We had a busy morning. First we moved rooms. I am really glad we did. We moved to a bigger room in the middle of all the action around the pool deck! Plus we have better internet. We went to breakfast in the hotel restaurant. The restaurant is modeled after a ship so that was cool. John took pics of us with my camera. He is getting to be a pretty good shot because I didn't do anything to the picture on the left. That is how he took it. He likes to line up his animals in action and take pics of them too. After breakfast, we signed in for the conference and made it to Trader's Joe for some snacks. The first session starts at 3pm.

The hotel lobby filled quickly with lots of kids. At first it was overwhelming but then it was just fun. All the kids were playing and laughing everywhere. John had his roller bag full of toys that he brought from the room and promptly empty for all to enjoy. At first I was trying to keep an eye on his toys but decided it would drive me crazy. I just let it go and decided to see what would happen over the weekend. John discovered these cool soft swords. I met Erica, Brandon, and Trevor Iwamura in the lobby. John was engaging Trevor in a sword fight. Erica was waiting for room and I enjoyed meeting her.

Gemma, a super cool 11 year old from Canada, had emailed the list several weeks prior about being available for babysitting. Brad jumped on it so we met up Gemma and we reviewed the weekend schedule that would work for her. So off Brad and I went to the two sessions of the afternoon. The first one was by Dianna Jenner called Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life. Half way through, I started crying. I couldn't stop so I left and went up to the room to finish crying hard. It was good cry. I only attended part of her lecture. The part I attended was very moving. Dianna's husband, Mitch, died of a brain tumor several years ago and then her little girl, Hannah, died of a brain tumor a few years after Mitch, her dad. Talk about pulling my insides out. Dianna talked a lot about gratitude which really stimulated me because I don't feel I show my gratitude for Brad and John being in my life and me in theirs. Dianna talked about wanting the time back with both her love ones to show that gratitude. Another point she hit on was caring for her son now that the death of both family members was over. She spoke of being angry that her son would wake up at 2 a.m. wanting a peanut butter sandwich. Dianna would stomp down to the kitchen and make this stupid sandwich and then she said it hit her....she would love to be making a sandwich for Hannah at 2 a.m. in the morning! She burst into tears and decided that wasn't the mother she wanted to be to her son. She also knew she wouldn't want a sandwich made with such bitter feelings towards her so why should she do that to someone she loves so dearly? She threw away that sandwich. She decided she was going to make a sandwich for her son with all the love and gratitude she had for him. That is when things changed for her. Another tidbit she mentioned that stuck with me was that trying is not a verb that can stand alone. She said if she is trying then she is withholding. Somewhere around this point is when the tears stopped streaming down my face and turned into a full cry...

Meanwhile John was at a Funshop called Body Art. I couldn't wait to see him, hug him and kiss him!

Next was a Circle Chat with Beth Fuller on Peaceful Partnerships.
There was a lot of information in this informal discussion. Brad's main take away was the way he viewed conflicts. We have a written list called Conflict Resolutions. It has worked well most of the time but we have come to place where it is not working as well anymore. So it was in this circle chat that it was suggested that the word conflict be replaced with contrast. With the word conflict, you're playing in the arena of win/lose, right/wrong. Looking at "contrasts", it opens up tons of possibilities for collaboration and creativity. Basically, Beth's whole idea behind Peaceful Partnerships is to take the ideas that unschooling applies to kids: Respect (they're fully human, not adults-to-be), Trust (they're born as learning machines, no experts required), etc., and apply it to adult relationships. It is just the next step to integrating unschooling into your whole life as a lifestyle. Another part of Peaceful Partnership is interdependence vs. independence. The old notion of independence is stressed as important because being strong and self sufficient are ideas promoted by academia. I like this idea that Beth talked about and letting go of idea of independence as all important but I am not at the place to embrace it yet. She also spoke of an essential piece to her peaceful partnership has been to be able to let go of the ideas of 'equal', 'fair', and 'right'. She says these ideas come from a competitive mindset. If she didn't feel her husband did his 'fair' share of whatever, she would treat him in less than respectful ways. This was justifiable to herself because she was only trying to do what was 'right'. Those terms are a hurdle for me overcome as well, especially since I am seeing how unschooling is a life style and includes everything. Another point she made was ideas like 'right' and 'fair' were not helpful to her having what she most craved: connection. She said she didn't judge her daughter based on how much she contributed to the household so why did she do that with her husband. She would only see what he did not do. She was competing with him (for what?). She was winning but she was losing her husband. She stopped doing that with her husband and started honoring him for all he is. She then saw his contributions to the family were huge, but they didn't always look the way she expected them to look. She now does more because she wants too and she can. She does it happily and with love and with no strings attached. In the past, if her husband did not have the time or energy to do one of 'his' tasks, then she would do it for him; But she would do it and either shame him or use it against him. She reflected how he must of felt so anxious and annoyed knowing his work was being monitored and judged.

John was in his second Funshop called Balloon Sword Madness. You can see his green face is the sea of kids and fun. Really that is the whole conference captured in one picture. It was dinner time now and I was ready for a nap. It had been a full day.However, the Coast Guard was doing a demo rescue right outside the hotel in the Columbia River. It was very cool and it drew everyone outside even though it was cold and raining. I went upstairs to our room to nap when Heather McDonald knocked to ask if she could change her daughter's diaper in our room. Sure! I met Heather on Wednesday night. She lives in Portland so she wasn't staying at the hotel. That brings me to my recommendations for next year. There needs to be a changing station area for families. The woman's restroom was getting a workout and the man's restroom didn't have a changing station. Another addition, a meditation room. I was already starting to talk really fast and not remember names and faces. A meditation room with calm music and some pillows to chill out on in between sessions would help a lot.

The evening was crazy with activity. Everyone was running from room to room meeting new people and hooking up with old friends. The Sabo Family was next door and John was jumping on their bed. It was great to meet Ginger and learn about her unschooling journey. It seemed all the families had signs on their doors too. So I borrowed some materials from our neighbors, The King Shawley Family (thanks again Mary) and made a door sign for our room. While I did that, John and Brad got in the heated outdoor pool and lots of kids filtered in and out of our room. The hallways were still filled with laughter and footsteps when we went to bed. I was happy to be at the conference with my family.

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