I see lots of blogs and social media pages about the tiny home journeys of single people, couples and even a small family. Well, we are a family of 5 (6 if you count our 75 lb lab/hound and I do count her, she is my 3rd born as far as I am concerned). Let me start by introducing us. Maybe you can relate to some part of our story. Grow with us, enjoy our triumphs with us and learn from our mistakes with us; No sense in making them yourself when we can do it for you, make some new ones instead!
We started our family in a 2 bedroom mobile home. My husband had been living in it since he was about 17. It belonged to his grandmother and was built sometimes around the 1950’s. When our son was born in the summer of 2004. It was old, it was falling apart and it was growing smaller by the day. And so… We took the next step that every other family takes… In 2006, we bought our own house!!! We had our very own 3 bedroom 1140 square foot home on 1/3 of an acre of land. Hooray for us, right?
A mere 2 years after we purchased our home the housing market crashes… Our home is worth next to nothing…..
Fast forward to March 2015…
We are now the proud parents of 3 beautiful children and 1 dog (Yes, my dog is one of my children) 4 bunnies (a year ago we had 35!!) and more chickens than our city technically allows (SHHHHHH…). Still living in our temple of financial woe that is STILL not even worth what we owe on it. In the past few years my husband was unceremoniously let go from his job of 15 years and lost another job when it was discovered that the companies owner was embezzling from his own company. He, luckily, never went long without a job but now he is making a whole $10 LESS an HOUR than he was making previously. Our mortgage payment has also been steadily increasing these last 9 years. We are now struggling to pay almost $500 more per month than we were when we bought the house due to increased property taxes.
We take our youngest, Emily, to the Dr. for her routine check up at about 16 months old. Less than a week later I get a call from her pediatricians office. There was something wrong with Emily’s blood work… She has lead poisoning and the source is most definitely our home built in 1900 that we have been raising all of our children in for the past 9 years… My mind goes into overdrive, my heart sinks down to the floor.. I want to run to scream. I want to set the damn house of FIRE! How long has she been exposed? what about my other children? My dog? Me and my husband?
I have spent the majority of my life as a parent trying to keep my family healthy and safe. Making my own cleaning products and bath products to avoid all the unnecessary and harmful chemicals. I read labels like a mad woman making sure to avoid all the crap in our food that isn’t really food. Artificial flavors and colors (Why on EARTH does my relish NEED yellow 5 in it?! I don’t give a damn if its neon green!!!). I try to feed them healthy and, when available, local, organic or home grown food. OMG! is it in our soil too?!?!? I feel like I am suffocating in this house that has been gradually weighing on us more and more as each year goes by, we struggle harder and harder to make ends meet, often having to borrow money from family to pay our mortgage and other utilities (oh, did I mention this is also the year we become victims of tax return theft?) and for what?! To poison my children?! To live our lives in a miserable rut where we are just marking time until our untimely demise having never REALLY experienced life?! For a home that causes us nothing but stress and grief, My husband and I argue ALL THE TIME, and it’s ALWAYS over money. I have had ENOUGH!
My husband and I sift through our options. I want to walk away (I know in my heart that we can’t, at least not right away. My conscience would eat away at me if we tried to sell the house (at a loss) knowing what was inside. I couldn’t put another family through that. But I also know that this house has caused too much trouble for us and that how much we have struggled and are still struggling even moreso, its not worth holding on to. But since his father has been helping to pay our bills off and on (more on than off lately) he has a say in this too. I feel stuck and frustrated.
August 4, 2015
Me my 3 children and my dog have been living in Maine (we are from massachusetts) since June 23rd in a family summer cottage (we had to wait 3 LONG months in that house for school to end so we could get our children to safety). My husband is sleeping in a tent in our back yard while him and is father work tirelessly to replace all the lead contaminated moulding. They have only 6 weeks to do this. They had to take a special class and get certification to be able to do this on their own and its not easy to do properly (Just a note, most companies that do this DO NOT do it properly putting you and your neighbors at risk). Nobody, not even my husband is allowed to live in the house while it is being decontaminated, hence the tent in the back yard. Our 2 oldest children go back to school on the 26th of this month (just one day after my sons 11th birthday) and we are expected to be back in that house by then… Before we left EVERYTHING we were keeping hat to be meticulously cleaned with Lysol (Don’t get me started) wipes. Each wipe could only be used ONCE, you swipe it once you fold it in on itself, you swipe it again, you toss the wipe, you get a new wipe, do it again.. and so on and so on. One item could easily take multiple wipes to clean… Our clothing had to be washed in certain laundry detergents that had serfactants in it so that it would bind to the lead dust. Why go to all this trouble you might ask? There is NO WAY to know which items were contaminated with lead dust and which ones weren’t.. 99% of our belongings went into a dumpster before we left. it was beyond full… Well, after all, they’re just things…
I’m sitting at the house having lunch with my kids. I don’t even remember why I thought of it or if I saw something that sparked my memory or interest. TINY HOUSES!! I started searching facebook for groups related to tiny house living, searching the internet for designs and space saving ideas and I began plotting out a floor plan. I could not WAIT to tell my husband about this! I asked questions and researched and asked more questions and did more research. I wanted to be ready to talk to my husband when he came up to visit us on Friday. How could he NOT think this was a great idea?!
We fought the entire weekend. I became so frustrated that he couldn’t see it. That’s right.. My husband and I do not see eye to eye on this. After having some time to reflect, I know we are both trying to do what is right for our family. But we do not agree on what that is. He did begin to warm up to the idea of tiny housing but the argument turned ugly and my abilities to follow through with, well, ANYTHING were called into question. I’ve always believed that you don’t know unless you try. if you don’t at least try, you have already failed. Not everything is going to work out as planned and some things will completely bomb. He said one thing to me that is still echoing in my head.. “Prove it”. He is asking me to prove to him that I am committed to doing this, he wants to me prove to him that I can do everything I said. Well… The only way to do that, is to DO IT…
So, I am going to do it!!!
Join me on my journey, OUR journey, as we navigate through the ups and downs toward our goal of living tiny as a large family.