Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Peter Pan

I’ve got to admit, I’ve been a horrible mom when it comes to reading to my kids.  I really should do it more often, but it never seems to be a good time.  There’s a whole big push in my area that reading to your kids 20 minutes a day is good for them, or having them read for 20 minutes a day.  Most days we manage 20 minutes of Sander and Beekee reading.  Corde (not surprisingly) hardly reads at all.  I try to squeeze in reading to Luca, but it’s not always that easy.

After watching an episode of Once Upon A Time (on Netflix) with Peter Pan, we decided I would read Peter Pan to the kids again.  We read it quite a few years back when we still lived in the trailer park.  Beekee was so into the story that I managed to read the whole book without a break when all the other kids had fallen asleep.

Now, I have to say Peter Pan isn’t the perfect read aloud for so much time off of reading together.  It’s long and wordy so the kids tend to glaze over and zone out.  They couldn’t even pull from the text that Nana was a dog.  Still, they’ll get used to hearing me read and eventually the stories will start sinking in.  On top of Peter Pan we also have the complete Wizard of Oz series, all of Anne of Green Gables, all of the Judy Moody books, as well as the ones about her brother, Stink, and Coraline.  We’ve got plenty of stuff on my Kindle to keep us reading aloud for quite some time.

I have to admit, I kind of like doing the read aloud stories on Kindle.  They’re easy to store and I don’t have to worry about losing the book from one night to the next.  I misplace things all the time, so having something so easily found (it’s in a bright turquoise case) is a definite benefit.

And poor Luca couldn’t last the whole chapter.  I had a floppy Bear draped over on my lap, perfectly content to sleep there.  I needed help to move the sleeping one out of my lap and onto the bed.  Luca actually managed to stay asleep straight through the night until morning, falling asleep almost two hours before the usual time.  I think we may need to keep that up, for no other reason than to get Luca to bed earlier.

As time passes I’m sure my skill at reading will improve again.  Like I said, the kids will get used to hearing my voice and hearing me read to them.  They’ll get used to the idea of books being a part of our regular day.  Their exposure to new ideas and vocabulary will definitely help, especially since books have a much more challenging vocabulary than television shows (except maybe some of the educational ones).  It’ll be good for them, and it’ll help their brains grow.

All of this will also continue to link back to other things in their lives.  They’re going to hear about Peter Pan and Captain Hook, characters they’re seeing in the television show.  Then they’re going to hear about the Wizard of Oz and we can watch the movies that go with that theme.  They can hear about Coraline’s adventure, then watch the movie again to compare.  There’s even a series on Netflix called Anne with an “E” that we can watch as we read Anne of Green Gables.  It should be fun.

Reading to the kids has always been on and off a thing that I’ve done.  Being radical unschoolers, we never really had a set routine, which made it difficult to keep the reading thing going.  Now that our lives have more structure it should be a lot easier to keep it going.  I’m not sure how it will fit in when we start going back to jujitsu, but we’ll find a way to make it work.  I’m really excited about being able to do this with 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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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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Thoughts on “A Day Without Women”

Apparently I’m out of the loop on this one.  The first I heard about it was last night at probably 6pm, much to late to get on board with the red shirt wearing to show support (not that I had many places to go and show my support).  I don’t own a red shirt, so that put me completely out of the running.  I own a red sweater, but the weather isn’t suited to wearing it, so I go without red and wear my Joker shirt instead.

A few things have struck me about this whole thing.  It’s hard for me to think of a way to put things into order, but I think they all revolve around the same basic principal.  This was not necessarily the best thought through event.

Now, I’m not knocking anyone who took the day off today from paid and unpaid labor.  If you’ve got the ability to do it and choose to, that’s your choice.  I don’t have that kind of privilege.  I suppose we could have taken the day off from homeschooling, but that’s not the only unpaid task I do during the day.  I make food.  I play referee.  I walk the kids to jujitsu and play entertainment the whole way there and back.  Today I cuddled a cranky Luca that needed a nap and was too tired to realize it.  All of this stuff can be considered “unpaid work”, but I did it today, not because of my opinion on women’s equality, but because it needs to be done.  And to me, it’s not really work.  I don’t do it because it’s one more thing to check off my to-do list.  I do it because I love my kids.  I chose to be a parent and I’m choosing to be a good parent by taking care of my kids.

But thinking about this more seriously, let’s say I was working.  I’ll be honest about my financial situation here, I couldn’t afford to take the day off of work for something like this.  We’re strapped about as tight as can be right now, living well below the poverty line for my state.  That means we can’t afford the luxury of taking the day off just because it’s falling in line with a national protest day.  My life is not that privileged.  For how many other women is this situation true?

And how many women can’t wear red because it conflicts with their work uniform?  Sure, if you work at Target, you’re set, but if you work at Walmart, for example, the work uniform is blue.  This is a very real situation to those below the poverty line.  Many people work at menial minimum wage jobs, which means they have to play by the rules and can’t just call in because they’re making a statement.  It’s only for people who are in situations where they can call out of work and not suffer, or people who don’t have a strict uniform at work.  It would be better to have everyone wear a pin or a sticker, similar to the “I Voted” stickers they give out after the elections.  That’s something universal that everyone can do if they can afford the cost of a pin, sticker, or button.  And those who have money to spare can get some extras and hand them out throughout the day.

One thing I noticed as I was out, no one was wearing red shirts.  At my appointment that day all the women were there.  My counselor called me today, indicating she was in the office today.  The people waiting in the office (mostly women), were all there, not wearing red shirts.  I saw not a single person while I was out wearing red, except for Beekee, who was wearing a red hoodie.  It seemed like the message missed the people in my poor section of town.  It’s either that or they just don’t care.  These kinds of problems are for the privileged, not for the poor who struggle to survive every week.  The office I go to caters to people who are recovering from addiction, victims of domestic violence, and clients of a local organization that helps the poor and the homeless.  This is the same organization that helped us find our apartment.  These are not people who can afford to miss a day of work to make a statement.  The idea of wearing red to show you support women is so far above their considerations for the day that they’re probably unaware it’s even a thing.  For that matter, I didn’t even know until last minute.  Even knowing, this is a problem that’s above my pay grade (to use some military talk there).  I’m living in a world where my focus is on paying my bills and figuring out how to afford homeschooling on a very tight budget.  I don’t worry about things like this because it’s so far above my level of needs on a daily basis that I can’t even see it.

I have strong feelings about events that encourage people to not do things.  There are people that rely on other people to show up that day.  How would the world operate if all the daycares and schools failed to open because their teachers didn’t show?  How would small businesses handle losing a day of business.  What if all the doctors and nurses failed to show up at work?  I understand the point is to show how the country could grind to a halt, but there are people who rely on those services.  However, is the need to prove that point really worth it?  And what does it tell our children to suddenly cause the world to come to a screeching halt just to make a point?

To promote equality I’m actively doing things, not choosing not to do things.  I’m teaching my children to respect, whether a  person is male, female, gay, straight, trans, or any color of the rainbow and description they may choose for themselves.  My children are being taught that respecting themselves and those around them is just what you do.  If the world worked on this idea that you show respect to everyone, perhaps there wouldn’t need to be “A Day Without Women”.  Perhaps women would be more equally viewed in the workplace.  Stay at home moms might get better treatment from everyone around them.  There might even be less cattiness in women oriented groups.  Respect is the point that holds it all together.

So, no, I may not be wearing red today, and I’m certainly not going to give up the unpaid tasks I do (making more work for myself later), but I am doing my part to promote equality of women in the world around me, and not just women but everyone.  I’m raising my children, male and female alike, to be aware of the issues in the world around them.  I’m raising strong, educated kids that are going to go out into the world and make it a better place, to be the change they want to see in the world.  If that’s not promoting the cause, then I give.  I’m doing the best I can.


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The Things My Kids Don’t Know

We’ve been following through with Story of the World, and the kids discovered that Anansi is just a really cool character.  They absolutely loved the story of Anansi.  So what does this have me doing?  As a good mother I go to the library website and request every story known to man with Anansi…because I’m that mom…

It got me thinking about something I hadn’t even realized I’ve never done with the kids.  We’ve never read Aesop’s fables.  We’ve also never done Just So Stories.  These were so much of a factor in my own life that I can’t believe we haven’t done anything with them.  They are living proof that (to some degree) I am a failure as a mom.  How can I neglect these things that were such a part of my own childhood?

I’ve already realized that my kids were growing up in a weird little bubble when I realized my kids don’t know how to sing Twinkle, Twinkle or The Wheels on the Bus.  I’d never taught them to sing Do Your Ears Hang Low.  We never sang any of the classic kids songs.  For that matter, we rarely sing as a family.  The only one we regularly do is On Top of Spaghetti, which Luca insists on me singing at least fifty times over when we’re walking to or from jujitsu.  I really need to brush up on some other fun songs because that one’s getting kind of old.  (Of course, it might help if I actually remembered the other three versus, so that’s a thing.  Luca would probably find that MUCH funnier.)

But my kids really do seem to live in a bubble where they don’t know the traditional stuff kids know at their age.  I mean, how many kids Sander and Luca’s age are studying history?  I find it not at all a problem that they don’t know how to sing those childhood songs every other kid seems to know.

And as Sander’s bus drives by the house, I’m reminded again why I’m so glad he’s home.  I don’t have to worry about him getting off the bus at 4pm, then still having homework to do, and being too tired to do it.  Jujitsu wouldn’t even begin to be an option if he was in traditional school.  He wouldn’t be home for more than an hour and a half before I had to bustle him back out the door!

I digress…what was the point I was making?  Oh, yes, that my kids don’t know the stuff I knew when I was their age.  I guess that makes me feel that my kids are growing up with a weird existence.  I’m not raising them on a healthy diet of children’s songs and things like that.  The kids hardly watch television (aside from Luca who binges like nothing else), and we don’t listen to the radio tons, so they don’t get a whole lot of that poured on them.  They live in this weird state of reality that was so much different than my life growing up.

Yet I can’t help but feel their lives are somehow lacking because these really cool things haven’t been explored by them.  They haven’t learned about Aesop’s Fables or read the Just So Stories.  Now they’re being introduced to Anansi, which is the closest they’ve come to any of that.  While those stories are really cool, we’re just now getting to them, and those were the only ones.  We need to incorporate more of that into our learning time, I think.  The kids would probably dig that kind of stuff.

At the same time, the things my kids have been learning are pretty awesome.  They’ve gotten to watch a garden grow last year.  They’ll be seeing it again this year.  We’re going to be spending time in nature as soon as the weather gets warm, and we’re going to start making note of the things that indicate the change of seasons once Daylight Savings hits and we’ll still have light when we go to jujitsu.  We’re delving into a lot of history, which is great for the kids and they’re really digging into it.  These are things I thought were pretty cool when I was a kid and it’s great to see they’re enjoying it as much as I do.  They’re really getting to experience some awesome things that way.

It isn’t too late to introduce the kids to things I feel are missing in their lives.  Aesop’s Fables will continue to be around.  I’m sure I can find a free ebook with them on Kindle.  The Just So Stories can be gotten from the library, I’m sure.  Since we’re homeschooling there are far more options to bring them up as a part of our homeschooling activities, and I no longer have to worry about Sander getting off the bus at 4 and not being interested in doing anymore school related anything after that.

Now we’ve got this incredible opportunity to fix what I feel like is a major failing in raising my kids (at least the younger three).  I still have time to get them knowledgeable about the things they don’t know, things that I’ve come to understand most kids don’t know anymore.  It’s a chance to open up a world to them that they’d never even known to consider before.  I have a feeling we’re in for a really great experience.


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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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Someone Needs More Sleep

Luca was super cranky today.  This all came on the tails of not enough sleep the night before.  A late night plus an early morning leads to a very cranky Luca that threw a number of tantrums and fought going to sleep like crazy.  I finally ended up agreeing that Luca had to lay down for two minutes, and after that there was no requirement to lay down.

About a minute in Luca was asleep…

So why did Luca stay up so late last night?  Well, part of it is unrestricted screen time.  The long and the short of it is usually the kids are pretty good at moderating their own screen time and spend plenty of time doing other things.  Unfortunately, this means Luca would rather be up watching movies than sleeping.  Since the downstairs neighbor doesn’t like to hear Luca running around after 9pm, that means Luca’s kind of got to be restricted to one spot, which I think is pretty unfair, but it’s better to stay on good terms with our neighbors.  It just isn’t easy because the kids get home from jujitsu so incredibly late.  We don’t walk in until 8:30.  The kids don’t want to just go straight to sleep.  Even if we had a car we wouldn’t get home much earlier, and the kids wouldn’t have had the walk to wear them out.  It makes it tough to get the kids to settle down on the best of days.

I digress, the point is, Luca isn’t tired at 9 because of the late nights for jujitsu, so that means keeping Luca settled down in one spot.  The best way to do this is to let Luca watch movies while sitting on the bed.  Unless I go in and lay down with Luca, that’s what it continues to be, or a lot of tears.

The awesome part of co-sleeping?  Luca actually sleeps well at night and doesn’t fuss and wake up in the middle of the night.  If that happens, I’m always right there.  It hasn’t been an issue to this point.  The downside?  Luca doesn’t want to go to sleep unless I’m settling down to sleep too.  That often means Luca doesn’t go to bed until I’m ready to sleep, which can mean late nights, like last night when I wasn’t ready to go to sleep until 11.  Yes, Luca had a very late night.

That brings me to a perk on the other side of the night for co-sleeping.  On the plus side, Luca tends to sleep later being comfortable having me right there.  If we have a morning where Luca wakes up early, I’m right there to settle Luca down to sleep again.  It also means I wake up when Luca wakes up, which is a total benefit.  There isn’t much of a downside here unless I want to sleep in.  There’s no hope for sleeping in after Luca climbs over me to get me up, kneeing me in the gut in the process.  That part is not so fun.

I knew early on this was going to be a rough day.  Not only did the lack of sleep give me warning, but early tantrums were also a huge tip off.  We had a tantrum over breakfast.  (The milk had to come from the little jug, not the big one!)  We had a tantrum over computer time.  (Sander had to go first and that was just it!)  We had a tantrum over the tablet.  (Luca wanted to play the baby panda games and nothing else would do!)  At the point we had a tantrum because the kids decided to turn off Netflix and play Minecraft, that’s when I was done.  Sure, Luca wanted to watch Mighty Med with the big kids, but no one else wanted to.  If I didn’t bring an end to these tantrums, there was no way we were going to make it to jujitsu.

It’s too bad it worked out that way too.  It’s a beautiful day out.  It would have been a great day to get out to the park.  Our temperatures are approaching 60 out there.  The snow is almost all melted.  The birds were chirping like crazy this morning.  It’s starting to feel like spring is actually rolling in, but I couldn’t take an already tired and cranky kid out to the park to get more tired and even more cranky, to then go to jujitsu where that kid was going to get even more tired and cranky, and still have to walk home.  It was already bad enough that we had a tired, cranky kid because Luca’s class was cancelled on Monday due to lack of participation.  I don’t need Luca to be upset at jujitsu again.

Oh well, Luca got a much needed nap and that’s what really matters in the end.  Hopefully Luca will wake up to be a much happier sort of bear.  That would definitely make the day flow a lot more smoothly.