Parent

Parenting in a tiny house is rich with opportunities for improvement. Our parenting successes are reflected as quickly as our failures, and we take each opportunity to reflect and discuss in our constant effort to raise conscious, respectful, resourceful and resilient kids.

Daddy’s Birthday Presents

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Build, Parent, Recent Posts | 6 comments

Daddy’s Birthday Presents

  There’s nothing we need so badly that we go out at once and buy. Okay, except for half and half. Our house doesn’t run without half and half. Besides that, there really isn’t a thing we need. Yesterday, Archer and I went shopping for Karl’s birthday. It was the regular–the bar soap shaving cream and the bag of candy carefully picked from the barrels at the Country Store, a chocolate bar from Ella, and a six-pack of craft beer from me. On the way home, Archer said, “Did you ever think about how we spend more money on someone else than on ourselves?” He said, “Like that beer, you wouldn’t just go buy that for yourself.” Archer was ready to spend a good amount of his savings on Daddy. His plan was to go to Dollar General to buy Karl a radio to listen to while he builds the big house. “The radio he has is all crackly, and he just wants to listen to some music up there.” Archer is a thoughtful boy. I reminded him about those stores and that what we’d buy there would likely be crackly too, or it’d be junk in a year. “If you really want to buy something like that for him, let’s make sure he’s with us, so he can make the decision.” “Okay.” He understood. He gets it. He really deeply understands that the run-out-and-buy satisfaction isn’t really satisfaction at all. The slow thinking and intentional acquiring is the way for us. When we were shopping, I said, “What does Daddy need?” Archer laughed and said, “Nothing.” I thought with him. He was right. We are incredibly blessed to need nothing. Oh, his work pants are holey in the knees—he could use some gloves—there’s always something that would make life a little more comfortable, but when we think of need, there’s nothing. This delayed gratification of building a homestead for cash has been a game-changer, to use a cliche. Our lives are deeply affected by the slowing down required of building a home dollar for dollar. The value of things is more perceptible; how they impact our lives is clearer. We did spend money on Daddy, but we didn’t buy the radio. We celebrated with a documentary film about industrial hemp and a meal out in a Virginia Tech hangout. We sat next to a couple from Brazil doing their math in Portuguese. The kids loved the graffiti on the walls and the young adults all around us. The adventure of doing something we’ve never done before is way better than a cheap radio from Dollar General. As a mom, I spend a lot of time thinking about my kids and how our choices are impacting them, but when I watch their fascination with an old movie theater or the politics of capitalism or life on a college campus, I’m happy with our choices. They have so much to navigate and I’m grateful that we’ve chosen a life of slowness, a life where our money is a tool we use intentionally. I’m glad we spend our days in conversation and engagement with the natural world. It’s such a rich way to grow up, dirty and satisfied with what we have. As long as there’s half and half. *** I encourage everyone to try it out—the slow, thoughtful practice of intentional spending. When you shift your spending to line up with your values and goals, amazing things happen. *** Check out this guest post I shared over at Rowdy Kittens: Five Ways to Start Living the Life of Your Dreams Today. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

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Why I Want to Be My Daughter When I Grow Up

Posted by on Jan 25, 2014 in Breathe, Kids'-Eye View, Parent, Recent Posts | 63 comments

Why I Want to Be My Daughter When I Grow Up

Every time I read this post from almost two years ago and your comments of encouragement to our little girl, I want the whole world to read it. I want individuality and creativity to rule and kids like Ella to keep on with their original outfits and ways that don’t make sense to others. It’s the willingness to do things a bit differently that keeps this whole darn experience interesting. I am grateful to my husband, Karl, for being the daddy he is, and for my dear Ella, who is one of my greatest teachers, and for all the students I’ve had in the classroom who share their struggles with me–I wish you a life of creative freedom! April 29, 2012 Last week, I got a text from Karl with a picture of Ella dressed in one of her amazing fashion creations. “Best one yet,” the text read. I was already at school (work) and wondered if he actually put her on the bus in that outfit. I knew he most likely did, as he has been great at encouraging Ella to be herself and not worry about what other people think. I tell her that too, but my actions say otherwise. Maybe because I know what happens at school. I don’t think I would have let her wear that outfit to school. I guess it’s a good thing I am not home for the morning routine right now. But, I got the aftermath. She got off the bus crying. A second grader on the bus called her a hippie. She got weird looks all day. She told me she wasn’t so sure she should have worn the outfit in the first place, and I asked her why she did. “Because Daddy was so proud of me. He even took a picture of me. I wanted to change at school, but I thought I couldn’t change in the middle of the day, that would just show them I care. People who do big things with their lives don’t care what other people think.” WOW! I knew I had to tread carefully, because this was a big moment for her. It’s the first time I’ve seen her devastated by peer pressure. She’s in third grade. She’s kind, smart, creative and full of personality. I cringe at the thought of her having to endure the level of peer pressure at the middle school where I teach. It concerns me that the clever, creative children in our society are often forced into conformity. We live in a tiny house, people know that. We pack healthy lunches and the other kids at lunch ask “What is that?” As Ella eats a homemade burrito. I want my kids to keep their individuality, but not at the expense of their confidence and sense of belonging. When I think about what has been the biggest concern in our drastic downsizing and debt-free lifestyle, it has been that the kids know why we are doing this and that they feel happy and secure knowing we are living a great life. I don’t want them to feel poor because our house is so small. I want them to feel rich, because all of our needs are met and we have each other. I know they know these things, but when they are criticized because they are different from others, I worry that they may equate different with wrong. So, I said “Ella, you have two choices. You can either not wear those types of outfits to school, or you can continue wearing them and pay no attention to what other people say or think.” If it were me, I would never wear that outfit or anything like it again, I know it. Somehow, I have a feeling Ella will make it more dramatic next time. I want to be her when I grow up! *** A note to teachers, Please be inflexible on this rule: Be kind. Enforce it not only within the four walls of your classroom, but on the entire campus. It can be hard to...

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A Cold Winter’s Night in the Tiny House

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in Breathe, Parent, Recent Posts, Remember | 24 comments

A Cold Winter’s Night in the Tiny House

I’ve sifted through thousands of words I wrote since moving into our tiny house in preparation for my upcoming ecourse–a step-by-step guide to dreaming, planning, and designing a mortgage-free lifestyle. I came across this essay I wrote last winter. Winter is a real challenge in a tiny house, and I am grateful for it. In the darkest time of year we can most clearly see our own light. These years in this tiny space are healing us. I’m happy to say, the pain I wrote about in this essay isn’t as intense as it was then. Being honest with myself and others about the pain is an important part of healing. Opening the restaurant wasn’t stupid, it was a leap, and we gave it our all. I’m proud of us for that. With the distance of time, I can accept that things don’t always go as planned and see that the adventure continues. I share these words because I want to keep it real, and maybe someone out there is feeling something like this. You are not alone, and  you will heal. February 17, 2013 I was falling asleep last night and thinking of my week. Karl reached for my hand. “Maybe I’m depressed, Karl.” I have had a hard weekend. The temperature dropped and the sun went away and the kids are bickering like dogs. I want quiet and calm, but finding that means I have to raise my voice ’til it hurts. That’s not what I want to do. I feel tired of sharing so deeply. My kids see it too. “Mommy, you have to get up so early and you’re grumpy.  Do you like doing it?” “Yes.” But I don’t know. Maybe I don’t. I want to share from a deep and honest place and sometimes I have no wisdom about it. The rooster is crowing. It’s 17 degrees outside. Up the hill stand giant power lines. They crackle with static and electromagnetic force. The crackle is loudest when it’s humid. Sometimes it sounds like a waterfall. Last night, the kids and I were trying to decide what to do. Ella really wanted her best friend to come for a sleepover, but I couldn’t handle that, my friend posted a picture of a giant pile of pine debris on Facebook. “Let’s burn this. If you can see this, you’re invited.” I love standing next to fire, but leaving the house with temperatures in the teens to stand outside in a field where winds howl was enough to make us turn up the heat and stay put. Ella grabbed a note pad to brainstorm. Okay, we have these options: board game or yoga. We decided on yoga and the kids scurried up to their loft to grab yoga mats and dove into their cabinets to find the perfect workout attire. Archer had this zip-up v-neck shirt and he kept pulling it down to expose his chest and making a serious-guy workout face. Ella looked like a messy yogini leaping around like a ballerina. It felt so good to laugh. “Someone’s yoga mat has to be in the kitchen and someone has to be on the couch. I’ll be in the living room.” They didn’t listen and arranged all three of our yoga mats in the living room. “They fit, Mommy.” “But what about when we need to stretch our arms or kick our legs?” “Oh, we can make it work.” So we did modified yoga: one arm stretched and one reaching up the wall. We kicked each other in the head and dropped our legs sideways onto each other’s bellies. “I told you we needed to spread out.” But they just kept going like there’s nothing wrong with doing yoga in a pile. Kids are so good at being present. I love that. They know how live in the moment and enjoy it for what it is. Me, I work hard to stay in the moment. I’ve lost the natural ability. When did it leave? I held Karl’s hand and told him how sad I feel and he said, “Life...

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Hooray for Family Day

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Kids'-Eye View, Parent, Recent Posts | 6 comments

Hooray for Family Day

There’s much delayed gratification when building a mortgage-free home. We live in a tiny house and sometimes long for more space. All we have to do is look up the hill to know…it’s coming. Maybe not as fast as we’d hope. I said not too long ago, “We can’t do another winter in this tiny house.” But maybe we will find ourselves here this Christmas. If all this rain has anything to say about it, it will be longer than we thought. While we are delaying gratification, the rest of our lives happen. Family Day to the rescue. Family Day has gotten us through many difficult times. During the time of our restaurant, New Day Cafe, we closed on Mondays and  made a point to do something fun every Monday–Family Day. Operating a restaurant was grueling. Karl worked 80 hour weeks. I tried to keep up with the house and kids and manage the restaurant. I would not look at it as a great time for our family, but yesterday on Family Day, Ella said, “We had so much fun in Florida. We had Family Day every week and did such fun things.” She didn’t remember the long hours or the dirty house or the stressed out parents. She remembered the fun we had on Family Day. It was a light bulb moment for me. We can navigate the hardest of times and still keep a sense of joy when we have traditions like Family Day or family dinner or family tickle fights. These are the moments that stick. Yesterday, we climbed rocks and watched water rush down a mountain creek. We wound our way down Hwy 8 to a little Mexican Restaurant and ate too much. We laughed and managed to spend the entire day in the company of each other. That’s what sticks. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

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How We Created a Delightful Christmas in Our Tiny House

Posted by on Nov 8, 2012 in Parent, Recent Posts | 10 comments

How We Created a Delightful Christmas in Our Tiny House

The wind has blown in the cold, and even though the calendar says it’s fall, it feels like winter. The jack-o-lantern sits frozen on the deck, and the heat is cranked. Donna the Kitty is cleaning her fur next to me while Sunna, our giant dog, runs up and down the hillside protecting the chickens from bunnies, squirrels and neighbor dogs. I’m thankful sitting inside our warm and cozy home listening to the wind howl. I thought I’d do a quick post to tell you that I am now a regular contributor to TinyHouseTalk.com! I am thankful to Alex Pino for giving me to opportunity to share with his community. For the next few weeks, I will share some ways that we created a tiny Christmas full of connection and joy. Click here to read my post at Tiny House Talk. Click here to read last year’s Christmas post. I hope you are warm! Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

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Meet the Chickens

Posted by on Sep 9, 2012 in Kids'-Eye View, Recent Posts | 16 comments

Meet the Chickens

This is me, Ella, the chicken watcher showing you all of my chickens. This is her mama posting for her.   Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

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Tiny House Living is a Real Option for Families

Posted by on Feb 26, 2012 in Kids'-Eye View, Parent, Recent Posts | 25 comments

Tiny House Living is a Real Option for Families

On Friday, Kent Griswold of tinyhouseblog.com posted a few pictures of our house along with a short write-up from me. I am astounded at the response this post has generated on our blog. Before he featured us, we had about 4,500 all-time hits, now we are at 21,000, just two days later. Thank you, Kent and tinyhouseblog. Welcome to our new visitors, and thanks to our friends and family who have encouraged us to share our story. We hope you find encouragement through our story to live life YOUR way. It is a new experience for us to open our lives to such a public arena. Opening our choices to public scrutiny makes me feel quite vulnerable, but also powerful. I am happy to know I am doing my best and living my life by my own internal compass. There are some people out there willing to spend time in judgement of other’s life choices. What a waste of our precious moments on earth. Just this morning, our family had a lively discussion over breakfast about our life in the tiny house. It was in response to a well-meaning (I presume) woman who commented on tinyhouseblog.com. She says, “it’s beginning to creep me out to see such experimentation on innocent children.” The kids were fired up! It was fun to see their desire to write a response. Here’s what we wrote: Dear Susan, I appreciate you taking the time to voice your concerns for children. I, too, am a teacher (public school) who has concern for children as the future leaders of our world. Your comment brought up a fun breakfast table discussion and a passionate response from Ella and Archer, who have composed their own responses to your concerns (below). There are a few assumptions you’ve made that we want to clarify for you: 1)We do not live remotely–we live in a rural environment. Our land (3 acres) is 1 mile from school and 2 miles from town. 2)Our children are not home-schooled (though I’ve considered it). They are successful students in public school. 3)Our children have lots of friends and regular playdates (at the tiny house and at friends’ houses). 4)The tiny house is a step in a long-term plan. We have made a conscious decision to stay mortgage-free. We are saving as we go, with our final goal being a house (about 1,000 sq. ft.), so that we can each have a small room for our own creative endeavors. In the end, what we will have taught (and are teaching) our children is that one does not have to buy into the cultural belief that a house has to be a certain size, and one must own certain things for happiness. We will have taught them that to reach a goal, one needs a solid plan and the ability to sacrifice desires in order to fulfill REAL needs. We will have taught them that a life without debt means true freedom. I wish you nothing but the best. TO ALL FAMILIES CONSIDERING A TINY HOUSE: This is a real option, with so many lessons and joys. There are obviously people ready to judge the decision to go against the mainstream, but as you will read from our kids’ passionate responses below, this choice has been a blessing to our family. We encourage you to go for it! Being mortgage-free is worth the sacrifices and challenges, and you can keep saving and build a bigger house if you feel the need for more space. From Brother (age 7): Living in this tiny house doesn’t affect me in a bad way. We play outside a lot. I have a lot of friends. They even come over for playdates, and we have fun in the woods. From Sister (age 8): Living in a tiny house affects us in a good way. Every Saturday and Sunday, we play imaginary games outside. We have great adventures with our neighbor friends. They don’t even need an invitation to come over! Last week, we all went sledding together. My mom and dad are...

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Sister’s Haikus for Winter Solstice

Posted by on Dec 21, 2011 in Kids'-Eye View, Recent Posts | 1 comment

Sister’s Haikus for Winter Solstice

Mister snowman is wearing a long orange nose and a strange top hat.   In a cold winter field, a young doe rests on bed of wilting flowers.   Every soul sees some light in the darkest dark time of Christmas happy. Share...

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Tiny House Kids’ Tour De Creek

Posted by on Nov 5, 2011 in Kids'-Eye View, Recent Posts | 3 comments

Tiny House Kids’ Tour De Creek

What a great learning tool! They didn’t want to post it, since it isn’t perfect, but they said “Oh, go ahead.” They’ll keep getting better. I, of course, think it is perfect. Tiny House Kids’ Tour De Creek Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

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