Moving and Shaking at Christmas

This year, my husband and I spent the last few days and hours before Christmas moving from our home of the last three years to a new home less than a mile away. I know, I know. Moving at Christmastime isn’t the brightest thing we’ve ever done, especially since we were not planning on moving until May. But the home we have had our eye on came on the market over Thanksgiving and so we swooped in and grabbed it, even though it would mean we had to move over the Christmas holidays.

“How bad could it be?” we thought.

You’d think this would be a simple process, however, I can assure you IT WAS NOT.

We expected it would take the movers four to five hours to move us. Nope. It took almost nine hours. And they still didn’t get it all. When we realized after the five hours passed that we still had at least a third left in the house to move, and we were already wayyyyyy over our moving budget, we asked them to just start throwing boxes in the truck and then into our new basement. It started to look like a game of “Hot Potato” as they picked up the pace. So far, I haven’t found anything broken where they dropped the potato.

To top off the fun, the temperature was a chilly 37 degrees and since the doors had to stay open for the movers to get in and out of the house, we turned off the heat and I piled on the clothes. I looked like the kid from “Christmas Story.” For those of you who know me, I’m usually still wearing a light sweater in 80 degree weather. I was praying for a peri-menopause hot flash but just like when you take your car to the mechanic and it works perfectly, my body decided that I didn’t need a hot flash at that moment.

So I froze.

The movers eventually left and all I could think of was how bad I needed a nice warm shower. My muscles were achy, my core was frozen and my armpits smelled like I had never heard of deodorant.

But apparently that was not in the divine plan. In all of the moving craziness, we had not lit the pilot light in the gas water heater nor did we have any idea how to do it. Thankfully, Heaven sent us our angelic handyman to come by at 9 P.M. to light the water heater. (It could have been the pitiful phone call that I placed to him begging him to help us out. I might have also let out a small sob which could have been his deciding factor).

Regardless, three hours later I got my hot shower.

We unpacked for the next two days and finally got our Christmas tree up at 1 A.M. Christmas Eve since my step-kids were coming home mid-day on Christmas. photo(40)

And believe it or not, by the time my in-laws came over that evening for Christmas dinner, we had the house looking like we had been living in it for months instead of days.

The moral of the story is that with some determination, you can make something good out of difficult situations. (Having muscular men around to lift the heavy items doesn’t hurt.)

Now my days are being filled with changing out light fixtures, painting rooms, hanging pictures, putting away pots and pans, dishes and clothes. And the Angry Birds band-aids that I have on five of my fingers indicate my dedication to getting this house in order.

Maybe I’ll be completely finished unpacking by the Spring.

Because then it will be time to work in the yard and plant my garden!

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How eBay Helped Us Buy Our Home


You know the saying “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure?” Well, for me, the saying should go “One family’s junk that is sold on eBay makes for a nice contribution to a house down payment.”

My husband and I have been married for three years. When we got married, we each had a home to sell so we rented a home until both of our homes were gone. Finally, it was time for us to look for a home to buy together.

Since I also have my real estate license, we were able to take our time looking at homes that might fit our blended family. We wanted to stay in the same area so the kids wouldn’t have to change schools. After looking at what seemed like every for sale house in the school district, we finally found THE ONE.

We got the contract written up and signed and were officially under contract. Woot!!

Since we are a blended family, we had pretty much two of everything – one from his house and one from my house. In our current home, we would use one, and the other stayed in the basement.

I started going through things, sorting them out to “things that will move with us”, “things that we don’t need but still have value”, and “things that are trash.”

I’ve always had great success selling items on eBay and Craigslist. One Christmas when I was still a single mom and on an extremely tight Christmas budget, I sold enough of my “junk” on eBay to cover presents for my son and parents, plus enough leftover to make my car payment that month. Score!

I began in the basement. Tables, chairs, sofas, boxes of dishes, lawn equipment…you name it – it was down there. I took pictures of all of the items that were sellable, and determined what would sell best on eBay, and what would work best for Craigslist. Most of the heavy items were listed on Craigslist, because no one is going to buy a sofa on eBay and have it shipped to them in Minnetonka, Minnesota when you’re living in Atlanta, GA. Those items are best put up for sale locally.

I then moved into my closet. What had I not worn for at least a year? Those designer clothes in the back of my closet? Yep – those were going on eBay. My Coach and Dooney & Burke purses that I have not carried in three years? Those went on eBay too.

Those two broken lawn mowers that have been sitting in the basement? Craigslist allowed me to find a gentleman that bought them for $50 so he could rebuild the engines and make three times reselling them. And that stationary bicycle that has unfortunately collected more dust than sweat? Hello Craigslist, and another $100 in the bank.

Dave Ramsey recommends doing this when you’re getting out of debt. Since my husband and I don’t have any credit card debt, we decided that any money we received would go straight to our home down payment. (He also says to sell so much stuff the kids think they’re next! HA! Love that Dave Ramsey, however, no one in their right mind would buy our kids.

By the time it was all said and done, in less than a month I had sold over $2,000 worth of clutter out of our home.

And you know what one of the best parts of this story is? It’s less stuff for the movers to move, which resulted in a smaller quote from the moving company.

My motto in life is “If it’s free, give it to me.”

But when you’re moving and need to get RID of stuff instead of GETTING stuff, our motto is “if it’s sellable, then it’s going on eBay!”

My Other Thanksgiving List

As Thanksgiving draws closer, I realize how blessed my life is and how many things I have to be thankful for.

I’m thankful that I have a wonderful husband, great kids, loving parents and a warm house. I’m very thankful my dad’s cancer is in remission. I’m thankful for my 93 year old grandmother who is here visiting for this Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for all of my friends who make me laugh. But I’m also thankful for a lot of other stuff that never receive any recognition.

So here’s my list of “other” things I’m thankful for:

1. I’m thankful that I don’t have another gynecologist appointment for another full year, because those appointments are just not any fun.
2. I’m thankful that I have a zero balance on my credit cards. (Which means I can go hog wild at ANY MOMENT.)
3. I’m thankful for my favorite restaurants that offer take-out when I’m too lazy to cook.
4. Which makes me also thankful for whoever invented microwave ovens because when I’m too lazy to leave the house to grab take-out, I can just nuke a hot dog.
5. Now that I’m in my 40’s, I’m thankful for hair dye.
6. I’m thankful for plug-in air freshener that makes my house always smell like I’m Betty Crocker and I’ve just taken an apple pie out of the oven.
7. I’m thankful for FaceBook, because it allows me to mass-notify people of things going on in my life.
8. I’m thankful that Girl Scout cookies only come 15 to a box, so when I have a sweet tooth it’s not as damaging to my waistline as eating an entire package of Oreo cookies…unless I have TWO boxes of Girl Scout cookies, which I have done before.
9. I’m thankful that I have not had a cavity in 20 years, because I loathe going to the dentist just as much as I loathe going to the gynecologist.
10. I’m thankful I have not found any wiry chin hairs yet.
11. I’m SUPER thankful to the girl who invented Spanx so I can eat like a Sumo wrestler and still squeeze myself into my clothes without looking like a stuffed sausage.
12. I’m thankful for texting because there are just some people I don’t want to talk to on the phone.
13. I’m thankful that when I forget to take my 6 pound dog out and she accidently poops in the house, there’s not much to clean up.
14. I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to eat Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s in my life, because my future grandchildren will never know how wonderful that creamy filling actually is.
15. I’m thankful that I live in a country where I can practice my faith and not worry about whether I’m going to get shot in the head.
16. I’m thankful for Purell. If you’re a germ-o-phobe like me, you will totally get why I’m thankful for this.
17. I’m thankful for MapQuest because otherwise I might end up in Alabama when I want to go to North Carolina.
18. I’m thankful that my step-kids don’t view me as their Step-Monster, even though my husband tells me they are a little afraid of me. Winning!
19. I’m thankful that my husband’s SUV and my car are both paid off, even though the windshield is cracked and the bumper has a dent in it from where my husband backed into my son’s truck.
20. I’m thankful for heated seats in my car so when it’s freezing cold outside, my butt is toasty warm.
21. I’m thankful for Dutch Monkey doughnuts. If you don’t know what that is, look it up and have some shipped to you. You’ll be thankful too.
22. I’m thankful that I made it to 43 years old before I had to get reading glasses.
23. I’m thankful for my high school girl friends who I’ve known for (cough) over 25 years but when we get together, we are taken back to 1986 and giggle like we are 16 years old. But then again, that could be the wine.
24. I’m thankful for the Weather Channel so I know how to accurately dress each day.
25. I’m thankful for e-bay so when I want to buy something but I don’t want my husband to know, I can sell stuff and have cash to go buy what I want.
26. I’m thankful for Clorox wipes to help my Obsessive-Compulsive tendency to easily clean everything.
27. I’m thankful that someone mixed tequila with some frozen lime juice and created the margarita.
28. I’m thankful that I have a dishwasher because I would totally hate to have to hand wash those utensils we used for our take-out dinner.
29. I’m thankful that I don’t have any other body-invasive procedures on the schedule such as a colonoscopy or anything super fun like that.

I’m sure there are a zillion other things I’m thankful of and should put on this list, but that could take all day to list and seriously, no one is that interested in my life.

But there is one more thing…I am thankful for the people who actually read and enjoy my blogs. It’s fun to write them, but it’s even more fun when people acknowledge that they enjoy them.

So, dear reader….I’m thankful for YOU.

I’m Not A Hoarder…I Just Collect Lots of Things

My husband and I are probably going to be moving in the next six months. We have been renting a home since we got married because we both had houses to sell, and in this market we knew that was not going to be easy and would probably take some time before we could buy something. Now it’s that time.

To get a jump start on our moving process, I decided to take this past weekend to start figuring out what we would be moving, what we would be donating and what is going to stay boxed up in the basement from our last move.

I put on my raggedy sweatpants and an old t-shirt and just for the look, I tied a pink bandana around my head, kerchief style, just in case that would help motivate me more if I looked the part.

I opened the garage door and looked around. To my left I found all of our camping gear, which takes up a ton of space. To my right is the deep freezer, more shelving with hockey sticks and lacrosse equipment, four sets of golf clubs and eight bicycles. We are a family of five. With eight bicycles.

I turned around and shut the door. I’ll conquer that room later.

I opened the basement door and went down stairs. I looked around. Two more bicycles that the kids have outgrown are by the back door, waiting for the garage sale that I can never seem to put together. Mismatched furniture from before we were married sits against the wall with more stuff from our pre-marriage days. Boxes that have NEVER BEEN OPENED that we both moved from house to house before we got married – my stack is on one side; his is on the other. What the heck is in them? Who knows? Probably my old Halloween costumes from when I was five…that my MOTHER wanted out of her basement.

I turned around and go back up the stairs. Maybe I’ll just start on my closet.

That’s when I realized something.

Oh. My. Gosh. I might be a hoarder.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m clearly a very ORGANIZED and clean hoarder. My house is spotless. Everything has a place and is usually IN it’s place. I don’t have boxes towering up to the ceiling waiting to slide like an avalanche and crush the next person to walk by. Or old rotten food from 1995 in the kitchen. Or so much junk everywhere that there are decaying animals in the dining room that died because they were trapped behind 97 boxes of QVC deliveries. You know what I mean…you can admit you’ve seen the real “Hoarders” on TV.

I just have stuff. Lots of stuff.

I collect antique books, but they are all nicely kept on bookshelves. I have knickknacks, but they are all in a display case.

I think what did it was when my mother passed my old toys (that were in boxes in HER basement) on to me, which for many items, I have proudly displayed: the old metal Peanuts lunchbox, a Mickey Mouse watch, Baby-Beans (the bean bag doll with the pull string that would say “I love you!”), my old Winnie-the-Pooh, Romper Room toys, marionettes, etc. They are all displayed nicely on the bookshelves in my family room.

But it’s still a lot of stuff.

I started having an irregular heartbeat.

Because I realized that moving doesn’t mean just moving the furniture. It’s all of the other stuff that makes a house a home; clothes, toys, dishes, patio furniture, potted plants, pictures…EVERYTHING. And now I’m going to have to pack it all up and move it.

I start to realize that maybe we should have started packing for this move the month after we moved in.

But wait! I sort of already have. Those unopened boxes in the basement from the last move?

They’re all ready to go!!

He’s Not Homesick But His Mom Is

It’s been a month since my son, Matthew left for college.  I had promised myself that I wouldn’t be a basket case and would not need a prescription for Xanax or several bottles of wine, although I purchased a few just in case.   All summer I knew this day was coming but boy, it sure showed up faster than I expected.

He drove down with his dad to the school the night before he was to move in, and I drove down the next morning with my parents so that they could finally see the campus.  We got to his new dorm early and started moving his things in.  I tried keeping myself busy by making his bed and unpacking his dishes and glasses.  After about an hour, he gently touched my arm and said “Hey mom, I think I can handle it from here.”   I forced myself to smile and suggested we go eat lunch instead.

Moving In The Dorm

After small talk over lunch my parents and I realized it was time to head on out.  I am actually proud of myself not turning into a blubbering mess when we were leaving and not squeezing the life out of him when I gave him the biggest hug of his life.  He sweetly kissed my cheek and said “I’ll be fine mom.  I promise I’ll text you.  I love you.”

I held it together until I got in the car and then I just boo-hooed all the way back to Atlanta.  I cried to the point where I had massive amounts of snot and I was running out of tissues and I was sucking in short, rapid breaths like toddlers do when they have a meltdown.  But I made it.

Matthew & Mom

So day one came and went and I didn’t hear from him.

Day two came along and I finally heard the familiar country song that plays as his ring tone coming from the bottom of my purse.  I dropped everything and dug down into the black abyss that is my purse, searching for my phone.

“Hey Mom!  I have the funniest story to tell you…” and he went on to tell me about his first night on campus.   We talked for a while and then he said he’d call me later in the week.  My heart filled as he hung up with  “love you Mom”.

Day two came along and once again I heard country music coming from inside of my purse.  “Hey Mom!  Can you tell me how to set up my printer?”

Day three…”Hey Mom!  Rush starts next week.  What do you think I should wear?”

And so it goes.  He is now one month into his college life and I have heard from him just about every single day.  Every time I hear the first few notes of that country music song my heart double beats.

And even though I don’t get to see him every day like I used to, in a weird way I am getting more quality time with him with each phone call.  We are actually talking, not just saying hello like we used to when he’d come home and go straight upstairs.  He tells me about his day – new friends he’s made, funny things that have happened, and we just talk in general.  And I’m really happy with our new, mature communication even though I know the phone calls and text messages will slow down as he becomes more and more comfortable with living on his own.

The house is quiet without him and I’m the one who ended up homesick, but I am proud to say that I didn’t need all of those bottles of wine after all.