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Learning on the Move

Some of the best lessons are learned through failure. The next thing to do, after inevitably beating ourselves over the head, is to pass that information on. This post will take a look at some hard-knock lessons, as well a new idea that dawned on me in the midst of this last move.

Things to bring. If you read my post On the Move. In the Move, you will remember that it is essential to label, or better, to hide anything that you do not want the movers to pack. In our case, the pooper scooper and my little step-ladder got swept up into the truck. I am assuming (optimistically) that the pooper scooper is now somewhere in the new garage, hopefully all by its lonesome … ideally tightly wrapped in packing paper or plastic.

Anyhow, moves are stressful times filled with a million different tasks. We are bound to forget things. Some of these forgetful moments can be remedied fairly easily. I generally like to have at least one pair of work gloves along for the move. Forget the work gloves? It’s pretty easy to run out and grab some at the store when you need them. Forget one of your chargers? Also pretty easy to find when you realize your mistake.

There are other items that I will never not have handy during a move again. Items number one and two are directly related.

#1 I will never again not have at least a couple packages of 9V batteries, AA batteries, and AAA batteries with me during a move.

“Duh! You can buy those at the store, too!” you might say.

Sure, you can. However, if you are staying in an Airbnb, your empty new home, or even your new home filled with boxes, after driving, say 15 hours into the middle of the night … let me assure you, the smoke alarms will know!

Can anybody raise their hand and tell me a smoke alarm’s absolute favorite time to start incessantly chirping? Anyone? In our case, at the Airbnb, one of those devilish buggers started chirping at around 4 AM the night of our arrival.

Did we have any 9V batteries?


A frantic (groggy) search of the premises revealed no batteries there, either. An equally frantic (groggy) search on the internet showed a nearby 24-hour pharmacy. But, guess what? The internet does not always know when a pharmacy is closed for lack of staff…

Anyhow, long story short, my husband eventually found an open gas station, and I will never again forget to bring batteries along for the ride.

Oh, and after hearing several vacation horror stories, I will be bringing them any time we stay at an Airbnb for any reason from now on.

PS: not all smoke detectors take 9V batteries. So, to have all the bases covered … and to limit the middle-of-the-night trauma, it’s best to have the top three battery sizes.

This brings me to #2: a foldable step-ladder. I am pretty tall at 5’11”. But, even I could not reach that damned little screaming demon. While balanced, wobbling about on the stool from the kitchen island, cursing at the smoke detector (which was so obviously mocking me), and trying to read the instructions on how to open it, I was sorely missing our little step-ladder. Which also would have come in handy when resetting the garage door opener at the new house.

#3, a pocket knife, is something that could come in handy if, say, you forget to remove batteries from all alarm clocks before they are packed. PS: don’t forget to remove the batteries from alarm clocks before the movers pack them. If you do, and one decides to start screaming super early in the morning (moving back a time zone makes it worse), it is handy to have a pocket knife available in order to rip open boxes until said alarm clock is located and destroyed … I mean turned off.

Now that I have relived some of the trauma of our recent move, I would like to share a little trick that I wish I had thought of years ago. But, as they say, better late than never. It involves packing paper.

Movers, and more precisely, packers LOVE packing paper. No matter how many times we move, I am always shocked at the amount of packing paper we are left with after unpacking. The paper is recyclable, which is wonderful. But unless you have a moving truck-sized recycling bin, you can easily find yourself overwhelmed and swimming in the stuff as you unpack.

In our case, the company that moved us this time offers a one-time free pick-up of all moving boxes and packing paper. We had that same service last move but struggled with where to put it all in the meantime. Our goal was to take full advantage of the service and maximize pick-up, while keeping the recycling bin ready for every day stuff.

We tried crumpling it as tight as possible but quickly discarded that idea as the paper snowballs began to build up. Then, in an attempt to get the paper back to the volume it occupied in the neat little boxes they sell at U-haul, we tried flattening.

We stacked and flattened, then flattened some more. I even had the kids roll across the tops of the stacks. Nevertheless, we soon found ourselves with an entire dining room filled with stacks of packing paper, floor to ceiling. Though we still had a fair amount of unpacking to do, I caved and called the company to come empty out our dining room. Then, I tried to keep up each recycling day until we were packing-paper free.

This time around, I was preparing to fill our new living room when I remembered a story I had read about a guy who built an impressive dollhouse entirely out of tightly rolled newspaper logs. I laughed at the thought that we could probably build on a nice guest suite, maybe even get some land and build a vacation home with the amount of packing paper we were about to reveal.

Then, it occurred to me that stacking rolled paper would be so much easier and tighter. And if I fastened the rolls, the cats would not be able to run through them creating the monster snow-globe effect they did when charging the stacked loose “flattened” paper. I got to work and sure enough, I was on to something.

By stacking and rolling the paper, I was able to decrease the amount of volume it occupied by unbelievable amounts. I then realized that by rolling stacks, then rolling them again with just a sheet or two, I was able to reduce the amount of tape I needed to hold the roll. And, my next task will be to replace the tape with recyclable tape, which I will use from now on.

Let me demonstrate:

by doing this…

… you can reduce


And, the crate that the movers made to hold my husband’s bicycle made a nice cage to stack the rolls in like firewood.

And, now to decide upon a nice spot to build our paper vacation home…

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