Navigating a move with kids

Moving is not something new to us. In fact, in the past 8 years, we have moved 6 times to 5 different states.

Yes. That much.

My son was born in Georgia over 7 years ago. My daughter was born on one of our returns to Georgia over 4 years ago. This past October, we added our third (and last) child to the family. Also, incidentally, in Georgia. Isn’t he sweet?

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{For some reason, my husband does not seem inclined to return to Georgia. Huh.}

Anyway, amidst our many moves for my husband’s job, we have picked up a few tips along the way. Here are a few ways to make a move without (totally) losing your mind.

Get them involved

While leaving the entire move planning up to your children may not be the best idea, ask their opinion on where they want to stop along the way, where they might want to eat, or what they want to do to commemorate the occasion can help them feel as if they have a part in the process. Instead of feeling as they are simply BEING moved, they can feel as though they are also doing the moving. It has been our experience that a little bit of control goes a long way when moving a child around.

Talk about it

If I’ve learned anything over these years, it’s that communication is so important. Talk about what will be different, what will remain the same, and what you can do about the things that cause stress. This move was the toughest for my oldest since he had been cultivating genuine friendships. So, he gets to keep in touch with his closest friend through skype and email (through my account). They get to connect with each other but without it interfering with making new friends.

His other concern was where he was going to play soccer. So, we did our research online long before we were even sure which neighborhood we would end up in. The fact that we had some options in the different areas made my little organizer feel much better about everything.

Make Fun Bags

Okay, this one may be a bit of a bribe, but what can you do? Since our moves typically involve travel, we like to create fun bags with activities- books, coloring pages, easy crafts to do in the car, and (if you are taking them halfway across the country in a two-day road trip) a movie or video game. Making the event fun helps reinforce that there are positive things with the move.

Research the Area

My kids wanted to know where the closest chuck e. cheese was, how many playgrounds were nearby and if there was access to ice cream. So, I did some neighborhood searches that allowed them to see where these things were (and snuck in a few bonus locations, like the local library, schools, and walking trails). Once they felt confident that it wouldn’t be completely different from where we were, they were a lot more comfortable with the situation.

We’re still in the process of getting settled and all of the boxes unpacked, but I feel like we’re definitely making progress. Now, to tackle summer vacation…

What tips have you found that help during a move?

Moving on… again

moving on

Childhood memories. I have many fond ones, with friends, family members. When I go visit my family still there, I point out the high school I graduated from, the football field I cheered on, the printer we dropped off the paper at each month. We visit favorite places to eat, take the kids to the playground I frequented when I was young. Often we meet up with old friends for dinner or drinks, and laugh at some of our past antics. They love to reminisce, and most either returned or planned to return- this place was where they were meant to be.

For me, while I enjoyed my family and friends growing up, it just wasn’t for me. I had plans to leave for college at 18, and that’s exactly what I did.

Once I met my husband, I didn’t imagine we would leave this place. When a work opportunity came up and we moved to Utah, it was always to be temporary, never long-term. We didn’t imagine staying there forever, and were thrilled when we returned home.

Just as we thought we were settling in and welcomed our second child, we went ahead and moved again

That move, which we thought would be brief and temporary, turned into three moves. We spent a year in Florida (which, okay, wasn’t that hard when we could spend weekends at the beach…), another year in Virginia, and topped it all of with a year in Alaska.

Sigh. Alaska.

Through it all, the fun times, the tough times, the going-to-lose-my-mind times, one thing remained constant: all of this travel would eventually lead us back home.

Back to Georgia. Neither of us grew up here, but we met here. We fell in love here. All three of our babies have been born here.

It’s the place we love. The community we adore. Friends we cherish. Memories we’ll hold close to our hearts for the rest of our lives.

Because now? This place will become a memory as our promise of “home” has vanished. Instead, we will be leaving this place once again. Except this time, it won’t be temporary. This time? It will be forever.

And my heart keeps breaking.

We are headed out west this time! Our next adventure is taking us to Dallas/Fort Worth Texas. I’ve never been, so I’m hoping it’s amazing. I figure that at least it’s in the south… if a different south. We’re so lucky for opportunities even when they challenge us deeply- so here’s to some seriously fabulous pink cowgirl boots. 

For my daughter of course. Ahem.

Notes from my Travels

Moving is something that many of us have endured. I have moved a time or two (or, um, six) since I married my husband. (Relax, they were all with him. His job has kept us traveling.) I have gotten to the point where I can schedule, pack, and execute a move in 6 weeks or less (luckily, this short notice only happened once). As we journeyed from Alaska back home to Georgia, I decided to make things a little interesting and throw in a stop to see my sister, a visit to my family in PA, a stop at Type A con before going back to PA to get my kids before finally heading down to Georgia.

Whew.

Surprisingly, the trip went rather well. Here are a few notes from our travels:

To the airline attendant trying to convince me my daughter will not sleep if I give her apple juice: You made me wait 17 1/2 minutes (yes, I counted) while you “had to look” if you had any left. What did she do for those 17 1/2 minutes? Scream. What did she do after she had her apple juice?

Exactly.

To the second airline attendant on the flight who asked if I would like some wine after said 17 1/2 minutes even though it was 9:30 am: You’re my kind of people. I appreciated the gesture, even if I chose coffee instead (though I was momentarily tempted).

To all 3 Marriott hotels we had booked rooms at along the way: There was not one of them who had the extra pillows we requested when we made our reservation. It’s one of the options on their web site, yet not one provided them as requested. (Luckily my five year old only needed one).

To the very strange situation at one of these hotels in which the pool was hotter than the hot tub- and both were inside: Um, strange. And very disappointing to our kids who were looking forward to these pools (they know the hotels we usually stay at!) But seriously—how??

To Mother Nature and her beautifully cooperative weather: Bless you. The weather was great which was ideal for someone who does not like driving stuck driving with two kids in the car for three days.

To the man at the Italian restaurant we stopped at after 3 days of driving who asked me if I was aware the quartino was a larger size: Evil stare. Yes, bring me two.

To everyone sick of me complaining about Alaska: It’s good to be home :)

Exciting News & an Announcement!

June is bringing all kinds of exciting things- and since it’s been a loooong winter here in Alaska, I could not be more excited!

As many of you know, I have been counting the heck down patiently biding my time in Alaska. It has been a long, cold experience, but FINALLY we are headed home! Following Type A, we will hopefully close on the new house we are currently under contract with in Georgia. It is so exciting to be finally heading home after many years of travel. If any of you have read my post The Front Porch Swing, (or, um, half of the other posts on my blog), you know how much the South, and Georgia in particular, has my heart. It is so exciting to be taking my kids back home.

In OTHER news, what better time than now to reassess my blog? I appreciate the loyalty from you all who continue to read me as my writing has grown more sporadic in recent months due to projects I had been involved with at the time. Also, who read my blog even without a distinctive title! When I first started blogging, I had no idea what to call it, which is where my name came from. Shortly (ideally next week) I will be unveiling a brand new blog- and blog name! I am so excited to share it with you all, as I think it truly will represent me and my blog as a whole.

Welcome to June everyone! I hope your month is filled with exciting opportunities! What’s on your June agenda?

Celebrating Spring Announcement

April has arrived in all its glory. Spring is finally in the air. Sunshine fills the days, flowers are blooming and bursting with color, and the warm breezes are chasing away the cold winter days.

Unless your me.

Because I? Am in Alaska.

All right now, I realize this is not brand new information. I may have mentioned this whole arctic state thing a time or two. But people? Have I mentioned how long it stays cold here? I am in awe of the teenagers waiting for the bus in shorts when the temperature does not climb above 40 degrees. To add to my whining legitimate concerns, we are beginning to experience the oddity of extreme daylight. After the cold, very dark days of winter (where we would see about four hours of light), you may think this is a good thing. However, the sky is bright with daylight until after 10 pm. It is quite the oddity indeed- in fact, is it still called daylight? I should check on that.

Anyway, despite the midnight sunsets in my near future, I still have an exciting reason to celebrate spring.

That’s right, I get to design my very own, I got the heck through Alaska and survived cards. Or, as Shutterfly much more nicely refers to them, Moving Announcements. With a gorgeous selection among their announcements, such as graduation announcements and  birth announcements, Shutterfly can assist me in a task you all know I will get great pleasure in: Leaving the Arctic and getting back to Georgia. What better way to celebrate an exciting move that I have been counting down the days very patiently waiting for than a gorgeous announcement from Shutterfly.

Even more exciting than not having to listen to me whine about Alaska anymore? YOU get a chance to win 100 announcement cards! Enter below to win 100 free Shutterfly announcement cards. Expecting or just welcomed a new baby? Shutterfly has countless birth announcements. Ready to deal with graduation? There are tons of those to choose from too!

To Enter:

Go to Shutterfly and tell me which announcement you like best in the comments below!

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This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Alaskan Beauty

Okay, okay. I am not the shoo-in for Alaska tour guide of the century. Although this southern-loving, city-missing, sweet tea-craving gal is not entirely in love with the idea of the arctic.. they have some natural beauty that not everyone can claim.

(Um, hubs? Still on the same timeline. Just because it’s pretty, doesn’t mean it’s not cold!)

So, in lieu of yet another whine of Alaska (hmm, wonder if they make any wine anywhere here..) I thought I’d share some pictures from a drive we took through a National Forest here. First, let’s start with the tsunami warning. Ahem.

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Okay okay. Enough whining. It can be pretty. I get it.

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So the Natural Beauty gets a point or two. My question? Where are the wine bars I get to enjoy these views from the inside hiding?

Making it Through

Solitary.

Detached.

Separate.

Alone.

I have had many experiences with moving. I have known what it was like to be terrified of playgroups and of holding myself back because it was September and I knew another move was coming. The challenges of moving on a frequent basis has taken its toll a time or two, but was typically something short-lived and not terribly frustrating.

Until I came to Alaska.

Let me start by saying Alaska is not entirely what you think- or at least not all of it. I am in a decent-sized city with even a few skyscrapers. But people? I am not cut out for this place. Not by far. I do not reconcile the desire to live where the daylight is brief for part of the year and then just a few months later extends way into the evening. I do not enjoy the cold (and yes, I knew it would be cold before I got here) and how 30 degrees is “warm”. I do not have the desire to trudge through snow for fun and really have a hard time enjoying walks around. I know some people feel the same way about the south- they hate the humidity and the lifestyle or they are adverse to sweet tea or something.

Whatever.

I have certainly learned just how much of a city girl I am during this adventure. Granted, we make our life in the suburbs, but there is always a city nearby. Being in a town that is military-oriented presents me with a unique point of view. There are plenty of people who are here by assignment and hate it- but they are military- we are not. Then, there are those who choose to live in Alaska-  we do not. It is an interesting situation to not have a category in which you belong. This all leaves me in curious position, as I have thought of myself as something of a chameleon through our moves. I can usually find people with whom I have things in common, find activities and social environment for my kids, and blend into most of the areas we have lived.

Until we came to Alaska.

While I navigate through our time here with several acquaintances who are nice enough to handle my less-than-enthusiastic attitude, I have become immensely grateful for the amazingly supportive friends I have throughout the country. A hugely special thanks to Shell, who has demonstrated how real bloggy friends can become. Join her for her 1st Anniversary of Pour Your Heart Out and check out the great prizes!

The Front Porch Swing

thefrontporchswing

“We’re only going to be a few hours away,” she reasoned. “It will hardly make a difference. And hey, we will be right there at the beach. Think of the sand, the waves, the wind.. it will be amazing.”

Not reassured by the sigh and rooting that answered her, she moved restlessly through the house- she wasn’t so sure she believed it either. She paused at the painting they purchased on their honeymoon, ran her hand over the canvas, remembering the first place it had hung. Funny how even though that was the first place they lived together, it still could not reach her heart the way this one did. Moving past the kitchen, she wandered up the stairs, pausing at the fireplace she had posed with her darling toddler just months before, his hands struggling to reach his mom’s ever-increasing belly. Sighing, she smoothed a kiss over her little bundle’s forehead while continuing up the stairs.

Tears gathered in her eyes at this room. Oh, to think this room had once held a crib and a glider… the very glider in the room next door. Now, it was full of race cars and memorabilia of a little boy. How he had grown and transformed right before her very eyes, especially with the birth of the little bundle securely fastened to her front. The decals had been stripped, the nursery furniture long put away, but she could still remember rocking him in this very room…

Gathering her resolve, she moved next door, the room in which the pain nearly pierced through her- echoing months before, where she collapsed and nearly lost the baby she held so near now. Except, the shadows of pain were so strongly diminished by the contentment of bringing her healthy baby home that she could scarcely remember the fear and uncertainty in the havoc her pregnancy had wreaked. No, all she could see was this beautiful room they made for their daughter.. and the bare bones it left behind while she was mere weeks old.

Turning away from two of the most significant rooms that would ever shape her life, she held her breath before opening the other down the hall. Those who do not understand how a house is so much more than a home will never grasp the emotion of this moment; the moment she realized their room was no longer theirs. The bathroom, lovingly prepared to her very whim. The closet, a room of its own and yet felt as if it were a destination. The windows, the light, the feeling of absolute belonging. It had all been stripped away.

With one last sigh and a final glance around, she slipped downstairs, with a last fond look at the main living area and a glance and a smile downstairs to their bonus room. Ahh, the fun they’d had. But she was too focused on her final destination, the one place where she felt her heart, soul and mind collide into the one existence she knew they could be.. her place of solace, her soul’s break from reality.

The front porch swing.

Oh, she knew that those without a true love of the South can really understand, but this porch swing held her heart and soul. It was where she knew she loved the man that would become her husband with such conviction, she would have married him on the spot (don’t worry, she didn’t wait long). It was the place she had waited for said husband to come from work to share wonderful news, so overcome with excitement that even their toddler throwing a stick at him on the walkway couldn’t diminish her joy.

It was the place her husband told her they would be leaving.

Removing the wrap and settling her in to feed, she smiled down at the blessing in her arms. Nourishing her child in the one place that felt most right in the world was like healing a little bit of her soul. She gazed around, at the neighborhood she had grown to love, at the tree she had an unnatural affinity towards, at the bushes they had managed to keep alive. The breeze was warm despite the late winter month, but the streets were quiet. She knew this would be the last time, despite what they said. She knew this was a time of goodbye.

Brought back to the moment by restless hands, she settled her daughter back into her arms- but this time, with a view of her surroundings. While she may not remember the breeze in our hair, the tranquility of the surroundings, the serenity of the moment… her mother forever will.

With one last look around, she turned to go back inside. With one last look, she realized she had truly learned to love. Not just with her husband, not just with her children, not just with her heart. She had finally learned to love with her soul.

And then they were gone..

Moving Day & Why Blogging Friends are Real

Moving Day is here! We are starting a crazy journey off to Alaska. This week has been full of insanity, of course. My daughter has been unbelievably sick, we spent many hours between doctor offices and the emergency room, and of course have been trying to pack. But, the movers are here loading up our belongings and we will soon be embarking on our December adventure. We will spend the next week or so visiting with family in various states before getting on three (yes, three) airplanes to get to our final destination in Alaska.

In fearing that my blog would quickly become lost, I reached out to some fellow bloggers, figuring at least one or two of them would take pity on me and contribute something to my blog. What I was not expecting was the amazing kindness and generosity shown to me by a group of some of the most amazing bloggers. I was moved to tears, not only because they were willing to submit some guest posts for me, to share their unbelievable talent with my small corner of the blogging world, but also because these responses came pouring in-  almost instantly. I had an inbox full of replies, well-wishes, and support within an hour of hysterical begging calmly asking for help. I am so eternally grateful, and I will do my best to repay this kindness and highlighting these amazing bloggers.

So, for the next week or so, I am going to be bringing you some amazing Christmas posts from some of my favorite bloggers. I will try to get a little bit in along the way as well, and you can be sure there will be a series about this experience when all is said and done. Once I am buried in snow and stuck inside up in the arctic, I plan on reading hundreds of the blog posts that I am so behind on these days.

Thank you to all of my readers. I hope you are all enjoying this holiday season, and that each and every blogger gets a chance to experience the breathtaking support I did this year.

See you in Alaska!

Back to Georgia

Thanks for joining me as I chronicle our past moves in preparation for the upcoming move in December! I talked about my first move, moving to Utah Part 1 and Utah Part 2. Here’s the next part of the series, where I get to return to Georgia. It wouldn’t last terribly long though..

“I’m done”.

My husband barely glanced up at me from reading the paper. He replies with “oh yeah” and continues on with his reading. I cross my arms impatiently, filled with months of frustration threatening to unleash, most likely upon my unsuspecting husband. “Seriously, I’m done,” I repeat with more heat and irritation than the first time. Something in my tone caught his attention as he actually looked at me. Wariness evident in his eyes, he sets down the paper. “Okay.. you’re done..?” I looked at him and said, “I want to go home”.

Thus began our journey back to Georgia. I’ve talked before about how my first move left me with a sense of being home, and how I left my heart back in Georgia among all of our moves. The excitement was nearly overwhelming, as I could not wait to escape the cold, lonely place Utah represented to me. Ironically enough, the phone call that would set it all in motion came while I was sitting at the pool with my son on a hot August day. Surprised that my husband was calling me from work, I answered the phone by asking what was wrong.

Hubs: “So, Bob is selling his house and wants to know if we are interested”.

Me: Silence.

Hubs: “Babe, are you there?”

Me: “Are you kidding??”

Hubs:  “No, he and Marie are getting married and they want to move closer to her work. What do you thi-“

Me: “YES yes yes yes yes yes yes. Let’s do it. Today! We’re going back to Georgia!!!”

It would take a few months and minimal negotiation, but by February, we were on a plane from Utah, heading home. I have never enjoyed a six hour flight more than I did that day, and I was hardly able to keep still. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. You see, even beyond my intense desire to return to Georgia, this house was where I had first met my husband. A story for another time, but it truly was like coming home to where it all began.

So, with our year and a half old in tow, we purchased our first home- and decided to we wanted to have another baby. I could not wait to see what else was in store, since we were purchasing a house and putting down our roots. It was exciting to work on house projects, remodel rooms and put our stamp on the place. We had a backyard and a swingset (and of course a mortgage). We were nicely settled into our community that felt just right.I quickly became involved in the HOA (though not entirely voluntarily) and made friends in the neighborhood. Even while trying to get pregnant for quite some time, the frustration was tempered down by our domestic happiness. A year and a half after moving in, we found out we were expecting again. A long, difficult pregnancy followed, but we were excited to welcome our little girl. We had our home, our son, our daughter on the way, great friends and a great community.

And then we found out about another move..