Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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My Aunty Is My Ho-Ho

I’ve known for a while that Corde is topple for Santa. Beekee still seems to believe for now. Sander? There seems to be no fooling him! He know who the real Santa is.

This year I mentioned something about my aunt and Christmas shopping. Sander had to announce that his aunt was his Ho-Ho, the way he’s been saying Santa. He even had to get on the phone so he could say hi to Santa. It was adorable.

Years back, before I took this chill stance on stuff like this, I would have gone on the hunt to add the magic back to Christmas, to really work to make the kids believe again. I always thought a kid that doesn’t believe in Santa was missing out. I would jump through hoops to bring that magic back again.

Now I realize it’s all part of the process. It’s all about being honest with my kids. If Sander wants to believe his aunt is Santa, well, with the number of gifts she sends, is she wrong? She always goes out of her way to make sure the kids have a fantastic Christmas, and that’s really what Santa is all about. Why should I try to deceive him because he’s ready for the truth?

The more I think about it, the more it bothers me that parents lie to their kids. For us, Santa has always been about the magic of Christmas, and the myth was more of a way to have fun with the mystery gifts. The story is a fun way to show that the display of love is more important than knowing who the gifted is. It’s all part of the fun.

It got me thinking about those crazy elf on the shelf moms. Not only do I find elf on a shelf creepy and a lot of work, but it seems like deception. It’s like a modern, Christmas-themed boogie man. Be good or the elf on the shelf will mess up your home! It’s always watching! It seems like the whole thing is just a big deception aimed to make kids be good. Aren’t there better, more respectful ways?

Though, I have to admit, this whole elf thing could be a lot of fun when the kids get older and are aware of the whole thing. It could be license to play harmless pranks and have some fun with it. Move the elf while no one sees, play cute, harmless tricks and blame the elf. It could be a fun little holiday game to break the tension. I just think we need Beekee, at least, to be a little older. Otherwise I can see this as being a disaster, very messy, and ending with an elf acting like the hanged man in tarot, dangling from a foot in a tree outside somewhere until he gains a sense of perspective! Until then, I think we need to be elf-free. Maybe that time will come.


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Too Much Going On

Hey everyone! Sorry I’ve been gone so much recently. Life has been chaotic. Since I last checked in we had another D&D night, Thanksgiving at a new friend’s house, and all kinds of craziness. This week we get to look forward to a surprise party and more gaming. I’m starting to feel like we’re finally finding the people we need in life!

Today I’ll keep it brief. More than anything the kids and I want to remind you to support local and small businesses this holiday season. Don’t forget about craftspeople too! There are plenty of people out there selling fantastic hand made goods. You should definitely keep that in mind!

Which has me asking how you do your holiday shopping! I know there’s this big community that does the want/need/wear/read thing. We don’t, probably because we don’t need to buy anymore books. My aunt has us covered there. Typically the kids get one gift from me, one from Oz, and one from Santa. Sadly, Corde and Beekee don’t typically get presents from their dad. They also get a whole bunch of stuff from family.

And, because I have to add a shameless plug in here, I’m finally getting my business together! I don’t have any product listed yet, but I have some photos up as examples. Now I just need to get my stock together! Check us out at Bear Foot Knits!


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Happy Halloween!

By the time you read this it probably won’t be Halloween anymore, but for us it still is, and what a Halloween it’s been! This has been perhaps the best ones yet. We had a great time.

Before the festivities began we went into the city to see the library there. I wanted to look for jobs online and Oz needed to put in an application for a permanent position at his job. He doesn’t want to be a temp forever. We thought we would check out one of the bigger libraries. The kids loved it. There was a large toy area where Luca did puzzles and Sander played with blocks. Beekee looked at books on Halloween, of course. Corde read some of the next Naruto manga. They didn’t want to leave. The good news is $25 gives us a subscription to the library for six months. That means we can each get our own cards. Each card can have up to ten DVDs and ten ebooks. There’s also a limit of two players. As if that weren’t incentive enough, the library has a pretty neat interactive learning center with a computer and microscope. It’s totally worth weekly trips into town. On top of that, there’s plenty of space to play outside.

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The kids then went to trick-or-treat in the city too. We had fun there too. The kids played on two bounce houses. They did a cupcake walk. They got a ton of candy too. Of course, the dentist gave out toothbrushes, pencils, and rings (as well as pretzels and candy!) They had cotton candy. It was a good time had by all.

This is a huge change from what we planned. We intended on canceling Halloween festivities because everyone was sick. Because of it I hadn’t planned on costumes. We had no idea what we would do. It turned into last minute improvisation as we were about to roll out the door.

Corde’s idea was cute. She dressed in pajamas and wings. Her idea was a dream fairy. It turned into a sleepy fairy as she was always hinting that she was falling asleep.

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Beekee decided he was going to be a pirate again. He’s such a cute pirate! It totally works for him.

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Sander wanted to go as a zombie killer, but he looked more like a pirate too. He was super cute! It was really funny towards the end. You could tell he was tired because he kept falling behind. His bag got so heavy he could barely carry it. He was very excited about that. He dropped right off to sleep when he got home.

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Luca was the hard one to outfit. I couldn’t come up with anything for a while. We had considered making him a zombie, but I didn’t have my makeup. Then it hit me! We made him into a D&D gamer. He had an elf hat and two dice bags. We put his tail on from fairy fest. Most people thought he was a goblin, troll, or gremlin. Everyone thought he was so cute. He loved taking candy from buckets and putting it in his bag. I don’t think he even cared that it was candy. He was filling a bag! That was the coolest thing! It’s fun to watch him enjoy something so simple.

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The kids all crashed hard. They were exhausted. It was a good day. We’re thinking about getting a library membership now. I got two leads on jobs. The kids had fun. Oz got some time to play with the kids outside in the cool fall air. It was fantastic. I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday as much as we did!


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Mother’s Day Off the Cuff

Mother’s Day came with actual plans this year. Corde was supposed to sing me some song at church. We would come home to dinner. Everything would be easy and relaxing.

Well, Im sure you know how this family does with plans. We have an inspection this week, so all our plans went right out the window. We were supposed to pace ourselves with cleaning for this inspection, but that never happens. Too much fun gets in the way.

Friday, for example, we went to see a movie in the park. Saturday we met Oz’s mom. She’s cleaning up her life and he’s trying to give her a second chance. The kids all really like her. Yesterday the plan was to go to church, but some psycho in front of us kept slamming on her breaks, cutting in front of us every time we tried to change lanes to get away from her, and went creeping through an intersection to annoy us with a line of cars honking behind her. If Oz wasn’t such a good driver and our car didn’t handle so well, we surely would have hit her. It seemed like she was trying. What’s worse is we found out later that her car is well known for that kind of wreckless driving. She even uses her car to herd cattle. She could care less what happens to it because she’s rich by inheritance and has never had to work a day in her life.

Anyhow, I’m getting sidetracked. After getting away from that psycho, we needed to stop so Oz could calm down. Having the kids in the car meant he was even more shaken than he normally would be. However we met someone who grew up in Mass like I did, so it was kind of nice.

Being super late, we missed church. We decided to grab some snacks and pack up for a walk instead. We went to this lovely park that’s going to have to be a regular part of our journies. The cottonwood trees made it look like some enchanted fairy woods. There were painted lady butterflues everywhere. We saw wolf spiders, two kinds of caterpillars, beetles, and hoards of baby grasshoppers. It was one of the most beautiful things we’ve done since we got to Texas.

Unfortunately, the path was gravel. Normally this wouldn’t phase me, but the kids dumped the diaper bag and my shoes with it. I had no option but braving it in bare feet. It wasn’t that bad, thankfully. Even with the added weight of Luca it was pretty tolerable. However, I bet I looked pretty out of place being barefoot in a dress with a baby on my back!

We’d only made it a quarter mile or maybe a half mile down the path when Oz’s shoes started hurting him. I jokingly told him he should take his shoes off and hack it barefoot like I was. We were planning to head back anyway since Sander isn’t really ready for long hikes yet. We want to slowly work up to it, especially since there are no bathrooms on the trail. Much to my surprise, knowing we didn’t have too far to go, Oz chucked his shoes too!

While we were waiting for Oz to deal with his shoes, the kids poked around at the edge of the trail. With wolf spiders at the least, and copperheads and water mocassins at the worst, we told them not to actually venture off the trail, but there was more than enough to interest them. They looked at the cottony seeds that fell from the trees. They checked out the tree bark and any leaves they could see. They looked for bugs and chased the grasshoppers. It was great to see them just enjoying nature.

Of course, not to be outdone by Oz, they all decided to ditch their shoes. We got odd looks as Oz carefully picked his way along. At one point he was asked if he lost his shoes, then the family came around the bend to see we were all doing it. The kids thought it was interesting to see our varying degrees of tolerance for it. Oz kept having to stop to rest his feet. Corde and Beekee could hack it better than Oz. I was able to walk in the rocky middle without much notice, which impressed the kids. However, they decided that toddler feet are meant to be without shoes as Sander ran to the front of the line or ofc ahead with more grace and speed than when he has shoes on! He didn’t trip once, which is a big change from his usual of tripping two or three times on every walk.

With unschooling, everything can be a lesson, from studying cottonwood seeds and chasing grasshoppers to walking barefoot on a gravel path. We got to watch a kayak ready and launch down the river. We met some lovely horses and some very friendly dogs. The whole day was quite an adventure. This is why I love unschooling. Learning shouldn’t be about facts and memorization. Knowledge isn’t a destination. Learning is a journey, following one path to the next. If you just rush to the end, you miss all the beauty, all the opportunity, and all the experiences along the way.


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Mother’s Day Off the Cuff

Mother’s Day came with actual plans this year. Corde was supposed to sing me some song at church. We would come home to dinner. Everything would be easy and relaxing.

Well, Im sure you know how this family does with plans. We have an inspection this week, so all our plans went right out the window. We were supposed to pace ourselves with cleaning for this inspection, but that never happens. Too much fun gets in the way.

Friday, for example, we went to see a movie in the park. Saturday we met Oz’s mom. She’s cleaning up her life and he’s trying to give her a second chance. The kids all really like her. Yesterday the plan was to go to church, but some psycho in front of us kept slamming on her breaks, cutting in front of us every time we tried to change lanes to get away from her, and went creeping through an intersection to annoy us with a line of cars honking behind her. If Oz wasn’t such a good driver and our car didn’t handle so well, we surely would have hit her. It seemed like she was trying. What’s worse is we found out later that her car is well known for that kind of wreckless driving. She even uses her car to herd cattle. She could care less what happens to it because she’s rich by inheritance and has never had to work a day in her life.

Anyhow, I’m getting sidetracked. After getting away from that psycho, we needed to stop so Oz could calm down. Having the kids in the car meant he was even more shaken than he normally would be. However we met someone who grew up in Mass like I did, so it was kind of nice.

Being super late, we missed church. We decided to grab some snacks and pack up for a walk instead. We went to this lovely park that’s going to have to be a regular part of our journies. The cottonwood trees made it look like some enchanted fairy woods. There were painted lady butterflues everywhere. We saw wolf spiders, two kinds of caterpillars, beetles, and hoards of baby grasshoppers. It was one of the most beautiful things we’ve done since we got to Texas.

Unfortunately, the path was gravel. Normally this wouldn’t phase me, but the kids dumped the diaper bag and my shoes with it. I had no option but braving it in bare feet. It wasn’t that bad, thankfully. Even with the added weight of Luca it was pretty tolerable. However, I bet I looked pretty out of place being barefoot in a dress with a baby on my back!

We’d only made it a quarter mile or maybe a half mile down the path when Oz’s shoes started hurting him. I jokingly told him he should take his shoes off and hack it barefoot like I was. We were planning to head back anyway since Sander isn’t really ready for long hikes yet. We want to slowly work up to it, especially since there are no bathrooms on the trail. Much to my surprise, knowing we didn’t have too far to go, Oz chucked his shoes too!

While we were waiting for Oz to deal with his shoes, the kids poked around at the edge of the trail. With wolf spiders at the least, and copperheads and water mocassins at the worst, we told them not to actually venture off the trail, but there was more than enough to interest them. They looked at the cottony seeds that fell from the trees. They checked out the tree bark and any leaves they could see. They looked for bugs and chased the grasshoppers. It was great to see them just enjoying nature.

Of course, not to be outdone by Oz, they all decided to ditch their shoes. We got odd looks as Oz carefully picked his way along. At one point he was asked if he lost his shoes, then the family came around the bend to see we were all doing it. The kids thought it was interesting to see our varying degrees of tolerance for it. Oz kept having to stop to rest his feet. Corde and Beekee could hack it better than Oz. I was able to walk in the rocky middle without much notice, which impressed the kids. However, they decided that toddler feet are meant to be without shoes as Sander ran to the front of the line or ofc ahead with more grace and speed than when he has shoes on! He didn’t trip once, which is a big change from his usual of tripping two or three times on every walk.

With unschooling, everything can be a lesson, from studying cottonwood seeds and chasing grasshoppers to walking barefoot on a gravel path. We got to watch a kayak ready and launch down the river. We met some lovely horses and some very friendly dogs. The whole day was quite an adventure. This is why I love unschooling. Learning shouldn’t be about facts and memorization. Knowledge isn’t a destination. Learning is a journey, following one path to the next. If you just rush to the end, you miss all the beauty, all the opportunity, and all the experiences along the way.


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It Never Stops

Ah, the craziness. I’m starting to realize this is just our lives now. Our lives are built of craziness. I’m certainly not used to this, but I’d better adjust quick!

Since we moved here our lives were pretty laid back. Since we walked everywhere we stayed close to home and only ventured away from the neighborhood when necessary. It was a relaxed life. The kids spent all their time dirty and tanned from playing outside with the neighborhood kids. I never really had to go far. It was the slow country life.

Then we got a car. Down time hasn’t been common since. We’ve been busier than we were even when we last had a car! It’s been pretty wild.

Thursday night the music on the square was canceled because it was supposed to rain. We decided we’d still go for ice cream. That led to hanging out with the hoopers, which was fun. After that we went to eat at a local burger joint. It turned into a great night. We all fell into bed exhausted when we got home.

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Last night we found out about movie nights in the park. We decided to check it out. The kids snacked on fruit while watching Wreck It Ralph, which was a cute movie. Next week we have to show up earlier because they do roast marshmellows and crafts.

Then today was a big day. This was the first tine we met Oz’s mom. I gave her a warning not to bail on my kids like all too many other people have done, not that I think she will. She’s done some really bad things in her life, but she’s apparently realized what it would cost her in the end. She met her grandsons for the first time at three and almost one instead of when they were born because of it. However, the kids, all except Luca, warmed right up to her, something unheard of with Sander. He was calling her Grama from the moment he met her. We’d barely gotten to introduce her as “dad’s mom” when he had to tell her absolutely everything. Luca was a bit timid, but he’s shy with anyone but mama these days. It’s sad that it took four years for us to meet, but she seems in a much better place now. Best of all, I really do like her. I don’t see us being best buds or anything, but I could really enjoy having her as part of the family. She’s great with the kids too, same with the man in her life. I’m really glad we got to meet them, and in time for Mother’s Day. I can’t wait to do it again, which is surprising because I had no real hopes of it going over that well, not with the way Oz’s family has been so far.

Then tomorrow we have church, then have to come home to clean the house. They’re doing inspections this week and with the way the management has been here, I want this place to be spotless. It’s going to make for a busy week with cleaning, inspections, more music on the square, and another movie in the park. I’d better get used to being busy! It’s not likely to stop any time soon!


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The Busy Season

It’s that time of year again, the time to be super busy. Then again, I think most of the year is really like that. However, this time of year is crazier than most. Generally from May to August or September is the crazy season.

This year is crazier than most and it’s just begun. We went to the Art and Jazz Festival at the end of April, which was fantastic. It’s just too bad the kids were tired and that made them easily bored and irritable. We had a mostly good time though. Poor Beekee fell asleep watching the belly dancers. I’m surprised he managed not to fall out of his chair! We decided to bail on going to the classes at church to go. The best part was our picnic lunch.

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The day before that the kids went to a birthday party for a friend from church. They had a blast. Nothing says fun like eleven kids! All but one baby came from two families. It was massive craziness.

Somewhere in all of that the kids had a sleep over with that same family. Corde and Beekee did, at least. Sander and Luca had a big-kid-free night. I forgot how nice sleepovers were. I can’t wait until we can have the house in order so our kids can have their friends overnight too.

What other craziness has gone on? Well, Beekee has some new heroes. He’s in love with Davy Crockett and Harry Houdini. Paul Bunyan is pretty cool too. I’ve been lucky enough to find books to keep him interested.

Beekee’s new interest has us planning our first real family vacation. We’re heading down to visit with friends for Independence Day in Austin since Oz has a long weekend. While we’re down there we’ve decided we might as well make use of the whole weekend. Depending on how much we can save and how much camping costs, we’re hoping to have a pretty busy trip. Wednesday after Oz gets off work we’ll be going down to Austin. Thursday is the fireworks and party. Friday we’re driving down to San Antonio to see the Alamo. We’ll set up camp that night. Saturday we’re hoping to go to Sea World. Oz has lived in Texas since he was three and has never been. Sunday we might do Six Flags or go hiking in the area. Then we pack it all up for the even longer drive home. At least we know the kids can handle long drives and they should sleep in the car after all that!

Beekee also planted the seeds he got for Easter. He’s got some serious sprouting on his cucumbers and beans. His squash only seemed to have one tale root. His carrots are sprouting too. Unfortunately we have little hope for his watermellon and radishes. It seems like something got to those as they were sprouting. At least he’s got something and he’s proud of that.

Corde did some planting too. She planted a pot of chives at church that she left with friends in Austin. Apparently they’re sprouting pretty well too now. It looks like my kids are pretty decent at making things grow!

Family days have also been revived! We have four hours at church now, which eats up most of the day, but afterwards we decided to go to a pizza buffet where everyone stuffed themselves and then went to the park. This time we finally got to enjoy the nature trail. We let the kids play at the park for a little while after that. Next week we’re going to go to another nature trail. Going on walks, disc golfing, hiking, and all kinds of other outdoor day trips are on the list for after church. Of course, this Sunday I’m going to be all dressed up in the new dress I’m getting for Mother’s Day, so we’ll see how that goes.

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Tomorrow we’re going down to the square for their evening music event that runs in May and June. Next week we start going to the ones on Wednesdays at lunch time too. Next month we may try to make the first Friday art and music event too, though we’ll miss the one in July. It’s exciting to be surrounded with so much culture. Even Austin didn’t keep us this busy when we lived closer. I’m really looking forward to it.

As if that’s not enough, we’re also doing a major decluttering purge. We’re getting rid of all the winter clothes that are highly unlikely to fit next year. Beekee’s getting some of Corde’s old clothes, but Sander doesn’t want Beekee’s hand me downs for the most part and I’m not keeping Sander’s clothes for Luca. There’s only two years between them, but Luca is still swimming in 12 mo clothes and Sander’s mostly wearing 5T these days, his cast-offs all being 4T. I don’t want to be holding on to all of it for the next three years. Besides, Luca will probably have his own style then, and cars and super herors may not be it. He could be into dinosaurs or animals or simply want everything pink and purple like Beekee. Then I would have held onto all that for nothing. I don’t want to be in the habit of storing stuff like that! Our trailer doesn’t have enough storage as is!

Sander also moved into our bedroom officially. Our bed just wasn’t big enough for all of us so we moved Sander’s bed in. Now Beekee has room to play in his room again! Unfortunately, one of our couches has to go. The kids tore part of it clean open, so it’s now not useable or safe. We’re hopefully getting that out today. As much as the lack of seating is sad, I’m kind of glad for the space it’s going to open up. We’ll be that much lighter in here, and it will make for one less thing to clean under. When we’re done we’re going to have that much better of a handle on our own space. Everyone will be so much happier with less cleaning to do and less stuff to be kicking around. When we do move it’ll be that much easier. We’ll have more space to bust out games and projects or to play. It’s also leading by example with the kids. They’ll learn a lesson I never did as a kid. I wanted to keep everything. Now I know there are some thimgs you just need to let go. A thousand toys sounds fun, but then you can never find what you want and things get broken. Having tons of clothes may be a fun way to stand out, but most of them hardly get worn aside from the favorites and the rest just take up room that could be used for better things. It’s especially that way with kids because they hardly get to wear things before they’re outgrown. They’ll be able to find the books they love much easier if they cut out the ones they don’t. They’ll also have room for the whole series of something they love versus just a couple books, and some kids’s series sets are massive! Junie B. Jones, the Boxcar Children, The Bailey School Kids, The Magic School Bus, and those are just the big ones my kids like. Judy Moody and Stink are also favorites around here, and they are still just small series. Best of all, with a less cluttered house, Luca will have more places to go and not get in their way. I was raised in constant clutter and overwhelming numbers of toys, so I’ve been blind to it for a while. Now I’m starting to see it as a hassle now that it’s my job to clean it all. I want better than that for my kids. Life without clutter is something my kids should learn.

Then there’s the bug front. Sadly, not much progress has been made there. We could spray the whole house, every inch weekly and still have a problem. It seems a never-ending battle, so we’ve decided to give up, sort of. We’re going to take it one or two areas a pay day, but focus on minimizing. The hope is that we can cut down the places for them to go enough that getting rid of them becomes an easier task. I have a feeling we’ll still be fighting the hard fight every day we live here, but maybe we can turn the stalemate into slowly gaining ground. If they only have a few places to hide aside from under the trailer and in the walls, keeping them at bay should be so much easier. Not only will it mean less stuff to move, but also it will ne easier to prevent the bugs from coming aling for the ride. I’m sure some will still find a way, but the less we bring, the easier it will be to stop the progression before it gets bad. Prevention of a minor problem growing is easier than getting rid of a big problem.

As for moving, we’ve decided to hold off and stick it out here a while longer. We’re looking into a few different options. We could look into buying a house. There’s a bunch of new houses going up across the way from us. They ask for no downpayment, but we’d want more information before we jumped on that. We have friends who bought their house that way and it worked out great for them. Still, no downpayment makes me worry about high interest and new construction has a high price tag. Chances are the house will end up seriously dropping in value as our friends’ did. They lost almost half their mortgage value in the first few years. Then again, their pets tore up their carpets and there were a few other things that helped their value drop. We could also buy land and look into building an earthship. The kids could learn a lot in the process and help build their own house. It would also be good in the long run because we could be off the grid, at least mostly. Earthships create all their own power, so that would save us nearly $2000 every year! It would also give us a good space to grow hydroponic or aquaponic foods, saving on our grocery bill. If I could ever get brave enough to gut and clean fish, aquaponics would mean we could have fish, fruits, and vegetables. We’re also considering packing it all up and buying an RV. While that’s a less practical option with Oz working a steady job, it would make canping and traveling easier. I’d never have to worry about whether I locked the door on a long weekend away again! As much as that four bedroom sounded nice, we want to move with a plan for once. We also want to start thinking about moving with a long-term goal. I’m just getting tired of paying rent to other people, especially when it seems like so many of the places we’ve lived aren’t maintained and try to get the tenents to pay for everything themselves, or keep losing work orders. I want to be moving up in the world, even if that means buying a trailer on our own little plot of land for a while. I’d even take the run-down little trailer Oz’s dad has on his four acres until we could build our earthship. Of course, there’s no way that would happen, nor would I truly want to inherit that problem trailer, but you get the idea. It would just be nice to have something to show for ourselves. Even if we end up renting for the next five yeats to save up a downpayment, at least we’ll have a plan. Even if it means moving into a better place for a while, we’ll have a plan.

With all this decluttering, purging, cleaning, and adventure planning going on, I’m really feeling like my life is going somewhere. I may have to suck it up and deal with church this weekend so Corde can sing me the song they’ve all been working on for their mothers, but even that’s not so bad. Having started reading the Bible again I’m starting to be reminded why it’s not for me, but I’ll give it a fair shake. The Old Testament, as much as it may be a good place to start, is not my cup of tea. Believe it or not, I’m starting to lean back towards Dianic Wicca as a result. I have to wonde how the church would take that one. I don’t want to make it rough on Oz and Corde, but I just don’t know that this path is for me.

Anyhow, back to our trailer’s version of the Boston Tea Party! That unnecessary junk is going overboard. Our war on stuff has just begun! I have not even begun to fight…okay, yeah, got to get my head out of history…or maybe into it and sort out those history books!