Saturday, September 1, 2007

4 Shooting Stars and No School Supplies

My three kids and I live in a community of 9 homes that were all built at the same time. Actually, we built them, all of us....nine families, together....all at the same time. It took us ten months and plenty of blood, sweat, and tears; but we did it, together.

It's Labor Day weekend. The last hurrah for those on a school schedule. Today we held a yard sale to sell the last of the power tools that we now no longer need because we are done building our homes. There are 12 kids living in these 9 homes, so of course we sold cookies and lemonade as well. We baked and wrapped and squeezed and made cardboard signs most of the afternoon yesterday and the kids set up their bake sale tables, while the adults organized the tools, the random boxes of nails, the extension ladders and hard hats, and that dang shop-vac that we've all been tripping over in the shed. There was so much excitement in the air. We moved into our homes back in December, and many of us needed to majorly hibernate for a few months after such a huge project. So now, when we get together for a potluck or an outdoor project, there is a familiar energy. Something like picking up that old guitar again and remembering how to play.

Most of the tools sold by the middle of the afternoon. The bake sale was a huge success. The kids made enough money for us to plan an ice cream party later in the week. Macy (middle daughter, age 9) made nearly 6 bucks face painting. I think she only got up out of her chair twice in 6 hours. She was in heaven, and now we are all walking around with little flowers and pumpkins and rainbows on our cheeks. One of the highlights of the day was the potluck. Sunny played his guitar the kids played basketball and rode scooters and bikes and skateboards until well after dark. We ate and laughed and and sang, and the kids played some more. Friends and neighbors dropped by.

I was tired. The kids were winding down. I thought for sure we were saying our goodnights and on our way to bed. And then I looked up. The stars. I laid down on the sidewalk and stared. Wow. Every time I do this, I can't believe how long it has been since the last time I found time to do this. Absolutely breath taking. Within minutes, 6 kids (my three and three others) had joined me. Janey, my 11 year old saw her first shooting star. Is that really possible? I had a moment of guilt. Maybe we haven't been looking up often enough. She, however, was thrilled. Gus, our 5 year old neighbor, came racing over when he heard our collective ooohs and ahhhs. Janey tried explaining to him what a shooting star looked like. She finally settled on: "Just keep looking up. You'll know it when you see it."

We laid there, mostly in silence, broken only by the gasps and ponderings: How do the satellites not fall to Earth? Where is Orion's belt? Which planets can we see right now? Are stars hundreds, thousands, or millions of miles away? What's that cloudy stripe down the center? Will the sun ever be a shooting star? What would it be like if there was no sun? Could we still eat pork sausage if we had no plants? And my favorite, "Are we upside down?"

These are the moments in life when I am reminded of why I choose to be an unschooler. Our life is rich and full and the learning is spontaneous and relevent. It's Labor Day Weekend. There's not a school supply in sight. And I saw 4 shooting stars tonight.

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