Category Archives: Moving

The Box Rebellion

Sunday

“Mama, we go HOME.”

“We are home, Ellie, this is our home now.”

“No, Mama, dis is new house, not home. I wanna go HOME now!”

“Our stuff isn’t there anymore, sweetpea, it’s here in this house. Your bed is here, your toys are here, Mama and Daddy and Benjamin are here. See?”

“I wanna go home.”

“This is where we live now, bunny.”

“No, thank you. It NOT.”

Monday

“Mama, we going home now?”

“Yes, we’re going to the new house. That’s our home.”

“No!” *pouting, tears*

We take her to the old house to show her that nothing is there anymore. Then we go home.

Tuesday

I turn left at the light onto our new street. Ellie is in the back seat clutching her doll.

“Mama, we go to the new house now?”

“Yep, we’re going to the new house now.”

“YAY!”

It was unprecedented. The 2-year-old was suddenly, inexplicably able to triumph over her typical rigid and maladaptive nature, adjusting to the new house in only three days. Benjamin did an equally good job. I’d love to take credit and write something profound about how I leveraged the concepts of consistent, compassionate parenting in order to effectively manage change in my children’s lives – but really, they did a good job all on their own with little input from me. The Lesson: Sometimes if you get out of your kids’ way and stop talking so much, things just fall into place.

(Now that I’ve said that, it’s certain that the first thing Benjamin will bring up to his future therapist is the time he was ripped away from the only home he ever knew, and everyone acted like it was no big freakin’ deal. Unfeeling monsters! Passive aggressive manipulators! Emotionally numbed-out zombies who eat children’s tender beating hearts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!)

Speaking of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I unpacked the kitchen first. Because BY GOD, WE HAVE TO EAT. Clothes? Medicine? Toiletry items? Books? Ppppffffftttt. I still haven’t unpacked all of that stuff. But all the food is right where I can find it.

Also unpacked and/or installed: televisions, blinds, wireless Internet, pet supplies, and sod. I’d love it if we were the kind of people who rushed to unpack their art studio first thing, or their cherished world-travel memorabilia, or even their home gym equipment…but alas, we are not those people. We are people who unpack the food and televisions first, and race to ensure that we have blinds up so the children sleep as long as possible in the morning.

I’ve given myself until the end of next weekend to get all of the rest of the boxes unpacked. The main motivation is that I’m tiring of conversations following this general template:

“Have you seen my _________?” (Fill in anything, here. Shampoo. Book. Health-sustaining medication. Cat.)

“No. Did you look in the box in the dining room?”

“Which one?”

“The one on the top? Or maybe it’s in the box in the coat closet.”

“No, I looked there. That box is full of cleaning supplies and toddler clothes.”

“Oh. Well, there’s a box of Christmas decorations in the half bath. It could’ve gotten thrown in there.”

“Christmas decorations in the half bath?”

“Yeah. I was carrying the box, and that’s where I got tired.”

“I’ll just go look in the garage. There are tons of boxes in there, still.”

“Good idea. Maybe someday we’ll actually be able to park a car in there!”

Or a bike, at least.

As usual, I’m being slightly hyperbolous. It’s not really that bad. There are not any boxes in the half bath (anymore). We are not missing the cat. Even now, there is room to park a bike in the garage. But anyone who has moved recently knows what I’m talking about. It’s like living in a convoluted cardboard maze. And no matter how carefully you label the boxes (oh, if only I’d labeled carefully), there is just no way to know where everything is until you’ve unpacked every last one of them.

Given my history, that will probably occur sometime around 2015.

MY SANITY IS IN ONE OF THESE
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If Walls Could Talk

In recent days, I have become a professional at packing, taping, and stacking boxes. I had been feeling really smug about my packing efficiency quotient (PEQ), but then I started packing up the kitchen. Dishes are a real pain, you guys. All the wrapping. And pots are no picnic either, mostly because of the handles. They’re so pointy and poke-y and unbendable.

It’s been hard, too, to pack with the kids around, so most of the packing has been taking place at night. Except when Benjamin got out a suitcase one busy morning last week and started stuffing his clothes into it.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Packing up my clothes so we can move to the new house, Mama!”

“Good job! Except we don’t need to pack up your clothes yet, because we’re not going for another week or so.”

“But I’m so excited to live there!”

“Me too, sweetie!”

“But…Mama? I think our old house is going to really miss us.”

“So you think that the house has feelings like we do, and it will feel sad when we’re not here anymore?”

“Yeah. I think it’s going to feel really, really sad.”

I know what he means. I was going to explain to him that houses aren’t living things with feelings, but I didn’t. Because when I was a little girl, I felt exactly the same way. I remember riding in the back of my parents’ car as they drove it to the dealership to trade it in, lying on the seat, tightly hugging the upholstery (this was, of course, before seat belt laws). As though I was bidding farewell to a dear loved one, tears streamed down my cheeks as I whispered, “We loved you, car. Thank you, car. I’ll miss you, car. You were a good, good car.”

Such a little drama queen! Now we know where Ellie gets it.

Anyway, I told him that story, and I added that even though I was sad to leave our old car, we got a nice new car that was great, and that the old car ended up taking care of another family. I said that our house was going to take care of some new people, too.

“So the house won’t be lonely,” I said, “because there will be new people here to keep it company. Does that make you feel better?”

“No, it doesn’t. Because it will still miss us.”

Again, I couldn’t argue, even though I’m a “grown-up” now and should “know better.” Sure, I could’ve explained that he was simply projecting his own feelings on the house as a convenient way to avoid difficult emotions, blah blah blah. But he’s five, and also, I’m not entirely convinced myself that the house won’t miss us.

So I said that we could do things like drive by the house and wave, and open the window and yell, “I miss you, house!” I said we could talk about the house any time, and that he could have some pictures of the house in his new room.

“Really? That would be great!” he said. “Then I won’t forget how it was here.”

I won’t forget how it was here, either. I won’t forget moving in with The Daddy, youthful and childless, thrilled to start a new life with a garage AND space for a guest room and home office. The elaborate Christmas Eve dinners I tried to cook in my miniscule kitchen to impress my new in-laws.  Laughing on the big back deck with my girlfriends. Renovating the bedroom 7 months pregnant. Kissing my newborns’ cheeks in the big chair in the family room. Avoiding the squeaky floorboard in the nursery in the middle of the night. The way I felt instantly comforted, walking through the door after a long day.

What Benjamin will eventually understand is that those feelings and memories have almost nothing to do with the house. Someday, maybe very soon, he’ll understand that home is wherever we all are – wherever we’re laughing, singing, playing, squabbling, cooking, sleeping, dreaming.

Regardless: We loved you, house. Thank you, house. We’ll miss you, house. You were a good, good house.

Buy One…Get Three Free!

I’ve started several posts recently, but my brain activity is too random and unfocused to string sentences together. If you cracked open my skull to look for brains, you would find only a disorganized swirly jumble of the the following words:

New house PACKING sod and sprinklers ONE MILLION DOLLARS mortgage approval furniture chocolate LIGHT FIXTURES puppy fence Benjamin caramel doctor appointments PUPPY moving truck new socks CLOSING DATE Ellie’s molars cheese sticks grocery list BLINDS AND TOWEL BARS The Daddy’s birthday water meter township taxes PAINT COLORS appliances carpet cleaner rental agreement and a small sign that reads BRAINS NO LONGER LIVE HERE.

The good news is, our garage sale went really well, far better than I had expected. True, setting up the thing was miserable; I was out there for hours, hemming and hawing and moving things around, but in the end it was pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself. I had things set up in zones – there was a baby stuff zone, a toy zone, a mysterious manly hardware-type-stuff zone, a clothing zone, etc. I held the sale with my friend, and we felt quite smug on Friday morning when we had an initial rush of customers. But then it rained. We managed to entertain ourselves by buying each other’s stuff, which isn’t really the best way to optimize earnings. Then we got hungry, so we spent the rest of the morning’s profits on having lunch delivered. We couldn’t go inside and MAKE lunch, silly – what if a herd of demanding customers came?

In my garage sale ad, I had said that if you came to the sale and told me a joke, I’d give you a discount. People were intrigued by this offer, and I heard quite a few jokes. Quality varied, however, and I’ve forgotten most of them. One was about an elderly couple sharing a single pair of dentures at a restaurant – I remember that one. The best were the jokes that kids told me, because I could tell they had practiced on the way over. Ellie likes to tell this old standard, with a twist all her own that she thought up at the playground:

“Mama, why did the chicken cross the road?”
“Why, Ellie?”
“To get to the other SLIDE!”
*collapses in giggles*

See there, how my mind just wanders off topic, willy nilly? We were talking about the garage sale, and now I’m telling you about Ellie writing her own jokes. I’ve really got to keep it together. Speaking of keeping it together, did you hear about the leper who laughed his head off? (Yeah, I remembered THAT one.)

Anyway: Things didn’t really pick up until the second day. Shoppers were confused by my off-the-wall strategy, which was to agree to whatever price they suggested, then lower it and throw in extra stuff. It would go like this:

“How much for this stroller?”
“What do I have it marked at…$15?”
“Yeah. Will you take $10?”
“Absolutely! And I’ll throw in that baby blanket too.”
“Oh…well, thanks! I’m also thinking about this baby gym.”
“Sure thing! I’ll give you the stroller, blanket, and baby gym for $7.”
“So I get all three things for $7? I thought we started at $10???”
“We sure did…tell all your friends!”

I considered it a volume discount. My goal was to get the stuff out of my garage, and for the most part it worked. Despite my pre-sale angst, I really liked holding the sale.  I got to sit outside all day and chat with interesting people who told me jokes. AND I made around $350, even with my loosey goosey “sales strategy.”

One thing that surprised me was that none of my kids’ Halloween costumes went. I was selling them for two dollars. TWO DOLLARS. These are nice costumes, too – I don’t skimp on Halloween. For example, look at this picture of Benjamin in his very first costume when he was four months old:

CUTEST GOLDFISH EVER

You said, “Awwww!” didn’t you? If you didn’t, you’re dead inside and should seek counseling immediately. But really, TWO DOLLARS.  How is it possible that no one bought this freakin’ adorable fish costume? On the first day I was cool about it, but on the second day, I started pleading with people to please, PLEASE, think of Halloween, think of the children, get an early start, don’t you know anyone who needs a costume for their baby or young child? Perhaps the crazed look in my eye drove them away. One lady humored me and tried to contact her friend by both phone and text, but alas, no luck. Her “friend” intently ignored her, which in my opinion is her loss. Hmph.

Anyway, want a fish costume? $2. And if you buy two, I’ll give you both for $1. And I’ll throw in a waffle iron and a subwoofer. Tell all your friends!

OCTOPUS: EVERY KID'S HALLOWEEN DREAM

32 Points of Procrastination

It always starts the same way.  I throw open my closet doors with unbridled enthusiasm and every intention of ending up with a neat, organized space.

But then here’s how it goes, every time:

1. What the @&#*! is this?
2. Ohhhhh…right. This is part of that whatchahoozit baby carrier thing we got that one summer.
3. I wonder if we still have that?
4. Probably not.
5. *throws out the piece*
6. Hmmm…brown pants. I wonder if these still fit.
7. *tries on pants*
8. God, I wish I could still wear these pants. I wore these pants with that really soft sweater.
9. But I haven’t seen that sweater in awhile…I wonder if I left it at the cleaners?
10.*halfheartedly looks through sweaters*
11. Oh, but look! Here’s the purse that goes with it. Purses ALWAYS fit!
12. *sits down, rifles through purse*
13. Hey! My lost library card! *opens zippered pocket*
14. Lip gloss…old gum…antacids…appointment reminder. Must’ve carried this purse while pregnant. (Tipoff: Antacids)
15. Oooooh, I should sell all my maternity clothes in the garage sale! Where did I put those?
16. Although we could still have another baby…
17. Don’t be insane!
18. *shudders*
19. Well, hellllooooo, spring jacket! Too bad I didn’t find you this spring when I needed you.
20. And right there next to you, there’s the dress I thought I donated.
21. This must be the Bermuda Triangle section of the closet? Maybe I’ll find Hoffa, wearing the shoes I lost.
22. Not unless they’re cement shoes! HAHA
23. Somebody was just raving to me about their Bermuda vacation. Who was that? I wonder how long the flight is.
24. *picks up iPhone, Googles flight length to Bermuda* Only 2 1/2 hours!
25. *checks Facebook, Words with Friends, completes quick level of Angry Birds*
26. Okay, time to get serious. *stretches*
27. My pretty pink shoes…keep? Sell? Donate? They’re a bit specific. And slightly absurd.
28. I think the last time I wore them was to that fantastic restaurant with The Daddy.
29. Where we ate those delicious crab cakes.
30. And the chocolate mousse with the brandy in it.
31. I’m hungry.
32. *leaves closet in shambles to forage for food*

So there it is, that’s the pattern. I start cleaning out or organizing something and instantly develop a raging case of attention deficit disorder. My mother could go into a professional organizer’s house and show them what they did wrong, but I just spin my wheels and get confused and frustrated, and sometimes hungry.

The good news is that we’re moving in only 3 1/2 weeks, so I’m sure to find everything then. And this weekend is…drum roll…the garage sale! I’m really doing it this time. I even placed an ad and everything, so it’s really official and I can’t back out.

I can’t wait to see how much money I make selling maternity tops and old lamps!

MY ATTENTION SPAN: LOST OVER THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE

Move It or Lose It. I Pick Lose It.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I should’ve been thinking about our nation’s fallen soldiers and their indescribably generous, selfless sacrifice. And I did think about them – don’t get me wrong – but not as much as I should’ve. Hopefully someone else thought about them more than they expected to, so much so that their over thinking balanced out my under thinking, and the appropriate gratitude level was eventually achieved and maintained. Because what I was thinking was HOLY SWEET CRACKER SANDWICH, WE’RE MOVING IN SIX WEEKS!!!!

Way back in the olden days of college apartment living, six weeks would’ve seemed like a long time to prepare for a move. For example, I might’ve delayed panicking until maybe six days (hours?) before moving. I’d be sitting on the couch, maybe eating a cracker sandwich, and it would suddenly hit me that I had some packing to do. “Hey – I’d better get some boxes from somewhere,” I’d think, “and maybe find a friend with a truck or something.” I’d sit there some more, pondering the situation, and then decide not to think about it until “later” because the evil thoughts were making my stomach hurt. Inevitably, it would all come together at the last minute and my stuff would get from point A to point B (where point = tiny apartment) and everything would be fine. Ah, the magical days of yore.

THIS time, I’ve got the stuff that accumulates during 14 years of marriage (we got married the month I finished grad school). That’s 14 years of saying things like, “Lookatthis! We could really use a cool cappuccino maker/this totally boss reciprocating saw/a fascinating instructional coffee table book about origami/this awesome treadmill!”

And boy howdy – kids really add to the Useless Crap Accumulation Factor (UCAF). Which is probably the biggest reason I need to follow through with the garage sale.

To compare, here’s an approximation of what I moved from my adorable, tiny one-bedroom apartment:

1. Two surly cats (one of these creatures still lives with me, despite being 498 in human years)
2. Clothes, easily contained in 2 large garbage bags
3. Several mismatched plates, a cereal bowl, 3 coffee mugs, and a few pieces of flatware
4. A pot, and also a pan
5. A coffeemaker
5. A twin bed
6. 2,000 pounds of textbooks
7. A vacuum
8. A large computer desk (and a computer, which had only been recently acquired after I finally abandoned my electric typewriter)
9. A love seat and a papasan chair, which was dangerously prone to tipping over
10. 2 lamps
11. A color TV that was reluctant to display colors
12. A coffee table that I found on the side of the road
13. Cleaning supplies
14. 6-ish bottles of shampoo, give or take (a gal needs options)

Even packing up the contents of my current pantry cupboard and refrigerator (not to mention the separate freezer in the basement) is enough to make my brain go on a terror-induced shutdown. I would give anything to only have to deal with the contents of my grad school refrigerator:

1. A half-eaten container of sesame noodle salad
2. One quart of milk, used only as a cereal accompaniment
3. A nearly empty bottle of Boone’s Farm Country Kwencher
4. A small container of tabbouli
5. Hot sauce

Anyway, if you could send any encouraging energy my way in the upcoming weeks, the kind of energy that promotes organized packing skills and the ability to sell and/or throw out one’s useless worldly possessions, I’d really appreciate it. And if you happen to be kind of person who likes doing that kind of thing, COME ON OVER. I’d even repay your generosity with fascinating coffee table books and hardly-ever-used small kitchen appliances.

COST OF MOVING: ELEVENTY BILLION ORIGAMI ELEPHANT DOLLARS

Image via Wikipedia

Garage Sale Grump

First, I want to say that it took me three days to write a post that would normally take me 20 minutes or so, because of THE PUPPY. It’s just like having a newborn again, except it’s completely different. My human newborns didn’t bite me with tiny razor-sharp teeth, nor did they bark, dump their water bowls over, or chase the cat. Yesterday, Benjamin said, “Can we get some more puppies?” and immediately, in perfect unison, The Daddy and I issued a firm NO.

Despite the rambunctious streak, she’s very sweet and amazingly cute. See?

MAYA, 10 WEEKS OLD

The other big thing going on is that we have a closing date on our new house. In July! Which means we’re moving! And we need to get serious about it. We definitely don’t want to take everything with us, so I’ve finally decided to have a garage sale. For real.

I say “for real” because I claim to be planning a garage sale every single spring. Someone will say to me, “I’m having a garage sale next week,” and I invariably reply, “Oh! I’m going to have a garage sale this summer too!” And then I spend some time explaining how I say the same thing every year, but THIS year is going to be different. THIS will be the year I actually DO it. But have I ever done it?

Nope.

And here’s the reason: I am completely stymied when I start thinking about the logistics of the whole thing. It’s not the location – no siree, I currently live on the corner of an extremely busy 4-lane street. Hundreds, possibly thousands of people will see my garage sale without any advertising or signage at all. Nor am I worried about placing ads or collecting money or talking to strangers or fighting off the pushy early birds. I’m not even really worried about pricing, because pricing can and will change throughout the weekend, based upon what it is, what time it is, and if they are genuinely nice when they ask me for a lower price.

What I’m worried about is organization. Displaying things. I don’t want to put stuff on the ground on blankets because nothing annoys me more than to go to a garage sale and spend my time looking at the ground. So I need tables, or some other manner of raised flat surface. I don’t have a surplus of tables in my house, so then I think, “Okay, I’ll rent some.” And then I look into that and realize the cost will take a major bite out of my profits. Without fail, someone responds to this complaint with something like, “Get creative! Put old doors on saw horses. Hang things on a ladder. Put a piece of wood on a barrel and use that as a table!”

I want to kick the people who say that to me right in their well-meaning shins, because if I was creative I wouldn’t be suffering this mental organization disorder, and plus, who has a collection of barrels just lying around? Whatever would I have bought in barrel form? What are all you people buying in barrels, for heaven’s sake? Wine? Whiskey? Monkeys? Laughs?  And after the monkeys have climbed out and are swinging from your curtains, where are you storing the empty barrels? I can’t even think of anything I would need an entire barrel of, other than maybe chocolate. Or patience.

So you can see my dilemma. My brain gets overwhelmed by hellish visions of being up all night, feverishly constructing complicated, multi-tiered displays out of ladders and fishing line and saw horses and BARRELS and duct tape, and then I just call the whole thing off. Who needs that kind of stress?

Anyway – off to Costco to buy a barrel of laughs for my garage sale. If you have a barrel at your house, I seriously want to know the following things: 1) what came in it (beer doesn’t count…we’re not in college anymore), 2) where you got it,  3) if it’s ever come in handy, and 4) where you store it. And if I can borrow it.

SELFISH BARREL HOARDERS
Image via Wikipedia