Trailer Park Unschoolers

Because you don't need to be rich to unschool!

My Little Designers

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With this new job looming over Oz, the kids and I have been discussing what they want to do with their rooms.  We’re going to be looking at getting some new (much needed) things around here, starting with a car.  After we get the car situation sorted out, we’re going to be looking into some new furniture.  Number one on the list will be bookshelves for the living room and the homeschool area (the kids have a LOT of books), but after that we’re going to turn the focus on the kids.  I wanted to get the ball rolling with some ideas on what the kids are interested in, that way we can shop accordingly.

Luca is easy.  He’s sharing our room right now, so he doesn’t get much say.  He co-sleeps, but he does have a crib in our room.  It’s kind of our “back-up in case CPS decides to drop by and has a fit over co-sleeping”.  We really don’t expect CPS to come by, but we had an open case because of the social worker at the hospital.  We were told we needed to have a final visit before they closed the case, so we wanted to be prepared.  Surprisingly they closed our case without the final visit.  We were lucky enough to pick the crib up cheap at a yard sale.  We pretty much haven’t used it.  There have been a couple of occasions where Luca’s been put down in it because it was a safe place for him to sleep unharassed by his siblings, but aside from that it’s possibly the worst investment we’ve ever made.  At least I can say that we talked them down to half the asking price and we’re going to take his mattress and use it for Sander’s bed.  The mattress alone is worth more than what we paid for the set.  I can honestly say I can’t wait to get rid of that ugly, old, white crib.  It’s funny because a part of me wanted a crib when Corde was born.  I’d thought the same when the boys were born.  Then Luca came out of nowhere and I didn’t even want to bother with a crib.  There was no moment of wanting to set up the perfect nursery.  I guess the thrill of wanting a nursery that I couldn’t have had finally worn off.  I didn’t even want a changing table!

So, in Luca’s “room” we’re going to do a woodland theme.  We’re thinking when we finally get the boys out of sharing the same room we may pair Beekee and Luca up in a room.  I know it sounds silly to have the oldest boy and youngest share a room, but Beekee hates being in a room alone.  I think he might feel better when he’s got someone to share his room.  Ideally we’d have them each have their own room, but who knows.  Anyhow, Luca is going to have a woodland theme.  I’ve already picked the bed I want to replace that crib with.  He’ll pretty much never use it at this point, but that’s beside the point.  We’ll have it in waiting for when he needs it, and it will be a good spot for him to nap or to curl up and be left alone.  We’ve picked out some awesome sheets and blankets for him as well as a couple of stuffed animals I’d love to get for him.  I’ve figured out what dresser I want to replace his bright pink and purple one with, a nice earthy color.  I even found an area rug at Ikea that would be awesome.  I know he doesn’t have his own room so he doesn’t really need a rug, but if we could put it down by his bed it would be the perfect way to mark his own little corner of our room, and it would be great decoration for his own room too.

I’m not sure how we’re going to handle Beekee and Sander’s space for now.  I found these great loft beds at Ikea that are reversible, I guess?  You flip them one way and it’s a loft bed.  Flip them the other way and it’s a low bed with almost a set-up for a canopy.  They’re low enough that they wouldn’t risk being too high in their room and the boys could both easily get up on top.  I’m thinking of flipping one into a loft with play space underneath for Beekee and the other can be flipped the other way so Sander can have a bed that’s easy to get in and out of at night if he needs to.  I’m thinking we might replace the dressers that are too small to be functional with some plain unfinished wood ones.  I got a great idea from Ikea to cover them with fabric.  I think we’re going to do something blue with stars, like the night sky.  Sander and Beekee have also requested something like a forest, so I’ve thought about doing arched canopies for their beds with stars, again, Ikea find, and maybe some simple crtains out of something woodsy.  Owls are pretty big right now and I’ve seen some owl coat racks to hang on the wall, which the boys would love.  I saw a couple owl nightlights while out and about too.  I’d like to finish it all up with a costume box for the boys with some Robin Hood, huntsman, and other fairy tale inspired stuff.  The boys have been getting into fairy tales lately, and they’ve always liked swords.  Fairy tales, woodland themes, folklore, and wild animals go so well together!  I just need to find a way to incorporate a raccoon for Beekee.  I wish I knew how to quilt because I’d make him a raccoon quilt.  Best of all, the idea is completely made up from the boys’ ideas.  It’s also easy to evolve from fairy tales to outdoorsy, camping inspired, so I know that will be fun with how much they like to pretend they’re camping.

Corde’s room will perhaps be the hardest.  She wants a loft bed where she can have an art studio under but we don’t have the ceiling clearance in her room.  I’m trying to come up with ways I can make something fit in her small room.  The television that doesn’t work, the coffee table, and the dresser all have to go.  I’m going to try to talk her into a smaller bed too.  We’ve discussed a day bed as a practical option as it would mean she could have a couch and a bed all in one and they’re often more comfortable than a futon.  I got a great idea from watching a show with Corde to get a poster of one of Picasso’s works and back it with particle board to make a hanging for her wall.  I’m also thinking I might have to do something cool like sew together some wall hangings, like a peace sign, a giant picture of the earth, and maybe the word “peace” in some bright colors.  We’ll have to see what she wants to do.  I’d love to turn the space into some funky, space inspired by artists with bright colors, but that’s me shining through.  My vision is very, well, 1990’s.  Her vision is a lot more 1960’s crossed with Earth Day symbolism.  I think it’s a great idea.  I have a funny feeling Julie’s going to look pretty well at home in Corde’s room!  I just wish we had more space to work with so I could set her up with a proper artist’s space.  I know she’d love to have an easel in there to work with, a desk, and some storage for her art supplies.  As much as I kind of wish Corde was still the age of being a little girl and playing with toys, playing is taking up less and less of her time, unless it’s with Julie and Marie-Grace.  Now she’s more interested in sitting down for art projects.  A part of me doesn’t want it to happen.  I want to hold on to my little girl being, well, little.  At the same time a part of me just wants to run with it and create the perfect “grown up” space for her.  I’d be happy to get rid of all her toys and replace them with tons of art supplies, a great reading space, and a ton of other things that she’s more growing into.  Maybe we can use this time to help her grow up a bit more.

It’s kind of hard on me, harder than I’d expected.  I never really thought much about the point at which Corde would start outgrowing her toys.  I never thought about her taking on a focus in other things.  I knew the day would come when she’d be more interested in pets, art, or whatever else, but I guess I’d always imagined it wouldn’t happen for a long, long time.  I’ve also got to remember that Corde’s turning ten this year.  It’s been a long time.  She’s going to be officially a preteen and that’s going to mean a lot of changes.  It just all seems like it’s happening too soon.  Thankfully, her new room should be happening just around the time of her birthday, so hopefully this can be a way we can honor that change, recognize it as a reality.  As much as I want to hide from it, the truth is it’s good.

So now everyone is extra hopeful that Oz gets this job.  From the sounds of it, it’s a sure thing.  He’ll be working long days and will probably be pretty exhausted, but it’s going to do a lot for us in the end.  Oz even suggested I should apply for the same place and we could work different shifts.  I’m actually considering it.  I know it would be hard on the kids, and I probably wouldn’t want to do it for more than a year, but the money might just make it worth doing for a little while.  It would pull us out of the rough spot we’re in and put us on solid ground.  We could work on having an actual home.  We could work towards having a house where everyone could have their own room.  We could have rooms that are well designed and functional with furniture we like instead of whatever cast-offs we can get our hands on.  We could have two cars, a gas guzzler to haul the family and something small and efficient for when less capacity would do.  I could get my seeds and have the money to actually landscape, allowing for a sustainable garden and a lovely back yard to play in.  It’s very tempting to at least try for the job to get us out of debt, make our home beautiful, save up for our dream wedding (which is probably not going to be terribly expensive by wedding standards, even if we do go all out!) and still put some away for when the kids get older.  We’ll just do it slower if I’m not working.

In all of this we’ve also discussed what won’t change.  My kids still want to shop for clothes at thrift stores.  Beekee’s finds have them all excited about shopping there.  We’re not going to make them give up anything they don’t want to.  We’re not going to let this new income go to our heads, so we’re still only going to buy what we really need.  We’re not going to start buying all sorts of crazy junk food (though I will be making sure we’ve got plenty of organic fruits and veggies in the house!)  We’re not going to make the kids give up the things they enjoy doing to go on more expensive field trips instead.  The kids like their inexpensive trips.  We’ll just be increasing our radius from home.  Most importantly, we’re not going to be giving up Family Day.  Just because we have more money and can do more things together on a daily basis doesn’t mean we’re going to throw family days out the window.  We’re still going to go to church on Sundays.  We’re still going to make sure we get donuts before church (which should be easier because Oz will already be in the habit of getting up so early).  We’re even keeping all the same rules, but we’ll probably all be a lot better at sticking to them because money won’t be a suffocating factor anymore.

I know all of this is a bit premature as Oz doesn’t even have the job yet, but they’ve pretty much told him he’s as good as got it.  I’ve already told the kids this is a big “if” and we were already planning all of these things before this job opportunity came up, so it will still happen, just on a different timeline.  We’re just all hoping good things for this job.  It could make our lives so much better.  It will bring us up from the point of living on state assistance to the point of being able to support ourselves.  What could be better than that?

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Author: Fox

With four kids in the house, who has time for much? Well, we're trying to make it work, trying to get as close to our unschooling roots as we can while state restrictions and family pressures try to stand in our way. Every day is a new adventure.

7 thoughts on “My Little Designers

  1. It sure does sound like great opportunities are ahead for y’all! I’ll definitely keep my fingers crossed & will keep y’all in my thoughts & prayers that whatever God has planned for u right now will indeed happen! Our family went through a “similar” change whereas my dh got a much better paying job than the one he had (he’d worked @ the previous place for 15+ yrs). We made those same promises (to an extent) that your family did saying much wouldn’t change in respect to spending. Well, that held true for a little while until it got all too tempting what w/ all the better pay to be able to afford nicer things, then even MORE nicer things, etc. You get the point. We started going out to eat more often because we could afford to, but after awhile we noticed something was missing…really missing! It finally dawned on me the realization of how can we TRULY be spending “family time” together (because I’ve firmly believe & always say, ‘dinner time is family time’) if we’re amidst a crowd of ppl we do not know all the time? I just want to let u see it clearly through MY mistake to not let yourselves get caught up in the “easy way out.” You’d be out & about, it’s getting later in the day & the “easy way out” rather than rushing @ home to fix dinner would be to simply eat out, then it happens again, & again, until it becomes second nature & a habit…leaving your family in a place where mine once was….w/ hardly any QUALITY family time! My best advice? Stay focused on your goals & plans. Put your priorities @ the VERY top so as to NEVER take the “easy way out.” Good luck & God’s blessings to u & your family!!

    • Thankfully, we’ve got some great priorities in line to keep us on track. We’ve got to handle our past debt if we’re going to look at some day buying a house. Then there’s the food allergies that should hopefully keep us on track instead of eating out, as great as the temptation may get. Funny, I never thought food allergies would be to our benefit!

      It’s good to hear from someone who’s been there, you know? It’s good to have someone to tell us “Hey, watch out for this because it can happen so easily.” We’ve seen other friends who have a lot of money, but never spend time with their family because they’re so busy spending their money on things. We swear it’ll never happen to us, but I can see how easy it could be to start out with that in mind, then you’re there before you know it. I know there are some things we’d really like to do. I’d like to get Beekee involved in hockey, since that’s something he really wants to do. I’d like to get Corde into some art classes, but I’ll make sure that our family time has a solid place on our calendar.

      In light of this, I think I’ll also have to remember to have our priorities written clearly somewhere so we can always go back and check how we are on our goals. I might have to have our resident artist make up some charts or something so we can have visual aids on things like getting out house and other things we want to do. That might make the whole process of getting there so much more enjoyable, and something we can focus on as a family. Anything we can do to preserve the family time we have, you know?

  2. I am happy Oz is “a sneeze away” from working! It will definitely relieve a lot of your stresses. I love that you thrift (or vintage) shop! I would love to, but we dont have any in my town.. I actually read a book which Corde may be interested in – it actually sparked my interest in vintage/thrift clothing. It is called “The secret lives of dresses” and it is by Erin McKean. Although it is about a college girl, it is definitely more “young adult” based on the execution.. essentially this girl was forced to move back home and started working at her grandmothers vintage clothing store, she learns her grandmother was “writing stories to accompany every dress she sells. Romantic, heartbreaking tales about each one’s secret life before it got to her shop”. Although each story was fictional, it causes you to think of the real story which could go along with something you find, whether its a used car or whatever..

    It also reminds me of that new country song “Show some respect” by Bobby Wills, it gives me chills whenever I hear it. It is about showing respect for something you have – an example in the song was a truck – “So you took that beat up truck, listed the whole thing up, put lights all over it, big tires and a muffler kit. But I bet you never gave much thought to the man that paid it off. With the hay and feed he had to haul in the scorching sun…” It is truly an interesting concept and way to look at things.

    • I’ll have to check out that book. I bet Corde would love it! I bet I’d love it too. I’ve always loved the story of where things were before they got to me.

      For the longest time I couldn’t set foot into thrift/vintage stores. That’s where poor people shopped, even though I shopped at those discount places that sell last years styles. That and places that were run out of business by Walmart but effectively served the same purpose…so… I don’t know why I didn’t equate that to poor people shopping too. Maybe it’s because thrift stores are too close to the idea of hand-me-downs.

      When I got older I remember my first big thrift/vintage store purchase. It was at this awesome place downtown while we were looking for theater costumes. I fell in love with a bunch of the stuff there and ended up turning it into a shopping trip. The only thing I don’t like to get thrift/vintage now are jeans, mostly because a lot of the places I’ve been don’t have fitting rooms and I don’t want to risk picking up something that doesn’t fit. I have considered wearing a skirt and trying the jeans on under, but I somehow think that would be frowned upon. I just wish our local thrift shop had some older stuff. Of course, old and of a style I like would probably be 50 years old by now!

      • That is so horrible, I cannot believe they do not have change rooms! Especially for pants, shirts are easy to guess- jeans on the other hand!

        It is unfortunate that stigmas play a huge role in deterring people away. Especially when (I am sure) a great deal of people donate to those stores. Although I do not donate to thrift stores (I pack all my clothes up and take them down to the women’s shelter), I know that the clothes I am getting rid of, are in good condition. I have either had them too long, don’t wear it anymore, or they are those “clothes-I-found-on-clearance-and-couldnt-pass-up-the-sale” and when I got it home, could not deny that they were too big/small.

        I forgot to mention, I am sure Corde will love the day bed (if you decide to go that route). I remember wanting one when I was younger. A few friends had them and I always remember thinking “How cool is that”.
        There is this website ” http://www.roomzaar.com ” people upload photos of the rooms in their house which were newly decorated and people can vote on the best etc. I used it a lot for inspiration for my room when we redid it. You may find some interesting ideas which you can duplicate for really cheap (I am all about being frugal and hand-making). Just a warning – stay away from “kitchen” “master bedroom” and “Bathroom”. Some are just too nice!

      • That’s really awesome. I’m sure I’ll find tons of inspiration that way. Maybe I’ll have to put pictures up of the rooms we do once we’re done, see if we can inspire someone else!

        I totally agree with the stigma surrounding thrift shops. Of course, that’s starting to change, depending on your area. I’ve known a lot of people who have developed a funky signature style from thrift shopping. I haven’t found much down here that I actually like. I don’t have much of a conservative look and I’m not a fan of really basic. There’s some great kids stuff though!

        I’ve always given my stuff to Salvation Army when I can. When I was living in a shelter Corde went to the Salvation Army day care. They gave us so many clothes, shoes, and toys it was a little ridiculous. It’s one of the ways I can give back in return for them giving so much to me. Of course, I’m also a really small size and if I take living in a shelter as example, they probably won’t have much ability to give my stuff away. They had a hard time finding stuff to fit me too. The way I see it, it’s my chance to give back.

  3. oops “Lifted the whole thing up”

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