Our story behind small and simple living

This is another post for the Small Living Series I've been doing with a group of amazing women all over the world! I love being part of this community and I hope you take the chance to read some of their stories linked at the bottom of this post.

It's funny that I'm writing this "how did we end up here" just weeks before we move away. We're selling our home and renting a different one a town away. The square footage won't change much, but I know that's probably the only thing escaping big changes. So while I could talk about how my husband and I ended up here, I think I'll talk instead about the lessons we have learned as we look back. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, moving into a two bedroom townhome at the time 4 years ago seemed pretty typical. It was just us and we didn't feel the need for a "legit" house with a yard and more rooms and bathrooms than people. We just are very budget conscious and the price range we could afford was a townhome. It's not a very romantic story- but that's the truth. We didn't drastically change our ways and downsize to "start over". Our story was only just beginning. 

But what have we learned since? A few things. Probably the biggest thing we've learned is that life happens and with our life came kids and STUFF. Our big roomy two bedroom didn't feel as roomy as soon as my larger-than-life daughter came into this world. Again, we're pretty frugal/budget friendly and I personally am kind of cheap, so we didn't have all the new baby gadgets and toys and equipment for every stage. But we still had plenty of stuff to take up plenty of space. Soon shelves in the garage were built to store things. Her bedroom went from a simple nursery to a play space to now a bedroom for both kids and a place to play. Our home has evolved right along with us and we have really loved it. 

But a big shift has come over our home and family the last 4 months after I discovered Minimalism and implemented it into our family. Bart caught on pretty quickly because he was too busy to care otherwise (insert emoji here ;) He has appreciated my new habits and I think he's starting to see the lifelong changes I have made and is no longer thinking it's some fad I'll get over.  As I pack up our home I can't help but be thankful I discovered simple living and minimalism when I did. I have thousands of less things to put in boxes and move across town. I'm not as stressed about the things and the errands and the "we need that" and I've been able to slow down and enjoy the ride. 

So while our first move into a small space wasn't based on the notion that "less is more", this new place is. We didn't look for the biggest house we could afford to rent. We focused on things that mattered more than square footage (location, price, quality) and found the perfect space for our little family of 4. It adds a few hundred more square feet, but takes us down from 2.5 bathrooms to one. Its going to be enough. Big enough. Nice enough. Because if I have learned anything these last few months, it's that we don't need a lot of stuff or a lot of space. "Enough" actually starts to look like "plenty" and the gratitude for everything you do have grows exponentially. We have a lot of love and a lot of dreams and living simply is helping us accomplish those goals and dreams in record time. 

For now I don't have a big amazing story of "how we ended up living this way", But I know that down the road we will be able to look back at the beginning of our simple living journey and have many great stories to tell.

This post was written for inclusion in the July collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!

Little Bungalow-- "Accidental then Intentional" : A visual tour of all the small homes we didn’t buy before we bought our most recent smallish home in beautiful Victoria, BC.

Fourth and West-- "The Home That Chose Us" : Realizing the home we had was actually perfect all along.

Tiny Ass Camper-- "Casita Life" : How and why we chose a 17' Casita Spirit Standard as our home on wheels.

600 Sq Ft and a Baby-- "How We Ended Up Living Small" : Looking back on why living small stuck for us.

Fancy Pigeon-- "Why We Live Small" : A vlog on why and how our family has consistently downsized over the years.

The Streamlined Life-- "Why I Fell in Love with Small House Living" : Sometimes our earliest memories have the strongest impact.

This Lovely Day-- "Tiny Transitions" : Follow along with Kate Shaw, a retiring Air Force pilot, as she transitions her family of five from living in a 3200 ft.² century home to a 900 ft.² downtown high rise condo in the city.
The Justice Pirate-- "Minimalism: My First Tiny House" : Once upon a time, a little girl dreamed of having her own tiny house and her dream came true...temporarily.

Family Pedals-- "Finding Abundance in 1500 Square Feet" : In our culture it would be easy for us to view our house as a stepping stone to something bigger, something nicer. For us, the next step we’d like to take is to something smaller, something simpler.


2 Cents: Not every mom is tired

I was reading THIS article this morning and it just got me all sorts of riled up with opinions. They might not be popular opinions, but here they are.

First, I don't agree that every mom is exhausted. I have a 3 year old and an 8 month old and I'm not exhausted. I'm not even tired. Does that make me a bad mom? I don't think so.

There are definitely times I have been exhausted. That newborn stage for 3+ months- I'm a crazy person two steps away from killing over because I'm so tired. After a night with a sick baby, I'm exhausted. But after my newborn gets a little older- I wouldn't say "tired' is on the description list of my life. But this article makes it sound like all moms are tired all the time. And why is that? Because they need some "me time". And since that "me time" doesn't come until after the kids go to bed- that must be why everyone is so perpetually exhausted all the time.


Are you all of a sudden incapable of going to sleep? Can your body physically not close its eyes unless you have browsed the internet for 3 hours? Is someone standing over you with a bright light and loud music telling you you're not allowed to go to sleep yet? I didn't think so.

If you're really THAT tired after the kids go to bed....GO TO BED YOURSELF. It's this crazy thing called going to bed early. Without watching TV or playing on your phone. Don't want to go to bed yet because this is the only free minute you've had to yourself all day? fine. But don't complain or be confused as to why you're always tired. You're tired because you are choosing to stay awake instead of go to sleep. End of the story.

My kids wake up really early. Like- 6AM is our typical day and all this week they've actually been waking up around 5/5:30AM. And while I wasn't the happiest about it- it wasn't the end of the world. But after three days of really early mornings and no time for mommy rest, guess what? I crawled into bed at 8:30PM and went to sleep. I didn't catch up on any TV shows. I didn't chat with friends online. I chose to go to sleep early because I WAS TIRED. And guess what? When I woke up the next day at 6AM....I wasn't tired anymore. Weird how that works.

If this article was titled something different I probably wouldn't be so annoyed by it. Because I absolutely agree that at the end of the day it's amazing to have a few minutes to yourself. To not have to get up and get someone a snack. Or to share your own snack. Or to watch something that doesn't have a catchy theme song. I personally like to unwind and spend 30 minutes scrolling through Instagram and watching the IG stories. Or I'll take a bath, write, watch TV with Bart, etc. And yes, that only happens after the kids go to bed. But if I'm exhausted, or if I've had a really emotionally draining day- I actually choose to take care of myself and give me "me time" by going to bed and getting some sleep. It's OK to give yourself permission to be in bed by 9PM. You're not a loser. You aren't wasting your life away. You're taking care of yourself. And if you feel like you're "always tired" and your kids are sleeping just fine- then maybe it's time to reevaluate the priorities you have at night- and go to bed early once in a while.

*The article on Babble isn't talking about moms whose kids are still waking up every few hours. And neither am I. That's a whole other hell world and I'm not talking about that situation here.*


Cooper 8 Months

My sweet baby boy is growing up so fast! He got 2 teeth and learned to crawl this month. He is trying to pull himself up on everything but hasn't quite gotten strong enough yet.  He's been grouchy and fussy most of the time but has been a bit better since learning how to access his toys or move a little closer to mom. He is a total mama's boy and usually doesn't whine for anyone else but me. If I'm not holding him he's not super happy. But I love his snuggles and don't mind it most of the time 

He loves to talk and make noises and blow raspberries. He isn't saying mama or dada yet but definitely loves both of us and gets the biggest smile when he sees me or Bart. Be pretty much with flash a big fat grin at anyone who smiles at him it's darling. 

He loves food! Will eat anything and everything. I haven't been awesome at keeping food around that he can just pick at (blueberries, finger foods, etc) so I don't have him eating as much as Kenzie did (she was always in her high chair having a snack) but when he does eat with us he'll eat just as big of a serving as Kenzie and loves all varieties and textures. 

He's been harder for me to figure out when it comes to naps and nighttime but he'll sleep thru the night and try to wake up around 5-5:30 but I just leave him in bed until we get up at 6 and I'm hoping eventually he will catch on! He seems to every few days. He loves his binki and his thumb but really doesn't use either until he gets tired. I don't have a special blanket or stuffed animal for him (mostly because Mckenzie just steals anything and calls it hers). 

He loves playing with toys, especially if they make sounds. But he is non-stop entertained by his sister and other people and can go hours without a nap if there are enough people to watch. 

He's much more sensitive and snugly and can get overwhelmed and just need to be held and loved on. He still hates loud noises but doesn't cry as often when something startles him. He giggles and laughs pretty easily and has a hilarious chuckle that sounds like a goat that he will just randomly do when he's excited about something. 

This past month has been a little more draining but he's learning and growing so much I don't blame him! I love my little man and can't believe how quickly things happen with the second child! Instead of me waiting around wondering "when will he do this" I just look one day and he's starting a whole new skill or behavior. 

It's no secret I'm obsessed with my little dude! 


When your garbage can has to hide

This is just a public service announcement to let you all know that I will probably not clean my house again until July 20th.

But before I explain that happy announcement.. Our home is under contract and we're set to move the weekend of July 21. Yay! It took 2 days to get an offer, and then a total of 12 to get everything finalized and on paper. And I have to say that it felt like MUCH longer. Having to have a home "show ready" every second of every day is a hellish ordeal I never want to do again! 

I am all for a clean house. My home is kept clean and tidy. But...I also have two children who both happen to be mobile and messy and to make sure there isn't a single crumb on the floor while simultaneously keeping the laundry going so there isn't dirty clothes in the basket and oh yeah your trash can has to be out in the garage and did we mention you have 3 showings today and have to stay away from 1-7:30PM?

So every morning while getting 4 people ready and fed and lunches packed and out the door by 6:45AM and oh crap there's still the hand soap on the counter and we need to hide those towels in a drawer and WHERE IS THE EFFING GARBAGE CAN?!?!? Pull the blackout shades up every morning in case someone comes while we're at work but then take them back down so Kenzie can nap once we're back home and then after the nap PUT THEM BACK UP! NATURAL LIGHT! and then bedtime..back down because it doesn't get dark until 10PM and my sanity and happiness and will to live won't last if my kids aren't going to sleep until 10PM. And don't even get me started on the kitchen and cooking. Cook a meal? Okay but then you have to hide every trace that you ever existed in this room so put away the washcloth and hide the paper towel dispenser and IS THAT A CRUMB? DID YOU SPILL YOUR WATER!? I may or may not have forgotten to feed my poor children lunch/snack more than once because...crumbs and THE GARBAGE CAN IS IN THE STUPID GARAGE. 

Do you get my point? Are my caps coming across as a crazy person? Because that's how I have been feeling. But now...now we can be total slobs if we want because no more strangers will be coming over. So now there is a corner for my dirty laundry, soap on my bathroom counter and a garbage can in my pantry. And if you need me, I'll be making a mess cooking dinner and watching a movie with my children on our own couch because...priorities.

OMG THE LIVING ROOM IS A MESS - me the last two weeks (eyeroll emoji)


Kenzie update

I realized Its been a long time since I've done a little update on Mckenzie! She'll be three in 5.5 weeks and I am amazed at the difference that comes almost every month at this age! It's like she's a newborn again learning new skills and tricks every few days. 

had a blast at the carnival and went on almost all the rides! big girl

Her language has improved a ton and she is speaking in full sentences. Sometimes she is a little slow at completing a thought and you can tell she is searching for the right word in her head. If you give her the chance, she'll complete her sentence using the right words and phrases 70% of the time. She is starting to voice her emotions like "she made me sad" or "I'm having a hard day" or "are you mad at me mom?" Don't worry- that last one had me rethinking all my motherhood behaviors! I can call her on the phone and we talk about her day or I can calm her down if she's upset. She still very much likes to talk through things and that's the fastest way to get out of a tantrum is talk out of it. Either by explaining or putting words to her emotions. 

She loves apples and would eat 3 a day if I let her. And sometimes she does because I'm not in the mood for a battle. She is still a great eater and will try and eat most things. She doesn't really like potatoes but that's the only food I've seen her consistently not like. She still loves oatmeal and cereal and would eat hummus with a spoon. 

She's still napping 2 hours a day and goes down great at night. She's still in her crib and has never once tried to crawl out or fight it. I'm scared of the big girl bed but will start to think about it more after her third birthday. She still loves her puppy and tried to take up the binki again, but after a disastrous weekend when she couldn't have it I told her no more and she's now back to sucking her thumb.

loves to draw and color!

She can totally get herself undressed and dressed and loves to do it herself. She can also brush her teeth and brush her hair. She's basically an adult. She's wearing her summer clothes from last year and she's getting taller but not much bigger. Still in the 2T range. 

The hardest thing for me right now is her behavior toward Cooper. It's like 50% nice and 50% mean and I don't know how to teach her how to be kind to him. It's a struggle and I'm hoping I can help her somehow.

Loves him soooo hard

My favorite things about her right now:
She's awesome at climbing and using her body. Can go up those kid rock walls and ladders, etc. 
She sticks with things and tries until she can figure it out. And then she practices until she has it mastered 
She's turning really social and loves playing with other kids. Calls everyone her friend
Still goofy and likes to play/goof around. Says "I'm just teasing", "stop talking mom", "you're a good parent"

Doing pushups with mom!


Divine Simplicity

I do believe my journey into minimalism and living a simple life had some divine intervention. I was beginning to feel restless and dissatisfied in my life. I saw "everyone else" with their bigger homes and more stuff and I started wanting that. And questioning why I didn't get it. I was convinced that to have a productive day  I had to get out of the house and run an errand, or visit the library, or do something structured. I was feeling discontent and I was being ungrateful. 

After learning all I could about this thing called "minimalism" and living simply my life changed for the better. It didn't look too different. I still went grocery shopping-I just stuck to my list and didn't pick up some random summer toys or holiday decor. We still go to the library and to the park- but only on days Kenzie actually wants to go. Not just because "we need to get out of the house because sitting at home isn't good for you." We have more tea parties and watch movies together. She explores and seems less stressed when our agenda isn't overflowing. 

"Whatever God you believe in, He would want you to live a more simple life"

When I heard that quote from a podcast several weeks ago I immediately agreed. Living a more simple life has made me slow down and focus more on my belief in Christ and to be more thankful to God for all the blessings he has given me. It has helped me not be so focused on what others have, but how I can help those around me. It has helped put my priorities back where they should be. 

I don't think stuff is bad. I don't think buying things takes you further away from God. But for me personally, not buying things and having less stuff to worry about has brought me closer to Him. 


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