I Love Moving, Said No One Ever

Welcome to the third week of January, where we are addressing the larger question of “Why in the world would I move on purpose?” and the smaller question of “How many boxes does it take to contain college textbooks from 1992?”

When my girlfriend moved from SoCal to Missouri, a moving company showed up on her doorstep, packed the entire contents of her house including the cats, and re-fluffed the lot in her new and much colder home.

When I moved five miles across town, I packed the precious contents of my house for maybe five minutes before tossing every other item into the donation pile. It was easier for the Goodwill to store my belongings until I got my bearings in the new house. And by bearings I mean staring into a box labeled, “kitchen” and seeing a plastic chicken.

You don’t know what’s important until you have to move it.

True to the rules we laid out, let me put it to you like this:

  1. Identify the transition:
    1. I moved my family from our home of 22 years to one with a staircase in it.
  2. And its little pile of emotional baggage:
    1. I feel that houses should not come with staircases. This is, and you may quote me, a “bummer”.
  3. Here are my Pros and Cons:
    1. Pro: Free exercise for buns and thighs.
    2. Con: Not being able to see my feet when carrying items on said staircase.
  4. This is worth remembering:
    1. Buns do not enjoy landing hard on a stair edge.

To get a better idea of my wildly swinging pendulum of emotions when attempting to move, read this.

Meanwhile, let’s hear your thoughts.

PS: What is the expiration date on college textbooks? Ten years? Twenty? Just because they aren’t in the fridge doesn’t mean they won’t grow mold. Don’t ask how I know this.

Of the making of books (and other clutter) there is no end. Ecc 12:12
The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

Stalked by the Empty Nest

Well, this is it, the moment we were all waiting for: The Day the Middle Child Moves Out.

My daughters have signed a lease on a little rental for the year of our Lord, 2019, and although I am rejoicing at this next step towards raising independent strong adults, I am also standing frozen in my closet, a blouse in each hand, traumatized at the realization that I will be the only female left in a house full of testosterone.

Ready or not, the winds of change are blowing and it’s going to take an industrial sized bottle of Febreeze to get me through.

2019 is therefore dedicated to opening some conversations. Maybe some hard ones. I need help with these feels and fuzzies. I am happy and sad and worried and proud and celebratory and lonely. My nest isn’t empty just yet. It’s ridiculous. I have a big pile of feels and nowhere to swoon.

The Forgetful Files to the rescue. Our motto is “Everything Worth Remembering” and with all of the change coming around the corner this January, we need to remember Rule Number One:

Remain Calm!

We are turning our blog into a type of forum on transitions and everyone is invited to participate in the Comment box.

Because, girlfriend therapy.

For January, let’s discuss moving house, whether across town, like my family did five years ago, or across the planet, as some of my crazy rellies have done.

Jan 6th: everyone else moving and leaving you in an empty nest
Jan 13th: moving from home to college
Jan 20th: moving from house to house
Jan 27th: moving from home to an elder care facility

I was mourning the loss of accessible auxiliary jewelry (not that I could find whatever I wanted in the drifts of her cyclone-decorated room, but the good stuff was usually on the top pile) when I heard my girls discussing their imminent move.

“You’re keeping your hair drier in your room,” said one, “I don’t need it and the bathroom is teeny tiny.”

“We need a bookshelf. That’s top of the list.”

“People have to take off their shoes in the house.”

“Yeah, and no dirty dishes left in the sink.”

It gives me great satisfaction to say, “I told you so.” Kid number three, she who will not be hangered, the Queen of Quite a Lot, the distributor of flotsam in every corner of the house, was preparing a Pre-Nup in tidy little lines.

Perspective is everything, and there is nothing like moving houses to find it.

Pro: Middle Child finally cares about tidiness.
Con: I will not have access to her cute shoes either. Argh.

Please share thoughts below on an emptying nest; they are uniquely yours, and – happily for the rest of us – universal.

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young… Psalm 84:3

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

The Miracle Move

Exactly three years ago today, our family moved out of the only home we’d ever known.

I remember swinging in the entirely helpless, in-between place where we were actually homeless bums because our old house was sold and our new house was still pending in escrow.

All of our earthly possessions were squeezed into a large storage unit in the middle of town and I held the key sometimes at night, turning it in my palm, wondering if everything fell through – if somebody somewhere sneezed – if maybe we could hold a garage sale and live in the storage unit ourselves.

We’ve camped in worse.

Webster defines ‘miracle’ as an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs. Google calls it ‘a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences’.

I call it the awesome awareness that God takes a personal interest in our lives. If God wanted us to move or not move, He could accomplish it any way He chose. But what He really cares about, is whether we want to walk humbly with Him, not the other way around, regardless of ‘very welcome consequences’.

It makes swinging in those helpless, in-between places feel secure.

And sometimes things happen that are neither probable nor ordinary.

  1. Buying our new house was contingent upon selling our current one. The owners of the house we were buying were also going into escrow on their next home, which was also contingent on selling theirs to us.
  2. All three house sales were resting in the hands of a single realtor. Call her Julie.
  3. Julie had been working with the owners of the house we wanted to buy. The elderly retired doctor and his wife were in no hurry to move and wanted a significant price for their nest egg. The house went on and off the market for over a year before we noticed the sign in the front yard. And when they saw us looking at it, they took it down again.
  4. We thought perhaps this wasn’t the house we were supposed to buy. So we went looking around at other houses, just in case. All the other houses immediately went off the market and stayed there. Those left over were quite obviously not our next home. See point #11 for that thought process. Over and over, we kept winding up back at the doctor’s front door.
  5. We schmoozed Julie and wooed the good doctor for an entire school year. Kid number four was about to enter high school. If this house fell through, we were going to call everything off and stay put until the last kids had graduated.
  6. On the other hand, we had entered kid number four’s name into a lottery for the brand new high school being built across town. The one right by the house we wanted to buy. The school that, miraculously, pulled his name for fall enrollment. He was in. We weren’t.
  7. We went to town on our current house. I reduced our worldly possessions by two-thirds. If we didn’t absolutely need it, it was donated. I packed what I thought was and slowly the garage filled with packed, marked moving boxes. We painted, we cleaned, we prepped. Because when you ask for miracles, you create a space for them to occur.
  8. When the good doctor was finally ready to negotiate, he accepted our offer. This was not the price he wanted. But it was the price we needed. He wanted to stay in the house after escrow closed, for another two weeks to comfortably move into his new one. This was not the time we wanted. But it was the time he needed.
  9. We had exactly forty days from putting a sign in our front yard, to sell our house. Forty.
  10. Julie was a little taken aback with my enthusiasm. I insisted she could throw open houses every day if she wanted. What was left standing in my house took five minutes to tidy. I sat in my car, parked on the street, reading, while she showed yet another family around my home. I put out fresh flowers and baked pumpkin pies. I tried to stay out of her way.
  11. But. The family who ended up buying the house came to my door on night thirty-five, as I was dashing out for the evening. I invited them to look into every corner they wanted to, and left. Perhaps it was the honesty combined with the “my house is your house” attitude. But really, I’ve always been like that, so if they felt welcome, maybe that’s how you know you’re finally…home. On day thirty-nine, we were in escrow.
  12. Paperwork. You would not believe how much. Monopoly money flying. Just short of offering our firstborn, we managed to get approved. Homeowners Insurance in a five star Fire Hazard Zone should not have been possible.

The kids didn’t want to move. They couldn’t understand why I would pack and toss and make them clean for months if, obviously, “we weren’t moving”….

But on the day we stepped into this house, Something in their hearts said “Welcome Home”.

None of us ever looked back.

In the Hot Seat

When we moved, we had a “pivot”.

Our old house closed escrow three weeks before our new house did, and we were officially homeless.

Into the gap stepped my beloved mother-in-law. Her empty rambling house would fit us all, and would you believe it, she had booked a three week trip to New Zealand months ago for that exact time frame. Now we were house-sitters.

I had learned by this point to not even be surprised.

I had been high-fiving God on an hourly basis since the whole moving process began.

This is how He rolled.

The first week in my mother-in-law’s home was lovely. Everything that could possibly be done, was done. There was nothing left to do but get the kids to school, sift through paperwork, wait for the phone to ring.

I wandered through her sunshiny house, reminding myself that the calm before the next storm of activity was a chance to be on vacation. After putting our property into tip top condition, it was a welcome chance to rest up. (If you think we had “movers” or “housecleaners” or “gardeners” or “leprechauns” doing anything for us, you haven’t read enough of my blogs. You’re cute. No.)

When the second week of waiting began, I found myself looking sideways at the living room. We were, of course, not making messes around the house, and being tidy in general.

But maybe mom wouldn’t object if I just dusted out one row of bookcases? If I put everything back exactly into the position it’s in? She won’t notice, will she? Just to pass the time a little.

I was halfway through the den when I came to my senses.

I forced myself to put down the cleaning supplies and step outside for some fresh air.

Just look at her pretty gardens, I mused. Her hummingbird feeders glowed ruby red and roses competed with multiple arrangements of succulents.

Five minutes later, I was washing windows.

It just felt like it should all sparkle at the same time, like a fireworks show.

In the third week of our pivot, things began to shift back into momentum, and I could not help moving into the faster currents with them.

I started scrubbing shower tiles and deep cleaning refrigerators and if Hubby had not physically restrained me, I likely would have become a chimney sweep.

Mom was coming home the next day and we were leaving simultaneously, and I surveyed the house that night with more than a little dread. There was no way she was not going to notice that her house had been turbo-cleaned by a crazy person.

I really couldn’t remember doing most of it. It just sort of happened.

I looked, aghast, at the shiny stovetop and the organized tea canister and wondered if maybe I should scatter some laundry around to distract her.

Rats.

I am so sorry.

I need a hobby.

Here’s how to clean your stove. In case you need a hobby, too.

If you already crochet or ice sculpt or watercolor, you are exempt from cleaning ovens and reading the rest of this blog. You’re welcome.

For the two of you left, do this before you go to bed at night:

  • remove knobs, top racks, overhead vent mesh and run in the dishwasher with the dinner dishes
  • remove the inside racks and lay them out on an old towel in your bathtub
  • fill the tub with hot water and a half cup of dishwasher detergent until they are submerged
  • give it a swish, then soak overnight
  • remove and wipe dry in the morning before Hubby needs a shower
  • no? use a tub in the backyard or do the process inside sealed, doubled plastic trash bags
  • inside the oven, scrape out the big chunks of burnt gross with a rubber spatula
  • make a paste of baking soda and water and smear it everywhere except the heating element
  • rub it in a little if you like to play in mud, be careful to not cut your fingers on the back where the element ties in….ask me how I know this
  • remind me to install a new light bulb in there, it’s been out for months
  • smear it on the inside open oven door, too, but not the sealing gaskets

In the morning, after everyone is out of your way, take a wet cloth and wipe out all the gunk which has turned from white to black literally overnight. You can clean in your sleep! You are that good!

Just keep rinsing it all down the kitchen sink, because now it’s on it’s way to clean out the pipes too, you Wonderwoman, you.

Once you hit bedrock, there will be some smaller spots still stuck to the bottom. Stop making pizzas in there, people.

Put a little fresh baking soda paste on it, and spritz with some vinegar. Give it a rub till it comes clean. You didn’t run out of elbow grease, did you? Stop whining.

If it makes you feel better, empty the clean dishwasher and put the shiny bits back on.

There. See? Better.

Once you’ve done your worst, take a look at that window. The one you still can’t see through, even though it doesn’t matter because the little light in there burned out and you are too lazy to replace it. Ahem.

We can’t have that after all our hard work, can we? No ma’m, we cannot.

I use a razor blade to scrape out what’s still stuck to the glass window and also to remove the black rings around the burners up top. I’ve used it on glass top, stainless steel top, and traditional enamel top, muttering to the slime, “You’re not the boss of me!”

So far it’s worked out. But try a small spot in the back before you go nuts, just to be sure. Anything plastic will be scratched forever and I don’t want to hear about it in my comments section.

High Five everybody!