updates from the incorporated village of Cutetown

First, here’s a picture of Nels, being so sweet I want to bite him. He likes to have the “towel hat” made for him, you know how fancy ladies don after their ablutions.

Nels, Post-Bath

Secondly: in just a few days we’re sending the Taylor family to the Life is Good Unschooling Conference. They are registered and ready to go!

I want to first thank those who’ve donated, shared, or in any way supported our endeavor. Financially, we have had six donors so far put in a total of $290 – and we estimate our scholarship cost, when paid out in full, will be about $700.

The scholarship process has been a positive one. I am very grateful we chose to do this, even though it meant forfeiting our own trip to the Conference. I am especially grateful for my very generous children, who were willing to make that sacrifice if the scholarship was not donor-funded in full. And this year, I am pleased to be sending unschooling “newbies” to the Conference. I think the experience will help them a great deal as they embark on this journey!

We are still taking donations. If you are interested in helping, please share, tweet, post on Facebook, or Paypal kelly AT hogaboom DOT org. Any small – or large – donation helps!

Thank you so much.

Nels, Post-Bath

the air that I breathe & to love you

Caught In The Act

Caught In The Act

Caught In The Act

The sun is out and there’s something about the air; it’s still got a bit of chill especially as the evening falls but I find I’m feeling restless for the summer. We’re down to one car and we’d better fix a few things on that or we’ll be down to zero (sorry to talk about the cars again; it’s just where we live, family-of-four life without a car is no joke). I turn the engine over and the Mercedes belches out grey smoke and coughs for a while while it warms up. This car. The missing muffler and the screaming belt. I am serious. It’s funny. Sorry neighbors. I still love it, though.

It’s the sunshine and the car trouble so I say something out loud before I’ve thought it through, I don’t know if we’ll get a vacation this year, and I’m okay with it, just thinking of hot sand and doing nowt and just picturing the little pots of money moving them back and forth, more than enough to feed us and shelter us so no worries. But:

“It will be worth it,” my daughter says. “We’ll have sent a family to the unschooling conference.” That’s cool. It’s like as a parent you make these decisions as best you can, and you bet we made this decision as a family, informed consent, but it’s cool the kids aren’t backing down even while I’m teetering on feeling like an ass.

She continues: “They’ll have a wonderful time.”

I say, “We had sixteen families apply for our scholarship. They are all great applicants. Would you like daddy and I to make the final decision, or would you like to help?”

“Oh, I’d love to help!” Her response is immediate. We talk about it a bit. We share ideas about criteria for selection. I put the car in gear and we head out to take her to swim team. My son puts his hand on my arm and tells me he loves me.

***

Later, Ralph’s out of town, I walk in the falling shroud of darkness, wet and cold, I’m with the dog, off a little over a mile to pick up my daughter. In the backpack I’ve a couple rolls for her to eat, a big woolen hat and a coat. Hutch trots at my side, HAPPIER THAN ANYTHING EVER just to be along with me. Even after his massive weight loss he is still a big dog, and despite his obviously friendly, mild body language, sometimes people cross the street when they see him. In fact, walking at night alone as a lady, I don’t mind having a huge dog alongside. He is the gentlest creature ever though and I have no idea how much he’d protect me if I were accosted, that is unless my assailant was a giant hot dog.

Over the bridge and across the deep, dark river, which fills me with terror. I love the evenings, people hurrying home or perhaps off to parties or out of town. I’m alone but others are awake. I’m wrapped in a big scarf and my plastic jacket. My body feels good and my mind does as well. Every day as my last drink recedes from me, further away, I am profoundly aware of my gift of sobriety. I hate to talk about that so much too but, it’s on my mind and in my heart, often and daily. Every day I work with people and I see how many don’t keep a continuous sobriety, and heck those are the ones even trying to get help, “tip of the iceberg” doesn’t cut it. Every day I know less and less about Why for all of it. There’s nothing that sets me apart as being so fortunate but I am and so I don’t piss it away by being ungrateful or unconscious.

“If you don’t drink today, you’ll never drink again.” I heard this today. I tell my husband. He doesn’t quite understand. I explain it a little but it’s okay if people don’t understand. I understand.

My daughter is pleased to see us. She is out of the locker room at one minute past seven; she is on time. We both thank one another for being punctual. She bites the first roll and then tears off a chunk for the dog; he CLOPS it up and then CLOPS, CLOPS in gratitude or beseechment or both. We travel to the store by foot and buy two bananas to fulfill requirements for a loaf of banana bread; we have two quarters and the sum total is 49 cents and I’m pleased. Later Nels will eat the bananas without asking about them first, then he apologizes. For all his devilry he takes it very seriously when he makes a mistake or inconveniences others, probably too seriously. And so I’ll send Ralph to the store to get some more bananas tomorrow, so he can bake a quickbread for our daughter before she gets up.

an unschooling morning

In the AM, I took a few pictures of what was up. Planned to take a few more later in the day but this is what I got.

an #unschooling morning

Nels wakes up and if he finds himself alone he usually comes and finds another person in a room, and falls asleep. He can sleep cuddled up next to someone, or on the floor, or here on the couch. Josie (lower-right) contemplates joining him.

an #unschooling morning

Just part of a sketch my daughter made. She draws about fifty figures a day on average. I shit thee not.

an #unschooling morning

an #unschooling morning

an #unschooling morning

I can’t remember what they were reading to one another, here. It’s pretty cool every morning they get to wake up and have a snuggly morning. Good stuff. No wonder they’re growing up so good.

After Nels ate breakfast, got dressed, & cleaned up, he spent some quality pet time:

an #unschooling morning

an #unschooling morning

Hamilton. Lap-magnet.

an #unschooling morning

an #unschooling morning

A couple pictures for people who might get the impression I always have a tidy  home. I think my home is tidy only about thirty percent of the time. In fact as of late it’s been messy because we had dog drama, then I had a very busy day, then I fell ill and am still recovering. Only the bare minimum of household work is getting done on my part, although of course the kids do their part with dishes, laundry, sweeping, and pet care.

At some point after these little snapshots we got busy as hell; mostly I was sewing up a difficult project – then Ralph and I had a Monday evening commitment. The days fly by, which is why it’s all the more important I practice mindfulness and meditation.

UNSCHOOLING PRODUCES UNNATURAL CHILDREN

one plus one. really?

Thanksgiving, we had our four family members and one lovely dinner guest. Ralph and I made – all from scratch:

A Michigander-style 16 pound turkey
Mashed potatoes & gravy
Sauteed green beans
Roasted lemon asparagus
Crescent rolls
Celery & butter stuffing
Fresh cranberry-orange sauce
Waldorf salad (with pears, apples, sour cherries and spiced pecans)
A pumpkin pie (from fresh-roasted pumpkin)
A dark chocolate / coconut custard cream pie w/organic whipped cream

The grocery bill for all of this, including the dinner and foodstuffs from the day before, came to a little over ninety bucks. That is PRETTY GOOD shopping considering I am not much of a Financial Panther. I was pretty relaxed and had a great time doing the shopping – and yes, it was during one of those intense shopping-mart rushes, and I had both kids, and had to park a full block away. And I was just, enjoying myself. In fact it was one of those wonderful, so-glad-to-be-alive and in-the-moment experiences. And I was also thinking of all the women I saw in their hustling-ass for their families. We need to give women more credit.

(I wrote it in the comments for a previous post, but I gotta write more about it here):

Yesterday, after swim team practice, my daughter is approached by a girl about thirteen. The girl asks,

“Do you go to school?”

“No,” Phoenix answers.

“What is one plus one?” the kid challenges.

“Stop bothering me with silly questions,” Phoenix retorts.*

I DIE A THOUSAND DEATHS AT HOW AWESOME MY DAUGHTER IS. I just… I can’t tell you. When I was my daughter’s age I was guarded about everything. I vacillated between being authentic and badass and brash – then shrinking up out of fear. I had no method of coping for condescension – let alone something as elegant as Phoenix’s straight-forward call-out. I wanted to be good at everything and I wanted to be liked, and I was easily shamed, especially by someone bigger than me or with more authority. If it were me I would have probably answered, “Two,” and felt humiliated, and that humiliation would have turned to anger, and I wouldn’t have known what to do different next time. Phoenix is the calmest and most centered girl. I take virtually no credit except I continue to learn to get out of the way, and listen deeply and give her the nurture she needs.

What is it with unschooling coming up more lately? I trust it will die down again. It goes in spurts. You know, spurts where we get to live our life without being commented upon or outright harassed. I am not complaining. No really! It is just odd it’s been coming up. Like while this thing was happening to my daughter, someone was telling her father how good it is Phee is on the swim team: “Oh that’s good, get her out of the house. Get her some socialization!”

No, really.

UNSCHOOLING PRODUCES UNNATURAL CHILDREN

 

Anyway so last night my daughter and I watch one of our favorite shows, “River Monsters” from Animal Planet (we are both HUGE Jeremy Wade fans). My kids are expert movie riffers.

“In order to catch this monster sting ray, I was going to have to do something I’d never done before -”

” – dress as a Sexy Lady Ray!”

then

“The residents were finding enormous bullsharks in the place they least expected -”

“a HOT DOG CART!”

… and so on. Many giggles into the night until we got too sleepy to watch and fell asleep all cuddled-up like.

***

* my daughter tells me she and this girl are now friends.

"You happy now, bitch?"

a rebuttal

Another typical unschooling-defamation piece makes its way into my Tweetstream. I was inspired to make a little something I will picture in my mind every time this happens. Call it my personal moment of Zen.

"You happy now, bitch?"

This little bit of Photoshoppery has nothing to do with unschooling. It has everything to do with being awesome. For instance how awesomely I LOL every time I read or hear some other persnickety, tired-out, anti-child, parent-dissing pearl-clutching screed recommending enforced child-class institutionalization.

***

In other news: I wrote a new post at UB, but it’s kinda grouchy, fair warning. I had a good day today though, honestly.

like a bee

Today:

Upcycled Wool Hat, Prototype

I posted a for-sale hat at Homesewn, thanks to my friend E.

Grandma Paints A Mural; Hutch Watches Over

Mural-sitting for my mother, who needs someone to watch over the manlift. I don’t get it as supposedly someone has to be there, but there is no training required or documentation. ANYhoo let’s just wait it out, she’ll be done in a few days.

Ladyfriend & perhaps future sisterwife hsofia posted her presentation of Unschooling as a Life Hack; she used a few photos of ours. Professional, human, warm and wonderful!

stole my money, & my cigarettes

Before I forget. I wrote a piece about unschooling, and the many comments “skeptics” like to make. I hope you find it helpful.

***

Hot. Friends invited us to the River. Where we hid out. It was excellent.

Wynoochie River With Friends

Wynoochie River With Friends

Wynoochie River With Friends

NELS’ TEETH, I DIE EVERY TIME

A few pictures of a shy guy, my friend S. Whom I adore. My kids love him too. Kids are a good judge of a person.

S. at Wynoochie Wildwood

S. at Wynoochie Wildwood

S. at Wynoochie Wildwood

S. at Wynoochie Wildwood

RIVER-DOG

Hutch, GOOD DOG At The River

My mom’s birthday. I made her a custom pincushion and got her flowers; then set up a surprise movie/dinner date complete with SUPER-SURPRISE birthday visit from my brother and his lady. Anyway here are the presents:

Jenny's 63rd Birthday

Jenny's 63rd Birthday

The local florist in Hoquiam is wonderful. Lucky to have some great businesses here.

published with permission

Today The Atlantic features another post on radical unschooling. It is called “School’s Out Forever: Parents Who Don’t Believe in Education”. Despite the title (LE SIGH) It’s not the worst mainstream piece on unschooling I’ve seen (it’s sad I’m all jaded and shit! – but, my readers will remember recent history). ANYway I thought I’d publish my piece about the conference we attended. I’ll point out one thing: this is featured in the latest issue of Life Learning Magazine. They are a wonderful, independent publication and I’m grateful they find my work up to their caliber. I highly endorse them and hope you will support them.

“understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing”: reasons to attend an Unschooling conference
by Kelly Hogaboom (July/Aug 2012 Natural Life Magazine)

 
My husband, two children, and I recently returned from our first-ever family-oriented convention: the Life is Good Unschooling Conference, traditionally held in May in the city of Vancouver, Washington, the United States. We didn’t have the financial capability for the registration fee, the hotel charge, and food on the road, so several months ago I asked blog readers if they’d financially assist. And assist they did, their aggregate donations funding the trip in full. I am – obviously – very grateful for this, and here I’d like to briefly mention a few reasons why.

My original desire to attend the conference was purely for the benefit of our two children. Full-stop. I knew they’d enjoy it (although I didn’t realize how much they would) but I didn’t have any particular expectations for my experience or that of my husband’s. Our position was similar to that of fellow life learning parent Amy Bradstreet, who wrote about her first unschooling conference two years ago: 

“We didn’t attend because we needed convincing as we are dedicated to unschooling and learning in freedom, and it’s not really that we needed more information […] [W]e are fortunate that we have an established network of relaxed-unschooly-homeschooling families in our area, but our conference experience was indeed life-changing.” (onbradstreet.com, August 31st 2010, emphasis mine).

 

As it turned out the conference was indeed life changing for all of us. I’d like to attend next year, and I’d like even more to raise a scholarship for another family to attend as well. But I get ahead of myself a bit.

 

Post-Swim Lunch
new foods and elegant restaurants amidst busy conference activities

Listen, I’ve never related much to the “find your tribe” mentality – yes, even when it comes to the so-called fringe activities or lifestyle choices that I sometimes believe I desperately need support for. The way I see it, the entire human race is my “tribe”, and if I’m looking for differences I’m cutting myself off from perceiving commonalities. Even though unschooling is considered by many a radical choice, the truth is schooling parents and carers are more similar to my husband and I than different. We genuinely want what’s best for our children, we seek out models and mentors to help us, we make mistakes and lose then find our way, and we can be plagued with distressing self-doubt sometimes (or, often).

So I don’t need a specific “tribe” to commit to unschooling, but even after this first experience I can relate several benefits from the Conference’s immersion environment.

One: bold and experienced mentorship. “Unschooling” (or life learning, or autodidactic education, or non-coercive parenting, et cetera) has been around a very long time, and some of the more passionate and brilliant minds of today are those attending conferences, giving talks, and writing books and magazine articles. This conference was stocked with attendees who had a lot to offer. I attended two sessions helmed by an always-unschooling parent who has four children aged thirty-three to nineteen – and I hung on this woman’s every word. I listened to the comments of another family who’d been featured in a frankly defaming way on a national television show (so in other words, had some experience with lots of public criticism). I got to watch grown children who’d been unschooled their whole lives, giving me future glimpses of potentiality for my now-tween children. Notably, in general the teens at the conference were more expressive and gentle, made more eye contact, and were imbued with more self-confidence than their schooled peers.

I also benefitted a great deal from the shared commonality of difficulties, framed in an unschooling context. We discussed how we sometimes felt alone, isolated, fearful, or “crazy” to have chosen unschooling. Surprise surprise, I am not the only parent who’s felt marginalized, mistrusted, and left out. I am also not the only parent who’s made mistakes and attempted lifestyle choices, large or small, that didn’t end up serving our best interests – while simultaneously lacking the support of those who understand and support an unschooling philosophy. Speaking about my experiences frankly while in a pro-unschooling environment? Priceless.

Third: the conference demystified some of the difficulties in what, living in a semi-rural area, I sometimes experience as a fragmented movement. As I joked to a childfree girlfriend once we returned home, unschoolers don’t seem to have that many controversies, really. Summing up: bedtimes, food, video games and/or television, and math. That’s all! (That’s not really it, but you might get my drift if you’ve been unschooling a while). And, news flash, those are hardly issues that schooling parents don’t struggle with! Seeing these difficulties reduced to only a handful of solvable situations was refreshing, and allowed me more space to consider what I want for my family. More than once I was reminded of the phrase: “Don’t sweat the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff.”

Meeting and talking with so many pro-feminist and anti-patriarchal fathers? Well… let’s just say my heart skipped a beat.

Finally, the conference provided me with a vision made real. I’ve long held that most of the social framings I’ve experienced (primarily white, west coast United States) are often profoundly adultist and kid-unfriendly. Children are age-segregated, institutionalized, coerced, talked over and about, denigrated, abused, distrusted, ignored, bossed and bullied, and under-supported. And a lot of this is considered not only our right but our cultural edict. At the Conference, with rare exception, we briefly lived in a different world entirely. Children were not merely tolerated, as so much of our culture seems to manage (or not), but were honored, assisted, helped, loved, and accepted. If a toddler ran down a hall people smiled and stepped aside. When teens grouped up in a hugging pile no one glared; we smiled. When a baby needed to nurse, people helped the baby’s mother get situated. Children and adults not related to one another spoke directly to one another, and not in the limited sentences I’m used to hearing (“What grade are you in?” “How’s school?”), but in terrifically more interesting ways.

In short, children and their carers weren’t treated as second-class citizens but just: citizens. And this vision bloomed throughout. As adults had set up this framework, in turn, many of the teens in this environment assisted and loved up on small children. And in turn the small children had already learned to respect their own voice and authenticity. You could see this in their demeanors, their agency, and the light in their eyes. They were not being forced to unlearn their own merit.

That’s a community, and a future, I can unabashedly align myself with.

Another Morning At #LiG2012!
Phoenix and Nels, accomplished at playing hard and sleeping as needed at Life is Good 2012

***

Kelly Hogaboom is a wife to one, mother two two, and muse to … at least a dozen. She lives in rainy and lovely Hoquiam, Washington, huddled next door to her mother and living amongst all sorts of domestic pets. She enjoys B-movies, New Wave music (and new New Wave music), Mexican food, sewing, laughing, and snuggling her family and cats. You can read more about her experiences at Life is Good 2012 via her blog (https://kelly.hogaboom.org/?tag=lig2012), or by searching for the Twitter hashtag #LiG2012.

friday #w00t

First: a piece of mine, just published.

At bluemilk, the video for “Daddy Skills”. Which? Is awesome.

Some commentary on the different ways female vs. male bodies get treated, in the context of the Olympics.

One of the best interviews on public boners (or pseudo-boners) I’ve ever read.

On the ageism front: Hollywood & relating a bit to actual people’s actual problems. Yay!

The Radical Doula guide is out! Wow! I have a dream; raising enough to bring MZP to our community. Can you imagine?

Kristin Craig Lai tweeted me on an article on “invisible infirmities”. Very flattered; it’s a lovely piece.

Rare color photos from a little ways back.

Homemade graham crackers. I actually haven’t tried making these. But I’d like someone ELSE to bring me a batch.

Sylvia Plath’s drawings. Wonderful.

Someone sent this to me: Are you an emotional empath? Scary how many of the questions I answered Yes to (all but one and a half!).