20 May 2013

Our house feels like one of those children's picture slide puzzles where you move one square in one direction to move others culminating in a finished image, except we haven't got to the finishing point yet.

To think this home was roomy and comparatively empty when we moved in 15 years ago!

I am sick of it being in a state of chaos.  

The bathroom, laundry and toilet are 1/2 complete, and the kitchen hasn't been started, but I have done the research and developed some plans ready to submit to a building company.  It has been hard to find a firm/person willing to do this job, perhaps as it is retrofitting and also as there are new commercial jobs for the taking?

It is difficult to make the absolute most of the 2 - 2 1/2 hours that I get with the baby sleeping; alongside being available to the children, and trying to keep up with the housework.  I often have to drop everything I have been doing with no guarantee of when I will be able to get back to it.  

I am embarrassed by the mess / clutter / piles / dust / dishes / washing pile.  It zaps my energy.  It makes me sick.

As we are planning on renting the place out while we journey around New Zealand it needs to be finished so I am turning up the heat on myself and taking up the challenge:

To have the kitchen, laundry, bathroom and toilet finished by August 2013. 

In the interim I needed to take the stress off myself for the state of affairs so I posted the notice above on our front and back doors.  Any feedback has been positive, from stories about people who move every few years as a discipline to sort out their stuff, to general support and understanding of how messy a project this is alongside running a household.

It was this post actually that got me thinking about simplifying specifically to raise the capital to travel.   The reality is that we can't take it all with us (on the trip or after life) so it's worth seeing how much less we can live with and still be happy.  The other side to having less, is that there is less to store while we are tripping around; and less to worry about.   That's the idea anyway.

What do you need to do to prepare the way for your ultimate lifestyle?

15 November 2012

After seeing what our landlord-friends have been through with their property across the road from us, I was extremely hesitant about letting our family home while we are on our NZ tour. Do we rent it furnished or empty? How do we store our possessions if the later? What is the market rate? Who would look after it?

What would it take to finish all the major and minor renovations? One of which was tending to the garage, that still has lead-based paint to strip off it. After a quick discussion with Atlas I have learnt that the boards are too brittle and would be a fire hazard if they were to encounter a heat gun, so what to do?

Enter epiphany number 1. As the garage footprint is a small one, we wouldn't be able to replace it with a modern day shed, which incidentally come in 3 common sizes of 'small car', 'medium car' and 'large car'. Ours obviously was erected in the day of tiny cars – no wonder it quickly transitioned from a place we stored our vehicle to a general storage area. So we don't really need to re-build a place for a car. What we do need is a place for storage. The concrete pad is just the right size for a 20 foot hi-cube shipping container, and would take care of the current need for temporary storage of the items we have to sell; and then the longer-term storage requirements whether or not we rent our home furnished or not, there would still be personal things we'd want to lock away.

Once upon a time I wouldn't have entertained having a shipping container on site as they are so, how do you say...industrial. Gaining favour in the construction of domestic and commercial architecture I now am fascinated by their potential! If we weren't touring I would want to find a piece of land and be tempted to build a container house – not just the functional kind but something kind of quirky.

Alternatively we could replace the 2x4 structure and construct an eco-shed out of bottle bricks or the like.

As for the other questions, I still like the idea of renting the place furnished to some degree. I am a bit hesitant to have other people sleeping on our mattresses, but I guess that is what protectors are for. Insurance is supposedly higher on renting out a furnished property, so we will have to weigh up whether it is worth it. Though as I keep pressing on with the plans for our location independent tour I am less possessed by our possessions and feel more blasé about the inanimate objects we may leave behind. I am looking forward to the children having less to clean up, there being less house work to do, less stuff that needs to be maintained....enforced simplicity if you will.

What I can not predict is how the children will adjust to the change. Years ago when we made the decision to trial a tv-free environment, it was 2-3 weeks before I no longer heard 'I'm bored' and the children were more settled. This time we will be leaving behind much of what I would term good, solid educational materials; but am hoping that life on the road will bring opportunities for each child to discover, learn and entertain themselves in ways unfathomable.

What 1 new positive habit can you start to forge today?

08 November 2012

Before all of the nitty gritty of finishing the house renovations, and sorting out insurances and utilities, I had focussed on the very real human aspect of jamming 7 people, aged infant to adult, into a confined space for hours on end.

How would we cope?

In a perfect world, there would be no whining, bitching, moaning and complaining. Bodily functions such as passing wind, burping, sneezing and bleeding could be controlled; and soiling, and bed-wetting could be cured.

Children would go to sleep when they were told, and each would humble themselves to extend grace and patience to each other, but that doesn't look as if it is going to happen any time before we leave.

This is where the idyllic meets reality.

These goals are NOT going to be reached before we go, but I am okay with that now. I have let go of the notion that they have to happen now and see the journey as an opportunity for growing as a family.

Since reading a couple of articles on Mummedia [Teaching children compassion and Teaching children generosity ] I have been ever more contemplative about children having too much choice today which in turn leads to less than grateful attitudes.  Perhaps having less will help.

Don't get me wrong Vega, Gemma, Castor and Pollux are all great children. They show independent thinking, good social skills and are praised by strangers, but there is still a gap between their attitudes and those I was brought up with and still value.

Somewhere in the melting pot of traditional and contemporary values will be a happy medium and one that will hopefully emerge more refined and stronger as we start our adventure into the great unknown.

Are you living in faith or fear?