Find the Thing You Love

Here is a fabulous article on passion and persistence by pro-skateboarder Tony Hawk.
clipped from

It’s true. Skateboarding doesn’t seem like real work, but I’m proud of what I do. My parents never once questioned the practicality behind my passion, even when I had to scrape together gas money and regarded dinner at Taco Bell as a big night out.

You might not make it to the top, but if you are doing what you love, there is much more happiness there than being rich or famous.

New Issue, New Book, New Site…

The newest issue is almost ready to send to the printers’, and (as usual) I’m so excited to watch it turn from a notebook full of printed-off, marked-up articles into a beautiful, inspiring magazine. It’s always such a joy to hold that first copy in my hands. You can read more about the newest issue at the LFLF website.

Since the magazine is being published more irregularly now, I’ve reflected that change on the site. Every subscription is still six issues, but the average time between issues is about 3 months. As an unschooling mother with an active 9-year-old boy and an ever-growing, highly-demanding business, this change will take a lot of weight off my shoulders.

Also, Live Free Learn Free: The First Year is finally out!! We’ve gathered together each issue from our first year and bound them together into a beautiful book filled with unschooling wisdom from organic learners. Live Free Learn Free: The Second Year will likely be finished within a few days, and I’ll be announcing both of them, along with the newest issue, when everything’s ready.

Finally, I wanted to let you in on a secret I’ve been keeping. The website has been undergoing an enormous redesign. It will sport a completely different look and feel, as well as a new, more intuitive structure. We’re also including more information on unschooling in general, a calendar of unschooling events and cool happenings, an interactive section on unschooling in the news, and much more. Overall, the site will be more community-based and informative, and more easily navigable. We’re all impatiently working to get the redesign up and running, but we have no set timetable, as it’s really a labor of love. Hopefully, we’ll be announcing the new site with the next few months.

Who’s Editing Wikipedia?

I love Wikipedia. I really do. But deep down, I knew this was going on, and it’s nice to have proof.
clipped from

Morning Edition, August 16, 2007 You might have suspected it, and ignored it until now in your online life: Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable reference. It’s just often the first source to come up when you do an online search.

If you follow the IP address trail, you’ll see that often the editors of an entry are “interested parties,” not just encyclopedia nerds who want to make sure the facts are straight.

The trail to wiki-understanding was forged by Virgil Griffith, a California Institute of Technology grad student. He created a database called the Wikipedia Scanner, a search tool that traces the comments and edits on Wikipedia entries back to their source IP address. The once-anonymous writers behind the entries are no longer quite so anonymous.

New Widget!

With a little (okay, a lot of) help from my brother and webmaster extraordinaire Sean, I’ve installed a new widget on the sidebar of the blog. Now you can see random selections of unschooling books and our favorite resources attainable through Amazon. Very cool little plugin, once we finally got it working correctly. Click refresh a few times and see what pops up!

Harry Potter, Of Course

Friday night, we decided to head out to Austin’s largest Deathly Hallows release party. It was a perfect night for it, and Kenzie was excited. He dressed in his long, blue cloak, grabbed his wand, and off we all went – Kenzie, my brother Sean, and me. We were surprised to find so many other people had decided to bid farewell to Harry. There were literally thousands of people gathered in the Book People parking lot – so many that the lines to each event were often hundreds of people long. We lucked out and found a great seat for the fire dancers.

We wandered around for a little while, looking at some of the amazing costumes, and we ran into an unschooling family we know from game day. After that, though, Kenzie was ready to leave. No biggie, since we couldn’t buy the book at Book People, anyway, as they were sold out. They had given out all of their vouchers, and we didn’t have one. So, we headed to Sonic to have some ice cream and wait for midnight. From there, it was off to the local Wally World to pick up the book (after standing in a Deathly Hallows line for a good 45 minutes, of course). Kenzie also got a free poster and wristbands for each of the four houses (he’s been wearing the Gryffindor wristband ever since).

Of course, the rest of the night was spent reading (and trying terribly hard not to give away the plot before I was able to read it, too).

Saturday night, we went to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum to watch the midnight showing of The Order of the Phoenix on their IMAX screen. Well, we actually showed up for one of the two 9:00 showings, but both were completely sold out – even a half hour before showtime! So, we walked over to the UT campus to hang out for a while in the student center.

Back at the IMAX, the 3D glasses they handed us were enormous! They covered our entire foreheads! We realized why, of course, once we put them on and stared at the extra-tall screen. The 3D scenes weren’t anything to shout about, but the movie, itself, was wonderful. Kenzie and I were riveted to our seats (which was a good thing, since there were at least a dozen people on either side of us – getting up would have been quite an adventure).

After we made it back home, Kenzie settled into a comfy chair and took up reading where he’d left off. By Tuesday night, he had finished the book. He’s been good, though, and hasn’t told me the fates of any of our favorite characters. Thank goodness.

Looks like I have quite a bit of catching up to do….

Mika, Mika, Mika!

Since he found out a few days ago that Mika would be performing on the show So You Think You Can Dance, Kenzie’s been waiting with baited breath. Between Mika on So You Think…, Tom Petty as Lucky on King of the Hill reruns, Shawn Colvin as a Christian singer on The Simpsons reruns, and the recent Elton John 60th birthday special, Kenzie’s had a heaping plateful of favorite musicians on television over the past few weeks. Lucky kiddo.

When I asked him what the show was like (since we’ve never watched it), he said, “Well, I don’t like the costumes. The women were poorly clad. One of them was wearing just a bra and panties!” Oh, how I smiled and laughed.

The Family Bed

Bed sharing is such a taboo in the U.S. We’re told repeatedly how dangerous it is to sleep with our children. If they don’t die of SIDS, we’re setting them up for a lifetime of dependence. Apparently, mothers in the U.K. have been getting the same misinformation – until today. Sunday Times reporter Harriet Perry tells the story of her own family’s co-sleeping and debunks some of those ubiquitous myths.

What’s the Big Secret, Mummy?

For more on the family bed:

Ask Dr.
The Benefits of Co-Sleeping

The Search for John Gissing

This looks to be an uproariously funny (definitely R-rated) film. I adore Alan Rickman and Janeane Garofalo, but I hadn’t heard of The Search for John Gissing before today, so I thought I’d blog about it. Maybe you haven’t heard of it, either.

Terrible Tuesday

I just glanced outside and noticed that the sky had that ominous, brown, tornado-y tint that reminds me of my hometown, and it occurred to me that tornado season is, for the most part, over.

Once upon a time, I could never have just breezed through tornado season without a second thought. Growing up, I lived in a town that was dotted with tornado sirens. We were under what seemed like a constant tornado watch from about mid-March to mid-June. It was routine to have to file into the school hallway and crouch down against the wall with our heads buried under our hands. And at home, we had our tornado gear ready in the utility room – the weather alert box, the battery-operated radio, a cordless phone, flashlights, pillows, beanbags, and (if I remember correctly) a football helmet for my brother. If my mother had time, she would always pull a mattress off their bed for us to hide beneath.

We lived in Tornado Alley. And not just any town in tornado alley. We lived in Wichita Falls, TX, a town with a long memory of Terrible Tuesday.

On April 10, 1979, 13 tornadoes formed in the region, and 3 of those combined into one super tornado that ripped through Wichita Falls. In fact, we lived in the tornado’s former path, along Southwest Parkway next to Memorial Stadium and McNeil Junior High (a school that seemed to have more “disaster drills” than most others – I wonder why). The tornado’s swath of destruction was an astounding 8 miles wide, causing $400 million in property damage and leaving over 20,000 people (more than a fifth of the city’s population) homeless. 2,000 people were injured, and 42 died.

I was small when the tornadoes hit, and we lived, not in Wichita Falls, but in Seymour, TX (where one of the three tornadoes formed). I don’t remember that night at all, and my mother, being from a small town in Pennsylvania, thought the sirens were to call the volunteer firefighters. We didn’t take cover, but she did wonder how big the fire must have been. Those sirens just kept wailing and wailing.

When we moved to Wichita Falls a few years later, many of our neighbors had storm shelters dug into their backyards, and the people who sold these huge concrete rooms did a brisk business in the town. In fact, a few years ago, before we moved, I almost decided on a house simply because it had one of these shelters. Tornadoes are nothing to take lightly in Wichita Falls.

We were used to it, for the most part. Used to the adults remembering that day, telling us how they had survived, where they had taken shelter. Used to the sirens wailing in all seasons – that first Monday of the month test at noon. Used to disaster drills. Used to that ominous, brown sky.

Now, here I am in Austin. Sure, the sky looks brown and frightening, but I don’t worry too much. There’s no tornado “season” here. Heck, they haven’t even felt the need to erect sirens. It’s kind of nice, really, not to have the threat of giant tornadoes constantly in the back of my mind for several months each year….

Photos of the Terrible Tuesday tornado
Windows Media video and audio files about Terrible Tuesday
Photographs and captions

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