States and Capitals Memory Aid

After years of struggling to get Peter to memorize the states and their capitals, I began to use this memory aid.  Posting it here so I can remember it for Mary and to share with others who may find it helpful.  Seriously, despite seeing a flash card with the shape of Virginia hundreds of times and hearing me prompt “Richmond….???” he still could not put the name to the state in which he was born.  After using these “stories,” he had the states and capitals for each area memorized in a few days.

I use these flash cards.  We would go over the stories, and I would hold up each state’s card as I introduced the prompt and told him how the prompt would remind him of the name of the capital city and the state.  The stories are corny – sometimes the crazier they are, the easier it is to remember.  And they definitely reflect our family’s culture and the things that interest us.  You might not get some of the references. The next day, I would go over the story again holding up the flash card, but I would pause before giving the clue to see if he remembered the prompt and also the capital city.  If not, I would give the clue and pause for him to name the capital, giving him the capital only if he still didn’t remember.  I would only pause for a bit – I’m not trying to torture the kid, only give him a chance to answer if he did know it but wasn’t quick.  Generally, by the 3rd or 4th day, he was able to name the capital city and state with no prompt, not even the story.  I assume he went over the story silently to himself.  The flash cards present the states in unequal groups.  I made stories based on their divisions.  Each week, I reviewed all known states and capitals in random order and then presented the new group in story order.  I would only work on the new group and any old capitals he missed the rest of the week.  By Friday, I was usually able to mix up the new group.

The stories:

The First Thanksgiving

The most famous attendee at our first Thanksgiving was none other than Caesar Augustus (Augusta, ME).  We toasted a wonderful year by raising glasses of wine made from Concord grapes (Concord, NH).  On one table was a mountain of peeled potatoes (Montpelier, VT).  For dessert we had Boston creme pie (Boston, MA).  We said a prayer of thanksgiving for Divine Providence (Providence, RI).  We thought we would run out of food, so the Indians went and hunted some harts (Hartford, CT).

The Middle States

In New York, all will bend their knee at the name of Jesus (Albany, NY).  The rent on New Jersey is expensive (Trenton, NJ).  Don’t harass the capital burg of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, PA).

Playground Recess

There is a game of red rover (Dover, DE) being played by some girls led by Anna and Mary (Annapolis, MD).  The poor kid, Charles (Charleston, WV), is getting into a fight with the rich kid from Virginia (Richmond, VA).  Other boys rally around to watch (Raleigh, NC).  There is a tall column (Columbia, SC) being used as a tetherball pole near the Atlantic Ocean which the playground is near (Atlanta, GA).  A tall lassie (Tallahassee, FL) is playing tetherball with Monty (Montgomery, AL) and Jackson (Jackson, MS).  A girl with a red baton (Baton Rouge, LA) is standing on a little rock (Little Rock, AR), twirling.  She drops the baton and it bounces off my fist (Memphis, TN) and hits a boy in the head.  Frank got hurt (Frankfurt, KY).

Murder on the Orient Express

The passengers are climbing aboard for the fateful journey.  The first one to get on is Christopher Columbus (Columbus, OH) who is carrying is sling (Lansing, MI) and a pole (Indianapolis, IN) and a Springfield musket (Springfield, IL).  Why all the weapons?

Next on board are Presidents Madison (Madison, WI) and Jefferson (Jefferson, MO).  Madison says, “I owe you da moyne.” (Des Moines, IA).  “What???” asks Jefferson.  “Sorry, I had my mouth full,” says Madison.  “I mean, the money.”  Could this be a motive?

Next on board is St. Paul (St. Paul, MN) carrying only some letters.  With that Elvis-like pompadour, he doesn’t look very saintly.  Blackmail, perhaps?  I would like to peek at those epistles (Topeka, KS).

Finally enters the victim, Lincoln (Lincoln, NE) who gets shot in the head.  His French poodle, Pierre (Pierre, SD), barked an alarm, and the first to respond was the famous detective, Hercule Poirot, who is not French, and who is traveling with Otto von Bismark who is also not French but comes from farther North (Bismark, ND).

Home on the Range

The cook, Helena Montana (Helena, MT), comes onto the porch to ring the dinner bell.  A noisy boy is peeling potatoes on one side (Boise, ID).  Bugs Bunny is there wearing his boots and hat and munching on a carrot.  “Carson City’s the capital of Nevada,” he tells you (Carson City, NV).  The rancher and his son arrive (you tall, I small).  They are drinking salt water (Salt Lake City, UT).  Another ranch hand, a bear named Colorado who lives in a den under the ranch house, crawls out in answer to the bell (Denver, CO).  Helena’s daughter is hiding in the kitchen.  They call her Shy Anne (Cheyenne, WY).

Quirky Slogans

It’s O.K. to be from Oklahoma City (Oklahoma City, OK).

It’s awesome to be from Austin (Austin, TX).

There is no snow in Mexico for Santa (Santa Fe, NM).

Free Nuts in Arizona (Phoenix, AZ).

Pacific State Party Time

We’re going to a big party in Hawaii – a luau in Honolulu (Honolulu, HI).  A friend approaches you with two other people.  He asks you, “Do you know the capital of Alaska?” as he introduces you to the man (Juneau, AK).  And then he indicates the woman, who looks like a Greek goddess in her toga and gold crown.  “And this is his wife, Olympia,” he says (Olympia, WA).  You look out past the beach to the water and see some sailboats and from them comes organ music (Salem, Oregon).  On every table are sacksa memento of the best luau ever (Sacramento, CA).

Packing Up Part II

Last week was the garage, and it looks pretty good!

I had hoped to get a head start on other areas, and that really didn’t happen.  And yesterday, Saturday, the day I think I’ll be able to get the most work done during most weeks, I got absolutely nothing done.

I did work today, and I hate to work on Sundays, so we kept it to a minimum.

One hour in the toy room.  We went through the dress up bucket and took out things that were not dress up.  We sorted Barbies and baby dolls, Ponies and Pet Shop.  We dumped the train bucket and the car bucket and took out all broken pieces and parts.  We gathered Playmobile.  We will have to do several more one hour sessions to finish sorting and organizing.

I did most of the laundry room.  One more cabinet to sort.  I found a grout cleaner and tested it on one section of the tile floor with much success.  That’s like finding a $10 bill in your jacket!

The office.  Have.not.touched.the.craft.closet.  It must be done by Friday, as must be the rest of the office.  There’s a tangle of wires and cords in some drawers that I have been avoiding as well.

Packers come in 3 weeks 2 days.

How to Pack up a 3000 SF House in Just 3 Days

It’s moving time again.  The packers come in 4 weeks and 2 days.

I am not personally going to pack up the house.  The Army Wife Union called and told me I had to either do an OCONUS (overseas) move or a move without my husband in order to maintain my Tough Chick status, and since we didn’t win the military lottery, a solo move it is.  Maybe next time, I’ll do a DTY and pack it all myself, but this time I’ll keep the stress to a moderate level. If I did do the packing, though, I could do it in 3 days, since the movers will send 3 people to pack and they will be done in 8 hours.

There’s a trick to that, though, of course.  Right now, my house is not ready for packing, and it would probably take twice as long to get the job done.  And it would be a disaster at the other end.  And we would move things we don’t want to move.

In order to have a smooth, easy pack-up and move, hours and hours of prep work must be done.  Since I am going through the process a bit earlier than most, I thought blogging about it might be of immediate help to others moving in June or July.  It is so much easier to pack a neat and tidy house.  It is even easier to pack that house when things have been consolidated.  Ziplock loves me almost as much as the movers do.  Any items that will fit inside a zipping bag will be in a zipping bag: forks and spoons, pens and pencils, the detritus that composes at least one or two drawers or bins in every one of my children’s rooms.  Decorative items that had been placed artistically on shelves will be separated from books and collected in one spot.  All toiletries throughout the whole house will be grouped together, as will all the linens, and all the curtains, and all the cleaning products.

Yesterday, 5 Saturdays before the packers come, I started with the garage.  I do not have a shed or a basement, but all these storage areas are where you should begin.  I know well the temptation to declutter and pack up the stuff you trip over on a daily basis, and if you have extra time (more than 4 weeks) perhaps doing some of that would be a good idea.  I did my usual thorough cleaning the week before Easter, which will help me tremendously in the next month.  But the problem with doing some areas too soon, especially if you have children, is that you will just have to do them again.  A tidy linen closet lasts about a week around here.  An organized food storage cabinet (Tupperware) gets 2 days, if I’m lucky.

In my garage, I cleared one section for things that I need to get rid of.  If it were just things to give to Goodwill, then I might put them straight in the van.  But I have things for specific people, and I need an out of-the-way spot to put them until I can arrange to deliver them.  In another section of the garage, I cleared a space for things that are not to be packed and moved.  This includes tools to disassemble beds and make home repairs, some spackle and painting supplies, a pop-up dog crate, a replacement bin for one in the fridge that the kids broke 2 years ago and I won’t install until the day we leave, and sleeping bags for the night after the truck leaves.  I’m sure more things will be added as I think of them.

I spent about 4 hours on the garage yesterday, and I’m 90% done.  I’m a little surprised, but I did spend at least 4 hours out there last month going through all the clothes buckets, swapping out Florida winter supplies (jeans and long-sleeve tees) for summer clothing, and getting rid of bags and bags of things we no longer want or need.  All I really have left to do is the camping supplies: consolidating family gear and setting aside things the boys still need for 2 more camp outs and summer camp.  I think the boys and I will be able to do that after school one afternoon this week.

I will also get a head start on my next areas: the laundry room, the office with the craft closet, and the toy room.  Both the crafts and the toys may require a stern lecture and a secure lock to keep them in order.  We will have to decide what we can live without for a few weeks.  The other big headache with the office is that I want to consolidate all my husband’s “pro gear” in one area.  Pro gear, anything related to my husband’s military career, is boxed separately and that weight doesn’t count against our allowable maximum.  I think he’s down to one box of equipment in the garage, and now most of the weight is in books.  Some are in the office, and some are in the living room.

After that, I’ll move on to the areas of the home we use frequently, and that gets tough.  Hopefully I’ll have time to blog as I make progress.