Monday, December 29, 2014

Learning to read (links)

Links for a question from Sunday:

Learning without Reading (advantages of later reading)

Account of four children learning to read, one not until teens (the preemie-of-twins story I told):
That boy grew up to be a Marine, and is back from Afghanistan. When he was a teen, he could ride a bicycle up the back side of the Sandias. He's very athletic.

The Deepest, Best Reason for Learning to Read Themselves
The Deeper Effect of a Child Learning to Read: Confidence

The Nature of Real Reading

Those have other links at the bottom, and the accounts of my own children learning to read are in a couple of places, one from 2002:
(I guess it WAS Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret because there's a photo of it there. :-) )
and from 2005

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Schedule in brief


9am: Morning rangoli
9:30am: Sandra Dodd - Top of the Mountain
10:30am: Jill Parmer and Luke Davidson

1:30pm Julie, James and Adam Daniel
3:00pm Sandra Dodd on good advice, bad advice, and personal knowledge

Dinner break

7:00 Rangoli intro (review for those who missed the night before)
Board games, table games, chit-chat, until 10:00 or so


9:30 Sandra Dodd on connections and play
10:30 Gather to leave for Sandia Crest trip
1:30 Hema Bharadwaj: My family's experience of unschooling in India and the USA
2:30 Knotwork with Keith Dodd, a handout, some paper to try it out on, while you listen to...
3:30 Sandra, with topics that have come up and could use expansion or clarification—questions to and from the audience, perhaps
Monday night, Knotwork review for those who missed the earlier session or are confused, and board games, table games


9:30 One last rangoli and knotwork review for those who really want it (individual help)
10:00 Panel of speakers willing to sit and answer questions (easy questions, hard questions, maybe personal questions)

11:00 or later, Sandra says something clever if we're all lucky, which will inspire you for a year or some part of a year

(Thank you Scott Tucker!)

Friday, December 26, 2014

The mountains from Corrales

The Sandia Mountains, in the distance, from the cemetery across from the old San Ysidro church in Corrales this afternoon.

Somehow my camera got set to take only small photos. Bummer about the background, but I'm too sleepy to fix it now... it will pass.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


11 Dads
14 Moms
1 Grandmother
2 young adults (possibly 3, possibly 4 if Marty comes to play games)

16 boys
8 girls

Boys' ages:


9, 9
7, 7, 7
6, 6

Girls' ages:


6, 6, 6
5, 5

Fifty-two people, possibly 53 for the tram

Knotwork, Keith Dodd

Interlacing Without Erasing is a handout created in the 1970's by Melinda Sherbring, an artist and costumer (and former aerospace engineer or some such) who lives in California but who was originally from southern New Mexico.

For a long time, the method for doing knotwork was lost, and there's a Dover book with a convoluted mathematical explanation. But in the 1960's (I think), an unfinished piece of art was discovered, where the dots showed, which surprised researchers and artists, because in the finished medieval art, the field and background were both painted over.

Melinda based her instructions on Mark van Stone's work. He did research and teaching in the 1970's, but has gone on to other things.

Keith has a Powerpoint presentation for us, for Monday afternoon, with his own experiences to share, as he's been doing knotwork for many years. You can see photos of some of Keith's work here: Knotwork

Feel free to print the handout if you want, but I'll have some at the site, too.

Click to go the the image, and click again for closer details.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas letter and Christmas rangoli

Photos are up at the Spaeth family's intro HERE.

My Christmas letter didn't go to too many people this year, but I wanted to have it for my own memories, for sure. And I added recent photos of my kids, if you'd like to see it.

Hema found some pictures of rangoli with Christmas themes. (Click to see a few more.)

I'll put more of Hema's rangoli notes and links at the tab on the blog. Some of it will be more interesting after you've seen the process in person, and gotten home and rested, probably. So don't feel at all bad if you haven't even looked at that tab. It will be there for a long time. :-)

Camera, power

Check the checklist before you leave.
I'm adding camera (because rangoli will not be the only impermanent thing at the symposium!)
and reminding people about power (cords, batteries, chargers, maybe a power strip, adaptors for the Europeans).

Remember... snack food that's left over from Christmas, or something your family is tired of or doesn't much love, unload it onto our Big Monkey Platter Buffet!

Jill Parmer, about her family and unschooling

First, the newest photos of Jill and Luke!

This is most of a recent interview. It will appear in the HSC magazine in a slightly shorter version, and eventually on my site in a longer one, with more photos. Don't spread it around; it's just for the conference blog, for now, until a month after it's published. Thanks!

Jill Parmer lives in Fort Collins, in northern Colorado, with her husband Steve, and her two children Luke (15) and Addi (18 and studying in Spain).

Jill's early homeschooling journey involved nearly a year of The Well Trained Mind and Saxon Math, which made her decide to look into unschooling, in April 2002, she has not looked back

In the twelve years Jill has been unschooling, she has traveled across the country, stayed with other families, written and spoken clearly and enthusiastically about her experiences.

Recently Jill has been very involved with knitting and sewing, and is working in a fabric store. I hadn't known, when I met her years ago, that she was involved with needle arts, but she's really expert and creative.

I began by asking her about that.

When I first met you, were you knitting and sewing as much as you do now? Are they hobbies you came back to as your kids got older, or did I just not notice before? We were both pretty busy, years back.
You sure notice a lot! I did put my hobbies on the back burner while my kids were young, I really got the idea about spending lots of time with them.

(...and there will be more about that below.)

Addi went to Kindergarten and 10 days of first grade. Luke has not been to school. What happened with Addi?
It was a bilingual school. Addi enjoyed her Kindergarten teacher, and I volunteered once a week.

In first grade there was one teacher she did not like, and another one she did like, but she would not do any work for. That instigated my observing a day of what Addi did at school, and us choosing something different—ultimately unschooling.
Your husband, Steve, was hesitant at first, you’ve said, about unschooling. What helped him become more relaxed and accepting of it?
Oh I messed that up in the beginning, sadly. I was over zealous at first, and Steve felt like I took off in a new direction without him. To fix that I included him in more things, and gave him more information about our day, I helped the kids see the things Steve wanted; I considered his feelings more. And just the passing of time helped, to see that his kids were doing ok, and it helped to compare to what our schooled friends were doing.
So you had set sewing aside for a few years.
I did give up sewing for long periods of time, started when Addi (my first child) was born. Having pins around just made me too nervous. I knitted A LOT of socks though, I got to the point where I could do it from memory and not need to look at my work too much, my fingers knew what to do. And it's a small project that I could take with me. Before Luke (my second child and youngest) could read I sat with him many hours reading World of Warcraft quests for him and knitted during that.

There were a few times I did get a bit of sewing done, like one year I made everyone pj bottoms for Christmas.
I love the stories of your time playing World of Warcraft with Luke and others, when he was younger. Are you still doing that?
Luke was nine years old when he started playing. I started so that I could help him with the game, I ended up really liking it. He quickly grouped up with several boys (who were also unschooling at the time) for a few years I was an important player for them, as the group healer. I also farmed gold and raw materials for them. He still plays with these boys and we have travelled to see them, across the country a few times. Sometimes Luke has stayed for a month.

I still play with Luke and some friends, although I'm not that vital anymore. The people he plays with are really good, organized players doing current end game content.
At the height of it, what were some of your favorite aspects of sharing that with your son?
Probably my favorite aspect of playing the game with Luke is that I knew the game lingo (and meaning) to discuss this big part of Luke's life. We would laugh and be astonished about funny, intense, exciting encounters in the world of Azeroth (the name of the world setting in World of Warcraft).

One thing really interesting to me was that so many teens were amazed that Luke's mom played World of Warcraft, and wished their moms would play.
You’ve helped other unschoolers quite often, writing, speaking, and answering questions in discussions. I’m grateful that you do that. What’s the upside of doing that, and is there much downside?
When I participate in groups or conferences, I generally like to volunteer to do something.

Upside: Selfishly, I like to get nearer to the fascinating, smart unschooling people who inspire me, in order to see if words match actions and to learn more. Unselfishly, I like to contribute, to give back, and pass on what I've learned.

Any bits of downside are the usual frustrations that come from doing anything. Those are relatively small.
Had you expected to do that? Has it been in your nature to become a leader or facilitator in other activites and hobbies?
I didn't think about expecting to do that, but looking back yes, I usually become some sort of facilitator or support person in other activities: I volunteered for advance team of a traveling group when I was younger, I was treasurer and newsletter editor of a Weaver's guild before kids. I coordinated field trips and park days for our homeschooling group, and was the treasurer.

Addi went to Spain with her dad recently, which had an exciting unforeseen outcome.
Every now and again Steve reminisces about his time in Spain. He lived there for a few years in his 20s; he speaks Spanish fluently. Last spring he got a nice bonus from his work, and Addi had just taken a semester of Spanish at the community college. Steve's boss lives outside Madrid, and he has a pretty good relationship with him. So, off they go, and it worked out pretty nicely. The boss has a couple of girls Addi's age, and they all hit it off quite well.
How did you learn about the Spanish language program that she’s gone back to participate in?
Addi wanted to go back to Spain. Steve is a guy who knows how to find pretty much anything on the internet that he wants. Steve's boss had said that in Salamanca, Spain they speak the most clear Spanish (without strong accents), but I think Steve and Addi wanted to be nearer Steve's boss and her friends.

A day or two before before school started, she went to an orientation that included a walk around the campus. For whatever reason she could not find the group, even though she arrived early. After searching for a bit, she decided to go back to her apartment. Leaving the campus, she saw an interesting dressed guy coming to the school. It turned out he was late for the orientation. She told me that I would have liked to meet him, knowing that I like looking at clothes with out of the ordinary details and embellishments. She became fast friends with him and his girlfriend; he's from The Netherlands, the girlfriend was born in Cuba, but lived mostly in Austria. And they've all helped each other out when things were rough. I'm glad she's outgoing enough to meet folks, I'm glad she's helpful, and that she has friends who will help her out.
Now that she's settled in a bit, Is she enjoying being where she is?
She really loves being there. She misses home, but not enough to want to come home, yet.

Addi's teachers have told her that they really like having her as a student, because she's not afraid to speak up, and that she brings some fun and delight to the class. I wonder if it's not some of the stirring up of excitement, that got her in trouble in Kindergarten, which prompted us to homeschool, and quickly move toward unschooling.

Steve is in Europe working for six or more weeks, over this holiday season. He's working in Paris, but goes to Madrid for three-day weekends to visit Addi. When they were chatting before his first visit, he told Addi he needed to look for transportation to a paella restaurant into Madrid (the school Addi goes to is NE of Madrid about 20 minutes by train). Addi waved Steve's planning aside and said she'd take care of it, and started looking at bus and train routes. I got to hear the conversation as I was on Skype with them at the time. It was such a role reversal. She was now the one who knew the most efficient and least expensive way to do something. And there was a sweetness, because Steve and I had up to this point been the ones who planned and helped the kids get what they wanted.

It's really cool to see the changes in kids as they get older, and for me to get a glimpse of Addi as an adult.

Jill has spoken at a couple of conferences in New Mexico, and Luke has spoken about gaming and unschooling, with his mom.

Before her trip to Spain, Addi visited unschoolers in England. James, Julie and Adam!

These opportunities have grown naturally out the family's thoughtful and joyous exploration of the world!

Sandra Dodd lives in Albuquerque with her husband, Keith. Their three grown children are all in happy flux around them these days—a move, a marriage, and a trip to India.

Clear weather Monday the 29th! Intellicast shows sunny days all though the symposium. There might be a little snow late on the 30th.

In Colorado, it might snow on the 29th, but be clearing by the time folks need to drive north. Nice!

So although I was open to the possibility of rearranging the schedule to go up to the Crest on Sunday, Monday looks good. What we need is a clear sky, so you can see a long, long way from the top of that mountain!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Who, and what

For the first time of any symposium I've done, everyone sent an intro!
It's in the "Who" tab up top. The URL says speakers, but it's everybody.

Warm clothes, for the Sandia Crest trip. Not ski-warm, but cold-air warm. Water-resistant shoes. Not rubber boots, not insulated boots, but just not cloth tennis shoes or sandals (for those who might end up going over toward snow, which is not a requirement).

We'll only be a few steps from a building, but kids who aren't used to snow might want to play with it, and so for kids, please bring gloves, and for everyone, a cap hood, or maybe a scarf. Something to cover ears. We'll be at the edge of a big rise (okay, cliff. It's a cliff.), so all the cold air coming up the mountain comes right across that edge. It won't blow you down, but it won't warm you up.

I'm taking Marty's life's worth of Lego (with his permission) which is disorganized, hoping that in the course of people playing with it, it might become more organized. Specifically, I'm hoping people who can spot the parts will separate Bionicles from plain old Lego. A little boy played with it in a frenzy, and took everything apart and... well... it could use some attention.

We have a Fisher Price village, but it's old-style Fisher Price, so if any of your babies or todders are toy-eaters, keep an eye out.

I have extra markers and crayons that people are welcome to use.

There are other things I need to send here that I haven't yet, about rangoli and knotwork. I interviewed Jill and planned (still plan) to share that with you, and haven't "html"-ed it onto a page yet.

See you soon!!


The Spaeth family, from Denver

Ken and Anna Spaeth
David Spaeth - age 10
Elliot Spaeth - age 6

We live in Denver, CO near City Park and have been married for 13 years. Between us, we have six children total. Anna's older children, Oliver (23) and Emma (21) live in Vail and Boulder respectively. Ken's older children, Brian (20) and Lauren (17) live in Atlanta. We started our homeschooling journey with our younger children, David(10) and Elliot, (6) four years ago being influenced by a Waldorf curriculum. We have steadily been moving towards the unschooling philosophy as we experience the limitations of curriculum and begun exploring the wide-open possibilities of unschooling. We have been doing lots of reading, attended various talks and we are now excitedly jumping in to deschooling. We discovered Sandra Dodd through a homeschool program our boys attend in Kittredge (near Evergreen) and from viewing "School Dismissed."

Ken is a software engineer who works full time for a healthcare organization in Colorado and loves hiking and exploring the outdoors. Anna most recently taught preschool through 2nd grade, stopping work outside of the home when David was born, and loves being outdoors in nature. Her most recent endeavors involved learning more about nature programs even though the boys are not as interested (much to her chagrin). David loves football and has had a lot of fun with his fantasy football this year. He also just joined the Jr. Rock Climbing team at our local gym. Elliot, being 6, just doesn't stop moving and is very curious. The boys have recently become very interested in video games since we have just since Thanksgiving "allowed" them to get online and play them! They have also been watching more TV. Before that, they were avid readers and played outside more, so we are trying to be patient and trust the process!!!

Of the older children:
Oliver works at a high end restaurant in Vail to support his passion for snowboarding and rock climbing. Emma just graduated from CU's business school and will be job hunting. Brian is searching to find something he enjoys and Lauren is a junior in HS.

Elliot and David with Flat Stanley - Downtown Denver - 2013

Anna at the Rowley Homestead - Near Camp Chief Ouray - Summer 2013

Ken at the Rockies Game

Elliot with our dog Juno

Elliot at Denver Botanic Gardens - 10/14

Elliot at Denver Botanic Gardens - 10/14

David at TLC Homeschooling Program - 10/14

Anna with Emma at Emma’s CU Graduation - 12/19/14

Elliot on our Christmas Tree cutting expedition - 12/23/14

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Jennifer Jorgensen's and family, Edgewood, New Mexico

Hello fellow unschoolers! I’m Jennifer and my husband is John. We have six kiddos: Shannon (24), Tyler (22), Garrett (20), Tara (18), Sheila (11), and Gavin (8). We live in Edgewood, New Mexico. All of the kids were homeschooled/unschooled from birth except Shannon who had the misfortune of enduring school through second grade. It was primarily a bad experience for her and we regret ever putting her in school, especially since homeschooling appealed to us from the beginning.

When I first started homeschooling, I was fairly structured. Both of my parents were teachers and my mother was very critical of homeschooling at the time, so I was worried about making sure the kids were “taught” everything that the schools were supposed to be teaching. However, between having to work and the kids being oppositional to the structure, I gave up pretty quickly and we became rather eclectic in our style. I had never heard of unschooling at this time but was fortunate to find Sandra and began going to weekly get togethers at her home. It didn’t take me long to relax and adopt the unschooling philosophy. It has worked wonderfully for all of the children and I am so thankful to have found the support that I got in those early years.

All of the kids enjoy video games and, despite some initial fears about them spending too much time doing it, I am thankful for gaming! It provided the motivation that my younger five needed to pursue reading (my oldest learned to read in school). All of the kids love Minecraft as well as many other games.

Shannon (my oldest) currently works in security for a movie production company in Santa Fe. However, she loves astronomy and has decided to begin pursuing a degree geared towards a career in that field. She loves the outdoors, reading, writing, and exercising. She is a second degree black belt in Tae Kwondo and assists in teaching at her Dojo.

Tyler loves music. He taught himself how to play guitar as well as keyboard/piano and is very good! He spends most of his time expanding and refining his skills including writing musical compositions. He is exploring whether or not to pursue a career in music. He also enjoys staying physically fit through exercise and other activities.

Garrett began attending CNM when he was 17 and recently transferred to UNM to pursue a degree in Geology. He is an avid caver and devotes many hours to volunteering for the BLM and other agencies. He is very active in Parkour and also enjoys the outdoors. He also works part-time at Cool Springs (trampoline park).

Tara is drawn (no pun intended!) to art. She is very accomplished in drawing and enjoys being active on the Deviant Art website. She has also recently become interested in carpentry and has dabbled a bit in that. However, she is interested in a career in computer security and is considering attending CNM [Central New Mexico Community College, in Albuquerque] next fall.

Sheila also loves art and enjoys drawing as well as making creatures and other animals out of paper. She has a huge collection and loves to show it off! Recently, she has begun to create creatures, including an alternative Universe for them, complete with a story line. She also enjoys playing on-line games and has made many “cyber” friends doing this. These interests have really propelled her reading and writing skills. A mere six months ago, she couldn’t read at all…now she has caught up (maybe even surpassed) her “grade” level and her writing is coming along nicely as well. Both Sheila and Tara did not have any interest in reading until they were 11 years old. This was scary at first, but unschooling has proven itself here; when left to their own devices, they learned when they were ready and as a result enjoy, rather than dread, reading and writing.

Gavin, the youngest, is also very much into gaming. He is particularly into Minecraft right now, especially the many MODs. Unlike his siblings, he became interested in reading early (around 6) and requested workbooks. Of course, I accommodated his request. The workbooks did provide some building blocks but his reading has really taken off recently due to gaming (again!). He wants to be able to communicate with his siblings and other friends on-line and they tend to do this primarily through reading/writing (rather than using microphones). He also loves to be physically active and is in an advanced boys' gymnastic class.

We haven’t gone to a homeschooling conference since 2006 and are looking forward to meeting all of you. It is such a wonderful thing to be able to meet other like minded people and we were very excited to learn that so many of you are from other states, even countries. We really enjoy learning about other places and cultures. Thank you, Sandra, for putting together this opportunity for everyone!

I don't have any recent pictures of the older four, so I'm just attaching some pics of Gavin and Sheila, at the Rio Grande Zoo and at Tingley Beach fishing ponds.

Friday, December 19, 2014

JILL (with Kirby, and me, two years ago)

Kirby, Jill, me, at Gold Pride on Central (old Rt. 66) in Albuquerque, in spring, 2012.

I will bring new photos of Jill and Luke, and some of the Jorgensen family who will be attending, tomorrow.

To see whose intros are up, and to read more about speakers, click the "Who?" tab at the blog (and if you're not at the blog, click the title of the e-mail to get there).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Coffee question can relax now

Tessa, who works in the hotel's office, says they keep their coffee on all day. So with that, Starbucks across the parking lot, and one small coffee maker in the room, we should be fine. We will have a tea station, too (hot water and tea bags, additives). We'll have a couple of kinds of juice. Bringing more drinks would be nice. :-)

Ali and Jon Zeljo, and their four sons, from Boulder

Hello! We are the Zeljo family from Boulder, CO. I'm Ali, my husband is Jon and our four sons are Nicky (14), Will (11), Gianni (6) and Giacomo (4). Our children have never been in school and never followed a curriculum; however, I had a bunch of hang-ups that kept us from being as free and happy as we are now!

We came across Sandra Dodd's work about three years ago. I am still a bit hung up on food and health issues, but much less than before reading Sandra's work. I love reading the Always Learning list posts and we are all really looking forward to some real life inspiration soon!

All four of the boys love playing Minecraft. They all also love playing with balls, playing games or sports of any sort. Maybe we will bring our collection of foam balls (see photo below) and find a good time to turn our hotel room into a (quiet?) dodgeball game?

Nicky spends most of his time running 10+ Minecraft servers on the computer he built last year.

Will loves Minecraft PVPing, watching movies or prank videos on Youtube, and practicing basketball and baseball.

Gianni is really interested in outer space right now. He loves to look through the telescope at Jupiter's moons. He also loves frogs and lizards, baking cakes, and playing basketball with his brothers.

Giacomo loves to watch Youtube videos on Minecraft Mods. Sometimes he likes to play the mods too! He also enjoys doing gymnastics around the house or playing Batman or Superman games with his brothers.

We look forward to meeting new friends!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mia, Scott and Nora of Kirkland, Washington

Hi, We're Mia, Scott & Nora (6 3/4 yo)
We live outside Seattle, WA. We are still fairly new to unschooling.

Mia: I get to stay home with Nora :) I like to make things with my hands. I especially love painting things…walls, sets, canvases, and more. I'm currently experimenting with teaching myself to sew again. It borders on humorous.
I also love to cook (and eat!) sing, put puzzles together and those candy crush games on fb.

Scott is a software engineer by day. Outside of work he enjoys playing video games in his spare time and is super happy to be able to play Minecraft with Nora. He also enjoys watching and reading sci-fi and fantasy. He is currently reading Isaac Asimov robot short stories with Nora.

Nora: "I like to watch movies like Bubble Guppies, Frozen and My Little Pony. I like to do art and play with clay. I like to play games like Minecraft. I like to play with my mom. It's fun to play babies and have fun." I've also noticed Nora likes to design spaces and clothes and host pretend plays and how-to videos. Oh! And flying on airplanes and staying in hotels! :D

We have a dog we like to say is a 'Muppet' because he looks like he's made out of yarn and feathers. But he will be staying home, because he hates airplanes.

We look forward to meeting everyone!


In our house, couches are for climbing and shows.

Mia, Nora, Scott

Nora and a dog masquerading as a muppet.
Or as Nora says "a pic of me and my brother"
(Scott just pointed out that even though the dog is staying home,
his fur will come with us to the conference…
because it goes everywhere)

See you in Albuquerque!

Lisa Jonick, Albuquerque

Hello everyone,

I am Lisa Jonick. My husband Michael and I have two boys, Alistair age 10, and Emmett age 7. We fully embraced Radical Unschooling after attending the last ALL Symposium in 2012. Before then we were not using curriculum, and didn't have a lot of arbitrary rules, but I had a lot of fears and hang ups about tv and video games, media in general. After attending the conference, and meeting other families and grown unschoolers, I completely changed my opinion.

By lifting all the arbitrary rules and limits around "screen time" our home has become so much more peaceful and relaxed, and my children's learning environment has become infinitely richer.

I look forward to meeting everyone. I live here in Albuquerque so please feel free to ask me anything you want to know about our beautiful city—things to do, places to eat etc.

Note from Sandra:
Lisa will probably attend alone, and will be my lovely assistant in traffic direction within the hotel, and to help people get to the tram and back when the time comes. I appreciate her willingness to help us all!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


This is a piece of art by Holly, my daughter, who won't be with us in December. It was a doodle. It was sized down for use in Just Add Light and Stir and is a link to the post in which it appeared, in 2010.

Not everyone doodles, but for those who do, we'll try to make it easy for you to do that during the symposium! It's also fine for you to be on the computer or iPad or playing a game (quietly).

Maybe you could be practicing rangoli patterns or knotwork, and we will have plain paper and coloring pages galore, so bring coloring materials with you.

I will have a printer right in the room, so favorite art can be copied or scanned, and coloring pages can be duplicated. Some of the rangoli patterns could be copied to become other people's coloring pages. :-)

If you haven't thought much about doodling, there is new research on how it helps some people think, and there is "Zentangle," a meditative form of doodling, You could google "doodles"! (While you're in there, maybe look up "google doodles.")

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Adam Daniel, recently...

"Agent Brains and Agent Ninja"

Julie sent this photo of Adam (and probably his friend Huxley).

Julie sent an e-mail:

Subject: "Adam next to a bush or possibly his friend Huxley"

Kind of matches the other one...


Friday, December 12, 2014

The Gattis family from Roswell

Hello! I am Amanda, my husband is Grahm and our kiddos are Gavin (7), Aleka (5) and Geirson (1). We live in Roswell NM.

Grahm works at Leprino Foods, his schedule is crazy but when he has time off he enjoys playing golf and watching sports.

I have been exploring metal stamping and Amigurumi.

Gavin is very into yu-gi-oh, Kaijudo, pokemon, Harry Potter and Destiny.

Aleka loves cooking, painting, play dough and collects cans to feed animals at our local humane society.

Geirson loves all things water! We just went on a boat ride to look at Christmas lights and all Geirson did was stare at the water. :)


I've added power strips and chargers to the checklist (a tab at the blog, or if you're reading on e-mail: Checklist).

Please consider marking your chargers with a return address label or your name in Sharpie or something. I've had one left at teo different gatherings, and I never found their owners.

Put on your checklist to make a checklist of what you brought so you can get it all home again, perhaps. :-)

Does anyone who's driving own a mic stand with a boom that we could use? Please e-mail me soon if you do have one. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Koehl family from California

Sandra note: Brian Koehl, Evan and Elise have decided to hang back in California, but Jaclyn is coming!

I'm Jaclyn and I'm very pleased to share a little about our family. Brian is my husband and our two children are Evan and Elise. We live in Santee, California, a suburb east of San Diego. Brian and I both grew up in Indiana but we met in San Diego in 2006. Brian is an Embedded Systems Engineer at a job he's had since 2001. I was able to leave my career (technology related stuff in the healthcare industry) when the kids were born in 2009 so that I could stay home with them.

I told the kids I was going to write a little about their likes and interests they asked me to write down these lists, exactly:

Evan (5) likes: Mario Kart, Minecraft, board games, Lego, trampolines, sword battles, swimming, Chipotle (the restaurant), pizza, The Lego Movie, Minecraft videos, green, dark blue, black, and Pokemon.

Elise (5) likes: Swimming, Minecraft, Lego, coloring, crafts, festivals, Frozen, The Lego Movie, Pokemon, pink, purple, and chicken nuggets.

Brian and I both enjoy pursuing the kids interests with them, and additionally we both love to read and enjoy the outdoors. I also like to walk, do yoga, swim, and garden.

The photo of all of us is from recent camping trip to the Agua Caliente hot spring in the Anza Borrego Desert.

The carved pumpkin has a Minecraft creeper face, and we are trying our best to look like creepers too. They kids say that creepers are sad because they don't really want to bomb people or things but don't have a choice.

Evan and Elise both wanted to be creepers for Halloween. They wanted to look like their costumes to look like their stuffed creepers except Elise wanted her costume to be pink, because pink creepers are more about hugging than exploding.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Keene Family, Pueblo of Acoma

Hi! We are the Keene Family. I'm Amanda and my husband is Jackie. We live on the Pueblo of Acoma, which is one hour west of Albuquerque. We have seven children but only four of them have been home-schooled since the beginning.

This is our first year of unschooling which seems to be a much better fit for our family than traditional homeschooling. Our four children who are unschooled and will be at the symposium are Myen (15), Raven (13), Haskaya (7) & Brooklynn (5). They are looking forward to meeting some other kids that are unschooled. Some of their interests include animals, drawing, film making, video games (especially Minecraft lately), legos and Pokemon.

Looking forward to meeting everyone!

Keith and Sandra Dodd, Albuquerque

Keith was born in 1956 and grew up in Alamogordo (south central New Mexico). I was born in 1953, lived in Texas for a while (where all my grandparents were from and 7/8 of great grandparents), and grew up (from the age of 6) in EspaƱola, in north central New Mexico.

Keith and I met in the middle, and stayed in Albuquerque. I used to be a lot older than he was. Now I'm not.

Keith and I will be at the symposium with Marty perhaps briefly attending, but I'll tell you about our children anyway.

We have three children who won't be at this symposium. Kirby (28) is in Texas, needs to work through the holidays (at Blizzard Entertainment, customer service, in-game (he supervises gamemasters, and has worked there for eight years). He's coming to Albuquerque in January, though, to look for an apartment or house, to move here with his girlfriend of a year and a half, and her daughter who's five, in March or April. Kirby has promised to speak in 2016 if there's a symposium. (That's a hotel question, not yet answered.)

Marty (25) got married November 20, in Las Vegas, just because his girlfriend of six years (now wife) loves Las Vegas. Marty and Ashlee might come to the hotel to play board games at least one night, I hope.

Holly (23) is in India, staying with unschoolers, taking an art class, hanging out with people who are involved in alternative education, shopping, exploring, playing My Little Pony with the daughter of her host family, and having an exciting adventure. She left two days after Marty's wedding, and will return January 24. (Not current, but still Holly:

I don't have a page on my husband, Keith, but I thought some people might like to see him aging, in medieval costumes, as Gunwaldt. :-) He's grey now, but still has a beard and he still plays recorder.

There are two photos of baby Holly there, and a link to more of Holly. She doesn't do much medieval dressing-up anymore, and neither do I, nor Kirby the oldest, but Marty, my middle child is currently the baron of the local group, and so extremely active for the time he's the representative of the Albuquerque SCA group to other groups.

There is this, about Keith, and knotwork, which he will be demonstrating.

Here are some recent photos, but they can't be any larger unless I want to give the hotel wedding department Big Bucks. I might, later.

Dressed up, Keith and me:

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Holly, on the left:
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Ashlee's dad, the hand-off:
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Me, Keith, Ashlee Dodd, Marty, Destiny (Kirby's girlfriend), Kirby and Holly:

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Here's some more about me, if you want. I haven't kept it up for the past few years; I will probably fill it in at some point.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Bios and intros are great!

Someone who attended in the past wrote
I loved "meeting" everyone from my own couch at home and was so much more comfortable going into the conference, having a good idea of how many kids there were and if they had similar interests to my kids, making introducing them easier.  AND making it easier for ,e to get to know others--small talk is painful, ha, so having more information about the families ahead of time makes it easier to dive right in to interesting conversations.
So though intros aren't required, please consider sharing at least a photo of your family in advance. :-)  Thanks!

If you have a blog you would like to share, or maybe facebook page, I'd be glad to put that link out, too!  Send it to me by e-mail, please!

Marina, Steve and Roman, from Germany

We are Marina, Steve and Roman (5).

We leave in Parsberg, Bavaria, Germany.

I'm a Bulgarian stay-at-home mom to our dear son Roman who was born in Germany :). Steve is American, currently working for the US Department of Defense.

We like to travel, eat, cook, read and explore. We like LEGO and video games (Many Thanks to you, Sandra!)

As I was searching the internet to find somebody to learn something from about child rearing and learning that would make sense to me and my husband, I found radical unschooling (the grammar check give me as option to replace the "wrong" spelling with "schooling"-eek...) and fortunately the name Sandra Dodd :).

We are looking forward to deepening our understanding of radical unschooling and meeting you in person.

Note from Sandra, for those who like to learn names in advance:
Marina Popova
Steven Kuhaida
Roman Kuhaida (5)

The Pierce Family from Boulder

We are the Pierce family from Boulder, Colorado - Eric, Shelley, Junior (Eric), William, and Ruth. We have been unschooling from the start. Our boys Junior and William love Legos, Minecraft, and Parkour. Our girl Ruth loves all things Frozen and My Little Pony. Living in Boulder gives us access to a good sized unschooling community with lots of activities and park days. We also love to travel and this will be our third unschooling conference, we are trying them all on for size.

Note from Sandra:
The ages of these Lego, Minecraft, parkour, Frozen and My Little Pony fans:
Junior / Eric Pierce Jr (9)
William Pierce (7)
Ruth Pierce (5)

...and they might have a grandmother along, too, we might get to meet.

Checklist reminder

Check back to see if things are added.

Quiet toys

Warm clothes (for going to the Crest of the Sandia Mountains)
(It's a tab at the top of the blog.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Nicole, Michael, Molly and Frank Rod

I'm Nicole Rod. My husband Michael and I have two awesome kids, Molly, 6, and Frank, 4 next month. We live in the SW Denver suburbs.

Obviously, our kids are still young. We are still figuring this whole homeschooling thing out, and I can definitely see that we are leaning in an unschooling direction. Molly went to public preschool and started full time public kindergarten in the fall of 2013. We made it halfway through the year, and made the decision to pull her out of school after one week back from Winter break. It's astonishing how your world changes when you go from questioning nothing to questioning EVERYTHING! Everything that we had accepted as just how it is and what you do, all of a sudden seemed completely ridiculous. What do you mean, my 5 year old has 20 minutes to eat lunch and 55 minutes a day to play? And next year, she will only have 40 minutes of recess? Why does my full time kindergartner have HOMEWORK!? What in the world happened to graham crackers, apple juice, and naptime?

And so, I dove into the rabbit hole. I pulled my husband in with me. We deschooled. We signed up for activities. We started trying to do "school at home." We were miserable. I remember telling her, "we can't just play and have fun all the time!" Then one day, I was setting up a new printer, and the kids were playing with the box. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that what they were gaining, playing with that box, was so much more valuable than anything we could get out of any curriculum or instruction.

So we read. And we're still reading. We're still figuring all this out. We're still a little afraid of the big scary Unschooling. But not as afraid as we are of big scary public school. What we know for sure is that the less we force, the happier we are.