Going through ten different states in ten days.

En route to our mountain vacation, we drove through a total of 10 states. Courtesy of the tourism bureaus in each state, the little folks and I walked away with bags of information about American history, geography, geology, economic development,…

Gender studies and pit stops on the road.

I approach the subject of gender studies early, beginning around the age of four to tease apart the difference between sex and gender. The daughters celebrate being uncumbered by a penis; the son mourns his lack of a womb. I…

G.K. Chesterton on fairy tales.

SOME solemn and superficial people (for nearly all very superficial people are solemn) have declared that the fairy-tales are immoral; they base this upon some accidental circumstances or regrettable incidents in the war between giants and boys, some cases in…

Francis makes her maiden voyage.

Patrick and I put Francis in the spaceship and drove to Hurricane Creek yesterday to take Francis on her maiden voyage. Now, Patrick and I have been known to disagree on important matters like trails and canoe routes, and we…

Finding the shelter of each other.

I burned the candle reading on the stoop outside our backdoor last night. The biblio-love with whom I communed, Mary Pipher’s The Shelter of Each Other, resonated as clearly as the song of the barn own which visits our backyard…

Ferns are tricky creatures.

Of course. What could be simpler? Classifying a fern from Bunica’s backyard- a fern that stays green all year long, though we’ve noticed it tends to be more verdant during the spring. We knew that the “leaf” of a fern…

Falling in love with a longleaf pine.

Today we discovered a hearty old longleaf pine, or Pinus palustris, a few miles away from our home. We were able to identify it right off the bat because our county agent, Neal Hargle, introduced us to a longleaf early…

Faith without works and the people of Syria.

A fascinated Gnome. Today I made it through communion without crying. It’s the first time I’ve done so since Mom’s death. Granted, I cried in during the final hymn as we sang the word “perish” because perish is such a…

Facecloth storage bin tutorial.

I’ve been thinking about Futuregirl’s facecloths for quite some time now. Yesterday, a light bulb appeared next to my thoughts. This light bulb told me that our family would need a face cloth storage bin to replace our paper towel…

Exploring the Foxfire method to learning.

One of my greatest inspirations in home “schooling” has been the Foxfire series and its engaging form of exploration. Started in 1966 by an incredible teacher named Eliot Wigginton (a.k.a. Wig), Foxfire is the name that an English class picked,…

Exploring Dublin, Ohio for a week.

Stopping to collect dandelions at a truck stop other than the one we keep hunting. Every couple of years, we pack the family into the spaceship and jet off to Dublin, Ohio for a week-long visit with my dad, Pam,…

Exploring azaleas in our yard.

Last week, we took advantage of the last bright breath of the azaleas to learn more about the kinds that grow in our yard. It all started when the girls picked a few large bouquets of azaleas and offered them…

Experiment with infrared in fall leaves.

Today we talked about the colors of fall leaves. Why do leaves turn from green to red, yellow, and orange? Micah thinks it is because “they are going old and their hair is getting older colored too.” While this is…

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Everything is beautiful. And cheap.

Since we have be learning to live on very little, I’ve been harnessing the powers of imagination to furnish and decorate our home cheaply. My strategy is simple- thrift stores, trash trips, and flea markets. Thrift stores are what you…

Enjoying my insomnia with Nabokov.

The last lines of Nabokov’s poem, “An Evening of Russian Poetry”. Vladimir Nabokov, or VN for short, shared his autobiographies with me last night in the form of collected, bound words entitled Speak, Memory. Originally, he considered titling the book…

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Embroidery primer.

FRENCH KNOT Bring the thread out at the required position, hold the thread down where it emerges with the left thumb and encircle the thread twice with the needle (see A). Still holding the thread firmly with your thumb, twist…

Elephant on my pillow tutorial.

My sister-in-law, Ashley, loved the elephant pillow in the photo above. When I asked her about colors and backgrounds, she requested a gray background with a yellow elephant. I’m thinking making a pillow would cost more in shipping and would…

Edward Munch screams expressionism.

The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893. Oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard. Expressionism is a style of art in which the artist tries to express certain feelings about something. In expressionism, the artist is more concerned about having their painting…

Domino block play and the scientific method.

Our voyage into engineering, surface tension, and physics led us straight to the wooden blocks this morning. Different sized and shaped blocks are an excellent exploration tool to reinforce and develop basic physical concepts. You can use blocks to explore…

DIY salt dough beads.

Basic salt dough beads are the building blocks of many things from garlands to jewelry. You can imagine my pleasant surprise when Max decided that his project for the day would be to make salt dough beads. All by himself,…

DIY recipe coloring book.

The internet makes it possible to make your own recipe book based on the foods you prefer and the tastes and textures that suit your family best. Learning at home with the kids still requires me to feed them and…

DIY cardboard box nativity diorama.

Thanks to Suebee, we have a beautiful and precious nativity scene. Unfortunately, it is too beautiful and precious for the kids to play around with. Solution? Let’s make our own play-friendly nativity scene from one of the cardboard boxes that…

Discovering a hidden cemetery in Dayton, Alabama.

When we drove down to the beach last month, we took a different route on the back roads, seeking new scenery and dangling predicates. Bunica mentioned a cemetery she accidentally discovered while driving around the state with her sister, Sanda….

Cultivating empathy for the dyslexic child.

When she was a toddler, we used to joke, “Prophet help, Prophet help..”. Because she always wanted to help. And she still does. Reading Robert Frank’s The Secret Life Of A Dyslexic Child and imagining how the words jumble and…

Cross-stitching with boys.

Recently, I discovered that the world retains many sexist boundaries which discriminate against men. Being a woman in a college town makes it hard to avoid the sexism encountered by females- but men and boys run into their own unfair…

crafting with kids

P indicates a PDF printable. F indicates a personal favorite. Crafts are organized by materials, medium, or style. Scroll down. Categories are ordered as follows: BOOK-MAKING AND BINDING Alphabet photo book (Playful Learning) Cereal box books (Alpha Mom) Cereal box…

Coyotes in East Tuscaloosa.

A suburban Alabama coyote, the kind that is “here to stay”. The past few weeks have put me and my spirit animal in close proximity on several occasions. If I confess my affinity for the coyote, I do so with…

Color theory experiments with kids.

One thing always leads to another- in life, in science, in all those experiments we call reality. For this experiment, we used the following supplies: a plastic pipette, 3 tubes with colored water (one for each primary color) in them,…

Christmas storms and stories.

The weather folk jump about waving lasers and warning of ominous storms to come. So we are filling up on Christmas stories from around the world. Reading “Babicka”, a tale from Czechoslovakia, we learned that children in Czech villages believed…

Chief Tuskaloosa and Alabama Choctaws.

Ever since Max decided that he wanted to have a Cherokee birthday party, we’ve been exploring all things Native American. Fortunately, the Moundville Native American Festival takes place in Moundville this weekend, and everything, including the acorns and the seasons,…

Celebrating the winter solstice with kids.

The Holly King, as discovered by those who dwell in the Fairy Woodland. “Though my soul may set in darkness
it will rise in perfect light. 
 I have loved the stars too fondly 
to be fearful of the night.” Sarah…

Celebrating the new year as a family.

As this year dims and the next year cuts its teeth on the horizon, we prepare for the uncertainty of the future, knowing that our fear of the unknown is a terrible guide to dawn. The thunderstorm on our tin…

Caroling for the veterans.

Tonight we went to the Tuscaloosa Veteran’s Medical Center to honor the men and women who have served our country in wars and violent conflicts. There is something so special and wonderful about being able to bring so much light…

Candlelight story time.

Tonight, we turned off all the lights and sat down on the rug with only the light from a few candles to cast their shadows through the room. The kids huddled on pillows as I brought out Athena, our storytelling…

Camping at Deerlick with the Thieles.

I heart John and Linda and their beautiful brood of boys– Jack, Andrew, and Daniel, each unique and spectacular, each a blessing and a gift. A few weekends ago, we went camping with them at Deerlick Creek Park. Max got…

Buried in poems.

I can’t seem to distract myself from the poems I’ve collected, like love stories, some so stretched out that they no longer fit my frame. Still, I can no more abandon them than I can abandon the stories which give…

Brian Fox Ellis’ stories about nature.

A poem Brian “Fox” Ellis animated by Vin Luong that celebrates the dance and migration of Whooping Cranes. Brian Fox Ellis is a gifted storyteller, poet, artist, and raconteur who draws on traditions in American history to bring nature to…

Boho piano bench skirt tutorial.

Now that Milla’s main amusement comes from toddling about the house, the sharp edges of our piano bench rise like fangs from a rabid dog’s mouth whenever she rushes past. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but my motherly instinct says…

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for home “schooling”. 5 Orange Potatoes A Woven Education Artful Parent Bakers and Astronauts Childhood 101 Curly Birds Fairydust Teaching How We Montessori Inner Child Fun Let’s Explore Modern Handmade Child Mossy Rhythm of the Home Tinkerlab for crafting and…

Bittersweet beautiful days.

Patrick returns to work next week, and I will miss him so much when he is gone. The past week, Milla’s first week of life, only reminds me how much I love my husband. Despite any disagreement or passionate discussion…

Best short prose in the world.

Key. * means nonfiction. * means fiction. * means flash fiction. Of course, much is disputable but it won’t make the world a better place. Alice Walker “Everyday Use” “The Abortion”* Alexander Yates “Valentine”* Andrei Codrescu Anne Finger “Comrade Luxembourg…

B is for banjo.

MUSIC AND DAYDREAMS Micah colored the B is for Banjo page while Max colored it and labelled the parts with a little help from Cold Antler Farm. We talked about banjos and listened to some banjo music as we colored…

Aztec homeschooling unit.

Thanks to a marvelous book sale at Hudson’s Dirt Cheap, I purchased 15 educational books for Max at the lovely price of $1.49 per book. One of these books, Projects About the Ancient Aztecs, by David King, inspired us to…

An interview with Mr. Max Coryell about Dogland.

Maxwell Coryell, the 6-year-old discoverer of Dogland, is constantly sharing stories with others about this marvelous place. Since some lands disappear, I wanted to learn more about Dogland for the purpose of preserving a historical record should a natural calamity…

An exploration of the amaryllis.

Max pulled me out of bed yesterday with much gusto: “Mom, mom! You have to see this! The flower bloomed!” I never thought I would be dragged from sweet slumber to witness the blooming of a flower… Once I was…

an artwork a day project

Introduction: An Art Work A Day 00 Buckshot State III by Harvey Littleton, 2001 A Family by Fernando Botero, 1996 A Storm on a Mediterranean Coast by Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1857 After the War by Nicolae Tonitza Albus Dumbledore by Neal…

All about moths: Our lapbook.

As usual, the topic for the lapbook began with an observation of the subject by one of the kids (Gnome spotted a “white night butterfly” in the window) followed by my meager attempt to narrate the subject in the form…

Alina’s Thanksgiving Happiness Experiment.

A combination of Carol Shields, Iris Murdoch, the perpetually-improving-house, and the embarrassing gluttony of Thanksgiving left me pondering happiness today. Happiness in the backyard with birds warbling and chirping- the happiness of being absolutely peripheral for a few chunks of…

Alina’s Adventures: video

The adventures of a restless, skinny-dipping-prone girl with three kids and a partner living in a tiny castle in Alabama. Sometimes it feels too good to be true.

Alina’s Adventures: trips

The adventures of a restless, skinny-dipping-prone girl with three kids and a partner living in a tiny castle in Alabama. Sometimes it feels too good to be true.

Alina’s Adventures: poetry

The adventures of a restless, skinny-dipping-prone girl with three kids and a partner living in a tiny castle in Alabama. Sometimes it feels too good to be true.

Alina’s Adventures: movies

The adventures of a restless, skinny-dipping-prone girl with three kids and a partner living in a tiny castle in Alabama. Sometimes it feels too good to be true.

Alina’s Adventures: isla

The adventures of a restless, skinny-dipping-prone girl with three kids and a partner living in a tiny castle in Alabama. Sometimes it feels too good to be true.