Monday, September 26, 2011

Skate Park, Conference, and Train Ride To Minneapolis

I brought the kids to a skate park for the first time with their scooters last week. They've gotten really really good on those scooters so I figured they'd love to go up and down the ramps. They loved it! We were there for over 2 hours, most of it on the skate park and some of it on a big dirt hill in the park. We were the only ones there since it was the middle of a week day. It was so nice!

Over the weekend, I attended part of our state's homeschooling conference put on by MHA for the first time. I walked around the exhibits and attended the Keynote Speaker, Rebbeca Rupp's presentation which was fabulous. She is, among other things, an author and mom of two grown children she homeschooled/unschooled. She was great to listen to. The talk was reassuring those of us who steer away from the "school-at-home" style of homeschooling. She talked about how the more families that choose to homeschool, the more pressure they put on us to mimic what schools are teaching. However, all research that comes out shows that schools would benefit by making school more like homeschooling! Also, all research shows the amazing benefits of PLAY, which has become less and less of something schools make time for as they push toward increasing academics and standardized testing. Rebecca pointed out the importance of kids discovering things on their own, and owning their discoveries. The epiphanies that happen when a child figures out something all on their own. The amazing things that those discoveries lead to. And how kids of all ages need to be able to play, tinker, build, and through this they learn more than any math or science class can teach them. 
Next year I hope to get to attend more of the sessions at the conference. It was really enjoyable! And the kids got to play in the indoor playground with their cousins during it!

For the second part of the day, we rode the train to Minneapolis with our Aunt Gloria! She wanted the kids to join her on the ride as part of the Learn With Me Days we have begun. We went with our cousin Brandi and her kids along with a teenage friend of theirs for extra help with the kids. My kids and I hadn't ridden the commuter train before, so it was all new! The kids faces were lit up through the trip. It was a really fun ride to the city and a nice day for the trip!

Once downtown, we had a two hour layover before the next train home, so we walked around the skyways with the kids and explored. We thought we had plenty of time to get back when we turned around and headed back...however, as our cousin Brandi told my husband, you try navigating six kids through the skyways of Minneapolis! After an exhausting rush pushing the big stroller and carrying kids to make it back to the train station, we ended up missing the train! The next one wouldn't be by for 3 hours and the kids were getting tired and cranky.

As we made phone calls to arrange a way back home, the kids hardly skipped a beat. They began playing games on the sidewalk. They played Duck Duck Gray Duck, Mr. Fox, Tag, and ran around together. Eventually, we walked over to the Pizza Luce where my aunt and cousins got a ride home and my kids and I could sit down and wait for John to come get us. With the best vegan pizza around, Pizza Luce was a pretty nice spot for us to end up! Yup, could be worse.

I was a bit worried about bringing three tired cranky kids into the restaurant by myself and apologized in advance to the server for any disruptions they may cause! The kids did awesome the first half, just coloring quietly and hanging out. So much so that the couple next to me complimented us on how calm everybody was since they had heard my discussion with the server earlier.
The next couple that came wasn't as lucky! The kids hit their walls and started falling apart. I quickly paid and explained the situation to the couple who then stopped making eyes at us and started smiling understanding smiles after I told them we had missed the train and I was doing my best. John came just in time to get us back home.

It was a great adventure of a day. Missing the train, while not part of the plan, was a learning experience all in itself! I asked Ava the next day what she learned from the trip. She said she learned the train had only four cars on it AND that if you walk too far away when you have to be back for the train you might miss your train!!!! Yup! There's learning in everything.

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