The Life of Bon: August 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Billboard (8 Minute Memoir Day 3)

I am doing an eight minute memoir project that I have seen some of my favorite writers and humans doing. Join in if you want.  Sometimes my fingers and my brain need to write.  The details are here.

When I was a little girl my family took all of our family vacations to Southern California.  My mom's parents and siblings all lived in beautiful Palos Verdes.  I was vaguely aware at this time that my mom wished she lived in California too, and that maybe being away from her family made her sad.  I was also vaguely vaguely aware that this caused some tension in my parents' marriage- but ten year olds aren't too keen on observation.  Mostly what I knew is that the distance my mom suffered from her immediate family meant that I got California road trips twice a year.  I didn't realize her sacrifice at the time.

We'd always visit in the summer, and often at Christmas.  We'd stay a week at least- sometimes longer.  My dad would sometimes drop us all off, fly back home to work a couple weeks, fly back to California, and drive his bunch home.  I didn't realize his sacrifice at the time.

The drives were long- 10 to 12 hours.  We were eight children which meant no mini van, no suburban could successfully contain our troops.  Instead, we had an ugly, 15 passenger white van.

Like many families traveling in the 80s and 90s, seat belts didn't seem to be a top concern.  The van had four benches and my parents took out the front bench, replacing it instead with a large rug and a bean bag.  That way we could play games, relax, and eat on the floor.  Why not?  Someone always called the bean bag, my dad always drove, my mom never gave up her seat in shotgun.  These were our travel arrangements.

Because I was little, and one of the youngest, I always had to share a bench with one, or often two of my siblings.  This seemed unfair to me.  In a van so big, why did I still have to sit so close to Mary?

We always left early in the morning- in the 5 o'clock hour.  I would wake up when we stopped for breakfast at McDonald's in St. George.  We're almost out of Utah!  Hitting Las Vegas meant we were halfway.

"Anyone want to play the alphabet game?  Who wants to play the alphabet game?"  Mary was relentless.  All my siblings were older (three years older than me and seven years old than Mary) and were obviously bored by us- the two little girls.  They put on their discmans and took naps and I would be left the lone soldier to reluctantly play the alphabet game with Mary.

The rules were simple.  Start with A.  Go through the alphabet.  Find every letter of the alphabet on a sign or billboard.

We scanned the billboards.  On most of the road from Utah to California the billboard pickings are slim.  There are long, empty stretches of vast desert.  Not a lot to see.  The alphabet game could be excruciatingly long and boring.   I figured out the way to win, though.  The trick was to get enough letters in Nevada that when we hit California I was at least to X.  Then all we had to do was pass the exit for Zzyzx and the victory was mine.

Sorry, Mary.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I Don't Remember (8 Minute Memoir Day 2)

I am doing an eight minute memoir project that I have seen some of my favorite writers and humans doing.  Join in if you want.  Sometimes my fingers and my brain need to write.  The details are here.

I don't remember when I decided to become an English teacher.  I can remember when I decided not to become an elementary school teacher.  

All growing up, I thought I would teach grade school.  Entering college, I stuck with this plan.  At BYU, all elementary school teachers were required to take a physical science class that was specifically for elementary education majors.  For some reason this really bothered me.  Why couldn't I take the same stupid generals that all my roommates and the cute boys in my dorms were taking?  Instead I signed up for the dumb physical science class specially taught for elementary education teachers.

I think there were two boys in a section of 200+ students.  This, of course, offended me the most.  The other girls themselves also bugged me.  They seemed too prepared.  They always remembered their books and their pens and their makeup was perfect and for whatever non-explicable reason this just drove me absolutely certifiably bonkers.  Not to mention they were waaaaay too happy and bubbly and chatty.  (But never happy and bubbly and chatty with me.)  Nothing annoyed me more than this 4:00 Tuesday, Thursday science class with all these girls girls girls.

What really turned it for me, though, what made me know I could never stay in the elementary education major was the jokes.  Our professor insisted on starting each class with a joke.  He passed around a sign up sheet and said, "Sign up for which day you want to tell the joke to start the class."  Now this was something I could get behind.  I love jokes!  I signed up.

When my day came, my 18 year old self bravely marched up in front of the auditorium full of bubbly girls.  I didn't know a soul, but I had a great joke, and surely they could appreciate that.

"What does Godzilla say after he eats Japan?"  I said loudly.

Blank stares.

"I WANT SA-MOA!"  I yelled in my best Godzilla impersonation voice.

More blank stares.  Some smiles.  But no laughs.  Not even a pity laugh.  The room was uncomfortably quiet.

And then I knew I couldn't be an elementary school teacher.  I didn't have it in me.  This wasn't my domain, these weren't my people.  I felt like such a fish out of water- a stupid, unfunny fish out of water.  I finished the class with a lousy grade, left the elementary education major, and never looked back.  I don't remember where or how the transition to English teaching major came.  I have always loved reading and writing and my high school AP Literature teacher was practically my hero.  So I must have put those pieces together and decided to try English teaching?  I have no idea the details- the decision just fell into my lap somehow.  All of a sudden I was an English teaching major and I was going to teach high school English and it felt right.  It had to be right.

And today, on the eve of the first day of teaching my seventh year of high school English, I can confidently say, it was right.

P.S.  I am in the last few days for this campaign.  Thank you so much for all of you who have clicked and participated.  The blogger in me thanks you and the teacher in me reaaaaaaaaally thanks you.

Monday, August 22, 2016

I Remember When... (8 Minute Memoir Day 1)

I am doing an eight minute memoir project that I have seen some of my favorite writers and humans doing.  Join in if you want.  Sometimes my fingers and my brain need to write.  The details are here.

PROMPT 1:  "I remember when". Set your timer for eight minutes. Go somewhere quiet and get out your writing utensils. Write "I remember when" at the top of your page and start writing. The rules are don't edit/censor yourself. Don't worry whether what you're writing is good or bad. Don't worry who might read it. Just write whatever comes into your head. Try not to think too much. If you get stuck, write "I remember when" again and try something new. Go the full eight minutes without stopping. If you want to keep going, great. If not, great. If you feel like it, comment about how it went. Happy writing!

I remember when my dad used to ask me to help him plant potatoes in the garden.

"Bopper, I need you to help me with the potatoes."

I thought it was annoying that he asked me this.  Couldn't Mary do it?  Or Dennis?  Surely Dennis wasn't doing anything better.  But I'd put my black Nike gym shoes on and trudge behind him out to the garden.  

The work was pretty simple.  My dad cut the potatoes up into thirds or quarters.  He'd throw them all in a bucket, and then together we'd start down the long rows of the garden.  He would lift up up a big mound of dirt with his shovel and my job was to throw a potato piece in there.   It wasn't hard, but it was tedious and boring.   Over and over.  Up and down.  Shovel.  Lift.  Throw.  Repeat.

Planting time in Price was usually cold and windy.  My thin jacket wouldn't feel warm enough.  My fingers began to freeze from the cold.  I couldn't feel my ears as the sun set behind us.  It seemed wildly unfair to me.  None of my other white, privileged friends had to spend hours outside in the dirt planting potatoes with their dads.  Why did my dad always have to make me do stuff like this?

That was in the spring.  In the fall, he'd recruit me again.

"Bopper, I need you to help me with the potatoes."

Why can't Mary do it?  I'd think again.  Or Dennis?  Why did he always have to pick on me?

We'd go back out, this time with an empty bucket, ready to be filled.  My job was different in the fall than the spring.  Instead of placing the potatoes, I was now finding them.  Dad would lift up a shovel of dirt and quick, I'd rummage through the dirt like a squirrel, searching for one potato two potato three potatoes.

We filled up buckets of potatoes.  And it always amazed me how so many potatoes could come from so few potato pieces.  What were those sneaky potatoes doing all summer long, buried in the dirt?

All throughout the year we had a bucket of potatoes right outside the garage door.  Sitting on the steps, ready to be used at any time.  There were eight kids.  My mom cooked with a lot of potatoes.  In spite of myself, I took pride in it.  I helped plant those.

My dad has been gone for almost seven years now.  When I cut up potatoes into thirds and fourths, I think of him.  When I see big bags of dirty potatoes in the stores, I remember finding those with him, clawing through the dirt, dropping potatoes into never ending buckets.  

It's almost fall now, time to gather the potatoes.  

I can almost hear his voice, "Bopper, I need you to help me with the potatoes."

Wednesday, August 17, 2016



June is going to be a big sister!

We are so excited to share the news that a new baby will be joining our family in February.  We are absolutely thrilled and, frankly, a little shocked.  (Apparently we don't know how it all works?)  But mostly we're excited.  Really really excited!

The due date is February 2 and we are waiting until D-day to find out the gender.  Eek!  There's something really special about that period of not knowing.  Kind of like waiting for Christmas morning.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Best Weekend of the Year

I mentioned in my last blog post that we were headed up to our old family cabin for the weekend.  It's no longer ours, but the owners let us stay for three days it felt like it was ours again.

For me the cabin feels like it will always belong to us because we built it.  For five years while I was in junior high and high school we spent weekends, nights, spring breaks up working on the cabin.  I helped caulk the logs, paint the walls, lay the tile, sweep out the chimney, plant the trees, stain the wood.  My blood, sweat and tears are in that bad boy.  (Mostly tears.  I had to miss a lot of high school parties to help work on that cabin.  It's not easy being 16.)

I was a little nervous about going up and really excited.  The second the cabin came into view tears sprang to my eyes.  It felt like coming home.  My mom sold the house I grew up in about a year after my dad's death, so I think the cabin is the closest thing I have to a place that represents my roots.  It's really the only place that Greg knows or has been to that carries with it any significance to my growing up.

Our weekend at the cabin was everything I hoped it would be.  The new owners had changed a few things, but mostly it felt the same.  It felt like ours.  We played tennis, we went out on the lake, we did ping pong tournaments, we watched the Olympics, we played games late into the night.  We discussed politics, we had campfires, we prepared and ate huge meals.  It felt like home.  It felt like family.  It was PERFECT.

And now, pictures.

Dinner at the kids' table.  Reed is the lone adult. 

 The view on Scofield Lake.

 Sam and Davy, my most adventurous nephews.  (And ALWAYS in good moods.)

 The next five or six shots were all taken at the same time.  I just went around the cabin to see what everyone was up to so I could kind of capture everything that goes on at one time up there.

 Ticket to Ride.

 Mary, my little sis.

 Love this view from the front door of the cabin.

 Reed and Amber working on dinner.  (With so many people to feed, my mom assigns people meals.  We do the planning and shopping ahead of time and lug all the food up there.  It's not a perfect system, but it works!)

 Tammy, Travis, and Rachel.

 Er... the large floating elk head is a new addition to the cabin...

 The pre dinner mayhem.

 This is the playground that is off the back deck.  The kids LOVED it and spend so much time playing out there.  June thought she had died and gone to heaven.  I could feel her looking at me, asking, "Is this it, mom?  IS THIS HEAVEN!?!"

 My mom wanted a picture of all the grandkids. (21 grandkids!)  We are missing only one here- 3 year old James who threw up right before picture time.  Ages are 17 (Ben) down to 4 weeks (Cosette).

 I worked my magic with the self timer to get everyone in one picture.  This is the pre picture gathering.  For some reason I always love pictures like these.

 ALL OF US!  My mom, her eight children, our eight spouses, 
and our combined twenty one children! 
38 people total!  We're only missing my dad, but he was there.

 My little crew.

 The view from the front porch.

 My mom asked me to take pictures to document Mindy's departure, who was flying out to Washington DC where she and her family will live for the next five months.  Mindy and I both thought it was a little bit of a weird request, so here's the best picture we got of said "departure."  
As you can tell, everyone is really giving Mindy the attention she deserves.

 Listen, June was pretty much savage at this point, so you just take what you can get.

 Doubles tennis tourney that Greg organized.  We lost in the first round to my mom and 17 year old nephew, Ben.  BOO.

 Tennis spectators.

 Tennis tournament championship game.  Phil and Kathryn vs. Becky and Dave.  
It was Becky and Dave's anniversary, but love wasn't enough to beat P & K!

 Another day, another playground for the kids to feast on.

June and Jensen are only three weeks apart.  They LOVED their bath together.

That's a wrap.  Two more days of summer around here and then it's back to the teaching grind!

P.S.  I've been working on a campaign for these.  I hunted these down furiously when I was a little kid, but I feel like kids today are not as on board.  Why!?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A home is just a home? Part Two.

I promised myself a few weeks ago that I would attempt to write three posts a week and bare minimum I MUST WRITE TWO POSTS A WEEK NO MATTER WHAT.

So here we are, bare minimuming it again.

Tomorrow we are headed up to a trip to our cabin family.  My mom sold this cabin 2 1/2 years ago, and then by some stroke of fate or luck or divine providence the owners agreed to let us use the cabin this weekend.  And so now we are all going back up to the cabin that means everything to us, that holds so many memories of my dad, that is everything he loved and worked for rolled up into one beautiful log cabin. (For the details on selling the cabin, go here.  It's a sad post, but a happy one too.  But mostly sad.)

That means that tonight and tomorrow morning we need to pack and buy food and do everything else you do when you get ready to spend three days at a cabin with 35 people.  (Those 35 people are just my mom, siblings, and siblings' children.  WE ARE RABBITS!)

We are not even close to prepared.  There is laundry all over the house.  I haven't done any of the grocery shopping.  We need to buy fishing licenses.  We are a hot mess on the eve of vacation!

Emotionally, I am not prepared either.  I have felt weepy and sad the last few days thinking about going up.  I've been overly emotional and sensitive and all of a sudden I miss my dad in ways that I haven't missed him for months.   I don't think it's going up to the cabin that makes me sad, but going home from it and knowing that it isn't ours and that I don't get to go back.  Offers on cabins don't come too often, so when my mom got an offer in the dead of winter in 2013 she snatched it up quickly. The next week she and a few of my siblings went up to claim belongings (I had to work. Boo.) and there were papers signed and money transferred and then it was done. One day we had the cabin and one day we didn't and it was harder for me to process than I thought it would be.  I didn't get to say goodbye, and maybe that has kind of weighed on me all these months?  I suppose I am hoping to go back to get some kind of closure from this trip back, two and a half years later.  I dunno.  Can you get closure on a log cabin?  I know there's no closure on grief, so I'm not hoping for that, but I'm hoping for peace and family and joy and to feel my dad with me there at the cabin this weekend.

And I am thrilled that June gets to visit the cabin.  That was one big thing that I felt like I mourned heavily, that my kids would never have cabin experiences like some of my siblings' children.  Of course, I think on a deeper level what I really mourn is that my kids don't get experiences with their grandpa like some of siblings' children did, but letting June experience a piece of the cabin feels like she at least gets a little piece of him.

Believe it or not, this post wasn't supposed to be about our cabin or about my dad or grief or any of those things that it sort of morphed into.  I was just going to update you on what I'd been up to the past week (swimming!  painting furniture!  purging our house of things knomarie style!) and tell you why I was writing such a short post today.  But then this post came out.  And I guess it's the post I needed to write.  Thank you to this blog for allowing me that privilege to write what I need and to you readers who continue to check in here.  This blogging community is something special and I mean that.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Back to school, fools.

It's August!!!!  You know what August means, don't you?  BACK TO SCHOOL BABY.

In the summer people always teachers the same questions:

In June they ask, "Are you so excited to be done with school?"
(Answer:  YES!)
In July they ask  "So what have you been doing with your free time all summer?"
(Answer: Whatever the hell I want!)
In August they ask, "When do you go back to school?"
(Answer:  How dare you?)

I kid, I kid.  I actually look forward to going back to school.  Summer vacation is like any vacation I go on- I'm so stoked for it to begin, and then by the time it's done I'm stoked for it to be over.  I love summer!  It's a dream!  Especially with a child- we get to play and swim and read and eat snow cones all day!

But sometimes summer can be hard too.  The house is always messy because we're home so much more. (Unless we're at the pool or camping or going on a trip which all lead to more messes.)  There are weeks straight of 100+ degree weather. (July in Utah about did me in this year!)  Days melt into each other.  I start to feel lethargic and non productive.  Suddenly it's 2:00 in the afternoon and I've gotten nothing done.  So by the time mid August rolls around, I am happy/ready/excited to be back in the classroom.

As a teacher I get to see from the front lines what goes on in a school and what is needed in a classroom.  The sad truth is that there will is never enough funding in education.  We read the same texts year after year partly because it is just monetarily not feasible to bring in new books every year.  This year I got spoiled at my school and got brand new whiteboards that move so that you can have several layers of writing on the board and not have to erase and rewrite all day long.  It's a teacher's dream!  I love my new white boards!  Thank you, principal!  Do you want to know how much said whiteboards cost?  Two grand!

No picture of the new boards, but I do have one of my old board so that will have to do.

And that's just one thing of many.  I'd love to supply all my students with new notebooks, binders, and pencils on the first day.  My heart aches when they come up to me and say, "so, my mom gets paid next Friday and then we should be able to buy notebooks, but is it okay if I just borrow paper until then?"  Yes, child, borrow all the paper you need.  My school has a pretty diverse population with kids who have been given everything in the world and kids who have been given nothing.  I'd love to have that extra funding to help even the playing field, even by just a little.

All this to say that there are awesome ways that you can help YOUR school with funding.  I bet if you talked to your son or daughter's teacher about ways they would use extra funding your mind would be blown with all the ways teachers dream of spending that extra money.  Back when I was a kid I used to religiously hunt for box tops.  I collected box tops and popsicle sticks, and yes, I was such a weird child.  (The popsicle sticks never proved to be useful in any form.  The box tops did.)

I literally can not think of an easier way to earn money for your school- buy food you would already buy, clip the box tops off of them, send them in = MONEY FOR YOUR SCHOOL.  And this summer General Mills really pulled out the big guns- when you buy General Mills products at Walmart 1 box top is worth 5 box tops.  FIVE TIMES THE POWER! (Read all the deets here.)

Please take advantage of the 5-for-1 Box Tops initiative at Walmart.  I think we can all agree how important education is, but when we look at the money that goes into schools, teachers, funding, etc, it's pretty clear that the money allotted to education does not equal up to its importance.  It is so easy to shop, clip, and send box tops in and kids love it.  They feel like they are making a difference, too, and I love that it makes them "work" a little for their education- to know that it isn't just some easy gift that comes without cost.  The more they work for it, the more they appreciate it and the more aware they will be of these issues even from an early age.  Go here for all the details and to know from which products you can get the 5-for-1 Box Tops

This post is sponsored by Walmart but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.  

I am so grateful for the companies that support this blog and that allow me to write about things that I am already so passionate about.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: An Introduction

Two weeks ago I picked up The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo at the library because I had heard a lot about it and because the stuff stuff stuff and the never ending messes in my house have made me absolutely bonkers.  Our house never stays tidy for more than a day or so.  I know part of this is thanks to the two year old hurricane who destroys everything in her path, and I have accepted that as long as there are children in the house there will also be chaos.  BUT I certainly hope that the current constant mess of our house is not the best we can do for the next 15 years!

 I devoured the book in two days and then I started in on our house with the fury of a thousand suns.  A lot of the book I already thought and agreed with (see this post- it's basically a prologue to the book), but there was so much that was new and even (gasp!) "life changing" for me about the book.  I know that a lot of people see the book as extreme, but I think  I need something extreme to really get a tidying system for our home that will work for the rest of our lives.  

Radical tidying vs. every day tidying.  The majority of the book focuses on a "radical tidying up" which Kondo states should happen once in your life. A successful radical tidying will enable you to do everyday tidying easily for the rest of your life.  If done correctly, her promise is that you will never "rebound" and go back to the old way.   Radical tidying up is huge process and can take up to six months, but remember, this is something that will allow you to be tidy for the rest of your life.  (Supposedly.  Talk to me in a couple years!)

Here are the main points of the book and the things that really resonated with me:

1.  Fill your homes with things that "spark joy."  Her definition of what should be in your home is purposefully vague- it can be hard to know exactly what sparks joy in your life.  But I know I have certain hoodies and jeans that I love more than the rest and that make me excited when I pull them out of the dryer.  Whenever I pack for a trip I pack all of my favorite clothes, so I thought about it like that.  If I was packing for a trip, would I be excited to pack this shirt in?  Sparking joy can also include things that are useful.  June's highchair doesn't make my heart flutter with excitement, but it is very useful, so it stays.

2.   We ALL have too much "stuff."  Get rid of it.  This I am totally on board with.  I feel burdened by so many of the things I own.  Many of my things are very guilt inducing for me- a skirt I spent too much money on that no longer fits, a gift I received from a loved one that I don't really like, a computer that broke that I've been too lazy to ever really try to fix.  GET RID OF IT.  It is filling up space, not only in our homes, but in our hearts and minds.  For June, this is all stuff that she can find in drawers and play with all over the house, hence the never ending clean up.

3.  Don't decide what stuff to get rid of, decide what stuff you want to keep.  This mind shift helped me a lot.  When I picked up a shirt and thought "do I want to get rid of this?" I almost thought no.  But then when I thought, "Do I want to keep this shirt?"  the answer was also almost always no.  INTERESTING, friends.  Keep the stuff that is beautiful, that you feel comfortable and pretty in, that makes your home feel joyful.  It was hard for me to give up three of my favorite pencil skirts, but the fact is they've been too small for two years, and they give me guilt every time I try to wear them.  Adios, pretty skirts.  I spent a lot of money on you and I never got the wear out of you I hoped to, but holding on to you for more years isn't going to lessen my guilt.  Hopefully someone who is skinnier than me will get a lot of joy from you.

4.  Everything in your house should have a place.  This is huge for me and it sounds so no-brainer, but once I thought about it, I realized that I don't have a place for everything.  The things that I DON'T have a place for, interestingly enough, are the things that I use the most.  For example, my purse does not have a place in my house.  It doesn't "go" anywhere.  It's on the counter or the living room floor or my nightstand.  This adds to the house looking cluttered and to my constant searching for my purse.  I also don't have a place for my laptop.  It's in a random drawer, or on our bookshelf, or on the bed but it doesn't belong anywhere!  Other things in my house that have nowhere to go:  Greg's wallet, my keys, June's shoes, (aside from her drawer upstairs in her drawer which is so inconvenient a location that they are NEVER there) my school papers, my planner, coins, batteries, the ipad, my sunglasses, OUR TV REMOTE.  No wonder our house is always cluttered!  Things don't know where they belong!

5. For sentimental items:  thank an item for the joy it has brought you and then get rid of it.  I understand that getting rid of stuff can be really hard for people because it has sentimental value.  It reminds us of a time in our life, a trip to Europe, a relationship, something new that we learned.  But the Konmari method emphasizes that giving up the item doesn't mean that we give up the memory of that time, the relationship, the memories of the trip, etc.  If we are keeping something ONLY because it is sentimental, then we need to part with it.  There is some very sentimental stuff I can't get rid of (basically anything from my dad), but there was a lot of stuff that I realized I've been holding on to for sentimental reasons ONLY.  One of these is a jean Victoria's Secret bag that I got eight years ago.  This bag was the perfect size and shape ,and I have used it for my church bag for EIGHT YEARS.  The bag means everything to me.  BUT, it's so worn out, it's tearing, and I really don't use it anymore.  So I hugged the bag, thanked it for its eight years of hard work, and threw it out.  And I didn't feel any guilt!  Only relief!

Kondo is Japanese so a lot of what she says is maybe hard for Westerners to totally accept.  I know many people have said that thanking an item and saying goodbye to it was kind of overkill, but it really works for me.  I need that closure when getting rid of stuff, and I don't feel weird talking to items.  (I know that it's just an item, but to me an item DOES have a life, otherwise why would it be so hard for us to get rid of it?  There's history and emotions and memories behind the things we own.  It's this "life" that they develop that makes it hard for us to part with it.  Saying goodbye properly feels right to me.)

6.  For gifts:  thank the gift for the intent of the giver and say goodbye.  I think we feel ungrateful if we get rid of gifts that people give us, but the fact is the giving really has nothing to do with the item and everything to do with that the person thought about you, made an effort, spent money, gave you something.  So I don't have to keep the mug my student gave me three years ago.  Thank the mug because it represents that my student cared about me and thought about me, and let go of the mug, knowing that it doesn't mean I have to let go of my good feelings toward my student.  I can still graciously receive and love the gift without holding on to it for a life time.  Revolutionary!  

7.  Organize by category, not by room.  When it comes to the radical tidying of your house, work by category not by room.  Again, this is a mind shift for most of us in the way we organize and clean.  Kondo recommends you start with clothes.  Not your bedroom, YOUR CLOTHES.  This was a huge pain in the butt to gather ALL my clothes.  I had clothes in boxes in the basement, some clothes in my car, jackets I had left at school, clothes in the spare bedroom, coats in the coat closet.  But the plan really wouldn't work if I didn't have every single piece of clothing I owned in the same place.  That was the only way I could really understand how many pairs of shoes I have, how many jackets I own.  And the best part is that now all of my stuff is in the same place and it all has a place to go!

Things I don't agree with:
I loved almost everything Kondo suggests.  There are a couple of things I just cannot get behind, no matter how hard I try:

1.  She says to not listen to music or podcasts or tv when you are doing your sorting/ throwing out.   You need total focus to really know what to keep and what is sparking joy in your life.  While I see her point, there's just no way I could do it.  This process on clothes alone has taken me hours and hours, and I just couldn't do it without something to listen to.

2.  Take the items out of your purse or bag each night.  This is counter productive for me to stay organized.  The more I have ready at night, the smoother my morning goes.  I have a bag for school, my regular purse, and my church bag.  These bags stay packed all the time.  I do agree with Kondo that every time I come home I should clean out the garbage and take out the stuff I don't use in the bag, but unloading every item just to reload it in the morning?  Nope.

3.  Take everything out of your shower each time you use it.  I agree with the thought here- shampoo bottles get gross because they are in the humidity of the shower and constantly exposed to water.  But taking them out and in every shower and drying them off just feels like something that ain't never gonna happen in my house!

There you have it- your introduction to the Konmari method!  So far I have really loved it and already feel so much relief at the stuff I have let go.  Next week I'll give you a rundown of the clothes method, what I kept, what I got rid of, and what my closet looks like now!

Monday, August 01, 2016

Blog Book Club July: Room by Emma Donoghue

HELLO!  And welcome to July's book club.  This post was suppoooooooosed to go up on Thursday, but hey, at least it's going up (which is more than I can say for last month's book club post!) so I call that a victory.  And three cheers for more consistent posting in the future!

Don't know what Bon's Book Club is but might possibly want to join in next month?  All the details are here.  August's book is The Martian so get reading if you want to join in on the fun.  And the best part of it is that if you're local we meet up at my home to discuss the book the fourth Wednesday of every month.  It is always my favorite night of the month.  We eat good food and have interesting discussion with intelligent women.  All my favorite things in this world!


Room is about a woman who has been abducted and lives alone in a small shack with her five year old son who was born while she was in captivity.   Knowing that this was the premise, I actually expected it to be much darker than it was.  The story is told from the point of view of five year old Jack, which I think prevents it from becoming too heavy mainly because he doesn't know what is going on so much of the time.  As an adult you can figure out what is going on by the clues he gives you and by the things his mom tells him, but it is a child's version of a very horrific thing.  I appreciated this as I took this book on our east coast vacation with me and was afraid that the whole thing would get very heavy very quickly.  It didn't!

What did you think of the POV being that of the five year old?  
I will admit that the first 30 pages or so were really rough for me.  Jack is a little kid and so had a little kid way of describing things and sometimes it took me a while to figure out what he was trying to say.  It reminded me of trying to read Huck Finn or Their Eyes Were Watching God- it was like I had to get used to the dialect.  Once I did get used to his voice and his way of speaking, I loved it.  Great way to tell the story and very interesting to hear it from such a young boy's perspective.

What were your favorite parts of the book?  
-The book started a little slow for me with the routine of the "Room", but picked up as soon as Ma and Jack started thinking of ways to escape.  The escape and everything surrounding it was definitely the most exciting for me- loved the man who helped him (although I really wished that we would have seen him again in the book.  I kept thinking that he would later meet Ma so she could thank him for his help or something).  

- I loved reading about some of the getting-back-into-the-real-world stuff.  Very interesting to see everything from Jack's point of view as someone who had only seen one tiny room his whole life and then suddenly be opened up to an entire world.

-I really enjoyed the character of Ma.  I thought she was extremely complex and tough--- almost to the point of being hard to like.  (For example, when she kept snapping at the tv news reporter).  I admired her strength and resiliency, though.  I loved everything she taught Jack to do while they were in the room- the way she had a schedule for him, the way they read, the way she had a "P.E. time" so they could get exercise, the way she described everything to him.  I really loved their special little relationship.

What was your least favorite part of the book?
- I felt like the last 30-50 pages were way too slow.  I basically hated the entire part where Jack is staying with grandma.  I didn't see a huge point to it, and I felt like it really dragged out the book.  I don't know where the best stopping point for a story like this is, but that just felt unnecessary.

- I wanted a little more closure with Nick.  It was frustrating to me that we didn't get to really hear what happened with him, how he was caught, what his sentence would be, etc, etc, etc.  I understand that because this was told from Jack's POV we couldn't really know much about that as Jack himself wouldn't have known much about it.  But it was still frustrating to me.  I always need some good closure.

- Just from a technical point of view, I feel like Ma would have had many more than just two pregnancies in seven years considering the frequency with which Nick was "visiting" her.  This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.  "Why didn't she get pregnant more?  The author should have addressed that!"

What did you think of the fact that Ma still breastfed Jack?  Why do you think Donoghue chose to include that?
This was interesting to talk about at book club- almost all of us could totally understand why Ma still breastfed.  For starters, she was constantly worrying about how much food Jack was getting and if he was receiving enough nutrition so that alone made sense.  Add the closeness, the emotional bond, the fact that they only had each other in the world and I think we all kind of understood.  Of course, after they leave Room she is criticized for it, but that's the world!

Have you read Room?  Leave your comments!  I'd love to hear what you thought.  And get reading for next month!  The Martian can get quite technical for us non-science people!

Book Club Schedule 2016: