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






DIY Kid’s Craft Station

Home, Daughter's Room, Art Station, Frames and shelves, liturgy of life,

Home decor is not my gift. My goal in this recent project was to make a little headway on the mounds of clutter that are ever accumulating in my daughter’s room.  Honestly even the clutter doesn’t bother me much except that I know at some point I will need to clean it up so I’d rather keep it under control as much as I can.


This project consisted mostly of reassembling some of the things I already had with a few new additions.  I rehung the  6 water color prints that I framed a year ago and her map which serves as a dry erase marker board.  I added a DIY framed chalk board, a magazine rack to hold her construction paper and a little hanging shelf I ordered from Ikea. I’ve had her table and chairs from Ikea for a few years now and it is holding up decently well considering it only cost $20.


Home, Daughter's Room, Art Station, Frames and shelves, liturgy of life,

A couple tips:

 1.  Command Hook Adhesive backing. Is what I used to hang almost everything. They work sort of like velcro and make hanging a big collection a bit pricy but way less intimidating than if I had to drill holes or hammer nails in the walls for each of these.


2.  Dry erase map: We got this as a birthday gift last year, rather than mount it on the wall I stuck it on a piece of foam board because I knew we would be moving soon (not the most durable, but it works).  I left about 2 inches around the map on each side which was looking sort of ragged so before I hung this I cut some strips of burlap, folded, ironed and then hot glued it around the edge to make a cleaner looking frame. Cost me nothing since I already had the supplies.


3.  Chalk board: For this I dug out a picture frame that I had picked up at a thrift store at some point. At first I spray painted it white but then decided to go with a more antiqued look so I sand papered it and rubbed it with paint again (read more on how to do this here).  The chalk board is just a piece of wood that we had in the garage that I cut to size (we have a miter saw that I sort of know how to use, if you don’t you can have them do this for you at Home Depot) and spray painted it with a few layers of chalk board paint. I hung the chalk board and the frame separately, they aren’t attached to each other which seemed a lot easier than actually trying to have something framed.


Home, Daughter's Room, Art Station, Frames and shelves, liturgy of life,


4.  Hanging Shelf: I ordered this from Ikea after seeing it in a friends house recently. I did have to learn how to use drywall anchors (these little plastic pieces which help hold screws into the wall) and used a hand held drill to put this up. I also got a magazine rack from Target and hung it next to it to keep her paper.


Home, Daughter's Room, Art Station, Frames and shelves, liturgy of life,


5.  Pencil containers: I already had four tins that used to contain tea and had been using these to hold her crayons and pencils. I took pieces of felt and cut them into rectangles the size of the container and hot glued them in place so the containers would match.


6.  The pictures:   I bought 6 matching frames at Walmart and spray painted them white. I had purchased these 6 greeting cards from an tourist shop in Colorado.  I opened and trimmed the cards and framed them.  Then used a level to get them hanging on the wall reasonably straight.


Overall the station is helping to keep things organized and has kept her more involved in doing arts and crafts.  The downside is that it seems to have invited a bit of mischief. Within a day of putting all this together she had colored on the walls, her entire face, arms and legs, and carpet. She also cut holes in her pants and trimmed her baby dolls hair.  We have now removed markers and scissors and all seems to be going much better.


Hope this helps inspire you.


Thanks for being here,




To learn more about Liturgy of Life click here, or join us in our reading group, where we are currently reading, The Art of The Commonplace by Wendell Berry. Feel free to comment here or join in the discussion on facebook.


Is Consumerism Killing my Creativity?

Liturgy of Life, Is My Consumerism Killing My creativity?
A bag of crumpled paper didn’t look all that appealing until I started seeing it through the eyes of a 3 year old.


I had just finished hauling the last of Zenie’s toys out of her play room and jammed them into a closet.  Catching my breath I looked at her sternly.


“You see, now you’ve lost all your toys. Next time do you think you will help Mama clean up when she asks you to?”


She looked solemnly at the empty spaces.


Quietly she spoke, “Well at least I still have my rug,” she said, “And my chair .    .    .  And my my bookshelf.”


Horrified by her optimism and her lack of concern over the absence of the piles of toys that we had so lovingly provided her, I reassured myself that certainly over the next few days she would miss them, and then somehow through this exhausting mess she would learn some sort of valuable lesson.


.   .   .

It turns out the lesson was mine.


I watched her over the following weeks  as bits of paper became food and plates, and as she made games out of old cardboard boxes and rocks.  She tore grass out of the yard and made it into a “swimming pool” which she used far more than she ever used her actual kiddie pool.  It turns out she didn’t miss her toys much at all. And I was witness to the creativity of a three year old at its finest.

Is my Consumerism killing my creativity, Liturgy of Life
Zenie swimming in her “swimming pool” (she had earned her baby doll back at this point and she took her swimming everyday).


Around the same time we were reading through the Little House on the Prairie series, and we came to a story where Ma, Pa and Baby Carrie in a run away ox cart. The family survives but in the ordeal Baby Carrie’s brand new handmade dress is torn and ruined.


Yet a few chapters later the dress reappears as trim for the curtains in the new house. And though it isn’t written this way I imagine it being incorporated into Laura’s rag doll and Mary’s quilt too.


Like Zenie and her paper scraps, Ma took something that I would consider trash and saw it as an opportunity.  What for me is a quick fix via  Amazon with Prime two day delivery of whatever dress I want from all around the world. For Ma it is a challenge, to make good use of what she already has.


And I love it when I go there. When I go to the trouble of taking a cardboard box and make it into a bear cave for my daughter (though we have already established that she would have had just as much fun with the original unadorned box, so really the cave was for me). But I love the energy of being inventive and resourceful and making something myself.


Still most of the time I don’t bother.


Target isn’t far and I can re-decorate for $100. Why would I make new curtains, pillows or picture frames?


Panda Express is right down the street. Why would I go to the trouble to chop up all those left overs and make them into my own of stir-fry?


Walmart is open 24 hours a day. Why should I start growing my own vegetables?


.    .    .

I began this evening by looking around my comfortably furnished home with closets full of clothes and pantry  overstuffed. I began to say, as I’ve been teaching my daughter, “Thank you God for these many blessings.”


But then I wondered if I maybe have it all reversed.


Now certainly there is blessing in having enough, no doubt in that. But I wonder if perhaps somewhere along the way the scales have tipped and that now each year as my stuff increases  I am actually loosing.


What if I am missing out on the chance to create, to express myself and develop my mind?  What if my family is missing out on learning to build something together, or on the unifying experience of sometimes having to go without?


But even more than that, what if it is as Genesis suggests, that God made us to be people who care for and work the land? What if it is part of our nature to be producers? What if we experience more of Him and become more ourselves as we create (create can mean a lot of things here, I know we won’t all do arts and crafts, but maybe it’s music or a curriculum for students, or writing, or computer programing, we all have ways that we are uniquely gifted to be creative and we can all in some ways provide for our own needs) ?


Maybe it isn’t simply the fun of creating something new that I am missing out on, but that in not creating I am actually missing out on experiencing a deeper understanding of God and the way that He provides for my family.


And I know we can’t actually make everything ourselves. But what if we could name the person who made our clothes or furniture? What if our stuff came out of our community instead of being chosen for its pizazz and bargain pricing? How would that change who we are and how we interact with the world? What would it say of us as a people, about our values and standards?


.    .     .

I’m not advocating for a vow of poverty. Be assured Zenie eventually earned all of her toys back and once again has a play room full (and has become a pretty good little cleaner upper, I might add). I’m not even proposing a solution.  But I am suggesting that we at least stop and notice that with each convenient new purchase at Wal-Mart (now hear me folks I’m not judging I was at Wal-mart today) we may be missing out on something better, and in fact we may be loosing something that can’t easily be retrieved, something that would lead to the cultivation of our own souls.


Maybe we can learn something from St. Teresa of Avila’s simple prayer who when looking at her one change of clothes and simple room in the convent says,

“Thank God for the things that I do not own.”



This post is part of a series based on reflections from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. To learn more about Liturgy of Life click here. Each year we read a collection of books on life, faith and family, to see our list click here. If you would like to read along, please subscribe and you will get new posts sent to your inbox as well as reading group updates. Feel free to comment or  join us in our facebook group for more in depth discussion.

Thanks for being here.



Thoughts on Stuff

Swim Lessons and Gratitude and How Our iPhones interfere with Both

Six Tips on Parenting An Only Child Without A TV And Without Loosing Your Mind

Liturgy of Life, raising an only child, with no tv without going crazy.


Watching my daughter gathering her things (Duplos, Lincoln Logs, piles of dried grass, crumpled paper, tiny dishes and most of her clothes) into a basket which will soon be dumped onto the living room rug I begin to feel a familiar tension rising in me.

I love that I get to be home with my daughter, but sometimes I am exhausted trying to keep her engaged while keeping our house and family functioning.   I have always wanted a large family but at moments like these I wonder if perhaps God knew I would absolutely loose it if I had to manage more than one kid at a time.

I’ve been comforted by the words of several friends who have 4 or 5.

“Sometimes having just one is the hardest, they keep you busy because they want all your attention, with multiples they entertain each other.”

I can’t even describe how affirming those comments have been.

So right now in our reading group we are reading The Hidden Art of Homemaking. In it Schaeffer reminds us that our homes are places to express ourselves and to be creative. They are places for family and guests to connect and grow.   And while being home all day alone with a three year old can bring anyone to the verge of insanity it is also an opportunity to create special moments together and to take tiny steps towards raising her to live life in its fullest now and as she grows.

Now I recognize that there are many who have years of experience on me as a parent, and honestly I have no room to give advice. But at the same time the thing about an only child is you only get one chance, you either have just one, or you end up with more kids and the dynamic changes. So no one really can be much of an expert here. Take it or leave it, here are a few pieces of wisdom that I have learned in these three short years.

Six Tips for Raising an Only Child and Staying Sane

1.  Bring them into your world. This has been key for us. We noticed while working in Mexico that children were quieter and more respectful around adults. Of course the Mexican families we knew loved their kids, but their children weren’t the center of their world.  Their children had an important place in their home but the home did not revolve around them.

So this has been our approach.

I aim to bring my daughter into what I’m doing.   I’m always willing to let her help me cook or clean or garden (of course what she has to offer isn’t always “helpful” but I still let her participate, the mess I think is worth it). If I have to do sit down work like writing a letter or paying a bill I let her color or write, do stamps or play dough at the table with me.

I don’t spend a lot of time “playing” with her. But when I do, I make it count.  I usually stop a couple times a day for 10 minutes or so to sit down and play whatever game she wants. When I do, I give her all my attention, my phone is put away (for the most part I leave my computer put away unless she is napping or unless I am like 10 minutes from being done with a blog post when she wakes up) and we don’t have TV. So I play with enthusiasm and I have a blast. Something that I just couldn’t do if our play time had no end in sight.

It may sound a bit harsh but having once been swept into an hour long game of My Little Ponies I learned my lesson.

2. Be creative.  Find things that you actually enjoy doing together. Sometimes I let her pick out a project like making a new diaper for her doll.  Or I’ll see a recipe for homemade play dough and want to try it out. For us this looks like a lot of arts and crafts as well as some nature hikes but for you it might be sports or manicures or collecting rocks or woodworking or taking care of animals or whatever you are into.  If you work at it you can almost always find a way to do something enjoyable, and even productive, together.

3. Get a routine. I’m not naturally organized but since having a kid I’ve realized that establishing a weekly and daily routine is a game changer for us. I found that my daughter functions better and has more fun when she knows what to expect.

A weekly routine my be as simple as: Monday we go to the grocery store, Tuesday we do laundry, Wednesday we have a play date, Thursday we go the park and Friday we do family music night. You probably already have one. Make a point to explain it to your kid and help them feel a part of what is going on.
You probably have a daily routine too. Ours goes something like: get up have tea and prayer time, then get dressed, have breakfast and do some reading over the table, then we either go out or start on some project in the house. Lunch is at 12:00, rest time at 1. We have dinner at 6 then bath and bed. Of course it changes if we have company are out of the house. But keeping the structure of things the same keeps us all on the same page.

4. Know when to break the routine. Sometimes a rough day needs an extra trip to the park or a “let’s drop everything and go get an ice cream cone”.

5. Don’t be afraid of a little boredom.  There will be moments when you have to make a call or wait in line and your kid will start to complain.  Don’t feel like you need to whip out an iPhone or DVD player (do people still use those?). Boredom stimulates imagination and observation. Your job isn’t to keep your kid entertained don’t feel guilty about it.

4. Take a rest time. Even if your child refuses to sleep keep the rest time in your schedule. Even without napping we all have a better day if we have an hour alone to wind down and re-collect. I’ve recently begun letting my daughter listen to music because she hardly ever naps anymore. I put on a CD that is at least one hour long. She has to stay in her room until it is over, if she falls asleep great, if not, at least we both had a relaxing hour to ourselves.

5. Get out of the house. I’m a homebody. But my daughter has energy to burn.  While we do end up spending one day a week entirely at home, I try to at least add in a walk to the mailbox or an outdoor activity. Most other days we run an errand and usually stop by a play ground or the library.  Even a 10 minute stop off  at the swings can feel exciting to a 3 year old. Better yet is a play date, even better is a regular play date or something like library story time. Try to fit a couple activities into your weekly routine that gets you out and that gives you both a social outlet.

6. Give yourself a break. Sometimes, especially for me, as a mom of one who had expected to be a mom of a larger family, I feel the need to relish the time with my daughter. I always imagined I’d have a decade or so with a pre-schooler around, but time is flying by and I don’t want to miss a moment with my one and only precious kid.

But that time is just as precious for her and her dad or other family. And it is important for her to make friends of her own. And sometimes I really need along time, or my husband and I need time together. I need to keep reminding myself that it is good for my daughter to have parents with friends and interests and it is good for her to have other people in her life who she knows and trusts.


Parenting is hard.

But no one cares more about parenting our kids than we do, hard or not, we are the best people to guide and shape our little ones through life.

Now to clean up that pile on the living room rug.


This post is part of a series referencing The Hidden Art of Homemaking. We would love to have you read along with us. Click here to learn more about what Liturgy of Life is all about and feel free to comment here or join our facebook group for more in-depth discussion.

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