tiny house with kids

Say AHHHHH.... It's Time For A Check-Up!

Happy Earth Day 2017, everyone!

I figured today was as good a day as any to drop you all a line and update you on what the TH43 crew has been up to over the previous months. In a word: nothing. lol

As I mentioned back in December, we've been trying to get land (or a home with land) purchased in Washington state for many months now, and it seems like one roadblock after another after another has been tossed in our path. A couple problems we faced included improper listing of traditional financing options by the listing agent/Realtors, and my personal favorite, not actually talking to the homeowners before spouting off owner financing options to our Realtor, causing him to waste his time and ours (again and again) with contracts that the owners don't end up agreeing to. Incidentally, it was the same guy for two different properties in this case, and I was already wary seeing his name on the 2nd property anyway. All I can say is I'm glad he's not my agent! We also lost a great place in a bidding war (foreclosures are tricky like that), and another finally fell through on our end when we tried a "lot" loan and, for once, our credit scores fell just short of their higher-than-typical standards.

Buying across state lines has proven to be a massive undertaking, one complicated by my desire to buy while we're still here in Texas and I have two steady sources of income vs. rushing out there with just any old job to eliminate the "second home" status we're being forced to use since I'm not a current WA resident or employee/employee transfer. Call me crazy, but it seems more logical, at least in my mind, to lend to someone with a 4/6yr job history vs. a brand new job regardless of what state they're buying in/from. But hey... who said life or real estate transactions were ever logical?! While I still look at properties regularly, I've concluded I'm not willing to spend close to $300k on a mobile home with acreage simply because we can get traditional or even FHA financing on it, and I adamantly refuse to spend $2k+ per month just to rent in our target areas and have nothing but the "resident" box checked on our loan application to show for it. Besides... we're going to have some crazy scheduling needs once both the kiddo and the husband are in school 5 days a week in opposite directions. For us, it makes significantly more sense to purchase now so we have a place to go after I find the BEST job(s) possible to meet both our financial and scheduling/logistical needs. Apparently that's asking entirely too much. Silly me.

We've also discovered we can either have a decent sized 20-30% down payment OR we can pay off some more bills to bolster our scores, but we can't do both. I cannot work more than 7 days in a week (I know, I've tried! Ha!), and having the husband work over the summer actually set us back $5k for the year AND caused us to owe taxes for the first time in three years (i.e. having him start working again, which adds a whole host of other unnecessary complications to our lives, isn't worth it). Clearly we cannot milk any more blood from this turnip, and so we find ourselves at another crossroads in our journey to Washington state. Blessedly we still have one more year before, as far as I'm concerned anyway, we MUST be there to get the kiddo in school (in Waldorf, teachers stay with their classes from first grade through the end of their primary education, and 2018 is that first year for R.A.D), but that means we have to decide what to do for the coming 12-ish months.

One option is to go back to Colorado, specifically back to Riverview RV Park where they now have a dedicated tiny house section, but have me take a job closer to Loveland. The travel costs to/from my current employer's locations there are the primary factor that caused us to leave Colorado in the first place. The only way to make CO work again would be to hire on closer to Loveland, which is totally possible. We both admit we loved Northern Colorado a great deal, and the kiddo misses that awesome park to play in. It's certainly high on the list of possibilities. The tiny house just needs a few modifications based on our cold-weather experience in 2015-2016 to be ready for another bout of NoCo winter, but it wouldn't take long to be shipshape and ready to roll.

Alternatively, and something we'd really planned to do for 2016 or 2017 anyway, is for me to hire on with a travel nurse agency and take 12wk positions across the country so we can actually travel with our tiny house on wheels. Our "rent" would be covered by the stipends offered when you don't use the included housing provided for in contract nursing, but the added complexity of finding places for the tiny house near places I can actually work is a bit of a deterrent, I admit. We'd even contemplated selling the tiny in favor of an Airstream just to lessen the travel complications for such a scenario, but we just can't bring ourselves to part with our house we've poured so much blood, sweat, tears, and love into simply for a 1yr-ish jaunt around the country. Besides... we're still planning to live in it once we finally do get to Washington. Duh! lol

Other ideas include sucking it up and staying put in Dallas (whether or not we'd still be in my dad's house remains to be seen), pulling a 180 and buying a condo just off the San Antonio Riverwalk in a booming area of town (another place I can transfer with my current employers, both of whom have multiple locations there, and a way to satisfy the urge to live in a walkable city at least once in my life AND keep us closer to family for the time being), or angling to have a full-time "travel nurse" position created for me with one of my two employers to help them open their new facilities across the country. That last one has appeal because, after 6 years of me hoping and wishing, they are FINALLY going to be opening locations in Washington state in a couple more years. It's not the target area we want, but hey... I love that company and have always said I'd follow them state-to-state if its somewhere we wanted to be. Once we figure our plans for the year, we can kick back a bit while we figure out our next move for Washington. Yeah right... like it's gonna be all relaxing and easy breezy... ha! :-P

We've got lots to think about and decisions galore to make, but like every other batch of plans we make and then break along the way, the end game hasn't changed. Washington state is still the goal, and unless something drastic happens, which with us is ALWAYS a possibility, we'll make that dream a reality come Hades or high water. <3

 

Tiny: It Isn't For Everyone Or Even Necessarily Forever

I feel like I've done a rather thorough job of being very forthcoming about why we built our tiny house, what we intend to use it for, why we aren't currently living in it full-time, and when we do plan to be living tiny in it yet again. I also know I've mentioned many times that our tiny house on wheels has never been planned as our last home forever and ever til death do us part. 😜 One of the reasons I had no trouble convincing Brand to join me on the crazy adventure of building our own house with our own hands (beyond the fact that he'd always wanted to do just that) was the fact I promised him it didn't have to be forever. He knew I have always wanted to roadtrip across the country, so it wasn't a difficult sell to combine both dreams into one little tiny house on wheels.

 

Even though we did build our house and are looking forward to being back in it full-time sooner rather than later, we have always said we want a permanent house on some acreage in Washington state. That dream has never changed, and we still have every intention of moving there by the summer of 2018 before the kiddo starts first grade. We knew as soon as our son was born that we no longer wanted to own a massive 3200sqft house, especially since we were really only using about half the space. When we moved into my dad's place we condensed further into just 2 large bedrooms with shared kitchen and living room use. Only once did our tiny house ever feel too small during our 6 months in Colorado, and it was because we had just arrived, were still setting up, and simply got overwhelmed at all we had done and still needed to do to settle into our new tiny life in a new state with a new job. Just lots of new stuff in a very short time to be sure! That feeling passed quickly, and then everything people have said about how freeing having less stuff and less space to care for kicked into high gear for us, making the whole experience in the house itself pretty darn close to magical. Well, except for the frequently overflowing pee jug, but that's a story from another blog post all together. 😫

 

Anyway, my rambling point is that I know some folks out there likely think we're just another "casualty" of the tiny house "fad" because we aren't living in the house at this exact moment. While WE know that isn't the case at all and have plans progressing nicely that will put us back into our house much sooner than we had actually hoped for, we do know there are still Negative Nellys out there that likely shake their heads at us and anyone else who might have moved into and out of their tiny house in a hurry no matter what the reasoning may be. We can even admit to being surprised by they number of folks, particularly the ones on TV, that have moved on from their tiny houses, too, but we know first hand that sometimes life just doesn't go as planned and adjustments have to be made on the fly. We experienced some of that with the Colorado sticker shock we felt after thinking we could afford to live tiny AND pay off all our debt there, but the cost of living compared to Texas and the distance I had to travel to work (55mi each way) simply to have a legal place to park our tiny house made that as impractical as living in a mostly empty 3200sqft house with a $2000/mo mortgage. It didn't make financial sense to stay there just to stay in the tiny house, so we made the decision to come back to Texas to get the rest of our finances in order instead. The last thing we want to have happen is us getting out to where we really plan to settle down and struggle financially to stay put. We haven't always made the best financial decisions in our lifetime together or even before that, but we'll be damned if we set a poor example for our son by not shaping up and doing right by him. After all, we chose our target area of Washington specifically to put us near an amazing Waldorf farm school for him, and we want to provide for him something neither of us had growing up: a single house to call home all the way through high school.

 

Any way, the ever-amazing Macy Miller wrote her own blog post about the question on many people's minds when they hear of folks moving into and on from their tiny house life in a seeming hurry. As always her post is poignant and introspective, and it touches on the many sides to the stories of why some folks don't live tiny for long. She is in many ways an exception to what seems to be the "rule" about length of time living in a tiny house, but she's got a great answer to that suggestion as well. Enjoy!

 

http://minimotives.com/2016/09/12/whats-hard-living-tiny-whyd-move/

Happy 2nd Building Anniversary, TinyHouse43!

I just lost over 2hrs of writing and a really cool slideshow I was putting together of highlights from the tiny house being built since May 14th makes two years to the date since we picked up our Barn Raiser and started our tangible tiny house journey. Curse your lack of functional auto save, Squarespace! 😫 I do not have the mental bandwidth to even come close to rewriting it all (#emopost), but here are the highlights:

 

• Chose a Barn Raiser because we don't have a cadre of local friends/family to help with framing and wanted the peace of mind that came with professional tiny house builders doing the heavy lifting - a perfect solution for two busy parents 🛠

 

• Picked it up 5/14/14 in CO, brought it to TX to build, moved in 10/9/15 in CO, and are presently back in TX doing the finishing work and changing some things as well; end game for Washington state has never changed despite setbacks 💸

 

• Started blogging as a way to journal our experiences and deal with the death of my mother a few months prior; don't make a living with our tiny house (have earned a gallon of Penofin and $0.27 from it - #caniretirenow), so we share our story because we enjoy doing so and hope others learn from us; almost always a positive experience, and for that we are most thankful to our readers 📝

 

• Still feel a bit like outsiders in the #tinyhousetribe because we aren't super self-promoters and can't be as visible in the community as we would really like to be, but so grateful to have met/talked to such a wide variety of people from all over the world all bound by our crazy love of all things tiny house 💜

 

• Thankful for everyone who has followed along our journey no matter when you caught up to us; drop us a line if you're ever in the Dallas area for a possible tour 📸

 

• Celebrating our tiny house's 2nd anniversary since building began with some website housekeeping, including new photos and a vow to finally integrate our Wordpress blog fully for easier use 🍾

 

Truly, THANK YOU for all your support, kind words, suggestions, comments, and general awesomeness!!! We look forward to sharing the next chapter of our tiny life, and we hope you'll share your own progress as well!!

 

All the best,

 

Meg, Brand, and R.A.D

💙🏡💜

TH43 v1.0 Video Tour

Greetings! I have posted a pair of heavily detailed video tours of our tiny house to our own YouTube channel called TINY HOUSE FOR THREEI've also embedded them at the bottom of this post for sake of ease.

I want to again remind folks that our house is not 100% completed, and therefore you're going to see plenty of projects left to complete. I also intentionally didn't do a thorough clean on the house before filming, because let's face it - how often have you seen a house with kids and pets be immaculate other than on magazine covers and heavily staged TV shows?! Yup, that's what I thought! The only thing that would have made this video more accurate to our real, day-to-day tiny house living would be to have had R.A.D playing with his cars in his room and Brand sitting in the nook studying or playing video games with more dirty dishes on the counter and me sprawled out on the couch reading a magazine. You may wrinkle your nose at some of our unfinished work or the dishes in the sink because it's not aesthetically pleasing, and we've already had some folks give unsolicited snipes about our design choices and layout ("Only thing better would be tiny house with a better design than a hallway... 😬"). Regardless of your own preferences for what you think a tiny house should look like, including your own if you go that route, you need to keep one highly important fact in mind:

 THIS IS OUR TINY HOME, NOT YOURS! 💖

We built OUR house to OUR standards for OUR needs and to OUR budget and timeframe, and we aren't done yet!! We chose to go on and share both photos and a video tour of our work-in-progress house now because 1) it's going to be a while before we really have it ALL done to our satisfaction and 2) because we want to encourage others, especially those who have little to no help for their build who are trudging along fretting about whether or not they'll ever finish it, that IT'S OKAY FOR YOUR HOUSE TO NOT BE PERFECT by the time you are ready to move in! Sure, it's a royal pain in the keester to live in a construction zone, especially a TINY construction zone, but it CAN. BE. DONE.

Your house doesn't have to be HGTV ready to be loved, to be lived in, and to be proud of. The haters and trolls will be there no matter how pristine your floors are, how white your walls are, or how sparkling your expensive hammered copper sink that you simply couldn't resist is, so just keep on keeping on! 😉 Be proud of what you've accomplished so far, what you'll continue to complete in the future, and of the very fact you had the cajones to start in the first place!! I've found some of the most vocal critics of our tiny house and of many others don't even live in a tiny house and have no plans to do so. What suddenly makes them the experts on tiny house building, design, and living?! Oh that's right.... not a damn thing! ☺️ So just remember....

YOU ROCK, AND SO DO WE!! 

Now that I've dismounted the soap box and without any further ado, may I proudly present our unfinished, unkempt TinyHouse43 v1.0 in all its video tour glory! 

💙🏡💜 

P. S. I should also point out this isn't a, " and here's the kitchen, and over there is the bathroom," type tour. I actually share useful information about our house that anyone building or living in a tiny house might find useful. That's why combined the tour is 30 minutes long! 😜

Tiny House (43) Swoon

Even though our house is still a work in progress and we are having to take a break from full-time living for a while (see why Reality Bites), I finally decided it really is TinyHouseSwoon-worthy and sent them some photos. They agreed, and we are the new post for today! Sure, there are vast swaths of unpainted plywood visible and some areas completely missing doors or other coverings, but you know what?? It's still beautiful!

 

Credit to Megan Carthel of the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle for the first photo. 

Credit to Megan Carthel of the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle for the first photo. 

Our tiny house journey is still a work in progress as well - bumps, detours, and construction delays included - but that doesn't make our efforts thus far any less amazing. It's sooo easy for me to be exceptionally hard on myself when things don't work out the way I envisioned they would, especially when so much planning and hard work has gone into it all. I admit it's sometimes difficult to see all the gorgeous tiny houses on TinyHouseSwoon.com and all around the web and not feel just a bit inadequate as our house is nowhere near the finished quality of those displayed, and I know there's some psychological mumbojumbo that can explain those feelings. Still, we are very proud of what we were able to accomplish with virtually no outside help for the physical labor while building paycheck to paycheck with a full-time work or school schedule and a rambunctious toddler to chase around the whole time. It's not perfect or finished, but what in life ever truly is?!

So, without further ado, I invite you to check out our house on Tiny House Swoon. The photos of our house will be familiar, but once you're done looking at our post, be sure to swoon over some of the other beauties - some of which are also works in progress! - shared by their loving owners, proud builders, and other admirers. 

 💙🏡💜

Our THOW Interior: January 2016

We are most definitely NOT done with the inside of our tiny house - loads of finish work left to do, including painting a zillion different things - but since we had to do a deep clean for a visitor today who needed to take photos, I took advantage of the time to snap some photos. Granted I didn't drag the DSLR out from under the storage sofa for higher quality shots, but as I keep saying, you'll get the gist. Captions will come later, but I think these are pretty self-explanatory. Without further ado, I give you our still-in-progress TinyHouse43 interior! 💙🏡💜

 

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Riverview RV Park and Tiny Houses: A Community Within A Community?

Before I write anything else, let me preface this post by saying that I have no affiliation with the staff or owner of Riverview RV Park, nor do I have any say in what or to whom the owner rents parking spaces to. I'm simply the owner of the very first tiny-house-on-wheels that has had the pleasure of parking here since October 2015 and hopefully not the last.  Riverview has been a perfect place for us to spend our first winter in our tiny house, and because the park owner and staff have been so wonderful to us and are open to having more tiny houses in their park, I wanted to share our experiences with other THOW dwellers, as well as plant the seeds for the possibility of a tiny house community within the existing RV park should the owner be amenable. The decision to pursue or not any of my ideas and suggestions are solely the decision of the owner of Riverview, but I will make myself available to him or to any potential tiny house residents should he choose to consider the possibility of hosting a group of tiny houses, particularly if that involves grouping them together in a community setup. I have already expressed my interest in helping gather support and residents for such a community to him and his staff, and while this was a simple conversation in the office one afternoon, there appeared to be genuine interest at the very least in having more tiny houses here period. We will continue to be positive examples of tiny house residents during our stay here in hopes that we might set the tone for such a community, and either way we encourage you to visit the park and try out one of their cabins or bring your own RV or THOW for a short stay. We don't think you'll be disappointed! -Meg

_____________________________________

 

Now, with that out of the way, I'm going to post some photos I just took of the eastern edge of the park right along the Big Thompson River where there's a grouping of partial hookup spaces that I feel could be utilized as a semi or permanent tiny house community within the confines of Riverview. There are other areas of the park that the owner, should he choose to pursue such an idea, might prefer over this one, but I picked them because I have yet to see them used since we've been here and they're near a bath/laundry house on the property as a simple starting point. These sites do not presently have sewer connections, but the walk to the on-site dump station is short and the office staff stated that there may be connections added in the near future. They have water and electric hookups present, as well as their own fire rings for outside cooking. They also have an amazing view of the river right behind them!

Some adorable little rental cabins are on the other side of the street from them, so I felt like the aesthetic of grouping the tiny houses with the cabins was also a great fit. The area is somewhat secluded from the rest of the park, which also lends to the community-within-a-community feel. Near that area are also more partial hookup sites, tent camping sites, and the RV storage area at the very back of the property (you'll see it in a photo or two). During the winter you have wide open views around the park, and in the fall when we arrived the trees were still thick with colorful leaves aplenty. Quite a beautiful area if I do say so myself!

The rest of the park has some great amenities, including a second bath/laundry house, a gated off-leash dog park (you're responsible for picking up after your own pets no matter where they do their business FYI), a large central park with playground equipment, and a large covered picnic area that includes a stage and outdoor fireplace. There are trails and ponds around the property we've yet to check out, and you can fish in the Big Thompson River as well. There's a convenience store inside the office, and they have two rentable spaces for large gatherings. There are regular potlucks particularly around the holidays, and so far we've loved all the folks we've met who live here year round. Most if not all of the office and maintenance staff live on-site, so if hiccups do occur someone is available to help.

I could go on and on about how much we've enjoyed our stay here at Riverview and in the town of Loveland, CO, but I know our readers are more interested in seeing photos of the property and my suggested area for a tiny house community within Riverview RV Park and Campground. So, without further ado, here they are! 

 

 

 

Here's a panorama of the partial hookup area as seen from the big central park. That's the bath/laundry house in the foreground, and the spaces I'm thinking of are behind and slightly left of it. 

Here's a panorama of the partial hookup area as seen from the big central park. That's the bath/laundry house in the foreground, and the spaces I'm thinking of are behind and slightly left of it. 

This is the bath/laundry house at the back of the park, but there is another near the office. Where we are presently parked with our THOW puts both bath houses equidistant to us, but this one has private baths and showers vs. the dorm-like setup of the house near the office. There are additional showers on the back side of this building as well.

This is the bath/laundry house at the back of the park, but there is another near the office. Where we are presently parked with our THOW puts both bath houses equidistant to us, but this one has private baths and showers vs. the dorm-like setup of the house near the office. There are additional showers on the back side of this building as well.

This is a view to the southeast of the gated dog park. Here dogs are allowed off-leash, but everywhere else in the park requires them to be leashed. No pets are allowed in the central park playground area at all, and owners are always responsible for cleaning up after their pets.&nbsp;

This is a view to the southeast of the gated dog park. Here dogs are allowed off-leash, but everywhere else in the park requires them to be leashed. No pets are allowed in the central park playground area at all, and owners are always responsible for cleaning up after their pets. 

These cute little cabins are part of what drew me to that area I think would work for a tiny house community. Their aesthetic would go great with THOWs, and they'd be your view across the street. 

These cute little cabins are part of what drew me to that area I think would work for a tiny house community. Their aesthetic would go great with THOWs, and they'd be your view across the street. 

This is a view of the Big Thompson River behind the parking spaces in question. What a lovely view! 

This is a view of the Big Thompson River behind the parking spaces in question. What a lovely view! 

This is a view looking east of some of the partial hookup spaces directly across from the little park cabins where I think tiny houses on wheels would fit well together. These sites have water and electric, but presently you'd have to haul your gray water (or black if you went that route) a short walk to the dump station. The office staff did tell me that sewer hookups may be added in the near future.

This is a view looking east of some of the partial hookup spaces directly across from the little park cabins where I think tiny houses on wheels would fit well together. These sites have water and electric, but presently you'd have to haul your gray water (or black if you went that route) a short walk to the dump station. The office staff did tell me that sewer hookups may be added in the near future.

This is looking northwest at the end of the row of partial hookup sites along the river. Those trees on the left create a little mini park area that divides these spaces from the full hookup spots closer to the front of the RV park. This division would also help create more of a micro community feel for the THOWs from the rest of the park I believe.

This is looking northwest at the end of the row of partial hookup sites along the river. Those trees on the left create a little mini park area that divides these spaces from the full hookup spots closer to the front of the RV park. This division would also help create more of a micro community feel for the THOWs from the rest of the park I believe.

This is the back of one of the partial hookup spaces where you can see the electrical hookup with the water spigot just below. There's a fire ring at each site, and there are picnic tables for each site currently being stored for the winter. You'd be able to roast marshmallows while watching the river from this spot. 💜&nbsp;

This is the back of one of the partial hookup spaces where you can see the electrical hookup with the water spigot just below. There's a fire ring at each site, and there are picnic tables for each site currently being stored for the winter. You'd be able to roast marshmallows while watching the river from this spot. 💜 

This is a view from that same spot #157 looking over a couple of neighboring spots and through the tree grove toward the front of the RV park. That's one of the rentable cabins on the left, and in the distance you can see the covered picnic and stage area. 

This is a view from that same spot #157 looking over a couple of neighboring spots and through the tree grove toward the front of the RV park. That's one of the rentable cabins on the left, and in the distance you can see the covered picnic and stage area. 

Here's another view of the neighboring cabins from the back of space #157. To the left and behind of the cabins are additional partial hookup spaces and tent camping sites. 

Here's another view of the neighboring cabins from the back of space #157. To the left and behind of the cabins are additional partial hookup spaces and tent camping sites. 

Behind those trees are the tent camping sites and the RV storage area. The river bends around behind that storage area, and there are trails that meander off to the right of that area as well. 

Behind those trees are the tent camping sites and the RV storage area. The river bends around behind that storage area, and there are trails that meander off to the right of that area as well. 

Here's an easterly view from space #157 that shows more of the river and the neighboring spaces that direction. Beautiful! 

Here's an easterly view from space #157 that shows more of the river and the neighboring spaces that direction. Beautiful! 

If you squint, you can just make out our tiny house dead center in the image sticking out to the left of the playground equipment. This was taken on the walk back and looks across the big central park area.

If you squint, you can just make out our tiny house dead center in the image sticking out to the left of the playground equipment. This was taken on the walk back and looks across the big central park area.

This is the road toward the front of the RV park, and I was passing the grove of trees on my right that act as a divider between the full hookup sites ahead and the partial hookup sites just behind and to the right of me as I walked. Here you can see a view of the mountain that is directly across the street from the turn into Riverview. 

This is the road toward the front of the RV park, and I was passing the grove of trees on my right that act as a divider between the full hookup sites ahead and the partial hookup sites just behind and to the right of me as I walked. Here you can see a view of the mountain that is directly across the street from the turn into Riverview. 

Here's a look to the southwest where you can see the other little mountain flanking the park. 

Here's a look to the southwest where you can see the other little mountain flanking the park. 

These are full hookup sites that border the grove of trees I've mentioned. They're within that same area surrounding the bath/laundry house and could potentially house tiny houses, too. All of those decisions are solely that of the park owner, but since they are in close proximity to the partial hookup sites I wanted to show them as well. 

These are full hookup sites that border the grove of trees I've mentioned. They're within that same area surrounding the bath/laundry house and could potentially house tiny houses, too. All of those decisions are solely that of the park owner, but since they are in close proximity to the partial hookup sites I wanted to show them as well. 

Lastly, this photo was taken from the dump station next to the central park looking back toward the partial hookup sites where I believe a tiny house community within the RV park could be established. So long as those spaces have no sewer hookups you'd make this short walk to dump your waste, but the staff did say there was a possibility of them being converted to full hookup. 

Lastly, this photo was taken from the dump station next to the central park looking back toward the partial hookup sites where I believe a tiny house community within the RV park could be established. So long as those spaces have no sewer hookups you'd make this short walk to dump your waste, but the staff did say there was a possibility of them being converted to full hookup. 

As I talk more with the owner about my ideas, I will share what I find out with his permission. I did tell the staff the day I spoke with them about this possibility that the number one thing the park would need to work on in order to court more THOWs is to have more reliable WiFi service since so many folks who live in tiny houses work from home remotely via Internet. They advised me they were already working on improving the connections here, and in the meantime I've been doing some research of my own.

What I can tell you today with certainty is that no devices that run on the Sprint network will work here, which sadly leaves the otherwise awesome Karma Go concept out. Verizon and AT&T have strong signals all over this area, but unless you have a grandfathered unlimited plan they aren't exactly affordable options for heavy users. I will be buying and testing a T-Mobile device for our use in addition to our Verizon devices to see if that will work as an option for unlimited internet, even if they do throttle speeds after 16GB or thereabouts. According to their coverage map, Riverview is in their lowest signal range BUT there have been user confirmed connections within the park itself. I'll post our findings once I've had a chance to try out T-Mobile, and hopefully the improvements of the park will help bridge any remaining service gaps.

That's it for now! I do know you can bring your THOW for short stays already, so hopefully the idea of creating a more permanent community of them isn't out of the question for the owner. He and his staff are wonderful in our humble opinions, and even with a few hiccups here and there with water pressure and winter weather woes (all of which were quickly attended to by the staff I might add) we've been very pleased with our stay. Our son has loved being by the playground, and there are enough kiddos that cycle through to keep him out playing as often as we let him. The place is a great mix of ages and stages, and we highly recommend it!!

For more information, contact Riverview via their website or call - just know you might get someone different each time, and email replies are much slower than phone calls:

www.RiverviewRV.com or 970-667-9910

They are presently closed on Sundays and Mondays through the winter, and I don't suggest using their online reservation system if you plan to bring your THOW. Call them first so they can accommodate you properly, and let them know Maighen in the tiny house sent you!

Through 2016... AND BEYOND!!

And yes,  you're supposed to read that in Buzz Lightyear's voice. :)
 
So, 2015 has come and gone, and man are we POOPED! The year passed like a whirlwind, and the dust is most definitely still settling around us both on the tiny home front and with my work schedule. Even though our routines are normalizing here in Colorado and we're barely 2 days into the new year, we're still looking forward to our tiny house travel in a year or so. I know, I know. Focus on the now. Admittedly I've always been the type who likes to daydream about the future, and while I know I need to rein it back a bit to deal with current affairs, this post is about the "and beyond," too. I'll save the harsh(ish) realities for the end and share the cooler bits now.

Having now been exposed to three different groups of awesome THOW/RV families from Alaska (Tiny Tall House, Tiny House Growing Family, and  The Play Forest) and hearing about their adventures in their home state, we've been discussing changing our tiny house travel plans to include some interesting seasonal jobs - including a possible stint in AK vs. just visiting by cruise ship - rather than just sticking with travel nursing assignments. Also, it'd be great if the workload could be shared by us both and yet still allow plenty of time for Brand to work on school and us to explore as a family. I'd be a liar if I said I enjoy being the sole source of income all the time, but it's a burden I'm 100% willing to bear to put our whole family on the path toward what I think is the best goal anyone can ever set: to create a life you don't need a vacation from!

Now don't get me wrong - I love my career - but I'd much rather do something fun while we explore this great continent of ours. There'll be plenty more time for me to work in the clinical setting, and Brand has a long career ahead in a similar setting once he finishes school, too. Why not take advantage of the unique opportunities full-time THOW/RV traveling has to offer while we have the chance? After all, part of what has made our tiny house adventure possible is this brief window of time between both Brand and R.A.D being in school full-time. If ever there was an appropriate time for us to carpe this diem, that time is NOW!

So, here are a few seasonal and travel-friendly ideas I have for us:

Remote tele-transcription while on the East Coast visiting family? Done!
Sugar beet harvesting in Montana in the fall? Why not?!
Greenhorning on an Alaskan salmon boat in the spring or berry picking in the late summer? Heck yes!

The timing for adventures like those would have to align with our primary travel plans, but I can't deny the cool factor of telling people, "We fished on a salmon boat in Alaska," sure does have a lot of sway! Still, as fun as it is to plan for the future, no matter how close that future may really be, we do still have to focus on the here and now. Boring! But necessary, alas.

Of the many reasons we chose to spend a year or so in Colorado before hitting the road - still just a long day's drive from our Texas family; me being able to stay with my same employer; because Colorado, duh! - having the chance to pay off at least the vast majority of our debt (not counting the truck) while in a stable parking location and with stable employment was the numero uno "Pro" on our list. Unfortunately, the higher cost of living in the area, along with some unforeseen and expensive variables, has required me to take up a 2nd job again if we want to make any real headway toward becoming debt-free. It's not what I wanted for myself - I'd much rather be home with my boys or out exploring the beauty of this state - but the ends most definitely justify the means. I'm fortunate to have a career that allows me to work 12-hr days, which means I have 4 days off per week anyway. I'm more than willing to sacrifice an extra one to get the ball rolling on what is the most important piece of our traveling lifestyle puzzle!

We've been through the broke-cycle before, but this time is different because our priorities are different. Before we just wanted to pay cards down so we could buy more stuff. Now we want to pay cards OFF so we can close the accounts completely and really start building up savings. I know, I know. Closing cards will adversely affect our credit ratings, but we obtained most of those cards when we were young and broke (read: sky high interest rates and big annual fees). Unless we can talk the companies out of charging us annually for cards we won't use, we'd rather just keep the best few cards and take the debt-to-income ratio hit that sucks your credit score into the crapper. Yes, that may hurt us a bit when we do go to buy land in Washington - and who knows, maybe we'll suck it up and wait until after we do that - but I'd rather eliminate the temptation all together.

Anyway, no matter how we get from A to B, the end game is still the same: end 2016 without any (or at least very, VERY little) credit card debt remaining, save a yet-to-be-determined amount in our savings account plus an extra buffer amount strictly for travel expenses, and prepare to head out on our travels in early 2017. We've also got to squeeze in the time and squeeze out the funds to finish the remaining work on the tiny house itself. Can't forget that! If we've achieved our financial goals by the departure date, I see no reason we can't travel a bit more leisurely and take more adventurous jobs along the way to continue funding the journey.

We'd of course love it if we had enough saved to not HAVE to work along the way, but I'm a realist and know we'd need more than a year to achieve that unless I worked even more than I plan to now. I consider our time in Colorado to be a working vacation, and I'm not willing to completely sacrifice the vacation portion of the equation! Instead we have to get on the "Budget Train," something we've only used abstractly in the past, so we can buckle down our finances, prioritize the remaining house projects, and maximize my days off to explore our beautiful temporary home state.

I also want to share a link from Technomadia, who have a great post about working while traveling. That's actually where I found the sugar beet harvesting idea, along with a bunch of other really cool options for alternative income means. I've got another link I'll have to add later that gives even more non-office-based job ideas, which is where I found the info on doing mobile transcription. That one, incidentally, potentially pays pretty well. Definitely worth looking at if you've got the skills to listen to audio tapes and accurately type out what you hear. Maybe my medical background will give me an in to the higher paying medical transcription options. Hmm... :)

That's it from us for now. We hope your holidays were merry and bright, and we wish you all the best for a prosperous, adventurous, and productive 2016... AND BEYOND! 

<3

Nature's Head: 1.... TinyHouse43: -3648272

We have failed as #NaturesHead owners. 🚽

 

Not only have we overflowed our pee jug multiple times despite marking the side with a "do not pass this" line because the naturally occurring discoloration masks the ability to determine the fluid level, but apparently we somehow shoved toilet paper into the urine diverter. Know what that means? Yep, you guessed it: our #1 and #2 mixed, thus defeating the purpose of a urine diverting compost toilet and surpassing the wetness the built in little fan can dry out.

 

So... no dry, earthy-smelling compost for us this time around. All I can say is that I am DAMN GRATEFUL for my husband and his willingness to tackle Mount 💩, and he's damn grateful for the bottle of whiskey he keeps on top of the fridge. I'm also thankful for our collective cold tolerance as we opened all the windows and turned on the ceiling fan to dissipate the nasal onslaught in 30 degree weather.

 

Here are a few lessons we've learned and tips to avoid our mistakes that we're passing on to you, dear (likely a little green around the gills now) readers... 😱

 

1) Spring for the rapid dissolve TP ⌛️, and use it as sparingly as possible. The regular stuff is your enemy. Trust me. If you're the Al Bundy type who likes a mitt for each use, you're going to have to GTFOI quick lest you risk disaster in your immediate voiding future. We thought we could get away with our Charmin Ultra. In the words of Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor...

image.jpg

 

2) Make absolutely, positively certain your trap door is COMPLETELY CLOSED with each #1 use, especially if you have kids! Our little guy is good about opening it, but he doesn't alays remember to close it. On at least two occasions I've found this out the hard way after stumbling down the stairs with a full bladder at 0-dark-30 and not turning on the light. Oops. 💡

 

3) To everything, churn, churn, churn... 🎤 Seiously. Whether it's One or Two, crank that handle a LOT. Every. Single. Time. If the TP piles up, you run the risk of it getting stuck in the urine diverter or wedging itself in the trap door. Either way, your literally pissing away your chance at creating proper compost. 

 

4) And speaking of cranking... always crank your mixing handle counterclockwise as this should help reduce the likelihood you inadvertently shove the aforementioned TP into the urine diverter. If TP does find its way into the diverter, remove it ASAP. Are you finding a pattern to these warnings yet?? ⏰

 

5) Clean your pee jug regularly with vinegar to keep the discoloration at bay. Believe me when I say you WILL cry over repeatedly spilled pee. 😩

 

6) Consider buying a second pee jug just in case you can't keep the first one clean enough to know when to empty it before it overflows. This was sage advice passed on to us, and we are taking it. ✌🏻️

 

If we've learned anything in our first two months of using a compost toilet full time with a little kiddo, it's that Nature's Head takes constant vigilance to avoid an excremental disaster. We've had a very busy, erratic schedule since we moved to Colorado that has led us to be much more distracted than usual, and I'm more than willing to bet that absentmindedness has greatly contributed to this cluster suck as well. That said, the six tips above should help greatly mitigate the likelihood of a similar outcome to our first go round the stinkberry bush. I sure as hell hope so anyway. Brand's liver won't hold up to another Poopocalype Now, and my nose hairs are going to need at least a couple months to regrow.

Wintry Colorado Thanksgiving

Today we had our first real snow with staying power (two previous dustings were melted by mid afternoon), so we had a nice lazy day alternately playing in the snow and warming back up watching movies in front of the heater. Here are a few shots of our tiny and the RV park covered in snow for you to enjoy hopefully while enjoying a nice, warm cup of cocoa or a hot toddy... whatever strikes your fancy! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and here's to a wonderful holiday season for us all!

-Meg, Brandy, and R.A.D

 

The view out the big blue window was magical this morning.&nbsp;

The view out the big blue window was magical this morning. 

Based on the picnic table, I'm guessing 4-6" by 0900. ❄️ 

Based on the picnic table, I'm guessing 4-6" by 0900. ❄️ 

Almost postcard worthy with a little photoshop editing perhaps. 😉 

Almost postcard worthy with a little photoshop editing perhaps. 😉 

The insulation skirt seems to be holding up pretty well even if it's not exactly winning any beauty contests.

The insulation skirt seems to be holding up pretty well even if it's not exactly winning any beauty contests.

I love how big the snowflakes are. It snowed all day long, too! 

I love how big the snowflakes are. It snowed all day long, too! 

Probably the best part of our parking spot is being right across the road from the park. Even covered in snow it's hard to keep the munchkin away! 

Probably the best part of our parking spot is being right across the road from the park. Even covered in snow it's hard to keep the munchkin away! 

A wintry wonderland for certain. ❄️☃🌨 

A wintry wonderland for certain. ❄️☃🌨 

Our handsome little snow angel.  

Our handsome little snow angel.  

Six Week Checkup

Six weeks ago today we arrived in Northern Colorado from North Texas, tiny house and three-year-old in tow. Since then we've had an open house with the Denver Tiny House Enthusiast group at Trailer Made Trailers, shared building details with numerous new and visiting neighbors at Riverview RV Park in Loveland where we are spending the winter (and hopefully longer), and even more recently we had the opportunity to do a tiny house tour swap with a wonderful couple (Brita and Addison of Tiny Tall House) also building a tiny house in Boulder who took inspiration for the siding on their house from our own. I've had great email and phone conversations with Anita of Lily Pad Tiny House in Portland, OR, about her eventual move to Colorado and our mutual interest in finding a stable, legal place to park our tiny houses long term. We're also hoping to arrange a time to get together with fellow 24' Tumbleweed Barn Raiser owner/builder and Colorado resident Jonathon (JStalls Tiny House) for more tiny house tour swaps and maybe to lend a hand with his build if he needs it. I've also received emails from two different young ladies at different colleges writing Master's thesis papers on various aspects of tiny house living asking for info on our experience.

Photo credit to Guillaume Dutilh. 

Photo credit to Guillaume Dutilh. 

Truly, these past weeks have been a whirlwind of tiny house life related contacts, and somehow we managed to squeeze it all in despite my work schedule being particularly packed due to continued delays with the hospital opening. Thankfully that craziness should be winding down this week, and we are definitely all looking forward to me being home my usual 4 days per week. After all, we look at Colorado as a working vacation, and thus far it's been heavy on the work end of the deal. 

Email checking time while the munchkin naps. 

Email checking time while the munchkin naps. 

Today, though, we sit quietly in opposite corners of our "great room" - Brand on the cedar chest/study nook bench, and me on the sofa with Kitty jockeying for a comfy spot to curl up - checking our respective emails and reading the news on our phones, our only source of reliable internet these days, while the now 4-year-old naps in his own bedroom at the opposite end of our 24' long house. Our laundry is hogging two machines down at the larger bath house, and Brand is about to move it all to a single dryer soon. The sink is full of dirty dishes left over from this morning's oatmeal breakfast and the "lazy man's" chicken and dumplings lunch I concocted from Progresso chicken noodle soup and a can of pre-made biscuit dough. We spent the time between breakfast and lunch at a local park where Ro was finally brave enough to try the rock climbing wall (repeatedly, I might add), and I gingerly tried slow jogging on my still healing broken right foot with success. Not being able to run in this cool Colorado weather has been a significant sore spot for me (especially with how stressful work has been), but I'm awaiting another orthopedic checkup in Texas in December before I'm willing to try any serious running anyway. For now I'll have to be content watching the munchkin run around and play with the plethora of visiting kids that regularly rotates at the RV park. It makes me grateful Ro inherited my ability to strike up conversations with anyone in ear shot, because he's had no shortage of playmates since we arrived.

A climbing we will go... 

A climbing we will go... 

 

I can't help but notice all the remaining projects left to do, and even now I vacillate between wether to paint over the beautiful beetle kill staining in the plywood we chose for our ceiling panels or find a way to live with it. We sorted out the hot water issue, but we still aren't taking showers in the house. At least we have managed to get some organizing done here and there, including adding wall storage behind the kitchen sink, and Brand got all of our roller blinds installed as well. We've managed to get the bulk of the exterior winterizing done, but we've still not unpacked the Kimberly stove for its final install. Maybe we're pushing our luck, but there just really hasn't been an urgent need for the high heat output yet. We keep plugging along with our tiny little space heater from time to time, though I did buy us a trio of heated throw blankets since the heater doesn't keep the bed sheets warm. We haven't used ours yet, but the kiddo likes his so far. In fact, we were just remarking to each other a couple nights ago how we found the need to leave the loft windows open at night even when it's 25 degrees outside because of how warm the loft gets. Blame it on heat rising, having a reclaimed tin ceiling over our bed, or super good closed cell foam insulation in the walls and ceiling, but the loft stays toasty almost to a fault. Still, the dry mountain air - despite being about 20+ degrees colder here than in our area of Texas - doesn't feel as cold as the numbers portray, thus making open windows not only tolerable but actually welcomed each night. It's odd for certain, but it makes regulating our sleep cycles significantly easier.

A 20 degree difference w/o the space heater on. Nice!&nbsp;

A 20 degree difference w/o the space heater on. Nice! 

We've certainly had to make some adjustments to our lifestyle in just these few short weeks, but thankfully some of the less pleasant ones (namely an insanely expensive dining out habit we've picked up) will be rectified or at least blunted significantly once the hospital opens and my travel times vastly reduced. One of the primary reasons we wanted to dramatically downsize our expenses and possessions, as well as move to areas (Colorado, then Washington) with better climates for outdoor activities year round, was to be able to afford both the time and any costs associated with exploring the outdoors around us. The extra long work week and extended travel times (2hr round trip 5 days a week, which equates to 14hr days with only 8hrs of pay right now) I've experienced since arriving here has dramatically reduced my time, energy, and willingness to do anything other than veg out  on the couch. That doesn't include the added cost of diesel at $2.40/gal with only 15mpg here in the mountains, which was equating to $200/wk in fuel costs alone. I actually rented a little 37mpg car at $124/wk and spent less than $40 for three weeks of fuel to help offset some of the travel expenses, but now that winter is slowly starting to set in I'll need the 4x4 of our truck more often than not. Needless to say, we are tapped out from the move itself and the unexpected expenses associated with the delays at my job.

I have single-handededly stocked, organized, and labeled 8 of these giant carts plus 6 smaller rolling carts while squeezing in new staff training classes and attending a few myself. Oi! 😖 

I have single-handededly stocked, organized, and labeled 8 of these giant carts plus 6 smaller rolling carts while squeezing in new staff training classes and attending a few myself. Oi! 😖 

Even still, tiny house living is making all of this possible, because the cost of our truck payment, truck insurance, tiny house insurance, and RV park rent combined equals just what we paid in mortgage for our Big House in Texas not including any bills at all. Sure, we've quadrupled our cell phone data package (and doubled the bill in the process) to accommodate poor wifi signals, and yes we will always have additional fuel costs from living so far from my work at the only place we could find that would accept our tiny house, but we're doing it! We're living in a house we built with our own hands (with help from Tunbleweed for the heavy lifting of course) in a state we chose so I could stay with a company I love yet still be just a day's drive from our families in an area that's perfect for our son to explore all year round. The house isn't totally done, our bank accounts are running on empty, and the drive to work is kicking my ass, but it's worth it. All of it. It's our new tiny life, we love it, and it's only going to get better from here.

💜🏡💙

The view from our loft yesterday morning. Despite the longer than preferred drive to work, we couldn't have found a better place for our tiny house family to call home.  

The view from our loft yesterday morning. Despite the longer than preferred drive to work, we couldn't have found a better place for our tiny house family to call home.  

Our First Blog Post While Living In Our Tiny House

Greetings from colorful Colorado and the beauty of Loveland, CO, which is near the Front Range about an hour north of Denver! We made the roughly 3-day journey from Texas starting 10/9 and arrived in Loveland 10/11 late in the evening after an open house in Denver at Trailer Made Trailer's shop. We had hoped to have open houses in Oklahoma City and Wichita, but departure delays left us heading out in the dark on Friday to make as much distance as our tired brains would let us. Once we start traveling with the house, however, we will make it up to those who missed out seeing the house this time! <3

Since we are now living in the tiny house full-time, even though she's not 100% finished, I thought I'd attempt to start using the Squarespace blog to help differentiate the "building phase" from the "living phase." This is just a test at the moment, and I'll make an announcement on our social media pages if the format switch becomes permanent. For now I'm going to post a little recounting I made this morning of the daily routines that are already starting to establish themselves in the tiny house after just two days. They aren't all that surprising to me, frankly, but watching the little man make such a smooth transition already is definitely encouraging. Brandy and I are still exhausted and stressing out over the remaining work left to complete, but R.A.D has settled right in as though we've lived tiny his whole life. Love it!


October 13, 2015 9:48AM Mountain Time

Our morning routines in the #tinyhouse are already being established. 

Brandy has run off to the hardware store to get supplies to fix our now broken front door (le sigh 😞). I know he's counting down the nanoseconds until the house unofficially d-o-n-e. We've brought most of the components we need to do all of the I-dot, T-cross stuff on our list, but already we're finding things that we inadvertently left in Texas. Thankfully a December return trip is already planned, so we'll pick up those items then. 

R.A.D has been happily playing with Legos in his room, then our loft, and now next to me on the sofa in the great room. 😋 They've been Lord Business, Master Splinter, a boat, a rocket, a car, and gifts for me all in the span of about 30 minutes. 😍 I know his new school won't be wild about the movie watching we do as a family (they're anti-tech for kids, which we actually really like), but frankly I find it impressive that a hodgepodge stack of colorful plastic bricks can take on "character" forms as well as traditional ones like cars, boats, etc. None of his creations look anything like any of what he says they are, but his imagination dictates otherwise. 💖 He starts school this Friday, and I just know he's going to love it!

Kitty has been tolerating Mr. Sir's overly affectionate attempts to snuggle with her in between his Lego relocations better than she did yesterday. 😼 Clearly he didn't learn the lesson the first time as evidenced by his now-healing face (le double sigh 😣).

I'm chugging my morning peach tea Monster (coffee makes me sleepy believe it or not) trying to plot my day through the residual brain fog left from working night shift for over a decade (yawn 😴). You'd think the time change would be working in my favor since 0900 here is 1000 back in Texas, but I find that anytime before about 1500 requires a vast amount of fortitude and willpower (and caffeine) to reach optimum performance levels. Thankfully I've got 2.5 weeks of M-F 8a-5p pre-opening work days to prep me for my brutal 0400-ish wake up calls for my 0645 shift starts after a 60+ minute drive 3 days per week. Yes, I have a two hour round trip for work each day, but that, my friends, is a VERY small price to pay for us to be able to live in our tiny house. 🏡

We aren't completely settled in yet (and likely won't be for about a week+ realistically), but with the shopping trip yesterday and the unboxing of the fridge, the house is starting to feel less glorified camper and more tiny house on wheels. We are still using the RV park's facilities for a few more days (except for #1... Nature's Head requires no extra setup for that) until the last of the water heater setup (that I thought was already done before we left, but apparently not) and vent connections for the compost toilet are completed. Thankfully those facilities are just a short walk away, and the beauty of the park (and the great weather!) make up for any inconvenience experienced on the short journey. 

We've got to fix our temporary front door that went crazy and broke on us last night (the knob broke and locked us all in), but otherwise the first pair of days have been lovely. We've got our permanent door waiting for us back in Texas, so we'll prep it and haul it back from our December visit. Hopefully by then the last of the trim work inside will be done, too, and we can have Jenna & Guillaume of Tiny House Giant Journey over the shoot a proper video tour. Stay tuned!

Have a great day!