Humorous memoir gives tongue-in-cheek advice on moving

Former Sparta resident makes light of stressful changes

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“Home Sweet Homes” turns one of life’s most stressful experiences into page after page of laugh-out-loud moments.

More than 30 million Americans move every year, and few would disagree that moving is one of life’s most stressful experiences. In fact, a recent survey by the British Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions found that moving was the second worst thing in the world, surpassed only by death.

Kind of hard to find humor in that, right?

Not for former Sparta resident Diane Laney Fitzpatrick, whose nine cross-country moves inspired her to write “Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.”

The humorous memoir and tongue-in-cheek how-to is available in paperback and e-book on, at, and directly from the author by sending a request to

“No one likes to move. Let’s face it, moving is hard,” Fitzpatrick said. “But if you can find humor in some of the crazy things that happen during your move, you might just live to laugh about it.”

Moving is becoming an almost universal experience, shared by people of all ages and every demographic. U.S. Census statistics show that between 10 and 20 percent of Americans move every year. And while young families are the most frequent movers, because of job changes, moving is an across-the-board fact of life for many. That’s why “Home Sweet Homes” strikes a chord and a funny bone with so many readers.

“I’m not the only one who has wet my pants, bleached a goldfish, and packed a box full of sticks,” Fitzpatrick said. “Anyone who has moved even once will find something in Home Sweet Homes that makes them say, ‘Hey, that’s what happened to me!’”

Her book tells of her cross-country moves with babies, toddlers, teens, and dogs, frogs and goldfish, over 20 years and through seven states. From hiding dirty dishes in the car when you’re trying to impress home buyers, to moving-day visits to the emergency room, to failing the driver’s test, Fitzpatrick covers home selling, home buying, packing, moving pets, moving pregnant, dealing with Realtors, settling into your new town, and everything in between.

“My favorite thing about my move to Sparta in 2001 was just days after moving in, a neighbor girl came to the house selling Girl Scout cookies but I was trapped in boxes in the basement and couldn’t get to the door in time. I was so eager to get a box of Thin Mints, I chased her down the street,” Fitzpatrick said. “Not one of my finer first impressions with the neighbors.”

On house-hunting:

“I once walked into a townhouse in Virginia and wanted to buy it because the owners were from South America, and they had all this cool Latin stuff all around. They had handwoven throw pillows on the couch, a beautiful rug, and rustic, carved wooden masks hung on the walls. I’m a basically smart person and I knew — absolutely no question about it — they were not going to leave those masks for me to keep. Nonetheless, there was a little voice inside me that said, ‘If we live here we’ll be like them.’ And they were clearly awesome, international types who spoke with accents and drank imported tea. (Boxes and boxes of it, in the cupboard over the sink.) Moreover, I knew that the rug I loved so much was actually hiding a cigarette burn in the carpet. . . I knew this, yet I didn’t care. I just wanted the house so I could go home and take a long nap and then start planning my new life as a Bolivian expat.”

On meeting the new neighbors:

“I had hoped to sneak in and at least empty the minivan of the McDonald’s food bags or maybe look in a mirror that wasn’t the rearview kind. Instead, as we pulled into our new driveway, it was flanked by our new neighbors, Ginger and Mary Ann. I was, at best, a younger and skankier Mrs. Howell, in a wrinkly turquoise jogging suit, asymmetrical pigtails, and my glasses from 1983.”

On the DMV:

“Then they call number 127. I jump up like I’m on The Price is Right. The guy next to me slides off my shoulder and slumps onto my chair. He might be dead. I approach the open window and smile like an idiot at the woman behind the counter. My heart is beating fast, I am so grateful that I’m finally up to this window, that I’ve been called, that I feel a little Stockholm syndrome sweep over me. I’ll do anything for this woman, I’m so grateful that she called my number, and so hopeful that she’ll give me those yellow plates for my car. I will hold a machine gun at a bank robbery for you, I telepathically tell her. I will be your Patty Hearst.”

Fitzpatrick invites Home Sweet Homes readers to join the conversation and tell their own moving stories on her website,, where you can also find her moving blog and read about the day-to-day adventures of her most recent move from Florida to California.

“Everyone loves to tell their own stories about moving,” said Fitzpatrick, “so I’ve set up a forum on our website and on our Facebook page to let everyone in on the fun.”

A former newspaper reporter and editor, Fitzpatrick worked as a freelance writer, blogger, and Internet content provider in the seven states where she’s lived and raised her family. She has written the popular humor blog Just Humor Me at for the past six years. She and her husband, Tim Fitzpatrick, recently logged their 10th move, from South Florida to San Francisco. They have three children, who live far and wide, and who have their own share of moving adventure stories.

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