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Happy Memorial Day Weekend!


Memorial Day means a lot to us as a family on a personal level, not because we have had to make the ultimate sacrifice of life ourselves (we haven't, and we have nothing but respect for those who have), but because we use this weekend of memorializing to remember the people that we have loved and lost and to give our girls a glimpse into their own roots.

Every year on the Sunday before Memorial Day, we pack up a picnic lunch and take our children to the cemetery. I remember the first year we brought food with us, and we really debated whether this was a reverent enough activity for a cemetery. Then I thought of my grandmother whose grave we visit every year, and I can just imagine how absolutely tickled she would be at the idea of her great-granddaughters running around and bringing life to her final resting place.

We love to do this on this weekend in particular because the cemeteries are all in beautiful shape with flowers and flags, and it's such…

Small Home Gaming: Console Conundrum

Hi all. It’s Chris again with another dose of Small Home Gaming.

As a gamer living in a small home, there’s one thing that’s plagued me for quite a while now: game consoles. Consoles are great, but their sheer size and ability to monopolize a media station can make them formidable enemies of the small home ideology. Over the years I’ve had everything from a GameCube to a Nintendo Switch as part of our media setup. All of these consoles have served their purpose, some better than others. A couple, like my original “fat” PS3, tested the limits of our small space. It’s quite large and took up far more room than I was hoping. The Wii U, on the other hand, tested our setup in a different way. It’s much smaller and fit in our entertainment area much better, but the “tablet” style controller is not small and has its own separate docking station. This effectively means that you need to find space for two consoles instead of one.


Then, last year, Nintendo came out with the Switch.


Like many I lin…

Tiny House Sleeping Arrangements: Making Room for Everyone

There's a question I've never answered here at the Small Home Family blog, but I'm sure many people have wondered...

Where do we all sleep?



When Chris and I first moved into our home, everything was pretty simple and straightforward: we slept in the bedroom on a queen-size bed. The bed barely fit in the room with just enough space to walk around, and we kept it that way for several years. (Most of the photos I can find of our bedroom set up from years past have cats in them. We had three cats once upon a time. The photo on the left shows our bed in the bedroom.)

Here is another pic of our bedroom with a queen-sized bed in it once upon a time.
A few months before Sunshine was born, I was finding it very hard to share that queen bed and get any kind of quality sleep myself, so we decided that it was time to make some changes. We got rid of our queen bed and moved the mattress upstairs to the loft where Chris slept on it. As you can see from the photos, the cats liked to sle…

Chaos

I'm sure that living through any kind of home improvement project is difficult regardless of your house size, but going through it in a small house is a different kind of chaos, especially when you have little kids.

Sunshine and I went over to my grandpa's house to disassemble Sunshine's "new" bed on Monday. She helped me take off all the slats and keep track of the screws and bolts, and she even brought her own Allen wrench. A girl after my own heart.

We're currently storing the bed next door while we finish everything else up in preparation. I need to buy wood to lift the bed for the trundle we're adding as well as try to match the paint. Then I need to actually paint and build everything.

We are right in the middle of this bedroom overhaul, and the chaos is all-encompassing most days. I'm buying new bedding (because Sunshine is upgrading from a small bed to a twin) and paint and trying to figure out where to store everything during the transition. I…

The Burden of Belongings: Leaving a Different Kind of Legacy

We had a really busy weekend here. It's go-time for my grandpa and cousin's move, and we've been loading up box after box after box of belongings to transport ten minutes to the new house. Load after load after load. We've come across all sorts of interesting items from my dad's old high chair to custom paintings to toys my dad and his brother made as children. There are old coats and TVs and fold-up beds, dolly buggies and old leather chaps and water skis, baby clothes and eight-track tapes and birthday party invitations, suitcases and silverware and punch bowls: the belongings gathered during the lifetimes of five generations.

It's like walking through a museum sometimes. There are so many things belonging to people I never met, some of whom passed away when I was a child or before I was even born. And all their stuff just got put in the attic or in a drawer or a cupboard somewhere.

I can only imagine what the neighbors must think as we drive away with one mo…

Small Home Gaming

Hi! I'm Chris, Small Home husband, father, and resident gamer. Gaming has played a huge part in my life for nearly 30 years, and I've been blessed with a spouse that not only games with me from time to time, but offers ideas and suggestions on how to make room for my habit in our small home.

I started playing games when I was 4 years old. Over the last 29 years I have amassed a not-so-tiny collection comprised of hundreds of games (both virtual and tabletop) and some 20 game consoles (not including mobile devices). Finding space for such a collection in our home was something of a challenge to say the least.

As Diane has mentioned beforewe’ve designated the bulk of the upstairs loft as my “man cave”. While I’m extremely grateful to have such a large percentage of our house as “my” space, it still means that I have to keep the vast majority of my game collection, as well as room to enjoy it, inside of around 100 sq. ft. (at half height no less).


To that end I’ve employed a couple …

It Doesn't Have to Be Tiny: You Have Options

I've been watching more Tiny House shows lately, and for obvious reasons, I am particularly drawn in to the shows about families that have decided to go tiny. Some of them I really admire, and I can't help but root for them along the way, especially the families that are rebuilding or recovering from some kind of illness or tragedy.

Other families, though...I watch them and I wonder where they are now. I would honestly be surprised if they were all still living in their tiny houses. I know for a fact that some of them have moved on, whether by choice or by forced eviction.

And here's the thing that I wish I could say upfront to some of these families: going tiny is not your only (or even best) option.

It really all comes down to the motivation for going tiny. Is it to be more environmentally conscious? Is it to reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning and maintaining your home? Is it to grow closer together as a family? Is it to save money? Is it to have the benefit of…

Tiny House KonMari: Pushing through the Emotions

As I keep plugging along with this whole KonMari thing, I find myself feeling such a range of emotions. After I had tackled clothes, I felt very overwhelmed, and that feeling tends to come and go. I also feel a lot of relief about not having so many things that I don't love anymore.

What really surprised me, though, was how angry I have been feeling about this whole thing at times. I took another load to the Goodwill last week, and after I dropped it off, I began to feel very upset, and it's been difficult to pinpoint exactly what is prompting these feelings of anger. I don't know if this frustration stems from the fact that I'm getting rid of stuff I want to keep (in which case I might need to refocus on what items spark joy) or if I'm mad that I don't have as much room to store things as I wish I did. This particular load of items to donate included three things that had been given to me, one of them handmade, and I think that's significant to my feelings…

Tiny House KonMari: Books Revisited, Rules Broken

Remember my book post from the other day? Well, right after I posted it, my mom surprised me by pulling out about four tubs of books that we had been storing at her house. Now some of these I remembered, but many of them I had completely forgotten that we even owned. I found myself returning once again to books. Sigh. So much for being done.


In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo says that anything you forget the first time through immediately goes into the discard pile. I'm not ashamed to say that I completely disregarded this rule on more than one occasion, and this book resurfacing was the biggest glaring example of this.

I did not give these books the full KonMari treatment because I didn't have the time or mental energy to do so. All of these books were holdovers from our university days that we simply packed up when we moved. There were many textbooks, a number of classics from my many lit classes, some random self-help type books that I think we must have…

I Want My Own Bedroom

A few weeks ago, Sunshine surprised me by asking for her own room. I clarified that she meant her own room to share with her sister (because that is non-negotiable at this point), and she happily conceded that Sweetheart could sleep there as well. I then asked her what she meant when she said she wanted her own room, and it quickly became clear that what she really wants is a place to play that is all hers (and her sister's).

Right now our little bedroom is pretty much all bed with a walkway to access the closet. Save for a few stuffed animals, we don't keep any toys in there. All of the toys are kept in the living room and in Sunshine's special cupboard in the kitchen.

My long-term plan for a while has been to turn the loft into a bedroom/playroom for our kids, but that transition is still a ways off, primarily because we're still in the middle of building a detached game room next to our little house to hold Chris's collection of video games, but also because Sw…

Tiny House KonMari: Books

When it came time to tackle our books, I definitely had some mixed emotions. Getting rid of books seems so wasteful to me, and I felt a lot of guilt because many of the books no one loved enough to keep were ones that had been given to us. My mom works for a child care center attached to a private elementary school, and she gets those book catalogs to order from all the time. And she orders from them all the time, but her standards for children's books are much different from mine. One of my college minors was English, and I worked for the head of the English department during my university years, so I spent a great deal of time being exposed to quality literature. I try not to be a book snob, but I do prefer that the books we own to be of a high caliber. I have no problem with reading (and letting my kids read) wholesome "fluff," but when it comes to making room for books in this little house, I do have higher standards. The library can store the "fluff" book…

Tiny House KonMari: His Clothes

I have discovered something unexpected since beginning this KonMari journey: it's a lot easier to put away laundry now that my drawers aren't overfull anymore. This really hit home the other day when I was trying to stuff a seventeenth t-shirt of Chris's into a bin that only happily holds sixteen rolled up t-shirts and no more.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo makes it clear that you only declutter that which belongs to you. Many times, though, as other housemates observe the process, they climb on board themselves. At least, that's what Ms. Kondo says.

Well, on that day when the shirt just would not fit in the bin, I yelled across the house to Chris that he owned too many shirts, and the next thing I knew, he was in the bedroom with me deciding which clothes of his spark joy and which ones don't.


All told, he discarded a small pile and donated a large trash bag full of stuff to Goodwill, and I gained another drawer in the closet to fill with ot…

Staying Busy

It was quiet here at the Small Home Family blog last week as we were out and about doing life together. Between Easter and spring break and ophthalmologist appointments and date days, we kept ourselves pretty busy.

At two and four, my girls are still too young to be officially in school, but their cousins were on spring break this week, and we took the opportunity to make use of our zoo membership. My cousin and I plus five girls between the ages of two and nine piled into their Suburban for the hour drive to our local zoo.

Can I just say that one of my favorite gifts is the zoo membership that my in laws give us for Christmas each year? So many other gifts are played with and quickly forgotten, but this type of gift lasts for the whole year and takes up no space in our house. We were able to bless my cousin and her kids with it, too, since it got us all in for free, and our kids had a blast together. Sweetheart especially is at an age where everything is so new and exciting, and watch…

Wow, Water Wow!

My cousin gave Sweetheart a Melissa and Doug Water Wow! pad for her birthday, and I'll admit that when I first looked at it, it seemed kind of far-fetched and too good to be true. A cardboard pad that you can paint with water over and over again? Uh huh.

Well, after much begging and pleading from my four-year-old, I finally opened it up and we tested it out.

Oh my goodness, people! This thing is awesome!

The way it works is that you fill the blue tube with water and screw it into the brush part. This causes the brush to always remain wet so you don't need to keep a cup of water out to re-wet the brush. Then you simply "paint" water onto the specially designed pages, and a colorful image will appear. Once you're done, you let the page dry, and it's ready to use again next time.

It really does work!

The Water Wow is recommended for ages three and up, but my two-year-old loves this thing. She happily "paints" each page, and cries when it's all done…

Tiny House KonMari: Kids' Clothes

After I tackled my clothes, I decided to go ahead and take care of my kids' clothes, too. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo recommends tidying only your own belongings, and she isn't really clear on how that applies to children's items. She talks a little more about kids in Spark Joy, but the impression that I get is that she recommends letting children help tidy their own stuff.

Okay then.

(Her kids must be a lot more helpful than my kids are. I think mine are mini-hoarders.)



Sunshine actually doesn't have that many clothes. (I wised up about the number of clothing purchases I made when Sunshine was younger and cut WAY, WAY back as she grew.) I more or less left her clothes they way they were so she wouldn't be running around naked. (Because that never happens around here.)

Sweetheart, on the other hand, had too many clothes, even after a big purge I did a few months ago, but she is just too young to have any concept of what we're doing. Wh…