Monday, November 07, 2005

Handyman Gillen

We love our old house. We love that its high ceilings and shady setting make it so cool in the hot GA summers and that we have made it our own. We don't love that same coolness in the winter! Especially me! Due to the crazy 85% rise in the cost of gas that is projected for this winter, we decided to buy a wood stove. A friend came today to show us how to build a hearth and he is going to help install the stove, once we find one. Yesterday, Gillen decked himself out in his goggles and face protection and cleaned out all of the old chimney swifts' nests from the chimney. He liked telling Papa when to start and stop the shop vac. Notice (above)his hand motioning to his "helper"!
Here he is cutting the stone with a chisel and hammer.

And then he and Allen layed the stone with concrete.

We tried to turn the concrete red with GA red clay dirt but it didn't work. Then we tried every kind of red paint I had but to no avail. So we are waiting on the mortar filling-in step until I can get the right material to color the concrete. That will be mine and Gillen's job.
Gillen and Jesse finished the day with games of Traverse and Checkers with Papa and I, and then chess with each other. Here is Jesse moving into Gillen's ranks.
It ended up being a long, very close game. See the hearth and fireplace behind them? Well, it's the very dark area of the picture that you can't actually see. We can't wait for the wood stove to be there, keeping us warm through the winter!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Jesse as the black dragon in Harry Potter (4th book; haven't gotten to it yet in our reading but Jesse saw a picture of the dragon and loved it).

The kids went to a homeschool Halloween party at the LEAD homeschool park day last Thurs. (where I bid on and won a family membership to the High Museum of Art!) and they went to a trailer ride trick-or-treat journey at a friend's on Sat. that brought them through woods where several of Nicolas' friends from high school were hiding in frightening costumes! It was quite an extravaganza, with music, fireworks and Nicolas being carried off of the trailer for a while by one of the larger monsters. Then, on Halloween itself, last night, we trick or treated on Floyd Street in Convington, where many of the home owners decorate their porches and give out candy in costume. There are always soo many people, bright orange decoration lights and the feel of another era. I like being able to see so many kids and that we can walk from house to house for blocks rather than have to drive, as we would here in the boonies. I do wish there were still candy apples, popcorn balls and cookies like there were when I was a kid, before the rumours were spread about a razor being found in an apple. I remember the year trick or treating changed as a result of that news report (in Boston anyway). I bet it was the candy companies who started it!
Gillen as Harry Potter,looking so orphaned in this one!

And here he is less Harry, more Gillen. He is holding a wand that was whittled by Declan, a boy that Gillen met at the conference who has been a pen pal ever since. He and his mom sent us a Halloween gift box with Halloween art trading cards, (check out what this is), invisible ink, parchment paper (I never knew you could get invisible ink - very exciting), Halloween stickers, etc. This wand was Declan's favorite. He loves Harry too and went as him a few Halloweens ago. It was such a great package. That same day I received hand-knit socks for a charity auction I'm organizing for a friend's baby and I received a repaired necklace from the woman who made it (a year ago) and wanted to fix its clasp, free of charge. All of this from unschoolers at the conference. What a generous, creative group! I am so grateful to know them. But I digress.

A few more of the kids. Here they are trick-or treating. Jesse's wings bounced so dramatically as he ran from house to house.
They took a break midway to take stock of their loot and to sample.

The "bat/dragon/scary rock-star" flying through the night.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Journey to the Live and Learn Conference in St. Louis

Now that I've finally figured out how to get pictures on here I want to record some of the highlights of our trip. To get there we went through Tenn. stopping at our friends' new Mexican restaurant in Chattanooga (which was great- I'll plug it when I get the address again!) and then spending the night near Nashville. The next day we wandered around Nashville discovering an old fort museum near the river. It was a very hot day! Back in the car, Jesse navigated, Gillen read and they watched Cirque de Soleil on the DVD player that we bought with our collected change this summer. We loved seeing the flat lands of Illinois. None of us had ever driven west before. Huge expanses of corn fields.

Back to the trip - the conference for unschoolers from everywhere!!! Lots more people than the past two years that I've gone. It was chaotic but felt so safe. There were so many respectful parents and happy children and what really impressed me (besides the talks) was the way that the teenagers interacted. It seemed that they didn't break off into cliques but instead hung out together as a large happy inclusive group, drumming or singing or (I heard) staying up all night talking together and playing instruments.

The kids and Nicolas went to the St. Louis Zoo ( and it was a highlight for them. I asked Gillen and Jesse last night, prompted by an article in a magazine we like called "All Round", what the most amazing thing they'd ever seen was. Gillen said it was the bird house at the St. Louis Zoo. He came home with all kinds of bird feathers he found there on the ground of birds he'd never seen before. Jesse's most amazing thing was this Yu-GI-Oh card that he saw in the "Yu-Gi-Oh lounge" at the conference (where he spent most of his time finally getting to learn Yu-Gi-Oh). The card is Obelisk the Egyptian God and he hopes to find it somehow in the future. It belonged to another boy named Jesse. The older boys there were so patient and generous and impressed by Jesse as they first taught him and then played with him over the four days. Jesse has definitely discovered a new passion in this game.

Another highlight was the City Museum. All of the conference attendees needed to vacate the hotel on Sat. night (due to a wedding) so we all went here. It is a piece of art - a labyrinth of tunnels, climbing apparatus and slides that are both outside and indoors and that lead to different levels and even to a plane that seems suspended in mid-air outside! It was frightening trying to follow our kids through these mazes. But I thought it was so amazing that it was worth it. There were also adult sized ball pits, a huge fire with marshmallow roasting supplies, a skateless skateboarding room and Art room (we never got to the last two areas as well as so many others).

The kids discovered Geocaching at the conference, which is a satellite controlled treasure hunt. Once you find the geocache box, you trade an item for anything in the box. Gillen wants to find geocaching here in GA now. I would also like to pursue letterboxing, similar but without any technology, which is refreshing.

On our last day in St. Louis we checked out the famous arch (HUGE!!!) and went to an unschoolers' picnic at Cahokia Mounds.
We stayed there, talking to so many new friends, until the beautiful sunset sent us into our car and back on the road home. What a trip.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ready for anything

Gillen and Jesse oufitted themselves for a Sun. adventure at the farm with Papa. Gillen is in camouflage in order to bird watch in the woods and has his tennis racquet for practicing with papa at the public court on the way home; Jesse has a backpack filled with field guides for any snakes or bugs or trees they he want to identify and they have their new walkie talkies from the geocache box at the Live and Learn conference last week. They traded "Fluke" for them. This was a DVD I had really wanted them to see because I loved it so much but they were dead set against it. I think the walkie talkies may be cooler than even Fluke.

Later - They saw a Plain Bellied Water Snake and a lizard ("Brown something" says Jesse) and got really wet in the creek. A good day all around.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Thankyou Live and Learn conference...

Until last week, I had only seen one blog entry before and knew next to nothing about them. At the L&L unschooling conference (inspiring, life-changing really) that my family and I attended last week in St. louis, I learned about blogging from Danielle Conger. Thankyou Danielle, for answering my blogging and life questions at the confernce (and in the future : ) ). I am really excited to record our unschooling journey here and to keep in touch with family, friends and unschoolers.

I would love to start by raving about the conference but my time has run out, for now. It is Nicolas and my 10th anniversary! Next week we will be celebrating alone (a rare occurence for us) but tonight we are sharing chocolate and our wedding video with our children and will maybe even share a sip of our wine -the wine we drank at our wedding -- Ravenswood Red Zinfandel - dry, red and mighty fine! So I need to go make our special dinner adn break out the wine and organic truffles.

Welcome to my blog. Wierd word to me still, that. "blog"