Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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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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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!