My seven year old has, for a while now, been going through the "guess what" stage. He's not quizzing anyone, it is just become part of his speech pattern. For example, he was telling me a fairy tale the other day and it went something like this:

Isaac: So, there was this prince, and, guess what?
Me: what?
Isaac: He had two brothers. Well these brothers all decided to get married, and guess what?
Me: what?
Isaac: One of the brothers married a farmer's daughter, and guess what?
Me: what?
Isaac: The second brother married a pot-maker's daughter, and guess what?
Me: what?
Isaac: The third brother married a frog! And guess what?

It is no exaggeration when I say that this went on for over half an hour. Now, I believe strongly that listening to children is one of the most important things parents can do for that child's self-esteem, so even though my husband kept rolling his eyes at me throughout the whole story, I refused to break it off. But as much as I love my son, and as much as I love fairy tales, the whole, "and guess what?" is not very high up on the list of great story telling techniques.

But my question is, why does almost every child seem to go through this stage? It isn't just stories; every communication is riddled with "guess what's?" or the interchangeable variation, "know what?" I sometimes think that it must come from feeling ignored or brushed off - a means of confirming that the listener is still listening. It turns into a viscous cycle though, because it makes it so much harder to pay attention when the conversation is constantly interrupted. So, then, I end up listening less attentively because of the "guess what's?" I find myself needing to focus over and over again instead of letting my mind wander away and mechanically answering "what?" every time there is a pause.

Though it may sound cruel, one of the funniest things is to break the rhythm. Instead of answering with the expected "what?" I sometimes throw in a "why?" or a "nope," or the ever classic answer to "know what?": "no, but I know his brother, Who." Infantile, but when done playfully it simply elicits a response of surprise and that great look that kids seem to learn from infancy, the one that says, "you are out-of-your-mind-crazy," usually accompanied by the exclamation, "M-O-M!"

But mostly I play along, hoping that my persistent attention will eventually eliminate the need for him to confirm that I am listening. And between the "guess what's" there is a whole lot worth listening to!
Hello Blogland - we sold our house and bought a new one. Sounds okay like that, but with loan problems, legal issues, and pressure from our buyers, we weren't sure if we'd have anywhere to go at all! Our loan fell through, the buyers threatened legal action if we backed out of the contract to sell, we ended up closing on that house, renting it back for three weeks while we figured things out, came to the end of the three weeks with no solution except all seven of us in Grandma's basement, and then, miraculously, our loan barely went through in time and we were able to close on our new house!

We moved in two weeks ago tomorrow. It sounds so simple like that! All my life I've heard friends, family, random acquaintances say, "we moved," and it sounds so matter-of fact, so clinical, so opposite of what my experience was!!! I wasn't neglectful either. I diligently began early. I visited websites with ad
vice on packing, I planned out box sorting (heavy books in smaller boxes, lighter items in larger boxes), I printed off labels that listed every single item in the box for easy reference (even categorizing all of the "Books" boxes with subtitles such as "Early American Fiction," and "Mid-century British Poetry,"). I was organized and hard-working in my pursuit of an easy move. Except that it would take anyone at least a year to completely categorize every possession like that! And I felt that somewhere along the way I developed a light case of OCD - if I found a board game under a bed, and the "Board Games" box was full already, I was frustrated and massively annoyed, to the point that I almost would rather throw away the offending item than place it in a box in which it didn't belong.
As my beautiful boxes beg
an piling up nice and neat in the garage, I was satisfied and content. But before I knew it, moving day arrived. The morning began nicely - I got pictures of the kids with the Uhaul truck, and helping move my lovely, organized boxes into the truck. All was well. I felt good. Until my boxes were all in the truck and the friends and family who had come to help turned to the rest of my "stuff" and began really moving. It was ugly! Boxes were filled with any and all random objects - and there were SO MANY MORE random objects than I thought possible! Logically, seven people generate quite a bit of stuff, but it just didn't seem possible. My newly developed OCD was ramping me up to near panic as things were thrown in together without any reason or logic. As I looked around, for the first time I understood fully. I hadn't packed anything really. The stacks of organized boxes were a fraction of what needed to be moved, and I was completely unprepared.

The first truckload went to the new house, and I stayed behind to prepare for when our volunteer army of movers returned for more. I was determined to get the chaos organized; except my phone rang - Tysen had forgotten the keys to the new house. So we (remember, "I" rarely exists in my life, it is always myself and my five little satellites - thus "we") loaded in and went to the chaos at the other end. Our movers were wonderful, but they were also more practical than I was, and boxes and stuff were all either stacked in the garage or taken to the basement to expedite. In either place, my careful labeling was pretty meaningless at the bottom of the pile! I left to get everyone lunch, so I wasn't even around when Tysen got the awful phone call that his Dad was dying and he needed to come right away. I was picking up pizza when Tysen called me and simply said, "my Dad just died. Shut everything down, we'll worry about moving tomorrow."

Not knowing what else to do, I followed his instructions. When everyone heard, they thought differently. "Trust us," they said, "we can do this for you, and Tysen will be so relieved to just have it done." So we went on. I had wonderful people working in every room. We filled the truck a second time, and it went to the new house to be added to what was already there, and grow into a mountain of stuff that seemed much bigger than the house it came out of! By this time it was getting late into the evening. I stayed at the new house and put sheets over windows and tried to arrange enough space for mattresses on the floor, and find jammies to get kids to bed. I was confident that I wouldn't be needed at the old house - it was pretty much done already. Just the garage and a few random odds and ends. But I was wrong - again. Tysen was with the moving team at the old house, after spending some time with his family, but he was an emotional wreck. Over two hours later, they finally showed up at the new house with a FULL truck!! Where was all that stuff? It couldn't have been in that house!! And the random mess that came out - having run out of boxes long before - was a nightmare! But it was finally done. We had to go back and clean the house the next day, but that wasn't nearly as big as the insane, horrific day we had just had! At 2AM, Tysen and I finally collapsed on our partly assembled bed after a cold shower because the water heater hadn't been turned on. Oh, and I never mentioned that it poured rain all day long - drenching rain that disintegrated boxes and made everything muddy and miserable.

We woke up the next morning, not filled with joy at finally being in this house that we'd fought so hard to get into, but dismayed at the awful mess, and broken-hearted over my father-in-law's death. Tysen had to meet his family at the mortuary that morning, which took until late in the afternoon. We then had the no-fun job of cleaning the old house - which ended up filling up cars and our van with yet more random stuff. Eating dinner at 9PM and to bed in the wee hours again.

The next day, rainy again, was dedicated more to writing funeral talks and doing flower arrangements than to finding some order to our chaos. For a viewing and funeral, we'd need dress clothes, which I hadn't planned on needing yet, and little things like an iron. The viewing was fine, and the funeral was beautiful. Tysen gave a wonderful talk, and as he dedicated the grave, the rain began again. That crazy torrential, pouring rain that isn't typical of Utah summer, but has been freakishly come day after day. After spending the afternoon with family, I brought the kids home from the funeral. Before I had time to change my clothes though, Chloe split her head wide open playing down in the basement! Head wounds bleed like crazy, and it obviously was going to need stitches. I called Tysen to hurry home from his Mom's house, and dealt with the bleeding the best I knew how while also getting a slippery wet Evey out of the tub because she'd had a messy diaper just when we got home, that had gotten all over her. Tysen arrived and took Chloe to the KinderCare, where they put in four stitches! What a day!

So that was my moving experience. Throw into it that our washer and drier still haven't been delivered, though they were supposed to be the day we moved in, and with the rain and a yard of dirt the kids are constantly covered in mud, with no way to wash their clothes except by hand or hauling it all to a laundry-mat or neighbor's house. Consequently, I feel that my definition of "moving" has been altered permanently. I previously understood that "moving" was an isolated event - something with a beginning and an end - with the ending being when the moving truck is returned. I now look around me at the painfully slow progress, and at the days themselves, and I think that "moving" is more synonymous with natural disaster survival! It is not a point in time, but a journey that may take a very long time. (especially considering that I find odd things like my laundry trash can still full of trash among the piles of moved stuff. With so many people helping, they didn't know what was to be saved and what was trash or DI - even though I marked most of it - and so they moved it all!) And though it has been a rough road, I've decided that from here on out, I'm going to be positive and expect good things instead of never-ending disaster! For the record though - and I am an adventurous person who relishes a challenge - it would take my ultimate dreamhouse and a professional team of movers to EVER convince me to move again!!
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