Posts Tagged "PEP talks"

A Little Early, A Little Late – An Unveiling

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 in Eliza Brownhome, Simple Living | 10 comments

A Little Early, A Little Late – An Unveiling

When we made the decision to move back into our bus with our family of five, we knew of some specific shortcomings of the bus as a permanent living situation on a farm without other amenities: Laundry facilities – we do at least a load a day, and we cloth diaper the baby toddler. A real bathroom – a flushable or composting toilet (rather than chemical toilet) and either a bath or shower. With little kids, a bath is really a priority. Space for sleeping and for some of the kids things – we did manage to sleep the five of us in the bus for five months but the sleeping arrangements were far from ideal and not something we would want to do long term. We were also very short on space for storing clothes for five people. We put all seasonal clothes in Rubbermaid bins under the bed, and tried to downsize the amount of clothes each person had, but less clothes also means you have to do laundry more often (which brings us back to point number 1). The kids also have some bigger, nice quality toys like a dollhouse, castle and play kitchen that we didn’t want to leave in storage indefinitely. A Dining Table – we prioritize meals together, and while we could (and should) build a bigger table in the bus, the table in the bus is not the ideal place to eat meals with young kids on a regular basis. Because the place where we eat is the same space where they play, colour, read, watch movies, lounge, and goof around, it is very difficult to discourage that kind of up and down, wiggly behaviour at meal times. Spills were every meal occurrences and our seat covers have taken a huge beating. Imagine eating every single meal on your couch. We decided to build an additional space to house: a bathroom/laundry room some hangout space & a dining area a loft bedroom for the kids We were originally going to build a little conventional style two room shed/cabin, but Aaron has had an interest in timber framing and natural building for many years and we thought this would be a good chance to explore and learn about building in those styles. Aaron had a book with complete plans for a small timber frame garden shed and we decided to give that a try. We took the initial plans for a 12’x16′ shed and stretched to 12’x24′. We added 2′ to the height to give a little extra headroom to the 12’x12′ loft. We also added a 4′ bay window on one side (between two bents 12′ apart) and a 6′ porch on one end to accommodate our chest freezer, coat & boot storage, and to create an entry way for the bus. The bathroom/laundry room is 12’x8′ tucked under the loft. **A word about materials: all of the windows, the bathroom door, the wood stove, the bathtub, the mirror, the washer and dryer (and our furniture though that’s not pictured) have been obtained through Craigslist or free from friends. The front door was bought from a used window and door retailer – it was a factory second, never even hung. The lights and bathroom vanity were all purchased new. All of the wood except for the 2×4 framing for the drywall was milled by a local sawyer from trees from on site at the farm.** The resulting space (especially coupled with the space our bus provides) is by no means tiny. We feel very comfortable with this much space for our family of five. It is, in fact, very spacious. What we love about the design of this house is that, in the future, by removing the bus and adding kitchen facilities (either in what is now the porch, or in one corner of the main room), this house could easily be a wonderful small house for a couple – for us after the kids grow up or if we wanted to rent it out. We could also potentially add a kitchen...

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Reflecting on 2012

Posted on Jan 8, 2013 in Eliza Brownhome, Featured | 2 comments

Reflecting on 2012

At this time last year I was lying in bed trying to think of my word for 2012 and I was terrified about what the upcoming year held. Sure, I was excited, but I was also feeling a lot of doubt about moving back into the bus with SO MANY CHILDREN. A year ago, this plot of land where I am now sitting was a clearing in a forest on the edge of a dirt road through a farm. This part of the forest was thinner, with fewer trees to remove,  a lot of salal and rocks, and unfortunately, plenty of 60 year old glass bottles. Apparently, this spot had long ago been a dumping ground on the farm. Today, where once salal dripped with rain, there is now a toasty warm 500 square foot cabin joined up to our bus. We moved in to the cabin in November after driving Eliza under a little carport and inching her right up against an open door frame on one side of the cabin. Then Aaron insulated the gap between the two structures, and finished it nicely with a pretty jam, and suddenly our space was doubled. I have been waiting to announce that the cabin was finished and we were moved in because it isn’t really finished. Still so much left to do (details, details), and I didn’t want the pictures to show the boxes, the plywood tub surround, the tarp and lumber outside the front window…but I can’t really sum up this past year without the recognition of what we accomplished. Every year, I spend the last week of December reflecting on the closing year, and visioning for the upcoming year. To see what my practice looks like you can read this. Today I also want to share with you some other nice formats: The Liberated Life Project (similar to mine, but includes option for yoga/meditation AND specific goal setting as part of the practice) and The Art of Non-Conformity (if you’re a little bit more Type A – it has a spreadsheet!). And you can always check out these others that I shared in the past. A year ago, none of this was here. A year ago, I was so worried about how we were going to do it, about how crazy it was. Now? We are once again living in a home of our own creation, on land that is shared, in a situation that feels symbiotic, and with a rent payment that allows us some financial independence. Funny how in 4.5 years we’ve come full circle, to echo the very living situation we were in in Vancouver in my sister’s backyard. The place is different, the people are different, and we are different, but the fundamentals are the same. (Now if only we can get my sister close by). And here’s the thing: despite how hard we have worked, despite how tired we have been, despite the tight spaces and lack of amenities, we have loved this year, particularly the latter half of the year, once we finally moved on site. This year we came home to Eliza, and despite my panic and worry, it went perfectly, and we’ve felt perfectly at home, every minute. Honestly. The word I chose for 2012 was Energize and something I’m discovering about the practice of choosing a word of the year is that I’m far better at summarizing the past year in a word than I am at focusing on a word for the next year. What can I say? I have a short attention span – ahem, which is why I don’t like resolutions. While we certainly poured a ton of energy into our project, we never really felt energized. In fact, a more apt word for 2012 might have been ENDURE. We worked really hard and we made something huge out of nothing, but it was mostly a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other-slog rather an Energizer-bunny-hop. I also fell off the wagon of my Project Energize posts after one post summarizing 4 months. Alas, once May came around and we were...

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Project Energize Progress

Posted on Apr 11, 2012 in Eliza Brownhome, Featured, Simple Living | 0 comments

Project Energize Progress

Here we are: already the second week of April. I had intended to do monthly updates on our progress on our new farm plan, and on our word of the year, energize…but the weeks have slipped away in a sleep deprived fog as Silas continues to be an incredibly crappy sleeper. Yeah, I know he’s a baby, but this is crappy sleep even for a baby. Really. Jumping straight in then, since this will have to be a big update: January Progress – Getting Organized: I joined pinterest as a place to start saving inspiration for our Farm Plan. You can follow me there at abluebirdmama. My boards that are relevant to our Farm Plan are: Cabinspiration, Farm Plan, and Shelter: Handmade & Tiny Homes. I started my planned computer clean up by migrating most of my bookmarks to pinterest. Unfortunately, the purge is stalled there because the rest (sorting docs, downloads, emails) is too boring compared to playing on pinterest. I have our household binder 90% complete. Unfortunately, I only use it 15% of the time. We got a new (to us) van and we vowed 1) to keep up with the maintenance and 2) to keep it clean. February Progress – She’s Crafty: We finally completed and signed our Lease with the farmers where we are moving! This was a big deal for all of us. The process of writing the lease was lengthy and filled with yummy dinner meetings, and screaming-baby-filled-conference calls. It was a good beginning exercise in getting to know each other and learning to be vocal about needs, wants, hopes, expectations, and boundaries. Signing those pages was also very scary – no going back now!! I had a few nights of panic. Might as well lay there awake panicking while you wait for the baby to wake up again right? We celebrated our last baby’s first birthday. I got crafty. I made a birthday banner. I made a birthday crown. I also stayed up until the wee hours of the morning making wee mice in wee tins for the wee ones’ Valentine’s Day gifts. I made a cloth tote to keep stuff organized in the van. It holds snacks, spare diapers, a few baby toys, books. In the summer, it will also hold a spare towel, bug dope and sun screen. You can also follow Things to Make & Do on pinterest. March Progress – First Things First: We cleared and leveled the (formerly forested) lot where our bus (Eliza Brownhome) and cabin (the Annex, the Panic Room, or the Pannex, whichever you prefer) will be sitting. We sent trees from the lot to the mill to be milled into the beams that will become our cabin. We dug a trench from the barn to our site to begin running our electrical, phone and water services to our site. By we, I mean Aaron. He did a lot of organizing, tree work,  and got to drive a bobcat. I put in extra hours at the midwifery clinic. I neglected to do any work at all on the kids’ baby books which was my assigned project for the month of March. I celebrated my birthday by: 1) going for “breakfast” with a friend and accidentally staying for 3 hours of catching up on adult conversation that was totally free of kid-interruptions and included a delicious eggs benny AND dessert, and 2) getting my hair cut for the first time in 1 year and highlights for the first time in 7 years. That’s the part where some self-care energized me so that I would be able to energize our projects. Except I also got the worst flu I’ve had in years and took my first real sick day since my oldest child was born. He came from school and found me in bed. Ordered me to get up and when I wouldn’t, he cried and asked, “who is going to take care of me?’ Hmm. Good question. So much more to do before June 1. Stay tuned to my PEP (Project Energize Progress) talks to...

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