I feel like I have been packing and packing, going through screechy rolls of tape and dizzying myself with Marks-a-Lot fumes and emptying out drawers and shelves and closets and filling box after box, and sometimes I look at the growing towers that are taking over the living room and it seems like I’ve made an enormous amount of progress and sometimes the stacks look like exactly what they are: a very small percentage of the total square footage of crap we have to jam into one 26′ moving truck in a few weeks.


There are the existing boxes and things that have yet to be packed and all of our furniture and also everything in here:


I succumbed to logistics-related panic yesterday and we decided JB would drive a trailer full of stuff when he heads to Eugene this weekend and maybe we’ll end up doing that again, depending on what kind of dent it makes, but my biggest fear is that come May 25th, we’ll fill up the big yellow Penske and find that we don’t have quite enough room.

And really, that’s a valid concern because it would obviously suck, but I’m pretty sure I’m laser-focused on the packing situation because it’s marginally easier than freaking out about the big picture of moving into a house with a short-term lease and renting vs. buying and where it is, exactly, we’ll be living when Riley’s school starts at the end of summer. Will all the pieces eventually fit? Or will we look back and think, damn, we should have planned that better?

I don’t know, and I guess that’s the theme of this whole move: stepping outside our comfort zones and making uncertain decisions based on what limited information we have. Sometimes I’m so excited I can’t wait to see what happens next. But jesus, sometimes I just want to flip past the stressful part of this story to the part where it all works out just fine.


45 Responses to “Tetris”

  1. Pete on May 1st, 2012 4:13 pm

    Planning is for pussies. Nice Delta saw. You might want to look at a trailer for the truck. It’s tough to get it the day you pickup the truck. It’s the last little odd shaped shit that takes up the most room in the back of the truck. That and tools don’t pack very well. I’m not looking forward to the time I move my shop.

  2. Amy on May 1st, 2012 4:25 pm

    We used a 26 ft truck to move a three bedroom house with a large kitchen and all of my husband’s shop equipment had to go in a different trailer when we moved cross country. A good way to judge is to measure off an area or even completely box up one bedroom, then start stacking your boxes and everything you don’t need into that room. I also highly suggest hiring some cheap movers to pack your truck. The same amount of stuff that filled the 26 ft truck and trailer was fit into a 23 ft space by the movers, saving us a lot of money on the next move. My husband watched a bunch of videos on youtube, and while they helped, the movers were invaluable on our last move. Also, do not skimp on the moving blankets or the giant rolls of plastic wrap to protect your furniture.

  3. Margie on May 1st, 2012 5:42 pm

    Is there stuff you can just get rid of? donate or whatnot?

  4. Donna on May 1st, 2012 5:54 pm

    Yes, what Amy said, and also the day of the move, have the movers come just to load the truck. they are used to doing it, you will save your back and knees, and trust me, you will be glad you did, you’ll only need them for maybe 2 hours if you have all your stuff in boxes already except for the furniture. Throw blankets over the furniture, tape with duct tape, and label the shit outta everything. Then when you get there, get movers to do a load out, again, trust me on this, I will never move again by myself. EVER! They will put all the boxes in the proper room, and all you have to do is find places to put the furniture later.

    Also, no matter how much you plan, you are still moving, so it will be crazy and stressful.

    And pack suitcases of the stuff you will need for each person, clothes, cat food, toys, plan to eat out, and ice chests for anything you need to keep frozen, maybe JB can take that kind of stuff ahead of time.
    I’m so excited for you!

  5. Laura S on May 1st, 2012 6:21 pm

    Oh man, I hate moving. I totally agree with Amy & Donna… hire movers to pack and unpack the van. I’ve moved more than a dozen times, so I know what you’re dealing with.
    (Also, I think my dh just got a boner when he glanced over and saw the picture of the garage/shop)

  6. Angella on May 1st, 2012 6:40 pm

    It WILL work out fine. You know it will, and I know it will, and yet it’s our nature to freak out about the change. (And also, The Change. IT’S COMING FOR US, LINDA.)

    Hot flashes aside, I’m so excited to hear about the adventures of the next month (unless there are more broken bones because, no) and how you find your groove in Oregon.

    Love you.

  7. Erin on May 1st, 2012 6:51 pm

    I’m in the middle of the same thing now! We sold our house a week or so after you did and are currently dealing with the Drama That Is Moving Vans.
    And I’m right there with you – stressing about the physical move and the boxes and the packing because I can’t even deal with having to think about what happens or doesn’t, after we get there.
    My mantra lately has become “It will end soon”.
    And it will. And we will be okay.

  8. Diana on May 1st, 2012 7:42 pm

    I agree with Donna, above. My husband owns a moving company, and you can hire a company to come and load your truck. They will fit it in way better than you, also you could have them come out and give you an estimate, they will let you know if it wil fit in a truck of 26 ft. it will all get there!

  9. Liz Kreiger on May 1st, 2012 8:45 pm

    Luckily, life is lived one day at a time. And I know from everything you have posted that you are going to be so blissfully happy in Oregon, and your kids will be living the life you have dreamed of for them, and your husband will be energized by his new job. You’ll make it through the housing transitions and I am looking forward to the postings when you are loving Oregon in the fall in your new home. I love your writing. Happy trails!

  10. Mama Ritchie on May 1st, 2012 9:13 pm

    My cousin told me something when I was selling my first house and moving to California. “Remember when I was selling my house in Ohio, and how long it took, and how there was that couple that said Jesus told them to buy my house, and then Jesus changed his mind two weeks later and said they should be missionaries instead, and then remember the 6 additional months it took, and all the packing and driving all my shit across the country by myself?” Silence… “Yeah, I don’t think about it. Any of it. At all. Like it didn’t even happen.” You won’t think about this uncertainty either, once you and your beautiful family are living where you are supposed to be. When you follow your heart, things have a way of just working out.

  11. Judy on May 1st, 2012 10:07 pm

    If it doesn’t all fit in the Penske, you just rent a quick storage unit and shove what doesn’t fit in there, and send JB and Joe back in a couple weeks with a trailer to get it. Just make sure you get the beds, the kitchen stuff, your linens and for God’s sake, the kids’ toys, in the Penske. You can live without the shop stuff a couple weeks. Oh yeah…don’t forget your computer. We’ll all be waiting to hear all your moving stories, and share some of our own.

  12. Kirsten on May 1st, 2012 11:55 pm

    No doubt about it – moving sucks. I always start out so organized and sorting through everything with nicely labeled boxes – but inevitably I end up at the end with a whole stack of “random shit” thrown in a box.

  13. Mama Ritchie on May 2nd, 2012 12:04 am

    One more tip (remember, I moved 11 times since I’ve been married – #12 comes next week!) First thing to do in the new house is make up the beds. Make sure you pack sheets for all beds and keep them with you in the car. Your house may be a total disaster zone of boxes and chaos, but you and your boys will sleep soundly in your new home. xoxo

  14. sooboo on May 2nd, 2012 12:35 am

    Last time I moved, it was out of a house we had lived in for 8 years and we’d accumulated a lot of stuff. I had the same fear that it wouldn’t fit on the U-Haul we had rented. But it did with room to spare. It always looks like more spread around your house. As humans we are programmed to feel fear when situations change as a survival mechanism. I just watched a TED talk about that, but I can’t find the link, darn it.

  15. Katie on May 2nd, 2012 3:33 am

    That is my acutal, LITERAL, recurring nightmare. There is just more, more, more stuff and how will I pack it all? This has me shuddering in dread of going to sleep tonight.

    I agree with the people who say that it will all fade into the recesses evenutally. All the ass pain is temporary and you think it will kill you and how will you EVER do all this? but it doesn’t kill you and then one day you look around and are so glad you did it!

    (I still don’t envy you the process!)

  16. Eric's Mommy on May 2nd, 2012 4:46 am

    I am so excited for you guys. When I think about eventually moving (which I hope we do someday) I think about all the stuff we have accumulated through the years and OMG how will we pack everything?
    If JB can take some stuff in a couple trips that would help out. I know you are good at Tetris :)

  17. Heather on May 2nd, 2012 4:48 am

    The very best part of packing and moving is that, eventually, it’s over. We moved last fall and it was a very stressful 3 months. But it’s over now. My only advice is to purge/recycle relentlessly. My goal was to never unpack a box and wonder why I’d packed and moved that item.

    I like the ideas above to hire movers to pack the truck. We used local friends, one of whom happened to have moved something like ten times in ten years. She could tetris our boxes and furniture like no one else.

    Good luck, and remember, eventually, it does come to an end.

  18. Casey on May 2nd, 2012 5:11 am

    I just moved from California to Maryland. The tip obout having the sheets in your car is a valid one – also have toilet paper, paper towels, some bath towels, coffee pot/coffee/filters/cups – etc and etc – in a box labled FIRST FIRST UNPACK FIRST. It will save a few molecules of your sanity to be able to shower and wipe your arse. AND have coffee. Good luck!!

  19. Ris on May 2nd, 2012 6:09 am

    Your house will definitely fit in a 26′ truck, no problem, but I’d hire some peeps to come help you get it all in there. Those pros can tetris boxes into a truck like nobody’s business. In a few months, this will all be a (probably somewhat funny) memory, and you’re going to be so, so glad you did it.

  20. Beth, Lambic Pentameter on May 2nd, 2012 6:21 am

    I’m completely jealous of the uncertainty and spontaneity you described in your last paragraph. Is it obvious how restless I am right now?

  21. Lindsay on May 2nd, 2012 7:25 am

    Love this. We’re wrestling with the thought of moving now. Something we’ve always wanted, but now that we have a baby and a niche in Milwaukee, why should we leave. It’s nice, it’s comfortable – but we’ve always wanted to go out west. Congrats on moving outside of your comfy bubble to explore what you’ve always wanted for you and your family. As they always say – everything will get figured out!

  22. Erica on May 2nd, 2012 7:36 am

    In 28 yrs I have moved 12 times. It never gets easier but is always an adventure. Hire help if you can and move EVERYTHING. If you can’t pay someone to do it for you, whittle down. Think about “move vs improve.” If the item Is not in perfect shape, I craigslist it. Chances are there is a newer, improved model I can buy later if I find I really need one. It frees up space for the pieces I love and can’t part with. Good luck!

  23. Redbecca on May 2nd, 2012 7:52 am

    Yeah I was told based on what I had in my house that I’d need a 20′ truck. Well, I hired professionals to pack that truck and they fit all of it in 10 feet of space, no shit, and it was packed so tightly that it didn’t BUDGE and nothing BROKE. It was amazing. HIRE MOVERS TO PACK THE TRUCK. All of your stuff will fit just fine. The only things you might consider taking yourselves would be your electronics. You know, if you are anal about that stuff like my husband is.

  24. Linda on May 2nd, 2012 7:55 am

    We definitely have pro movers scheduled to pack the truck (although unloading will be all on us), so I’m glad to hear that will pay off in more than back-saving! Thanks for the ideas, you guys.

  25. bj on May 2nd, 2012 8:17 am

    I have no specific truck/moving/packing advice, since we decided about 24 years ago that we were too old to move our own stuff, and have always paid people to do it.

    But, I wanted to point out Yay! Yay! you’re following your dream of moving to Oregon. I love reading these stories, people posting their hopes, and then having them come true. It’s the opposite of train wreck blogs, and oh so exciting.

  26. H on May 2nd, 2012 8:29 am

    UGGHHHH! I am always so stressed out by big unknowns, but I know it is important to stretch and live in the unknown sometimes. I feel your pain and I hope you find some peaceful moments in all of the chaos.

    I’m not an expert mover, but one piece of advice I was given when we last moved was to pack Very Important Box(es) in which you keep the Very Important Stuff and Things You Will Need Right Away. For us, that included things like extra keys, cell chargers and sheets – anything you might need in the first few days or is so important that you want to be extra sure you know where it is.

    I’m so excited for you and your family!

  27. Jenny on May 2nd, 2012 8:43 am

    I always do that, focus in on one small part of the process that I can (hopefully) control. When I was in college, I went to study abroad in France, and I was living with a French family who spoke no English. Did I worry about the language, adapting to the culture, my grades in French university classes, getting along with the family? No. I was going to be in a room at the top of the house, and I worried I would be *too hot*. Oh, god, how I fretted. Like they do not sell fans in France, I fretted.

    In other words, I get you. But everything will get packed, and if it’s like my trip to France, this will be life-changingly wonderful.

  28. adequatemom on May 2nd, 2012 9:03 am

    It WILL work out just fine. And in less than a year, you will look back and laugh and wonder what you were so stressed about.

    Not that that helps right now, I guess.

  29. telegirl on May 2nd, 2012 9:13 am

    I know it seems overwhelming, but remember that it’s one drawer at a time, one room at a time, that adds up to a whole house being packed. I have a tendency to freak out about the enormity of moving, until I break it down and look at one small piece at a time.

    Also, what the others said. We had someone move us last time (into the truck and then back out) and it makes a world of difference, but it sounds like you have that already set up. They also can look at what you have and have the resources set aside in case it all doesn’t fit, but really, they’re experts so it always fits. Everything will be great!

  30. Chelsea on May 2nd, 2012 9:33 am

    Ugh. My parents decided to pack up and move out of a 3k sqft house they lived in for 27 years in two weeks.


    Surprisingly, the shop equipment worked best when it went in last, after you pack the truck full and have little odds & ends left. Throw in the shop eqp, then throw in odds & ends.

    I’m glad you are hiring pro movers. They know their shit. Wish we could have convinced parents of the same.

  31. Kath on May 2nd, 2012 9:44 am

    we’ve just done six months of short term rentals, storage units, packing unpacking, moving “important stuff” in the car. My only word of advice is: If you decide you hate your dishes and donate them to charity, remember when you finally get into your own place that you did so and not be like me, convinced someone had stolen the box with the dishes in them! I now have a lovely mishmash of dishes picked up for cheap at Ikea …. It will be fine!

  32. Cindy on May 2nd, 2012 9:59 am

    Having moved last July, I can tell you that it will suck, you will have a meltdown and at some point there will be tears. Lots of tears of frustration and exhaustion. BUT, there will also be great joy and an awesome feeling of accomplishment once you’re settled in.

    It’s worth every penny to have pro movers pack the truck. We hired movers to load, drive and unload boxes into our garage. It was amazing to see how they packed our things into the moving trucks with such precision. I was in awe.

    P.S. You can score big points with the movers if you keep out an ice chest loaded with water, soda and a couple easy snacks. Our movers were super nice guys and I think they worked a little harder to help us since we showed some love. Also, $$ gratuity when they’re done.

  33. Sarah on May 2nd, 2012 10:23 am

    You have gotten some great advice! I can’t wait to hear how it all goes. For the sake of comfort and fun, have each boy pack one box for themselves of their most favorite things.

  34. Jo on May 2nd, 2012 10:49 am

    Have them unload for you too. And set up beds- at least. You’ll be glad not to have to deal with that. Get a pod and put everything in it that you won’t need for a while. Then you can just get that back when you have your house.

  35. Amy on May 2nd, 2012 10:59 am

    I got so stressed the last time I moved I had a moment of deer-in-the-headlights-panic-attack-syndrome. Then my bff smacked me back into reality and it all got done. Moved last July…still have a couple of mystery boxes in the garage I haven’t unpacked. We don’t seem to be hurting without whatever is in there so must not be that important :)

    It will all work out in the end….the drama is part of the fun when you look back and makes the final resting place that much sweeter!!!

  36. Katy on May 2nd, 2012 3:44 pm

    We moved several times when I was small. On more than one occasion, my Mom made me rate my toy boxes most favorite to least favorite. Inevitably, the least favorite boxes make it to the new home. It was very traumatic, she explained it by saying that they fell off the moving truck. As if.

  37. Jill on May 3rd, 2012 5:12 am

    We are a military family and THANK GOD the military pays to have movers pack and move us every time. Can you believe the last time the moved us they sent one lady to pack us up? One. Lady. I looked at her and immediately started panicking because there was no way she was going to have everything ready for the movers. She was there all day and had every item we owned (minus suitcases and necessities we had in the car) packed in boxes by the end of the day. I think it’s easier when you’re just picking up someone else’s shit and shoving it in a box, versus going through every single item in your own house. That said we are also guilty of having boxes that have moved several times with us and never once been opened because they’re full of pictures from, like, 1997 or whatever.
    I read one great piece of advice from another military wife on our last go-round that said something like “anything said in a less-than-loving manner in the 6 months surrounding a move is immediately forgivable.” Moving is stressful, and it sucks, even with other people packing your stuff.

  38. agirlandaboy on May 3rd, 2012 10:56 am

    I’m the weird one who will weep a few tears for your old house. I HAVE ATTACHMENT ISSUES.

  39. Robin on May 3rd, 2012 10:59 am

    A couple of moves ago, at the very end of loading up the truck (which I deserve a Tetris TROPHY for, by the way), I resorted to ripping open a pack of paper towels and wedging them into whatever tiny remaining spaces there were. Because… uh… I just couldn’t get rid of 12 rolls of paper towels.

    Here’s hoping you have more room than that! Best of luck to you, and hang in there through this, the muckiest of the muck of moving stress.

  40. Jennifer on May 3rd, 2012 6:20 pm

    Breathe! Just breathe! Deep breaths!

    Then let the excitement overshadow the moving worry and work. Gosh, so much fun! New place! Discovery! Adventure! I really am jealous of your summer ahead.

  41. Jenn G on May 3rd, 2012 8:13 pm

    Take a deep breath. Take a few minutes every day to calm yourself down and relax. It will all work out in the end, and you will be happy. :)

  42. Jen in Germany on May 3rd, 2012 10:53 pm

    Moving is like childbirth. You just have to get through it.

  43. tanya on May 4th, 2012 5:32 pm

    It’s going to be fine. You’re going to be fine. You’re going to look back at it and think “Why did I stress about that so much? Everything is fine.”

  44. laurie on May 6th, 2012 10:30 pm

    Repeat after me: “Everything Always Turns Out The Way It Is Supposed To.” Good. Now repeat as necessary. One day at a time, chica.

  45. ha ha on May 7th, 2012 9:42 am

    You probably already saw this and it has nothing to do with your post, but:


    You need to be in that! :D

    Good luck with your move!

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