Moving day: Tips and tricks to survive the chaos

Let’s be honest – this isn’t our first run around the rodeo.

As I posted here almost exactly two years ago, moving is always a mix of emotions. On the one hand, you have the excitement of something new around the corner. On the other hand, you have the total fear and utter uncertainty of something new around the corner.

Same experience, different hands.

We get a bit smarter with each move. We pack less ourselves (and by “we” I mean, obviously, “me“) and we leave more to the paid professionals. We ask the right questions, we get the right documents and we pay for it without a second thought (and by “we” I mean, obviously, “not me“). There are few things in this world that I research more than moving companies, and trust me when I tell you it’s time well-spent.

Leading up to the day itself, I get rid of loooooooads of stuff. Anything I don’t absolutely love gets donated, delivered or dumped. All those quick-fix items around the house that stuck around out of sheer apathy? Gone. All those half-empty bottles of shampoo that were bought and then not used? Gone. All those sexy skirts and jeans that linger in the closet with pre-mommy hopefulness? Gone.

And all those half-eaten cartons of ice cream in the freezer…

Oh, wait. Nope, those get eaten. Duh.

I keep one file folder with original documents like birth and marriage certificates in my suitcase while the rest gets shipped. I keep scanned documents and files on a flash drive or in my Google Drive account, just in case they’re needed before our shipment arrives.

My goal before the moving company pulls up outside is just to get everything in the right room, in the general vicinity of where it ideally belongs. So then, when everything gets packed, it ends up in approximately the right box for unpacking. Laundry is tricky – I woke up my husband at 6am this morning so I could wash the sheets before the movers arrived. But he was really understanding and quite happy to be of assistance (and by “happy” I mean, obviously, “very, very grumpy“).

On moving day, I pamper the packers with coffee and food and lots and lots of fresh water. I don’t hover, but I stick around in case there are questions. Beers afterwards are always offered, but rarely accepted. Such treatment isn’t required, of course, but I like to believe that well-fed, relaxed packers help ensure my sh*t won’t stink at the next destination.

And then, finally, when all is done, dusted and loaded, I look around at the house where my son took his first steps and shed a few tears. We pay homage to the home that housed us for the past two years, that absorbed our nicks and knacks and scratches and scrapes. I always, always get nostalgic at the point when I see our former home, stripped of all its trimmings, an empty stranger to me once again.

It’s said that “home is where the heart is.” But does that mean you leave a little piece of your heart behind in each home you inhabit? In 20 years and 10 houses from now, will we have any pieces of our heart remaining? Or will they all be left behind and scattered around the globe, I wonder.

Thank you, dear Calle Nayra 83, for all your sunny days and breezy nights, for your large terrace that hosted our BBQ’s and birthday parties and our first-ever Christmas dinner. Thank you for your rooms where our guests have slept and for your close proximity to the wine bottle recycling station. The only thing I won’t miss is your tiny dishwasher that never allowed enough space for all our champagne glasses, and that ain’t really so bad…


Sometimes, I think we really, really are crazy.

I mean, seriously…. who gives up this kind of life?!?!?


This is not a holiday picture.

It’s not even unique – just another normal Svendsen day in the Svendsen land of Gran Canaria.

Then again, sometimes I think it’s really, really time to get this kid out of here….


Istanbul, here we come… 15 days and counting!

My toddler’s one true love (in photos)

If you look at the world through the eyes of a 2-year-old, there’s a lot to love. There’s play-time and cuddle-time and story-time and bath-time. There’s the great outdoors, which in Gran Canaria means the beach and the sand and the water and never-ending days of sunshine. And there are special treats throughout the day – the simplicity of yogurt with Cheerios or red, individually-sized boxes of raisins.

These things are all great in my son’s eyes. But nothing – and I mean nothing – can beat the pure love, joy and spiritual intimacy my son shares with ice cream. He’s a completely unbiased purveyor of the frozen treat…. any flavor, any shape and any size will do, thankyouverymuch. It’s often messy and often requires a change of clothing afterwards. But it’s always, always beloved.

So without any further ado, here’s a chronological compilation of Per Christian’s affair with his one true love, past and present…








Good thing they have ice cream in Istanbul, too!

The Next Chapter

If I wrote a book about the past few years of my life, it would look something like this:

Chapter 1 – Marguerite Meets her Match: A Love Story with Fruit (aka Per) in Azerbaijan

Chapter 2 – Marguerite Gets Schooled: Beer-Stained Spreadsheets in Oxford

Chapter 3 – Marguerite Moves North: Separating “Titte” from “Tisse” in Norway

Chapter 4 – Marguerite Births Fidel: A History in the Making

Chapter 5 – Marguerite Takes a Time-Out: Adjusting to Mommy-hood in Gran Canaria

And now… !

Chapter 6 – Marguerite Gets Her Groove Back: Moving the Family to Istanbul

Yep. Istanbul. Can and get a “WTF?” from my dear readers, please?

It’s hard to even imagine the changes in store for Family Svendsen as we move from relaxing, peaceful Gran Canaria to the buzz and chaos of Istanbul. But I’m somehow irrationally excited about returning to an urban address after two years of beach living. Most people hear the news and think we’re insane, giving up our easy existence here for a big, fat Turkish-speaking question mark. And I get your point, really I do.

But I have this song running on replay in my head these days, courtesy of living with a two-year-old who adores Winnie the Pooh (and Tigger, too)…

Eeyore: Well I’m not sure.
Tigger: Oh stop that gloomy roomynation
All you need is a little bit of Tiggerization
Tigger: Why wait? Don’t you see it’s gonna be great?
It’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great!

Strike me down! Give me all ya got!
Bounce me! Trounce me! Flounce me! Pounce me!
Do it! Do it! Do it!
It’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be….

I suppose quoting Tigger is perhaps not the most auspicious beginning for this next chapter of the book called My Life. Maybe my senses are dulled by the fumes of moving boxes already filling the house, or the weariness of researching Istanbul’s numerous neighborhoods online in an effort to focus our impending house hut.

Surely the fact that I’m writing this at 4:36am has nothing to do with it.

But the wheels are set in motion and momentum is building. Over the next month, I’ll be dis-assembling the house we spent two years putting together (which, let’s be honest, mostly involves negotiating with my husband on whether we really need to take that unused cord plug or unwatched DVD with us). And I’ll be emptying the freezer of our totally unnecessary stockpile of food, trying to assure my family that we can live on frozen chicken, peas and beer for a few weeks (plus about 24 bottles of duty-free Prosecco our friends just delivered, but nobody’s complaining about that one.)

And I’ll slowly be saying good-bye to Gran Canaria, a place that looks amazingly attractive now that we’re leaving.

But hey –

It’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great!