Last Saturday, we headed off toward Pittsburgh, to stay with a family we met at last years UWWG. We were originally supposed to arrive much earlier, but by the time we actually got there it was midnight, and by the time we all stopped talking and hanging out in favour of bed, it was pat 3:00 am! Emi, mum and I were thrilled to find out that not only were Jody, Bethany, Timmy, & Sam awesome people, they were also just as much night owls as we are. *Grins* The time we spent with the Hagensen's was great, and involved lots of conversations around the table in the sunny kitchen, about a variety of topics. I love how with unschoolers, age matters so much less. Between our two families, there were ages 9, 15, 16, 18, 18, and parents (I don't think they'd be thrilled if I tried to add their ages as well... ;-)), and all of us would happily sit around talking to each other... That just makes me really happy. As do the Hagensen's.♥ I really hope I get to see all of them again soon!
Here are Sam, Emi, and Timmy playing Smash Bros on Nintendo...
Their adorable, fluffy, crazy, cat.
Isn't he cute?
On Monday, we headed to the Kalahari, for the third annual Unschoolers Winter Waterpark Gathering! We took Timmy along for the ride, since his family was leaving a bit later in the day, and he wanted to have as much time as possible there! On the way, we spotted the official Girls Gone Wild bus. Seriously. We found that hilarious!
Yeah, I know you can hardly see it. But trust me, that's what it was!
The first night there I was sooo tired I nearly fell asleep in John Taylor Gatto's keynote address! That first day though, it struck me how very different it was for me just a year from my first unschooling conference. I knew SO MANY PEOPLE! I could barely take two steps without running into someone to hug hello, chat with, or just enthusiastically wave hi to. I was even greeted by a lovely gift in one case. It was a truly great feeling. ♥
The next day, I attended John Taylor Gatto's workshop. I find what he has to say very interesting, though I don't agree with all of it. He's very Libertarian, and I'm definitely not, so I found myself feeling uncomfortable with some of the surrounding assumptions and beliefs in many of his statements. Regardless, I really enjoyed his talk, and found that he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. Not arrogant at all, and very friendly.
It's blurry, but that's him!
The conference centre was filled with hoards of happy teenagers...
People with interesting clothing...
And cheerful goofing off.
I enjoyed myself, spending time in the waterpark and in the conference centre, with teens and with parents... Sadly, since I'm the photographer here, I have no pictures of me having fun! *Grins*
We also had the great pleasure of seeing the world premiere of the short documentary about Not Back To School Camp! This film is seriously, absolutely and completely, AMAZING. It captures so perfectly what NBTSC *is*. I love it. ♥ Both Emi and I can also be glimpsed in several scenes... I highly suggest you watch it now!!
Not Back to School Camp: A Glance Within from Allen Ellis on Vimeo.
On Wednesday there was a marketplace, complete with advertisers!
Emi was very happy with the stuff she sold, and felt she got a good idea of what sold well and what didn't, what price ranges worked, and similar useful info. She also met some very kind and helpful people, who shared their experiences with both selling handmade items and traveling.
A friend kept her company while she sold her Creations...
Emi introduced one of her favorite games, Werewolves, to her friends, and they played some pretty intense rounds, or at least so I've heard...
Apparently playing Werewolves is much more fun than dancing. ;-)
You know, I really don't have all that much to say. I hung out with awesome people, had lots of cool conversations, played in the waterpark, went to a couple of talks... Of course, that's a lot of stuff. But at the moment, I don't really feel equipped to elaborate on all of that! So I'll just say that I had a good time. Oh, I did also get to meet a few blogging and Twitter peeps whom I hadn't met before, which was cool, and got to know some people whom I'd only met briefly at earlier conferences and gatherings, which was also great!
On Friday, we left the Kalahari, with much sadness. After an unschooling gathering, home seems pretty lonely... I really want to make sure that I keep in touch with people this year!
But anyway, we left the Kalahari and headed to my grandfathers, whom I haven't seen in several years. I was a bit nervous about seeing my granddad and step-grandma, honestly. Having had only brief phone calls for the last few years, it felt a bit strange to be visiting. But I'm really, really glad we did! It was really great to see them, and I was a rather sad when it was time to leave the next day.
My step-grandmother and my grandfather, with their adorable but VERY yappy little doggy.
Me, my grandfather, and Emi.
Then, on Saturday, we came home. It's always surreal coming back home after being away. The tap works the same way, the dishes are all in the right spots, and the bed is in the same state of dissaray it was when I last saw it, yet it all seems different somehow...
I should mention that the Tuesday we were away, we got some bad news. My great-grandmother, Eileen Boyle Caputo, passed away at age 99 on the day we left, Saturday the 6th of February. I wasn't very close to her, having only known her in her later years, but my mom was, and it hit her hardest. I don't think any of us really thought she was going to die soon. She always seemed like the Energizer bunny: you just expected her to keep going forever!
So I will leave things at that for now... I hope everyone had a great week, and there are, as there often are, several post ideas bouncing around in my head, that will hopefully turn into actual posts soon!