Sunday, March 8, 2009

Three Days of Fun! Fun! And More Fun!

I woke up this Sunday morning to rain. It feels good. After three days of fun, fun and more fun, I am ready for a quiet day at home with my family and the rain is a perfect setting for that.

Visiting Old Friends
On Thursday, some of our best friends in the world visited us. We met Karen, Tracy and Brian seven years ago when we first started our homeschooling journey. Our families were both involved in a homeschool playgroup together. Not only did all of our personalities click immediately, but we also were on a different journey than our other homeschooling friends in the group. Our two families knew that we would be following a child led, rather than "school at home" type of learning. It was nice (and still is) to have that connection to another family early on. In the early days of our friendship we spent several days a week together. About 5-6 years ago, our friends moved about 2.5 hours away to a small farm. They raised chickens for several years and recently bought two horses. As the years have gone by and our children have become busier with life, it has been more difficult to see each other on a regular basis, but whenever we do, it feels good. I was glad to spend some time alone with them and then share them with our new friends on Friday.

IN HOME Conference
Friday morning we were up and out of the house by 9:00 to attend the IN HOME conference for the first time. The kids and I each participated in four different workshops throughout the day. Steve laughed that my favorite workshop at a homeschooling conference was the first workshop which I attended with Sophia on animals. It was a workshop presented by a rehabilitative vet in San Antonio. He shared how he had been a prisoner of war and knew what it felt like to be caged up. He never wanted to do that to another living thing. Besides the interesting facts we learned about the animals, which everyone in the audience was encouraged to touch, (possum, alligator, hedgehog, and ostrich) he shared many values that I like: Don't be afraid to learn new things and new ideas and don't judge someone on the color of their hair or the way they dress until you get to know them better. He said this applies to humans as well as animals. He was very soft spoken and interesting. My second workshop was interrupted by the fire alarm going off but was on creating entrepreneur children. We were able to finish up but I don't know that I agreed with her ideas. In the third workshop we shared our homeschooling journeys. We all came from different places with different ideas on how to homeschool (school at home, relaxed, religious based, unschooling, etc), but what we all shared in common is a genuine desire to do what we feel is best for our children. I got tears in my eyes when one mother explained how her five year old son left for school with excitement and creativity and when she pulled him out at 11 years old he was sad, friendless, and felt stupid. He is 30 years old now and she doesn't feel she was ever able to undo the damage. She did continue to homeschool three of her other children and says she stays connected to homeschoolers so that she can encourage those parents that are wandering in between school and homeschooling to give homeschooling a chance. One middle eastern father shared how he and his wife did the traditional college and corporate world routine but felt they were not connecting as a family. He left the corporate world behind him to work for himself so he could help at home and allow his wife to concentrate on homeschooling. I admire the sacrifices they have made to make this work for their family. I left feeling like I could learn much from each of the parents in this session. My final workshop was on the homeschooling marriage. Here the presenter shared some wonderful reminders for all marriages of taking time together as a couple, listening to your spouse with an open mind, appreciating your spouses love language, and remembering that homeschooling is only one part of many parts in your life and to not let it consume your every thought.

The kids participated in some fun workshops. Alexander went to a renewable energy workshop that he really enjoyed. Then he met up with Sophia to wrap mummies. Steve was able to join us for the evening workshops and went with Alexander to a workshop where they created their own computer game. They both loved that! Last night they were in bed reading some of the documentation together. Pretty nerdy, huh? I love it!

Sophia, my little social butterfly was off and running around to each of the workshops with friends. She had a blast in face painting and breaking secret codes. In between workshops both kids either met up with friends to talk or swim with them. The evening ended with a family dance that was really fun! The kids both danced in groups and really enjoyed themselves. They stayed for a little bit of the teen dance and then decided to hit the pool again before it closed. Steve and I were both fine with that. We were enjoying our time with our friends too. Around midnight we were in our car and heading home exhausted, but very fulfilled.

RAIN: A Tribute To The Beatles
Saturday morning we slept in and then headed to Chicago to see RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles. Wow!!!! The show was awesome. The band took us through the early days of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, through the Sgt. Pepper era and on to the Abbey Road years changing costumes and hair styles. The audience participated in singing and dancing. We loved singing to some of our favorite songs: Revolution and Hey Jude. Afterwards we ate downtown and then headed home. It was a perfect day together.

So, today we will enjoy the comforts of our cozy home and the company of each other as the rain continues throughout the day. Enjoy your Sunday!

*I will be posting photos on my unschooling blog as soon I can get photos from Sophia's camera.