Family Livin’ in a Tiny House

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In a quaint mountain village, nestled in groves of aspens and pines, sits a sweet little chapel. If you were to cross a certain wooden bridge over an alpine creek, and follow the path past the bell tower and under the looming blue spruce trees, you would find yourself at the entrance to our sanctuary.

Inside, an understated stained glass window casts fresh light onto the alter. Towards the back of the pews, by the drinking fountain, there is a conspicuous door marked “private.” Most people don’t notice it is there, but if you went through that door and wound your way down the cluttered hallway, my family would welcome you to our tiny home.

If only you would fit.

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We are a family of 4… 5 if you count the dog… living in 692 square feet. That 692 square feet also happens to be in a church.

This is a post about life in the tiny house we share with God.

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My husband and I moved into this cozy apartment with cathedral ceilings 4 years ago, in the summer of 2011. Since that time we brought our energetic dog Roxy home from the pound in 2012, welcomed a foster (and now adopted) daughter through our doors in 2013, and in 2014 brought our newborn baby boy home from the hospital. With each new addition to our family we declared, “we have run out of space.” And then we added one more. And one more. Seriously this time. We have run out of space.

The other night my daughter and I brushed our teeth in God’s bathroom. No joke. We pit-pattered through that door that says private in our jammies, barefooted, toothbrushes in hand, past the last row of pews to the two-stalled restroom that you use on Sunday morning. I think the Easter choir was a bit confused when our shoeless, PJ clad selves accidentally barged in on their rehearsal, but such is life. Our life. We couldn’t use our own bathroom because infant Ziggy had monopolized the bedroom / bathroom space with his need to sleep. Our bathroom – with its curtain for a door – is not an ideal situation when you want your baby to get some rest. And your toddler to have healthy teeth. And to keep the pee outta the bed.

I present our dilemma. And thank God for his bathroom.

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Welcome to our life in a tiny house. In a church.

I type this at my kitchen table, laptop taking up almost the entire surface. The clip clop clack of my keyboard clicks in the darkness. I can hear my daughter’s deep sleeping breaths 8 feet in front of me, the hum of the refrigerator just to my right, the lull of Ziggy’s sound machine floating through the cracked bedroom door. Peaceful noises come together in new ways at midnight, inside the walls of a tiny house.

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Last night at 3 AM I lie awake in bed considering my options. We were half-way through a feeding cycle and I desperately needed to take care of some mommy boob business before getting back to sleep. But I knew if I walked past Ziggy there was a chance he would smell my sweet fragrance and wake up. I should note that to the rest of the world the fragrance may not be so sweet because of the bathroom / shower / sleeping baby situation, but at least Ziggy still seems to like me. I can tip-toe. I can be very quiet. But I haven’t yet figured out how to not smell fabulous to my sleeping son.

I weighed my choices. I finally decided if I was going to get any sleep at all, waking Ziggy was a chance I had to take. I crept past him to our bedroom door and out to the living room to retrieve my pumping device, thaaaaat was unfortunately plugged in next to my daughter’s slumbering head. I had to climb over her body and reach down behind the couch for the outlet, shifting her mattress and clunking the heavy-duty cord against the wall in the process. She slept on. Phew. Toddler up at 3 AM crisis avoided.

Sleepy eyed, I lugged the pump out my front door and down that cluttered hallway to the only outlet I could find that wouldn’t wake my family. Nothing like pumpin’ in the pews. Now how many people can say they’ve done THAT in the middle of the night?

These are the things that happen in a tiny house. In a church.

Thank God for his church. And it’s outlets.

As you can see, when the kids are sleeping, every move is carefully considered. Do I really need to pump? How bad do I need ice in my water? How bad do I need water in general? Tomorrow I better bring three bottles of water to bed so I don’t have to run that loud faucet. Or bring no water to bed so I don’t have to pee. Peeing is an issue. Every night I think to myself, “I can probably hold this pee just a little bit longer.” If I do pee I better not wash my hands – that dang faucet. If I put toilet paper in the bowl first the pee isn’t as loud. Definitely won’t flush until morning.

Sometimes Adam pretends like he’s camping and goes outside. Hmm… I’ve considered it.

Oh, life in a tiny house.

The sun starts to rise and I’m up. I might not have gone pee all night so as not to wake the kids, but Lord help me, coffee is worth it. Solana sleeps in the living room on the pull out couch. The living room, which is right next to the kitchen, which is home to the coffee machine. Riiiggghht. Like I said, every move is carefully considered. I pull out the coffee. Turn on the light under the microwave. Grab a mug from the cabinet and the cream from the fridge. Accidentally bump a glass. It clanks. Whoops. I peer past the sink. She’s still asleep. The glass bonking and the coffee mugging and the creamer pouring and the microwave light and my breathing and the measuring and the 89 decibel faucet haven’t woke her. You don’t realize how loud coffee brewing is until your kid is sleeping feet from the machine. You don’t realize how much you need coffee until you’re willing to risk a wake up for it.

It’s time to start the day. I know I should get myself ready before the kids wake up, but showers require some light and some water and some noise and I decide that at least this morning, the shower isn’t worth it. Oh, but I still have to pee. Into God’s house I go. Most people go there to pray. I do that too. But I also go there to pee. Thank you Jesus.

Adam is up and has roused the dog for her morning walk. She stretches her way past Ana and shakes her sleepys out. She does this not once, but twice. The metal tags on her collar clang against each other. How is Ana still sleeping?! Husband heads out the front door and a rush of invigorating altitude air fills our space. A night full of sleepy breathing can make a tiny house stuffy. My new obsession with diffusing essential oils is helping, but it’s still not the same as fresh, outdoor, mountain air. Wish I could bottle that up and diffuse it.

Adam is back and all at once the day gets started. Dog takes her cozy corner. Ana sits up and yawns to see the whole family in her room. Couch bed is made and pushed in. Couch cushions are put back. Coffee table is relocated. Ziggy’s swings and play mats are pulled out for the day. Adam unloads the dishwasher. I dance around him to pack A’s lunch. Ana drags 15 toys into her “playspace.” I step on 5 on my way to the bedroom. The laptop comes off the table. Breakfast is served. Sink is filled with dishes. Ana gets off to school.

Ahhh. For a minute I can just stand still outside and breathe that mountain air.

Then it’s into my office that’s just steps from our tiny house that should be called disaster house. We clean non-stop and still our home is always a disaster. Stuff is everywhere. I am over stuff. I am at work now and I still smell a little bit good and a little bit bad.

These are the adventures of tiny house living. In a church.

Amen.

Kara

P.s. We are moving soon! Stay tuned!

“An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.” G.K. Chesterton

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering… Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” – Romans 12:1-2 Pretty sure in this one, God is talking about brushing your teeth barefoot in your jammies in front of the Easter choir.

You can read more about our tiny house living here. In that post, pre-newborn, things were still looking fairly clean. I may have also cleaned up for you a bit that time. We’ve rearranged and here is the new normal. Don’t judge me. God says it’s not nice, and we live in his house.

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