Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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A New Family Day?

The down side is I quit my job.  The up side?  It meant I could have some much needed quality time with the family.  I’d been missing having a day when no one worked, which now I have again, and it felt really, really good.

We decided to go to the park down by Beekee’s old school.  He always loved that park but was never allowed to play there.  Apparently that was the park the little kids got to go to, which I didn’t understand because it was awesome.  The kids really loved it.

IMG_20170729_153831_024The biggest hit were the tractor tires.  It was the first thing the kids played with when they got there and the last thing they played with before they left.  They absolutely loved them, just as much as I remember loving them when I was a kid.  Those were the secret reason I wanted to go to that park.  The kids asked several times to play there, so the tires won out this week.

Sander had a ton of fun at the park.  It seemed perfectly suited to him, with plenty of spots to climb on.  If ever a park could suit a personality, this one would be it.  He was able to sail like a pirate, climb on everything, and even found a wonderful little spot to lounge.  He didn’t want to come home!

Everyone had a really good time, mostly because there was so much to do.  There were a ton of other kids there, which definitely helped.  There were so many people to play with.  I think the kids really needed this social outlet with a new cast of characters.  They’ve been seeing the same faces all the time, so new scenery and new kids to play with was definitely a win.

 

I think one of the biggest hits was the number of things there were to walk and climb across that moved.  Luca nearly took a spill on this thing a couple of times, and Oz didn’t do much better.  It was fun enough that they kept going over it until Luca, at least, seemed to pick up the skill for it.

We were down one family member because Corde had left to go to Rainbow Camp, which is fantastic for her.  It’s her first week at an overnight camp, so she was thrilled about that, but maybe next time she can come with.  This park definitely has one of her favorite things (most parks do), swings!

So, it kind of stinks that my job really wasn’t working out, but I think in the end something fantastic came out of it.  We’re back to feeling whole as a family, something that definitely wasn’t the case when we weren’t ever all home together.  Sometimes the sacrifice is well worth the outcome.


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A Day in the Life Plus LEGO Day

It’s been a while since I posted anything about what we do on a day to day basis.  The last time I wrote about a regular day for us, Corde wasn’t yet a teenager and was still a tween.  Well, gone are the days when Corde was wrapped up in little kid things.  Life is changing, and the kids are all growing up, which must seem especially fast if you see the gap in the posts from two years ago.

So, what does the average day look like for us?  That’s soon going to be changing, but right now it looks like math and writing in the mornings with Luca, and on Monday the boys are going to be joining in.  Math with Luca generally means building with the manipulatives, now that we have them.  We’re working on counting, which is apparently too much fun.  Today we counted tickles, pokes, belly pats, and other crazy things, just for fun.  We generally move on to some form of writing after math.  In this case the last sentence was written by Luca with just help in figuring out what letters to write.  I think Luca is picking up on writing faster than math, and I’m okay with that.

As for the afternoon, there tends to be a lot of lounging and laziness.  The boys like to play DS and Minecraft.  Corde likes to watch movies and videos on her iPod.  It tends to be pretty chill.  Even Nika gets in the lounging around, when she’s not being harassed by Luca.  Thankfully for her, Luca prefers to watch Netflix in the afternoon.  I’ve stopped limiting afternoon screen time because everyone has just wanted to chill after school so having a quiet house is good for that.  We’ll see how that changes when everyone is home.

Then there was LEGO day at the library.  We haven’t been to one since the last time I wrote about one.  That was back when Corde was still willing to participate and build.  I guess she’s gotten too old for it now because she had no interest in building.  I’ll be honest, our local library doesn’t have the greatest selection of blocks.  The library when we lived in Texas was much better.  Still, the kids had fun and built some awesome creations.  I think we’ll be going back in the future.

I think if we ever decide to downsize and do the tiny house thing, or road schooling, or whatever, we’re going to send our LEGO collection to the local library.  Their build days are a great idea, though the room they’re in is a bit small for the number of kids they get, but they could really use more LEGO blocks to their collection.  There’s some real potential to build, but nothing like the setup when we were in Texas.  We’re actually thinking we may want to move back that direction some day.

So that’s what we’ve been up to.  This next week is really going to be a big trial run for school with the boys, so there should be some big changes coming up.  For starters, we are going to have three kids home, so that’s a change.  I picked up some books from the library to do with the kids.  We’re going to be studying frogs (for Sander), turtles (for A.J. and Luca), and we have a couple books for Valentine’s Day.  We’ve got six books to read this week, hopefully, then (provided the weather is good enough), we’ll make another library trip in a week.  Though if the weather doesn’t stay warm we may end up pushing that three week due date a little bit.  We’ve had such unseasonably warm weather that it’s hard to imagine spring is right around the corner already and library dates will soon become a weekly thing without doubt!

After today I’m a lot less worried about socialization for the kids.  There were plenty of other kids to play with at the library.  Sure, none of them were regular friends that they’ll see on a constant basis, but it’s a start.  On Monday they start their trial run of martial arts, which will hopefully be another good way to keep the kids active, moving, and making friends.  We’re moving on to some pretty good things.

To cap the day off we decided to eat out at Subway.  We eat out once for every pay period (every two weeks), which is a big deal because it costs a lot to feed four kids and two adults.  Eating out is never cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but Subway was a special treat, and a nice change from our regular go-to of pizza.  The kids absolutely loved it.  We may make that our regular spot for our dining out.  It’s not a horrible choice.  It’s healthy enough, healthier than a lot of the inexpensive options, so it’s worth it.  Besides, the kids were absolutely stuffed when we got done, so our early dinner will definitely hold them for the rest of the night!

Now they’re all playing Minecraft with Oz while listening to music, well, everyone but Luca.  Luca (who has not had a nap today and I’m surprised is still up and functioning) is laying on the bed watching Netflix.  In not that long we’re going to start our wind down procedure for the night so Luca can settle in for bed.  It’s good to end the day on a note of feeling really positive.  Everyone had a really good day!


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Instead of Family Days

Sunday used to be our family day, but now that Oz is working Sundays, it’s no longer the day we spend together as a family.  Undoubtedly that will fall on a different day of the week, once all the kids are homeschooled.  Which, by the way, we just received our notice that we have approval to homeschool Corde as well.  Now we just need to get the schools to figure out how to let us withdraw our kids!

Instead of family day we’ve been having kind of a “do whatever you want day.”  It’s been working out pretty well for us.  Everyone’s pretty much been doing their own thing, and for the most part, that’s been perfectly fine.  I think homeschooling is going to be a lot like this.  I’m okay with that.

img_20170115_080143_885My day has been filled with watching Arrow.  As you can see by the above picture, I’ve been more than just watching.  As you can see in the picture above, I’ve been identifying the city they’ve been using.  There’s the Prudential Center there on the left, and in the center is the building with the Hiroshima memorial on the top.  I believe the dark building in the background (which is really blue on the screen) is the new Hancock building.  I’ve also seen the old Hancock building and the ugly green highway that is Rt. 1.  Yes, you guessed it, I know that skyline well.  That’s the skyline I grew up with so I’d better know it!  That just made my day.

img_20170115_125136_901The kids, however, have been doing something totally different.  They’ve been at their addiction, Minecraft.  They’ve been doing a really good job of playing and not upsetting each other terribly much.  They played for a while, then watched a few movies, then played some more.  It’s been quite the Minecraft day!

Even the Minecraft LEGO sets came out today, though they’ve been kept in my room to keep them safe from the destructive force that is Luca.  The other sets have met the fate of Luca destruction, though we may try to dig out the pieces to build them again, since we still have all the instructions.  I hope this gives them inspiration to build their own LEGO creations as well, but who knows.  They don’t seem to like building with LEGO blocks as much as I did when I was a kid.

img_20170115_125316_456And what did Luca do all day?  Aside from watching the other kids play, and threatening to be destructive with the LEGO sets, Luca’s been watching a lot of television, mostly Glitter Force and Voltron.  I’ve found it keeps Luca quiet and occupied.  I’m not a fan of the electronic babysitter, but some days it’s nice to have a quiet Luca given most days we’ve got an energetic, crazy Luca.

This isn’t as cool as the family days we used to have on Sundays, but it’s kind of nice to have one day of the week where no one has to get up early and there are no required activities.  I think even when we go back to homeschooling we’re going to keep Sundays as the day we do nothing but chill and enjoy the day.  It’s good to have a day where learning isn’t so much the goal as just relaxing.

In a way I miss the old family days.  It would be great to spend the morning getting donuts and coming home to movies or a hike or whatever.  At the same time, I’m okay with not having them.  Being without a car and being in New England during the winter, it’s kind of nice not to need to walk anywhere, but to stay holed up in the house during the cold weather.  Of course, it’s nothing like my friends in Canada are getting this time of year, but it’s cold enough to make going out a less than fun idea, at least for me who doesn’t handle the cold well at all.

It’s also kind of nice to be able to get to my computer again.  It’s been buried under LEGO sets on and off throughout the day, so I’ve been kicking back and watching my show.  I know I could be playing with my kids or watching movies with them.  I could play Minecraft with them too, but it’s kind of nice to have a day where I can be off Mommy mode.  Actually, that’s been today and yesterday, but yesterday I wasn’t feeling well, yet still got up to make pancakes for dinner.  I also had no access to my computer yesterday because LEGO sets.  I guess that’s not too big of a deal.  Let’s be real, how many of my readers are actually checking in over the weekend anyway?

So here it is, our nice, relaxed, Sunday.  I’m hoping the week will bring with it some more eventful news.  Keep your fingers crossed that things go well with the schools and we’re able to withdraw the kids to homeschool them this week.  It sounds like I may actually need to go down to the schools themselves to plea for our case.  I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that, but whatever it takes, right?  Here’s hoping it all goes well.


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The Busy Season

It’s that time of year again, the time to be super busy. Then again, I think most of the year is really like that. However, this time of year is crazier than most. Generally from May to August or September is the crazy season.

This year is crazier than most and it’s just begun. We went to the Art and Jazz Festival at the end of April, which was fantastic. It’s just too bad the kids were tired and that made them easily bored and irritable. We had a mostly good time though. Poor Beekee fell asleep watching the belly dancers. I’m surprised he managed not to fall out of his chair! We decided to bail on going to the classes at church to go. The best part was our picnic lunch.

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The day before that the kids went to a birthday party for a friend from church. They had a blast. Nothing says fun like eleven kids! All but one baby came from two families. It was massive craziness.

Somewhere in all of that the kids had a sleep over with that same family. Corde and Beekee did, at least. Sander and Luca had a big-kid-free night. I forgot how nice sleepovers were. I can’t wait until we can have the house in order so our kids can have their friends overnight too.

What other craziness has gone on? Well, Beekee has some new heroes. He’s in love with Davy Crockett and Harry Houdini. Paul Bunyan is pretty cool too. I’ve been lucky enough to find books to keep him interested.

Beekee’s new interest has us planning our first real family vacation. We’re heading down to visit with friends for Independence Day in Austin since Oz has a long weekend. While we’re down there we’ve decided we might as well make use of the whole weekend. Depending on how much we can save and how much camping costs, we’re hoping to have a pretty busy trip. Wednesday after Oz gets off work we’ll be going down to Austin. Thursday is the fireworks and party. Friday we’re driving down to San Antonio to see the Alamo. We’ll set up camp that night. Saturday we’re hoping to go to Sea World. Oz has lived in Texas since he was three and has never been. Sunday we might do Six Flags or go hiking in the area. Then we pack it all up for the even longer drive home. At least we know the kids can handle long drives and they should sleep in the car after all that!

Beekee also planted the seeds he got for Easter. He’s got some serious sprouting on his cucumbers and beans. His squash only seemed to have one tale root. His carrots are sprouting too. Unfortunately we have little hope for his watermellon and radishes. It seems like something got to those as they were sprouting. At least he’s got something and he’s proud of that.

Corde did some planting too. She planted a pot of chives at church that she left with friends in Austin. Apparently they’re sprouting pretty well too now. It looks like my kids are pretty decent at making things grow!

Family days have also been revived! We have four hours at church now, which eats up most of the day, but afterwards we decided to go to a pizza buffet where everyone stuffed themselves and then went to the park. This time we finally got to enjoy the nature trail. We let the kids play at the park for a little while after that. Next week we’re going to go to another nature trail. Going on walks, disc golfing, hiking, and all kinds of other outdoor day trips are on the list for after church. Of course, this Sunday I’m going to be all dressed up in the new dress I’m getting for Mother’s Day, so we’ll see how that goes.

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Tomorrow we’re going down to the square for their evening music event that runs in May and June. Next week we start going to the ones on Wednesdays at lunch time too. Next month we may try to make the first Friday art and music event too, though we’ll miss the one in July. It’s exciting to be surrounded with so much culture. Even Austin didn’t keep us this busy when we lived closer. I’m really looking forward to it.

As if that’s not enough, we’re also doing a major decluttering purge. We’re getting rid of all the winter clothes that are highly unlikely to fit next year. Beekee’s getting some of Corde’s old clothes, but Sander doesn’t want Beekee’s hand me downs for the most part and I’m not keeping Sander’s clothes for Luca. There’s only two years between them, but Luca is still swimming in 12 mo clothes and Sander’s mostly wearing 5T these days, his cast-offs all being 4T. I don’t want to be holding on to all of it for the next three years. Besides, Luca will probably have his own style then, and cars and super herors may not be it. He could be into dinosaurs or animals or simply want everything pink and purple like Beekee. Then I would have held onto all that for nothing. I don’t want to be in the habit of storing stuff like that! Our trailer doesn’t have enough storage as is!

Sander also moved into our bedroom officially. Our bed just wasn’t big enough for all of us so we moved Sander’s bed in. Now Beekee has room to play in his room again! Unfortunately, one of our couches has to go. The kids tore part of it clean open, so it’s now not useable or safe. We’re hopefully getting that out today. As much as the lack of seating is sad, I’m kind of glad for the space it’s going to open up. We’ll be that much lighter in here, and it will make for one less thing to clean under. When we’re done we’re going to have that much better of a handle on our own space. Everyone will be so much happier with less cleaning to do and less stuff to be kicking around. When we do move it’ll be that much easier. We’ll have more space to bust out games and projects or to play. It’s also leading by example with the kids. They’ll learn a lesson I never did as a kid. I wanted to keep everything. Now I know there are some thimgs you just need to let go. A thousand toys sounds fun, but then you can never find what you want and things get broken. Having tons of clothes may be a fun way to stand out, but most of them hardly get worn aside from the favorites and the rest just take up room that could be used for better things. It’s especially that way with kids because they hardly get to wear things before they’re outgrown. They’ll be able to find the books they love much easier if they cut out the ones they don’t. They’ll also have room for the whole series of something they love versus just a couple books, and some kids’s series sets are massive! Junie B. Jones, the Boxcar Children, The Bailey School Kids, The Magic School Bus, and those are just the big ones my kids like. Judy Moody and Stink are also favorites around here, and they are still just small series. Best of all, with a less cluttered house, Luca will have more places to go and not get in their way. I was raised in constant clutter and overwhelming numbers of toys, so I’ve been blind to it for a while. Now I’m starting to see it as a hassle now that it’s my job to clean it all. I want better than that for my kids. Life without clutter is something my kids should learn.

Then there’s the bug front. Sadly, not much progress has been made there. We could spray the whole house, every inch weekly and still have a problem. It seems a never-ending battle, so we’ve decided to give up, sort of. We’re going to take it one or two areas a pay day, but focus on minimizing. The hope is that we can cut down the places for them to go enough that getting rid of them becomes an easier task. I have a feeling we’ll still be fighting the hard fight every day we live here, but maybe we can turn the stalemate into slowly gaining ground. If they only have a few places to hide aside from under the trailer and in the walls, keeping them at bay should be so much easier. Not only will it mean less stuff to move, but also it will ne easier to prevent the bugs from coming aling for the ride. I’m sure some will still find a way, but the less we bring, the easier it will be to stop the progression before it gets bad. Prevention of a minor problem growing is easier than getting rid of a big problem.

As for moving, we’ve decided to hold off and stick it out here a while longer. We’re looking into a few different options. We could look into buying a house. There’s a bunch of new houses going up across the way from us. They ask for no downpayment, but we’d want more information before we jumped on that. We have friends who bought their house that way and it worked out great for them. Still, no downpayment makes me worry about high interest and new construction has a high price tag. Chances are the house will end up seriously dropping in value as our friends’ did. They lost almost half their mortgage value in the first few years. Then again, their pets tore up their carpets and there were a few other things that helped their value drop. We could also buy land and look into building an earthship. The kids could learn a lot in the process and help build their own house. It would also be good in the long run because we could be off the grid, at least mostly. Earthships create all their own power, so that would save us nearly $2000 every year! It would also give us a good space to grow hydroponic or aquaponic foods, saving on our grocery bill. If I could ever get brave enough to gut and clean fish, aquaponics would mean we could have fish, fruits, and vegetables. We’re also considering packing it all up and buying an RV. While that’s a less practical option with Oz working a steady job, it would make canping and traveling easier. I’d never have to worry about whether I locked the door on a long weekend away again! As much as that four bedroom sounded nice, we want to move with a plan for once. We also want to start thinking about moving with a long-term goal. I’m just getting tired of paying rent to other people, especially when it seems like so many of the places we’ve lived aren’t maintained and try to get the tenents to pay for everything themselves, or keep losing work orders. I want to be moving up in the world, even if that means buying a trailer on our own little plot of land for a while. I’d even take the run-down little trailer Oz’s dad has on his four acres until we could build our earthship. Of course, there’s no way that would happen, nor would I truly want to inherit that problem trailer, but you get the idea. It would just be nice to have something to show for ourselves. Even if we end up renting for the next five yeats to save up a downpayment, at least we’ll have a plan. Even if it means moving into a better place for a while, we’ll have a plan.

With all this decluttering, purging, cleaning, and adventure planning going on, I’m really feeling like my life is going somewhere. I may have to suck it up and deal with church this weekend so Corde can sing me the song they’ve all been working on for their mothers, but even that’s not so bad. Having started reading the Bible again I’m starting to be reminded why it’s not for me, but I’ll give it a fair shake. The Old Testament, as much as it may be a good place to start, is not my cup of tea. Believe it or not, I’m starting to lean back towards Dianic Wicca as a result. I have to wonde how the church would take that one. I don’t want to make it rough on Oz and Corde, but I just don’t know that this path is for me.

Anyhow, back to our trailer’s version of the Boston Tea Party! That unnecessary junk is going overboard. Our war on stuff has just begun! I have not even begun to fight…okay, yeah, got to get my head out of history…or maybe into it and sort out those history books!


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The Long, Long, LONG Walk

Today we had a need.  We realized that little dude didn’t have any teethers!  When you’ve got a teething baby you’ve got to have teethers.  He’s asking Santa for a Baby Blanket Teether Bear for Christmas.  I guess he’s really not asking for it.  We’ve requested it for him, but we thought he’d like it.  Unfortunately, Christmas isn’t for another month (pretty much) and he’s got need for something to chomp now.  We had to do something, so we decided to go on an adventure to get him a teether or two.  It could have waited until a day Oz was already out having to work, but the weather was nice and we wanted to get some good food in the house, so we decided to go for a walk.

We got to the store and started our shopping.  I pulled Oz aside while we were there and made some suggestions on what we could get for some cheap Christmas presents for the kids.  We already know the kids are going to get some candy this year.  We know Santa’s probably going to bring some games, just like every year.  I suggested maybe we can round things out with some art supplies, coloring books, and inexpensive puzzles, if Santa doesn’t plan on it.  It was a great little shopping trip, until we realized Oz left his wallet at home…

Okay troops!  Roll out!  We’ve got miles to go before we sleep!  We headed home empty-handed, determined to double the benefit of our exercise.  We were going to head home, resupply, and head back out!  The kids could make the five mile trek with no problem.  Well, Sander can only make it half that.  We use a stroller for the other half.  Lucabear catches a ride.  The kids were pretty determined that they could do it, and I felt like I was up for a challenge.  Oz really didn’t want to, but he was kind of dragged into all of it, and bribed with good food in the house again.

Stopping off to resupply took longer than we realized it would.  I changed two diapers.  Lucabear was soaked and it’s not exactly easy to EC while we’re on a long walk with a baby that doesn’t really show cues I can understand.  Sander gets his “bubble butt” for long trips because he still has too many accidents.  I had to grab something quick to snack on because I hadn’t eaten all day, though I’m not quite sure how that happened.  I’m usually pretty good about eating.  It wasn’t a long stop, only about a half an hour or so, but we expected to grab the wallet and be back out the door.

Surprisingly the temperature dropped like a stone.  It wasn’t quite cold yet, but it was chilly enough that I didn’t want to go without a sweatshirt.  It wasn’t even the temperature so much as the wind.  We still decided it would be okay because we’d be warm once we were walking and we wouldn’t be that long anyway.

We went to the store and picked up our stuff, but as is always the problem with a food stamp budget, it’s towards the end of our budget, so we didn’t have enough for everything.  We ended up sacrificing the stuff to make our new fudge recipe.  I open up “the fudge factory” every year, but this year it’s going to have to wait.  It probably won’t be until after we get our next allotment of food stamps.  We still managed to fit in most of the ingredients for eggnog pancakes and I’ve got everything I need to make pumpkin nog for Oz and the kids.  It was hard on Oz because we went over budget and had to put some things back, but I’m starting to get used to that, and the cashier and bagger said “Don’t worry about it.  It happens all the time.”  They’re right.  It really does happen all the time.  It’s easy to overspend.

As we were in the checkout I bundled the little guy up in a pair of pajamas over his shorts and tee.  It was warm enough for that before, but it had gotten cold.  Socks went on his feet and his hoodie went over it all.  I wished I had known the temperature was going to drop so much because I would have packed his warm snuggly little suit.  He wasn’t a happy boy because he needed a change too.  He was poopy, poor thing, but there was no way I was going to put him down in their filthy bathroom to change his diaper.  It was too cold to do it anywhere else.  We just decided to wait until we got home.

Packing up all the groceries in the stroller was miserable.  The temperature had tanked.  It was easily twenty degrees cooler than it was when we’d left the first time this afternoon and none of us were dressed for it.  Corde sulked and sat on the curb while the boys ran back and forth to look at every Christmas tree at least twice.  Meanwhile I sat myself down next to the stroller and went to work.  First I stuffed all the canned goods I could fit into the basket under the stroller.  Oz handed me everything from the cart to make my life easier.  Poor little Luca was having none of it and decided to scream at me the whole time.  Then Oz and I packed up the top of the stroller as quickly as possible because we were getting cold and stiff.  It wasn’t exactly our idea of fun.  We had a couple of people express sympathy towards us, and I tried my hardest to slap on a pleasant smile, even though I just wanted to bite their heads off.  I wasn’t in the mood for expressed sympathy.  It would have been too easy to say “If you feel so bad for us, give us a ride or money for a cab!”  It would have been so easy to make some snappy remark about crying babies and a walk home over two miles long.  Instead I did my best to just smile and express that it really wasn’t so bad, because it wasn’t.  I’ve had to walk groceries home in a stroller, three year old in tow and pregnant, uphill in the snow during one of the worst winters I could remember.  (Doesn’t that sound like a “back in my day” sort of thing?)  In comparison being a little under-dressed for the weather with a stroller full of groceries, three kids in tow and one along for the ride, and Oz there to help wasn’t all that bad.  Actually, it was kind of nice, if you ignore the part where we’re all walking as fast as we can collectively could (and stay together mostly) and Sander needing to be carried about half the way.

So the walk home was one done in as much haste as we could manage.  Instead of going the long way like we’d planned, we decided to take a shortcut through the field.  Oz wrestled the stroller through the edge of someone’s yard going with the longer shortcut while the kids and I took the quickest one, the not-stroller-friendly route.  We hustled along and tried to beat Oz, and probably would have if Sander would have held my hand.  Instead he insisted on keeping his hands in his pockets and fell all over the place as a result.  Hands in his pockets is his way of signifying that he doesn’t want to hold hands.  Unfortunately, his balance isn’t great over uneven ground and that doesn’t help in the least.  Then we swapped off and Oz took Sander duty and I pushed the stroller.  I was surprised at my own strength.  Usually my elbow prevents me from pushing such heavy loads and in the cold it should have been worse, but it wasn’t.  Oz first lagged behind while Corde, Beekee, and I started talking about our perfect dream house.  In relative short order Oz passed us by with Sander tossed over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes (hey, he was happy tossed over Daddy’s shoulder and they were getting home quick!) and Beekee sped off to be with the boys.  Corde lagged back to keep me company while we talked the whole way.  She could have rushed off ahead, and I even expected her to with how cold she was, but she decided she’d rather keep me company because it would probably make the walk easier for me if we stayed together.  Oz seemed to have a handle on Beekee and Sander, so she didn’t feel like she’d be better use in helping him wrangle the boys.  She’s really become quite the helper.

We decided our perfect dream house would have a fireplace with plenty of firewood.  There would be hot chocolate with the big marshmallows in it waiting on the table for us when we got home.  We’d have two ovens with a turkey and stuffing cooking in one and a big old “roast beast” cooking in the other.  We’d have plenty of soup on hand, just for days like this.  We’d have an indoor hot tub where we could eat ice cream sundaes, since it’s the only way to have ice cream when it’s cold.  The floors would always be perfectly warm, and we’d have a beautiful spiral staircase leading to a den or game room with an even bigger fireplace.  The whole house would be surrounded with big, tall, evergreens to block the wind and shelter the house, except for an atrium, which would need full sunlight, of course.  We’d all come home, have our hot chocolate, then snuggle down in flannel pajamas to watch Christmas movies until it was time to go to our warm beds, piled with blankets.

Beekee realized that being cold wasn’t such a problem when he kept pace with Oz.  That kept him nice and warm.  He’d hop back and forth from here to there, practically running circles around Oz.  There was no way he’d get cold that way!  All that activity kept him nice and toasty.

Corde learned that the wind is much more brutal without something to block it.  She observed this while we were in the field and Beekee said it had gotten much colder all of the sudden.  She pointed out that there was nothing to protect us from the wind, where the street had trees and buildings to protect us from it a little more.  The field was big and open, straight out to the highway, which was also big and open, so we were vulnerable there.  She also learned that thinking about nice warm things helps take your mind off how cold you really are.  She didn’t even mention being cold again until we’d left the shelter of the street to walk into the big, open trailer park.

In the end we covered about ten miles today.  We got our shopping done, even if it did take two trips.  The last slog home seemed so much longer because of the cold.  We sat down and had soup for dinner, then watched Santa feed the reindeer.

Oh, yeah, and as for Santa, I know a lot of people don’t agree with lying to your kids, but we have a different take on that.  Right now I’m cold, tired, and ready for bed, but I promise I’ll explain why we have Santa in our house, and why we don’t believe it’s lying to our kids. It’s kind of an interesting story.  More on that later!  Until then, take care and stay warm!


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Our Sunday Tradition

All traditions have to start with a time and a place.  Our family had pretty much no regular traditions until recently.  Sure, we have our gingerbread party every Yule.  Every year we generally host a “Refugee Thanksgiving” (giving credit to my aunt for the name) where friends that have nowhere else to go for the holiday come and share it with us.  We always order out for food for birthdays, or go out to eat, if we can get transportation.  We try to make it to the renaissance faire if we can, but generally we don’t end up making it.  Aside from that we don’t have too many traditions at all.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t because we haven’t tried to start them!  We’ve tried and tried but nothing seems to stick.  We tried to have family dinners but the family never wanted to sit down to eat together, aside from my daughter.  Family meals tend to be reserved to special occasions or eating out.  We tried to have a family game night, but Oz gets too frustrated with playing kids games because he’s not terribly patient.  He’s working on that.  It’s also hard to find a game that everyone is happy to play together.  Corde gets bored with the games that appeal to Beekee.  The games that appeal to Corde are too hard for Beekee.  Sander is really too young to play most of our games.  Now we have Luca, who seems to enjoy being a huge distraction while we play.  We’ve tried taking daily walks together, but Sander always gets frustrated because he can’t quite keep up and Oz is too tired when he gets home to go for a walk.  Everything we’ve tried has turned into trouble.

Then last weekend happened.  We were planning on all taking a walk down to the gas station to pick up some drinks and maybe some thing for breakfast.  It would give everyone some exercise and we didn’t really have any food in the house.  Not having a car makes things difficult and the whole family really wanted to go.  Normally Corde and I just make the journey on our own, but I figured it was a Sunday and Oz was home to help so it shouldn’t be too bad.  I didn’t think I could manage getting all four kids to the store on my own because it means walking along the road on a highway overpass.  It was the perfect day to take everyone out for a walk to the store.

What I had forgotten was the cute little doughnut shop along the way, practically right across from the gas station.  Every time I walked by there I kept thinking “We have to stop there one of these days.”  Oz must have had the same idea because he noticed that the shop was actually open for the first time in either of our journeys and he suggested we do that instead.

The shop is a quaint little place with a whole wall of Coke memorabilia, some of it quite old.  The whole place smells fantastic and you’re greeted with these bright, happy faces.  We all ordered our food, pulled a couple tables together, and enjoyed.  The kids were all so thrilled with it that they felt the need to compliment the owners about a dozen times.  They begged to be able to do it again, so we decided it would be our new weekly tradition.

This week Corde was worried that we wouldn’t be able to do it this morning.  Everyone might be too tired.  It was raining, so we couldn’t go.  We wouldn’t be able to do it because it was cool out and Luca might get cold.  Sander didn’t seem in the mood to walk and probably wouldn’t be hungry, given that he’d been munching on a red velvet cupcake and some spicy nacho Doritos before we left.  It was like she was making up every excuse under the sun to prepare herself in case we decided not to go.  She’s always preparing herself for disappointment.  That’s kind of been how she’s been ever since her father said he’d take her and her brother for the summer and then didn’t make it.  We’ve been trying to get her to think positive, but it’s been a hard adjustment.

Oz, Corde, Beekee, and Sander ready to go for our walk

Much to her delight, about 10am Oz told the kids, “Alright everyone, shoes!  Someone grab clothes for Sander.  Fox, get the little bear ready.  We’re going to be heading out soon.”  Corde rushed off to help Sander find clothes.  Beekee searched to find everyone’s shoes.  I changed the little guy, got him dressed, and snuggled him into the Baby Hawke.  Oz got himself dressed and got Sander’s diaper handled.  In amazingly short time we were all dressed and ready to rush out the door.

Though it had been raining earlier, the rain had cleared up just in time for our walk.  Oz and I held Sander’s hands as we walked across the highway overpass and Corde and Beekee stuck together.  We walked through the little field instead of taking the long way along the sidewalk.  The kids were racing in this space, happy to run instead of being stuck walking the whole way.

When we went in the kids took no time in deciding what they wanted.  Everything looked so good, but the boys had to have the sprinkle doughnuts, the same kind my sister and I always chose when we were little.  Corde had to have the blueberry version of the wonderful blueberry, strawberry, and creme doughnut she’d had the week before.  Oz had these wonderfully delicious looking pigs in a blanket with jalapeno.  He was tempted to get something else, but those were so delicious he had to have them again.  I ordered a cinnamon roll kind of thing that was delicious and not nearly too sweet and an apple fritter for later.  Then there was juice for the older two and me and chocolate milk for Sander and Oz.  For us, this is pretty much a feast.

I know what you’re probably thinking, “This doesn’t sound like a particularly healthy breakfast.”  We don’t care.  It’s not about having something healthy, but about having something fun and yummy.  The kids love the walk down there.  The people who own the shop are incredibly friendly.  On top of that, there’s nothing better than homemade doughnuts.  It might not be as good for us as some other things we could choose, but it’s all within walking distance and we’re pretty limited right about now.

Beekee and the sprinkle doughnut

While we were there we got to talking about a lot of things.  The kids, of course, wanted to talk about how delicious everything was.  Who could blame them?  The food was fantastic, just as it had been the week before.  Corde had to mention that she thought hers was even better than the week before.  It was extra wonderful with blueberries instead of blueberries and strawberries.  She’s my blueberry lover.  Beekee wasn’t at all disappointed that they didn’t have the fall leaf sprinkles this time.  Sprinkles are sprinkles and good by him.  Sander just wasn’t hungry from his earlier snacking and just wanted to drink his milk until we got home.

Not only did we talk about food, but we also talked about the reasons we’ll keep visiting the shop, even after we have a car and can look into other places to have our Sunday breakfast instead.  My daughter, who is very practical, thought it was because the walk is good for us.  Beekee said it was because we only want to eat doughnuts for our family day breakfast and there isn’t anywhere else to get doughnuts.  When Corde pointed out there were other doughnut shops, he had to clarify.  “There aren’t any others that have doughnuts with sprinkles!”  Again, being corrected by Corde he smiled and said, “but they wouldn’t be as good!”  Okay, on that one we all agreed he was right.  Then they asked what our real reason was because it wasn’t the walk and it wasn’t how good the food was, though they were both good reasons.  I told them how local businesses are going out of business because of giant mega-stores and chain restaurants.  Mom and pop shops are losing a lot of business.  They didn’t seem to interested in why they were going out of business, so I left it at that for once instead of going on and on as I usually do.  I told them this was why we’d keep going to that same shop every Sunday.  It’s very important to support your local businesses.

Corde and the blueberry, whipped cream goodness

The kids are so excited about this local business.  Corde wants to try one of everything they make, or at least one of everything that looks good.  Beekee is determined to eat everything they make with any kind of sprinkle topping.  Sander wants to eat whatever Beekee has each time.  I have to admit that I’m pretty impressed with their selection.  They’ve got a lot of things that look good there.  Their selection changed between this week and last, which was disappointing, in a way, as I wanted to try some things I didn’t see there last time, but I saw some new things that looked too good to resist.  On top of that we were able to hear what other locals have to say about the shop.  It seems like everyone who comes in has nothing but good things to say about the place.  This little shop is more than just a tradition for our little family!  It’s a tradition for a lot of locals, definitely a sign of a good local business!  They’ve been around for ten years and Corde, who thinks ten years is a very long time, hop

Luca decided that he was going to stay awake for this visit.  He kept looking up at me with this curious look, almost as though to ask me what I was doing.  He’d never really seen me eat before, and what few times he has, it hasn’t been this up close and personal.  Usually he’s asleep while I’m eating, or laying on his belly on the floor.  He doesn’t typically like being in a carrier of any kind, so he doesn’t typically get an in-my-face view of anything.  Today he decided it was time to stare.  I guess he was pretty curious about mama eating and what could possibly be so good.  I can’t help but think how much he’s going to enjoy it when he’s old enough to appreciate the tradition too.  For now I think he’ll have to settle with watching me eat.

Sander trying to be like Daddy

Oz even enjoyed himself more than usual.  Usually when we eat out he’s the first one done and eager to pack up and get on our way.  He’s the kind of person that doesn’t like to stay stagnant.  He always wants to be moving or doing something.  Today, instead of being ready to hit the road, he kicked back and started to chat with the owner of the shop.  They were talking politics and everything else.  He kept having Sander come up to try and put his two cents in on the conversation because he didn’t really want to sit down.  What’s the use in sitting if he wouldn’t be eating?  He decided to put on Oz’s sun glasses and pretend to be Dad.  Of course, doing that means he has to at least pretend to be interested in what the adults were talking about.  He’s so funny about wanting to be an adult!  If only he knew that most adults wished they were still kids!

As we packed up to leave each of the kids were given a bag to carry their stuff.  They tossed the bags up on their backs like backpacks and carried on their way.  Beekee said he was Ezio from Assassin’s Creed, but a girl one, which made Oz give him a funny look.  “You can’t be a girl Ezio!  He’s a boy!  But there are other girl assassins.”  Some people might be bothered that Beekee’s got such a thing with being a girl, but we just think it’s part of who he is at this point in our lives.  We haven’t exactly been pushing gender identities on our children, so it probably shouldn’t be surprising.  He likes playing with girl dolls and his sack-thing on Little Big Planet 2 is dressed as a girl.  It’s all just who he is.  We just thought it was cute that he calls all assassins Ezio!

Daddy and Sander walking home

The walk home was relaxing and warm.  The sky had cleared up a little more and it was turning into a nice day.  The kids took a moment to check out some flowers while they were at it.  They always love to look at flowers.  Well, they loved the flowers until Corde saw that Beekee was all but touching a bee.  It was a sweet, friendly little honey bee.  Corde was still terrified until we told her honey bees are mostly harmless.  They just like to take their pollen and make honey.  I guess they’re just too familiar with the wasps we’ve had around here.  They finally did end up relaxing and checking out the flowers.  We found some tiny white ones and some pretty little purple ones that remind me of daisies.  We saw some baby’s breath up by the highway and an entire field of purple petunias that looked like they’d seen better days.

Once we got home we were all feeling pretty good about our day.  We had a wonderful start to a family day, and learned some things too!  We took some time to appreciate the beauty around us.  Most of all, we had some great time together as a family.  I can’t wait to do it again next week!