raising a mommy

raising a mommy

Monday, September 30, 2013

giving up the all or nothing mentality

Today's blessing:
A run to the end of the block and back

I'm a runner. I have been since grade school, but I got serious about it in college. That's when I realized that running is my therapy. If I had to miss a day of track or cross country practice, I started getting really crabby right around 4:30. (Practice was at 3:45.) No joke.

Now, don't get some idea that I'm this crazy elite runner who wins races and everything. I'm not. I'm a very average runner. Very very average.

And I'm okay with that. Really, I am. I think the things that set me apart from lots of other average runners is that I'm willing to put in the time and I know how to train. You don't run for three years under an elite coach and not learn a thing or two about proper training!

However, now I find myself in a bit of a rut. I just ran a half marathon at the beginning of August. It was great - I felt strong, I beat my time goal, and I had a blast. But now there's the letdown. I'm done training. What now? Races are expensive, so I can't afford to run them often. Also, I just don't have the time. With the husband working so much now and country roads that aren't safe for/conducive to a jogging stroller, what's a girl to do?

I'll tell you what she needs to do.

She needs to get that notion out of her head that if it's not all out, it's not worth it.

That if she's not going to PR on her next 5k, she might as well stand on the sidelines. Or stay on the couch.

That if she can't log 30 miles a week, she might as well not log any.

She needs to realize that she can get up 20 minutes earlier to hit the pavement (or gravel).

And that six miles a week is better than none.

It's good for her sanity.

Now I'm off to bed. I have a run to the end of the block that I need to get rested up for tomorrow morning.

By the way, the end of my block and back is two miles...I love country roads!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

i'm not superstitious, but...

Today's blessing:
Kind people who steal muffins and bagels from their continental breakfast to feed you because your hotel makes you pay for breakfast. And decent hotel coffee. And kind people who let you use their laptops.

I'm not superstitious. Yes, maybe I wore the same underwear and sports bra for every race I've run since college, done my hair the same way, and even used the same maroon hair ties. That does not make me superstitious.

You know those commercials (I think they're for beer, but I'm not really sure) that show the football fans doing all kinds of weird things: rubbing a belly or bald head or turning their beer cans a certain direction? Their tag line is "It's only weird if it doesn't work." That's my kind of superstition. Wouldn't you rather be safe than sorry? What does it hurt to always put your left sock on first?

I have a problem. My total blog page views currently contain the numbers "666." I don't think winged demons are going to swoop down from the sky (or I suppose crawl up through the earth) and take me to their underworld of darkness and bad stuff. I really don't.

But on the off chance that that might have happened, aren't you glad you read this and helped me out?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

my saturday morning in pictures

Today's blessings:

The view from my dining room window

The waffles that were made earlier this week and frozen, so all I had to do was pop one in the toaster and enjoy!

Brushy teeth?

This mommy's elixir of life...Caribou coffee with homemeade cocoa almond creamer

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

fmf: she

Here are the rules:
1. Write for five minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back to Lisa Jo Baker's blog with the rest of the Five Minute Friday-ers.
2. Comment on the person who linked up before you.

Please join us!

Today's prompt: She

GO

SHE is talking up a storm now. No joke. Words that I don't even remember saying around her are coming out of her little 19 month old mouth. (Not bad words, just words you don't really think of a toddler picking up, like "remote" and "magazine.")

SHE is growing like a weed. I swear she's three inches taller than she was this time last week.


SHE melts my heart with her newest phrases. "Mommy, pray?" with tiny hands folded and face shining. "Read the Bible?" with excitement and her impish little grin that gets me every time.


SHE is learning how to communicate like a big girl. "Mommy, cereal fall down on chair!" "Mommy, sticky hands. Napkin?" "Mommy, more noodles on the plate? Please?"


SHE is the greatest thing that ever happened to me.


SHE is so very blessed.

SHE is my greatest blessing.

And I hope SHE knows she is loved.

 HE is not so bad, either!

STOP

The content was written in five minutes, the pictures were added after the fact to up the cuteness factor!

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

compassion blog month: week two assignment

Today's blessing:

This week's assignment:
Write three things about one word

And I get to choose the word? Oh goodness...this is pressure! There is just so much power in words! Here's my problem: I over think things. A lot. I could spend three days trying to think of the perfect word. I want something powerful, but not cheesy. Something with room for humor, but not goofy. Something relevant by not "holier-than-thou" (because really, that's not me!).

Every Friday (almost) I take part in Lisa Jo Baker's Five Minute Friday challenge. She gives us a word, and we spend five minutes writing. No editing allowed. Then we publish them, share them, and encourage one another! For a perfectionist like me, this is quite a challenge! Some of them turn out to be complete and utter failures. Some of them are actually halfway decent. Here are some of my favorites:

Red

Last

Broken

Enough about that...I guess I'll just have to pick my own word this time and go for it.

Strong
I’m not going to lie: I got this word by looking at a tissue box. My tissues are “Ultra Soft & Strong.” I haven’t come up with a better option on my own, so I figured I would let inspiration strike from an unconventional place.

Strong: something I am not. I recently decided that I needed to improve my all-around physical strength. I’ve started doing pushups every day. I won’t tell you how many I can do now before my arms give out, but ask me in a few weeks and I might!

Strong: something that I must be. My husband works in a very high stress field. Pastors don’t have the suicide rate of dentists or air traffic controllers, but there is a very high burn out rate. Here’s one of the biggest issues: my husband is a talker. If he’s upset about or stressed out by something, he needs to talk it out. When you’re a pastor, there are certain things that must remain confidential. Oh dear. I know there will be times when I need to take a deep breath, give him a hug, and somehow convince him that everything will be fine.

Strong: something that we are sometimes forced to be. Sometimes life throws a lot at you. It’s hard to keep your head above water and you just don’t think you can keep going. You have two options. You can give up. You can allow yourself to spiral into a pit of despair, cry until you can’t cry anymore, then sit there and do nothing.

Or…

You can allow yourself to cry because there’s nothing wrong with that and sometimes you just need to. Then you can take a deep breath and go on. You can wake up the next morning and find something worth living for: a family member, a friend, a book that you started and are curious to continue because you want to see how it ends, or a flower in your garden that is just so pretty you want to enjoy its vibrant colors for a few more hours.

The pain may never go away completely, but you can allow it to overtake you, or you can allow it to strengthen you. You can run from it, or you can embrace it and learn from it.

There are children playing or working or sleeping in the world right now who don’t know where their next meal will come from, or even if they’ll get another meal. Talk about justified despair! I am begging you to do what you can to help. Your help does not have to be financial. The power of prayer has been proven, so say a prayer right now for these children. If you are in a position to give financially, please do. Whether it is through a recurring gift and the adoption of a child or a one time gift of $5, $20, or $100, it will not be wasted. Click on the Compassion button on the right side of this post to learn more.

Here is a third way that you can help: share the message. You can reach people I cannot. Share this message with your network, and you just may find another person who can save a life. How cool is it to be involved in that chain reaction?

Whoever thought that a tissue box could inspire a potentially life saving message…

Monday, September 16, 2013

homegirl economics: homemade crockpot pumpkin butter


Today's blessing:
Pumpkin

Until very recently (possibly even this fall) I liked the idea of pumpkin more than pumpkin itself. I have always loved fall: pretty colored trees, cooler weather so you can wear cute sweaters, and the start of football season. (Also, my birthday.) I would treat myself occasionally to a pumpkin white mocha from Caribou (not much of a "treat" for three falls when I worked there and got them for free, but still a sign of fall!), but I drank it more because I liked the idea of the pumpkin - what it symbolized. (Aka, the coming of fall.) Get it?

Then something switched in me. This year, I can't get enough. Here's a little fall treat for you to enjoy:


Ingredients:
- 2 15 oz cans pumpkin puree
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 cup sugar (the original recipe calls for 1 1/2, but I almost think it's too sweet even with just one! I guess it's a personal taste thing. Use your best judgement!)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

I just have a small container of sugar...
1. Mix all ingredients together in your crock pot.
2. Cook on low for 5 hours (or about two if you're halving the recipe like I did. I won't make that silly mistake again, though!). 
3. Stir the mixture occasionally. It should stick to the spoon when it's done, and will thicken slightly as it cools.
4. Put your delightful finished product in mason jars to cool. I used 4 oz jars. It will keep for about a week in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer.



Enjoy! Paige loved it on french toast. It also makes a great thank you or hostess gift. Put a pretty brown ribbon around the lid with a tag, and you're good to go!

I also used it in a muffin recipe that I'll have to share at some point...

Here's the breakdown:
Pumpkin: $1.50/15 oz can (I think this is what I paid. You'll need to recalculate if yours is significantly more or less!) Total: $3
Apple juice: $1.50/60 oz (2.5 cents an oz, 8 oz in a cup) Total: $.20
Sugar: $1.48/4 lb bag (I guess there are about 2 cups per pound) Total: $.19
Cinnamon: $14.69/8 oz (I use mostly Penzey's Spices. They're more expensive, but SO much better tasting! There are about 48 tsp in an 8 oz bag.) Total: $.31
Pumpkin Pie Spice: Same as above: $.31
Grand Total: $4.01
Then you have to add in the cost of the mason jars, but you can find them at rummage sales all the time. I somehow managed to unintentionally accumulate so many that I finally decided I need to do something with them. You should be able to get 8-10 4 oz jars from this recipe, which is a great size for a hostess gift, which makes the contents of each jar about $.50 - better than a $10 bouquet of flowers that will die within a week, and certainly better than an expensive bottle of wine that they may or may not actually like anyways!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

homegirl economics: intro

Today's blessing:
Social media.

Sometimes I don't know where I would be without facebook or Pinterest. One day I was looking for this photo shoot I had seen on Pinterest and thought I pinned, but did not. So I put something out on facebook. Within seven minutes, I had it pinned. These places are where I get some of my favorite recipes, cutest craft projects, and best "home keeping" advice. Social media is also where I got the title for this little series I'm going to be working on over the next year. Thanks to my cousin J and my mom for the title idea via facebook; hugs for both of you!

Friends, the world is at our fingertips.

For the next year, my little family is on an adventure. My husband has to do a year long internship as part of his schooling, and we went all out. We packed up our one bedroom apartment in the suburbs and moved to a four bedroom rambler in the country so he could work with Prairie Star Ministries, a six-point parish that spans four counties in the middle of rural farmland.

Then began the internal struggle for me: do I find a job? Long story short, we decided that it wouldn't be worth it to pay for daycare and gas (it's nearly 20 miles to the nearest town with potential employment) for me to work a $9.00 an hour job. Because really, what other places would hire me for less than a year? I know it's not what Dave Ramsey would do, but we did it anyways. (We do put a lot of stock in what Dave says. He's got it right. However, right now, we decided it's more important for me to spend a year raising our daughter than bringing in a couple extra dollars.)

Then began my quest to save money other places. I'm doing things that I wouldn't be able to do if I were working full time. I'm doing more meal planning, less driving, more canning, more cloth diapering, changing laundry habits, and, in general, feeling better about the way we're living. Obviously I won't be able to completely make up for lost income, but I feel better knowing that I'm doing my part.

This new series, Homegirl Economics, will share those experiences.

Friday, September 13, 2013

fmf: mercy

Here are the rules:
1. Write for five minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back to Lisa Jo Baker's blog with the rest of the Five Minute Friday-ers.
2. Comment on the person who linked up before you.

Please join us!

Today's prompt: Mercy

GO
I’ll admit: I cheated on this one a little bit. I looked up the word “mercy” on my dictionary.com app before I started my writing. What I found was intriguing. Here is a slight paraphrase:

Mercy: compassion shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power.

So, really, how can we show mercy? By forgiving when people wrong us? By giving to those who are less fortunate than us? Donating money to charities? Giving your old, out-grown, or no-longer-fashionable clothes to Goodwill? Serving at a soup kitchen?

These are all great things, and we should definitely do them, but they are not mercy.

The people you would serve in these situations are not offenders or enemies. They are simply others: other children of God, other brothers and sisters.


They are others, but others in one’s power? This is the part that really struck a chord with me. “…other person[s] in one’s power.” So who can show mercy? Only those who have power over another person. That certainly isn’t me, and, forgive me for being so bold, but it certainly isn’t you, either!

STOP

I did another post awhile back, on Good Friday, about Justice, Mercy, and Grace...it's kind of random musings (as many of my posts are!) but it is pretty relevant here, as well. Feel free to take a look.


Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

something new

Today's blessing:
An ice maker.

We have well water at our new home - gross. Tolerable, I guess, but I won't drink nearly as much as I should with it tasting the way it does. Luckily, we have an ice maker in our freezer. All I have to do is make sure the little lever is in the right position, and we will never run out of ice. (Maybe. We'd have to try really hard to run out.) Somehow the nasty water tastes better when it's cold.

And I digress...

Friends, I think I'm going to try something new: a series. I don't know exactly what this will entail yet, but I hope you don't mind learning along with me. I've been feeling a pull to take this blog in a slightly different direction - something a little more structured, maybe. Not quite as scattered. Less random, more relevant. Does that make sense?

I have the amazing opportunity this next year to stay home with my little one. I'm still in the honeymoon phase, but the last two and a half weeks have been the best of my life. I feel like I know her better than I did before. We have a rhythm, and it's beautiful.

Staying home has also given me the opportunity to do other things. I'm spending time developing routines. I'm learning how to keep a home clean and establishing habits so that when I go back to work next September, they're already ingrained in me. (Right? That's how it will work?)

We have less money coming in now that my husband is working instead of me, but I've been able to find ways to compensate for this. We didn't eat out much before, but we do even less, now. (It helps that the closest restaurant is probably 20 minutes away.) I can spend more time meal planning and making grocery lists, so we have less waste and I don't buy as much expensive "convenience" food that we don't end up needing or using.

I've been making homemade desserts instead of buying cookies. I'm sure they have as much sugar and other unhealthy stuff in them as the store bought kind, but at last I can pronounce all of the ingredients in them, so I feel better! I'm using my bread machine more. (Though the first attempt yielded an item that was more brick than loaf. I'm doing the best I can without a manual!) I hang clothes outside to dry rather than using the machine. This doesn't actually save us any money because we don't pay for electricity, but the church does, so I'm just trying to be a good steward of their resources! This weekend, with the help of my mother in law, I am going to take a stab at canning. What an adventure!

And having the little one in cloth full time (aside from one disposable at night) has been a huge money saver already!

So here's my plan: I'm going to share these adventures with you. I'll document my journey and share with you recipes, tips, and little bits of budgeting advice that I find or come up with. Sound good?

Now I just need a catchy title for my series...leave a suggestion in the comments! The winner gets a hug next time I see them!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

compassion blog month: week one assignment

Today's blessing:
Productive mornings

What kind of blog month? Read my intro here.

As part of Compassion Blog Month, us Compassion Bloggers are given "assignments" each week. These are the best kind of assignments: the ones that get you thinking, but that you don't actually have to do if you don't want to. I'm a little behind, so I'm going to start with week one's assignment. I'll try to catch up later...maybe!

Write a blog post to your childhood self. What words of encouragement do you need to hear?

Hey Carrots!

Yes, that's what I called you. I know you say you're not about the drama, but you need to start living it. Believe it or not, you do not have all the answers. (Though you do have a lot of them. Don't be afraid to let your voice be heard more often!)

That red hair? You're going to stop hating it eventually, so you might as well start sooner rather than later.

Also, those plans that you have for your future? You know, where you decide to play God and dictate what your life is going to be like? HAHAHAHAHA! (At this point, I would not tell childhood self that she would eventually end up marrying a Lutheran pastor rather than the nice Catholic boy she thought, but that is what actually happened. Funny how you think you have things figured out...). God has another plan in store. It's way better than yours. Embrace it.

And one last thing...you're doing well. It's not always easy. There will be several boys who lead you on then decide they like your friends better. You're going to feel entitled to that solo in choir or that part in the musical, but guess what. You're not. You're not entitled to anything. It may hurt when you don't get something you think you deserve, something you've worked so hard for, but you will survive. It may even (sorry for the cliche) make you stronger. It's going to suck sometimes. You have an amazing support team around you: your parents, your amazing friends, and some pretty stellar teachers. Lean on them.

Keep it up. Your future is amazing - I've been there, and I'm loving it!

-You

This was kind of fun! I think the original assignment was to write a letter to your 11 year old self, but I geared it more towards my high school self. I needed to hear this more then than I did at 11!

You can be the voice of encouragement for a child in need right now. You may not be able to tell them exactly what their future holds, but you can tell them that they won't be fighting alone any more. You can tell them that there is hope, that they will eat tomorrow, and that they will get medical help if they need it. Click on the Compassion banner on the right hand side of this entry to learn more.

Monday, September 9, 2013

our little girl: 19 months

What's this? Two entries in one day? Amazing! Be sure to check out this entry where I share about blogging for a cause!

P constantly amazes us with the new skills she's developed and words she's learned. The rate of development at this age is absolutely mind blowing, and I feel so blessed that I am able to witness so much of it. Husband was gone for a week at a churchwide conference, and when he came back, her speech took another huge leap forward. Amazing.

Mastered Skills (most kids can do)
Can use a spoon and fork: And she insists on it! This girl eats everything with a fork. She doesn't seem to enjoy getting her hands dirty or sticky.

Can run: It's slowing her down that's the hard part!

Can throw a ball underarm: Hmm...not so much. She's got the overhand pass down, though.

Emerging Skills (half of children can do)
Half of speech may be understandable: This is a tough one. She "talks" so much, that to expect us to understand half of it would be bit unreasonable. I think we probably understand about half of what she tells us. The babbling she does when she "talks" to her toys and babies...no way!

Recognizes when something is wrong (calling a dog or cat): I'm not sure what this means...she calls them as though she wants to protect them? If daddy and I are both with her (just playing, or especially during bedtime routine) she usually seems concerned if the puppy is not with us. So I guess I'll go with yes on this one, too.

Advanced Skills (a few children can do)
Can wash and dry hands and brush teeth with help: Absolutely, and she loves it. She washes her hands and face, then reaches for the towel and says "die die die!" (Which we hope means dry. Otherwise she really hates our towels.) We still help her brush her teeth, but she's getting better at doing it herself after we're done helping her!

Can point to a picture of a cat or dog when you say the word: Um, yes. And many other animals, as well. Animals are kind of her forte.

May know when she needs to urinate: If she does, she doesn't tell us yet. She loves sitting on her potty, though. Sometimes she tells us after she goes potty when she needs her diaper changed. She really seems to be gaining interest in this, so maybe we'll have more progress by the next update! I think Grandma might be ordering her some Best Bottoms training pants from Nicki's Diapers soon...click the link at the top right to do some of your own shopping and support me at the same time!

Other things you might want to know:
-P has been loving our new home. She has her own bedroom for all of her toys, and also a living room for all of her toys. And a bathroom for many of her toys. And a yard. She's kind of taken over. She sure seems to enjoy it!
-We've seen our first glimpses of the tantrums. They haven't gotten too bad yet - usually just when she wants milk right before a meal and we want to hold off for another ten minutes until supper so she doesn't fill up on milk! I guess if she's going to cry and whine for anything, milk is about the best I could ask for!
-We have a swing set behind our new home, and she has been enjoying that. She was a little tentative at first, but she loves it now!
-She loves to talk on the phone. Whenever she gets her hands on my phone or a TV remote or anything that remotely resembles a phone, it's "Call Gamma? Call Gampa? Call Daddy?"

Favorite new words she's saying:
In the middle of church this weekend she whipped out "Bible." Pretty awesome timing. Then she frantically requested to read her Bible before we laid her down in her crib tonight. We don't usually read that many stories, but how are you going to say no to that? She's also learning how to pray. Usually it's "Dear God, thank you for sunshine and for daddy and mommy and puppy. Amen!" Then she says "and puppy. A-men!" Tonight she added "and ducky!"

First sewing lesson with "Gamma"

Learning how to golf. "Gampa" was so proud...

First trip to the zoo. She was a little overwhelmed, but she loved the monkeys, gorillas (she even pounds on her chest when you ask what a gorilla does), and polar bears.

"Helping" mommy set the table. What would I do without her?

Once she got used to it, there was no stopping her...

She's never actually produced anything on her potty, but she sure loves sitting on it. I keep a pack of fruit snacks in my back pocket just in case I need to whip out a quick reward!

intro to compassion blog month

Today's blessing:
Being able to help

Seven years ago I adopted Jose. He is 13 years old and lives in Mexico.
Jose Luis
I'll admit, I don't spend as much time thinking about him - praying for him - as I should. The sponsorship is automatically charged once a month, so it's easy to forget about it. (Not that I don't notice the $38 coming out every month. I do. Then I feel good about myself for a minute or two before moving on to the next thing.)

Why Compassion?
I've seen firsthand what Compassion International can do for a child. When I was in Tanzania, the group of Compassion kids sang for us. They told us about their lessons. They learned about Jesus and the prayed for their sponsors. They ate nutritious meals. They had clothes, shoes, even. They attended Sunday school. All of this seems pretty basic to us here, but it put this group of kids way ahead of the curve.

September is Blog Month at Compassion International. The goal: 3,160 children sponsored by the end of the month. Wouldn't you love to be part of something like that? If you're concerned about the recurring payment (trust me, I know how far $38 can go when you're on a tight budget!) you are welcome and encouraged to make a one time contribution. $5 is pretty minor to most of us, but could save a life. I know it sounds a little over-dramatic, but it's true.

I am by no means a Compassion expert, but I know they do good things. I've seen children who benefit from Compassion sponsorship, and I am proud to be a part of it. If you have questions about Compassion, you should check out their website. If you have questions for me, you should leave a comment, and I will respond. If you are ready to sponsor a child, you should click here:

If you decide to sponsor a child at a later time, I would really appreciate if you did it using the link above or the link that can always be found on the right side of my blog.

Have a blog? Click here to get more information about how you can blog for a cause, as well!

Friday, September 6, 2013

fmf: red

Here are the rules:
1. Write for five minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back to Lisa Jo Baker's blog with the rest of the Five Minute Friday-ers.
2. Comment on the person who linked up before you.

Please join us!

Today's prompt: Red

GO
"With hair like yours, you better behave, because you're certainly not going to go unnoticed!"

Much like Anne of Green Gables (a childhood hero of mine), my red hair always seemed to be the bane of my existence growing up. I was really pretty much a goody goody, but I know that if I hadn't been, I wouldn't have been able to get away with anything.

"Who did it?"

"The red head!"

That pretty much narrowed it down to me, any of my brothers, (though the hair got progressively lighter after me. While my older brother and I both have the fiery red you think of when you think Ireland...or the Weasleys...my younger two brothers are closer to a strawberry blonde), or Ashley, the sweet girl who was a year younger than I at our small private school.

Sometime around college I decided it wasn't that bad after all. I guess it was nice to be unique, and not in a bad way.

Call me ginger, carrot top, or whatever else, my red hair has definitely grown on me. (Literally and figuratively.) There just aren't that many of us around anymore, so it's fun to be a part of the exclusive club. You can buy a box at the store and try to fake your way into the club, but we know the truth.

I only wish I could fake a better Irish accent so I could mess with people.

STOP


Five Minute Friday

Monday, September 2, 2013

taking the madness out of moving

Today's blessing:
Feeling somewhat relaxed throughout what could be an insane process

Well, friends, I'm feeling pretty good right now. We've been in our new home for exactly one week, and we're in good shape. Not everything is unpacked and put away, but we already have everything we need right away, and we're working on the rest at a pace that doesn't stress us out. I'm feeling pretty awesome about it, actually.

Some of you may know that this is our first move of three over the course of the next three years: we'll be here for a year while Husband does his internship, then we'll move back to on campus housing for his last year of school, then we move to wherever his first call will be. (He's going to be a pastor, so we're at the mercy of the bishops!) I don't enjoy moving (who does?) but I planned well for this one, and couldn't have hoped for a better outcome. I'm sure I'll streamline the process even more over the next two years, but for now, here's what I've got for you:

Start early
No joke - I packed the first boxes in April for our August move. Things like DVDs that we wouldn't be watching and books that we wouldn't be reading were the first things to go. Around June, we decided that we were going to start packing a box a day. We pretty much stuck with it for the most part, and it was great! Seasonal clothes, knick-knacks, extra linens...of course, given the "spring" we had in Minnesota this year, we really weren't able to pack up our winter clothes much before June!
This photo was taken on April 18th. The moving truck rolled out of our driveway on August 26th.

Label Everything
I mean everything. You will probably hit that point in your packing where you want to throw random stuff in a box and write "I don't know. Kitchen?" Resist this urge. Starting early will help, but you'll still probably be there at some point. Even if you are one person moving only your stuff and no one else is helping you, it will be so helpful for you to get to your new place and not have to think about where to set the box to start unloading it. Especially if you have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, label everything! Those miscellaneous boxes (and, no matter how much you plan ahead, you'll still have a few) can still be vaguely labelled...perhaps "Misc, including some toiletries, light bulbs, and random books." That's more helpful than "All the stuff that didn't fit anywhere else." In my kitchen, I had the box labelled that contained my spice jars, but had to open at least four more boxes in order to find the stand for them!

Pick the Right Size Truck
I am absolutely no help in this department. We used the tool provided on the rental company's website to figure out what size we would need, and it grossly underestimated. We got a 16 foot truck because it said that would be sufficient for a 1-2 bedroom home. We had a large one bedroom apartment, but we have a ridiculous amount of furniture. We definitely should have gone with the 22 foot truck. We ended up having Husband's sister come up a few days later with her truck hauling a trailer. We won't mess around on the way home: 22 footer it is!

Wear pockets
Even if your basketball shorts would be more comfortable, if they don't have pockets, you're probably going to want to ditch them when you load the truck. Now, I have a massive ponytail that I usually wear in a messy bun, so I have the ideal place to store a pen. However, pockets were essential for Sharpie markers, keys, and all the spare change you find on the floor that has fallen behind things.

Keep Painter's Tape Handy
If you haven't already discovered the many joys of painter's tape, moving is the perfect time to do so. We used it primarily to tape desk and dresser drawers shut and to label the big furniture. We have a ridiculous number of bookshelves (to house our absurd amount of books), so we used painter's tape to label them with their end destinations: office, basement, bedroom one, bedroom two, bedroom three, bedroom four...(Yes, that's right, four bedrooms! I can hardly believe it!)

Have a Hand Vac
Oh, my Buster B (by Oreck) has been such a blessing. My husband makes fun of me for wearing it over my shoulder (it has a strap like a purse), but he doesn't make fun of it for sucking the dead bug guts out of the window tracks! I'm a firm believer in the "You get what you pay for" philosophy, and our hand vac has sealed that deal. It was spendy, but it is amazing. Spend the money to get a quality hand vacuum that can get into the window tracks and corners of the ceiling. Even if you pack up some of the attachments before you're done with them (oops) it will still be an amazing help.

And a Furniture Dolly
This was $20 so well spent. My husband and I were able to move our dressers, still full of clothes (and they're not little!), all by ourselves with the help of our furniture dolly.
Even Paige was able to help with the furniture dolly!

Enlist Help and Reward Them
Having people to help load and unload the truck is crucial. No matter how strong you are, you will probably get tired before too long if you are one of two people loading all of the couches, mattresses, books, and dishes. If people offer to help, accept. However, remember that seven quality people will be much more useful than twenty people who aren't...well...as helpful. And muscle strength isn't the only useful skill that can be brought to the table! We had a team of people to help entertain our daughter, and they were immensely helpful! Whether it's lunch, beer, a heartfelt card, a promise to return the favor, or a shout out in a blog post, make sure your helpers know how much they have been appreciated!

Freezer Meals
Both my mom and husband were confused when I told them about my plans to make freezer meals two weeks before the move. Then, when we started packing up the kitchen and everything could go in boxes besides our crockpot, a cookie sheet, and a few random utensils, it all became clear. We have been able to eat out of the freezer rather than the drive thru, and it has been amazing for our (already too skinny) wallets, as well as our waistlines and my conscience!
Time consuming? A little bit...worth it? Definitely!

Know Your Limits
At one point when we were loading the truck, my husband asked me to stay on the truck keep things organized. You know, to be in charge of that massive game of tetris where you try to fit everything into a space that's not actually big enough for it. I am not good at this. I told him no. He was a little annoyed, but it was for the good of everyone involved. Things may have made it to the truck faster if someone stronger were able to make one trip out of my two, but we wouldn't have gotten the truck packed nearly as efficiently.

Don't Worry About the Environment for a Few Days
This one hurt, I'm not going to lie. Packing up my baby's cloth diapers was painful. You know how much I love them! Buying paper plates and plastic silverware? Ouch. Here's how I got around feeling like a complete environmental jerk: plastic ware can be washed. We also got cups, bowls, and plates that could be washed and reused. Maybe it was a little more inconvenient than just throwing them away, but I felt way better about it! There are also compostable options available. I didn't really find a way to feel better about using disposable diapers, but I'm trying to make up for it now by hanging them on the line to dry rather than using a dryer like I did at my old place.

Have a Launch Pad
This is a place in the last few days of packing and while you're loading the truck that you put things like Sharpies, painter's and packing tape, scissors, pens, etc. If you make sure to always put them back in one designated spot (like a window ledge, stair, or even corner of the room on the floor), you will save yourself a lot of time and stress when you need to label a last minute box.

Do a "Dry Run"
For us at least, there were a lot of things that we looked at and said, "We don't need to find a box for that; it should go in the car." Small appliances like our toaster, brooms and cleaning supplies, the last box of our daughter's toys, etc. Well...our car wasn't big enough. Would we have felt silly loading it and unloading it just for practice to see if it was actually big enough? Yes, definitely. But would it have saved us a lot of stress? Absolutely. And that's more important than the neighbors thinking you're crazy for "practice" loading your car. I promise.

Allow Yourself Time to Clean
You wouldn't want to arrive at your new home to find a full garbage can and cobwebs in the corners, so don't leave it for the tenants who will be taking your home once you leave. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to sweep, mop, clean the appliances, and leave the bathroom sparkly and shiny. Leaving behind an extra roll or two of toilet paper would probably be appreciated, as well!

This applies to your new home, as well. If you're not sure about the previous tenants, you may want to make sure that you wipe out each of the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen before you begin unpacking your eating utensils!

Do you have any more amazing tips and advice to offer? Please leave it in the comments! Check back this time next year, and I might have an updated version of this one for you!