Trailer Park Unschoolers

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

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Week Two of Jujitsu

It’s another week down for the kids at jujitsu.  They’re making such incredible progress, all of them.  I’m really proud of the way they’ve taken to it.  It’s still challenging, but they’re getting there.


Sander going up against the new kid in class

I’ve learned quite a bit about the kids through how they handle the classes.  For example, Sander is a total clown.  I knew that before, but I think it’s more obvious now.  He’s got a hard time taking it seriously.  He has a tendency to get the other kid down, then give up.


Luca and Sander learning the “Americana”

But Sander and Luca both do pretty well learning the new techniques when they get into it.  They’ve been working on the same move for two weeks and they’re really starting to get it down.  Sander still needs a little more direction with it, but Luca flies through the move they’ve been working on like it’s old habit by now.  They’re really learning and it shows.


A.J. set to work on a take-down

A.J. is learning pretty quickly as well, but he’s a lot more timid.  He doesn’t know how to throw his weight around, and it doesn’t help that he’s one of the smaller kids in his class.  He giggles when he feels like he can’t do something instead of getting frustrated, but he’s slowly starting to get into the idea of working hard.  He’s so pleased with himself when he finally gets the moves right, and that means a lot.  Coming from a kid that isn’t a fan of people in his personal space, and isn’t such a fan of being in other people’s personal space, I think he’s doing pretty well.


I’m not sure how well that will show up (my blog is doing something weird on my end) but that’s A.J. working on the technique they’ve been working on in class.  As you can see, it’s challenging for him, but that’s good.  It gives him something to work towards.  He’ll get it, even if it takes him a while.


Luca toppling another student, trying to get the upper hand

However the real surprise in all of this is Luca.  Luca has everyone amazed with the grit and determination displayed.  The other kid Luca was sparring with tends to tap out the moment the other kid gets the best of him, where Luca, even though the  situation was pretty grim looking, still pushed through and managed to hold out fairly well against the other kid.  Luca is totally beast in that class.  I think Luca could really go far, if we can get the focus where it needs to be.


Luca shuffling through the snow

All of this was topped with a nice, quite walk home in the snow.  Luca loves the snow.  Normally we have to stop a million times so that Luca can touch the snow, but we forgot mittens today so Luca was happy to just kick it around.  It was quite fun for Luca.


Ducks in a row, walking in the snow

They all really had a good time in the snow.  Oz kept pushing A.J. and Sander in snow banks.  Yes, it sounds mean, but they thought it was particularly funny.  Oz told Sander he was going to do it and Sander told him to, so he did.  Next thing you know they were all giggling about it.  They got home and were covered in snow.  It really made the end of the day, and made for a really fun trip.

For the fact that it was all of 12 degrees on our walk home, it didn’t feel that bad at all.  I didn’t even have gloves on, and the kids hands never got cold.  Normally they shove their hands deep into their pockets to keep warm.  We were originally thinking we might just stay in because of the snow and the cold, but it really wasn’t that bad at all.  I’m glad we got to go out.  It was a nice way to cap off week two of jujitsu!


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Their First Martial Arts Class

So, there’s no photographic evidence of the class, but the boys and Luca had their first martial arts class today.  The classes are in Brazilian Jujitsu.  If you don’t know what that means, I’ll simplify.  It’s grappling, or in overly basic terms, think wrestling.

The classes are really kind of short.  The 6pm class doesn’t start at 6, but ten minutes or so after.  Then they end about ten minutes early so the kids end up running around.  The older class runs a bit longer, but with older kids, I’d expect it to be more serious anyway.  I’d call it more of a 45-minute class for the older kids and a 30-minute class for the younger ones.  Still, I think it’s a valuable experience.

Both classes are structured pretty much the same way.  First they do their warm up.  After the warm up they learn a new technique.  After they learn their new technique they practice it a few times through.  Finally they get paired up practice what they know.  My kids didn’t participate in that part because they’re all too new and aren’t experienced enough, understandably.  However, this will teach them patience, following directions, respect for their instructor and their classmates, and to sit quietly while listening and watching the skills be demonstrated.

Luca was adorable to watch in class.  Luca’s little half ponytail bounced from place to place.  Luca was a little uninspired by the grappling technique, but I think that’s largely because Luca was confused as to what was going on.  There were several points where Luca looked very confused, but still remained seated or standing, eyes forward, listening to the instructions that were being given.  I think it’s definitely a good match for Luca.

Sander, on the other hand, was definitely in a class with kids much too big for him.  The techniques they were learning were much to advanced.  More than anything, Sander kept giggling anytime the other kid so much as touched him.  I think next class we’re going to talk about putting him in with the younger kids.  That group is supposed to be up through age 8, so I think that’ll be a better match, but if Sander is going to be goofing off, we may decide he’s just not ready for classes.

A.J. on the other hand was really into it.  He had a sharp focus for what he was doing and picked it up pretty quickly.  I haven’t seen him that intensely focused on something that involves another person perhaps ever.  He was definitely picking it up quickly and I think he’s going to excel.  He could have found something ideal for his personality.

The best part about it is the classes are both decently large.  There are enough kids in each class that I can see them finding friends fairly easily.  Luca might be the one that has the hardest time, being what seems like the youngest and least mature in the class.  Still, age isn’t necessarily a factor in friendships, and as Luca gets older, undoubtedly younger kids will filter into the class.  It looks like it’ll be a great environment for the kids.

Now for the down sides.  The place is walking distance, but in this weather that’s a little more touch and go than I’d like.  It’s a good half hour walk at Luca speed, which equates to exactly one mile each way.  Two miles of walking with a class in between is a bit much for Luca right now, but we’ll get there.  At Luca’s age Sander was walking about three to five miles every day.  If Sander can manage it, Luca can get used to it too.  Being a mile long walk won’t be fun if we’ve got any kind of bad weather coming up.  I think we can hack it in the rain, but I’m more worried about snow, which is still a possibility for a few more weeks now.  We’ve been known to get snow all the way through March.  It could also be out of our price range, which means we’ve spent all this time working on getting the kids into this just to have to pull them back out again.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed on being able to work something out.  The uniforms don’t exactly look cheap either.  They’ve got nice embroidered patches with the name of the place on it, as well as the Brazilian flag and a few other things.  They look like really nice uniforms, if a little covered with patches for my personal taste.  I prefer a simple, clean-cut look, but the school does what the school does, and it’s standard across everyone, both kids and adults.

I’ll be honest, doing this is going to have to come with some sacrifices.  I’ll have to go out in poor weather.  I’ll have to walk a mile each way until we can afford a car.  I’m going to have to invest in uniforms.  The cost of classes is going to mean our budget has to be cut somewhere else.  Overall, I think it’ll be worth it.  The kids will have a physical fitness element and they’ll be learning some valuable skills.  Undoubtedly you’ll be hearing more of about this as the week goes on.  We’ve got one free week, so we’re going to make the most of it!

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Because It’s Unseasonably Warm

Today we decided would be a good day to go to the library.  We knew it was going to be warm, and I had to go to the pharmacy already, so it seemed like a logical thing to do.  The library is on the way to the pharmacy.  So we set out, taking advantage of the nice day.

img_20170121_105455_335Since Corde was on an overnight, we only had three.  They got along better than I’ve ever seen them get along before.  Luca wanted to hold hands with both big brothers, which was the cutest thing to watch.  We brought the stroller just in case (and it was a good thing too), but for much of the way Luca walked.

img_20170121_122309_919For once we didn’t get any books at the library.  I didn’t feel much like enforcing the book hunt, so I decided to let it go this time.  They were too busy playing with trains.  I didn’t feel much like looking for books on my own, so it was just a day of returning the old books and playing.  I think an all-fun library day every once in a while isn’t a bad thing.  Besides, I don’t want to make the library less fun because it’s all about books for my kids that aren’t as into reading.  Besides, we have almost too many books at home as is.

After going to the library we decided the weather was nice, so we took a trip to the park.  The sun had come out and it was starting to feel really nice out.  It was 57 out, which is unusually warm for this time of year.  For me it was still jacket weather, but the kids were plenty warm with running around in the cool, fresh air.  It was wonderful to get out in the warm weather with the sun finally shining after what seemed like days of clouds.  We really needed the change to our routine.  I hate to say it, but I’d be happy if I there was no more snow for the rest of the season.

img_20170121_133020_499The kids weren’t the only ones to get a good bit of exercise today.  Nika, as always, was along for the journey.  I’m finding I like having someone to hold her while I go take pictures of the kids.  She wasn’t a fan of me walking away from her.  She was rather confused.  With a few exceptions, she’s been glued to my side.  She didn’t know what to make of being left with someone else, even though she knows Oz quite well.  He takes he for walks sometimes.  Life with a service dog isn’t always the easiest, but we’re adjusting.

Right now the Beekee and Sander are sucking up the last of the sunlight for the day.  They’re playing outside, enjoying the nice weather while they still can.  It’s supposed to be decently warm for the rest of the week.  I’m hoping it’s going to be warm enough next weekend that we can get in another trip to the library.  That would be a great way to celebrate their first day of freedom from school!

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New Videos and Plenty of Room to Run

I never thought I would say this, but I’m kind of glad to be back at Oz’s dad’s house. It wasn’t the happiest place for me the first time. I kind of dreaded going back, yet here we are, stuck at Grumpy’s house again, just over one year later.

Yet there is a good side to all of this. Corde is away from some not so great influences in the neighborhood. It means we’ll have to work harder at time with friends, but that can all be worked out. I was really dreading her being pressured to doll herself up for boys or to start dating before she was ready. Those days are right around the corner, too close for my comfort as is. There’s no need to push it.

Better still, the kids have room to run. Who needs P.E. when the kids can go running massive circles in the yard? They have nature to observe. They tire themselves out and burn off energy. They really needed some time to run free in the country again.

This has me thinking a lot about where I want to end up. I really like being in the country. After the craziness with CPS, I’ll be happy to have some distance between the neighbors and me. I want space to garden, raise chickens, and let Corde have some rabbits. I used to think I wanted to be in the middle of it all, but now I think I like being a little further removed. As much as I expose our lives on this blog, I’m very private when it comes to my neighbors.

I think even the kids are happier out here. There have been fewer bad attitudes and less sulking. They’ve had more fun and have been more focused on learning. I guess there’s a benefit to having cows, horses, and donkeys to stare at out the window. There are less distractions. There are less things to be nosey about. In general they seem happier.

And, if you’re looking for something to do, go on YouTube and look for CountryUnschoolers. We’ve got videos of the kids reciting their poems. With luck we can maintain one upload a week of something interesting the kids are doing, or the poetry they’re working on. We look forward to doing so much more this fall!