Tuesday, July 06, 2010

MiniCon, AwesomeCon

I have been on a high since people started arriving for MiniCon last Friday afternoon. This is simply the best feeling. Kelly and I worked so hard on AOS and MiniCon, and to see the results of our hard work coming together, to see smiling faces, and hear laughter, and discuss ideas that matter in our lives with others--well, two words keep floating in my mind: Pride and Joy.

Here is my MiniCon experience (and we hope to put quotations from other attendees on the AOS website).

Our new friends LB and SB and their two daughters stayed with us. It was fun to get to know them, and I'm so glad LB didn't have a reaction to the cat! Their daughters cared for the children while we were MiniCon-ing, and my kids really liked them both quite a bit. Their younger daughter and Sean are special friends now, I think. :) And yes, LB did bring a 3 ring binder to the classes!

Friday's Social

About 40 people came to the restaurant in Buckhead and we ate, drank, and made merry. Kelly and I hugged each other about a million times. I might have jumped up and down once or twice. Actually there seemed to be quite a bit of hugging and jumping up and down. It was a fun evening--meeting new people (some from Texas gave Kelly and me some great books about the Lone Star State as a gift, and some books for the kids, too), and greeting friends. There may or may not have been a drinking game involving the mention of the word "mosque." :)

Saturday Workshops

Since this was a budget conference, our Saturday classes were held at a county rec center in Marietta. The facility was clean and the two rooms we rented were large enough for the classes. We set up a table in the hallway for concessions. AOS-ers Travis and Colleen were the King and Queen of MiniConcessions, thanks!

There was also a table for packets of stuff from ARI, the Lucidicus Project, the Black Ribbon Project, The Undercurrent, FIRM, CSG, OList.com, Explore Atlas Shrugged, and of course, Cultivating the Virtues and the Atlanta Objectivist Society. Thank you everyone who sent in materials, and I'll be contacting you soon to find out where (if) I can return the extras. We passed out about 30 packets of material, and collected some donations for the Black Ribbon Project, too. Thanks Miranda, Ryan, and Morgan who helped create the packets!

We sold many t-shirts to raise money to cover our costs, and still have some for sale, too (there's a form on the website). Thanks Tori and Ansley who created the shirt design and got them ordered, too.

The classes--all of the ones I attended or led were lots of fun for me. I went to Jason's Intro to Objectivism course, partly to meet some new people, and partly to spend time with Jason, who is one of my favorite people. Jason's explanation of the basics of the philosophy was clear and accessible. I enjoyed it thoroughly!

Next, Kelly and I led an Introduction to Positive Discipline two-hour workshop. From my perspective, those two hours simply flew by. I called it the Cultivating the Virtues Live Show! I think there were about 15 people in the class. The hands-on activities went smoothly, and there was lots of interesting back-and-forth between us and our participants. I enjoyed this so much, and felt really comfortable up there talking about two of my favorite things: Objectivism and parenting. I think Kelly and I really did a great job demonstrating how well PD lines up with the virtues and Objectivist values.

A bunch of us had lunch at a nearby restaurant. Another customer of the restaurant commented on Jason's AOS shirt, which says "Who is John Galt, y'all?" on the back. Her comment was "John Galt was right!" This, my friends, is activism!!!! And advertising! We were all pretty tickled by that exchange.

After lunch, I led the Blogging Round Table. It was lots of fun, though I probably did way too much talking. There were several people in the group (about 10 of us I think) who didn't yet have a blog and were interested in starting one. So maybe we'll get some more OBloggers out of it!

Next came Kelly's Poetry Appreciation class. She read the poems she chose with passion and it was hard not to get teary at the end of Keats' "When I have Fears that I may cease to be" and Tennyson's "Ulysses" (my all-time favorite).

Finally, I went to my friend Martin's CrossFit class. It was interesting and informative. The second I sat down in the class, though, I got TIRED. I'd been up since 5:45 (too keyed-up to sleep!), and with the excitement of everything, the hectic set-up, trying to make sure I didn't forget everything, making sure the kids and their new babysitters were comfortable with each other....BAM. Others were getting tired, too! So I chose not to do the short CrossFit workout that Martin had planned. I think it might have killed me! :D Certainly the people who did participate seemed to enjoy it, if by "enjoy" you mean "lie panting helplessly on the grass for 20 minutes afterward." I'm hoping to get together with Martin another time and have him show me some stuff.

I heard great things about the other classes on Saturday, and hope some others will write about them, too!

Saturday Night

After we cleaned up the rec center, I came home and checked in with the kids and the babysitters. Sean missed me quite a bit. Poor thing. The kids had a good time with the sitters, though. We all chilled out for a little while, ate a snack, then headed to Stoney's Pub, the home of our friends Michael and Jessica Stone. We hung out and chatted and mostly I just sat and watched people, still being quite tired. Kelly got up and thanked everyone who helped with MiniCon, and welcomed the new folks. There may or may not have been more hugging and jumping up and down. :o) There was certainly a drinking game involving the word "mosque."

Here's a picture of Michael and Ryan (and there are more pictures at my TwitPic page, too):

The two best-dressed guys at the party! #MiniCon on Twitpic

Fun way to celebrate the 3rd of July!

Sunday Workshops

Okay. We were ALL getting really tired! The Caseys left Stoney's at a reasonable-for-adults, but unreasonable-for-children hour of about 10:30. Everyone else stayed and partied through the night, and I believe there was lots of singing.

Michael and Jessica hosted the Sunday classes, partly because nobody rents out rec centers on the 4th of July, and also because Jessica was leading the Paleo Cooking class and needed a kitchen.

Kelly and I led our second two-hour Positive Discipline workshop. It went over pretty well I think, though it wasn't as smooth as the first workshop for a couple of reasons. First--TIRED. :) Also, we were presenting all new-to-us material, and we'd designed this class to focus on problem-solving skills, so we created the agenda ourselves, and even created a new activity! Still it was fun, and good experience. We ended up having an impromptu Q&A/discussion at the end, and while both Kelly and I thought we'd done too much lecturing overall, I think our participants enjoyed it. Actually, I enjoyed that discussion, too. We touched on a few things not covered in the PD material, specifically, how we use Objectivist principles all the time in our parenting, not just in discipline/problem-solving situations. (We did hand out surveys for both workshops--the ones I've seen have been overwhelming positive and encouraging.)

Sunday BBQ/Pool Party

After we cleaned up at Stoney's, we headed back to my neighborhood for the pool party. Hooray for King and Queen of the BBQ: Martin and Melissa! And hooray for all of the local AOS folks for bringing side dishes! And hooray for Brendan for bringing our grill up to the pavilion!

Sean was taking a nap when I returned home, so he and I missed the first 45 minutes or so. But that's okay, because Shea Levy came and hung out with me while we waited for Seanie. Then the three of us walked down to the pool. We ate a bit, socialized, then swam a bit, and socialized some more. The only real problem with the BBQ was the fact that we have one key to the pool area, and it was a big pain to find it and let people in, or attract the attention of someone on the inside and get them to come open the door. I was nervous that we might lose the key, or someone might swipe it, but we managed to keep track of it.

I think this was my favorite moment of MiniCon. I got in the pool with Sean and just felt so happy. Here we all were, on this gorgeous, somewhat cool (80 degrees) 4th of July afternoon, surrounded by people who loved life. The kids played, the adults played with the kids, people lounged (or napped!) on chairs in the shade and the sun. It was pure bliss.

I LOVE that my kids will know all of these people, even the ones we won't get to see very often.

Sunday Night

Oh boy were we tired! Shea passed out on our couch in the middle of a whole room of people. :o) Lots of people who wanted to go see fireworks decided to go home and rest. But we foolhardy people with young children: us, the LB contingent, and the contingent from Houston, and Shea (a foolhardy person without children!) all forged ahead into the sunset.

Unfortunately, it turned out that the fireworks show in Kennesaw had happened on the 3rd. But Acworth was showing fireworks that night. So we drove up to the "downtown" section of Acworth (yes, that word must be in quotation marks!), and separated and reunited (there were three cars) and finally found parking. We spread out our blankets on the side of a steep hill, which has at its peak, a real-live working railroad track.

Only one train came by--I have never been so close to a moving train in all my life! As it came down, we and the hundreds of other people who had the same idea scattered, and when it left, we all went and sat back down near (or on) the tracks. Ryan hunted for coal (real coal? I have no idea) on the tracks and played with his new friend from Houston, R. Morgan and Sean practiced going up and down the hill, and both had more balance than I, for all my free-range-y-ness, gave either of them credit for. (Lesson learned!) LB, D. from Houston, D's mom and I chatted about homeschooling, while the menfolk talked about ... well I have no idea.

It was a little difficult to actually see some of the fireworks, but we managed to ooh and ahh with the best of them. Sean got the Most Enthusiastic Fireworks Watcher Award, as he clapped his chubby little hands and said "Yay Fireworks!" (or 'yay fah-wah-wooks') each time. SO CUTE. Shea held him a lot, and he and LB's youngest had a debate over who was going to get to bring him home.

Then we said our goodbyes to the Houston people (so nice meeting all of you!!!), and it felt as if MiniCon was over. Bittersweet. LB et. al. had an adventure taking Shea back to Kelly's, then returned here and we all sat up for an hour talking. I believe I had more than my share of Sauvignon Blanc. :) I remember discussing Firefly and Elvis Costello and laughing a lot.

When I woke up yesterday, our house guests had departed (they made it all the way home to Boston in a day!). I felt tired, but proud and happy. We had lunch with Shea and Kelly and Aaron, and said goodbye to Shea. Then we came home, watched a couple of movies, and lounged around.

Pride and Joy. Two things anyone ought to feel after working so hard to bring a labor of love to life. Pride and Joy. It was amazing. Thanks to everyone!


Dawn said...

Thank you so much for everything! We had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed meeting so many awesome people. I can't wait for MiniCon the Sequel!

Lynne said...

Jenn, this is a wonderful summation. It actually made me a bit teary-eyed.

Thank you so much for providing the incentive, not to mention the home base, for a most excellent adventure.

Jenn Casey said...

It was so nice to meet both of you in person! We will DEFINITELY do this again, somehow. If either of your groups hosts a [YourCityHere]Con, we're there!

HaynesBE said...

Congrats on what sounds like a great success. I am so envious.
And please tell whoever designed the t-shirts, they are AWEsome. I love the logo with the peach and the y'all.
Thanks also for the extensive write up!!
Shea posted two talks on her blog. Would love to be able to hear some more!