Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Living with Less

Apart from being able to buy wine at the grocery store and looking forward to possibly affording a home before we're corpses (not familiar with the real estate situation in Vancouver? Here's an interactive educational tool to help illuminate you), one of the best things about moving to the US is the opportunity to purge unwanted, unnecessary household items.

Apartment living with a family has made me very aware of clutter, and I find myself getting anxious whenever the "stuff" begins to accumulate and take away from our living space. I now have an irrational fear of ending up having to climb over mountains of our possessions like in Hoarders. In 2012, a friend pointed me in the direction of The Minimalist Mom. I purchased her ebook, read it in a day, and thought "YES! This woman is speaking my language!" Ever since then, I've been pretty militant about rounding up "stuff" and donating it to Sally Ann about once a season, and I'm a lot more conscious about what we buy and why. Now, every time Huz can't find something, he gets a little nervous that I might have donated it without his permission (which I almost never do. Almost.). My mother, whose love language is giving presents, is saddened when I ask her not to go overboard at Christmastime or not to buy too much for our second daughter because I've already got more than enough from our first.

A cross-continental move takes living with less to the next level. I get to vamoose of our sad, dilapidated pullout couch that we got for free 6 years ago (which means it was in rough shape 6 years ago, and has only gotten worse since). Any ill-fitting, dated, or falling apart clothes must go, as must anything irreparably broken, hideously ugly, or of questionable origin (I'm thinking particularly of an entire box full of random cords and wires that have not been used in YEARS). Almost all tchotchkes have their execution dates set, and I am practically giddy with delight at the thought of giving away our metal bed frame, which I have walked into in the middle of the night more times than I care to recall.

But knowing that you are moving far away in a matter of weeks also means that you implement an Impending Move Austerity Plan, which I am LOVING (Huz maybe not so much). Out of hand soap? Rather than buying more, let's use up every single molecule of soap that we can find in our house first: old bars of Pears, the Strawberry Shortcake foaming soap that I bought Honey Bee to get her excited about potty training, and the what seems like decades worth of travel-sized soaps/shampoos/body washes that we've collected. Fridge looking a little empty? Rather than running right out to the grocery, pretend you're on Chopped and ask yourself "What can I make for lunch using canned salmon, hot dog buns, and green peppercorns?" (The answer: Canned salmon sandwiches. Without green peppercorns. What the hell do you do with green peppercorns? I think I must have bought them by accident, mistaking them for capers.)

So if you're in Vancouver and wanting to spend some time with us before we move, come on over for a glass of Marsala wine or a shot of Fireball, and grab a souvenir tchotchke while you're at it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Big Change

Soooo, I was going to wait until we had more official news to begin posting here, but I have ants in my pants and want to start blogging before too many unofficial things happen and I get bogged down. BUT. We are unofficially, almost for certain, maybe about 95% sure that we are moving to Philadelphia, sometime in Septemberish. Huz is in the process of finishing up his PhD program here in Vancouver and has been unofficially (meaning: in an email saying "You got the job!" but fancy, official HR letter still pending) offered an amazing once-in-a-lifetime post doctoral fellowship in Philadelphia. We have known that Philadelphia was a possibility ever since late February/early March, and had been open to the possibility of a potential move to the US for even longer, but now that things are (semi) official, it definitely seems very real, and September feels VERY soon.

But I digress. Here is our family:

Or about as good a shot as anyone's going to get these days without the use of sedatives. I am Ash, and I am married to my handsome, funny, kind, brainy (and at times nerdy) Huz. And we have two amazing daughters, Honey Bee, and Mouse. Honey Bee is almost 3, and she is a wonderful, intelligent, hilarious, passionate, joyful, stubborn, tenderhearted handful of a girl. Mouse--who looks uncharacteristically furious in this particular photo--is 8 months, and is the sweetest, calmest, most contented baby I have ever seen. She loves her big sister and breaks into a big, beaming smile whenever she sees her, and watching these two love on each other is my absolute favourite thing in the whole entire universe. Down at the bottom of the pic you'll see the chopped off head of our beloved Dog, who is 7.5. She has gone prematurely gray from her stressful lifestyle of lying on her oversized Kirkland dog bed, swimming in our local dog park watering hole, and mooching for food. 

I am, by nature, an organizer/planner, and so ever since we received the unofficial word, I have been starting to prepare our home for a huge, cross-continental move. Our plan, as it stands now, is to sell all our furniture (which is mostly your typical IKEA fare that wouldn't travel well and would be cheaper to just replace on the other end anyway), purge as much unnecessary "stuff" as possible (for me, the best part of moving. I am an aspiring minimalist and having a legitimate reason to get rid of all unnecessary household items is just awesome), and move ourselves there. And by "move ourselves there," I mean, Huz and my Dad drive the stuff, while I fly with the girls. Because even though moving together across country a la pioneers in covered wagons would be romantic and poetic and a growing experience for us as a family, it would also be hell and kind of cruel to subject the girls and ourselves to 5+ days of being cooped up in our van, which would be permeated with Dog breath 30 minutes into the drive. 

Yesterday Honey Bee noticed that our bookshelves were looking rather bare after I had packed away my beloved book collection. She pointed to the bookshelf and said "Something is missing." We haven't really discussed moving with her at all, because I was reluctant to discuss it a) before we received the official word, and b) too far in advance. But since she noticed our disappearing possessions, I decided it was probably time to fill her in on why our home is looking more and more bare. I explained that we were going to be moving houses "like the Berenstain Bears" (I use this comparison so often, for reasons why she can't watch too much TV, why she can't have too much junk food, why she needs to use good manners, etc, and its amazing because she loves those books and when I put "the rules" in those terms, she totally gets it) and moving to a new place called Philadelphia. She sat quietly for a moment, contemplating this. Then she said: "What about my books. Can my books come?" "Yes, your books will all come." "And my stuffies?" "Yes, of course. All of your stuffies will come to too." "And my movies?" "Yes." "Can I watch a movie in Philadelphia?" "Yes. When we get to Philadelphia, you can watch your movies there." "Yay! Let's go to Philadelphia!" 

So, that's pretty much where things stand now. We are enjoying what is almost certainly our last summer in beautiful Vancouver with our unbelievable family and friends and slowly picking away at the minutiae of moving, until we hear the official word and kick our moving planning into high gear.