Moving Truck in the Driveway

Yesterday, I visited my good friend Michele, who has two sons ages five and five months. Michele is in the process of moving, a word I can barely utter without hyperventilating. Her house was filled with large brown boxes, packing tape, pacifiers, baby bottles, diapers and a breast pump on the dining room table. Tension, stress and endless details swirled like dust mottles throughout the house. For me, the only appropriate response to the idea of moving with small children is to hold up my fingers in the sign of the cross, a la the Exorcist.

I recently counted the number of times I've moved in my life: 24 times in 42 years. I figure that's enough for one lifetime. Especially now that I have three kids and moving has gone from an expensive experience in soul-numbing exhaustion to legitimate cause for several nervous breakdowns. Planning, packing, unpacking, finding new schools, babysitters, a pediatrician, mechanic, ob-gyn, veterinarian...and, um, friends. Bad news all around. Which is why my husband and I have imposed a moving moratorium for the next, say, 50 years, until it's time to hustle into one of those lovely new assisted living complexes disguised as cute yellow bed-and-breakfast inns.

So today, tell us your moving horror stories. How many times have you moved? What are your keys to mastering this evil part of life? I'm especially eager to hear from military wives, the goddesses of frequent national and transcontinental relocations. Where do you park the kids during the moves? Do you divide and conquer or delegate the moving chores? Is there any way to find "balance" (or, imagine this, joy) in the midst of moving chaos?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 5, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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Posted by: minzesm1 | October 5, 2007 7:59 AM

My mother, an ex-military wife, would LOVE to be described as the goddess of relocation. ;-) In all seriousness it comes down to STUFF. The military gives you a weight allowance and the service member pays if your goods go over that amount. Dad did NOT want to have to pay and Mom was/is a ruthless closet cleaner -- we were always under our allowance. Yes, I do remember being parked in the corner with a portable TV and books/paper/crayons/etc. It was one of the few times mom lost her patience with the movers (stuff was coming into a new house) because she gave strict instructions not to box me in... Of course the loss of patience could have also been because this was the same move where she was in a full leg cast and the mover didn't want to plug in the refrigerator as it was against policy.

Posted by: tntkate | October 5, 2007 8:11 AM

I moved 12 times before I graduated high school and 11 times since. We have it down to a science, and we don't have any junk. I was always appalled by other people's garages and basements growing up. Our house has always been clutter free. My husband and I are no where near as professional as my parents at this, but we're getting better. I've never moves with kids, but at this point, it's inevitable.

Posted by: atb2 | October 5, 2007 8:18 AM

The absolute worst was moving from CO to NM with a 2-month-old. My husband's company announced a shutdown when I was 8 months pregnant (thanks, Dennis Kozlowski. "Jerk" is way too pale a word, but is probably the only printable one in my head. Hope you enjoyed those $90MM in stock options).

We were incredibly lucky that he landed a job almost immediately -- and a promotion and raise to boot. But it was in another state, since the entire local tech market had crashed. So we had to put the home we had built and planned to live in for the next 25 years up for sale, pack everything up, and figure out a brand new town. We did find a house, but I ended up resenting it the whole time we were there (because it wasn't nearly as good as "my" special house that I had built). And then the daycare that I had picked closed the week before she was supposed to start. Argh. NOT a happy time in our lives.

You know, it's funny. My clearest memories of my daughter's infancy are all in our Colorado house. And yet we didn't even live there for two months after she was born!

Posted by: laura33 | October 5, 2007 8:21 AM

Oh, and leslie, the joy is in the purge! There are a pre- and post-move purges. You get rid of the obvious stuff as you pack, and get rid of the less obvious stuff as you try to find places to put things in your new abode.

And you move into a very clean place! No under the furniture dust, clean oven, etc.

Our balance is: I do the kitchen and breakables, husband does everything else. Pets are locked in the bathroom of the pre-move house until the movers (we've moved beyond asking friends! Yay!) are gone.

Posted by: atb2 | October 5, 2007 8:25 AM

I have 3 more moves:

1. Luxury condo (with door person, maid & room service) across the street from my office.
2. Nursing/old folks home (if required).
3. Cemetery.

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 5, 2007 8:34 AM

My wife and I moved to NC 23 years ago, with all our belongings stuffed into a 1972 Toyota two door Corolla.

When we moved into our current house over a decade ago, it took a medium sized moving van and several trips with the car to get all the JUNK to the house.

I shudder to think what it would take to move again. My wife is a hard-core packrat and hangs onto nearly everything with a deathgrip...

Posted by: johnl | October 5, 2007 8:37 AM

My dad worked for the World Bank, so we moved constantly. My told me that my brother and I would play "packing" as kids because we were so used to moving.

So I'm used to making new friends and exploring new places. I lived in MD the longest (10 years, but 7 different houses/apartments), and I never went to the same doctor twice. So I guess not settling down is in my bones.

We plan on moving a lot more in the future. I also love the purging aspect, and I love the idea that we'll never live anywhere long enough to accumulate a garage full of stuff. We can actually park two cars in our two car garage, and we intend to keep it that way.

Posted by: Meesh | October 5, 2007 8:51 AM

People who are attached to stuff are FASCINATING. That's the main reason I watch Clean Sweep. Trying to pry a 20 year old garbage can or broken microwave out of a grown man's hands is compelling TV.

Posted by: atb2 | October 5, 2007 8:52 AM

Meesh- Are your memories attached to houses/schools? As in, "Oh, that happened in the Georgia Ave house" or "Oh, that was the year I went to St. Paul's".

Posted by: atb2 | October 5, 2007 8:55 AM

God, this comment-eating thing is SO ANNOYING!!! My apologies to everyone who has commented but not gotten posted. The trick is to Click on POST A COMMENT even if you think you are already signed in.

Wow, some of you making moving sound FUN.

Laura, I feel your pain. My husband and I bought a 100 year old bungalow in Westfield NJ when I was three months pregnant with Baby #1. Brought him home from the hospital, dreaming of the path he'd take to elementary school and where he'd learn to ride his bike...then a few months later we were GONE. Took a long, long time to let go of those dreams...

Posted by: leslie4 | October 5, 2007 8:59 AM

Also, everyone, check to see if your comment actually posted. If not, repeat above instructions. Sorry -- again -- so frustrating!

Posted by: leslie4 | October 5, 2007 9:02 AM

I moved 16 times while living with my parents, and 9 times since.

Since Leslie asked for input from military spouses, I called my Mother (a 22-year Army wife) and asked her. The responses below are my transcriptions of her answers.

1. How many times have you moved?
20 times since getting married. Two before I was born; the 16 I was involved with; and two since I left home.
She also moved 23 times while growing up, but that's another story.

2. What are your keys to mastering this evil part of life?
Plan, get rid of junk, and just accept the way it's going to be.

As tntkate pointed out, military families are given allowances (weight and size) on what the Government will pay to move, and enlisted personnel generally can't afford to pay excess baggage charges. (As with most things in the Army, allowances correlate to rank, so the officers get to move more stuff.)
"Get rid of junk" means keep the really, really important stuff and sell, give away or throw away anything else. Check out any military post in June, when lots of moves are happening. There are tons of yard sales; much furniture has been on the post 20 or 30 years because families just sell it to the next family rather than take it. On the other hand, when you move in you can usually buy a lot of stuff cheap.

"Accept the way it's going to be" means lots of movers are idiots. They pack dirty ashtrays with smoldering cigarette butts in them (happened leaving South Carolina); they take the suitcases containing all the clothes and other items the family will need on the drive from Kentucky to Colorado by way of Louisiana and put them on the moving van despite having been told at least 10 times not to (luckily, a call to the front gate at Fort Knox got the truck stopped until Dad could get there); and they give away your furniture en route (the van taking our stuff from Colorado to Kentucky delivered another family's possessions in Texas. Apparently three dining room chairs were missing from that family's possessions, so the movers gave them three of ours. Hey, it says here "six chairs", you got six chairs - what's the matter? It doesn't say "six MATCHING chairs." Of course, there were no extra chairs to give us so until the Army settled the claim we had a kitchen table with THREE chairs, but hey, whaddya want?)

3. Where do you park the kids during the moves?
Kids who are old enough to help are put to work - no slacking allowed!

If the move involves on-post housing it's easier. Every family understands and has been through it. When you're moving out the kids who aren't old enough to help go over to friends' houses. When you're moving in there are usually tons of kids coming over to scope you out - and every now and then you discover that your neighbor in Kentucky was also your neighbor in South Carolina four years earlier.

If you're moving to an off-post location, it's harder, but you deal with it the best you can.

4. Do you divide and conquer or delegate the moving chores?

Depends on the Army. If you've got 'concurrent travel' (you're actually moving as a family), then you split the chores and handle your own set. If the Army has sent the service member on ahead, you do it yourself. That's where friends and family can really help.

5. Is there any way to find "balance" (or, imagine this, joy) in the midst of moving chaos?

(And remember, these are my Mother's words) No, sanity is about the best you can hope for.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 5, 2007 9:08 AM

OK, one last thing. It's not all fun and games, especially on kids. In elementary school, it's not too bad, but once you get older, it's really hard to break into cliques. It makes you closer to your family, as they are the only consistency in your life, but only if you like them! It worked out well for me, because I always made a best friend and we operated as free agents, bouncing clique to clique. I keep in close touch with my BFFs from 8th, 9th/10th, 11th and 12th grades. But, be warned, it's a LOT easier for kids to fall in with the bad crowds than with the good crowds. In my case, it made me very flexible and adaptable, but I'm outgoing and confident. It would be killer on a shy kid.

Posted by: atb2 | October 5, 2007 9:09 AM

That wasn't the last thing. I imagine it's a lot easier on kids in military communities, as all the kids are transient. What were the military kids' experiences in school? (We weren't military.)

Posted by: atb2 | October 5, 2007 9:13 AM

atb, yeah, when I remember something, I try to place it in terms of the house I was in, or the school (I went to 4 different elementary schools, 2 high schools, and 4 colleges). When I meet people who I recognize, I have to go through the list: "Did you ever live in Georgia? How about California? Did you go to University of Delaware? Rochester? Maryland?" It's pretty funny.

As a kid, moving was an adventure. We loved exploring the new neighborhood. I think the biggest reason I was cool with it was because I had my brother. if I had been an only child thrust into a new environment every 3 years, I would have turned out a lot different.

Posted by: Meesh | October 5, 2007 9:17 AM

Worst move ever was to Norfolk VA in the mid-80s. We had stuff in storage on the west coast which had been carefully packed in crates two years prior. By logic they should have been moved intact on a flat-bed truck. Instead they were unpacked, probably thrown in a closed long-distance moving van, and recrated in VA. (Yes we could tell - new crates are pretty obvious). Worst breakage we had ever experienced. This was my least favorite mom from kid perspective -- it was a 6 month assignment (professional traning for my dad) half-way through the school year. Military families cycled in and out and school district knew it -- the teachers were NOT the most welcoming. It was the one and only time I hated school.

Posted by: tntkate | October 5, 2007 9:18 AM

oops "my least favorite move"

Posted by: tntkate | October 5, 2007 9:19 AM

I've hardly moved at all in my life, much to my dismay. I remember begging my parents to move when I was young--it sounded like such an adventure! And I love discovering new areas--finding the grocery stores and coffee shops and churches, learning all the shortcuts to get to places. But alas, I was in the same house throughout my childhood and my parents live there still. As an adult, I've only moved maybe five or six times, and three of those moves were within the same area (first apartment, first post-marriage apartment, current house).

The move to our current house was funny--I was six months pregnant and we were in the middle of a high summer heat wave. My sister's 21st birthday party was the night before our "small stuff" move date--we had to get all of the boxes of stuff out of the apartment and the movers would come the next day for the heavy things. And my husband got drunk as a lord at the birthday party and was useless the following day. I filled up our borrowed truck on my own and unloaded it into the house myself, making several trips while he lay in a stupor. Eventually I broke down our bed while he was still in it and rolled him onto the floor. Fortunately that was one of those events that was even funny at the time, and my husband made up for it by doing almost all of the unpacking on his own.

Posted by: sarahfran | October 5, 2007 9:22 AM

My brother in law works for a company that has my sister and her two kids moving about every 18 months or so.

The first move was stressful - the kids had already been through two moves, but they were local and from an apartment to a townhouse, then a townhouse to a house with a big yard, so those moves were positive. And my family had distracted the kids throughout the more hectic parts of the process with trips to museums, movies, sleepovers, etc.

But the first out-of-area move was rough because the kids felt uprooted and like my sister and her husband didn't care how miserable they were (kids were entering hormonal tween years).

Successive moves have been easier because they started to involve the kids in the move process. They took them along on house shopping and considered their opinions on the various homes and yards. That way, the kids were not so miserable about being uprooted - they felt like they had a little bit of control.

Also, the kids get to completely redecorate their rooms each time they move. My sister feels new linens are a low price to pay, and she's a whiz at painting and sewing, and my brother in law can mount a chair rail and make headboards and/or over-sized window valence pieces (that can be painted or upholstered) like a champ. They've had some pretty cool rooms :D

The kids have learned to accept the moves (they do admit that they'd rather not go through them, though), and it looks like they will be in their current area for a couple of years so everyone is happy about that.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | October 5, 2007 9:33 AM

atb --

I'm not Meesh, but yes, as an Army brat, my memories are all sorted by where I lived at the time. Since each posting was for 2 years it makes it easy to keep track of what happened when.

Moving often also gave me a very strong sense of place. I love to learn about regional history and geography, to travel and plan explorations. I could study maps and travel guides forever, and I always build strong mental maps of each new place.

BUT at least in the long-ago army of my childhood, moving was so much easier than in the civilian world. Moves were fully paid, the packers came and did everything (they'd even pack the trash if you let them); the high cost didn't divert you into weeks of packing boxes yourself to save money. Military communities were used to a perpetual influx of new families and were set up to welcome and integrate them in: each new family got keys to their housing, a sponsor family to show them the ropes, welcome directories with community info, all the phone numbers and contacts for schools, activities, doctors, etc. (When we went on to civilian life this was all hidden, a mystery that took ages to ferret out if ever; the web has made much of that more transparent, if not so coherent, nowadays.) Kids made friends with others moving in at about the same time, so when it came time to move again, all your friends were moving also, and there really was no static community to regret leaving behind.

I suspect this army is a thing of the past, though. It seems the pattern now is for more quasi-permanent home basing with frequent hardship (sans-family) deployments. Plus the whole system relied on a parallel army of volunteer wives to sustain the community.

Much harder now in the civilian world to build a working life for a whole family (esp with 2 careers) much less recreate it in a new place. And, just physically, to pack and move! We did do a 1-year sabbatical 1000 miles away with kids (then 2 and 5). It was a lot of work to orchestrate, and there were some difficult edge effects/transitions for the kids (more coming back than going, which was an adventure). But it was a great way for our kids to experience another region of the country, another climate and landscape, other adventures and memories.

You can get many of the benefits of moving though just through family travel, without the downside. I love to travel with my family (once the marathon packing session's over). Really dislike travel without them; the experience feels like such a waste when it's not shared and enters no common memory.

Posted by: kbatl | October 5, 2007 9:35 AM

tntkate - boy, that sounds like one of my moves. Dad was in VietNam, we lived in Denver. Dad came back and the Army sent him to Military Intelligence school, then at Fort Holabird in Baltimore, for six months of training before shipping him to Mississippi, his next duty assignment. Mom talked about us staying in Denver while he was in school, but since we had been apart from him for 14 months already that was a non-starter. So off we moved from Denver to Baltimore in late September, only to move to Mississippi in late February. Sandy Plains Elementary School in Dundalk, MD - probably the only school I truly, truly hated.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 5, 2007 9:39 AM


We are going to be moving back to the states soon - with a 2 year old and a six week old. This will be my 8th move in 8 years and my second international move within 18 months.

Just the thought of it all puts me into a panic. At least we have our old house back, but new pre-school, nanny, jobs, cars, etc., make the whole thing frightening for DH and I.

I'm actually wondering how we'll do it all. The easy part is purging. Even the packing/unpacking isn't too tough (as we are now pros at it). It is all the other stuff that scares me...

Posted by: londonmom | October 5, 2007 9:44 AM

My husband's dad was an officer in the Air Force for 20+ years, so he grew up all over the world (Japan, Crete, Las Vegas, Korea & Germany all before high school). You'd think my mother-in-law would have cut down on the junk, but they collected stuff everywhere they went and their house is floor-to-ceiling collectibles. Apparently the last time they moved, they filled three entire container trucks!

My worst move was cross-country when I was 8 weeks pregnant. I had horrible morning sickness and we were driving with two dogs in the back of our SUV. It took us six days and countless "I'm going to be sick!" stops along the way. Ug, just thinking about it makes me sick!

Posted by: plawrimore1 | October 5, 2007 9:57 AM

I'm both an army brat and now a military member married to a military member. So far, the longest I've ever lived in one place at a time was when I was in college at the military academy I attended. BUT, I have lived in Japan 3 times at 3 different bases for a grand total of almost 9 years! My husband and I (with a now 19-month old son) have moved 3 times in the last 3 years... we're hoping we'll be in this house longer than a year! But seriously, the best you can do is try and keep your sanity, keep the dog from getting packed in a box, and put the baby to sleep in the pack and play in the closet under the stairs where at least it's dark ( a la Harry Potter) while the movers are there.
As far as moves, the best I've ever done are the moves away from Japan- they have the best movers ever. Totally wrapped, best packed, polite, neat, helpful... can't say enough good about them. Worst move ever... my first move as a LTJG overseas, where somehow every one of my bookcases was smashed to kindling, and my TV and CD player broke. That was almost the sum total of my possessions at the time- except the books that went in the bookcases, which I had to put on the floor until I managed to find a few cheap cruddy bookcases at the base exchange.
The the worst all-time move ever was when I was a kid and my family moved to Japan- there was a dockworkers strike and our crates sat on the pier in hawaii for months. So, many months after our stuff was supposed to arrive, we finally opened the crates and out poured tons of water. Just about everything we owned was completely ruined. TV, couch, chairs, tables.... my mom just cried and cried. My brother and I decided it was a good time to check out the base pool (in an environment like that a 5-th grader and a 3rd grader can ride their bikes across the base to spend the day at the pool).
The saving grace of moving? No extra stuff! I also like watching Clean Sweep- how can people keep all that stuff??? Our cars are parked in our garage. AND, funny thing is, we keep running into the same people over and over when we move. You never know when you'll be stationed with the people you knew in Japan and California in Nebraska later...

Posted by: keladry95 | October 5, 2007 10:08 AM

I can't believe I forgot the funny now, not so funny then part of our Norfolk move. Along with the broken stuff, the leaves to the dining room table showed up, but the table itself had been stolen.

Posted by: tntkate | October 5, 2007 10:13 AM

Meesh, you've got me on colleges, but not on the rest of the levels of school.

Six elementary schools: K and 1 in Fort Knox, KY; 2 and part of 3 in Denver; part of 3 in Dundalk, MD; part of 3 and part of 4 in Petal, MS; part of 4 in Louisiana; 4 and 6 in Munich (I skipped 5th).

Two middle schools: Munich and Louisiana

Two high schools: two different places in Louisiana

Colleges: one in Louisiana for undergrad; Purdue for grad school. I have taken classes at two additional colleges, but I don't count them because that was a part-time thing while I worked.

And like a lot of others who moved a lot, I do remember things based on where we were. 1968 election? Mississippi; all the neighbors were Wallace voters. Some kid got in a fight at school for supporting Nixon (there were no Republicans in the south back then; they were all Democrats). Dodgers-Twins World Series? Fort Knox. Watergate? In the process of moving from Germany to Louisiana when it happened. And so on.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 5, 2007 10:13 AM

We didn't move much until 2005 when we moved 4 times due to Hurricane Katrina. Between April 2005 (when we moved into our first house) and May 2006 we went from our house, to various hotels and family members' homes, to a "pool house" in Lafayette -- where our first son was born (Katrina hit when I was 8-months pregnant), to a 1-bedroom apartment when he was 6-weeks old, and finally back home in May 2006 when he was 9 months. At least we never had to live in a FEMA trailer! We count our lucky stars for that.

We used a moving company when we first moved into our house (April 05) but moved ourselves the subsequent times: one worked while the other minded the baby and we moved big stuff while he napped. Granted, we didn't have that much stuff to move... for obvious reasons. Losing so many possessions has taught us the true value of stuff! Now we only bring things into our house that we wouldn't mind mucking out in a flood.

Posted by: ktcat99 | October 5, 2007 10:21 AM

According to the database maintained by BlogStats...

Since the Onbalance debut in March 2006, there have been 384 distinct topics discussed and The total number of comments has surpassed 100,000. Congratulations Leslie!

The peak activity on this blog was the period between January through July 2007 where the average number of submissions came in around 380 per topic.

since the Washington Post began enforcing a registered login requirement, the average number of submissions per topic has dropped to 171.

Yesterday's blog, "Is the Quest for Balance a Joke?", hosted 66 submissions and ranks in the bottom 5% by number of submissions for a single topic.

And the top 10 posters since the application of the login requirement:

169 hillary
196 atb
212 Emily
215 Fred
229 ArmyBrat
252 atlmom1234
352 MN, [mn.188, Megans_Neighbor]
558 mehitabel
8096 / 47

Posted by: BlogStats | October 5, 2007 11:01 AM


Any idea why the Achenblog's numbers tend to be so much higher?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 5, 2007 11:07 AM

BlogStats might be well-advised to bear in mind that several of the people on the list who are listed as having fewer posts submit posts under other names as well. Not naming any names, of course, but if the shoe fits...

Posted by: mehitabel | October 5, 2007 11:08 AM

Army Brat, wow, you've got me beat.

We've been pretty lucky with our moves. Our worst move was not even our own. My boyfriend (soon to be husband), my brother, and I packed and moved my mom from MD to Michigan a few years ago.
Highlights include:
~ She had not packed a single thing when we arrived with the moving truck.
~ It was also tough because it was her first move alone (without husband or kids), so she had to get rid of a lot of sentimental stuff.
~ We then rented the biggest UHAUL they had and drove through the night in January. It was, of course, snowing the whole time.
~ We had to get it done in 2 days. Total hours of sleep over 2 days of moving and 2 days of travel: 10.
~ She was moving into a third-floor apartment that didn't have an elevator.

When my boyfriend survived the weekend, I knew he was a keeper.

Posted by: Meesh | October 5, 2007 11:22 AM

Blog Stats, the clear implication is that I need to post much more! j/k

Thanks for the stats!

Posted by: Meesh | October 5, 2007 11:24 AM

That's really embarrassing, blog stats. At least pATRICK has 4 times more cause for embarrassment.

I went to 8 different schools K-12, and I'm not military, nor did my father work for an organization that moved him. I guess that's not entirely true. He was his own organization.

Posted by: atb2 | October 5, 2007 11:39 AM

Posted by: BlogStats | October 5, 2007 11:01 AM

I am crushed. Clearly I will have to try harder.

Posted by: laura33 | October 5, 2007 11:50 AM

chittybangbang, pure speculation, but the Achenblog has a slightly different dynamic than Onbalance. For starters, the Achenblog doesn't have a login requirement. The Achenbloggers also post well into the evening, over the weekend, and many times all night long. The Onbalancers have a tendency to quit after 5:00 pm, and I'm guessing that many of the contributers on this blog go home and take care of young children. During the peak activity of Onbalance though, the numbers were comparable when averaged throughout the day.

What's your posting moniker on the Achenblog?

BTW Meesh, you have contributed 162 comments since the login requirement was established.

Posted by: BlogStats | October 5, 2007 11:51 AM

I have been trying all morning to post something...followed the instructions...what is the deal???

Posted by: cjbriggs | October 5, 2007 11:57 AM

"The Onbalancers have a tendency to quit after 5:00 pm, and I'm guessing that many of the contributers on this blog go home and take care of young children."

Maybe if the Post didn't take OB off the right-hand pull down list of available blogs promptly at 5 p.m. every day, west coasters and others might post later. I find it somewhat insulting to Leslie and her audience that the Post assumes everyone is on the mommy schedule.

Maybe Achenblog doesn't attract the sort of scolds that complain about "Fred and his crowd" and "you're not being ni-ice", hall monitors that want to purge the English language of anything that offends their ears, and bored, angry nutcases like baba who are encouraged by Leslie to post until 80% of humanity has been chased off.

and maybe Achenblog doesn't have the quantity of tech problems with which this blog has been plagued, like the posting problem that's been permitted to continue all friggin' week long. Just sayin', LOL.

Posted by: MN | October 5, 2007 12:03 PM


"What's your posting moniker on the Achenblog?"

What's yours?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 5, 2007 12:04 PM

mehitabel: what other names are you here? I'm trying to keep things straight and it can be difficult.

MN: love it! You captured the whine perfectly.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 5, 2007 12:09 PM

Dotted, I changed from catlady to mehitabel when registration began. I have no other name here, hence my higher number of posts.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 5, 2007 12:14 PM

mehitabel: I thought you might be catlady...come to think of it, it was discussed last week or the week before sometime? I can't remember everything!

On topic: The way to move is to just do it quickly. Amazing how things can just come together the less time you allot to it! Keeps down the fret time too...

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 5, 2007 12:18 PM


LOL, although if, as we did once, you rent the wrong size truck (based on your recollection of the last move before that pre-children) and don't finally determine that you have the wrong size truck until approx. 2 p.m., you may find yourself: (a) suddenly losing 4 - 6 hours in divvying up the possessions not already loaded amongst friends and family (allow extra time for cursing and denial); (b) leaving town at 7 p.m. instead of 3 p.m., and (c) driving up in front of a dark house in a town or city you do not know well at approx. 1 a.m. with no light to see the lock for purposes of inserting a key, and no friggin' idea where on the truck is a floorlamp you can plug in once inside. Now that was a fun move, LOL.

Posted by: MN | October 5, 2007 12:24 PM

I've moved more times than I could possibly recall, but the move from NoVa to Phoenix was the toughest (I will never move back east). I had three weeks from the time I was offered the job to the time I was at my desk in Phoenix. I gave twoo weeks notice to my NoVa employer, gave my realtor in NoVa my cell phone number, told him to sell the house and send me a check.

I rented a 15-foot truck with a 14-foot trailer for my car. My boyfriend and two friends helped me pack my truck. I had never driven anything bigger than a passenger van, and here I was driving nearly 30 feet of truck/trailer 2,700 miles cross-country. My neurotic 50-pound dog rode shotgun, my howling cat was in a carrier...and my kid's hamster died en-route.

My daughter flew out 12 days later with her father, so I replaced the hamster with a look-alike before she got there. Right after my daughter arrived, I heard a lot of squeaking in the hamster cage. I looked inside and there were baby hamsters. My daughter, then eight years old, asked how the hamster could have babies without a daddy (she didn't know the particulars of the birds and the bess and the hamsters, but she knew there needed to be a daddy hamster). So I quickly explained that her daddy bought a guinea pig from a pet store and she had babies, so perhaps the daddy hamster was at the pet store. My daughter had receive the hamster nine months earlier, so sooner or later she will recall this incident and realize that hamsters don't have a nine-month gestation period, and I will have to 'fess up.

There was absolutely nothing balanced about the actual move, but my NoVA house sold in 48 hours, and I bought a much nicer house in a much better neighborhood in Phoenix for less money, so I have since found an easier way of life! Just a helluva time getting here...

Posted by: pepperjade | October 5, 2007 12:27 PM

MN: it may not have been a fun move, but it is a good story!

Not everything can/should be fun, but everything is salvaged when it becomes a good story.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 5, 2007 12:31 PM

I pored my heart out in a story, yet I have been unable to get it to post, despite trying like 50 different times...

Posted by: cjbriggs | October 5, 2007 12:36 PM

But when I put out these comments, they take...I just don't get it???

Posted by: cjbriggs | October 5, 2007 12:37 PM

cjbriggs, Did you click on the "Click here" prompt before sending? WaPo seems to have changed their procedure this week, so a lot of us have had the same problem. Also, check to make sure you don't have any likely forbidden words (even if accidentally, via typo). Finally, before clicking on "Submit" do a Control-A block, Control-C copy to save your work in case WaPo eats your post again. Best of luck.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 5, 2007 12:40 PM

Chittybangbang, I googled "reddy4u Washington Post" and got exactly 1 hit from a crossdressers website. Hmmm.

I posted exactly once on the Achenblog as "Blog Stats" (BlogStats with a space)

The software I use to generate the stats can be downloaded from the web. Where to find it is a deep, dark secret, but to make it a challange for anybody to discover, I'll give you a hint. There is a link to it deep inside the Washington Post archives.

Caution: In the hands of the wrong person, the software could be dangerous.

Posted by: BlogStats | October 5, 2007 12:40 PM

yes, I did the click here thing...I have saved my post, but every time I try to send it, nothing appears. Yet these comments appear...there is nothing offensive in the post, no swear words, etc.

Posted by: cjbriggs | October 5, 2007 12:43 PM

I move all the time. Doesn't bother me a bit. But then again the whole sea is my home! (No, Mrs. Mako we are not moving to the Pacific!)

Posted by: nonamehere | October 5, 2007 12:44 PM

MN- Ya, that happened to us, too. You should have seen the look of pity on our friends' faces when the truck was full and we still had a least one more room to go. We sent all our friends home, spent the night, got a bigger truck, and we loaded it ourselves, old truck to new truck, plus the left-overs. The really lame part is that it happened again for the next move, the most recent one. Sigh.

Long trips with pets are fun. Howling cats. Nothing like it.

Posted by: atb2 | October 5, 2007 12:45 PM


"Chittybangbang, I googled "reddy4u Washington Post" and got exactly 1 hit from a crossdressers website. Hmmm."

Oh, MY God! You fell for that old chestnut!

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 5, 2007 12:47 PM

Also, make sure that you are logged in before submitting comments

Posted by: nonamehere | October 5, 2007 12:50 PM

wow is hax slow today.

I lived in the same house til I went to college. While I was in college, mom and dad separated and I 'moved in' with mom. The move was in the summer, and you could not imagine the kind of crap we had in the house. Mom was originally planning to sell the stuff herself, but she got pneumonia, went to hospital, found a person who does that and there was a sale in the house of everything (after they sold some few valuable pieces of stuff they had to a collector they knew).
It was truly strange to leave that house, it was huge, and we moved into a small three bedroom apt for the two of us. There was so much junk my mom had just put into the basement to store - which wasn't so typical as she wasn't such a pack rat.
We didn't find old clothes, I guess those mom threw away, but all our games/toys/stuffed animals were there.

Since college, I lived with mom, went to grad school, then moved to Atlanta - where I'm actually living in my fifth place, where I've been since we were married.
I am truly amazed at people who move a house - with or without kids, even - I look at my place, which isn't too cluttered or anything, but I think: hey, wow, how could I possibly show this house to buyers! Unless I were to move out. Kudos to anyone with kids who could show a house.

Y'all have some great moving stories, tho.
The best I can do is that I drove my DH's miata from our old place to new, and in the passenger seat is the 5 foot teddy bear he proposed with. I got a few stares that day.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 5, 2007 12:50 PM

MN: at that point, I'd just try to find a hotel and come back the next day.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 5, 2007 12:51 PM

I think I need to move. The clutter levels are going up. Used to average a move about every 5 years. Gives you the incentive to purge. It's way to easy to put a box in the garage or attic.

Posted by: robinwfcva | October 5, 2007 12:55 PM

Definitely a good thing to move, however. Would get me to clear things out. I've been trying, though - and we've both made huge strides with our clothes. Realistically, I need to keep going through my closet (really, can't ever find a reason to wear some stuff I bought many years ago!). And I do try...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 5, 2007 12:58 PM

and, woo woo! i made blogstats list!

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 5, 2007 1:01 PM

I had a female friend who was moving from the east coast to the west coast. As she was driving by herself. I borrowed a life size inflatable male from another friend to keep her company. (and give the appearance that she was not traveling alone.) His name was Bob and he was dressed with a kerchief, hat, golf shirt and pants. Bob was good company as he did not smoke, agreed to stop as many times as my friend wanted to do so, sleep on the floor and did not complain etc. And was the perfect gentlemen the whole time!

My friend found out that Bob was a cross-dresser one night! He was wearing a little black chemise and high cut panties! At least he did not swipe her undies!

Posted by: anonthistime | October 5, 2007 1:01 PM

"I had a female friend who was moving from the east coast to the west coast. As she was driving by herself."

Free poon-tang from the east coast to the west coast! God bess America!

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 5, 2007 1:19 PM

"I borrowed a life size inflatable male from another friend to keep her company. (and give the appearance that she was not traveling alone.) His name was Bob and he was dressed with a kerchief, hat, golf shirt and pants."

Manna from heaven! Could you ask for a bigger softball to comment on? lol

Posted by: pATRICK | October 5, 2007 1:43 PM

"I borrowed a life size inflatable male from another friend to keep her company. (and give the appearance that she was not traveling alone.) His name was Bob and he was dressed with a kerchief, hat, golf shirt and pants."

Oooo, baby!!

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 5, 2007 1:51 PM

BTW i think your stats are off BLOGSTATS, you forgot the great satan BB in your list

Posted by: pATRICK | October 5, 2007 1:53 PM

She was a WCP girl, I think she was envious of Bob's sense of style!

Posted by: anonthistime | October 5, 2007 1:56 PM

I was a Forest Service brat. It's a lot like being a military brat, except we never left the US, and always lived in small towns or out in the country in/near a national forest.

I think my parents moved us seven times before I was in kindergarten, but it could have been more. I'd lived in Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, maybe Montana, and California before I was 10.

I was a shy kid and never adjusted well. I hated the first place we lived in CA, and we stayed there for six years.

The next move, when I was 15, was to a small town near Yosemite National Park, and I got to go along on the house-hunting trip. I had zero influence on the house my parents chose, but I felt better about the whole deal because I'd at least seen the area and the house. I also got my own room for the first time. Before, I'd always shared a room with my two younger sisters, and only our little brother had a room of his own.

It was hard adjusting to a new high school that was 10 times bigger than the one I'd left and it was October when we moved. But with a lot more kids to choose from it was easier to find some that I had something in common with. I ended up writing a few articles for the school paper, and my senior year I was the yearbook editor.

My parents still live there in the same house - Dad's been retired from the USFS for about 18 years - and I still think of it as my "home town", or the closest equivalent I'll ever have.

As an adult I've lived in Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, and came back home to California in '91. That's ignoring my Air Force enlistment, and the various temporary bases I was assigned to.

Moving - for me at least - is neither good nor bad, it's just what one has to do, and do it the best you can.

The toughest move was coming back to CA in '91. I'd lost my job in MO, and got two offers, one in Seattle and one in the SF Bay Area. The Seattle job was a one-year contract with option to hire, and the Bay Area job was a permanent full-time possition.

DH was going to stay behind and sell our rental property in St. Louis, and my Dad flew out to help me drive the rental truck towing my car. He almost ran a trucker off the road in Wyoming when he forgot he was towing a car, and pulled into the right lane too quickly after passing. I got us through Denver rush-hour traffic without a single scare.

After I got settled into my apartment and my new job, we got a huge shock that upset all our careful plans. I was pregnant - which wasn't supposed to be possible. We'd given up on fertility treatements three years earlier, because they just didn't work for me.

DH quit his job, got someone to manage the rental property which wasn't selling - anyone else remember the last real estate slump in the early 90's? And followed me west. We moved out of my tiny temporary two bedroom apartment into a family-sized three bedroom in the same building when I was five months pregnant, and not allowed to touch anything heavier than pillows.

When older son was two we moved into our first shared house. Two years later the whole collective, two single women, me, DH, and the boy, moved into a second even bigger shared house, because lightning had struck a second time and I was pregnant again. We stayed in that house for five years, during which both our original housemates found the loves of their lives and got married, and various other good and bad (one crazy-psycho - but that's another story *much* longer than this post is getting) housemates came and went.

We bought our dear little house six years ago with the idea that it could be either a fixer-upper to resell, or a life-time home. The longer we stay, the more obvious it becomes that we're never going to move again if we can help it.

Posted by: sue | October 5, 2007 2:08 PM

Other side of the coin: Anyone else have family who lived in the same house for two (or more) generations? Both my parents did, and after they married my dad moved to my mom's family house. And one of my uncles only lived a couple blocks away, too, so I had a cousin nearby. We had a number of neighbors whose parents had been friends of one or both sets of my grandparents, so there was still a real sense of community while I was growing up -- "It takes a village to raise a child" wasn't a political viewpoint but a genuine way of life.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 5, 2007 2:18 PM

What happened to "Hot Bob" with the kerchief when the trip was completed?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 5, 2007 2:25 PM

My cousin lives in a house built in 1750 and has never been out of the family. After my grandfather died my dad moved into his house (where my dad grew up) and he owned it until he died. It is now out of the family sadly. The house my other cousin lives in (across the street) has also been in the family since it was built in the early 1800s. Unlink me, that part of the family doesn't seem to require A/C :-)

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | October 5, 2007 2:26 PM

Hot Bob was deflated since since female friend never put a move on him!

So much for being a "perfect" gentleman!

Posted by: anonthistime | October 5, 2007 2:31 PM

What happened to "Hot Bob" with the kerchief when the trip was completed"

Do you mean "anatomically correct" Bob? Smirk, Smirk

Posted by: pATRICK | October 5, 2007 2:32 PM

"Hot Bob was deflated since since female friend never put a move on him!"

Typical. Chick uses a man 'till she doesn't need him, then tosses him aside.

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 5, 2007 2:35 PM

KLB, the neighbors kept an eye out for all the kids' safety, so we could roam more freely around the neighborhood than many of today's children are able to do. And occasionally I'd run into my grandfather out taking his daily walk, or an uncle working in the front yard or on his car.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 5, 2007 2:35 PM

Have a great weekend all...there is rain acoming, yipeee!

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 5, 2007 2:55 PM

"Have a great weekend all...there is rain acoming, yipeee!"

Ditto. Fade out.

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 5, 2007 3:13 PM

Wow, sue. That's an impressive story.
OT: I would be really interested in hearing about your experiences with non family members as housemates after your kids were born. We currently share a large house with another couple, which is working out well, but we don't know whether it is something we should still pursue when we have kids.

Posted by: MaryL | October 5, 2007 3:28 PM

MaryL, housemates. It completely depends on the individuals.

Our first two were mid-late 20's single females. DH and I were mid-late 30's. We had all known each other for about a year or two before we moved in together. DH sang with a community chorus and the "girls" were also chorus members. I don't sing - at least not well enough to inflict on other people - but I loved the music, and hung out with them at rehearsals, sewed chorus robes, watched kids while their parents sang, shilled whenever and wherever needed. So we all had friendships/relationships and good levels of trust and respect before we all shared a house.

Having extra grown-ups around when raising kids can be wonderful. Either housemate would babysit at the drop of a hat, and our boys were surrounded by loads of people who loved and cherished them.

Shared meals were also a great time and money saver. DH (always the SAHP) is a fabulous cook, and many of the housemates just kicked in a monthly amount towards common meals instead of doing their own shopping and cooking.

The only drawback was the loss of beloved "aunties" when each of them moved on with their lives. That was especially difficult when the first one left. It was very um, messy, and I was postpartum with younger son, so very hormonal and not very reasonable.

When we later had male housemates, I had to get a lot more conscious about things like putting on a robe before going to the bathroom.

Then there was the truly bad/dangerous/wacko housemate. We thought she might be a little difficult when we interviewed, but had no idea that she'd do things like barging through closed doors and have screaming fits, call the police andaccuse us of assault, send a six-page letter to the landlord suggesting he kick us out because we were abusing drugs (we weren't), or become incensed and attack me because DH didn't find her attractive. All of that in only three months. By the end of it, we'd moved our two cats to a friend's house because we thought they might be killed, sent our younger son, at age two, to stay with his grandparents 120 miles away for his safety, and felt that older son at seven could stay with us only because he was in school during the day, and we could watch each other's backs and his when I was home from work.

Free advice and worth what you paid for it - don't share a living situation with someone you dont know well!

Since you already have a shared situation, and it's working well for you, I think you'll be fine to have kids.

Talk about it a lot first though. We had weekly meetings for the first year or so, where everyone could bring up anything that needed to be discussed - who didn't clean the bathroom when it was their turn, who was having an overnight guest, that kind of thing.

I think it was a great experience for our kids. It was very much like having extended family nearby, something I had for the first nine years of my life, but my kids didn't have because we weren't living near enough to any of our relatives.

Posted by: sue | October 5, 2007 4:14 PM

I'm an Air Force brat and a former Army officer - my best advice is YOU HAVE TO HAVE A LIST!!

Having never been around for the move (I left for school one morning and came home to have the entire house packed - it was bizarre but a great way to get us kids out of the way.) I didn't know I had to worry about the list.

Movers apparently have no problem hiring semi shady people - like homeless people on the street corners who don't know what certain items might be. For instance within the past 2 years a mover didn't know that the box with the buttons was the computer. Since the movers are supposed to fill out the paperwork with the description you can imagine how great this system works. Also don't label a box something like "DVDs" because it will be stolen. For some reason they stole my husband's grandfather's hand carved Italian wood gentlemen's caddy to hang a suit jacket and put your change. You can't get this stuff back. Items which you imagine couldn't get hurt somehow get scratched. We had a semi local move - about 60 miles - and the driver and crew showed up with a broken truck. They packed the truck, didn't write a list, then asked us how to get around the toll since if they went there they would get pulled over. So at like 7pm at night was the last we saw of our stuff until the next morning because the truck was pulled over by the cops for a variety of issues - such as the door not closing. Then they took everything off the truck, itemized it, and put it back on a smaller truck. It arrived at our new house with my grandmother's chair literally strapped to the back of the truck - not inside - strapped to the back... I have a picture I'm not kidding. I was appalled. I still am appalled. This was the Ft. Meade traveling office and when I complained they did nothing - absolutely nothing. Military moving means you need to take everything of real value with you - and everything else you have to be able to live without. Photo albums, keep sakes, anything older than 10 years you can't buy any more, trinkets that mean something to you enough to pack in your car. EVERY single piece of furniture will get some new ding - either you have to learn to live with it or suck it up and buy new again. You'd think an agency so accustomed to moving would know how to get it done - but my story is not unique and happens all the time. Have a list - try and put bland, boring labels on the outside of most boxes - things like 1970s christmas decorations, or fabric supplies...anything someone wouldn't be tempted to steal.

Posted by: forsythej | October 5, 2007 4:38 PM

My key to a successful move with kids has been to do the worst of it while they're in daycare/school. It's not a great way to spend a day off from work, but at least the kids are taken care of for a few hours. Our last move was a bit over a year ago (though we only moved next door), and I'm with Leslie, no more until we can check in at the adult B&B.

P.S. Laura: I'm a Tyco refugee as well; I've certainly thought worse than jerk. Glad his wife loved her birthday party...

Posted by: kate07 | October 5, 2007 6:01 PM

Up until recently, I'd really been mostly in one place for my whole life. Yes, I'd done the move to the college dorm, the college apartment, back home, the post-college apartment, and the house with my husband, but they were all in relatively the same place and weren't what I would consider complicated.

The big move came 2 years ago when we moved overseas for my husband's job. I actually left my job 3 months before the move and left my daughter in daycare during that time so I could work on all the arrangements without the stress of a baby around (she was one year old at the time of the move).

I think my decision to work on it without an infant around was a really smart one. It gave me the time to do all the administrative details, the errands, the organizing, the packing, the runs to goodwill without factoring a baby into the equation. On the days when I had some extra time, I caught up with friends and family or exercised to keep from getting too stressed.

We're about to move back to DC next summer, and I'm a bit apprehensive about how that pack out will go - my daughter is now in preschool but will be out for the summer. I think I may have to park her with friends (and take theirs in return) to get some free time to work in focused peace.

Once again, I think most of the physical duties (packing, organizing) will fall to me since my husband will be working. He does tend to take care of most of the administrative stuff though so that's a good division of labor as far as I'm concerned.

I think balance can be achieved if you don't try to do it all at once. As for joy, on the move out the joy was in the excitement of moving abroad. I'm not sure what joy there will be at moving back to the DC rat race, but we will obviously be glad to move back to our home and be close to friends and family again.

We've met a lot of people in our time here that do this every 2-3 years though and they are my heroes. It's amazing how you adapt when moving frequently (and overseas no less) is your way of life. We know people who've been all around the world, who've lived outside the US for 15-20 years, who've raised families entirely in transition and they amaze me!!

Posted by: viennamom | October 6, 2007 2:18 PM

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