Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Sparklers

We went to a birthday party last night.  It was kind of unplanned.  We were invited over by our neighbors last minute after I got out of work.  I really wasn’t in the mood to go, but I figure it was for the kids.  These are their friends, so they may as well get the chance to go, right?

The highlight of the night was getting to us sparklers.  The colored ones didn’t have the same kind of effect that the traditional ones did, but the kids still loved them.  It’s funny how the simple things in life can really make the night.  They all had so much fun with them, which was awesome.

I suppose we could follow this up with a learning experience.  What makes the colored sparklers colored and all of that, but I think in this case we’ll just let it be.  Sometimes fun is really just for fun.  If they want to know the why, they’ll undoubtedly ask.  They always do.  That’s what makes this whole learning thing so awesome.


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Independence Day (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)

This year we were planning on a nice, quiet night at home.  Oz was working that day and I really just didn’t feel the drive to do anything.  That’s when the thought came to me.  “We should go to the fireworks in Boston!”  Yes, I know, don’t give away where you live, but you can get a LOT of places in the state by train, which is exactly how we went in.

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The trip in was fairly uneventful.  The Corde was busy texting her friends and listening to her music while Sander, Luca, and Beekee kept switching seats at every stop so they could take turns at the window.  They always did like taking the train into Boston.  They enjoyed the subway too because there were no seats, so they all had to stand, which is always an exciting adventure.

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When we got to our spot on the river we all sat and chilled.  We read a chapter of Percy Jackson.  Sander, Beekee, and Luca all played in the dirt, no matter how many times I told them not to because it was kicking dust up into everyone’s face.  Corde took a nap.  Luca looked at a book on snails and we read a Rookie Read About Science book together.  It wasn’t the most entertaining time the kids have had, but they kept themselves occupied, which is good.

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The kids loved being by the river.  They don’t get to be by the water much, so they loved getting to watch it.  The weather was pretty nice, with a good breeze.  We were lucky enough to find a spot that was mostly shady, so that helped too.  The only down side to our riverside location was Sander dropping his 2DS in the water.  I’d warned him not to bring things near the edge of the water, but he didn’t listen.  His DS slipped from his hand and into the depths it went, along with his favorite game, Animal Crossing.  We almost lost a book that Luca tossed at me the same way.  To be honest, I would have preferred to lose the book than the DS, but such is life.  We’ve agreed that Sander can earn a new DS if he does enough reading.  He can earn his game back too.  Sadly, he had to learn his lesson about things falling into the water the hard way.  I just wish we could afford to replace it again so easily.  It’s going to be a good while before we can.

As it got dark, Luca started to get cold.  I handed over my flannel and that solved the problem (and looked absolutely adorable).  The kids were given glow necklaces by one of the people next to us, which was a lot of fun.  I wish we’d thought to bring glow sticks!  Maybe next year.  After all, this is becoming quite the tradition.

The fireworks themselves were amazing, as always.  I didn’t get a lot of good pictures, in part because my phone doesn’t have a great camera.  It also didn’t help that I was watching the fireworks and not my phone (so the framing is a little off).  Luca also wanted to be picked up for a large part of it.  We all enjoyed the show.  It was great to see Luca’s face when the show was going on.  At first there was disappointment because they shot off a few fireworks, but then there weren’t anymore for a long while.  Luca thought the show was already over, but I promised there would be more.  Sure enough, there were, and Luca was entranced.  Both last year and the year before Luca slept through the fireworks, don’t ask me how.  This was the first year Luca got to see the display.

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I have to say, as great as the fireworks were, this was my favorite moment of the whole night.  Luca was taking pictures on my phone and happened to catch this one.  Pretty good for a kid that wasn’t looking!  I held the phone where it was aimed and Luca pressed to capture.  Such a sweet little kid!  I’m going to miss moments like these when they’re all grown up!

IMG_20170704_161858_891However, there’s one thing I’ve got to throw on here as a PSA kind of thing.  While most people were great about Nika, respecting that she was a service dog, not everyone was.  There was a teenage girl on the subway that declared excitedly that there was a dog.  She got even more excited when she saw it was a service dog.  What’s the first thing she does?  Pets my dog…  When Nika decides to lie down, this girl sits on the floor of the subway, pushing into me, and attempts to smother Nika with affection.  She got Nika all riled up to the point that she was circling me, something that wasn’t all that safe to be doing on a crowded subway train.  She was with some of her friends and I didn’t see a parent anywhere (though she was pretty young).  It was definitely inappropriate.

For the most part I don’t have to deal with stuff like this, especially to this extent, I do find a lot of people making kissy noises, whistling, calling to her, and other behavior that distracts her from her work.  I’ve got to say, the kids are great in informing people she’s a service dog and she’s working, but none of us should have to say anything about it.  I know a lot of families have no contact with service dogs, but they’re out there, and the number of service dogs is growing.  So, please, for my sake and for the sake of service dog handlers everywhere, teach your kids about service dogs and the important job they do.  If this girl had been educated, or at least had an adult present to correct her, my Independence Day out could have been blissfully pleasant (aside from the DS in the river).  It’s little things like teaching your kids that goes a long way to the health, happiness, and even safety of everyone around them.


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Tomorrow Is Zoo Day

Luca, Sander, and Beekee get to go to the zoo tomorrow with my aunt and uncle.  This is one of the experience oriented birthdays my aunt is starting to do for the kids, which I love.  They’re going to remember these sorts of trips so much better than they would some gifts they would get, which makes me happy.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to get to be there for their first zoo trip.  I really wish I could, and see their excitement over all the animals.  I missed everyone’s first trip to the aquarium except for Luca.  It’s sad for me, but at the same time, it’s good that they get to have these experiences with their extended family.  I just wish I could go with them.

Of course, that’s not going to happen until we can get wheels again, and I’m not exactly available to go on the weekends anymore.  My work has seen to that.  We need the extra income, but it feels like I’m losing so much time with the kids.

Even so, I know they’re going to have a great time at the zoo.  They’re going to want to see everything and will come home suitably tired.  It’s going to be a good experience for them.  I remember going to the zoo when I was younger and loving it.  I’ve never been to the zoo they’re going to, I don’t think, so this will be a whole new adventure for them.

I’m actually looking forward to them having this experience.  Field trips to places like the zoo can be such an educational thing.  It’s a part of unschooling done right.  It’s something I hope we can do more of once we’re able to swing back to more radical unschooling.  Field trips are such an important part of education.

And it’s the zoo!  The kids love animals.  They’ve been watching a lot of animal shows on Netflix, so having a chance to get up close enough to these animals to see them with their own eyes will be pretty awesome for them.  I know they’re going to love it.


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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.