This is it

I knew before we ever even saw the inside that this house was the one. Don´t know if it´s how this one somehow reminds me, just a little bit, of the house I grew up in on Peniston. Or if it´s because I did a little research and was able to find out who the owners had been, adding a bit of intimate history to the place. I do know that seeing Mrs. Telgenhoff´s letters on her desk in the study, seeing their books on the shelves, meeting the neighbor, Richard, with eyes that reminded both Gustavo and me of my dad, and hearing of how she (Darlene) used to invite him daily for coffee on the porch all played a very important part in my feeling that this was the house I had been waiting to know. It has soul. Like no other house we have seen. And it is the one that I knew would reveal itself to me one day. That day was last Saturday. And today, they told me it would be ours.


Comments (1) »

Madsen Cycles Link Contest

Madsen Cycles Link Contest.

I’m gonna try like there’s no tomorrow to win one of these beauties! Check it out + join me.

Leave a comment »

New Army Gear

DSC03963, originally uploaded by nolabrooke.

He is always there. As soon as we walked in tonight, Noa wanted to get his dad dressed up to play soldiers. And know what? As soon as dinner was over, he did. I love that man.

PS This is just a stage. In the future, we will have long, in-depth discussions, but for now, l’m not sayin’ anything. Soldier boy!

Leave a comment »

I Love You

I’m so amazed by you. Constantly. There have been some really profound moments, though, when you’ve done things that really made me stop and realize how much of an individual you are. Driven by something deep within. Something I admire so much because I can’t always find it within myself. It sets you apart. You are special. I’m so proud of you. I love you more than I can say.

Leave a comment »

Chile Here We Come!

Oh boy, oh boy! The trip is planned and we’re countin’ the days. I found, quite by accident, an apartment in our old neighborhood, just a few blocks away from Sarmiento. I can’t believe how lucky I was to come across the listing on VRBO. It’s just a short walk to our favorite plazita, our old supermercado, Montserrat, and close enough to walk to the metro or Plaza Nunoa. Abuela will join us there and we’ll spend two weeks doing all the things we used to love doing when we lived there. Walking to the panaderia for warm, fresh bread, to the pasteleria for bunuelos stuffed with moras and covered with powdered sugar, to the kiosk for chewy calugas. I can’t wait to buy my hubby an Escudo. I want to take Matilda to the Banos Turcos on Manuel Montt for some pampering. A bar-b-q at the Santuario de Naturaleza, a visit to TIPS to see old school friends, and the fondas. We’ll be there for Fiestas Patrias, three days of food, drink, music, dance, and artesania to celebrate Chilean independence. I can’t wait to share a pisco sour on the balcony with my mother-in-law and my husband, as the kids sleep soundly, and we absorb the amazing view of the Andes, which always have such a profound effect on my soul. The majesty of those mountains, and the way they make everything around seem so much grander and more marvelous is what I miss most about that country. If we could do nothing more than sit on that balcony with abuela, enjoying the view, and just being there, I would be completely satisfied. I wonder if I’ll want to go back after this trip. To live. Living between two countries is wonderful. But at the same time, it is so hard. Someone is always left behind. And there is always longing.

Comments (1) »

I Love You More Than You Can Imagine

Picture 006
It’s so easy to get kid love. All I had to do tonight was agree to let him have a sip of my soda. The look on his face, as he sipped way more than he knew he should have, was absolutely adorable. When he noticed that I noticed that he had already taken way too much, he reached his little arms out to me for a reassuring and grateful hug. “I love you so much,” I told him. “Do you love me?” “More than you can imagine” he answered. I wonder if he can possibly imagine just how much I love him?
And on top of all of that, he’s recently discovered, and is very into, Beetle Bailey. How cool is that? “Peekaboo, oh General, Sir”. “Peekaboo to you, you boob”. Umghhh. I LOVE HIM!

Leave a comment »

Perspectives on Unschooling Two Years Later

An Unschooling friend, Laura Garbers, recently asked for some thoughts on unschooling for an article she plans to write. The following is my email message to her. It’s nice to put the thoughts in words from time to time and to watch how we evolve along the journey…
Dear Laura,
I’d love to help you with the article.
As I may have mentioned before, I was a teacher for about 15 years. I chose teaching because I feel a strong connection to children, but also for quite practical reasons as a then single mom.
Those years teaching convinced me that there are many more negatives than positives within the educational system. Even the most dedicated and caring of teachers cannot possibly possess the ability to relate to, appreciate, care for, guide, and understand her students the way a parent does. I felt that I had to be 25 different people for twenty five different children, sometimes more. One child required a firm, confident, guiding hand, while another needed very soft, delicate, and gentle encouragement. One needed to romp and sing and express himself, while another needed a quiet corner, where he could think and dream. Satisfying all those individual needs within the constraints of a system based on blocks of time and test scores and group management always left me feeling inadequate, stressed, and unsatisfied at the end of the day. I was fighting a losing battle because there is no way to provide what each child needs, only what the system needs. And so began my disillusionment with institutionalized education. By the time my son James was in fifth or sixth grade, I not only had my own teaching experiences causing me to seek something more appropriate and fulfilling, but also his experiences as a student. He was extremely self motivated, writing zines which he sold on the internet, running his own internet business selling caps for graffiti art (and I’m talking 1994, before I even used the internet myself!), producing all ages shows at the Faubourg Center in the Marigny, renting the space, booking the bands, and collecting $ at the door. He was 10, and his teacher told me he was “unmotivated”, didn’t complete homework assignments, and that perhaps therapy might help! I was livid, you can imagine. But I understand that she, nor any teacher for that matter, has the time, the ability, or the freedom to help children develop their interests. Teachers don’t have time for real learning. They have time for training and not much else. So it was at that time that I read The Teenage Liberation Handbook. I’ll never forget it. I bought it down in the Quarter at Bookstar and it sparked the fire. I still have that copy and cherish it.
But it took me until the baby was born and I was finally able to quit working, that I was able to turn what for so long was a dream for my children into a reality. So I count my blessings each and every day that it is possible for our children to be home with us, to learn naturally. It is a privilege. And as such I am careful in my discussions with others who are interested but perhaps not able to do the same.
Unschooling hasn’t affected my life so to speak. Rather it has made my life more authentic. Schooling was against my nature. We follow a more natural rhythm. We are not bound by system rules and limitations. The children demonstrate the ability to regulate themselves naturally not in response to administrative policies. We don’t rush, and we aren’t physically and emotionally stressed by arbitrary rules and management practices such as those that exist in school. And in response to those who say that the children will be unprepared for a life within a very stressful and stressed out society, I say exactly the opposite is true. They know what is important in life. They know the rhythm of life they want. They won’t find themselves products of a consumer driven society. They are not being trained. They are learning how to live life with self-respect, learning to appreciate their connection to nature, to other human beings, to animals, and to the universe. I am confident without a doubt that they are being prepared for adult life in a much more effective way than if they were in school. But again, it is a privilege. I see the very small movement to unschool with potential to at least heighten awareness, but I don’t see the educational system ever changing significantly in our capitalist society. Impossible.
With regards to the association with a group, it is quite helpful and reassuring to surround oneself with like minded people, especially when going against the grain in such a radical way. Even within our small group, there are very few whom I think actually unschool, or unschool for the same reasons. Yet I am proud to consider myself and my family as revolutionaries of a sort, refusing to be coerced. Unschooling can be very lonely, especially in our conservative southern locale. Just having others to be with on a regular basis, not necessarily needing to talk about unschooling, but simply sharing ourselves and our time, is very important to me. It has made my second year of unschooling so much more confident.
It’s often difficult to unwrap our minds from our schooled ways of thinking. But I think the nature of unschooling makes visions of the future vague, as they should be. Life is and should be a constant surprise. I hesitate to imagine what our lives will look like in five or ten years. We live life from one day to the next. We have dreams for the future, travel, building our own home, life in the woods, a return to Chile, and our learning will certainly reflect the realization of those dreams. Other than that, our unschooling future is a mystery, and we like it like that.
Thank you for being a part of our unschooling life. Your initiative in forming the group is and always will be appreciated by myself and consequently by the whole family. Thanks, Laura.
And if you’d like, I started a blog at the beginning of our unschooling journey which might reveal a little more. I think it’s interesting to see how our interpretation of unschooling has evolved and how much of my own schooled ways I’ve been able to let go. The blog is here at It was initially a form of support for me, but I’ve posted less frequently as we’ve evolved. The beginning is pretty much an intro to our unschooling, but the later posts are just tidbits of our life in general as unschooling melds with our life. It’s no longer a separate entity as it seemed to be in the beginning. Now, it’s just our life.
With gracious respect and admiration,

Hi Denise, Brooke,
I’d like to write an interview story about you two. It would help me personally with a writing project and also be nice to post to the unschooling groups, I think. If you are interested, could you answer the following questions?

What made you become interested in unschooling?
How has unschooling affected your life?
How does unschooling work with your life philosophies?
What does it mean for you to be a part of an unschooling group?
What does your personal or the general unschooling future look like?

It would be great if you could help me with this project, but please let me know if you are not interested. It’s ok if you’re not 🙂
Best wishes,

Comments (3) »