noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

What does Diet Pepsi, my sister-in-law, and Tina Fey’s Bossypants have in common? October 6, 2015

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They saved my life.

Diet Pepsi out of the soda fountain only is a rare splurge.  Recently it was necessary to keep me away while driving from Florida to Michigan.  My sister-in-law Bethani has a rare sense of humor when delivering accounts of their life. Her version of teaching kids to read in the hallway of a school, my nephews crazy blood types, & the latest adventures of my brother provided  what was necessary to keep me alert on poor radio reception roadways. And Tina Fey…well she is downright funny, certainly sarcastic, refreshingly honest, appropriately edgy and she read me her book Bossypants for hours, thus the  #1 reason I was able to keep driving all the way from our townhome on the water to our 100 year old home in the Mitten.  I am alive and living in Grand Rapids MI.   Thank you Bethani, Tina, DP from the soda fountain.

It is beautiful here.  People from here bring you all kinds of freshly picked apples to say, “Hi, we are glad you are here.” Our girls are here and we can walk to each others houses.  The farmers market is more convenient to walk to than to drive to.  And this 100 year old house has the claw foot tub I asked for in a selfish prayer of want, not need; and it makes me think about my grandma Rozie and her farmhouse  in Iowa that I loved to visit.

Two weeks after our arrival here, we used our packing skills and moving brawn to move my parents from their beloved lake haven in Minnesota to Iowa, where they’ve been greeted warmly and have easy access to grandchildren.  Due to the large amount of recent experience with moving, I thought I would pass on some reality and a couple of helpful tips if moving  is in your near future.

Moving is traumatic.

Say yes if people want to bring you meals when your house is in chaos.  You will not feel like cooking and you do need to keep up your strength.  You may have to succumb to fast food, delivery pizza, ramen noodles and cold cereal.  No one will die.

Even if you are looking forward to it, moving includes loss and grief.  I’m not kidding.  Weird behavior due to grief will be seen in adults, children and pets.  Expect it.  Hugs and ice-cream help.  (So do adult beverages, for the adults…)

Craigslist is an affordable way to get a lot of boxes.  Apple boxes are the very best. Before you start packing, get all your supplies: boxes, lots of packing tape, packing paper, bubble wrap, duct tape, paper/pens, multiple sharpies because they walk away.  Its frustrating to get into the packing zone and not have what you need.

Colored duct tape is Fun and helpful.  Every room gets a different color.  Home depot has a healthy selection.  Secure boxes with packing tape (3M is the best.  Don’t use the cheap stuff  – you WILL swear) and get a heavy duty tape gun.  Put a piece of colored duct tape on top of or across the corner of your box.  This will help you see it from multiple sides when the box is stacked and believe you me, there will be stacks  Sharpies write on that tape nicely.

Write on tape OR number boxes and write on a piece of paper/notebook, the number of the box and list what is inside.  I did both for this last move.  The only thing I have not found is my winter bedding.  Where in the world can a King size quilt hide? I’m slightly concerned I took it to a cleaners in FL and forgot it there.  Why write on the box, even if you are not moving far?  BECAUSE YOU CANNOT REMEMBER WHAT YOU PUT IN THE BOX!  This is a universal fact.  No one’s memory is that sharp when the homespace gets deconstructed then reconstructed.  You can’t pack in a day or two and I promise you cannot keep track of what is in each box.  Keep track of your children, each other, pets,  whatever medication you’re on, phone/computer chargers, your Bible, and a clean pair of underware.  Write on the boxes people.

To pack dishes that you don’t want to break (this is assuming there are some you have that you hope might break so you have an excuse to get new ones.  For pity’s sake, don’t pack those dishes please – give them away and get new ones when you arrive):  put paper plates or dishcloths between each plate.  Make a stack of five or six plates.  Wrap that stack in a beach or bath towel.  Put the stack on its side in a heavy-duty box that is padded on the bottom with a pillow or towels or packing paper.  I just packed and moved two households across MANY states.  Nothing broke.  BOOM Shakalaka!

Throw things away, give things away.  Sell things on Craigslist that you don’t use, are done with, haven’t touched in a year or more or simply do not like.  You won’t miss a thing.  OK, true confession:  I do miss my piano, but it went to a really good home.

You will need things in your new space that you don’t have.  Happens every time.  You will have things form your old space that don’t work in the new.  Craigslist – Thrift – or get what you want that works, fits, makes you happy.  It’s only money.  Moderation people…don’t misunderstand me here.

During the packing and the moving, Rule Number One:  Be nice to each other.  If one person is losing it – let them, bring them hot chocolate, ice cream, coffee, their blankie.  Remember, your turn is right around the corner.  Our rule:  anyone can fall apart, just not at the same time.  You may have to adjust this for the number of people in your household.

Once you’re our and then you’re in, allow time for your mind, feet, heart, eyes, and emotions to move in and find their way around the new homespace.

Have a picnic on the floor of your new place.  Eat favorite food groups.  Call it camping with drywall.   This is a great way to break it in with memory making.

Get used to this question:  “Where is the___?”

People move everyday.  Mission:  It’s Possible!  The rough part doesn’t last forever and there are plenty of good parts.

Do you have a tip or some reality to share on the topic?  Please do.

Feeling welcomed to our new homespace, home state.



Cleaning Day! November 14, 2013

I have never in all of my life been excited about cleaning.  When the cleaning is complete,  the calm, orderly, put-back-in-place, sometimes even shiny space I live in, makes me happy.  But excited about the cleaning itself – never.

Until tonight.

Next to my desk is the stairway down to the front door of our apartment.  As I write, on the floor between my desk and the stairs is a line up of things ready to go.  Swiffer heads up the troupes.   Next in line is blue bucket with Swiffer refills, Mr. Clean magic eraser, Mrs. Meyers Clean Day All Purpose, 409, and Windex.  Behind them stands white container with rags, then blue container with band aids, Advil, and sponges.  Red Niwot Market canvas bag pulls up the rear carrying paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, kleenex, soap, shampoo, conditioner.  Dawn, Bar Keepers Friend, shelf paper, and toilet bowl brushes are already in the car.

Tomorrow is Cleaning Day!  I am so excited, and that is not an exaggeration or me being dramatic.  Tomorrow morning, Calvin (my labrador pal) and I are heading  to Boynton Beach to clean.  It’s official, we now own a little townhouse by the sea.  It is in need of good ol fashioned Dutch cleaning and fresh paint, a bit of carpet and a bathroom redo.  Thankfully we’ve got a few weeks before we move all our stuff in.  For now, we have all the furniture we need there (bought it with the place), in the spot we imagine spending the most time.  The patio is the part of the townhouse that sold us immediately.


We are tremendously thankful.

I am thankful for a husband that stewards our money well so we can own a place and live within our means.  We are thankful for Michele H and Laurie S for driving us from Lighthouse Point to Boynton Beach and towns in between,  looking…looking…looking;  for all the people who helped bring the mountains of paperwork to the table; for God who led us to this place we otherwise would not have found; and for those who supported us during this long year of waiting, disappointment, searching, and adventure.

I’m relieved the closing is complete and now… I am ready to clean!

p.s.  I heard that its a 2 mile walk or a 4 minute drive to the beach from this place…



The 3rd time is…. December 2, 2012

…not a charm.

The third time we heard that our Colorado house deal fell through was not charming at all.   That was last night.

Yesterday we were supposed to be moving into the second Florida rental we found.  First one fell through.  No charm there.

The third rental biting the dust – also, NOT charming.  That was today.

Should I have seen this coming?  After all, our start on this adventure was not so charming.

The morning of  the much-anticipated RV journey to Florida, we left the house with pets, headed to Longmont to fill the large RV tank but before we could get through the busy intersection by the gas station – our rig stalled.  Yep, you read that right…6 miles from home there was a stalled out 30 foot Cruise America RV with JR in the driver seat and yours truly riding shotgun. Over the next few hours there was a call, a wait, and a surprise re-starting of the engine.  That was followed by a choice:

A. 2-3 hour wait for a tow truck and trip to a Ford dealership for a possible fix or

B.  A risky trip back to the Cruise America rental center to exchange current rig for a new one.

We chose B.

The risk was the right choice – and so the unpacking of RV #1 and repacking of RV #2 took place.  THEN we got started on the journey.

JR and I leaned into that experience together – teamwork – do what needs to be done.  No complaining, just grateful there was another RV available.  Though of course I will admit to many internal grumbly voices and thoughts that would have been unfortunate spoken words.

After nearly 5 weeks of 3 up and 3 down with both the Colorado house and the Florida housing, JR and I have leaned into challenge again.  And I will admit to feeling distress, defeat, discouragement, and not such great thoughts that turned into some regrettable words.  My leaning was weak.

Thank the Lord that this is not the only part of our Adventure.  The RV got us and our pets safely to Florida with plenty of comic relief along the way.  GEO has taken care of our fancy camping and we’ve met some great people here in our complex.  I’ve got Monday night Yoga and Saturday morning Tennis lessons on site (brand new to me; for beginners & FREE!) and there is progress in both.  JR continues to get confirmations that this job is God’s call, answered prayer, and a really good fit.

We’ve decided to simply stay here in this dog friendly complex.  We’ve decided to take our house off the market, do a few things to it and put it back on next year.  Though this was not the way we would have chosen, it feels like being good stewards of what we have and staying true to who we are.  We sense relief this evening.

What does ‘3rd time’s a charm’ really mean?   I couldn’t find its specific origin, but I liked what Gary Martin at The Phrase Finder concluded:

“It seems more likely that it is just a folk belief that, having had setbacks, we ought to persevere and not give up. This is enshrined in the phrase ‘try, try and try again’. Three seems to be the right number of times to try. Two isn’t enough but four is too many. Think of every time you’ve seen a drama in which a character tries to unlock a door with a set of unfamiliar keys. The first key fails, the second key fails – it is always the third that works.”

The third time wasn’t the hoped for charm.   We did try, try, try again.  The third key never got handed over.  This adventure has had setbacks (a universal theme).  Now we choose to persevere and not give up even it takes 21 times.  What a journey.

Onward , Forward, Adventure Ho!  – The sometimes Charming Laura



wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

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