I Didn’t Have Time to Read to My Children Because I Was Organizing my Jewelry and Other Excuses

Yesterday, after revealing my ambitious plan to read 101 classics with my children, I read nothing to them.

It was a busy day, but what day isn’t?  When does any mother look at her morning and think, “Oh my.  I have nothing to do today.  How jolly!”  (Sorry, but I’m going through a bit an anglophile phase right now.)

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That lovely necklace around my neck is now untangled. It’s also why I didn’t read with my children yesterday.

Yesterday I got distracted organizing my jewelry.  It’s alarming just how entangled necklaces can become with each other!  I am certain that my coral and aqua necklaces were secret lovers the way they resisted my intervention.

Earrings have the opposite problem.  They are repelled by their mates, dropping into bottom drawers and falling behind desks if it means they don’t have to sit next to each other.  Now that I think about it, they’re probably not mates at all but brothers.  You should have seen how much they were poking each other, and their poking hurts!  My right ear lobe would know.

It’s ironic that I wasted so much time sorting through my earrings given that my right ear lobe has closed now and is no longer accepting customers.  I supposed I could wear an earring in my left ear, but I don’t know what wearing one earring in the left ear means these days although I am sure it is something dangerous.   I could be encouraging the state of Nebraska to secede for all I know.

Speaking of wasting time, I did find time to play about twenty games of Word Scramble, a game that so alluring because it only takes 2 minutes to play, and hey, I have two minutes.  And two more minutes.  And two more minutes.

So today I am going to try something different.  Today I am going to set some reading goals just for today.  Yes, it is more exciting grand to set large goals, goals like reading 101 classics to your children, but if I am serious about this, I must set more bite sized goals.

My goals for today

1.  Read the Velveteen Rabbit to my children.   It is a picture book, but hey, I could mark off my first of my 101. Yeah!

2.  Read one chapter of Charlotte’s Web with Ricky and Deborah.

3.   Read one chapter of Fluff Dragon with Davy.

Do I think I am up for the challenge.  Yes, I do!

What distracts you from read with your kids?

101 Children’s Classics

I know, I know.  We’ve been through a lot of different changes on this site, but that is what happens when you read a blog written by someone with ADHD.  It’s time to get serious now, and experts says that blogs ought to have a focus.  This is also the time for you to chuckle that deep belly laugh you’ve got hiding down there.

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We have big plans over here.  Debi plans on reading Homer and becoming a queen.

But we are going to give it a try anyway.  Yes, I’ve tried to focus before with the “raising creative children” theme, but we all know how that went.  I need something more simple and more tangible.  So I asked myself, What is it that matters most to me?  If I could give my children one thing what would it be?   That’s easy.  The gift of reading.

And since it’s my dream to publish a children’s book someday, I thought it would be just lovely to read all the books from the greats and see why my children love them.  So that’s what the goal is:  to read 101 classics with my children.  This may take a little while but we’ll cheat with picture books when necessary.

We’ll talk about practical things like, “Is is hard to gather the children?  Do they listen with rapt attention or wander off?  How do we find time to read?”

We’ll ask philosophical questions like, “Why is friendship so strongly valued in children’s literature but rarely valued in adult literature?”  and “Why do children’s authors kill off the mother so often?”

I really hope you might read some of the books with us.  Here’s the line up.

1.  Charlotte’s Web

We’re already Charlotte’s Web because the book is so lovely to read, the illustrations are gorgeous, and I used to raise pigs myself.

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2. Heidi

I’ve never read Heidi, but we are going to Germany to visit my sister in September, and we might swing by the Swiss Alps.  Nothing like going to your book’s setting to make it all real.  91eCI9eMcPL

3.  Skellig 

This is a beautiful book about a girl and boy who love birds and find a fallen angel hiding in their backyard.  We are aspiring birdwatchers ourselves, and this book might just launch us.

1 skellig5.  Black Beauty

I’ve never read this book, but it’s about a horse, and Deborah has been asking for a pony for the last few years now.  Hopefully the book will suffice.

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6.  The Secret Garden

This will be a fun book to read next spring when we plant our own gardens, and who does not love the feisty Mary?

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These books will work well for Deborah (4) and Ricky (6), but I’m not sure all get the older boys on board.  We can just cross our fingers.  Older boys like to choose their own books (or no books at all), but I’m hoping we might be able to read a few of these together.

1.  Ender’s Game 

This book is the ultimate boys’ book:  what more could a boy asks for than spaceships and video games?

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2.  Treasure Island.

Who doesn’t love pirates?

1 treasure island 3.  Huckleberry Finn.  

The captain read Tom Sawyer to them a year ago, and the boys just ate it up.  Perhaps the captain will want to read Huck to them as well, but I’d like one of us to read it to them.

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So THAT ought to keep us busy for a few years.

Note:  Both beckyblackburn.com and 101childrensclassics.com will get you to this site.  Hope to see you tomorrow.

What books do you want to read to your children?

 

The Upside of Downsizing

While moving into a smaller home has been anything but easy, we are starting to see some great advantages.

1.  We’re left with our coolest stuff.

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I love walking into our rooms because there’s no more ugly furniture.  I was worried that our furniture might not fit into our house very well, but everything came together so well and our rooms look pretty dang awesome.  Give me a month, and I’ll give you a tour of the whole house.

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The captain made the chairs, the chess table, and the entertainment center.

2.  We can find things easier now.

We used to have to keep things like shoes, books, and cleaning supplies in many different locations so that they were readily accessible in our large house.  The problem was that with everything spread out in so many places, we had to look in all those places before we could actually find what we needed.  Now our shoes go only in our bedroom, and because they’re close to our living areas, it’s not a big deal to go and get them.  We’ve also discovered the Ricky owns fourteen pairs of shoes when before we thought he only had one left flip flop.

3.  I love our new library!

Books were also a pain to find because they were scattered everywhere, but now we have them all in one room, stored in a gorgeous built-in bookcase that the captain made seven years ago.  It holds a lot of books, and every time I walk past it, I feel happy.

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4.  When I call my children, they answer.  Usually.

My kids know they have to answer me when I call them.   They can no longer use the excuse, “I didn’t hear you.”  I cannot tell you how nice this has been.

5.  Our kitchen cleans up fast.

The counters can be wiped in three minutes.  The floor takes five.  Unfortunately, I still have the same amount of dishes to clean up, but I did get rid of our salad spinner, which was a pain to wash and dry.  I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough storage space in my kitchen, but I have plenty.

6.  I know what the kids are watching on television.

A few days ago, I saw one of the boys watching something inappropriate, and I said, “What are you watching?”  He immediately changed the channel.

7.  I’ve learned that my kids watch a lot of television.  And they play on their iPods a lot.  They also love hanging out with the computer.

Yes, I knew all of this before, but now I know about it when it’s happening.  We’re slowly trying to change these habits.  Tennis, anyone?

8.  It’s easier to keep the house clean.

There are still parts of our house that need to be organized since our move, but the rooms we have unpacked are staying clean.  Everybody has a section they have to clean. Their areas are manageable.  It’s easier for me to go around and do inspections to make sure everyone completed their assignment.

I used to have a pretty bench at the end of our bed where I threw all of my clothes, but now we have no space for it, and I actually hang up my clothes now.

9.  I can break up fights before they escalate.

I’m right there at the first poke, and things don’t get out of control before I’m made aware of a problem.

10.   We have no mortgage.

You would not believe what kind of peace of mind this gives us.  When we hear about Malaysian airplanes being shot down and young people being kidnapped in the Middle East, yes, my stomach still turns, and yes, we pray for those families.  But in some way, the fact that we have our house paid off puts our minds more at rest.  Despite all the chaos in the world, our financial affairs are in order.

11. My six-year-old is now getting himself dressed in the morning.

Before it was such a hike to get to his room.  Now, I ask him to get dressed, and he actually makes it up the seven stars and down the short hallway.  It’s been amazing.  We’ve also started brushing their teeth more because the bathroom is so close now.

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Do you find it easier to live in a larger or smaller home?

Hey, I’m making a decision about how seriously to pursue this blog.  One thing that would really help me is if you share your favorite posts on Facebook.  Just click on the Facebook icon below.  It’s so easy.  Thank you all so much!

Fun Things to Do on Pioneer Day

Today in Utah, we celebrate Pioneer Day.  We remember the Mormon people that were booted out of their lovely city of Nauvoo and walked 2000 miles to settled Utah.  It is a state holiday.  That means that if your hubby works for a bank in Seattle, he does not get the day off.  

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Still, we have some fun activities planned for today.  We’re going to build a family tree.  

We’re going to each choose one of our pioneer ancestors and find a creative away to share something special about this pioneer. 

We have piano lessons:)

The boys are going to play at a neighborhood baseball game.

Tonight we are going to my aunt’s house for swimming, pizza, and fireworks.  

What are you guys doing? 

The Downside of Downsizing

Yesterday I talked about why we decided to downsize and while we felt good about our decision, it was really tough to actually do it.  We had to get rid of about half of our stuff.  Getting rid of that much stuff is harder than it sounds.

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The final showdown. We do plan on parking into our garage next week.

So much of this process was satisfying.  I enjoyed going through all of our clothing with the boys, giving away that which we no longer needed, and storing our off-season clothing in our under the bed boxes.  We stored our gift wrap, off-season clothing, sheets, winter gear (coats, boots, gloves), and Legos under the beds.  Not only do these under the bed boxes have great storage capacity, but they are accessible, making it easy to both pull things out and put things away.

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I also REALLY enjoyed purging the toys.  I had a little conversation with each toy I put in the give away bag:   “This is the last time I’m putting you away.  Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!”  In no way did my laugh sound like a witch’s cackle.

But there were parts of this process that were really hard.

Making decisions was really hard.  I’ve always been taught to not waste, but this principle of conservation was at constant odds with the principle of simplicity.  “Do we really need this?”  The answer was almost always, “No.”  I’ve never gotten attached to things, but there was a certain guilt involved with letting things go—that somehow we had just not come through for our fondue pot.  We used it how many times?  Twice?

And it’s not like I was a fairy godmother, like I could just snap my fingers and the object in question would just disappear.  If only.  So many items had to be listed on KSL, so many phone calls and texts had to be answered, so many trips had to be made to Deseret Industries (our thrift store), and then our garbage cans were always overflowing.  I finally called the city and had them bring in two extra garbage cans.  Imagine wheeling out six cans for the garbage truck!

My low point was hauling stuff over to the dump.  Have you ever done that?  It is DISGUSTING!  The silver lining to this is that what ever germaphobia I once had is now gone.  I was totally shocked that I did not get some garbage flu disease or something.

What has surprised me through this process was that after getting past the initial guilt, it was really easy for me to let things go.  I haven’t missed any of it.  Well, we did miss our fertilizer spreader so I just went back to Deseret Industries and bought it back for $6.

Now for the upside of downsizing.  

Oh!  and today’s the 24th of July!  Want to know what we’re doing today?  

Do you feel you have too much stuff?  What makes it hard to let it go?

Why We Decided to Downsize and Second Thoughts

As I mentioned in the last post, one factor that helped us decided to downsize was that we could pay off our house.

We had been using the captain’s bonuses to pay down our smaller home which we had been renting out for the past seven years.  (We had chosen to pay down our small house first since it was far less daunting than paying off the mortgage on our larger home.)

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It’s so hard to move when you become emotionally attached to your home. We had so many great family memories–especially in our backyard.

Because we had been steadily paying down our smaller home, we realized that if we sold our large home, we could use the cash to completely pay off our smaller home and still have some cash leftover for emergencies.

It was a no-brainer right?

But we still had some real concerns.  We were moving to be closer to work, yet we were just moving ten minutes up the street.  What would our friends think?

And what would the people think in our new/old neighborhood?  “Yeah, so we left you guys seven years ago, but then we decided we’d pop back in for a while—-or maybe forever.  We’re not sure yet.”

And then there was the fact that the smaller home was a split level, which was not exactly compatible with my ADHD brain, a brain which also has a lot of split levels.  And wouldn’t we be just too crowded?  Would the kids be fighting all the time?  Could we fit around our dinner table?  Would we ever host again?

And what about the captain’s work?   Weren’t we trying to increase his quality of life?  We would be moving a little closer to his work, but he would still have a half hour commute.  There was potential here.  The captain loved to bike and the bike trail near our house went fifteen miles closer to his work and ended at a Front Runner station.  Could there be some kind of mixed biking/commuter train combination that might just work?

And then there were days where I just didn’t want to move at all.  We loved our neighborhood, our friends, our children’s friends, and the thought of leaving them behind was just too sad.

We still didn’t know what we were going to do a week before we had to move.  Our renter was moving out in a few days, and we were tempted to say, “Could you not move out until we have this thing totally figured out?”  We looked at houses the Monday before the movers were coming.  We found one closer to the captain’s work (about a fifteen minute commute), got all excited about it, only to discover that there weren’t very many teenagers in the neighborhood.  The HOA fees were kind of a drag too, and there were no trees.

The captain advised me that it might be a little late to be looking, and we should just move forward with our plan to move in to our smaller house and pay it off.  So we did.  That’s in the end was what helped us finally decide.  We were out of time.

We’ve found both an upside and a downside to downsizing.

What do you think are the most important factors in choosing where to live?

Why We Decided to Downsize

We are not at the stage of our lives where people typically downsize. Our kids have not left the nest. We don’t have time for golf.  We’re not looking to move to Arizona anytime soon.

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Our old home. Wasn’t it beautiful? Sigh.

But here we are, moving from a 4000+ square foot home with a five car garage to a 2200 square foot home with a two car garage. And we have five kids. They are loud. They are sloppy. They are known to get into frequent fracas with each other.

And yet we still made the decision to downsize.

How did this happen?

It happened accidentally when our family was biking past our old home that we still owned and my oldest son said, “Why can’t we move into our old house?”

Well of course we couldn’t move into our old house. It wasn’t close enough to the captain’s work (although closer than the house we were living in).  It was small.  It was a split level which was just so 80’s.

We already had a plan.  We would be moving to a home close to the captain’s work.  We would be buying a rambler where the captain and I would live on the main floor, and the children would live in the basement.

But then our son started whining as we were trying to enjoy our bike ride. “We should move into our old house.”

“I don’t know, honey. It’s not that much closer to your dad’s work.”

“Please? Can’t we? Please,” he begged.

“But you would be living in such close quarters with Davy.  Think about that.”

“I don’t care. I really really really want to move into our old house.”

“Why do you want to move there?”

“Because I could still hang out with my Provo friends sometimes, and we would live close to Nana.”   In fact, his new high school would be right across the street from his Nana’s house.  (My son loves his Nana since he frequently feels that he has been cheated in the mother department. I mean what mother makes her son do chores and read for a half hour every day in the summer?)

Still, maybe our son was on to something.

We toyed with the idea. Our old house was the small house in a great neighborhood.  It was close to the elementary, junior high, and high school which would mean less driving.  The house was not even a block away from a seventeen mile bike trail and was also in walking distance to both a track and tennis courts.  Several of my aunts and cousins lived in the area.  We love the tennis coach of the prospective high school.  There were several children who studied music seriously in the neighborhood which would encourage the musician in our own.

I could maybe keep the house cleaner.  Our lawn wouldn’t take so long to mow.  We could keep better track of the kids.  Getting Ricky dressed would be so much easier.

But most important of all, we could pay off the house.  See more about this on Why We Decided to Downsize Part II.

Have you ever downsized?  What was hard about it?  Would you do it again?

And I Thought Things Were Supposed to Get Easier After We Moved In!

There are certain things we take for granted.  Hot water.  Internet.  Ice.  Washer and Dryer.  Mops.  Garbage cans.  Ceilings that don’t sag.  Never again!   But I am so grateful to cleaning people, contractors, heating and air guys, a good mom, carpet cleaners, sweet aunts, sweet sisters, and our new next door neighbor who have been a great help.

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You are getting this picture because there’s no way I’m showing you a picture of me this week.

Funny story:  Our movers were . . . interesting.   While not exactly professional, they were willing to do things that most movers acquainted with even an iota or tort law would not have been willing to do.  Like take down our tramp and set it up again.

Or haul our storage shed hanging  our of their truck with just a wimpy rope.  When I say hanging out of the truck, I mean 20% of the shed was in the truck and 80% was hanging out of the truck.  We followed the truck back to our house and gave them wide clearance.  The boys kept saying, “It’s going to fall!  It’s going to fall!” but it didn’t.  When we got to our house, Mike, a large Tongan fellow who I’ve grown to love , said, “We were totally not supposed to do that!”  I gave them all good tips.

Moving to A Far Away Place. Nine Minutes Away.

I am so tired right now, I just might fall asleep as I write.  The movers came and had us packed up in four hours.  They were freaking awesome.  One guy was a gentle giant, but he kept messing with me.

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Good bye house!

Like when he scratched his head when they came in and said, “Wow, you’ve got a lot of stuff.  And we only brought the pick-up to move it in.”

“What!?”

“Ha!  Ha!” he said.  I laughed too and then gave him a scolding for messing with a woman who is about to lose her mind.

I just called all the utility companies—meant to do that earlier of course.  We will not have hot water this weekend:(

It is just me or is moving so incredibly soul numbing?  Sorting through papers, stray game pieces, dirty socks—I just feel so blah right now.  Or maybe that has to do with being completely and totally exhausted.

We are moving to Lindon, Utah which did not get us much closer to hubby’s work.  Our house here sold fast, the captain’s office location was uncertain, and we didn’t find a new house so we decided to camp out our Lindon home (that we’ve been renting out) until we got things settled. Except WE ARE NOT MOVING AGAIN!  If we’re still not close enough to his work, the captain can interview for another job, because that is MUCH EASIER than moving.

The move was tough because our Lindon house is half the size of our current one, but I’m actually pretty excited about that.  I won’t have to organize a search party when one of the kids gets lost in the house.  It will be harder for the kids to hide from me when they don’t feel like doing their chores. My kids will no longer be able to claim that they didn’t hear my calling them.  We won’t have five bathrooms to clean.

We’ll have to see how things go.  Have any of you guys downsized?  How did it go?

Oh, and I think we’re going to go see How to Tame Your Dragon right now.  Anybody want to come?