WOW. This was a packed month, and I know I’m not even going to begin to do it justice in this post. We, you know, drove across the country and back, took part in what I called a temporary unschooling commune, took some alpacas to a local group home, stuck Washi tape to every surface imaginable, saw a Shakespeare performance, saw a Dracula performance, and generally just packed in every minute with some adventure.
(If this is your first time catching our month-in-review posts, welcome! Check out our archive of previous wrapups here for some more info on why we take this approach to documenting some of our unschooling learning adventures.)
All about Free to Be
Here’s the super-short version of the biggest event of our year: From Sept. 26 to Oct. 11, we drove to Phoenix, Arizona, and back, and from Oct. 1 to 4, we took part in the Free to Be Unschooling Conference in Phoenix. The drive there went by way of Chicago, Denver and the Four Corners, and the drive back took us through Texas and New Orleans.
Well, for a short roundup of some of my favorite takeaways from the conference itself, check out a column I wrote for our local newspaper, called Unschooling: What’s in your toolbox? I’d like to blog more here about this, the conceptual side of unschooling, when I get time, but that’s a good start.
By far the best part about Free to Be was just getting to hang out in person with people we’d known online for years. I really hate how we don’t have many unschooling friends locally, at least not ones we get to spend any kind of time with. If I could have my ladies over once a week and Ashar could have her friends visit… wow.
In good news, we’re seriously planning some mid-year meetups, because these kids miss each other like crazy, even with emails.
Places, projects and odds and ends from our road trip
So, besides the conference itself, we had a huge vacation to, you know, everywhere. Some highlights:
- Chicago: We saw the Bean, Navy Pier and a cool comic store. Also two stadiums. (Stadia?)
- Denver: We went to the Museum of Science and Nature, saw two more stadiums and hung out in the outdoor mall.
- Four Corners: Ashar and Chris had read about the Four Corners Monument in Ken Jennings’ Maphead, and of course Ashar wanted to see it.
- Fish and butterflies: With Kaitlyn’s parents, who live in Arizona and who we luckily got to spend some time with, we visited the Sea Life Aquarium and Butterfly Wonderland, as well as the San Xavier del Bac Mission outside Tucson.
- Texas: It’s big. We got to stay the night with friends, and we saw the Astros’ stadium. (See a theme?)
- New Orleans: We went to the Riverwalk and, as a huge highlight of the trip, the National World War II Museum, which deserves its own post for sure. (This was a recommendation of a reader, so THANK YOU!)
- The South: While driving outside Birmingham and Selma, we talked about the Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr. Then we went to Atlanta, entirely so that I could see the CDC headquarters.
- Washi tape: At Free to Be, I went to a workshop on decorating notebooks and planners with Washi tape. I showed Ashar and Kaitlyn, and then we bought a lot of Washi tape, and we stuck it to everything conceivable, a project which continues now that we’re home.
- Podcasts: We mixed up our on-the-road audio, but a big part of it included some neat podcasts, everything from Hardcore History to Stuff You Missed in History Class to Stuff to Blow Your Mind to Stuff You Should Know… they were amazing.
- Maphead by Ken Jennings
- Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman and What Do You Care What Other People Think? – We listened to both of these audiobooks of stories about the life of Richard Feynman on the road.
You can read more about both of the first two in last month’s roundup.
Movies and TV
- The Martian – Kaitlyn and I had read the book; Ashar and Chris had not. We all liked the movie, though!
- The I.T. Crowd
- We Bare Bears
- The Breakfast Club – Ashar and her crew watched this late one night while eating pizza in the teen lounge at Free to Be. Can you think of a more stereotypically teen thing?
Video, board and card games
- Cards Against Humanity – If you’re easily (or even at all) offended by vulgarity or profanity, steer clear. But both Ashar and her friends and Kaitlyn and I and our friends had rounds of this at Free to Be, and it was hilarious.
- FIFA 2015
- MLB 15: The Show
Places, projects and odds and ends from non-trip times
The funny thing is, we actually did more this month besides the trip than we do in a lot of months.
- Theater: We saw a stage play of Dracula that featured both a coworker of Kaitlyn’s and a longtime friend of mine, and then on Halloween, we went to see a “Shakespeare in the Barn” production of Macbeth put on amazingly well by local arts group Orangemite Studios. THAT starred, as the three witches, three women who taught English at my high school. It was epic.
- Music: My high school holds a band show for local noncompetitive marching bands every year, and this year’s was on Halloween. I try to go every fall.
- 4-H: Ashar and her club took their alpacas to visit the residents at the Margaret E. Moul Home, a residence for people with disabilities in our neighborhood. That was such an amazing experience. (Not for the alpacas, though, to be honest. They were pretty unhappy with the whole deal.) For her Wildlife Watchers club, Ashar put together an awesome presentation on bats.
So what’s new with your family this month? Drop me a comment! I love hearing from all my “blog friends!”