Archive for the ‘The Cross-Country Move’ Category

Because Moving Five Kids Across the Country Isn’t Excitement Enough

September 29, 2006 @ 6:00 pm | Filed under:

Today’s adventure: sustaining bodily harm! Picture me up on a stepstool, teetering on tiptoe to reach boxes on a high shelf, crashing to the ground under an avalanche of pink dresses. And then erase the picture, because that is NOTHING like the way I managed to hurt myself. I leave all the high-shelf-reaching and heavy lifting to my friend Lisa, who (amazingly) loves me anyway.

Nope, I was doing something even more dangerous, more foolhardy: I was walking.

To my driveway.

Carrying nothing.

And I tripped, because I am Grace personified, and fell hard on my knee.

And my wrist!

Plot thick enough for you? Seriously, did someone sign me up for Survivor: Suburbia and not tell me? Is it like a Truman Show thing and there are hidden cameras in our mirrors and stuffed animals? I really hope not, because I am nursing the baby right now and taking no pains to be discreet.

Anyway, all the teddy bears are in a box, so that’d be a really boring show.

But the sidewalk cam got quite the little scene: the quintessential pratfall. Walk, walk, walk, splat. No reason. Shoe caught on, um, air? I don’t know.

I am fine. I think. It sort of hurts a lot when I walk up and down stairs. Or kneel. But there’s no kneeling in Packing, right? Oh bwah ha ha I crack myself up.

Okay, yes, I may be getting a teeny bit punchy right about now. (My poor mother, who is here to help: THAT’S the person to feel sorry for.) But really, I don’t think there’s anything to be alarmed about. I think I bruised my knee and it’ll be fine in a few days. Say by the time I hit Indiana. I’m pretty sure I’m going through Indiana. As I recall, the route I’m taking goes through some spectacularly beautiful hill country in southern Indiana. Anyway, it’s not like I’m going to be CLIMBING those hills. Just going oooh pretty between rousing choruses of "You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile."

But back to my Hard-Knock Life. The wrist, hmm. It’s sore. Don’t think it’s sprained or anything. Just ouchy. I took the precaution of wrapping it with an Ace bandage just because I’m doing all this box-lifting, but I really think it’ll be fine in a day or two.

Which is good, because a day or two is all I’ve got left. Packers arrive on Monday! MONDAY! I am doing the MOVE version of cleaning up for the cleaning lady: madly packing before the arrival of the packers. But I have to, of course, because I don’t want them to take all the wrong stuff.

Okay, the baby’s asleep now and I’m going to go put her to bed. And then I am totally going around the house and checking the appliances for cameras.

Oh Wow Is Right

September 29, 2006 @ 4:56 am | Filed under: ,

Calling all galaxy girls (and boys)—you HAVE to see what Tracey just posted at Jinkies! Too incredibly cool!

You’ll excuse me for being scarce today—it’s almost time to start pushing. In the comments to my "moving is like childbirth" post, Jennifer remarked that she’d be happy to be my virtual doula, and I thought, WHAT A FABULOUS IDEA—seriously, there’s a business for a big-hearted entrepreneur. Doulas for people who are moving. Oh oh oh. I’d hire one in a snap. Someone to catch the little details that keep falling through the holes in my brain, someone to take my by the shoulders and say, You do NOT need flannel sheets in southern California!, someone to make sure I remember to eat, and also! The backrubs! Doulas give backrubs, right?

Now lest you get all sorry for me, I want to make it very clear that I have TONS of help here. TONS. You would not bee-leeeeve how amazing everyone, EVERYONE, has been. Meals arriving every other day from lovely neighbors, more (or sometimes the same) lovely neighbors spending hours helping me pack, lovely neighbors reading my blog and showing up with MORE Dr. Pepper!, lovely grandmothers (my children’s own, I mean) also reading the blog, and not to be outdone by a son/son-in-law, supplying chocolate and more chocolate, lovely friends sending amazing gifts in the mail (of the sort that you are VERY happy to have on a two-week-long cross-country odyssey), more lovely friends driving ALL THE WAY FROM NEW JERSEY to pick up a beloved loom that wants some babysitting while we’re on the west coast (and volunteering to run errands in town as long as they’re here), and dazzlingly lovely friends taking care of Wonderboy for hours upon end, and hauling countless boxes of Stuff to the Goodwill, and giving up a billion afternoons to help me weed through what’s in my basement so that I don’t wind up like this.

I have lots and lots of help; it’s incredible. I just thought a doula for moving sounded really cool. When we were in the hospital with Jane, I used to think a doula for mothers with very sick children would be a great thing to have too.

P.S. Lest anyone scold me for taking the time to read blogs on a DAY! LIKE! THIS!—this morning I only read three. Two of them, chosen from the yikes almost 250 feeds I sub to at Bloglines, I linked to above. The third was of course Alice’s, which made me sputter my tea, too too funny, and then when I clicked through to the earlier post she referenced, I got choked up all over again.

Moving is Like Childbirth, and I Have a Book to Prove It

September 27, 2006 @ 6:41 pm | Filed under:

I’ve given birth five times with no drugs, so I know a thing or two about pain. Packing for a move has got to be the emotional equivalent of giving birth. It HURTS. You go through the exact same stages as you do in labor.

Like this

(from Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg):

The First Emotional Signpost: Excitement

…contractions start off short and easy, with rest periods of five or possibly more minutes. You could have an hour of this or several hours….

You feel quite happy and excited; you have been waiting for this day for nine months and maybe longer. This is it at last, you feel with some elation. Of course, you may feel a tiny bit of stage fright too. You feel both eager and anxious.

Adjust the time span a bit and yup, that’s pretty much where I was two weeks ago.

The Second Emotional Signpost: Seriousness

…Excitement gives way to concentration…You work diligently because you do not want these contractions to get ahead of you.

You are working hard, and you will be for the next several hours or more…

The serious emotional signpost is total absorption in the work and the need to be undistracted. It is a do-not-disturb and get-to-work attitude.

Now we’re up to last week. Of course, experiencing a NEED to be undistracted doesn’t guarantee NO DISTRACTIONS, and really the idea of my ever doing anything without a zillion distractions is

(HA! The baby just woke up! Case in point! I was about to type the word laughable but I can’t because I am laughing too hard.)

(We’re back. And may I just interject that she could not possibly be sweeter? Distractions don’t get better than this.)

Anyway. What were we talking about? Oh right, second signpost, the get-to-work attitude. Check. That’s me armed with my Supply Basket: six rolls of tape! Fancy tape dispenser thingie that doesn’t work and causes much aggravation but by golly I will use it anyway because I paid for it! Notebook for logging boxes! Big fat Sharpie for writing on boxes! Regular pen for writing in notebook! Three Legos and a Polly Pocket shoe! Wait, how did those get in there?

The Third Emotional Signpost: Self-Doubt

Your uterus now shifts into high gear and speeds by the centimeters from seven to ten. You begin to wonder why you haven’t reached your destination yet. You wonder if you are going to reach it. Are you really as far along as you thought? You are nearing the end of first-stage labor.

Oh no. FIRST stage. No, seriously, we have got to be around fifteenth stage by now, right? Okay, okay, I know there are only three stages, and the third one is the big happy payoff at the end where you’re holding the baby (or standing in your new living room) and everything is messy and sweaty and you’re crying because you’re so relieved it’s over and isn’t she the sweetest little room you ever saw? Look at those big windows! Honey, she’s got your crown molding!

So fine, I’m still in first-stage labor. FINE. I’m NEARING THE END, right? The book SAYS so.

At this point you will be quite absorbed in yourself and your body so that you might not even notice, but your coach sees that you have become uncertain, indecisive. You don’t know quite what you want to do, and even when asked you cannot say or explain.

I think that’s where I am now, but I’m not sure.

At this point, if you are asked any question, the most common reply is, "I don’t know." You are not sure that you can do this, and may even say so aloud.

Aha! Yes! I did this! Last night! On the phone! I said it aloud! VERY aloud! I think I also said "I don’t know" a lot. Okay. YES! I’m ten centimeters! This is good! Right? I think it is. Oh, shoot, I don’t know.

Coaching the Self-Doubt Signpost

In the last emotional signpost, the laboring woman is uncertain; she doesn’t know what she wants to do. She experiences self-doubt. Although to you [the coach] she looks like she is doing a great job


and dealing beautifully with the contractions, she may not be sure about that at all.

(She totally isn’t. Sure about it, that is.)

She looks to you for support; she depends on you for confidence and reassurrance.

(And chocolate! Good move with the chocolate, coach.)

That’s it for the first stage. The second stage is the pushing (oh no not the pushing), which I guess is what happens when the moving truck comes. Or maybe it’s this weekend in the last days BEFORE the truck comes. I don’t know. I’m not sure. See? Textbook third emotional signpost! Quick, someone get me some ice chips! And where’s my backrub?

T Minus a 12-Pack

September 22, 2006 @ 8:11 pm | Filed under:

We have a move date. This is really happening. In less! than! two! weeks!

This week was a blur of packing, tossing, sorting, taping, head-shaking, nail-biting, laughing, crying, neighbor-thanking, baby-kissing, Dr.-Pepper-drinking, mover-interviewing, medical-records-getting, trash-hauling, and (no surprise here) chocolate-eating.

About the Dr. Pepper. See, officially? I don’t drink soda. Except in restaurants, because that’s different. Or at someone’s house if they offer, because that’s polite. Or if Scott opens a soda and doesn’t finish it, because that’s thrifty.

Conveniently, Scott just happens to open a soda at least once a day and then suddenly decide he doesn’t want it after all. Conveniently, this soda always happens to be a Dr. Pepper, which is my favorite, instead of Coke, which is his. Conveniently, he opens this soda (which he will suddenly decide not to drink) at EXACTLY the moment when I am sitting down to lunch every day.

At least, that’s how it was when he lived here.

Since he left for the new job in July, I’ve been forced to (horrors!) put my own sodas in the fridge, and take them out, and open them and everything. In short, I’ve had to admit that I really am a soda drinker. In fact, it seems I have quite the little Dr. Pepper addiction going on. I mean, only one a day, but still. Soda. Sugar, caffeine. Nursing mom and all that.


But okay, fine, I admit it. I drink Dr. Pepper. Wait. I mean: I drink Dr. Pepper and I’m proud!

But I’ll fall off my high horse only so far and no farther: the whole time Scott has been gone, I haven’t BOUGHT any sodas myself. Nor have I put them on the list for the nice neighbors who have helped me with my shopping. Somehow that has seemed to be a line I wouldn’t cross. Scott stocked up on DP before he left for California, and I told myself that when it was gone, it was gone. And then WHEW, he came back in August just in time to restock before I got the DP DTs.

But that supply ran out three days ago.

By yesterday, my craving for the bubbly goodness of Fizzy Pepper, M.D., was powerful strong. My body needed carbs, and by that I mean carbonation. As an official out-of-the-closet Pepper and Part of an Original Crowd, I am supposed to be PROUD, right? But I’m not too proud to admit that I actually called my neighbor, Jenn, to ask if she had any Dr. Pepper. (I would have settled for a Coke. Or an Orange Crush. Or, what the heck, Pop Rocks in cherry Kool-Aid. Anything for that fiiiiizzzz.)

(But preferably the Dr. Pepper. And not diet. Because I am HEALTHY! I do not consume aspartame! Only real sugar! And corn syrup and caramel coloring!)

Alas, Jenn had no soda, diet or otherwise. Because SHE is really healthy instead of just pretend healthy. But she offered to pick me up some when she ran to the grocery store. For a moment, I hesitated. But she offered, right? That’s different from my asking for it, right?

So I said yes, please. And then a little while later, a DIFFERENT friend, Sarah, appeared before me with a 12-pack of Dr. Pepper in her hands.

"How did you know?" I asked, restraining myself from lunging at the box and opening a can with my teeth.

"A little bird told me you were out," she said, her eyes twinkling.


"No—your husband. He emailed me."

(Pardon the delay while I give the Internet a great big hug. Oh, email! How I love you!)

And yes, yes, this means I am so pathetic that I actually lamented to Scott on the phone that I was out of Dr. Pepper but was stubbornly refusing to just go buy some, and it also means that I am totally clueless, because even after the chocolate thing IT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME that he would take matters into his own keyboarding fingers to solve my completely ridiculous non-problem. Because he is THAT sweet a guy.

And Sarah is that swell a friend. And when Jenn (also a swell friend) dropped by later with another 12-pack, I could only laugh in chagrin (between delirious gulps of fizzy, vaguely-cherry- flavored-or-do-I-only-think-that-because-I-read-somewhere- that-Dr.-Pepper-is-supposed-to-be-black-cherry-flavored-and-at- the-time-I-was-shocked-because-I-had-no-idea-I-just-thought- it-was-Dr.-Pepper-flavored goodness).

And now I have twenty-four whole sodas mine mine all mine. Except that I drank TWO today. Which leaves twenty-two. (See how good I am at math? Now you can rest easy that I am qualified to teach it to my children.)

Twenty-two. And it just hit me that I will only be here twelve more days.

I will be here for just one more package of Dr. Pepper.

It’s all happening very quickly now.

At least I know what to give as parting gifts to my ten best friends* in the neighborhood. Don’t you know? It’s the original taste that I love so.

*If you are one of my neighborhood friends and I leave without giving you one of my Dr. Peppers, don’t think I was dissing you. I am probably definitely going to keep them all for myself, for the trip.

Everyone Is My Best Friend

September 18, 2006 @ 6:10 pm | Filed under:

We’re in the final countdown now. I don’t have a firm move date quite yet, but it’s sometime the first week of October. As in: two weeks away.

If my house is an iceberg, I have packed about enough to chill a large pitcher of tea.


These past two months, it’s been all I can do to keep the house spiffy for showings. Oh, and write like a madwoman. And oh that’s right, FIVE CHILDREN UNDER TWELVE. So okay, maybe it’s not surprising that I haven’t made much headway as far as packing goes. Everyone knows it’s really hard to pack AND keep your house show-worthy at the same time. I know Everyone knows this because Everyone has told me so. Everyone shakes her head and says, "Oh, honey." Everyone pretty much agrees that I am up a creek and my paddle is buried under, um, an iceberg.

However, Everyone is incredibly, impossibly kind. Everyone drops by with dinner unexpectedly. (Thank you Sally; the meatloaf was delish.) (And Peggy: the meatballs! Yum!) (And Lily, what a meal!) (And Sarah, the brownies!) (And Lisa, the cheesecake!) (And Katherine, the muffins!)

(Apparently, Everyone wants to see me put a little meat on my bones.)

Everyone sends her teenage daughter over to see if I can use an extra set of hands. (I can, and thank you, Patty.)

Everyone leaves a book in my mailbox with a promise of an evening get-together to discuss it, because Everyone knows I am squirrely for some good conversation. (Thanks, Amy.)

Everyone calls whenever she’s running out to the store in case I need milk. I always do. (Thank you for the last twelve gallons, Sarah.)

Everyone calls on his way home from work to see what groceries I might need. While he’s here delivering them, Everyone carries a big heavy rollaway bed frame downstairs for me. In his work clothes. (Thanks, Dave.)

In addition to chauffering Scott from the airport on his visit home last month, Everyone hauls my recycling into town for me. He also brings fresh produce from his garden, feeding Beanie’s cucumber jones all summer. (Thanks, Steve.)

Everyone gives up her afternoon to sort through a decade’s worth of junk in my basement with me. (Yes, I know we’ve only been in this house for five years. We brought junk with us. This time, it stays here.) Everyone gives up another afternoon to sift through the hand-me-downs in my closet: you could build a shanty town out of these boxes. Everyone sees all the clutter shoved in the hidden places of my house, and she loves me anyway. (Thank you, Lisa. You are a gem.)

Everyone is so unbelievably nice. How can I possibly say good-bye?

WikiMapia, or Yet Another Way to Spend Half Your Morning on the Computer

September 8, 2006 @ 9:14 am | Filed under: , ,

Ohhhh, this is too much fun. Scott sent us a link to the WikiMap view of the house we’ll soon be renting, and just like that, a new addiction is born. The kids and I just spent the entire morning looking at aerial views of, well, everywhere.

We found our current house in Virginia and Scott’s new California office. Look, girls, there’s Daddy’s roof! Beanie was pretty sure she could see him waving. We scouted the whereabouts of parks and libraries in the neighborhood we’re moving to next month. I may not be packed yet, but doggonit I know how to get to the library in my new hometown. And the Target, and the nearest Catholic church. Yes, we have mapped out our own little baseball diamond of essentials: first base, second base, third base, home plate. Best part: there’s a Schlotzsky’s in the infield.

And the outfield? Great googly-moogly!


And because it’s a wiki, you can add your own labels and landmarks to the map, too. People from all over the world are entering the names of churches, schools, hospitals, parks, recreation areas,  and stores. Oh, and also: Ashley’s house. I don’t know which Ashley. But her house is in my outfield.

Lessons Learned During the First Month of Scott’s Absence

August 13, 2006 @ 8:44 pm | Filed under: ,

He left for the other coast on July 13, which is to say: a hundred years ago. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned in the past month of temporary single parenting:

• Check your gas tank, because no one else will.

• The second your husband leaves, every hard-to-reach light bulb in the house will burn out in despair. He’s GONE?? Oh, woe! Henceforth shall I shine no more! :::pop:::

• You and your five children will never, ever be on time for church.

• But laundry is easy, if you know the secret.

• The days will be long, and yet every Wednesday morning you will swear it has only been ten minutes since the LAST time you woke up in a panic because the garbage trucks were driving by your house and you forgot to put the trash out again.

• Except for the week you remember to put it out early, because that will be the week the waste disposal company decides to change its pickup day to Monday, which means you have already missed it again.

• You will not turn on the TV all month, because there is nothing to watch worth watching alone.

• If you post too many pictures of the baby doing new and adorable things, you will break his heart.

• If you do not post them, you will also break his heart.

• You will attempt to take your mind off how much you miss him by introducing your children to all the showtunes you never played while he was around because they drive him crazy.

• It won’t work.

• But the kids will think you are the coolest mom ever, because you know all the words to every song in Annie. And Fiddler on the Roof. And Les Miz. And Snoopy. But not Oklahoma, because that wouldn’t be cool.

• You will be shocked to discover how many different things in your house run on batteries—batteries which have apparently made a suicide pact with the light bulbs.  You will begin to wonder how your husband ever had time to get any work done, what with all the shopping for and replacing of light bulbs and batteries he must have been doing when you didn’t notice.

• Sooner or later there will come a night when it takes you until 10:30 to finally get all the kids in bed, and afterward you will pace the house like a caged tiger because you NEED CHOCOLATE and you are OUT. You are out, of course, because you ate every bit in the house, right down to the bag of chocolate chips that was supposed to become cookies for your neighbor. (When you write about it, you will hope that your neighbor does not read your blog.) You’ll be on the phone with your husband and he’ll want to know what on earth is making that sound in the background, like the sound of kitchen cabinets being ripped out of the wall and shaken upside down. And you will explain that you are OUT OF CHOCOLATE. These are words that must always be said in capitals all the time because they are TRAGIC.

There will be a short silence on his end of the phone, and then he will say in a voice so tender it makes you want to cry (or else eat a lot more chocolate): "Go look in my office. On the shelf."

And you will find there what he stashed away for you before he left, because he knew this day would come, and he will never, ever let you down.


How does he love me? Let me count the bars.