Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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How They View Charity

Today the kids collected donations at church. They were doing their small part to help support missionary work in Africa. In this case, it’s getting an expensive copier for a school so they can mass produce educational material. While I don’t believe in schools or having a school system, I do believe in helping kids help others. Who knows? Maybe those schools will provide opportunities for those students otherwise unavailable.

It was so sweet to see all the kids paired up to collect their donations. Corde and Beekee were actually working together, holding hands and actually getting along. Sander was paired with one of the kids they’ve been playing with a lot lately. He was so excited because his mama gave him money to put in his bucket. It was only twelve cents that I’d found floating around my room and threw in the pocket of my purse. It didn’t matter. He got to put it in his bucket, and that meant so much to him!

The kids really don’t see what those contributions do, even though they’re living by charity. Everything they’ve gotten has come by charity lately, the clothes they wear, the shoes on their feet, the food they eat, even the very roof over their head. It’s hard to teach a kid what charity means that way, when it all seems to magically show up for free. It’s not like they see the people contributing. They don’t see the results of their contribution. It makes it hard for them to truly understand.

This got a conversation started about the idea of donating money. It was all started by a comment I made a week ago. I told the kids that when you give money away, you’ll eventually get that money back. Maybe it won’t be someone giving you money, but in a time of need, if you show good will, good will has a funny way of returning.

We’ve always been givers in some means. Whenever we see Salvation Army buckets at Christmas I try to have a few coins so all the kids can drop one in. My mom always did that when we were little. I still don’t know what’s so fun about running up to drop a coin in the bucket, but to this day I still enjoy that satisfying clink if the coins in the bottom of the bucket. It’s just not the same to drop a bill in. The kids seem to love it too. With four kids, even a quarter means a dollar every time. If left to our old habits, that would equate to close to thirty dollars in a holiday season, just to one charity. I always try to do more when I can, but it’s not always the case. But the kids are learning, all my pocket change ends up in the Salvation Army bucket, or the Ronald McDonald House box in the drive thru, or any of the many collection boxes, bins, and tubs I see. Sander and Luca both get especially excited, even if all I have is a couple pennies to let them drop in. They love paying street performers too. There’s just something fun about putting money in a box or bin or hat or even a guitar case. They’re starting to learn even now, give every chance you can, even if it’s just a few cents. It’s the joy of dropping things in a box for the little ones, for the older ones, it’s a chance to feel like they’re helping in some little way.

Today when we talked about giving, Sander said he would want to give all his money away. He doesn’t want any money because I buy everything he needs, so he needs to give his money to people who don’t have any money so their mommies can buy them everything they need some day, like candy and birthday presents and shirts with superheroes or My Little Ponies.

Beekee is under the impression that you give money to get money. I guess he sees it like some kind of karma. The more money you give away, the more money you’ll get back some day. I tried to explain that it doesn’t work that way, but who knows. Maybe he’ll be one of those people doing mission work or doctors without boarders, or something like that, and he may give away every cent he makes to find all his needs provided for him by the people who support his cause. You never know.

Corde gives because of the return too, but in a very different way. She likes doing it because it feels good to help. She’s old enough to understand we don’t have money and that means we can’t have a lot of things. Still, she wants to donate her dollar from the tooth fairy to the church and she used her last money to buy candy to share with her brothers. She wants me to have the money to take care of us, but she would rather hit the thrift shop for clothes, preferably one that supports a charity, and donate the money we save to some cause or another.

That’s one thing I’ve tried to inspire my kids with, the spirit of giving. It may not be more than pocket change or a dollar or two, but it adds up. That’s not even getting into “the Christian ten percent” or any of that. I have every intention of following Dave Ramsey’s advice and giving ten percent of my income, just because it’s a good way to live, but that’s not going to stop me from going above and beyond, tossing spare pocket change in my kids’ hands for buckets and boxes as we go. I’m teaching my kids that charity doesn’t come with an amount tied to it. Ten percent is a good number, but give what you can, when you can, because even pocket change can go a long way.

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Or Maybe Not…

It little adventure in the woods has come to an end. We tried to make it work out there,  but we couldn’t. It was just too much isolation. We were all going a little crazy.

As for our situation, we were all frustrated. It felt like nothing was ever clean. The kids were always dirty, even right after taking a bath. I was always dirty. Even the clothes never got truly clean. The wash house was set up in such a way that evening baths before bed were impossible.

There are some things we’re going to miss. The freedom was awesome. The kids loved the cats. We got to explore nature and see some cool things. The kids loved the outdoor tub. It was lush, green, and alive.

But we decided it was time to go. We got to the shelter this afternoon. We had to go through all our stuff and limit what we took. Then we found out we had a problem with lice. Thankfully Luca was the only one of the boys that seemed to have a problem. Corde wasn’t bad. Thankfully, she combed out my hair. I can’t even begin to describe how grossed out I was. My hair was the worst by far!

The rules here are going to be strict. I’m not going to talk about any of the specifics, but it’s going to be a lot of hard work. I think we’re up for it. If Corde can comb out my hair for me, cheerfully chattering away as she did, I think she’s refreshed enough from the time off to be up for it.

So, wish us luck. Once again (yes, you’re going to get sick of reading about it), if you would like to help us get out of the shelter system and into our own place, help us live our dream life and get our RV! It may be living in close quarters, but it’s a place of our own and at worst, the RV parks are a cheap place to hole up for a while.


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They Grow Up So Fast

It just dawned on me today. It’s been almost two years since I started this blog. I know, I know, there’s been a lot of slacking. I haven’t always updated like I should. I guess I’ve done better than the average blog. People lose interest and forget. I’ve been around for a while.

Now I think about the kids and I’m amazed at how far we’ve come. It’s been a journey. Dad one was a nightmare. Dad two had his days, but wasn’t much better. Now we’re on our own, scrambling through. My kids sadly know what it means to struggle.

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Corde has really grown. She’s decided she wants to live in an RV and travel.  It’s either that or raise angora rabbits and sell the wool. She’d be happy with either, but she wants to do the RV first. She’s the reason we’re trying to get the RV funded. If you would like to help us live her dream, check us out at Our Family RV Page and donate to the cause! So far we don’t have much, but it’s always a slow roll to get things going. She is so excited that we already have people helping, but she’s a little depressed that we’re not further along.

 

wpid-img_20140703_161058.jpgBeekee is in heaven out here. He’s starting to get back traces of who he was before his dad got involved and we had the whole school thing. He’s been playing with bugs. He’s interested in traveling too. He wants to go to all the renn faires in the country and go hiking at every place there is to hike. Of course, to do that, we’d have to travel.

 

wpid-img_20140703_155257.jpgSander wants to raise chickens still. At the same time, Corde has talked him into wanting an adventure. He wants to go camping a lot so he can sleep under the moon. He’s convinced he would sleep on top of the RV every night. He’s taken to putting laundry out to dry and doing chores like the big kids, and is often more reliable. He’s gotten so big! It’s hard to believe when I started this blog he wasn’t talking much or clearly. He needed help to do everything. Now he’s so idependent. He was still in pull ups! He still won’t sleep in his own bed and wants his Blinket and Minket or he has nightmares, but he’s able to sleep without them.

 

wpid-img_20140703_190051.jpgThen there’s Luca, my little Bear. He’s two now. For the past two days he’s been falling asleep without nursing for naps. He doesn’t want to use the potty, but he has learned to tell me he wants to pee on a tree. He sometimes can tell me he wants to pop a squat. We’re getting there. He talks like crazy, and tries to take care of the kittens. I think he could have a lot of fun traveling, but may also like to live on a farm. I think they all would. Maybe that’s what we do when we settle down.

It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that my life was so different. I was still with Oz and we were mostly happy. Now I’m a single mom. I’m struggling to find my feet. I’m not sure how we’re going to make this work, but I have no choice. It needs to happen. I need to march on through. I need to make it, somehow.

wpid-img_20140703_185340.jpgWe’re slowly getting ourselves back together.  I hate to admit it, but stress has made me have a lot of bad parenting moments. I’ve yelled more than I should. I’ve been strict. Stress means I’ve forgotten how to have fun. It’s time I got that back, before I get old before my time, and my kids’ childhoods are gone. It’s time to get things moving the right way again.

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I’ve started doing yoga again. It hasn’t been much. It’s been all of eight poses. I run through the cycle all of twice, taking the time to relax into each pose. It takes me maybe fifteen to twenty minutes every morning, but it’s a routine. It’s getting me in good practices. It’s an attempt to force myself to stick with something. Afterwards I feel a little better. I’m really hoping I can see some improvements in the next couple months. I hope a year will show enough improvement that I can recognize it. I took photos of a few poses, well, Corde did. I’m going to do it again in the beginning of October, then again in January, once more in April. If there’s no change by April, I’ll know I’m not getting anywhere and give it up. Somehow I don’t see that being a problem. It will hopefully teach the children that dedication will get you results. I just wish I had a DVD and something to play it on. I’m sure a real routine would do more good.

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Things are destined to get better. Stick with us and we’ll find a way through. By the end of our official second year we’ll hopefully know if we’ll have our child support in and will know how much we can help ourselves. Wish us luck…and if you’re feeling inspired, don’t forget to donate to our cause.  We can use all the help we can get!


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Still Not There Yet

Life is taking us on an interesting path. We’re not exactly settled out in our new path, so I’m not changing our name until I know it will apply. It seems like we’re in a state of transition still, neither here nor there. Once we figure out what path our life is taking, we’ll finally put ourselves down with a new name.

So, what are we up to? Well, we’re staying out on a friend’s land. We’re in a camper, upgraded from a tent. It’s incredibly small for us, but it works. It’s taught me that we really can make it work in a tiny home. I think Corde, at least, will want a little more privacy. We definitely would need the space in here to be cleaned out so we can store our own stuff. We might even need a little more space than we have now, just to be certain.  If we got one of the RVs we’ve been stalking online, we’d be okay. We saw a fifth wheel Arctic Fox (how appropriate) in our price range and a couple Class C RVs. They all sleep a minimum of six. They have either a queen or king size bed in the master bedroom type area, which means the little boys and I could all snuggle in the same bed without a problem. I could probably get us all into a queen sized bed with minimum discomfort. The kitchens are all small, but we could shop as frequently as need be. Having to be prepped for travel, we would want plastic dishes (in case anything fell), and each of us would have our own stuff. That would just be it. I’m sure I could find bowls, plates, cups, and possibly even flatware in five colors. Luca would get blue. Sander would get green. Beekee would want orange or purple. It depends on when you ask him. After his dad or school, it will probably be orange. Corde would go with pink or red. I would end up with some random color, purple or yellow or something. We do our tooth brushes that way too. That would save on cabinet space and dishes. It could work.

So, why am I so fixed on this RV? The big thing is we would own it. You can’t be evicted from a place you own, so even if we can’t stay on the land, we can move our home instead of moving. We can travel, if we choose. It opens up possibilities. The down side to a fifth wheel is needing a tow vehicle.  The down side to a class C is the difficulty of also needing a car. Then again, depending on where we land and what I do for work, I could travel by bike, or tow a car.

In the mean time, we’ve been trying to have fun with it. We learned about what snails and pill bugs eat. We studied scorpions. We looked at all kinds of plants. We spent some time looking at historic houses. Today I sang them a bunch of camp songs from when I used to be a scout. It’s been a lot of fun.

This experience has been a tough one for us. Two months in domestic violence shelters ate away at all of us. Thankfully, Sander’s Minket found its way home this week. That instantly put a stop to his nightmares. We’re able to better stretch our legs here, but it’s far more isolated.  Now we’re sitting around watching movies. Well, let me amend that. Corde and I are watching movies while the boys are asleep. It’s depressing. I want to have a life back. The kids want friends.

Thankfully,  things are progressing. My ex husband got the reduction in child support he wanted. However, it wasn’t a huge reduction and he still has his back child support to pay. The next step is likely enforcement,  if I choose to push it that far. The process hasn’t even started with Oz. The state can’t find him to serve him. In the meantime, I’m doing what I can to get my own income. I’m writing for Camp Nanowrimo, in hopes of publishing. I will soon be offering prints for sale on Deviant Art, some of my photography. I’m getting my knitting business started again soon. I’m going to run a funding campaign. Then there’s my page on Go Fund Me to get the RV. We’re making progress! $230 may not be much for an RV, but everyone has to start somewhere.  (The page has been removed because the Go Fund Me is no longer active.)

Now, here’s the point where I get a little shameless. If we can’t get our RV before the weather turns, we may end up back in a shelter. It really depends on if either of the deadbeat exes decide to pay what they owe. We may be able to swing housing if they start paying. We really can’t hack another round at a shelter, and that may not change. Even if we get into housing, the RV fund will remain untouched for the RV. I would rather not be in most low income housing. No contribution is too small. If you’re uncomfortable giving money, we’re also going to have a Scentsy fundraiser done in our name, so that’s another way to help. Anything will help right now.


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Help Us Make Our New Life!

Hey happy followers!

Do you want to help fund our next adventure?  Here’s your chance. We’re asking for help to buy an RV. This would allow us to stay where we’re at until our house is built, or to go where the wind takes us. It’s a time to start our next adventure.

The past year has been rough. The kids and I had to put up with trouble from Corde and Beekee’s dad. Their first and only visit to their dad ended in a crazy drive to Georgia to get them home. There was a crazy problem with CPS. Then Oz left, and I had nothing. He took the car, leaving me with no means of transportation. There was a problem with his father making advances on me, so the kids and I packed up and left.

I know in many ways we seemed happy. The truth was we weren’t doing all that great. I was trapped and isolated, as we’re the kids. There were some other problems too. To make a long story short, we are trying to pick our lives back up after a situation I now recognize as abusive.

Because I had to get out in a hurry, and shelters don’t offer much help, we’ve been bouncing from place to place. It’s time to stop bouncing and get our lives back.

Since the shelters and the government weren’t much help, I’m doing this on my own. We’re trying to start a campaign to help fund our dream. This is the first big step.

So, come on down and check it out.  We’re taking donations. No contribution is too small. You can find us at https://www.gofundme.com/amr1ag if you would like to help. Share the link around!

Why am I asking for funding instead of saving myself? I’m facing the prospect of no income, no home, no transportation, and no help from either dad. Since both my exes are doing the deadbeat thing, I have to do this all on my own. I need to get my life back together from scratch, and it’s not easy.  The kids deserve better.

I thank you all for standing by me and listening. I hope some of you are in a position to help me meet my goal. When I am able I will pass the gift along by helping someone else in need. We really all appreciate it!


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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Ah, another co-op week! I love co-op. It’s always so much fun. Okay, for most of us it’s always fun. We have our share of challenges, but all in all, it’s a highlight of our week.

So, let’s start with the good. We’ll be at co-op again next week! It might be tight, but we’ve been given a couple more weeks to work out our finances. I’m glad they’re willing to work with us. A part of me would be glad to ease up and be free of the co-op. Part of me would really miss it.

Better still, Luca sat through a good bit of his time in nursery without getting upset. He lasted a good portion of the first two classes. He even played with puzzles for a while, as long as I didn’t leave the room. He did really well. He even had some good Daddy time, which is something he needs. It’s strange not having him with me, but it’s good that he’s having fun with other people. He needs to spend some time without me. I love him, but sometimes I need a break!

Oz is organizing a Magic tournament for the homeschool co-op’s teen players. He’s even building a deck to use as a prize. The kids are thrilled. It should be a lot of fun. Better yet, it should be worked out as a regular thing for when Beekee is old enough. The boys are already asking to play, but I think Sander and Beekee need to learn a lot, like reading, focusing, and strategy before they can play.

The bad? My knee, ankle, and elbow are in rough shape. Yes, it’s definitely fall. The kids’ aunt’s truck broke down today. I didn’t get the cleaning done I had hoped. We were late for co-op…again. We even forgot to pack lunches. It was just not a good day for organization. I guess on that level it was the fear of having to leave the co-op. I was stressing over that instead of getting everyone ready.

And then there was the ugly. I was asked if I would let Corde drop yet another grade level in writing. She’s not thriving like I expected. Worse still, she’s starting to become disruptive in class. It’s not that she doesn’t get the concepts. She’s just very slow at writing. She gets distracted too easily. She’ll write two letters, then stop to ask a question or stare out the window at home. It can take her an hour to write one sentence. Her spelling is horrible, even when copying. She’s a bit disappointed, but she’ll get over it. It’s better to thrive and be set back than to struggle. We’ll still work on her writing program. We can just take it at her pace. If it takes her all summer, so be it. By next year she should be ready. It’s speed, focus, and spelling that holding her back, not understanding. She’ll feel better about it when she starts the new class.

I also learned just how many kids I’m likely to have in my lit class for our next book. My class has all elected to read War of the Worlds after Treasure Island. They’re combining classes with the next grade group up. That group is likely to mostly choose the same book. That class is going to be huge! We’re going to need a bigger classroom. I’m not looking forward to a class that big.

Back to Corde for a minute, her attitude today was also pretty ugly. She decided to sulk all of science. She didn’t get the prizes for doing her homework because she said she did it all during class. She’s making things hard for herself at co-op. I really need to start encouraging her and checking in with her more. Beekee and Sander are thriving at co-op, but if Corde doesn’t start rising to the challenge, I think she may not return next year. I know she can do it. I know she can thrive. I know she could have a lot of fun with it, but she needs to lose the attitude about hard work and facing challenges. I hate to pull us all out next year because she doesn’t want to do it, but it’s really all or none. I can’t just leave her home alone all day. We’re in this together or not at all. Then again, she’s still adjusting, so she may start to lobe it once she’s a little more in the swing of things.

So it’s been a bit of a mixed bag today. In the end, we had a lot of fun. Corde and Beekee are making friends. Sander is getting to do some fun stuff he wouldn’t do at home. He loves his teachers. My classes are so much fun. Oz is really loving it too. I really hope it continues to go well for us. Now we just need to figure out how to manage the finances. We have a lot to afford and not that much money to work with. I think today showed me to stay positive. They love us at the co-op, even with Corde’s struggles and moodiness. She’s just got to feel like she’s struggling less. The fairy festival is coming up. Life is looking more positive.

Oh, and there’s talk of starting a homeschool hiking and nature walk group on Wednesday morning. The family suggesting it is big into the Charlotte Mason thing. I think those nature walks and studies could be good for the kids. There’s nothing like exercise, nature studies, and socialization for my little nature-lovers! Yup, things are looking up!


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Chicken Runner and Chocolate Milk

This morning was a mix of delightful and depressing. I’m a little beat by everything going on. I’m looking for answers, but it seems there are never any satisfactory ones. Life without child support has been a rough adjustment.

Today we made a tough decision. This will likely be our last week at co-op. We were on a payment plan, but we’re falling behind. We just can’t afford it right now. I hate it. I love my classes. The kids are making friends. They’ve been learning so much. Now I have to take it away from all of us. I hate to pull the plug on it, but we just can’t make it work anymore. If we can’t be granted more time, we’ll have to drop it. It’s better I drop it than get kicked out. If I voluntarily leave we may be able to come back next year, if I’m not too ashamed to return. I’ve always tried to let people see us for us, not our finances. Sadly, I can’t hold up the mask any longer.

In other sad news, we may not make the fairy festival either. It’s just over two weeks away, and that’s going to be a decent expense between gas and paying for Corde and Beekee to get in. I only get one extra free pass and Sander and Luca are free. The kids were so excited about it too. It hurts to have to take two opportunities away from them at once. I feel like I’m now the villain in one of their games.

On the other hand, the kids don’t seem to mind. Corde is happy to get back to unschooling. She wants to do her books because we already have them. Might as well, right? And she makes a good point, CPS is still involved so it would be good to be able to show improvements in their writing and math. They surprisingly enjoy it! Corde kind of wants me to go back to being her teacher. She’s surprisingly disappointed that I don’t teach any of her classes. Their social time can be filled with park days instead. It looks like I might be setting up a few and posting them on the homeschool list myself. No one else seems to be taking the initiative, so it may be good if I did. They love the co-op, but they would be just as happy to have normal social time.

Corde was too funny the other day. She moaned, “Why doesn’t Grumpy get internet? We could watch Netflix! Or even regulars TV channels? I miss my shows! I could be watching Clean House, Dirty Jobs, and Mythbusters right now. We didn’t even get to watch all the documentaries on our list. I miss my documentaries!” And she says she doesn’t like to learn…

Still, the kids are having fun. Beekee’s four-clawed creature and assassin obsession has been replaced with chicken-runners. Chicken-runners are dinosaurs about the size of a chicken, but they run really fast and eat meat. They also have feathers, because the kids decided dinosaurs look much more creepy with feathers. This new thing with dinosaurs being thought to have feathers is a bit weird to all of us, bit it makes for fun play time.

It’s funny to hear them play house too. Corde is always the mom. Luca is her baby. It’s funny hearing her complain about needing coffee in the morning to function because her kid is too crazy and she can’t keep up. I don’t drink coffee, so I have no idea where that comes from. Oz loves coffee, but rarely drinks it. She’s too funny. At least it gets her reading. Apparently her vision of being a mom involves reading a lot to her baby. Hmm…wonder where that idea came from…couldn’t possibly be me, could it?

In all of this, I could really go for a chocolate milk. It’s my drug of choice. Some people want a beer. Others crave cigarettes. I crave chocolate milk. I think it’s because, unlike those other vices, I can share chocolate milk with my kids. There’s nothing like kicking back with chocolate milk and cookies with the kids. The weather is slowly getting cooler, which means chocolate milk, lemonade, and iced tea are soon to be replaced with hot chocolate, hot tea, mulled cider, and eggnog. I forgot just how much those things meant until we couldn’t afford to splurge. Hopefully it won’t be long before we can splurge on all of us again.

So, in the wake of some saddening news, light seems to fall on us. I know if we were still in the trailer park this news would have hit them hard. Now it just means more time to run wild on the land. They can get back to those wild, unschooling ways. We can keep a little of the new stuff from co-op and if the kids want to keep going with the writing and math, we will, but we’ll have more freedom to stray from the path.

Of course, nothing is set in stone. I might just get news on Friday that they’ll work with us. Things could yet turn around. Until then, we’ll focus on what to do if the co-op will be over for us this year.