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Our Stuff is on its Way to IRELAND!

Let me begin by saying that this turn of events took me by surprise. I’d been having trouble finding a shipping company to send a small amount of household goods + our event props/supplies/instruments/paintings/etc. to Ireland. I was raising funds all summer, but our savings are earmarked for renting on a house in Ireland (hoping to find something soon!), immigration fees, etc. We couldn’t waste all of our  savings on shipping our stuff. I’ve read that other Americans who shipped too many things immediately regretted it. Their advice is to ship as little as possible and spend more on a house, car, utilities, etc.

In a horrible real-life version of the game “Would You Rather”, I asked the kids if they’d rather keep 100% of their possessions and stay here, or give up 80% of everything they own and move to Ireland. They chose Ireland without hesitation. So, with the clock ticking, I finally found a shipper I felt we could trust.

I contacted them, thinking that we couldn’t ship the goods until we were already living in Ireland – because that’s the information I found elsewhere on various sites. Well, that’s not exactly true! We have to be living there when the goods ARRIVE, but not when they ship. It takes months for the household goods to be shipped and if we want them to arrive shortly after we do, we should aim for January. I was thrilled at the idea that we wouldn’t have to pay to store our things and that we’d have them very soon after our arrival on December 30.

So I asked when we should ship them out if we wanted a January date. He said the last week in October should be good. Uh… I had to think twice. Wasn’t it October now? As in, today? Yes, indeedy. Egads! It was time to make a commitment or risk shipping our goods late, which would cost us money. The less we have to buy new, the better. I was cramming silverware, pots and pans, and all of the most necessary things into any leftover space I had in our bins. If the shipment was there fast enough, we’d save money. If not, we’d be stuck buying things that we shouldn’t have had to buy if I’d planned the move better. Well, you see where this is going. We had to act FAST!

We had only a few days from when I agreed to the contract, to when the goods would be shipped out. Fortunately I was on the ball and already had most of the pile gathered. Nicholas and I used tape and chalk to map out the cubic feet goal. We did a great job of containing our shipment to the goal box, until we added in the large TARDIS console pieces. That put us over. Oh dear.

We had a serious talk about whether or not to bring the TARDIS. Brent had sold his power tools and there was no realistic expectation that he and Nicholas would rebuild anything close to that, not in the near future anyway. Also, we’d promised many people at the Doctor Who convention that the console was headed to Ireland. And if we didn’t have it, we couldn’t do events in Ireland with it, where we know it will be popular. Sure seems a shame to that it was only used for one event. After much deliberation we decided to bring it. We couldn’t stop now! This had become a quest!

We took a few things out of the shipment to make up for some of the space that the TARDIS console was taking. In the end, we had everything we considered most important to us. It has been an interesting experiment, finding out what’s dear to our hearts. You know the party game that goes, “What would you save if there was a fire?” or some variation of that? We got to play the real version. We could only bring what could fit in the small rectangle on the garage floor.

This garage is only a single car garage and it’s so small that our minivan won’t fit in it! The ceiling is too short and the garage is narrow. To help you visualize the space, the rectangle we marked on the floor is about the size of a (generous) walk-in closet, or roughly 500 cubic feet.

Because we’ll rent a furnished house we didn’t have to take much furniture. That was a big help. It meant that there was more room for the little things that matter most: photographs and memories. There’s the box with my wedding dress in it — the girls want a piece of it to incorporate into their own dresses. There’s the box of the kids’ layette clothes and keepsakes. And the boxes of old toys to save for future grandkids. Stuff like that…

We kept some functional things that we use all the time, while letting go of most of it. I made sure that my cast iron skillet made it. I finally got it perfectly seasoned and I’d be heartbroken to give it up! I also kept my “gingerbread boys” pan because I don’t know if I can find one like that again and we love our family tradition (individual gingerbread cakes that I serve warm with whipped topping at Christmas). This whole experience is teaching us what is important to our family; the thought of letting go of the gingerbread boy pan did not go over well with the kids! And we had the opposite hold true for other things; things that I thought would be important really weren’t, when it came right down to it.

gingerbread boy cake pan
Cake pan, for making 6 individual gingerbread boy cakes
Gingerbread cake, served hot from oven
Gingerbread cake, served hot from oven

I didn’t bother to take any of our plates, glasses, etc. None of it is in good shape and all of it was either purchased cheaply or bought used. I sold the Christmas plates that are in the picture – we’d had our use out of them. Don’t worry, we’re adding a set of our flat Corningware indestructible plates to our luggage so we’ll have something to eat off of. Ditto for a couple of basic things to cook with (one small skillet, one small saucepan, and my mom’s spaghetti pot + strainer). With those I can cook just about anything. I’m not bringing cookie sheets or anything like that. Mine aren’t that great so it’s not worth the $ space.

Well, that’s how the thought process went. What do we keep? What do we let go of? We had to repeat this process for each and every item we own! We’ve (by “we” I mean mostly me) gone through this during spring cleaning, our many previous moves, etc., but this is by far the most we’ve ever had to let go of.

The surprise? Letting go was easier than I thought it would be. I guess that means that we were ready.

We still managed to take a lot of things that we wanted. Brent added his toolbox and his hand weights (good thing the shipment is charged by space and not by weight!). We crammed my mom’s hutch with things that I didn’t want to pay extra to ship because they’re pretty much worthless–like well loved stuffed animals and Savannah’s creepy “lost four” clown dolls… one drawer is full of free candles that Brent got from his old job. “Free” candles would be very expensive if they were in their own box, but they hitched a ride in a hutch drawer so they’re still free! The bottom of the hutch is stuffed with old board games. Some of them we still play and some of them had too many memories to let go of. In the end, it was all about family memories and keeping a life that we want… like playing games and playing music.

Every family member was willing to let go of clothes, shoes, gadgets, knickknacks, and all sorts of things, but their instruments were first on the stack! Cassie’s pink electric guitar and her handcrafted ukulele that Brent made – both are in the shipment. Brent kept his mandolin, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and ukulele. Savannah kept two violins, her dulcimer, ukulele, and a guitar that she shares with Nicholas. Nicholas packed multiple guitars, his harmonica collection, banjolele, and probably something else I forgot about. I kept my mountain dulcimer but more importantly, my DRUMS! Woot! I was afraid I’d have to sell them, but the family wanted me to keep them (really, they did). Of course I wore my sad puppy eyes and said that I didn’t want to become a person who didn’t play the drums anymore, so maybe I influenced their opinion. These are electric (can connect via computer, no need to worry about differences in electricity) drums that break down and fit into a box, so don’t worry, I’m not totally nuts. But even so, if you saw how small the pile was, of everything in the world that we will own (except for what we cram into our luggage), you might shake your head that so much of that tiny space was taken up by instruments!

Our shipment might seem ridiculous (three bins of LEGOs!), but to us it is insurance that we will keep what we most treasure: who we are. We’ll have our family history, and we’ll have what we need to continue the way of life that makes us happy. We’ll have our home movies on all of their various original outdated formats (spanning over the lifetime of three or four generations of video cameras), plus saved copies on CD. We’ll have the nativity set my dad painted, and our most special Christmas decorations. We’ll have everything we need to start a new life, while keeping the best of the old.

Nativity set that my dad painted
Nativity set that my dad painted
Nativity set with lights on
Nativity set with lights on
Telling the Nativity story with my kids
Telling the Nativity story with my kids
My son's turn to read the Nativity story
My son’s turn to read the Nativity story

The shippers kept referring to ours as a “small” shipment and in the section for high end items, there were block letters that said NONE. Many of our things included the note “well worn”, “broken latch”, or something similar. This was not offensive, it was a simple recording of what we were shipping.

It’s the truth: our little shipment is a bit shabby, especially if you look at “Flag”, a raggedy Andy doll that Nicholas carried around with him until it practically fell apart. Or how about the tiny, scruffy, and threadbare Superman costume that Nicholas had worn daily? Or Savannah’s dolls with the balding heads and dirty cloth bodies are a sight to behold? Cassie’s book collection includes old paperbacks that would probably only fetch 50 cents at a garage sale. Brent included tiny treasures that the kids had made for him, and several hand written cards. I did the same. Probably half of my personal belongings are handmade gifts from the kids and Brent. And of course we kept my dad’s Bible. Where our hearts are, that’s where our treasure is.

Our shipment is special, and now it’s on it’s way to Ireland! (Actually it’s probably sitting in a warehouse in Hastings, Minnesota at the moment) I’ll keep you updated where our shipment – and the TARDIS console -are as the weeks go by… We can track our shipment. That will be exciting!

Well, there’s no turning back now. Our stuff is already on its way to Ireland! WE will be next! Just two more months left. Today is October 29 and we leave on December 29. Wow, it’s really hitting me.            —> Check out the photos of the big day!<—–