What Makes a House a Home?

Thanks for all of the GREAT pack-out advice over the last few weeks.  There is nothing like getting real advice from people who have done this many times.  We have all of our stuff (all - taking up about two little nooks in my Mother's home) separated into two piles: UAB -Unaccompanied Air Baggage that they will bring straight to our apartment in D.C. in a couple of weeks and the HHE - House Hold Effects that will be stored in Virginia until we are shipped overseas to our first post.  Our piles are in two separate rooms, as per the great advice, and someone is coming to eyeball our stuff on Thursday to see how long they will need to plan for packing and how many boxes/men they will bring. 

"So, where's the rest of your stuff?"
"..ummm, this is it."
"...You can pretty much carry this on your back, you know"

We have been staying with Max's parents for a few days now and this puts us at 21 different places of residence since last July (including various hostel situations - some of which were indeed hostile).  21.  I have to say we've gotten pretty good at moving from place to place.  I once had a college roommate whose collegiate recipe for a good day was simply "Toothbrush, Eye drops, Bra".  She's not too far off.  I usually need my camera and/or computer, but after that a toothbrush and a bra will about do it. 

I've been thinking a lot about what makes a home. Surprisingly I haven't really felt any sense of displacement or homelessness, when in fact, I am in a most homeless of states.  Perhaps the reality that Max has been my only "home" constant for that past few years has set me free of conventional conceptions of home.  If I'm with Max, I'm home.  Even though I'm crap at them, I think family routines also help make a house a home also.  We have tried to eat sit down meals with our family a bit here to normalize our transition.  Eating is one routine Max and I are both pretty good at:)  There was a time in Jerusalem when I was working from 4-7 four days a week and even though I was only working 12 hours a week, missing mealtime, what I've come to think of as a sacred time of the day for restoration and communion, I felt out of control and all around crazy.  So meals have become "homey" to me - it's something that can be the same in Farmington, Utah or Maputo, Mozambique. 

Not to get too after school special, but I wonder what things have made your house a home for you as you have moved away, some of you to college or after you get married and others who have made a life of moving from one place to another?   

* I just told Max we'd lived in 21 different places this year and he said "Oh.  That's Why I'm So Tired." And it is.


  1. if you need some stuff, please just let me know. We have enough for a few packouts.

    one thing that makes our house a home is a colorful porcelain iguana that we bought during our wedding/honeymoon in Mexico. We hand carry it and hang it up first thing. You and Max may have something like that, or it might be fun to shop for it at your first post. Good luck w packout/moving!

  2. Mostly, I think it really is the people that make the home. I think you summed it up quite well.
    Home is a state of mind. You can be at home wherever you are, or you can never feel quite home. It all depends on your attitude.
    You know, the first time we packed out, we did not have much stuff at all, we were living in a house my parents had, and we only had our bedroom and a small storage unit with our couch and some kitchen stuff. It is easier to move that way I think.

  3. I love your photos.
    And let me say, I used to be able to fit everything I owned into the back of a Toyota Tercel. Ah, those were the days.

    What makes my house a home?
    A silly iron ornamental heating grate I found on the street in Cambridge, MA after college. My roomie and I dragged that thing to our apartment and up the four flights of stairs. It's heavy and ridiculous and I like it. It's just pretty. It's over my mantel now.

    My husband says :
    A dog.
    The sound of kids playing.
    The smell of tastey food when your hungry.

    Good luck with the pack-out.

  4. To me home = music. That's the thing I usually miss the most when I'm traveling- the lack of Bach or Zepplin or Brahms when I get to wherever I happen to be sleeping (for some reason earbuds don't cut it- the music needs to be playing for all to hear).

  5. A couch is pretty important to me. When I was traveling through Europe for a bit, we just went from hotel to hotel, and you basically have beds or chairs - you can lay down or sit up. But there's nothing quite like reclining the way you do on a couch. Our hotel in London had a couch in a communal room on the ground floor and I almost died with happiness when I saw it. When we first got married, we didn't have a bed, a kitchen table... nothing but clothes. I looked around our apartment and the one thing I wanted most was a couch. It's the first thing we ever bought together.

  6. What excellent ideas! I have to echo Breanne about a nice place to sit, even though we won't have one. We had this garbage vinyl sofa in Jerusalem that fit about a cheek and a half. All we wanted was a couch! I think the State couches will work just fine for us :) Music is also a humdinger for us.

  7. Thought of you today when my boys were making their airplanes fly to Italy. Jake thinks the Leaning Tower of Pisa sounds like the funniest place in the world (mostly because Pisa is a funny word to him) Whatever the reason, they were flying their jets from "Pisa airport!"

  8. I agree about music...we don't move without our iPods and Bose Sounddock. Good luck with everything!