Friday, January 18, 2008

Seven Questions...Movin' On

About 14 years ago, my husband and I hosted a Halloween party for some of our favorite couples. My younger brother, Josh, was an attractive and eligible bachelor at the time. So we invited him and told him to bring a hot date.

Well, he showed up with a cute girl and I was thrilled. Except for the fact that he talked non-stop about another woman the whole evening! He had just spent a weekend down at Snow College, had loved every minute and could not say enough about the fun and crazy girl he'd met. Everything reminded him of something they had done and, quite frankly, it was pretty embarassing for me --not to mention the cute date.

I pulled him into the kitchen and told him that it was very bad form to wax poetic like this in another female's presence. But anyone who knows Josh knows that he isn't all that concerned with subtle social nuances, and besides, he was ga-ga-GONE.

Needless to say, I never saw the cute date again. But the red-hot firecracker from Snow College became my sister-in-law in record time. And, once I forgave the Halloween party awkwardness, I fell in love with her too.
Christie is all that and a bag of chips. She is gorgeous, funny, smart, talented and very opinionated. She bakes, she sews, she decorates and she types faster than anyone I know. She parents beautifully, volunteers at church and school, trains for marathons and organizes like nobody's business...and all the while her husband is usually out of town.

Stie introduced me to the computer age. Back in the early '90s, she taught me about e-mail and, last year, after reading her witty mommy-blog for a few months, I got inspired to create my own. She is techno-gifted.

With our family all long-distance, Stie & Co. have most often been our closest geographic kin and we've appreciated their willingness to drive long distances to meet for Thanksgiving or a cousin reunion or to help with newborn twins. Christie's children are adorable and my kids' favorite relatives!

In the years I've known her, Christie has lived in six different states across the country. She makes friends wherever she goes and quickly finds herself knowing the territory like a native.

That's why I decided to ask her seven questions about starting over someplace new. How to live through relocation and thrive. Here are her thoughts...

1. You have lived in so many different places. What is your secret for making a new house feel like home?
The first step is a good coat of paint in every room. I actually feel like I need to "mark my territory," so to speak, before it feels like mine. I need to see my own personality in the decor and color is the fastest and cheapest way to do that.

2. What do you say to yourself when you walk into a room full of strangers?
I actually have to give myself a huge pep-talk before doing this. Even though we have moved all around the country and had to make friends so many times, I still revert to this shy, awkward person inside and worry that I won't be good enough. Extra deodorant also helps because I am always sweating a lot during times like these.

3. What are your top three suggestions for someone who is moving to a brand new city?
The first thing I would tell anyone is to go to church and get phone numbers of people who you think look like someone you'd get along with. Don't wait for people to invite you over - be proactive. People want to remember the new family, but (as we all know) life gets busy and sometimes things like that slip through the cracks. You have to go out and find your own friends. Don't wait for them to find you. Another great way to get to know a lot of people at once is to have a party or luncheon at your new home. Invite a whole diverse group and you will be so surprised at how quickly these ladies will become your new best friends. I think that's more than three...oh well.

4. How do you help your kids settle in to a new hometown?
I do the same thing for my kids that I do for myself. At church or at school, I am stalking the mothers and getting phone numbers. I take my kids to their new class and introduce them to any and all children I can get my hands on. Kids are more shy and reserved and will wait for the friends to reach out. But by letting everyone know that my kids are new, and "Oh, what's your name? This is McKay. He just moved here. What do you like to do? McKay likes baseball." It helps tremendously. Then, you have to actively engage the kids in playdates.

5. How do you keep in touch with old friends once you've moved on?
The best way (up until now) has been email, but the blog has brought so many close friends back into my everyday life. I love it! If your old friends don't have a blog, keep emailing them. Let them know what you've been up to and find out how life is going for them. Another great trick has been a once-a-year trip where a group of my old friends from Boston meet up in New York. I'm usually the instigator on it, and we've always had such a good time. You have to plan to keep people in your life, otherwise it's easy to drift apart.

6. What are some of your favorite ways to stay organized as you go through the upheaval of a cross-country move?
Your best friend in a move will be the garbage man. Go through EVERYTHING before you pack it up in a box and throw out tons of it. My rule is, if it hasn't been used in the last year, it's gone (except super sentimental stuff, of course). But hanging on to those old wedding presents or outdated clothes will only become cumbersome in a move because you've got to carry it in a box. Even if we've been settled in one place for a few years (WHICH HAS HAPPENED to us, believe it or not), I like to pretend we're moving once a year and go through everything and purge as much of it as I can.

7. How do you always seem to find a great circle of friends wherever you go?
The trick here is to not get stuck with the crazy lady of the neighborhood as your new best friend. Be nice to everyone, but hand-pick the people you think you'd like to get along with and invite them over. Call a few girls and go to a movie. Whatever you do, you have to make the effort. Waiting for people to come to you will leave you lonely and miserable in your new city. Get over any shyness and realize that people WANT new friends. People are always excited when you call and invite them over. Don't be afraid - JUST DO IT!

Great advice, Stie! Love you...

To read more of Stie's thoughts, check out her amazing blog. This post is dedicated to our li'l sis, Min, who has a new horizon on her horizon. Good luck, babe!


Lauren said...

That was such a great interview! Stie is amazing! I haven't even met her in person, and I feel confident in saying that!

I love your description of your brother, "not being concerned with subtle social nuances"...Yeah, I agree that his talking about Stie on a date with a cute girl was in poor was nice the way you worded it...instead of calling him "dense" or "thick in the head". You are a great sister...I guess he was just powerless against the beauty and amazingness that is, Stie.

Celia Fae said...

I have often wondered if I could hack it in a new place. Stie is a shining example of what to do and what not to do.

People move from my city all of the time. I always tell them to give it a year before they trying hate it.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

Wow! Between Josh's blogjacking today and this, I feel like a blog rockstar! I'm almost embarrassed to be the subject today. Thanks for interviewing me and for saying such kind things. I truly feel so lucky to have YOU in my life. Love you tons!

Bridget said...

Those are great questions and even better answers. I love that girl too. I can see how she did those things in the ward we were in together.

Jessica said...

Have you noticed, that knowing we are going to meet each other, gives these kinds of posts new meaning? I can't wait to meet both of you!

John Holly Levi & Faith said...

I cannot wait to meet You or Stie!!!!!!! Love, love love hearing about her and what she's like. Now she needs to interview YOU!!!

Holly said...

Love this!! What great advice, especially if you're anticipating a big move. Even if you're not, her advice for reaching out and making friends is still right-on. I feel like I need to try some of these and I've never moved!

Too bad for the cute Halloween date, but so happy for Snow College girl! :)

crystal said...

I NEVER KNEW YOU WERE RELATED!!! This rocks my world. No wonder I like both blogs so much.

I love, love, love the advice to get out there and make your own friends...create your own social scene. It gives the sense of control to you when you feel lost and lonely. And it's true: almost everyone WANTS a fun new friend. Great interview!!!

crystal said...

p.s. I second what Jessica said.

Ilene said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Now I got a "two-for-one" deal by visiting your blog and learning about Stie.

I'm not so good about moving into a new town. I rely on people finding me and my kids... thankfully, Jessica is in my ward and introduced herself.

I'm with putting paint on the walls. Especially in my "new" home. I swear Frank from Trading Spaces came and threw up in my house. Ew.

Two adoptions? I have a brother with three adoptions and several adopted cousins. What a blessing.

Paige said...

Honestly, she is fantastic. i agree that it's all about being proactive- and this from a girl who lives in her hometown and always has to put lipstick on at Safeway at the risk of running into an old high school person.

Lisa-Marie said...

That was GREAT. Family gatherings must be so much fun with the two of you. You are both AMAZING and I can't wait to meet you girls. Yeah!

Marty said...

I remember the Halloween party, but not Josh's date! Stie wiped every other girl out of my mind, too.

I'll never forget visiting Stie in Seattle. They had lived there for 2 months, Josh had been out of town most of the time, and Stie could drive us anywhere, and already had friends at church and at the playground. At only 22, with a baby, she had conquered her new city all on her own. She is amazing.,

marta said...

great advice. stie is seriously the best. what would we do without her?! thanks, gabi.. now i get it!

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