Friday, September 28, 2007

Building an electromagnet

The other day, Jim and the kids built an electromagnet together out of copper wire, a nail and a battery. Jim used a drill to wind the copper wire tightly around the nail, which was pretty cool to watch. Once hooked up to the battery, the kids were able to use the electromagnet to pick up random metal bits like this safety pin. While playing, the kids recalled a Scooby-Doo episode where there was an electromagnet used in a junk-yard and were thrilled to find out that huge magnet worked on the same principles as this small one they'd just helped build. They also tried to build a simple motor using magnets and the battery, but that experiment remains unsuccessful. Even after troubleshooting with a multimeter, we were at a loss. Back to the drawing board on that one.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Post Conference Triste, or Where's my Tribe?!

This year after the conference, we were lucky enough to have two wonderful families from Albuquerque visit us at our farm and then again at our in-law's beach house on the Jersey Shore. I have no pictures of them at the farm, though Jenny assures me that she got some good shots and Beth has some really cute ones, but I have some really wonderful photos from the beach. The weather was a bit breezy and chilly, but overall it was gorgeous and sunny and perfect. We spent our days basking in the sun and splashing in the water while our nights were spent drinking too much good wine and eating too much good food (yeah, there goes those 5 lbs I lost at the conference!). Though come to think of it, Jenny and I were really the only gluttons there—and Beth left without revealing a single vice. No fair! I mean, she doesn't even drink tea in the morning to wake up, making my two cups of ultra-strong Peet's coffee feel like speed or something. Sheesh.

Hosting such lovely ladies was a pleasure, and I'm so grateful to my in-law's for letting us have the house for the week! The kids had a blast, I think, and overall, they did a fabulous job playing, getting along, and finding solutions, considering that several of them had been on the road for 3 weeks, all of them had just been to a huge conference, most of us were dealing with varying stages of cold/ fever ick, and space was at a premium with nine people in the house!

Of course, the space on the beach goes on forever, and thank goodness for the wind and waves that allow little
girls to squeal and screech with sheer delight while protecting adult ears! Watching kids on the beach in September is one of my favorite things ever because, for me, there's little else that symbolizes such perfect freedom and joy. They have the whole beach to themselves while other kids are in school, and between the sand and the water, it's just kid heaven. When we arrived at the beach, one of the first things I did was begin digging a hole, and Beth naively asked what in the world I was doing. "If you dig it, they will come, Beth," as Emma and Eli demonstrate. Kids and sand and holes and waves—yup, heaven!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Live and Learn Conference 2007

We just got back from the Live and Learn Conference down in Black Mountain, NC, and it was a total whirlwind blast from the very first day of tie-dying t-shirts with the Smith family to the last night of the dance fever party! So many people put forth so much energy and enthusiasm to make this year one of the best years yet. The funshop offerings are just phenomenal and get better every year, I think.

I love hosting the letterboxing funshop, and the best part of the whole thing is taking the letterbox when we leave and seeing all the wonderful stamps that people have made. Liz's egg drop funshop was a huge hit with my kiddos, and it was the only funshop Sam really wanted to attend. I'm so glad we caught it before leaving town, and it really wrapped up the week for us on a positive note.

One of our favorites was the belly dancing funshop and performance, and I love the photo of my Maryland crew! There were so many other terrific funshops that it's impossible to list them all. Seeing all the kids' faces light up when they accomplish something new and even consoling them as they stretch their abilities and come up disappointed is a priceless part of the living and learning that happens all week long at the conference.

The best part of the conference though are the connections we get to make with such amazing people from all over the world! Getting to meet folks that we've gotten to know over the year online is so cool, and there's never enough time to spend talking and connecting with each and every person. The glow that comes from hanging out with other unschoolers just can't be beat!