Bad News and Good News

Road Closed

The bad news is that we have a directional change.   HUD cancelled our sale!  They apparently didn’t like the lender we were using.  What is funny is that this house is such a fixer that we have had a hard time getting lending at all.  The first people we denied (Government rehab loans come with large strings.  The place would be worth less then the loan.), the second people denied the house (conventional loans want something they can sell right away…which is a paradigm shift from what use to be.  It use to be that the house only had to appraise for the amount of the loan.) and lastly HUD denied us.

It’s been difficult because all the reasons that brought us to make this decision are still valid.  The Good News is that God is still in control so there must be something better.  We aren’t sure what the next course of action is going to be, but I am certain it involves downsizing our stuff.  I will continue our clean out efforts, though I must admit it is a lot harder to downsize without a vision of a physical place.  I’m sure that it will make our current house more functional and that is always a good thing.

Thing to Try:

Remove a Cube: Everyday I try to remove at least a 1’ x 1’ x 1’ cube of stuff I don’t need.  Putting a empty bucket in the garage for giving stuff away and having lined paper and a pencil on the refrigerator to record your giving makes the processed easier.  We all know, the easier it is the more likely it will happen.

Rules of Engagement for Downsizing

Truck load

How to Sort through your stuff…

We are downsizing in all areas.  Food, storage, books, CDs, DVDs, electronics, etc….  Even weight!  That has helped with my closet.  My clothes are already near the number I need them to be to fit into our tiny house.  That is great news!  It decreases the trauma of getting rid of the “I think I look good in” category of clothes.  (The Gluten Free, Vegan, Whole Food diet helps with downsizing the pounds.)  I must report that all the areas to downsize are not as joyful as weight. I had a difficult time, and still do, deciding what stays and what goes.  I came up with the Rules of Engagement for Downsizing to help me decide.  I hope it helps you.  This seems to work well for the first and second big passes.  Downsizing needs to be done in steps or separate passes.  The rules seem to work well for every area except Homeschooling.  There ‘s a lot of “unknowns,” especially with 5 children.  The question remains…what of the 15 year old’s stuff will the 3 year old use?

  1. Law of Redundancy:  Larger homes are riddled with duplicates.  (i.e. 2 places to eat, 2 living areas, 2 sets of dishes, there are many multiples in our kitchens)  These are the first things to remove.  Be real, most items in the modern kitchen are replicas of common tools.  For example bread makers don’t really save time, and they certainly don’t save space.  You can make bread with a large bowl and pan.  We make 5 loaves of bread at one time and freeze the extra.  It saves time, money and space.  There are so many other items in our homes that are redundant.
  2. Law of Usability:  If you can’t use it, lose it!  If the primary function of an object is to be useful in some way and it no longer serves that function…relieve it of duty.  You may want to look into a limited future, say one year.  If you won’t be using an item in the next year, make room for other things you need now.  All clothes that don’t fit…pass them on to someone they do fit.  Remember: all things you are hoarding are missing the owners that will use them.  You are impeding progress.  There are people that need the stuff you have, and the stuff you have is in the way of things that you really need.  Move it along…
  3. Law of Reality:  We have a larger capacity for inspiration then we have time on this earth to act.  Be real with yourself and others.  Are you really going to use it?  Just because you have a creative idea, or always wanted to learn something, or love thinking about doing an activity someday…doesn’t mean you should keep it!  There is someone that is ready and willing to act and would be super excited to find your beloved “someday” item at Goodwill.  Holding on to things for “someday” makes your house messy today.
    • Not yours?  Ask the rightful owner if they even want it.  Then return it as soon as possible.  Its place is not in your space.  Many people have to ask others to hold on to their stuff because they themselves are holding on to more stuff then they need.
    • Over Stock:  Really, I can’t think of any item, even in the pantry, that I need to stock-up for a year.  Yet, I have done that.  I have a large family and bulk is a distinct part of my planning.  I do need to start looking at the rate of replenishing.  i.e. How often I go to the different stores and the amounts I really need to have on hand.  Overstock costs space, space costs time (ordering and reordering), and time can never be replenished.
  4. Law of Out of Sight Out of Mind:  If you can’t see it, your mind will make up it’s own assumptions of quantity.  We Americans are good at lying about our excess (I’m included.)  Well, we aren’t really lying, we are just in the dark.  The motive seems to be situational, but the law still applies.  *When you are trying to assess how much you need of something be sure to group all of the like items together before deciding.*  This is very important for clothes.  Find all the shorts in all the areas that might have shorts, or skirts, short sleeve shirts…  Match them up and keep a few extra.  Then get rid of the rest.  We seem to have all kinds of places to squirrel away clothes.  But if you can’t see all you have at once, you really won’t know it, for real, how much you already have.  This law works well with other things as well.  i.e. crafts, kitchen utensils, shoes, dishes, tools…look in your area of greatest interest and you will find the greatest surplus.

Let me know if you have any ideas/rules I could use to help this process that aren’t yet covered.

Coming soon… 5 Lies That Keep People from Freedom of Stuff



Small House, Large Couch? DIY

The Making of a Couch

The Making of a Couch

The first order of business, to fit a homeschool family into a small house, is to make a couch out of books.  Well, not quite.  But I am making a couch that will fit a lot of books.  If making a couch sounds overwhelming to you, you are very normal.  I’ve never claimed to be “normal,” but it’s slightly over my head too.  Good thing I have a friend that is a mathematician, roofer, and seamstress.  Don’t ask me how they all go together.  She is a wiz at making up a pattern from scratch.  I bought above-the refrigerator-cabinets (They are 2 feet wide.)  We are sandwiching them between 1/2” plywood and putting caster wheels (half locking casters) under them.  We will screw on the back (3/4 inch birch plywood) after I seal it.  I made bolster cushions to give the back a comfortable slant.  It is not a cheap endeavor (though cheaper).  Even with getting a screaming bargain on the cabinets (100 dollars for all of them), Ikea’s fabric deals, and using Joann’s 40% and 50% coupons, it will be around 500 dollars in the end.  We did go for a more professional look then we needed.  What do I get from this “L” shaped sectional?  39.75 cubic feet of storage, 13.75 linear ft. of seating space and the color/type of fabric I want.

Remember I said we made this couch for our books? … well… For all those people who are wondering where we are going to put “all” our children in this new 8oo sq.ft. house, the children have found their own place. 🙂

Room for the Children

Room for the Children

Microsizing Materialism and Mortgage

Our new house Project
Our new house Project!

I started with my home school schedule. I moved to the laundry/clothes. And now we are going to microsize our house…family style. I have found that a lot of the tiny house people are either single or have one-two children. I haven’t found any that have 5. There are only stories from the older generation. Most of the people I know that are well invested (i.e. paid off their mortgage, large savings, investments…) at some point lived in a tiny house. Our lives, now, are so transient and expectations so high that it is difficult for our generation to get traction and move forward (i.e. pay off our mortgage, large savings, diversify investments). As I said during the laundry post, our family is trying to start a home business. Having the mortgage paid off/ very low is a good step toward that goal.

Reasons for Downsize:

  • Decease Mortgage: Most people that ask me why I want to downsize 7 people into 800 sqft, are completely shocked. Coming from the generation I have, it took me awhile to get to this point. The biggest reason for the move is to downsize the mortgage. “The borrower is a slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7 It is true! Have you felt the chains around your ankles, wallet and neck? …pulling at your sense of security, eroding your ability to give and keeping you from a more full life… Some of you are so amazing, you saw this well before I did. Good job!
  • Decreased Materialism: The mortgage is not the only thing I’m hoping to decrease. I would love to simplify our lives. Everything you buy requires something from you (some things more then others). It takes time and energy to maintain, clean up, store and operate each item. No matter what that thing promises, you must calculate the total cost of ownership of every treasure you own. When we traveled across the United States one summer, life was simple. Everyone thought we were crazy for going camping all over the US with 5 children but it taught us the value of less. We had more time and energy to enjoy our relationships.
  • Increased creativity: I have an extremely creative brain and less things help me focus. Have you ever noticed that a clean kitchen inspires you to cook. Well, same thing happens to me in every creative adventure.  One of the reasons I have so much stuff, is that I can see at least 5 things that I could make out of every item I have. Though I highly support recycling and reusing, I couldn’t possibly complete even a quarter of the projects in this life time. I need to give them away for someone else to complete. Space savings is why I love pinterest. I can catalog my ideas and others great creations…virtually.  Another problem is project jumping. I start a new activity before I clean up the other one and then I forget the first. It happens a lot with motherhood and homeschooling. Still finish what you start, before you start something else! (I’m mostly reminding myself.)

Larger House Dilemma:

A house is a container for people and their stuff. The smaller of the house, the less stuff each person can store. The hope is that “hoarding” will get squeezed out. So what’s the problem? The larger the home, the less you have to think about the things that come into and go out of the home. The working procedure is to get another storage box and think about it later. Big houses are largely created for square footage not functionality. In a small house your stuff is always in your face so, there is a great need for discernment (i.e. Is this object worth the space it’s consuming? Since there are 40 other things that could take its place.) For a long time I thought that I was organizationally challenged. Now that I am getting rid of stuff, I have noticed that I am very good at organizing. That is the only way I could get so much stuff in such a small space (1400 sqft). I have to have different thinking altogether to fit homeschool and cooking for allergies into a small house.

Emotion of Stuff:

Stuff has an emotional component. There are many sources for the emotion, but some examples are: inheritance ( I just want to point out that the person that died didn’t take it with them, and neither will you.), security (“Stuff” is a poor investment, since it largely depreciates and costs more to store then it gains.) , familiarity (You’ve had an item for a long time.) and creative homemade/store bought gifts from a well meaning relative or friends (What happens if they come to your house?). If you don’t use it, you don’t “need” it.
Our houses are increasing at an unsustainable rate to hold more stuff and less people. Stuff that makes grandiose promises of comfort and ease, but costs more energy and money to maintain and store then it pays back (in comfort or ease). My biggest example of this is our hot tub. I love hot water baths (We only have a shower). Getting a hot tub promised great comfort to me. I’ve been in it 4 times since we got it a year ago. Why? Daily and weekly chemical balancing procedures and seasonal water exchange is a lot to do. To top it off, we have ants that like it even more then I do. The promise of my hot water bath has been squished by the realities of life. And the question remains, even if all went well with the tub, is that where God wants me to spend my time? Be sure I’m not saying hot tubs are a sin. I’m merely throwing the question out there for us to think about.
My husband and I hope to record our microsizing experience. For now we have a facebook page called microsizing (click to go to the facebook page). Check it out!