Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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First Day Means Things Change

I’m sure you can guess what this means.  It’s Oz’s first day of work.  That meant last night the kids had to be packed off to bed at a reasonable time in order for Oz to get up at the crack of dawn.  Everything’s going to change, and it might not be in a bad way.

First thing this morning, about 3:30 or so, Oz got up to get ready for work.  We’d had the worst bed sharing night in a long time.  Oz was on one side.  I was squeezed on the other.  Sander and Luca took up the whole middle of the bed.  Neither of them wanted to sit still, so both Oz and I got beat up all night.  Neither of us got much sleep until I changed Luca in hopes that it would be just enough to help (even though I don’t think he was even wet), and Sander was evicted to the cozy spot of floor he likes beside Oz’s side of the bed.  He’s got a nice little nest there.  It was still dark and early when Oz got dressed and ready to go.

Thankfully, he got a ride, which meant he wasn’t walking or biking in the freezing temperatures outside.  He was lucky that one of his new co-workers (and the person that referred him to the job) was able to pick him up.  This certainly must have made his life easier.

The kids and I got up around 7:30 this morning, all except for Sander, who insisted on sleeping in Daddy’s spot until almost 10.  They ate breakfast, chilled out, and actually read books!  Even Corde who hates reading sat down with a book to read to Beekee!  While I have to admit I’ve slacked off this morning.  I meant to get lots of laundry done.  I meant to get the dishes from this morning done.  I meant to help Corde with her reading.  Instead I just sat here reading and kicking around on the computer.  Yup, it’s a lazy morning for us all.

Tonight is going to be really interesting.  We’ve got Mormon missionaries coming for dinner.  They showed up on Friday when we were getting ready for the exterminator.  Oz directed them to park in the driveway instead of on the grass so management didn’t try to ban them from the park.  When they came back by he asked them to come over during the week.  They were over for a few minutes last night, then Oz invited them to dinner tonight.  I was totally put off by this.  One, I’ve never actually invited the Mormons in when they’ve come to my door.  I was just never interested in what they had to say.  I’ve never really known anyone who was, so I was completely unsure of what having them over really meant.  Then to have them invited back for dinner?  They were nice people, so thankfully my panic wasn’t “What the heck do you think you’re doing?”  Instead I asked “What the heck are we going to make for dinner?”  In an unplanned moment of “I must have known this was coming”, I bought a whole chicken at the grocery store when I was last there.  It’s been sitting in the freezer since the end of last week, waiting to be pulled out and cooked.  Oz bought some cheesy broccoli when he was at the store the last time to pick up some milk.  When we get a ride to the store we never buy just milk because we don’t know how long it will be before we’ll get another ride, and with my ankle bumming out on me, we want to be sure we’re covered in case walking to the store won’t be a great option.  We also have some carrots that just need to be cut and steamed.  I’m going to be a busy woman this afternoon, so I guess I can feel okay about kicking my feet up for a while and resting my ankle before dinner has to be made.

The interesting thing about the Mormons coming, I was wondering what Oz was thinking.  I knew he’d grown up in the Mormon church until some age where he just stopped having any involvement at all because his step-dad insisted that Oz wasn’t old enough to make the decision on baptism.  Personally, I was baptized when I was a baby, so I don’t see the big deal in baptizing a kid.  If they choose a different faith later, that’s fine, but there’s really no harm in being baptized in a faith you’re practicing.  It doesn’t prevent you from being baptized or initiated in a different faith.  It doesn’t hurt you.  It doesn’t sign in blood that you have to follow this religion always or your soul will belong to some foul being.  While my children aren’t baptized, if any of them asked them to be I wouldn’t tell them they aren’t old enough to make a decision on their own.  After all, what is the right age to make that decision?  When are you “old enough” to know what faith you want to practice?  It’s really unfair to set a certain number on that, especially if you want your children to choose for themselves. It’s much different if you want them to grow up and share your faith.

I’m a little bit nervous about having the Mormons over tonight.  I mean, I’m not sure what it’s all about.  They don’t sound incredibly pushy or anything, but you never know.  The church down the street didn’t seem pushy, but now Oz is being pressured to get his family back in church to protect us from Satan, and I’m really becoming uncomfortable with that.  It felt nice to be there for a while, but then I realized it was belonging that I wanted, and not the faith.  I don’t think the faith is right for me.  I’m not sure I know what is.  I’m not going to proudly confess to be Christian when I’m not comfortable with the truthfulness of that claim.  I think there are some very good teachings, but it doesn’t feel right for me.  I don’t want to face that kind of pressure again because we’re not all going to church.

Poor Oz.  He was so shy about admitting that he was thinking about returning to his childhood church.  There are too many jokes about Mormons.  There are a lot of misconceptions about the spirituality.  I know I could say I can’t know it’s not for me because I’ve never tried it, but I’m more drawn to other spirituality, non-Christian paths.  If it’s what’s right for Oz, more power to him.  There’s no reason why parents of two different faiths can’t raise beautiful children while making sure to keep their own spiritual needs fulfilled.  I’ve known for a very long time how to get my spiritual needs met.  It’s time he figures that out for himself too.  It’s incredibly important in life.  Hopefully by leading through example our children will be able to bravely get their own needs met as well.

And because this JUST came into my little scope of a world view, there is something else I would like everyone to check out.  This mother is grieving, needs support, and just had CPS called into her life on reasons that are less than honorable.  This poor mother just lost her child and needs the freedom to grieve.  Now CPS is putting her under a microscope.  I just want to put this out there so hopefully she’ll see that there are many people out there sending their love.  And for those of you who are religiously inclined, she could probably use all the prayer for her situation that can be offered.  Check her out at The Progressive Parent.

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So Much for the Plan…

We had such a great plan for today. Thankfully the kids didn’t know about it, but it was such a great plan. Then it all came crashing down.

After our fantastic dinner last night we decided that today Oz was going to spend some time outside with the kids today. He’s been feeling a real lacking of motivation to do anything with them, so he was going to take his discs outside and practice his throws for disc golf. He was teaching Corde how to play at his step-dad’s house last summer, so he was going to bring her out there again. He sold off most of his discs, but he still has enough to play. We thought that would be a great way for him to have some time with the kids.

Wouldn’t you know it? Today was rainy and cold. Sander decided to come into our bed last night. He and Luca decided they didn’t want us to sleep because we were clearly in their way. As a result, we had two sleep deprived parents. Then Beekee and Corde got up unusually at 6am, which made them tired and cranky. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also rainy, cruddy, and cold.

However, we did get good news in the wee hours of the morning.  Oz starts his new job tomorrow!  He’s going to be working at the bright early pre-dawn hours of the morning, but he’ll be home before school lets out for all the other kids.  This means he’ll have more time in the afternoon to enjoy his family.  Since he’ll be making more money we won’t have to stress quite so much, which means we should all have more time to enjoy each other!

All of this is really good news.  It means that while today we may have lost out on our wonderful plan, there will be other days.  Oz is going to keep working two jobs for a while, so we may not have much time as a family, but in the end it will be worth it.  We’ll have the ability to better our own situation.

Even though the plans for the day completely got messed up, we’ve got the opportunity for more great plans in the future.  I’m going to be heading down to an event in Austin where Corde will have the chance to get paid a little something for babysitting the kids there.  She’s not old enough to do it on her own, but there will be plenty of adults around to help.  Oz has this great new job.  We’re going to have more opportunities for family time without having to worry about the crazy schedule of dropping everything so Oz can go to work.  Best of all, we’re going to have some great things on the horizon for Corde.  We’ll be talking more on that later, once she’s kept up her one week agreement.

Well, this has been brief, but I’ve got to hop.  The exterminator did a horrible job, so now the bug problem has spread throughout the house.  We’re trying to clean the house spotless and get rid of the last of the clutter so the bugs have nowhere left to go.  Then we’re complaining to management.  We’re going to tell management that they need to send the exterminator through again because they shouldn’t have to pay for a company that doesn’t actually follow through on their commitment.  If I hired this extermination company, if I had to pay for it, you know we’d be making complaints until it was corrected, especially since the problem was just made that much worse.  Nope, we shouldn’t have to pay for having it treated again.


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Thoughts On Identity

When it comes to kids, everyone always comments that kids have so much personality.  It’s true.  Kids are great.  They develop strong personalities from such a young age.  It’s awesome to watch their interests grow and their uniqueness really come out.  At the same time, I’ve had a lot of people look at me strange because I encourage my kids to embrace that which makes them different.  Other people seem to think I should enforce a lot more conformity.

It all started out when Beekee was small.  I guess when it comes to girls, non-conformity to the standard girly pink is a lot more acceptable and she didn’t do anything that out of the ordinary.  Her imaginary friends were her hands with the names of “Boodie” for the left and “Dragon Blue” for the right.  However, when Beekee started to develop his own sense of unique behaviors I had so many people question my sanity.

At first it was all really cute.  I had called him “my little boy-kin, boy-kin…the B.K. not big enough to be a real boy yet!”  I called that to him his whole first two years of life.  I also called him things like “Mr. Aris J.J.” and other cute names, so it’s not like he didn’t have exposure to his “real” name until he was older.  It was there in the mix of things that he was called throughout his young life.  I didn’t think anything of it.  I also called him “my little fairy child”, “the boy who never grew up”, and all sorts of other things that came from stories I made up for him.  I really didn’t think anything of it.

Then when he started to get old enough to talk he spouted out his first sentence out of nowhere, “Beekee got ball-ball!”  He was holding a ball, looking all proud of himself at about a year and a half old.  Beekee never talked back then.  He was the strong, silent type, and if he did say something, good luck getting him to repeat it!  He’d say it once and that would be it.

When he said this, I gave him a questioning look and repeated him questioningly, “Beekee got ball-ball?”  He nodded all proud of himself.  “Who’s Beekee?”  He pointed to himself and said, “Beekee!” again very excitedly.  “You’ve got a ball?” I asked.  He nodded and again said, “Beekee got ball!”  That kind of sealed it.

At first this was kind of cute, but it wasn’t long before people started to remind me that he was getting old enough to outgrow the phase of cute names.  At the same time, people, like his father and my family, didn’t want to respect his choice.  At first it was okay to call him Aris, but after his dad left the scene he was no longer okay with it.  It’s got to be Beekee.  People keep trying to get him to use his middle name, but he likes Beekee.

As time progressed Beekee got used to things other boys don’t, and he didn’t seem to care.  He was regularly called a girl because of his hair and he never seemed phased by this.  I had tons of people reminding me I should correct these people who wrongly identified my son as a girl, but I eventually decided it was too much effort in most cases.  Why should I bother if we’re never going to see these people again?  Even if they did run into us at the supermarket or wherever it’s not like they would likely remember us.

This trend of Beekee’s unique identity just kept on.  It’s been a struggle.  As Beekee becomes more and more unique and independent, he comes under more and more criticism.  I’m kind of glad we homeschool because I wouldn’t want his confidence in himself to be shattered by the pressures of his peer group.  So what if he likes purple?  Who cares if he likes to wear girl clothes.  He doesn’t even get phased in the least when people call him a girl out in public.  To be honest, he doesn’t even seem to notice.  The only thing that does bother him is the insistence of other people that he use a different name.  He likes his name and he thinks everyone should respect his choices.  Does that make me too liberal of a parent?  Some people would certainly say so.  At the same time, I ran into some really awesome parents of a guy my age that named himself “Ducky” when he was little.   To this day he still uses that name, even at work.  So maybe it’s not such a bad thing!

Surprisingly, the person that gets the most upset about Beekee’s choice of gender identity is Corde.  She gets really upset when other people call Beekee a girl.  She’s very protective of her brothers and she’s a little afraid that someone is going to hurt Beekee’s feelings.  I think it also makes her a bit uncomfortable knowing that her brother is thought to be pretty weird.

It’s funny how you would think Beekee would be the one to feel the heat of his decision, but really, it’s Corde.  Beekee is completely happy with his decision.  He’s committed to it.  Most of all, he’s happy with who he is and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.

I can only hope as my children continue to grow they keep up with the things that make them unique and special.  They shouldn’t have to fit the mold the world has cast for them.  I want them to be unique, vibrant, and strong.

And…because the kids were so excited that Sander got to be a part of the blog yesterday they decided they wanted in.  Today we have real video footage of both Corde and Beekee!  I will tell you this much, they aren’t really quite like they appear on camera.  They’ve never really been video taped before, so they were both a little unsure of what it was supposed to be like.  Corde got really silly there at the end.  She just told me she wanted to do a video about cooking tonight and how she got to try new things.  Beekee was much more task oriented.  He told me he wanted to talk about his clothes and his hair more than anything else.  They’ve also been super crazy and hyper today, which I’m surprised didn’t come across in the video.  Right now they’re running hyper and crazy in the living room while Corde is still stuck on the tomato thing.  Oh the joys of crazy kids!  So I’ll leave you with our intros from Corde and Beekee!


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Finally Moving Forward

Ah,  it’s good to report there’s some positive to speak of!  Of course, not everything is good, but I suppose not everything being good is a good shot better than everything being bad.  I still hate using Oz’s new computer.  I managed to mess up my good ankle.  It smells and sounds like our new microwave is dying.  At the same time, we’ve had a lot of good happen.

First off, we have a stove.  I don’t know if I mentioned that before.  Management gave it to us from an empty trailer that’s no longer able to be occupied.  Some of these trailers have pretty much been condemned.  Management is trying to get rid of them by offering to give them to people.  You just have to pay the lot fee every month and fix it up yourself.  It’s pretty bad when they can’t even give these properties away.  No one who has the money to invest wants to spend the money on a trailer.  No one living in a trailer has the money to invest.  Truth be told, these “free” trailers would probably cost more than you can sell them for just to fix them up, and they’re not going to be able to be lived in while you’re improving them.  It would be more logical to get your own trailer at retail cost that doesn’t need all the work.  For paying the same price you can actually live in it from day one!  How nice would that be?  Since we’ve gotten the stove we’ve made all kinds of things, the best being shepherds’ pie and we’ll soon be doing a roast chicken with all the best sides.

What else is on the list of good?  The exterminator came through, finally!  She saw no signs of bed bugs, but we’re still thinking about catching the next one we see, bringing it down to the office, and using that as physical proof.  The exterminator seemed entirely clueless anyway.  If she had properly done her job I wouldn’t have come home to a cabinet full of roaches that weren’t killed.  Yes, the problem has been drastically reduced, but the truth is we’ve still got a roach problem.  It’s just  a fraction of what it used to be.  I’ve been gaining confidence in my ability to fight for what needs to happen.  An exterminator wasn’t called to cut our roach problem in half.  She was hired to eliminate it.  Granted, it’s only been a little over 24 hours since she left, and we’ve still seen bugs in the process of dying, but if the problem isn’t handled by Monday, we’re going to be talking to management.  As I’ve been told by CPS workers, building managers, and so much more, you don’t hire an exterminator to reduce your pest problem.  You hire them to eliminate it.  If we’re still having problems after services are rendered, they need to come in here and finish the job.  I’m especially annoyed because she only sprayed on the pipe under the sink, in one cabinet, and in one spot on the pantry.  I’m guessing she should have sprayed in any area where the roaches were nesting.  That would equate to all of the upper cabinets, all of the drawers, around and under the refrigerator, behind the hardware for all the blinds in the kitchen and dining room, and more than one tiny spot in the pantry.  This would also include where the books are in the dining room and around the washer and dryer in the laundry room.  Thorough is something she definitely was not.  I suppose I should have said something to her at the time, but I didn’t want to deal with a confrontation.  If management fails to make sure it’s properly taken care of we’ve decided we’re hiring our own exterminator to treat for ants, bed bugs, and pretty much everything else.  I’m tired of living with pests.  I’m also tired of people who do a lazy job about it.  On top of that, we busted our butts to get the house clean for the exterminator and weren’t even ready in time because management stuck a notice on our door that blew off before we could see it.  We were supposed to have been notified on Monday.  We didn’t know about it until they night before.  They were lucky we knew at all!

At the same time, the exterminator coming made us get off our butts and do some things we desperately needed to do.  We completely rearranged the living room.  It’s created a “front hall” kind of feeling by the front door, which I absolutely hate, but it’s better than it was before.  The room doesn’t feel so painfully massive and it looks a lot more coordinated and organized.  We moved Sander’s Little People to a new area of the room which makes it a little more contained and looks less chaotic.  The kitchen set and the dolls have found their home out of the dining room again, so Luca doesn’t have to crawl through the room in order to get to it all.  He’s not so much on the dolls, but he loves that kitchen!  We finally went through and rearranged the furniture in the dining room as well.  I’m no longer feeling like I’m about to trip over it all.  Just moving the table against the opposite wall doesn’t sound like it would do much, but it’s made a world of difference.  I don’t know who designed that dining room, but either you can’t get through because the table is in the middle of the room, or you can’t access half the seating area because the table is against the wall.  Of course, walking through the dining room is the only way to get to the laundry room and master bedroom.  The kitchen isn’t much better.  It’s literally a hallway between the front and back of the house.  We also made some difficult sacrifices.  We got rid of the easel Sander got for his birthday when he turned two.  It’s seriously seen better days and didn’t survive the move North.  I got rid of all of Luca’s old baby clothes, as well as the baby things he’s already out grown, like the baby swing we were given for Sander.  He never much liked that thing anyway.  We had some formula from the hospital and a sling I never really used that both were given away.  I’m also about to make Oz be brutal with his clothes.  He’s got 19 t-shirts, 2 polo shirts, and 13 button down dress shirts.  He’s also got about 15 pairs of pants, if my guess is right, but it may be less.  Of the space being used in our closet he takes up half of it.  He also has taken over all of the dresser but 3/4 of one drawer.  That’s where my stuff goes.  I have to share a dresser with Luca, which is fine for now because he has almost nothing in the way of clothes, but it’s not going to last for long.  Right now letting him run around naked or in nothing but a diaper is cute.  When he’s a year old he might be able to get away with it.  By the time he’s two he really needs to be in the habit of wearing clothes, at least when leaving the house.  The whole thing with the exterminator really lit a fire under my butt to get things done and get the house in order.  Not only is the house starting to look great, but we’re starting to feel a lot less over-burdened by our stuff.  I just wish we had a car so I could pack it all up and just drop it at Goodwill instead of waiting for some picky Freecycle people to swing by and pick it up.

On the job front, we’ve also got good news.  Oz is one drug test result away from having a new, better paying, full-time job!  We know he’s going to pass the drug test because, well, why wouldn’t he?  It’s not a great job.  It pays better and will be more hours.  Oz can stay on at his other job on a part-time basis.  It’s really all looking good.  Of course, that means we won’t have much time with him, but I think we can survive.  We’ll have more money so we can get ahead of our bills and put aside some savings for a rainy day.  It certainly seems to rain enough around here to be worth it!

There’s still some problems, but we’re working through it.  Life isn’t perfect, and I somehow doubt it ever will be.   At the same time, we really can’t complain.  It’s much better now than it was.

And in other news, look for us on YouTube!   We’re listed as “CountryUnschoolers” since Trailer Park Unschoolers didn’t fit.  We  don’t have much up there yet, but I’m going to try and make a goal of adding one video every week by one of the kids.  It’s one more small way you can get to know us.

So, please, sit back and enjoy the fun Sander had while we were freezing our butts off, waiting to go back into the house after the extermination yesterday.  It’s just too bad you can’t see Sabrina running around, who followed us all the way to the park.  So, enjoy the wild imagination of a three-year-old!


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When Bad Luck Strikes, Another Absence Happens

Sorry I’ve disappeared again.  I may not have regular access for the next few weeks, possibly more.  I’m going to try and get time in during our regular library trips.  We’ve started going twice a week at least.  Corde has her own library card now and is starting to read her own books.  Unfortunately, she wants to get the books out, but she’s not really interested in reading them.  No matter.  I still get books to share with the boys.

So, what’s happened?  Well, a lot of bad things, but they all seem to have a silver lining.  For example, the PS3 and TV we had been making payments on had to go back because we couldn’t afford the payments, but this gave us just the shake-up we needed to start going crazy over our finances and now we have a plan.  We’ve put things in motion to pay off our washer and dryer early, have a little extra padding for savings, and put ourselves on the road to a better situation.  It’ll be like pulling teeth and living extra lean until we can get it all settled, but we’re on the right path.

Right now I’m coming to you from Oz’s “new” computer.  We got a deal at a rent-to-own place, mostly because we needed some form of entertainment in the house.  We almost didn’t do it, but the same day Oz checked it out the kids spilled water all over my computer.  It works…if you plug in an external keyboard, and it’s all kinds of quirky.  It’s made it practically impossible for me to use.  I can’t even put on videos for the kids.  As a result, we decided to get something new.  It gives Oz something to do.  I have a way to let the kids watch movies again.  Unfortunately, I hate using it because the mouse is quirky and the space bar is incredibly sticky and doesn’t want to register when I type.  Oz has next to no problems with it, of course.

So until I can afford to replace my computer  I’ll only be typing from here occasionally and I’ll likely be doing most of my updates from the library.  It will just be so much easier.   I miss having my computer already!  I would just suck it up, but it’s connection to the net is now horribly unreliable.  It’s no fun to use.

In other news, the CPS call finally got closed out.  She came in and just warned us that we need to keep after the house and stop inviting people over.  If we get enough malicious calls on us they’re going to be forced to become involved in our lives a little more long-term.  Honestly, she obviously didn’t find anything wrong with us.  She didn’t even properly go through the house for the final check out process.  She was supposed to go through the house and assess it to see if the problem had been fixed, but she didn’t even bother.

And then there’s the bug problem.  We’ve had a roach problem since we moved in that suddenly got way out of control.  Management is supposed to be coming in to get it taken care of, but we’ll see.  They said they would be in this month, but the month is already half-over.  I’m getting concerned.  However, we also just found out that we have a bed bug problem.  This situation would have filled me with dread terror in the past, but apparently a lot has changed since our last brush with the foul things.  We also caught it early, so we should be able to sort it out that much easier.  I know what I’m doing, so we’re prepared.  It’s also one more reason for me to light a fire under management to make them come in with the exterminator.  I can contact the town and point out that they’re in violation of tenant law.  They are required to get it taken care of.  If they don’t, I’m going to get it taken care of myself and saddle them with the bill. I didn’t know I could do that, but apparently we legally can.  One way or another, we’re going to get the bug problem dealt with.

Finally, there’s our fridge.  Unfortunately, it’s dying.  We’ve got a steady leak that soaks the kitchen floor.  There’s black mold under the refrigerator as a result.  Technically, if we had the money to move this might be enough to get us out of our bad lease.  We could, in theory, start looking for a better place.  The thing is we really don’t want to.  We’d rather save up and focus on a place we could own.  However, we are paying for our refrigerator in the lease, so they’re required to replace it if it’s bad.  I know we’re going to have to really get on them to make it happen, but we think it’s worth it.  At the same time, we can’t complain too much.  We finally have our stove!

I’ll keep you all updated as I can.  We’re going to be hopefully taking some steps towards a better life.  Keep your fingers crossed that we get our stuff taken care of and that we can finally get the income we need.  The job front hasn’t been going great.  We’re doing the best we can, so wish us luck!


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Hello, Operator?

Corde got us rolling on one heck of a lesson after her brothers went to bed tonight.  She said how she really wished she had a phone of her own.  When I asked why, she said it was to play some app or something.  Her new friend plays apps on the phone all the time.  I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.  I suggested maybe a tablet would be better if she wasn’t going to be making phone calls, especially since there are more apps, or at the very least, different ones.  Any game that needed to be online could be done in an area with wi-fi.  That’s when we got onto the conversation about wireless and wired communication.

It all started with me thinking it would be fun to see how well Corde remembered our old phone.  I showed her a picture of a rotary phone and asked her how you’d make a phone call on it.  The house we lived in right before moving to Texas had a rotary phone in it that I was told I could use because I didn’t have a home phone.  We were also given a color television that was older than I am.  It had that push/pull toggle for on and off that you turned for volume.  There were two dials for the television stations.  I couldn’t have had cable if I wanted it because it wasn’t cable-ready.  She doesn’t remember the television, but she remembers getting to use the telephone as a play phone after we replaced it because it didn’t ring anymore.  She still had no clue how to use it!

I’m not surprised.  I remember a teacher in junior high talking about her daughter’s friend coming over.  She had to call her mom to see if she could stay for dinner, so she told the girl to go upstairs and use the phone in her bedroom.  After about ten minutes she realized that the girl hadn’t come back and was starting to worry.  When she went in, there the girl was, receiver in hand, staring blankly at the phone.  She failed to ask if the girl had ever used a rotary phone before!

I’m starting to think that’s what my kids are going to grow up to think of house phones.  We haven’t had a house phone in a year.  We rarely had house phones in the duration before that.  It just seemed silly and pointless.  Why have a house phone when we each have a cell phone?  Cell phones are so much more practical.  Having a house phone just becomes redundant.  I’ve considered having a house phone so the kids can tell their friends to call, but it seems like an outdated service.  Maybe I would just be better to get the kids their own cell phones when they’re old enough.  They can’t take the house phone with them when they go out.  They can’t use it to call in their travels if there’s an emergency.  They can only use it to call from the house, or to get calls from the house.  Maybe our culture has just outgrown the need for a house phone entirely.

While we were looking at phones we saw some phones that existed before even rotary phones.  She wanted to know how those phones were connected, so we looked at a few photos and videos of switchboard operators.  Then I found a really cool video on YouTube.  I love YouTube for this very reason!

So, let me share this video with you.  It’s called “Now You Can Dial” put out by the Bell telephone company in 1954 when the nation was converting from switchboard service to “dial”.  Some of the information I found particularly comical to think about because it was such a part of when I was growing up.  For example, most people I know don’t know what a “party line” is.  By the time many of the people I know got to school students were already starting to get their own cell phones.  They’re not used to having to worry about someone picking up the phone and hearing their conversation.  They also don’t know what a “busy signal” is because they’ve never had to worry about it.  Most phones have this magical thing called “call waiting”.  Most of the kids Corde is growing up with will never know a dial tone because you just enter a number and send.  Thanks to Google and 4-1-1 you never need to look up a number in the directory again.  You either do an online search or call Directory Assistance.  The Yellow Pages and White Pages are pretty much obsolete.  Phones ring six times on average before they go to “voicemail” and dialing “0” no longer puts you on the phone with the operator (Seriously!  I just tried it!)  Now there’s three-way-calling and the ability to ignore a call if you choose, making voicemail pick up sooner.  You can call from anywhere, not just a wired down spot on the wall, unless you’re charging your phone and calling at the same time.  Being on a wireless phone line no longer means walking around with an antenna sticking out the back long enough that you’re liable to hit someone or something with it when you turn around.  You don’t have to pull out the antenna when you answer the phone either if you’re wireless.  It’s all a quick few button clicks.  Then there’s the contacts lists on phones eliminating the need for an address book, or even speed dial for important numbers!  Remember how complicated programming speed dial could be?  Now you don’t need any of that.  It’s all so simple.

Anyhow, here’s the video.  I hope you enjoy it.  It’s a bit long and very PSA for stuff I’m sure most of my adult readers already know.  However, for those of you who may be younger, or want to share it with your kids, it’s a kind of fun way to learn about the way phones operated before you could call anyone just by pulling a device out of your pocket and touching a few buttons.

And that was our lesson today!  Hopefully you’ll all enjoy it as much as Corde and I did!


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The Drainage Adventure

The play dare today was nothing short of awesome.  The kids got out during school hours and played until they were exhausted.  We all had a pretty decent time.

I have to admit, I missed the soccer playing.  I took advantage of Oz having all the kids and took a nice, relaxing shower.  I also read a little more of my book, which I hadn’t really planned on, but it kept calling me.  I was just intending to pop in the shower real quick, but it’s been a while since I’ve been at home with no kids, so I made the best of it.

When I finally arrived I heard about the dads playing soccer with the kids.  Luca was riding along with Oz and decided that soccer playing was too much work, so he fell asleep.  The other kids had a blast.  They were riding on a skateboard and scooters and generally having a great time.  It was pretty awesome.  The other family’s younger daughter decided she wanted to hang out with Luca for a while and he got his first experience with grass.  He didn’t like it, and I can’t blame him.  It’s Texas grass, which is generally dry and a little prickly.  It’s softer than the pavement, but not by much.

On the walk back the kids had their drainage pipe adventure.  There was a drainage pipe running under the road to allow water to flow from one side into the runoff river on the other side.  The kids thought it was cool and wanted to go through it.  In they went, all seven of them!  Beekee and Sander turned around and decided they didn’t want to go through.  The rest of them went through and told us all about what they saw.  It was full of spider webs.  They even found a hole in the top that was filled with spider egg sacs.  It was a pretty cool adventure!  The only down side was the mud on the other side.

When they all came out they decided to take off their shoes.  I was already walking barefoot and all of their shoes were muddy, so it seemed the logical thing.  That’s when the dads (who were both wearing shoes and didn’t even think about it) took a shortcut across the runoff stream and into the park.  The other kids didn’t seem sure if they wanted to brave it barefoot, but I did, baby on my back and bags in hand.  The other kids soon followed me, asking how I could walk on the rocks and prickly grass without my shoes on.  It was kind of funny.  They all seem to think I’ve got super-feet.

Looking back, I’m sure we must have looked a crazy lot.  Here we were, two moms, two dads, and eight kids, walking down the street with two scooters, a skateboard, and a soccer ball.  I had the baby on my back.  Half of us were barefoot.  We all were hoofing it back before school got out.  There was a cute comment made about how we were “those primitive homeschoolers, too primitive to wear shoes!”  I thought that was pretty awesome.  She was right.  We must have looked pretty odd in the eyes of a society that largely sends their kids to school, insists on wearing shoes, and isn’t really accustomed to “large families”, even though I don’t particularly find our family to be all that large.  Unfortunately, anything more than three is considered unusual unless the last was a set of twins.  It was honestly kind of nice to be around people who made our kids feel pretty normal for once.

However, we did learn something about our kids today.  Corde is still super-sensitive over everything.  She’d been getting so much better, but I think she misses her dad.  I pointed out that the whole thing that upset her was just a misunderstanding and it was amazing how quickly everything was fixed.  Sander’s a little daredevil!  He’ll take on almost any challenge!  He loved climbing things that he’d probably get hurt to fall off of, but he takes the risk anyway.  He scraped his elbow and arm, but didn’t care.  However, bonking his nose was the cause for all kinds of drama.  He’s a funny kid!

Sadly, I’m starting to worry about Beekee.  He’s always very much been a loner.  He doesn’t really seem to know how to play with other kids.  He never really has.  It’s not through lack of opportunity.  He’s spent tons of time with other kids.  He just prefers to spend all of his time alone.  It’s really concerning as a parent.  I’ve had several people ask me if he has Asperger’s.  At the time I didn’t know much about it having only met a couple of adult women who have been diagnosed.  I remember raking a couple of tests that suggested very strongly that I might fit into that category too.  However, I always resisted getting a diagnosis to see if maybe he was because I don’t want my child labeled like that.  I don’t want to have him use his label as an excuse, not that I think he would, or be somehow treated differently because of his label.  At the same time, I’m starting to think having him tested might help us better understand him, and if I can understand him better, maybe we can better meet his needs.  Maybe we can help him find a way to overcome his social challenges because we’ll have more tools and resources at our disposal.  If he’s not, well, that just releases a whole big concern I have for his future.  We’ll still have a lot of rough situations to work through, because even just being a loner isn’t easy, but we won’t have to worry about something that goes far deeper than simply being a bit of a quirky, weird, loner.

As for today, I think everyone’s favorite part was the drainage ditch adventure.  It’s something new and different that they don’t get to do every day.  It was a chance to explore and have a little fun.  Maybe with the encouragement of others my kids will become a little more adventurous than they were before.  It was one heck of a day and all three boys are asleep to prove it.  Hopefully we’ll get to do it again soon!