Thursday, November 19, 2015

Books, Super Mario, Gratitude and Food

Morning, noon and night with computers, conversations, video games (Super Mario Maker to be exact), board games, exploring outside and making and creating stuff in between.
Kyan's been following in Damek's footsteps recently by reading lots of books. Him & I are currently reading the second Candy Shop War book by Brandon Mull titled Arcade Catastrophe and he just finished the series Big Nate (the next book in the series comes out next year), and just happened to spot the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid at Costco yesterday, so we picked that up. His method for finding new books to read is to go to the library and peruse the books until he finds something that interests him. We were at the library yesterday and he found a new series he wants to try out titled Tombquest and then also wants to check out the Magic Treehouse series, which Damek & I read about 4 years ago.

Damek is currently re-reading The Beyonder's series of books while he waits for The Giver and Max: A Maximum Ride Novel to come in at the library.

Last week Kyan bought the new Wii U game Super Mario Maker with allowance and birthday money. It is super fun game where you get to create your own levels for the game Super Mario and upload them for others to play and you get to play levels others have created and uploaded. Kyan and Damek have been creating levels and we all have been playing them:)

A couple of days ago Kyan and I created a Gratitude Tree in the basement on one of our unfinished walls. We cut out leaves to attach to the tree by way of tape and all of us have been adding things we're grateful for as well as wishes for the future. Kyan's first 3 leaves were the following: "having cats", "i want to go camping" and "i love being loved":) 
This morning we added grass and had the idea that we will start adding "falling" leaves below the branches of the tree and some on the grass that have already "fallen".

On the weekend we harvested our brussels sprouts and horseradish roots, the last 2 things we had in our garden. 

I made a gallon of Brussels Sprout Kraut, that is currently fermenting and Lee helped me peel and grate the horseradish (no small feat due to the very pungent fumes) last night, and I will be making prepared horseradish today.


Saturday, November 14, 2015


Just a couple of photos of Kyan's cute & silly cat Emerald.

His stance when he hears a strange noise.

The place he decided to plop down and lounge for a couple of minutes until he spotted a fruit fly, then he was off and running.


Friday, November 13, 2015

A Few Tidbits From Yesterday

Yesterday Kyan and I made popcorn and watched 'Whisper of the Heart', a Studio Ghibli movie. It was one of the Studio Ghibli movies we thought we hadn't seen yet, but after our friend told us it was the prequel to 'The Cat Returns' we realized we actually had seen it. Kyan really wanted to watch it again, so we checked it out from the library.

After Damek's Jiu Jitsu class and before Lee got home, the boys helped me with dinner preparations. While I grated cheese for homemade mac n cheese, they trimmed and chopped 2 lbs of green beans from the garden for our side dish. Then Damek decided he wanted to make a batch of homemade lemonade. We had just enough lemons and since both boys prefer honey sweetened lemonade, they were in luck as we had just purchased 30lbs of local honey over the weekend at an awesome price.

On Wednesday, Kyan and I read the book I mentioned in my last post 'Does It Really Take 7 Years To Digest Swallowed Gum?; and Other Questions You've Always Wanted To Ask' and as we were preparing to go to bed on Wednesday night he said he wanted to present the questions that were in the book to Lee. Since Lee was tired and heading for bed I suggested he wait until Lee got home from work the next day. So about 2 minutes after Lee walked in the door last night, Kyan ran and got the book and told him he was giving him a quiz. Damek happened to be in the room too, so they both took the quiz. They all had fun guessing and then reading the reasons why it was "yes" or "no", and on a few it was "maybe, but it hasn't been proven".

After the "quiz" Kyan asked Damek if he would show him how to solve his Rubik's cube. I mentioned in my previous post as well that Damek has learned how to solve the Rubik's cube by learning an algorithm from watching a YouTube video. Damek gladly said "yes", and was a very thorough and patient teacher:)


While eating dinner, we watched a few short documentaries from this website that we recently came across. One of the documentaries happened to be about Sandor Katz, a fermentation specialist and I just happened to have one of his book's on loan from the library titled 'The Art of Fermentation' and own another of his book's titled 'Wild Fermentation'. I've been wanting to experiment with fermenting more food and currently have a batch of Habanero Hot Sauce fermenting up on top of the fridge & a batch of Dandelion Wine aging in a carboy in the basement.

The documentary shows him making sauerkraut, which Damek is a big fan of, and it has inspired us to make plans to grow cabbage in the spring and ferment our own sauerkraut:)


Thursday, November 12, 2015

What's On Our Coffee Table 2 & Other Stuff

Awhile back I did a post that described all the things that are on our coffee table currently that was inspired by this post from Blog of the Zombie Princess

What's on our coffee table today (or more rather this week). Of course it changes, even throughout the day, but there is usually a good part of it that stays the same for at least a week, sometimes 2. And actually our coffee table is rather tidy as of right now from how it sometimes gets.
Beyonder's; Seeds of Rebellion by Brandon Mull (Damek's current read, which is a book from a series he has read before, but is rereading.

Binoculars: Last friday we went to Copperton Park with our Unschoolers group to see a pair of Great Horned Owls who live in the trees. We collected and dissected owl pellets while there. On Saturday the boys and I had to Syracuse to pick up some 1/2 gallon mason jars that someone offered up for free on our local homesteader's group, so while in the area we decided to visit the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. We didn't do a lot of bird watching since a lot of the birds have already flown south for the winter, but we did see a few birds none the less.

Pin Art, a favorite toy of both boys for going on a couple of years now.

DVD's: From Up On Poppy Hill & Tales From Earthsea, both Studio Ghibli movies that we checked out from the library. We thought that we had seen all the Studio Ghibli movies, but recently Kyan, Damek & I were playing the online game Quiz Up with Studio Ghibli & Studio Ghibli Characters as the subject and found that there were 5 movies we haven't seen: Tales From Earthsea, Only Yesterday, Ocean Waves, Tale of Princess Kaguya, The Castle of Cagliostro & Lupin the Third; The Castle of Cagliostro. We watched Tales From Earthsea this last weekend and From Up On Poppy Hill two days ago, which is one we had already seen it, but Kyan wanted to watch it again as he said he didn't remember much since it has been a couple of years.

Candy Shop War, Arcade Catastrophe by Brandon Mull. Book Kyan & I are reading together.

Big Nate book, from a series of books that Kyan is currently reading.

Kyan's Rubik's Cube. He recently took it apart and put it back together to start fresh. 

Damek has found a way to solve his Rubik's cube by learning alogarithm by watching a YouTube video. He has completed the entire thing except for the top layer (or side layer when it's on it's side) which he says is the hardest.
Damek's almost completed Rubik's Cube
 Kyan's Perler bead creations of some of his favorite Minecraft YouTuber's that he has created this week: TheBajanCanadian, PrestonPlayz, Lachlan, JeromeASF, MrWoofless & Vikkstar123, which Kyan tells me are all from The Pack on YouTube.
How Big Is 43 Quintillion? Make Sense of Really Big Numbers! by Lynn Huggins-Cooper, a book we checked out at the library and that Kyan & I read yesterday.

Does It Really Take Seven Years To Digest Swalled Gum? and other Questions You've Always Wanted To Ask by Sandy Donovan, a book we also checked out from the library and read yesterday.

In the white box is a piece of coal that was sent to us from a family in West Virginia a couple months ago when we participated in a Fifty State Fun Swap. We got to prepare 4 packages with items that represented Utah and sent them to 4 different families in 3 different states and we got 4 packages in return from 4 families in 4 different states. The states we sent to were: Iowa, Idaho & Ohio (we sent 2 to Ohio) and the states we received from were: West Virginia, Tennessee, Rhode Island & Washington. We all had fun gathering items to send and the boys were excited opening the packages we got, so hopefully we'll get to participate again.

Water Bottle. Damek had Jiu Jitsu last night and that is where he deposited his water bottle upon entering the house after. He goes to Jiu Jitsu 3 times a week, attending a children's class on Tuesday's & Thursday's and an adult class on Wednesday's, for a total of 4-5 hours a week (sometimes the class goes over their allotted time, which Damek is totally fine with:)

Kyan's Halloween candy.


Wednesday, November 04, 2015


Just some random drawings the boys have been doing recently.

Kyan did this series of drawings out of the blue one day without lifting his pencil while drawing the subject:

These two drawings that Kyan did are characters from a book he read recently titled 'Sleepless Knight; Adventures In Cartooning'

After drawing the knight, Kyan got the idea to put on a blindfold and see how good he could draw. We had some good laughs as he took off the blindfold and the knight was in pieces around his paper along with his shield and sword:) Damek walked in at that moment and decided he wanted to do some blindfolded drawing too. His subject was Bill Cipher. The first couple were all over the place but after that he gained some perspective he did a pretty good job putting most things were where they should be in the drawing.

 Kyan drew this "spirit" on Halloween, inspired from Lee making his "No-Face" costume from the movie 'Spirited Away':
 Damek has been doing some abstract & surreal drawings recently, here is a "surreal landscape" that he drew a few weeks ago:
Damek has also been making maps of his imagined worlds, here are two of them: 

A cool card that Damek made for a friend incorporating drawings in with the words:

Damek was Bill Cipher, a character from the cartoon Gravity Falls for Halloween, here's a replica drawing of what Bill looks like, as drawn by Damek
and here is a couple of Damek's own interpretations of Bill, Fan Art if you will:


Monday, November 02, 2015

Halloween 2015

I think Halloween has become our family's favorite holiday over the years, and it's not just because of the candy, since we can have that any old time.

This was our funnest year yet as far as making costumes, as the boys actually did a lot of the work themselves with help from Lee and I. Also this year Lee and I made our own costumes, with help, in the form of feedback, from each other.

We started with Kyan's costume, Steven Universe. Kyan already had blue jeans and we found some red thongs at Old Navy for under $3 & a red shirt at Michael's for $3 and a wig at our local costume shop Pib's Exchange for $10. Kyan and I did a freezer paper star stencil on the shirt and painted it yellow (we ended up having to buy 2 more red shirts as we had some issues with the paint and also trying an iron on, which didn't work). Lee cut out a round piece of wood from a scrap piece of plywood we had in the garage to make the sheild. Lee prepped the board and Kyan painted it after Lee drew the basic design on it.

Kyan painting his sheild

Finished sheild

Lee added straps on the back of the shield for carrying.

Kyan as Steven Universe
Next was Damek's costume, Bill Cipher from the cartoon Gravity Falls, which turned into one awesome father/son project this year. They spent many hours on it constructing the triangle with cardboard and construction glue, putting coats of paint on it and building a top hat out of cardboard and poster board to go on top.

They also added shoulder straps to the inside to keep it from rubbing Damek's arms while walking.
Damek as Bill Cipher
My costume was fairly simple only because the main part that I was going to do ended up not being doable due to having to order parts that wouldn't come in time. Here is the tutorial for what I was going to originally do, and instead ended up finding a tutorial to do "galaxy" face make-up along with making "galaxy" pants out of a pair of black leggings using bleach and fabric dye.
Black leggings after bleach and fabric dye were applied.
Galaxy make-up. It didn't come out like the tutorial, with my limited make-up artistry skills, but it wasn't bad.

Lee's costume came absolutely last, and even though he knew what he wanted to be a week or so before Halloween, No-Face from the Hayou Miyizaki film Spirited Away, he almost didn't do it, but I'm so glad he did, he did an awesome job, especially since he made it on Halloween in just enough time for us to go to our friend's house for a Halloween party.

Lee painting his mask. He made it out of cardboard.

Us before we headed to our friends for a Halloween Party
We went to our friends for a Halloween party, and the first thing we did was go trick or treating.

Damek went with a couple of friends (the Tardis & the Assassin from Assassin's Creed, who by the way were more than happy to help him get up the stairs on people's porches to get candy as it was hard for him to see out of his costume once it got dark). Lee and I along with our friend went with Kyan and his friend and her cousin. Lee had fun playing the part of No Face, freaking out the trick or treaters while walking down the sidewalk.

On Friday we got to go to a Halloween Carnival that our local Unschooler's group organized and got to hang out with friends that we wouldn't be seeing on Halloween. There was a cake walk, halloween houses to build, trick or treating, yummy food, running around and playing and just hanging out and having a good time:)
Cake Walk

Someone brought little kits to make Halloween houses for everyone, so fun!

Trick or Treating

Fun with masks

We brought Kyan's ladder golf game and it was a big hit.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness

 My boys are pretty awesome, I see it everyday, but today there were a few instances that stood out to me as to just how awesome they truly are.

Kyan and I ran errands today, one errand was to the grocery store. As we were getting what we needed someone in front of us knocked something off of a display, looked back and continued on. Immediately Kyan walked over, picked up the item and put it back on the display. Another errand we did was to the costume store as I wanted to look at a wig for my costume. I saw one I really liked, but it was a bit more than I wanted to spend, so I carried it around the store hoping to find something (another wig or some colored hairspray) that was more in my price range to no avail. As we were heading to put the wig back on the hook Kyan said he had his allowance with him and really wanted to buy me the wig. I thanked him and told him that I wasn't 100% sure I even wanted the wig for my costume but that I would sleep on it and if I really wanted it tomorrow then I would let him buy it for me.

When Kyan and I got home from running errands, Damek and Lee had just gotten home from Damek's Jiu Jitsu class where they had a little Halloween celebration complete with candy. Damek had a small pile of candy that he had put on the counter, which was half of the candy he had got from the celebration, that he had saved for Kyan.

Our kids have never been made to share what is theirs. It is and always has been their choice to share or not as they see fit. If they ever decided they didn't want to share they were never shamed because of it. Both boys are very generous and I believe a lot of their generosity is due to this. A couple years ago Damek got a new 3DS Excel and since a good friend of his didn't have a DS he gave his old 3DS  to him. I had a family member say "you let him give it away?" to which I replied "yes", but really it wasn't me letting him, it was his to give away, it wasn't my choice it was his.

Our boys get an allowance, which is within our budget, which usually covers just about anything they are wanting throughout the month. If not they will save their money until they have enough to get whatever it is they are wanting, or if it is a big item (computer/tablet) and we are able to help we will go agree to go half. We are a one income household, and basically live paycheck to paycheck, but we never tell our kids flat out "no" or "we can't afford that" if they want something, if we don't have the money right that minute we talk about and brainstorm how they might be able to get what it is they want in the future, we get creative sometimes. For instance recently Kyan was wanting something that was beyond our financial capabilities, so after discussing and brainstorming he decided he wanted to sell his Angry Bird plush collection since he no longer plays with them. We researched and put all 18 up for sale on Ebay and they ended up selling for $56. He got enough for what he wanted and then some.

As my kids get older and with the above mentioned instances, which are certainly not isolated, I am reminded of this quote from Sandra Dodd, which I find to be true:

"If you want to measure, measure generously. If you want to give, give generously. If you want to unschool, or be a mindful parent, give, give, give. You'll find after a few years that you still have everything you thought you had given away, and more." 


Friday, October 23, 2015

Kyan turns 10! I turn 44.

Kyan 2 days before his birthday at Trailside Park.

Kyan & I, not long after his birth.
 Kyan turned 10 on October 11th. The only thing he asked for was a new pair of roller blades as he had recently grown out of his old pair. Of course we know him pretty well and got him a few other gifts as a surprise, which he loved and was very thankful for. The night before his birthday, Kyan told me to wake him up at 7:00 a.m. in the morning and when I told him I probably wouldn't be up that early he decided he was going to sleep with Lee since Lee is always up early;) After Lee & Kyan went to sleep,  Damek  & I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. wrapping & decorating his presents and making a happy birthday banner, which we attached to our coffee table so that Kyan would see it when he woke up in the morning.

Damek drew some pretty cool pictures on Kyan's present, you can see one of them in this picture of him opening it, it's a minion, something Kyan really likes currently:
Grandma (my mom) came over on his birthday to deliver him his present (clothes & the outside game Ladder Golf, which he loved). After Grandma left, he had a small intimate friends party this year on his birthday with 3 of his closest friends and Damek. His friends came over to our house, had some pizza for lunch & played together for a couple of hours, then we headed over to a new posh theater (recliners & reserved seating) by our house to watch Hotel Transylvania 2.
waiting for the movie to start
After the movie we headed back to our house for more playing, strawberry cupcakes & sorbet.

On Sunday we celebrated with Lee's side of the family and this Sunday we are celebrating with my family and at the same time celebrating my birthday which was on the 20th and my niece's birthday, which was on the 9th.

My birthday was this last tuesday on October 20th. When I woke up and came into the kitchen, Lee had left me this note

 and had purchased & left me a Chaispresso on the counter from the coffee shop down the street. The boys got up and immediately went downstairs to make me birthday cards. I love their spontaneous creativity, especially when it comes to card making.
Damek's card. He has been creating his own style of different handwritten fonts recently, love it!

Kyan made the outside of his card look like an envelope.

Kyan's card says "happy birthday Julie hope you have a great Birthday I love you Emerald and Boo love you too let's have some cupcakes:) He made 2 cupcakes out of perler beads to attach to the card.
We had some errands to run, so the boys went with me and since we hadn't eaten yet, after our Costco trip we got lunch (slices of pizza for Damek & I and a hot dog for Kyan), something we almost never do. After that we hung out at home until Lee got home from work. I had told Lee I didn't want any presents for my birthday, just to go out to dinner, which is also something we rarely do, but Kyan insisted to Lee that he get me a present, so they went to the game store (Kyan's idea) and got me Tsuro of the Seas, a game I really liked when we played it at of the game nights at the store, very touched that Kyan remembered. After opening my present, we went out to dinner at an indian restaurant we had never been to before, The Kathmandu. We loved all the food we got (Samosas, Naan, Chicken Curry, Vegetable Coconut Korma, Chicken Tikka Masala, & Lamb Chow Chow). When we got home after dinner we played Tsuro of the Seas and then went to bed, it was a wonderful day!


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