Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Absences

Yeah, I’ve been away a while again.  This happens.  I just got a new job working weekends so I’ve been incredibly busy.  I’m working Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and cramming about 20 hours into those three days.  It’s a lot of time on my feet and it’s really exhausting.  I’m in a garden center, so my job seems to be “plant mover” more than anything else.  I’m learning a lot, but it’s definitely not an easy way to make a buck.

There is some good to this whole working thing, though.  I was able to get some plants for our porch container garden this year.  It’s nowhere near as epic as last years, but it’s something.  We’ve got eight tomato plants, nine strawberry plants in a strawberry planter, and a little container of watermelon plants.  I’m not expecting to get much from the garden this year.  I’m guessing we’ll get enough tomatoes for Corde to eat straight from the vine.  Hopefully she can get them before the squirrels do this year.  We’ll probably get a handful of strawberries, not enough to do anything fancy with.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get any watermelons at all.  We didn’t last year.  Still, we’ve got our little garden going, and that’s something we can be pretty proud of.

This is Luca singing to “all the beanies” last year.  That’s a pretty good view of all of our garden at the time.  It got even bigger than that.  Most of what we grew didn’t end up producing much, which wasn’t so great, but it was fun to work on it.  Unfortunately, being a container garden, there wasn’t much for the kids to do.  There was no weeding or anything of that nature.  It’s pretty much just watering the plants and letting them grow.

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This is our happy little porch garden now.  We’ve got two patio tomatoes, two “Lemon Boy” tomatoes, and a handful of cherry tomatoes of different colors.  In the corner is our blackberry bush, which isn’t doing much yet.  You can also see the terracotta strawberry planter I got last year.  We tried some bare root strawberry starters last year, but they didn’t do anything.  This year I went with actual plants.  Apparently you’re supposed to put a tube of PVC piping down the center with holes drilled in it to spread the water better.  I have no idea about that.  We’re just rolling with it the way it is.  It’s not a huge expanse of garden, but it’s something.  Oh, and there’s a serano pepper (maybe?) in there along with a start of an apple tree, though who knows what’s going to happen with that.

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Luca’s favorite part is the strawberry planter.  As you can see we’ve gotten a good bit of rain, so I haven’t had to water any of it yet, but it’s looking pretty good.  You can see two white little strawberries forming.  Those were on the plant before I even got it.  Luca was so funny about it too.  “What?  You got me white strawberries?  Really?”  I had to explain that strawberries don’t start out red.  They become red as they ripen.  This will make a lot more sense when the strawberries actually ripen.  We’re excited to see some new strawberry blossoms appear when they do.  It’s going to be a learning experience because I’ve never grown strawberries before.

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This is Luca’s favorite part, the little starts of strawberries beginning to form.  It’s something we’re definitely going to be watching in the future.  These were like that when we got the plant, so we have no idea how long it takes to go from flower to here, but it’s something to keep an eye on.  It’s exciting to see the start of berries already being on some of the plants.  I didn’t see them when I picked out the plants.  To be honest, I just threw nine plants into a tray and hoped for the best.  It looks like we got some plants that were at least healthy enough to do something.

And this is Luca checking out the plant to see if there are any new strawberries to tell us about. This was on Friday before going to the doctor.  As you can see, it was rainy and gross.  Luca had to borrow Sander’s raincoat.  Don’t ask me how but somehow we’ve managed to get by without having any raincoats.  This one was sent to us by Great-Grandma and hasn’t seen much use.  I really should get us all some decent rain gear though, even if we don’t use it much.  Anyhow, Luca enjoys looking for strawberries.  Once the tomato plants are a bit bigger, I think looking for tomato blooms is going to be a thing as well.

That’s one thing I can say about all this.  The kids are going to get a chance to learn about growing things by watching things grow.  Unfortunately they’re not able to see it come up from seed, but some day.  I’m not much in a place to seed start right now.  Not only that, but I just can’t see myself doing it with so little space to actually garden.  I wish we had a place with an actual garden plot.

And speaking of places we wish we were, currently Oz is looking at getting back into the military.  He’s got some old tickets to pay off before he can get back in.  It’s not an ideal life, but it would give us a chance to do a little bit more and would open up our budget.  So everyone, wish us luck with doing it.  We’re going to need it!

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Busy, Busy

Things have gotten a little chaotic around here. I took a job to help make ends meet. We want to be able to get a science curriculum for next year, so having the extra money would really help. We also want to do a handwriting curriculum because Sender’s writing is awful and I want the kids to learn cursive. It’s more curriculum and less unschooling, but the kids seem to think it’s fun, so why not?

With all the fuss over starting my new job we decided to take some time off of jujitsu. It’s just more in the week than we can handle right now. I know that’s the only real socialization we do, but It’s just too much. Even the kids were pretty burnt out on it. I think we all just needed a break.

Because we’re spending a lot of time on curriculum, we’ve decided to take two days out of each week for “TV school” where we watch documentaries as our daily work. I may just make that the end point to all our school days, but two days each week we try to do nothing but. So far we have four shows going. Two are on animal life. One is on castles. The last one is called Mega Builders and is about incredible building projects. It’s a good mix of stuff for the kids.

All of this end of the year stuff has me planning for next year. Luca has already made it through the first book of Get Ready for the Code. Sander finished his first book of Primary Phonics. That’s two things we can just put aside and call done. Thankfully I have the next set of Primary Phonics for Sander and up to Explode the Code book 2 for Luca. That should keep us going on phonics skills for a while. I’m less of a fan of Primary Phonics as it seems to really be set up for classroom use. I don’t have a board to write on, nor do I have the cards that go with the set. Still, It’s free, so I’ll use them.

The big reason I want to go with a curriculum for science next year is the experiments. I’m kind of rubbish at coming up with projects to do and I’m even worse at making sure I have the supplies on hand. I kind of stink at explaining the science behind things because It’s hard for me to explain things I haven’t studied in years. Having a curriculum gives us projects to start off with that are age appropriate with all the resources to explain what’s going on. The kits I’ve seen with all the experiments aren’t cheap, somewhere between $100 And  $200 per grade level, but I think It’s worth it. It may not be so much for someone else. The way I see it, I would probably spend just as much coming up with experiments to do myself. And we can always try it for a year and see if the kids like it. It doesn’t have to be a heavy curriculum with lots of writing and reading. Just some fun experiments should be enough.

This year I’m really not getting so far with the science I was hoping to do. I wanted to get some plants going on the back porch so we could use gardening as one of our lessons. I haven’t even started on that. Our budget has been too tight to really allow it, and the weather has been too gross to allow for much gardening anyway. I’m hoping this new job opens up some more opportunities for growing a garden. I’ve got some great ideas, though I’m not sure how practical all of them would be. I found these really cool apple trees called Urban Apples. They grow in a narrow column instead of branching out, which makes them ideal for urban settings. I may have to try some. Right now fruit trees are my main focus. I think those are easiest in the long run because I don’t have to replant them every year, which makes them more than pay for themselves. Plus, It’s a science experiment that just keeps growing, so the effects can be studied through the seasons and year after year.

This is mostly just me rambling about what we’ve been up to. It seems like it hasn’t been much, just the same old routine day in and day out. We’re living a kind of quiet existence these days and I’m really okay with that. I think we all needed some down time. Life has been too busy.


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Reading with Corde

Today we had an all too rare moment. Corde decided she would read the Cyclops story from the Oddessey to Luca and Sander. She had a great time with it. She didn’t do voices (aside from making Odysseus sound like a Monty Python character once), but she did keep it interesting. She talked about how this poor Cyclops was just minding his own business and these people invaded his home demanding to be fed. She pointed out how dark it was that they made the humans crunch as they were eaten. Then she pointed out how cute the sheep were. It was a great time for all of them.

All this has me thinking we need to do this more often. It’s really worked out well for all three of them. Corde is funny to watch read. It’s good sibling time for them too. Plus, my secret favorite reason is it gets them all interested in books!