Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Knitting with Kids

Just a week or so ago we came to the conclusion that the kids needed a hobby.  This wasn’t an adult decision.  Sander and Beekee decided they wanted to start working on some non-school activities.  This resulted in the decision to go to the craft store, pick up some yarn and needles, and get to knitting.

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much.  I got them cheap yarn and needles because I fully expected this to be a one week thing and then done.  They’d move on from it, and I would once again be the only knitter in the house.

It started out just as I would expect it would, with the kids starting off very eagerly, but soon finding it was a little trickier than they’d thought it was.  Beekee took off on his own fairly quickly, while Sander needed a lot more attention.  I decided it would be best if I did exactly like I did with Luca, held his hands and guided him through the motions until he started to get it.  It all looked like it was going fairly well at first.

IMG_20170801_180658_154Sander, with his dark green yarn and metallic green needles, was making some pretty good progress.  Though he didn’t do his knitting regularly, he’s adding rows as he goes and it’s looking pretty good.  His tension is really good and he’s been really careful with his stitches, so we haven’t ended up with extra stitches everywhere.  He still likes to sit between my legs while he knits, just so I’m there if he runs into trouble.  We tried him sitting on my lap but he’s just too tall for that.  I can’t see his knitting that way!  Still, it’s only going to be a matter of time before he’s working completely independently, at least until we move on to the purl stitch.

IMG_20170801_181944_153Luca is even taking off in regards to that.  He’s been working hard at knitting without my help, and if I try to interfere or guide I get a very firm, “Let me do it!”  It’s only a matter of time before my assistance is just needed to fix mistakes or to help with the counting to keep the stitches right.  Even then, it’s not going to be long before Luca can count the stitches without help, and then I won’t be needed anymore.

IMG_20170801_181341_257Beekee, on the other hand, I have no idea what he was doing.  Somehow he was “knitting” row after row, didn’t add any actual rows of knitting.  All he succeeded in doing was winding up the stitches tighter and tighter until he could barely get his needle into them.  We decided just yesterday we were going to start over from scratch.  He sat next to me and knit two rows, one with a lot of guidance and one completely on his own.  Today he added yet another row, which was looking pretty good.  He’s getting there.  I think I had too much faith in him figuring it out quickly and let him run with it too soon.  As a result, his first memories of knitting are frustrating, but he’s working to rebuild with better experiences.

The younger ones aren’t the only ones learning to knit.  Though I’ve got no picture (since she’s off at Rainbow Camp this week…and hopefully isn’t getting the rain we are), Corde is learning to knit too.  She’s done some crochet, but when the boys decided they wanted to learn to knit, she decided she had to be in on it too.  So far she’s got a swatch of garter stitch started up that’s about three inches long, in sock yarn, on size 2 needles.  She wanted small, so that’s what I had that was small.  For all her frustrations at small needle and yarn size, she’s doing fairly well too.

At first I was overjoyed at the new knitters at the house.  I thought of all the fun projects they could do, and I could be giving them a gift that will last them a lifetime.  Knitting is not only a fun pastime, but it ends off with a product that’s (hopefully) usable.  If I knit a hat, I can then wear that hat.  I can knit a sweater.  I can knit socks, and who doesn’t need socks?  There’s something deliciously wonderful about hand knit socks.  So it’s productive time and enjoyment.  And it allows me to do more than one thing at once.  I can knit and watch television, or listen to an audio book.  I can knit while having a conversation with friends.  I can even knit and help the kids through the traditional elements of homeschooling we keep so the state can be happy.  I can knit while Sander reads a book to me, or Luca tells me an epic story.  So what’s not to like about knitting?

Then I realized the long term impact of what I’m doing.  I’m creating more knitters.  That means more people potentially making socks, hats, sweaters, scarves, whatever it is they decide to knit.  I know Corde and Sander both want to knit socks.  This means they’ll be tempted to dive in my tiny stash to get yarn, which also means I’ll need to buy more yarn.  (No really, twist my arm and make me buy more yarn…)  It means I’m potentially going to have less to make for the kids because they’re going to start making stuff themselves.  If this really takes off they could be knitting their own socks, hats, and mittens!  I mean, that’s great, but that leaves only myself and Oz to knit socks, hats, and mittens for.  I guess it’s good that they learn to provide for themselves, and maybe they’ll want to keep better track of their socks, hats, and mittens if they make them on their own, but I kind of like the idea of knitting socks, hats, and mittens for them.  I’ve been quite the slacker and haven’t done many for them, but I’ve got enough of a budget to start doing that for them.  If this takes off, it means competition for yarn, and less people to knit for.  Isn’t that kind of tragic?

But, really, I’m happy they’re learning to do this.  I think of all the joy knitting brings me, and I like the idea that I’m going to be passing this on to them.  My grandmother knits, and while my mother doesn’t, it’s sort of a family tradition.  It’s a skill that will keep on giving to them, so long as they keep on practicing it.  In college they could have the coolest socks, the most unique hats, and awesome sweaters to show off.  They could some day knit for their own kids.  Once they get good at it they can do it while they’re doing other things, like I can, which means they can potentially keep their hands busy during an important meeting at work.  It helped me focus during class, so long as I picked something with a simple enough pattern.  It means I don’t have much idle time, since I can always be knitting while I’m doing something else.  Television time doesn’t become vegging out that way.  These are things I’m potentially passing on to them.

Of course, this is still just a new habit.  They may knit through a few rows and never pick it up again.  Corde, at least, I see continuing on to knit other things, but she’s also older and has more of an idea of what she wants to get out of knitting.  Sander and Beekee are going strong with it for now, but with only a row or two when they decide to pick it up, it’s not like they’ll knock out their first garter scarves in a month or anything.  Luca is still working on the same scarf from last fall or winter, whenever it was I picked up the yarn.  It’s still a long way to go before we figure out if this is just a passing interest or a new life-long hobby.  Still, it’s nice to think they have a choice in that now.  They’re learning, and in time they’ll have an opportunity to decide for themselves.  I’ve given them the chance to learn, and where they go from there is up to them.


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I’m A Ninja!

The kids are having so much fun with library events. They do some pretty cool stuff. The most fun so far, aside from the magic show, was the ninja preschool story time.

First they read two ninja stories. They read Nighttime Ninja, and were encouraged to act it out. Then there was The Boy Who Cried Ninja. That one was pretty funny. Afterwards they colored all kinds of ninja pictures and had a ninja craft.

 

wpid-img_20140730_113837.jpgCorde, the perfectionist of the family, had to have hers just right. She followed the directions exactly. She was on everyone else to do the same until she decided it was better to just let her brothers do their thing.

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Beekee wanted to do his own crazy thing. His ninja evolved several times. He kept taking all the stripes off. In the end it was just black with eyes, so it can be more stealthy.

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Sander’s favorite part was using scissors. He loved being able to cut his own pieces to put on. He decided they look like minions, so they must be minion ninjas.

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Luca chose to make a girl ninja. Pink was the color of the day. I cut the pieces and put the glue on. He put it all together by himself. He did an awesome job.

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This is our little ninja clan. Can you tell which ninja is which? They had a blast playing with them.

And, as always, if you’d like to help us get our feet back on the ground and help us stay where these awesome resources are, you can shop our Scentsy Fundraiser and get some really cool stuff while helping us out, or you can give directly at out Go Fund Me Page. We’re not so good at asking for help, but we’ve been displaced long enough. If asking for help is what it takes, we’re ready and willing.


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And We Have Ears!

I love Oz. He took a whole bunch of stress off of me. One project is checked off the list. Next weekend isn’t going to sneak up on us quite so quickly now. Of course, there’s still a lot to do.

Today was a bit crazy. Corde did some of her writing homework and almost all of her science. Beekee was acting nutty all day. Sander was pretty chill for once. Luca managed to swing most of the day without a nap. With that stuff, I still managed to get dishes done, the cabinets got cleaned out, and I finally got the canisters clean to put up the flour and brown sugar. Just getting that done was crazy. I felt like I had a million interruptions. It was nuts.

The best part of the day was either Corde reading or the math for jelly bean exchange. The jelly bean exchange was requiring the kids to do math problems for jelly beans. Sander just counted jelly beans. Beekee answered addition problems. Corde did multiplication. The kids thought it was pretty fun, so that’s a bonus. It’s great to have a little educational fun.

However, my great stress relief was Corde’s fairy ears. Her costume is now complete. Oz made them when he got home. Pictures will follow, I promise, but we have a lot to do first. Now I just have to do the boys’ costumes and Oz’s pants. I just hope I can remember enough stories!

Fairy Fest is right around the corner. The fairies have been finished. I got my own special vendor badge. The fairy looks like she’s dancing. Our whole household has their own specialty badges since Grumpy and Aunt Misti are making them all. This is going to be fun!

This week we have baking to do for our potluck contribution. We need to get the costumes done. I have to plan our menu, something that’s easy to make since the cooking situation is confusing. The whole site is off the grid, so it should be educational too. I have to figure out what gear we need. The kids need to be ready too. That’s going to be tricky. They’ll need to be prepared for camping since it’s been so long. We have to get our fire gear ready too. It won’t be long before Corde will be able to do fire with us. We need to get her a hoop to practice with. She’s becoming quite the hooper! It’s gearing up to be a busy week and a great weekend. If only it weren’t sneaking up on us so fast!

Oh, and I forgot to mention it yesterday. Corde completed her second poem today. It’s not even due yet. We’re going to start her next poem this week. Corde swears she has a bad memory, but she’s really rocking on her math facts and poetry. She’s really good at this stuff! We’ll be doing a video of her next poem soon. Hopefully we can get some good videos at Fairy Fest too! It’s so amazing to see her blossoming as a result of co-op!


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Fairy Swaps

Today Corde made swaps for the fairy festival. It was nice to see her excited. It’s been all kinds of emotional for her lately. Excited is a good mood. It’s better than she’s been lately. She’s been a rollercoaster lately.

The craft today involved some little wooden people shapes, girls and boys. They were decorated and had little wings put on. They looked so cute. I’ll have to put up pictures soon.

Now Corde has a gift she can give to the kids she meets. She should enjoy that. I can’t wait to see them all finished!


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Feels Like Fall

It’s nice and cool out today. That means it hasn’t even broken 80, something that hasn’t happened since early spring. The air is filled with the heavy aroma of hay. My mind is full of thoughts of hay rides, apple cider, and pumpkin picking. It makes me homesick, since apple cider, hay rides, and pumpkins would all be an important part of the season.

Because of the weather, the kids and I are outside, soaking up the sunshine. All four of them are running around, taking in the fresh air. The sound of music is floating in from somewhere. Cows can be heard now and again. There’s the soft sounds of the wind in the trees. This is what fall should be like.

Earlier today we had some craft time. Corde made fairy antennae for her costume for faire. Beekee had Grumpy make him some horns. Sander had me mame his horns. Aunt Misti made a single little horn for Luca. We looked at wings we can borrow. Misting has two extra sets. Oz fixed his horns too. Now we’ll be sure to have wings for Corde and Beekee. I have no idea what we’ll all be wearing, but we’ll figure it out.

After crafting the kids all had lunch. They didn’t eat anything special, but they did have bubble tea. They loved that since it was new and different. It was an awesome treat! It was doubly nice since it went well with playing outside.

I think this has been a pretty good day. The kids seem to be having a lot of fun. This is really what life should be about!


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I’m Too Young to Die!

The title? Nope, no one died, or even got hurt. The winds got pretty scary. The wind got fierce. However, we had nothing more than that, not even hail.

So what’s with the title? I had to listen to Corde yelling that any time Beekee would say he was looking for a funnel cloud or tornado. It was a long storm watch. The brief time we were at risk seemed like an eternity.

Of course, my experience with tornado warnings are much different. Every time I would look out to see a funnel cloud way up in the sky. The kids don’t remember it. I think they slept through the last one.

Now they’re actually dissapointed that they didn’t get to see a tornado, can you believe it? A force so destructive it could have turned the whole trailer park to rubble in no time and they wanted to see it! Go Figure!

However, now I have to research emergency kits/bug out bags. I know it makes me sound paranoid, but it’s better to be prepared. It could be a fun project, especially since Beekee is into zombies. Maybe his can be a “zombie apocalypse survivcal kit” just for fun. The idea is to be practical, but there’s no reason to be all gloom and doom about it. The chances of needing a survival kit or bug out bag are incredibly slim in this area, so slim that it’s almost a joke to have in the first place. However, if that slim chance should happen, it’s best to be prepared. I’m not thinking about being able to live off the land for months on end because we’re facing the apocalypse, but at least being able to fend for ourselves for two or three days if we get trapped in by flooding or are forced to relocate due to fire or a tornado might be nice.

This is also a practical exercise for the kids. We don’t know what the future will bring. I keep hearing about this wild and crazy weather everywhere. If this keeps up it may not be a bad idea to be prepared for severe storms. They seem to be increasing all over the country. The US hasn’t faced war on our home soil for quite some time, but it could happen again. Many emergency kits can accomodate for most situations, since survival is survival, and there are only a few changes to be made for circumstance when the plan is for something short term. You just never know when these skills may come in handy, aside from the obvious adventures into the wilderness.

And on a less paranoid sounding level, I found two more free events for Corde and Beekee to attend. Home Depot and Lowes both have free craft project days for kids from 5-12. Corde will be outgrowing them before too long, but just as she is, Sander will be ild enough to go. In four years when Luca is old enough to go we’ll be able to take all three boys. These events have been around since Oz was little. It would definitely give them a good start if they want to help us out in the future. It looks like we’ll have a trailer to fix up, a chicken coop to rebuild, a garden to fix up, and eventually an Earthship to build.

Anyhow, we’re all safe and sound. I’m going to do some of that research and take some more time to read the Bible and make my notes. I’m starting to think reading the Bible is one of the worst things that I could do as a part of giving Christianity a second chance, or at least starting from the Old Testament. Somehow I’m starting to think I was reading a dumbed down children’s version in Catholic school, or maybe that they just glossed over things a lot more. I don’t remember the Bible being like this when I read it before. Then again, the last time I read from the Bible was over twenty years ago. I have a feeling if I want to let Corde give Christianity a fair shake and to decide for herself, I may just have to keep my mouth shut on a lot of things…but I may change my mind when I get back to the New Testament, as long as those stories are as I remember them, or at least close.


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It Started with Books

The other day when I was at the library I found an incredible book.  It was on making Fairytale Quilts.  I thought it could be a fun read for me so I picked it up.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to quilt, and I’ve never been one to start at the beginning.  I always jump in head first.  I figure I’ll start with something too hard, muck it up, find an experienced knitter to help me restart with something a better speed for me, and then eventually I’ll get back to the original project, tear it to bits, and do it right.

When I got home I felt the need to share my find with someone.  I tried to share it with Oz, but he wasn’t impressed.  I mean, he thought some of the art was beautiful, but he couldn’t share in my excitement over the find.  I wanted someone to really appreciate it, so I showed the book to Corde.  I figured she’d appreciate it, if nothing else, for the artistic quality of the pictures and the beauty of the finished products.  I was certain she would love it.

This is where unschooling moms everywhere can surely understand how I felt when this happened…Corde wasn’t interested in the least.  She said, “That’s cool, mom.”  It was totally dismissive.  She didn’t care in the least!  I was heartbroken!  My art child wasn’t interested in some of the most beautiful fabric art I’ve ever seen!  Clearly this wasn’t happening.

I moved on to Beekee, who has a slight obsession with quilts.  He thinks they’re the coolest things ever.  Since they did their project on quilts at the co-op a while back he’s been crazy for quilts.  I was certain he would be interested in these beautiful quilts!

Nope…  Nothing.  He didn’t even want to look at it.  He said he was over the quilt thing and he just wanted to go play.  Apparently some time between the day before when I was talking about wanting to quilt and actually picking up the book, quilts became uncool.

Then trying Sander ended up with much the same result.  He’s majorly into fairy tales right now, so I figured it’d be a sell, but no.  He didn’t want to look at it because it was too boring and there weren’t enough animal pictures.  It just wasn’t his thing.

Today, while reading the Princess and the Pea to the kids, I came to a realization.  The love fairy tales.  We should make our own fairy tales!  I bet that would be a fun project!  This was something I had to suggest to the kids.

Sander decided his fairy tale would have to be about a frog and a dog.  We have no idea what the story is going to be about beyond that, but he thinks it will be fun.  I think Minket will make an appearance too.

Beekee wants to make his fairy tale sound more like a comic book with lots of action, and I’m okay with that.  I guess the main character is going to be a princess that fights zombies.  I had a feeling it would have to do with princesses and zombies.

Corde, however, picked up that quilting book and started looking at it.  When I asked her what that was about she informed me that if we were going to be making up fairy tales, maybe we can make some quilts to go with them.  She was trying to get some inspiration.

Finally!  Someone who can appreciate the book!  Now all the kids are excited about the book because they want to make quilts of their fairy tales.  I think we might do it with fabric or paper glued together instead of by sewing.  Corde might sew hers because she’s got the skills to do so, but the boys won’t.  Now I’m going to have some quilting companions too.

Who says you just have to bring home cool things to strew in front of your kids to increase their field of interests.  I’ve never done that strewing thing, mostly because I’ve never needed to.  Instead I just need to flop down, intensely interested in a book or project and they flock to me with some unknown magnetism, like the kids just instantly know I’m doing something cool.

In our house, it all started with a book.  In this case, it started with a book I wanted to share with my kids, but it also started with a fairy tale book.  Then the world just opened up from there.