Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


Park Days, Hiking Trips, Co-op, Festivals!

Our weeks are getting all booked up. How does this happen? Why are homeschooling so much busier than regular families? Never fail, we always run into more events than we can have.

For example, the park days have started up again. Every Monday they have park days with the secular homeschool Yahoo group. We have to start making these. The kids had so much fun at the last one we made it to. They kind of put it on hold for the summer because it was too hot, but now it’s back again. We can’t wait.

There’s also a nature and hiking group starting, sprung off that same secular group. They’re going to be doing hikes around the area on Wednesdays. The kids are looking forward to that, but not as much as I am. I miss going on nature hikes. They were always so much fun. Now we just need the plant and wildlife guides the kids want. This should be both fun and educational.

Sadly, we’ll miss the fall celebration. They’re doing a Pagan inspired fall festival the same weekend as the fairy festival. However, I’m betting they’ll celebrate some of the other festivals. No matter what religion Rushmore choose, it’s good for them to be exposed to a wide variety of religious practices. Nothing builds tolerance like understanding!

Of course, there’s the fairy festival. We can’t wait to go. The kids are very excited. They love faires and festivals. I can’t wait to see how it goes. It should be interesting, to say the least.

As always, co-op takes up our Fridays. The kids love it and they get plenty of time to play and learn together. It’s been a lot of fun. The whole thing has really been great for them.

If this keeps up we’ll have to start telling people we’ll never be home! In attempting to get through the CPS chaos, we’re going to have a much harder time scheduling home visits. It’s hard to have her visit when we’re never home. At least she can’t say the kids don’socialize.

It feels good to have a busy schedule again. I can’t wait until we can start posting about all the extra fun stuff we do. It’s going to be a great school year!


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Fairy Swaps

Today Corde made swaps for the fairy festival. It was nice to see her excited. It’s been all kinds of emotional for her lately. Excited is a good mood. It’s better than she’s been lately. She’s been a rollercoaster lately.

The craft today involved some little wooden people shapes, girls and boys. They were decorated and had little wings put on. They looked so cute. I’ll have to put up pictures soon.

Now Corde has a gift she can give to the kids she meets. She should enjoy that. I can’t wait to see them all finished!


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Ah, another co-op week! I love co-op. It’s always so much fun. Okay, for most of us it’s always fun. We have our share of challenges, but all in all, it’s a highlight of our week.

So, let’s start with the good. We’ll be at co-op again next week! It might be tight, but we’ve been given a couple more weeks to work out our finances. I’m glad they’re willing to work with us. A part of me would be glad to ease up and be free of the co-op. Part of me would really miss it.

Better still, Luca sat through a good bit of his time in nursery without getting upset. He lasted a good portion of the first two classes. He even played with puzzles for a while, as long as I didn’t leave the room. He did really well. He even had some good Daddy time, which is something he needs. It’s strange not having him with me, but it’s good that he’s having fun with other people. He needs to spend some time without me. I love him, but sometimes I need a break!

Oz is organizing a Magic tournament for the homeschool co-op’s teen players. He’s even building a deck to use as a prize. The kids are thrilled. It should be a lot of fun. Better yet, it should be worked out as a regular thing for when Beekee is old enough. The boys are already asking to play, but I think Sander and Beekee need to learn a lot, like reading, focusing, and strategy before they can play.

The bad? My knee, ankle, and elbow are in rough shape. Yes, it’s definitely fall. The kids’ aunt’s truck broke down today. I didn’t get the cleaning done I had hoped. We were late for co-op…again. We even forgot to pack lunches. It was just not a good day for organization. I guess on that level it was the fear of having to leave the co-op. I was stressing over that instead of getting everyone ready.

And then there was the ugly. I was asked if I would let Corde drop yet another grade level in writing. She’s not thriving like I expected. Worse still, she’s starting to become disruptive in class. It’s not that she doesn’t get the concepts. She’s just very slow at writing. She gets distracted too easily. She’ll write two letters, then stop to ask a question or stare out the window at home. It can take her an hour to write one sentence. Her spelling is horrible, even when copying. She’s a bit disappointed, but she’ll get over it. It’s better to thrive and be set back than to struggle. We’ll still work on her writing program. We can just take it at her pace. If it takes her all summer, so be it. By next year she should be ready. It’s speed, focus, and spelling that holding her back, not understanding. She’ll feel better about it when she starts the new class.

I also learned just how many kids I’m likely to have in my lit class for our next book. My class has all elected to read War of the Worlds after Treasure Island. They’re combining classes with the next grade group up. That group is likely to mostly choose the same book. That class is going to be huge! We’re going to need a bigger classroom. I’m not looking forward to a class that big.

Back to Corde for a minute, her attitude today was also pretty ugly. She decided to sulk all of science. She didn’t get the prizes for doing her homework because she said she did it all during class. She’s making things hard for herself at co-op. I really need to start encouraging her and checking in with her more. Beekee and Sander are thriving at co-op, but if Corde doesn’t start rising to the challenge, I think she may not return next year. I know she can do it. I know she can thrive. I know she could have a lot of fun with it, but she needs to lose the attitude about hard work and facing challenges. I hate to pull us all out next year because she doesn’t want to do it, but it’s really all or none. I can’t just leave her home alone all day. We’re in this together or not at all. Then again, she’s still adjusting, so she may start to lobe it once she’s a little more in the swing of things.

So it’s been a bit of a mixed bag today. In the end, we had a lot of fun. Corde and Beekee are making friends. Sander is getting to do some fun stuff he wouldn’t do at home. He loves his teachers. My classes are so much fun. Oz is really loving it too. I really hope it continues to go well for us. Now we just need to figure out how to manage the finances. We have a lot to afford and not that much money to work with. I think today showed me to stay positive. They love us at the co-op, even with Corde’s struggles and moodiness. She’s just got to feel like she’s struggling less. The fairy festival is coming up. Life is looking more positive.

Oh, and there’s talk of starting a homeschool hiking and nature walk group on Wednesday morning. The family suggesting it is big into the Charlotte Mason thing. I think those nature walks and studies could be good for the kids. There’s nothing like exercise, nature studies, and socialization for my little nature-lovers! Yup, things are looking up!

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Exaggeration and Letter Writing

Corde seems to finally know what her imagination is for. It only took her headfirst ten years of her life! I just wish she knew when to dial it back and not exaggerate.

Corde’s story of the day was about her science car. First it was the only car not to follow the circular path the other cars did. Then it ran rogue and went so fast it even drove on the ceiling. She followed this with her car nearly catching on fire and running over some poor kid in her class. It was all I could do not to tell her to stop lying. I did have to ask her to dial it back a bit. She kept trying to pass it off as true, even though I know it’s quite impossible.

Then there are her fairies. She claims she has a bunch of fairies that follow her around, help her out, or sometimes make mischief. This is all fine when it’s time for joking around. When I need her to be serious so I can get something done or figure something out it’s a bit much.

I have to admit, a part of me loves her creativity. She could be a great writer some day with those skills. She just needs to learn to write it down.

Thankfully, writing is on the list. Both Corde and Beekee have decided to start writing letters to their aunt and uncle. I hope this is a start of a letter writing revival. The post office could benefit from more letter writing and the kids would certainly enjoy it. This could be the start of something fantastic and new for both of them!


Chicken Runner and Chocolate Milk

This morning was a mix of delightful and depressing. I’m a little beat by everything going on. I’m looking for answers, but it seems there are never any satisfactory ones. Life without child support has been a rough adjustment.

Today we made a tough decision. This will likely be our last week at co-op. We were on a payment plan, but we’re falling behind. We just can’t afford it right now. I hate it. I love my classes. The kids are making friends. They’ve been learning so much. Now I have to take it away from all of us. I hate to pull the plug on it, but we just can’t make it work anymore. If we can’t be granted more time, we’ll have to drop it. It’s better I drop it than get kicked out. If I voluntarily leave we may be able to come back next year, if I’m not too ashamed to return. I’ve always tried to let people see us for us, not our finances. Sadly, I can’t hold up the mask any longer.

In other sad news, we may not make the fairy festival either. It’s just over two weeks away, and that’s going to be a decent expense between gas and paying for Corde and Beekee to get in. I only get one extra free pass and Sander and Luca are free. The kids were so excited about it too. It hurts to have to take two opportunities away from them at once. I feel like I’m now the villain in one of their games.

On the other hand, the kids don’t seem to mind. Corde is happy to get back to unschooling. She wants to do her books because we already have them. Might as well, right? And she makes a good point, CPS is still involved so it would be good to be able to show improvements in their writing and math. They surprisingly enjoy it! Corde kind of wants me to go back to being her teacher. She’s surprisingly disappointed that I don’t teach any of her classes. Their social time can be filled with park days instead. It looks like I might be setting up a few and posting them on the homeschool list myself. No one else seems to be taking the initiative, so it may be good if I did. They love the co-op, but they would be just as happy to have normal social time.

Corde was too funny the other day. She moaned, “Why doesn’t Grumpy get internet? We could watch Netflix! Or even regulars TV channels? I miss my shows! I could be watching Clean House, Dirty Jobs, and Mythbusters right now. We didn’t even get to watch all the documentaries on our list. I miss my documentaries!” And she says she doesn’t like to learn…

Still, the kids are having fun. Beekee’s four-clawed creature and assassin obsession has been replaced with chicken-runners. Chicken-runners are dinosaurs about the size of a chicken, but they run really fast and eat meat. They also have feathers, because the kids decided dinosaurs look much more creepy with feathers. This new thing with dinosaurs being thought to have feathers is a bit weird to all of us, bit it makes for fun play time.

It’s funny to hear them play house too. Corde is always the mom. Luca is her baby. It’s funny hearing her complain about needing coffee in the morning to function because her kid is too crazy and she can’t keep up. I don’t drink coffee, so I have no idea where that comes from. Oz loves coffee, but rarely drinks it. She’s too funny. At least it gets her reading. Apparently her vision of being a mom involves reading a lot to her baby. Hmm…wonder where that idea came from…couldn’t possibly be me, could it?

In all of this, I could really go for a chocolate milk. It’s my drug of choice. Some people want a beer. Others crave cigarettes. I crave chocolate milk. I think it’s because, unlike those other vices, I can share chocolate milk with my kids. There’s nothing like kicking back with chocolate milk and cookies with the kids. The weather is slowly getting cooler, which means chocolate milk, lemonade, and iced tea are soon to be replaced with hot chocolate, hot tea, mulled cider, and eggnog. I forgot just how much those things meant until we couldn’t afford to splurge. Hopefully it won’t be long before we can splurge on all of us again.

So, in the wake of some saddening news, light seems to fall on us. I know if we were still in the trailer park this news would have hit them hard. Now it just means more time to run wild on the land. They can get back to those wild, unschooling ways. We can keep a little of the new stuff from co-op and if the kids want to keep going with the writing and math, we will, but we’ll have more freedom to stray from the path.

Of course, nothing is set in stone. I might just get news on Friday that they’ll work with us. Things could yet turn around. Until then, we’ll focus on what to do if the co-op will be over for us this year.

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Monkey Threats

Did you know monkeys think making eye contact is a threat? Humans are the only creature like a primate that encourage eye contact. Maybe it’s because having the guts to issue a direct threat makes us seem confident.

Today the kids have been making monkey threats at each other. They’ve been holding staring contests while making monkey noises and hopping around. I would think they would find it too hot! The past couple days have been cool and lovely, but today has been pretty warm! Still, it’s not too warm to make monkey threats! They’re going wild with it.

I have a feeling this is going to be a long lasting game. What is it about old things, like a staring contest, that makes them fun again with nothing more than a name change? It’s the same old game. I just don’t get it!

Even Luca finds this game funny. He runs away or giggles each time. He tries to mimic the monkey noises. He tries to hop but he just can’t get the lift. Instead he does this crazy balancing act on his toes with his arms flailing. Sometimes he manages on one foot. The one foot balancing act makes him look like a tight rope walker that’s about to fall. The other kids find this quite comical.

With each day life is getting one step more amusing. I can’t wait to see where this road takes us. Just stay tuned and keep us in your thoughts. We want to land on our feet in a place that makes us just as happy as we are here.


Imagination and Classic Stories

I remember watching Pippi Longstocking and Anne of Green Gables as a kid. I would run around outside and pretend to know them. I wanted a dress from Avolee. I thought that was every girl’s dream.

Fast forward a generation. My daughter doesn’t know any of those stories. It makes me think the generation gap is bigger than I thought. I grew up with such different things. I can’t imagine growing up with all the shows they have now. Everything is so wholesome with morals and lessons everywhere. I had troublemakers and misfits to watch and enjoy, like Tom Sawyer. My kids never seemed to have that.

Today we actually saw a couple shows that amused me. Pippi Longstocking and Anne of Green Gables are back! Of course, they’re in television format, but it’s an improvement. At least kids can grow up with the same wild, creative characters.

Thankfully, my daughter made me smile. She said she had those books and pointed out we’d be reading about Anne this year. It was nice to know she actually cares about books.

In other news, the morning imagination time continued today. The kids were wizards for most of the morning. Next they were fairies. They all played together for a good long while, until I made them come in. Surprisingly, there were no complaints about having to come in. They were pretty cool with it all.

The country life is doing us better with each day. The sun is shining. The weather is nice. We’re really enjoying it out here. The kids went from bored, whining, and fighting to always having something to do. The transformation is magical, just what they needed.