Every late summer this happens: August suddenly ends. It's simply difficult to believe we're one week into September, already. Which means we have been home exactly one week since our second Northeast Unschooling Conference, which means we're still adjusting our clocks, schedules and routines. I know for many of our friends, returning home meant dark houses, no showers or laundry or worse, washed out roads and flooded towns, thanks to hurricane Irene. Because of the hurricane forecast for the east coast, many people were not able to come to the conference or had to return home early. As such, this NEUC seemed much smaller and quieter. I imagine every conference has its own energy and mix of people, regardless.
This year, for instance, was different for us, mainly because we didn't feel like complete newbies. We reconnected with many, we knew our way around, we had a feel for how the days would flow and we were even more okay this time, with the kids coming to bed at 4am after marathon Werewolves games. Alex and I also managed some wee morning hours. (Did I mention we're still on conference time?) We made new friends, too. And we noticed how things that were great last year seemed meh this year, and that was okay; the whole point of attending NEUC is to have new experiences and make connections, not to replicate the previous year.
Some of our conference highlights include:
The presentations covering a wide range of topics, including Gender Diverse Parenting, Happiness, Tweens and Teens and The Unschooling Parent. There was even NEUC's very own, The View, starring Kelly, Erika and Laura.
The Friday evening talent show. I love cheering on others as they expand their comfort zones, show off, get silly and share their delight in something. Both Olivia and Adam were content to only watch this year, but in a spontaneous and collaborative effort, Rhianon and Olivia performed Pink's Raise Your Glass.
Chelsea and Chad perform a song from Dr. Horrible, which was completely awesome. (And later, when Chad's solo on I'll Make A Man Out of You, turned into an unplanned duet because of an enthusiastic audience member? More awesome.)
Olivia and Rhianon.
All the different types of gaming, fun and connecting with others, at all hours.
The Fun Shops, planned and spontaneous.
Us: What are you making, Adam?
Adam: An Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device from Portal 2.
Us: Of course you are.
(And we knew were at an unschooling conference because all the kids and adults knew what he had made.)
Anyone who wanted to learn dance routine to Thriller, could.
The Saturday night dance.
and more Thriller.
Sunday brought the final Fun Shops, the closing words, and more long, long hours of Werewolves. I even recall going back downstairs in my pjs to listen to Julian play for a wee hours sing-along. Our plan was to attend the post-conference picnic at Salem Willows on Monday. We got our tired selves up and packed up our room and we picked our way through Salem streets...and by the time we arrived, we were all feeling done-in. Bone tired. Burnt out. Fried. Anxious about pets and any wind damage at home. Tired sums it up. So we stayed only long enough to get some group photos, to say good-bye and then we drove home.
As it turned out, it was good we left early for home. We got our bags unpacked, the house aired out, fed and cuddled the cats and guinea pigs and I had just enough time for a late nap when Olivia reminded me that we had to go into Portland so she could prepare for her radio show on Blunt Youth Radio and we didn't get home until almost 11pm. Good thing I was still on conference time, because that meant I had another couple of good hours in me.
The rest of our days since have been pretty much just like the NEUC. Busy, full, some downtime, some activity, some spontaneous gatherings, some odd, odd hours. It's alright though, because our schedule, our days are our own. We unschool, you know.