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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Unschooling on a Budget: Breaking the Unschool Rules with Curriculum

This is one of those subjects I’d thought I might avoid.  Given unschoolers generally don’t use curriculum, it’s not a topic that seems logical, but bear with me.  If you don’t have access to everything you need to get your kids interested in certain subjects, or if they want to learn things you have no idea about, a curriculum may not be a bad way to go.

In my case, I want to make sure my kids can meet the school standards.  Because of this, I’ve invested in a math program and I’ve gotten some phonics stuff from my aunt.  For the most part this is fun stuff that the kids really like doing, so it really falls into the “unschooling” category, even if it’s not “radical unschooling”.  So if you’re one of those radical types, feel free to check out now.  Otherwise, here’s my take on curriculum.

First off, save your money and teach what you can in other ways as much as possible.  Maybe you don’t need a science curriculum because you do a lot of work in nature, kitchen chemistry, or other sorts of things.  It could be that a lot of your history comes from the library, if you really bother with history at all.  A lot of families do a lot with YouTube.  These can be great ways to cut curriculum costs, and stick to the spirit of unschooling.

When you do feel the need for curriculum, plan carefully.  Opt for things your kids will find fun, but also something that won’t cost an arm and a leg.  You can shop used products as well, which may cut your costs, especially if you decide to use something that requires a teacher’s guide.  This can be a great time to employ friends and family that might be willing to gift part or all of a curriculum to you.

Shopping for curriculum can also involve looking at what you can get inexpensively.  For example, we use Math U See.  The cost of the curriculum as a starter isn’t exactly cheap.  Getting the manipulatives and everything means spending over $100.  However you use those same manipulatives through the entire program.  Because all we really need to buy from year to year is the teacher’s guide and the workbook, the price is much less.  Once we get to repeat years it’s only going to be the workbooks that we need to buy.  That makes it a system that’s not insanely expensive, even with four kids.

Look for stuff that’s offered in inexpensive workbooks.  Some programs offer their work in reasonably priced workbooks, and while they may not have the same amount of work as those expensive curriculums, unschoolers rarely rely on all the work in a curriculum.  This may be enough to supplement the other learning experiences you’re working with.  That might make the curriculum more of an add-on than an actual full curriculum would be.

Most importantly, when you can get away without the curriculum, obviously don’t use it.  It’s meant to be a tool, one of many options you can use for educating your child.  It’s by no means a necessary requirement for unschooling.  In fact, a lot of families do just fine without curriculum at all.  They work independent of all of that, helping their kids learn from nothing but pure life experience.

Coming from a perspective of someone who is low income, having a bit of curriculum at the core of our unschooling means the kids are learning in ways I couldn’t necessarily teach them.  I can’t afford the experiences other people provide for their kids, so this at least gives me a feeling that, at the end of the day, some of the core subjects I feel less capable of teaching are learned by my kids in a way that they particularly enjoy.  That’s what’s important at the root of all this.

At the end of the day, it really comes down to using what works for your family.  If having a little bit of curriculum as a backbone for your unschooling makes you feel more secure, by all means, use it!  If you want to try it with out, go for it!  No matter what you do, feel confident that you know your family, your state laws, and your needs better than anyone else.  You’re doing the right thing for you!


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Unschooling on a Budget: Tech Time

Okay, here’s a new segment I think I’m going to throw in when the need strikes me.  Today seemed like just the day to inspire it.  This recommendation is certainly not a cheap one, but I highly recommend the investment, computers.

Now, one thing I’m learning is having one or two computers for my house of six isn’t really enough to suit all of our needs.  This may seem less important for kids who are purely unschooled with no online curriculum to follow, but even then, it could make a huge difference.

 

This may not seem as important if you’ve only got one kid, younger kids, or if you do a lot of learning through field trips.  It’s easy to negotiate parent time around one or two kids, or even with a bunch of younger kids.  I’ve found for younger kids or kids that are just really into looking stuff up, a tablet may be a good option, but if they like writing, graphic design, or playing Minecraft on the computer, it might just be best to invest in one of their own.  That can make life easier.

If you plan on backing your unschooling up with any kind of computer games or programs, especially if those things help you have accountability for state standards, that can also create competition.  We’re using Time 4 Learning as a fun way for the kids to learn, and with four kids, it’s going to keep my computer busy all day to make sure they each have a chance to get a turn.  All of the time your kids would be online, you’ve got to think about how that factors into the daily competition for computer use.

What about families that do most of their unschooling through field trips?  They’re not going to have as much of a need for computer time, right?  While that may be true for some families, other kids will like the ability to look up more information on the things they’ve learned.  If they like doing any kind of tech based activities, like blogging, writing, or graphic arts, their time will be more limited due to all the time out.  The more time you’re out, the less time they have to coordinate who gets computer time when.

So what do I recommend?  Think about getting your kids each their own laptop from the time they’re old enough to want to use it with any regularity.  I’m not talking a super expensive laptop (unless they’re into computer gaming).  I’m not suggesting getting them each a Microsoft Surface.  Those are awesome options if you’re inclined and have the funds.  I’m just suggesting a cheap computer that will get the job done.  It doesn’t need to be high powered, just powered enough to do whatever they intend to do on it.

When I say inexpensive laptop, I think maybe I should support this with what I mean by that.  I’ve got a friend that works with computers and his suggestion was not to go with the cheapest computers you can buy, not unless you’re comfortable with frequently replacing the computer.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  His recommendation is to look for something in the $400 range.

How is this on a budget?  Well, the cost of a laptop for each kid isn’t exactly cheap, but if you’re going to budget for one big purchase, this is it.  You can aim to do just about everything else for free or dirt cheap, but this expense is one I find worth it.  Making a decent investment now will mean you’ve got a product that will last for quite some time.  Depending on how old your kid is, it just might mean a gift they can take to college, if they go, or the ability to set up a website for their own business, if they choose to run one.  It opens up lots of options, especially as they get older.

And, if you think about it, it’s not hard to build your budget around buying a laptop.  If you’ve got tax returns in, chunk out some of that to put down on a computer.  If you’ve got multiple kids, start with one they can share, then add more as your budget allows.  You can also suggest to family that they might want to pitch in and get one as a gift for a birthday or holiday.  Set aside $10 per week and you’ll have enough by the end of the year.  It’s worth it.  I know that’s what we’re going to be doing in my house, saving up to start buying computers, working our way down from the oldest to youngest.

I know some families would rather have a desktop, but there’s an advantage to having laptops.  You can use them anywhere in the house, which is nice if your kids want to move their work to somewhere quieter or more peaceful, or if they want to easily be able to show off what they’ve found.  They’re small, which means storing them takes up very little space at all.  Unlike a desktop, they can also be put away, so the work space can be cleared for other things when not in use.  This is my favorite aspect of having a laptop.  Of course, you probably already know these things, but when thinking about how many computers you may have in your house if you start buying them for everyone, these features may just be the biggest asset.

This may not sound like an important way to spend money, but if you’ve got a kid that’s entered the modern technological era with joys of programming, graphics, writing, and beyond, I highly recommend it.  Even if most of your schooling is out in the world, it’s a good option to come home to.  And again, I suggest a good laptop for ease of movement and storage.  It can be a huge asset to any unschooling family.


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Sharing Politics with Kids

Until recently our home education has been lacking. Sure, in some ways my kids have learned more than I did at their age. We’ve talked about gear ratios and internal combustion engines. We’ve talked about how food interacts with the body and how the food they eat effects them. They’ve learned about budgets, cooking, and other life skills. Those are all pretty good things to learn, but something was missing.

I’ve started to notice a relation yesterday between unschoolers and a knowledge of politics. Generally it’s with a more Libritarian kind of bend. This makes sense, in a way. Unschooling is about preserving a child’s freedom, so Libritarianism is like the adult continuation of that process. It’s the logical next step. That has to start somewhere, so why not as children, right?

My family really kind of avoided that subject. We focused on everything else and politics took a back seat to it all. I didn’t really see much need to bring my kids into that. The political system is messy and complex, and nothing they really needed to worry about. I wanted them to enjoy being kids while they could. There would be plenty of time to worry about the state of the union later.

With all the involvement from CPS because of this summer’s events, I’ve really been feeling rather annoyed at our political system. I’ve always just played nice with CPS. I never liked it, but I tolerated it. This current invasion of our lives has kind of put me over the edge. They’re citing me as neglecting the medical needs of the children because I choose not to vaccinate. They’ve disapproved of my lack of a “formal school setting” because my kids aren’t in school. They’ve assumed my kids are behind educationally because my ex assessed them to be, even though our state doesn’t consider educational neglect to be an offense, even though my kids are very bright, but may struggle in more traditional areas, like spelling and written math. This isn’t even considering that Beekee would just be starting school since kindergarten isn’t compulsory in Texas. They believe my parenting skills aren’t good enough to care for Luca and Sander since they’re not old enough to care for themselves all because I let Sander make his own lunch if all he needs to do is put it in the microwave or put it together likely sandwich. And why shouldn’t I let him do it when he’s begging me to do it? I’m teaching my kids poor hygiene habits because I don’t force them to shower or take a bath every night if they don’t choose to. Luca and Sander are not allowed to share my bed. The kids aren’t allowed to use a sibling bed. All of our babysitters need to consent to, and pass a background check. Oz and I both have to go through a psychological evaluation and counseling. Corde and Beekee need to go through a psychological evaluation as well. See all the hoops we have to jump through when I’ve been repeatedly told that our problems are not being able to exterminate, which should be at the landlord’s expense, and I tend to not have the most tidy, organized home. I’ve seen too many families face trouble with CPS because they homeschool, don’t vaccinate, and are otherwise alternative. It has me feeling like CPS has a side job as enforcing conformity. What’s worse is denying them access means losing my children and fighting to get them back. In the end, I have no choice since I’m not a family wealthy enough to take them on in court. They really have me in a bind.

Add all the other political discussions going on at the moment and I’m feeling pretty disgusted with the political system. I should feel good about my country, but I honestly feel like the government is trying to enforce conformity, at least in the poor. The healthcare act is a removal of choice. It doesn’t help me get affordable healthcare and I really don’t want to buy into the system, but it’s buy in or be fined. I don’t want to let CPS in for home invasions anymore when they’ve continually overturned the cases. Clearly I’m doing nothing wrong my kids are healthy and happy, so why harass me and control my life? It’s unconstitutional. The welfare system only keeps people trapped in the system. Everywhere I turn rules are being made to let the government spy on people or control something else, so where’s the freedom? Unless I want my kids to grow up thinking this is okay, I need to start enlightening them now.

In some ways this has been easy. Corde rolls her eyes and complains every tone she has to see our case worker. She’s so sick of the home invasions too. Every time I talk to the kids they ask if she has to talk to them. Sander thinks it’s a game, but Corde and Beekee always ask if they have to. They’re done with it. Corde even thinks CPS should be illegal because they’re just bullies that like to pick on us.

So the conversation began yesterday. We talked about socialism. I explained that socialism requires everyone to be thecsame and equal. It would be like going to the co-op and lunch was provided. Instead of getting options, everyone can have a ham sandwich, apple, celery sticks, and water. That’s it. Sure, if you’re lucky they’ll have a few add-ons, like cheese or mustard that you can choose, but if you don’t want a ham sandwich at all, you’re out of luck. Our government isn’t much different. Instead you get two options, beef or chicken. The problem is you can only have one, and it’s a majority vote. 55% of the co-op voted for chicken, so everyone gets chicken. The other 45% have to suffer. This is when Corde tells me how stupid that is because she thinks one of her friends at co-op is a vegetarian, so chicken or beef doesn’t even represent her. No matter what decision is made, that friend can’t have something she wants. She determined the only fair thing to do is let everyone pick their own lunch, like the co-op already does.

Then we talked about traffic laws. There are lights in some parts of Texas with cameras. If you run a red light they take a photo of your car and mail it to you. Corde thought that was unfair. What if someone else had borrowed your car? Tough. Even if you weren’t driving, the car is registered to you, so you have to pay the ticket. In other words, you get punished for a crime you didn’t commit.

Then we took it one step more. Let’s say it’s midnight. No one else is at that intersection, and it’s a really long wait at the light. Is it okay to run the light because no one is effected by breaking that law? Corde and Beekee agreed that the light was there for safety, and if no one else was in sight, and you knew you could safely get across the intersection, why should you have to wait? I informed them they would both have a ticket, courtesy of the cameras on the light.

This got them thinking about how laws should be enforced, and whether or not the government is fair. They decided a two party system and majority rules aren’t fair ways to make decisions for a small group, much less a whole country. We talked a lot about the power CPS has, because it’s effecting the kids now. We talked a little about the healthcare mess. We even talked about the government shutdown. We covered a lot of ground for a short period of time.

I no longer feel like we’re missing something. My kids are being encouraged to think about the world they live in, and how to make it a place they want to live in. They’re not likely to be passive and just let things go on, even if they don’t think it’s right. They’ll be taught to stand up for themselves and what they think is right.

In all of this political stuff I see all too many people uttering the same things. They either complain and say the government is too big to change, or therein themselves to the fact that majority rules. The scariest are the ones that swear up and down that the government can be fixed by things that don’t make sense, proving they know nothing about the political system, like saying the rich need to be forced to get jobs so they can pay taxes, ignoring the fact that many rich people do pay a good deal in taxes on their interest from their accounts, dividends, property taxes, and all of that. It shows a complete lack of understanding of financial matters, taxation, and overall how the government works. I don’t want my children to grow up that hopeless or that uneducated.


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Chicken Runner and Chocolate Milk

This morning was a mix of delightful and depressing. I’m a little beat by everything going on. I’m looking for answers, but it seems there are never any satisfactory ones. Life without child support has been a rough adjustment.

Today we made a tough decision. This will likely be our last week at co-op. We were on a payment plan, but we’re falling behind. We just can’t afford it right now. I hate it. I love my classes. The kids are making friends. They’ve been learning so much. Now I have to take it away from all of us. I hate to pull the plug on it, but we just can’t make it work anymore. If we can’t be granted more time, we’ll have to drop it. It’s better I drop it than get kicked out. If I voluntarily leave we may be able to come back next year, if I’m not too ashamed to return. I’ve always tried to let people see us for us, not our finances. Sadly, I can’t hold up the mask any longer.

In other sad news, we may not make the fairy festival either. It’s just over two weeks away, and that’s going to be a decent expense between gas and paying for Corde and Beekee to get in. I only get one extra free pass and Sander and Luca are free. The kids were so excited about it too. It hurts to have to take two opportunities away from them at once. I feel like I’m now the villain in one of their games.

On the other hand, the kids don’t seem to mind. Corde is happy to get back to unschooling. She wants to do her books because we already have them. Might as well, right? And she makes a good point, CPS is still involved so it would be good to be able to show improvements in their writing and math. They surprisingly enjoy it! Corde kind of wants me to go back to being her teacher. She’s surprisingly disappointed that I don’t teach any of her classes. Their social time can be filled with park days instead. It looks like I might be setting up a few and posting them on the homeschool list myself. No one else seems to be taking the initiative, so it may be good if I did. They love the co-op, but they would be just as happy to have normal social time.

Corde was too funny the other day. She moaned, “Why doesn’t Grumpy get internet? We could watch Netflix! Or even regulars TV channels? I miss my shows! I could be watching Clean House, Dirty Jobs, and Mythbusters right now. We didn’t even get to watch all the documentaries on our list. I miss my documentaries!” And she says she doesn’t like to learn…

Still, the kids are having fun. Beekee’s four-clawed creature and assassin obsession has been replaced with chicken-runners. Chicken-runners are dinosaurs about the size of a chicken, but they run really fast and eat meat. They also have feathers, because the kids decided dinosaurs look much more creepy with feathers. This new thing with dinosaurs being thought to have feathers is a bit weird to all of us, bit it makes for fun play time.

It’s funny to hear them play house too. Corde is always the mom. Luca is her baby. It’s funny hearing her complain about needing coffee in the morning to function because her kid is too crazy and she can’t keep up. I don’t drink coffee, so I have no idea where that comes from. Oz loves coffee, but rarely drinks it. She’s too funny. At least it gets her reading. Apparently her vision of being a mom involves reading a lot to her baby. Hmm…wonder where that idea came from…couldn’t possibly be me, could it?

In all of this, I could really go for a chocolate milk. It’s my drug of choice. Some people want a beer. Others crave cigarettes. I crave chocolate milk. I think it’s because, unlike those other vices, I can share chocolate milk with my kids. There’s nothing like kicking back with chocolate milk and cookies with the kids. The weather is slowly getting cooler, which means chocolate milk, lemonade, and iced tea are soon to be replaced with hot chocolate, hot tea, mulled cider, and eggnog. I forgot just how much those things meant until we couldn’t afford to splurge. Hopefully it won’t be long before we can splurge on all of us again.

So, in the wake of some saddening news, light seems to fall on us. I know if we were still in the trailer park this news would have hit them hard. Now it just means more time to run wild on the land. They can get back to those wild, unschooling ways. We can keep a little of the new stuff from co-op and if the kids want to keep going with the writing and math, we will, but we’ll have more freedom to stray from the path.

Of course, nothing is set in stone. I might just get news on Friday that they’ll work with us. Things could yet turn around. Until then, we’ll focus on what to do if the co-op will be over for us this year.


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No School Today…

So much for all my worries of getting everything done in time for co-op… Last night Corde was up until 2am. Beekee was coughing all night from allergies. That meant I got no sleep.

In a way it’s probably best that we didn’t go to co-op today. I had a chance to get all the cleaning done I needed to while we’re staying with Oz’s dad. We went to our trailer so we can start packing things up. Everything we’re keeping goes into storage this weekend. It’s hard to go through it all, but we need to. Some of the toys will be let go. Some of the clothes will go. We’re mostly looking to keep books and toys. I feel bad losing some of my stuff, but it’s better that than have the kids give up a lot.

After we determined it was too hot to work in a house with no AC any longer we moved on to survival needs. We’ve been waiting on our food stamps to come in. We were told it should be this week, but maybe next week will bring more luck. In the meant time we’re being humbled by going to food pantries. I hate it, but Sander seems to think it’s fun. At least the kids don’t hate it. They love sorting through the food when we get home. It’s like Christmas, only it’s food.

I hate admitting stuff like this, but it’s important to know homeschoolers come from all walks of life. Maybe our struggles can give another family strength. I’m not afraid of admitting hard times in our lives, especially as they make the bright spots all that better.

Sleepy kids turned out to be a good thing. Now we’re going to be back on schedule again. We have a whole bunch of food. Life is good, maybe not great, but good.

It’s funny. Heidi has this huge religious message. Trust in God and everything will be okay. It will all work out when it needs to. I’m not sure how I feel about all that, but in a way it was a message we all needed to hear. Everything’s gonna be alright.


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Finally Moving Forward

Ah,  it’s good to report there’s some positive to speak of!  Of course, not everything is good, but I suppose not everything being good is a good shot better than everything being bad.  I still hate using Oz’s new computer.  I managed to mess up my good ankle.  It smells and sounds like our new microwave is dying.  At the same time, we’ve had a lot of good happen.

First off, we have a stove.  I don’t know if I mentioned that before.  Management gave it to us from an empty trailer that’s no longer able to be occupied.  Some of these trailers have pretty much been condemned.  Management is trying to get rid of them by offering to give them to people.  You just have to pay the lot fee every month and fix it up yourself.  It’s pretty bad when they can’t even give these properties away.  No one who has the money to invest wants to spend the money on a trailer.  No one living in a trailer has the money to invest.  Truth be told, these “free” trailers would probably cost more than you can sell them for just to fix them up, and they’re not going to be able to be lived in while you’re improving them.  It would be more logical to get your own trailer at retail cost that doesn’t need all the work.  For paying the same price you can actually live in it from day one!  How nice would that be?  Since we’ve gotten the stove we’ve made all kinds of things, the best being shepherds’ pie and we’ll soon be doing a roast chicken with all the best sides.

What else is on the list of good?  The exterminator came through, finally!  She saw no signs of bed bugs, but we’re still thinking about catching the next one we see, bringing it down to the office, and using that as physical proof.  The exterminator seemed entirely clueless anyway.  If she had properly done her job I wouldn’t have come home to a cabinet full of roaches that weren’t killed.  Yes, the problem has been drastically reduced, but the truth is we’ve still got a roach problem.  It’s just  a fraction of what it used to be.  I’ve been gaining confidence in my ability to fight for what needs to happen.  An exterminator wasn’t called to cut our roach problem in half.  She was hired to eliminate it.  Granted, it’s only been a little over 24 hours since she left, and we’ve still seen bugs in the process of dying, but if the problem isn’t handled by Monday, we’re going to be talking to management.  As I’ve been told by CPS workers, building managers, and so much more, you don’t hire an exterminator to reduce your pest problem.  You hire them to eliminate it.  If we’re still having problems after services are rendered, they need to come in here and finish the job.  I’m especially annoyed because she only sprayed on the pipe under the sink, in one cabinet, and in one spot on the pantry.  I’m guessing she should have sprayed in any area where the roaches were nesting.  That would equate to all of the upper cabinets, all of the drawers, around and under the refrigerator, behind the hardware for all the blinds in the kitchen and dining room, and more than one tiny spot in the pantry.  This would also include where the books are in the dining room and around the washer and dryer in the laundry room.  Thorough is something she definitely was not.  I suppose I should have said something to her at the time, but I didn’t want to deal with a confrontation.  If management fails to make sure it’s properly taken care of we’ve decided we’re hiring our own exterminator to treat for ants, bed bugs, and pretty much everything else.  I’m tired of living with pests.  I’m also tired of people who do a lazy job about it.  On top of that, we busted our butts to get the house clean for the exterminator and weren’t even ready in time because management stuck a notice on our door that blew off before we could see it.  We were supposed to have been notified on Monday.  We didn’t know about it until they night before.  They were lucky we knew at all!

At the same time, the exterminator coming made us get off our butts and do some things we desperately needed to do.  We completely rearranged the living room.  It’s created a “front hall” kind of feeling by the front door, which I absolutely hate, but it’s better than it was before.  The room doesn’t feel so painfully massive and it looks a lot more coordinated and organized.  We moved Sander’s Little People to a new area of the room which makes it a little more contained and looks less chaotic.  The kitchen set and the dolls have found their home out of the dining room again, so Luca doesn’t have to crawl through the room in order to get to it all.  He’s not so much on the dolls, but he loves that kitchen!  We finally went through and rearranged the furniture in the dining room as well.  I’m no longer feeling like I’m about to trip over it all.  Just moving the table against the opposite wall doesn’t sound like it would do much, but it’s made a world of difference.  I don’t know who designed that dining room, but either you can’t get through because the table is in the middle of the room, or you can’t access half the seating area because the table is against the wall.  Of course, walking through the dining room is the only way to get to the laundry room and master bedroom.  The kitchen isn’t much better.  It’s literally a hallway between the front and back of the house.  We also made some difficult sacrifices.  We got rid of the easel Sander got for his birthday when he turned two.  It’s seriously seen better days and didn’t survive the move North.  I got rid of all of Luca’s old baby clothes, as well as the baby things he’s already out grown, like the baby swing we were given for Sander.  He never much liked that thing anyway.  We had some formula from the hospital and a sling I never really used that both were given away.  I’m also about to make Oz be brutal with his clothes.  He’s got 19 t-shirts, 2 polo shirts, and 13 button down dress shirts.  He’s also got about 15 pairs of pants, if my guess is right, but it may be less.  Of the space being used in our closet he takes up half of it.  He also has taken over all of the dresser but 3/4 of one drawer.  That’s where my stuff goes.  I have to share a dresser with Luca, which is fine for now because he has almost nothing in the way of clothes, but it’s not going to last for long.  Right now letting him run around naked or in nothing but a diaper is cute.  When he’s a year old he might be able to get away with it.  By the time he’s two he really needs to be in the habit of wearing clothes, at least when leaving the house.  The whole thing with the exterminator really lit a fire under my butt to get things done and get the house in order.  Not only is the house starting to look great, but we’re starting to feel a lot less over-burdened by our stuff.  I just wish we had a car so I could pack it all up and just drop it at Goodwill instead of waiting for some picky Freecycle people to swing by and pick it up.

On the job front, we’ve also got good news.  Oz is one drug test result away from having a new, better paying, full-time job!  We know he’s going to pass the drug test because, well, why wouldn’t he?  It’s not a great job.  It pays better and will be more hours.  Oz can stay on at his other job on a part-time basis.  It’s really all looking good.  Of course, that means we won’t have much time with him, but I think we can survive.  We’ll have more money so we can get ahead of our bills and put aside some savings for a rainy day.  It certainly seems to rain enough around here to be worth it!

There’s still some problems, but we’re working through it.  Life isn’t perfect, and I somehow doubt it ever will be.   At the same time, we really can’t complain.  It’s much better now than it was.

And in other news, look for us on YouTube!   We’re listed as “CountryUnschoolers” since Trailer Park Unschoolers didn’t fit.  We  don’t have much up there yet, but I’m going to try and make a goal of adding one video every week by one of the kids.  It’s one more small way you can get to know us.

So, please, sit back and enjoy the fun Sander had while we were freezing our butts off, waiting to go back into the house after the extermination yesterday.  It’s just too bad you can’t see Sabrina running around, who followed us all the way to the park.  So, enjoy the wild imagination of a three-year-old!