Sunday, September 17, 2006

2006 Live & Learn Unschooling Conference

Wow! What an amazing experience, and I have so many things to talk about with no time to sit down and write them all out.

Briefly, my experience this year was overwhelming and wonderful and full of connections and joy, dampened only by the absence of my family and the reality of goodbyes at the weekend's end.

Until I have time to write and reflect a bit more on my experience, I wanted to share an exchange between dh and I over the L&L. Several folks may remember that he came last year and had a really difficult time--not wanting to join in and being totally overwhelmed by the energy and chaos of the kids' room.

This year, the venue was so amazing! There was so much more space in general, and the set-up of the toddler areas in the rooms themselves worked out really well, I thought. Kelly did such a fantastic job, and I kept saying to Jim on the phone, "I wish you guys had come this year instead of last."

When I left home to come to Albuquerque by myself, dh and I had a talk about my need to know he was going to be a gentle parent while I was gone and to really make an effort. He assured me he would and had the kids confirm it when I returned home. ;) These open conversations among all of us have been really transforming because he's talked to them about how he wants to be more gentle and solution oriented but that the knee-jerk/ obey me know mode is so much easier in the moment. Em's been able to talk about how that makes her feel, and Jules has been able to share how hard it is for her when he raises his voice.

So, yesterday while he was at work, I sent him an email thanking him again for caring for the kids and making my trip possible. This was what he sent back:

"I had a great time with the kids. It was good for the four of us to be on our own for a while. I feel like I connected better with the kids than I have for some time."

His words brought tears to my eyes, as I realized that yes, as Ren says, we were all exactly where we needed to be.

Live & Learn really is changing all of our lives; our journey just looks a bit different than the overnight conversions. ;) The outward bound type venue of next year's conference together with the closer location and my observations from this year's conference have very nearly convinced Jim to give the conference another try. (breathing deeply and fighting back the tears) I am just so overwhelmed and grateful for this, and we've already talked about a funshop he might be able to offer.

Thank you Kelly and Ben and everyone who puts their time and energy into this amazing weekend! You are all fairy godmothers, truly!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Color My World!

An artist friend of ours visited recently with his family--his wife is my best friend from grad school--and the kids were enraptured with his process. He was so patient and encouraging, explaining his equipment and inviting them on painting jaunts through the meadow. The neo-impressionist landscapes (at least that's how I'd define them) Tom does are absolutely amazing--the texture and colors are palpable and vivid, which really bring the viewer into nature through the senses rather than realism. His website is being revamped at the moment, but hopefully will be back up soon at