Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Dream: Slum Lording.

I had never spent much time wishing to be a slum lord. Actually, no time would be more accurate. That is until 4 days ago. I saw an apartment building on “the strip” of my town listed for $75K. 3 units- each 3 bedrooms, about 1000 square feet with off street parking and walk out basements. Two units are currently rented for $750 a month and one unit was just sitting there empty, waiting for my family to move in! I am going to be a building manager, people!!! The best land lord this side of some river. I’m picking out paint colors and planning to refinish hardwood floors. THEN, the Quicken man just shot me down. That was harsh (and very short lived…)! Just as I was firming up my (mental) plans, they ground to halt. Apparently, 3 bedroom apartment buildings are classified as “investment properties” and do not therefore qualify for the first time home buyer program. I erroneously assumed that if I was going to live in one of the units for the minimum required length of time (one year), that it would qualify. I actually had let myself slip down the rabbit hole far enough to plan to change the building rules to exclude the use of the backyard. That way, at the end of the 12 months, I could build my tiny home in the backyard and rent out all three units. Solid plan. Shot down. Bumming. People seem able to take my ideas away from me as soon as I generate then. This could get me down, yes it could. I could actually sink into a deep depression and need medication. Thankfully, I am like the unsinkable Molly Brown. I’m like cream, always rise to the top. One chapter ends, I write another. Novel ends, I turn it into a series. Yes, with in moments I came up with plan 1,658. By a camper of course! Duh!!! Just buy a camper! I swear I heard the angels sing (more likely the lazy drone of fall insects, but whatever). I think, lets buy a gutted camper (read- super cheap) and rebuild it like those ones in the blogs I read. So I haul the husband and children an hour away to look at one. No go. The hubs cannot see my vision. Undaunted, I find another craigslist ad and put my kids back in the car and head an hour in the opposite direction. This time, I can generate no vision for this terribly overpriced and rotted out caravan. My three year old told the owner that his camper was not pretty. It was that bad, even a three year old could tell. Again, I could allow myself to succumb to the crushing disappointment. But, undaunted I press on!!! One more ad. This time only 20 minutes away. Buckle in my kids, who no longer ever want to see a camper let alone live in one. They refuse to even go in this one. On the other hand, my husband and I just looked in the door and we just know. We just know that this is the one. I don’t even need to go inside, I don’t need to ask any questions. It was love at first sight. I love it like I loved my Mallard. My husband loves it more that the Mallard. We bought it. That was step one. Step two: Figure out how in the world to transport this 36′ long hunk of awesome. Step 3: Find a place to transport it to. Step 4: Build bunk beds in it for the kids and install a wood stove. If you want to ask me what my plan is, I say, “Slow down! One step at a time! Sheesh, everyone is always in such a hurry!”
PS. I assure you that the irony is not lost on me. In the span of 4 days, I was going to be a slum lord and went to look at a 3000 square foot “investment property”. I then planned to renovate a gutted camper into an awesome off grid, rain collecting, eco trailer. After discarding that vision, I went an bought an enormous, beautiful, gorgeous, amazing 288 square foot pent house! Again, I say, just be patient. If you aren’t living one of your dream lives today, just go to sleep. Dream something different. If that doesn’t pan out, take a nap. If you generate dreams relentlessly, you are bound to end up living your dreams over and over again. Don’t get hung up on one dream. That could be foolish and result in the need for medication. Keep dreaming people. Keep dreaming.

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The Price of Education

Don’t worry, I have no intentions of spouting forth ill-informed pro’s and con’s of higher education!  No, I do not! However, I AM going to tackle a chronic situation many of us have created in our own homes and family circles by the sharing of truths and ideals with our young children.  Picture this true scenario that played out at my local grocery store:

“We need olive oil, let’s go grab some oil and then we can head to the pet shop.  Come on kids, lets go!” says mom.  With many happy hops and jumps and carts driven without valid licenses we make our way to the impressive array of olive oil choices.  I have an agenda as usual.  To save money for a family vacation in this lifetime!  I turn to the big value cans of oil from my early 20’s, this is going to save me so much money!!!  I reach for one labelled as extra virgin with an Italian flag printed on the can.  Its on sale for $10.99, that includes the entire can, a vat you could say, full of evoo!!! My husband shifts his feet uncomfortably, my kids are dreamily examining bags of mini marshmallows.  I hesitate as I reached for the cart, noticing the look on his face.  “What?” I ask impatiently.  “It’s extra virgin, and it’s on sale!” A long pause….. “Is it cold-pressed?” the husband inquires.  “I don’t know, it’s extra virgin 100% pure olive oil.  That is what it says on the can.” I reply.  He takes the can from me.  I know I have lost so my gaze switches to the glass bottle selection, scanning for sale flags.  “This is actually refined oil and olive oil.  That’s what the ingredient list says.  That means it is chemically refined and produced.  They use…” he begins.  I cut him off, “I know what that means. How about that one?”  Jadon has now noticed the conversation and he walks over and picks up the exact bottle of olive oil that we buy every time.  He says, “Can we just get the regular olive oil, mom?”  Cynthia trots over and looks around at the oil and grabs another of the same.  She says, “Can we get the regular kind, mom?”  I sigh, “I was just hoping to save some money.  How do we all feel about organic versus non-organic?”  Jadon looks uncomfortable for a minute, “I prefer organic, but I don’t want to tell you to spend every dollar you have….. Let’s just get the cheaper one.”  Cynthia says, “Let’s get the regular oil, mom.  This one.”  We bought the regular.  

Why you ask, why blog about this?  Well, this was our last stop in the grocery store.  We had to go through the same frustrating dilemma at each step of the way.  From apples to pasta to canned tomatoes to oil.  Did we save any money, absolutely! But not today.  In health care for sure, but what does this have to do with the cost of education???  We have spent countless hours educating ourselves on the production of food. We have debated, vacillated, and yes, even anguished over food.  We have explained our choices to ourselves and to our children.  Why?  Because our kids want a burger at McDonald’s just like other kids.  They want soda and ice cream and cupcakes with sprinkles on them, individual pudding cups…  I have not found anyway to explain to them why we say no other than to teach them.  I educated myself about GMO’s and transfats and feedlot meats and pesticides and herbicides, and yup, you guessed it. They were there. They hear me think out loud, they watch the documentaries. They now have opinions. If you choose to educate yourself and your family, prepare to get called out when you are short on grocery money and trying to take a shortcut.

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Filed under Family!, Healthy Eating, Homeschooling, Uncategorized

Night Light Philosophy.

Every night, when the lights go out (and sometimes before) I begin to hear little noises…. And see shadows darting by. Yes. I have mice. Not the pet kind that strange people PAY for at the pet store. Wild ones. They come from unknown lands. And they scamper about, resisting the urge to investigate dabs of peanut butter I casually leave out. Gift offerings we will call them. Thank you gifts perhaps. “Thank you for romping around my 200 year old house, carrying on a timeless tradition.” What is the solution??? Snap traps, don’t work. Live traps, empty. Boxer on standby, I think they have an arrangement of some sort. Dryer sheets under the stove, I think they use them to do their own laundry. Get a cat? Ummm, another dirty critter romping about my house? Pooping in a box and creating fur babies and hair balls??? No. That was a loud NO!!! I have been contemplating ordering that survival sling shot I’ve been wanting for a long time. Fear that I will bean myself as the pellet ricochets off the front of my oven stops me everytime, seems risky to life and limb. It is time to get downright creative. They just might be livestock. We eat mostly organic foods, our dog eats overpriced wild bison and sweet potatoes, and they also enjoy a selection of seeds and grains in our pigeon food. Although my family thinks my talking about wood chucks and raccoons with a culinary slant is strange, according to my research they are traditional table toppers, not to mention hats, scarves, coats, and decorations. I like meat. Mice are made of meat. Seems logical to suppose I am doing a great job as a mouse rancher. And baby, its round up time!!! I have been doing some preliminary research, looking up recipes and the like, and I am not the only person who looks at them as a food source. Check out this well written piece: http://www.seriouseats.com/2008/03/eating-mice-can-be-rather-nice.html On the other hand, with a 9 year old boy who eats eggs by the half dozen only to start looking for more, how many mice would it take to make a meal??? This conversation has come full circle for me now. I can see no practical value at this time in mouse ranching, or would it be mice ranching…. Hmmmm, sounds weird. It is time for a bit of night light philosophizing. My favorite time of night. Have you ever read the book Feldman Fieldmouse by Nathaniel Benchley and Hilary Knight? It is unfortunately out of print but you can pick up a copy on amazon for pennies. It is an awesome story. Feldman is a mouse of dreams, he dreams of organizing a huge mass of mice to join together in the light of the full moon to dance with wild abandon. He and his nephew Fendell pull it off. Feldman unfortunately is eaten during his dancing delirium, but you may get swept up in the moment like my kids and I did and find it terribly romantic and exciting. You may never look at mice the same again, especially in the light of the full moon, or during a bit of night light philosophizing! Really, when you boil it all down, kids are messy, dogs are messy, and the mice are by nature obsessive cleaners (think Cinderella, duh!). They are doing me a favor. Thank you mice.

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Abundance

What is abundance?  Food.  Plenty of food.  Not a wasteful, gluttonous amount; but plenty.  Nobody is going to go hungry today!  After experiencing gut wrenching poverty for the first time in my American life, the first thing that I think of is food.  House?  Bills paid?  Nice clothes?  Shiny car?  Nope, food.  The rest feels like details.  Maybe the next time I experience serious economic problems I will see it through the eyes of a person who has no shelter and I will feel differently.  I will think of having solid walls around me to keep me safe and warm.  Experiencing poverty changed my family deeply, irreversibly I believe.  For one thing, I worry about food.  My husband worries about work.  He is just starting to recover enough to be able to contemplate different work.  That fear is there, lurking below the surface.  What if I lose a job and cannot find a new one?  I am surely not knocking steady, full-time employment.  It has a lot of pleasant benefits.  Affordable(ish) health care, paid vacation time, guaranteed paycheck on the first and fifteenth of each month, sick time, an occasional pizza, retirement fund.  You get the picture, it is a pretty good deal.  But at what price?  I do have relative food security, I have an abundance of food.  But, my husband works 6 days a week.  The regular 40 hour job doesn’t quite generate enough on its own so it must be supplemented.  We have two young kids, I am responsible for their health and well being as well as of their education.  Do they have an abundance?  They do not have an abundance of their Dad, or of time spent as a complete family.  I have even less of an abundance of their Dad.  Right now for instance, he is sound asleep.  Went to bed with the kids.  Why? Because all he has is an abundance of hours of work.  He worked from 6:30 this morning till a bit after 6 this evening and the morning alarm will ring soon.  Is this really the American dream that people move here looking for?  Really?  By the time he can retire and be home, our kids will be long gone with kids of their own.  That is time that you simply cannot make up.  I propose a rebellion.  A rebellion against the status quo.  Against the standard American life.  It is pretty distasteful, just like the standard American diet.  I suggest we rebel against how many square feet of home we are told will make us be/look successful and happy, against the advertisement that keeps telling me I need to drive a Sienna in order to keep my kids safe, and a rebellion against vicarious living through pinterest.  That if I am not building light tables and doing hours of super-awesome crafty projects with my kids all day long I am a worthless parent.   I propose that we stand up and acknowledge that we understand how skewed the standard life we are spoon fed from a young age is.  Look it in the eye and reject it.  We are extraordinary people after all, we deserve extraordinary lives filled with abundance.  An abundance of food, family, friends, fun.  Relationships and experiences are what make our lives meaningful.  Forget about how it will look to your peers.  Forget what the Jones’ might say about you.  Revel in an abundant life.

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Fast Track…

The more I think about my life, the more I crave a tiny home. Not because I think a tiny home would be ideal because being crammed into a tiny space with three other people would just be awesome, but the bigger implications call my name. Forget the catchy, coined phrase “Tiny Home”, for me it feels like a tool. Not a trendy cool thing to do, show it off to friends and family and 12 months later buy a bigger house and park it in the yard. Something inside me has been pulling to the wilds for a very long time. I can’t explain it, I have always known the standard life (as well as the standard diet) were not for me. And believe it or not, I think they are connected!!! The diet and the life I mean. I am not ashamed to declare my love for beef. I apologize to all you vegans and lacto/ovo legetarians, even all you (extinct) breatharians! I have tried out all of your lifestyles and philosophies and quite frankly, they gave me blisters. Bottom line, I’m a type O, hypoglycemic, borderline crazy person. I know the facts. I have lived next to midwestern feedlots. I understand food chains and know the benefits of eating closest to the sun, trust me, I eat my veggies!!! Promise. But without the beef, I quickly become anemic and develop a bobble headed, too thin look. How do I cope with an overactive sense of social justice and intense love for this gorgeous planet with my need for the beef? Eat local, organic, grass-fed beef to start with. And live in a tiny home to reduce my carbon foot print without reducing my beef consumption! Brilliant?!? It is a feel good solution, don’t you think? You can have your cake and eat it too. I have never understood why anyone would have a cake and not eat it, unless it is the kind I bake, LOL! Gluten free, lactose free, sugar free… It is not going to taste like cake, why bother? The way it looks to me (picture me sitting up in the middle of the night keeping my insomnia company with youtube video’s of people who actually have tiny houses) is that if I can finagle a tiny home, I can eat beef without guilt. How else will I be able to do that I ask you? You know I am right. There is no alternative, I need a trailer. Or a bus. Or a tent….

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I Want to Move into My Porch?!?

Funny moment today! I was intently drooling over the plans for a tiny home that I think could work for my family while we buy land (in the future) and put in a well and all those cool things, when suddenly I got the hair brained idea to measure out the size. Jadon and I were laughing quite a bit, that I will tell you right up front. He helped me measure our porch which happens to be just over 7′ wide, it also happens to be about 6′ longer than the tiny house!!! No joke people, I want to move my entire family into my porch. Hmmmmmmm. My camper was 31′ long, more than twice as long as this tiny house! In case you are wanting to see the tiny house plans I keep talking about, head over to http://www.fourlightshouses.com/products/weller and check it out. I bet you wouldn’t picture it being smaller than my porch either! I must now go cook food in my gigantic kitchen and laugh and laugh and laugh!!! Its so crazy, it just might work!

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Downsizing!

I’m living life on a large scale! HA!!! Large loads of laundry.  Large stacks of papers.  Large stashes of “stuff”.  Its like Texas over here in my apartment!!!  Its awesome.  OK, so here’s a newsflash: bigger isn’t always better, lol!  Thanks to my mama (have I ever followed “thanks to” with any other name??? I didn’t think so.) I am in the second week of an e-class all about downsizing.  I know, maybe not something you had on your bucket list, but its been on mine for years.  Right next to buy a swamp, sigghhhh…  Anyhow, the first assignment involved a lot of soul searching and dreaming about what I really want out of life and how downsizing can help me get there.  I needed to write a personal manifesto and blog about it for higher accountability.  Without further ado, here is my manifesto:

 
Manifesto:
I am downsizing the material aspects of my life (i.e. clutter, debt, work load…) in order to make more room for living fully.  I am letting go of remnants of past lives and old dreams in order to create new ones.  I am also accepting my limitations and skill level in order to pursue activities that I am better suited for.  I will never be a wool felting, sweater knitting, long haired earth mama.  I will spend more of my energy hiking and exploring, drawing and painting and reading great books with my children.  In the end, I will have a clean home full of beautiful and meaningful things, a place I am happy to wake up in and happy to come home to.  I will be free to pick up and go at a moments notice without a second thought, confident that my home is in order, my finances cared for, and my family happy.  Without debt, we will be free to dream up a new life.  To choose work that will allow us to be together as a family.  We can save up money to find our own neck of the woods.  And not be hampered by conventional loan restrictions or forced to pass up a great opportunity.  Life will be chosen, not merely accepted and tolerated.
 
There she be.  Like a ship in the night.  Like a feather on a bird.  A hair on a cat.  A bird in the bush.  Snot on a….. OK, OK, I’m done now!

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