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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......

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Name:
Location: Jonesborough, Tennessee, United States

I was born and raised in the far north of Fairbanks Alaska where the moose trample your garden, northern lights dance and darkness rules the winter. I adore raspberries, tea, body painting, lazy nights watching movies and drinking wine, hiking, gardening, beekeeping, writing, creating art and traveling. I live with my husband Keith (the brilliant human behind Keith Dixon Studios) and the five children we brought into our relationship. My current career is in makeup artistry/body painting where I get to meet interesting people and paint diverse faces and bodies.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Anne's post

Anne Ohman posted this today, I thought it was really great:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A dear friend sent this to me recently (thank you again,
friend! :) when I was feeling upset and unsettled about
the flooding situation happening in our area...it's exactly
what I'm talking about with doing the work in our lives to
leave the worry behind and consciously choosing well-being:

***To allow Well-being
I MUST be in joy.

In the same way you cannot set
your radio tuner to 98.6 and
receive songs playing on
101 FM, you must set your own
vibrational tuner to one of Well-being.

Feelings of love, joy, passion,
exhilaration, fun, interest...
are indications of your
vibrational match to Well-being.***

Sometimes it is difficult...but that's the work
we need to do in order to be at Peace and allow
our children to be at Peace. Choose Joy. Choose Trust.
Choose Peace. Choose infinite potential and your
greatest good by walking ~no...by BREATHING every breath~
in the direction of Well-Being.

Be Well ~
Anne...to whom this is a reminder, also... :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She also sent me a link to these "Well Being Cards", the source of the above words. I think I'm going to
purchase some of these soon! Thanks Anne.:)

2am musings

What I am doing up at 2am, unable to sleep, typing at my blog AGAIN is beyond me. I have so many thoughts swirling around, this seems a logical place to dump them. I'll just post a couple goings ons instead....can't turn the blog into a major brain dump! I'll save it for a paper journal and spare everyone the agony of reading all the meanderings that wander through my brain. Such is life, when you live on the edge of neurosis.

Took the kids and John swimming today. Jalen figured out that his new-found swimming skills work just as well in the deep end as they do in the shallow area. He was so funny showing off for his siblings and staying underwater as much as he was above. Continually amazing. We visited Lowes after dropping the boys at home, for some plants, dirt and a Jalen size shovel. Unfortunately, he tested it out on Markus's landscaped area up front which really annoyed Daddy. Damn, it's just some dirt!

We put the dirt back and explained some better places to shovel next time. Poor guy was just so excited to test that cool shovel out. It's really good quality, looks just like the big ones. Sierra got a new swimsuit as her old one was worn out. She's sleeping in it tonight, probably dreaming about water.:)

I mowed a wonderful pathway through our jungle...er,um...I mean backyard a couple days ago. It's a nature sanctuary if I ever saw one! Jalen and I went out to pick some flowers (mostly weeds) for the kitchen but he got sidetracked by some lovely hidden nooks and abandoned the flower hunt. I have three orange daylilies and some white weeds that look like baby's breath on the window ledge in spite of losing my helper.

Tomorrow we plant more veggies! Hopefully all our little friends that visit at night will let them grow. Something likes our moonflower leaves, it may never become a vine at all. Such are the challenges of sharing your yard with wild animals. Hopefully no killer bunnies.

It's worth it all when I walk outside at night and can see the stars overhead, fireflies lighting up in the dark and a cool breeze on my face. I absolutely love it here.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Watermelon soup and other stuff





I posted this at UB last night:

I am sitting here at my computer tonight, catching up on messages and
Jalen walks in with a bowl of...um.....something.
It looks like milk with all sorts of things floating around.

"I made soup Mom!!" he proclaims proudly.
"Really? Tell me about how you made it." I ask.

"Well, it's milk, sugar, tomato, banana soup." he says, and "taste it,
it's good" as he's sticking his finger in and licking it.

We took it out to the kitchen and he told me how good it was and tells
me "I made it all by MYSELF" proudly.
Yep, I definitely would NOT have thought up that particular
combination kiddo!!

Sierra was inspired by his "soup" and is out there making her own batch.
I love the power of self-confidence and the lovely look of joy,
seeping out of the eyes.:)


Addendum: It actually had watermelon and cilantro in it also. All of the above I wrote before Markus came in and said "quit wasting milk!"
ARGH.
"They're USING milk, not wasting it" I gently reminded.
I think he's still annoyed with me. Oh well. I really wish it was easier for people to see how easily joy is squashed by a seemingly innocent comment. I could literally SEE the light go out in their eyes as they paused, looking at me for confirmation.

He left the room after crabbing a bit and I said "It's ok, he's just concerned about money right now" and they proceeded to happily stir and mix and create.
We talked about using powdered milk next time, for experiments, instead of organic milk! It's really quite possible to make requests and share information without stifling the exploration of the moment. The milk was already USED. What good does angst and frustration do for the milk? Nothing. It only sucks they joy from the child.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`



This morning, we're getting ready to go swimming. Jalen's face mask had broken and I was working to fix it. Sierra found a missing piece and we finally got it put back together, much to Jalen's delight. A little while ago (about 1/2 hour after fixing the face mask) he runs up and hugs me and says "thank you for fixing my goggles" then, "and thank you to Sierra for finding the piece".

He's all smiles and hugs as he expresses his gratitude...very sweet. I said "you're just full of thankfulness today aren't you?"
"yeah" he says "that's because my body feels sweet" :)
"you feel all sweet and happy inside?" I ask.
"Yep" he answers.

Sierra says "ooh, you're sweet, yum, yum" and proceeds to pretend eat his arm.
"AAAh, stop eating my sweetness!!" he shreaks, full of joy.
The world (or at least our family) got a dose of Jalen sweetness this morning...it's contagious.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Reclaiming childhood

This was a really great series of posts from the Unschooling Discussion list, based on an article someone brought to the list that partially condemned technology for the "loss of childhood imagination". Thought I'd bring it here to share:

From:Deb Lewis
Date:Fri, Jun 23 2006 10:51 am

***"It is disturbing to hear early childhood staff describe
how many morechildren in recent years appear to be losing the
natural ability toplay, to be creative, or use their imagination,"
she says.***

Kids can play just fine if they have the emotional room to play.
Instead they have to explain everything to adults, they have to
parrot back correct answers, they have to answer questions on the
quiz, they have to write a report. They have to get it right.
It's terrible, squishing pressure. Adults interfere with kids
play almost constantly and then "experts" are alarmed when answers
on tests about conceptualizing seem to indicate a decline in children's
ability to use their imagination. What a bunch of idiots.

Here's what we do to kids, little kids. "Say caterpillar. Susie,
say caterpillar. Put that down. Don't touch that. What do you say?
What do you say? Say please. Say thank you. Susie what's this?
What is this? Is this a doggy? Say doggie. Where's your nose?
(Where do you think it is, moron?) Wave bye-bye.

Multiply that kind of revolting crap times ten-plus hours a day
for three years and then add several more adults doing the same
crap (preschool) for two years and then add even more ass holes,
I mean adults, doing that for six hours a day (school) for how
many years and then add the experts who administer "conceptualization"
tests and no friggin wonder you have kids who seem to lack imagination.

We measure and chart and graph how much kids eat, when they poop, how
much they grow, when they walk, when they run, jump, skip, when they
talk, when they add new words to their vocabulary for crying out loud!
We've designed a way to interfere with and analyze every single thing
about kids lives.

Technology isn't hurting kids, rock and roll isn't hurting kids, the
devil isn't hurting kids. Adults, with their pressure and expectation
and narrow margin for acceptable answers and behaviors and growth rates
are hurting kids.

I'm irritated by articles like this because people will read it an nod
and have one more reason to limit their kids computer or game time.
Taking away the few bright, imaginative things a kid still has left and
leaving the adults piling dehumanizing crap on kids won't help kids have
more fun in childhood.

Man, I picked the wrong day to give up sniffing glue.

Deb L




From: Sandra Dodd
Date: Fri, Jun 23 2006 1:08 pm

~~ Where's your nose? (Where do you think it is, moron?)
Wave bye-bye. Multiply that kind of revolting crap times
ten-plus hours a day for three years and then add several
more adults doing the same crap (preschool)for two years
and then add even more ass holes~~

That last thing. That's where some of their noses are.
And that's where the noses of the "early childhood staff" are,
some of them—too close up behind someone ELSE who's too close to
someone ELSE's be-hind to see the world around them. They look
into text books and studies and theories and new methods to improve
last year's statistics.

Those adults appear to be losing the natural ability to be creative,
or use their imagination (and I'm sure someone told them long, long
ago to stop playing).

-=-Technology isn't hurting kids, rock and roll isn't hurting kids,
the devil isn't hurting kids. -=-

BlasFEMUR.

-=- Adults, with their pressure and expectation
and narrow margin for acceptable answers and behaviors
and growth rates are hurting kids. -=-

This should not be read by anyone too sensitive to take a jolt of
cultural history. Maybe just peek. This is someone very seminal to
the development of a lot of American thought, John Wesley (think
Wesleyans and methodists and the days when sermons were printed,
sold, passed around, read for... two hundred years. Oh it's still
happening! He's sure that it's parents who ruin children—parents who
are afraid to do what (he says) God says to do, which (he says) isn't
pretty and isn't nice. http://gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/Wesley/sermons/
serm-096.stm Half a dozen times he uses "break his will" or "break
their wills" or some such phrases, of children, and is critical of
those wimpy parents who didn't do it by the time the child was two.
Children whose wills are broken don't want to play. They probably do
use their imaginations—to imagine what it would be like if their
parents were gentle and sweet.

-=-Taking away the few bright, imaginative things a kid still has
left and leaving the adults piling dehumanizing crap on kids won't
help kids have more fun in childhood. -=-

Well and when and where was this "childhood" they're reclaiming?
Maybe in that small space between WWII and the stranger-danger
scares. Because before that life was generally a few breathers
between wars, epidemics (flu, polio, contagious fevers,
tuberculosis, smallpox), the Depression, and a large layer of
ignorance and abuse (oh, and huge numbers of the parents died,
of all of the above, so many children were orphaned or raised ]
by a single poor parent, or by relatives who weren't thrilled to
see them coming). Before compulsory attendance extended to
17 and 18 years old, very many teens were up and out by fourteen
or fifteen years old. (I was reading a book this morning that
talked of a fourteen year old teaching school, in California in
the 19th century, and he wasn't the only one.)

A little like attacking a straw man, we're mourning a fantasy
history —"reclaiming" something that might never really have
existed in a clean fashion, and sabotaging any hope of it happening,
while blaming the usual suspects—cutting edge of media (which right
now happens to be internet and video games, but has been and will
be other things in other decades).

Sandra


From: Deb Lewis
Date:Fri, Jun 23 2006 1:40 pm

***Man, I picked the wrong day to give up sniffing glue. ***

Oui, oui, le usine de glue. C’est très bien.

And another thing...
I'm really glad for the technology that lets me see comedy
shows that were live, years ago, in some other country. I'm a
better person for watching Eddie Izzard miming foreign exchange
students being shot from tubas.
I don't know what a test ever did for me but playing Xena Warrior
Princess made me want to learn how to do high, fast, spinning kicks
and was instrumental in inspiring me to learn to do a back flip on the
trampoline.

I do know what tests did to me. They pointed out how I was not
meeting the expectations of others.

But as to kids suffering the loss of childhood because of technology
I wanted to say that video games are an evolutionary leap in thinking and
imagination. The people who make them, the people who play them, the
people who master them are using their imaginations in the way of artists
and musicians and the best scientists.

Childhood happiness and wonder being defined as time in the sandbox is
the naive and simplistic blah, blah, blah of experts. Sit all day in a
sandbox imagining different worlds and you still have to go inside to
"eat your vegetables, no cookies for you and shut up and go to bed."
Maybe time in sandbox world makes that easier to bear but first person
shooter games make a lot of things easier to bear and you don't end up
with sand in the crack of your butt.

Dylan's imagination took off when he saw his first monster movie.
Monsters! Guys in monster suits. There are monster suits?! Model
trains, model railroads, model cities, model tanks, model soldiers.
Giant moths.Flying turtles. When he was four he'd say to me "Mom,
do you want to watch Gammera? Flying turtles! You don't see that
everyday!" And, by golly, you don't.

And when he saw the animation of Ray Harryhausen the parade of clay
monsters through our house was jaw-dropping genius.

And when he played his first Playstation game his mind was going
so fast he didn't have time to change out of his pj's. How do you
kill the Dragon? How can you get past the troll on the bridge?
How do you defeat the Cyclops? Could you really fling a cow in a
trebuchet? Anyone who thinks these things don't inspire and require
imagination is too disinterested or unimaginative think about it much.

Dylan's favorite sandbox play was wriggling out a hole the size and
shape of his body and then laying in it will he ran the hose in there,
fill the hole (and his clothes) with water. Maybe in some families
that wouldn't have been the right kind of sandbox play. Maybe only
Tonka dump trucks and diggers or buckets and shovels and sand castles
would be the right kind of sandbox play. I think there's a lot of
that. They talk about imagination like it's wonderful but then they
don't like the wrong kind of imagination. They don't want kids drawing
pictures with orange sky's and blue trees and black grass. They don't
want kids using markers as porcupine quills in clay animals. They don't
want kids putting glue on the palms of their hands and peeling it off
when it's dry. Evidence of imagination is great as long as it's the right
kind of imagination, not wasteful, not too messy, and in the realm of what parents/teachers/expert know to be a representation of reality.

What they mean by imagination is a child who will go quietly outside or
into another room and leave his parents and care givers in peace and who
will seem happy enough and not require anyone spend too much money to
keep him entertained.

Deb L




From: Kelli Traaseth - view profile
Date: Fri, Jun 23 2006 4:38 pm

*****They don't want kids drawing pictures with orange sky's

> and blue trees and black grass. They don't want kids using markers as
> porcupine quills in clay animals. They don't want kids putting glue on
> the palms of their hands and peeling it off when it's dry. Evidence of
> imagination is great as long as it's the right kind of imagination, not
> wasteful, not too messy, and in the realm of what parents/teachers/expert
> know to be a representation of reality. *****

So true.

And this has affected my kids in that they are really leary about
wanting to take any classes or be part of any type of club,,girl scouts
or such. They'll go and try out something and a lot of times they come
home and say,, "nope, not for me". Usually because its too rigid or
limits them so much in their creativity that they can't stand it.

I would be so psyched to find some more people who are excited about
sharing their passions and also psyched to see my kids being creative
in their own ways.

Keep on lookin, keep on lookin, la,la,la, la, la,,,,


From: Pamela Sorooshian
Date: Fri, Jun 23 2006 6:01 pm



> A little like attacking a straw man, we're mourning a fantasy history
> —"reclaiming" something that might never really have existed in a
> clean fashion, and sabotaging any hope of it happening, while blaming
> the usual suspects—cutting edge of media (which right now happens to
> be internet and video games, but has been and will be other things in
> other decades).

Even though childhood wasn't sweet and happy - the children were far
more free to explore and learn in their own way. Unfortunately, what
they learned was harsh and mean.

-pam

Unschooling shirts, cups, bumper stickers, bags...
Live Love Learn
UNSCHOOL!





From: Sandra Dodd - view profile
Date: Sat, Jun 24 2006 6:52 am

-=-But as to kids suffering the loss of childhood because of
technology I wanted to say that video games are an evolutionary
leap in thinking and imagination. The people who make them, the
people who play them, the people who master them are using their
imaginations in the way of artists and musicians and the best
scientists.-=-

And the people who create them are getting paid to work as artists,
musicians and scientists.
Or maybe they're doing art, music or science just because they can't
not. Some people create for free for fun and don't have to wait for
someone else to say "Okay, go—but stop in eight hours because we're
not paying overtime."

Our culture lies. They say they want to encourage and reward
individuality and creativity, but in practice they try to hammer
down the pointy parts, and shame off the different parts.

I guess if they miss breaking the spirit of a child, they keep on
trying into adulthood. Because isn't this whole shaming of the
parents that goes on in articles and in schools and teachers' finger-
pointing justifications of why they're not working "like the old
days" (the mythical old days) a way to tell parents that they're
not not meeting the expectations of others.

Sandra


From: Angela S. - view profile
Date: Sat, Jun 24 2006 8:01 am


>>A little like attacking a straw man, we're mourning a
fantasy history "reclaiming" something that might never
really have existed in a clean fashion, and sabotaging
any hope of it happening, while blaming the usual
suspects-cutting edge of media (which right now happens to
be internet and video games, but has been and will be other
things in other decades).>>

Maybe the author grew up in a home like I did. I was born
in 1967 and my parents weren't perfect, but the one thing they
did do was allow us to be kids. We spent summers on the lake...
6 kids and two adults in a small pop up camper on private land
belonging to my mother's cousin who also had 6 kids and a pop up
camper.
We played outdoors all day long every day all
summer. When it rained, we sometimes sat in the camper and played
cards or a board game or read a book and sometimes we went swimming
in the rain or the parents used that day to get groceries and go to
the laudrymat and the dump. (the dump was the best!..rats and seagulls)

When we were home during the school year, we played outside from
after school till before bedtime in the warmer months, running the
neighborhood, playing hide and go seek, and kick the can. I don't
remember having homework until 5th grade and then it wasn't much,
not like kids have now.

I have fond memories of those parts of my childhood and I do think about the
differences between my childhood and most children's childhood. I am trying
to replicate the good parts and skip the bad. :)

Angela
game-enthusi...@adelphia.net


From: Angela S. - view profile
Date: Sat, Jun 24 2006 8:07 am

I also meant to mention that as I got a little older we had the newest
technology because my dad was into it. We had Commodore computers when
they first came out and all the fun games and we played those till our
heart's content. (remember those Olympic games?) We also watched TV a
fair amount but my mom did think that was a waste of time.

Angela
game-enthusi...@adelphia.net




From: Sandra Dodd - view profile
Date: Sat, Jun 24 2006 8:49 am

-=-When we were home during the school year, we played outside
from after school till before bedtime in the warmer months, running
the neighborhood, playing hide and go seek, and kick the can.
I don't remember having homework until 5th grade and then it wasn't
much, not like kids have now.-=-

That's a really good point.

We played lots of outside games that involved drawing things in the
dirt and running around, jumping over... We played jumprope with
others holding the rope.

Sandra

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

First mural


Painted the first mural in the new house! I got SO tired of seeing blank walls everywhere, I finally did something about it. I painted a mural across one wall of my bedroom. The kids are loving it. Now I'm inspired to start working on other rooms. Sierra wants fairies next...YAY!

Kelly gave us a good idea from a Trader Joe's bathroom that inspired them. It's hard to explain, but it looked like a partial collage. There was some artwork and papers glued to the wall and then paint was over and around all of it. Very cool. I'm thinking about doing something like that in our bathroom now.

Many, many blank walls to muck about with.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Little fish

All that time in the pool at Kelly's really helped Jalen gain confidence! Today, we went with John and Mary to a local pool and they wouldn't let any floating devices in the pool. Jalen was bummed out (we had stopped on the way to pick up some new arm floaties for him) but decided to get in anyway.

He jumped in and started paddling just like he did with the floaties! NO problem. Then he got the new face mask on and really took off. He was swimming underwater, touching the bottom, swimming fairly good lengths to me and basically acting like he'd been swimming for months. It was so cool.
If you give a kids some floaties and a pool, he's going to want some goggles to go with it..............:)

He cheered for himself the whole time; "I'm powerful" he said, and "I'm so proud of myself!" I agreed and said "It's really cool that you learned how to swim all on your own Jalen" So much for floaties being a bad idea!!

He's watching his favorite movie of all time now, "The Nightmare Before Christmas", very quietly. Afternoons are always very calm and quiet after he swims. Sierra and the boys are all downstairs playing various video games and discussing the finer points of W.O.W. It's terribly quiet, I may get some organizing done.

When you're in the middle of baby and toddler years, it's hard to imagine ever having time for yourself again. But it comes faster than you think. I'm enjoying my newfound freedom. My last baby learned to swim this week. Another milestone, another move away from his toddlerhood, another skill he learned by simply being given access to the world.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Columbia part 2

We lost electricity the next night too!! Learned to roll Sushi first though.:)
It was really cool seeing a table full of kids and adults learning the fine art of pressing the rice into the seaweed just so, adding their ingredients and rolling them with the bamboo mat. Even Trevor (my meat and potatoes guy) rolled a beautiful one and ate almost the entire thing himself.

Played Apples to Apples around candlelight again, while the rain and wind put on a show. Electricity was back around 5:30am. The weather cleared up for the pool party at least. Got to hang out all day with unschoolers, my kids were thrilled to see folks we meet up with at the conference usually. Arielle goaded Trevor into shaving his head with her....he's got a mohawk now!! She shaved all her hair off, gutsy gal that she is.

It was really great making those connections again. There are so many moments etched into my mind from the weekend, that stand out because all of these children are so unusual. Yes, unusual.

We were watching TV (and man is TIVO awesome!) and during a Lucky Charms commercial Jared asked how long the cereal had been around. I replied that I didn't know, but they existed when I was a kid. Kelly also remembered them from when she was young.
So it was time for Google of course!! We learned the year they were first invented, how the creators developed the cereal and that it was the fastest cereal to go from conception to marketing ever in history! During this entire expedition into cereal, the kids (and I) were asking questions. Everyone was curious and interested. Kelly sat at the computer and read off the information as it came up.

I think that's one of the best things about unschooled kids, the constant and enduring curiosity about all sorts of information! Very cool.

Another moment is when Trevor sneezed. Duncan said "Gesundheit" and Trevor responds "thanks Duncan". They're sweet because it makes sense. They're sweet because the adults in their lives treat them with kindness. I'm constantly amazed by their generous spirits and kindness. Earlier, Duncan was offering to buy us some anime we all enjoy, with his ALLOWANCE money!! His life is full and rich, he doesn't hesitate to share with others.

The drive home was rather quiet (unlike the drive down which was full of bubbly conversation; every topic from ghosts, dimensions, belief systems, music and more were covered) and sleepy. As soon as we got through Asheville we started driving back up into the mountains. It felt SO good. I love that when we hit the mountains, it feels like home. The view shifted around every turn, layers of blue and green hills rolling in every direction. Mary Youngblood's beautiful flute played in the CD player and I could feel the connection to this place, to the Cherokee roots here. It's good to be a mountain dweller.

Worked my first shift at MAC tonight, feels good to be doing what I love again!

As I type this, Sierra and Jalen are folding the laundry that was sitting at the end of my bed all day. Pleasant surprise out of the ether. They just asked me to help put it all away, so off to assist my very kind Zen masters.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Columbia





We got to the Lovejoy's house on Sunday afternoon, a hot and humid Columbia greeted us. The kids have been in and out of the pool constantly of course, but last night was the adventure.:)
A huge storm blew in, sending everyone out of the pool. Dramatic lightning and thunder kept a rapt audience on the porch. A few of us daring mother nature and running out into the downpour to splash for quick moments before running back onto the porch before the next round volleyed through. Water was washing in streams across the yard and absolutely POURING off the roof.

Not long after it started, we heard a funny crackle sound and the electricity died. Kelly had impeccable timing and pulled dinner together right before the stove was unusuable. We ate and played, then blew bubbles in the backyard. They smelled like orange creamsicles! I started shooting pics in that hazy, warm light that can happen in the evening after a storm. Bubbles were covering the grass, it looked magical! I love hanging out with unschoolers...there were teens and small people all together, blowing bubbles, laughing and having fun. Later, we played "Apples to Apples" and once again, everyone was included and happy. I grumped at Jalen a bit after shining the flashlight in Cameron's eyes once again and Cameron corrects me gently saying "he didn't mean to Ren" :) So sweet. They all look out for each other.

It was a beatiful scene, candles glowing at a low table, the game spread out and all these happy kids of all ages circled around and just BEING. Things wound down and everyone went off to bed in the dark house, full of good food and happy feelings.
In the middle of the night I heard the loud beeping of a truck backing up and lights filled the room. The electric company had come!! We would have waffles for breakfast after all.

Kelly is quite a hostess, feeding us blueberry muffins (yeah, fresh-picked blueberries from her yard), waffles and other yummy breakfasts. She ruined my kids on our last visit two years ago, now they expect homemade brown sugar syrup when I make pancakes....next, fresh blueberries! I need to encourage our wee little plants to GROW.

All of my kids have decided the bees are REALLY incredible and have agreed to help me get our hives set up. It's the most fascinating hobby. I can't wait to have our own. We watch them off and on, try to save them from the pool and ask a million questions which Kelly patiently answers.

Enjoying a quiet, lazy day watching tv and playing "scene it" today. I've had enough Harry Potter trivia to last the rest of the year. Saving up energy for tomorrow's unschooling pool party!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

High school friend

It's not often we maintain high school friendships over the long-term. It's even more rare to have a lot in common with an old high school friend. Even more rare, is lifestyles in common. I have TWO such friends.
They're both in Alaska still. They both homeschool and believe in gentle parenting. I got an email from one of them today and thought it was just such a nice reminder of how to handle daily stresses. Her husband is a geologist that is in demand these days, so she doesn't always have help at home. Her boys are more involved in activities this summer and she's trying to adapt to schedules and packing lunches, which isn't part of their regular homeschooling lifestyle (very laid back). Here's a sweet excerpt:

Derek is sitting on the bed (NAKED)  slow..ly putting on his sock and reading a comic, when we need to leave 5 minutes ago...the only way I could keep from freaking out was to start singing, "It's the end of the world as we know it.... it's the end of the world as we know it....and I feel fine...." while I threw his shirt on him. Now we know what they guy was thinking when he made up that song! He was stressed out about getting somewhere on time and realized in the broad scheme of things, it really doesn't matter.



Nope, it really doesn't matter. But the relationships we build with our children and loved ones are everything in this life. I appreciate having friends that understand this.

Karma?

I was awakened this morning to the buzz of a damned FLY?? It would NOT go away. I kept thinking "I saved one of your kind, now leave me in peace".
Irony is an interesting thing, isn't it?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Moments





This blogging thing is great, but it's really just slices of life.
We get to ignore the bathroom breaks, loading the dishwasher, folding more laundry and just talk about the stuff we like.:) It's more fun that way, and only a part of the day to day reality. It helps me remember the meaningful things, the stuff that acts as glue in our relationships and lives together.

Today, Jalen and Sierra got off to a rocky start. There was more than one screaming session and I finally scooped Jalen up in the "story" blanket and sat on the couch to cuddle...hoping to avoid more disturbances and give Sierra a break. We snuggled and he started pointing to various squares, talking about the image or colors. He surprised me by noticing there was a mixed color and he knew that red was the color it took to alter it. There he goes, not learning things in linear order again, he knows mixes before he can really name all the colors consistently!
Red, orange and "lellow" were his faves today.

A breakfast of crepes and fried potatoes started an interesting discussion about food you could put inside of a crepe; ~potatoes, ~eggs/salsa/potatoes/cheese, ~ice cream, ~Dippin' Dots and PICKLES! ugh.

I got an email from a friend that read about our friendly snake in the garage. She shared a link about TN snakes (thanks Teri!) and we identified it as a black ratsnake. Perfectly harmless as we previously thought. When you give a kid some snake identification charts, he's going to want a google search to go with it (that would be Jared)! So off we went onto sea snakes, learning that their venom really isn't as deadly as we thought, since they can only inject a very tiny amount most of the time. We also learned there is an anti-venin available, and there are 32 species of sea snakes. Reading about the Pelagic sea snake led to a definition search (what the hell is "Pelagic" anyway?? I was sure it had been in science class at some point, but ???) Pelagic was "of the open ocean" or anything relating to the ocean. Pelagic sea snakes drift along in groups in the open ocean, hence the name. Cool. We talked about why they might have evolved to have the lidded nostrils, flat tails for swimming and ability to shed the excess salt that enters their bodies.
So much for boring old Tennessee black ratsnakes, we were onto the feared Sea Snake and that's where we stayed.

Sierra has taken to watercolor painting lately, enamored with the swirly colors and thick paper. We got her own paper at Michael's yesterday and she joined me in the art corner tonight while I wrestled with a difficult project. Jalen eventually wandered in and filled a cup with paint. I am usually gifted with several creations in the course of his art explorations.

Watched some Naruto with Jared, annoying him with many questions.:)
Another friend recently attended an anime convention with her daughter and we spent quite a bit of time perusing the pics this week and oohing and aahing over our favorite characters (thanks for sharing those Joyce and Kat!).
One of my favorite shows--Avatar--was well represented with an awesome "Ang", right down to the arrow on his bald head. Too cool!

As I was cleaning the kitchen tonight, I noticed a fly had gotten stuck in the honey (can't imagine who would leave a lid open around here) . As I pulled it out, he tried to fly, so I stuck it in some water and gave it a swirl to rinse the honey. The poor thing was pretty wet and tired, but we laid it on the window ledge to let it dry for a bit. Sierra wanted to go watch fireflies, so we took the fly outside with us. After a minute more on the deck ledge, away it flew. She was thrilled that we saved it. I'll probably be killing the darn things babies all summer! They tend to get annoying when you live across from a cow field. sigh.

I went to water my plant (picture a potted plant atop the kitchen cupboards, that trails down to the sink) and Sierra says "that's your Rapunzel-let-down-your-hair plant!"

Witty (adjective): 1) combining clever conception and facetious expression.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Snake

Trevor almost stepped on a small snake when leaving his room this morning. We often leave the garage door open (his room was built in a corner of the garage) and it had slithered in. He picked it up and took it out to the garden where we all ran out to inspect our little visitor. Apparently, it was fairly mild-mannered because it didn't coil up once or act like it wanted to bite, just get away. It finally headed for the brush pile (yes, the same one in the background of the photo featured in People mag). We finally saw our first snake in TN! Now to try and identify it....the only thing we know is it wasn't poisonus since this region's toxic snakes are either pit vipers or coral snakes.
Pit vipers all have the typical "A" shaped head and this one was pretty sleek, as snakes go. It must have shed it's skin recently too, since it was very shiny with a well-defined pattern.

Visited the Kid's museum again today, where the new rotating exhibit is all about race cars. They had a large fish tank filled with 160,000 M & M's, as an example of how many people fit into the Bristol race track. Cripes! That's a whole city. Markus informed me that one of the bigger race tracks can hold upwards of 400,000 people.

My first thought was "DANG! You can only convince about 100,000-150,000 people in this entire country that unschooling is a viable option, but 400,000 people will converge into one place to watch some damn cars drive in a bloody circle!!!"
I've always thought it would be fun to race a car, but obviously I'm not a NASCAR fan. It's kinda like watching golf.....dull as all get-out. I'd rather have my teeth cleaned or mop the floors.

Transitioning

I'm loving my days off, as I transition from Lancome to MAC again! It's been so awesome to just BE and not worry about getting ready for work every day.

We visited the Blue Plum festival for a second night (Saturday) because Jalen and Sierra had such a great time. It was meant to be. I ran into a booth with this amazing art, and figured out the artist was a lady we ran into while purchasing supplies for Hannah's quilt! She had given us advice and chatted for about 1/2 hour. I ran into her at work after that, but didn't have her contact info. She is this very sweet and kind soul, someone I thought would be nice to know better. When I saw her art I knew why!!

It's been so cool the last few days, makes me SO happy we aren't in Pensacola, where June is stifling. I've actually enjoyed being out in the yard and jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Our little garden is hit and miss. Some of the plants look stunted, while others are taking off quite nicely. Maybe the compost wasn't aged enough. In any case, we have two tomatoes and some peppers that are looking hale and hearty, plus several herbs and one lone cabbage we thought was a brocolli!

Jalen had a rattie girl on his lap last night. She kept trying to chew on his shirt, he's trying to explain that she's nibbling on him but it came out "she's nibbning me Mom". So cute. They love their little friends.

Heidi and family called from Colorado this week. I think they'd be moving there if they hadn't already promised the kids they're going back to AK! It sounds like a good fit for them. She's got a couple cute pics of Calista and Sierra holding our rats at her website, (plus all the great photos of their RV travels of course). We miss them a ton!

Freedom

F Letter R2 E The Letter E D Safeway Signage O untitled


Made from Flickr images!!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Blue Plum Festival






Just got back from the Blue Plum Festival in downtown Johnson City...what a great place to hang out, in spite of the on and off downpour! We didn't get to see most of the booths, as heavy rain was causing most artists to close shop for the night, but had fun watching a potter using a wheel for a while. Sierra wants to learn how to throw pottery now, so we'll go check out Into the Fire next week (if we don't head to Columbia to hang out with the Lovejoys).

Ran into Jessica's family down there, Aleah's curly hair was damp with the rain and spinning into wee ringlets....she and her brother are adorable! Jessica's dh was jamming with his band in the alcove between a parking area and the main street. They were quite talented Bluegrass musicians! Would have enjoyed staying to hear more, but Sierra and Jalen were intent on a plate of nachos from Acoustic Coffeehouse. Jessica's dh is in the photos if you scroll down (the guy playing guitar...they're local unschoolers).

The coffeehouse was non-musical tonight, but full of bubbly, warm conversation. After Jalen had a small melt-down over the fact that the nachos had cheese (no pun intended), we ordered him some dry nachos and the evening progressed joyfully. They played "no rules" checkers for a few rounds while I enjoyed my duck-rabbit porter and veggie lasagne. Jalen pushed back his empty bowl before heading to the checkers table and said "I'm having fun." Phew.:)

We left with wet clothing (too much walking in the rain), full bellies and wonderful artsy images in our minds. Discovered a fabulous spirituality store in downtown and picked up my clay tree I reserved at the last "First Friday" that an ETSU student made. It's so very Tim Burtonesquish in style and I have ideas floating around for how to display it. At the moment, it's in my meditation closet atop a hanging altar, looking magically inviting. I'm pretty sure a troll is going to pop out of the opening in the center any moment!

I've got three small knitted, funky bags made for the Imagination Tribe trade coming up. One will probably head to Corvallis for Qacei's fundraiser (summer trip to England, learning about Shakespeare and such..very cool), one will be traded and I may try to sell the other.
They're quite addictive and I plan to make a passel of them.

Sierra is longing for a jump session on the trampoline...time to go get wet again, sigh.:)