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Showing posts from 2017

Post-Christmas Slump

Our house is a disaster zone at the moment. We're still working on finding homes for all of the gifts we received for Christmas. I think a serious purge is coming, but Sweetheart hasn't been sleeping well ever since she was so sick a few weeks ago, and finding the energy to sort through everything has been impossible lately.
I look forward to the day when our “game room” addition is completed and we can turn the loft into a playroom for our kids. Their play space is so limited right now, and the cold weather has kept us all inside a lot lately.
This is the time of the year when I feel the walls of our tiny house closing in on us the most, when we're overrun with new toys and other gifts, but getting outside is hard. Add in a sick child here and there, and the cabin fever really starts to set in some days.
We are happily committed to this lifestyle for the foreseeable future, although we are in the process of expanding our living space a tiny bit with our addition, but I wou…

Merry Christmas!

For the second time in my life, it looks like we're going to have a white Christmas. Our kids are snug in their beds, waiting for Santa to come fill their stockings, which hang expectantly from the loft railing.
Outside our tiny house, a Christmas tree lights up the otherwise still and silent night. Snow now covers the ground, glistening in the glow from the Christmas lights above.

We wish you all the brightest of holidays and the warmth of home and the love of friends and family. Merry Christmas!

Tiny House, Tiny Trees

Finding room in a small or tiny house for a Christmas tree is not always easy. We accepted the fact early on that a half-height tree fits in our small space the best. Due to a number of reasons, we prefer to erect an artificial tree inside, and we often don't even put ornaments on it with cats and young kids to worry about.

Over the years since we bought our park model, we have tried putting our tree just about everywhere from on top of end tables and filing cabinets in the living room to on the dining table and even up in the loft this year.

We don't live in a Pinterest-worthy home, and our photos are just family snapshots taken for our own use over the years, but I thought it might be fun to share some pics of Christmas trees past and present in our tiny house.

While our first Christmas with our small home was actually in 2008, we didn't move in until 2009. Here you can see our tiny house all dressed up for Christmas that year.

In 2011, we put our tree in the dining roo…

Tiny House, Sick Kids

I feel like we've been pretty lucky so far when it comes to kids' illnesses. We've definitely dealt with our fair share of colds, especially since Sweetheart was born. (There's something about having multiple kids that exponentially multiplies the germs entering the home!) But we've more or less escaped the icky stomach viruses that I've heard described in gory detail by other parents.

Until now, that is.

It all started about a week ago. An hour after I put Sweetheart to bed, I heard her crying over the monitor. I waited a couple of minutes to see if she'd put herself back to sleep, and when she didn't, I went in to check on her. She had vomited all over herself and her bed, and the relaxing evening I had been anticipating evaporated before my eyes.

I brought Sweetheart out to the living room and we dozed out there together as she vomited off and on all night long. She could keep nothing down, and my primary task for the next few days was simply to keep …

Traditions That Mean Something

The Christmas season starts early at our house. We've been listening to Christmas songs and watching Christmas movies for a month now. It's one of our most special holiday traditions of the year, and it all started six years ago during a very dark time in our lives.

2011 was a bittersweet year for us. After years of infertility, we were finally expecting twins due in November. It all ended suddenly in May. We miscarried a second time in mid-October.

As October drew to a close, we were freshly grieving our losses, and we needed something to get us past Halloween, a night that is so fun and yet so excruciating when you want children but don't have them.

That year, we decided that we really needed Christmas to come early. So on October 31st, we chose to stay home and kick off the Christmas season by watching one of our favorite renditions of Charles Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol. It seemed like a perfect ghostly tale for such a night.

We had no idea at the time that …

Pre-Holiday Purge

Sometimes it feels like I'm drowning in toys. I'm sure many moms can relate. Just as I've finally sorted, downsized, and reorganized my girls' array of playthings, another birthday comes along (or worse: Christmas), and we have to start the process all over again. Living in a small or tiny home means that it's impossible to keep every toy my girls are given forever, and I don't think that's a bad thing.
I try to encourage gifts that are easily stored, ones that foster the imagination, and gifts of experiences as much as possible, but in the end, I care more about the heart of the giver than the gift itself, and I want to foster an attitude of gratefulness in my children regardless of what presents they get throughout the year. We do keep a lot of their bigger play things at their grandparents' houses to play with when we go visit, but toys still manage to accumulate throughout the year. 
Recently, a friend of mine suggested implementing a pre-holiday pu…

Happy Thanksgiving!

We here at Small Home Family want to wish all of our American readers a very happy Thanksgiving!

May you enjoy a warm home (no matter the size), good food, and blessed times spent with family and friends.

Back in the Cloth Habit

It's been two weeks since we pulled out the cloth diapers again, and it's going remarkably well. I have had no trouble keeping up with the laundry, and Sweetheart seems to have adjusted to the change just fine. It feels kind of like I've said hello to an old friend again, which is a strange way to talk about diapers, I will admit.

One thing that has really surprised me is how the need to wash diapers has helped me stay on top of regular laundry as well. Since I'm running next door to check the diaper laundry already, it's really not a big deal to throw in a load of regular clothes once I'm done washing diapers. Smaller, more frequent loads are easier to fold and put away, too. I am finding that we don't need as many clothes when I wash them sooner. My drawers are getting kind of full since there aren't a bunch of clothes in various laundry piles all the time. I really never thought that adding additional laundry to my routine would make my home run more…

The Great Christmas Tree Ordeal of 2004

Thirteen years ago, we were young newlyweds living on love, so excited to be starting our life together and creating our own holiday memories and traditions along the way.

As college students, we were country folk living in the city for the first time, and in our hometown (where we live once again now), most people who want a real Christmas tree go out to the Christmas tree farm and chop one down themselves. They tie it to the top of their car or put it in the back of their pick up and drive it home. This was what we both remembered doing growing up, and we were out of our element in our new, big-city life.

It became clear pretty quickly that there was no tree farm near our apartment, and even if there had been, we had no rope to tie the tree to the top of our little car and no money to buy a rope. We barely had enough money to buy a tree. There was a tree lot a couple of blocks away from our apartment, and one afternoon in December, we walked the short distance to pick out our first…

Cloth Diaper Dropouts

I mentioned in a prior post that we often trip over boxes of diapers.

Disposable diapers.

It seems antithetical to the tiny house movement, doesn't it?

So why haven't we jumped on to the cloth diapering bandwagon like so many of our fellow small-living parents have?

Here's the honest to goodness truth:

We are cloth diaper dropouts.
Sunshine, who is now four and mostly potty trained during the day, wore cloth diapers almost exclusively until we started toilet training before Sweetheart (20 months) was born. I spent months sewing a fitted diaper stash for the little baby stage, and we stocked prefolds and covers and pocket diapers and inserts and doublers and an all-in-one and more fitteds for Sunshine as she grew. We have enough cloth diapers to go days between washings, and we invested a fair amount of money into that stash.

As we prepared for Sweetheart's birth, I pulled out the smallest diapers and got them all ready to go for our second time around. I couldn't b…

I could live with an outdoor space like that...

Remember that big house I talked about in this post? The one my brother-in-law and his wife were hoping to purchase? Well, they moved into their new home on Halloween, and Chris spent most of the morning and afternoon helping them carry furniture and boxes into their new digs. That evening, we packed up our girls (I mean Owlette and Catboy) and drove across town to go trick-or-treat at Uncle E and Aunt W's new place. I got the full tour, and my girls went crazy running all around and up and down the stairs and into closets and behind closed doors. I had a mild panic attack as I chased Sweetheart around, trying to keep her from all of the things that haven't been baby proofed yet.

Ah, family time at it's finest!

A house of the several-thousand-square-foot variety is clearly not my cup of tea, but I am looking forward to spending time visiting, especially since it's now only a fifteen minute drive to their house rather than the half hour it used to take to go see them.


"I want a room like that."

The other day, Sunshine happened to be watching as I played a tiny house video tour on the Living Big in a Tiny House YouTube channel. Built by Ben Garratt of Healthy Homes, the "Rochette" belongs to a family of four with two young children, and when the tour got to the children's shared loft bedroom, Sunshine was enamored. She kept telling us that she wants a room like that. (See this page for photos and details of this gorgeous tiny house on wheels, and especially note the children's bedroom.)

We have toyed off and on with a number of ideas for where everyone will sleep as the years pass and our children grow. Right now they sleep in the downstairs bedroom, which simplifies our lives a lot. They have a quiet place to rest, and we have privacy on the other side of the closed door after they go to sleep.

The past few months, we have been working to fix up the loft space into something much more inviting. It's currently a game room of sorts where Chris hangs out a…

Small Home Living in a Rainy Climate

As summer wound to a close, our four-year-old was spending hours each day playing outside. When you live in a small space, sending the kids outdoors is a great way to get them to use up some energy and for everyone to have a little separation from each other. Sunshine quickly starts bouncing off of the walls in our tiny living room when we're cooped up inside all day.

We live in a corner of the country where it rains pretty much non stop from November to April (or May or June). As the fall weather has been rolling in, I've longed for those long, sunny days of summer so Sunshine can go run around and enjoy all of the wonders to behold right outside our door.

Thus began a search for suggestions about how to make outdoor play a possibility even as the rainy season begins. I was excited to discover that I was not the only parent with this dilemma (hardly!), and that there really was an easy, affordable solution.
Enter the rain suit. Imagine that a pair of coveralls and a rain coa…

How Much Did We Pay for Our House?

I talk a lot about how living in a park model on my parents' land saves us money, but I've never gone into detail about what we paid for our home and how we afforded it.

When we were in the market for a new living situation back in 2008, park models were a bit of a novelty. We actually had a few people suggest (some joking, some serious) that we should look into getting one. The problem was that the dealer closest to our home only carried luxury models, and those homes came with luxury prices. It didn't make sense to us to pay more than $60,000 for something that was less than 400 square feet. The tiny house movement has come a long way since then, and I regularly see even smaller homes for even bigger price tags today, but at the time we were straight out of college with student loans and minimal income, and we wanted something that we could more easily afford.

I spent a lot of time on Craigslist in those days looking at real estate and manufactured houses, and that is wh…

If you could go bigger, would you?

I spend a lot of time singing the praises of living small. I also have devoted a few posts to discussing the downsides of tiny and small house living. Clearly there are positives and negatives to our chosen lifestyle, but we believe that the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

And yet...

There is a lingering question in my own mind.

If we could have a bigger home without having to change up our economic situation to do so...would we?

Honestly, we might.

When I think about our reasons for living the way we do, I cannot deny that the financial benefits of not having a huge mortgage payment are high on my list. Trying to imagine being able to upsize our square footage without upsizing our debt  (or our current income) is difficult at best because the two are so intricately connected in my experience. If the opportunity to have more space without paying a dime suddenly dropped into our laps, would we go for it?

We were not one of those couples that decided to sell their 2000 square foot ho…

Why We Love Our SodaStream

I have a fondness for soft drinks. Soda, Coke, fizzy drink--around here, we simply refer to it as pop, and it's a guilty pleasure of ours despite its near complete lack of nutritional benefit.

Now don't get me wrong: we have never regularly over-indulged a soda pop habit, but we do enjoy a fizzy drink with dinner or as part of a movie night snack a few times a week. In the past, this has meant transporting and storing large plastic bottles or twelve-packs of cans just to have some pop on hand for when we want it. Then we have to deal with the increased recycling that results from drinking beverages out of cans and bottles on a regular basis. In a small home, this is a big deal.
This is why we have allotted a small section of our coveted kitchen counter top to one of these:

Note: Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. See this page for our full disclosure.
What It Is
The SodaStream is a small kitchen appliance that uses a proprietary carbon dioxide caniste…

Working on the Loft Again

Back in August, I shared that we spent the summer giving our loft a makeover. We're still finishing up the space a little bit at a time as funds and time allow. Within the last week, we moved another storage unit up into the corner to hold a bunch of Chris's smaller gaming items along with his collection of joysticks and steering wheels. Today, I was able to finish painting the corner above the living room that we hope to turn into a special space for Sunshine (age 4) in time for Christmas.
Here's what that wall looked like before I started. As you can see, we weren't able to finish the part around the railing last time we painted, so it needed some attention badly.
Please excuse the clutter and the mess in these photos. Everything is still a work in progress.

Painting in a tiny area requires a fair bit of planning to make sure you have everything you need before you box yourself in with paint supplies. If I could go back and spend the $500, I would pay the upgrade fee to…