Trailer Park Unschoolers

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

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Animal Adventures and Corde’s Birthday

We had this great plan for Corde’s birthday.  It was supposed to be a big, exciting trip to the renaissance festival.  Unfortunately we were met with thunderstorms, which meant the whole family had to stop and redirect.  No one really wanted to go home, so we decided we were going to make the best of it.  With a quick change of plans, we ended up at Animal Adventures in Bolton, MA instead.

There isn’t too much to be said for Animal Adventures.  It’s a rescue zoo where they’ve got a handful of exotic animals, and a few more expected animals.  However, they’re really friendly and pull out all kinds of animals to be introduced to the kids.  It was quite the experience.

As you can see, the kids got to touch all sorts of animals.  Corde even got to see her favorite, alligators and crocodiles.  They had a ton of fun being introduced to all these wild animals.  I think they would have stayed for hours, had they not gotten hungry.


One of the particularly fun moments was when Sander was introduced to the frog on his shirt.  The frog’s name is Booger.  That made for all kinds of laughter as there were jokes made about having a booger on them.  They definitely had a sense of humor here.


If you can’t see what this says, it reads “Animal Adventures Just for Fun” at the top.  On the left with the arrow it reads “This Is A Clamp Lamp.”  The right reads “This…  Is a Clamp Lamp when your pet crocodile wants the night light off.”  I can’t read exactly what the bottom one says, but basically, it’s “Yes, those are teeth marks.”  The kids thought that was fantastic.  Also, talk about a way to describe their bite strength!


The kids were allowed to touch so many things.  This particular snake was held out by something like six people across, which I don’t have a photo of here because I don’t have permission to post it from the people in the image.  It’s the polite thing to do.  However, you can imagine just how long this snake is given not even half of it is as long as Luca is tall.  He was very excited to have a picture with this snake.


In spite of not being able to go to the faire, Corde still went in all dressed up and had a good time.  This is perhaps my favorite picture of her from that whole trip.  She’s holding a hissing cockroach.  Neither Sander nor Luca were brave enough for it, though Luca did try.  It tickled his hands and he dropped it, though.  Corde, however, thought it was pretty cool, even if it was just a bug.

The outdoor areas of the zoo were pretty fun, too.  Luca was very excited at getting to meet goats.  He wants to own goats of our own some day, as well as chickens, which he also got to meet.  There was a pony, some turkeys, and they even got to pet a baby duckling that was only a week old.  Around the back there were a couple big cats and some other animals, which the kids thought were great too.  On top of that, they had an amazing play area.  There was a large wooden pirate ship to play on, as well as this little castle.  It was pretty fitting that we would end up there, given we were coming from being washed out of the renn faire.


It turned out to be a great day, and we got to spend it with some of our family too.  That’s Luca with my dad.  Luca is usually attached to my hip every second of every day when we go out with family, but in this case he latched onto my dad and was having a wonderful day about it.  Talk about a fantastic way to build their relationship!  I had to stealthily chase them down to take this picture because it was a moment I didn’t want to miss.  It was just too good to be forgotten.


When we finally left, everyone was starving.  We were dropped off at home, but since we didn’t get to do anything special for Corde’s birthday, we opted to eat out, wherever she wanted that we could get to.  It was a Sunday, so there was no bus to speak of.  She had settled on Chinese food.  We’d never tried this place, but it was pretty good!  I think it was the perfect cap to a really great day!


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Reading Together

Today was a good day where reading was concerned.  It seemed like the house was full of reading.  That doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I feel like I’ve done something right.  For a house of kids that don’t like to read, I’m happy every time this happens.

When I was a child I remember loving to read.  I read a ton of books, not that I remember most of them now.  A good deal of them had to do with horses, which I thought I loved until reality kicked in and I realized they could be a little scary.  But that aside, I remember spending a lot of time reading.

So looking at my own kids, I can’t help but wonder where I went wrong.  They don’t love reading the way I used to.  They really don’t like to read at all, which is too bad because reading could do so much for them.

Today things were different.  Beekee sat and read two chapters of a book to Sander.  Admittedly it was an easy book for Beekee, so he wasn’t at all challenged, and Sander kind of tunes out when it comes to books and classes, but it was a nice moment for the two of them, for however long it lasted.

Even Sander got into it today.  He read Green Eggs and Ham to himself today, which is pretty good for a kid who claims he can’t read and is always telling me how much he hates reading.  He read it like a pro, so obviously some of that reading skill is sticking with him.  Maybe we just need to get more books like that for him.  It might help him settle into the reading thing.

It’s made me realize that the kids need a better relationship with books.  I know I don’t read to them much.  I don’t read many books myself either, so I can’t blame them for not being into it.  At the same time, I need to help give them a solid foundation in reading, because books can do so much for the imagination.  They can give so much access to information you wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.  Books are a magical thing.

I think tomorrow we may do a little more reading.  It would be good to get them to unplug for a little while and actually enjoy some time doing something else.  Hopefully it will start to help them build a beautiful relationship with books.

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A Year Ago Today and Robotics

One year ago today, that’s what TimeHop just reminded me.  It was one year ago today that Sander and Beekee had their last day in public school.  I knew the anniversary was coming up on us, but I hadn’t realized just how quickly it came.  It feels good to say we’ve been at it for a whole year.

Well, I suppose I shouldn’t say it’s been a whole year yet.  The real first day of homeschooling to commemorate would actually be tomorrow, but you get the idea.  It’s totally worth noting how long we’ve been at it.  I hope to look back years from now and remind myself that this was the best decision of my life.

It also just worked out that this was the second annual robotics day at the local library.  I got an email about it, along with the robotics program they’re running weekly.  If it wasn’t on a day I was on call for babysitting, I would totally do it.  I’m tempted to email and see if there are still slots available and what ages it’s for.  We may just say (since the schedule isn’t officially set) that we’ll do that instead of babysitting, because I don’t want Beekee to miss out on the off chance that I’m needed.  I could also have Corde walk him over there, which is an option, so we’ll see how it goes.

This was Luca after the event.  I wasn’t there to help him build his robot, but he had to come running to show me while I was at knitting group.  It was kind of nice to let the kids have a day with Oz, especially since I wasn’t too far to help should things get chaotic.  And this is what Luca created.  He calls it his spider.  Isn’t it cute?

Sander’s was a minion robot.  As I found out from Sander, there were two sad parts to his day.  He didn’t get to stay and play long with the library’s toys, but also they didn’t get to keep their marshmallow catapults.  They kept falling apart and probably wouldn’t have survived the walk home, especially in the wind we had today.  I mean, it was beautiful out, but that wind!  I’m surprised we didn’t lose any robots!

This was Beekee’s robot, also a spider.  He had another eye, but the eye was a casualty of playing a little too rough.  He looks pretty cool, if you ask me.  Of course, Beekee is also bundled up like a snowman on a 50° (10°C) day, but that’s just Beekee.

Luca really wanted a picture of his robot standing on his own.  I will not like, these guys are pretty cool.  It sounds like the kids had a blast doing their projects with Oz.  If they do another event like this, we’ll definitely have to be back.  The kids absolutely loved it.  And it’s a good yearly (hopefully) event to mark just how long we’ve been on our homeschooling journey!

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Board Games

Since each of the kids got a board game for Christmas, I’ve been thinking about using them more often in the household.  The original plan was to play games one day a week (which we’ve kind of failed at to this point), which seemed like a good idea to help us bond as a family.  Well, coming together as a family was the goal at least.

Then I recently found out about this thing called “gameschooling” which really appealed to me.  The whole idea is to use a lot of games as a part of homeschooling.  The example listed was a family that played a game every day as a part of their homeschooling.  I could really get into that.  Of course, we don’t have enough games for that at present.  It would definitely get repetitive quickly.  Of the games we do have, not all of them are at a level that Luca and Sander can really play.  They both need to get a little older and develop a little more patience before we can really play a lot of the games we’ve got, but it’s definitely an idea.

The whole thing got me thinking about the games we do have.  Monopoly isn’t a favorite around here, but we do have a bunch of varieties of Uno that are quite popular with the kids.  For Christmas Beekee got a chess set and Luca got checkers.  Sander got Ticket to Ride.  Corde got Settlers of Catan with the 5-6 player extension.  Then Oz got a game about hot peppers called Scoville.  We also have Apples to Apples, which is a little tough to play because Sander and Luca aren’t exactly strong readers.  I think we’ve got a collection of a few other things, but I don’t remember what (and I don’t feel like interrupting Oz’s nap to go check out the game shelf).  It’s a pretty good start to a game collection, though we could certainly do a lot better.

Thinking back to when I was a kid, I remember a lot of time playing board games.  My dad used to play all sorts of games with us.  Some of the games were really not your traditional sort of games, like Talisman and Dungeon Quest.  Some day I plan to get those games for my own family, because I remember loving them so much.  I just wish they still sold the character expansion for Dungeon Quest.  I can’t seem to find it anywhere.  Those were some of the best memories I have of my family, or at least with my dad.  I don’t remember playing a lot of games with my mom, but we did a lot of other things with my mom that we didn’t do with my dad, so it balances out.

I’d love to bring that part of my childhood into my kids’ lives, even if it’s not all educational games.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still all for educational games.  They’ve definitely got a place in our home if I can find good ones that we all like to play, but I love just regular old games too.  It’s fun to have some variety, and not everything needs to be “educational” to be good.  They still require figuring things out, like strategy and logic.  Games are just really good for the brain in general.

I think that’s going to be our goal for the year to come, and our theme for birthday and Christmas presents.  I know I’ll have fun picking out games for the kids to play, and it’ll definitely help build our collection, even if it means we may have to get a little creative on where to put all of them.  We definitely need more game storage!  I think this is an important part of my childhood that we’ve really got to carry on into my own kids’ lives.

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Our Snow Day

So, it’s taken me a bit to edit the video, and it’s still not quite where I want it (but I kind of gave up at the end because it just wasn’t working for me), but you can see a little bit of what we did on our snow day. Once you get to the snow playing in the end, you can probably skip over some of that. The video editor wouldn’t let me edit anything else on it, so I just left it as is.

We’ve got everyone in that video, even the dog! It’s not everything we did that day, but just about everything of importance. We did a lot of watching television. I wanted to play a game, but the kids weren’t interested, which is okay, it happens.

This is our snow dog.  She had a whole lot of fun in the snow.  You can’t see much of it in the video, except when she wants to jump on Corde.  She’s definitely a bit of a snow dog.

As you can see, Luca wanted snow on his hair and got his wish.  We didn’t even get off the porch and the kids were having fun.  The snow was pretty deep up there!

And they’re all in the snow!  I even got Corde outside for the snowy weather.  She didn’t want to go at first, but she had fun when she got out there.  They definitely look ready to go and play!

And a hard day of playing leaves all of them too tired to go on!  They went out to play in the snow twice in one day, though it wasn’t for long.  It was really too cold to be out there a long time, but they had fun.  For all their complaints about snow in the past, I think the kids are really getting used to it.

And this is what our bathtub looked like after the snow.  There weren’t a lot of places to leave things to dry, so all the boots went in the tub (since they had snow completely covering them, all the mittens went on the edge of the tub, the jackets hung on the shower curtain rod, and the hoodies went on the towel rack.  We didn’t have a great place to put the stuff, so we made it work with what we had.

It was thankfully not as cold as it had been all week at 23° (-5°C) though the temperature said it felt like 9° (-13°C).  It’s definitely colder today, and the wind is far more fierce.  I’m just glad we were able to go out and have some fun.  It’s only a start to the winter, but hopefully we’ll have a lot more winter fun to come!

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New Year’s Day 2018: The LEGO Build Day

Given we had so many LEGO kits for Christmas from my parents, we decided to take a day to build some of them, and not all of them got built because we had other things to do, but the last one will be finished tomorrow, so yay for that!

This is Chomp-Chomp-McGomp-Gomp, or so Luca decided to name him. I’m not really sure what he is, but there are two of them, one black and one brown. They look pretty cool if you ask me!

This is Luca playing with the kit before it’s even done. He couldn’t wait to get a chance to play with it. If there’s one thing LEGO kits teach kids, it’s patience. Even if they aren’t doing it themselves, they have to wait until it’s done.

And this is called “Mom messed it up so now it’s on Dad to figure out what she did wrong and fix it.” After this point he claimed the whole set and did it all for me. I suppose I can’t complain about that. I still got to do the set I wanted to do.

This is what it looks like completed.  I’m not entirely sure what the kit is because I really don’t remember the movie that well (what can I say?  I’m a bad Star Wars fan…) but Luca really likes playing with it.  We’ll see how long it lasts in one piece before it gets broken up into it’s components.  Hopefully it lasts for a little while.

This is Sander spilling out all his LEGO pieces on the table.  He wasn’t entirely sure what to make of all that stuff.  It was a pretty large kit, and totally more complicated than he was ready to handle.  He got to all of step 15 (out of 136) and decided to give up.  I had to finish it for him, which I didn’t mind because LEGO kits are fun!

While we were doing LEGO stuff, Luca was mixing the batter for our pancake dinner.  It was a team effort to get them done.  Corde put the ingredients together, Luca mixed, and Oz did the cooking.  What a way to start the year.

This is Sander when he was still interested in building his kit.  He did pretty well, but Little Big Planet sounded like too much fun, so that’s what he did.


This is the completed project.  It’s some kind of TIE interceptor, from the looks of it.  I’m not exactly up on the new movie tech.  I absolutely loved building it.  It looks amazing too.  I’m really going to be upset if they pull this one apart…

This one I’m throwing in because Beekee took the picture.  That’s Nika in my lap, and the rare picture of Oz and me together.  There aren’t many pictures of either of us out there, so it’s sometimes nice to have one.  Plus, Beekee got to take the photo, which he was really excited about.  We may have to get the kids into photography this year!

And this is what Nika thinks about the new year.  She’s not normally a cuddle pup, but today she was so relaxed in my lap that she fell asleep, with her paw in her face.  She’s such a silly pup!

And since she was in the mood for lap sitting, she took a moment to cuddle up with Luca too, who was very happy to have a pup in his lap.  He and Nika are pretty close, which is cool.  At the same time, I know he’s going to be heartbroken when she eventually passes because of that.  Thankfully that’s a good long ways away.

So what does this have to do with homeschooling?  Well, LEGO kits teach patience and engage the brain to put them together.  Cooking is a fun thing to do with homeschooling.  Then there’s photography.  I’m always amazed at what we do on a daily basis that falls under “homeschooling”, well, more unschooling, but you get the idea.  Life long learners for the win!

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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.


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?


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.


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!


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?


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!



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!


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.


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?


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!


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!


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.


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.