Friday, May 22, 2015

7 Quick Takes: #OneMoreDay

Photo by: Smallman12q; Oregon Transportation Department

1) We got the place.  We signed a lease on Wednesday and so we've been busy setting up utilities.  So excited!

2) HB is under the weather.  I took him to the doctor on Wednesday who said that his age they don't do anything for him.  The doc said that his eyes looked clear (he's rubbed them so raw though) and his ear is a little pink but not red enough to warrant anything.  I'm not thrilled.  HB's not been feeling well and I can't give him any over-the-counter remedies besides Advil.  Nor will the doc hear his mother's concerns over pink eye out.  :/

3) Meanwhile Knee's pretty much been watching Lego whatever while I pack.  He's not sick so I knock on wood that the rest of the family is able to resist whatever nasty bug HB has.  Otherwise you'll be hearing me complain about how every time we move someone is sick.

4) Today is HB's last day of school and Hubby's last day of work.  Tomorrow the movers show up and help us put our stuff in a Uhaul.  We're not crazy and think it'd be much faster this time to have a few hired hands come out and put the stuff in the truck.

5) Sunday morning we set out and hope for a smooth operation getting across the border.  The average time (according to the paper work) is 45 minutes.  Theoretically it will be easier going back because 1) we won't have been driving for days on end but rather only 2 hours and 2) we're US citizens so there's not the head ache of visas and whatnot.  We just have to show our passports and fill out forms to bring back all our stuff into the US.  I've saved and gathered every shred of paperwork including the car title so that we can just hand it over the agents.  "See look, these garbage cans came from the US."

6) If you find that you're moving, you may want to check out my packing tips.  I plan on also writing a moving tips list as some point, but I think finishing things up around here might be higher priority.  

7)  Well I can't think of anything and the youngster has declared "Lego Star Wars" so....

Thanks to This Ain't the Lyceum

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Things You Like to Hear Your Husband Say

I'm pretty hard on clothes.  If I hate something, I give it up.  If I love something, I wear it a lot.  After I destroyed two skirts beyond my ability to repair them and later lamented that most of clothing is dark and totally not spring like, my husband said to me "well, we should probably fix that after we move.  You shouldn't be wearing black all the time."  Exactly.

Thredup has also announced that they will be lowing prices starting June 1st.  *rubs hand greedily* Plus I'm familiar enough with Tucson to know where all the thrift stores are.

And since I've been talking about moving into the house my husband basically said I can set it up how I'd like.  "Get what you need to organize the house.  I don't want it to look like we're living out of boxes and making do.  Oh, and I think the boys need a real bed."  The boys have been sleeping on floor level mattresses forever.  As my husband said, we think that their old enough now to handle actual beds.  Then he said he also wanted a guest bed too. 

We've discussed it and think that a junior loft bed will be perfect.  HB can sleep on the top and Knee can upgrade to a twin sized mattress on the floor.  But knowing them Knee would prefer the top.  It should save on space.  Here's a pic of what I've got in mind.
And I've seen pics of people totally tricking them out by adding curtains and rods along the bottom so there's privacy below.  Plus it's called junior because it's only about 4 feet off the ground and it's not a full bunk bed, which is recommended for older children.

So excited!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Packing Tips

I've moved a lot over the course of my life.  So here and there I've learned a few things about packing.  I've decided to share some of my tips with you (and for future reminders to myself).

Lisa Risager

1) Get Boxes Meant for Moving- Unless you are moving just yourself across town using only your car over the course of a week, I recommend using boxes actually designed for moving as opposed to boxes you get from Wal-mart.  The reason is because boxes that are designed for moving are easier to stack in a moving van (unless you are hiring movers who would tell you they too prefer moving boxes).  They also are usually in better shape to withstand the force of other boxes being put on them.  Unless you want to play Tetris with your moving van for four hours or leave it up to fate if your grandma's fine china will survive, buy/get the dang moving boxes.  You can always reuse them later or give them to someone else.

2) Save your wrapping paper- Sounds like it would be the 1st thing to go right?  It's cheap and yet not easy to pack.  But it's perfect for wrapping your breakables in.  And unlike the newspaper, it doesn't leave ink on your glassware. 

3) Think before you toss or pack- You have to weigh the cost of replacing an item versus it's weight or bulk that will add to your packing.  Movers will factor the weight of your stuff.  If you move yourself, you have to think in terms of space.  If it's an item that you rarely use, you may want to consider foregoing packing it altogether especially if you can make do.

4) Turn your plates on their sides- If you turn your plates on their sides there's less pressure.  If you don't, the ones on the bottom have more pressure on them and could break. 

5) Pack up the heavy stuff in smaller boxes- And watch your weight.  If you feel the box is getting too heavy, pack in something lighter like towels, clothes, or blankets or crumpled newspaper. 

6) Don't pack your fabrics in their own box- You'll want to use them for fragile items or heavy boxes.  There's no sense in packing your grandma's fine china and then spending money on packing material when you can pack her quilts or crochet blankets in the same box to prevent breakage. 

7) Labels are a point- I've heard people suggest color coding, but movers don't care.  They simply grab boxes load them up on a dolly and shove them wherever.  You can tell them the boxes with red labels are for the kitchen but then you might end up with the office stuff mixed in.  The movers only care about furniture placement.  You can easily sort out your boxes later.  Just tell yourself what the contents are.  You may want to star things that you'll need to open first like bedding and kitchen ware.

8) Leave clothing in drawers- And if your moving yourself unless the stuff is breakable, leave it all in drawers.  When you move your furniture, just remove the drawer and then replace the drawer.  No sense it having extra boxes when there's empty space. 

9) Don't over pack or underpack- If the box has a bulge it won't sit nicely in the stack of boxes.  If it has too much space at the top, the boxes on top could cause the box to slowly compress.  Stuff that box with newspaper if you have to, but keep them as full as possible.

10) Put your small items into something else- Have a huge collection of knitting needles? Use a bag.  Lots of spools of thread? put them in a smaller box and then in the big box.

11) Put all the stuff going with you in your car- That way anyone helping you move won't get confused.  You also want to keep anything flammable (as moving companies won't accept it), special documents, or highly important with you.  I don't load my instruments into a truck.  It's not good for their up keep and I don't want them stolen.  And don't forget nail polish and hair spray are flammable.

12) Keep some zip locks around- You'll need it for the bolts for your dining room table or bed. 

13) Tools should be the last thing on and 1st thing off- You'll need them for diss-assembly and reassembly of furniture. 

14) It's never too early to pack- You may be thinking "Well I've got a couple of months." Yes, but trust me pack now in case something crops up.  You always have something out of season that you can pack.  There's always something you can do without.  Start from there.

15) Sorting is a pain- Make sure that you understand that weight and bulk are a factor in the cost of moving.  So if you haven't used an item in over a year and it has no value to you, get rid of it.  You can sell it, donate it, or trash it.  You may also find stuff you borrowed and need to return.  Designate a spot in your house for things to return and use special boxes or bags for things you plan to donate or sell. 

And now I think a post about moving long distances may be in order.  Hope my tips were helpful.  Cheers!

Friday, May 15, 2015

7 Quick Takes: #WeWillPrevail

1) I haven't done much packing this week.  Mostly I've been trying to get rid of things: a box of pullups, my husband's old surround sound, that sort of thing.

2) We've found a place we'd like to rent.  We've gotten approval and we've sent out a deposit, but we haven't gotten a lease yet.  Currently the online listing says that the property is now off market so I'm hoping that maybe Hubby got sent an e-mail. If you're interested in hearing about it, check out this post

3) In the meantime I'm trying to get a bunch of house work done because how am I to pack dishes over the weekend if they are all dirty.

4) Likewise I packed up a lot of winter clothing to have a cold snap move in.  Fortunately I had left the box unsealed expecting odd weather.  Now I'm fretting about what to pack as we move south and west.  We'll go from spring-like clothing to summer over the course of a week.  Suggestions?  The only thing I can think of is packing up hoodies and hoping the kids won't get too cold.

5) I'm trying not to stress.  If you remember my tale from last time's move, you will understand why I'm trying not to think of all that will and could potentially go wrong.  If you want to relive my harrowing moving experience, click here and here. Update and here.

6) Knee is somewhat grudgingly wearing normal clothing.  For a while all he would wear was spiderman pjs, but I've hid those in a box.  So far he's asked for them, but I've refused.  Victory is mine!

7) HB is still super excited about the move.  He's figured out that next week we are moving so he's not so "I don't want to go to school."

And that's all I can think of at the moment, for more updates, see my twitter feed (on the right).  Please follow.

Also thanks to This Ain't the Lyceum for hosting!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Housing Flaws

I've lived over the years in a number of housing arrangements: house, dorm, apartment, a guest house, condo, and a townhouse.  Each of those arrangements had their pros and cons.

The first housing unit I lived in with my family (my current one, not the one I was born into) was the condo that we still own.  It's way too small and not sufficient for us to move back into.  Plus we just got a new renter.  The condo was great when Hubby and I were just Hubby and I but then things got squeezed as our family grew.

The downside was there was basically unusable space under the stair case.  We didn't have a fenced in yard of any kind and weren't within reasonable walking distance of a park.  Our water was linked to our four-plex and we didn't have individual shut-offs for our unit.  In other words I could shut-off a sink but was unable to shut off the entire unit at once.  We only had one toilet/bathroom.

The second dwelling was a 1,000 square foot two bedroom apartment.  Aside from it being even noisier than the condo (which had an incident involving the police), it had it's own structural problems.  They frequently had to shut off water to make repairs.  We had huge walk in closets, which I'm not a fan of because they turn into storage/catch-all areas.  And I had to lug laundry back and forth from the onsite laundry facility. The condo's laundry facilities were located in the carport was it was quicker and more convenient. Oh, and the vertical blinds drove me crazy because they turn into great fun for young children who end up breaking them.  We had vertical blinds in the condo too and they were the first things to go.

Aside from the problems, we had a play ground and a gated swimming pool.  Plus we had a covered patio.  We also had two full bathrooms.

The third dwelling (our current one) is a huge townhouse.  It doesn't have any blinds so we had to put up curtains.  It has an uncovered patio area that buts up against a park.  There aren't any walk in closets.  We have laundry facilities to ourselves in the basement. We can shut off our own water.  There's 1.5 bathrooms. The downside is that there's no dishwasher and the kitchen is very cozy.  So as you can imagine the dishes pile up quickly.  If I owned the townhouse the first thing I would do is rip out the cabinets and put in a dishwasher.  Then I would redo the molding.  But it's not my house.

We are hoping to get into a bungalow when we move.  It's in a good location of town.  Our friend checked it out and gave his approval.  We've gotten through the background check and now we're just awaiting a lease after they receive our deposit.

I've seen the online pictures from the realtor and from our friend.  I've scrutinized them, but of course it's hard to tell much from a picture.  The cons seem to be vertical blinds (oh how I hate them).  And the kitchen is small.  Well the house overall is small.  It's only 1,080 square feet.

The upside is that there's an Arizona room, a small work room, a fenced in yard, laundry room with washer and dryer, and a shed.  They weren't included in the square footage because they aren't heated or air-conditioned.  It's got two full baths, three bedrooms, a pantry, a covered carport, a dishwasher, and no neighbors sharing a wall.

I'm super excited, but expecting that I will have to figure things out to make it work for our family.  I am looking forward to those future posts about arranging a house.  And I hope that I haven't thoroughly bored you with my scrutinizing.

Friday, May 8, 2015

7QTakes: #MovingIlls

1) So if you haven't seen my announcement of where we are moving to, check out this post.  Then read this one about stewardship and personal belongings. 

Our moving date is May 23, so naturally I'm super busy.  My house looks like a tornado hit it.  There are boxes everywhere.  Housework has been neglected due to packing.  And I hit the wall on Thursday.  You know the packing hell wall.  The one where you'd rather curl up in the fetal position then touch cardboard ever again because there's still soooo much to do.  So I calmed myself, told myself I was doing well, and tried to avoid looking at the big picture and only focus on the small tasks in front of me.  And I read mundane internet articles and took a nap.  Helped me a lot.


 I also got Knee an eye exam.  Turns out he needs glasses.  I suppose I should have guessed his vision was a little off because he likes to sit close to the tv, but he seemed to see everything else well (like flowers across the street) so I assumed...Well maybe he can see the flowers because he's not color blind. 

I had to break the news to HB who has wanted glasses forever.  But he doesn't need them.  He took it well knowing that Knee needed glasses to help him see better.  Then Knee demanded we go pick out glasses.  I told him we'd have to wait post-move.  Glasses take a while to get and they are cheaper across the border.  He said he wanted brown ones.  And HB said it was because Arthur, the aardvark, has brown glasses.  Well that's something positive.  I'm hoping Knee will actually wear them because he's so darn picky about wearing things.

3) Hubby and I have had to do so much calling and clerical related stuff because you know moving is a pain in the tush.  You have to find a van.  You have to make sure that you have money in a bank in the US.  You have to start making arrangements to cancel your phone, internet, gas, electricity, etc.  Every day he's come home and started calling people.  That's because there's a time difference so...


 HB is so ready to leave.  Every morning he asks me if we're leaving right then and then gets upset when he realizes that he's going to school.  "I want to go to a new school." he says.  Keep in mind HB has been talking about returning since we moved here.  Yesterday I found an old set of car keys to a Hubby's old car.  He got confused because he thought they were keys to the car we inherited.  So I had to show him pictures.  And that led to showing him more pictures including ones where he discovered that he used to have longish hair.  He wants to grow out his hair.  I showed him all the places we would visit and old pictures of friends.  So I'm hoping this time he will not flip out with stress.  That's one positive of this move.

5) It's amazing what you discover when you pack.  I've found money, clothes, and random things.  I think if we ever find a permanent place to live I will plan on going through the house and doing massive purges every two years or so.  I'm sure it will be like this for a while because children grow up and interests change.

6) I'm looking forward to going back to the US.  I will get Netflix again (which is better than in Canada) and I will get to use more online stores.  Shipping to Canada is costly and not all places ship outside the US.  Thred up is something I've been staring at for a while (and hearing all good things), but they don't extend outside the US.  I love second hand shopping because I feel like I'm being a good steward.  Textile production is often not eco-friendly and often workers are in sweat shop conditions.

7) Now I need to deal with super uphappy person and laundry. 

Thanks to This ain't the lyceum!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Stewardship: I am not my stuff

My husband tells the story of why my mother-in-law hates knickknacks.  Basically she told him that they require her to dust more.  My problem with knickknacks (aside from never dusting them) is two-fold: they inevitably become broken and I hate being weighed down by stuff. 

Sometimes I have this fantasy that I am a religious Carmelite able to own nothing the way my parish priest does.  I also wish that I could waltz out of my house and leave my stuff behind.  The problem with that is it's not feasible.  It's more economical to hold onto a pot or pan and use it to cook food for my family.  Stewardship is not for the weak.

Stewardship is about detaching oneself from things.  Learning to let go of stuff that breaks or really isn't necessary.  This can be very difficult as often materialism slowly creeps into our lives.  Suddenly having a tv is more important than spending time with our children.  Having the latest computer or cell phone becomes a priority when we really need to budge better for our family's sake.  I too find myself at times having trouble letting go.  What if I need that thing in the future?  Can I really afford to go without?  Am I letting my stuff define who I am or is my stuff merely here to help live my life to the fullest?  It's a tough act.

The other day I was looking around for packing tips.  Someone has recently started paring everything down in their house.  Their house looked great.  It wasn't cluttered like my house feels like all.the.time.  I asked how she managed to do.  Basically she said she went room to room and area to area and took everything out then decided what to put back in.  Another commenter said her philosophy was thinking "If you're house burned down would you replace it."  I think that's a good point.  And I would add the caveat of "If you're house burned down would you replace it if you could."  Some things are handmaid and/or unique items that I doubt I could replace if my house burned down, but I would still want to replace them. 

This mantra "if you're house burned down..." has been extremely helpful in helping me strike a balance while packing.  In our case though I can't sell things in Canada so while I would rid myself of more stuff I'll have to wait.  That said I think I'm able to let things go more easily.  Thus far I've only packed about 13 boxes.  And I've managed to throw out many things and donate many things too.  It's helpful that I'm moving to a warmer climate and can off-load a lot of winter necessities.  The digital age is also proving to be invaluable.  I can download favorite books instead of owning hard copies.  I can watch favorite movies by streaming them.  The library is great too.  You don't need a copy of everything unless you plan on making notes in the margins.

I'm looking forward to a future where I can continue to part with things and make room for nicer things that I actually need.  I look forward to a future that is clutter free and easier to keep that way.  I hope to continue to focus on proper stewardship and pass on that knowledge to my children.  I am not my stuff.  My stuff is only here to help me.