The dances behind us.

The salt water stretches backward like spilled ink. My sister always straightened her legs out over the rough, wooden planks of the dock, feet dangling alongside mine. We moved gingerly, careful not to stir up the wood into giving us…

The Cahaba Lily Festival: A best-kept secret.

Those Saturday visits to West Blocton always leave the ruffling of favorite memories in their wake. Actually, the Cahaba Lily Festival is not a secret at all- it is well-publicized and you can find details at the Cahaba Lily website….

The bioblitz beauty of Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.

We spent Friday afternoon in Pinson, Alabama at the amazing Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. Beautiful flora, beautiful people. The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve Manager Charles Yeager made us feel welcome immediately. From the moment we signed the registration form and…

The best free online Christmas books.

Once again, Gutenberg earned my love. My favorites are marked with asterisks- most of these books are intended for a young audience. Enjoy them down to the last morsel. A Budget of Christmas Tales by Charles Dickens and Others (1895)…

the best free lesson plans

I’ve come across so many lesson plans or units that begged to be saved and savored on a different day or trajectory. And I’ve lost so many links to those lesson plans. This list o’ lesson plans will be organized…

The beard in history.

The best things in life have beards. The kids and I decided to learn more about beards today because it seems like all the settlers and pioneers we’ve been studying wore beards. In fact, history vibrates with the echo of…

The art of Igor Popov.

Igor Aleksandrovich Popov (1927-1999) was a Soviet artist who passed away a decade after the dream of communism was laid to rest in Russia. Fairly unknown in the West, Popov’s art expresses the theme that a true understanding of one’s…

The architecture of happiness.

One always finds something unexpected in a book by Alain de Botton. When he describes architecture and interior design as appeals to our hunger for beauty, he tells us nothing that the magazines and billboards don’t argue everyday. But when…

the alphabet

The alphabet rolls through this house like a John Deere in Baldwin County. So long as the alphabet days continue to abound, we’ll be sharing our alphabet experiences with you. Free printable coloring pages and activites are found at each…

Thanksgiving for immigrants.

This video was filmed from my mother’s kitchen at the crack of dawn without the benefit of coffee or extended sleep for Tino. We’re lucky to have Tino with us on this Thanksgiving so we can remember the original American…

Teaching kids to analyze environmental data.

As an exercise for the Eldest in percentages and social science, I created a handout listing all the EPA Superfund sites for Tuscaloosa, Alabama and nearby. (Download it below if you’d like to go on this adventure with your kids.)…

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Tannehill Trade Days.

Yesterday we made the 30-minute drive to McCalla, Alabama for Tannehill Trade Days. Our first stop was the craft cabins- wonderful old log cabins marked by the smoke coming from their chimneys- near the creek. I could not get enough…

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Talladega National Forest weekend trip.

We didn’t quite plan to spend the weekend in the woods, but we were quasi-prepared for the camping bug to bite… Which it did. We decided to drive the Talladega Scenic Byway from Trussville, and our first stretch-the-legs stop was…

Surface mining on beautiful Alabama streams.

Karen’s parents weren’t planning on spending their retirement days trying to protect the value of their property and its natural resources. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to weight the costs and benefits of destroying natural beauty for economic…

Suds of the South 4.

THE KING: I know you love taking care of sick kids, but how would you feel about trying some local beers instead? HER: Today? THE KING: Right now. HER: Don’t twist my arm. 7.8 minutes later. THE KING: You look…

Storytelling with story blocks.

Inspired by the perfect simplicity of Teach Beside Me’s story starter blocks, I grabbed a sharpie and made a few blocks of our own today. The kids called out nouns and verbs to me while I tossed in a few…

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St. Patrick’s Day for Preschoolers.

I. “L” IS FOR LEPRECHAUN Start by coloring the “L is for leprechaun” coloring page. As your child colors, talk about other “l” words associated with leprechauns, including “lucky”, “little”, etc. Answer your child’s questions about the legendary leprechauns, though…

Smitten with flower press.

I found a charming little flower press on sale at Barnes and Noble and decided it was absolutely necessary for our learning this summer. It’s unusual for me to be enchanted or inspired by a brand, but if it happens,…

Slow and sad and striking songs: A playlist.

“All my best friends have passed away.” The elderly lady drops her pocketbook and apologizes. She feels bad about dropping her pocketbook on such a beautiful day when everyone else is running and skipping about with balls and picnic baskets…

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Sir Eustace, my sports trophy.

Friday flew straight in the face of every well-laid plan. But it helps to explain why my “home-making” posts are far and few between. By the time Max and Ellie got back after lunch, the girls had each invented the…

Signs of fall and watercoloring creations.

A fresh splattering of brown and red leaves lay across our lawn this morning. Our learning adventure for the day was sealed by the seasonal changes. As we collected leaves from the ground, we discussed what happens to deciduous trees…

sew for baby

P indicates a printable PDF tutorial or pattern. F indicates a personal favorite. INFANT AND BABY DRESSES 2-in-one dress (Pickles) P Amelie’s pinafore pattern (secondsister suaviloquy) P + F Baby dress/tunic with pattern (Randomness by Petchy) P Cowl neck sweater…

sew everything

A P indicates a printable tutorial or pdf pattern. An F indicates a personal favorite. PET CARE Catnip fish toy (Martha Stewart) Clothespin apron (Pick Up Some Creativity) Cool and cozy pet bed (Sew4Home) Country gent dog coat with pattern…

Searching for Franklin Daugherty and his Isle of Joy.

Franklin Daugherty’s wry Isle of Joy pits boosters against historic preservationists in Mobile. Excellent characterization that brings Lee’s Smith’s sardonic touch to mind, though Smith never manages to create a character as thick as McCorquodale, who admits, “Interior decorating was…

science & ecology

I love exploring our world through scientific frameworks- one of the many fascinating frames for understanding and interpreting the life around us and inside us. This first list of links includes generally excellent all-around science websites filled with experiments in…

Sailing on the Lady Lydia.

Last week, the King, the Captain, and the Max took a little sailing trip around Fairhope, Alabama. Since someone had to stay with the ladies, I tried not to feel too sorry for myself when that someone was me. Max…

Sailing in Maryland with Bunicu and the boys.

Me and Bunicu on Transylvania. Nine years of incessant change and sweetness spiked by the realization that I am not the ideal mother I always thought I’d be. As Bunicu sails across the seas somewhere with his wife and friends,…

Rural Studio Pilgrimage #3: Mason’s Bend.

Getting to Mason’s Bend Following the footsteps of Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio school around the corners of Alabama begins with a trip to the Pie Lab in Greensboro for us. After polishing off some quiche in the courtyard,…

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Rural Studio Pilgrimage #1: Newbern.

Rather than drive down to the beach in a hurried haze, we decided to start our vacation the moment the spaceship pulled out from the driveway. The first hour of the drive was filled with the sound of the kids…