Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Because We Have to Go

We went to jujitsu today, even though I didn’t want to go. We need to be going at least twice a week. We’re paying for it so we should go.  (And since the video works fine from my phone, but not from the computer, I’m adding it in YouTube format too.  Please tell me if the WordPress video works for you.)

So why didn’t I want to go? Well, Luca and I aren’t just matching for fun. Luca wanted to match me because it’s my birthday. We took the day off from homeschooling. I played Animal Crossing New Leaf with Sander and Beekee. We watched Yard Crashers and Cupcake Wars. We saw someone I met at con last month on Cupcake Wars, which was pretty awesome. We did almost nothing productive, so I had to do jujitsu.

I’m not sure how the video of Beekee will turn out, but you can see Luca and Sander are having fun waiting. They usually have a pretty good time of it. I’m doing exactly what you can imagine I’m doing, typing away on my phone.

Tomorrow everything goes back to normal. Course goes to Teen Tech Time at the library for Minecraft Design. She had her hair done on Saturday. They straightened it and everything. Today she asked me to buy her a straightener, and forgot it was my birthday. Teenagers…

But for today I will try and enjoy the rest of the day. We can’t afford to do much, but I get to order sushi for dinner when we get home. It’s the small way I get to be spoiled, and sushi for my birthday is becoming a tradition. We will see. I may go with fried ravioli and a salad, just because I’m craving a salad. But one way or another, I get my special dinner. Then we do another special dinner for Beekee this week. Let the birthday marathon begin!


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So Much for Spring

Spring is supposed to bring nice weather, isn’t it? Flowers are supposed to bloom and it’s time to take off the winter layers. All I can think is how much I wished I were in Texas still. It’s cold out there! So much for spring…

We had to go out today, and by “had to” I mean I signed Beekee up for a program, of which he already missed one week. It was the day after the concert and I had nowhere near enough sleep. It was also crazy cold. I couldn’t justify yet another day out of the program. It’s only four weeks long! It’s good for him to get out and social with other kids his age, especially because he doesn’t quite fit in at jujitsu. We had to go out today. It was pretty much required.


So here I am, sitting at the library, guarding the coats while Sander plays on the iPad and Luca plays on the computer. This isn’t much change from the tech time at home. We can’t get any books because I forgot my library card, and neither of them wants to read while we’re here. With a half hour left in Beekee’s program, if they end on time, we’ve got a whole lot of tech time going on. I’m starting to wonder if they’ll ever get off of it.

All of this has me thinking. Do the kids really need all the toys they have? They really only play with the LEGO blocks and sometimes the stuffed animals. They would all rather be playing on tech, and since I don’t limit screen time, I don’t see why they need so much.


Of course, getting my family on board with not getting us more stuff to clutter up my house is hard. I don’t want to be storing things in the basement to cycle through. Sander is proving me wrong by just starting to play with the trains at the library, but he doesn’t often play with toys at home, beyond the LEGO blocks. Still, I have an aunt that likes to buy the kids lots of stuff for birthdays and Christmas. The problem with this is we just don’t have room for it all. The kids aren’t reading the books. They’re not playing with the toys. It’s just taking up a lot of space that our big four bedroom just doesn’t have. And to be fair, it is a big four bedroom. I just don’t want toys up in the bedrooms because the kids play instead of sleep and their rooms are always messy. That means the living room is where it’s at. There’s just not room for a lot.

And even if I did allow the kids to have toys in their rooms, I don’t want their rooms to become a cluttered mess. That would mean only a small number of toys to play with in the rooms anyway.

Now I’m remembering why I wanted to live in a minimalist way. I’m tired of living under all this stuff. The summer I was in limbo was the most freeing thing ever. We lived out of one suitcase per person and still managed to have stuffed animals and some small toys. The kids appreciated what they had so much more and I was so much less burdened. I could breathe without feeling like my house was trying to suffocate me.

I think it’s time for a grand scale purge again. I’ll call it spring cleaning, even though spring hasn’t really found us yet. I can cut back on all the stuff we’re collapsing under and bring it back to the basics. We’ve got bags of toys in the basement that mostly just need to go. Some stuff needs to go back to the kids, but most of it is just stuff that’s been long since forgotten. I think that’s the big thing we need a car for, to get rid of all this extra stuff we no longer use and needs to be removed. It will make quite the Goodwill donation, that’s for sure! And we really need to do it too. I wonder if any of those places do pick ups. They’re good toys in practically unused condition, most of them. They just need to live with someone other than me and the family.

So maybe it isn’t spring outside. Maybe I’m longing for our little trailer again. I’m secretly plotting to go back to the trailer park days. But while all this is going on, some positive has come. We’re thinking ahead to the point at which we cut back the toys in my house to almost nothing again. It doesn’t feel like spring, but spring cleaning is coming.

Go stream of thought writing. I can tell I’m bored while waiting for Beekee’s program to let out. Any time now…any time…


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I Would Like A Voice, Please

Learning has been interesting this week. Last week I went to a concert and didn’t lose my voice. This week, out of the blue, I have no voice. Doesn’t that figure? It’s made it an interesting week of homeschooling.

However, not having a voice allowed me to make some interesting observations. For example, I really don’t like Primary Phonics. Doing it right requires an obnoxious amount of talking, and I feel Sander isn’t getting as much out of it if I just say, “There are the workbooks pages. Have at.” It feels like I should be putting in the effort to read through the lessons. I’ll be honest, this is why I haven’t put more effort into doing Primary Phonics with Luca. I think Explode the Code does the same basic thing, but better. The only advantage to Primary Phonics is the basic readers that really make it easy for Sander to build some confidence with reading. I prefer the phonics box sets for that kind of stuff though. To be honest, Primary Phonics seems like a dated system of learning phonics. Will I still use it? Yes, if for no other reason than feeling guilty that money was spent on it for both Sander and Luca, but I much prefer Explode the Code. It’s a lot more fun for both Sander and Luca.

I’ve also realized that having a curriculum doesn’t suit me so much. We really are unschoolers at heart. I hate sticking to the curriculum and the workbooks. I feel like I’m spending my whole day working through books, even though we really don’t spend that long. It’s not my favorite thing. We’re it up to me we would do Explode the Code and Math U See and call it a day after that.

It’s also struck me how much time I spend reading to the kids every day. Our homeschool days have been really short without having reading as a component. We cruise through our daily workbook time without it. It feels like our last few days have been severely lacking. We usually read so much!

And it’s not just the reading we’ve been missing out on, but the discussions as well. We generally spend a lot of time talking about what we’ve been learning or doing. We haven’t been able to do that because my voice (when it’s there) sounds like talking through gravel. As a result, we haven’t been able to do much of that either. It’s been tough losing that whole part of it. I never realized how much talking I do as a part of homeschooling these days!

As for what you missed in the last six days I wasn’t able to pop on the computer (which I’m now posting from my phone, so I’m still not on the computer…) there’s been some good moments. I think I need to share some pictures to show what kind of week it’s been.

This was when Luca decided to serenade me with Beekee’s guitar. It was super cute. The song was called “I love mommy!” Can I just tell you how that made me feel? Luca is awesome like that.

We took last week off of jujitsu, and we’re taking today off as well due to Luca’s dental consultation. (Poor kid needs caps on a bunch of teeth, so that’s a whole ordeal…) We did, however, go on Monday. The kids had a blast on the walk and they loved getting out in the warm weather. If only it was warm like that today!

Sander had crazy spiky hair after his shower. He looks so much more like himself since we hacked off his crazy mop of hair. He wants to keep it that short and spike it up every time he showers. He thinks it’s the most fun part of having short hair.

And then I got this. It’s perhaps the best picture I’ve taken of Beekee in a long time. He’s hard to get a picture of at the best of times. This one just worked out well. He was in the middle of doing his math work for the day. Homeschooling seems to suit him. He still gets easily distracted, but we still get through the content, and that’s what matters, right? It’s working out for us.

Then this happened to my living room. Luca had one tent from last Christmas and got another one this Christmas with a tunnel. This makes for an epic fortress in my living room. Thankfully, they fold up flat so I can put them away when not in use. That means I get my living room back most of the time, aside from when Luca decides to set up the tunnel towers again. I need a bigger living room. That’s what it comes down to.

Today Luca had the consultation for the scary amount of dental work (surgery! Yikes!) I’m glad Oz is going to be taking Luca in for that. Luca needs caps on the upper front teeth and an extraction. I don’t know why either. Luca’s teeth have been treated the same as the rest of the kids. We would have had it seen to earlier but there was that whole moving around thing a couple years ago and once we were settled it was already too late. So that being said, we’re doing the best we can with a bad situation. (Also, this is why I think even radical unschoolers should encourage their kids to brush their teeth!)

Luca came home with an apple fritters as a special treat for being good at the dentist. Luca called it an “apple critter.” It was super cute. That made my day!

So now you’re caught up with us. Now I’m off to watch Jurassic World with the kids. It’s their first Jurassic Park movie. This should be interesting


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The Cold Makes Us Lazy

It was cold out today.  We’d been enjoying such nice weather that the cold seemed to hit especially hard, resulting in none of us wanting to do anything.  We plowed through the stuff we really need to knock out every day, then moved on with our day.  Everyone but Corde took a nap.

Oh, did I mention Corde was home today?  She missed her bus.  I’ve determined that this is the last time she misses her bus.  If she misses again I’m just going to tell the school we’re withdrawing her to homeschool for the rest of the year.  She wants to stay because it means she can go to all of the end of the year events, but she wants to homeschool next year.  Personally I think she might be better off going to the local vocational school for culinary, but that’s just me.  I can’t decide her life for her.

As for the rest of us, we skipped out on jujitsu today.  It was cold and none of us really felt like going.  Given there’s supposed to be snow tomorrow and Wednesday, we’re not going to Wednesday class either.  The kids are going to be home on Friday, so it’s going to be a whole week off.  I just hope the weather turns nice next week so that we can get back to going again.  I don’t want to miss too many days.

Tomorrow is going to be a snow day for Corde, which means more working from home.  It’s going to be good having her home in a lot of ways.  She helps Sander with his work much better than I ever could.  There’s something cool about having big sister help instead of mom.  Sisters are so much cooler, right?

I’m honestly looking forward to the warmer weather.  I have a feeling we’re never really going to be home.  I plan to do a lot of science in nature.  We’ve already started with making note of the signs of spring.  I hope to do a lot more outside time.  It’ll mean falling behind in math, phonics, and writing, but I’m okay with that.  The kids need to be learning from life more than they need to be sitting down with books anyway.

All of that seemed like it was just around the corner, and then the forecast called for snow.  I’m not thrilled about that.  I’m ready to be over the snow and I’m waiting for a chance where we can move down south again where it’s warm.  (Of course, I talk a big game, but I’ll probably find myself in an RV traveling the country first, which isn’t going to happen any time soon.)

Instead of a lot of work tomorrow, we’re probably going to be doing a lot of gaming.  The kids like playing Minecraft and Little Big Planet.  They haven’t even gotten to the creator stuff in Little Big Planet.  They’ll really like it when they get there.  I have a feeling, in spite of the snow, we’re going to have a good day tomorrow.


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A Quiet Day With Just Two

There’s just two today, Corde and Luca.  Beekee and Sander are out for the day, which leaves a pretty quiet house.  It’s amazing how quiet things get when there’s just Corde and Luca at home.  I forget how loud Sander and Beekee can be.

I haven’t had this kind of quiet during the day since the kids were in school, and you know what?  I don’t miss it.  I’m glad to have the kids home, as noisy and chaotic as it can be.  I love the time together with the kids.  We spend so much more time together now.

Still, it’s nice to have a day of peace and quiet every once in a while.  The only sounds are Corde’s reactions as she watches Liv and Maddie with Luca.  The two of them like watching television together.  It’s one of the few times they actually spend together anymore, since Corde is too grown up to want to spend time with a preschooler.

It’s funny, the two of them used to be so close when Luca was a baby.  Corde would sneak into my room every morning and make off with Luca.  The two would play all morning long, best buddies.  I miss those days.  I wish I could have them back, but time flies so quickly.  They’ve flown away so quickly.

There’s likely no more baby days in my future.  Instead I watch my kids grow and change.  I see new moments, like Corde and Luca watching television together, or all the kids quietly sitting on the floor, coloring and drawing.  Instead of changing diapers I’m teaching Luca to write.  Instead of Corde carrying off a little baby, she’s sitting Luca on her lap to watch a show together, or just to cuddle together in my chair.  She loves to pick out clothes for Luca at the store, especially the frilliest tutus.  It’s a different dynamic with them, and it’s fun to watch them grow together, as much as I miss the days when they were small.

Time is a funny thing.  Days like today really highlight what time does to my family.  They’re all growing up so fast.  Corde goes into high school next year.  Beekee is one year away from being old enough for middle school.  Sander is already in first grade, and Luca will be old enough for kindergarten next year.  Where has the time gone, and what happened to my little kids?

I didn’t intend this post to be nostalgic at all.  It somehow just happened.  That’s how life is, isn’t it?  It just kind of happens, ending up with funny moments, sweet ones, and even the infuriating or annoying.  And I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.  In a few short years my oldest is going to be graduating high school, or at least done with it on a homeschool level, and fast on her way to moving on with her life.  It’s scary to think about, how close it all seems.

But for now I have the moments, Corde sitting in the chair with Luca, giggling over a television show.  I have Luca, content to sit with big sister.  They’re not grown yet.  I’ve still got time for these wonderful moments.


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Sounds Like Rain

Yeah, that’s exactly what it sounds like outside.  The weather is finally warming up again and all the snow we just got is melting.  It means the walks that were shoveled are finally starting to clear up.  It means my street (where plowing was seriously a joke) is finally starting to look like a street again.  This means walking is suddenly starting to become less dangerous!  Yay for that!

The trick lately has been walking to jujitsu and the library.  Most of the main roads had the sidewalks plowed, but on our little side street, no one seemed to care.  It’s supposedly state law that you have to clear the walk in front of your house, but since our street is full of renters, I get the picture that no one really cares.  It’s not like they’ll be sued if someone were to get hurt.  More importantly, in a multi-family, who is responsible for the walk?  It’s hard enough to find someone who wants to be responsible for the driveway.

For the most part walking down our street meant walking in the street, not something I was terribly happy with.  We ended up walking “ducks in a row” between Oz and I on our way to and from jujitsu and the library.  I felt better having the kids walk between adults so that (hopefully) if someone lost control of their car, or just wasn’t paying attention, it would be an adult that got hit, not a kid.  I HATE having to walk in the street, especially on my street where people tend to speed and it’s narrow on top of it, especially with cars parked out there.

While I wouldn’t call today a beautiful day (it’s cloudy, wet, and muddy out there), I’m honestly glad we’re getting this warmer weather after the snow we got this week.  It’s supposed to be really nice this weekend, which is good for us.  We’re planning a library trip to build with the KEVA planks on Saturday.  While that’s not slated to be the nicest day of the weekend, it’s supposed to be pretty nice, and with temperatures above freezing all week, I can imagine we’ll get a decent amount of melting going on.  We may even have clear sidewalks by then!

Thankfully the warm weather is on it’s way.  It won’t be long before spring is hear and you won’t be able to keep us in the house.  We’ll be spending plenty of time at the park, and when we can manage it, out in nature.  Once we have a car again we’re going to be out and exploring the world of geocashing as well.  I’m really looking forward to that.

For the time being, we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with the sound of melting snow outside, wishing it were rain to wash it all away.  The kids aren’t a fan of the snow and can’t wait for it to be gone so they can have real fun outside.  (I guess that’s what happens when you raise your kids in Texas for most of their lives.)  Instead they’re happily inside playing with LEGO blocks, playing Minecraft, or watching movies, longing for the days they can go out and play in the sunshine.


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Instead of Family Days

Sunday used to be our family day, but now that Oz is working Sundays, it’s no longer the day we spend together as a family.  Undoubtedly that will fall on a different day of the week, once all the kids are homeschooled.  Which, by the way, we just received our notice that we have approval to homeschool Corde as well.  Now we just need to get the schools to figure out how to let us withdraw our kids!

Instead of family day we’ve been having kind of a “do whatever you want day.”  It’s been working out pretty well for us.  Everyone’s pretty much been doing their own thing, and for the most part, that’s been perfectly fine.  I think homeschooling is going to be a lot like this.  I’m okay with that.

img_20170115_080143_885My day has been filled with watching Arrow.  As you can see by the above picture, I’ve been more than just watching.  As you can see in the picture above, I’ve been identifying the city they’ve been using.  There’s the Prudential Center there on the left, and in the center is the building with the Hiroshima memorial on the top.  I believe the dark building in the background (which is really blue on the screen) is the new Hancock building.  I’ve also seen the old Hancock building and the ugly green highway that is Rt. 1.  Yes, you guessed it, I know that skyline well.  That’s the skyline I grew up with so I’d better know it!  That just made my day.

img_20170115_125136_901The kids, however, have been doing something totally different.  They’ve been at their addiction, Minecraft.  They’ve been doing a really good job of playing and not upsetting each other terribly much.  They played for a while, then watched a few movies, then played some more.  It’s been quite the Minecraft day!

Even the Minecraft LEGO sets came out today, though they’ve been kept in my room to keep them safe from the destructive force that is Luca.  The other sets have met the fate of Luca destruction, though we may try to dig out the pieces to build them again, since we still have all the instructions.  I hope this gives them inspiration to build their own LEGO creations as well, but who knows.  They don’t seem to like building with LEGO blocks as much as I did when I was a kid.

img_20170115_125316_456And what did Luca do all day?  Aside from watching the other kids play, and threatening to be destructive with the LEGO sets, Luca’s been watching a lot of television, mostly Glitter Force and Voltron.  I’ve found it keeps Luca quiet and occupied.  I’m not a fan of the electronic babysitter, but some days it’s nice to have a quiet Luca given most days we’ve got an energetic, crazy Luca.

This isn’t as cool as the family days we used to have on Sundays, but it’s kind of nice to have one day of the week where no one has to get up early and there are no required activities.  I think even when we go back to homeschooling we’re going to keep Sundays as the day we do nothing but chill and enjoy the day.  It’s good to have a day where learning isn’t so much the goal as just relaxing.

In a way I miss the old family days.  It would be great to spend the morning getting donuts and coming home to movies or a hike or whatever.  At the same time, I’m okay with not having them.  Being without a car and being in New England during the winter, it’s kind of nice not to need to walk anywhere, but to stay holed up in the house during the cold weather.  Of course, it’s nothing like my friends in Canada are getting this time of year, but it’s cold enough to make going out a less than fun idea, at least for me who doesn’t handle the cold well at all.

It’s also kind of nice to be able to get to my computer again.  It’s been buried under LEGO sets on and off throughout the day, so I’ve been kicking back and watching my show.  I know I could be playing with my kids or watching movies with them.  I could play Minecraft with them too, but it’s kind of nice to have a day where I can be off Mommy mode.  Actually, that’s been today and yesterday, but yesterday I wasn’t feeling well, yet still got up to make pancakes for dinner.  I also had no access to my computer yesterday because LEGO sets.  I guess that’s not too big of a deal.  Let’s be real, how many of my readers are actually checking in over the weekend anyway?

So here it is, our nice, relaxed, Sunday.  I’m hoping the week will bring with it some more eventful news.  Keep your fingers crossed that things go well with the schools and we’re able to withdraw the kids to homeschool them this week.  It sounds like I may actually need to go down to the schools themselves to plea for our case.  I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that, but whatever it takes, right?  Here’s hoping it all goes well.