Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Some Highlights of 2017

What can I say, it’s been an awesome year, and a great year of being back to homeschooling.  As you may (or may not) remember, the year started with the kids in school.  Well, it’s ending the right way.  Only Corde’s going back in the new year, and we’re not even sure for how long that’s going to be.

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We did a lot of interesting things this year.  The kids had their first martial arts classes.  As much as I loved taking them to jujitsu, they didn’t exactly love it.  We ended up quitting that, and the kids really seem happier for it.  However, I won’t count it as a failure.  They tried it.  They didn’t love it.  We moved on.  I mean, I suppose we could have made it possible for Beekee and Luca to keep going, but with the frequency they wanted to stay home, it wouldn’t really be worth it for one or two days a month.  On to better things, right?

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We ended up doing some pretty cool things at the library this year.  We went to a KEVA plank build day.  We went for a couple of LEGO build days.  Then there was the leadership program Beekee was a part of, where he got a citation from the state representative.  They really made the most out of our library this year.

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Corde made her first muffins this year, which she was super proud of.  Since then she’s made cookies and brownies quite a few times.  She even did really well at the culinary program at her school!

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There was also that summer like day in February.  I still can’t believe we were able to go out with shorts and short sleeves in February!  They all thought it was kind of cool to be able to walk through snow in summer wear.  I can’t blame them.  When does that ever happen around here?

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Corde had many looks this year, but the biggest change of all was getting her first pair of glasses.  Thankfully, she loves them and thinks they make quite the statement.  She’s lost (and found) them a couple of times, but she’s gotten pretty used to them.  On top of that, she graduated middle school!

 

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Luca had an oral surgery this year, which took most of his top teeth, but he was such a trooper through the whole thing.  At first he was upset and wanted his baby teeth back, but then he got a Toothless (the dragon from How to Train Your Dragon) and that made it all better.  Now he’s perfectly happy with his cute little smile!

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For Independence Day we went to see the fireworks on the Charles River.  This is becoming quite the family tradition.  We’ve gone every year since we’ve moved up here, and we may even go in the next year too.  The only down side was losing Sander’s DS in the river, but it could be worse.  His DS and the game were replaced for his birthday and Christmas this year, so he’s got them back again.

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One of the highlights of the year was the trip to Fort Warren with my dad and my sister.  Not only was it the first time the kids were ever on a boat, but they really loved the old historic fort.  I think their favorite part was getting to explore the darkened rooms with flashlights, but what kid wouldn’t love that?

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We had not one, but two trips to the Children’s Museum this year too!  Talk about fun!  I don’t think this place will ever get old.  I can see them wanting to come back as teens and hoping they can find any little kid they know that wants to go.  I can’t blame them.  There’s so much to do there!

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I think one of the things the kids loved the most was the WWII reenactment.  It was rainy and gross at the start, but it was great to see the tanks roll out.  The mock battle was pretty good too.  I think this is one thing the kids will be talking about for years.  Who knows?  Maybe we can wrangle enough people to go again!

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After walking the Freedom Trail on a positively frigid day, we got to do something Sander and Luca had never done before, and we hope becomes a part of our winter traditions, skating at the Frog Pond.  Okay, so we’ll probably go to the place closer to home, but it was definitely fun.  We want to get the whole family to go next time.

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Let’s not forget the epic gaming day on Christmas.  We played so many games all week.  I think we’d all forgotten how much fun family gaming night can be.  We’ll definitely have to do that more often.

So that was our epic year.  I hope yours has been a great one too.  I’m not sure if we’re going to do this again every year, but for this year, at least, it was fun.  Now it’s time to kick back in my nice warm house and enjoy the rest of the evening.  It’s cold out there and we’re glad to be home, even if we don’t last until midnight.

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Because It’s Cold Out

This year we’re really looking forward to finding some more unschooling types of opportunities.  We want to get away from the traditional book schooling as much as possible so we can hopefully break away from it entirely.  At least that’s the goal.

We wanted to start out this weekend with ice skating at the local rink, but it looks like that’s not happening.  It was 10°F (-12°C) out there with a -9°F (-22°C) wind chill.  It’s expected to be about the same all week, which is not exactly the ideal kind of temperature to go ice skating in.

In truth, we’re finding it’s not the temperature to do much of anything, really.  The kids want to be sitting up on the chairs in the living room because they’re soft, comfy, and warm.  They don’t want their feet on the floor where the icy draft blows.  It’s especially tough because they like to work on the floor in the living room, which is the coldest floor in the house.  It means we won’t be doing much work out there until the temperature rises.  I don’t want the kids to be freezing.

Next week Corde goes back to school.  It isn’t going to be much warmer then.  (I guess I’d better get her hat finished!)  I kind of wish she didn’t have to be standing out in the cold waiting for that bus in this weather.  It has me wishing she would make up her mind on homeschooling.  Then she wouldn’t have to be out in that cold, but the experience of the exploratory shops is good for her, so there is something to be said about that.

I think if we get back to “school” next week we’ll probably be working in the kitchen, with the space heater out there to warm our toes while we work.  It’s not as drafty as the living room, but it’s still not exactly warm.  We’ll probably be working with hot chocolate, just for the fun of it.

This cold is definitely putting a damper on the things we wanted to do this winter.  We don’t exactly want to be out in the cold.  I think this means next year we’ll have to plan ahead, just in case.  We just weren’t expecting this cold so soon!


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Christmas 2017

This was our tree this year.  In the past we’ve done a different “tree” for each of the kids, but this year it only made too much sense not to.  All their gifts fit under the same tree.  That’s the first time it’s happened in a while, but hopefully not the last.  We didn’t get a lot this year, but it was good.  It felt like just the right amount of stuff for all of them.

Sander used to be obsessed with trains.  He’s not as into trains as much as he used to be, but it’s still a thing for him.  It was only too fitting that there was a train game waiting under the tree for him!

This was one of the few pictures I managed to get of Corde for Christmas, and a picture of Beekee too.  You can see some of their loot piled up, not much, but something.  They each got two Pokemon decks, which is what that was about.

Nika even got a present, well, only one that she really got early on.  She got a stocking full of dog toys too, but that didn’t get the attention that the bone did!  She already bit off a hunk of it that she carries around the house.  That one’s going to last her a while!

Luca’s favorite gift this year was Just Dance 2016.  They loved the Just Dance game they got from the library, so we decided to pick it up for them.  The thought was it’s physical activity, so it will keep the kids active.  I mean, they don’t really need something to keep them active, but it’s good in the winter when the weather isn’t great for getting out.

This is how excited Luca was to be opening presents.  Can you tell Pokemon was a theme?  They got a lot of Pokemon cards this year.

It wasn’t long after the presents were opened when this happened.  We hadn’t even had breakfast when they started playing.  They were super excited to get back into playing again.  They even taught Sander to play.  Luca tried but got bored pretty early into it.  That kind of patience takes time to develop.

However, he did have plenty of patience for checkers, with help, of course.  They got special Mario Bros. checkers, which made it extra fun.  The “king” pieces are hats.  They had an incredible time of it.

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While waiting for breakfast we got into Ticket to Ride.  The kids had a blast with it.  Luca and I played on a team, but Luca got bored after a while.  We continued to play without him.  Everyone really enjoyed it.  I won by a nose!

Someone rolled a twelve when we were playing, and if you know anything about Settlers of Catan, you know that meant there were a lot of sheep right at that moment.  I had more sheep than I knew what to do with!  It’s fitting that a knitter would get all the sheep!  If only it were real sheep…

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I’m pretty sure we weren’t quite playing to the rules, but for a first time out of the box (and having not played since before Corde was born) we did pretty well.  It was a lot of fun.  At the start it seemed like it was going to be a really long game, but it picked up quickly.  Once again, I won.  It seems to be a theme of the day, but everyone had a good time (except for Luca and Sander who were playing video games).

Then there was Beekee’s chess set.  He got one of those chess sets that folds in on itself.  One of the clips on it is broken so we may have to get it replaced, but he had a good time learning how to play.  I still won (though I was trying to let him win!)  He was a pretty good sport of it though.  I told him to keep practicing and he’ll be beating me in no time!

Luca couldn’t let Beekee be the only one that played chess.  He did pretty good, though I did guide him through what moves he should probably make.  I think remembering what all those pieces do was a bit much for a first try out, but Luca did well.  We wound up with a stalemate, which Luca decided was close enough to winning.

Finally, there was my fortune from our traditional Chinese food dinner.  Luca, Sander, and Beekee (the picky ones) had hamburgers, while Oz, Corde, and I ordered Chinese.  Beekee actually ate some of the Chinese food, which Corde said was too spicy for her.  Then I got this fortune and couldn’t help but laugh.  What better fortune could you get on a day like today?

No, not quite the end.  I had to share what our shepherd thought of the snow earlier today.  Yes, we got a white Christmas (we had one 4 years ago in Texas too!)  She’s such a silly pup!


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Highlights of Yesterday and A Little from Today

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This was yesterday.  All the kids got handmade bottle holders for when we go out places, that way I wouldn’t have to hold their water bottles for them.  It’s a great idea, and they look super cute.  Also, look at that, I’m in a picture!

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They got some pretty awesome stuff.  There were only a couple pictures of Beekee, but I swear, he does exist!  Here’s proof!

Also, that Mario Uno game, they’ve played it a few times now.  It seems like it’s pretty fun.  It’s got a couple specialty rules, which makes it different from other versions of the game, I guess.  Whatever the difference, they really like it.

There’s a picture of Sander and Luca with their loot in there, and Corde (also proof that Corde does exist!)  They’ve been busy with their toys all day today too, which is nice.

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This is the picture I was talking about yesterday.  See that dive into the bag?  He was bound and determined to get those presents without help!

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And the final picture, just how far into the bag Luca actually went!  Ignore my messy house, but I thought the picture was pretty darn cute!

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And we made cookies tonight.  Luca has determined that these are cookies for Santa.  We haven’t mentioned the Santa thing at all this year, but I think he picked it up from Christmas movies.  Whatever, we’re going with it.  Imagination is everything in this case.

And the picture is dark, but we’ve already got presents under the tree!  This is a first for us.  Usually the presents end up going out late at night, after the kids go to bed.  That’s because I wait to wrap everything until last minute.  This year we actually got on it early, so there’s something under the tree on Christmas Eve!

It’s not long before everyone is off to bed and waiting for Christmas when they can open everything up.  This has already been a fantastic Christmas Eve!

 


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Christmas, Round 1

My aunt and uncle came over today to do their presents with the kids.  They normally do their gifts on Christmas Eve, but without having a car we can’t get out to the Christmas Eve event.  Instead they come to us, generally the weekend before Christmas.  It certainly makes for a different experience then when we’d get the gifts in the mail in Texas.

This was Luca’s favorite toy this year.  We could probably cancel the rest of Christmas and he would be good with it because he’s got a Toothless.  I had no idea they even made this stuff.  Luca loves all his other toys, but this by and far takes the cake.

Sander and Beekee both got some Star Wars LEGO sets.  They’re always a hit with the kids.  The kits never stay built long, but they love having all the pieces to build with.  When they some day decide they no longer want the LEGOs here I think we’re going to donate them to the library for their LEGO days.  We could easily triple the amount of LEGOs they have if we donated them now!  If the kids keep getting them we could supply everyone and then some!  They really have a lot of LEGOs.

Look at this!  An actual picture of Beekee!  When does that ever happen?  I swear, he’s the hardest kid to get a picture of.  He’s holding one of his favorite pieces.  They all got a couple of these “block head” people to build.  They’re really pretty cool.  We’re debating on getting some glue and making them permanent so we can set them all out on display.  We’ll see if that ends up happening.

And I can’t forget Corde.  You don’t see much of her anymore.  Still, I didn’t want to leave her out.  She got a whole bunch of art supplies for Christmas, pens, markers, and some really awesome coloring books.  This is just one of them.  They’re so detailed!  I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of her coloring book collection.  I may just have to get some of them for myself!

On top of all their favorite stuff, they also got a whole bunch of card games.  We’re going to have games to play for days, which should be fun.  I think we’re going to start including a lot more game time in our “homeschooling.”  It teaches kids so many skills, strategy, math sometimes, teamwork for some games, and definitely patience.  I’ll probably be posting more about the games we play when we start playing them.  That may be something we do tomorrow before we start baking.  We’ll see if we get to it.

So Christmas has only started for us and we’re already off to a wild start.  I wish I had pictures of some of the highlights, but I wasn’t able to catch any.  Maybe I’ll share some when my uncle sends me some, like Luca diving into the bottom of his bag to get more presents.  They really had a lot of fun with it.  I can’t wait to see what they think of their presents on Christmas Day!


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A Grand Day Out

This was Luca this morning.  His face got cold so he wanted to borrow my scarf.  I’m not sure how much it helped, but it seemed to make him happy.  We were on the train before it was even light out (as you can see by the black window…no, we are not underground…)  We left the house at 6:15 am.  The temperature was a whopping 23°F (-5°C) and with the wind chill it felt like it was 19° (-7).  I know, not that much colder, but when the day warmed up and the temperature after the wind chill did not?  We were in for a cold, early morning.

It was only Sander and Luca today, which was nice.  It’s been a while since just the three of us did anything, even if we were out with a friend too.  Beekee was home sick and Corde really didn’t need to miss yet another day of school, at least until we come to the conclusion of what we’re going to do with school versus homeschool.  Besides, she was supposed to bring home some more stuff from school today, which apparently didn’t even happen, so boo to that!

While waiting for the subway Luca decided it was time to do this.  I have no idea where he got his little meditation thing from, but he does it now and again.  It kept him happy while we waited for the subway, which thankfully wasn’t a long wait.

When we got to Boston the first thing we did was the Freedom Trail Guided Tour.  Sander and Luca were really excited about this, even if their friend was not.  They’re definitely history kids, so I knew this would be fun for them, at least as long as they didn’t get too cold.  It was a 90 minute tour, so there was definitely potential to get cold.  This was our tour guide, who was absolutely awesome, by the way.

Interesting thing we found out about this place?  That’s where Benjamin Franklin’s parents are buried.  I kind of figured he wasn’t buried there, but I never knew what that monument was about.  Well, now I know.

We also got to learn about these tombs.  I’d seen them around a whole bunch, but I never knew the details.  I just thought a body was set inside and the lid was put on.  Apparently not.  Apparently there are stairs in there leading to the actual burial space.  That’s actually kind of cool.  Who knew?

Unfortunately, Sander did get pretty cold towards the end of the tour and was really starting to wish we hadn’t done it.  He wants to come back and do it again in the summer when it’s warmer, and he doesn’t have to be bundled under such heavy warm clothes.

This…  There are really no words for it.  It’s a boot car.  We happened upon it when we were heading to the Government Center subway station.  It was sitting out there and chilling by the winter market, which I really wanted to go into, but the kids were eager to get on to their next activity.

You know what that is?  Luca carrying the first pair of skates he will ever wear.  We rented them from the Frog Pond on Boston Common, which was overall pretty reasonable for being in the middle of the city.  Luca was so excited about skating that it was the only thing he wanted to do when he got up this morning.  “Is it time for skating?”

This is Sander on the ice, obviously.  I wasn’t able to catch a picture of Luca on the ice because Luca was almost always right by my side.  They say no cell phone use while on the ice, so I wasn’t able to snap a good shot.  They both did venture off without me on a couple occasions, and Sander was even good enough by the ending that he could go a decent way without holding the rail.  A few more times and they’ll actually be pretty good at this ice skating thing!

Unfortunately, see that lump on Luca’s forehead?  This was when Luca learned ice skating is not all fun.  He’d been quite the free spirit at it, venturing far from the edge, taking spills, and getting right back up.  Then one time he hit his head real good and almost quit.  We sat on the side for a little while, but then Luca started to feel better and the first thing he wanted to do was get back on the ice.  That’s my Little Bear!

And this was perhaps the best part of their ice skating trip, watching the Zamboni.  Of course, the kids had to call it a “Zomboni” because of Plants vs. Zombies.  They thought it was so neat that you can just send something out there to put warm water on the ice and suddenly it’s so much better for skating on again!

They actually wanted to be the first ones on the ice when they finished resurfacing the rink, which was when they learned a hard lesson, clean ice is slicker than cut up ice.  I mean, it was easier to skate, but they also found it was easier for their skates to get away from them.  They had just finished with the ice when we started skating, so I wasn’t surprised that they hadn’t noticed the difference until the ice was fresh.

After the skating rink we went to the playground next to the Frog Pond.  I told them they could have all of fifteen minutes to play, which they certainly made the best of.  It was really too cold for me to be standing around waiting for them to play.

Luca actually only said it was okay to quit skating if we went to the park afterwards.  Otherwise I thought he was never going to get off the ice.  As you can see here he was pretty pleased with the playground.  He had to go on every slide at least twice.

We found these little cutouts sitting on the Common.  Of course, the kids had to have a picture with them.  They’re bears!  And given I have a Little Bear of my own, it was just too perfect.  Good eye, Sander, for catching that one!

And it would never be a trip to the park at Christmas time without taking a picture of the tree.  It’s beautiful, as always.  I kind of wish we’d been able to see it at night, but it was pretty cold and we had places to be.  We had a time we were expected to be home with their friend, which meant we couldn’t stay out too late.  Besides, they were all getting pretty tired.  It was a long day!

And, finally, had to have a picture of me in there, didn’t we?  Luca took this one. Luca really wanted to do this one with me.  It made his night that we could do it together.  I think it turned out pretty cute!

So that was our grand adventure in Boston.  We had so much fun!  It was definitely a good trip.  It’s too bad Corde and Beekee couldn’t make it, but there will be plenty of time to take them in the future.  And because Sander and Luca love skating so much, we’re definitely going to be taking them back.  We may even consider investing in skates so we can skate more often without the added expense of rentals!


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The Japanese House

One of the things we went to see at the Children’s Museum (which I decided deserved it’s own post) was a hundred year old Japanese house.  Sander, Luca, and I have been to this house before, though it had been a couple of years.  I think Luca must have been three and Sander maybe five?  It was before he started school, I know that much, one of the last trips we took before he started school.

Corde was dying to see the Japanese house.  She’d wanted to see it the last time we were there, but the kids had no interest and were too busy doing other things.  By the time we got to it, it was closed for the day.  This time, to be sure we got to see it, we headed there early so we’d be sure we wouldn’t miss our chance.

This guy is pretty cool.  I don’t remember him from the last time I was there, but it was a while ago.  I forget what he’s called, but you write a goal on the back of the head.  Then you paint in the left eye.  When you finally accomplish the goal you paint in the other eye.  Apparently you can have all kinds of these from big to small.  You could have tons of small ones for things like passing a test.  Then larger ones are for bigger goals, like learning a new skill.  It’s pretty cool, actually.

Corde is standing here for an example of size.  This kitchen is so small!  Look at that tiny refrigerator.  I can’t imagine having something so tiny in my house, though I could totally make it work.  Corde pointed out that it would probably never work in our family.  I pointed out that Japanese families weren’t typically as large as ours, if I know my history right (which I totally may be wrong on that.)

This little garden was sitting in the back.  I’ve always loved the look of it.  I would love to have even a neat and tidy little garden like this in my home.  I think it would be wonderful, and from the looks of it, pretty easy to keep!  I’m sure this is all fake plants, but it’s still an example of what it would be like.

Okay, they’re slippers.  They were on the floor in the bathroom in front of the squat toilet.  I didn’t think the toilet was worthy of a photo, but these slippers are really cute.  The little bunnies remind me of…that show with the cute little bunny that I can’t remember for the life of me.  I want to say Maisy, but that’s the mouse.  Oh well, I’ll remember it at the least convenient time.

This is Luca making a Japanese postcard for the new year.  He colored the dog blue, and even put a Japanese stamp on it.  How cool is that?

Corde has decided these must be her people.  They don’t wear shoes in the house.  They sleep on the floor.  They eat lots of noodles.  She also watches a lot of anime, so while she’d probably be more at home in a modern Japanese house, this one was still pretty fun for her to visit.

I didn’t ask what this was.  I suppose I should have.  It looks pretty awesome, doesn’t it?  Of course, this just means I’ll have to come back, right?

These were a curtain separating the entry way from the kitchen area.  Corde made me take a picture of all the bunnies, since she’s my little bunny.  And there was even a frog for Sander!

They had this little box by the door with a shelf where shoes would go.  They had these cute Hello Kitty slippers in there.  I was such a fan of Hello Kitty when I was younger.  I absolutely loved her.  I thought it was cute that they were there.  I also never asked about the translation thing beneath it.  I’ll be honest, I’m just noticing it now.

Aren’t these slippers cute too?  I love the ones that look like little dogs.  Also, you can’t beat more Hello Kitty.  I would totally wear something like these if they were in my size, even though I’m a grown adult.

Corde found the love of her life, noodles!  That girl is obsessed with ramen noodles.  She could eat them forever.  Finding out they’re a Japanese thing was awesome for her, but now seeing it displayed in a museum window was just too much.  She said, “That’s it, Mom!  I’m living here!”

This doll was part of an ambassador doll program or something like that.  She was delivered as a part of an international program out of Japan.  She’s been on display at the museum since.  Corde thinks she looks creepy, but I think she’s really beautiful.  Look at all that detail!  Look at those clothes!  Such a pretty doll…

These were in the display case with the doll.  I thought they looked particularly cute so I took a picture of them.  I just wish they had a something telling me what they were and why they were there.  That’s the one aspect of a traditional museum that was missing here.  I wish there was more information posted!  But I guess the target audience of very young kids wouldn’t have much interest in that.

I have to say that I would consider going back to the Children’s Museum again, even after the kids are older, just to see this beautiful house.  I mean, I wouldn’t want to pay the $17 admission just to visit the house, but I can see bringing Luca until he’s “in 2nd or 3rd grade” (in quotes because who cares about grades?)  I can see bringing future generations here too, just because it’s such an interesting little place.  I’ll be honest, when I’m a grandmother some day, I’ll love the excuse to come back!