celebrating life and possibility

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Once I saw a couple awesomesauce photographers at the Sauvie Island wedding locale, I gave myself permission to stop taking pictures and trust that, later, wonderful pictures would come to me. This accounts for the kind of inexcusable lapse in that I don’t have a single picture of the couple (or of my own husband, sister, or mother!) to offer you, this evening. Still, I stand by my choice to be in the experience, instead of recording it.  If you don’t know the kind of intense energy that goes into a wedding, at least when you are family or involved in a major way, then – pssshhhfft. I’ll post more photos when they come around.

So, Portland then.

In the house we stayed at, Ralph told me he intended to treat me “like a Queen” all weekend – and he did. Strawberry pancakes, at my request:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Almost better than devouring them (while reading a junky noir novel!) was watching my daughter eat them. Delicious!

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Getting ready for fancy shin-diggery. The kids’ togs are all silk and cotton – a silk/cotton blend for the suits, a very fine cotton for each shirt, and silk taffeta for the bowties.

Yes, I made bowties. Yes, it was awesome. And kind of tricky. Bowties, if you want to make real ones, you have to make the exact correct length for the neck. I am now all fired up and ready to make Ralph a few vests and bowties because he looked gooooood. My brother said my entire family was “sharp as a diamond tack.”

Reader, I wore not one but two outfits, changing before the reception. No pictures yet of my get-up, although I offer you my custom-ordered boutonniere, a little nicety I purchased along with a wrist corsage for the mother of the groom.

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Wedding gifts: Ralph and I made Jamila a steampunk travelling hat, complete with goggles, lace netting, and homemade wired ribbon and multi-loop bow:
Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Phee models, after her wedding-morning bath:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

My brother, I made an overdyed wool vest. Prick-stitched lining, bound buttonholes, brass buttons, and a secret charm sewn into the pocket. Shhhh!

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

The back belt:

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

We also bought them a two-night trip to Sol Duc hot springs!

Billy And Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

The wedding was super-lovely and worth every bit of effort it took our family to get there, and get there in style.

Billy & Jamila's Wedding, 06/22/2013

Hm, how much do I love this picture? My brother, the groom, looking handsome and happy. Tony checking something in his hand – the ring? His phone? And Chris, marching like a goddamn champion, gripping a bottle of wine. Fuck YEAH.

And yeah I got teary-eyed at the wedding. Of course I did, what the hell is wrong with you?

***

So we had a lovely time, all in all. I got to see my friend B. and her wonderful family, and thanks to some donations from two online friends, we got to hit the Mummies this afternoon, and visit with my sister. This morning I wrote a piece for Underbellie, in large part sparked by gratitude for the blessing of friends and family who, perhaps unwittingly, continue to challenge me in my day-to-day life.

Oh, and this was the first time I went two nights without my dog, since we got him almost a year ago. I MISSED HIM and I think HE MISSED ME, but now we are reunited.

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

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.

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!

Ten List: Things That Make Parenting Easier, #8

A few of my Twitter followers asked that I elucidate on “ten lists” I’d turned out recently. Here goes with the eighth installment of my first list: “Things That Make Parenting Easier”, based off my ten-plus years being a devoted and hard-working parent. I hope you find it helpful. That is the only point of this post. To help those who could use it.

This is item #8. You can find item #1 here, #2 here, #3 here, #4 here, #5 here, #6 here, and #7 here.

Each post will have a picture from my life, my day, when I wrote the post. A picture from this evening: my kids horsing around, skateboarding and fortune-telling. At far right you can see the corner of our rental’s porch, covered in some kind of outdoor carpet and inundated with enough cat piss to be seriously disgusting. Oh and by the way, this is many hours of play today; my children love each other very much.

New Boot Goofin'

#8. Remember my job is twofold: to make my job obsolete, & help my kids have awesome memories.

This post may seem redundant. After all, I wrote a bit a couple days ago about what kinds of parenting I’ll be glad to reflect on, and what I might be less glad to remember. I have a few more words about keeping parenting in perspective.

Our children are the authors of their own lives. Once we know that, and commit to helping them, we can stop letting our minds be run by “experts” and stop letting every magazine article or parenting guru or next-door-neighbor invoke our insecurity. It doesn’t take a particularly organized, well-groomed, college-educated, perfectly-devoted, etc. etc. mother (or parent or carer) to know what one’s child needs. Sometimes their needs baffle us, or frighten us. Sometimes they are screaming and we don’t know why. Sometimes we sense they are unhappy, deeply so, maybe for days or months on end. As they get older it can get scarier. Maybe they’re cutting themselves or showing signs of very troubled relationships or drug or alcohol use.

The day we throw up our hands and pretend we don’t have a right and a responsibility to help them is the day we let them and ourselves down, profoundly. Sadly, I’ve seen it happen time and time again. I’m not saying you have to be perfect – please, PLEASE read my whole many-year blog if you want to see Imperfection in action – I’m saying that there are always mentors, there is always prayer and meditation (if you are earnest and don’t find it objectionable), there is always community to help. Have a bad day? Cool. What do I do with my bad day? These days, for a little while at least, I’ve been able to forgive myself and dust off my knees and get going. I operate not out of self-pity, fear, and anger, but out of gratitude, humor, and some degree of humilty. String a few days together like that and this parenting thing can become a joy no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

I have the privilege of living in a home with my children and being able to give them my time. My time and my unconditional love are job #1. They will have plenty of adversity in their life and I am not frightened of it. My job is not to shield them unnecessarily; but also, not to organize the adversity for them. It is sad how many parents and carers are locked into doing just that.

I’m a bit hesitant to post a list several parents assembled on the ways we organize adversity for our children: “How To Screw Up Unschooling”. The list is helpful enough; but one thing I know is that parents often beat themselves up very badly and sometimes don’t even know they’re doing it. Parents expect themselves to be so-called “perfect” parents (mothers are pressured a great deal especially) and again, may not even know they’re doing it. The list – which is not at all confined to those who identify as “unschooling” or pro-unschooling – can be used as a series of life-changing opportunities. If you like, print it out without looking at it and have someone else slice it up into stack of slips. Work on each little scrap of paper for a week. Go easy. Be kind. Prepare to have your mind blown. It’s that fun.

Children are resilient. They shouldn’t have to be, but they are. Nevertheless, don’t let “children are resilient” be an excuse to continue ignoring that voice deep within that tells you how you are mistreating them, or how you are mistreating yourself (and therefore, them).

The real question is, are we resilient? Are we able to admit, “I’ve been doing _____ for a while now and I don’t want to do it any more.” That is the beginning of admitting we are faltering and being that much more open to asking someone for help. We are not the first person to be confronted with what seems like an impasse. Believe me, tangentially, as an alcoholic and a survivor, this process holds deep meaning. I can tell you that saying, “I’ve been doing _____ for a while now and I don’t want to do it any more” is a perfectly good start. Maybe you don’t know how you’ll ever change your reality, your habits, your circumstances. I’m here to tell you change is possible and the construct of No-Choice is an illusion and a choice in and of itself.

Admit where you’re living a way you no longer want to. Trust another human being and ask for help. You have only a better future to gain.

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!).