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!).

Ennui

“‘vagina’ originates from a word meaning sheath for a sword. Ain’t got no vagina.”

Big news. Or if not, it should be. In the latest on the WAR ON WOMEN, Rep Lisa Brown (D Michigan) asks, “If I can’t say the word ‘vagina’, why are we legislating vaginas??” Good question. P.S. if you missed #VaginaMovieLines I feel sorry for you.

Some thoughts on Public School on your Own Terms, from Sandra Dodd’s site

Fun with stock footage, a search authored by my brother’s lady J.

Pictures of a ridiculously cute baby elephant enjoying time at the beach

In more, Kelly-Hogaboom-likes-to-talk-for-her-own-benefit, I wrote a movie review on a classic. If you’ve seen the film recently, I’d love your feedback.

A good video on weight bigotry.

J Smooth & Gwyneth:

 
 
And finally, in light of the abovementioned VAGINA HIJINX, (or #VAGININX as I shall forever hashtag) a favorite scene from a much-enjoyed film:

 
 
A cartoon sent me, from my sister:

bodhi / bakery

Today, Phoenix walks into my arms after swimming.

“I reached Enlightenment. Like the Buddha.”

Then a second later she says:

“You’d better watch out.”

!!!

In celebration of Phee’s spiritual milestone I bought her a dozen cupcakes from Bonjour Cupcake in Olympia. Pretty special stuff.

Bonjour Cupcakes

***

So, I’m expanding my horizons a bit. Typically un-shy about unschooling here at this site, and on a Twitter account or two, in real life I keep it mellow. Actually, docile and resigned. But, but, but before you call me a milquetoast, I have my reasons. I swear! The thing is, around here most people hear “unschooling” and it’s their first exposure. And they have opinions and assumptions immediately. I am talking from the SECOND they hear the word. And even those who’ve heard the term or have seen a segment on TV or read an article (ahem), well, they have already made up their mind and diagnosed quite a bit about anything unschooling-related. And usually, when it comes to my family, incorrect or just plain bizarre diagnoses. The point is, I say “unschooling”, the other person starts talking. Blah blah opinion opinion. I’ve responded by shutting down because A. I’ve considered myself un-asked and B. it has been a bit exhausting to hear the same stuff from so many. I have been responding with conversational null and voids like, “Yeah, a lot of people have that concern.”

I thought I was being gentle and kind and open – but I realize, despite positive intentions, I’ve been a bit passive.

Over the last few days I’ve been mulling a few things over (unusual for me, as I usually jump to my own KrazyBrain conclusions pretty quick!). At the Life is Good Unschooling Conference Ralph and I had the pleasure – amongst many pleasures – of listening into to Jeff Sabo’s talk, “In Defense of Unschooling”. The presentation was, essentially, one hour discussing common responses we get from people when we say the “U” word (and yeah, every response?  I was familiar with it), and suggestions for how to deal with these responses, depending on our mood and the situation. I’ve been thinking over Jeff’s suggestions quite a bit.

So, long story short, I’ve decided to be more assertive. More active in the conversation and more “out” as an unschooling family. If someone asks why my kids aren’t in school, I now say “we unschool” (instead of ” we homeschool”). If someone asks what unschooling is, I’ve stopped saying, “Oh, it’s a type of homeschooling.” The reasons I said these things were, mostly, it framed things nicely for the other party. Then I got to listen, or not, to the ‘splaining headed my way.

These days, when asked, I tell them a bit more.

“Unschooling means different things to different people. For us, it’s a parenting practice based on the indisputable truth kids are learning all the time, and the belief they shouldn’t be segregated from normal life. Our kids have better opportunities than sitting most of the day, memorizing and then regurgitating facts for tests. We’re also not interested in forcing them into the many social problems in institutional school environments.”

Or some such.

So based on the kinds of things I do say now, I had a lovely interaction with a homeschooling mom today at the YMCA, while our kids swam. Nothing went tits up and I felt more a part of, and less a lady that sits on the bench and texts and smiles at people and is “polite”. And in case you’re wondering, after I got my little “pitch” up there out of the way, we spent most the conversation talking about her experience and her concerns. She told me she receives a lot of criticism for homeschooling. And I listened to some of that criticism and offered up – what I hope was – supportive feedback.

Tangentially, much later in the evening a friend told me, “I was surprised when I heard that you ‘unschooled’ your kids… because when I got in the car the first time I met them they were using words I hadn’t learned until I was seventeen”. I love hearing stuff like that. And tonight I was thinking, Why? Why do I love hearing that kind of thing?

Yes, part of it is: it’s nice to know your children are thriving in some way. But I no longer need my kids to sound smart for my own vicarious virtue (since first-off “smart” is overrated, and second what other people think of my kids is none of my business). I also no longer need to be constantly self-soothing I’m doing the Best Right Perfect Thing at all times – because today I know I’m flexible and can change strategy if I need to. No, when it comes down to it, I guess hearing my friend’s mind being blown (or at least opening a bit) is pretty cool. Maybe one of the cooler interactions that happen between people, on whatever end of the conversation you find yourself.

And I guess I feel a lot of gratitude and a lot of gladness that my family and I have had such a full and rich life. My kids haven’t had to go through the kind of drudgery I had to. They aren’t learning to be praise-addicted as I did. They are more active participants and authors in their own lives. My children aren’t alien to me, or problems to be managed, or irritations to be herded, or products for me to inject my own hopes and dreams into. They don’t have to waste their time doing what other people want. They can waste their time or spend it wisely as they see fit, unencumbered. They are free to learn. I am truly grateful.

And like, when a friend sees this going down for our family, and sees that it works? He’s all the more free to make that choice for his own children, should the opportunity arise.

Yeah. That’s worth speaking up a bit.

“Let’s pretend we’re a mama and baby jellyfish, cuddling. Jellyfish can’t sting one another.”

Phoenix, Sketch

(one of Phoenie’s latest)

Phoenix, don’t think I can’t hear you glaring at your little brother!

Yes, I actually said this. And yes, I was right (of course!), as the sudden cessation of movement and whispers from the kitchen confirmed. The kids are putting away dishes and doing laundry while Ralph and I work on a few projects we believe we need to finish before we head to the Unschooling Conference. Our children have already packed. They are super-excited.

It’s all good, but I’m teetering on being overworked. Our houseguest/housesitter/CATsitter had to cancel last-minute. I’m worried about money (but thanks to much support here and there I think we’re going to be okay). Both Phoenix and I are teaching wee classes at the conference, and we aren’t quite prepared. I got my times mixed up and I missed an appointment for the kids and I was super-bummed for a few minutes. I’m not as organized as I’d hoped to be for our trip. I’d like to deep-clean the house a bit more before we leave, but I also have the day-to-day I get to do.

However, I’m handling things about… oh, a thousand percent better than I used to. I am genuinely grateful for all the goodness in life and the challenges, well I know things will come if I take it easy. I like my life today. I have more room for other people and their concerns, in my heart.

Today, before swimming. A cupcake date, and Nels in his latest mama-sewn togs (shirt fabric from Gray’s General Store).

Delicious

Lemon Drop! Then:

Preppy Stripe & Acid Wash

Just for reference. Here is Nels in some other Homesewn, exactly two years ago.

Askance

I die a little inside when I realize how fast my kids are growing. Yes, I have realized the solution to this pain. More kids, adopted kids, some other dude’s kids, whatever. The husband isn’t going for any of it. ENNUI>>>

Sewing: I’m really proud of the garments I’ve been making and (some of them) designing. In the case of today’s offering at Homesewn, I’m offering three garment sets. But besides the fun of making these clothes, mostly I had a good time travelling down 80s lane and  may do some again shortly, any recommendations and inspirations are welcome. (Speaking of, check out my friend Dave’s new bike! Radsauce!). Oh and I was pretty proud of my little Google form to help clients out.

Things are good. I can’t wait to blog our trip for y’all. I’ll go there this year, and maybe next year more of you will join me. xxx ooo

Happy Baby!

ZEN BEAR, it’s Friday!

ED. NOTE – I am still working my little tail off trying to raise money for our participation in the Life is Good Unschooling Conference. Donations and/or moral support are much-welcomed as the clock ticks on towards the end of May!

It’s been a while but – I’m ready to install Friday link round-up again! Yay!

Happy Baby!

Social wellbeing: Why it’s OK to give to homeless drug addicts by Mark Johnson. This piece especially resonated with me. Rare to see such a deep understanding of addiction published in the MSM.

Social wellbeing: Badinter Protests Too Much by Wendy Priesnitz. Yet another convo about how our own children are keeping us down – this has been around for some time now – but nicely refuted by Wendy. Pro-tip, if your so-called progressive feminism mostly picks on women and their choices you might want to check your feminism.

My son begged and begged me to buy him the Kikkerland First Aid Box (Red) from Gray’s General.  And I did. Now I need all the stuff that goes in a First Aid box. HALP I’m not even sure what that is!

Local: missing from Elma still, Cory Allen Kellis.

Nature is horrid. (Third picture down. THE EYEEEES)

and thirty babies are PISSED at you.

100 year old photos of New York city – freshly digitized, amazing, and up for your review.

The illusion of choice – click through and peruse.

Vadim Trunov, photography.

What’s inside an elephant? Interesting project, but don’t watch while eating.

Yahoo answers comes through for us.

A dramatic surprise on a quiet town square.

Dog-logic.

Cooking: @LLifeOfMine on Twitter came through with a great rice recipe. I used it last night and it’s fabulous.

Sewing: Figgy’s Patterns posted their new line, sized up to about 8/9. Shipping is May 10th. I got a testing sample of Banyan and as soon as I’m finished with my current project for Phoenix – and while I wait for the fabric to arrive for Dharma’s jacket – I’m so whipping up some of those pants for my little guy!

Sewing (again): I’m hosting the Open Sew here in Hoquiam, on Saturday!

Crafting: the spring Handmade Companion is out! Featuring a tutorial by the lovely Karen LePage!

My favorite picture on the internet this week:

BEAR

(here’s the story).

Finally: ever feel like you just can’t get a handle on life?