Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Animal Adventures and Corde’s Birthday

We had this great plan for Corde’s birthday.  It was supposed to be a big, exciting trip to the renaissance festival.  Unfortunately we were met with thunderstorms, which meant the whole family had to stop and redirect.  No one really wanted to go home, so we decided we were going to make the best of it.  With a quick change of plans, we ended up at Animal Adventures in Bolton, MA instead.

There isn’t too much to be said for Animal Adventures.  It’s a rescue zoo where they’ve got a handful of exotic animals, and a few more expected animals.  However, they’re really friendly and pull out all kinds of animals to be introduced to the kids.  It was quite the experience.

As you can see, the kids got to touch all sorts of animals.  Corde even got to see her favorite, alligators and crocodiles.  They had a ton of fun being introduced to all these wild animals.  I think they would have stayed for hours, had they not gotten hungry.

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One of the particularly fun moments was when Sander was introduced to the frog on his shirt.  The frog’s name is Booger.  That made for all kinds of laughter as there were jokes made about having a booger on them.  They definitely had a sense of humor here.

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If you can’t see what this says, it reads “Animal Adventures Just for Fun” at the top.  On the left with the arrow it reads “This Is A Clamp Lamp.”  The right reads “This…  Is a Clamp Lamp when your pet crocodile wants the night light off.”  I can’t read exactly what the bottom one says, but basically, it’s “Yes, those are teeth marks.”  The kids thought that was fantastic.  Also, talk about a way to describe their bite strength!

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The kids were allowed to touch so many things.  This particular snake was held out by something like six people across, which I don’t have a photo of here because I don’t have permission to post it from the people in the image.  It’s the polite thing to do.  However, you can imagine just how long this snake is given not even half of it is as long as Luca is tall.  He was very excited to have a picture with this snake.

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In spite of not being able to go to the faire, Corde still went in all dressed up and had a good time.  This is perhaps my favorite picture of her from that whole trip.  She’s holding a hissing cockroach.  Neither Sander nor Luca were brave enough for it, though Luca did try.  It tickled his hands and he dropped it, though.  Corde, however, thought it was pretty cool, even if it was just a bug.

The outdoor areas of the zoo were pretty fun, too.  Luca was very excited at getting to meet goats.  He wants to own goats of our own some day, as well as chickens, which he also got to meet.  There was a pony, some turkeys, and they even got to pet a baby duckling that was only a week old.  Around the back there were a couple big cats and some other animals, which the kids thought were great too.  On top of that, they had an amazing play area.  There was a large wooden pirate ship to play on, as well as this little castle.  It was pretty fitting that we would end up there, given we were coming from being washed out of the renn faire.

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It turned out to be a great day, and we got to spend it with some of our family too.  That’s Luca with my dad.  Luca is usually attached to my hip every second of every day when we go out with family, but in this case he latched onto my dad and was having a wonderful day about it.  Talk about a fantastic way to build their relationship!  I had to stealthily chase them down to take this picture because it was a moment I didn’t want to miss.  It was just too good to be forgotten.

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When we finally left, everyone was starving.  We were dropped off at home, but since we didn’t get to do anything special for Corde’s birthday, we opted to eat out, wherever she wanted that we could get to.  It was a Sunday, so there was no bus to speak of.  She had settled on Chinese food.  We’d never tried this place, but it was pretty good!  I think it was the perfect cap to a really great day!

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Once More to the Children’s Museum!

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First of all, a very happy birthday to this guy!  Sander got to spend the day with his siblings and a friend at the Children’s Museum.  What could be better?  This is him climbing in the big climbing area at the front of the museum.  I remember climbing on this thing when I was a kid.  It’s awesome, and was an awesome way to start the day for Sander’s birthday.

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The first thing the kids actually saw was an exhibit on dinosaurs put in by the Museum of Science.  Corde thought the fossils were pretty awesome.  She had to point out that her hand must have made that track.  Yeah, she’s just a little off on that.

That’s where we saw this beast.  It’s pretty cool, right?  What’s really extra awesome about it is it’s controlled by a kid off on the side (that you conveniently can’t see, and I didn’t know it at the time I filmed this.)  The kids thought it was incredible.

Then Corde had to do this, because it’s just who she is.  I couldn’t resist throwing in a little bit of her personality into the mix.  Yeah, she just might have had a good time too, just a little bit.

Just like last time they had a blast at the city area.  They all really love playing store in that shop.  I kind of wish I had a place they could play store like that here.  It would be so much fun for them.  Then again, if they had access to it everyday they probably wouldn’t love it so much.  Plus, it’s fun when the other kids come in, usually.  Today there were some really pushy kids that came in as a part of a school group.  Luca was waiting very patiently for a turn at the cash register, but the kids from this public school kept pushing right by them, and their chaperone said nothing about the pushing and the refusal to share (unless it was with another student from their school group).  I really think we may make our next visit when the school kids won’t be there.

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And Corde with her thing with mangoes.  It’s got to do with My Little Pony Abridged.  She loves that show, and there’s something on there about Apple Jack selling mangoes.  Since then it’s been a thing of hers.  Think she’s got enough mangoes there?

The next room we went to had all the work trucks.  The kids absolutely love this room, though it was a little hard to keep track of them.  Again, the school group plagued us here.  They were literally running circuits around the place.  It made it less fun for a while, but it got really quiet when they left.  I even got a picture of Corde playing with the trucks by herself!

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The kids always like the raceway room too.  Nothing says fun like science experiments with golf balls.  Hey, look at that, it’s even a picture of me!  Corde took that because I figured I never have pictures of myself in these things, so it might be nice if I were included every now and then.  I probably would be if Oz was with us, but his work schedule often prevents it, like it did today.

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This was particularly fun for the kids.  The whole board is a series of lights.  They change color when you twist the light fixture.  It started with Corde and dad that wanted to turn the whole thing red.  They kept having little kids come up and swipe the board or just start randomly turning things.  He eventually gave up, but Corde kept going back to it.  Eventually (with the help of all the kids), they got it done.  This is the result:

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Isn’t that cool?  I particularly thought so.  I’d love to have one of those things in my living room, just to play with.  I can imagine writing messages across it.  Somehow it reminds me of the old Light Bright thing kids used to have.  The only problem with this one is the center dot wouldn’t turn red for some reason, so they turned it black and went wit it.  I think they did a pretty good job.

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The whole section was based on snow and winter.  They had a sock skating rink, snowflake lights on the ground, and this collection of boxes, challenging kids to make a snow fort.  Luca found these inside the snow fort and decided a hot chocolate party in a snow fort is every bit as fun as a tea party, so we got to enjoy that.  It was a small bit of Luca and me time we were able to squeeze out today.  Usually Luca likes a lot of one-on-one time, but it’s rough when there are so many other kids that need my attention, so this was extra nice.

This is a collection of some of the other photos we took today.  We got to see a lot of the museum, which works because we were there for five hours at least.  When we got there we had lunch, but after that we were on to the exhibits.  I say exhibits loosely because it’s really more like a giant playground than a museum.  It’s got plenty of opportunities to experiment, but it’s not a classical museum in any sense of the word.

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We had a great time, but you can see the results.  (Okay, what you can’t see is Luca sleeping on top of me and my backpack on the seat beside me, but you get the idea.)  The kids were all tired out, almost too tired for Sander’s birthday dinner (pepperoni pizza).

All together I’d say the museum was really fun, aside from that one school group that caused all the problems.  I really wish the chaperones had spent more time focused on the kids and less time chatting or on their phones.  At one point a fist fight even broke out, which is no good for anyone.  I’m not saying schools are horrible or anything, but this school group in particular was a nightmare.  If I have my way, we’ll never go again when there’s a school group there.  There’s too much chaos, too much noise, and too many people to settle in and really enjoy anything.

We’ve also talked a lot about just sucking it up and getting a membership at one of the local museums, a place we’d probably plan to visit enough times each year to make it worth the investment.  This will not be one of those places.  While it’s fun to play, it’s one of the most expensive museum memberships for our family size, nearly twice what they ask at the Museum of Science.  It’s more of a playground than a place of learning, and the stuff is really geared towards preschoolers more than anything, maybe kindergarten and first grade kids or something, but certainly not a teen, a nearly tween, and a newly turned 8 year old.  They had fun, and I can see us visiting once a year for a while (because the cost of one visit for all of us is reasonable), but I don’t think it’s worth a membership, especially since we’d have to go three times in a year to be worth it.  We’ll probably go once a year and call it good for the next couple of years until even Luca is really too old for it.


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It’s Birthday Time for Sander

It’s that time of year again, when everyone is thinking Christmas and poor Sander often feels like his birthday gets forgotten. We try to be sensitive to this, but it isn’t always easy. We try to do things like celebrate his birthday earlier in the month, that way he’s not caught up in the last minute Christmas stuff and overwhelmed. We also like him to be able to enjoy his presents before he’s got more piled on him.

This year for Christmas he got a new Nintendo 2DS. Last summer he dropped his in the Charles River when we went to see the fireworks. He’s really worked to show us he’s ready for the responsibility for having another one, so he finally got a new one. It came with one of the original Super Mario Bros. games, which he absolutely loves. I just wish we could find the rest of the games because he really loved playing them. We just couldn’t justify the cost of getting another game for him for his birthday on top of his very expensive DS.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of his birthday celebration. He went out with my aunt and uncle to make a toy for his birthday like he did last year. Last year it was a plane. This year he and Beekee both went. They each brought home a different tank.

This was Sander’s tank, which was pretty awesome.  It’s too bad it isn’t a brighter day out because the picture is a little dark, but you can see how thrilled he is with his creation.  It’s even painted up in camo!

Beekee got to go too.  He picked a different kind of tank.  He opted for the camo look too.  I think they were really influenced by their trip to the WWII event!

These are the only two of the LEGO creations that are still standing.  The rest got put together and were already in pieces an hour later.  I think he just likes having the freedom to build, but isn’t fond of having the stuff created with the instructions.  However, these two he wants us to glue together so we can put them on the tree.  I’m cool with that!

Tomorrow we get up crazy early (as in before the sun) so we can go hang out at his friend’s house.  It’s going to be one of two days we go this week.  I’m not entirely looking forward to it, but I know he is, and that’s what matters.  It’s totally going to make his birthday perfect, and make for some good fun before Christmas rolls around!


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Sparklers

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

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

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


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Happy Birthday, Mystery Bear!

Luca and Mommy

Fox and Luca, just born

Five years ago, Luca came into our lives.  From the moment of Luca’s birth there were little growls, indicating Luca was content, or trying to fall asleep.  These little growls earned Luca the name of Little Bear.

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Luca enjoying his spoons

That little adventurer soon became Mister Bear.  Back then we hadn’t put a thought towards gender neutral parenting, so it seemed a fitting name.  Luca became Mister Bear instead of Little Bear, and everyone was happy.

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Then something happened.  Out of the blue, Luca became Mystery Bear, because no one knows, it’s a mystery.  It just seemed a far more appropriate name for our magical Little Bear.  Luca really seemed to love it.  We’d call for Mystery Bear and he would giggle the cutest little giggle.  It was awesome.

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Now our little Mystery Bear is five!  Can you believe it?  I started this blog back when he was still a bitty little thing.  Now we’ve got a five-year-old, and such a cutie at that.  It’s amazing how time flies.  I just wish it would go by a little slower.  It seems like it’s all getting away from us too fast.

IMG_20170626_121801_289Today our Mystery Bear went shopping for the first time.  I gave him some money to buy bread and butter, so we could make grilled cheese sandwiches.  It was originally $5, but it wasn’t enough, so I changed it out for $10.  He wanted to use his tooth fairy money to buy bread and butter, but I wouldn’t let him.  I told him that money was for something fun.  Better still, he got to keep the change.  You can almost see the dollars in his little paw, while he’s doing his “money pose.”

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And what did our Mystery Bear get for his birthday?  A pretty blue boom box!  Luca picked it out this weekend when I asked what he would like for his birthday.  He said he wanted a radio, but a blue one.  I looked on Amazon and found one.  The reviews were kind of mixed, but I figured for a five-year-old, it wasn’t too expensive, and it was the right color.  I got the service plan, so if it up and dies on us, we’re covered.  I figure if it lasts out the three year service plan, it was worth the money.  Luca played the radio for a good long while, dancing to the music in the living room.  It was a great little scene.  It’s a sign of just how grown up he is that he’s asking for a radio rather than toys for his birthday.  Such a big Little Bear, my little Mystery Bear.


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Witch Kitty Day

Sabrina the Kitty Witch

It’s Sabrina’s birthday.  She’s officially a whole year old today.  She’s become such a fixture in our lives.  I can’t imagine life without her.

Sabrina’s had it rough, well, for a typical house cat.  She’s had to deal with two moves already.  She’s lacking her scratching post (something we’ve promised to replace).  The neighborhood animals have been driving her batty.  The neighborhood kids have been even worse.

At the end of the day, Sabrina always shows us she still loves us in spite of it all.  She comes and snuggles with Oz and me.  She harasses Corde to get the petting she deserves.  She taunts and teases Beekee and Sander until they chase her around, and when she gets bored of being chased, she chases back.  She cuddles a safe distance from Luca, snuggling up against his feet or some other part of his body that won’t allow him to grab her and hold on.  She loves us all.  Of that I have no doubt.

Sabrina has taught us all a lot of lessons.  Corde has learned about responsibility.  Oz and I have learned a lot about Maine Coons.  The boys have seemed to learn that cats are a lot cooler than they thought they were.  Cats used to seem disinterested and boring to them.  It’s been wonderful having her around.

Since she moved in she’s been our little huntress.  Bugs don’t stand a chance whens he’s around.  She’s likely to chase out anything that comes in her way, though we’ve had to teach her not to go after wasps.  Frogs, bugs, I doubt even mice would give her pause.  My kids strive to be like her sometimes, hunting for things just like a cat.  It’s wonderful to have her.

It’s really too bad we can’t do more for her.  We’d love to get her a present for her birthday, but money is tight.  We’re going to wait until we’re a little more stable.  She’ll definitely get a present for Christmas though.  Our precious (not so little) girl is definitely a gift. I look forward to years of having her share our home.

Happy birthday, Sabrina.  May it be the first of many!