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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......

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Harry Potter party....and more

Here's where we were on release night. Where were you?

Ciara met Madam Trelawney. Our friend Garry (as Mr. Weasley) found Ginny and Mrs. Weasley there (even though he didn't come with them....he was caught with a certain Rita Skeeter)

We had our fortunes read.

Mad-eye Moody was serious as ever, posing below with that notorious Rita Skeeter (who actually is part of the Garry/Andrea duo.:)

But I dear readers, I went for an ulterior purpose. Oh yes, I enjoyed dressing up and playing the part of the colorful Tonks. But the most serious draw was getting to meet Charles Vess, illustrator of Stardust, written by Neil Gaiman.

I had originally mentioned Mr. Vess at my other blog last year, in connection with Susan Lachman and Amy Steinberg. It's strange how connections keep swirling up from that. I found his art back then and occasionally visited his site to oggle the lovely illustrations.

Didn't make the connection that he was the illustrator of Stardust until that very night, when I purchased my copy of the book in preparation for the artist visit. I took one look at the book and gasped. Yep, it was the same artist and he lives just up the road in Abingdon.

I came home and read Stardust while all the other party goers were probably reading their Harry Potter novels. Traitor that I am. Can't wait for the movie to come out next week. We've even named two of our new kittens "Yvaine" and "Tristran" after the main characters.

Fabric ATC's

I figured out a fun way to make fabric ATC's and thought some of you might enjoy playing around with these. I start with the stiff felt you can buy in sheets at the craft store and cut it to appropriate ATC size; 2.5" x 3.5". For this one, I also cut a felt piece of the same size that was tie-dyed.

After laying the tie-dyed felt over the stiff felt backing, I drop bits of yarn scraps leftover from other projects. I also added a couple of metal bits for this one, a swirl and a stamped word.

Cover the whole thing with a piece of tulle. Don't be particular about size because you can trim it down later. Stitch the tulle over the other fabrics in any pattern you wish. I usually go around the perimeter for added strength, but not always. If you only do the center, it has a less "finished" look.

A finished fabric ATC! I love my pocket size bits of inspiration.

A complete set from that day. "Hope", "Inspiration", "friendship" are a few of the stamped metal pieces. Happy ATCing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Good luck

All the excitement around here lately has centered around our cat's new baby kittens. They were born on Friday the 13th in the wee hours of the morning.

Ciara was up with me throughout the entire process. Bleu woke up just before the fourth--and last--baby was born. Trevor and Jared checked in and out occasionlly while Jalen slept.

This is the first of the babies. Ciara has dubbed this one "Sephira".

There's nothing sweeter than a baby something....especially baby cats though.

Mama cat resting with her four babies. Ciara's working names for them are Sephira, Eragon, Yvaine and Tristran (think Eragon and Stardust)....though she's more likely to call the last one "monkeydude" because he looked like a little monkey when he was born!

There are two with dark stripes and two that are grey like our Bella. Their eyes are open now and they're trying to explore on wobbly legs. Such sweetness.


We learned how to do Batik recently!
Jessica brought all the tools and Garry brought the dyes. We all had fun dripping the hot wax over material.....

Then we gave it a bath in a lovely lavender dye.

Ciara shows off her new T-shirt.

There's always time for a bit of jumping in the sunshine and sweet friend hugs.

We're all inspired to do some tie-dye and other fun projects now.:)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Women on Air

We joined in the 20th anniversary celebration of Susan Lachman's Women on Air by attending a few events including this drum circle at the art gallery.

Ciara joined me for a night of drumming, shaking and pounding. Met some really neat women too.

The final event was an evening of music at Acoustic Coffeehouse's "Next Door" stage with The Divine MAGgees (who are an absolutely dynamic duo) and some more handdrumming (that's Susan and a friend of hers on the hand drums behind the featured musicians). Ciara even won a really cool door prize from the Smart Women company. Great stuff!

Growing things

We started out with a pretty rough patch of dirt. I posted previously about moving worms and wondering if this soil could sustain much. As soon as I get new pics back I'll show the above patch absolutely overtaken with plants now. The "wallermelon" Jalen picked out has taken over the entire thing, bordered by some potatoes and sunflowers. In this picture it's the plant on the lower left corner. No worries about being able to garden here.:)

The Hollyhocks did especially well this year.

We managed to gather some wild blackberries that border our property. I purchased more to be able to make jam, but our own pickings were mixed in at least.

The tomatoes....ah, lovely homegrown tomatoes.
These were grown in bins on the deck. Ciara really loves the yellow ones.
She gets all excited everytime one ripens and it gets eaten almost immediately.

Her favorite method is slicing it up thin and placing it on a piece of toast slathered with mayo. Always sprinkle with some sea salt of course. YUM!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Summer Solstice

We got ready for the summer solstice party with Bleu showing Jalen and Sierra how to re-string a guitar. I was hoping he'd play it during the party, but after a long break from guitar he didn't feel ready.

We made lots of ATC's with new friends and old, as the sun set and twilight moved in.

There was hand-drumming around the firepit. It was truly enchanting to hear the drum beats roll out across the yard while fireflies and embers from the fire lit up the night.

Garry brought his telescope and showed everyone how beautiful the moon looks when viewed up close. We could see the smallest craters. I took this image through the telescope and then inverted the colors. The rings of Saturn were lovely, but too small for a photo.

After everyone left? Bleu pulls out the guitar and plays while we sing along, of course. He's really good at parody so he made up songs that got Jalen and Sierra rolling on the floor barely able to breathe. Their favorite was "you made me play this stupid guitar so now my fingers are really hurtin'".

It was an awesome way to celebrate the longest day of the year (June 21st). We were satiated with conversation, wine, delicious food, art and music by the time we dragged ourselves off to bed!