Within These Walls

Small House Living

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I curl up in bed at night with my fluffy IKEA clearance bin comforter and a half-read library book, the sounds of my husband tapping away on his work tablet in the living room and my daughters’ sleepy thick breathing comforting me, like a solid rain pummeling our old window panes.

In the gray early mornings, I hear my daughters whispering in their bedroom to one another to “not wake mommy and daddy yet.” This sweetness makes me want to rush to them and also savor the few extra minutes their gentle hearts have granted us. Soon after, we gather on the couch, wrapped in an old afghan, teapot chattering as the boil builds and steam rises. Kirk and I often lean against our old gas range, coffee mugs in hand, planning for the day while the girls dance and twirl in the living room.

When you live in a small house there is no escaping the noises that everyone makes; it becomes a soundtrack of its own, one that measures out the rhythm of our days. We are only ever steps away from each other and there is very little privacy or true alone time to be had. Even when I am working with my bedroom door shut, the sounds of my family still trickle in, reminding me that I am always here, always home.

Perhaps there is an oddness in craving this closeness, to revel in these tiny spaces. And of course, there are moments, sometimes days, when I wish to be alone, somewhere completely silent. But those moments are rare.

Through this experiment of living in a 675 square foot house (which is luxurious compared to many parts of the world, I know) I’ve found that these physical limitations make my gratitude stronger. Rather than resenting the size of our home, I revel in the gift of closeness. Rather than wishing for my privacy, I am learning to connect more deeply to my family. And rather than hoping for nicer things to fill our spaces, I’m choosing gratitude for what we already own.

How will the cadence and rhythm of our home change when our baby joins us? What will our little home sound like with two littles underfoot and a baby in arms? 

Tonight as I type these words and listen to the croupy cough of my oldest daughter, I am grateful that I can reach her quickly, just a handful of steps until I’m at her bedside with a glass of water and a tucking of her blankets. Someday when my children are grown and much farther away than the width of a little house, I’ll look back on how our family bond grew and love spilled over within these walls, and I’ll give thanks.

 

 

A Quiet Christmas and Look Toward 2017

Small House Living, Values Based Living

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Our December was hectic and overflowing with my daughter’s involvement in the Nutcracker and Kirk transitioning to a new job. Last week I turned in my grades for my online humanities courses and hid my laptop. 2016 had been a year of too much technology, constant digital connection, and limited face to face interactions of the kind that sustain and renew.

Our Christmas was quiet and slow. The girls are still at an age where they are unaware of all of the toys available during the holiday shopping season. We didn’t step foot in any big box stores at all in November and December, and we tend to avoid the toy aisle as a long-standing practice. It’s not that we are anti-toys, but prefer to influence our kids rather than marketers.

Of course, the girls pored over the Nova Natural catalog and had a few requests. We simplified Christmas to a few categories (which may change next year), and the girls each received:

  1. something to read
  2. something to wear
  3. something to play with
  4. a family experience

Since we talked about this ahead of time, there were no tears or disappointment, and I think they both really loved everything they discovered under the tree. We also stayed on budget and didn’t experience the normal holiday pressure to over-consume at the expense of our finances. Rather than focus on material things, we focused on time with family and quiet time together at home. We cooked magic muffins (our own recipe), local pastured bacon, and gluten-free sticky buns topped off with virgin mimosas (for the girls and I; Kirk had the real thing), went to church, and attended my nephew’s first birthday party.

As we look forward to 2017, I am envisioning a simpler year filled with deeper connections and a continued movement toward our dreams. Part of our transitioning to a simpler life is selling our Casita as we prepare for the birth of our next baby in late spring of 2017. I’ll talk more about why we’re selling the Casita and if that means we’re done traveling in my next post about my plans and intentions for 2017.

Hope your holidays were peaceful and a time to reflect in preparation for the coming new year!