“You’ve got to make lists in life….Lists are magical—that’s because they develop a life of their own. Once you start one, it insists on being continued ad infinitum…. A list is never complete, remember. One thing leads to another, and—bingo—it contains items you’d never thought of before. And all because you started to write them down…. I tell you, lists are the mechanics of the subconscious.” Aunt Poldi, from Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
Every summer I read a lot of fiction. I aim for a book or two a week. I stay up too late reading and read early in the morning if I can. I’m not sure if this started in the 8th grade with my first summer reading list for school or if it has been a more recent development but summers are for fiction in mass quantities.
When I read Auntie Poldi pontificate to her nephew, an aspiring writer, about lists, I highlighted it. My mind has been in list-mode for months. Lists of things to pack, lists of things to sell, lists of things to do, lists of people to email, lists of lists I need to make. Upon arriving, my brain has kept making lists. I’ve started blogging again and most of everything I think to write about is in a list. With a nod to Aunt Poldi and without further comment, here’s a list of ten things I’m glad I packed.
1. Language learning toys. As I’ve mentioned before, we use a play-based, comprehension-driven language learning approach. This means we use a lot of toys and manipulatives as we seek to first listen and understand before we talk. I’m so glad I brought all the language learning toys I did. There are still some gaps in my language kit but I’m grateful I haven’t had to start from scratch.
2. Water bottles. No dishwasher, four kids and two adults, and significant heat yields a lot of dirty cups to wash at the end of the day. I brought water bottles for each of my kids and on the days when we have those ready for them, the dishes are much more manageable by bedtime.
3. My Ergo baby carrier. Herding a biggish family around a truly big city using public transport and walking means having my hands free is essential. I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere or accomplish anything without this baby carrier. It’s hot when I wear it and my son and I both sweat through a lot of layers of clothing but it’s worth every drop of sweat.
4. Art supples. I tend to focus on duty and responsibility to the exclusion of creativity. Being in a new environment reminds me of how much I like to write, draw, paint and letter as I process a new world and a new life experience. Sometimes I need to set my hand or paintbrush to paper and I’m glad I brought some supplies.
5. Kids’ books. We are currently staying at an apartment that belongs to some friends who are away on holiday and visiting family in their home country for about 6 weeks. Their generosity in opening their home to us has been such a gift. Since they have three kids and bookshelves full of books (and toy cabinets full of toys), our things have remained packed in our suitcases. We are essentially using everything we had in our carry on luggage over and over again. In the last few days, I had to search through some of our bags for some items needed in our language lessons. I started pulling out some of the children’s books I packed. Books are friends indeed. Ferdinand and Chrysanthemum, Frog and Toad and Toot and Puddle brought me great joy as I read them to our daughter. Humans are defined by story in many ways and the children’s literature that accompanies us first as kids and then as parents is a significant part of that.
6. A family journal. I have a simple notebook that I record things in for our family. New Year’s resolutions and intentions, reflections on experiences we’ve had as a family, gratitude lists. I brought it with us and have started asking a question a few times a week, like “What was the best thing about this week?” “What do you miss most about home?” and “What has been the hardest thing about moving?” I trust that one day these words will be a treasure for us all as we remember this transition.
7. Pacifiers. I get plenty of negative feedback about my three year old having a pacifier. My personal rule is that no one who has to make a major move or have a sibling has to give up a pacifier at that point, regardless of age. When you have to go through both in a three month period, your mom packs extra pacifiers. And she’s glad she did.
8. A learner’s attitude. I’m not doing it perfectly but I’m glad I packed the attitude of learning and exploration. I could have read a bunch of books about where I am and come in “knowing” how “they” do it. Instead I’m just watching and observing and delaying judgment. I feel like I’m learning a lot.
9. My Kindle. Having access through my library account to new books has been so important to our whole family. We’re able to read aloud books with our older two without having to buy them all ourselves. We can get new books and expand our repertoire without having to buy a book we end up not finishing. Being able to use our Kindles here has meant we can keep reading, feeding our minds, hearts and souls with stories and ideas.
10. Kitchen supplies. My husband and I had differing opinions about how important it was that my pots and pans came with us. He assured me I could buy high quality pots and pans here (and I’m sure he’s right). Still I’m glad I brought my nice pots and pans. I wish I had made room for cookie sheets and muffin tins. But those things I wish I had brought belong to another list on another day.