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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......

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Something good for your Sunday

A really fabulous thing I just found out about, is a website called "Change.org", set up to bring government back to the people. Let's hope it works! The top ideas will be addressed by the new administration. It's a site where people can share their concerns and get others to vote on changes they'd like to see happen. I love the fact that someone started one about legalizing raw milk. So go vote! Maybe start your own conversation. It only takes a second to sign up and think of the possibilities.....
See you there!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

How do you celebrate?

I've long been interested in the ancient celebrations that influence today's rituals, no matter how far from the origins we've gone. Christmas being celebrated as Christ's birthday always seemed strange to me, even when I was a Christian. Probably because my family didn't make it into a religious holiday, it was just a family tradition for us, full of warmth and food and gifts and time together.

Summer solstice was a big deal up in Alaska, where I grew up. But my friend Garry reminded me that when we celebrate summer solstice, we are saying goodbye to the light because from that day forward, we have less and less. I had never paid much attention to winter solstice but I feel more of a need to honor that time now. It is a celebration of the return of light, during the darkest time of the year. What better time to celebrate?

So in honor of rituals and celebrations everywhere, I thought I'd post a few links I've enjoyed.
A short article about the pagan roots of Christmas can be found in this essortment article.

I've long enjoyed the story of Hanukkah and the eight days of light. My older boys loved playing the Dreidel game and reading "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins" when they were little. And who can resist some Challah bread or Adam Sandler's hilarious Hanukkah song? Yes, we own the DVD, from when he did it for SNL.

Drawing from many African cultural influences, there is the celebration of Kwanzaa. The seven principles are centered around unity, faith and purpose. There are very specific practices and rituals involved in the Kwanzaa celebration and like most other celebrations at this time of year, there are candles and light involved.

This lovely article at Religious tolerance gives a quick overview of many, many celebrations during the solstice. From Native American traditions to Buddhist and more.

So however you choose to celebrate I hope your celebration is authentically your own and gives much warmth and cheer during this darkest time in the Northern Hemisphere. If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy your summer solstice!:)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some of the latest images....

...from the studio of Paul Bishop in which I did hair and makeup. Lots of fun! I'm learning to mess around with Picasa so if some of the editing is a bit unprofessional that would be my fault.:) Still trying to figure out how it all works.

The models are Tess (leaves) and Lindsey (contortionist), two models that are not only great for photo shoots but have fun personalities as well. They are both multi-talented individuals that inspire me in many ways.

Monday, December 08, 2008


The following is a quote from a rather lengthy email I received this morning about the economic situation and the trend of depressions in the past. It was written by someone named Dick Eastman of Yakima Washington. I am lifting this one quote as the perfect synopsis of what has happened and what I think about this "bailout".

"Nothing is more absurd than what we are doing now, which is borrowing from the international bankers to bail out the international bankers after the international bankers take ownership of all of our foreclosed houses and all of our assets sold to them in our economic distress which has been engineered by them in the first place."

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Scotty on TV!

Go check out the latest chef on Daytime Tri-Cities. It's Scotty Bowman and his new business concept "Thyme for Toast". If you live in the area it's a good time to book a party with him too. Chef school that comes to your house. How cool is that??

Congrats Scotty and Laura!!!
Now to book a party.....

Some fun with a point...

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Work and fun

Work. The word that is supposed to mean "hard" and in many cases "undesirable". But I love my work. Not everything that goes with being in retail, but I love being a makeup artist. Perhaps I should just say I love being an artist because my career path often takes me into other venues of self-expression. Like lately.

I've been working with a fashion designer from L.A. Together, we're creating some very unique and edgy images and he's inspired me to get back to painting and expand my thoughts on photography, clothing design and makeup artistry.

My work brings me into contact with a very diverse range of clients. From models, to drag-queens, brides and photographers. I get to play with colors and style constantly. Something I thoroughly enjoy. I look forward to the training I get at my place of employment (we're not supposed to blog about the company so I'll just say it starts with an "M" and is also the name of a computer compay).

Bleu is in real estate. Not the most booming business at this time with the economical mess. But it's bringing an income and he absolutely loves it. Most of it anyway.:)

Now for the downside...I work 30 hours per week. Yet this translates into providing medical and dental insurance for my family. Yes, I prefer to earn my medical insurance rather than using government coverage (been there, done that) because we have the most awesome coverage, a great doctor that supports our lifestyle and choices 100% and the dental coverage is amazing as well.

I'm not the Mum that can be as spontaneous as a stay-at-home Mum. My kids don't like that I'm gone as much as I am, nor do I like that part. If I left my company tomorrow I would absolutely continue being a makeup artist. If I didn't make money at it, I would still do it. I think that's how you know you've found something worth doing for yourself. But I'd love to be more available to my family.

Bleu is pretty flexible and can work from home quite a bit. The floor shifts at Coldwell Banker are short and the kids are pretty self-sufficient these days if we're both gone. We have awesome friends who come visit or take them to events when both of us are unavailable also.

Our choice to be an unschooling family and have two working parents hasn't always been easy. But it works well for us at this point and is helping us out financially. We aren't supporting some decadent lifestyle, nor do we care about that. My goal is to continue developing as an artist and get to the point that I can cut back my retail hours to very part-time.

The best part about being a working parent is the amount of help I get from Bleu these days! :)
Sierra has been intimately involved in my work from the time she was very little. Acting as assistant on photo shoots or at weddings, helping out as a volunteer at work occasionally and lately...
painting with me down at Levon's studio. Very cool for an 11y.o. He even made her a skirt when we were down a couple nights ago.

Oh, and my work has led me into doing segments for the local talk show too. That's been fun and kinda weird since I'm not exactly into keeping up with trend. Not much anyway.;)
Here's the latest segment at Daytime Tri-Cities: Holiday Fashion Trends.

By being creative, flexible and willing to adapt, we've made a two-income parent household and unschooling mesh. It isn't ideal at times (but neither was a financial struggle) but there are so many ways our world has been expanded through this choice.

I like this article: "Do what you love". So do what you love. Always. It might even make some money.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


This morning I open curtains to let some light into the room.
Jalen: Aaaah, my eyes. (covers head and hides)
Ren: Oh yeah, I forgot you're a vampire and you don't like the light.
Jalen: NO. I'm HALF vampire!

We snuggle on the bed and while we're playing around....
Jalen: I'm half zombie
Ren: I thought you were half vampire?
Jalen: I'm half zombie and half vampire. Zombies eat flesh.
Ren: eeeew
Jalen: But I don't eat human flesh, I eat chicken flesh.

And so goes the exploration of all things half-dead and a
seven-year old's version of discovering whether one
wants to be vegetarian.