening Night and anniversary party to celebrate their 20th season of horse racing.  I had never been to Lone Star Park before so I was excited to check it out and learn about something new - how to "play the ponies".

Since gambling takes place at Lone Star Park I was a little surprised that the invitation said that my whole family was welcome to attend.  I wasn't sure my kids would enjoy it but Rachel got all dressed up for the event and both kids were in awe of the whole concept of Valet Parking.

The gates open at 4:30 but the first race wasn't scheduled to post until about 6:30.  We arrived around 6:00 just in time to watch some of the opening ceremonies and get a feel for the land. 

The media party was in the Hall of Fame suite on the 7th floor.  The view of the races was just amazing and we were right on the finish line!

In case you want to see the action a little more close up, there are big screens to watch the race in a little more detail.

The race winners and final odds were posted on the board at the end of each race.

We all enjoyed watching the horses and trying to guess who would win.  We were not gambling at this point.  We still had to figure out how all of that worked.

Rodney works at Lone Star Park and he did a great job of explaining how the betting works.  There is a whole lot more to it than I expected but you really can keep it super simple if you want to.  We chose horses by their cool names like Rise to Greatness.  Betting on a Win is simply a bet that the horse will win first place.  Easy peasy.

There are lots of other ways to be though like Place, Show, Across the Board, Daily Double, and Exacta.  Each horse only races once and you can look up information about them in the race program.

You can place a bet for as little as $2.00.  Although minors can not place bets, they sure can have some fun by helping Mommy pick a horse to bet on.  My kids had a great time.

We made our way down to the ground level to watch the last few races from there.

It was great seeing the horses right in front of us as they crossed the finish line!

Once the races were complete, we headed over to the paddocks to watch the horses come in, have their saddles removed, and get a bite to eat.

Lone Star Park is a fun, family friendly outing.  General admission is only $5.00 and you don't have to bet a thing to still have a good time.

About Lone Star Park:  Lone Star Park is located at 1000 Lone Star Parkway in Grand Prairie, Texas. All ages are welcome but you must be 21 or older to place a wager.   Advance reservations for reserved seating and dining may be made by calling (972) 263-PONY or 1-800-795-RACE.  
Kentucky Derby Day – Saturday, May 6 
Preakness Stakes Day – Saturday, May 20 
Memorial Day Monday – Monday, May 29
Belmont Stakes Day – Saturday, June 10
Lone Stars & Stripes Fireworks Celebration – Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4 
Breeders’ Cup Day – Saturday, November 4
For more information, please check out the Lone Star Park website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Ultimate Nerf War Birthday Party

Nicholas wanted another Nerf War for his 13th birthday party.  He did this for his last birthday party and so we already had the perfect spot at a local park to hold the battles.  It was a really easy party because there isn't much planning to do.  He invited his friends and we stocked up on Nerf darts.

We also charged up all of handheld radios we have.  We set them on walkie talkie channels and let the boys use them to talk to team mates as they run around in the woods during the Nerf War.  Stuart also keeps one on him so he can hear both teams' communications and know if anyone gets hurt and needs help.

We dumped all of the darts in a bucket and set it out on the table at the park.

The boys brought their own Nerf guns and loaded up on darts.  The darts are off-brand and we get them for a great price on Amazon.  It's just easier than having the boys try to keep up with their own darts and worrying about losing them.  We just buy a bunch and expect to loose a few along the way.

The boys lined up to hear the safety talk from Stuart.  Buddy system, boundary of play, how to use the radios, etc.  Then they got put into two teams.

The boys run out into the woods and try to hide so they can ambush the other team with a spray of Nerf darts.

There is a lot of excitement!  The boys are hiding or looking around or running the whole time.

Did I mention that there is a lot of running? 

Stuart and I just hung around in case we were needed but it was so fun to hear some boys shout things like, "We've been seen!  We must move out NOW!"

Some team mates would call to others on their team over the radios and ask for backup.  Their team mates came running!

Meanwhile, these sweet girls were hanging out quietly decorating the sidewalk with chalk.

The teams took a break and then regrouped for a different kind of game out in the field.  They played Capture the Flag and some kind of Zombie Infection game.

There was lots of laughter as boys ran around shooting at each other.  I think they all had a blast!

They stopped for a while to rest.  They had cupcakes and edible nerf darts.  Nicholas opened his birthday presents from his friends.

Time for another game out in the woods.  I love how this friend is loaded up with four Nerf guns!  He is prepared for anything.

I captured an awesome ambush in pictures.  One team is approaching a mound.  They are a little cautious because they know it is a good hiding place.  Did they just see someone back there??

Suddenly heads start popping up from behind the mound and start shooting at them!

Now more boys come out and they all start running after the approaching team! 

Everybody is running now!  Aaahhhhhh!!!!!!!

I love seeing those happy faces as they run for their lives!

The other team is still chasing after them as they are trying to get close enough to shoot them.

What a fun party it was!  Nicholas had a great time with his friends and said it was the "Best. Birthday. Ever!"

After the party we headed to Red, Hot, and Blue for lunch to refuel.  With his actual birthday on Monday and his party on Friday, he has kind of had two full days of birthday celebrations.  He's a happy boy.