Rethinking Everything Days Three and Four – Playing, Learning and Growing

I am so far behind updating about my experience about Rethinking Everything, that I decided to post the final two days in one post.

Our third day was great, we opened with a family intention circle, something I learned about from Nova, a road schooler who I have a lot of respect for. The intention model we utilized was sitting in a circle, each person saying what they are grateful for, then saying what we want or hope for the day.  After each person has gone, you take 3 deep breathes as a group, then do 3 “oms” as a group. This is something we have tried to do on a daily basis since discovering the process.  It helps you to set your day off right, so you can support each other’s goals.

This day we had ZERO presentations, so we took a slow relaxing day.  There was a really fun bizarre bizarre where kids and adults sold items they had created. I got some knit wrist warmers (gloves with no fingers) and got Aliana an awesome green tape bag with a painted Rock Lobster inside.  Watching the kids create art so they could run a micro business was adorable and really exciting to see.

The kids raced through the hall, cruising around on the riding toys from Kids’ Village. When Aliana got rug burn on her tow, some kind mothers helped supply her with bandaids.  She completely forgot about the boo-boo when she heard the teen dance taking place in the cafeteria.  Of course, we busted in and danced our little hearts out.  Bill had a blow out all over our friend, Ellen, which I felt bad about but still found funny :p

It was a great day!  John attended the dad’s circle (SUDs – Society of Unschooling Dads).  He said it was great connecting to the group of dad’s on a similar journey.

The last full day we had two presentations – one was Bitcoin and Unschooling, John presented that and the crowd LOVED it.  We introduced the idea of the “uncoin”, a crypto currency for unschoolers, build on top of the Bitcoin Blockchain.  The second presentation was DIY Advocacy, I presented this one.  It wasn’t as well attended as the other 3 presentations we did, but it was dynamic none-the-less.  See a pic of my marker board in the gallery below.

We went swimming as a family and watched the boat making competition from the pool.  Check out the pics of kiddos making cardboard boats!  Several actually floated with kids in them!!!!

 

That evening was the family dance.  Aliana was the first one on the dance floor, cutting it up.  She exhausted herself and was asleep by 9pm.  Something that is rare in this family!!!  Before the dance she hung out in the sewing room with some pre-teen girls who made her a fancy skirt.  There is a pic of her getting “measured” by her dress maker, Ruby.

We woke up sad to leave – others were staying for a retreat, but we had to get home.  This Rethinking Everything was yet again life changing.  We came home with a new practice (morning Intention Circles), new and closer friendships, and my daughter learned to beat box.  How cool 😀

Enjoy the photos, we are already excited for next year.

 

 

 

Rethinking Everything, Day One: Crisis on the Way, Peace Upon Arrival

Yesterday we woke in Little Rock, Arkansas and hit the road for the final two hours of our trip to the Rethinking Everything Conference.  Just ten minutes from the 4H Conference facility, our final destination, we drove past a woman laying in a parking lot receiving CPR from a teenage girl. I had John turn around and I ran over to see how we could help.

The teen giving her CPR was pumping on her diaphram, not her chest and I suggested she stop. The womans heart was beating and she was breathing. The woman had tingling in her hands and feet, pressure in her chest and was having trouble breathing. I knew instantly she was likely having a panic attack as I had recently experienced my first stress induced anxiety attack and recognized the symptoms.  I helped her to regulate her breathing while we waited for help to arrive. Sure enough, we later found out she had taken 5 hour energy with redbull and and her body was exhausted from overwork and she had fallen victim to a panic attack.

What a dramatic arrival.

We checked into RE and ran into many familar faces. We played in the always-epic children’s village, enjoyed swords made of balloons, went swimming, devoured delicious grub, watched giant bubbles be made next to the lake, then participated in a letting go and setting new intentions ceremony at the evening bonfire.

Honestly, we didn’t know what we were walking up to when we arrived at the bonfire. We were told we could walk down this beautifully candle lit path to a note writing station where we would write down the things causing us greif. These are things we have not let go of, stressors, things causing us anxiety. We were to then drop them in the second fire at the end of the path and return via the candle lit path to the lakeside bon fire. Once returned we were to set a new intention with candles in floating votives, and send them out onto the lake.

The walk was amzing. John and I talked about our pasts while our children drifted to sleep (Ali in my arms, Bill in the stroller). We burned our anxieties and returned to set new intentions on the lake.

When we got back to our bunk I took a long hot bath and enjoyed reading an issue of Home Education Magazine. We drifted to sleep and woke feeling anew. John is currently presenting our Unschooling and Anarchism talk so I could let our kids sleep in. I am excited to see what Day 2 will bring!

Here are some pics from the day!

 

 

Unschooling on a Rainy day

Although we are now back to sunshine and upper 80’s and 90’s, rainy days are an excellent opportunity for the whole family to learn about water! The kids particularly like it as an opportunity to learn and play!

During our morning trip out to the front yard garden we saw gray thunder clouds and began talking about rain and where it comes from. Miss Ali danced and played while the first sprinkles hit us, then they took turns with mom running through the downpour from the front porch to the carport.

 Ali in the rain

She learned the way water affects different walking surfaces and where she could run or only walk. She learned about mud, clouds, temperature, how plants need water, how water gathers into streams or puddles, how fabric reacts to rain and how to collect water running off the house.  It was awesome, she was truly alive and loving the experience.

When we came in we warmed up with a hot bath and continued talking about water in the tub.  We then made popcorn and piled pillows from all over the house in the living room to watch a cartoon about the water cycle. We then followed our short film with a dance party to songs we found on youtube with water cycle lyrics. The day isn’t over and we still have plenty of opportunities to discuss water. Making tea, washing our dinner dishes, and changing the laundry are a few opportunities we will have in the next few hours!

Now that I’ve been introduced to unschooling, I look at our day to day lives differently. Today has been truly sensational. Thanks for the rain, Mother Nature! And thanks for the new outlook on life, Rethinking Everything conference!

Rethinking Everything – A Conference That Changed My Life!

This past weekend I was introduced to the most joyful, free-living and centered people I have ever met.  In fact, I am still coming down from the high I felt at the Rethinking Everything Conference in Irving, Texas.  This event took place for the 17th time and brought together entire families dedicated to raising free, creative, and curious children.Some of the adult attendees have come every year since early childhood and now attend with their parents and their own children! The history and community ran deep with these people, and I couldn’t help but simply sit back and watch in awe as they introduced me to revolutionary ideas about raising children and becoming better people.

I have worked the libertarian/liberty speaking circuits for years, while that movement seemed huge to me once I found myself emmersed, I have now been made aware of another movement of like-minded people who are kinder, gentler, and more happy than most of the people I meet at liberty events.

Our family was invited to speak on anarchy and unschooling, entrepreneurship and alternative currencies, and Sovereign Living, our efforts to get off centralized institutions such as government and corporate food chains. We were also able to screen the first three episodes of the reality show about our efforts, also called Sovereign Living (www.sovereignliving.tv).

Our talks were well attended with about 40 people in each session.  The conversations we had after each speech were powerful and dynamic and full of curiosity.  Not everyone agreed with our philosophy, especially on self defense/gun ownership, but the conversations were incredibly positive despite the differing views.

I have jumped across the country to camping festivals, hotel conferences,  and rallies to talk about the philosophy of freedom.  This was the first time I truly felt I was surrounded by people LIVING this philosophy. Watching hundreds of children interact with each other through their various interests was absolutely fascinating to me.At most liberty events, children are few and far between.   Its very hard on me as a new mother practicing attachment parenting because events are held at non-child friendly places and I have to exert massive amount of energy to ensure the safety of my kids while still participating in the meeting while not disturbing those also attending.This event was designed around entire families.  No one even noticed kids interrupting lectures or discussions or workshops, they were simply part of the event and something everyone seemed to expect and enjoy.  The event was designed around fun and learning for EVERYONE, not just the kids.

There were yoga classes, belly dancing, nerf gun wars, a room full of legos, a room full of dress up clothes, gaming rooms, a visit from the zoo, a talent show, a hypnotist, q&as daily about unschooling and more. I know my attendance at this event is just the tip of the iceberg and I am so excited to create my life around unshooling.
The most powerful lesson I learned was letting kids work out conflict on their own.  The first few days I was there I would get in the middle of my daughter and other kids interacting, especially if someone was toy hogging or being a bully.  After watching the other attendees’ let the children work it out and look on at me with a knowing smile, I decided to back off.
It was AMAZING watching my daughter remove herself from situations that weren’t going well, or seeing other kids decide to play with something else after Aliana took their toy.  No parental intervention, no tears.  They may only be a few years old, but they are capable of working out these situations on their own.  How empowering!!!!  It took only a few days and Aliana quit turning to me for help, and simply interacted at her own pace with the other kids.  This simple idea has profoundly changed the way I see my role as a parent.
Are you an unschooling family?    I have questions as a mother of young children I’d like to get answered as I walk further down this path:
Is alone time a possibility for mothers who unschool?
Do most unschooled toddlers go through the “terrible twos” or extreme mood swings that you traditionally hear about?
How do radical unschool families deal with food freedom?  I am a strong believer in eating fabulous food (organic, nongmo, etc….) and right now I have toddler who only has access to the food I provide.  Soon enough she may go to a friends, or another place that has food I don’t “approve” of, how do I deal with this?Thanks for reading!
Catherine