Thursday, July 2, 2015

The good, the bad, the smelly

(To read how our journey started, begin here.)

Well, folks. This weekend we are celebrating one year in our tiny home. Time has really flown by.

We really do, truly, love living here. Throughout the course of the year, I've made a mental list of everything I love and don't love about our home.

Things I LOVE:

1. I love how close our family has become. I love that my kids are learning to love each other and depend on each other more than ever before - most days, they are each other's only friends.

2. My kids are maintaining a level of innocence that wouldn't be possible otherwise. We leave for school at 6:40am. They come to my classroom until the bell rings. After school, they are back in my classroom, or playing on one of the computers in the computer lab. Then we come home, make dinner, shower, and begin the bedtime routine. Our schedule doesn't allow for dirty jokes on the bus, the questionable neighbor kid who knows too much about the birds and the bees, or the snotty whines of kids who'd rather hang out with friends at their house instead of mine. In a word: our kids are sheltered.

3. Even if the place is a complete and total disaster, which is daily, it only takes about 15 minutes to have everything back to normal. The kids have their own chores and know how to maintain their space without much effort on my part.

4. It is pretty much impossible for Ashley to clog our toilet with her mass amounts of toilet paper usage. The flusher on our toilet is activated by stepping on a lever and a giant hole opens and everything falls out ... no clogs. Like, ever. (Bliss)

5. I don't have to buy as many toys. My kids are getting used to hearing, "We don't have room for that." My favorite is when we are in the checkout at Target and my son asks for one of the little Lego sets or a pack of Pokémon cards. Ashley will quickly reply with, "No Ryan. We live in a trailer. We don't have room for that." I'm fairly certain it is her mission in life to keep me humble.

6. Obviously, we are saving a ton of money. I love this. Even more: I love being totally debt free. If we want to take a vacation, we book it. If we need new tires, no biggie. Ryan gets admitted to the hospital for the third time in a year? We still want to scream at those medical bills, but they are immediately paid in full. These are things that were otherwise quite frustrating on a firefighter/teacher household budget.

7. No yard. I know that Gary misses the half acre creek lot with 14 fruit trees, but the upkeep on that was rough. Now our weekends and time off are really weekends and time off. We're pretty much earning our black belts in rest and relaxation over here.

8. Traveling: This summer, we are taking off on the road for 7 weeks: Murrels Inlet, SC, Charleston, SC, Charlotte to visit cousins, Illinois to visit Grandma and Grandpa, Mt. Rushmore, Steamboat Springs, CO, and Gulf Shores, AL. When your monthly "mortgage" payment is $340 ... you splurge on vacationing.

9. I care even less about material things than I did before. I grew up quite privileged, with a mom who dwelled and focused way too much time and energy on the things of the world. I watched the greed and need to show off consume her. As an adult, I've made a conscious effort to focus on what matters most. This past year has taught me the immeasurable value of spending money making memories instead of making purchases.

10. And finally ... I love the memories we are making. I've taken over 6,000 pictures on my phone and another 4,000 on the Canon. This is a time that Gary and I will absolutely cherish as our kids grow up, move on, and our adventure ends .... whenever that may be. For now, we are relishing these moments. Truly, if I could save time in a bottle ... Jim Croce was on to something there.

So. There's my top 10 LOVES from this past year. Here's my top 10 not loves:

1. I have no dishwasher. Well. That's not entirely true. There are actually 4 dishwashers in this tiny house. The problem is that only 1 of them works on a daily basis. 2 are pretty much good for nothing. And the last one is gone saving lives so frequently that when he's home, I prefer him to sleep and do the laundry.

2. I don't have a washer/dryer. This isn't really a horrifically terrible thing. And actually, most of the time, I don't mind it at all. (I even thought about putting the laundromat on my list of loves, but then you might have thought I had lost my mind.) Here's the deal: I do love the laundromat. We can do 14 loads of laundry in about 2 hours, start to finish and folded. That's pretty much priceless. I just miss being able to throw a random load in last minute before heading to bed.

3. Ice. Oh my gosh. I miss ice. Y'all take a quick look at your microwave. That's the size of my freezer. Keeping bags of ice isn't an option and my fridge is too small to stock it with cold bottles of water. I recently bought these two little square silicone trays that each make 9 ice cubes. I use those for chocolate, banana, and peanut butter milkshakes. Mmmm.

4. I don't love my oven. It is a propane oven, so there is an open flame on the bottom of the oven. The door to the oven doesn't have a window, so if I open the door to check on what I'm baking, all the heat escapes and the propane flame turns on full blast and the bottom of whatever I'm baking gets burned. I'm learning to figure out the exact time for things I bake. I'm trying to break the vicious cycle.

5. I don't love the water situation. I've blogged about that before. Here's a brief glimpse of the issues I face, from March 9, 2015:

"This morning, right after getting all suds up in the shower, a kind (no doubt) yet clueless (no doubt) neighbor turned off the water at the spigot. It was just as I was going in to the rinse cycle. I stood there for a moment, thinking one of the kids had flushed the toilet or turned on the kitchen sink. (#‎trailerprobs‬)

And then reality set in.

And so, I did what any of y'all would do if someone shut off your water, mid shower, hair full of shampoo, pre rinse cycle: I threw on my trusty robe and flip flops and marched outside (in the rain), down the way, to the spigot. I turned the water to the spigot back on and shut off the flow to my sweet (no doubt) neighbor's water line.

And since you're wondering: yes. I had an audience. But thankfully, I was without glasses and my horrible vision rendered me incapable of studying their [surely] mortified faces. Just keeping it classy back here. In the trailer. Next to the million dollar Prevost.

I secretly hope he got a good look because I'd like to not repeat this mistake again. Red handle stays up, black lever gets turned off. K, thanks. And if you need the wifi password, I'm your girl."

6. Things get smelly sometimes. I think we can all agree that there are occasions to use the bathroom vent/fan. Well. In an RV, it is very important that before flushing, you first turn off the vent/fan ... unless you want to instantly suck up all the glorious smell from the black tank. It's a wonderful aroma that only a port-a-potty could love.

7. I miss having a backyard. I know. You're confused because not having a yard was on my list of loves. Here's the thing: I miss looking out the window and watching my kids jumping on the trampoline, soaking wet, with the sprinkler hanging over the side. I miss inviting the whole block over when Gary put up a bounce house water slide. How many of you Prosper friends knew we were the founding/original owners of Engine 9 Bounce? Sigh. Fun business. Miss the memories. Don't miss the work. Tanner is doing a great job at that now.

8. I feel bad that my kids can't go to "their" school. Ryan asked me almost weekly all year if he could go back to Rucker. When you live in an RV, you are classified as homeless, which makes it hard to register for school. As long as we live in an RV, they have to come to school with me. I have some guilt about this, but I'm super excited because we are moving to a new school where they already have friends.

9. I miss my old schedule. I miss finishing work at noon and meeting friends for lunch or taking Lovie on an extended afternoon of running errands. This was the hardest adjustment for me, but I think I might be just about over it. The summer is healing that ache for me.

10. We all hate walking Caroline over to the small patch of grass to potty several times a day. It was nice to just open the back door and let her roam free, chase rabbits, and sniff out every pesky roly poly to her heart's content.  

So, there it is. And. If I'm being totally honest, which I am ... it was waaaaaay easier to come up with the LOVES than it was to scrape up things I don't love. But I like even numbers, so I pressed on and found 10 things I don't love or missed from before.

We feel so blessed to be where we are, know where we are going, and to be experiencing this adventure. I will only regret the risks and adventures I didn't take.

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