Trailer Park Unschoolers

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

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The Last Day of Future Leaders Program

It’s finally here, the last day of the Future Leaders Program. I think Beekee is a little relieved. He didn’t even want to go today. I think the only reason he agreed was knowing it would be the last day. It’s been tough on him having so much commitment. I have to wonder how he ever made it in school. He must have been so burnt out all the time.

In honor of his last day of his program we did almost no homeschooling today. We really got nothing done. I half watched Tree House Builders while Luca napped on my lap and that was about as educational as we got. That and Luca did one more row of knitting. Beyond that we’ve been all on the unschooling train.

So while we wait for the last class to end, Luca and Sander are playing with the iPads the library has. Usually they’re pretty hopping places, but today they can both play with no one waiting. It’s good for them to have a chance to play, especially for Luca, who never gets a chance to play on them.

Even Nina is having a chill day. She’s normally swarmed with children. Today She’s tucked up under my chair and out of the way. She’s napping while the kids play. Every once in a while a grumble let’s me know she’s still with us.

All of this is happening on a reasonably nice spring day. The walk wasn’t too bad, which is a nice change from the earlier days of the program. Even so, rumor has it we should be getting snow this weekend. We are not excited. At least warmer days have been the trend lately and it shouldn’t be long before we can sign up for these programs knowing it will be good weather to walk there and back. Hopefully that will motivate us.



So Much for Spring

Spring is supposed to bring nice weather, isn’t it? Flowers are supposed to bloom and it’s time to take off the winter layers. All I can think is how much I wished I were in Texas still. It’s cold out there! So much for spring…

We had to go out today, and by “had to” I mean I signed Beekee up for a program, of which he already missed one week. It was the day after the concert and I had nowhere near enough sleep. It was also crazy cold. I couldn’t justify yet another day out of the program. It’s only four weeks long! It’s good for him to get out and social with other kids his age, especially because he doesn’t quite fit in at jujitsu. We had to go out today. It was pretty much required.

So here I am, sitting at the library, guarding the coats while Sander plays on the iPad and Luca plays on the computer. This isn’t much change from the tech time at home. We can’t get any books because I forgot my library card, and neither of them wants to read while we’re here. With a half hour left in Beekee’s program, if they end on time, we’ve got a whole lot of tech time going on. I’m starting to wonder if they’ll ever get off of it.

All of this has me thinking. Do the kids really need all the toys they have? They really only play with the LEGO blocks and sometimes the stuffed animals. They would all rather be playing on tech, and since I don’t limit screen time, I don’t see why they need so much.

Of course, getting my family on board with not getting us more stuff to clutter up my house is hard. I don’t want to be storing things in the basement to cycle through. Sander is proving me wrong by just starting to play with the trains at the library, but he doesn’t often play with toys at home, beyond the LEGO blocks. Still, I have an aunt that likes to buy the kids lots of stuff for birthdays and Christmas. The problem with this is we just don’t have room for it all. The kids aren’t reading the books. They’re not playing with the toys. It’s just taking up a lot of space that our big four bedroom just doesn’t have. And to be fair, it is a big four bedroom. I just don’t want toys up in the bedrooms because the kids play instead of sleep and their rooms are always messy. That means the living room is where it’s at. There’s just not room for a lot.

And even if I did allow the kids to have toys in their rooms, I don’t want their rooms to become a cluttered mess. That would mean only a small number of toys to play with in the rooms anyway.

Now I’m remembering why I wanted to live in a minimalist way. I’m tired of living under all this stuff. The summer I was in limbo was the most freeing thing ever. We lived out of one suitcase per person and still managed to have stuffed animals and some small toys. The kids appreciated what they had so much more and I was so much less burdened. I could breathe without feeling like my house was trying to suffocate me.

I think it’s time for a grand scale purge again. I’ll call it spring cleaning, even though spring hasn’t really found us yet. I can cut back on all the stuff we’re collapsing under and bring it back to the basics. We’ve got bags of toys in the basement that mostly just need to go. Some stuff needs to go back to the kids, but most of it is just stuff that’s been long since forgotten. I think that’s the big thing we need a car for, to get rid of all this extra stuff we no longer use and needs to be removed. It will make quite the Goodwill donation, that’s for sure! And we really need to do it too. I wonder if any of those places do pick ups. They’re good toys in practically unused condition, most of them. They just need to live with someone other than me and the family.

So maybe it isn’t spring outside. Maybe I’m longing for our little trailer again. I’m secretly plotting to go back to the trailer park days. But while all this is going on, some positive has come. We’re thinking ahead to the point at which we cut back the toys in my house to almost nothing again. It doesn’t feel like spring, but spring cleaning is coming.

Go stream of thought writing. I can tell I’m bored while waiting for Beekee’s program to let out. Any time now…any time…


KEVA Plank Build Day

The library has such cool events.  The latest was the KEVA plank build day.  The kids built some awesome towers with another kid there.  Even Oz had fun with the planks, possibly more than the kids did.  I almost wish we had the time and money to pick some up.  They were really cool to build with.

Luca, on the other hand, didn’t have much interest in building.  Instead the library computers were where it’s at.  Luca seems to always want to be on the computers at every chance possible.  On top of the library computers, Sander and A.J. both spent some time on the tablets they have at the library.  They were playing Bad Piggies.  The tablet A.J. was using was in a fixed sideways position, so it didn’t work that well, but he still had fun.

This is why I love the local library.  It may not have as much space in the craft room as other libraries have, and it may not hold a ton of events, but the kids always have fun when they go.  They even made a few friends there.  I’m really glad we went today, especially since the weather was so nice.  I can’t believe it was 50 out there!  It was a nice day to get out and it was a great day for going to the library!

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Our Local Library

I’m sure you’re glad to see me writing about something other than math, writing, computer time, and jujitsu.  You’d think that’s all we ever did, but I swear, it’s not.  There’s plenty of time playing Minecraft, building with LEGO blocks, watching movies, and doing those things that all families do when they have free time.  Still, it’s time I write about something interesting.  It’s time I wrote about our library.

Now, our library isn’t as awesome as the last one we went to in Texas with their crafts and their LEGO days.  We did some pretty awesome things at that library.  Still, it’s got it’s own sense of charm, and I really like the librarian there.  She knows us by now, and even asked where Nika was because I didn’t bring her.  It’s a comfortable little place.

img_20170208_172925_786The kids really love the library too.  Like most children’s libraries it’s got plenty of stuff to play with.  They don’t mind if the kids get a little loud because they’re on their own floor with a separate entrance from the rest of the library.  It’s in the entry way between two sets of sliding doors and downstairs in the basement.  The kids love to play down there, and they play together fairly well too.  It’s a huge distraction from the reason we’re there, to get books out.

img_20170208_173826_237However we did get books, and not a small amount of books either.  This should keep us busy for some time.  I went to get more books on turtles and saw something on hurricanes.  I know A.J. used to be big on natural disasters, so I pulled that out.  Next thing I know we’ve got books on snowflakes, climate change, the food chain of the tundra, and I don’t even know what else.  I picked up one chapter book to read with the kids too, if we find the time.  I know they like having me read to them, and it will give us something to read when The Princess Bride is done.

I know unschoolers have this thing with “strewing” for the kids.  Basically take a bunch of interesting things and leave them lying around for the kids to get interested in.  I can’t help but feel like that’s the public library for us, a whole bunch of strewn topics all over the place.  Walk the stacks and things just jump out at you.  Well, that’s exactly what happened.  I meant to have the kids pick up more books on turtles but we got bogged down with weather related topics, something about the food chain, and a pirate adventure (which I have no idea what that could be about when stacked in with the weather books).

img_20170208_174510_636After all our good book hunting, Luca decided to say hi to their dear friend the turtle, Fred.  Fred is short for Winifred, as we learned from the information sign next to the tank.  She’s about 15 years old and is a form of box turtle, but I forget what kind.  We found books on turtles because there’s the call numbers for the books listed along with her information.  That’s how I found the books on turtles and frogs.  Luca was so excited to see the turtle that we were almost late for jujitsu.  (No, I apparently can’t write anything without writing about jujitsu it seems!)

This is one of my many reasons for homeschooling, and why I took to unschooling in the first place.  The kids can learn so much just by showing up at the library and taking home a bunch of books that seem interesting.  We could pick a different shelf every time and just pull random things that the kids want to read.  We’ve got three weeks to read all of these, but I don’t think it will take us that long.  We generally go through one book a day, so we could totally blow through all of those books in no time.  Of course the Sea Turtle Scientist and Frog Scientist books may go back to the library unfinished.  Those books are long and a little bit to advanced for the kids to really be interested in, but they did learn.  They were each able to tell me facts from what was read to them, so I don’t know.

Maybe we’re taking that bend back to unschooling yet.  We may not live in the trailer park anymore, but we’re still unschoolers at heart.  (And you may still yet find us in an RV park, if all goes my way…)


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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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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Libraries Are Dangerous…

Our most recent library trip was, well, a little too successful. We hit a point we never imagined possible. We hit our limit on books!

When we first got our card at this library, we knew movies were going to be tough. A limit of 20 at a time seems like a lot, but when you have four or five documentaries, six for the kids, three more for Oz, and a whole series you want to catch up on, that adds up quick. More than once we’ve hit the limit and we haven’t even had the card for long. We like our television, which is probably horrible to say as a homeschool mom.

However, books should not have been a problem. Our limit is 75 books for the whole family. That’s enough for each of us to have ten books at a time, a crazy amount to read in two weeks, and still have 15 left over.

At first the book craze just didn’t happen. Corde got out a chapter book and a manga. I pushed Beekee and Sander to get a couple of history books we read together. It was a slow start. Mostly we just got movies. I got a few books, but no one else was really interested.

Then Beekee started learning how to read. We went to the library and he picked out a bunch of books. The next week we were going back to our classical inspired adventure. As I said, we’re changing things up and I’m trying to cram in all of the ancients before fall. We had some ground to cover, so I went, armed with a list.

I hate the idea of subjecting my kids to books they have little to no interest in. At the same time, Horizons needed to be broadened. We needed to start branching out from the same boring subjects. It seems like the only history we’ve covered was the American Revolution and the Civil War, both of which we’ve done to death. We were going to have to work at it if we want to have more variety. That might mean bringing books into the house and trying to get the kids to read them with me.

Somehow I didn’t expect the reaction. I couldn’t find the books I wanted, not most of them. I had to have some sent in from another library. The rest just didn’t exist. I decided to improvise on the rest.

Since then it’s been pretty wild around here. Every morning we start with a chapter of Caddie Woodlawn. Today we read two. We moved on to learn about how the Great Wall of China was made, about the Roman Army, Hadrian’s wall, and Alexander the Great. Yesterday we read about Cerberus and the Minotaur. We also learned about Pegasus and Balerophon. We were introduced to Theseus, and reintroduced to Hercules. Just to change it up, we also met Finn McCool. We still have some Eyewitness books, books on Athena, Jason, and Perseus. We have a myth about Pandora’s box and a story about Ananzi.

When I go back to the library I have to remember to bring the books we’ve finished. We have a number of books on hold. Some will be coming in from other libraries. We’ve got a lot of reading to do. I still want to pick up books on Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, Confucius, and maybe Ramses or King Tut. I need to hunt down more Greek and Roman myths. It would be nice to find some more Celtic myths. I hope to find some good books on Egypt, too. There may be more books on the Great Wall of China and other aspects of Chinese history. I would love to read some old Japanese stories, too, but those will probably be hard to find. We’ve got Aesop’s Fables waiting for us, too. The list just keeps growing!

Of course, by the time you read this we’ll probably be a week or two in books beyond this. I’m writing our posts in advance until I can get regular net on my phone. I should have it before this posts, but I want to give myself some breathing room. We’ve got a lot to plow through! If there’s one thing I can say about all this, we certainly aren’t at risk of being bored!