Distractions

There is no house news. Don’t even ask about the house. What house? Who said we were building a house? There is no house!

We are still held up in the permitting process and when I think about how long this all is taking it evokes a visceral reaction in me which requires deep breathing and immediate distraction to alleviate.

Distractions include, but are not limited to:

1. Haunting Pinterest and Houzz for finish ideas. This comes in bits and spurts because I am very easily overwhelmed, but I think I have a general idea of what I want in the kitchen at least. My inspiration images include open shelving around the kitchen window, white cabinets, light flooring and butcher block countertops. A little like this:

kitchen inspo

Only, you know, different. Aside from that, my main qualifications are that everything in the house has to be really, really easy to clean and take care of because I am terrified that we are going to build a brand new house and then our four children are going to destroy it. This is kind of a real concern.

2. Books. Always. This month I’ve read The Opposite of Spoiled (which has convinced me to start giving the girls an allowance and that we aren’t permanently damaging them by making them live in a bus during some of their formative years), Persuasion (I should read more classics – I always wind up loving them), Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (if you had told me what it was about beforehand I never would have picked it up, but I wound up really enjoying it) and The Old Man and the Sea (I absolutely detested TOMATS in high school, but Noah loved it so we both reread it and discussed. I like it more at 28 than I did at 15, especially after reading Hemingway’s words about it: “There isn’t any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is the old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The sharks are sharks, no better, no worse.” I can get on board with literalism.)

Sidenote: I get a terrible lot of my book recommendations from Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy and am planning to read the titles I haven’t yet from her post 11 Books That are Better in the Spring.

3. Gardening. I finally managed to clear the garden of the remaining eight heads of red cabbage (and disperse them among our neighbors because who can eat that much cabbage?!) and get all the weeds out during a particularly angsty morning with a hoe and a rake. Now we just need to dump in some compost and plant delicious things.

4. Snakes. It’s like Snakeopolis over here. We’ve caught or seen at least four in the past few weeks (although Noah’s theory is that it might be only one snake who is really, really bad at hiding). So far they’ve been the harmless, rattle-less kind, but we’ve been warning the kids to make lots of noise outside so they don’t come upon one by surprise. Not that kids really need a lot of encouragement to be noisy, it’s pretty much in their nature. Lily encountered one yesterday on her way to the van and I was able to get a quick picture of it slithering under one of the bus tires:

Hopefully it will get after some of the gophers that ate the majority of our garden this winter *evil cackle*.

5. Potty Training. We’re on day 5 of almost no accidents with Finn (even during nap time!) and I’m ready to call it a success. He’s kind of a rockstar and now he has the big boy underpants to prove it.

6. Egg watching. I almost hesitate to write about this because it’s just so… cannibalistic. Remember how we wanted to let the chickens hatch some eggs and I was all “whatever” about doing things the way the internet recommended? Well, I will never ignore the internet AGAIN. I have learned my lesson. Soon after the photo from that post was taken all the eggs pictured were gone. Because the chickens ATE THEM. And now they won’t stop! They eat their own eggs every day unless I can get out there fast enough and grab them.

This time I’ve tried all the tips the internet has had to offer. I have put golf balls in the nest so the chickens would try to peck them and hurt their beaks. I’ve put mustard into empty egg shells because supposedly chickens hate it. I’ve increased the protein and calcium in their feed. I have no idea what else to do.

The only thing that actually helps is letting them out of the coop during the day, but the rooster is getting aggressive and chases the kids and we need to get rid of him somehow before that’s a viable option.

For now, I just have to try to get out there as early and as often as I can to try and get the eggs before they do, the monsters.

So that’s what’s going down on this side of town. As soon as we have any progress on the house everybody will know because I will be shouting it from the rooftops and dancing in the street and generally not making a secret of it. At all. Really. Just you wait and see.

Spring Cleaning

I have been spending the past week or so cleaning out and reorganizing all the cupboards in the bus and so my brain is on spring cleaning.

I read once in an organization book (because sometimes reading about cleaning leaves me feeling just as satisfied as actually cleaning and requires much less effort) that a well-organized home is never truly messy.

I understand the idea behind this: if everything has a place to go, it’s just a matter of putting it there; “a place for everything and everything in its place,” and all that. So often the messes that are the most overwhelming for me consist of new things being brought into our home that require figuring out a place for them, or things that never really had a home to begin with and have just been floating around, undealt with, for so long I want to throw them away simply because I’m tired of looking at them.

When space is tight this sense of overwhelm is heightened; throw a few children into the mix it and gets exponentially greater. They (well, mine at least) have little to no respect for established organizational systems, but are great at developing their own that make no sense to me and that change all the time and, funnily enough, look a lot like unmitigated chaos.

It is a fine line between allowing my kids the autonomy and responsibility of organizing their own spaces and going in and making things over so they look the way I think they should. There are certain structures they have to adhere to (their room must be picked up daily and messes in common areas get cleaned by whoever made the mess, which is usually everybody, etc.) but there are a lot of variables within those structures that I’m always trying to figure out.

Do I give them their own allotted area in the cupboard for arts and craft stuff and let them shove their paper and crayons in however they please so long as the door closes, or do I enforce structure and get after them to put things back exactly where they belong? Is it okay that part of their room cleaning involves creating little totems to certain books and toys along the walls or should I insist on having everything put away out of sight? One set of options involves a lot more effort on my part and usually results in nagging and consequences, the other requires me to frequently second-guess myself and have faith that they will eventually learn to take care of their things without my voice always ringing in their ears. I think allowing them a certain creative license is a part of the process to helping them figure out a real system that works for them.

For now, a lot of my decisions depend on what will keep me the sanest in the immediate future. If their creative organization of their room means that time will be wasted trying to find cuppies at bedtime or slippers in the morning, it’s a no, but if they want to keep a conglomeration of treasures in a box near their bed or line up the books they’re currently reading on the windowsill, fine by me. It makes sense to them because those are the things they want to have easy access to, which is the heart of organization, really.

Likewise, I have been trying to find a balance when it comes to maintaining the rest of the bus. When we first moved in I had a vision of perfectly organized simplicity with lots of clear spaces and cupboards filled with neatly-packed bins of useful items.

The reality, however, is that with six people in about 200 square feet downstairs (not including the porch) in which to live and work and play, every inch of wall and counter and cupboard and floor space matters. While I do want things to look nice, it is ultimately more important that our space is useful – function over form, in this case.

So, I am trying to look at our space with new eyes and figure out what’s working, what’s not and what doesn’t matter.

What works: We moved our (mine and Noah’s) clothes from upstairs in our bedroom to the closet in the bathroom downstairs. These pocket organizers from Ikea that I originally tried to use in the kids’ room are now hanging on the back of the bathroom door to hold socks, pajamas and what have you. This has made a huge difference when getting dressed and putting laundry away.

bathroom org

What doesn’t: In the kitchen, it’s difficult for me to see and access our most-used spices that are in a high cupboard without a stool. I’m thinking a small rack on the wall next to the stove would solve that problem, even though it means less white-space. It would also leave more room in the cupboard for food.

spice cupboard

Where the heck is the salt? spicerack

Perfectly useful space being underutilized!

What doesn’t matter: the coat hooks. I have tried a million times to find some kind of system so that our coat rack doesn’t seem so… overwhelmed. The fact of the matter is, this is one of the most highly-used areas of our home for storing things. Jackets, library bags, my purse, head-lamps for going outside at night, keys and hats – tons of day-to-day necessities call this spot home. As long as we know that this is where they live and can find them with relative ease, it’s not super important to me that it doesn’t look exactly pretty.

coathook

I’m awfully curious to know if you have the same kinds of issues trying to figure out how to organize your kids’ spaces and your own and how you deal with them. Do tell.

A Little More Room to Breathe

Remember how excited I was a few weeks ago when it looked like something was happening?

Right, well, pretty much nothing concrete has happened since then.

Initially the hang up was because there were some county-required corrections that needed to be made to the plans, which is pretty standard. Because our former contractor was the one who engineered the blueprints (and we had already paid him in full for this aspect of the job) we had to wait for his team to complete said changes.

A process that should have taken a week or two stretched out into an entire month. The former contractor then said that the plans were ready, but he wouldn’t release them to us until we paid an additional fee of $700.

And that’s when I kind of lost it. In an over-the-phone display of impatience, frustration and post-partum-hormone-fueled rage I succeeded in embarrassing myself enough to convince the contractor to let us have the corrected plans without paying the additional fee beforehand. I don’t know if he was fully able to understand every word out of my mouth because I burst into tears halfway through, but obviously he got the gist of it.

We were finally able to resubmit to the county, but now we’ve hit a snag with the grading permit. The original owners of our property graded the pad that the house is going to be built on without a permit. This resulted in a code-enforcement violation. We paid the fee that was due ages ago, but now the county is requiring that we have the original grading engineer re-certify the grading plan that he created almost a decade ago for a completely different owner and a completely different house and it’s just taking up more and more time.

Our loan is for one year, which means that we have to have the house fully finished before mid-December otherwise we have to pay extra money for an extension, which I would very much like to avoid.

TL;DR – We are hitting time-wasting snags with the permit process and I am not wearing my impatience very gracefully.

Meanwhile, Noah has been venting his own frustration in much more productive ways than yelling at contractors. He took a couple of weekends and used the leftover laminate from the bus remodel to semi-finish the porch!

porch

It’s been fantastic having the room to spread out. The kids have been able to play board games and we can put Sawyer down on a blanket on the floor for tummy-time. It’s nice to have a place to stretch our limbs if we want to, or rough-house and turn somersaults and cartwheels, should the impulse grab us.

familyonporch

In sum: Boo to construction delays! Hooray for extra space!

 

Interview with Off the Grid Radio

This past week has been pretty miserable for the Springfields since most of us have been battling the flu. We’ve been quarantined in our tiny abode for five days, but thankfully, Noah has improved things around here a significant way that made that slightly more bearable than it normally would have been.

I’ll be sharing more about that next post, because it’s been very exciting for us, but I thought you might enjoy a link to a short interview I gave for Off the Grid Radio.

It’s just me this time as it was scheduled during the day while Noah was at work. Please forgive me, I refer to our family at one point as “an inspiration” to our friends and family (when Noah heard that he just laughed and laughed) and then give some advice toward the end that is definitely much more practical than inspirational.

If you’re interested in the entire 24-minute interview the link is HERE.

One Year!

Jumping Jehosephat. Can you believe that it’s been almost A WHOLE YEAR since we moved into the bus?!

Sheer insanity, I tell you.

When we were first discussing this half-baked plan of ours, Noah and I decided that we would stick with it for at least a year. We told ourselves we could do anything for just a year and we would keep a minimum amount in our savings account to afford to put a down payment on an apartment or something if worse came to worst.

A year ago this week the five of us moved out of our small rental and into a bus with no running water or gas to cook food. We had to unpack in the dark with only the aid of one electric lantern (loaned to us by a neighbor) because we had no electricity yet:

moving

A year ago this week I thought my cycle was late due to the stress of the move, but I took a pregnancy test “just in case”:

pregtest

A year ago this week my guest post at Money Saving Mom was published and I didn’t know it because we didn’t have the computer up yet and I was checking in from the library and my stats had magically skyrocketed into oblivion. That’s where a lot of you heard about this blog, so it’s kind of like our one year anniversary too! Happy Anniversary, friends!

losing our home

It’s amazing what a difference a year can make. A lot of my thoughts and feelings about living in the bus have changed and morphed with time and circumstance.

When we first moved in I was excited and optimistic, although I was worried about the stigma associated with not living in a brick and mortar house and I was keenly aware of the kids not being thrilled with the experience. I was secretly terrified that it was all going to be a waste of time and effort because we weren’t saving any money and were just barely hovering above that bare minimum amount that we had agreed on. We had a sketch of a house plan, a contractor willing to take on the project of building our very simple house on a limited budget and the courage to just go for it.

Six months later we were in the middle of Summer with record high heat. I was enormously pregnant and miserable and our contractor was declined by the bank. I was feeling very disillusioned by tiny space living and Noah was sending me posts about places for rent nearby. I’m not gonna lie: we very nearly caved.

Now, though… now the end is in sight. Sawyer is here, Spring is coming (and with it, our Saturn peaches!), our savings account is healthy and we should be breaking ground within the month. I don’t really have “All the Thoughts” about living in the bus anymore because it’s just become normal for us. It’s where we are right now.

I can’t say that living in a bus has been an amazing experience all the time. I can’t say that I’ve loved every minute of it and that I would do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t know that I would recommend it for everyone.

I CAN say, though, that I don’t think that I’ll ever regret it and I CAN say that I think the people who immediately dismiss this living style as “impossible” or just “not for them” as a way to save money to accomplish a goal or a dream should maybe think about giving it a shot.

Even if it’s just for a year.

A Financial Question

Dear readers, we would love to have your input again.

It’s terribly useful to be able to throw quandaries out there and hear a plethora of advice and suggestions from all walks of life. You’ve helped us decide on a vehicle to purchase, given us ideas on how to solve our food storage problem and had a ton of suggestions for how to get around not having a way to cook food when we first got out here. You guys are The Best.

This time, it’s a financial question. If your eyes have already glazed over, feel free to skip down to the bottom and say hi to Sawyer.

If you’ll recall from forever ago when I wrote all about construction loans, during the building period the home-owner (that’s us) is only required to pay simple interest monthly on the amount of funds that have currently been withdrawn from the loan.

What this looks like for us right now is that we have drawn about $40k at a simple interest rate of 3.875%. That leaves us with an interest only payment due of only about $130 per month (so far). This amount will increase as more funds are drawn from the loan but is otherwise static.

A normal mortgage payment follows a trend that looks like this, where the majority of your money goes toward interest and a teeny tiny amount goes toward principal:

pni

However, right now we’re at a place where that is temporarily flip-flopped. We have a tiny amount of interest and any additional funds we throw at it will go directly toward our principle. We could potentially start paying down our mortgage before it even begins, thus saving even more money on future, compound interest and shaving down our future monthly payments, not to mention time off the loan.

There are all very good things indeed and I was terrifically excited when I realized how that all worked out. However, there are other things we could do with those funds as well.

1. Save it as security for when our mortgage starts in earnest. We currently have about 4-5 months worth of monthly income set aside as a general emergency fund, but we could always add to that. (Things have settled down quite a bit and we have been able to sock quite a bit more away each month than we could when we were first getting set up).

2. Put it toward the house itself by upgrading finishes, etc. If we find a great deal on Craigslist for some sort of building material or appliance, etc. it would be nice to have the funds set aside to purchase it with cash.

3. Invest it. We are currently setting aside quite a bit out of Noah’s paycheck toward retirement and his employee stock purchase plan account, but we have been meaning for a long time to actually start investing on our own and now could be as good a time as any. Better, in fact, that others, some might say: if we can earn at a higher interest rate than we’d be saving by paying down the mortgage (so, a return of more than 4%) then it makes more sense to invest.

A lot of this depends on what our long-term goals are (aside from “Live in a structure without wheels), how much satisfaction we would get by paying down our mortgage early and what kind of investments we might potentially make. It’s kind of an impossible question to answer definitively, BUT we would love to hear what YOU would do in our situation.

Aren’t finances exciting?!

happysawyer

On the Bus-Stead

I really wish that the reason I haven’t been writing the past couple of weeks was because things have been a whirlwind of activity and that I could come back here and inundate you with pictures of all the progress that’s been made on the house. I wish I had even so much as a a shovelful of dirt to proudly post.

Unfortunately, it’s simply been due to the mundanities of daily life mixed with some foul weather. On cloudy days turning on the computer means that I am instantly greeted with a loud, whiny screech from our inverter telling me that I really need to stop sucking up the power if I want to be able to turn on the lights come nighttime.  Throw in some irregular nap schedules from the kidlets and you have a perfect recipe for not being able to blog.

Excuses aside, I do have some things to share.

House-wise: it’s still at least another week before we get our plans back from the engineer who is making the corrections that the county requires so we can get our building permit. Our contractors are making preparations for getting temporary power out here so that it’s ready to go as soon as possible. So, we’re doing some more waiting. Huzzah.

I have to say that it has been difficult to be patient lately. Since we began this endeavor I have been able to tick off on my fingers multiple friends who have bought houses and are now nicely settled or are in the process of doing so within the next few weeks. It seems like it would have been so much easier to have been able to just find something already built and to have made-do.

When it’s rainy and the kids are antsy and the condensation from the cold is dripping down from the ceiling in random places I want a house so badly I am tempted to run outside and start digging the footings myself.

That’s when I have to take a deep breath and remind myself over and over again that this isn’t forever and it will eventually all be worth it. Or, if nothing else, at least over with.

In actuality it’s not so bad most of the time. Bus-living has started to seem quite normal. I was re-reading some of my earlier posts and I don’t really know what I was so worked up about just a few months ago.

Anyway, now that we are approaching real construction time we are supposed to be getting serious about choosing our finishes. Noah has started bringing home samples and pamphlets from Home Depot again (because the first batch mysteriously disappeared somehow…). I have been reacting to this by spending time on Google and Pinterest trying to find inspiration and ideas. But then I get overwhelmed thinking about all the teeny tiny details that have be chosen and decided on (hardware! backsplashes! baseboard height!) and the effort of trying to reconcile my taste with Noah’s and I have to stop for a few days. Then the cycle repeats.

However, we are making a little bit of progress. So far we have decided that we like this color flooring:

flooring

And that’s about it.

Bus-stead-wise: One of the things that we’ve been occupying ourselves with these past few weeks has been trying to tame the fruit trees that have been neglected on the property for almost a decade. We are lucky enough to live next door to a retired high school agriculture teacher  and he came over and showed us the proper way to go about it. I think the best piece of advice that he gave us was that it’s pretty much impossible to over-prune.

Noah thinks I’m exaggerating, but I honestly think I gave myself tendonitis from pruning so much.

Case in point, here’s a before and after shot of just one of our peach trees:

treepeachbefore

treepeach

I think that’s enough to have given anybody tendonitis, so there.

We’re also considering hatching some chicks this spring. Or, rather, letting the hens hatch some (I’m busy enough as it is without having to sit on a nest all day long). I’m thinking we’ll do six or so to account for any roosters and to give some away to family and friends. After doing some cursory research on the internet, there are all sorts of things that you’re supposed to do in order to let your hens hatch their own eggs (rather than incubating them) including building a “broody box” for whichever hen seems the “broodiest”, meaning the one that is sitting in the corner knitting little clawed booties, I guess. Then you’re supposed to let them get into the mood by letting them sit on golf balls for practice (I kid you not) before switching them out with fertilized eggs.

At any rate, I’m sure there’s a legitimate reason behind all of that, but I’m thinking we might just let the hens do their thing and see how it goes. I figure chickens were reproducing successfully long before humans came around and started building special boxes for them and sticking golf balls in their nests, right?

Or maybe not. This is the scene out there right now and those eggs look pretty neglected. The chickens are all gathered by the door at my feet, but to abandon your nest for the hope of some kitchen scraps? I can practically see the eggs shivering out there!

neglectedeggs

We also planted a winter garden, but the only things that escaped the gophers and rabbits and squirrels were a couple stalks of broccoli, tons of cabbage and butter-yellow cauliflower. The cabbage hasn’t fully grown yet, but the cauliflower was delicious and we were able to give several heads of it away to family and friends.

Aaaand I think that just about covers our amateur farming efforts. It’s all a work in progress.

Something is HAPPENING

We have owned this property since November, 2012. We have lived out here in the bus since March, 2014. We have talked to countless contractors and lending institutions. We have looked into manufactured homes, kit homes and stick-built homes. We have researched alternative building materials including straw-bale and shipping containers. We’ve read over mounds of loan paperwork and signed documents until our hands were permanently stained with BIC ink and the pens had to be pried from our gnarled grasps. We’ve even paid REAL MONEY to the bank just on faith that things were moving along somehow, somewhere out in the ethos.

But today marks a momentous occasion.

We’ve had contractors and soil engineers come and look and measure and make chalk-lines and leave tire-tracks and footprints all over the pad but never has anybody ever left anything of substance that said “We’ll be back. This isn’t over yet. There’s more to do to get this done and it’s going to be done because we’re going to do it.”

Until now.

Are you ready for this?

Am I ready for this?

Today, for the very first time in the history of EVER, there is actual, physical, irrefutable proof that this land will someday contain more than just RVs and chickens. There is going to be an honest-to-goodness house that we will honest-to-goodness live in. It will have ceilings so high that even Noah will be able to jump up and down without smacking his head and rooms big enough for rough-housing. A second story that we won’t have to get to via a ladder and bedrooms where we can actually sit up in bed. Electricity that isn’t affected by cloudy days and maybe, JUST MAYBE, a working refrigerator. IN THE KITCHEN, even.

I’m talking luxury, folks. I can see it now.

And it all begins with this:

bmp

Beautiful, isn’t it?

That, my friends, is not actually a giant rubber pencil-gripper. It is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than that. It is… well, it’s the BMPs. Obviously.

After consulting the internet I can tell you that BMP stands for Best Management Practices. Basically, that baby-space-worm looking thing is a bundle containing all the materials needed to prevent soil erosion and water run-off during construction.

It’s a real thing. Anybody can go up there and touch it, maybe even hug and kiss it if they wanted to. The neighbors can look out their windows and think “Hey, that’s something that wasn’t there before. I wonder what it is. Maybe it has something to do with that house they’ve been saying they’re going to build. Thank goodness, they’ve been living in that enormous bus long enough.”

The point is: This is happening, y’all. For REALZ.

Letters from the Chickens

November 1, 2014

Dear People,

Love the new digs! High nesting boxes, pine shavings, corner roost – absolutely fabulous! You really outdid yourselves.

There’s only one teeny, tiny problem: the door. We can’t seem to get it open for some reason. Could you look into that?

Thanks,

Chickens

November 7, 2014

Good morning!

Just a friendly reminder: the door to the coop needs to stay open between the hours of 5 am to 5 pm daily. Currently, it is only opened once per day with no opportunity to go outside and while we appreciate the food and water during this time, we’re sure you can understand that our requirements for Pecking and Scratching extend beyond these four walls. Thank you in advance for your cooperation!

Chickens

November 31, 2014

To Management:

We, Chickens of the Coop, are hereby filing a formal complaint with regard to the matter of the Closed Door. If our request is not acknowledged we will be forced into further action.

Chickens, esq.

December 5, 2014

Knock knock!

(Who’s there?)

Chickens!

(Chickens who?)

Chickens are going to pretend your toes are wriggling caterpillars the next time you try to enter this coop if you don’t KEEP. THE. DOOR. OPEN!!!

December 31, 2014

To Our Dear People,

We are so glad that you have finally come to your senses! It’s a shame that Gladys was required to rush the door and escape to freedom before you realized that perhaps letting us out wouldn’t be the end of the world. We wish it hadn’t come to that, but you gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelet, right?

Now that you’ve changed your tune with regard to keeping us in utter captivity we look forward to continuing this relationship in harmony.

Happy New Year,

Chickens

January 5, 2015

Hey there,

We went ahead and  took the liberty of scratching up all of that useless “mulch” you have covering up the yards of fresh, brown dirt in the surrounding area. It’s SO MUCH easier to peck for bugs now without having to worry about splinters in one’s claws. You can thank us later!

Chickens

January 15, 2015

People,

We need to talk.

The other day we were strutting along, minding our own business, when we noticed that the door to your coop was open. We thought we’d stop by for a chat, maybe a nice cup of cracked corn, but it turned out that you weren’t home. However, seeing as you feel no compunction about entering OUR space whenever you please, we went ahead and took the opportunity to take a peek. 

Now, we’re not judging here, but you might want to reconsider some of your domestic choices. For one thing: there is no place to roost. It’s very unwelcoming for guests, not to mention that we have no idea how you rest. No wonder you’re so uptight all the time.

That could be overlooked (with a little effort) except that we saw your nests. What in the world are you THINKING? How on earth do you lay your eggs in those skinny boxes? How do you expect to hatch ANY of them with them all spread out into little compartments like that? Can you even sit on them without crushing them? The thought of it is unnerving, to say the least.

It need not be said that we’ll be staying out of there and will leave you to your… idiosyncrasies from now on.

Feb 4, 2015

It is with deepest regret that we inform you of a loss of one of our own by an unknown predator.

Red was a good chicken. She will be missed.

Feb 7, 2015

Dear People,

Nobody is as sad about Red as we are. Trust us, we feel your pain, but locking the door again? That seems a bit dramatic. If we put our heads together, surely we can come to a more reasonable solution. Right?

Respectfully,

Chickens

Feb 8, 2015

Dear People,

RIGHT???

How it actually is

It’s been  two months since we brought a newborn home to the bus and I only just now  feel like I finally have the chance to sit down and catch my breath. Four kids in small space definitely has its ups and downs.

hats
Hats made by my very talented sister in law.

Sawyer is starting to sleep and eat at more regular intervals now, which has been helped immensely by playing static during his naps. With my older kids I had a big radio in their room that I would tune to the fuzziest station I could find, but now we use an old phone with a white noise app installed on it and turn it on close by his head. Works like a charm every time. Well, almost.

I was reading over my post about our plans for having a baby in the bus and comparing it to the reality and am pleased to see that some of the things that I was worried about turned out not to be such a big deal after all. There are a couple things that I didn’t think about beforehand, though, that we’ve had to make adjustments to accommodate.

Aside from the list of things that I named in the original post, the only other major thing that we brought into our space for Sawyer is a bouncer that my neighbor loaned us. We actually did without it for a while and just sat him in his car seat, but it was such a hassle to bring in and out of the van. It’s nice to have a little seat for him that doesn’t weigh twenty pounds without anything even inside it.

What I didn’t really think about, however, was where to put that place for him to sit. Because our space is essentially one long hallway, anything on the floor is pretty much completely in the way of wherever anybody wants to be. So, despite the fact that it’s technically a safety violation, we set his bouncer up on the couch. I figure the actual  likelihood of him getting knocked over is much higher on the floor.

I was originally worried about the ladder between the stories posing a problem, but now I am considering becoming a firefighter after all this experience carrying a baby up and down it. It was most difficult the first few weeks before Sawyer’s little head had any support at all. Noah and I carefully passed him back and forth to get him upstairs at bedtime and downstairs in the morning, but now that he’s lifting his big ol’ noggin’ like a champ, I can just hook him under my arm and make it up and down with ease.

sawyerhead

Looking into the future, I think the only thing that concerns me is that he’s never going to learn how to walk or crawl because he doesn’t get any floor time because we have so little floor and what little we do have gets so dirty so quickly. Of course, then I realize that I am absolutely in NO hurry whatsoever for him to crawl for that exact same reason. I think everything will work out fine in the end.

Something that is kind of cramping my style right now (literally) is trying to get more movement into my day so I can get rid of the rest of the weight that is still clinging to my torso. After Finn was born I had a lot of success following the basic program outlined in the e-book 42 Days to Fit  and doing the workouts in my living room.  The only diet restriction I gave myself was to cut out desserts and I was down to my pre-pregnancy weight within just a few months.

This time around, however, I have to go outside if I want to stretch or do shoulder presses without knocking out the covers of the flourescents overhead (a very strange feeling for someone only five feet tall).

I also haven’t been getting a lot of movement in naturally via day-to-day indoor tasks because I don’t have to move as far to do those things. It is a measly 7 paces from the threshold at the front of the bus to where I hit my head on the ladder in the back. I know this because I’ve practically worn an indent down the middle walking back and forth to soothe Sawyer in the evenings.

So, basically, I need to get outside more, which you’d think I wouldn’t need to be prompted to do, but… apparently so. Yesterday I made good on this goal by weeding the garden and helping Noah rake the South corner of the property after he cleared out some dead bushes and whacked the growing weeds. And the blisters I sported later that day made me feel like a hardcore farmer’s wife.

In other news:

Things are sloooowly progressing on the house building front. The loan closed around Christmas, but then we had to send the plans back to our original contractor in order to have them re-engineered to fit in with Title 24 -  a new mandate in California that requires all new construction to adhere to stricter energy-efficiency standards (i.e. we are now required to have a tankless hot water heater instead of the usual 40-gallon tank, etc). They were submitted to the county on Monday and our next step is  to prepare the pad for the site inspection.

We’ve also just made our first interest-only payment on the loan for the funds that have been withrdawn so far, so that takes the impetus to get things moving along to another notch.

Best case scenario, we will actually break ground within the month and the end goal is to be able to host Christmas in the new house!

I’ll leave you with this, because… well, do I really need a reason?

finneyes