Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Summer 2013 Part 3: In which our apartment is already populated

So, summer of 2013, me and the girls got on a plane: a 3 week old TT and a not-quite 3 year old H. I rode in a wheelchair at the airport, worried that all the walking would exhaust me unduly. In fact, we got lots of special attention with the airline: newborn baby, me in the wheelchair, and H with her peanut dust allergy pass. Fun times. My blessed, long-suffering parents met us at the airport (mind you, they had left our house two weeks ago after coming to help while we HAD TT). We stayed with them for a week while E's dad went out to help him clean, close up our rental, and supervise the packing and loading of our earthly possesions. God bless them all, I don't think it's a week anyone involved would want to relive, but there were no outstanding incidents, so we'll call it a win.

Once E reunited with us, we stayed with his parents for all of- I think- a day and a half until we got the call that our belongings would be arriving in the Slight South ahead of schedule. Overall, this was great news, but we realized we needed to hightail it down there to be ready at 7am the morning the truck might arrive. We came down a day early and got the key, set up a bank account, and got new cell phones and service. (With a newborn. Did I mention that? TT turned 5 weeks the day our belongings arrived at our new house). Also, the morning our belongings arrived, I got the call that my Grandma had died in the night. It wasn't too unexpected, but it was sad- especially because I didn't really have time to grieve at the time. I remember the morning in our new place answering the door crying. It was the mail lady with a question about who was living there now. She asked if I was OK, and I told her my grandma had just died. Even though it was the truth, I wonder if she thought I was a battered wife making excuses.

E's family came down the day after us and stayed in a hotel for a few nights to help us get unpacked and settled. (More blessings on them. They have helped us move every time- 4 times in 7 years.) They left, and then shortly after TT and I flew back home to attend the funeral. E and H put up curtains and visited campus to get E's ID card and find his classes.

But I skipped the part in which our apartment was populated. The day we moved in, E saw a 3-inch long roach crawl out of the dishwasher space toward the pizza box, and then back under the counter. We got a can of raid, and that evening there were about 6 live, dead, or dying roaches to be dealt with- all giant, and one with babies. We were back at the landlords office the next morning, livid and/or in tears. (I'll leave you to guess who was who.) They assured us these were "waterbugs"- American Cockroaches- not the German Cockroaches one finds in restaurants, slums, and NY apartments. They are endemic to the south and sneak in houses, but don't generally eat food. In our case, it seems they had taken up residence around our dishwasher- or more likely in the crawl space just outside it- while our apartment had been unoccupied. They had a pest company come out and spray outside (I guess it took a few days- I was back from the funeral by the time they came). We stopped seeing live roaches, though we would come across a dead one about once a day (the company said that was normal), but I was finding the poop everywhere, more and more and more in the living room and kitchen. We had sprays, powders, all our food in containers, natural deterrents- all of which had to be bought during the day with a newborn and toddler, and then applied at 10:30 when TT finally fell asleep, because I wanted them to have a little contact with the chemicals as possible. I was about to actually loose my mind- thinking about breaking our lease and moving again sounded impossible, and I just didn't know what to do. The day I found "roach" poop in TT's car seat was the worst- I called my mom crying (again) and she asked if I was sure it wasn't a mouse. I said of course of I was sure, hung up, cried some more, and then thought.... huh. Maybe it is a mouse. (How closely do you really look at poops number 20-200?) What do you know.... we had a mouse!

I'm pretty sure I had actually trapped the mouse in our house as I was sealing up holes- that last day I would turn around and find more poop, though we never actually saw the mouse running around. I schlepped the girls back to the ACE to buy every kind of mouse trap they had. I think I set out about 17 that night- and I left the car seat on top of the table when we went to bed. One dead mouse and two days of cleaning later, our home was vermin-free. I felt 20 million times better.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Summer 2013 Part 2: In which we go Back to the Hospital

Clearly, we are all fine. In retrospect, this story is more of a comedy of errors, but at the time it was stressful and surreal.

When we came home from the hospital, about 36 hours after TT's birth (because babies come at night, yo), we did the usual things. H and TT looked at each other, we tried to keep them safe, nursing, resting, etc. Right as H went back into her room for bed with my mom, I took my (very, very) swollen feet down from a stool where they had been propped up- I think to use the restroom- and one of my knees dislocated. This was very painful, especially as the muscles spasmed to try and move it back into place. I was very glad Rose was back in her room and not really aware of what was going on, because I did shout a bit. I wasn't sure what had happened, and wouldn't let anyone touch it. We ended up calling an ambulance (remember, I had a baby less than 48 hours ago- I was in no condition to hop to the car.) When they told me I had to stand up to get onto the stretcher, I was not very happy. But, thank God!, standing up popped it back in. (They said it might.)

Being stressed and hormonal, I let the EMT persuade me to go to the hospital. In retrospect I wish I had the confidence to turn him down, but he pulled the "you wouldn't want that to happen while you're carrying the baby" card, and I didn't have much to say to that. My dad brought TT in the car to wait in the parking lot, so she would be close if she had to nurse- I really didn't want my one-day-old baby in the ER picking up infectious diseases if we could avoid it.

And that is how TT got to try a pacifier at one day old, where H had to wait something like two months. (Ironically, TT would never, ever, use one.) My dad is the master at keeping hungry babies happy without mom, and his skills came in very useful. To this day we think they have a special bond.

The EMTs were laughing at my low pain ratings (I had just given birth!!!). Once my knee popped back in, it didn't hurt all that much, though my tailbone was still killing me (from giving birth). Riding on the stretcher in the ambulance was no fun in that regard. We all had an ironic laugh when I got there and they asked if my insurance had changed in the last six hours.

I did learn what gets you street cred in the ED: a one-day-old baby in the parking lot. Everyone was exceptionally speedy (considering it was the ED and I was not dying) except the radiology department. We had been there a couple of hours and were literally about to sign the papers to leave against medical advice without getting an x-ray, when they came to get us. Somehow the message had gotten confused, and they thought I had a one YEAR old baby in the parking lot. It became clear I did not when I was yelling about my tailbone and how I had given birth the previous day. Ironically, when they pulled me straight up from lying down after getting the x-rays (my stomach muscles were dead), I think they re-located my tailbone also. Unfortunately, that took much, much longer to heal than my knee, which has not given me a moments (physical) trouble since then- it did cause quite a bit of anxiety for a few weeks.

The only other funny story while we were there- after we had been through triage and were waiting in our room, I figured I had better go to the bathroom. As women who have given birth know, it's a little hard to tell when/how bad you have to go at first. I walked next door to the bathroom, and as I went to pull my pants down I thought I had started hemorrhaging or something- and then realized, no, I was just peeing. There was a LOT of pee- I probably had had to go since I went to stand up at home, but had totally forgotten (not that there was a lot I could have done about it.)

The X-ray was fine, and the doctor tried to get me to follow up with the sports clinic (I was leaving the state in 3 weeks and had a newborn- that never happened). The nurse told me not to do any deep squats- we both laughed. I almost cried in relief that TT had weathered the separation well and was asleep when we we got to the car. They had given me a bulky brace to wear that I couldn't even get into the car wearing (I was afraid I would dislocate something else!). Steve went and got me 3 other braces when we got home- he had to talk the manager of the CVS into opening back up for him, and then wasn't sure which kind would fit best. While he was doing that, I showered, nursed TT, and continued on resting. I just couldn't even handle being traumatized about the whole experience at the time- all of my emotions were busy, which is probably just as well!

In retrospect, I realize I probably dislocated my other knee earlier during pregnancy- we were getting on a plane to look for housing in the Slight South. Since I was standing up, I must have naturally shifted my weight to the other leg and it popped right back it. It was actually a lot more sore then than after this time- probably because the tendons were even looser after giving birth! Something to watch out for if I'm ever pregnant again.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Summer 2013 Part 1: In which TT is born

So, we had Lots. Of. Events. this past summer and fall, and we were too busy having them to blog. I thought I'd do a little series to catch up, starting with TT's birth story. Since today is Mother's Day, it seemed and appropriate day to post TT's birth story. Be warned, I don't feel it is particularly graphic, but it is- you know- a birth story. Involving lady parts and bodily functions. Continue reading at your own discretion.

TT was due June 18th, I'm pretty sure. I was sure I would be pregnant past her due date, but that did not dissuade me from hoping I would go into labor every day after 37 weeks. H had been born via planned c-section at 37 weeks due to my (her? our?) placenta previa, so this was by far the longest I had been pregnant. I was walking about a mile every evening, convinced I would be the only pregnant person to never give birth, and trying not to imagine that I would need another c-section two weeks before we had to be on a plane out of MI.

I woke up in the early morning with some leaking of what I was pretty sure was amniotic fluid with meconium. I think I woke Steve up and called the midwives, and I was trying not to rush or get to excited, since I knew it could still be a long time. Our favorite midwife was in triage, and after much discussion, examination, and testing, they decided that it was amniotic fluid, without meconium, and sent us home. I was very unsure about the meconium issue, but didn't really want to stay in the hospital if I didn't have too, and so we went home and got ready for the day. We had just enough time to make it to Library Story Time- I was eager to get in as many more of those as we could before we moved, and wanted to keep our schedule mostly regular. We also called my parents to have them come out, since we knew the baby would be coming soon, one way or another. (Maybe we even did that before- it's amazing how fuzzy the details have gotten in the last nine months!)

So we did the library, and I think we got some take-out for lunch. My parents arrived in the early afternoon, and I went for a walk, and got some moderate contractions going, and rested for a bit. Eventually, it became undeniable that there was meconium in the fluid, and the midwife said to come back in. I had some dinner, and maybe even put H to bed, and we went in. I do remember that the room they had prepared for us was one we had heard the wireless monitoring didn't work in, and so I waited and contracted on a very hard bench for an hour or so while they prepared the next one. I was worried about angering the nurses, but knew I'd have to be monitored and didn't want to be stuck with the wires.

I don't remember much about that night- I know that I was having contractions, but not progressing very far. Our doula went home and got some sleep in the early hours of the morning, and came back later the next afternoon. We had been alternating trying to rest and trying walk and move around to get labor moving. My doula gave me a very relaxing massage on my legs as I rested on my hands and knees against the bed. We rested for a few hours in the afternoon; usually just as I was falling asleep I'd have an intense contraction, need to get up and use the bathroom, and then try and settle back down. All the time we were in the hospital laboring, storms kept sweeping across the area- we had a picture window overlooking the arboretum, and it was beautiful and surreal.

That evening, it was time to try pitocin- we had been in the hospital about 24 hours and I was definitely not progressing. The nurse started me on a very low dose, we went for some walks, and nothing was really happening. The next nurse moved it up more- 2?- I remember thinking I might ask to to only move it up half as much as she did, which was what the original nurse had planned, but I wanted to get this done with! I remember walking the halls, pausing for contractions but not really feeling too far gone, and seeing another (rough looking!) mom walking the hall with her newborn and partner, and our doula saying that would be us in a few hours! I felt very incredulous that an actual baby was going to come out of me, but I was desperate to no longer be pregnant!

Once we got back to our room, things picked up a bit- our doula turned down the lights, and I stood at the end of the bed willing the baby to come down with the contractions, watching the monitor. I remember E and the doula talking quietly, and knowing they thought I couldn't really hear- even though I was aware of what was going on, I wasn't in the mood to talk, and besides there wasn't much time between contractions anyway. Steve couldn't find my chap stick and tried to pass off the doula's as mine; I was onto him because her kind, which I also own, makes me nauseous during pregnancy (peppermint! Isn't that unfortunate?)

Eventually the pain was intense enough I wanted to get in the bath; there was a brief slowing of labor when I got in the tub. But, after a seemingly very short time, things picked back up and I felt I needed to push soon. The midwife came in and checked me- I think I was at a 7 or an 8?- and left again. By now I was very emotional, and almost as soon as she walked out, I said I was already pushing and to call her back in! Around this time I had some very strong, involuntary pushes- it felt like vomiting, but down instead of up! I had never heard of this, and found it very disturbing. The midwife came back and I'm pretty sure she stretched me out to a 10, and said I was cleared to push! I gave a few pushes in the tub, but when someone suggested I might be having trouble because of the water, I agreed and decided to get out. (I LOVED our hospital; they would have been happy for me to deliver in the tub if I wanted!) I was also very distressed that I might have a BM in the water- they weren't concerned, but I felt it was unsanitary to have a baby be born into poopy water!

I only made it halfway onto the bed before I felt the baby was coming, and stopped moving with one leg stuck up on the pushing bar! I was trying to go gently to avoid tearing, but it seemed TT's heart rate was slowing down, or they were having trouble finding it, and they got our consent to put a scalp electrode on her. I figured since the baby was in distress, I'd have to just push it out, tearing be d*mned, and out she came before they ever got the monitor put on! They announced it was a girl and laid her on me. I had been very concerned about the placenta coming out, after the problems we'd had with H, but it's true what they say- I barely even noticed, though I do remember being glad when it was out and done. I felt SO much better with that baby out! We cuddled for a few mintues- probably quite a while, I even nursed her a bit- and E cut the cord. Eventually they took her away and wrapped her up, because my tearing was quite extensive. The midwife called in the gynocology resident, who called in the attending, who decided she could try and stitch it up there as opposed to in the OR. This was really quite painful, largely because I couldn't shift my position to relieve the pain on my tailbone (I'm pretty sure it had dislocated during the labor and birth). Once I found out an OR trip would mean general anesthesia, I "womaned up" and was more stoic! Around this time my blood pressure also became very, very low- around 50/30- and my doula fed me almonds, drinks, and even a turkey sandwich while I lay flat on my back! We took a short break for a few minutes once the team realized what we were doing, since they were still thinking about general anesthesia- but soon after they decided against it, and we carried on. It took quite a while- many hours or even a day or so- for my blood pressure to go all the way back up and for me to feel comfortable sitting and standing. When they first suggested moving rooms, I said I could not sit up, and if they needed to move me they needed to do it with me lying down. We stayed a few more hours =)

Overall, I remember thinking that perhaps I would give an epidural a little more thought if we had another baby, but now that the amnesia has kicked in it doesn't seem so bad. I was surprised how bad I felt those first days and weeks- my tailbone was a real problem- but it's true that my recovery was much, much faster than after a c-section! The memory of holding her immediately after is a very sweet one for me.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Number Two at Ten Months

Second baby, your months go so much faster than the one who made me a mother. I never expected how quickly and bittersweet-ly the stages would pass the second time- what dragged and dragged before is now flashing by. You are already done with your morning nap, crawling, babbling, and signing a bit. Before I saw the transformation from helpless newborn to strong-willed preschooler, it was hard to imagine or believe. With you, I feel the inevitable certainty that your cute habit at three months, of rubbing your hands together as though plotting, will be a distant memory by the next doctor appointment. Your little adorable bald head already has adorable hair, your heart-melting gummy smile has been replaced by a heart-melting two-toothed one, and you have gone from contently observing in your bouncy seat to In. To. Everything, all the while smiling over your shoulder at us. All too soon, it feels, you will be defending your toys and demanding your way and busy, with arms and legs too long for squishy milk-drunk snuggles. I remember how the last layers of infancy fall away so quickly after the first birthday, and I wish I could sink my soul a little deeper into the babyhood of my baby before it's gone.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Our Summer Plan

I have been thinking about H starting preschool almost since I got pregnant with TT, just after H's second birthday. Not because I was looking to pass her off and have some time with TT- though that's what many people suggested, and it was nice to have a break during a very challenging year both for our family and our resident 3-year-old. But, I was concerned about her having so many big changes in such a short span- new sister, relocation, and starting school all in a 3-month span, plus the normal worries about our shy child adjusting to school, and choosing a school long distance. We did what we could to prepare her, and it went great. I was so focused on the start of a  decades-long endeavor that I didn't realize until March that SCHOOL STOPS DURING THE SUMMER. I was going to have our challenging three year old home full time for three full months. What used to seem totally normal now sounded incredibly exhausting.

So, we have a plan for the summer. Five activities, five weekdays, some flexibility.

Monday- Playgroup. We've been going to this for a month or so, and I like that Rose sees some of the same kids every week (outside of school). Unfortunately, there's no particular child that she connects with, but I like the other moms, it meets at a park, and I'm hoping familiarity will at least yield positive relationships for her.

Tuesday- Story time at the library. Our library here is not nearly as good here as it was, but still worth going, especially in the summer!

Wednesday- Pool. I hear there is a free pool here with a kiddie pool in the shade, and it's not too busy in the morning. I'd love to get H in the big pool- but we'll have to see.

Thursday- Museum. We have a membership to a great kids museum about 30 minutes from our house. I don't know that we'll do this every single week, but it's way to big to do it all in one visit, so we should be able to rotate through and enjoy it pretty regularly. We can also bring a friend with our membership, if anyone wants to come.

Friday- Errands or Morning Playdate. These last three things won't always be in the same order (and we'll have to plan around weather), but it gives me some good options. We all get cranky with too much unstructured time in the house.

These are all morning activities- we'll come home, have lunch, and either have play time in the house, or yard, or go to a nearby park or walk with a friend (until it gets too hot). Then we have rest time, and H usually gets a little TV while I prepare dinner. This part isn't too different from our routine now. (Neither is the rest, really, except H has been in school T/Th/F mornings).

Of course, this will only happen for about three weeks before we will take several weeks of all packing/moving/unpacking all-day-all-week (or as much as we can); but hopefully we will get back to it in mid-July.

Anyone else have a summer plan?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

That time we were evacuated and there were ants in the stroller

A little back story: We moved into our current house in the Slight South on August 6th, with a not-quite six week old baby and a two year old. I traveled home for a funeral, Esteban started teaching his classes at the university, and the two year old turned three, plus the usual unpacking, shopping, setting up that comes with moving. Our washer broke, so we were doing laundry at the laundromat, and we dealt with both roaches and mice. (Thinking the mice WERE roaches almost put me over the edge of a breakdown- but that's another post.) All this happens in about 3 weeks. Things were settling down a bit.

We come home one day- I don't remember from where, though I know it wasn't the laundromat, because I was wearing jeans, not my maternity skit that was the least-wearable thing I could still wear outside the house. Anyway, there is a lot of ruckus on our street- firemen, police men, official looking people, looking official. No one approaches me, so I get the kids into the house (this takes a few trips), and then decide I need to figure out what is going on. I try to approach the police who is parked outside our house, but he waves me away. I can't figure out what exactly is going on, but I see the firemen going to a house a few houses away, and it occurs to me they might be evacuating people. I try to avoid the panic-y feeling that urges me to do nothing, and figure I better change the baby's diaper and gather what we might need. I do change her diaper, and they do come to our door and tell us to evacuate- it's a gas main break on the the corner. And, we can't take our car. It's 95 degrees out, I'm wearing jeans, it's almost lunchtime, and we can't take our car. We don't even have a double stroller!

I put the baby in the Ergo (guess she's old enough!) and get the stroller out of the trunk, hoping I don't hurt her neck with the jerk required to pull it out and open. As I go to put H in the stroller, I realize there are ants ALL over it. Had we had more time, I would have set down the baby and gotten out the dust buster and spent some time going over it, but as it is I just try to dust off the worst of them and stick her in. And, we're off- somewhere. When I asked, they said fixing it "shouldn't take too long." Hopefully that doesn't mean all day. I think there is a coffee shop up the road? I'm not really sure how far it is, and it is HOT and I'm wearing jeans and we have 30 minutes until lunch and all I grabbed were some almond cookies (I guess we had to go shopping?) and a bottle of water. H can't usually eat anything from a coffee shop because of her peanut allergy, but maybe I could get her some milk? I have my cell phone, but E is in class and doesn't have a car, anyway. We don't know anyone else in town.

There is a lot of angsting and sweating along the walk, but there is in fact a coffee shop up the road (not the one I was expecting, but whatever!) We go in, and I find some cheese and a glutten-free muffin thing for H and I to share, and maybe I get a coffee too. H tastes the cheese and muffin, scattering crumbs with abandon on floor, table, and couch where she's sitting. Whatever.

As we went in I notice a pregnant woman my age ordering, and once we are settled in I notice her sitting with two friends, each with a baby. They don't seem to have been evacuated, they had planned to meet here. One baby is quite young, and they are discussing birth and breastfeeding and diapers and all the things you talk about with other moms when you have a very young baby. Eventually, and very uncharacteristically, I go over and ask if I can sit with them, and explain we were evacuated. They are all very nice, and it turns out, improbably, one of them went to my high school! She is a few years older than me.

When H says she has to go to the bathroom, they offer to hold TT and I gratefully let them. Once we got through the door without TT, H says "But you love your baby!" And I do have a little doubt then that I just left my baby with three strangers. But, my gut feeling was so confident I hadn't even worried about it until then, and so I figured that had to count for something. Plus, they all had enough babies at the moment. Still, I hurried H through the toilet process.

When the three friends packed up to go home, we walked with one who lived by us (but outside of the evacuation zone), and thankfully (!!!!!) we were able to go back inside. While I lost touch with the other two women, the one who lives by us has become a friend, and we go for a walk together once a week or so. Of all the disasters that befell us on moving here, this one definitely had the best outcome.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On Home in Small Spaces

When we arrived in our current home in the Slight South this August, it was our third move in four years; when we move into a house this summer, it will be our fourth in five years. Our first move was into a 700 square foot apartment/house thing where we had our first child, and our current home is about 1000 square feet for the four of us. (The house in between was blissfully, beautifully large.)

All of our houses have accommodations for guests; living so far from family and many friends, we are thrilled to host frequently. In the six months we have lived here, we have had guests stay with us five times. It would have been six, but E's family graciously stayed in a hotel when our guest room wasn't set up yet. When our good friends, also a recent family of four, stayed for several nights before Christmas, it was a tight squeeze, but a lot of fun! Especially with small children, it is so nice to have guests stay in your home so the adults can visit after bedtime or during nap time.

Having a nice home environment, for our own family and our guests, is a constantly evolving challenge and our house and family evolve. I thought I'd share some of our most useful strategies we've used for maximizing our space.

1: Have less stuff: Purge it

I am ALWAYS! behind on this, but it is truly, and obviously, so helpful. One of the keys to this for me is not to worry to much about the "value" I'm loosing. I do consign things as appropriate, I occasionally try to sell a bigger-ticket item on Craigslist, we have had one yard sale, and I'm currently giving paperb*ckswap a go. However, more often than not I take a monetary hit just for getting something out the door instead of having it hang around until I have time to sell it for maximum profit. I think of it this way: Is a nice, uncluttered home worth money to me? I would certainly spend some dollars on decorative items for my home, and this is basically the same thing, in reverse.

Especially great times for this are right before, and sadly, right after a move. While the ideal time to purge is before a move, and we certainly do, there's something about unpacking and trying to find a place for everything that makes some things reveal their uselessness. The question is always, "Does this justify the space it takes up"? It also helps me to realize that purging is a process that needs to be repeated frequently- like shopping.

2: Have less stuff: Don't buy it

Our families were so, so cooperative this year when we told them we didn't want any physical gifts for Christmas, and to please only get the girls one each. We make do with a very minimum of baby contraptions, with bonus points for foldable ones. (Even though E trips over it every day, this has been worth its weight in gold. Which is about how much it costs, incidentally.) I'm kind of a minimalist by nature, but knowing we don't have much space at home definitely keeps me honest.

3: Have small stuff:

Our children's high chairs have a small footprint. Our dining room table is really much to small for the hosting we do, but it fits in our dining area. Our bedroom would be so much easier if we didn't have the sleigh bed we bought when we were married, but our first master bedroom was huge. We keep H's toys on the small side, so they fit (more or less) in the space allowed. We all have small wardrobes and (in theory) update them more frequently, since each item gets more wear.

4: Use all the (non-visable) space:

Our suitcases are either packed inside one another or full of maternity or off-season clothes. We use shelving in closets and bins under the bed for storage. I have been known to hide things under and behind furniture. I try to keep frequently-accessed cabinets less full to make them easier to use, but lesser used spaces are crammed to the brim. Putting things in boxes or bins- even things like media, shoes, etc- can make it much easier to pull out the front things and access what's in the back.

5: DON'T use all the visible space:

We have some decorations and knick-knacks that we love, but are in boxes right now. Clear surfaces and empty space are both visually relaxing and allow space for guests to put their books, drinks, laptops, phones, etc. This one, like the others, is a constant upward battle- but one of the reasons we like to host is we have a reason to get all cleaned up, and it looks so nice even after our guests leave.

Our latest trick to to put a blanket over the front of H's toy shelf in the evening, so we can't see the toys. This basically makes that space invisible for the evening, so it's not as distracting that it's crammed full of crap loved and educational toys.

6: Use your car

It's not particularly gas-efficient, but we have kept our BOB in our trunk while we lived in both these small spaces. I also tend to stick things I need to get rid of in the car- this solves the immediate problem of getting it out of the house, and also I am ready whenever I see a donation bin or am near the goodwill/ consignment shop/ whatever.

7: Nix the coffee table

We went shopping for a coffee table early in our marriage, and after making it through the whole Ikea tour, we realized we liked not having one. More room to lay on the living room floor, spread out a project, or (now) watch the babies play. Less places for clutter to accumulate and the babies to hit their heads. We have an end table on either end of the sofa and use stackable stools as additional tables or seating as needed. Having the open space makes the room feel so much bigger.

8: Rearrange

Even though we try to arrange our furniture carefully when we first move in, we always end up doing some significant rearranging, sometimes for several months. Especially when the space is small and the furniture is plenty, it can take a few tries to find the best arrangement, and can make a huge difference in the look and function of the room. I wish I had tips on specifically HOW to arrange, but so far it's just been trial and error.

While we are VERY much looking forward to more space in a new house, I am grateful that we've had the opportunity to consider each possession so carefully! I love having less stuff, and am constantly trying to simplify more- for more space, less time looking for things, and of course to make our next move easier. I'm sure it will be much harder to avoid the hoarding when we don't have any pending moves!