Wednesday, September 17

Live and Learn 2008 .... part 2

I had a moment of fluster realizing I was "wasting money" on a game we already had. But it was not wasting money. it was an investment in household harmony. -Tamara Markwick, mom to Bradley and Landers

(Sorry about the delay. I was running through 4 AA batteries for every few pictures uploaded on my dial-up, so I waited to continue until we got an adapter to plug the camera into the outlet!)

Wyl was so excited when we got in the room (right after we checked in about 3:30). He took out all of his Pokemon and other stuffed animals, set them up in various locations and positions, grabbed his briefcase (the briefcase those of you who were there shall note was the one that was lost 3, 4, 5 times. :~) THANK YOU to those who helped us find it. Repeatedly.), got one of his notebooks with a good cover, the scissors and proceeded to cut out door-handle signs out of the cardboard cover (like the "Do Not Disturb" signs that were there when we arrived) and made "Do Disturb" and "Pokemon Party" signs to hang on our doorknob. :~) As he was finishing up that, we heard some folks coming in! (We had been the very first ones in Weatherford) The boys took off and met Faith, Easy, Malila and Zola a few minutes before they got to our door and Dave and I met them as well. Faith must have spent *hours* that week, pushing Storm, Wyl, Scott, Zola and Easy (and who knows what other kids in our hall! LOL) up and down the hall on the luggage cart! *Thanks*, Faith-my kids loved it! They also loved movie watching with you!

It was so cool-every time I walked to the front or came back into the hall from points further out, there were more people to meet! In the dining area, in the kitchen, in the halls-it was awesome for a sanguine extrovert like myself :~) Unfortunately, I don't remember names well, so I probably embarrassed myself many times, asking (and re-asking) people's names I'd already met. I'm sorry!

So, our trip to Olive Garden (jeeze, Cameron-I was worried the whole trip that I was going to get a speeding ticket!) gave me the first indication of what I was in for the "week" of the conference. After I got settled in and quit worrying if we were spending too much money on dinner, I got to chat with folks near me, and look around a bit. In the room we had off to the side for ourselves, it really felt like a big, Italian *family* dinner!

After we got back to the room and settled in, it was my night "out". I wandered over to the BRC (big, main building where the gaming room and chow was-for those who don't know). I wandered a bit and was kind of taking it all in when Wyl raced over to me and asked for the keys to the van. He had packed plastic and (mostly) foam swords, knives, helmets, shields, a plate mail or two and other odd bits and pieces and he brought them out for an im-promptu "ad-venture" funshop! Wow - at home, Wyl (and Storm to a lesser degree) is the only kid who can play such "involved" adventure and for so long! It was awe-some for me to see him find a huge bunch of kids that could play right along with him at his pace!! So, so cool.

The Adventure spread out to all corners of the BRC, included all ages, guys and gals and just seemed like so much fun. (Even people who were known for not hanging around with younger people were joining in ::big grin:: ) Nuances cropped up that I hadn't seen or heard of before. I watched for quite a while, chatting and getting to know folks here and there and finally after well over an hour, I realized I didn't have my camera! So, I ran back to the room and grabbed it.

Hide and seek mixed with battle mixed with tag. It was very cool. Some-where in the midst of the ob-serving, photo taking and chat-ting I managed to find a quiet moment to just *be*. I let the vibe sink in... it felt like I had come *home*. In-describ-able, but cool. ::grin ::

I got some time to sit and chat, but mostly wanted to just take it all in. I hope I didn't seem anti-social, and it really *is* pretty unusual for me to just sit and be quiet, but that's what I needed in the moment. :~)

It was a tiny bit intimi-dating to be the newbie in the hubbub of old friends reacquainting, but I knew I had a week to settle in and meet folks and find my own "ad-venture". :~D (Forgive the photo fuzzi-ness, if you will. I'm not sure if I had the camera on the wrong setting of I just didn't hold it steady enough...) It *did* feel nice and warm to be hugged hello by old acquaintances. It was cool to finally put faces to names of folks I had "been reading" for years.

Wed-nesday morning was a rush of folks coming and register-ing - I would have been over-whelmed if I'd have come Wed-nesday. I was SO glad I had come a day early to ac-climate myself.

The Adventure picked up right where it had left off the night before and actually, was a pretty steady item throug-hout the whole week. Most of the morning was just a sea of faces... I hope I didn't pass someone by that I knew! Then again, there are people that you just come together with, that feel so comfy... Scott and Wyl seemed to pick right up where they had left off 7 months before, as if they had called it quits for the night and met up again the next morning. Cool. We got to play with Scott a lot all week and really got to know him better. :~) Thanks, Scott, for the Link hat-Storm LOVES it! Oooh... I should take a pic of him in it tomorrow and put it in here... (His mouth is open because he's singing the Zelda theme music)

There was a scaven-ger hunt that was *so* fun!! We had a blast trying to find things, gather things and "fudge" things. One of my favor-ites was "Kelly Lovejoy's Badge", which Kelly *swore* she wouldn't give up to anyone and she'd even sleep with it under her pillow... ::very big grin:: There were only 2 teams that showed up with stuff and so we both won, since there were 3 prizes. We still haven't found a good day for flying our kite, yet, but we will...

The game room was cool. Not really what I'd imagined, but wonderful in it's reality. Rock Band was very popular and I'm glad 3 of us "roadied" our "equipment". :~D I wish I'd have had more time to play with other folks, but we're planning on taking it to UWWG, so maybe there. I'm in the process of setting up a home-schooler's Rock Band outing once or twice a month in downtown Akron, so hopefully, I'll get the chance.

I didn't get to all the funshops and talks I wanted to, but what I did was enough. Imagine that! I left on Monday feeling quite satisfied and content, not at all like I had missed out. Although, I do have to say, I was *really* looking forward to meeting Sandra and Dianna & Hayden. I guess that just means we need to make another road trip. Or two!! :~)

Oh, I almost forgot my trip to Lee Hall. Or should I say my *first* trip. I had no idea how steep that bugger was. I mean, you can easily see it is *up* there, but not how steep the incline is. I didn't notice the heat or the humidity that day until I was about half way up, hoping and begging the fates that my knee would hold out to the top. I slowed down after my initial pace and tortoise-like, made my way to the top, seemingly an inch at a time. I got to the top of the drive and looked up, up, up the stairs at the hall. Ohy. I made my way over to where there was a handrail, to help my knee as much as possible-even though there were folks sitting up at the top of that path. My knee really needed that handrail... So, I made it to the top without my knee giving out and as I stepped up the last stair, those folks sitting at the top (apparently having read my namebadge) *applauded* me and said, "You made it, De". I think that's what they said. My humiliation pretty much obliterated anything else in the next minute or so. I smiled and nodded and scooted off, my face would have turned red had it not already been so from the climb. I went indoors to sit and mope and pout about how *mean* those people had been to the fat person. Aren't unschoolers supposed to be better than that? I whined to myself. Completely embarrassed and figuratively licking my wounds, I sat on a love-seat kind of thing just inside the door. I looked for Dave to complain about the whole situation and when I went to get up, THEN my knee went out. LOL At least I had made it to the top. Well, after my knee rested, we got over the "emergency" of Wyl getting "separated" from us (he was at BRC and we had failed to let him know we were going up to Lee), getting snow cones for the boys and sharing popcorn, I headed out on the porch. Laura was just finishing that huge climb up to Lee and she paused and leaned on a pillar while she recovered and caught her breath. She said something about it being so hard and I noticed how hard she was breathing and it clicked. They weren't MOCKING me, it was truly a spectacular climb and they were likely encouraging and congratulating all the folks that made the climb!! Ohy... That's what I get for jumping to conclusions-and on a bad knee, yet. Guess I learned a little bit about how I feel about De that afternoon.

Dave had *his* night "out" that night and I crashed early with Storm. Breakfast comes mighty early to folks used to getting up after 10 AM....

Monday, September 15

Live and Learn 2008 .... part 1

"There is no single effort more radical in it's potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children." Marianne Williamson

Our first L & L... Where to *begin*?!

I joined Unschooling Discussion *right* before St. Louis... I probably could have scrambled and gotten in (and it was the closest one to us!), but I didn't feel that we "could" go, being as we weren't fully committed to unschooling and we definitely weren't radical unschoolers. Ah, to have gone to a Live & Learn conference back then... Ever since, I've been interested in going-since Albuquerque, I've wanted to make it *sooo much*! It had become this Mecca, this pilgrimage in my mind. The place where, if I could just make it, I would then be A Whole Life, Radical Unschooler. :~D Well... until this past year or so, when I really seemed to find my groove. Not that it diminished my desire to be at L & L with other unschoolers, day in and day out for the better part of a week... In fact, when (during the last month leading up to 2008) money was so tight, I wasn't sure if we'd have enough money for gas for the trip and food on days we didn't have the BRA cafeteria to rely on, I was afraid to get excited about the trip... Afraid that it wouldn't happen and my disappointment would be to huge to deal with rationally. (Obviously we *did* make it, thank goodness). I had thought our tax stimulus would cover things, and it did up to a point, and then we had to dip into the remainder because of stuff that came up. Ugh. It happens too often for my peace of mind.

So, when it was clear (a couple days before departure) that we *could* actually make it (can you imagine having all the room, food, shirts, con- ference fee, etc. all paid for and not be able to make it because you didn't have enough GAS?! Ohy...), we had SO much fun decorating the van for the trip! It was hot and sweaty, but there was so much Joy in the whole process-even when I misjudged my back bumper and the whole "Warning: Unsocialized homeschoolers on board!" wouldn't fit, and I washed it all off and started over again. It worked out well, anyhow, because the red didn't show

up on the gray so well to begin with, and I had the idea to leave a bit of space and outline it with white, and that just made it *pop*. Cool.

Wyl did the Super Mario stuff,
including the mushroom, star and fire flower on the wheels.

And just in case no one can tell, that says, "Let's A-Go To Live and Learn" (as it would be said in a Mario accent :: grin ::).

^Storm did most of the driver's side behind the driver door just as high as his arms could reach! ^

Wyl thoughtfully wrote Storm's name on the window, since Storm isn't quite writing, yet.
Dave did the flags and the flames. I thought the Ohio flag was a super-cool idea. We're also kind of state-proud that it is the only non-square/rectangle flag in the 50 states.

And I did the rest. It is kind
of addicting! I kept thinking of stuff
as I drove and kept adding when we
stopped. Two and a half hours from
BRA, as we left the hotel, I added my
screennames to my door and my emotie.
I meant to put this emotie as well
but the liquid chalk was running down the
car from having washed the sponges and
not drying them well enough, so I got
distracted and that was enough for me to
forget. LOL
(Oh, and as noted on the Live and Learn Yahoo group, the liquid chalk that is made for *windows* is rather permanent on that nice, wide expanse of white van. If you don't want your artwork and words permanent on the side of your vehicle, I would strongly advise not using liquid chalk! Someone who's used poster paint before reccomends that-says it rinses off in the rain.)

I packed too much. I always do. I'm so worried that the boys will run out of clothes (how could they? they rarely change clothes!), that they will get wet or muddy or some other sticky or dirty mess and need to change into clothes I hadn't planned for... When you don't have extra money for the laundromat, and you're far from home... well, those are the kind of things my brain chooses to latch onto. I often don't have enough clothes, but I packed lots of extra and I had *just* enough. Yay!! I will have *more* clothes, now, thanks to Robyn and her sharing of "reverse tie dying" for clothes that are solid, but "less than optimal" visually. Boy, do I have a LOT of those...

The trip itself was almost uneventful. When we started out, it was so nice and cool. Low 70s. Amazing how different the air is in the *morning* (us late night folks don't often get to experience that. LOL). We kept the windows closed so we could *hear* and that necessitated a bit of air conditioning to stave off the stuffiness and the sun shining in all those windows. Well, just over half way through the trip (well past Storm's average napping time), legs were needing stretched, folks were getting antsy and Dave and I needed a bathroom break. So, we pulled off the next place we saw - Virgina somewhere - (very aggrivating exit which advertized a McDonald's, but didn't say until you were already off the freeway/highway that it was a 3 mile drive with 4 turns to get to it!) and once we pulled into the parking lot, we were ready to get out! I had the boys grab a ball to go run in the grass, and opened my door to this huge oven-blast of *hot* air! That really surprised me. For one of the first times since Storm had gotten stung, he was too gung ho to go to bother with shoes (he'd been *very* insistent on always wearing shoes outdoors after he got stung twice in one day at Goodyear Metropark), so Dave grabbed the ball while I helped Wyl find what he needed and got my own shoes on and took Storm across a drive way to the farther-from-the-road patch of grass. Not 90 seconds after he got out of the car, there was a scream and yell-crying! At first, I thought he was just super-cranky from being tired and hungry, but it was just a moment before I realized something was up. The "something" was a *bad* bee sting! Poor little kiddo... we had used up my bee sting kit on his other two stings. I only got stung once as a kid (well, once in my life so far), Wyl made it to at least 8 before he got stung, and I just didn't expect so many stings in such a short time... He was inconsolable. I managed to comfort him down from ear-piercing screams (that had everyone looking our way) to wails and sobs and each breath was, "ow.ow.ow.ow.ow.ow.ow.ow" then a sob or a moan or a wail or a not-so-piercing scream. He wouldn't let us take the stinger out (though it came out somewhere along the way). He wouldn't let me blow on it. He wouldn't let us put ice on it. And by "wouldn't let", I truly mean he made sure it didn't happen! He was adamant. No hugging, no looking at it, no stroking, no kissing, no rocking, nothing. Dave took a turn at the bathroom which gave him time to chill and calm down, then while I took Wyl to the bathroom with me, Dave took over. By the time I came back out, he was calm. It was a long 10-15 minutes of severe upset before that happened. We got the fruit out of the cooler from the back, refilled everyone's water bottles when we stopped across the street for some more sting stuff, and headed back to the road. By the time we got up the onramp, Storm was asleep. I had settled into the passenger seat for a nap and Wyl was quietly drawing, so that was it for the excitement for the day!

The novelty of a borrowed DVD player took up a lot of time, and we planned the overnight stay *perfectly*. No one was over tired or sick of being in the car by the time we got to the Holiday Inn and we had plenty of energy to swim! Only one stop the whole day. The little potty came in handy, though. That cut out one stop. Dave made his wonderful bean and cheese and salsa burritos and we got to bed at a decent hour and were ready to go the next day. We made it up in time for breakfast *and* got on the road as planned!! A whole bunch of firsts.

We only had just over 2 hours left to drive to make it to the BRA and that was a nice late morning, early afternoon drive. We're so used to afternoon, evening events *and* we tend to be late, it slipped my mind that we had arrived an hour an a half before check in. Not only "not late", but *early*!!! So, I was a bit embarrassed when the staff at the check-in window told me I had to wait until 3 PM. I *knew* that, I just never figured it would happen that *we* would be early, so it wasn't in the forefront of my mind. :~D Well, after a trip around Ashville looking for the native American restaurant we wanted to try (and finding out they're closed on Mondays! LOL), we ended up signing in with no lunch, so we were *ready* for dinner when everyone headed to Olive Garden.

The picture is kind of a fallacy, because we *forgot* to bring our awesome door sign we'd made ourselves at Kalahari, and waited until the Wednesday funshop to make a new one. Then, we didn't actually get it put up *on* the door until late Wednesday or early Thursday... I kind of forget, since about that point, the days just kind of blurred together. LOL

That took us through the evening of Tuesday. That night was cool, but since this is so long already, I'm going to start the next entry with that. Gee, I didn't know it was going to run SO very long! Hope I'm not boring everyone... LOL Ah, well. It's my blog and my perogative. Besides, I'll never ever know if you skip around or jump ahead.

Sunday, September 14

Anyone up for tutoring me on the html of blogging?

Seriously! I would love to have someone in the know give me tips and hints or be available for e-mail (or IM) conferencing to help me figure out stuff. Anyone who's up for it, please e-mail me at either


What's up with BiggWylma?!

The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser - in case you thought optimism was dead. -Robert Brault, software developer, writer (1972- )

I'm astounded-nothing since APRIL?? Yikes. I guess we've had a busy summer! Well, as a little bite to get back into a (hopefully) regular posting mode, I'm going to explain where my screen name came from. Since people tend to ask (since my name isn't Wylma or Wilma or anything of the sort) often, I thought I'd put it down for posterity. (Isn't there a way to change the background color for each entry?)

Okay, so here it is. I like to play with words. I just couldn't reconcile myself to a simple version of my first and last names. The account I was creating was intended to be for my homeschooling research and general "stuff". At the time I started this screen name, I had only a son named Wyl (pronounced "Will"), short for Wyllyam. I'm his mama or his Ma. On AOL, "WylMa" was already taken. I'm a pretty big gal. BigWylma was taken already. So, I just added another "G" and it became BiggWylma. The problem *now*, is that I'm not just Wyl's ma, I'm also Storm's ma. So, I've been thinking of creating one that is something (since we often call Storm "Stormy") like: StormyWylma... but I'm not sure if we're done adding to the family... so... do I change it now and then again later if we add on? Or do I wait...? Not a big dilemma, but I do wonder how Storm might feel about it once it enters his realm of awareness...

I've been debating about how to start my post about Live and Learn (now that I'm on the downside of the conference crud)... Wondering if I should just post and then edit and add in photos and additional thoughts after it is already out there, or if I should just keep it in "draft" mode... I think I'm leaning toward "draft" mode, but if anyone shouts out and says something about having it out there and added to, I might lean that way.

Now, Wyl wants the phone line for his computer, so I'm off...