A Very Young Dancer Grows Up

Once upon a time, a little girl who lived in our house wanted to be a dancer. She danced all over the living room in her leotard and, eventually, in a pink tutu she got for her birthday. I don’t recall how we first found the book A Very Young Dancer, but I read it to her many, many times, and once she learned to read, she read it to herself. It became one of her very favorite books.

Though she eventually outgrew her dancing phase, she still remembers that book and recently emailed me with information about the little girl who was featured in it. Seeing the girl’s photo was like spotting a long-lost acquaintance; her face was that familiar to me. You might find her life story interesting (it’s not what you’d expect but it has a happy ending) if you, too, used to read this book to your little dancer once upon a time.

The Downsizing Chronicles: Almost There

It’s been three months since we moved to our little house, and I’m thrilled to say that we can now get one car in the two-car garage with room to spare. This was no mean trick, as the garage was literally filled to the brim with stuff (rows of stuff stacked as tall as I am) not very long ago. We’ve gone through everything, only letting into the house what we really need or want. That’s been hard, because we liked all of our stuff!

We took some ribbing from family and friends about how much stuff we had, but the fact is that I never had time to completely go through things over the years because I was too busy homeschooling my kids, and I certainly can’t regret that. Also, we kept things that would be needed for our long-held dream of living on acreage, a dream that was apparently not in God’s will, and it wasn’t until we bought this tiny house in town that we knew we could give those things up.

We took countless boxes to Goodwill. We’ve given a lot of toys and homeschooling items to friends with young children. We’ve sold a lot of things on Craig’s List. And there are a few more things that need to go, but we’re working on that.

The hardest items to give up were the books. We love books. And though we do have a Kindle with plenty of books on it, the fact is that there’s nothing like holding a much-loved book in your hands. But there just wasn’t room for all the books we loved.

I’ve sold and given away many books in the past, but there were some I could never let go of, including those I used for my kids when I first designed Life Prep for them. I’m going to be giving those away on this blog soon, because I can’t use them with my youngest.

There is an upside to all of this. As much as I miss the things we gave up, it’s very freeing to live small. The housework doesn’t take nearly as long as it did when we had five bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. The utility bills for this house are lower than the last house (90 years old with 38 windows!) and the small closets here forced us to get rid of a lot of our clothes (which weren’t getting much use anyways because we don’t have jobs and nobody dresses up at church these days.)

So I’m not complaining. And the fact that they’re predicting snow tonight and we won’t have to clean off the car tomorrow because it now fits in the garage makes me extra glad we worked so hard to get rid of all our stuff after the move  🙂

Spider Web by Earlene Fowler

One of the things I promised myself I would do after I finished homeschooling is to start reading more fiction again.

I once was an avid fiction reader. In fact, I used to read Gone with the Wind annually. But over the years of homeschooling, time for myself dwindled to the point where I rarely had time to read fiction. (I shouldn’t just blame homeschooling; my discovery of the Internet is equally responsible, I must admit!) When I did make time to read a book, it was usually Earlene Fowler’s latest Benni Harper mystery.

Now that I have the time to read fiction, I’m doing just that. Last night I finished the newest entry in the Benni Harper series, Spider Web, and really enjoyed it. The character of Benni is a woman who is intrigued by mystery and who happens to be married to a handsome police chief. Each book’s theme is related to the name of a quilt pattern; being a quilter, I appreciate that. I especially love that Ms. Fowler includes Benni’s Christian faith in every book.

And now I have yet another reason to love these books. In Spider Web, Ms. Fowler introduces a new character who will apparently turn up in the next book, and she has Down syndrome. How cool is that? I can’t wait for the next book!

The Downsizing Chronicles: I Keep Finding Things I Forgot I Had…..

….Like a few more booklets, which I’ll continue to give away free while they last. And then there are some of the books from the reading list of Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers. I don’t need them anymore because my kids are grown, and I hate to give them up because they’re great books, but I just don’t have room for them in our new little home. So stay tuned; I’ll be giving them away soon!

The Downsizing Chronicles: Getting Rid of the Good Stuff

Over our previous moves, we got rid of a lot of stuff. What remained could be grouped into three categories:

Our Favorite Homeschooling Books

Our Favorite Toys

Our Favorite Mementos

Now, since we finished homeschooling our 18-year-old in June, you might be wondering why I kept so many homeschooling books. Well, for the same reason I wanted to keep the toys: for the grandchildren I may get someday.

Yep, I know it’s silly, but I just couldn’t let go of those things. Never mind that I don’t know if my grandchildren will be homeschooled. How can you get rid of Saxon 54? Or the Miller family series of Amish stories? Or the Holling Clancy Holling books?

Did I mention that books are heavy and take up lots of boxes?

Then there are the toys. For instance, every time I looked at the Little Tykes kitchen set, I remembered my eldest two children (then ages 3 and 2) excitedly watching the UPS man as he delivered the enormous box that contained their new kitchen set, which I had paid for with Huggies points. (Do they still have those?) How could I get rid of that?

As for the mementos, I find that I lose my memories unless I find items to trigger them. So it’s hard for me to give up the items because I’ll lose the memories. That explains why I kept little fuzzy sleepers and my kids’ favorite dolls and my son’s Sesame Street metal car collection (dang, those things are heavy!)

But we no longer have room for most of these treasures. And when I think about it, why should they sit in boxes and plastic containers when other children (children who exist right this moment, as opposed to my someday-grandchildren) could be getting use out of them?

That’s why we’ve been giving things away, and selling big things on Craig’s List, and just plain clearing most of it out. It is not easy. But I think it’s the right thing to do.

(Full disclosure: I didn’t get rid of all our best homeschooling books. I’m keeping the very best on our shelves, and that includes the Saxon 54, the Millers and the HCH books. But I’ve decided I’m not keeping books in boxes anymore. So I’m keeping what I can fit on the bookshelves, and the rest have to go!)

By the way, which of your homeschooling books are your favorites, the ones you’ll never let go of?