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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Mountain view

I am surrounded by hills once again. No flat city-scape, no beaches, no more dull colored trees in the fall. I sit here typing at an open window with gold, green and red as the background wash. A neighbors cat runs across the yard in search of prey as a hawk cirlces lazily overhead. Across the street, a field of cows contentedly grazes...surrounded by hills that comfort my soul.

I feel like I've come home. This isn't a feeling I expected to have upon coming to Tennessee...but it's there all the same. The pull that I felt to this area may have some deeper meaning I haven't discovered yet. Perhaps my Cherokee roots are calling me? In spite of missing dear friends, we all feel a sense of belonging here, even the children are glad we've moved. Jonesborough is such a quaint, small town with a rich heritage of storytelling that weaves it's way through the streets, shops and people of this appalachian community.

Our visit to St. Louis was overwhelming, exhausting and awesome! I left with a greater appreciation for the creative, mindful people that seek out this unschooling lifestyle and many new connections and learning experiences. I'm so grateful that Kelly and Ben Lovejoy are willing to put so much energy and time into this event year after year, it's been a lifechanging event for so many of us. As a speaker this year, I saw the entire thing from a slightly different angle. It was a most rewarding and empowering experience...one I hope to repeat in Albuquerque next year. The Live and Learn conference is not to be missed!!

One of my talks was with Sandra Dodd, someone I've admired for her clear thinking and direct words. Her book "Moving a Puddle" was finally available for the first time at the conference.

I wish I could capture all the poignant moments, all the personal connections and sweet memories...but it's just not possible. Not with a camera, not with words, it simply has to live in your heart. Some of the friendships my kids have made will be for life I'm fairly sure. Trevor has spent most of his days online since we moved here, wishing for the friends he left in Pensacola and the ones he met at the conference. I'm really glad technology can give him a link to their world each day. Jared's feeling a bit left out, since he doesn't have a computer right now.
Sierra and I learned how to weave on a round loom from Rue and Dagny Kream, and now have many hats and other oddities to show for it. We've had a ball selecting various yarns and experimenting with combinations. Speaking of Rue, she also has a book available now. "Parenting a Free Child" is a sweet and gentle source of information and inspiration.

Another activity we enjoyed more than we ever expected, was the ATC trade. It was fabulous to sit and create these miniature works of art, amidst the chaos of packing and moving, but the trading was even better. Getting to see and share with other people is a huge part of the fun of Art Trading Cards . We're now planning a mail trade with my Imagination Tribe email list. I can't wait to see all the cool art creations. Sierra loves sorting and looking at her small collection frequently.

My sister Heidi, has some fabulous pics of the conference here: 5 Free Birds

A really incredible woman named Pegge, has some at her site: Free Range Family
After visiting the City Museum in St. Louis, she said it looked like it was designed "by a psychopath on crack." It's a very accurate description! I needed a week to explore the whole thing. My kids were enchanted and did NOT want to leave even though we were ready to pass out from exhaustion.
It was really hard to get decent photos of it though, since there was SO much to take in. The best photos I've ever seen are here: Photo Gallery
They really show a lot of the artsy elements and amazing, climbable sculptures.

My good friend LeaAnn got some shots here: Kodak Gallery
including a couple of my white, aqua and black hair. I've gone to white and purple recently. No photos of that yet.:)

A cache of conference photos, plus information about the Albuquerque event next year can be found at Sandra's site : Sandradodd.com

Amy wrote a great article, titled; "Slaying the Monsters", about the whole experience, and about venturing away from the methods our own parents use.

Something a lot of us notice at the conference is the layers of growth that happen, not only for the adults, but the children. Many of these kids have no other unschoolers in their area. The lucky ones have a handful of families that understand and embrace this lifestyle. At the conference, they are surrounded by respectful, mindful adults that honor them for who they are. It's a safe feeling, being surrounded by your tribe, and in that safe environment, they can express themselves in a whole new way. It's one thing to have your own family honor you for exactly who you are today...it's a whole different thing to have hundreds of peopled that "get it".

We're especially fortunate. Not only did we have several good friends from Pensacola attend, we also had family! Heidi and Martin live the freedom of natural learning and managed to make the conference this year, PLUS my Dad and stepmom showed their support by making it there over the weekend. We had a great time hanging out with them in the short time we had. I also got to meet my stepbro Kenny and his girlfriend Sherry. Great people!! I wish they all lived closer.

While I was traipsing around, collecting fine memories and having fun, Markus was back home doing all the grungy work of buying and selling houses. I'm eternally grateful for the support of a partner that understands the value of these experiences for his children, and wants to see me follow my own dreams. He's a rare breed and a truly incredible spirit...I appreciate him more every day.

My wee, little man made a great friend at the conference; Holly Dodd. She understands him and speaks his language.:) I think he'd follow her just about anywhere at this point. How many teens will roll on the floor and talk silly with a four year old? When he woke up on Sunday morning, the first question out of his mouth was "where's my fwiend Mom?"

Through all the new friendships, connections and learning moments, we left feeling so enriched and thankful. I'm not sure how we're going to make Albuquerque, but I know we have to figure out a way, it's just too good to miss!


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