Trailer Park Unschoolers

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

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Some Days Are a Challenge

Yesterday was a rough day for us.  It involved a mad dash to get ready, and, of course, no one ever listens to me when we’re on a time, crunch.  I should have seen some of the potential pitfalls coming, but I never do.  I could have planned ahead for this.  I probably should have planned ahead for it.  I don’t know why I never thought to.  Thankfully, it all worked out to be worth it in the end.

Yet if there’s one thing I’ve learned, Beekee is going to be the one who constantly challenges me.  I’ve often referred to him as being “my special kid”.  I hadn’t thought about it then the way I do now.  Then I just recognized that he offered me special challenges, challenges that other moms didn’t seem to face, challenges I hadn’t had to deal with when it came to Corde.

When Corde was little it was very clear how things would keep on going.  She was determined, defiant at times, and very independent.  She didn’t want anyone doing anything for her.  She refused to hold hands while walking on her own, which often landed her planted in the stroller because she didn’t have the awareness to manage being on her own.  She was highly social and would throw fits when she’d have to leave her friends before she was ready to.  She was outspoken (both a good and bad thing at times), very intelligent, and super friendly.  She would talk to anyone who looked like they’d be a good friend.

Beekee was very different when he came along.  He was timid, quiet, and not nearly as wild as Corde.  He did make a lot of his milestones much sooner than she did.  He was very adventurous, but he wasn’t so much on the social.  He was a late talker.  I wouldn’t so much say he was shy, but he was definitely a loner.  He was pretty much chill and easy going about everything, just so long as you let him stay in his own little world.  He never threw a tantrum over leaving a place, just as long as I gave him a good understanding of what to expect.  He was actually pretty easy when he was younger.  I saw him as very chill and go-with-the-flow.  Then again, I also didn’t recognize that it was because I pretty much left him to his own devices.  He was  happy to be on his own.  His sister had constant questions, needed all kinds of mediation between her and her friends when trouble was caused.  Beekee needed none of that because he was in his own world, not really interacting with anyone else.  It’s hard to need mediation when you’ve got no one else there.

As he got older and more interaction with other kids was pushed upon him, that’s when we started to notice my assessment of Beekee as being “special” was more than just a unique, easy-going, super chill kid.  How foolish of me to think his brand of “special” meant he’d be an easy child and Corde would be my constant challenge.  Looking back I sometimes wish I’d known what I was in for.  I think I might have appreciated the constant conflict with Corde as she fought to win her independence that much more!  Instead, I’m left with a new set of challenges that I think are in some ways even harder.  I have to wonder if maybe I had some kind of foresight in calling Beekee “my special boy” all those years ago, because, as I’ve said, he’s definitely presented me with some challenges that I’m frustrated to see other parents just don’t have.

I know it’s horrible to compare your kids against other kids their age, but somehow I think I need to.  By seeing where Beekee stacks up I can that much more easily identify that maybe this situation is going to be a little harder for me than the challenges with Corde.  He’s not as social.  He doesn’t like playing with other kids.  He’s very stuck on everything going his own way.  He can be highly repetitive.  He’s super particular about the way things feel.  Unlike my other kids, he’s very sensitive to particular noises that he doesn’t like.  There are so many times when it really just seems like he’s not all there, or maybe that he really is all there, just not all out here in the world where he should be, just tucked away in his own little space.  He’s just not like other kids his age.

Yesterday while we were getting ready to go to the church potluck someone was giving us a ride to, I was caught with the need to be ready a good two hours earlier than I thought I’d need to be.  I ended up racing around the house in a mad-dash attempt to get ready in time.  The boys tore the house apart in three seconds flat.  Corde had gone to church early with Oz, so it was just the three boys and myself.  Sander, as usual, was completely useless to the process of getting ready until I helped him get his underwear sorted out and his pants on.  He’s been having problems with getting his underwear and pants on backwards, or getting his feet in the same pant leg, then gets frustrated and throws a fit out of frustration.  Once that was done he was able to take care of the rest himself.  He put his shirt on, brushed his hair, and helped entertain Luca while I got everything else handled.  Beekee offered to help with Luca after he’d gotten his shirt on, but poor Luca didn’t like that idea so much.  Beekee’s idea of helping was to be all kinds of crazy in his face, which scared Luca and made him cry.  He kept trying to shove Luca’s pacifier in his mouth, pushing the little guy clean off his feet twice before I took the pacifier away completely.  I left the room for two seconds to come back and find Luca crying and Beekee bopping him on the head.  When told Beekee that Luca didn’t like it and it’s mean to bop someone on the head like that, he insisted that Luca liked it and thought it was funny.  When I pointed out that Luca was crying, he insisted Luca wasn’t crying, he was laughing.  Poor Luca was quite distressed.  Thankfully Sander swooped in to make him laugh and I had Beekee go look for his shoes.  Of course, Beekee didn’t do this, even though he told me he was dressed and ready to go.  When our ride got here I had her put the car seats in the car while I finished packing the diaper bag.  It was when I grabbed my keys and told Beekee to hop in the car that he finally asked, “Do I need my shoes?”  Really?  Really, kid?  I asked if you were dressed and ready!  I asked if you had your shoes at least twice!  Why do you still not have them?  At least he knew where one pair were.  He grabbed his Toy Story cowboy boots and we were on our way.

I thought things would be better once we were in the car.  Usually the kids used to be quiet in the car, or so I thought.  Then again, the last time we regularly had them in the car Beekee was in the third row seat and I was driving.  It’s amazing what a difference that makes.  he also used to nap a lot more back then and would always sleep in the car.  This time I had to listen to the same repetitive thing over and over again.  “Car, car, car, car, car, car, car, car…”  That lasted for about 15 minutes.  How do I know?  I checked the time when he started, just because I was curious how long he could keep it up for.  Then he switched it up and said, “Sign, sign, sign, sign”.  I honestly don’t know what got into him.  The whole thing was getting on my nerves, but I didn’t say anything about it because he was at least talking quietly.  I tried to ignore it.  I knew if I did otherwise it would have ended up with a lot of loud complaints from the back seat about how incredibly bored he was.

When we got there things seemed at least a little better.  Beekee was once again in his own little world.  He decidedly didn’t want to talk to anyone, not really.  He didn’t like any of the food they had, so he only had two deserts, a little tiny bit of beef stew (about three bites) some bread, and a heaping portion of mashed potatoes.  At the end they got some jelly beans too, and he was thrilled because someone came over and brought a few more to add to their cups, and they mostly brought black ones.  He loves the black ones.  He was quite content to eat his dinner, not talk to anyone, and be in his own little world.  He didn’t do more than look when all the kids got up on the stage to sing.  Corde got up there too, though she was clearly just faking it.  She hadn’t learned the song the rest of them were singing, but she wanted to be with her friends.  Beekee had no interest at all in being up there.  He was glad that he didn’t go earlier to go to the kids’ class.  He didn’t want to go, unless they had jelly beans.  He didn’t even try to make friends with any of the other kids his age.  He just stuck by me, ignoring me, but next to me the whole time, more worried about his food than anything else.

Even being introduced to other people was frustrating.  The church we went to was a Mormon church, so Beekee had to say, “Hi Mormon!” to everyone who walked by.  I was just glad he didn’t say it loudly enough for anyone else to notice.  When Oz introduced me to one of the people he had met at the church Beekee said, “Hi black Mormon!   You’re not like the other Mormons.  You’re black, which means you don’t look like everyone else.”  Thankfully either the guy didn’t hear it or he was too polite to say anything.  We’ve talked to Beekee countless times about this.  I remember Corde doing this when she was three or four.  Sander doesn’t really do it at all.  But Beekee’s old enough to understand that it’s rude to talk to someone like that.  I’ve tried to tell him it’s rude and suggest better ways of talking to people.  It’s exhausting to remind him again and again not to make observances that may seem rude or judgmental.  People don’t like it.  Of course, he comes back with logic, explaining how it’s true so it shouldn’t be mean.  I know other kids his age do these things too, but other kids seem to accept that it makes other people uncomfortable and can find it in themselves to refrain.  Not Beekee.  I have a feeling we’re going to be having these talks for quite some time to come.

Thankfully, everyone there was nice.  Once again, it wasn’t my kind of thing.  I’m thinking I’m just not a churchgoer.  I’ve got to find my own home.  Beekee isn’t too fond of it either and doesn’t really have much interest in going back.  Corde, on the other hand, wants to go back really badly.  She’s going back with Oz next week.

The ride home was thankfully less of a challenge in some ways.  Beekee got on my nerves by squirming around in the seat, constantly trying to signal to the car behind us, and all kinds of other craziness.  I explained to him several times that it wasn’t safe to be trying to get half-out of his seat like he was, but it’s been a long time since we’ve done regular car rides.  It’s going to take some getting used to.  He’s going to have to figure out how to handle himself in a car again.  I’m sure he’ll be back in the swing of things before long.

As if a trying day with Beekee wasn’t enough, we got home and no one wanted to listen to me.  Well, I take that back.  Oz had no problems listening to me.  However, the kids had no interest in listening at all.  I’d tell them to go to their room and play because the baby was sleeping three times and no response.  Oz would tell them once and they’d be up and in their rooms without so much as a single word of complaint.  I had to ask Corde to do her chores ten times, completely ignored each time before Oz finally got on her about ignoring me and insisted she drop everything she was doing and do her chores that exact moment because it’s not fair of her to disrespect me like that.  Everything that night, from getting the kids to lay down to simply asking them to get out of my way, it was like I didn’t exist, like I was a ghost or something that no one could hear but Oz.  It was incredibly frustrating!

I don’t know why, but we just have days like this, days that get under my skin, days that are more challenging than others.  Thankfully, they’ve been less common with Corde now that she’s decided her family is the one she’s got here, not the family her dad replaced her with.  Sander has his days, but he’s really just your average three-year-old when it comes to that sort of thing.  Luca is about as many challenges as a baby usually is, maybe less because he’s able to do things like pop out a couple more teeth without even seeming to notice.  It’s Beekee that’s my real challenge.  I just wish I knew what to do, how to make it so there’s less friction between the two of us because he’s very much not living in the same reality that anyone else is at this point.  I wish we wouldn’t have to have so many arguments every time things don’t go precisely his way.  I just don’t know what to do.  It’s making me tired and frustrated.  These days just keep happening more and more often.  I just hope we’re able to figure it out before long, or that it’s a phase.


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Teaching from the Whole World

It’s been a while since I’ve really talked about unschooling as a thing.  I’ve talked a lot about my kids, their lives, my life, but I haven’t put much thought into unschooling as a thing for a while.  I always like to check back in with myself on this subject because my concept of unschooling is evolving daily.  It’s not a static thing and probably never will be.  It’s the nature of unschooling, I guess.

Today I was thinking that maybe I should start straying from unschooling.  I’d love to do more Waldorf inspired things with Sander, but I can’t bring myself to give up the plastic toys Grandma sent and are so well loved.  I also can’t cut off the recorded music.  The kids love movies and other things too much.  They love their video games.  I’ll be honest, without books, I don’t think I’d ever tell them stories again!  It’s not that I can’t create stories of my own, or remember them to retell, but I love the experience of holding a book in my hands and sharing the words someone else wrote.  Reading has always been a special treat to me.

Then I started thinking about doing Montessori inspired activities with Luca when he’s older.  He already gravitates to many of the small versions of adult tasks.  He likes to try and help clean, so it was a natural connection for me.  Of course, Montessori is very much about independence, something that I feel is in direct opposition to baby wearing and co-sleeping.  It seems a much better match for, say, Waldorf, which is very much on connectedness as I see it.

This is what leads me back again and again to unschooling.  Just because we’re unschooling doesn’t mean I can’t take the creative play aspects from Waldorf and the little life skills and independence building activities from Montessori.  We can put together an awesome set of play silks and still have all the little cleaning and cooking things.  We can have magic tricks, books, video games, and movies.  We can do workbooks or not.  Best of all, the kids are learning the most important lesson of all, to love learning.

I have to admit, I did worry that my kids would hear about wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and would think they were in Australia.  I worried that their idea of math would be busting out a calculator.  They’d never love Shakespeare or Poe.  They might never read classic literature.  I kept thinking of the ways I could subtly push the things they “needed to know” on them.  I hated the thought of being coercive, but I thought I has to.  They had to learn these things somehow!

It wasn’t until recently that I really learned to trust my kids in learning what they need to know to succeed in life.  Thankfully my idea of “success” for my children wasn’t exactly some high standard.  It might sound like a bad thing to have a low standard of success, but I think it’s good.  I don’t need my children to go to Harvard or Yale unless that’s what they want to do for their own reasons.  I’m sure if you’ve found your way to my blog, you totally understand.  I want my children to be happy, and not in that ultra-fluffy “never suffer a day” kind of way.  I want them to be able to look back when they’re old and gray, reflect on their lives, and think, “Wow!  I really accomplished some stuff I’m really proud of.”  It doesn’t matter if their kids are proud of them.  It doesn’t matter what I think.  All that matters is that they’re happy with their own accomplishments.  That’s going to come with hard work, challenges, and a good amount of upsets, but that’s part of life.  They’ll learn to deal with it as it comes, which is all part of being successful in life.  Every truly successful person hits upon huge, overwhelming challenges and unexpected pitfalls.  I don’t want my children to ever have to suffer, but let’s face it, they will.  I can’t stop them from suffering, and in a certain light, suffering is good.  You grow from suffering.  You learn to appreciate what you have.  Once you heal from the pain, you’ll be that much stronger, and that much more dedicated to what you really want.  Heartbreak happens.  Some day they will lose loved ones, be they friends or family.  They’ll meet people who bully them or are nothing but mean, uncalled for, or just a royal pain.  That happens.  You can’t truly live life without encountering those things.  I don’t want it for them, but they will experience it.  What’s the use in denying it and trying to coddle my children, protect them from every ounce of suffering.  That’s how you become a helicopter parent, and I really don’t want to be that.  Instead I’ve got to let go a bit and follow their lead, even though it sometimes challenges my beliefs and scares the ever-living crap out of me!

Now I’m starting to see the fruits of that scary, terrifying trust I’ve placed in my children to figure out what they need in life.  Corde is dedicated to her art, and while she doesn’t have what it takes to be a famous artist (though she definitely could if she keeps practicing and developing her skills!) she’s doing what she loves.  No one expects her to be famous before she’s even 10!  This isn’t the day and age of the classic artists, many of whom did their first famous piece by the tender age of 12 or 14.  She’s got time to develop, grow, and learn.  She’s got all her life to be famous if that’s what she wants to be.

Having faith in my children means watching Corde educate herself on subjects that really matter to her.  I know I’ve got a life-long healthy eater because she’s so interested in the food industry and what unhealthy food does to you.  Will she still splurge on things she shouldn’t have?  Probably, but she’ll at least have a strong foundation in good, healthy food.

My worries of geography have satisfied themselves.  Corde has developed an interest in maps thanks to a well-timed workbook from my aunt.  She’s interested in how to find places she’s interested on the map.  She thinks floor plans are pretty cool.  She’s decided that learning how to read a map is kind of fun, even though by the time she’s old enough to drive no one will be using them anymore.  It will all be GPS and Google Maps.  Even trail maps are possibly going to be going digital by that point.  Still, I love that she’s developed a love of reading maps.  Maybe we’ll even go old school and bust out compasses and maps in order to learn how to navigate the old way, the way I learned in Girl Scouts.  She’s learning about math through simple curiosity of what happens if she takes this many of this thing and this many of that, or if she decides she needs to have enough of something for every one of her friends to get an even amount.  She’s also learning about money as she assesses how much we’re willing to fork over to her for chores.  I’m sure it’ll have even more impact as she starts banking her own money and spending it on things she wants.  She’ll learn just how many chores equals a pack of Pokemon cards.  That teaches her the concept of money as being stored labor.  Work equates to buying power.  Money is how that work equation is shown.  She’ll learn about physics the first time she drives a car, and then again the first time she drives a car in the rain.  She’ll learn geometry when she starts designing things, or when she some day goes out to the pool hall with her friends.  If she needs more than the daily lessons in each of those things, she’ll learn them.

And exposing my kids to things I love doesn’t have to be coercive.  I can teach the kids about Shakespeare by going to a show or putting on a movie.  She’s learning about Poe because she loves poetry.  We can also read the stories together at Halloween, just for fun.  I can teach them about classic books by offering to read them together.  It’s not coercive if they have a choice.  They can either watch with me or listen to me read, or they can walk away.  I’m not forcing it on them, just offering it as an option.  Generally, they take the option.  It’s not because they feel they have to, but because they’re interested in getting to know what the people in their lives are interested in.  They might not like it, but at least they’re willing to try it and see.  If they don’t like it, they won’t do it again.  It’s just sharing what we love, like any other reasonable adult will do.

The kids have all kind of started to pick their own very different focus points and interests.  Corde has been interested in art since she was, I don’t know, maybe one or two.  I just didn’t realize how much of an interest it would be until she started getting older.  Now she’s sitting in the dining room, drawing at the table as I write.  Beekee was on music for a while, but now it’s magic.  Who knows if that will stick or if it’s just another phase.  Sander’s new thing is photography.  He loves everything about it.  Luca is already choosing a different path.  He’s already started to enjoy pretending to do housework, taking care of “babies” (usually his little bear) and likes to play with blankets and purses.  He’s very much a nuturer and an homemaker.  None of my other kids have really gone that direction, not quite so much and not from such a young age.  Looks like I might just be getting him a baby doll after all!  I found a great little doll that even shares his name.  It’s a girl doll, but gender-neutral enough that I don’t think it would make a difference to him.  Looks like I’ve got a whole list for his first birthday already!

See, that’s one of the things I love about all the homeschoolers/unschoolers/non-traditional schoolers I know!  They’re all so involved and know their own kids better than anyone else in the world.  They allow their children to experience life through a number of different aspects instead of so much being limited to the classroom.  They expand learning to include everything in life, and some fantastic experiences that you’ll never learn anywhere other than in the world itself.  It’s a lesson that each child will be able to take with them their whole life over.

What will my children do with their lives?  At this point I have no idea.  Corde will always do something with art.  Beekee will always be some kind of entertainer, in part, even if it’s just entertaining his own family.  Sander is still to young to tell.  I have a feeling Luca will be loving and cuddly his whole life through.  They may all go to college, or none of them might.  They could be millionaires, or starving artists.  They could be, or do anything, but at least I know I’m doing one thing for them.  I’m teaching them to always strive to be involved in their lives, to learn all they can, and to work for the things they love.


Our 100th Post!

Yup, this is it!  Post number 100!  I know that may not seem like a lot to some of you bloggers that have been posting long past 100 posts, but to me it’s a lot.  It’s going to be right up there with our one year anniversary.  It’s one of those landmark moments in blogging.

I’ve got to admit, I’ve known a lot of blogs that don’t make it to one post.  They don’t make it to one year.  Their blogger either loses interest or just loses topics to write about.  I don’t think I’ll ever run out of steam.  Run out of time, maybe, but never out of steam!  My kids are constantly giving me plenty to write about.

For our 100th post I feel like I should be writing something monumental, like a recap of everything we’ve been through so far.  I feel like it’s really 80’s montage time, but I really don’t feel like doing that.  Instead I’ve updated all of our bios on the about page and I’ve put some new pictures up.  If you’ve got Instagram and want to follow us, you can find us here.  Please, please, please follow us if you’re interested in our photos.  It’s much easier for me to just include our cool photos there than it is for me to post all the cool photos of things we do here.  I know blogs with photos tend to get a lot more attention, but it’s so much work to constantly keep up with photos!  As you can see, I’ve also updated the header photo.  It’s definitely not winter anymore.  I love our beautiful snow picture, but it’s not likely to snow in Texas anymore this year.

Spring really has set in here.  This has meant some wonderful moments.  We’ve really had a chance to get out and enjoy the warm weather.  It’s still a little odd to think that back home I’d still be considering this sweater weather at the very least, not walking around outside in shorts and short sleeves on a nice day.  Even on the colder days long sleeves and a hoodie are more than sufficient.  It gets decently cold at night, but we’re not out at night much.  It’s not going to be long before the sun is carrying on long into the afternoon and the kids won’t want to go to bed at night because the sun is still shining down on us.

Luca has taken quite a liking to walking around outside in the grass.  Pulling up tufts of grass and tossing them everywhere is a new pastime.  Walking around to chase after his brothers and sister is fun too.  He loves the fresh air and tries to sneak out the door any chance he can get.  It’s just too bad we don’t have a privacy fence around our yard.  I’d let him run around outside without a diaper, but around here I think people would start to talk, and that’s the last thing we need.  He loves riding around on our walks and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.  I’m just wishing we had a woven wrap carrier because it would make it easier to bundle him in when he falls asleep so he looks less like he’s going to hurt his neck!  (By the way, my birthday’s next week…so if anyone should feel inclined to send gifts…no, seriously!  Alright, maybe not…)

Sander has found a new love in blowing dandelion seeds.  I remember how much I loved doing that when I was little.  I would make a wish every time.  He doesn’t really get the “make a wish” part of it, but he does love to blow off all the seeds.  He has so much fun with them.  It’s inspiring to see his joy at such a simple thing.  Other joys include rolling a bike wheel that’s currently not on a bike and throwing balls around.  Let’s not forget playing in the dirt!  He likes our walks too, but he’s always disappointed when he can’t pick the way we go.  If only we could just wander around aimlessly in whatever direction he pleased!  That would be fantastic!

Of course, I’m probably going to have to make a cooler magician’s cape for Beekee soon, but for now the weather is perfect for his.  It’s not quite to the point of being too cold.  Warm weather also means park days!  Better still, I’m planning some trips through the area we used to live in as soon as we get a car.  That means we may be able to visit with his old friends.  I know he’ll be so excited about that.  His best friend from our old co-op is also into magic right now.  They should have a lot of fun sharing their love of magic.

This is also a great season for barefooting!  For those of you who don’t know, I enjoy doing a great number of things barefoot.  I’ve done everything from grocery shopping to eating out to driving.  Believe it or not, it’s NOT illegal, though many people don’t realize that.  Unless a place has a sign specifically stating otherwise, you can actually argue your way into barefooting most places without getting kicked out.  That being said, I never had the need to argue with anyone and I’ve only ever been asked to wear shoes at the library, and I can respect that.  This has led Corde and I to walk all the way to the store barefoot to pick up some groceries.  It was a wonderful day for it.  We’re going to be doing a lot more of that as the weather gets nicer.

As far as that goes, barefoot living is great!  It’s so healthy for your feet.  A lot of doctors recommend being barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes to help children’s feet develop properly.  I’ve had great results when it comes to knee and back pain.  I’m much healthier overall when I’m living barefoot, though I’m sure it doesn’t seem that way to some.  I know people think I’m off my rocker for going around barefoot, and probably even more so for letting my kids do it, but we’re healthy and happy, so shouldn’t that be what really matters?

Beyond barefooting and enjoying the outside, our days are kind of dull.  Corde works on her workbooks and hangs out with her brothers.  The older boys play and try not to fight too much.  Luca wanders around pretty much following the other kids.  Sometimes he likes to carry a purse around or play with a toy broom.  He likes to play with the older kids.  It’s pretty chill, but to look in on any given day it doesn’t look like much learning is going on.  Actually, most people would assume that I’ve got my hands full and Corde’s always responsible for the baby.  I can see where they’d get that idea.  Luca will barely have finished nursing when Corde’s stealing him away from me to go play.  Then Beekee spends most of his time sitting by himself to calm down or to have a discussion about his attitude, his screeching, his refusal to accept other people’s boundaries, and in general getting under everyone’s skin, like singing or humming the same tune for six hours at a time, even after being asked several times by everyone around him to stop.

I try really hard to give a positive image of what it’s like to have a larger family.  Most people think I’m insane for having so many.  I constantly hear how I must have my hands full.  I’ve always been told by other people that moms of large families really need to work hard to give other people a positive image of large families, but it’s hard.  It wasn’t so bad six months ago, but with each passing day Beekee becomes harder and harder to live with peacefully.  The tantrums are more plentiful.  The challenges are more frequent.  His ability to listen and follow directions seems to be slowly eroding away to nothing.  With each passing day it becomes harder.  I hate to say it, but it’s easier to go out with three of the four of them and leave Beekee at home than it is to go out with all three of them.  Beekee can easily wear me out and make me feel exasperated.  Of course, then there’s other rare days when you’d never know he was the one that gave me challenges.  He listens, follows directions, and somehow doesn’t have meldowns.  I love those days.  I just hate feeling like I’m giving everyone a bad impression of what being a mother of four is like because I get so frustrated and worn down by him.

And the strange thing about it?  I really hope I can have one more before we’re truly done.  I’d like to have a little girl, but I’m not going to be disappointed by whatever we have.  I just know that it’s not going to be for a while yet.  We need to pace ourselves.  As much as my little bear is growing up all too fast, I’m not ready to be racing into all of this with a new baby just yet.  Let me enjoy my little teddy bear a little longer before I give him competition!


And Somehow Time Got Away from Me Again…

Yup, I somehow let it happen.  Time got away from me.  I was supposed to be doing regular videos with the kids for the blog.  I was supposed to be writing more regularly.  Then something happened.  I’m not even sure what it was.  It’s like life just grabbed me and took off, not giving me a moment to stop and think about what I’m doing here.  Holy cow, life, give me a second to breathe here!

Oz’s new job has made for a drastic change in schedule.  For starters, I’m no longer able to hop on the computer and write most evenings.  Tonight I’m being totally bad.  I’m staying up past my (self-appointed) bed time so that I can actually catch up with the world a little bit.  I’ve been going to bed early.  I’ve been getting up early.  I’ve been doing so many other things I’ve completely forgotten to write!  Shame on me!  A blogger is supposed to stay on top of her blog!  What a slacker, huh?

So, here’s what’s been going on with us this month…

Oz has been crazy with his new job.  I’m so glad he’s got it, but it’s been wearing him out.  He finally decided to quit Subway because he was too tired all the time and had no time left with the family.  He still hasn’t adjusted to his early morning routine, but he’s getting there.  Coffee is his life’s blood in the morning!  I don’t know what he’d do without it!  Thankfully he loves his job.  He feels like he’s always got something to do and it challenges him.  That’s exactly what he needed.  As he put it, pretty much any idiot can do it.  It’s just collecting up the right pieces to put in shipping boxes to be shipped off and keeping inventory, but he feels like he’s busy all the time.  To him keeping busy and constantly being in motion are the most important parts of the job.  As long as he’s always kept busy with interesting tasks, he’ll be good to stay with the job forever.  It’s not stressful and he’s got very little down time.  That’s all he really needs.  It looks like he’s finally found a good match.

Then there’s Miss Corde.  She’s been doing workbooks lately, which shocked the hell out of me!  That girl hates workbooks!  No, you don’t understand, I mean she really HATES them…couldn’t despise anything more.  When my aunt sent it a part of me thought, “Oh, great.  Another workbook.  Well, I’m sure she’ll find something to do with it.  She always does.”  Wasn’t I surprised when she asked if she could work on it and actually followed the directions and everything!  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.  It’s about maps and geography.  It’s a pretty interesting subject.  At this rate, if doing workbooks is a way to get her to practice her reading and writing skills, more power to her!  I’ll invest in a few more that interest her.  I’ll even let her pick them out.  Anything to get that girl reading!  She’s also been working on math independently too, which is good news for me.  I guess this is proof that all this unschooling stuff really does work.  I was starting to have my doubts when the kids started to do nothing but play (and as a result, fight) all day, but it’s finally starting to work out.  Corde’s getting into some new, interesting, and cool stuff.  I’m really interested to see what she comes up with next on her list of studies.

Beekee has been a challenge for us lately.  I’m at a loss of what to do.  What seemed like a difficult streak that I perceived as having started a few months ago has just exploded.  He’s irritable.  Everything has to be his way.  If things happen in a way he hasn’t planned for, expect a meltdown.  He’s been horrible about listening, so I have to stay on him about everything.  He can handle a particular task, but you have to give it to him in excruciating step-by-step detail, and you’ve got to remind him of each step as the one before it is complete.  It’s been driving me pretty well insane.  Someone (I forget who) suggested maybe I should take him in to be tested for ADD.  Well, I’ve been told by countless doctors that ADD and ADHD have a classic tell.  Caffeine calms down and helps focus people with both disorders.  I guess that makes it a pretty obvious tell.  I was told this by a doctor when explaining how a childhood ADD diagnosis couldn’t possibly fit me because I have a caffeine sensitivity.  It makes me anxious, jumpy, and jittery, not classic signs of ADD behavior on caffeine.  Plus I tend to get highly distracted and can’t focus.  I can get a lot done because I’ve got all kinds of crazy energy, but absolutely no focus.  I need someone very specifically directing me, or I need to make a list before I start on the caffeine.  This is why I’m not a coffee drinker.  This is also why we don’t give Beekee any caffeine.  We can always tell when he’s snagged someone’s soda because he starts acting exactly like I do on the stuff.  He’s all over the place!

Then someone suggested Aspergers’.  This same person (someone I’ve known for a LONG time) suggested I get tested for Aspergers a couple of years ago.  I still haven’t done it because the idea of an official diagnosis scares me.  That same person suggested maybe I want to look at getting Beekee tested.  I started reviewing the signs again.  I started thinking to the way Beekee plays with (or really plays near and ignores in most cases) other kids.  I thought about his reactions to outside stimulus.  For the longest time he couldn’t handle people yelling and still can’t handle loud noises of pretty much any kind.  He’s gotten better about the yelling, but I think that’s just because he’s had to learn to cope with Sander having tantrums and the baby crying when he was gassy.  He doesn’t do so well when plans change.  He has meltdowns incredibly easily over things I don’t understand, but are very important to him.  He also doesn’t engage in imaginative play.  He plays everything based on movies, books, and other things.  He can quote lines from moves and replay scenes he’s only seen once to a scary level of accuracy.  He has a hard time focusing on anything that doesn’t expressly interest him, and if it does expressly interest him, it’s hard to get him off the subject.  Now, does this mean he can be diagnosed as anything, not necessarily.  At the same time, I think it’s worth looking into the situation to help us understand him a little better.  If he is diagnosed, well, there’s a lot of help available to parents of Aspergers children.  If he’s not, at the very least a therapist or counselor should help us develop some coping techniques for his behavior.  Then we can hopefully stop the fights that happen between the kids before they start and minimize the meltdowns.  It’s not easy to keep my cool when Beekee is screeching at the top of his lungs for the fourth time that hour because whoever is playing with him isn’t playing within his very strange, impossible to understand set of rules that he never really explains to anyone, yet somehow seems to think they understand.  He’s always been really different, unique, a loner, and very sensitive.  I should have suspected something sooner.  Actually, I did expect something sooner, but I was afraid of putting a label on him.  Now my fear of labeling him has been overtaken by my need to keep some sanity and order in my house.  I know we’re going to be getting out more soon, which will help, but I’d love to have a sense of peace when I’m at home too.

Then there’s Sander.  That little man is growing up so fast!  His vocabulary is getting more and more complex by the day.  He’s able to handle a three mile walk without getting tired or cranky.  He knows exactly when he’s hungry, tired, or in any other kind of need and expresses it very clearly.  He naps when he feels tired.  He eats when he’s hungry.  He knows how to get himself snacks and drinks, but he prefers it when Corde does it for him.  They really don’t spend much time playing together, so having her help him has become his way of spending time with Corde.  He wants her to teach him to do everything by himself.  He thinks she’s the coolest thing in the world!  He’s also learned to hug people when he hurts them.  He announced today that Beekee was his best friend ever.  He’s also decided that Baby Bear is the best little baby brother anyone could ask for, and now he’s determined that he’s got to take care of the baby.  Of course, this generally ends up with me having to pick cereal out of the carpet and finding random diapers flung around the house (because he can take the diaper off to be helpful, but can’t put one back on so I have to chase a naked butt around the house to get a new diaper on him!)  He’s also pretty officially potty trained!  He still has poop accidents now and again, but he can last most trips outside the house.  Every once in a while he thinks he’s got more time to get to the bathroom than he does, or he gets so excited about something that he’s not paying attention, but that doesn’t even happen once a week anymore!  He’s growing up so fast!

And speaking of growing up so fast, Luca has completely blown me away with all of his growing up.  Just last week he learned to walk.  He’s popping two more teeth.  Then he learned how to climb the stairs on Saturday.  He now has a great little bunch of words.  He says, “Mama” (me, obviously), “Dadada” (Oz), “Day-Day” (Corde), “Kikica” (kitty cat), “num-num-num” (which seems to mean both “yummy” and “give me some”), and “momomo” (which seems to be both “more” and “I’m mad about something”).  He also carries around a little purse with a fox on it that used to be Corde’s when she was little.  He’s been a beast with solid foods too.  It used to be that he just liked pancakes, but now his tastes have evolved.  Cereal is okay, but not a favorite.  He loves to slurp spaghetti noodles.  Muffins are decidedly delicious.  Grapes are yummy, but not very fun to eat.  The skin makes them a challenge.  Same goes for oranges.  However, the best food in the world, far better than anything else he has ever tried, the one food he would gladly trample people for and steal from anyone whenever he can get his little paws on it…apple fritters.  He loves those things!  It’s hard to believe he’s only 8 months now!  None of the other little ones were walking this soon.  Beekee was the youngest at 10 months.  Then again, I supposedly walked at 9 months and he’s got three older siblings and two adults to watch and be encouraged by.  It seems like all the cool kids walk around here.  I also think it didn’t hurt that he found out he could do it by accident.  Corde had been cruising around furniture from about 8 months.  She just wasn’t brave enough to stray away from the support of something else until she was almost 16 months.  Beekee had been cruising around furniture from about 7 months, just like Luca, but he didn’t have much reason to stray from the furniture.  He was all too often being picked up and carted off here and there.  I was run pretty ragged at that point with holiday travel, plenty of social events to attend, and his dad getting home from Iraq.  I didn’t have much time to stop and really let him experiment.  Sander was cruising the furniture around 7 months too, but it wasn’t until he was just over a year that we finally lived in a place with enough open floor space for him to really feel like walking might be a better option.  In a small space where it’s easier to hop from one thing to another it’s not a big deal, but when you’ve got a whole big expanse across the living room and you’ll have to crawl to get across it, that’s really incentive to get up and do it.  For Luca, Corde and Beekee (and even Sander on occasion) would hold his hands and walk him around the living room in circles until he simply got sick of it and plopped down to cry.  He was so used to it that he used to grab my legs and push on them in turn so I’d have to walk him around in circles.  I wished I’d gotten a video, but it was too dark. Oz swore he’d do it again, but two days later he was walking!  So much for that idea!  Even if it wasn’t for all that encouragement, I’m sure he would have learned sooner rather than later.  It didn’t take much for him to see that he was at far more risk of being trampled if he was on the ground.  With three bigger kids and a cat to run him over (a cat that’s bigger than he is!) it’s not surprising that he had incentive to learn quickly!  I wouldn’t want to risk being under foot either!

In other news, we’ve got a lot of changes coming up.  We’ve finally hooked up with even more homeschoolers (one family is unschoolers!) in town.  Actually, with a total of four families that I know of, I’m thinking about trying to schedule regular homeschool play dates.  I know the kids would love it.  Most of them have younger kids, so poor Corde will feel a little left out.  We’re looking into other options that might work for her.  There are other homeschool play groups in the area and there’s even a group for teens and tweens.  It’s hard to believe she’ll be old enough for a group like that!  The local co-op sounds interesting, but with the challenges we’re having with Beekee, I’m not sure if he’ll be able to handle it.  He’s a handful and I don’t know that he wouldn’t be a complete distraction in class.  Still, it’s good to know other homeschoolers again.

We’re also looking to get a car, yay!  No more lack of transportation for us!  We’re looking at another Mazda Mx6 on Craigslist, if it’s still available when we get the money together.  That will be on the 28th, so it only has to be there one more week.  If not, the other option is a Ford Fusion at a dealership.  It’s definitely not as good of a deal since we’d be making payments on it, but it’s a newer, nicer car.  We really need a car.  Unfortunately, we can’t afford anything big enough to fit all of us at once, so if we get the Fusion, we’re going to try and pay it down as fast as possible so we can get out from under the payments, and consider financing a second car if need be, but preferably just getting the first payed off so we’ll have more money free.  If we get the Mazda (which Corde, Oz, and I all have our fingers crossed on), we’ll be able to start saving the money we would have been spending on payments towards getting a larger car that will fit all of us at once.  We’ll be jumping into the world of “two car families”.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to have that on the horizon!  Freedom will be ours again!

And if that isn’t enough news, there’s also what’s going on with the house.  We had the exterminator come in.  The exterminator sprayed all of two spots and made the problem worse.  Then we went out and got our own spray, which turned out to be the same thing the exterminator used.  We sprayed down our whole kitchen.  That stuff is amazing!  It was kind of gross to see the dead bugs and to watch the places they crawled out of, but we felt pretty good about ourselves.  We determined that we were going to get at least one can of this spray stuff every week and focus on a different area of the house.  Since it’s kept the bugs out of the areas we’ve already sprayed for the most part, this should allow us to (in theory) get the whole house taken care of.  We’ll have to go back over sections as we go, but it’s getting the problem in check.  It’s scary how you never realize how bad of a problem you’ve got until you start agitating them and stirring them up.  Man, our problem was incredibly bad!  They’re sending the exterminator through again on Friday, but I don’t expect her to do much again.  I have a feeling we’ve got to handle this problem on our own.

From what we hear this is par for the course in this trailer park.  Another resident said the exterminator did the same to him.  Then we heard one of the trailers they were cleaning up and repainting for occupancy was just as bad as ours.  The bugs were coming out of the walls to eat the paint before it dried and they kept getting into the paint bucket.  It makes me think that we really didn’t have pretty much anything to do with the problem, but that these trailers were pretty infested before we even moved in.  Since we’ve started spraying we’ve started attacking any area that we see them come out of.  This has meant spraying the spot where the trim connects the wall to the ceiling and other interesting spots I never would have thought of.  It’s scary how they’re in a million places I never would have thought of before.  After having talked to exterminators about it, this problem probably existed well before we got her, we just stirred it up.  We would have to be leaving food out all over the place in large quantities in order for the problem to get this bad.  While I can admit that I haven’t been keeping the house spotless and have been guilty of letting the dishes sit for longer than I should, there’s no way that’s enough to make the problem this bad from everything I’ve been told.  It would have to be the stereotypical bachelor pad with boxes of half-eaten pizza left laying around everywhere for months at a time, fast food wrappers with uneaten fries, drink cups everywhere.  It wouldn’t be “Man, I haven’t taken out the trash in a couple of days and we’ve now got two bags waiting to go out.  And I’d been so good about getting it out every night…” or “Ugh…I’ll just do the dishes tomorrow.  I’m too tired to do it now.”  And if empty trailers are so bad that they’ve got bugs coming out to eat the paint, then how bad was this place potentially before they moved us in?

So the conclusion is we’re moving.  We’ve called around to a few places and it looks like we may no longer be the Trailer Park Unschoolers.  We might be moving into an apartment.  We’re kind of tired of the drama of the trailer park.  We’re kind of over the whole problem of poorly maintained trailers being bug magnets and having more problems than we care to deal with.  For the time being we’re keeping the name.  Actually, I kind of like the name, so I don’t think we’re going to give it up for a long while.  It’s where we got our roots, where this story came from.  Yes, you can unschool in a trailer, but there also comes a time when you just can’t stand the trailer park anymore.  We may end up back in one (once we can vet out a nice one and afford to get into it), but for now we’re planning to move on to bigger and better things.  We’re looking forward to taking a step up in the world, from trailer park dwellers to apartment dwellers.  Hopefully from there our next step will be into our own house.

So on that I leave you for now.  I’m going to try my hardest to keep you updated, but I make no promises at how often.  Between dealing with the bug problem, car shopping, getting ready to move, and working on a more active social life, we’re going to be pretty busy.  Plus, with the nice Texas weather, we want to get outside and enjoy it as much as we can before the dog days of summer hit and no one really wants to be outside in that heat.  So take care.  We miss you all!  And hopefully we’ll be back on track soon!


Multi-Tasking…Update and the Beautiful Mom Blog Award

So…first, the update…

We lost our stove again!  Oh no!  And the exterminator, who did a horrible job, ended up trying to push through to get us evicted by telling us it was the clutter that caused the bug problem.  Reviews of this company have shown that this is kind of usual for them, so I’m not surprised.  However, this may end up with out management trying to evict us…fun times.  But the good side of that is they’ve already done enough stupid things to us.  We don’t really want to be living here anyway.

In other good news, our CPS case is officially closed.  It was all ruled out.  That’s one more hassle that’s no longer a problem for us.  It’s such a relief to be done with it!

And now for the award…

So I was nominated by the wonderful blog Living and Learning with a New Normal, which you should totally check out if you have a little time.  She’s a wonderful mama with the most fantastic, inspirational daughter ever.  Not only that, but her entire family is pretty cool!  Definitely worth a read!

So here’s what I have to do.  I have to list three things I love about motherhood.  Why three?  I don’t know.  It seems like a limited number, but I’ll do my best to pick my top three!

  1. Life with kids is never dull!  Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, everything changes.  Good days blow up into disasters, but bad days can also turn out to be the funniest moments ever!
  2. No matter how bad things get, I’ve still got my clan of munchkins to give me strength.  I might have given up long ago if I didn’t have my kids to keep me going.  Life is stressful.  Sometimes the only thing that gets me through is knowing they need me.  Other times they just inspire.  Whatever it is, I don’t think I’d be half as strong without them.
  3. I can’t even put to words how nice it is to wake up with a little body snuggled up against me, knowing that in a few hours, tops, the bed is about to be piled on by crazy kids.  Sure, this may send me flying from the bed, baby in arms so he doesn’t get crushed in the chaos, but it leads to a lot of laughter.  Good moments like that just can’t be beat.

Now for the tagging portion.  I have to nominate other mamas!  Sadly, I haven’t seen much from some of my favorites, and one of my favorites nominated me, so here’s what I’ve got for you!

  • The Mamafesto – Feminism and being a mom, sounds a lot like me.  This mom is everything I wish I could be.  She’s bold, educated, and political.  I only wish I could be half as inspirational as she is!
  • Motherhood Is An Art – This mama is too funny!  I have no idea how I came across her.  She sends her kids to school and leads a very different life than we do, but I love reading her blog.  Oh, yeah, and her kids are adorable too!
  • Nothing by the Book – One of these days I’m going to die laughing…and it’s going to be while reading this mama’s blog.  She’s witty, inspired, and her kids are a riot.
  • Raising My Rainbow – This mama’s story is truly inspirational and beautiful.  She writes a lot about gender identity and has been one of the motivating factors to staying strong in my belief that Beekee should be who he wants, regardless of what other people think.  She’s given Beekee and I both a lot of courage.  If only there were more strong, inspiring mamas like that in the world.

So thanks for reading.  Wish us luck in everything we’ve got going on.  Then go check out those blogs!