Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Tomorrow Is Zoo Day

Luca, Sander, and Beekee get to go to the zoo tomorrow with my aunt and uncle.  This is one of the experience oriented birthdays my aunt is starting to do for the kids, which I love.  They’re going to remember these sorts of trips so much better than they would some gifts they would get, which makes me happy.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to get to be there for their first zoo trip.  I really wish I could, and see their excitement over all the animals.  I missed everyone’s first trip to the aquarium except for Luca.  It’s sad for me, but at the same time, it’s good that they get to have these experiences with their extended family.  I just wish I could go with them.

Of course, that’s not going to happen until we can get wheels again, and I’m not exactly available to go on the weekends anymore.  My work has seen to that.  We need the extra income, but it feels like I’m losing so much time with the kids.

Even so, I know they’re going to have a great time at the zoo.  They’re going to want to see everything and will come home suitably tired.  It’s going to be a good experience for them.  I remember going to the zoo when I was younger and loving it.  I’ve never been to the zoo they’re going to, I don’t think, so this will be a whole new adventure for them.

I’m actually looking forward to them having this experience.  Field trips to places like the zoo can be such an educational thing.  It’s a part of unschooling done right.  It’s something I hope we can do more of once we’re able to swing back to more radical unschooling.  Field trips are such an important part of education.

And it’s the zoo!  The kids love animals.  They’ve been watching a lot of animal shows on Netflix, so having a chance to get up close enough to these animals to see them with their own eyes will be pretty awesome for them.  I know they’re going to love it.


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One More Week (Give or Take)

It’s not going to be long before the bigs get home. It could be as little as a week. I’d love it if they could be home in time for co-op, but that may not happen. I have no idea what the plan is yet.

I’m a bit nervous about picking the kids up. My ex has requested we meet half way, which is a long drive. That’s me in a car for thirteen or fourteen hours. It also means loading up the kids and their stuff in limbo, not where they were and not home. It would just be some location on the road after the kids have all just had a long ride. Working the timing would be hard too. How do you arrange two six and a half hour drives to line up, meeting at the same time? That’s going to be next to impossible. There’s a slight problem with child support this month, which has ended with me being less than thrilled by the idea of spending that much money on gas. On top of that, it states in our agreement that my ex is responsible for all transportation costs for visitation. That’s a lot of miles on our car, our tires, the oil life, and all of that. It could turn into a very expensive trip. It’ll just be the littlest and me the first half of the drive and then four kids and me the second. I really would feel more comfortable if Oz could ride along with me. The whole thing really stinks.

It’s not just logistics that have me worried. I also have to worry about the kids. I haven’t talked to them since Friday. It’s been like this a lot of the visitation. I worry that the kids will be upset about coming home since their dad had gotten them so excited about staying and going to school. I worry that they won’t be happy to see me. A month is a long time and they haven’t really talked to me much. What if they aren’t happy to see me? In a way I think they might be happier if seeing me didn’t mean another six or more hours on the road. They’d probably be happier if they knew they were almost home and could relax. I just don’t think it’s fair for my reunion with my kids to be tainted by the long drive ahead with two younger siblings that will probably be pretty done with being on the road by then.

I really miss the kids. I miss all of Corde’s random questions that I can’t answer. I miss Beekee’s strange stories when I ask about what he’s playing. I even miss packing all the kids in the car, as much of a hassle as it is. I thought the easier time going places and the reduction of chaos as we try to get ready to leave the house would be a relief. For a little while it really was nice to just worry about the littlest, but I started to miss it. I heard songs I would want to tell Corde about on the radio. We always talked about the songs I heard when I was a teen when they came on the radio. I saw things I would have loved to point out to Beekee as we drove by because he would get excited. I thought of all the natural lessons that we missed because of the things we saw or did without the bigs. It’s been hard. The days seemed to crawl at first, and while it still feels like a painfully long time, it’s not as slow going as it was. I’m almost worried that I won’t have everything done and ready for them to attend the first day of co-op if they can. I had all but counted on them not making it. I doubted my ex would have them back in time. I still have books to get. We don’t have Corde’s Latin book. We don’t have the history book. I’m not sure we can afford to purchase them before the co-op. Again, the child support problem is really kind of damaging my ability to do for my kids as I was assured there would be no gap. I should have anticipated this and prepared accordingly. It will all get done, just maybe a week or two late. I almost wish I had more time to sort it out, but more than anything, I’m excited to have my kids coming home soon. I really miss them.

I also worry about how much they may have changed. I know it’s just a month, but they’ve been living with an entirely different lifestyle. They take baths there, not showers. Corde blow dries her hair and I don’t even own a hair dryer. She’s been getting used to shampoo and conditioner. I don’t use conditioners since they make her hair flat and greasy in Texas humidity. Generally we use a two-in-one instead. They probably eat very different foods because their step-mom is ten times the cook I could ever be. They have a different bedtime routine. They’ve even been hanging out with school kids instead of mostly homeschool and unschool kids. I hate to admit it, but there is a difference between the two. I worry because Corde’s step-sister said something I didn’t quite catch about makeup, and I think Corde’s too young to even be thinking about that. I don’t even wear makeup. She’s had a little eyeliner and eyeshadow put on when going out with her aunt to get her hair cut, but it was a girls’ day out. It was supposed to be special. I don’t want her to judge me because I don’t wear makeup like her step-mom or use conditioner. I hope she’s open to hearing why I think makeup and chemical hair products are bad, or why I don’t use a hair dryer. I worry about the clothes her dad bought for her. I don’t know what he’d let her pick. She likes really short shorts, to the point where I think they’re inappropriate. I don’t want to be the bad guy and take the clothes she picked away because her shorts are too short. I already had to weed out a bunch that were given to her for that very reason. My ex asked about whether she needed bras before he picked her up. She’s only ten! I could easily have gone without a bra until I got pregnant with Corde. I’ll be shocked if she has reason for a bra before she’s sixteen and even then I’m not going to make her wear one. I would never wear one if I could be comfortable without one. It should be a choice, just like my choice to wear shoes as little as possible. I know I’m probably worrying way too much over nothing. It’ll probably be fine. I can trust Corde to make good choices. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, and if I give her good reasons, she’ll understand. If I don’t give her reasons that resonate with her, well, that’s part of the experience of letting go. She’s old enough to make decisions for herself, even if I don’t like all of them. I can get her conditioner if she wants it. Baths take longer and tend to waste more water, but we’ll see. If she really feels she needs to blow dry her hair she can save her allowance and get her own hair dryer. I don’t think she’ll be interested in makeup that much since she’s not into boys yet, and since her friends here aren’t boy crazy, I can imagine that will put some positive peer pressure towards being a kid and not a teen just a little longer.

But I’ll have all my answers soon enough. We’ll have it all figured out. The books will get here when they do. The transportation will work out somehow. Corde and Beekee will be home before long. Everything will be back to as normal as can be expected with everything going on. We’ll catch everyone up on that later. Right now I just want to focus on the good and we can talk about the bad that’s swiftly moving into the past when I catch up and catch my breath!

I hope everyone has been having a fabulous summer. Enjoy what little there is left. I know the end is fast approaching (or maybe already here depending on your state and if you adhere to the school calendar or have kids in school!) It won’t be long before we’re talking harvests, new school projects, and fall holidays. Enjoy the pools, water parks, beaches, and other summer activities while you can!


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Mother’s Day Off the Cuff

Mother’s Day came with actual plans this year. Corde was supposed to sing me some song at church. We would come home to dinner. Everything would be easy and relaxing.

Well, Im sure you know how this family does with plans. We have an inspection this week, so all our plans went right out the window. We were supposed to pace ourselves with cleaning for this inspection, but that never happens. Too much fun gets in the way.

Friday, for example, we went to see a movie in the park. Saturday we met Oz’s mom. She’s cleaning up her life and he’s trying to give her a second chance. The kids all really like her. Yesterday the plan was to go to church, but some psycho in front of us kept slamming on her breaks, cutting in front of us every time we tried to change lanes to get away from her, and went creeping through an intersection to annoy us with a line of cars honking behind her. If Oz wasn’t such a good driver and our car didn’t handle so well, we surely would have hit her. It seemed like she was trying. What’s worse is we found out later that her car is well known for that kind of wreckless driving. She even uses her car to herd cattle. She could care less what happens to it because she’s rich by inheritance and has never had to work a day in her life.

Anyhow, I’m getting sidetracked. After getting away from that psycho, we needed to stop so Oz could calm down. Having the kids in the car meant he was even more shaken than he normally would be. However we met someone who grew up in Mass like I did, so it was kind of nice.

Being super late, we missed church. We decided to grab some snacks and pack up for a walk instead. We went to this lovely park that’s going to have to be a regular part of our journies. The cottonwood trees made it look like some enchanted fairy woods. There were painted lady butterflues everywhere. We saw wolf spiders, two kinds of caterpillars, beetles, and hoards of baby grasshoppers. It was one of the most beautiful things we’ve done since we got to Texas.

Unfortunately, the path was gravel. Normally this wouldn’t phase me, but the kids dumped the diaper bag and my shoes with it. I had no option but braving it in bare feet. It wasn’t that bad, thankfully. Even with the added weight of Luca it was pretty tolerable. However, I bet I looked pretty out of place being barefoot in a dress with a baby on my back!

We’d only made it a quarter mile or maybe a half mile down the path when Oz’s shoes started hurting him. I jokingly told him he should take his shoes off and hack it barefoot like I was. We were planning to head back anyway since Sander isn’t really ready for long hikes yet. We want to slowly work up to it, especially since there are no bathrooms on the trail. Much to my surprise, knowing we didn’t have too far to go, Oz chucked his shoes too!

While we were waiting for Oz to deal with his shoes, the kids poked around at the edge of the trail. With wolf spiders at the least, and copperheads and water mocassins at the worst, we told them not to actually venture off the trail, but there was more than enough to interest them. They looked at the cottony seeds that fell from the trees. They checked out the tree bark and any leaves they could see. They looked for bugs and chased the grasshoppers. It was great to see them just enjoying nature.

Of course, not to be outdone by Oz, they all decided to ditch their shoes. We got odd looks as Oz carefully picked his way along. At one point he was asked if he lost his shoes, then the family came around the bend to see we were all doing it. The kids thought it was interesting to see our varying degrees of tolerance for it. Oz kept having to stop to rest his feet. Corde and Beekee could hack it better than Oz. I was able to walk in the rocky middle without much notice, which impressed the kids. However, they decided that toddler feet are meant to be without shoes as Sander ran to the front of the line or ofc ahead with more grace and speed than when he has shoes on! He didn’t trip once, which is a big change from his usual of tripping two or three times on every walk.

With unschooling, everything can be a lesson, from studying cottonwood seeds and chasing grasshoppers to walking barefoot on a gravel path. We got to watch a kayak ready and launch down the river. We met some lovely horses and some very friendly dogs. The whole day was quite an adventure. This is why I love unschooling. Learning shouldn’t be about facts and memorization. Knowledge isn’t a destination. Learning is a journey, following one path to the next. If you just rush to the end, you miss all the beauty, all the opportunity, and all the experiences along the way.


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Mother’s Day Off the Cuff

Mother’s Day came with actual plans this year. Corde was supposed to sing me some song at church. We would come home to dinner. Everything would be easy and relaxing.

Well, Im sure you know how this family does with plans. We have an inspection this week, so all our plans went right out the window. We were supposed to pace ourselves with cleaning for this inspection, but that never happens. Too much fun gets in the way.

Friday, for example, we went to see a movie in the park. Saturday we met Oz’s mom. She’s cleaning up her life and he’s trying to give her a second chance. The kids all really like her. Yesterday the plan was to go to church, but some psycho in front of us kept slamming on her breaks, cutting in front of us every time we tried to change lanes to get away from her, and went creeping through an intersection to annoy us with a line of cars honking behind her. If Oz wasn’t such a good driver and our car didn’t handle so well, we surely would have hit her. It seemed like she was trying. What’s worse is we found out later that her car is well known for that kind of wreckless driving. She even uses her car to herd cattle. She could care less what happens to it because she’s rich by inheritance and has never had to work a day in her life.

Anyhow, I’m getting sidetracked. After getting away from that psycho, we needed to stop so Oz could calm down. Having the kids in the car meant he was even more shaken than he normally would be. However we met someone who grew up in Mass like I did, so it was kind of nice.

Being super late, we missed church. We decided to grab some snacks and pack up for a walk instead. We went to this lovely park that’s going to have to be a regular part of our journies. The cottonwood trees made it look like some enchanted fairy woods. There were painted lady butterflues everywhere. We saw wolf spiders, two kinds of caterpillars, beetles, and hoards of baby grasshoppers. It was one of the most beautiful things we’ve done since we got to Texas.

Unfortunately, the path was gravel. Normally this wouldn’t phase me, but the kids dumped the diaper bag and my shoes with it. I had no option but braving it in bare feet. It wasn’t that bad, thankfully. Even with the added weight of Luca it was pretty tolerable. However, I bet I looked pretty out of place being barefoot in a dress with a baby on my back!

We’d only made it a quarter mile or maybe a half mile down the path when Oz’s shoes started hurting him. I jokingly told him he should take his shoes off and hack it barefoot like I was. We were planning to head back anyway since Sander isn’t really ready for long hikes yet. We want to slowly work up to it, especially since there are no bathrooms on the trail. Much to my surprise, knowing we didn’t have too far to go, Oz chucked his shoes too!

While we were waiting for Oz to deal with his shoes, the kids poked around at the edge of the trail. With wolf spiders at the least, and copperheads and water mocassins at the worst, we told them not to actually venture off the trail, but there was more than enough to interest them. They looked at the cottony seeds that fell from the trees. They checked out the tree bark and any leaves they could see. They looked for bugs and chased the grasshoppers. It was great to see them just enjoying nature.

Of course, not to be outdone by Oz, they all decided to ditch their shoes. We got odd looks as Oz carefully picked his way along. At one point he was asked if he lost his shoes, then the family came around the bend to see we were all doing it. The kids thought it was interesting to see our varying degrees of tolerance for it. Oz kept having to stop to rest his feet. Corde and Beekee could hack it better than Oz. I was able to walk in the rocky middle without much notice, which impressed the kids. However, they decided that toddler feet are meant to be without shoes as Sander ran to the front of the line or ofc ahead with more grace and speed than when he has shoes on! He didn’t trip once, which is a big change from his usual of tripping two or three times on every walk.

With unschooling, everything can be a lesson, from studying cottonwood seeds and chasing grasshoppers to walking barefoot on a gravel path. We got to watch a kayak ready and launch down the river. We met some lovely horses and some very friendly dogs. The whole day was quite an adventure. This is why I love unschooling. Learning shouldn’t be about facts and memorization. Knowledge isn’t a destination. Learning is a journey, following one path to the next. If you just rush to the end, you miss all the beauty, all the opportunity, and all the experiences along the way.


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The First Road Trip

We finally had our first real road trip as a family! It wasn’t much of one, or wasn’t supposed to be. We were only going to Austin, but that turned into a 5 hour drive out and a whopping 8 hour drive home! Thankfully the kids are pretty awesome in the car. They went through the whole trip with minimal complaining, even though they were all awake for most of it, even Luca.

For poor Luca the trip was rough. He wasn’t used to long car rides. His allergies started acting up which made him sound like a frog. He was dropped by my friend’s daughter and he bonked his head, poor guy. It was not a fun trip. He did get to play with other kids and met a lot if new people, so that was cool.

Thankfully we got home and everyone was rqually burnt out. The kids weren’t too upset about missing the play date yesterday, nor about canceling the play date for Friday because Corde’s friend will be unexpectedly away. They’re excited to go to the library today, but that’s a short trip, which helps.

The trip back was probably the most eventful for the kids. We learned about traffic. We talked about maps and traveling. We went over all the crazy events going in in Austin over the weekend. We even got to talk about road construction. The most fun had to be seeing the “baby lobsters at the HEB. That’s unschooling at it’s finest! We even got a picture for the occassion.

image

We had a great time, but we’re glad to be home. It was a really long weekend. The kids had a blast with their friends and can’t wait to visit again! We have a whole bunch of new people to visit with next time we go, which will make it even more fun. It was definitely well worth the trip!

Now if only I could find an app that would let us put pins in a virtual map of all the places we’ve been. It could be really fun to.build a travel timeline with the kids, show them all the places we go, especially if we ever start to make it on bigger road trips!