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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, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Stargirl!

Sierra Star Allen (aka; Stargirl or Starchild) turned 11 years old today. I've learned a lot from her in those 11 years....she's exceptionally good at helping me remember the little girl I once was and still am in many ways.:)

Her first request today was for a hairstyle from moi.....

she looks so grown up.

But she's a properly irreverant 11 year old, for whom pretty hair styles are less important than having fun, being silly and playing hard. So the pretty hair didn't last long...

Bleu started burning a HUGE brush pile at about 10am. It was perfect for marshmallow roasting and experiments with melting candy, marshmallows and almost some plastic (step away from the plastic La...and quit encouraging her Jess!! Bad, bad environmentalists)

My favorite fire image was a stream of marshmallow goo sliding down the hot dome like lava.

We had "hot-n-ready" pizza.

And a Nerd moment on the trampoline...
Yes, they were literally bouncing and searching for loose candy here, even after hearing about the dishsoap that Jalen and Sierra had all over the trampoline last week.


The Mums........

The improv..

Sweet, friend love.

Silas's version of American Gothic....doesn't he do it well?

Pure joy. Aleah and Tyler made this beautiful Pinata with their Mum....it was almost heartbreaking to watch such a work of art get smashed!

But smashed it got.
No blindfolds here...they just wanted to smash away!

Happy, happy 11th Birthday sweet stargirl. It was a beautiful day and you are a beautiful person.

You and your friends make me smile....

The day just wouldn't be complete without Jalens favorite way of celebrating with cake.

Remember HIS birthday?

He took it to a whole new level this time. Creating a pink mush out of the white cake layered with strawberry filling. Yum again...

I think I'll pass on the cake this time.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My philosophy

This was from Storypeople today, I like it very much:

~~I learned 2 things early on, my sister said. The first is don't blame people for being the way they are. What's the second? I said. She smiled. If they're really stupid she said, go ahead & blame them. It's a really simple philosophy, she added.~~

Friday, April 25, 2008


At the Always Learning list (Yahoo groups) a newer unschooler had an "aha" moment. She realized that part of the reason she was struggling with trusting her children, was because she had learned to NOT trust herself. That's a big one. I really enjoyed the posts in response and thought I'd share them here. For us, the trust issue applies to everything:

My post in response:

~~How can I learn to trust myself better?~~

This is the KEY question!! Once we realize this and start asking this
question, it really changes the perspective and helps us SEE how we
don't trust our children because we don't trust ourselves.

THAT is a big journey, one I'm still on and probably will be for the
rest of my life. I think I really TRUST myself and believe in my
ability to do most anything. Then something will come along to show me
that there is STILL some shred of doubt, some nagging fear that is
deeply embedded and I question all over again.

That's one of my favorite John Holt quotes: "To trust children we must
first learn to trust ourselves...and most of us were taught as
children that we could not be trusted."

The main lesson that schools and adults left us with is that we can
NOT be trusted. We must be taught. We must trust the experts. We are
left devoid of a true connection with our powerful inner voice. In
regaining that connection, we can truly honor and trust our children.


Joanna Murphy's response:

Just yesterday a friend and I were discussing what we thought
of as a distilling "factor" that must be present for unschooling/mindful
parenting to be successful. The factor that came up was TRUST.

With trust, the world opens up, horizons expand and life can
seem exciting and limitless. Without trust, the world shuts down,
gets narrow and petty. Each moment matters in the wrong way.
I want more expansiveness in my life, not

And the expansive quality of trust grows out from the center
to touch every part of our lives. Trust that we ARE capable
and that we will, through our honest endeavor,
figure out a way. Trust that our children will find, ask or
be provided with what they need, trust that
they are in connection with us by their own choosing and
free will--not through "enforcing." And trust that they will
grow up loving and caring and interesting people
without being "taught."



Sandra Dodd's response:

-=-Without trust, the world shuts down, gets narrow and petty. Each
moment matters in the wrong way. I want more expansiveness in my
life, not less.-=-

I was going to add that whole post to my "trust" page, and DOH!

No trust page. There is the beginning of one now.


I like this: "And the expansive quality of trust grows out from the
center to touch every part of our lives. Trust that we ARE capable
and that we will, through our honest endeavor, figure out a way. "

I liked all of it. I don't like to think of trusting in a person. I
like to think of trusting in the process of learning, and trust in
the benefit of living by principles. It can get back to the people.

There are two problems I've seen with "trust" when people think it
means "trust" blindly, or trust without effort.

First problem: Some people want to trust that their kids will learn
just because they left them alone and peeked in once in a while. And
I've often heard someone defend such laxness with "Anything's better
than school" which is a cop-out and a defense of the listless and lazy.

And some people hear us talking about "trust yourself" and they have
no clear idea what that means, but they decide to "trust themselves"
even though every few days they're getting out a curriculum, and
they're yelling at their kids or waiting for them to "develop a
primary interest." Just waiting.

The second problem is bigger for some people and nothing to others.
It has to do with heresy. Not social heresy or school heresy,
Christian heresy.

It's humanism.

To say that a person can be trusted to unfold in peace and goodness
is plain old heresy. And it's the reason some Christians say that
other Christians can't be unschoolers, or that unschooling itself is
un- or anti-Christian.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Color puddle....and a Jalenism

It all started innocently enough, with a smallish puddle of water in the driveway, left over from the homemade slip-n-slide on the back hill (think black garden plastic, some garden staples and a running hose) and some sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk chalk makes lovely color puddles, dontcha know?

Blues and greens....an exercise in analagous color or just plain fun? Methinks it's the fun that matters.:)

There were bubbles nearby, so they get incorporated. Ever heard of keeping plenty of materials available and trusting your children to use them creatively? Forget recipes for potions...they're born potions experts!

Swirling the color puddle around with the bubbles...so satisfying. Pretty too.

Could you have resisted the urge? It looked like a super-fantastic color puddle specially made for jumping.

As it turns out, it was the perfect color puddle for jumping in.

My sister asked about another Jalen QOTD, but I'm going to post a Jalen conversation-for-the-day instead. This one was too good to pass up.

It went something like this (and don't ask how it got started...it's a Jalen thing):

"Mom, why do boys have penises and girls have vaginas?"

I think he's wanting the mechanics end of information so I simply dig a little..."Yep, we're built different aren't we?"

"Yeah, I don't know why we have penises and girls have vaginas...penis is a stupid word I like vagina better. I wish I had a vagina instead."

Trying to keep straight face and continue conversation.

"So you want to have a vagina because it's a prettier word?"

"Yeah, it sounds a lot prettier than penis, why can't I have a vagina?"

"Well, the penis is shaped kinda like a rod and a vagina is shaped kinda like a pocket so they can fit together." My not-so-eloquent explanation.

"OH! Well then I DON'T want a vagina. Nevermind!"

End of conversation. Still trying to keep a straight face...which is hard to do when I can see Bleu almost losing it over in the corner. Damn him for leaving me all the interesting conversations at the crucial moments. I think he made some smartass comment about boys not being able to have vaginas because they'd be having sex with themselves all day.

Thanks honey.;)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One last Hurrah

We brought our little rattie girl, Freebie, to park day on Thursday. The kids loved her so much....she enjoyed all the attention.

Yesterday, we buried her under Hannah's tree in the back yard. When Sierra found her dead in the morning, she looked very peaceful like she was curled up sleeping.

Freebie's last outing....

Goodbye sweet rattie girl, you will be missed.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Crazy, busy fun

Thursday began with our local homeschooling group which the kids always enjoy (other than the large boy-child who is off in Waynesville helping girlfriends family pack up to move into their new HOME!):)

We went from park day to a friend's house (very briefly) to meet their new guinea pigs and then home to prepare for a photo shoot I was due at that evening. Sierra was one of the models used and the fun was being able to do editorial looks all night.

I won't post the other faces I did, or even park day fun right now because I'm still tired....but I wanted to post a quick one of Sierra. It turned out pretty cool. The photographer shooting this was putting all the models in a pool so it made for some challenging working conditions but the shots I saw looked really AMAZING! I can't wait to see them all.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Quote of the day

I should post at least one a day, because Jalen says the darndest things lately.

Here's today's gem, as we were snuggling on a chair (as he faced the backyard where a cherry tree is opening up):

"Holy cow! That tree's all bloomish"


CG tagged me quite a while ago and I'm finally getting around to playing. Here's the deal:

1. Link to your tagger, and post these rules.
2. Share 5 wild crazy facts about yourself.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post, and list their names, linking to them.
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

Five? Five wild, crazy facts? Aw gee....maybe I'll think of a couple.:)

1) I adore fashion and makeup but despise most of the functions it takes to make that all work well in a business sense. It's the art side of it that intrigues me. So I dig in the dirt and raise my bees and plant my corner of the planet in order to live closer to the earth and then I sculpt, color and artify people's faces. It's like being in two different worlds.

2) I like to smoke a cloves cigarette when I'm depressed or stressed or grieving.

3) Sometimes, when I'm driving down the road (especially at night) my yearning for new places, new people and interesting, unexpected experiences makes me want to just keep on driving....go wherever the wind blows me. The passion for the unexplored makes it hard to live inside this skin of mine occasionally. My love for my family and these mountains keep me rooted to this place though.

4) I like ketchup on my tacos. Gawd, it sounds gross to write it out...but I LOVE it.

5) I want to go to Burning Man someday. Very much.

Now who to tag? Let's see, I want to read some crazy stuff about Danielle, so she's first.:)
~Laura (whom with I shared a snowy window and a cuppa in Chicago)
~Heidi (since she rarely blogs anymore and I want to read something, even though I know most everything about her)
~Mary (because of her we call our Marigolds "Mary Gold's" now) Ok, I just-this-moment went to her blog and she recently did a meme like this so she is offically untagged and I have no more ideas about who would play along so I give up!
~and last (since she's moving to CORVALLIS instead of TENNESSEE...but I really still love her)Kelli

Tag. You're. It.

Because I said so, that's why.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Mum...

She was born April 11th, 1946 in Kansas and moved to Alaska at six years old.
She was a fiery ball of stubborn passion, someone that could ignite a zest for life in people and make you want to tear your hair out at other times.:)
She wove colorful stories and traveled to colorful places and planted colorful gardens. She left this earth too soon and I miss her more every single day.

Happy Birthday Mum. Your are never far from my thoughts.


This is the tribute to her, posted on a large sign in the Storygarden located at the Noel Wein library in Fairbanks Alaska...I thought some might enjoy it:

" Welcome to the Cheryl Bidwell Storygarden. This garden was the dream of Cheryl Bidwell, a librarian who believed in the magic of wonder and the power of imagination."

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Just hangin'...

Last week we had an unexpected meeting of friends. It started out with a plan to have Alice's crew come visit for the afternoon. They've purchased a home in Asheville that is eventually going to be their retirement home (hopefully in the next year or so) and they get to come visit frequently now. For those that don't know, she is the very first real-life unschooler I ever met...back in Pensacola where we first got to be friends with her family many years ago.

It's amazing how sweet and fun Jake is with his much younger friend Jalen. I think there may be some hero worship going on in Jalen's world. How many teens would truly befriend a 7 y.o. boy? Gotta love unschoolers.

We were just hanging out and chatting when we got a phone call from Jessica who was having a minor beekeeping emergency. Alice, Sierra and I drove the three miles down the road to take a veil to her and in the process stole her sweet daughter for a few hours.:)

The kids all love our silly little rabbit Tica. Mostly because she'll eat all the dandelions they pick for her. At some point in the day, Jessica came to fetch her runaway child and brought Tyler along...more friends to hang out with. Then Mary called; John was visiting from Kentucky so even more friends came over.

It was a big hang-out-talking-jumping-feeding-the-rabbit kind of day that happened serendipitously. Very nice. I feel very fortunate to be exactly where I need to be.:)