Friday, June 27, 2014

Real life in 550 square feet!

Well, we're all moved in!  Not all moved.  There is still much to do at our old house, the main thing being to sell it!!! 

We have been in our new home for a whole month now.   It truly feels like home.  My sweet Charlotte said that she is glad we are here and happy.  She just wants us to live here happy and not build a new house.  Sweet, but I don't know if I really want to sleep, eat, and live in the same room forever! 

550 square feet will teach you a lot and quickly.

I have figured out that some of the things I thought would be the hardest aren't really that bad and that some things are harder than I thought they might be.

I miss some things about having more space like a nice, big countertop available for kneading dough or just spreading out.  But, I have made it work and we certainly aren't going hungry.

I miss having room for friends...this one I can get through if my friends are willing to play outside  or in a barn!   But I do miss it.  A lot!

Um, hide & seek isn't nearly as challenging here...

Laundry (my very least favorite chore) has changed dramatically since our laundry room is in the barn.   Carrying the clothes and things back and forth aren't that big a's that I usually have 1 or 2 small children I am taking with me and the oldest of the youngest 2 cannot be left alone with the younger, so that presents logistical challenges.  I cannot change out a load of laundry in the middle of other has to be an event.  But, one great thing is that mine and my hubby's dressers are in the laundry room so it's pretty easy to put it away (the putting away is my very least favorite part of my least favorite chore).

The biggest changes for us have been less about our square feet and more about our new location...

I am now 30 minutes from good stores and church as opposed to walking distance and 1 or 2 miles.

There is a barn 30 feet from our place.  This, I love.  There is something peaceful and calming about being in the barn.

We haven't had internet at home for a month.  This was frustrating because I do our bills and some business-y things online.  I look for recipes online.  I look up random things online.  I communicate online.  And when your online time is squished into a certain amount of time and you have to remember your laptop checkbooks, bills, passwords, to-do lists, and children and lug all that around to accomplish what is necessary, using the internet becomes a chore rather than a convenience.  I like it much better as a convenience!! 

One of the most important things I have learned here is that I can do many things that I never thought I would be doing. 

I can calmly stand by keeping tabs on the snake in our chicken's nesting box so my hubby can go get something to, um, dispose of said snake.

I can live, eat, school, and sleep all in the same room (and the almost murphy bed isn't as bad as I imagined)

I can drive a truck and trailer around a field so my hubby can pick up hay bails all while a toddler is in the truck with me and the 2 oldest girls are on top of the hay bails!

I can potty train a toddler and nurse an infant at the same time.  Literally.  This I already knew but had tried to forget...

I can (well, almost) milk a goat.  And I can help dig post holes for fencing for said goats.  See, I'm not that confident around animals and my sweet friend Katie is patiently and kindly teaching me!

I can (well, almost) ride a horse.  We have neighbors with horses and they let the girls ride and then I actually tried it myself for the first time in 19 years.

I can see stars here.  I mean, really see stars.

I have found quiet time with the Creator of the beautiful stars more challenging than usual so I'm praying about that.

I have much, much deeper things to share eventually but, for now, they're all jumbled up in an emotionally exhausted heart.  One thing I know about moving into 550 square feet.  It doesn't make anything wonderful or horrible.  Our relationship with Christ and with each other determines our level of joy.  And joy can come in the morning for those in 5,000 square feet, 500 square feet, or no square feet at all.   The Son of Man had no place to lay His head, yet He is the source and giver of joy.  

We found this cute lil' thing while we were moving and decided to keep her!!

The living room, dining room, school room, and master bedroom!!  Our mattress lives behind the bookcases during the day.

Marcus's room

The Girls' room

The Last Supper

Happy Feet

Time for hay

Happy girls!!

OH, yeah!

My man...slinging hay bails and taking names.

He loves the toy tractor
Through the struggles my heart is currently in, my family loves me.  And I love being a part of the family I have...even if the house we live in has a license plate and chickens underneath it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Moving day has arrived!

We are ready to move!!

550 square feet, here we come!

If, 13 years ago, you would have told me that I would move my family of 6 (plus 2 dogs) into an 18-wheeler I would have definitely thought you crazy.  But, wait, maybe that's me...crazy!!

Right now I am feeling overwhelmed, excited, sad, and anxious, and ready.  As ready as I am, I am still sad to leave a home that we have thoroughly enjoyed living in.  A home we brought 2 of our babies home to.  A home where my 2 oldest babies came to know Christ as their Savior.  A home where my family has grown, in more ways than one.

But enough of the sentimental stuff and time for change.  Many changes.  Many adjustments.  Moving is chaotic, especially when you have 4 kids (one of whom is pretty new!), 2 dogs (one of whom is pretty new!), 27 chickens (9 of whom are pretty new!), and you're majorly downsizing!

Check out our humble abode!   (you can check out the before videos and pics on the links above!)

Check out our laundry room/extra storage

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Jesus doesn't fit in a box but He does fit in a closet!

My heart has been confused and hurting and pondering many things recently.

I have felt incapable of putting much of it into words and I still can't.  Some things are between my heart and the heart of my Savior because He understands when I don't have words.  That's why the only thing I have been able to blog about recently has been us getting ready to move.   Even our move has me in some deep thinking...but that's not why I'm sharing today...
I'm not exactly sure what or why I'm sharing today at all...maybe just to see some of what is in my head and heart in black in white...

I realized recently that I didn't truly grieve the death of my Grandma's husband.  I think because of  not really being able to pinpoint what kind of relationship I had with him and the complete, intense fog I was in during the time of caring for him during his last days.

Another relationship of mine painfully shifted from active to something I don't have a word for and still don't understand.  Jesus is preparing my heart to have peace in this.

There is a family situation that breaks. my. heart.

I am still having trouble helping my children try to make sense of someone rejecting Jesus because I don't understand it either.

I don't want my desire to live simply and debt free to become my idol because even good things can become idols...and I think idols that are "good" are the most dangerous and damaging to our relationship with the Lord.

I am struggling in some areas that, as my childhood report cards would say, need improvement.

I am re-learning how to find alone time with Jesus with an infant and a toddler that no longer naps!

My time with Jesus is precious and necessary and looks different during different seasons of life.  2013 was filled with much loss and pain and stretching and major changes.  I thought that what I needed was for the storms to end...for me to have time for uninterrupted mountain-top-with-God time.  I often longed for time to pray longer and more deeply.  What I didn't realize during survival mode was that I was having intense time with Jesus.  Those moments in the middle of the night, those moments alone during short car trips from one hospital or hospice room to another, those moments where all I could do was ask of the Lord, "why" or "how much more can I take",  the moments spent traveling during times of loss, and the moments of surrendering and trusting were actually more precious than I can describe.

In the aftermath of the stormy year, I began to look around and realized that I was in quite a spiritual funk...I missed the Lord of the storm...I felt so far away from Him.   I had been thinking that I wasn't close to Him during the storms because my spiritual connection didn't look a certain way.  I couldn't truly appreciate how close I was to Him during the difficulties because I apparently had a "time with Jesus" box attitude.  Now, I know God doesn't fit in any box I can conjure up but there I found myself, conjuring away.

I was, oh, so close to Him during the storms because He was, oh, so close to me.  He is faithful to me and my ever wandering heart.

Instead of wishing for a different season with Jesus, I'm going to ask Him for growth and grace for the one I'm in.  I'm going to ask Him to help me recognize His presence whether it is palpable because of the pain I am in or it is sweet because I'm holding my newborn son, and every season in between.

So, while I am sorting through some things in my head and my heart, I pray I notice and feel and praise Him and trust Him more.

I praise Him for His willingness to use me, a broken vessel.

While I don't long for more of life's storms I know now how sweet that time was and I do still find myself missing the palpable presence that kept me breathing.

I felt His presence while hiding in a closet today.   Having a wonky day, my sweet husband took me aside to pray over me.  We tried to hide from the kiddos so we could pray together and ended up in Madelynn's closet and then the 3 girls came in there to play.  We continued with our prayer time in the closet, whispering our prayer while trying not to laugh at the girls playing together not knowing we were in there.  A sweet prayer with a man who wants more with God for himself and for me and our a closet...the Lord is sweet.

This afternoon my almost 3 year old invited me out into the yard with her to enjoy some honeysuckle.   She picked honeysuckle and asked me to sit in the grass with her.  It's very hard to refuse her when she's cute and sweet.  :)   So, I sat.   She talked and brought me honeysuckle to share.  She asked to sit in my lap.  After sitting for a moment she said, "I'm okay now because I have my mommy".   How sweet and precious.  How tear-jerking!!!  

How much more does my heavenly Father love when I crawl up in His lap and say, "I'm okay now because I have my Jesus"?

Through the things I don't understand.  Through the things that break my heart.  Through the things that make my heart sing.  Through the things that confuse me.  Through the joy and the sorrow I know I will be okay.  Why? 

Because I have my Jesus.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

our future 550 square foot cabin is almost ready

***I know I haven't blogged in a while and I know this blog isn't about my new baby.  I am too busy being smitten with my lil' man and loving on the rest of my family and living life to blog about our newest arrival.  I'm even typing this blog one-handed!  But, soon, I'll blog about sweet baby Marcus!***

You know that moment when you're sitting at a red light next to an 18-wheeler and you say, "there goes our house"?  

What?  You've never said that?  Well,then, you can just let future 18-wheeler sitings remind you of the Hewett temporary homestead then.

Moving on...

We have made so much progress and everything is close to being ready for move-in day.

And I am excited!!!   I cannot begin to tell you how freeing it is to downsize and consider of everything you have, "hm, would I even have this if I didn't have space to fill up?".   The answer to that has been yes and no multiple times.

Now, don't go thinking I have stars in my eyes.  I know there will be some, ahem, difficulties and challenges living in such a small space but they are merely inconveniences we will have to adjust to.  We are choosing this.  It is the best way for us to get to where we want to be. 

If you could experience the peacefulness and see my backyard and my husband's joy as he works so hard preparing our cabin and the land to grow us delicious, healthy food, you would understand.

Anyway, we have made one major logistical change...we are ALL sleeping in the cabin.  Originally, 3 of us were going to sleep in a camper next to the, it's all of us.

So, painting has been done and our super-discounted countertops are in.  Leaks are fixed (we hope) and the new shower is in.

Me,actually participating in a teeny, tiny bit of work

Add caption

My parents helped get some stuff packed and some stuff ready for giving away

Our new garden!!!!

The new shower

New shower and view of the flooring, left over from our current house

Friday, February 28, 2014

A little Sugar

We got a puppy!!!

We are CRAZY!!  If you don't believe we're crazy, trust me, we are...and most people would agree.  Just ask how many people have lived with us in the past year.  Or why we love living without the constraints of 9-5 jobs even when financially challenging.  Or why we're willing to move into 550 square feet.  

Back to our most recent crazy move...Everybody should get a puppy days from having a newborn and a couple months from moving into 550 square feet with 6 people and, now, 2 dogs.

You see, my very manly hubby was working at a friend's house.  Friend had puppies.  Hubby CANNOT resist puppies, especially cute, little golden ones.   After some discussion on how crazy it would be to bring the puppy home, I left it up to my man (he says I told him to bring the puppy home...I recall being on the fence...half excited about a puppy and half stressed about timing of said puppy).

He showed up with the puppy!

He made the right decision!  He usually does.

I have wanted a puppy for a looooong time.  Our most fabulous dog, Butch, is almost 12 and I wanted to have another dog established in our family before the absolutely unthinkable event of losing the best. dog. ever!  That's enough of that before I cry like a baby or a completely exhausted pregnant lady ready to give birth any day now.

Now, what to name the puppy...

Goldie was suggested
Buttercup was suggested and quickly vetoed by my husband who, being a manly man that loves puppies, could not fathom himself hollering out the name "Buttercup" across the farm.  :)
Sugar was suggested by yours truly (and yours truly gets a little more influence than others)

Once Madelynn heard the name Sugar, it stuck and she wouldn't let us call the puppy anything else.

Sugar it is!  She is a yellow lab mix.  I love mutts!  They are the best!

Sugar is sentimental for me and I'm excited about that being her name.  

We're having fun with her.  Yes, she's a puppy.  Yes, there's A LOT of training going on.  Yes, it can be overwhelming but, overall, she's fitting in to our crazy family quite nicely.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Could you move out of your house in 2 hours?

Today, after schoolwork and regular Thursday cleaning (which my sweet husband helped with!), my hubby knew, in my current nesting-state, I was itching to do some packing.   We'll be moving in the next few months and making a MAJOR downsize as we move into 550 sq ft of living space.   Our laundry and some storage space will be in the barn which is about 15-20 feet from our cozy cabin.   Anyway, he found me some boxes and we went through some things and found 5 boxes worth of some "non-essentials" that we could pack away and probably not see for 2 years or so.   Part of me is wondering if I can live without using something for 2 years, why do I have it to begin with but, pondering over that will have to be another post...

We've recently had some bad weather, especially for the south.  While the ice storm didn't adversely affect us, it has adversely affected many others and I'm reminded of another ice storm...a big one...exactly 11 years ago.

11 years ago, only 2 weeks into our marriage, there was an ice storm in Kentucky that rocked my world.   

Ahhhh, newlyweds traveling home to KY from a wonderful wedding shower given us in AL...Valentines weekend...almost sounds romantic.  We came home to nothing but ice.  Everywhere!  Covering all trees, power lines, and roads.  It was bad!   The power was out at our home and at my in-law's home.  The power was also out at my Aunt and Uncle's home and they didn't have enough firewood.  I will never forget traveling on icy roads with my husband to take them firewood in the middle of the night!

We went to our house with no power and only a kerosene heater (after all, we were newlyweds and just wanted to be in our home).   With little sleep, we were awakened by a sheriff department employee announcing to people on our street that the river that was literally across the street from us would be flooding soon because of a dam up-river that needed to be opened.

Huh??  What?!!??

My husband said that we should probably pack a few things in case we needed to move out.

Huh??  What?!!?   What in the world does that mean??  Pack what??  Go where??  Huh?!?

After seeing the level of the river before the dam was opened, we decided that we should get everything out of the house that could be ruined by water.   Oh, did I mention that we only had a couple of hours before the dam was opened?

We called Bruce's parents who were at home due to the storm and a couple of friends to help.  We frantically packed and moved out of our house and into my in-law's home a few miles up the road.  And, somehow, we did it all in 2 hours!!!    

I didn't know where anything was!!   When I realized that I had left my purse at our house, my father-in-law was going to drive me down there to get it (all in icy conditions) and we came upon my husband riding the 4-wheeler we had and there...there on the front of the 4-wheeler, was my purse.  One of those images etched into my mind. 

What an adventure.  Newlyweds.  Ice storm.  Flooding.  Moving in 2 hours.  Moving in with in-laws.

I don't think I could even come close to moving out of a house in 2 hours at this point in our lives...while we do have more people now but, I wonder if we have too much stuff.    While my first ice storm adventure sure makes for a good story and memory now, I don't think I'd want to attempt that again!

We spent the next week without electricity.  But thanks to a generator, a coleman stove, a wood stove, and some handy men, we survived just fine.   That week after the ice storm was a whirlwind and my new husband spent most of it working.  Being an electrician meant there were many, many people to help and I'm thankful he was helping.  I, on the other hand, felt pretty useless since I couldn't drive on the roads or get to work but, hey, I did perfect my coleman stove cooking skills!

 Good grief, I love the adventurous, crazy, heart-breaking, and heart-warming stories that I have with my hubby and our children...and I look forward to many more to come!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Preparation to live in 550 sq ft cabin continues!

My family of 6 people and 1 dog will soon be moving to our homestead location and while we wait for our current house to sell and then work on building a new one, we'll be living in a 550 sq ft "cabin", also known as a tractor-trailer-turned-apartment.   You can catch up on the beginning of this story here.

Things are coming together and I am super excited about this adventure for our family.  (even though I'm sure there will be some challenges to living in such a space and I'll most likely have some opportunities to lose my mind)

Check out the video update!  Ch, ch, changes!!  :)

Here's pictures!

Entrance to living room

Standing in kitchen area looking into living room

Standing in living room looking into kitchen (the stove is not in place)

Standing in hallway looking through kitchen and into living room

kitchen and living room

I'll have to do some before/after pictures soon because that's when I'm really wowed!   I love to see the progress.  And I LOVE the man making it happen!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Preparing for life in a 550 square foot "cabin"

My family has had many, many adventures in the last 15 months.  Some crazy, some delightful, some scary, some stressful, some exciting and some sadBut this new one we're embarking might just take the cake and be all of those minus the sad, I hope.

About 2 1/2 years ago, my husband's dream of starting his own electrical contracting business came to fruition.  We are very thankful for the Lord's hand and provision as we started a new business while being the new kids in town!!

Beyond that dream, my husband has wanted to work the land and live off the land.  Now, this doesn't mean that I'm never going to the grocery store again...I'm not that crazy!   But, we want to have a wonderful, fruitful garden, some animals (we're already chicken owners!), berries, fruit & nut trees, a place to hunt turkey in our own back yard...stuff like that.   My husband, being the handy man that he is, is working hard to bring this dream to the forefront and see it come to fruition.

The land part is covered.  Our chickens are ready for more room and we're ready for more chickens.  The house part is almost covered.  There is much preparation and patience-building in our future. 

We desire to build a house and to do so with little or no debt.  We are definitely not at the point of doing that so we need a temporary place to make our home.  We were willing to buy a camper and live in it but the land we're moving to had something better...if you have vision and a handy husband!  :)

There is a tractor trailer on the land that had been turned into an apartment.  A 12x14ish addition was added to one end.  This place needs some work but we (and by "we", I mean my husband is doing all the work) are excited about making this 550 square foot "cabin" work for us.

Yep.  550 square feet.

Yep.  6 people and a dog (thankfully, the chickens live outside!)

Now, to be honest, the 550 sq ft doesn't include where our laundry room will be because the laundry room will be in the barn.

Yep.  The barn!

The 550 sq ft also doesn't include where 3 of the 6 of us will be sleeping...a camper will sit outside the cabin for extra bedding.  But, most of our indoor living will be done in the 550 sq ft, including homeschooling and cooking! 

Check out the progress (including a virtual tour) of our adventure!!

The side of the can see the addition sticking out at the end

Insulation and siding going on the outside of the addition because it had none!

Where the addition connects to the trailer

The addition and opposite side of the cabin, also the entrance


Entrance (yes, we know there's no railing right now...)

Standing in the living area viewing the kitchen and hallway

Bedroom at end of cabin

Standing in kitchen looking towards living area (the addition)

Standing in kitchen looking at living area (the entrance is to the right)

Just some outside fun in the field!! 
 Now, if you're horrible at envisioning things like I am, feel free to take the virtual tour below!!