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Unschool Gatherings

Life is Good

We have just returned from the Life is Good Unschooling Conference.  Attending these gatherings is an extremely important part of unschooling for me.  When people are new at unschooling I always tell them, don’t try and do this alone.  Find your people, or as many of you say “find your tribe”.  I am someone who does everything alone.  I don’t ask for help often, I don’t often share my emotions and I tend to be a fairly private person.  However, one of the things I cannot do is unschool my children alone.  I need you, and you need me.  I love conferences more than I love any other social gathering.  Conferences have so much to offer everyone, of every age.  (Actually, since finding my tribe, I find that much of what I wrote about not sharing my emotions has become completely untrue when I’m with them!)

For me, I’m a people watcher.  I much prefer to sit back and watch the goings on then be all sucked up into the middle of it.  One night at the conference dance, as I looked on into the crowd of children and parents, I was reminded how the world should be.  It is our obligation to give our children that world, not to force upon them a world as we have made it.  Amidst the faces in the dancing sea, I notice quirky, creative, and confident children and uninhibited adults basking in the glow of their awesomeness.  Those kids are the lucky ones, the ones who have shown their parents the way toward more peaceful and gentle ways.  Those parents are the blessed ones, who without those amazing children wouldn’t be parents at all.  Most of these children, would be eaten alive by the school system and the social order and many have risen from being crushed such an atrocity on the human spirit.  Every last child in the world deserves such a beautiful life and it makes me sad that they can’t all have it.  It makes me even sadder that the ones who can have it, won’t ever get it.

We’re taught to point our fingers at everyone but ourselves.  It’s the problem with school, the problem with society, and even the problem with government.  Most parents could never unschool, because they don’t want to take that deep hard look at themselves.  Not being in control scares the hell out of people.  People spend 18 or more years under someone else control and living in shame and fear.  They have no idea in the world what might happen if they allow children to leave their control.  That’s where the fear begins.  Fear holds us back and prevents of from remembering that this is just a life.  It is a glorious, wonderful life and we should be living it!  Sadly, most don’t even know what that means.

As I sat in the chair watching all those out of control children of life, a sea of toddlers, kids, teens, and parents I thought to myself, this is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen; a gleaming example of people being honored for being right where they are.  A gathering of unschoolers meets a myriad of needs.  Some of us like to sit back and observe, some of like dance with our friends, and some of us like to get on that stage and shine like we never have before.  Yeah, you know who I’m talking about!  Differences are fascinating and in unschooling those differences are embraced, nurtured, and protected.  Now THAT is monumental change.

Unschooling vs. Radical Unschooling: What’s the difference?

We returned from the UWWG (Unschooler’s Winter Waterpark Gathering) yesterday.  A fabulous time was had by all and many, many thanks to all the organizers!  While, most unschooling conferences are smaller, and are geared toward unschoolers and the unschooling interested, the UWWG is a bit different since it’s open for homeschoolers to unschoolers and everything in between, so long as you take a child-led non-schooly approach or are interested in leaning that way.

TJ and I had a lot of fun speaking together.  I can’t think of anyone else I would rather share the stage with! I felt that our talk went well.  It was well attended too.  I remember looking around the room thinking to myself…  “Wow…  there’s a lot of people here, I hope we say something good!”  I felt so at ease speaking this time, of course I always feel at ease with TJ at my side.  I think the last time I spoke I really built up the fear and drove myself nuts.  I won’t do that again!  When we finished, I glanced down at my phone to check the time.  Only 30 minutes had passed!  Tj and I had microphones, were talking together, and about unschooling and we had only used up 30 minutes.  How on earth did that even happen???  I swear our talk was much longer.  As inexperienced speakers, we didn’t quite understand the importance of making sure we filled up the time slot.

Tj opened up the floor to questions.  Someone wanted advice on how to be a better mom when it feels like your energy has run out.  Someone else wanted assurance that her children would grow to be functional adults.  It seems to me that when people are in the beginning of unschooling they get hung up on things likes college, household chores or bedtime.  Every unschooling talk ends up with one of these types of questions.  It’s not what our presentation was about, but are hot button issues.  As an inexperienced speaker I had a little trouble keeping the discussion on topic and away from becoming an argument.  Things got a little tense and some became defensive over their lifestyle choices.  I was a little disappointed about this.  I really enjoyed sharing our story and loved talking about unschooling and I was so hoping that everyone would leave inspired, not defensive.  In the end I received some really good feedback at the conference or through email about our talk and people really did enjoy it.  Dayna Martin wrote a nice email reminding me, “Ya, the talk got intense, but it is through those moments of intensity that new ideas are embraced.  It was through the seemingly negative responses that others were able to really elaborate on Unschooling philosophy!  People learned so much from your talk!  Frustration and and anger is sometimes part of the process for many people learning alternatives.” Ahh…  just what I needed to hear.

This bit of discussion has had me thinking about the difference between Unschooling and Radical Unschooling.  I think many people view Unschooling as a lack of curriculum and Radical Unschooling as applying the philosophy to their whole lives.  While I love the term Radical Unschooling, I personally do not view it any differently than just Unschooling.  There is NO difference.  It doesn’t happen all at once for everyone, some take longer than others to get there, and that is OK.  I think the general rule of thumb is take one month for every year you spent in school to truly deschool yourself.  Someone accused me of being judgmental for pointing out what wasn’t unschooling, when I felt I was simply being informative.

First of all, it’s perfectly OK to not be an Unschooler.  Some people seem to view Unschooling as a secret little, elitist club and get awfully defensive.  There is nothing wrong with being an eclectic homeschooler or a relaxed homeschooler.  Unschooling is still extremely controversial, when we start having all these different levels of Uschooling it sort of muddies up the label and becomes extremely unclear to those who would like to learn or observe.

In my opinion, it is not going to be successful to compartmentalize Unschooling.  It’s a lifestyle.  Unschoolers live in freedom, they learn everyday, from everything.  Their world is limitless, and there are no subjects or rules.  The world is full of connections, not separations.  Yet when we as parents, impose rules on the lives of our “Unschooled” children we are disengaging life from learning.  We are telling them that even though we believe they can learn what they need to know, that ultimately they cannot decide when they are tired, or hungry, or ready to help pick up the house.  Unschooling isn’t going to work if the illusion of control is maintained over our children.

I truly believe that Unschooling will not work if not used as a whole life philosophy.  So, what do you think?  Am I too late to the party?  Has the labels Unschooling and Radical Unschooling already become separate?  Or should we maintain that they are one in the same?  Pass this on, I want to hear your thoughts.

Unschooler’s Winter Waterpark Gathering 2010

In 1 week’s time we’re all getting on a plane and flying to Sandusky, OH for the Unschooler’s Winter Waterpark Gathering. We’ve been every year since 2008, the very first year. This year TJ and I are speaking in addition to some volunteering.

Here is a partial description from the program.

Modeling is For Clay: Real Kids Need Real Life, Right Now

TJ has been helping other dads by facilitating SSUD’s meetings. Heather recently spoke about their experiences at the Enjoy Life Unschooling conference in Frederick, MD. Heather also blogs about their experiences at:

They will be leading a presentation: “Modeling is For Clay: Real Kids Need Real Life, Right Now”. When speaking of the word modeling, it is often misconstrued as a way to shape our children’s behavior. Let’s talk about modeling yourself for a change! Do you act in a way that you expect your children not to? Or, do you model good behavior in hopes that your children will mimic your actions? Let’s talk about you and how your children see you. Let’s lower our expectations, discuss why we shouldn’t be modeling and why we should be living authentically and in the moment.

This year the keynote speaker is John Taylor Gatto, author of several books, including Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Public Schooling. I’m honored to be speaking at the same conference as him and some other Unschooling gurus I have always admired. A couple of my favorite families, Ben and Kelly Lovejoy and Broc and Gail Higgins! Other speakers include: Laura Buoni, Debra Bures, Zoa Conner, Julie Cook, Dayna Martin, Laura Flynn Endres, Cindy Murphree, Cindy Gaddis, Jessie Voigts, and Demi Wirtz

I’m super excited for this, and feel so honored and so blessed to be sharing with conference attendees. TJ will also be facilitating the SSUD’s (Secret Society of Unschooling Dads) meeting. Who’s going? Leave me a comment! Don’t forget to say hi if you see us!!!

Unschooling Conference Ramblings

We’ve just returned from the Northeast Unschooling Conference. We had a fabulous time and thank Kathryn and Beth for all their hard work and dedication. It really takes some very special people to make this happen and they are two of the most passionate people you could ever meet.

To be able to sit with, talk to, and bounce ideas off of other unschooling parents is really necessary. You can’t unschool alone. People NEED people. Even me, a loner by nature. I like being home or at least alone. However, I KNOW that I need these other people. I need to see these children and I need to see my children interacting with other unschoolers. It’s important for me to be reminded why I’ve chosen this lifestyle in the first place. I cannot ever replace the friends I have made at these conferences. I have never felt so loving and so loved in my life. I’m sure my children feel the same way.

I cannot say enough good things about Unschooling Conferences. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve said it all before, in previous posts! There seems to be a lot of buzz about this year’s NEU Conference and the little bit of chaos that did seem to happen. In my opinion, it wasn’t all THAT bad. I was there when the piece of trim was broken, it was an accident and I’m not sure the teenager who broke it actually knew that he did it. I let someone know what happened but didn’t find it necessary to name names. There was a lot of running in the conference center, I didn’t think it was all that bad. I mean, seriously, isn’t that to be expected when you hold a conference for children? I did hear of some general meanness, which is quite unfortunate. Someone was swinging a small bag with rocks in it at some other children. It was addressed and there were no injuries that I know of. Oh, and the door knocking. Yeah, a disturbance for the other guests. I guess some people have taken to unparenting rather than unschooling? Is it possible that when all the children are going wild suddenly the newer parents think it’s “the norm” and allow their children as well?

The only thing I can say to that is, I wonder if these same people would allow their children the same freedoms if there was NOT an unschooling conference. Would they let their 6 year old girl meander about the hotel and use the elevator all by herself? If their children were running or screaming in the hallways, would they let them know they shouldn’t run or be loud because are sleeping after a certain time? Maybe that’s what it all looks like to a new unschooler at first glance so they just think they are going with the flow.

As far as people complaining about the state of the arts and crafts room or the game room or any other room… where is the initiative? I picked up the game room several times over the weekend. I saw a few parents doing the same. Not because I thought it should be clean, not because I felt the kids were too messy, but because it’s hard to play games with scattered pieces so I did my best to put them all back. Plus… I’m much better at cleaning than I am at playing games. It’s just like in my house. If the house is a wreck and the games are scattered and the art supplies are in disorder than they are much less likely to actually use them. So… I clean them up. I give them a fresh slate, a clean palette in which to create a new game or a new project.

It’s possible that next time a volunteer schedule might need to be organized. To help keep things less chaotic. It really is important for newbies to remember that your children are still YOUR responsibility. That we are still in a public space that has it’s own set of standards. That we are still interacting with the public. One thing we talk about in my home, is that just because we do not live with rules, doesn’t mean we don’t have to follow the rules or have respect for another person’s home or business. What a disservice to children to let them go on thinking that no rules means anything goes, anywhere.

Maybe it’s just me, but in reality I think most of what happened should be expected. You can only plan so much and help make it a safe and interesting place. From what I gather, there were no injuries, all the children are safe, there was no vandalism, and no horrible acts of disrespect. I COULD be wrong. There MAY be something I don’t know. Still, I had a WONDERFUL time. I recharged my batteries and am a better person for it. I had some eye rolling moments regarding some unparenting as it’s commonly referred to but, I still say it could have been worse. I can’t wait to see everyone soon! Enjoy Life is RIGHT around the corner!

Unschoolers Rock the Campground

Facebook killed my blog. So I’m killing Facebook. Well, not totally. I’m keeping it as a means of communication but I’m not playing like I used to. I love my blog to much to neglect it so badly. I love to write, I love to really think and analyze and put it into words. Using Facebook so much has given me too much of a release of the things I want to say so that by the time I get around to blogging I have very little to say.

This past weekend, we went camping in Plymouth, MA with 6 unschooling families we had mostly never met. We know Jean! But we got to meet 4 other amazing families, including Kim, all with kids all about 10 and under. We went on Friday afternoon and left Sunday morning. Such a quick trip! It was NOT enough time for the kids. They did NOT want to leave. Hopefully next year we can stay for the full time. Milo wanted to live there and Skylar was enjoying his friends so much! Lots of unschoolers live in parts of the country where there aren’t any, or very few, other unschoolers, so when these kids get together they really live it up!

Friday night we had some big thunderstorms, all night long. Milo was very scared and wanted nothing to do with sleeping in the tent. In the rain, TJ and I moved everything from the back of the Suburban to the front seats and put the kids full sized air mattress in the back. That’s where Milo, Phoenix and I slept. I slept for about 2 hours that night. I’m not sure why I was feeling so anxious, but I was. It is very unlike me to lay awake all night. It left me mostly in a nice fog for Saturday. Meeting new people soooo tired has it’s downside. I can’t remember about half of the names of the people I met! I have a hard time meeting new people anyway, so it definitely made it a little more difficult for me.

Campfires and swimming and sand and marshmallows and campfires and games and laughing and playing and campfires! The kids had a blast! It is a wonderful sound to hear children playing and enjoying themselves. It is wonderful to watch parents so respectful and mindful. These were truly happy and busy children. They loved almost every moment they were all there. (I think the storm has a few of them scared… so not a bright spot in the trip) Milo and Phoenix and I slept in the Suburban the second night as well. Milo didn’t like the tent and for some weird reason everytime I brought Phoenix into it he would burst into tears. I was ok with that since I’m not much of a tent kind of gal either.

I also learned that I am an excellent and efficient “campsite taker downer”. Tj took all three boys to the lake and I tore down and packed up the campsite in just over an hour. I’ll admit, that the diet coke and the Emergen-C kicked my ass into high gear. (We didn’t want to pay for the extra day) Hopefully I didn’t scare Jean away with my “efficiency”! I had actually really needed that hour to obsessively clean. I enjoy cleaning, and I do get obsessive about it! Not in a bad way… just in a I clean a lot way.

Birthday Party with the Dorseys

I still don’t have my laptop back. I’ve been reduced, once again, to using the deathly slow and confusing Mac. I shouldn’t even capitalize it, it’s more like a mac. You know the mac commercials… the ones that say mac’s “just work”? Well, they don’t. Not even close. This thing sucks. I don’t even know why people love macs so much. I think it’s a marketing thing. Mac has an ingenius marketing plan.
I still can’t post pictures from our vacation because they are all loaded on the laptop. So I’m going to attempt to post one from our day trip yesterday! Yesterday we drove about 4 hours for a birthday party. I know it SOUNDS crazy, but it wasn’t. It was worth every minute to go hang out with our unschooling friends. Plus, you all know how much I HATE the ocean. It’s just awwwwful. Can you hear my sarcasm? Declan and Drue looked like they had a wonderful birthday, filled with love and laughter and of course… candy! I’m so happy we got to be a part of it.

You want to know one of the big differences I’ve noticed about unschoolers? When we get together and we want to talk about a particularly rough moment or tough time, the focus stays on ourselves. We don’t sit around and complain about the kids and how they don’t listen, we talk about how we can be better parents. How we can connect with the kids more and be more understanding and helpful. I like that.

UWWG – 2009

We attended the UWWG again this year. I know this is a little late, but I’ve struck with a bit of the post conference blues, and the post conference sicknesses have struck every member of my family in one way or another. Next time, everyone is getting juiced up on Emergen-C before we go. This ALL being sick thing, is completely ridiculous. Those community toys rooms are a breeding ground! I cringe when I look at the kids all sharing the masks! Ewwww! Poor Milo has it the worst. He has every symptom I can think of. One right after another. Once one thing went away, another would come. He has been sleeping so much. Two naps a day and at night., other then waking up to empty out! When this kid is down… he is DOWN.
We got the Kalahari the night prior to the gathering which really is the best idea after our 12 hour drive. We were able to relax gather our thoughts before having to really start socializing. Not that it’s a chore, but it feels like it after a 12 hour drive! I’m not going to write too terribly much. I’m just stealing enough time to some pictures!
These are two of my favorites. These are the types of pictures I look at after they’ve been fighting, and I’m having trouble remembering how much they really do love each other.

Phoenix fell right asleep after his swim with Gramma Chrissy and his relaxing ride in the swing.

Skylar body boarding. We so need one of these in the backyard!

TJ peering through the thick foliage of his dinner.

Skylar facilitated a funshop this year. He was very successful, aside from not having enough to eat, and we plan on modifying it for the conference. His funshop was all about little stunts and tricks that can be done with very little materials. Straw farting was a HUGE hit, especially with a few parents. Remember the stuntology book?
Here we are showing the group how to hook 2 paperclips together using a strip of paper. Evan is tirelessly blowing up balloons for our skewer through the balloon trick. His face isn’t even red yet!

We really hate leaving our friends. I even got to sneak away a couple times and hang out with girls! No joke! It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to hang out with other mom’s. Especially other moms who think like me! That really is an amazing feeling. I’d love to feel that connected all the time.

Live and Learn Part 3: The long way home.

I left Live and Learn feeling intensely positive. I felt happy and refreshed, empowered and affirmed, my love tank was full, and I added many new tools to my collection. As I’m writing this Friday morning, I’m feeling quite the opposite of all those things. The questioning keeps crawling up my spine. Did I do enough? Say enough? Ask enough questions? I barely saw Skylar all week! Is that ok? Did I check on him at the pool enough? I walked by every hour, and even more. Was it enough? He doesn’t always want me around. Will that change? Did Milo enjoy his time? Did he get to do enough crafts? He loves crafts. Did TJ get to do all that he wanted do? Was I accommodating enough for him? It sure was difficult taking the two younger ones. Did I smile about it? Or did I complain? I hope I didn’t complain. I still miss everyone, badly. Why didn’t I get any emails addresses, snail mail addresses or phone numbers? What was I thinking? Well, if anyone wants to find ME, I’m on the ning site and on myspace under the same title name. Ugh…… I think I have the post-conference blues. Seriously… after such an intense high, I’m feeling a little low.

It’s helping to remember that each and every day, I had someone come to me and compliment Skylar. “Thank you for sharing Skylar with us” said one. “Skylar is a really cool kid, my boys love him” said another. And more than once parents were telling me that their little ones were talking about Skylar all night long. That really makes my heart smile. He is so wonderful with kids younger than him. It’s such a natural gift that he doesn’t even know why they like him so much. He asks, why do the little kids follow me around all the time? Each day I reported the comments to him if he wasn’t around. As I’m feeling a little blue today, I’m going to keep thinking of that. When I get frustrated, its reminds me to focus on the positive and what a spectacular kid he really is!

If I were to measure how much younger kids like Skylar, than I could tell you that his brothers love him double!

On Monday when we went to the Metro Richmond Zoo. I don’t really like zoo’s in the first place. But we are all a little enticed by the giraffe’s. Giraffe feeding? Just how do we accomplish this?

Well, the walkway is built up to giraffe level! That’s how! See Skylar’s hand? He let the giraffe eat form his hand for a good 15 minutes or so. Each time he was tell us how much more disgusting it was than the last! but he kept doing it. Laughing harder and harder. I sure am glad I carry baby wipes around these days. Giraffe’s have the nastiest, stickiest saliva! Like they need it with an 18-20 inch prehensile toungue! We all enjoyed their company a great deal. This was my favorite picture from the day.

This picture really surprised me! Milo can be a little timid and shy about new things. He took a few tries but eventually he had this one eating out of his hand.
It was HOT on Monday! I had Phoenix wrapped up in his wrap. He slept soundly during the whole zoo experience. (Weird, I know) After the zoo I set him on my seat to cool down and so I could dry off. He stayed right there for awhile before woke to nurse.

Skylar really enjoyed the baby chimp. He certainly was silly. He would have stayed there while we walked around. I can’t say I was comfortable leaving him alone like that so we made a deal to pass by the chimp a few more times. He talked the whole time about how he wanted to have a chimp for a pet. We were able to talk a lot about zoos and how some animals are rescued, but some are not. how the animals at this particular zoo didn’t seem to have a lot of room or be very happy. The apes had a VERY small island. It was sort of sad how little space the animals had. I did wonder how they aquired these animals and why such small living quarters. Some of the animals seemed unhappy too. We had a nice conversation without ruining his “I need a chimp in my room” dream.

The boys with their new toy chimps. The next best thing.

Live and Learn Part 2.5: All I want is some f***in’ carrots!

One thing that I really like about conferences is that I feel an intense amount of freedom. Any hang-ups I might have in real life seem to completely disappear when I’m surrounded by unschoolers. I also realize how strong social pressure can be at home. Once it’s lifted, I feel as though I could float along effortlessly. This is what I’m working toward in real life. Not just the conferences. One thing I also appreciate very much is the feeling of emotional safety. Both Skylar and Milo had their moments during the week. Yet, I didn’t get disapproving stares, and I didn’t wish they would stop. I was just grateful that they could be themselves and let it go when and how they needed to.

One particularly difficult moment was at the very end of the conference. Skylar had just about had enough of the food. (I’ve decided that I’m not talking about the food at the conference. It’s just too hard. I’m afraid I’ll have nightmares!) So on top of being tired, he was hungry, and probably really sad that he was leaving. We found him in our van sobbing. When we tried to help he only screamed at us. And this is what he screamed. “All I want is some f***in’ CARROTS!!!” Tj and I were on opposite sides of the van with the sliding doors open. We both smiled and held back giggles. We weren’t laughing at him. We were connecting over a moment where we had the same thought at the same time. It’s so wonderful that in a moment of intense frustration we didn’t need to minimize Skylar’s feelings by asking him not to swear. We were able to listen to him, hearing that word, (a word I tend to use all too often myself) and know just how pissed off he really was.

I didn’t have any carrots. We were minutes from leaving so I ran and got him a soda, knowing that he was probably thirsty. Tara, Justin, and Zeb came over to say good-bye. We couldn’t get the kids out of the van for a picture so we just settled for pictures in the van.

Good-byes are hard. Meeting Tara and family was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. We’ve been “internet buddies” for quite a long time. We met on the MySpace homeschooling board and jumped ship around the same time and have been co-moderating the Unschooling board for awhile now. I would say our two families meshed together really well. I wish I could have spent more time talking to her but we went in different directions a lot. So is life with small children. We seriously need to move closer together. Las Vegas and “Rut-Vegas” (as my town is affectionately nicknamed) are just too far apart.

When we finally did get home, we made a list and TJ made a bee-line for the grocery store. He brought home 3 bags of carrots for Skylar. On one of those bags he wrote “f***in” right next to the word carrots. He walked up to Skylar and said, “Here you go, I felt so badly for you the other day that I wanted to make sure that I got you some f***in carrots as soon as we got home”. He handed the bag to Skylar and we all laughed hysterically for a good few minutes. Really, it was hilarious. Skylar even asked, “Did that COME on the bag!?! Or did you write it?!?”

Live and Learn Part 2: Shiny, Happy People

What can I say? I didn’t want to leave. Did anyone want to leave? I enjoyed (almost) every minute of every day that I was at the conference. We are physically exhausted. Nevermind the ordeal we had on the way down. We didn’t know that everywhere we walked would be uphill! Even when we were walking downhill, we were walking uphill! I had Phoenix in his baby wrap the entire week. I’m not sure very many people got to meet him awake. The wrap is by far the very best baby carrier ever. I’ve owned a few different brands and this is absoloutely the best. Although you can purchase wraps from a few different places, my particular wrap is made by Wrap and Wear. I love the patterns and the fact that I can flip it for a solid color!
Justify FullMilo spent the week in his wagon. Literally, the entire conference, in his wagon. Ok he got out a little, but seriously not much. (That sign behind them is a list of pool rules. I never noticed it while we were there. When I saw this picture in full size I was able to read them. It turns out that I broke quite a few rules. Weird!) I think this baby carrier is a wee bit more manly then the baby wrap. Don’t you? *giggle*

And here he is again… With his the mask I made TJ for the masquerade ball and his paper bag puppets. they are superheroes and he is flying them while TJ runs down the hill pulling the wagon. Each night looked like this. he would just turn over, curl up and fall asleep right in his wagon.
Skylar is beginning to love the conferences. For the friends and the freedom. How I wish he could play with all those boys here at home. He was in his element for sure! He seems to like it when I don’t know where he is. I’m not so sure how I feel about that. Half the time he was at the pool (of course) with no phone. I’ve never done so much walking in my life. Admittedly, I spent a lot of time walking around looking for Skylar. I just didn’t tell him that!

Here is the mask I made for Skylar. The one he made was awesome bit some glued on pieces shifted and he was REALLY upset. Luckily, Milo wasn’t really into his mask at all so I peeled the paper off and got out the sharpies.

Skylar also found a new found love of Sierra Mist. Sprite comes in second. He’s never liked soda. I don’t know if I really like the fact that he was downing 3 and 4 sodas a day during the conference. However, I love the fact that I had the oppurtunity to say yes every time he asked for a dollar. When we didn’t have a dollar, we found him a dollar. I think my favorite part of the conference was the sense of community I felt from being around so many people on the same journey. We all are embracing the same philosophies and care so much about improving our children’s lives. Any time that one can be kinder and gentler to children is worth it. I saw some familiar faces and met so many new ones! I met some of my blog readers which made me giggle. When faced with one of my readers, I suddenly realize how public I’ve made my life. I hope that I’m helping out some and bringing a little joy and laughter to others. When I first started unschooling, the others seemed so perfect. It took me quite some time to figure out that there is no perfection in unschooling. It’s truly a never ending journey.

The Peaceful Partnerships talk, even though I missed some of it, was especially helpful for me. I know that I don’t always extend the same love and respect that to TJ that I try to give my children. Beth gave me a lot to think about and some new books to read.

The whole theme of “no guarantees” really helped me put it into perspective. There seemed to be a lot of loss surrounding some of the veteran unschooling families. There are no guarantees in life. There are no guarantees that I will see my children, or my husband, or anyone tomorrow. This I will always remember. When the kids are tugging on my last nerve, I will remember it.

I miss the conference, I miss all of you. As much as I didn’t want to leave, I am grateful for the new tools and the new perspectives and the new thoughts I am able to bring home. It wouldn’t really make sense to be around only unschoolers all the time would it?