Hello From the Other Side

It’s been one month in the new house.

We moved in the rain the same afternoon that we finally passed our final county inspection

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Which, considering some of the events over the past two years, was somehow fitting.

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I’ve wanted to write before now to capture some of these first newly made memories and track our family’s transition into a normal sort of living situation, but life has its way of intervening. We wound up hosting 20 people for Easter and then found out that everyone in our family had lice, events which both took up a lot of time and attention.

(I was exceedingly grateful to be able to wash clothes in hot water and use the dryer, let me tell you! We went into full on attack mode and got rid of those suckers stat.)

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A few things:

-Our first night in the house Noah and I both stood up on our bed and reached up and neither of us could touch the ceiling!

-Within the first week, Sawyer was confused and wanted to go back down to the bus. He kept pointing and tugging on my hand until I finally took him back inside and set him down and let him wander around a bit. That seemed to settle something inside him and he hasn’t asked to go back since.

-Lily, the most vocal in the family about her dislike of living in the bus from the very beginning, surprised herself and everyone else by discovering that she missed it.  She’s learning that change is change and can be difficult, even when it’s a change for the better – even when the change is expected and desired.

-Em has missed having Noah and I as close as we were. She wants one of us to sit with her until she falls asleep at night, even though Lily is still in the same bed as her (until we get a mattress for the bottom bunk of their bed).

-Finn… seems to have taken everything in stride. He was very impressed with the microwave though.

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Overall, the most surprising thing that Noah and I have discovered is that for us, the transition actually hasn’t been as big of a mind shift as we were prepared for. I mean, we were making jokes about how we were all going to wind up migrating to the closet to maintain the same feeling of closeness as we had in the bus, and even though I don’t think we thought it was going to go quite THAT far, we were ready for it to feel really WEIRD living in a house.

But… it doesn’t. Living in a house feels totally and completely normal. Instead of being overwhelmed by luxury after depriving ourselves of so much for so long, we’ve been very quick to adapt. Which surprises me and is kind of unnerving. I really thought the novelty of having things like a normal sized oven and lots of space and light would take longer to wear off, but apparently, deep down inside, we still knew what life was supposed to be like. Living in a bus for two years wasn’t enough to completely change the mindset that had been developed over the rest of our lifetimes.

Plus, this house is relatively gigantic and requires a lot more work to maintain, so that has probably had something to do with it.

A couple of big exceptions:

-I am absolutely thrilled to have a dishwasher. That’s one of the things I hadn’t had prior to living in a bus and it is magical. It’s a bajillion times easier to clean up after meals, I don’t mind using things like the blender or the food processor because I know I’m not going to have to clean between the individual blades by hand, which means that I can make more elaborate (and usually healthier) food.

-Having a table that we can all sit around together. We have never, ever had this before and now that we do, we are making dinnertime a priority where someone sets the table and we wait for everybody to sit and we say grace and talk about our days and say things like “can somebody please pass the salt?” It feels like a scene out of a movie!

-Refrigeration. I had forgotten just how long food can last in a good refrigerator. In the bus, I had pretty much stopped buying a lot of produce because it would simply go bad too quickly. A bunch of celery would last maybe a day or two and spinach had pretty much no chance. I threw out a LOT of cheese and yogurt. Even though we had a good fridge in my neighbor’s garage, it was such a hassle going back and forth with leftovers that we were subsisting pretty much on pantry stable foods, which, for the most part, consists of a lot of carbs and preservatives.

But now I can buy things like strawberries in bulk and I can make smoothies and salads and steamed veggies and we are eating so much better! It’s pretty amazing.

-Our closet. In the bus, Noah and I shared a 3×6′ closet space that was in the bathroom directly across from the toilet and also housed the family clothes hamper. Combined with the fact that we were living in a bus made of metal, I think that we probably smelled a little funny for two years and everyone around us was just too polite to say anything. Here, we have quite a bit more space to be organized and the toilet is not a part of our dressing area!

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-The library. I have mentioned before that although our experience in the bus taught me how little stuff we actually NEED to get by, I really missed a lot of our things. Specifically, I missed our books. I actually unpacked them all before we even had shelves because I just wanted to see them and touch them and reacquaint myself with them. And now we have the space to keep them! Our new bookshelves make me smile every single time I look at them. Sometimes when I’m not home I pull out my phone just to look at the picture below because it makes me so happy.

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-Lighting. I keep walking around in the dark because I forget that we have lights and switches pretty much everywhere. The bus had exactly three.

Okay, so there are actually a lot of exceptions, because not having to climb a ladder to go to the bathroom at night also still feels like a total luxury, and so does not having Sawyer sleeping in our bedroom. And playing Wii Fit together as a family. And having a TV at all. And couches that aren’t a futon.

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And a bed that’s not a futon.

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And my entire kitchen!

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I take it back. I am still amazed at the fact that we have a beautiful house to live in and regular things to use. I don’t know how long it’s going to take for this to all seem completely “normal” to me. We have been extremely blessed. From Noah’s step-dad gifting us a large part of the money to buy the land, to our builders giving us a phenomenal deal on the actual construction of the house, to our neighbors helping us out when we needed it, we have encountered an overwhelming amount of generosity and kindness in every aspect of this journey.

Our next step is to try and give back. When we were first considering building a house, Noah and I prayed that whatever steps we took, we would be walking within God’s will and that there would be a purpose behind it. Here we are, three years later, and we want to be able to use our resources to help other people just like we’ve been helped.

We don’t know exactly what this is going to look like right now. We’re still in shock and awe about finding ourselves here, but the desire to use all this for good is strong. I guess for now, we’re just going to be keeping our eyes and ears open for opportunities and do our best to be hospitable to others.

I’m curious to hear from others though, what would YOU do in our situation? And while we’re at it, does anybody have any burning questions about anything? Are there any details that I’ve left out over the past couple years that you’re curious about with regard to the bus or the house or building or what have you? I’m totally open to answering any questions or doing a post on whatever.

Now that we’re out of the bus, I’m not quite sure where this blog is heading. I love writing here, so I don’t want to give it up, but the story is obviously going to change.

I guess we’ll just see where we end up.

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8 thoughts on “Hello From the Other Side

  1. Congratulations on your beautiful home! What a colossal undertaking, from managing a family and a pregnancy on a bus, to executing all of the minutest details of the home-building process. It is exciting to see the outcome, how beautiful, light, and open your new space is! And your readers won’t have to worry about you when the heat of the summer strikes! Thank you for taking us along on this monumental journey.

  2. Thank you so much for updating us and posting pictures! Your house is beautiful – you are very blessed 🙂
    I’d love to hear what ends up happening to the bus!

  3. Congratulations, your place looks amazing. I love reading your blog, have you though about being a writer, or editor? We are very happy for you guys. 🎉

  4. Your blog is great, it would be missed if you stopped, I am sure that is the same for all who read it. It is life through another’s experience, that’s why people read and you are always an entertaining writer.

    It wasn’t just about the bus, it is episodes of life and always fun to drop in on. It always makes you think and is interesting and fun.

    Have a Good Evening, I will probably see you tomorrow

    Love Pops

  5. Sarah, I love the pics and have loved following your journey! So happy for you! As far as giving back, you could join a hospitality network to open your home to traveling missionaries and pastors…. give them a place to stay for the night instead of having to pay for a hotel while they’re traveling. I know groups like Friends in Action keep lists of people who are willing to host and it’s a huge blessing to those who can’t afford to stay at hotels all the time.

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