BIG news,  Bug,  the sticks,  unpackamania

Moving along

my ocean

I’ve written about a thousand posts in my head. I would have typed them out too but I’ve been so busy with moving I haven’t given myself a chance to sit down and think. If I sat down, I fell asleep. The move has been going really really well. I have felt those prayers more than ever in my life. Thank you prayer warriors, more than you know. And everyone else who was sending me hugs and thinking of me, and sending me kind emails. You must have done the trick because what I thought was going to be deep dark agony has actually been smooth-sailing and at times even filled with bright patches of laughter.

Texas representin' in the OC

Heather flew out to help me pack up and move to the sticks and if ever there was a force to be reckoned with, it is OMSH. She has the strength of an Amazon woman and a laugh that expels demons. I swear, her smile lit up my life and everyone around me too. Between Heather and my friend Deb (my neighbor from the beach), I felt like I was sandwiched between two pieces of protective steel bread. They held me up and kept me going. I could not have done it without them.

We hired some guys to help us move. I’d never done that before and now I doubt I’d ever move without hired help. Those guys worked so hard for so little money. I paid them double in the end because I was so thankful. They carried my boxes down the stairs and right out of my house in about an hour flat. True, I don’t have a whole lot of stuff (I guess that’s debatable; Heather would probably roll her eyes here) but without them, it would have taken me days and probably a trip to the hospital for a broken back. They didn’t speak much English but they were the sweetest guys on the planet. So many times I tried to help and they pushed me back in their broken English telling me they were “trained professionals.” I don’t know what kind of training they had but they were definitely gentlemen.

A funny thing happened while my U-haul truck was parked by the beach house so we could load it up. It was pretty much parked smack in the middle of the alley because I didn’t want the truck roof to hit the overhang of my old apartment that juts out into the road. (Yes, we live like that at the beach.) There was no room to pass on either side, maybe four feet. Obviously, not enough room to drive a big fat SUV through but you know people…there’s a bimbo airhead born every minute. I heard the men shouting and ran downstairs to see what all the commotion was about. There she was, stuck in her big fat white hybrid SUV between my U-haul truck and the brick wall on the side. She’d cleanly taken off her side mirror and left a nice big black plastic scrape mark on the side of the U-haul. Good thing I decided to spring for that extra insurance.

Why why why? I waved my arms out beside me in exaggerated motions. Whatever could you be thinking you crazy idiot?!! I mouthed silently as I walked up to the driver’s side window. Her perfume hit me like a mushroom cloud of flowers. At first I thought the smell was alcohol. What else could explain this idiocy? She must be drunk. And then my heart sank when I saw two kids in the backseat in car seats with their eyes as big as saucers. They were so scared. I went from angry to desperate in about two seconds. I have to rescue those kids! I thought. I don’t know what she said to me but I turned and whispered to Heather that she was drunk and we had to get those kids away from her, then ran upstairs to get some paper and a pencil to write down her information. I don’t know what I thought I was going to do but I figured Heather would know what to do while I bought time getting writing utensils.

By the time I got back downstairs with my paper and pencil, the woman had gotten out of her car and was talking to Heather and the moving guys. Boy was she a sight for sore eyes and believe me, our eyes were soaring. She was dressed in a jersey-knit mini dress, printed with a giant herringbone pattern. It might have come to her thighs but I’m guessing it was shorter than that. Three inches below her dress, her boots started and they were high heels of course. Very high. Her plastic boobs exploded out of the neckline of her skin-tight dress and between them dangled a diamond-encrusted cross. She was a sight.

Thankfully, it turned out she wasn’t drunk and she was actually very apologetic about the whole mess. That may or may not have been due to the giant guilt trip Heather laid on her about making my already complicated day more complicated. In the end she turned out to be very sweet. She gave us her insurance information and we sent her on her way, to the mall of course. Where else would you be going in such a hurry dressed like that? Sheesh.

trucker girl

So that was probably the worst of the whole move. Of course things with Toby were strained. That’s a given. This is a hard time for us, especially for him. But we muddled through the best we could. Then we did a few last-minute errands around town and headed off into the sunset, or rather away from the sunset since I’m moving inland, which is east. But it was sunset time and there I was driving a giant truck that can’t go any faster than 45 miles an hour. It actually got up to 70 on the freeway but it took a while to get there. It was so weird to be driving such a big truck when I’m used to my small sports car. It was scary and monumental, sort of like my life right now.

she LOVED riding in the front seat packed up and ready to go!

Bug loved that she got to ride in the front seat with that giant view out the front window. She was laughing and kicking like it was a ride at Disneyland. Of course she doesn’t understand the largeness of this move but I’m thankful for her joy in the small things. She fell asleep probably half an hour into our trip and I was thankful for the peaceful time to just process everything. I really did it. I packed up my life in boxes and I’m forging ahead.

That night we parked the truck in the driveway of my new place out in the sticks and left it there. When I walked into the mobile home that is my new home, there was a chocolate cake sitting on the counter, freshly iced. I wish I’d taken a picture of it. It was so beautiful and so symbolic of a warm welcome. My sister-in-law had made it for me. I love her. The heat was on, the lights were on and the carpets had been freshly cleaned, thanks to my grandpa.

When I was last here a month ago, the place was dirty and messy. My mom’s belongings were still strewn about. (She used to live here and has been in the process of moving next door for months.) I thought I would have to clean the place myself and I wasn’t looking forward to it. To be honest, I’d been dreading it for a month. Forcing my mom to get rid of her junk is one of our lifelong battles full of hot buttons and sore spots and you know, all that family kind of stuff. But everything was gone and in its place were clean open rooms. The outside of the mobile home is still stacked with bins and boxes and miscellaneous junk but my mom did her best. Of course the fact that I threatened to throw anything away that was left inside might have helped but really, I was impressed. My family loves me.

my front door
(excuse the blurriness, I took this at the crack o’ dawn)

The next day was a blur of unloading, unpacking and deep cleaning. Heather was a superhero. She wiped down cupboards and laid in contact paper (my least-favorite part). She arranged furniture and counseled me in organization. If you are familiar with her blog and her homeschooling room, you know she’s an expert in organization. I love her minimalistic approach. We made a trip to Target for all those things you need when you are starting your life over.

my new desk

I bought this desk for THIRTY DOLLARS (!) at a thrift store. I love it so much. I think I’m going to decorate the rest of my house around this desk. Of course, I don’t really have a budget for decorating at this point but it’ll make its presence known.

I took a bunch of pictures of my new house in its half-unpacked state.

site of my new office

This is my office. PLEASE know that these are BEFORE pictures. I know it’s a trailer and I’m really going to be pushing if I think I can pull off trailer-chic, but I am not going to leave it a mess like this. It has potential.

I decided to use half of the living room as my office. I like it. Working is a big part of my life right now so it seems appropriate that my office takes the best spot in the house. This room has the best light. Not that Bug is going to be shafted, stuck back in her room. She is part of this office too. In fact, right now she spends more time on my laptop than I do. I think I’m going to set up a little Netflix viewing area (since we don’t have cable or tv now) somewhere so she can be comfy watching movies while I work. I can also watch her playing outside from the big windows. It’s a better setup than being in a back bedroom with no views.

my living room I took my mirror with me.

This is the other side of the living room. It has one very sad chair. But don’t worry. That very sad chair has a cover that was in the washing machine when I took this photo. With its cover it is nice and white and happy. I’ll probably get some more furniture in there but for now the chair is fine.

dining room mess

This is my dining room. It needs some work. Since I took this photo, I’ve washed and put all my see-through glassware in that built-in hutch. It looks about a thousand times better. Now I just need a real table instead of my old fold-up painting bistro table but I’m not in a hurry. I can save up for a cute little $100 table from Ikea.

dining room/kitchen

This is the view of the kitchen from the dining room. It’s small but functional. AND!!! It has a dishwasher! I’ve never had a dishwasher before. It’s so nice. Sometimes you gotta move into a mobile home out in the sticks to get the finer things in life. Funny how that works.

kitchen looking towards dining room

Here is Miss Bug eating her breakfast at the little built-in counter bar thing. Please ignore the yellow cast from the awful fluorescent lighting and all the clutter on the counter there. I’m working on it. It is not going to stay like this, no siree.

living room

Here is a view from the dining room into the living room and just the edge of my office. Here is also my dog. I HAVE A DOG!!! I’m actually borrowing this dog from my brother who was borrowing it from my mom. Apparently, we share animals in this family. This is a good thing though because I really feel like I need a dog living out here for safety but I’m not really in a position to get a puppy since I don’t know where I’m going to be living in six months. I can’t be tied down to raising a dog right now. I like borrowing dogs and then if it doesn’t work out, I can just give this lovely dog back to it’s loving family. My mom lives next door anyway so in the dog’s eyes it’s probably just like she gained two new pack members.

Anyway, the dog’s name is Haleakala. She’s named after a volcano in Hawaii. We call her “Holly” for short. She’s old and sweet and perfectly good with kids. I love her already. She doesn’t jump around or lick faces. She just follows me everywhere and when I stop she sleeps at my feet. Right now she’s on the floor by my desk while I type this. I can hear her snoring. She’s the best dog ever. I might have to keep her.

I have a dog!

Bug loves her too. I’m sure she’ll be popping up again and again on this blog.

Bug's room my room

This is Bug’s room on the left. It’s a mess right now, of course. I’ll take better pictures when we get settled. I’m still trying to figure out where to fit a bed in there since my mom had counters built in for her sewing room and they take up the only wall big enough to put a bed against. We might have to rig up some kind of mini-bed situation, which is fine since Bug sleeps with me most of the time anyway. But it’s fun for her to have her own room. I’m dreaming of painting it pink for her.

My room on the right is a mess of ripped wallpaper but truthfully, I kind of like it. It feels like a very small apartment in Paris. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. Also! I have my own bathroom. Such a luxury. I finally can be one of those girls who leaves her blow dryer and hairspray on the counter. Maybe I’ll actually start doing my hair now that I have a special station just to do it at.

my bathroom

See? Hair-doing station. Whoorl would be so proud. I just need to do a bit of an EXTREME makeover on the decor. Just a tiny bit. Heh.

I have more pictures of the outside and a few other details but Bug has woken up and is demanding my attention so I’ll leave the rest of this post for tomorrow. We have big plans for today: Gymnastics and visiting Daddy. Also, it’s time for breakfast and I need some coffee.


  • Mallory Sinclair

    I am so loving this post.

    Jeremiah 29:11-13: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

  • Sharri

    Delurking to say thinking of you having gone through a similar situation with a little one, too. Sending good thoughts and I hope you realize the life you never knew you wanted!

  • heidi

    Everything looks so cozy. Just you and your girl and your dog. A new beginning with so much potential. I pray it’s upward and onward from here. Sending you warmest wishes, and I hope we meet again!

  • margalit

    I have praying for you hard. And like many other commenters, I’ve also done the pack up and leave trip, so I know how strong and self-sufficient you are to have managed to move and be quite settled into your new home. It actually looks bigger than I thought it would be, bigger than your last space. And with a kind dog and your family and friends nearby, I think life will be so much easier than the tense life you were leading at the beach.

    We’re moving into the city next Wednesday, where we will be much closer to the beach. It will be a good change to be in a more urban neighborhood. And of course, you and Bug are welcome to come and visit any time. Maybe you can do a tour of the east coast this summer, starting off with a visit to Bethany’s house and then moving north. Just a thought.

  • saul

    Good for you Brenda. If you need a vet for Holly or Bug, I’m available. As it is, we might be down there soon also so it will be a shorter drive to the vet. Ren and I will be down for xmas…maybe see you? Talk to you later.

  • Cathy

    Your strength and attitude is amazing. You and Bug are in my thoughts! And love how Holly seems to know you need her now. Thanks for letting us in.

  • Sam

    I love this update, Brenda! Knowing you are surrounded by good friends and so much love…so very much…well, it makes me cry. In a good way. I think you are going to have so much fun creating a home for you and Bug with your own style. And a dog! Can you believe you have a dog? Just know that we’re all out here rooting for you and believing that you are going to rock 2011 like nobody’s business.

  • Lisa

    Hi Brenda, I’ve just been playing catch up with your blog and wow, a lot has happened! So sorry to hear about you and Toby and I’ll be praying for you all, that “the God of all comfort” would be with you. On another note, I love your cute little place! Looks like the perfect place to get away for a while.

  • jen

    Brenda, i dont comment very often but i felt the need to tell you that i have been thinking of you during your move. You are such a strong woman and amazing mother and i wish you all the best! Bug is so lucky to have you as a mother. She will grow up to be an amazing woman as well, because she has you.

  • Emily

    I have been thinking about you guys and sending lots of prayers your way. I was worried about you but it looks like you are surrounded by love and are doing really well! You are going to love your new HOME!

  • Julia

    you have an AMAZING attitude and that can get you through just about anything. and FRIENDS! All that you have given in the past is coming back to you :)

  • Saple

    I think you can totally pull off the Paris Trailer Chic look.. ….

    I would come paint for you, if I was not in Michigan

  • Kimberly

    I have also done the pack-up-and-leave trip. It was tough, but man when I got into my own space that was my own without any of the baggage and stress of my old place, I felt mighty!

    Your place is adorable – I love all the windows! – and I can’t wait to see the transformation! Heaps of thoughts and prayers coming your way!

  • brooke

    Having just moved thrice in 18 months…I feel your pain. But I never had to drive the U-Haul, go you! Trailer-chic will be a cinch for you. I grew up in a fully corrugated metal mobile home–the sound of the rain on the metal roof was always soothing to me. You’ve done a lot of moving in and organizing in a short amount of time, good job. Enjoy having family close by, what a gift from the Lord.

  • kathleen

    i’m a lurker, but you and bug have been in my mind (and heart!) so much lately. sending on many thoughts of clarity and brave.

  • Kuky

    Looks like you’re doing good. And you’ll get everything organized and up to snuff in no time at all. Betcha everything will look nice and neat before any order ever comes to my house. :)

  • a chris

    Phew! I started reading this post at breakfast, and I’ve only now had the chance to sit down and finish! (I’m eating supper now, but should actually be in bed) I’m excited for you in your new space, although I myself would never get around to decorating, per se.

    I love that Heather was able to come out and help you. I love that you can borrow a sweet, beautiful, big dog (balm for an aching heart). I’m happy your mom is next door (I am visiting mine next week and I am SO excited!). I’m happy a million people commented on this post (OK, 59 as of this morning when I first loaded the page). I haven’t read them all but I’m sure they’re all supportive (better be, grr!)

    And I loved your comment about the wallpaper and Paris. You’ve got it so right! Small is bijou. Irregularities are historical character. If you have reliable plumbing you’ll just have to go and hammer some nails through some pipes for that authentic “aged” effect. May be worth investing in individual hot and cold taps — if you don’t have to whip your hands side-to-side between hot and cold to approximate warm water, you aren’t living in…oh wait, maybe that’s just the UK. It’s hilarious to watch our two-year-old washing her hands, because her arms are so short she has to swing them full-length to move between taps, announcing with satisfaction “hot-cold-hot-cold-hot-cold.”

    I digress, as usual. Anyway, I’m happy to see that you are forging ahead and I hope you keep up your spirits because I think you’re doing great so far.

  • Jeanne


    I’ve been reading here since shortly before Bug was born, which was just after my own son was born. I have loved commiserating along with about how crazy life is once you have kids. I will especially always remember loving your struggles to do laundry with a newborn Bug… it just always made me feel validated to know someone else was struggling with how to get the day to day things done with baby in tow. So, thank you for sharing.

    Sending you and Bug best wishes for this new start in life. You can do this. We believe in you.

  • Alexandra

    You are doing so well! Making a new home will help so much. And on the days when you don’t feel like you are doing so well, just know there is so much real and virtual support out there to lean on. We are rooting for you! This is such a hard thing to do, but I remember what someone said to me, years ago, in the depths of despair, leaving a bad marriage: “After you get through this, you won’t believe how good you will feel.” You deserve to feel that good. And you will!

  • Madge

    I’m digging that desk. I’m around for IKEA runs any time :) I’m looking forward to seeing your place shape up. I’d love to help out any time.

  • pinky

    I am so proud of you, Brenda – your good humor and grit are impressive, even during the hardest moments. I feel privileged to be able to share in your story.

  • Amanda

    Is it weird that I feel some sort of pride for what it is you have been/are doing. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way. Good luck with everything.

  • Jeanie

    One of my best friend’s dad died this week so I was with her all week (when I wasn’t with our 2-year-old) so I really feel behind on things/reading:

    From what I gather (and this is true always, not just today) the best thing I can do is pray for you and your family.

    One of my favorite Bible verses is this: “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

    Praying for you to feel sustained,

  • SAJ

    Thank you everybody!! You guys blow me away. Way to let a girl know she’s not alone. I thought I could go and respond to every comment but wordpress put all my comments at the end and out of context so I’m just writing one big comment here. This also takes a lot less time of course but I really want to be better about responding to each comment so I will try harder. You guys deserve it. You have done so much for me.

  • beck

    Ha! And of course I am too late and will tag on behind you. I read this right when you posted it but have been waiting for REAL internet (I was on my phone) to comment and cheer you on. Way to go you! I love the dog. And the desk. And wanted to ask you, where did you get that open, 8-cubbied thing? And are the cubbies 12″ square on the inside of the opening? We’ve been looking for that exact arrangement (maybe not hard enough) so when I saw the pic I thought I’d ask.

    Don’t forget to do things on purpose to take care of yourself. =)

  • Kate

    Wow, arriving to find an open, clean place with a chocolate cake just goes to show how happy everyone is to have you home. I’m so happy that you are surrounded by so much support. Your new place is ADORABLE!!!

  • Meemo

    You look so brave driving that big truck and it’s good to see Bug so happy. There’s nothing like a happy child to get you through those rough patches.

    Hang in there and good luck on your new adventure. You and Bug are now the dynamic duo and no matter what, you will always have eachother.