Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Allowance

We finally did it.  We’re in a financial position where we can give the kids an allowance.  True, it takes away from other things we could be getting, but I feel that teaching the kids how to manage their money is a much better life lesson than many of the things we could have afforded with that money.

See, Oz and I came from very different backgrounds when it comes to managing our finances.  Oz had no experience until he was out on his own, where he often spent more money than he should, which got him into financial trouble.  I was the extreme opposite.  I was so worried about not having enough to cover my bills that I never spent money if I could at all help it.  That wasn’t so much childhood that taught me that, because I had an allowance and would save for things, but my ex-husband and I had a lot of financial struggles, which taught me to be a little stingy with my money.

The kids aren’t getting a lot of money.  Luca gets $3 every week, so that only sets us back about $12 every month.  Sander gets $4, Beekee $5, and Corde $7.  That all comes out to $76 every month, which could make a nice little budget for science experiments, art supplies, and other fun stuff for the kids, but this is teaching them something valuable.  They’re learning what money is worth and how to make decisions on where they want to spend it.

Just today the kids decided to make their first purchase.  We had a binge cleaning day and decided we were going to take a walk to pick up the missing ingredients to our shepherd’s pie at the local grocery store.  We told the kids if they brought money we could stop and get some cookies at the dollar store.  They’re not fantastic cookies and they’re not brand name, but the kids wanted us to buy them cookies for their job well done, which was fine, but they each wanted their own thing of cookies, so that’s when telling them to use their allowance came in.

Corde bought more than just cookies.  She also got some headphones (a good value since she kills her headphones so quickly anyway, it doesn’t make sense to get her more expensive ones) and some tacks to put stuff up on her wall.  When the younger three checked out, their purchases came to a dollar even.  Corde asked why hers involved spending some change.  That lead to a discussion about tax, and how sales tax doesn’t apply to anything you can eat.  That was another learning moment.  Things don’t cost what they say they do on the shelf.  Unless you can eat it or wear it, it’s taxable.

This is already turning into a good experience for the kids.  Luca is already proving to be a real saver, having collected all sorts of money between the tooth fairy (yeah, we let them believe, though I think they’re too smart and figured it out) and birthday money.  None of that money was spent, save the dollar today.  Sander has been pretty thrifty too.  Beekee was talking about spending his five and how he would get change from his purchase, though he decided on spending the one from the tooth fairy instead.  They’re learning to manage their money.  They also learned that we weren’t going to let them spend money they didn’t have with them, so if they want to buy extra stuff next time, they should bring more money.  Luca was fine with only getting cookies, but Sander wanted to get a pair of headphones, which he couldn’t buy, but maybe next time.  The store is walking distance from the house, so I don’t see a reason why we can’t stop in from time to time.

Now, we’re not going to go all crazy and tell them they can’t have things unless they buy them.  We’re still going to go out of our way to provide cool experiences for them, but if they want something that’s not on our shopping list, they need to wait until Christmas or their birthday, or they need to spend their own money on it.

We’re also not giving them their money for nothing.  They’ve got to do chores around the house in order to earn their wages.  Luca has to feed the dog and clear the dishes from the table.  Beekee then does those dishes.  Sander (by choice) is in charge of cleaning the bathroom.  He loves that chore, though I can’t imagine why.  I always hate cleaning the bathroom, but if it makes him happy, more power to him.  Plus, it’s something he only has to do once a week, even though it’s more work than the rest of the chores.  Corde has the most to do.  She’s responsible for keeping the kitchen clean.  That means wiping down the table and counters, sweeping and mopping the floor, and taking out the trash and the recycling.  We want them to learn that you don’t just get money for doing nothing, you have to earn it.  Oz works to earn the money we get every month.  When I was working I was making my own income.  They have to earn theirs too, because that’s how life works.  You don’t just get money for no reason, you have to earn it.

This is a new experience for them, one I wish we’d started doing earlier.  It’s going to teach them a whole new level of responsibility.  If they save up to $20 they can open their own bank accounts, which is good for whatever money they want to save.  Luca has that much now, but he’s pretty partial to keeping his money in the little jar on my desk.  They can make that decision when they want, and I think we’re going to be encouraging them to put away at least a dollar of their money into savings, maybe more for Corde because she’s got less time to build up a savings.  Then again, she can get a job of her own before long, so that’s something too.

They’re already starting to start talking about what they want to spend their money on, which is great.  Beekee wants to get new games for his DS.  Sander is saving to replace his DS (which he dropped in the Charles River on the 4th of July).  Luca wants to spend his money on getting games we can play together.  I have no idea what Corde wants to spend her money on, but she’s a teen and will definitely have reasons to spend money, like at the mall with her friends, or a trip out to the movies.  She can save some of it for spending money at Rainbow Grand Assembly or Rainbow Camp next year too.

Overall I’m excited for this.  The kids will be able to make some more decisions for themselves and have a whole new level of freedom.  They no longer have to ask our permission to get things they want, though we’ll definitely be there to advise them on their investments.  The ultimate decision is theirs.


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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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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!


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Our 100th Post!

Yup, this is it!  Post number 100!  I know that may not seem like a lot to some of you bloggers that have been posting long past 100 posts, but to me it’s a lot.  It’s going to be right up there with our one year anniversary.  It’s one of those landmark moments in blogging.

I’ve got to admit, I’ve known a lot of blogs that don’t make it to one post.  They don’t make it to one year.  Their blogger either loses interest or just loses topics to write about.  I don’t think I’ll ever run out of steam.  Run out of time, maybe, but never out of steam!  My kids are constantly giving me plenty to write about.

For our 100th post I feel like I should be writing something monumental, like a recap of everything we’ve been through so far.  I feel like it’s really 80’s montage time, but I really don’t feel like doing that.  Instead I’ve updated all of our bios on the about page and I’ve put some new pictures up.  If you’ve got Instagram and want to follow us, you can find us here.  Please, please, please follow us if you’re interested in our photos.  It’s much easier for me to just include our cool photos there than it is for me to post all the cool photos of things we do here.  I know blogs with photos tend to get a lot more attention, but it’s so much work to constantly keep up with photos!  As you can see, I’ve also updated the header photo.  It’s definitely not winter anymore.  I love our beautiful snow picture, but it’s not likely to snow in Texas anymore this year.

Spring really has set in here.  This has meant some wonderful moments.  We’ve really had a chance to get out and enjoy the warm weather.  It’s still a little odd to think that back home I’d still be considering this sweater weather at the very least, not walking around outside in shorts and short sleeves on a nice day.  Even on the colder days long sleeves and a hoodie are more than sufficient.  It gets decently cold at night, but we’re not out at night much.  It’s not going to be long before the sun is carrying on long into the afternoon and the kids won’t want to go to bed at night because the sun is still shining down on us.

Luca has taken quite a liking to walking around outside in the grass.  Pulling up tufts of grass and tossing them everywhere is a new pastime.  Walking around to chase after his brothers and sister is fun too.  He loves the fresh air and tries to sneak out the door any chance he can get.  It’s just too bad we don’t have a privacy fence around our yard.  I’d let him run around outside without a diaper, but around here I think people would start to talk, and that’s the last thing we need.  He loves riding around on our walks and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.  I’m just wishing we had a woven wrap carrier because it would make it easier to bundle him in when he falls asleep so he looks less like he’s going to hurt his neck!  (By the way, my birthday’s next week…so if anyone should feel inclined to send gifts…no, seriously!  Alright, maybe not…)

Sander has found a new love in blowing dandelion seeds.  I remember how much I loved doing that when I was little.  I would make a wish every time.  He doesn’t really get the “make a wish” part of it, but he does love to blow off all the seeds.  He has so much fun with them.  It’s inspiring to see his joy at such a simple thing.  Other joys include rolling a bike wheel that’s currently not on a bike and throwing balls around.  Let’s not forget playing in the dirt!  He likes our walks too, but he’s always disappointed when he can’t pick the way we go.  If only we could just wander around aimlessly in whatever direction he pleased!  That would be fantastic!

Of course, I’m probably going to have to make a cooler magician’s cape for Beekee soon, but for now the weather is perfect for his.  It’s not quite to the point of being too cold.  Warm weather also means park days!  Better still, I’m planning some trips through the area we used to live in as soon as we get a car.  That means we may be able to visit with his old friends.  I know he’ll be so excited about that.  His best friend from our old co-op is also into magic right now.  They should have a lot of fun sharing their love of magic.

This is also a great season for barefooting!  For those of you who don’t know, I enjoy doing a great number of things barefoot.  I’ve done everything from grocery shopping to eating out to driving.  Believe it or not, it’s NOT illegal, though many people don’t realize that.  Unless a place has a sign specifically stating otherwise, you can actually argue your way into barefooting most places without getting kicked out.  That being said, I never had the need to argue with anyone and I’ve only ever been asked to wear shoes at the library, and I can respect that.  This has led Corde and I to walk all the way to the store barefoot to pick up some groceries.  It was a wonderful day for it.  We’re going to be doing a lot more of that as the weather gets nicer.

As far as that goes, barefoot living is great!  It’s so healthy for your feet.  A lot of doctors recommend being barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes to help children’s feet develop properly.  I’ve had great results when it comes to knee and back pain.  I’m much healthier overall when I’m living barefoot, though I’m sure it doesn’t seem that way to some.  I know people think I’m off my rocker for going around barefoot, and probably even more so for letting my kids do it, but we’re healthy and happy, so shouldn’t that be what really matters?

Beyond barefooting and enjoying the outside, our days are kind of dull.  Corde works on her workbooks and hangs out with her brothers.  The older boys play and try not to fight too much.  Luca wanders around pretty much following the other kids.  Sometimes he likes to carry a purse around or play with a toy broom.  He likes to play with the older kids.  It’s pretty chill, but to look in on any given day it doesn’t look like much learning is going on.  Actually, most people would assume that I’ve got my hands full and Corde’s always responsible for the baby.  I can see where they’d get that idea.  Luca will barely have finished nursing when Corde’s stealing him away from me to go play.  Then Beekee spends most of his time sitting by himself to calm down or to have a discussion about his attitude, his screeching, his refusal to accept other people’s boundaries, and in general getting under everyone’s skin, like singing or humming the same tune for six hours at a time, even after being asked several times by everyone around him to stop.

I try really hard to give a positive image of what it’s like to have a larger family.  Most people think I’m insane for having so many.  I constantly hear how I must have my hands full.  I’ve always been told by other people that moms of large families really need to work hard to give other people a positive image of large families, but it’s hard.  It wasn’t so bad six months ago, but with each passing day Beekee becomes harder and harder to live with peacefully.  The tantrums are more plentiful.  The challenges are more frequent.  His ability to listen and follow directions seems to be slowly eroding away to nothing.  With each passing day it becomes harder.  I hate to say it, but it’s easier to go out with three of the four of them and leave Beekee at home than it is to go out with all three of them.  Beekee can easily wear me out and make me feel exasperated.  Of course, then there’s other rare days when you’d never know he was the one that gave me challenges.  He listens, follows directions, and somehow doesn’t have meldowns.  I love those days.  I just hate feeling like I’m giving everyone a bad impression of what being a mother of four is like because I get so frustrated and worn down by him.

And the strange thing about it?  I really hope I can have one more before we’re truly done.  I’d like to have a little girl, but I’m not going to be disappointed by whatever we have.  I just know that it’s not going to be for a while yet.  We need to pace ourselves.  As much as my little bear is growing up all too fast, I’m not ready to be racing into all of this with a new baby just yet.  Let me enjoy my little teddy bear a little longer before I give him competition!


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And Somehow Time Got Away from Me Again…

Yup, I somehow let it happen.  Time got away from me.  I was supposed to be doing regular videos with the kids for the blog.  I was supposed to be writing more regularly.  Then something happened.  I’m not even sure what it was.  It’s like life just grabbed me and took off, not giving me a moment to stop and think about what I’m doing here.  Holy cow, life, give me a second to breathe here!

Oz’s new job has made for a drastic change in schedule.  For starters, I’m no longer able to hop on the computer and write most evenings.  Tonight I’m being totally bad.  I’m staying up past my (self-appointed) bed time so that I can actually catch up with the world a little bit.  I’ve been going to bed early.  I’ve been getting up early.  I’ve been doing so many other things I’ve completely forgotten to write!  Shame on me!  A blogger is supposed to stay on top of her blog!  What a slacker, huh?

So, here’s what’s been going on with us this month…

Oz has been crazy with his new job.  I’m so glad he’s got it, but it’s been wearing him out.  He finally decided to quit Subway because he was too tired all the time and had no time left with the family.  He still hasn’t adjusted to his early morning routine, but he’s getting there.  Coffee is his life’s blood in the morning!  I don’t know what he’d do without it!  Thankfully he loves his job.  He feels like he’s always got something to do and it challenges him.  That’s exactly what he needed.  As he put it, pretty much any idiot can do it.  It’s just collecting up the right pieces to put in shipping boxes to be shipped off and keeping inventory, but he feels like he’s busy all the time.  To him keeping busy and constantly being in motion are the most important parts of the job.  As long as he’s always kept busy with interesting tasks, he’ll be good to stay with the job forever.  It’s not stressful and he’s got very little down time.  That’s all he really needs.  It looks like he’s finally found a good match.

Then there’s Miss Corde.  She’s been doing workbooks lately, which shocked the hell out of me!  That girl hates workbooks!  No, you don’t understand, I mean she really HATES them…couldn’t despise anything more.  When my aunt sent it a part of me thought, “Oh, great.  Another workbook.  Well, I’m sure she’ll find something to do with it.  She always does.”  Wasn’t I surprised when she asked if she could work on it and actually followed the directions and everything!  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.  It’s about maps and geography.  It’s a pretty interesting subject.  At this rate, if doing workbooks is a way to get her to practice her reading and writing skills, more power to her!  I’ll invest in a few more that interest her.  I’ll even let her pick them out.  Anything to get that girl reading!  She’s also been working on math independently too, which is good news for me.  I guess this is proof that all this unschooling stuff really does work.  I was starting to have my doubts when the kids started to do nothing but play (and as a result, fight) all day, but it’s finally starting to work out.  Corde’s getting into some new, interesting, and cool stuff.  I’m really interested to see what she comes up with next on her list of studies.

Beekee has been a challenge for us lately.  I’m at a loss of what to do.  What seemed like a difficult streak that I perceived as having started a few months ago has just exploded.  He’s irritable.  Everything has to be his way.  If things happen in a way he hasn’t planned for, expect a meltdown.  He’s been horrible about listening, so I have to stay on him about everything.  He can handle a particular task, but you have to give it to him in excruciating step-by-step detail, and you’ve got to remind him of each step as the one before it is complete.  It’s been driving me pretty well insane.  Someone (I forget who) suggested maybe I should take him in to be tested for ADD.  Well, I’ve been told by countless doctors that ADD and ADHD have a classic tell.  Caffeine calms down and helps focus people with both disorders.  I guess that makes it a pretty obvious tell.  I was told this by a doctor when explaining how a childhood ADD diagnosis couldn’t possibly fit me because I have a caffeine sensitivity.  It makes me anxious, jumpy, and jittery, not classic signs of ADD behavior on caffeine.  Plus I tend to get highly distracted and can’t focus.  I can get a lot done because I’ve got all kinds of crazy energy, but absolutely no focus.  I need someone very specifically directing me, or I need to make a list before I start on the caffeine.  This is why I’m not a coffee drinker.  This is also why we don’t give Beekee any caffeine.  We can always tell when he’s snagged someone’s soda because he starts acting exactly like I do on the stuff.  He’s all over the place!

Then someone suggested Aspergers’.  This same person (someone I’ve known for a LONG time) suggested I get tested for Aspergers a couple of years ago.  I still haven’t done it because the idea of an official diagnosis scares me.  That same person suggested maybe I want to look at getting Beekee tested.  I started reviewing the signs again.  I started thinking to the way Beekee plays with (or really plays near and ignores in most cases) other kids.  I thought about his reactions to outside stimulus.  For the longest time he couldn’t handle people yelling and still can’t handle loud noises of pretty much any kind.  He’s gotten better about the yelling, but I think that’s just because he’s had to learn to cope with Sander having tantrums and the baby crying when he was gassy.  He doesn’t do so well when plans change.  He has meltdowns incredibly easily over things I don’t understand, but are very important to him.  He also doesn’t engage in imaginative play.  He plays everything based on movies, books, and other things.  He can quote lines from moves and replay scenes he’s only seen once to a scary level of accuracy.  He has a hard time focusing on anything that doesn’t expressly interest him, and if it does expressly interest him, it’s hard to get him off the subject.  Now, does this mean he can be diagnosed as anything, not necessarily.  At the same time, I think it’s worth looking into the situation to help us understand him a little better.  If he is diagnosed, well, there’s a lot of help available to parents of Aspergers children.  If he’s not, at the very least a therapist or counselor should help us develop some coping techniques for his behavior.  Then we can hopefully stop the fights that happen between the kids before they start and minimize the meltdowns.  It’s not easy to keep my cool when Beekee is screeching at the top of his lungs for the fourth time that hour because whoever is playing with him isn’t playing within his very strange, impossible to understand set of rules that he never really explains to anyone, yet somehow seems to think they understand.  He’s always been really different, unique, a loner, and very sensitive.  I should have suspected something sooner.  Actually, I did expect something sooner, but I was afraid of putting a label on him.  Now my fear of labeling him has been overtaken by my need to keep some sanity and order in my house.  I know we’re going to be getting out more soon, which will help, but I’d love to have a sense of peace when I’m at home too.

Then there’s Sander.  That little man is growing up so fast!  His vocabulary is getting more and more complex by the day.  He’s able to handle a three mile walk without getting tired or cranky.  He knows exactly when he’s hungry, tired, or in any other kind of need and expresses it very clearly.  He naps when he feels tired.  He eats when he’s hungry.  He knows how to get himself snacks and drinks, but he prefers it when Corde does it for him.  They really don’t spend much time playing together, so having her help him has become his way of spending time with Corde.  He wants her to teach him to do everything by himself.  He thinks she’s the coolest thing in the world!  He’s also learned to hug people when he hurts them.  He announced today that Beekee was his best friend ever.  He’s also decided that Baby Bear is the best little baby brother anyone could ask for, and now he’s determined that he’s got to take care of the baby.  Of course, this generally ends up with me having to pick cereal out of the carpet and finding random diapers flung around the house (because he can take the diaper off to be helpful, but can’t put one back on so I have to chase a naked butt around the house to get a new diaper on him!)  He’s also pretty officially potty trained!  He still has poop accidents now and again, but he can last most trips outside the house.  Every once in a while he thinks he’s got more time to get to the bathroom than he does, or he gets so excited about something that he’s not paying attention, but that doesn’t even happen once a week anymore!  He’s growing up so fast!

And speaking of growing up so fast, Luca has completely blown me away with all of his growing up.  Just last week he learned to walk.  He’s popping two more teeth.  Then he learned how to climb the stairs on Saturday.  He now has a great little bunch of words.  He says, “Mama” (me, obviously), “Dadada” (Oz), “Day-Day” (Corde), “Kikica” (kitty cat), “num-num-num” (which seems to mean both “yummy” and “give me some”), and “momomo” (which seems to be both “more” and “I’m mad about something”).  He also carries around a little purse with a fox on it that used to be Corde’s when she was little.  He’s been a beast with solid foods too.  It used to be that he just liked pancakes, but now his tastes have evolved.  Cereal is okay, but not a favorite.  He loves to slurp spaghetti noodles.  Muffins are decidedly delicious.  Grapes are yummy, but not very fun to eat.  The skin makes them a challenge.  Same goes for oranges.  However, the best food in the world, far better than anything else he has ever tried, the one food he would gladly trample people for and steal from anyone whenever he can get his little paws on it…apple fritters.  He loves those things!  It’s hard to believe he’s only 8 months now!  None of the other little ones were walking this soon.  Beekee was the youngest at 10 months.  Then again, I supposedly walked at 9 months and he’s got three older siblings and two adults to watch and be encouraged by.  It seems like all the cool kids walk around here.  I also think it didn’t hurt that he found out he could do it by accident.  Corde had been cruising around furniture from about 8 months.  She just wasn’t brave enough to stray away from the support of something else until she was almost 16 months.  Beekee had been cruising around furniture from about 7 months, just like Luca, but he didn’t have much reason to stray from the furniture.  He was all too often being picked up and carted off here and there.  I was run pretty ragged at that point with holiday travel, plenty of social events to attend, and his dad getting home from Iraq.  I didn’t have much time to stop and really let him experiment.  Sander was cruising the furniture around 7 months too, but it wasn’t until he was just over a year that we finally lived in a place with enough open floor space for him to really feel like walking might be a better option.  In a small space where it’s easier to hop from one thing to another it’s not a big deal, but when you’ve got a whole big expanse across the living room and you’ll have to crawl to get across it, that’s really incentive to get up and do it.  For Luca, Corde and Beekee (and even Sander on occasion) would hold his hands and walk him around the living room in circles until he simply got sick of it and plopped down to cry.  He was so used to it that he used to grab my legs and push on them in turn so I’d have to walk him around in circles.  I wished I’d gotten a video, but it was too dark. Oz swore he’d do it again, but two days later he was walking!  So much for that idea!  Even if it wasn’t for all that encouragement, I’m sure he would have learned sooner rather than later.  It didn’t take much for him to see that he was at far more risk of being trampled if he was on the ground.  With three bigger kids and a cat to run him over (a cat that’s bigger than he is!) it’s not surprising that he had incentive to learn quickly!  I wouldn’t want to risk being under foot either!

In other news, we’ve got a lot of changes coming up.  We’ve finally hooked up with even more homeschoolers (one family is unschoolers!) in town.  Actually, with a total of four families that I know of, I’m thinking about trying to schedule regular homeschool play dates.  I know the kids would love it.  Most of them have younger kids, so poor Corde will feel a little left out.  We’re looking into other options that might work for her.  There are other homeschool play groups in the area and there’s even a group for teens and tweens.  It’s hard to believe she’ll be old enough for a group like that!  The local co-op sounds interesting, but with the challenges we’re having with Beekee, I’m not sure if he’ll be able to handle it.  He’s a handful and I don’t know that he wouldn’t be a complete distraction in class.  Still, it’s good to know other homeschoolers again.

We’re also looking to get a car, yay!  No more lack of transportation for us!  We’re looking at another Mazda Mx6 on Craigslist, if it’s still available when we get the money together.  That will be on the 28th, so it only has to be there one more week.  If not, the other option is a Ford Fusion at a dealership.  It’s definitely not as good of a deal since we’d be making payments on it, but it’s a newer, nicer car.  We really need a car.  Unfortunately, we can’t afford anything big enough to fit all of us at once, so if we get the Fusion, we’re going to try and pay it down as fast as possible so we can get out from under the payments, and consider financing a second car if need be, but preferably just getting the first payed off so we’ll have more money free.  If we get the Mazda (which Corde, Oz, and I all have our fingers crossed on), we’ll be able to start saving the money we would have been spending on payments towards getting a larger car that will fit all of us at once.  We’ll be jumping into the world of “two car families”.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to have that on the horizon!  Freedom will be ours again!

And if that isn’t enough news, there’s also what’s going on with the house.  We had the exterminator come in.  The exterminator sprayed all of two spots and made the problem worse.  Then we went out and got our own spray, which turned out to be the same thing the exterminator used.  We sprayed down our whole kitchen.  That stuff is amazing!  It was kind of gross to see the dead bugs and to watch the places they crawled out of, but we felt pretty good about ourselves.  We determined that we were going to get at least one can of this spray stuff every week and focus on a different area of the house.  Since it’s kept the bugs out of the areas we’ve already sprayed for the most part, this should allow us to (in theory) get the whole house taken care of.  We’ll have to go back over sections as we go, but it’s getting the problem in check.  It’s scary how you never realize how bad of a problem you’ve got until you start agitating them and stirring them up.  Man, our problem was incredibly bad!  They’re sending the exterminator through again on Friday, but I don’t expect her to do much again.  I have a feeling we’ve got to handle this problem on our own.

From what we hear this is par for the course in this trailer park.  Another resident said the exterminator did the same to him.  Then we heard one of the trailers they were cleaning up and repainting for occupancy was just as bad as ours.  The bugs were coming out of the walls to eat the paint before it dried and they kept getting into the paint bucket.  It makes me think that we really didn’t have pretty much anything to do with the problem, but that these trailers were pretty infested before we even moved in.  Since we’ve started spraying we’ve started attacking any area that we see them come out of.  This has meant spraying the spot where the trim connects the wall to the ceiling and other interesting spots I never would have thought of.  It’s scary how they’re in a million places I never would have thought of before.  After having talked to exterminators about it, this problem probably existed well before we got her, we just stirred it up.  We would have to be leaving food out all over the place in large quantities in order for the problem to get this bad.  While I can admit that I haven’t been keeping the house spotless and have been guilty of letting the dishes sit for longer than I should, there’s no way that’s enough to make the problem this bad from everything I’ve been told.  It would have to be the stereotypical bachelor pad with boxes of half-eaten pizza left laying around everywhere for months at a time, fast food wrappers with uneaten fries, drink cups everywhere.  It wouldn’t be “Man, I haven’t taken out the trash in a couple of days and we’ve now got two bags waiting to go out.  And I’d been so good about getting it out every night…” or “Ugh…I’ll just do the dishes tomorrow.  I’m too tired to do it now.”  And if empty trailers are so bad that they’ve got bugs coming out to eat the paint, then how bad was this place potentially before they moved us in?

So the conclusion is we’re moving.  We’ve called around to a few places and it looks like we may no longer be the Trailer Park Unschoolers.  We might be moving into an apartment.  We’re kind of tired of the drama of the trailer park.  We’re kind of over the whole problem of poorly maintained trailers being bug magnets and having more problems than we care to deal with.  For the time being we’re keeping the name.  Actually, I kind of like the name, so I don’t think we’re going to give it up for a long while.  It’s where we got our roots, where this story came from.  Yes, you can unschool in a trailer, but there also comes a time when you just can’t stand the trailer park anymore.  We may end up back in one (once we can vet out a nice one and afford to get into it), but for now we’re planning to move on to bigger and better things.  We’re looking forward to taking a step up in the world, from trailer park dwellers to apartment dwellers.  Hopefully from there our next step will be into our own house.

So on that I leave you for now.  I’m going to try my hardest to keep you updated, but I make no promises at how often.  Between dealing with the bug problem, car shopping, getting ready to move, and working on a more active social life, we’re going to be pretty busy.  Plus, with the nice Texas weather, we want to get outside and enjoy it as much as we can before the dog days of summer hit and no one really wants to be outside in that heat.  So take care.  We miss you all!  And hopefully we’ll be back on track soon!


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Today’s Lesson? Speed Cleaning!

This is probably going to be a short post.  I’m tired.  It’s been a long day, and I’m not done yet.  I’ve been sleeping way too much and Oz has been getting home from work at 1am, which means I’m up most of the night waiting for him.  Luca Bear has decided hes got an issue with sleeping at night, or he’s been dreaming.  He’s been beating me up at night.  Still, I’ve got a lot to do.  We’re having a guest over Monday night, so I’m trying to get the house worthy of company.  She’s probably going to be crashing out on my bed with me and Luca, so I’ve got to get my room clean, and everything between here and there.  That means the living room, the kitchen, the dining room, the master bedroom, and the master bathroom.  My house is, well, trashed, so I’ve got a lot of work to do.

Today I told the kids they had to get their rooms cleaned.  They had to get the toys and everything cleaned up in the living room.  They had to clean up their plates and things because they left their dishes out after lunch and Luca was making it impossible for me to get anything done.  I expected the usual problems.  We tell them what we need them to do and they take forever and a year.  Literally, I’ve asked Corde to clean her room, the smallest bedroom with the least amount of stuff, and it’s taken her three weeks.

Thankfully, the children really pulled together.  I think they could tell that I’ve been stressed out with trying to get everything done and knowing that Luca has been a needy little bear-butt.  I was impressed.  The house went from nightmare to clean (well, mostly clean) in all the areas I asked them to clean in less than a half an hour.  It normally takes them a half an hour to clean each room!  Three rooms, done in a half an hour.  That was really impressive!  I couldn’t tell them enough how happy I was that they picked up and took care of exactly what I asked them to do.

At least after the stressful day I’ve had the kids have pulled together to make my day.  I have no idea what I’d be doing if the kids hadn’t pulled together to get things done.  That makes my life so much easier.  I’m going to have to vacuum their rooms and the living room, but that’s going to have to wait until morning.  That’s a huge life saver.

The house is still insanely cluttered.  It’s still all kinds of crazy, but we’re making progress.  With every day going by we’ve got more loaded up for charity and Freecycle, more going out in the trash, and more getting out of my house.  We’re making progress.  Seriously, you don’t even want to know the amount of junk we’ve gotten out of our house since I’ve moved to Texas!  You’d think we were hoarders, but really?  We keep downsizing our space and having less place to store stuff, so we’ve got to get rid of stuff.  Before long we’re going to be living simple.

Oh, speaking of living simple, I have three new books coming thanks to my Amazon Associates account!  Each book was 60% off, so I was able to get them for cheap!  Sweet!  That totally made my day!

And as if I needed even more reasons to be happy?  We’ve got more diapers coming for Luca that will not be able to get off.  Snaps!  And the topper for the whole night?  Beekee went to bed without the light on for the first time in a very long time.  We’ve really got some good stuff going on.  It’s been a long, exhausting day, but I’m glad for it.  It may have been long and tiring, but it’s totally positive.


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Death of a Microwave

When you live with a low income you come to truly appreciate the things you’ve got, especially when it comes to the way you make your food.  We’ve had a very limited ability to cook.  It started with nothing.  Then we were gifted a hotplate, which allowed us to cook.  Next we got a microwave.  It seemed like we were being spoiled after having nothing at all.

Of course, in time you start to take these things for granted.  You kind of expect that the things you have will be there for as long as you need them.  You don’t expect to lose them until you’re ready to replace them.

We should have taken into account that the microwave was in poor condition.  It was really on it’s last legs.  When we got it the little plate that rotates didn’t rotate.  Sometimes it would heat things just fine.  Other times it would take twice as long.  It just wasn’t in good condition from the start.  We should have known it wouldn’t last long.

Today when I was done making my own lunch, the microwave died.  It just turned off unexpectedly and didn’t turn back on.  We couldn’t figure out what happened to it.  It just stopped working.  I saw it coming, but it’s depressing.

Corde is especially upset about the whole thing.  The microwave made her life so much easier.  It meant she could cook just about whenever she wanted.  She could heat up leftovers without having to get someone to help her with it.  All she had to do was stick it in the microwave and ask some help for figuring out how long it would take.  It gave her a lot of freedom that she wouldn’t otherwise have.

I guess that means we’re adding to the list of things we need to buy when Oz gets a new job.  We knew the kitchen would need some love, but we’d really hoped it would hold us over until we were able to move.  We didn’t want to get ourselves set up for a kitchen we wouldn’t be keeping for long.  It’s one of the reasons we haven’t bought a stove.  We don’t want to be paying on a stove that we’re not even going to keep because we have to provide our own stove.  With all the massive problems this trailer has proven to have, we’re not going to stay here another year.  This place just needs too much work and we’re not going to be doing it for a place we’re renting.  We’ll see where it all ends.  Our lease is up in July, so we’ll have an opportunity to figure out what we’re doing, but for the time being, we’ve got to try and figure out the cooking situation.

One way or another, we’re figuring it out.  I’m just glad we’re not completely out of options, and we’ll hopefully be having a bigger income soon.  Now we’ve just got to take a deep breath, let go of the old, bring in the new.