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






7 Quick Takes Tips and Tricks for Road-Tripping with a Preschooler

Well friends we have set out on a 2 and a half week, five destination, 3,000 mile road trip, apparently also into a monster of a snowstorm.

Living in Texas with family in Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, Montana and Colorado we do a lot of traveling. Thankfully our daughter loves to hit the road with us.  Here are some tips that have made the travel work for us.


1. Pack an activity basket:

  •  Stickers. You can buy little labels in the office supply section and get 400 stickers for $1.75. You can also substitute band-aids or scotch-tape or anything sticky.
  • Pipe Cleaners. Great for making letters, people, animals, headbands, hats or anything. When you get tired of them stretch them out and start over. Take along large pasta pieces or cardboard with holes punched out or even an old colander and older kids will love weaving pipe cleaners in and out.
  • Marker board and chalk board. We keep a zip lock bag of markers and chalk (markers have been a recent addition, until recently they were too messy).
  • Lots of paper. We give her a few crayons but usually she either puts stickers on paper or tears it up. I use coloring books but have also included old catalogs, magazines or just old drawings and scrap papers.Road trip tips with pre-schoolers


  • Books. I try to pick ones that  I don’t have to read, either with no words or that she knows well.  Here are a couple of our favorite traveling books:
Road trip tips for Pre-schoolers
This is a beautiful book with landscapes and all sorts of things to count. I’ve actually had our copy since I was a little girl.


Road trip tips for pre-schoolers
This is a seek and find book with beautiful engaging pictures. You can look at these all day long and keep on finding new things.

2. Make the most of your stops: Our stops are usually quick, but if we can we try to squeeze out a few minutes of fun. Even if there isn’t anything especially exciting, looking for pine cones at a rest stop or jumping over the cracks in the sidewalk at the gas station can easily become a game for a 3 year old.

3. Gadgets: Mini Magna-Doodles, toy camera, magnifying glass or a small flashlight. Occasionally we will let her take along a singing teapot or some other music maker but we try to limit anything that makes noise.

4. Music:  We insist on doing some of the trip without music which has been a good practice for us. Then when the music comes on it is a treat and we all listen together. We alternate between doing our own”grown up” playlist, with her “kid music”. I’ve also picked up cd’s, mostly old musicals at the Goodwill which are a big hit. This girl knows the Sound of Music soundtrack backward and forward.

5. Snacks: I let everyone pick out one or two favorites and then bring a bunch of healthy treats, apples, oranges, dried fruit, crackers, rice cakes. It saves us money and we all feel better packing as much of our own food as possible.

6. Books on tape: Downloads are free with Overdrive through your local library.  The Winnie the Pooh series has been a hit with the grown ups in our car, sometimes my daughter looses focus but she is starting to get the hang of it and at least listens enough that she stays quiet whenever it is on.

7. Surprises: I bring these out in those last 30 minutes of a long drive when everyone is having a hard time keeping a good attitude. Mainly I use glow bracelets, but any sort of special treat works, keep something hidden in the glove box for those moments when everyone needs a little boost.




road trip tips for pre-schoolers    road trip tricks for preschoolers     Road trip tricks with preschoolers

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks.

Happy Travels.



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On Turning 35

On Turning 35 Liturgy of Life

Approaching my 35th birthday I planned on posting some dismal reflection on aging.

I had all sorts of ideas floating around about why I was less than thrilled to embrace this next milestone. 35 is harder for women than men, I think, because  if you happen to have a baby after this birthday you will be categorized as “advanced maternal age,”  and though the cut off is for the most part arbitrary, it puts me on edge.

More than that, with each birthday I can’t help but recognize that I am just that much closer to the end of my life. Death will surly visit me as it does everyone and  each year marks my body’s decline until one day it won’t be able to do all that I want it to. As a Christian I have a hope in Jesus who has defeated death, but still the pain and loss that comes with the end of life is real and frightening.

I found myself wishing for a life without calenders, a life where a year passing is marked by the seasons and a day by the sun rising and setting rather than being obsessing over day planners and to-do lists. I’d welcome a life where the date of an event remains a fuzzy memory and can only be recalled in terms of its relationship with the moon.

So with all these thoughts spinning in my head and with moving boxes still piled up to my ears I went to bed on the eve of my 35th birthday prepared to feel pretty glum about the whole thing.

Instead I woke up to  my little girl’s giggles, she was up at 6 am, so excited to celebrate with me.   My family brought me both a balloon and flowers and my husband planned a fabulous day including a trip to the beach and ended it with artisan pizzas (my favorite dinner choice) and blowing out a candle stuck in an ice cream sandwich. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

I was reminded again that amidst all of this aging crapola  I was grateful to be alive.  Life is short, and every day I have a choice to make, I can spend it grumpy because it isn’t what I wish it was or I can celebrate it as the gift that it is.  So here is to turning 35 or 25 or 85, let’s receive all that this year brings, and let’s do it together.

On Turning 35 Liturgy of Life
As part of our trip to the beach on South Padre Island we visited the Sea Turtle Sanctuary. Basically a dream come true for me, I mean have you ever seen up close a 200lb sea turtle? Totally Amazing.


On Turning 35 Liturgy of Life
Can’t get enough of these two.


Approaching my
Mexican Home.
Transition is Hard.
Finding A Home is Even Harder

Approaching my Mexican Home. Liturgy of Life. Thoughts on Home and Transtion.

“I think I need to go,” I mumbled as sobs welled up from my throat. I hung up the phone.

“Are you okay Mama?” asked my little girl.

I am all right.  It is no major crisis, no one has died.

Last week my husband went to look for a place for us to live along the Texas/ Mexico border. He had just  called to tell me that he can’t find a house and we will move into an apartment. And while I have nothing against apartment living,  this means we will most likely have to move again within the year and  I will have to give up all my plants. I stare out the window at my Mealy Blue Sage which came from the countryside surrounding our last home,  a hummingbird zips down to feed in the flowers.

I know they are just plants but my container garden has been producing tomatoes for us over the past month  and others I have had for years, collecting a few from each of our previous homes. They are living memories of the places we have been and caring for them is sort of a therapy for me, a time to breathe fresh air, to touch something green and  to be reminded  that I have put down roots even if they don’t go deep.

This news comes as we prepare to move into our 7th home in the 7th new town in under 8 years. Our last move was 7 months ago (777, don’t know if that is good or bad luck?), before that it was 9 months.

Honestly we came to our decision to move to The Rio Grande Valley reluctantly. We had worked along the border in the past and had never intended to give it up. But life happened and we had been away for years now.  We loved the Texas Hill Country where we had been living, the small German towns felt established and sturdy, they gave us a sense of permanence which we longed for.

Of course we are now excited to be headed south, but we were certain our faithfulness in going back to this work would at least mean that God would provide us with amazing house at a great price.

We had been discouraged after the first week of looking brought us nothing.

A week later we tried again with lots of prospects but still nothing.

Michael was on his way home with an apartment in mind and I was devastated.

.    .    .

Through this journey I have begun to realize how much a “place” matters.

Like it or not our place, in many ways, defines us. We are either, Texans, or Ohioans, Americans or Mexicans, Yankee or Southerner. Sometimes it is where we don’t live that speaks more of who we are as in, expat, missionary, refugee or military. Or sometimes it is the heritage of a place like African-American, or Greek (my Yiayia who was born and raised in the US to this day refers to herself and our whole family as Greek and to the rest of the country as Americans).

And now I long for a land of that feels like my own.  I want to be from somewhere and to be connected.

Wandering, while sometimes necessary, is exhausting.

I recognize too that our recent transiency may be just the preparation I needed to get excited to settle down even if it is in the land of 90 degrees at Christmas and year long mosquitoes. And maybe even more importantly it may help me to  understand life on the border, a place of constant transition,  where leaving your home to go to a dangerous and unfamiliar land is the norm.

.    .     .

At 10 o’clock that night we got an email. One of the houses was available. On the first pass it was a plain house, nothing to get excited about, not a single tree in the yard.

But it did have a yard. My plants would come.

We received this small unremarkable house as a great gift.

Once again God had to hold my head under water to help me realize that I am grateful for air.

And I am grateful, oh so grateful.

We will be en route this week. Keep us in your prayers.

I’ll leave you with a song, one of our favorites as we have prepared for this journey.


Mexican Home, John Prine Liturgy of Life, moving to the border
Mexican Home, John Prine