Thursday, October 13, 2005


This year's conference was amazing! The number of people there, the energy and excitement and interest--it was all totally overwhelming and awesome. This was my second year attending, but the first year the kids came, and they had a blast doing the funshops with their dad. The balloon shapes and craft funshops were two of the favorites from what I could gather. There were a couple that I really wished I could have attended with the girls--the ATC funshop and, of course, Henna by Brenna.

The talent show was wonderful again this year, and I was in total awe at my kids' performance. It was a bit shorter than the private shows they put on for me, but it was a very accurate glimpse into our improv shows at home. I am always so impressed by the unshakable sense of self that these kids--all of them, not just mine--possess, which shines through as they share a bit of themselves with an audience bigger than many of us can imagine. At these moments, the core of who these kids are and the gift of their lives glows so brightly that I just know we've made the world a better place. Not in the future, but right here and now, in the lives these kids lead and the strength they find in themselves.

The size and energy of the conference was, as I said, overwhelming to those of us who are highly sensitive to the noise and controlled chaos of crowds. Dh and the kids spent much of their time either in our room or at a local park, removing themselves from the hustle and bustle of bodies. On one of their excursions, they popped into Borders Books to buy the new Shark Boy and Lava Girl dvd that the kids have been dying to see. Dh brought our dvd player from home, and we were all able to veg out with family movie nights in our room, reconnecting after the day's absence.

Saturday night's excursion to The City Museum was amazing and amazingly assaulting on the senses. There was so much to take in at once, that I found it impossible to focus on anything and spent most of my time there walking around like a deer trapped in the inevitable onrush of headlights. Sam and dh climbed around through the maze of tunnels in the entrance for most of our visit, though we did take some time to explore the upstairs. A sturdier person could easily have spent hours in this amazing place, though we spent only about two. It took about five minutes of quiet car being to bring our voices down to a normal decibel level, having been shouting merely to be heard for the past couple hours. There were weddings going on at the museum and living lofts above--I truly can't imagine either scenario for myself. I would, however, have loved a private tour of the museum when no one else was there to really appreciate the incredible beauty and creativity of the artistic space.

Our friend Ken took this amazing picture of the kids at the arch on Sunday. It was by far the best shot of the kids and the arch that we got--it deserves a place of honor. We had fun at the Museum of Westward Expansion; it was just the right size and perspective for the kids to really enjoy. For about 48 hours, Em planned to be a pioneer girl for Halloween, but that, of course, has changed about 4 times since. Cahokia Mounds on Sunday was wonderful. The kids loved exploring the museum and relaxing to the intro movie, and Em was totally awed by the size of Monk's Mound and the concept of creating an earthen pyramid. Dh and I were talking about how the whole concept was such a product of the plains geography--testifying to the human need to ascend heavenward whatever the effort.

I left the conference on a total high, feeling thrilled and exhilerated by all the energy and potential contained in a single space. So, too, did I leave disappointed at not having more time to make connections and more time to spend quietly talking with people. The break-out sessions were one of my favorite aspects of the conference because they came closest to the intimate discussions I was imagining. There's just never enough time! I've decided that I really need to have each family over to my home individually for dinner so we can have that connecting time I missed. So, everyone start signing up for a weekend! My girls have taken this desire one step further and are seeking an unschooling commune where they can be surrounded by unschooled friends every day! Land anyone?

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