Knock-knock….

Is anyone still out there? ¬†ūüôā ¬†I realize I haven’t been online much lately, so I guess I need to do a little updating. ¬†We’ve been working on finishing up the pallet floor in the front of the bus, and ONCE AGAIN, we had some debating over the configuration of the bunk room. ¬†We came to a final decision, screwed everything down tight and refuse to dive into that argument again!! ¬†I haven’t been taking as many pictures as I should, but I’ll try to get that done in the next few days. ¬†I *also* need to finish uploading all the old pictures from our first blog. ¬†In the meantime….I wanted to let everyone know that we still have a small handful of La Boheme t-shirts from our fundraiser. ¬†They are each a size XL, and due to shipping costs, we’re selling them for $20 each (shipping included). ¬†If you’re interested, feel free to contact me here!! ¬†Thanks again for everyone’s support! ¬†We’re getting closer to being done every single day! ūüôā

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Is Minimalism Moot?

I woke up this morning thinking about this, because we’ve been sorting through our storage bins that we left behind years ago, and getting rid of lots of old things we don’t need anymore, and keeping lots of things we do. ¬†But posting about it on Facebook *always* elicits responses. ¬†Of course, those responses generally come through private messages by people who are brave enough to question my life and my actions through a computer screen, but not brave enough to question them publicly. ¬†So the idea that us having “things” somehow defines us as greedy or insincere or wasteful has been on my mind, and I think I may have to disappoint my behind-the-scenes harasser. ¬†Because the private messages don’t hurt my feelings, and they certainly don’t prompt me into change. ¬†They just make me angry that people can’t be more in the forefront when they’re seeking to attack someone. ¬†So in response to the disdain expressed to me over the fact that I own “things”…..I’d like to give you MY viewpoint on minimalism. ¬†And why we don’t do it.

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The constant question of minimalism keeps coming up…especially with us moving into the bus very soon. ¬†Because we bought a bus, people expect us to pare down our belongings to the bare ugly. ¬†Once you have kids, I think the concept of minimalism becomes a whole new beast. ¬†In my (short) 42 years, I’ve lived in such a variety of spaces, of different sizes and shapes, that I’d consider myself entirely flexible. ¬†However, kids change a lot of that. ¬†Not only do they require more “things” — like sports equipment and craft tools and learning books — but they also love to create…and then display…and reminisce….and keep their creations forever.

I remember reading an article when my daughter was just 2 years old, that really put a lot of things into perspective for me. ¬†At the time, I was working full-time and going to school full-time, mostly online or by independent study. ¬†I was doing everything I could to be as present with her¬†outside of work as I could, and living on only about 3-4 hours of sleep a night. ¬†She was 2…creating…and living…and loving it. ¬†Noisy and rambunctious and moving quickly, always. ¬†And I was pulling my hair out with the messes and the added housework on top of everything else. ¬†Until I read this article. ¬†And it said: ¬†children emulate what they see. ¬†With my school books spread all over the house all the time, and me making meals in the kitchen, and laundry being sorted in the hallway, she saw my “creations” and so, she decided she must make her own. ¬†To a child, that is art. ¬†That is “work.” ¬†It wasn’t a mess, it was her contribution to our life. ¬†So I learned to ease up and go with the flow just a little bit more. ¬†I also learned not to throw away her creations. ¬†Her painting, her stories….she’d remember them even days later and go looking for them. ¬†Were they hung on the fridge, where they should be? ¬†Where she could mash her little body up against them, hug them adoringly and squish her fat little lips to her drawings? ¬†Or were they tucked under a pillow, or tacked to the wall, where she could trace her little baby fingers across them as she walked by? ¬†Discreetly disposing of a random sheet of white paper with one tiny handprint in the corner is hard to do when you have Toddler Eagle Eye on the case, and she’s taking inventory of her work on a daily basis.

The point is, kids require things. ¬†Even if you don’t buy your kids the “stuff,” they’ll find the stuff — any stuff — because they’re hands-on, they’re little doers, they’re builders, creaters, artists….whether you like it or not. ¬†So the whole idea of minimalism got shot in the foot when I had kids. ¬†Because whether it was a plastic art easel from the corner market, or a pocketful of rocks from the back yard, there was always going to be the “stuff” that children surround themselves with, so they can contribute. ¬†And they do. ¬†They paint, and draw, and build and MAKE things constantly. ¬†Especially at a younger age. ¬†Going through all of our storage bins that we left behind 4 years ago, I’ve discovered that in every one of them, there are handfuls of homemade cards, pictures, painted leaves and rocks, twig houses, baked clay ornaments…and it goes on and on and on. ¬†We still haven’t gotten to the bottom of all the “stuff we made for Mommy,” and unless you’re a heartless troll, I’ll bet you don’t throw those things away. ¬†I don’t. ¬†I have a pretty vast collection of memories of my chubby children sitting up to the table…or the coffee table…or sprawled out on the kitchen floor….hand-stamping giant-sized birthday cards or writing long, drawn-out love letters to Mom. ¬†Those things get to be catalogued into albums now, but there’s no way this side of heaven that I’m getting rid of any of them.

There is also this phrase I’ve heard quite a lot in regards to minimalism: ¬†“It’s not about the stuff, it’s about people.” ¬†Or something similar to that. ¬†I don’t know. ¬†I honestly don’t remember it verbatim. ¬†My eyes pass over the words almost as soon as they realize what it’s about. ¬†Why?? ¬†Because I find it condescending and rude. ¬†As if you can someone define “life” for everyone, and having fewer “things” makes you more of a complete person. ¬†Sometimes the “stuff” IS about the people..or the life..or whatever this argument is supposed to be saying. ¬†For example, I baked cakes for about a year. ¬†Beautiful cakes, I’ll admit. ¬†And then we went wandering, and all the cake tools went into storage. ¬†But when we came back, I got a handful of orders to do more cakes. ¬†And those cakes paid for some of the repairs on our handy little bus. ¬†See? ¬†It’s the “stuff” that makes the “life” happen. ¬†We have also been do-it-yourselfers for years. ¬†Most things I need…I build. ¬†Chicken coops, animal hutches, buses….so there are tools and tools and lots more tools. ¬†Our home products — shampoo, soap, candles, even herbal medicines — we make ourselves. ¬†So there are soap molds and candle molds and an abundance of glass jars and lots of herbs and spices and coloring agents, and yes….it takes up space. ¬†A lot of space, actually. ¬†But it’s a building block to our lives. ¬†And so those don’t go away, and they won’t just because there’s a current trendy movement saying they should. ¬†And precisely, once again, the same concept applies to my kids, who aren’t babies anymore…and who have interests that range from computer gaming to lacrosse to horse-back riding. ¬†16 and 10, my babies are. ¬†And with them come bows, fishing poles, tennis rackets, lacrosse sticks, lots and lots of books (because we believe in old-fashioned hold-in-your-hand, smell-the-paper books!) and enought arts & crafts supplies that would make Joann’s weep. ¬†All of these things are tucked away nicely into their designated place in the bus (or in a bin on top of the bus, ready to make our long journey back home), and never once, in all of this cleaning process, did we consider throwing any of it anyway out of some misplaced sense of guilt for having “things.” ¬†Because the “things” are sometimes essential to making the Life. ¬†One rule I’ve tried to stick to in the past is, if it isn’t used in 6 months (sometimes we’ll stretch and call it a year), then it needs to come up for discussion…and then discarded. ¬†We’re deliberate people. ¬†We don’t have things in our pantry or on our shelves that are simply there for show. ¬†We DO a lot. ¬†We’re hands-on. ¬†Constantly. ¬†But every now and then, the occasional item will get moved around a little too much, and we’ll realize that it’s outlived its usefulness with us, and then it goes away. ¬†I’ve always felt like our home is a living machine…functioning, not just collecting dust…and if I may be so arrogant and uncool about it…I like our Stuff. ¬†ūüôā

I’ve struggled with the minimalist movement, and a few personal comments I’ve gotten about the “stuff” we keep and of course, the always-helpful (cue sarcasm) suggestion to “just throw it out”….because it always come with a dose of condescension and superiority.¬† I understand there are reasons behind people believing in minimalism, and they may be some very valid reasons. ¬†But I also know that a large number of the people pushing it are young. ¬†They haven’t had children yet. ¬†They haven’t built much of a life yet. ¬†They’re free to travel easily, lightweight and without a lot of attachments. ¬†I want to see those same people, who with such a voice of wisdom and authority, will tell others what they “need” to have and what they don’t, come full circle and try to balance that same belief with two children in school, a couple of dogs and twenty more years under their belt. ¬†There is also this idea that the more you have, the more shallow you are, and the less you love others, and the less you love the Earth, and blah blah blah. ¬†To that, I have very little response other than…what a hateful thing to say. ¬†Life is meant to be beautiful and fun and satisfying and fantastic. ¬†It’s very trendy these days to hate those who “have,” even if they’ve earned it. ¬†There doesn’t seem to be a whole of consideration to the fact that because a “thing” exists means that someone else out there had a job, that required that thing to be built and packaged and sold. ¬†Someone else took home a paycheck for doing that job, and that same someone else fed their family with that paycheck. ¬†And that’s *another* contribution to the economy, and society in general. ¬†Looks like a win-win to me all the way around! ¬†So why all the hate about¬†consumerism and how much a person has? ¬†I guess I’m standing one foot on the “have” side and one foot on the “have not,” and I think I’m seeing both worlds pretty clearly. ¬†A year ago, I hit rock bottom to a point so low that we lost the vast majority of the physical belongings we had. ¬†We came back across the country in our Jeep, with¬†just what we could fit in/on it. ¬†An event like that is traumatic, for me and especially for my kids. Going through our old storage shed and unearthing the “stuff” that we left behind has been like breathing new life into our family…and that includes all the “things.”¬† I’m happy in our little bus…but I don’t lean toward minimalism, and I never will. ¬†My life…and my children’s lives…are our own. ¬†They shouldn’t mirror anyone else’s, and they shouldn’t be stripped down to nothing to satisfy a “movement.” ¬†We like the Stuff, and I don’t feel one ounce of guilt about it.

To us, minimalism is a life choice, like any other life choice. ¬†It’s just not one we’re choosing for ourselves.

Good News Friday!

In some brilliant news today, the Girl Child and I got up early and headed out to the property where the bus was stored the last few years while we lost our way. ūüėõ The owners of the property still had our roll of electrical wiring, and they’d told us they had a few tires we could have for the bus. Sweet! So we get there….we give ourselves a few hernias lifting those ungodly heavy things into the back of the Jeep, and THEN….the wife comes out and says a friend of theirs has dropped off five more tires of the same size!!! AND he’ll sell them to me for $50! And just like that, in one morning, the bus has a brand new set of tires… Yay!!!

Oh! And the glass man called…the windshield is being replaced at the first part of next week. ‚̧ Thanks to everyone who supported our T-shirt fundraiser and helped us get this windshield bought! ¬†It’s all happening!!! ¬†ūüôā

T-Shirt Fundraiser is nearing its end…

We have two days left in our Booster campaign to raise $500.00 for the new windshield and back window in the bus. ¬†It’s been a slow process, and we realize that money is tight for a lot of people. ¬†We were lucky enough to hit the “qualifying” minimum¬†today, which means that we get whatever funds have been raised so far. ¬†But we’re still not to our goal amount. ¬†We’ve also changed the t-shirt style from long-sleeve to short-sleeve. ¬†We’d love it if you could help us out with this endeavor! ¬†Just click on the picture¬†below. ¬†If you’re unable, maybe you’d consider sharing it instead? ¬†Thanks so much for all your support!

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Smaller projects inthemeantime…

I posted on our Facebook page yesterday that we were working on refinishing an old bench we’d left behind when we moved to Florida 4 years ago. ¬†During the time that we were gone, a lot¬†of our stuff was left to the elements (unbeknownst to me). ¬†Now that we’re getting closer to finishing La Boheme, but kind of hung up in a place of limbo waiting on supplies, we decided to tackle a project that isn’t directly bus-related, but then…maybe it is. ūüôā ¬†This curvy bench (a “zen” bench, I think it was called) was one of those pieces that was left out in a back yard while we were gone. ¬†It’s been very weathered and worn down. ¬†We decided to refinish it in a completely different color scheme¬†instead of just “redoing” the original bench. ¬†We should be finished with it by tomorrow and I’ll have pictures to share, but in the meantime…here is a “before” picture of what we started with.bench

More of the Same…

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It might be a little bit difficult to tell right now, but this is the curtain that will overlook The Girl’s bed. Those boxes (and other assorted things) are stacked in what will be the storage space under her bed. The white shelf above the curtains is perfect for paperback books, and the smidge of corkboard on the left-hand side of the picture, waiting for some trim (cork is not easy to cut smoothly) is a bulletin board for her pictures and notes. The back window will get an identical curtain once I buy a rod that fits. I didn’t notice that the curtains weren’t spread out evenly when I took the picture. There are actually three panels here. They’ll be separated and tied off when they’re open. ūüôā
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This curtain is on the opposite side of the bunk room, next to The Boy’s bed (which is elevated, per his specifications ūüėČ ). I know a lot of stuff is still not finished, so it’s not always easy to tell what you’re looking at. The rod holding the valance is WAY too long, I’m aware of that. It isn’t the road for the window. I just borrowed it from the front of the bus for picture-taking purposes, until I buy a rod that fits. That window is also only a 1/2 window, made out of plexiglass, that I constructed so that we could get more usable space in the bus, but keep as much daylight as possible, too. It will be trimmed soon, as well as the outside of the window, where our little moss planter hangs. To the left is The Boy’s dresser, and above it is his bed. Oh yeah…and the skateboard shelf we put up recently.

I’m excited to report that I FINISHED those darned bunk room curtains today. ¬†There weren’t that many, but the fabric was crazy slippery and snagged very easily. ¬†I used some curtains we’d had at our old house, that had been sitting away in storage (some of them still in packages) for the last few years. ¬†It’s a little hard to tell by the pictures, but they’re chocolate brown underneath with a sheer(ish) robin’s egg blue over the top. ¬†They were all floor length to begin with, so I cut them down to go over the kids’ beds.

Today I also made the first of two parts of a set of privacy curtains for The Boy’s bed. ¬†Because the foot of his bed hangs over the head of his sister’s bed, privacy curtains were necessary (siblings are wonderful, yes?). ¬†I used the remained of the fabric that we used for the throw pillows I made yesterday (the blue paisley).

Finally, I spent WAY too long sewing together about 50 or so jean squares and rectangles into my never-ending endeavor to build these kids jean quilts that’ll keep ’em warm no matter where we go. ¬†I’m tired….but pretty happy with today’s work. ¬†Hope everyone had a wonderful Friday!! ¬†Enjoy your weekend!

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I’ve been cutting and pinning and sewing jean squares and rectangles for as long as I can remember. ūüėõ I think I’m getting close to being done. Both kids’ quilts are nearing their desired size, so pretty soon we’ll be looking for fabric to back them with. I never liked “themes” or “matchy-matchy” anything, but I’m liking all the blue in the back room of the bus.
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I also tried my hand at wood burning recently. It’s been my nighttime relaxation hobby. This used to be a cupboard door from the kitchen cabinets we have in the bus now. It was painted a very BRIGHT yellow with white paint underneath that. It’s been stripped, sanded and now, wood burned. It’ll get one more sanding, to make sure those black spots on the edges are gone, and where the two little holes at the bottom sit, there will be a handle for lifting the door up. Our stove sits over half the wheel well, but there is almost a foot of empty space next to the well (it’s just the way it worked out), so instead of wasting that space, we’ll be using it to store smaller propane cans and tools for cleaning the stove, etc. When I was working on the vines, I asked The Boy, “What should we put in the middle of the board?” and he said, “El Stovo.” It’s actually a pretty good indicator of our whiteness…which we’re trying desperately to remedy, as we learn Spanish before heading back to Southern lands. ūüėČ

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Fabrics and textures.

Today was definitely a day for fabrics and colors and textures, oh my! ¬†I spent most of the day cutting and sewing curtains for the bunk room out of some beautiful shimmery chocolate brown and robin’s egg blue curtains we had in storage. ¬†They should be done by tomorrow. ¬†I also made that little valance for the bathroom window (see previous post). ¬†BUT…not to be forgotten…was the pile of fabric we’ve had sitting around for months, waiting to be made into throw pillows. ¬†Today that process began….

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It’s curtains for you!!!

Jan. 29, 2015 – I’m been working (lazily) on the curtains for the bunk room and bathroom in the bus. ¬†I admit, sewing is not my favorite thing to do, but I know it has to be done. ¬†I found some fabric in one of our boxes that I’d bought for my daughter’s room years ago, and never used. ¬†There wasn’t a lot of it, but we loved the pattern and decided that with the bathroom being so wee and dark, it would work really well in it. ¬†So last night, I made a valance for the bathroom window and popped it in today. ¬†It wasn’t until I’d taken the pics that I realized there is a pucker at the top, where two panels come together. ¬†I’ll have to stitch that down by hand (which I’m¬†not¬†a fan of doing), but right now is not the time. ¬†So here is the bathroom valance as it is for the moment….

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A wee valance in a wee bathroom. ūüėČ I’m hoping to get the walls done with our stencil pattern and the window trimmed and sealed this weekend.
Butterflies and branches seems like a good design theme for a tiny little bathroom. :)  Our shelf is made of a piece of driftwood.  Most of the bathroom is still unfinished, but we do what we can with what we have at the moment.
Butterflies and branches seems like a good design theme for a tiny little bathroom. ūüôā Our shelf is made of a piece of driftwood. Most of the bathroom is still unfinished, but we do what we can with what we have at the moment.

Fundraising for La Boheme’s windshield!!

So we debated and debated and debated…and decided that we need a little help affording the windshield and back window in La Boheme. ¬†We’ve done “fundraisers” before, and the thing I discovered was that most people want something for their donation. ¬†In light of that, we’ve gone to booster.com and come up with a t-shirt campaign to help us raise funds for this very necessary expense. ¬†And, playing off of one of our favorite movies (Practical Magic), we’ve ¬†decided that there IS truly a little gypsy in all of us. ¬†If there weren’t…we wouldn’t be building buses, would we? ¬†ūüėČ ¬†Check out our fundraiser here!! ¬†And if you can’t help us out, would you consider sharing this link?? ¬†Thanks so much!! ¬†Back to the bus! ūüôā

https://www.booster.com/la-boheme-the-bus

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