Saturday, August 30, 2008

Things we've been doing...

We had a visit from Wendy and Shelby recently. We were introduced to MarioKart for the Wii. The kids loved it and have added it to their vision list. We also took them to our favorite swimming hole...twice! (Thanks to Shelby's persistence, the second day the kids had so much more fun than the first!)

Alex has been wanting to make soft pretzels for... forever! I don't know why, but we kept putting it off. I finally got around to getting things organized for him, and he was able to try his hand at his very first yeast dough. They were a smashing success. We decided to make half savory and half sweet.

Ella came up with ...rug surfing!

Snakes have been dining on our chicken eggs. John captured this one and released it about 3 miles away in a huge wild blackberry thicket.

A little daddy pile-up before we head off to L&L. John can't make it this year, and we're anticipating missing him next week. We're very happy he has a three day weekend to spend with us before we go.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Paddle faster boys, I think I heard a banjo!

Somehow, we got to talking about Deliverance, and how it had been filmed relatively close by in the North GA mountains. I love it! I think we should use it as our slogan for any future North GA unschooling get-togethers!

We had a blast with or little conglomerate of unschoolers. We feel so lucky to have the opportunity to hang out with such fabulous people. The kids (and I) were so sad to leave, comforted only with the fact that we'll be seeing everybody next week at L&L.

I hope, as we see the final days of L&L, we have more of these little gatherings.

Alec, Alex, Max, and Wendy

Wendy, sporting her new fierce "do", the always lovely Abbi, and the newly arrived Nic!

Okay, okay, Shelby's "do" is pretty darn fierce as well!

Some of my favorite people!

The brave ones...

Those who became totally submerged

Once again, Sophie and Gillan having a blast

Still more of my favorite people!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Boys Falling From Tees

Sometimes as whole-life unschooling parents, we tread a fine line between giving the kids freedom to explore and making sure they are safe. There is no better example of this than yesterday. We went to the swimming hole and sliding rocks at Pooles Mill Bridge Park. We love this place and the kids had a blast last time we went. As a group of us parents were hanging out and chatting, Max fell out of a tree onto big rocks below. It happened right before my eyes. I saw his face as the branch he was on broke and he unexpectedly fell from what I consider a scary height. His sweet little face showed surprise and fear. My heart went out to him and I was silently hoping with all of my being that he was okay. After he landed, I yelled out, "Oh My God. Max just fell from that tree!" He moved a bit, but immediately began crying. He was hurt and scared and it was hard to comfort him. Later, he told me his thoughts. He told me he was really scared that he had done something that would have changed his life forever. When he fell, he was scared he was going to die. It broke my heart.

So rewind a bit. Max has always been a climber. He has always had a very keen sense of his body and an amazing sense of balance. I have always, since he was very little, "briefed" him about different aspects of climbing. Instead of just telling him "no", and not letting him climb, we always talked about how high he was, if he felt safe, was the branch strong enough to hold him, and if he fell, what was below him. We had these talks all the time when he was little, because he was always climbing. He has never fallen, nor has he ever been stuck somewhere he couldn't get down from.

We haven't done many of those talks lately, the past few years even, because he has become very adept at knowing his limits, and never really pushing past what he is comfortable doing. I think I grew complacent and trusted he could make these decisions without guidance anymore. I think Max forgot to ask himself these questions. As we spent some time going over his fall, we talked about these things again, and how to ascertain what would be safe conditions to climb, etc. Max said he never wanted to climb a tree again. I hope he changes his mind, and trusts himself again. I do know that I'm glad I walked the line and Max has always had the freedom to climb. He will come to his own conclusions about climbing trees, and he will have lots of experience, support, information, and love from which to base his decisions. Though I trust him implicitly and he will continue to have freedom to make choices, I will be more present in my guidance and will go back to my "safety briefings".

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Room Makeover-Alex Edition


The first rendering...
The coolest dragon ever!

Shanna working on antiquing the dragon wall

Shanna's finished dragon with the antiqued wall

The refinished desk ...and the computer the Kelli gave us!

Close up of the desk...does it meet with your approval Shanna?

My very first recovered chair!

The light fixture we found at a salvage yard called "Estate of Confusion"

The light fixture, Shanna's crackled cabinet, and Alex's art work

Working on the furniture

Alex's art work

Artist and client...very happy indeed!

It all started with me asking Shanna to help us decide paint colors. It turned into late nights with dragon drawings, fevered second-hand shopping excursions, and finally the painting we can't believe we have in our home! Shanna is a force of nature. We worked really well together and inspired each other to make this room exactly what Alex wanted and so much deserves. Our greatest find was the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. We totally scored with the amazing cabinet to house Alex's tv and Gamecube, as well as the headboard Shanna found in the scrap trim pile. We found more inspiration at "Estate of Confusion". It's as close to Sanford and Son as you can get. There we found the light fixture that brought the room together. Then we framed some of Alex's paintings of dragons, which made the room his own. Put that together with Shanna's incredible artistic talent and vision, and you have a masterpiece. Thanks Shanna! We love you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The World's Longest Yard Sale

This weekend was the 21st annual World's Longest Yard Sale. Our paper ran this article on it. Alex had seen a show on HGTV describing the sale and could not wait to go.

On Thursday, the first day of the sale we didn't make it until the afternoon. At the very first stop, Max found a guitar, something he has really been wanting. The folks wouldn't come down on price, and Max didn't have enough money, so we walked away.

Next we found a stall with a bunch of wigs. We had a blast trying them all on. We hit a few more places, but it was starting to rain, so many of the stalls were closing down.

Alex was looking for a medieval-looking sword for his room, but kept wanting to buy all sorts of trinkets. He kept getting more and more despondent when I reminded him he wanted to save his money in case we found a sword. As we finished the day, everybody wanted to go back on Friday. Everybody except Alex. He was really upset. He loves bargaining with people and talking "stuff". As we talked further, I asked him if he wanted to just put the sword thing on hold and spend his money on anything he wanted. He immediately brightened up and decided that he was in for some serious yard-sale-ing!

We got a really early start on Friday and hit the guitar place again, hoping they'd come down a little. Max had $5 more to add to his offer. As we walked up, an older man was about to buy the guitar. I mentioned to him that we had seen it yesterday, and that Max had gone home to get more money. He agreed to let Max buy it. Max was on top of the world!

The rest of the day was so much fun, with many discussions about bargaining, the power of walking away, and all the cool things we came across. Alex immediately found something he wanted to buy and offered $8 for a hand-painted Japanese picture. When the woman was describing where she got it and who painted it, Alex said, "Since it's so special, I'll give you $9 for it." Only Alex! She would only take the $8 he originally offered, and he walked away very happy.

When we went on Sunday, the last day of the sale, Madeline and crew joined us. We couldn't resist the wig place. We played some more and thought about our costumes for the masquerade ball at the Live and Learn Conference. We all found treasures and came home tired and happy. We ended the day celebrating Gillan's 11th birthday. We can't wait for next year!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"Quilting Camp"

"Practice" Quilting
Applique Completed

Quilting the pillow

Pool Break

Watermelon Break

Grandma and Sophie

Sophie quilting

Stuffing the pillow

Embroidery on the final product

Sophie's first quilting project- A tulip appliqued pillow!

Sophie spent a week and a half with my Mom learning how to quilt. In addition to Sophie learning how to quilt, this time allowed my Mom a glimpse into our unschooling lives that has until now remained unseen. My Mom has never really embraced our unschooling lifestyle, she more "tolerates" it. In the past, I've tried to explain why we do what we do, but it always ends up with me sounding defensive and her sort of glazing over. She just never wanted to hear it. Until now. She was continually blown away by how quickly Sophie learned this rather difficult new skill. She learned how to applique, hand quilt, and embroider. Sophie kept telling her things like, "That's what unschoolers do. When we find something we love, we just do it and do it until we get good at it." My Mom saw the intensity with which Sophie embraced the project, many nights staying up past 11:00pm to quilt. She also saw how Sophie would take breaks, watching tv, playing her DS, or swimming when she needed a change a pace. My Mom made the comment to me that she couldn't teach all of her grandchildren how to quilt, that Sophie was exceptional. I told her of course she couldn't teach them all, because they all didn't want to learn how to quilt. If they did, it would be just as easy. Sophie and my Mom had a blast. We're already planning on her next trip to learn patchwork. I am so grateful for my Mom sharing not only her expertise, but her passion and love with Sophie. I know this experience will be something neither one of them ever forgets. Although the final product was a beautiful pillow, this project was definitely about the journey.