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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......

Monday, February 27, 2006

I need.....

Cleaning out an old notebook tonight, I stumbled across something I wrote in a flurry some time ago. It was scribbled on construction paper and I don't even know the date (it's at least a couple years old I believe). Somehow the timing of finding it again seemed appropriate. I was thinking about all the things that matter to me in life, and the things I need to surround my days....
Here it is:

I need stars and moon magic and cloaks of velvet, purple shoes and boots that dance.
I need window seats with fairies visiting, ships that sail into sunsets, grapes dripping with the sweetness of the suns energy, nights of darkness and snow with long fires burning, smoked salmon and wine.
I need laughing, happy children moving to the rhythm of life as they pull me into their world.
I need stories and magicians and artists and dreamers and soul seekers and musicians to fill my days and nights. I need to live fantasy worlds and periods in history and food that transports me to other places.
I need culture that satiates my hunger, my passion for life and leaves me breathless.
I need color vibrant and electric to wash over me and fill my mind with dreams so rich I am unable to paint them dramatically enough.
I need sacred, quiet space, altars upon which I pay tribute to this great and marvelous universe.
I need mountains and trees and wild rivers and canyons and caves to explore.
I need sunsets and sunrises and the darkest depths of night with holy places to heal.
I need shaman and rituals and roots and energy that reminds me who I really am.
I need spinning planets and silly moments and hidden paths and great mysteries and splashing dolphins and diving pelicans and writing and death to remind me how great it is to live.

Tub time

Sierra started a bath tonight and Jalen wanted to join her. She was reluctant to let him in, but said he could sit on the edge with his feet in the water. I left for a minute to check something and when I returned he had jumped in with all his clothing on. Sierra was trying to be frustrated with him, but it was so funny and she couldn't help but giggle with me.
"YOU come in now Mom if it's so funny" she says. Ok then.
So I stuck my feet in, getting socks and jeans wet. They laughed and laughed.
"Get all the way in now!" they cried. Ok again.
I haven't done that in a long time! They were cracking up and splashing me....Jared got the camera and snapped a few pictures which I'm sure will end up here eventually.
"You're a cool Mom" Sierra said. Later, when we were dry and in the kitchen she asks "would your Mom have gotten in the tub with her clothes on?"
HECK NO! :) It would have messed up her hair for heavens sake. I'm sure you all know how long it takes to create the perfect bun. You can't mess up a teased and highly sprayed BUN you know.....just wouldn't do. Sorry Mom...I know you're laughing with me though. (Mom ended life in a wig, very unconcerned about hair).

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Home again....

Markus is home. He got back yesterday, thank goodness. I was realizing just how much comfort it is to share my sadness with him and what a rock he can be. Like tonight, while chatting with Rue.....when he walks in with a bag of truffles. Any man that brings truffles during a crisis is worth keeping around!!:)
Truffles and tea, that's what I need. Oh, and a good man that can clean house for me. The day he got home he positively scoured the kitchen and living room, including scrubbing and organizing the fridge. There are some really good things about being married to a neat freak. Especially a neat freak that doesn't nag me about being more relaxed.
Yeah, he's a good one to keep around.

I've been more thankful for my community of friends that are like family this last week. I've talked on the phone more than usual, cried more than usual and been filled with a deep gratitude for this life we've chosen. We are rich beyond measure.

I had the privilege of talking to Diana tonight...I say privilege because of the incredible human being that she is. I've learned so much about how to live fully and richly in the face of tragedy from this woman! She is absolutely and utterly CELEBRATING Hannah's life. They are having a huge Fat Tuesday party, then cremating and holding her service on Ash Wednesday. Hannah is dressed in the organic, colorful pajama's that Ben and Kelly sent in the mail.
So perfect.

One of the things she told me that reduced me to bittersweet tears on the phone; "Her Daddy caught her coming into this life, and he caught her going out."
She said that it's a good thing she breastfed that child because it's the only time Mitch let Diana hold her!! She'd also a bit miffed at him because when he was going through all his treatments, he told the kids about how wonderful the afterlife would be. "Why couldn't he just tell them it sucked?" Diana says, "he was too convincing!"

I am honored to have met Hannah and family, and thankful to learn from Diana how to laugh in the face of disaster, to find joy while mourning. I hope I remember these things for always.

Got to talk with Heidi tonight. They're now in San Antonio, TX and really enjoying that area. I made them promise to stay there for part of hurricane season in August or September, before they decide! Next step, hypnosis; "you will move to Jonesborough Tennessee".

Friday, February 24, 2006


For anyone wanting to reach out to the Jenner family at this very difficult time, please check out the page that was set up for Hannah. Some parts will be changed soon, but there are many ways to help: DianaHelp


In the end, Hannah couldn't stay. She died peacefully this morning, according to a very distraught Kelli who called Rue. Rue and I kept crying on the phone, but it was so good to hear her voice.
I called Sandra and wanted to call Kelly and Ben, but have been told it's not a good thing to do just yet...wait until tomorrow. That part is tearing me up.

I couldn't help but think that sweet Hannah could see her Dad and just wanted to be with him (her Dad died five years ago). I don't know about the afterlife, or what is out there, but I have to believe that the energy of love we share will be a part of it.

I will just hold Hannah's smile in my mind today. I will send all the love and energy I can muster to Diana and Hayden and all those that love them. The weakness in a community of people that are spread across the miles, is now apparent. You can't cook meals for someone, you can't physically hug them, you can't help with the funeral arrangements. Death came softly last night, and left behind a deep and gaping wound.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


That's the only word I can think of right now...raw.
It's how I feel. Raw and open and vulnerable and sad.
Diana's sweet daughter Hannah is fighting for her very life tonight. A systemic infection ravaging her body, they have her on life support.

I keep reading online, hoping for some news. Rue called a little while ago, her voice so comforting from far away, my unschooling tribe pulling together and sending love over the miles. I weep for their suffering tonight, for their anguish. I weep and rage. WHY THEM UNIVERSE???
Why?? It's not their turn for this shit dammit! But no, I don't want a turn either thank you.

I hug the kids and thank the stars they are alive and well tonight, that they can fight with each other and play video games and spill food across the floor. Markus is on his way home. I need him to get home soon. I read Diana's blog tonight and remembered that six months Markus and I spent living separate lives and started crying again. She describes loss and pain so succinctly...in only the way Diana can. Raw and real.

I sit here and talk to Hannah from across the miles...this child I barely know, but love because of knowing her mum. I tell her she can't leave just yet. No, not yet. She's got things to do on this earth and her Mum and Hayden need her. Our three candles will stay lit tonight and healing light will be sent towards the North.
So just stay Hannah. Stay and let the power of love and friendship heal.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I feel so free tonight. I got my hair cut off today, it's short for the first time in my life! I can't help but feel that I've just let go of another hang up left over from the cultish church I was raised in.
As I walked out of the mall today, it just felt so ME. Not that I haven't loved many of the fun hairstyles I've done over the last few years, but this was different.

I thought back to all the art I did in high school, most of the faces I drew or painted had punkish, short and colorful hairstyles. I always wished I could have hair like that.
Strangely enough, this new style is very similar (didn't realize it until after the fact) and I've been doing colors on myself that I only drew in the past. I really think I was imaging the inner self through my art all those years, and just never realized it. How cool that the real ME found a way to speak, even if it was just about hair. If you knew my childhood hang ups about hair though....it was never "just" hair.

Side note; Got hired at Belks today and Markus is heading into Flagstaff tonight...can't wait for him to get home. Even the kids have decided his cleaning skills are greatly missed. My fondness for putting off household tasks is beginning to show.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Wacky weather

Yesterday, it felt like spring. It was up near 60 degrees, sunny, great gardening weather. We woke up this morning to SNOW! Crazy. John is over here and the kids spent most of the morning sledding while I followed them around taking pictures and laughing at their antics. They built a sledding ramp of packed snow which launched them into the air just enough to be fun without breaking a tail bone. Jalen was eating snow like mad. I'm not sure it was all snow he ate, the dirt was getting mixed in rapidly. There he goes, immunizing himself again. Hurray for natural immunizations!!

Sierra "painted" with snow out on the deck, using food dye mixed with water. There is a lovely blob of colorful snow outside the window, topped off with birdseed. I'm not sure the birds will appreciate the color, but I sure love it!

We had a small party last night, with some of our new homeschool friends. It was so great to see the kids laughing with a group of people that appreciated some of their interests...anime, Magic the Gathering, video games etc... Jared's room was absolutely filled to the brim, but that's where all the gaming was set up, so that's where they wanted to be (including the only Dad in attendance).

It's so great to be meeting people that are so open minded and accepting of our unusual lifestyle! Heck, they're just as unusual, that's the great part.:) One of the families is planning to start an anime screening group and my boys would like to get a D&D group going. Slowly, slowly it's starting to feel like home. I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by interesting people.

Sierra has crafted a square for the quilt and I need to start on mine. When we were shopping for fabrics, we met this interesting lady named Lydia who gave us loads of good ideas and even took my email addy saying she wants to join Imagination Tribe. So much for "don't talk to strangers", that's how we find FRIENDS!

Sierra vowed to never remove the pants that she and Mary sewed the other day, but a ketchup blob changed her mind. Thank goodness. I finally got them washed so she can wear them day and night again.

Markus called last night during the party and caught me up on his travels. He's still in Vancouver/Portland with his Dad and had met up with several former co-workers and friends in the last few days. It was great to hear how they were all doing. Rick's F&D folks asked him to come work for them more than once...he felt honored. I don't think anyone could talk him into living in the NW again, but a paying job would sure be nice about now!

As I sit here, the lovely sounds of a sweet potato ocarina drift into the room. John is playing the ocarina his mother bought him, he's been playing it off and on all day. Earlier, I pulled out one of my ocarina's and played "Amazing Grace" with him, not bad for a first time but we discovered our songbooks were just different enough to make it not work perfectly.
He's playing it again right now. This child that has been forced into school against his will, this child that has been taken away from his mother and is suffering much emotional trauma over it. I hear the sound of hope and healing in his songs.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

cancer and a quilt

We found out that a wonderful family we met up at the conference had some very sad news this week. Diana Jenner is a single Mom of two children, her husband died five years ago of brain cancer. This week, they found out her daughter Hannah has Leukemia. I can't imagine the emotional turmoil that kind of diagnoses causes for a mother.
Our unschooling community has banded together, wanting to send love and support of course. We are all making quilt squares and mailing them on to a volunteer that will sew them into a large quilt of love and healing.

If anyone reads here and wants to get involved, please email me right away. The squares will need to be in the mail early next week as we want Hannah to have it soon. You can read about their day day journey into chemo and living with cancer here; Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia isn't really cute.

There is also talk of setting up a rotating roster of volunteers to send care packages. The idea is to cover the entire 2.5 years that Hannah will be receiving treatment. Also, she's fallen behind on her Girl Scout cookie sales (something she enjoys) due to feeling pretty cruddy lately, so lots of folks are planning to buy cookies from her. I think it would be SO cool if she sold well over her goal of 600 boxes!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New friends

We enjoyed our twice-per-month park day with the unschooling group yesterday morning. The kids left so happy; "We're finally making new friends" they all chimed in as we drove away.
It's been cold enough to keep the snow here,(more ice than snow at this point) so the kids have been sledding daily. They talked me into going out last night after dark, we had a terrific time racing to the bottom of the hill. I seem to cause the most roll-overs and crashes. Apparently, a big-person on the back of those plastic thingies isn't good. No broken bones, though I heard my neck crack when Jared and I did a heave-to at one point.

Later, something led to a question about vinegar. We ended up online, looking up fun things to do with vinegar (did you know Vicki Lansky wrote up 500 fun things to do with it? Cripes), which led to baking soda of course. Next thing I know, we're digging through the recycling to retrieve some film canisters to create mini-explosions. After some experimenting with just the right amounts, we got some decent results in which the canister hit the ceiling after a very loud "POP".
We had more fun shooting the lids across the room though!. Baking soda and vinegar were flying everywhere. It was a bit easier to clean up than the flour explosion fortunately. I swear the only way I get the floor mopped is after some minor experimenation disaster!
Next time we'll try the Alka-Seltzer method.

I have a good friend going through a major crisis in her life (really nasty custody fight she's lost) and ended up over here last night to get through a really rough spot. Sierra and Jalen love this friend, so we had a "slumber party" in Sierra's room. They thought it was pretty cool.
We ended the night sprawled across the floor, drinking tea, talking about the book "Walter the Farting Dog" and discussing garden plans for spring.

At 4:45am, I drug my sorry butt out the door to take Markus to the airport. He's flying to Portland, OR to visit his Dad and stepmom and drive a car back here. It's the first time he's been back to the NW since we moved in '98, so he's got some old friends and co-workers to look up. I'm putting in an order for Trader Joes!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I thought this was really cool. I've seen blogs with "blog clouds"-- words from the blog arranged in an alphabetic pattern. So I did mine! You can even order them on shirts from Snapshirts
if you like. They'd make unusual gifts...I bet the kids would love it.


If heaven is here on earth, then I just found a piece of it! Where, you ask? In the form of the best loaf of bread I've ever made. Cripes...I can't stop eating it.
I'm one of those people that is good at a million things, but not great at any one of them. Except bread making. What a claim to fame eh? I make awesome bread. Whoop-te-doo.
But damn it's good. The kids are used to my bread and they're even raving about this one. Full of oregeno and other herbs, dipped in butter with raw garlic crushed in.....yep, heaven.

We got enough snow this weekend to finally cover the ground with a beautiful white blanket. It's too warm to last, but we spent a lot of time outside between yesterday and tonight. Sledding in the dark brings back some fab memories! I forgot how light it is at night, when the snow is there for reflection. The kids hauled their sleds over to the cow pasture across the street and had a blast going down some longer hills. No cow shite came home either. phew.

There's a pile of wet coats and clothing by the front door, but I really don't feel like cleaning right now. The pile that's calling me is the stack of shipping tags that we'll be making into art letters for the "A,B,C" book (another Imagination Tribe project/trade).
I'm also wanting to experiment with some new ATC ideas.....ah, and then there's several writing projects screaming at me. sigh.
I was working on some drawings while watching "lifestyles of the rich and famous" with Jared and he started thumbing through my sketchbook. "MOM, why don't you just write the book finally?" when he saw some drawings that are for a book (in progress several years).

How do I explain why I have such a difficult time bringing things I really care about to completion? Each time I submit an article, or put up a photo of art, it's like exhaling. I think years in school cause more damage than most of us would like to admit.
I have a THICK skin dammit! And I still suffer from these stupid feelings of inadequacy.
I really haven't seen that fear in my children...I hope their lives of freedom will help them avoid all that stupid crap.

Time to go get another piece of bread. My mouth has quit burning, I need more garlic.:)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Death anniversary

I didn't write on the actual day, but February 4th marked the 4th year since my Mom died. I had been trying to find a certain set of pictures I took on a trip up there in '01, of her and Sierra picking flowers and wandering the garden. Chemo had caused most of her hair to fall out at that point (all but some white peach fuzz) and it was one of those most rare times, when she let me take photos without the wig on.
I loved the truth of those photos. The childlike state of her hair seemed appropriate, as she continued to nourish the earth and spend time amongst her favorite people .....children.

I wrote a poem about that day, based on a picture of a huge, pink peony that Sierra was stuffing her nose into. I wanted to frame the poem and a picture of that day, to honor her memory. I didn't even realize it was the four-year anniversary until my sister posted about it at our family email list. Suddenly it made sense. I had been looking through photos in the garage and crying more than usual that week. Now I knew why.

Come walk in my garden today
I'll pick you a peony
that tickles your nose
We'll walk to the Sunflower house
you'll peek through the stalks
your mirth will spill out
and go twinkling and dancing
and skipping up the path.

The sweet peas will wink and nod
as we pass, hand in hand
feet pressing chocolate
brown earth
Life energy flowing between
and through
and around.

Come walk in my garden today
we'll speak of dreams and
magical things touching
silky rose petals and wondering
at how they unfurl so spendidly.

Long after I am gone, this garden,
this day, this very moment will remain.
Our souls will walk hand in hand
for all eternity....
you walked
in my garden today.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

4 things Meme

Things Meme

I was tagged by Starchild Searching so here are the answers to my questions and I hope the folks I "tagged" will play!

4 jobs you have had in your life

~Membership Director at a health club...actually worked for two different health clubs long term and had a variety of jobs, including teaching aerobics, assisting new members with lifestyle changes etc... Mostly sales though, including corporate sales.

~Did the whole "direct marketing" thing by selling Jafra cosmetics and also Princess House Crystal (how much crystal do you really need though?)

~Cleaned houses

~Makeup artist; worked for Estee Lauder and most recently MAC cosmetics. Enjoy freelancing the best!

4 movies you could watch over and over
~All of the LOTR movies
~Princess Bride
~Pirates of the Caribbean

4 places you have been on vacation

~Alaska (used to live there though, does visiting family count?)
~One month driving trip took us through several states; Utah, Nevada, Cali, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas....

4 websites you visit daily

~5freebirds.com (ok, maybe not daily...but I have to check up on my sisters lates adventures often!)
~Neopets, I help my younger kids get points and feed their pets!
~soulfulliving.com (not daily again, but I don't visit many sites daily....just my dang email lists)

4 of your favorite foods

~Baba Ganoush with pita bread
~Chai tea from scratch
~steamed artichokes dipped in homemade mayo
~eggplant parmigiana

4 places you would rather be right now

~New Zealand
~climbing a mountain
~Somewhere in Central or South America
~A pub somewhere in the countryside of Ireland

4 Cars you have owned

~Toyota Camry
~'90 Mercury Grand Marquis (my "hood" vehicle)
~Ford Contour (we will never buy Ford again!)
~Toyota Sienna...the bestest vehicle EVER.:)

4 bloggers you are tagging (uh-oh...don't hurt me for tagging you!)

~Sandra Dodd
~Soulemama (who takes the most beautiful photos EVER!)

Politics of religion

Once again, I'm forced to look violence in the face. Ignoring the news doesn't make it go away...unfortunately. A friend wrote to me a couple of days ago, deeply disturbed by the recent violence over the Muslim cartoons printed. Not that upheaval and violence over religion is anything new, it's been going on since the beginning of time it seems.

Markus was getting his paperwork filled out for ERA yesterday. Apparently the office manager took it upon herself to share her Baptist views with him...he came home very bothered by their conversation, though he sidestepped it tactfully. Her comment about "I just don't understand those Muslims" really got him. I don't think I could have sidestepped that one very gracefully had I been in his shoes. "Those Muslims", a phrase hanging in the air like one was talking about something distasteful....a cockroach perhaps? It angered me and appalled me....but it really shouldn't. There are more similarities between Christians and Muslims than either camp would like to admit. Their fanatics are both bent on death and destruction, while the core followers adhere to peaceful beliefs and lifestyles.

Any Christian that condemns a Muslim doesn't have the right in my opinion. The Bible condones more violence than any book I've ever read. At least the Q'ran only condones violence against oppressors and warns against ever killing an innocent. The fanatics don't care about that truth, they use their religion to back up whatever actions they deem necessary.

Found a good article on this topic here: Q'ran vs. Bible
They aren't "those Muslims", they are our brothers and sisters. Religion seeks to divide, to separate, but the truth is that we are all human beings, we all live on the same earth, we are all born and we all die. In that journey we share on this earth, we need to seek a better method than religion to define ourselves and one another. We need to see beyond those traditional barriers and see PEOPLE, see reflections of ourselves, the sameness within.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Searching for Stacia Tauscher

There is this quote that floats around the internet;
"We worry about what a child will be tomorrow, yet we forget that the
child is already someone today."

It's attributed to a person named "Stacia Tauscher" which nobody can
seem to locate. Several sites label her an "author", yet not one has
a title of any book she wrote. There is no biography to be found, no
birth place, no history of any kind. Only this one famous quote.

Amy, a regular at Anne Ohman's "shine with unschooling" list had a
with finding this person. Well, I've caught the bug and
have tried every search
known to man.....turning up next to nothing.

There's a possibility that she wrote a book from 1690, and Amy
did find one
other quote by this mystery person:
"A child is a beam of sunlight from the Infinite and Eternal, with
possibilities of virtue and vice - but as yet unstained."

The grammar makes me believe that she is definitely a pre-19th
century writer.
Maybe time has obscured her work, yet the quotes
remain. I need to know who
she was, why she had such trust in
children and what she did in her lifetime.

The search for Stacia Tauscher is on.....write me if you know anything!

Midnight tea

As we were winding down the day, I offered Jalen and Sierra some toast and tea before we went to sleep. Jalen got all excited about tea (we only drink it daily!) and ran into Sierra's room to retrieve the miniature "tea party" set. They laid out their special placemats and tea things, pouring sugar and cream into appropriate china.
It was midnight.

I sat there with two happy children, enjoying their musings and conversation, thinking about what I would miss out on if bedtime was more important than impromptu tea parties. After the tea and toast ritual, they were ready to go lay down...just tired enough to honor my need for sleep.

Earlier, Jalen had poured 1/2 and 1/2 into a baby bottle and fed his bear. It's interesting that he even knows what a bottle is for, having been nursed as long as he was! This particular bear gets a lot of nurturing (as do his many "pets") in the form of clothing, feeding and getting carried just about everywhere. He also ironed several of his T-shirts with the children's iron (circa 1970's) they keep with the doll paraphenalia. This sweet boy of mine loves putting makeup on Sierra and I, often insisting on giving me a makeover right before bed!

I can't help but think that school, with it's many insidious social messages, would cause him to feel shame about some of the things he loves. Ironing, bottle-feeding baby bears and applying make-up would not be well recieved topics of conversation amongst the average 5 year old boy. Not even in today's "tolerant" culture. We've got a long way to go if we are going to really be a tolerant society....in the mean time, I will do everything I can to allow him free exploration of all that interests him.

It wouldn't be any kind of issue that Sierra loves to use power tools or wants to do traditionally "masculine" activities. But if a boy enjoys anything "feminine", heaven forbid. It's sad. I wonder how many little boys hide their true feelings for fear of ridicule. What is it that people really fear? A boy that can iron clothes, feed a baby, act nurturing...gee, sounds like a good partner to me!

They just finished up another tea party and are back outside in the light dusting of snow we got last night. It's been warm, almost spring-like until yesterday. They're thrilled to get more snow, even a mere inch. Jalen dressed his bear in warm clothing and they headed outside together. Trevor and Jared only lasted a few runs down the hill and decided it was too cold.

Sierra insisted I go sledding with her first thing this morning, so I've already had my morning exercise. I should run up and down that hill everyday, it'd sure keep certain muscles tight! Anything to fight gravity at this point in life. It seems to affect certain body parts more than others...what's up with that anyway? :)

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Groundhog turns five

We celebrated Jalen's Birthday yesterday. It was a fairly quiet day at home, spent doing the things he loves and helping him celebrate in his own way. He started out the morning by frosting the cake we'd made the night before. A rectangular, chocolate cake became "spongebob" with some yellow and brown frosting. Sierra and I helped just a bit, but it was mainly his creation.

I couldn't help but think that I can't even remember any of my childhood birthday cakes. They were beautiful creations that my mother made with love, but we were NOT allowed to touch them until the party. Contrast that with the less-than-perfect cakes we have in our family, yet bring so much joy to my children. That was something it took me a while to let go....it's not about the cake (or any other part of the party or ritual) in the end, it's about the child and what brings joy to their world and help them feel celebrated. I wish I'd figured that out sooner.

He was SO incredibly proud of that cake and couldn't wait to share it with everyone. After playing some Neopets, watching more Harry Potter (we've had a Harry Potter movie fest this week, watching the first three repeatedly) and acting out magic with "wands" (aka chopsticks) we finally had Markus arrive home for the celebration. Jalen ran out and started putting the candles on the cake immediately! We did the traditional singing and eating of cake and ice cream, opened his lone present and all of us joined in trying out his new "Fly Wheels" and Nerf gun. Mary stopped by quickly to bring him a gift....he was thrilled with some new Hot Wheels for his growing collection.:)

I made the pizzas while he went off to watch tv with Sierra and play with the new toys. They swirled in and out while I baked and after we all ate, they decided to do "experiments". Jared and Sierra hauled flour up from the basement and cleared the table. They all got involved, Jalen especially loved squishing his hands in flour/water goo. Sierra chose to make something edible and mixed up a batch of cookies, most of which got eaten as dough. The house smelled awesome between pizza and cookies baking!

I went off to check email while they did the flour experimenting....
When I went back out, there was flour all over the floor, the walls, the cupboards and even the fridge! It looked like an explosion had occurred. Well, there was a little explosion named Jalen Kai standing in the middle of the dining room trying to SHAKE the flour goo off his hands. It had the effect of a dog shaking water off, flour goo was FLYING across the room.
I yelled "STOP, don't shake, we'll wash it off!!!" He looked at me like "duh Mom, this is more fun" but at least he stopped.

We got him in the tub after peeling off white, gummy clothing and I dove into the mess. Luckily, Markus was downstairs working out and had no clue that the new house now had a flour facial. I'm much better at dealing with catastrophes, if it's anything other than vomit or diarrhea I figure it's no big deal!

Jared and Sierra are laughing along with me and we all grab rags and start wiping. It was like being in a dream where you are trying to move but nothing happens!! The more we wiped, the more we found. I told them how grateful I was for some extra hands to help get it cleaned up and Jared replies "We wouldn't leave you to deal with this alone Mom!!"
"yeah" Sierra adds. I doubt they'd be as willing to help if I pressed the issue of "clean up after yourself" all the time, rather than just helping them. They're very sweet and offer help from their hearts, not because anyone makes them.

So we did finally get it cleaned up (as far as I can tell, though a flour chunk may be found in the next few months in some bizarre place) and enjoyed Sierra's cookies. She' making crepes today and declared that she might want to be a chef when she gets older. I believe she's already a chef...at least in the Allen household. I could learn to live on cookies and crepes......

So anyway, Jalen is five years old. My little groundhog is growing up fast, I'm glad I get to share the journey with him. There is a picture next to my computer, of Jalen playing with his toes as a wee baby. He looks so content and absorbed, as babies do when they have toes to play with, much like the look on his face when his hands were covered with goo yesterday. He squished and squeezed it, enjoying the texture, a little boy absorbed in the moment. The rhythm and texture of our lives is shaped by these daily events my children create, and invite me into. The mess, the joy, the craziness and calm all a part of that flow we call life.