Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Petal-nados and other amazing discoveries from the Life is Good gathering
Violet & I had an AMAZING and unforgettable time at the Life is Good Unschooling Conference this past weekend. It started with a flight from San Diego to San Francisco, then on to Eugene, OR. Flying down over Oregon was breathtaking. Even though it is quite green in San Diego right now, it doesn't even compare to the hues of green, yellow, reds of Oregon! There are many little lakes and forests and patchwork quilts of fields, farm animals, farmhouses, barns. Oh, I think I just might want to live there someday! The drive from Eugene to Corvallis was just as breathtaking. You could just sense the quietness, the serenity that folks must feel living there. The houses were all well taken care of with soothing tones of color, and lush gardens, with forests nearby, and many with their own little lakes. We stopped at an Arby's in Junction City which had some really cool motifs about travelling on the walls. There were driver's license plates from all over the U.S. We made a game of looking for particular states and would find them. There was also some nice travel photography on the walls, with various types of classic cars on them. We then proceeded to Corvallis. We checked in the Motel 6 and were quite anxious to register for the conference over at the Salbassgeon Hotel next door and meet some our online friends that we had met, as well as those we knew (the Millers). We later found out that the hotel's name was after "Salmon, Bass, and sturgeons". Funny name, huh? We picked up our bags with the conference schedule, some Corvallis info, our directories and our conference t-shirts. As we checked in, I was a little nervous about meeting new people at the conference as it seemed many knew each other already, and this being our first unschooling conference we knew few, if any. But, Violet quickly started making friends, and I as well, was able to strike up conversation with some of the people there. There were many families with young children (5 & under). And we later found, many as well, with teens (there was a teen panel for questions and answers later in the conference which was very interesting, they were very intelligent, engaging, interesting young adults!)
Violet went through the program and picked out some funshops that she really wanted go to, they included; Nintendo friends, American Girl Play, temporary tattoo parlor. She also ended up helping out with the Un-entreprenerial fair (she left her beaded bracelets at home), by helping her new friend Michelle make Poke-pals, which were pokemon characters made out of clay. I enjoyed the speakers there which included: 3-2-1 Blastoff with Crystal Miller, Chat for Newbies, Scott Noelle, Jan Hunt, and really enjoyed hearing Diana Jenner's story and takes on parenting and spirituality. The evening activities were a lot of fun. There was a pajama party, in which the kids started up an impromptu game of Duck, Duck, Goose and Ring around the Rosie. I was so impressed with all of the children and the way they treated each other so respectfully, and would watch out for the young ones, slowing down and "letting" them catch them, and helping them to their spots in the circle. The Talent show was full of amazing talent! There were singers, dancers, musicians, contortionists, pogo stick jumpers, hula hooping, comedians, sign language performance, upside down skateboarding. I was brought to tears a few times by not only my own child but other's children. Violet played her wooden flute and joined in with her new friend Karen, and her sisters, Linda and Melissa, while Karen played her bongo drum and the girls danced in their swirly skirts. We enjoyed meals in town at the Sunnyside restaurant which had organic food and yummy chai tea as well as some great tai food at Cha-da where we had some pad-thai, & pizza with our new friends, the Canfields. Before heading home we strolled 2nd street and Riverfront Park which ran along the Willamette River. There were some nice little shops with lots of original art very friendly people that we met along the way.
Mostly, I enjoyed spending time with Violet and seeing her enjoy her self so immensely in everything that she did, her interactions with others, her joy, her freedom to be herself, her compassion with others (she traded one of her newly acquired favorite cards with someone so that she wouldn't be "sad"). Although, there was a schedule of activities, we just kind of went with the flow and attended whatever struck our fancy at the moment. One moment I fondly remember was as we were walking to the Salbassgeon, a mild wind caught some pink petals and softly swirled them in a whirlwind pattern. Violet said, "look, mom, it's a petal-nado!" Just that one single moment, reminded me how insightful and truly creative my daughter is. Earlier, I was a little concerned that she would miss some things because she was so into her Nintendo so much, but while playing Nintendo, she was making so many new friends, she would come to me and show me her list of new friends on her Nintendo that she had met while in "bark mode". Some of her new friends even started calling her Pokemon Master!
Violet made friends with Karen who she actually met online before the conference. They hit it off any many ways and enjoyed lots of fun times in the pool.
When driving back to the airport I was pointing out so many sights that were attractive to me, and she had her head down playing her game. I had just treated her to the new Pearls Pokemon game while in town. But, once we were in the plane, she looked out the window, and mentioned how beautiful Oregon is. She didn't miss that! I learned from other children too. While not everyone connected with Violet, those that did were amazing children with their own unique qualities. I really hope that we stay connected with these children and their parents both at future conferences, and online, written notes, phone, and hopefully we can have visitors as well! Next year I really want Olivia and Dan to join us. I think they would get so much from it. Coming home, the pilot made a slight detour by Mt. Rainier. It was a very clear day, and we were so close you felt like you could reach out and touch it. There were a group of young men on their way to Camp Pendleton for basic training. I could overhear their excitement and expectations. One young man, it was it first flight, and you could hear him get nervous, then excited during different parts of the flight. One young man mentioned his girlfriend back home, and how he was gonna marry her when he got home. I couldn't help but think of their moms and of them as young boys and how hard it must be to let go of them. And how, some of them wouldn't be returning home. It made me really sad.
Many more photos in my Life is good set, as well as the group's pool.