At the End of a Knotted Cord A Mother's Day Story of the Birth of my Only Daughter

“Look down,” my doctor demanded.

Groaning I forced my eyes open, drawing myself from a haze of pain in time to see a slippery bundle being lifted up over the sheet and laid on my breathless chest.

“Congratulations,” he said, “it’s a girl.”

Peeking out from under the blood stained flannel blanket was a smooth round cheek punctuated with a perfect dimple.

My husband and I were awestruck.  We had come into the hospital as a family of two and now in our arms was another person and we had made her. She breathed a little sigh and went about nursing as if it was something we had both done a dozen times before.

As we sat staring the anxious voice of a nurse rose over the murmurs of the delivery room,

“Did you show her doctor?”

“Not yet,” he said, holding up for me to see a scrawny strand of umbilical cord that a few minutes ago my husband had cut with a quivering hand.

“It’s a true knot,” he said.

My doctor was also my Program Director, I was in my second year of a Family Medicine Residency.  Often times an umbilical cord can have an irregular shape making it appear knotted or twisted.  The term “true knot” then is used to clarify that it is actually a knot, at some point in the pregnancy the baby looped itself around through its own cord.  A True Knot is relatively rare and in a thick cord can be fairly benign.  But in a thin cord like mine there is a real risk that a movement of the baby during pregnancy or more likely during the strain of delivery the knot can tighten cutting off the baby’s blood supply resulting in immediate death.

.    .    .

My pregnancy came after 3 years of trying.  Most thought we were wise to delay reproducing until the end of my medical training, but this didn’t matter to me a bit. I had always wanted a family more than I had wanted a career. I only went to medical school after putting off what I can best describe as a calling for 8 years.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that I ought to go to medical school and at the time I was both unattached and jobless.  Medical school felt more like a last resort than a destination to me.

By the time my daughter was conceived I had spent a small fortune on negative pregnancy tests and was so discouraged that I waited a full month before confirming even to myself that I was indeed pregnant.  Even with the confirmation of those double lines followed by an  ultrasound I was hesitant.  I was half way through my pregnancy before I announced it even to my close friends.

But overall pregnancy was easy for me. That is, it didn’t make anything harder. Life wasn’t exactly painless as I made my way through my second year of residency.  Late nights, early mornings, hospital food and strained conversations at home thanks to chronic stress and fatigue were the norm. But with the exception of a few extra naps in the call room after morning rounds pregnancy didn’t affect me much, I slept well when I could and ate better.

I was so busy that it rarely dawned on me how very little movement I felt from my baby.  Occasionally I would notice what I later realized to be hick-ups, otherwise she was motionless.  My patients (I was taking care of pregnant women at that time too) would complain of kicks and pokes and beg me for sleeping pills and pain pills while I would go hours and barely feel a gentle nudge from inside.

All parents worry about their children but I think the weight of anxiety is even heavier on those who work in medicine.  At this point in my training I had spent many nights attending the labors of women who knew they would never hear the beautiful cry of their child and I had stood beside them afterward trying to keep the tiny limp bodies swaddled as their mothers wept. So when I did have time to stop and think about my pregnancy I felt mostly anxious.  The fact that she seemed to be growing reasonably well didn’t do much to reassure me.  I coped by trying to detach. I avoided imagining what my baby would be like and  as much as I could barred myself from the engrossing joy of hopeful anticipation. I tried to take it one day at a time and put off any baby preparations as long as possible.

Still my pregnancy passed uneventfully. The day of her birth (one day before her due date) I woke up even before my 4 A.M. alarm with the first notable  moment of discomfort.  Making rounds that morning my co-workers found me swaying and deep breathing through contractions in the hallway before entering patient’s rooms to see how their night had gone.

My contractions remained irregular as we finished our morning work. I was still on call and was hopeful that I could finish out this weekend before giving birth so as not to require my co-workers to cover for me (my program was incredibly generous with pregnancies among residents though it didn’t mean there wasn’t an added strain on everyone when a new baby arrived).  I went home and updated my husband but didn’t expect much.  I had patients who complained of contractions for weeks before their delivery and this was the first day that I felt anything at all.  We decided to go to the nearby park for a walk as we often did and see if this had any affect, either calming or stimulating on my body.  As we made our first quarter mile loop I began to feel a strange sensation.  For the first time it felt like something was alive inside of me.  Our baby began moving, twisting, turning, kicking. I felt jabs and jumps, this I could see would keep a person up at night.

“She is finally moving,” I said marveling.

The change alarmed my husband and he decided we should go to the hospital to have her monitored.

With Fetal Monitor in place we confirmed that she was doing fine and that I was indeed in labor.  With this reassurance I decided to call in my back up, hand off my on-call pager and go home.

It was getting close to dinner  by this time and we tossed around the idea of going by our church which was hosting a pot luck when my labor began to change. Within a few minutes my contractions intensified and I found myself face down on the guest-bed groaning, all deep breathing and relaxation techniques vanished from my head.  I was terrified and insisted that my husband stay at my side. At the same time I demanded that he re-heat the microwavable heating pad and replace it on my back with each contraction.  That was the start of an exhausting evening for both of us and his presence and that heating pad were my greatest comforts.

My husband had strict instructions from me to avoid the hospital until absolutely necessary.  I had attended enough labors to know that I didn’t want any extra intervention and in my experience the longer one is in the hospital the more necessary interventions were likely to become.  He had faithfully read, The Birth Partner and was ready for the task at hand.  A friend brought lasagna from the pot luck which my husband managed to eat while I sipped on ginger-ale.  We proceeded like this for hours, me groaning on the bed and him running back and forth to the microwave.

I had tucked away a few pair of sterile gloves and was able to check my own dilation. My husband texted my self-evaluations along with his tracking of my contractions to our doctor who continued to reassure us.  I felt my baby’s soft hick-ups  from time to time and so labor went on.

Around eight or nine P.M  things, once again, began to accelerate and the pain became unbearable.  I was ready to burn  every natural childbirth book I had ever read.  I told my husband I had changed my mind about natural birth and wanted him to take me to the hospital immediately (previously I had told him that this would happen so he had mentally prepared for it, God bless him). He continued timing me  and instead of declining my requests, he stalled. He fed the dogs and packed our bags in between attending me during contractions putting off the hospital until he knew we were close to delivery.  Meanwhile I made my way to the front door, laid down on the floor, groaning in pain and in hysterics told him that we absolutely must get in the car.

The five minute drive was an eternity and if memory serves me I laid down again in the parking lot writhing with discomfort before I made my way inside.

Entering the Labor and Delivery Ward I pointed to the first nurse I saw and told her to get me my epidural (I had just been working there earlier that day so giving orders to the nurses was nothing new).  Prior to this moment I had been worried about the awkwardness of giving birth surrounded by my co-works, many of whom I supervised.  As it turns out misery breaks down many barriers and I quickly stripped down naked, put on the wretched hospital gown and climbed onto the bed.

My doctor arrived neatly dressed and with a confident smile put my husband at ease.  My doctor assured me that I could in fact make it through this ordeal unmedicated and that I had no other choice, it was too late for intervention.

I have few memories of what conspired in the following hour of my life.  I distinctly remember praying out loud, The Jesus Prayer,

“Lord, Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

They told me later that during alternating contractions I was cursing like a sailor, saying words they rarely heard and never expected to come from my mouth (I have many vices but cursing isn’t typically one of them) apparently agony that is severing your body like a knife can bring out the unexpected and  I’ve always been grateful that I don’t have now and never did have any memory of this part.

After an hour  it was time to push. My doctor let me, sit up and deliver in a squat.  I couldn’t even say that I felt contractions.  I only  had the distinct sensation that my body was being torn in half from the inside out.  All preconceived ideas of dutifully breathing Lamaze style through this while my husband wiped my brow with a cool rag had long ago disintegrated.   Instead I pulled my husband’s beard and screamed.

At one point I remember coming out of my daze of pain long enough to hear the heart rate decelerate (meaning the baby’s heart rate slowed significantly during a a contraction which you can hear on the monitor).

“That’s a decel,” I cried.

The nurse turned down the volume and told me to keep pushing.

Push and grunt, kick and scream I did.  And without much intentional effort on my part my child was born a few minutes after midnight.

After years of trying it always felt a little selfish for me to be particular about the baby’s sex.  I had suspected I would have a boy and knew I would be delighted whatever it was. But an extra jolt of joy shot through me when the doctor announced that I had given birth to a girl. A daughter all my own and perfect.

.    .    .

Birth Story
Her first picture
birth story
Yellow was never her color but I was too practical to bring both pink and blue to the hospital so yellow it was for the first few days of life.

I held my tiny bundle and stared at the knot dangling in the air.  It had been there all along threatening but not harming. We had made it. Nine months of no movement and anxiety had still produced a perfectly formed little girl.

I knew then that I would do anything to protect my daughter. I would gladly give my life to keep her safe. But the vision of that knot stands between her and I.  Try as I might most of life is out of my hands.  And it isn’t just her life.  All of us live like this, never knowing how close we come to an unseen disaster. There is no such thing as safety.  One day the knot will cinch.

And so on that day,  her birth day, as my grip on her little body tightened, I began to let go and realize that the only life I could give her was one of surrender, one of death and one of resurrection.   In the months that followed I was jealous for her. Work consumed me and  I despised my time away.  Still when I was quiet long enough I remembered, she was not my own, she was God’s gift to the world and she belonged to Him and to it.

Today is Mother’s Day.   It has been 5 years of joy with my little girl and five years of hoping for a second child without another pregnancy.   We celebrate our mothers and our children but grieve those that have passed, those that were never born and those that are estranged from us.   Motherhood demands that we release our exceptions of ourselves, of our abilities, of our ambitions and our dreams of what we thought life was supposed to look like and be born again into the reality of life in its hope and sorrow and in this we can live without fear even as we dangle at the end of knotted cords.

 

 
For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Marriage, Our Wedding

How to Keep Your Head Above Water Cultivating a Marriage, Our first 9 years

My husband and I married 9 years ago today in the dusty border town of Piedras Negras, Mexico. We made our vows at sunset in an old Spanish Mission and then celebrated with Greek dancing, a live donkey and bottomless margaritas.

The weekend ended and I found myself back in the lecture hall instead of on a honeymoon.  Over a few short months my husband watched the fun loving, easy going girl he married quickly dissolve into a irrational medical student who could not even begin to unwind on a weekend get-away. He who had once been considered a bit of free spirit found his creativity quickly confined by the lifestyle required by his medical student wife.

It probably didn’t help that we dated for only six months before we married and even during that time we were living in two different countries.

We had neither a blissful first year nor a wretched one.  We got along and enjoyed each other, it was just that being together took a lot of work.  We both did our best to be supportive and kind but it took every last drop of our emotional energy to keep the wheels of our marriage turning.  Overtime we moved onto residency, a home remodel, a church plant and a baby. We came to see our patterns, our weaknesses, our unrealistic expectations and all that helped. We continued to grow, but we had to agree with all the premarital advice we had been given, marriage was hard.

I finished residency and then worked for another year which kept me busy and kept his options for work pretty limited.

Finally two years ago we did an about face, he took a job which moved us onto a 7,000 acre ranch, an hour from the nearest grocery store and shortly afterwards I stopped working entirely.

It took a while for me to unwind, as in it took the better part of a year.  But somewhere in there our tense and tearful discussions which had been part of our routine for years disappeared. And we began finding common ground where we never expected it.  After 8 years of striving we woke up and realized that we had a great marriage, one that was far easier than I had ever imagined.

I share this story as a celebration. Marrying my husband is undoubtedly the best decision I have ever made. But I also share it knowing that some of you are struggling. Nearly half of marriages end in divorce and I can’t help but think that some of them are people just like us who wore out before they got to the other side of the struggle.

Every marriage is unique and complex and so I hesitate to give advice after my 9 short years of experience.  But I want to share some habits, some intentional choices you can make no matter the state of your relationship. These alone won’t totally transform your marriage but they can give you some goals to work on and  to help carry you through hard times.

Of course all of these are written assuming there is no abuse or addiction involved. Certainly if you are in danger get somewhere safe, if you find that you or your partner can’t implement some of these it may be a sign that you could benefit from professional help. And please do seek it, the joy of a healthy marriage is so worth it.

Habits for Cultivating a Marriage

1. Be kind. It sounds simple enough. But it is easy in the heat of the moment to resort to name calling or under your breath comments about how much your partner reminds you of their mother. Resist those urges. Much of the damage that comes from disagreeing comes from hurtful words that have nothing to do with the original discussion. Agree to be kind and hold the other accountable to this.   If you can’t argue without saying unkind words it is probably a sign that you need professional help.

2. Stay connected physically. It is natural to want to physically isolate yourself when you feel emotionally alone. It may feel safer but most of the time it does not help build a marriage. Part of marriage is being vulnerable and physical intimacy lets you do this even when you can’t agree on what color to repaint the bathroom.

While in the midst of an argument you may need to retreat and be alone for a bit, always make sure you come back together. Try finishing the discussion holding hands on the couch. Make hugs and kisses part of your daily routine even if you aren’t especially affectionate. Don’t withholding sex until everything is worked out, sometimes physical intimacy is exactly the key to helping you find a connection with your spouse. Of course if you have had past physical or sexual abuse this is going to feel different for you and you may want to get help to work through these issues.

3. Talk it out. At the end of an disagreement you should have both had the opportunity to be heard.  Don’t stop talking it through until you have both expressed how you feel.  You don’t have to agree with each other entirely but you do need to respect each other enough to hear the others’ side.  This process is exhausting but overtime it will give you insight into your own and your partner’s behavior. If you can’t do this go to a counselor who can teach you better communication skills.

4. Don’t underestimate the effects of stress.  At the time I thought we were handling our stress well.  But over the last year I have seen how much we were affected by stress every day.  There was so much about our work that we loved but it wore us out emotionally and we had very little capacity left to deal with each other.

If you aren’t getting along and you have significant stress from work or family recognize that this, rather than your partner, may be what is taxing your marriage.   Often we hold ourselves together for the folks at work or even for our kids but by the time we are alone in the evening we are exhausted and it just takes something minor to have us up in arms with our spouse. Perhaps the most important piece of advice in this whole epic of a blog post is this: Be willing to walk away from just about everything for your marriage.

5. Don’t assume that a weekend away will cure it. For us, during the long stretch of medicals school and residency, a weekend away was certainly going to involve an argument, I just could not decompress the way I needed to in that time-frame.  It took us about a year after we changed our lifestyle to feel like we fully embraced a new way of functioning. Weekends away are great but if you are dealing with significant stress and a challenging relationship you will probably need to make more dramatic changes to see improvement.

6. Don’t complain. While it is important to have mentors and people we can go to for advice (specifically those who have successful marriages).  It is also equally important that we avoid complaining about our spouse.  Depending on your environment this is not always easy. We love to share our misery and in this case we probably make it worse by doing so. If you need help seek it, but refuse to engage in conversations where you end up complaining.

7. Keep Learning. When we first married we made it a routine to read some sort of marriage enrichment book or go to a weekend seminar every year around our anniversary. While I didn’t love every book there was at least some nugget of helpful information in each one and  it gave us a great neutral place to start a conversation about areas that we needed to work on in our own marriage. Scroll to the end of this post for a list of a few books that we found helpful.

8. Pray together. If your spouse is open to it make it a habit to sit down in the morning or evening for a few minutes, be quiet and pray together and for each other. You can do this even when you aren’t getting along. Trying to stay on the same page spiritually is a huge asset to a marriage.

Start by simply reciting something like this together:

O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and
light riseth up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all
our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou
wouldest
have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save
us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see
light, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

9. Don’t bottle it up but don’t let it explode. Make a habit of bringing up small issues as they arise. Bottling up feelings can lead to resentment. At the same time be mindful of when and how your bring things up. Use affirmative language not accusatory, “I felt neglected,” not “you neglected me.” And be considerate don’t bring up an issue in the car on the way to a party, right before a big exam, right before bed, or especially in front of other people if you can help it. Talking about issues regularly can be exhausting but trying to ignore them can lead to more hurt feelings and more intense discussions when they finally surface.

9. Create a common life. While we were never able to schedule a regular date night we were intentional about inviting over friends for dinner and trying new hobbies together. In our hectic lifestyle doing something like reading the same book or just making sure to sit down for meals together is a step towards keeping a family unified.

10. Take care of your health.  This is probably the most overlooked area and it is so important. We have been, for the most part, healthy, and have probably always eaten healthier than the average American. But I still look back and realize where we were failing to take care of ourselves.

Most of us need 8 hours of sleep, not just on Saturday but everyday. We need a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, we need to be active during the day. We need to drink water and avoid pesticides. We need sunshine and time outside. We need to limit sweets and starches that affect our blood sugar and we probably need to limit caffeine too.

Chronic stress can deplete many of our essential vitamins and minerals and exacerbate physical and emotional issues.  Taking 400 mg of Magnesium everyday is a simple and valuable start to rebuilding health that has been affected by stress but there is so much more that can be done.  Don’t overlook this.  There are some things in our health that are out of our control but much of it isn’t.

 

For Further Reading

No book, or blog post can really do what it sets out to do, giving meaningful advice on marriage in this format is almost impossible.  Each marriage is so unique that it’s rare to find a book that feels entirely applicable. Still from each of these we gained some insight that helped us along the way.

 

Boundaries in Marriage

Love and Respect

For Men Only

For Women Only

Marriage Takes More than Love

Passages in Marriage

The Five Love Languages

Marriage, Our Wedding

 

For some more of my thoughts on marriage check out:

Why Practicing Hospitality is Good for my Marriage

Marriage and the Long Haul

On Marriage and Mystery Celebrating 8 years of Living Sacramentally (last year’s anniversary post)

 

Marriage

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for occasional updates and emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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For the Kids: Books on Nature, Food and Farming To acompany the grown-ups reading Babara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable Miracle

It happens that some of my daughters favorite books are on the subjects of food, farming and nature and I’ve found that the ideas resonate with most kids.  Children love to be outside (maybe not so much with the temperatures are over 100, but still sometimes even then) and to watch the natural world unfold before them.  If this is a new area of interest for you, or if you are just looking to expand your kids’ reading list here are a few of our favorites.

The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi:

A simple story about a New York City Bee Keeper and the way he cares for his hive and his community.  It also has a lot of information about how honey is made.

 

Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson:

The story of an urban family and their tradition of getting apples from the farmer’s market and making apple sauce together.  It shows how something as simple as cooking a pot of apples together can become a cherished memory. It also has a recipe for applesauce that I use all the time.

 

The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson:

A story of how apples become apple pie. This is a sweet father-daughter book and is always my daughter’s pick to give out as a birthday gift for friends.

 

All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant

One of the biggest challenges in modern culture is accepting the limitations of a day and it seems that I always try to cram in too much.  This is a book about cherishing the small things of one day.

 

Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock:

This is actually a textbook developed to help teachers take kids outside and learn about nature. It has a beautiful perspective about letting nature speak for itself and has sections on birds, animals, insects, plants and weather. You can look up for example, “mocking bird” and read some of the natural history of the bird and then learn to listen for its call or discover it’s nest, it is a great book to take out to the back yard to deepen your experience of the natural world.

 

This post is part of our Reading Group series. Right now are reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. We would love for you to join us.

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Moving Tips

14 Moving Tips
from my 15th Move

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
Loading up. We hit the road early, knowing it was gonna be hot by the time we arrived in the Valley.

 

Just for kicks, I thought I’d re-post this, 10 months later my house is filled with boxes once again . . .

I’ll never forget the horror on my new college roommate’s face as we made our first introductions standing atop of the overflowing piles of clothing mixed with boxes of Kraft mac and cheese,  disposable razors and shower caps pouring from my suit case.  She had moved in the night before, her post-it notes were lined up and tucked into little baskets on her desk, her clothes neatly pinned to wire hangers.  It was a rough start to what turned out to be a rocky relationship.

Now some 17 years and 14 moves later I can’t say that I’d make a better roommate but I have learned a few things about moving.

Here are a few dos and don’ts that I have learned, hope they will make your next move a little easier.

1. Don’t move if you don’t have to. Moving is hard, there is no getting around it.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
At some point your dinning room table will look like this.

2. Don’t not move just because it is hard. Moving is not fun, but like birthing a child after the pain is over it is quickly forgotten, so if you have an opportunity to move into a better space go for it even if it means moving more than you intended.

3. Do make sure you have plenty of supplies. Take the amount of supplies you will think you need and double it.  Have your boxes, tape and packing materials well stocked as you begin. Often  I found myself stressed not about actually packing but about how to fit everything into the handful of boxes I had.  You don’t want to be like me rummaging around behind grocery stores at 6 am the day before you move to gather more boxes.

4. Do plan ahead. About a week before our move I began packing a small suitcase of clothes and other necessities (pullups, wipes and an extra roll of toilet paper) that we could live out of for a week or so while we got settled. By moving day when everything else was packed I knew we had all that needed right there.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
This is a little carry on suitcase, it has supplies to last Zenie and I both a week or so.

5. Don’t adopt a turtle two nights before a move.  Meet Heidi our rescued turtle. This latest move happened to fall a week before my 35th birthday. I’d been asking for a turtle as a family pet for years. Michael saw this one in the middle of the highway and ever so sweetly picked it up, rescuing it and bringing home as fun surprise for me (rescuing animals is one of my love languages). It was a great treat.  But after some research we realized that this Red Eared Slider would need a kiddie pool all to herself and caring for her was a bit more than we were prepared for. So she spent two days  in our bathtub and came along with us on move. We returned her to the spot where he had found her (only across the road).  This adventure will live on fondly in the Jarrett memory book but probably is not something you want to get involved with on moving day.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
Heidi, our temporary turtle.

6. Don’t move the week of your birthday. But if you have to stop and celebrate anyway.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
Birthday candle in an ice cream sandwich, doesn’t get much better than this.

7. Do stay organized. Organization does not come naturally for me so rather than spend hours searching for the tape, eventually giving up and going to the store to buy a new one before I find it again on the bathroom counter,  I made a little basket of my packing supplies markers, twine, tape and scissors so I could keep track of things as I packed.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
Pens, tape, string, scissors, all the stuff I am always running around looking for when packing.

8. Do label your boxes. Like I said I don’t love to organize but at the very least it helps to label boxes by which room they go in, this way you can end up with all the kitchen boxes in the kitchen and start unpacking. If you have more time it is handy to note what is in each box. If there is any chance some of your things may stay packed or go into storage it is worth the time to number the boxes (on all four sides) and then write down on a separate sheet what is in which. We spent a year with the majority of our stuff in storage and when I needed to find something I was glad I had gone through the effort to do this.

9. Don’t ignore the mess. Clean up as you go.   I don’t mind a mess and I’d much rather stick to the main job of packing or unpacking instead of stopping to clean up.  But following my husband’s advice (he is the tidy one in the house) I found that while packing if I took a few minutes every now and then to straighten out my boxes, and pick up scraps of packing material or during unpacking, to breakdown boxes  and keep them neatly stacked it made the space more relaxing and made me feel like I was making more progress.

10. Do set essentials aside. As you pack designate a few boxes of things that you will need access to. Your keys, a copy of your lease, your hat and sun glasses, maybe bug spray  or your shower curtain and a towel. This helps you keep these items organized as you pack up your house and will help you keep track of them so you can unpack them right away when you arrive.

11. Don’t set unrealistic goals. Whatever my goal is, like “I want to be unpacked in one week.” I always double it, realizing things always take longer than I expect.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
Your new home will probably look like this for a couple days. Don’t worry, you will get there.

12. Don’t pack things you don’t need.  While packing I try to pull out things we don’t use, then again when unpacking I’m always able to find even more things that don’t seem necessary anymore. Before dropping them off at the Goodwill see if any of them can be sold, passed along to friends or given to specific charities (old dog kennel to the Humane Society, old baby chair to the pregnancy support center). It feels good to know that the things you no longer need will still be put to good use by someone else.

13. Do plan meals ahead. I’ve got nothing against eating out especially during a move. But planning meals as you prepare to leave can be a great way to use up odds and ends in the freezer that will get thrown out. Also on this trip I brought a quarter bushel of Hill Country Peaches (I’m going to miss these peaches) right before we left. I also made a double batch of blueberry muffins and some chocolate chip cookies with dough that I had in the freezer. Once baked I left some out and then wrapped and re-froze the rest. I pulled a few muffins out everyday. They made great snacks and stored well and it gave us a quick breakfast on the days before and after our move. A couple other good moving snacks would be Blueberry Muffin Lara bars or goldfish crackers.

14. Don’t skip on the essentials. When you arrive at your new home, unpack perishables and beds first. Then take a break make a grocery run and load up on ice cream sandwiches, beers and cold water. Take a moment and be grateful that you made it.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life