Trailer Park Unschoolers

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

And Somehow Time Got Away from Me Again…

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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!

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Author: Fox

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

4 thoughts on “And Somehow Time Got Away from Me Again…

  1. A lot of gender non conforming kids have various sensory type disorders. Have you considered a nonverbal learning disorder? It’s on the same spectrum, but the symptoms are less severe.

    • Totally forgot to hit reply the first time. Yup, I’m not used to being a morning person. Thanks so much for suggesting that. It’s good to know the full spectrum of what I could be looking at. I hate to say it, but I don’t trust doctors very much. After being wrongly diagnosed as ADD when I was a kid, and then having a list of conflicting diagnoses as an adult, I kind of shy away from labeling. The more I know about what I’m dealing with, the better I’m able to ask the doctor as many questions as possible before letting them settle on a label and potential treatment. And we won’t be playing the medication game because I’d rather find a way to help Beekee out without medication. Of course, staying away from having medication pushed at me means knowing what questions to ask (or getting a good doctor, which I’m not sure if I’ll be lucky enough for yet). I’ll definitely look into what information there is out there for sensory type disorders and nonverbal learning disorders.

  2. Holy update! A lot has changed that is for sure! Glad Oz has found something which he loves. It will definitely help take pressure off!!! I had to laugh when you said Corde loves geography.. Dear lord I hated geography, ever since I decided to be ‘unique’ and colour a map pink and purple – yeah, didn’t go over well…. i am happy you guys are moving, it will be a nice change for you. It was beginning to sound like it was really getting you down! Huge changes, very exciting! Glad you popped in to give an update!

    • Yeah, I was never very good at geography, but I loved doing orienteering. It was a lot of fun to be dropped in the woods with a map, a compass, a set of landmarks, and directions. It was one of my favorite parts of Girl Scouts. Of course, now there’s really no need for learning how to use a map and a compass. Everyone uses GPS on their phones.

      Yup, we’ve got a lot of crazy goodness coming our way! It’s kind of nice. I’m going to miss some things, but I’m really glad for the change. Now I just need to update all our pictures and information on our family page. It’s amazing how quickly everyone grows and changes!

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