A monument to a daughter's love

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MARIETTA, Ga. -- Sicily Kolbeck is just like any other 13 year-old doing her homework on a Friday night.

But unlike any other 13 year-old, she's doing it in the comfort of her own home. The one she designed and built from the ground up.

"My dad was a packrat, so he had all the tools we needed," she said. "We probably needed to buy like three tools."

The little house in Marietta, all 128 square feet of it, is called La Petite Maison. It started out as a homework assignment from her teacher, who's also her mom.

"We say 'no' a lot in education to kids, and we tell them what to do and how to be and put them in a box," Suzannah Kolbeck said. "It's funny that this is a box; it's kind of ironic. But I never thought to say 'no.' She asked if she could do it and I said yes."

While building the house incorporated all the scholastic elements of STEAM, science, technology, engineering, art and math, there was one more component not on the official curriculum: Love.

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Love for her father Dane, who was killed just over a year ago in a car accident before the house could be finished.

"After my father passed, I realized I wasn't going to be doing it with him anymore," she said. "So I kind of continued on to show him what I could do and to kind of show him, so that he could be proud of me wherever he was."

If home is where the heart is, then her father is right here with her… in the little house in the yard that now stands as a monument to a daughter's love.

"I think I got some of his handyman qualities," she said with a grin. "I also got his very stubborn attitude to where I'm not going to stop until I finish this. So that ended up with some angrily throwing things on the ground. But I still got it finished."

The quality of the tiny is exceptional. Sicily's mother said even though nobody builds a home alone, she and Sicily did about 80-percent of it. They got help with advice and materials from friends and businesses like their local Home Depot and Dr. Roof.

Suzannah Kolbeck runs a very small private school called HoneyFern. She admits the project was ambitious, but said it was also what they needed in the wake of the tragedy.

"Kids are amazingly capable and can do anything they want to do with guidance and help," she said. "That was one part of it. The other part was it was really a reason to get up in the morning. It's kind of silly and cliché, but it's true. You know, put my feet on the floor and say well 'Siding's got to be done today." There was always something to do. Having such a life changing event at such a young age and having the whole map of your life be erased, it's sort of starting over. So that helped a lot."

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