Romania’s Vlach roots.

According to wikipedia, the etymology for the “Vlachs” is “ultimately of Germanic origin, from the word Walha, a name used by ancient Germanic peoples to refer to (mainly) Romance-speaking neighbours”. Slavs initially used the term “Vlachs” to refer to Romanic…

roamschooling

c.1300, romen, from Old English ramian “act of wandering about” Old English scol, from Latin schola, from Greek skhole “leisure, spare time” Roamschooling is a way of learning which involves leaving your home. I have been inspired by an Alabama…

Roamschooling the Garden of the Gods.

roamchooling: the how and why As you may know, we are big fans of roamschooling. Since people have asked me about how roamschooling works, I thought I’d give an example of the way it plays out for us “in the…

Road-tripping across Arkansas.

On the drive to Colorado, we crossed Arkansas and stuck to I-40 all the way. First came the spectacular border crossing of the Mississippi River in West Memphis. Then came Forrest City and Little Rock, followed by Conway (where we…

Revisiting France with Thomas Merton.

“A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.” Thomas Merton When…

Returning to an old love at 35.

My calves ache. Each time I lean forward, a burning sensation tunnels up from my ankle. The small muscles above my knees throb when I bend to pick up a book. My inner thighs feel like they felt after the…

Reading the Alabama summers.

Summer at our house is a time to get lost in books and small bruises of the sort acquired as badges from “playing in the woods”. Since I’ve had a few friends ask for summer reading suggestions, I thought I…

Railroad Park and Dr. Seuss on humor.

Gnome finds a frame at Railroad Park. A few weeks back, we wandered around Railroad Park in Birmingham and the kids found so many things to touch, see, and explore. The goofiness was contagious. Shadows and light. In 1952, the…

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Puppets in Romania.

The photograph of my mother was taken by an ex-boyfriend in Romania before her children, husband, and American life became matters of fact. The excerpt is from Mariana Zaharia’s “A Little Piece of Advice for Parents”. The pose is one…

Project Budburst in our backyard.

I’ve been having a hard time finding a reason to be inside over the past few days. Spring is blowing my mind. Perhaps I thought my fascination would grow less as I “matured” and grew older…. Actually, I find myself…

Pretend parlors and parlor games.

I’ve always been partial to the color combo on this bedspread-currently-being-used-as-a-couch-cover in our parlor. I’ve also always been partial to ladies who use the word “parlor” in all seriousness because I know that deep down inside, they have a secretly…

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Poems growing from garden soils.

I found this first poem on Tweetspeak, alongside a delicious recipe for collard greens. The thought of “eating and drinking poems” makes so much sense to me in the context of a carefully tended garden. CUTTING GREENS by Lucille Clifton…

poems for small folks

Many of these poems have been used as copywork and dictation for Max’s Poetry Collection binder. He paints, colors, draws, or collages a background for each poem so the illustration reflects what he takes from the poem and how it…

poems for big folks

The poems we use to tell and retell, to mold or remember, the moments which make us anew. My personal requisites-fuels are marked with +. Anna Akhmatova (bio) Requiem “We never quite learned to part…” We’re all heavy drinkers and…

Playing with privet, or how the privet played with us.

Max’s nature journal sketch. Playing around with the Ligustrum lucidum this afternoon and trying to learn more about this plant for our nature journals brought us to a soil-shattering discovery. Ligustrum lucidum (broadleaf privet) is easily confused with Ligustrum sinense…

Playing around with celery.

MAX: I don’t think I’m ever going to like celery, Mom. It gets that yucky, rubbery texture. I don’t like it. ALINA: It’s not always rubbery. Usually, it’s pretty crisp and crunchy. You can keep it from getting that way,…

play all day

Unlike crafts, which tend to be directed activites with a general goal in mind (i.e. to create a drawing, etc.), play includes directed activities like games as well as completely unscripted and undirected activities. Most kids don’t need a reason…

Pintucked wrap skirt tutorial.

I needed something easy to wear, easy to fold, easy to rumple in a way that suits me. So I found a satin and velvet curtain and decided to transform it into a wrap skirt. MATERIALS 1 yard of 60…

Pilgrimage to a quasi-secret sulphur spring.

James F. Sulzby, Jr., the Birmingham realtor who founded the Alabama Historical Association in 1947, shared his personal passion for local history in Historic Alabama Hotels and Resorts. The bland title obfuscates the diligence to detail within. Sulzby’s chronicle reveals…

Peasant love songs.

Bardezi by Ovidiu Balaban PEASANT LOVE SONGS by George Cosbuc, translated by Maurice Aisen I. He In the garden of my sweetheart Sing two birds beautifully, And the sun proudly shines, And my darling sits and dreams. Near the garden…

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Our wild and crazy weekend…

We started the weekend with a trip to Red Top Mountain in Georgia to celebrate the wedding of Ryan and Keturah Coryell. The weather was spotless, and the location rather sentimental for us, since we camped at the Red Top…

Our Rural Studio Pilgrimages

In honor of the brilliant badass Samuel Mockbee, known to most as “Sambo”, the kids I decided to see every Rural Studio creation in the state of Alabama. It was a roamschooling goal set back in 2011- one which we…

Our local history excursion.

Mrs. Henderson’s native honeysuckle thrives in the front yard. Sometimes the greatest adventures begin with an informal chat at the Geological Survey of Alabama. This one began when I stopped to talk to Lewis Dean while scouring the shelves for…

Our lemonade stand.

Of all the days to raise money for a good cause, this morning might just have been the hottest. All proceeds from Max’s lemonade stand will be sent to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, so we were hoping that we might…

Our eco-dyeing experiment.

We did this backwards, picking plants before preparing our fabric, so we didn’t mordant the fabrics we used. Enter our first experiments- will the prints work without mordanting the fabric beforehand? (I did soak the fabrics in water with sea…

Our discovery of serpentine mines.

It was Prophet who led us to our study of leaf mining insects. Prophet tends to express dismay over what she calls the “ugly leaves” with all the holes and “messy places” on them. I usually stifle a laugh- mostly…

Our daily tea time ritual.

Since the King usually misses our daily tea time ritual at 10:30 am, we decided to invite him to a weekend version this past Saturday. The ritual begins with the boiling of water, the selection of a tea, and then…

Our Christmas reading.

There is nothing I love more about the holiday season than that powerful impetus to draw closer as a family– to spend even more time together, sharing everything, including our bedtime stories. I’ve been enjoying so much the nights when…

ONLY ONE YOU by Linda Krantz: A family craft.

Grandma Vicki always sends the loveliest books. The latest, Only One You by Linda Kranz, encourages individuality in the context of love and respect for family. Krantz’ love for all the colors of the rainbow makes this a joyful read….

One poem each day.

Ordered by the day on which we read the poem. Because alphabets vary- as do words, as does meaning, as does the relativity of solid concepts like “left” and “right”. But one thing is certain- each day requires its own…

One of the reasons I love living in Alabama.

It has nothing to do with football and everything to do with storytelling, kinship networks, folk art, and happenstance. Mr. Kenneth “Skip” Henry, the oldest son in a family of 12 children, dropped by to see if our home could…

Oh, valentines…..

MAX: “But isn’t Valentine’s Day just another one of those holidays where we get lots of candy?” ALINA presses her palm against forehead: “Oh geez. I guess that’s what it’s become, right? But if it has any meaning whatsoever, Max,…

O is for owl.

Last night, we spent some time chatting with the owl that currently inhabits the woods behind our house. He was especially eager to converse with Patrick, though less interested in what the girls and I had to say. Naturally, the…

New words from the Coryell Caravan.

Patrick coined a term- “shunting”, or shell hunting- to describe one of my preferred beach activities. Shunting with the munchkins reveals a little about their emerging aesthetic preferences. For example, Micah tends to crow with delight when she discovers a…

nestings

My thanks to the curators of beauty of longing that inspire me. P indicates a printable or PDF pattern. F designates a personal favorite. INSPIRING BLOGS AND MAGAZINES all the luck in the world Anthology Apartment Therapy bloesem living Decor8…

My very bad experience with a local contractor.

I am still shaking. Driving home from the kids’ tennis camp, I tried to get through the road construction project on Loop Road, the major thoroughfare that leads to our street. Apparently, I should have checked the Facebook page for…

My little cross by Marian Zidaru.

Every time I chased Milla past that cross, it left a vivid imprint on my mind. A cross of flowers- the way meadows crown gravestones with wildflowers, the tiny little nails to remind us of the unbearable ones. My Bunicu,…

My first craft fair.

The Handmade Holiday Event went by in a whir of distraction and sparkly sights. Mary and I stayed up late the night before, trying to figure out what exactly we were doing. We never quite figured it out, but we…

My favorite untranslatable words.

Full moon off The Transylvania. The kids frequently ask me to translate a Romanian word for which I can find no simple English match. Over the years, they have learned to expect definitions which extend like kudzu in multiple directions…

My ersatz Harper’s index.

Who doesn’t love Harper’s index? Who doesn’t secretly salivate with anticipation of the month’s statistical jambalaya? I decided to indulge in the highest form of flattery this morning and communicate via index. Chance that gazing at a beautiful landscape helps…

music

An X marks the must-visit spots. A line indicates that the blog is on sojourn but still worth perusing. 3hive 1.618 Adious Lounge All Things Go Any Major Dude with Half a Heart Asleep on the Compost Heap Aurgasm Babylon…

Music for Lent.

Bucharest Score by Alina Coryell, 2011. In response to Natalie, whose lovely Lenten tunes are currently ripening the rooms of our house, this is a playlist which we imagined might hustle a grin from a headphone-wearing girl walking the snow…

Museum Monday at the Museum of Natural History.

This past Monday, Max learned about local dinosaurs with a little hands-on paleontology at the University of Alabama’s Museum of Natural History’s Museum Monday. The girls and I wandered around the museum lobby for a little while to make sure…

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Mining a fallow field for stories.

The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness…. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word “unspeakable”…. Atrocities, however, refuse to be buried….Remembering and telling the…

Middle school math and geometry.

Interactive notebook starter kit (Mrs. West Knows Best)* Interactive notebook bookmark (Performing in Fifth Grade) Tips for teaching with math games (Laura Candler) Math Comics: Fractions (David Rickert) Fraction foldable (Teaching with a Cup of Tea)* Simplifying squid fraction packet…

Metaphysics: The Spotify playlist.

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that investigates the general nature of being or reality, especially the being of the sensible world, God, freedom, and souls. It is sometimes synonymous with “ontology”, though some philosphers would shun me for saying…

Marina Tsvetaeva’s Moscow Diaires, 1917-1922.

We come closer: hills and waves of sacks, in between them sighs, scarves, backs. There are almost no men: in the Revolution, as always, the weight of everyday life falls on women: previously– in sheaves, now in sacks. (Everyday life…

Making scarecrows.

Patrick’s beautiful garden has been attracting a number of birds lately, and the little squash flowers are suffering. So Max and I decided we need to make a family of scarecrows to gently admonish those birds trying to ruin Patrick’s…

Making a popsicle stick thumb piano.

Since watching Throw Down Your Heart, in which Bela Fleck shows the prominent role of the thumb piano in indigenous African music, we’ve been intrigued by the rattle and hum of this powerful little instrument. You can watch Ruth play…

Making a bestiary.

Our recent unit study on the unicorn inspired me to combine our naturalist study of ecology with an exploration of history. The fantastic never ceases to coexist with the actual in the minds of children. This is partly because, as…

make beautiful things

A list of links for those who love to create, craft, and make for the sheer pleasure of it. Relish every medium and don’t be afraid to dabble in foreign substances and substrates. Try a tutorial…. and don’t be afraid…

Loving “that ubiquitous weed” first-hand.

While running around Manderson Landing during lunch the other day, the munchkins discovered a crop of dandelions growing on a sunny hill. After filling their fists with dandelion pluckings, they brought them to me like gold- the kind of gold…

Love letter #53: Edith Nesbit.

“I couldn’t help wondering as we went down to the garden, why Father had never thought of digging there for treasure instead of going to his beastly office every day.” E. Nesbit, The Story of the Treasure Seekers I love…

Love ain’t easy.

“If the wings of the butterfly are to keep their sheen, you mustn’t touch them. We mustn’t abuse something which is to bring light into both our lives. Everything else in my life only weighs me down and shuts out…

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Lost in the woods and other social adventures.

Yesterday, Max and the Get-Along-Gang (who doesn’t always get along) got lost in the woods behind our house. Thankfully, Ellie was carrying the cell phone which Tiffany wisely placed in his pocket just in case this case occurred. Luke, Micah,…

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Local Tuscaloosa artists and artisans.

Tuscaloosa is the kind of girl you have to get to know before you can truly appreciate… That initial glance at one of the kitsch-at-first-sight Southern bottle trees adorning a well-landscaped lawn might leave you a little perplexed, but by…

Living with meaningful traditions: The Christmas tree.

The munchkins encourage me to learn more about our traditions by asking all those little questions beginning with “Why…? In turn, explaining these traditions makes them meaningful rather than superficial and merely ornamental. “Mom, why do we have Christmas trees…

Life emerging everywhere.

Even the air sends me reeling with the scent of moist soil mingling with the odor of green plants and grasses. Life around us lately trills and tangles; it’s hard to finish a conversation without being distracted by a desparate…

Letterboxing with kids.

Letterboxing is a great way to teach children about maps, geography, history, and long-term gratification while hiking around this beautiful world. One might even go so far as to think that it was invented by wood nymphs as a way…

“Let down your golden hair!”

That’s what Micah and Milla have been insisting from the corner all day. The fairy tale notebook which we began at the start of 2013 is the perfect company to our extended earth-washing also known as rain. We read Andrew…

Learning from our local County Extension Agent.

Neal and a sickly Max. Mr. Neal Hargle, our local County Extension Agent, was kind enough to meet a somewhat diminished Coryell crew at the community garden plot today. The kids are still grappling with coxsackie virus, which left them…

Learning about Romania…

Getting ready for The Capitol School’s International dinner tomorrow, we are setting up a table on Romania. It’s always difficult for me to decide what to present at this table, since Romania has such a rich history and culture. Max…

Learning about cultures with kids.

“A first grader should understand that his culture isn’t a rational invention; that there are thousands of other cultures and they all work pretty well; that all cultures function on faith rather than on truth; that there are lots of…

Lamenting the post-tornado development of Tuscaloosa.

The plan for Tuscaloosa’s future. Since the tragedy of the 2011 tornadoes, Tuscaloosa has been rebuilding itself in accordance with the Tuscaloosa Forward Plan, a visionary document filled with the trendiest and most attractive aspects of sustainable development. Only the…

Jazz guitar and Django Reinhardt.

The perfect sunshine conversed with a chatty breeze this morning- a morning so golden, an air so sonorous, not even new books could keep us inside. Eventually, the books came up in conversation, and Max wanted to read, so we…

Jacques Ellul and Mikhail Zoshchencko.

Stayed up late last night in the company of two fascinating fellows- Jacques Ellul and Mikhail Zoshchencko. They didn’t have much to say to one another, but both had so much to say to me. Reluctant to be rude in…

Is technology narrowing our perception of life?

Lowell Monke’s essay, “Charlotte’s Webpage”, is a must-read for any parent with kids of school-going age. Originally published in the September/October 2005 issue of Orion magazine, Monke’s essay preceded the day of personal kindles and laptops for every child (though…

Introduction to symmography: A tutorial.

Max’s first symmography study- A Window with a Web. Given the right kinds of line segments, you can find curves formed from a series of straight line segments. Geometry teacher Nancy Powell explains how symmography, a form of string art,…

In awe of the quaking aspen.

A beautiful aspen stand down the street from us in Keystone. It’s hard not to fall in love with an aspen. A man working at the thrift store in Frisco told me that aspens are the only deciduous trees that…

Imaginary play: Victorians.

Dreary days do not eliminate the need for play. So we packed up the spaceship and set out for the Children’s Hands-On Museum with the explicit purpose of imagary play revolving around life in the Victorian era. As the ladies…

I took his name.

The cut rose looks beautiful in a vase but why can’t we bear the sight of her roots? I took his name because part of me wanted to believe marriage was an all-consuming fire that no one could bear in…

How to love your tree beyond the holidays.

Last night, what started as a simple storytime ended with a family council. The kids got in their pajamas, Patrick made a fire, and we read a short story, “The Tree That Didn’t Get Trimmed”, published in 1957 by Christopher…

How to build a lean-to according to Max.

Max absolutely loved building the Leener-to from yesterday, so today’s learning merely translated that love into action. Learning about the physical properties of various trees and natural materials is an important step to using these materials in building, construction, and…

How much medicine to give a baby?

This is always the question at 2 a.m. when in your baby’s fever spikes and you need to administer Tylenol or ibuprofen… Unfortunately, the medicine bottle often reads: “Children Under 2, consult physician”. That’s alright– and it might even be…

Honoring Jon Daniels’ life and love.

Pilgrims in Hayneville hold an icon of Jonathan Daniels on this year’s pilgrimage. If you do a quick online search for the name “Jon Daniels”, you’ll find multiple links to the manager of a major sports team. What you probably…

Honesty in the virtue notebook.

Honesty is a commitment to truth in thought, word, and deed. Telling the truth is the key to good character. An honest man can be trusted; he is reliable and other people are not afraid to count on him. Honesty…

Homeschooling: The Virtue of Compassion.

Compassion is “fellow-feeling” – the ability to feel for others. Compassion is a human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy, the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering. Compassion acknowledges…

Hiking through White River National Forest.

Hiking a favorite trail earlier this week. White River National Forest is a wandering, SAHF’s dream. One of our favorite hikes- the hike that doubles as a snowshoe trail during the winter- is located just past the Ski Tip Lodge…

Herbal Kids Club: Learning about wild roses.

This week’s Herbal Kids Club class taught us about the wild rose, “queen of the rose family”. The Rose family, also known as Family Rosaceae, is a delicious family to head. It includes apples, strawberries, pears, plums, cherries, peaches, and…

“Her Father’s Wedding” by John Kelley.

This is not the happiest beginning to our An Art Work A Day series, but the painting stirred something profound in my soul and it seemed a wonderful vehicle for discussing how children are affected by divorce. Though I love…

Heavy in a happy way.

There is just a hint of fall in the air this morning, my favorite season and not a fragment of a second to write about it, to take it in on pen and paper, let the scents coalesce into a…

Happy first of March with martisor.

Bunica brightened our morning by bringing martisorii for everyone to celebrate March 1st. Boys wear martisori too. In ancient Rome, New Year’s Eve was celebrated on March 1 – ‘Martius’, as the month was called in the honour of the…

handmade holidays

P indicates a printable freebie or PDF pattern. F designates a personal favorite. ADVENT CALENDARS A bough advent calendar (alina’s adventures) Activities advent calendar (All Things Simple) Advent box by Amanda printable (Oh Happy Day) P Advent calendar iron-on by…

Handmade grocery bag holder tutorial.

A few years ago, Grandma Vicki gifted a wonderful Brawny grocery bag holder to me. Since then, we have used it religiously to store our re-usable plastic grocery bags. But Grandma Vicki’s grocery bag holder (pictured below) never quite matched…