Burying his Mama’s ashes on Mt. Rainier.

When Kai’s mother died and was cremated, he was so sad that she was cremated instead of buried. For several weeks, he’d periodically use his play tools to pretend to build a coffin for her “so she doesn’t have to be burned up”. Later, he would go on to talk about how he wanted “Mama to return to the earth.”

Her ashes were divided up and, through a series of odd and frustrating circumstances, it took several months before Kai got his portion of her ashes. Nobody was quite sure what to do with them, so for a few months, they sat until the time came when he could decide what to do with them.

Yesterday, it was time.

We were going up to Mount Rainier. The ashes came with us.

When we found the right spot, Kai put a picture of him and his Mama in a little hole. (The picture was printed on regular paper so it would be more biodegradable.) On the back of the picture was written “Mama and Kai”.

Burying his Mama's Ashes on Mt. Rainier

Burying his Mama's Ashes on Mt. Rainier

Then, he helped his dad pour the ashes in. He was surprised at how white they were.

Burying his Mama's Ashes on Mt. Rainier

Kai put a tiny red flower on top, because her favorite color was red. His dad refilled the hole for him.

Burying his Mama's Ashes on Mt. Rainier

He topped it with a special rock he’d brought from home. On the rock, we wrote “Mama”.

Burying his Mama's Ashes on Mt. Rainier

Kai sat looking at it a few minutes…

Burying his Mama's Ashes on Mt. Rainier

…before deciding it needed a flower.

Burying his Mama's Ashes on Mt. Rainier

Then, after looking at it, he decided, “The rock needs to point to the mountain.” He spent a long time adjusting things.

Burying his Mama's ashes

Burying his Mama's Ashes on Mt. Rainier

Finally, after much thinking, he was satisfied.

Burying his Mama's Ashes on Mt. Rainier

We asked if he wanted to say anything. He said no. We gave him a few minutes alone.

Burying his Mama's Ashes on Mt. Rainier

Then he rejoined us for the hike back out. “Maybe in the future, people will find this. And they’ll know.”

I cannot think of a better eulogy.

Burying his Mama's Ashes on Mt. Rainier

Watching Paint Mix at Home Depot

On Friday, Kai and I went to the park with one of my sisters, M. She had a couple of hours in-between school and work, so we had lunch at Carkeek Park and Kai played with some other kids before we took her to work.

I wanted to make sure we got her there on time, so we arrived about twenty minutes early.  As I was about to let her out of the car, she said, “Do you want to come see how we mix the paint?” Kai was agreeable, so off we went.

Home Depot was fun and a bit overwhelming to Kai. I don’t think he remembers having ever been to a place like that – we live in an apartment and the last time I remember us going into a home improvement store was in July 2012. That was a third of his lifetime ago!

Something I did not know: house paint mixing is now computerized/automated. This makes sense, but I hadn’t thought about it. My sister, however, talked us through how the paint is mixed, while we watched. (The woman in this picture is not her.) They put the paint in a slot in the computer and various different colors come out and mix into the white paint.

June 6, 2014

Then, they put it into a machine that shakes it. The machines in this picture are for large cans. There’s a much smaller one for the paint samples (smaller amounts you can buy to try it out).

June 6, 2014

After we were done in the paint department, we stopped at the carpet samples. Kai thought they were really neat. He liked touching all the textures and was a bit annoyed that I said we couldn’t pick out new carpet to replace the carpet in the apartment.

June 6, 2014

I hadn’t considered before how much fun a place like this would be for Kai. He also got to touch a lot of tiles, which he thought was very interesting. Towards the end, he got overwhelmed, so that was when we left.

This is the kind of thing that unschooling is all about: to allow ourselves to be fascinated by something that’s often just a chore, something people often overlook.

Unschooling gives us the the freedom to stand around and watch paint mix.

My May 2014 Minsgame Wrap-Up Post

I did it. I got rid of a LOT of stuff. There was stuff that was gotten rid of that didn’t make it into pictures… but even if you just count the required number of things each day, I got rid of 496 items.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • I don’t like to get rid of things, but it feels good (usually) to have done so.
  • I have far more crap than I thought I did.
  • Things that I think will be super-important to me often aren’t.
  • Saving a ton of printouts of things isn’t particularly helpful. It’s difficult to find them/access them since there’s no index or anything.
  • Mixed media/mail art is both lovely and wretched in that nearly anything CAN be used. But a lot of things often AREN’T.
  • I really like how it feels with less stuff in the house. I want to be more careful with what I keep or even just bring into the house in the first place.
  • We still have a lot of stuff to “downsize” or “declutter” before moving.

Have you ever done a major decluttering? How’d it go for you?

In case you’re interested, I’ve included pictures all of the “official items” that I got rid of last month, during the game.

May So Far, In Pictures

May 1, 2014

May 1, 2014

Kai's Creeper Drawing

Kai’s Creeper Drawing

At his grandparents' second home, "Whispering Moon"

Drove to Wenatchee. This is at his grandparents’ second home, “Whispering Moon”. May 2, 2014.

Breakfast at Dizzy Dee's

Breakfast at Dizzy Dee’s. May 3, 2014

Having a snack during the Apple Blossom Parade

Having a snack while watching the Apple Blossom Parade

Apple Blossom Parade

Watching the Apple Blossom Parade

Free Comic Book Day

It was also “Free Comic Book Day”. So we popped into a comic shop in Wenatchee and this is what Kai picked up.

At Carnival

At the carnival.

May 3, 2014

He was heartbroken that he he couldn’t do the bumper cars on his own, but Nana helped him.

Apple Blossom Festival Food Fair

Corn dog and an elephant ear.At the Apple Blossom Food Fair.

Chilling after a long day

Chilling and playing phone games.

Breakfast at Shari's

Breakfast at Shari’s with Nana. May 4, 2014

Playing a giant Connect 4

Playing a giant Connect 4 with Nana.

Playing Tsuro

Playing Tsuro with Nana.

Playing Gravwell

Playing Gravwell with Nana.

Video chatting with his Aunt Melissa

Video chatting with his Aunt Melissa, who he last in September.

Waiting for dinner at South

Waiting for dinner at South, drinking root beer with cream on top.

Back home over the mountain. SNOW!

Going back home, over the mountains. SNOW!

May 5, 2014

After being away from his real cats for a weekend, he’s been attached to these three stuffed cats. May 5, 2014.

May 6, 2014

Talking about a Stampy Longnose video. May 6, 2014

May 6, 2014

On his way to Homeschool Park Day.

May 6, 2014

He wanted his cat to be able to look out the window.

May 6, 2014

May 6, 2014

May 6, 2014

May 7, 2014

May 7, 2014

Kitty love.

Golden Gardens

At Golden Gardens.May 8, 2014

Golden Gardens

He climbed all the way to the top for the first time.

Golden Gardens - Kai's at the top!

After his success on the pirate ship, he had the confidence to climb to the top here.

"This is the life." - Golden Gardens

He kept saying. “”This is the life. Me and my mother, on the beach, eating ice cream things. This is the life.”

Kai "buried" my legs.

Kai “buried” my legs.

Then I buried Kai's legs!

Then I buried Kai’s legs.

Golden Gardens

“You buried my legs more than I buried your legs! It looks like I have no legs!”

10 Days in the USA

10 Days in the USA

Toy Time Race Game

Toy Time Race Game

May 8, 2014

Sometimes, I can look at him and see the teenager he might one day be.May 8, 2014 

May 9, 2014

May 9, 2014

Baker's Reward

Baker’s Reward

Meatloaf

Making Meatloaf

Game night

Playing Tsuro with our gaming group.

He fell asleep in there while dressing

After staying up so late, Kai fell asleep while trying to get dressed in the morning. May 10, 2014.

YardMaster

Playing YardMaster.

Angry Birds puzzle

Working on an Angry Birds puzzle.

Playing a file folder game

Playing a file folder game.

May Declutter Challenge, Day Two. In Which We Say Goodbye to the Toy Kitchen… and more.

We’re not going to be here for the next few days, so I made sure extra stuff went out the door today.

May 2, 2014 Decluttered Objects

Kitchen set (and hidden food, in a box, alongside it). Thomas books/activity things. A few plastic jars.

So… yeah. These were really hard for us to get rid of.

Not the jars – these were ones we’d cleaned out to use later and I hadn’t gotten around to peeling off the labels. I’ve told myself no more saving jars and such before we move. Maybe not after, as well! We hardly use them.

The kitchen set was, though, and it went to someone whose grandkids would be using it a lot. Kai helped me take the stuff out and explained in great detail all the little parts, what made noise, etc. Someone came by and said, “Are you sure you want to give it away to him? It looks like fun…” (Hint: don’t do that.) I was sad to see it go and so was Kai, but he really WASN’T using it much anymore.

The other thing that was difficult was the Thomas stuff. In the last six months, maybe year… he’s stopped watching Thomas. It comes on every once in a LONG WHILE, but other than the toy trains (which he still loves), Thomas stuff just sits. It went to a woman with a son who loves Thomas.

So, that was my day two, with enough stuff to cover three and four, if need be.

Did you declutter anything today?

Let the decluttering begin! Day 1 of 31.

May 2014 Declutter Challenge: Day 1

Papers I’m recycling.

This summer, my family will be moving halfway across the United States. We’re getting rid of a lot of stuff. We’ve kind of been doing it over the last couple of months. Joe, especially, has been doing a lot of eliminating things that we’re not taking with us. But I want to be doing more while he’s at work.

So, today, I embark on a project: it’s based on the the minimalism game here, where you get rid of excess stuff, adding an item each day. So, day one is one thing. Day two is two things. Day three is three things. Day four is four things. And so on.

The way it’s described on their blog, it’s supposed to be competitive. I’m not really the kind of person that responds to “competitive pressure” very well. Instead, a few people I know are going to be doing their own decluttering as well. It doesn’t mean that I’m only doing that amount, but it does mean I’m committing to doing AT LEAST that number. (There’s a couple of days this month where I’ll be away from home and I’m trying to figure out how to handle those days . I have some ideas.)

So, today’s “official” item is this stack of papers. These are mainly from online classes, where I printed things out to have them to read wherever. There’s a few other things, but that’s the majority of the pile. I actually know a really big thing that may be re-homed tonight, but I wanted to get this done.

It’s that time of year, I guess. Is anyone else working on decluttering?

Stop referring to it as “in real life”. Or: Yes, I want to see pictures of your lunch.

I’d sincerely like for people to stop referring to the “offline” world as “real life”. For me, both online and offline worlds are “real life”.

I know there are people who say things like, “No one care what you had for lunch. Stop posting pictures from it.” But I do. I do in the same way that I enjoy when my friends in the offline tell me, “I had the BEST meal yesterday…” and proceed to describe it. I care because I care about my friends.

And, yes, I do consider the people I know online to be my friends. Not everyone, of course, in the same way that you do not consider every person you know face-to-face a friend. But I have a several friends who I have known online for over a decade and have watched their pets grow old and die, children grow up, jobs change, move across the country or, even, across the world, marriages flourish… or not, and have even, sadly, watched from afar as people I cherished passed away – and I’ve missed their voices.

One friend, I met in junior high/high school online and then, because we lived nearish to each other, we became friends in person. I’m still her friend even though she’s lived all over the world.

Another friend, I find myself texting quite a bit – I met her online and sincerely hope to meet her in person – but even if I don’t, I feel like we’re close. I care about her struggles, about the things that make her happy.

I’ve also known people in the offline world who’ve moved to being mainly online friends. Two of my best friends from school grew up and moved away. We’ve kept in touch online.

So, please believe me when I say that, yes, I want all the pictures, all the updates, all the “shares”. I want to hear that you’re doing well. I want to hear that you’re happy. (Conversely, I want to hear when you’re not. I want to whole package, not just the happy stuff.)  I want to hear about – or even see – that fantastic meal you had this morning or the fabulous cake you made. I want the pictures of your kids, the ones of your cats, your dog, your spouse, your food, your vacation, your life.

Please DO share.

Because I want it.

I want it all.

This was all inspired by a post from tumblr that I found on Facebook via a friend from back-in-the-day on LiveJournal. If I could find the original post, I’d share it.

30 Days of Writing: Day 30

30 Days of Writing: Day 30

Today is day 30 of the 30 Days of Writing project. Thirty days ago, I wrote, “I’m considering doing this project.” But I didn’t really expect to complete it.

And now, here I am, 30 days later. I have filled most of a notebook, I have written an hour – or more – every day for thirty days.

Not only that, but, knowing I struggled to write at my normal wake-up time, within a few days of starting the 30 Days of Writing project, I started getting up at 5:30 or 6 a.m. – about two hours early. Until this writing project, I had never willingly gotten up that early. Never.

So, I’m proud of myself for doing this. (I so rarely say I’m proud of myself. It sounds awkward and boastful, though I don’t mean it that way.)

I can’t help but wonder… now what? Do I continue writing an hour each morning? Do I continue getting up early? Do I start another writing project? Do I plan one for April?

One thing I DO plan on doing is going back through my notebook, which has two months’ worth of writing in it. Find useful parts. Clean them up.

For now, though, this is enough.

I’ll allow myself the happiness of completing something I didn’t think I could.

30 Days of Writing: Day 8

February 27, 2014

I’ve been participating in 30 Days of Writing, which started on February 24.

The way the challenge works is this: Every day, for 30 days, get up and write. It’s okay to shower, get a drink, whatever. But DON’T check the computer. DON’T climb onto social media. Get to writing.

So, most mornings, I’ve managed to get up early to write for an hour. Once or twice, I didn’t get up as early as I’d have liked. (Getting up early is REALLY hard for me. I’m not a morning person. But I’ve done it more days than not.)

I’ve written for an hour every day since the challenge began. I’m finding interesting things emerging in the words on the page. A lot of stuff has been bouncing around in my head and writing it down helps to clarify it.

An unexpected benefit is that my days are feeling more productive. Or, at least, I feel less like I’m wasting a chunk of my morning “waking up”. I feel better, too, in general.

Are you taking the challenge? If not, have you considered doing something similar? Or have you done something similar? How did it turn out for you?

Day in the life of an 6 year old unschooler: Valentine’s Day 2014

 I’ve always enjoyed reading the “Day in the Life” posts over at Simple Homeschool. At the end of the series each year, she invites readers to post a link to their own day. This year, I decided to do that.

The day I chose to do this for was Friday, which happened to be Valentine’s Day. I’d say the only real difference between this and a “regular” day is there’s a lot more sugar and exchanging of cards. Otherwise, even though it’s kind of a holiday, it’s a lot like our everyday. Because we’re unschoolers, learning happens throughout the day. We don’t have a set curriculum and, since we only have one child, we’re fairly free to tailor our life and any “schooling” around Kai and what he wants to learn. Every day is different. This is just one of many days.

By the time Kai gets up, Joe has already gone to work. Kai is awake by the time his dad leaves for work leaves for work around 7:50 or so, but he slept in a bit on this particular day (and Joe left for a work bit early). Today, Kai gets out of bed at about 8:15 or so.

We watch a TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story” and we talk about it.

He watches some Ninjago while I fix breakfast. I make heart-shaped pink pancakes with whipped cream and “goodies” on top. It’s a tradition for us. And he loves it.

DITL February 14, 2014

Then, I ask Kai to get ready to leave so we can go to the library. After he washes up and gets dressed, we go through the library books to find the ones we have to take back. We scan the ones he’s read all of it into Goodreads, which is how I keep track of all the books he reads. (Or, at least, a good chunk of them. I don’t get all of them, admittedly.)

Kai looks forward to getting his “holds” from the library like some children look forward to getting Christmas presents. Today, he has a bunch of holds. He grabs them, goes to look for a Garfield book, then spends quite a while reading while I looked for my own books and did a bit of writing.

While at the library, he runs into a friend of his (also a homeschooler). This particular friend is someone we tend to bump into while out and about quite a bit, which always humors me – they don’t live in the city proper.

DITL February 14, 2014

After library, we go home for lunch. We’re pretty lucky in that, right now, my husband’s work is only about ten minutes away – by foot. So he gets to come home for lunch almost every day, something Kai looks forward to.

After lunch, Kai goes to his room for an hour of “quiet time”. During quiet time, he reads, plays with some times, etc. I can tell a big difference in both of us on days that we don’t manage to get quiet time in. It’s really useful for recharging and for getting a break from each other for a bit, since we’re around each other pretty much constantly. Today, he plays a bit and also reads some of the Revolutionary War Magic Tree House book.

After quiet time, we address Valentine’s Day cards to Kai’s dad. He insists on adding a bunch of “Yay!”s to the card… this is a theme he will later continue with my card.

DITL February 14, 2014

DITL February 14, 2014

We also do some other Valentine’s Day activities, which makes Kai pretty excited (he likes to do “holiday learning stuff”):

We spend a few minutes brainstorming Valentine’s Day words and put them on heart, which we put on Kai’s bedroom door.

DITL February 14, 2014

He does some addition using the number of letters of some of our conversation hearts. And eats the candy after he uses them.

DITL February 14, 2014

We break open another box to do graphing. This, too, gets eaten.

DITL February 14, 2014

DITL February 14, 2014

After that, he plays with some of his toys for a few minutes, then he holds the dustpan while I sweep. We take turns vacuuming. He cheers me on while I do it, pointing out spots he thinks I’ve missed, picking up any big pieces, etc. Then, he finishes up his Revolutionary War Magic Tree House book.

Kai’s dad comes home and we have dinner: ice cream. We have a bunch of food allergies/sensitivities so, sometimes, our “special holiday dinner” is ice cream.

DITL February 14, 2014

I’m pretty sure he enjoyed it.

DITL February 14, 2014

After dinner, we exchange cards and Valentine’s Day candy stuff. (This day sure ended up having a lot of sugar in it!)

DITL February 14, 2014

Then, Joe and Kai chill out on the couch while we wait for friends to arrive because tonight is “Grown Up Game Night.” Every two weeks, we have “Grown-Up Board Game Night” with some of Joe’s friends.

DITL February 14, 2014

We always play at least one game with Kai. Tonight is no different: once they arrive, we play a game of Tsuro.

DITL February 14, 2014

After Tsuro, Kai ends up playing Pokemon on my 3DS while we start up the next game.

DITL February 14, 2014

Then, he plays in his room for a while with his cars, then reads a dinosaur book and keeps popping into the living room to tell us facts about the dinosaurs. Eventually, he comes into the living room and ends up falling asleep reading a Magic Tree House book about pandas.

DITL February 14, 2014