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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......

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Free-ranging it...

....with The Freerange Family this week!
Well ok, just one day this week, but it was really fun to get time with them. It involved some Kahlua and coffee, a mojito or two, some great conversation and a little bit of trampoline jumping. More hanging out at home, but with some traveling unschoolers this time. One afternoon is better than nothin'! We hope they can stay longer next time.

We're looking forward to our very first campout with FLT (Families Learning Together). I'll be traveling to Charlotte for training on Wed. and Thurs., then we take off for camping on Friday morning. We'll miss the International Storytelling Festival this year, but living in Jonesborough means we get interesting storytellers all year. Hanging out with some our unschooling friends sounds better anyway!

My mailbox is full every day right now, with all the yummy recipes for the Imagination Tribe recipe book. I'll post some pics when it's all ready to be shipped back to people. Food is always inspirational for me!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A stay-at-home kinda week

But such a great one!! For a week of hanging around the house more, we've sure had a good time of it. First of all, we got to play Dungeons and Dragons both Saturday and Monday (followed by a sleepover), which makes most of the household happy. Secondly, Markus and I have been mucking out the garage which doesn't sound like much fun but we've been working together and he's been his usual handy self and built me lotsa shelves and storage. My art area is actually organized and user friendly now! It's so exciting. We have distinct areas down there. I have a few boxes yet to unpack but I think we're finally moved in officially....it only took one year this time.

Sierra and I experimented with some fabric ATC's this week, with pleasing results. Obviously we've been playing with makeup too. The above photos were inspired by the lead singer of Evanescence, Amy Lee. We love this photo of her at myspace and had been eyeing it for a while. I don't need much of an excuse to whip out the makeup kit!

Monday, September 25, 2006

A grand sand pile!

We've got a new house going in next door and the kids have appreciated the contractor's pile of sand immensely! They spent a few days digging themselves holes and burying each other. The fun ended when it became evident that keeping dangerous debris out of the sand was not a priority for the workers (I'm sure they'd be thrilled that my kids were sneaking over there when they were gone!).
Obviously, we need a sandbox or at least a sand pile over here!

We've got the trampoline and some scrap lumber to build small forts (gotta have some hiding places of your yard is going to become an airsoft field). Next is sand I guess.:) Still thinking about whether a banging wall is a good idea or not.

In addition to the grand sand pile, it's been a grand learning adventure to watch a house go up so close to us. Every day the kids are watching the workers, asking questions and commenting on various aspects of construction. Sierra says "This is so great, it will help me learn how it works for when *I* build houses!"

Friday, September 22, 2006

"Life is like.......

.........a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get" (according to Forest Gump whom we were imitating today on the way home while eating a box of chocolates). Jared says "you know, life really IS like a box of chocolates. If you keep buying the same kind of chocolates, you start learning which ones you like and how to choose better."

In other words, the longer you live the better choices you can make, as you learn. Smart kid.:) Chocolate makes for great philosophical discussions.

Had some wonderful connections today, first with some local homeschoolers.......I met the husband of a lady I'd been conversing with online a few times. They run the most AMAZING costume business from their home. Her designs are movie quality from the look of them. Check out Twin Roses Designs for some fabulous inspiration. Jalen met a sweet girl named Lilly, nice to see him connecting with a friend.

Later, we stopped at the Jonesborough library and it was one of those days I was simply meant to be there. But I need to back up a little bit. You see, one day I was driving down the road listening to NPR and there was this great interview with a musician. They played one of her songs and I was soon driving down the road in tears because it was so beautiful. We attended her concert a couple days later and I met the musician and the DJ that gave the interview with Amy Steinberg, who's music and spirit we've fallen in love with and you've heard me mention a million times!:) But back to the DJ....

I talked with her that night about a women's hand drumming circle she's involved with but unfortunately I didn't know how to contact her again.

Sooooo......I'm sitting at the Jonesborough library this afternoon and I hear a woman talking about a drum circle. I look behind me and there she is! We re-connected and I'll be added to her email list shortly. But another connection happened right there. A family that had wanted to homeschool (but got intimidated by TN law) started asking me about unschooling. So there were two people I was meant to connect with today and all because Sierra said "let's go to the library right now".

It was a breezy, sunny, cool day. Mostly perfect until Jalen started melting down tonight and getting loudly demanding. Ok, that's all part of the perfection too....just doesn't feel so great when you're in the midst of it.

Jared and John's airsoft guns arrived today, talk about excitement. We drove John's gun over to his house for delivery, they compared weapons and made plans to convert my yard into their battle field. Good thing I bought the biodegradable pellets.

Today was all about connecting with friends, sunshine, chocolates, books, movies and guns. What a combination eh?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

An unschooler at heart

Steve Irwin was a huge inspiration (and great source of entertainment) for our entire family. We were deeply saddened to hear of his death on September 4th. We never met the guy, he didn't know we existed, but the world is a bit darker for his passing. I felt that through the screen, we got to see what Steve Irwin was all about...it wasn't the animals, it was his passion for LIFE, his zeal for what he loved that made him so incredible.

I grabbed this Steve Irwin quote that LeaAnn put up at her blog:

~"And so I've been asked about philosophies of fatherhood and how to be a good parent and all that, and to tell you the truth, mate, all I do is just treat her exactly how I would want to be treated. She wants to have chocolate, Mum's not looking - "Here, have the whole block." And you know what? It works out. She's not a chubby, little, fat chocolate freak kid." -Steve Irwin~

Yep, seems he had the heart of an unschooler.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

More Live and Learn

This was one of my very favorite people at the conference, and she won't even remember me!!:) Emily came with her family all the way from Australia. She was only 6weeks old when they arrived...she was yummier than James Coburn's nitrogen ice cream!

Live and Learn 2006

Ah, personal connections or as Erika put it "finding soulmates". Being surrounded by likeminded, beautiful and interesting unschoolers is an experience that is indescribable. A few of us snuck away to Old Town and ate at this wonderful little cafe at the end of a small alley. The waiter was also the owner and all the recipes were his own. It was quiet and sunshine spilled over the courtyard as birds splashed in a nearby fountain...perfect moments. As we left the courtyard I found my pink cowboy hat in a small boutique. Lotsa great pictures of the conference week can be found at the new Flickr site.

Thanks to Zenmomma for the above photo. Being on a film camera makes me a bit slow on the draw.

There are so many moments I carry with me from the conference....eating lunch with a toddler and enjoying her babbling and cute faces (thanks Zibby), watching all the happy ATC trading at the funshop Mary and I ran, connecting with people over ideas/philosophy and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, enjoying all the eclectic performances at the talent show, dancing so hard my neck still hurts (remind me that my headbanging days are over next time!), watching Trevor joyfully bond with his friends again while trying to avoid sleep in order to suck up every single moment......
it just goes on.

There was tattoo night of course, and so many yummy hugs and late night conversations. Some of us had a late-night convo that was loud enough to wake people up (yikes!) as we were still out on the patio at 3am. The loudness moved into the girls bathroom for the remainder of the evening/morning.....who needs a patio when you have a lush sitting room complete with red curtains and comfy couches?

I'm already making plans for next year and our new location! Hope to see you there.:)

Live and Learn

I swiped these from Zenmomma (Mary Gold's) pictures. Trevor's mohawk with some styling help from friends and my new 'too inspired by zenmomma's necklace! Albuquerque was a lot of fun folks, don't miss the Live and Learn next year.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Heading out soon

Trying to get packed and finish the last-minute details of preparation for the conference. I'm excited to be going, yet still feeling a bit underprepared. I keep sitting down to organize my notes and write, but constant interruptions have left me less than organized.

Jalen has been having a very difficult time lately. It's time for us to look at how food might be affecting him. The intensities are getting worse, not better. I spend so much time trying to calm an angry child...the anger and intensity is hard to understand some days. At least my sister can relate, as her Tristan has a very similar personality to Jalen. Some days, you just wonder how on earth you can help them.

Suffice it to say, I'm going to be writing on the airplane! That will be the perfect opportunity to be mostly alone and concentrate. Markus and I are talking about how to organize our time better, so that Jalen gets more one-on-one and I get some time alone to write and create. After Albuquerque though. First things first.

Jared wrote his first hand-written thank you letter to his Grandparents this week. It was really amusing to see his neat letters and punctuation. His wording even sounded precise. It was short, but the amusing part is that he's never had a single lesson or been made to write one time in his life. I wish I'd xeroxed the letter, to show parents that worry about writing skills in their young children. It will come in time. And when it does, you'll wonder why you ever worried!

Excerpts from The Birth House

I've really enjoyed reading The Birth House when I can grab moments here and there. It's been very difficult to sit and read, as I'm getting ready for the conference and working this week. In the past, I would have read it in one sitting....just doesn't work that way lately.:)

I wanted to share some glimpses of Ms. Babineau here. She's just the kind of mentor I would have adored as a young woman. I remember trying in vain to grow herbs in my little bedroom and being so frustrated when they'd die. I was using a window ledge in a room that was under a deck, in Alaska for crying out loud!! I was more likely to have a moose outside my window, than sunshine. I longed to make potions and healing remedies, I studied books and drew herbs for hours. Never had a mentor or anyone in my life (at that time) that understood my passion for this.

Ms. B feeds you lavender tea and beignets when you visit. She talks about healing and old wives tales and moon magic and how natural childbirth is:
"The scent of a good groanin' cake, a cuppa hot Mother's tea and time. Most times that's all a mama needs on the day her baby comes."

Then there's her Willow book, full of remedies. I imagine it being passed from midwife to midwife, notations added here and there, lovingly cherished by those that recieve it's wisdom. On the first occasion that Dora writes in it after a birth, she says "I recorded the days events in the Willow Book, still amazed at the way it felt to be the first person to bring her hands to a child's life."

Later, Ms. B talks to Dora: ~She whispered, "You believe in spirits of the dead?"
Thinking I was dreaming, I whispered back. "Yes."
"You know where they lives?"
"Right here. right where we are. Everywhere we are."
"How you know this?"
"I just do."~

Her home is full of "things to make you wonder"
In Dora's words: "A tarnished, round looking-glass hangs by the door. Jars and bottles of herbs, salves and tinctures line her cupboards. Feathered wings are tacked up over the door and every window. Crow, sparrow dove, hawk, owl. One large, dark wooden crucifix hangs over her bed, while the rest of the two-room log cabin--every wall, shelf or tabletop--is covered with tallow candles and a thousand Marys."

I think every young woman needs a Ms. B in their lives.