Friday, September 14, 2007

More about Live and Learn

So, now back to the conference itself! We got to the location a day early, and I'm really glad we had that extra time to settle in and be rested for the start of things on Wednesday.

Emily, me and my friend Susan (yeah, you did blink!) at registration.

We got our registration stuff, lanyards with name tags (smiley face stickers could be added to yours if this was your first time at a L&L conference), meal plan wristbands, the tote bag, our t-shirts, etc.

This is the tote, and also what's on the t-shirts.

We had lunch in the Blue Ridge Center (BRC) and also had a chance to learn a little about geocaching, which was one of the activities we could participate in if we chose to. Emily signed up to be a Fairy God Parent and then also get picked by someone to be the Fairy God Child. That was a fun thing for her, and the people running the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly said they really enjoyed seeing all the nice notes people left for their Fairy God Child, and the balloons taped to windows, and the candy and gifts placed strategically around the BRC.

Next up was to go and tie-dye our new shirts. That was really fun, and the people who were running that "funshop" did a fantastic job. They made it really easy for everyone to come over and start tying, then soak the shirts in something to make the dye take better (I think that's what that was for!), then go to the tables set up with squeeze bottles of different dye colors and get creative. We got to leave our t-shirts with them, and they washed and dried them for everyone (I don't know the number of t-shirts, but there were over 500 people in attendance!) and brought them the next evening to the BRC, the main building on the YMCA campus.

Me in my purple tie-dye, and the requisite lanyard and name badge and green meal wrist band.

We all got Indian mendi (henna) done, as well, and mine is still faintly visible more than a week later. Dinner was at 6pm each evening, and after the first dinner, many families headed to the lake for a campfire sing-a-long. There were some really talented musicians in the group. We stayed for the s'mores as well.

However, Thomas had a slight incident with a marshmallow. He pulled off the roasted part to give me, but I didn't want it (I'd just finished another marshmallow), so I suggested he toss it into the fire and not on the ground where someone might step on it. He went to the fire and I guess while trying to flick it off his fingers, it landed on his cheek and stuck there. He came back over to where we were sitting and I couldn't tell it was there; I thought he just had some in his hair. And he wasn't in obvious pain, just upset. Then I realized it was on his cheek, and apparently quite hot still. I got it off and rinsed his face with water. After a little while, he wanted to go back, so Eddie walked back up to our room with him. Eddie radioed me from the room to ask where the first aid stuff was that I'd packed. What? Why? I told him where it was and didn't hear more from him.

When Emily and I returned a while later, Thomas had already left to play WoW. But Eddie told me he had small blisters on his cheek from the marshmallow. Geez! We didn't have burn cream, and really the best thing would probably have been cool water right away. But Thomas was happy to leave and was acting fine. So for the rest of the conference he had scabs on his face from where he'd picked the blisters. They're gone now and he doesn't seem to have any scarring. That was the only "bad" incident we had the whole trip.

Thomas in WoW mode. He also played some video games in the gaming room.

On Thursday, I learned to Zumba! That was a lot of fun. I had to miss two sessions I also wanted to go to, but they'll be available for download sometime soon, so I hope to hear them later. From the Funshop description:
ZUMBA - Gail Higgins So You Think You Can Zumba? You Can!
No dance experience needed and fun for all ages!! Zumba is a fusion of Latin and International dance and music. It utilizes fitness interval training but feels like a dance party.
Gail was great, and her husband Brock was a riot, both there and at the two talent shows (as the assistant to the emcee). I was able to go to the roundtable discussion "Unschooling Advocates," led by Dayna Martin, of the Dr Phil Show fame. She had interesting things to say about advocacy and what happened on the show, too. Meanwhile, Eddie and Emily decided to try to find the geocache box that had been placed on the grounds somewhere. I believe they were the first folks to find it.

Thomas was enjoying the Horde of Unschoolers on the World of Warcraft Funshop. He learned a lot from the other kids and adults playing, all of whom were just so great to take their time to work with the ones who were newer to WoW.
I ran my "Hip Hemp Jewelry" funshop on Thursday, as well, and got to meet a really nice group of people through that. And Eddie made it to a dads' group meeting just before dinner. After dinner was the first talent show. We didn't sign up to do anything, but had a great time watching everyone else who got on stage to show us some really great stuff. Singing, dancing, improv, you name it. We were too tired to stay up for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but we did see some of the folks that were dressed up for it. I'm sure it was fun. Maybe next year I'll get some extra sleep before heading to the conference and be able to participate!
Friday morning breakfast came way too early, at 8am. Eddie and I heard Danielle's talk "Zero to Sixty," that I mentioned in my previous post. Right after that was Pam Sorooshian with "Back to (Unschooling) Basics": What do you mean, "Don't teach?" How will they learn what they need to know? What DO they need to know? Won't they just play all the time? Will they ever be able to get a job? Can unschoolers go to college? What makes "radical unschooling" so radical and why would we want to be so radical? And, what do I do if I'm secretly thinking, "My kids aren't self-motivated like your kids - maybe we're not cut out to be unschoolers. That was also great for us to hear.
Eddie's back was bothering him by the end, so he couldn't stay for the next session, which was a roundtable, "We All Shine," led by Anne Ohman: Anne Ohman talks a lot about Shining. What does she mean, exactly? Sit down with Anne while she talks about how she always saw her children Shining, even when others did not. We'll all talk about what we feel is the definition of *Shining*, as well as practical steps we can take to best allow our children to Shine, as they are meant to. (This isn't about solving children's behavior challenges...this is about our own view of our children and how we can stay focused on their Shine.) Bring your own Shining stories, your open mind and your loving heart. If you go to her blog, you can see Anne and her sons playing their guitars, just like they did at the talent show. They were so fun to watch!
After lunch, Eddie heard Jon Kream's talk "'42' or 'Don't you Love your Children?'": Frequently unschoolers or parents interested in unschooling have questions they see as barriers to a successful unschooled life. Those of us who think we have answers to those questions don’t have the answers because we studied or practiced unschooling for years before we had kids, (although we may have). We find the solutions by applying them to the philosophies we live by. A solid foundation of why you do what you do provides the solutions to any situation that should arise. This talk is not to program you with a predetermined philosophy to live by, but is intended to give insight into my own foundation to give you the tools to define the ideals you already have. Eddie said it was great, and I can't wait to hear the download of it.
At the same time, Emily was signed up for the indoor wall climbing, so I went with her just to watch.

After that she had her "Cloth Doll Decoration" funshop to go to:When we were done there, we went swimming for a short while, then went back to the room to get ready for dinner. The kids ate almost every meal with a group of other kids they were hanging out with. Eddie and I got the opportunity to meet some really nice people at meal time--sometimes the same people, sometimes new people. There was a second talent show that night, equally, if not more, entertaining than the first one. I believe that was the night the group that had done the tribal belly dance funshop went on stage.

Ok, here's another good place for me to stop!

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