Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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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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Luca’s Math Day and Homeschool Sadness

Today Luca and I had a productive day.  We were working with Math U See Primer, which was the curriculum I bought to get Luca started with.  Sad reality, Luca’s not up to it.  We need an intro to our intro.

It never really occurred to me that Luca and I don’t do terribly much counting.  We don’t do much in the way of letters either.  I guess you could say I’ve really been lax about that.  The older kids learned to count when they learned to count and that was just it.  They picked it up by daily language.  I guess you could say I was a bad unschooling mom back in the day and have been with Luca to this point.  I don’t engage enough with Luca, and when I do it’s all play.  We don’t worry about things like counting and letters.  Why should we?  Luca’s only four!

Well, now I’m starting to feel the pressure.  Kids Luca’s age can already count to ten.  I’ve got to admit, I’ve been trying to work with Luca on this all year but it doesn’t seem to want to stick.  We’ve got one to five down, but the rest of the numbers are a bit of a mix.  Luca doesn’t recognize written numbers either.  I have a feeling this is going to be a long road ahead of us.

So today we just worked with the Math U See blocks.  I pulled out nine of the little units (because Math U See focuses on zero through nine, not one through ten) and we went to work.  I started out with putting out blocks and having Luca count them.  Then when it got to the point where I was making no progress, Luca would line them up or stack them and we would count as we went, starting with zero blocks and I would pick up the slack for the numbers after five.  We went on like this for about twenty minutes, then Luca started to get distracted and we moved on to something else.  We may not get into the Primer workbook until the end of the year, but I’m determined to get Luca through counting to nine, and then we’ll go from there.  If I have to pull out those blocks every day to count with, so be it.  We’re going to do this.  I might have to start picking up with counting other things around the house too.

Man, this makes me realize how bad at this I really am.  I’m really starting to get nervous about pulling the boys from school because I’m obviously not making that much progress with Luca.  I’m getting there slowly now, but I feel like I was somehow failing before and now I’m working much to hard to make the progress I should have made before.  I mean, what am I even doing?  I must be insane!

But then I take a deep breath and realize I’m doing things differently this time.  I’m more engaged with the learning this time.  I have a math curriculum.  I’m going to do more read aloud books (even though the kids glaze over and space when I read aloud, it’s worth a shot, right?)  I’ve got my mind set to work on a lot of things that we’ve neglected before.

Then there comes the homeschool regrets.  While A.J. is fine with homeschooling, Sander suddenly doesn’t want to do it anymore.  Earlier in the week he was all excited and wanted to quit early.  Now he’s thinking about leaving his best friend and he’s all upset about it.  He doesn’t want to homeschool anymore, at least not until summer.  He wants more time with his friend.

That’s when Oz did something that surprised me.  He told me to stick to my guns.  I made the decision to do this.  Sander wanted to do it.  Yes, it’s going to be hard for him to leave his friend behind, but that’s something he can and will get over.  It’s not something we’re going to regret.  Taxes will get done.  We’ll find a car.  We’ll start going to homeschool play dates, and Sander will forget all about missing his friend from school.

Or there’s the possibility he won’t have to miss his friend at all.  He was sent to school today with a letter for his friend’s mom with my phone number and email address.  He was told to give it to his friend so hopefully his mom will call and we can set up play dates.  A.J. brought letters for three of his friends too.  Hopefully we’ll see them, but if not, it’s no big deal.  I’ve done everything in my power, and that’s all that can be asked of me.

Still, I feel guilty taking them away from their friends.  I guess that’s the hardest part of all of this.  It’s sad to leave your friends and start over somewhere else.  We faced this every time we moved and I really hoped the kids wouldn’t face it again, but I know this is the right choice for them.  I also know they’ll make other friends.  Once we have a car again (taxes could not come back to quickly!) we’ll be going to homeschool play dates again.  We can look into a homeschool co-op.  I’ve called about martial arts classes for the kids and I’m waiting to hear back on a price for that.  We’ve looked into the local YMCA.  We plan to go to the LEGO days at the library, and there are plenty of parks to go to when the weather turns nice.  The kids will not lack for opportunities to make new friends.

Just keep your fingers crossed.  I’m looking forward to this, but it’s also crazy nerve wracking and intimidating.  I have to admit, it’s times like these that I miss the trailer park, where there were always kids around to make friends with.  Keep your fingers crossed that the kids can stay in touch with their friends, and here’s hoping they make many more along the way.


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Too Much Going On

Hey everyone! Sorry I’ve been gone so much recently. Life has been chaotic. Since I last checked in we had another D&D night, Thanksgiving at a new friend’s house, and all kinds of craziness. This week we get to look forward to a surprise party and more gaming. I’m starting to feel like we’re finally finding the people we need in life!

Today I’ll keep it brief. More than anything the kids and I want to remind you to support local and small businesses this holiday season. Don’t forget about craftspeople too! There are plenty of people out there selling fantastic hand made goods. You should definitely keep that in mind!

Which has me asking how you do your holiday shopping! I know there’s this big community that does the want/need/wear/read thing. We don’t, probably because we don’t need to buy anymore books. My aunt has us covered there. Typically the kids get one gift from me, one from Oz, and one from Santa. Sadly, Corde and Beekee don’t typically get presents from their dad. They also get a whole bunch of stuff from family.

And, because I have to add a shameless plug in here, I’m finally getting my business together! I don’t have any product listed yet, but I have some photos up as examples. Now I just need to get my stock together! Check us out at Bear Foot Knits!


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Early Morning…but Worth It for D&D

Tomorrow I get up at the crack of dawn. Actually, I get up before dawn. I get to drive Oz to work. Then I get to come home to kids who will probably be awake, wishing I were asleep too.

Why the early morning? Tomorrow is game night. Our friends don’t live terribly nearby, so the brilliant conclusion is to pick Oz up from work and head straight out from there. It would give us the maximum play time. It’s going to be a long day, but it will be worth it.

This is going to be fun. We get to see our friends from fairy fest, and that will be wonderful. The kids are excited. I’m excited! It’s good to feel like I have someone who gets me, or at least someone other than Oz.

Anyhow, I’m keeping this short. I need to get crawling off to bed, whether the kids are ready to sleep or not. Hopefully we’ll have some fun gaming stories for you soon!


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And We’re Back

Fairy Fest was so much fun. The whole weekend was small and pretty intimate, not at all like it was hoped to be. However, we all had a lot of fun.

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The first day was quiet. We got to know a few of the vendors. There was another homeschool mom with her kids, though her son didn’t stay for the weekend. The kids, of course, didn’t want to sleep. Sander kept taking his shoes off and got cactus spines in his feet, poor kid, but I warned him!

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The next day the kids had a blast. They explored the fairy garden. They ran wild through the whole festival area. There were plenty of events, but their favorite thing to do was play in the dirt by the fire pit. They were all filthy by the end of the weekend, but they were happy!

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There were a bunch of activities for the weekend. I won the baking contest by default because I was the only one to bring baked goods. My cookies were apparently fantastic. No one could get enough of them. The kids enjoyed tea while coloring. Oz did tarot readings. It was such a relaxing time.

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After the tea party was the talent contest. The kids were the only group entry. They had a skit called The Pirate Who Saved the Fairies. It was completely improvised and very silly. The pirate kept forgetting to save the fairies! Then Luca decided he wanted to play, so they had to be rescued from a rampaging bear, or so the story goes. The whole thing was pretty funny. I think they want to put together something in advance next time.

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They had a costume contest, but neither of the kids won. Beekee still had the best story. He was the Bunny Pirate of Doom. He had a magic sword so he can destroy all the evil on Earth. His ears give him the power to make good things happen after the evil has been destroyed. He’s too funny!

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There was plenty to do, see, and explore. The whole place was full of new and interesting things. The place was completely off the grid, which meant there was limited electricity and everything else. There were huge solar panels around the place. They even used compost toilets. The shower is designed to use with your own solar shower bag. It was so strange and different for them. The new environment was made all the more unique by all the decorations up in the trees. It was so beautiful, and so inspiring for our own future hopes.

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Thankfully, the weather held. We were supposed to have rain, but it was sunny and beautiful. It got a little warm, but that was better than cold and wet. Camping in the rain can be fun, but it’s much better than bad weather.

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The night ended with fire performance. I didn’t get to join in because my knee was in rough shape. Walking was enough of a challenge. However, I did drum for them. Oz got to do the fire thing, something he always enjoys. The kids didn’t watch, but I guess that’s what happens when you grow up with it. It’s so normal you don’t stop to notice anymore. They were too busy playing with their friends. Who can blame them?

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By the end of the weekend we all were ready to say our sad goodbyes. We were all exhausted, but we had fun. Plans are in the works to see our fairy fest friends again soon. We all live close enough that it seems silly not to! We’re also planning ahead to the next festival, this time in the spring. Hopefully we’ll all be decked out in fairy style by then!

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All photos on this entry are by Ronald the Bald. He was our fantastic weekend photographer. We can’t wait to see him again at other fairs and events!

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A Three Mile Hike and then to the Park

What a day! Today we were busy. There’s been a lot on our list of things to do. I can’t imagine how things would be if we could affording do it all.

Our first order on the list was feeding chickens. One of Oz’s coworkers asked us to feed her chickens while she was away. This was mostly fine, until we were cornered by a rooster. This wasn’t just any rooster. He was a mean rooster! He decided to attack Oz. Who knew a chicken could be so aggressive?

Then we went to our new hiking group. Of course, the rooster made us late. We tried to catch up to the group, but Sander and Luca slowed us up. Life hasn’t been the same since we lost the BabyHawk. Luca managed to go almost a full mile on foot! Minket had to come along for the hike. It was a long three miles, but it was worth it. We saw deer and coyote tracks. The kids got to see the wetlands. We had a nice, quiet walk in the woods. By the end of it all the kids were ready for a nap.

After a short nap in the car we went to a park day with one of the local groups. It was fun. The kids had a blast. It looks like the kids will have a whole bunch of new friends soon. They’re really our type of people. It’s not that I don’t like the moms from co-op, but the moms in this group are more my speed, relaxed, fun, and very chill about what their kids are learning. The older kids are fun, unique, and incredibly talented. It makes me miss my old co-op.

Then it was back to the chickens. We had a nice chat with the chicken’s neighbor. He’s a nice guy. It was fun to be out in the country where the only sounds were cows, chickens, the rooster, and a couple of dogs. They apparently have a bobcat out that way that sneaks in at night and messes with the chickens. It was kind if nice. I think Oz is a bit more sold on the idea of living in the country.

The kids had a good day. I hope we can do it again soon. We had so much fun and made some new friends. It’s definitely a good change.