Sunday, December 16, 2007

My friend Madeline

After we left Williamsburg, we headed down south to Georgia where my unschooling friend Madeline lives with her amazing organic-farmer husband, Nicolas, and her two fantastically adorable and impressive sons. We drove 9 hours just to get there, and I woke up at 5:15 am to get us out of the hotel and to her place at a decent hour. And every bit of it was worth the effort!

We had so much fun and felt so welcome in their wonderful home that we really didn't want to leave when the time came to drive up to the Lovejoy's for a house concert with Amy Steinberg. I think that's why we dilly-dallied so long, lingering over these amazingly moist pancakes that Gillen made for everyone. Gillen was an amazing cook, totally comfortable in the kitchen, and he and Julia bonded over chocolate and baking for Madeline's birthday (though I hear he does that with all the girls).

That afternoon we enjoyed a lovely visit to their farm where we took a nice hike out to a beautiful meadow and field of quartz crystals. The kids had a blast playing "predator," a combination of tag and hide-and-seek through the tall grass. We lucked out that there were no hunters on the property that day, considering it's deer season. Along the hike we got to see a beaver dam and the habitat they're creating in the woods. Crystal hunting was such fun, kind of like being on a geology dig, especially after our recent trip to the Smithsonian rocks and gems collection and Luray caverns (more on those trips later). I kept finding these amazingly perfect small crystals that looked bizarrely like teeth from a crystal monster. I kept envisioning this giant mouth full of crystal teeth along the lines of the abominable snow man or something.

We had a perfectly relaxing, beautiful day with everyone, and luckily we were all smart enough to go to sleep far earlier than we had the night before. The worst part about the whole visit was having to bully them into letting me help, though Nicolas was pretty much a push-over in that arena. I would have stayed and helped him at the farm all day if I could have—hopefully without botching the job too badly along the way. Next time maybe I'll have Jim along with me for a trip to my mom's place, and I'll get to do just that. Though if he'd have seen their hunting set up, he would've been itching to be out doing that! (For the record, I do believe Gillen is at present the only hunter in their family—see another great evil way to get Gillen to push for a trip up here in the spring!


Anonymous said...

Hi! I was wondering how the unschooling works. I just learned about this concept this year. Do you have to take tests with the state to prove that the children are learning? (Don't homeschoolers have to do this?) Anyway, I was just curious how this works & if it would work for me. Thanks!!

Danielle said...

The laws vary state by state. You can find out more by visiting NHEN and by talking to homeschoolers and unschoolers in your area.

To learn more about unschooling specifically, I'd suggest following some of the links in my sidebar.

Rachel said...

Wow, Danielle, that sounds like a fabulous visit. Two amazing families in one place, crafting, eating, exploring the outdoors together. It looks ideal.

Katy said...

I love your pictures, they are so beautiful!
Katy, an unschooling mom in New Mexico

Madeline said...

Danielle, I am just seeing this now! I always go to your other blog for right living inspiration. These two posts make me wish we were visiting you! Any chance of you coming to your mom's soon? We are going to NY to see another new baby and can't make any more travel plans for a long while.