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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, September 30, 2008

Altered tins and such

We're an artsy, fartsy bunch we are.

On Wednesday, we gathered at Jess's house where she warmed a batch of beeswax with some other lovelyish oils, recipes for hand salve and lip balm.

Jess and Laura work on the concoctions.

There was a plethora of yummy scents for customizing your balms. Dontcha love that word? Plethora...let it slliiiiide off your tongue.

The Jayden/Jalen (now officially Scott) crew is more interested in the chips and salsa than any old beeswax concoction.

We start to work on the containers for the goo. Altered tins are the plan.

Laura and I often talk about how art materials and colors look so yummy it makes our mouth water. I think she took it a bit far this time! Step away from the purple tissue paper Laura.

Painting, mosaicing, collaging and lotsa chit-chat ensue.

Even chit-chat ON the tins.:)

Heather works on a beautiful altered book she's in process with.

Some of the final results.
Keep in mind, these are filled with the most silky, wonderful lip balm and hand salve that smells amazing. Luxurious.

Fast forward to yesterday. We met at Willow Springs park to hang out and I brought along some ATC supplies. I found the lovely wood box (in the foreground) at a thrift store a couple weeks ago for a mere $8. It holds enough ATC's, watercolors, paintbrushes, pencils, glue etc... for plenty of arting. I LOVE it!

So we make art again. Seems to be "our" thing lately.

Iris brought a bag of clothing that she was passing along. The girls glommed onto it and had themselves a dress-up party next to the bathroom. Their ages ranged from 5 to 11 and they all shared the booty and had a ball together. Each of them left with a few new items too. Thanks Iris!

The wee man finds many uses for my boomwhackers. The most recent being a water tube for the fountain. He also decided that Kass's camera needed a bath!

A conglomeration of ATC's from several of us.

Art in the park...oh yeah!

There was some dancing in the park too...

....and private conversations in secret places.

We then moved on to my house, where there was jumping...

...and this very strange game. They took one of my rain barrels (no, they aren't in use just yet) and all of the kids would stand in front of it, while one person released it. They'd race pell-mell down the hill while the barrel came for them! It was crazy. Even with some injuries, they kept on playing it. Down the hill, up the hill, laughing hysterically or groaning in pain because the barrel knocked someone flat on their tush.

Run Forest, RUN!

Then push it back up the hill and start all over again.
I had gone to look for our escapee rabbit, but I was told this story when I got back. The kids were wildly playing the "running with the barrel" game when Scott/Jalen suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. "I'm looking for a four leaf clover" says he. Then he stoops down and exclaims "I found one!!" instantly.

So here's the magical four leaf clover that appeared right when he wanted it.

Now those are some happy eyeballs! What a four leaf clover it was. Though he decided it brought no good luck whatsoever because he got so many bruises that day.;)
Apparently even clovers can't prevent barrel and trampoline bumps.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman died today...

...at the age of 83. He was married for 50 years and acted in over 50 films in addition to directing and producing. We love him best for his movie "Cool Hand Luke" and the wonderful "Newman-O's" cookies.

What an amazing life he's lived. Goodbye Paul...

Just jumpin'

"Here I go and I don't know why
I spin so ceaselessly
'Til I lose my sense of gravity

I'm dancing barefoot
Heading for a spin
Some strange music drives me on
Makes me come up like some heroine "


Monday, September 22, 2008

Dress-up for grown-ups

Last night there was a Goddess party, hosted by an amazing friend named Betty. I'll post more about their beautiful home and the stunning women that attended this event (including the luscious and divine Amy Steinberg) but for now I only have a couple of photos taken at my house.

This is Jess, the pirate Goddess and myself, posing with our costumes on.

My makeup mask for the evening....I won "Goddess of Creativity".

This is the makeup mask worn to the L&L masquerade ball. I didn't have much time to get this one ready, so it could have been better. But we had such a great time it really doesn't matter.
Can you tell I love to dress up? Some things never change.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Live and Learn conference '08

Community: 1. A unified body of individuals 2. a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society e: a group linked by a common policy

But it's so much more than that. Our Live and Learn experience starts on Tuesday night, hanging out with the Pirro family in downtown Jonesborough.

The children all find treasures. Lovely things born of curiosity and interest and I am reminded of a favorite Plato quote: “The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.”

Scott's lovely things are "crystals", which are simply some landscaping rock. I think it's that glitter effect he loves.

A puffy seedling and bright orange leaf round out their "lovely things". Dontcha love the contrast of that orange against the purple? Yum.

Wednesday morning we are off to Asheville to go get the rest of our crew, Trevor and George, then up to Black Mountain to meet our tribe at the Blueridge Assembly.

3. A group of people sharing an occupation, interest, or habit: a tribe of graduate students.
4. Informal A large family.

Ah yes, that's more like it. A large family. A large, strange family to be sure.

Scott informed me that this is his favorite friend. I said "Wyl is your favorite friend?"
"Yeah, my other favorite is Phantom Hourglass, but Wyl is my most favorite". So Wyl ranks over a video game? That's pretty cool!

Sierra, Sadie and Kyra decide who is sleeping where....they're so happy to be together again.

Total tired silliness ensues. Nothing new.

The view from Lee hall is awesome. Even more awesome when the landscape is punctuated by intelligent, brilliant, interesting unschoolers sharing their passions.

The ATC funshop was a huge hit...as always. What is it about ATC's that can really bring people together and keep us in one place for HOURS? Gotta love it.

Fire was ATC obsessed all week. We created by the pool and late at night in the Weatherford dining hall. Good times...

These ladies have been a part of my ATC trading for several years now. Some trades via the mail and others in real life. Some of their cards are amongst my favorites. It was awesome to sit and create and trade with them again.

The frosting funshop. Sierra and Sadie concentrate on their works of art.

So pretty. Later on it got veeerrrryyy thick with frosting and even had another cookie layered on top. We found out the blue frosting is evil.

The blue frosting dot that shall not be removed. No matter how you rub it. No matter how you lick it or otherwise try to remove it. Scotty was stuck with that bit 'o frosting for a while!

The passion basket donated by Imagination Tribe! It was heartwarming to see everyone's handmade contributions. Years ago, Imagination Tribe was just an idea in my head and to see the manifestation of that at a conference again was really great for my soul.:)

An impromptu hair dye funshop in my room. Our master of hand drumming, Caren, decides she needs some color. The color seeped over to her son and another friend....they were both dye virgins so it was a lot of fun!

Some of the amazing teens/young adults. To be witness to their growth and changes from year to year has been one of the coolest parts of this whole Live and Learn experience for me.

The awesome threesome together again....

Some divas taking a break. One conference diva, one WoW diva and one doll-making diva all chilling out.

The energy at Live and Learn always centers around handmade items and sharing interests. Brandon and Tori look on as some henna tattoo's get shared. Note: Tori and Brandon couldn't make it up from Pensacola so LeaAnn sent me flat versions instead. They weren't as lively as the real-deal, but man did they get some laughs. That's Nancy holding them in this photo...with her gorgeous jewelry for sale.

The talent show is a huge highlight. Some of the gurls take a bow after their "gum" skit.
Sierra loves her gurl crew!

Scott took this picture of Sierra and I on our way to the pool. It was his VERY favorite place at the conference.

After proclaiming that he would NOT go off the diving board, he ended up going off it again and again and again...pretty much until they kicked us out. About four hours all told. Can you say Tiiiirrred?

Tori and Brandon stop by the second ATC funshop.

Thank goodness for Dave and De! Scott did not like the cafeteria at all, though you wouldn't know it by this picture because he happily ate with Wyl's family. They kept him happy with movies and a DS almost the entire conference. I had such a hard time trying to fulfill responsibilities while Scott did NOT want to come with me anywhere (other than the pool). I felt so torn, but he was totally content to just be with them, playing games. THANK YOU to them for everything! It was huge to know he had an adopted family while I was busy.

Tori and Brandon meet more conference attendees.....

My giant sunflower head got adopted by the Bothwell family....

Getting ready for the tower of doom. Ok, it's really called the Odyssey.
It looks very high from down below...though I'm sure it looks even higher when you're on the wires!

Sierra gets ready with the safety course. Kelly, Beth and Ben are on her team.

Kyra and Fire sit this one out, but we enjoy watching together.

Sean gives us a bit of bravado. Hang on to your rope dude!

Sierra and Ben help each other traverse the last bit. At the end of your Odyssey journey, you slide down a hydraulic zipline. She absolutely loved it, but said "It was harder than it looked" afterwards.:)

Scott was over at this section with the swingers (that just sounds wrong doesn't it?). I missed his first swing ever, but here's a shot of Jessica flying high.

Some end-of-conference activities at the picnic on the lake.

Then we're off to Alice's house in Asheville for some post-conference chillin'. It was an awesome week, with awesome people, making awesome connections.

There are a lot of missing pictures here because most of my conference experience is on film, including the masquerade ball. I also have no pictures of the Amy Steinberg concert, though that was a HUGE highlight of the week for me! Such amazing energy. The tribute to Lisa Heyman (while Wide-sky-life was being sung) had us bawling our eyes out. Our day-after was spent with the Kreams, Bowmans and Gavins in Asheville where we had a great time swirling in and out of stores, talking and eating together. I miss my tribe already!

When I attended the very first conference in 2002 I had no idea how it would affect our lives. It has had a powerful and dramatic impact on us and we are SO thankful for the friendships forged there.
Thank you Ben and Kelly for all your efforts over the years. We are eternally grateful for the connections made through Live and Learn and the magical ripple effect of this gathering.
We found our tribe that year, and while it has grown and changed and experienced some deep loss, we know where we belong.

Some other attendees blogs can be found here:

Nancy's A Happy Childhood Lasts Forever.

Laura Endres of Wistful Wanderlust.

Kelli at Our Joyful Life.

Laura at sssmommy.
(yes, this is the now-famous Laura
who started Radical Unschooling Network).
Part 2
Part 3

Kass at Liberal family living.

Madeline at Barn Raising.

Mindy at Dancing Chickens.

Flo at Sumbthuckers.

Ronnie and Frank of The Zombie Princess.

Gail's Hummingbird Heaven.

Heather at Swiss Army Wife has four L&L
Part 1
Part 2
Part 2.5
Part 3

Jeff over at Free Boys.

Joni of A Joyful Journey.

Faith at Bearthmama.

Deanne at Learning Always and All Ways.

And finally, there are a TON of photos at Flickr for your post-conference enjoyment and an awesome video at Youtube created by my friend Geri. It's a tribute to Live and Learn over the years. Watch for a certain teen I know with a hugely tall mohawk.;)