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Tiny Spaces: Multi-Purpose Rooms

The first week of August, we were told we had essentially six weeks to pack up and move out of our home.  (You can read about that ultimatum is a series that began here: The Best Laid Plans.  We didn’t waste time and knew immediately that we would have to go into a smaller space, thus needed to downsize.  Here are a couple of links to ways we went about downsizing:

Our Trash May be Someone’s Treasure

Minimizing Our Wardrobes

Garage Sale Time

Found a Cheat

But even after all of this…well, we still had stuff in storage.  Stuff, I just didn’t know what to do with, and frankly it was stuff that we needed/wanted to keep.  So now we are in our new tiny space and I’ve told you a little bit about how to are really multi-purposing the rooms so let me expand on that first.  Here is how each of the 5 spaces in the apartment is being used (don’t let the number 5 throw you off, there is a total of 900 square feet here and 9 of us living in it:)

Master Bedroom/Bath – This is the twins space.  The reason I chose to give them the master is because it has the smallest and by small, I mean tiny bathroom.  But they do have a GIANT walk in closet.  So this pace not only serves as their sleep space, bathroom space, and workspace (they have a desk,) but also as the cat’s living area, and storage for things we must keep but will not unpack here.

Kitchen/Laundry – Our kitchen is tiny.  It is a squeeze for two people to be in it at the same time.  But not only does it serve as our kitchen and laundry space, but it’s also where all the dog food/water is housed and where a good deal of our craft and science equipment is kept.  Homeschooling at it’s best, we do LOTS of crafts and science experiments, and this is the safest and easiest to clean are to use.  I think a big kitchen is the space that I miss the most.

Our tiny kitchen. You can tell from the clutter that not only have we been baking but we are getting ready to make soap.

Our tiny kitchen. You can tell from the clutter that not only have we been baking but we are getting ready to make soap.

Dining Room – I mentioned this one in my how we sleep post. We set up a card table by day and a bedroom by night.  So we sleep, eat, play games and do homework all in the same 5’x6′ space.  It’s tight but it does work.  This space also houses one of the pieces of furniture I keep primarily for sentimental value, my dad’s old desk from when he was a boy.  It’s a double desk so runs the length of the wall and for now…serves as great storage for school stuff, electronics, etc.

Princess decided it's time to rearrange her space while taking a break from her schoolwork on the card table.

Princess decided it’s time to rearrange her space while taking a break from her schoolwork on the card table.

Living Room – This room has already been rearranged several times trying to maximize the space and how we use it.  It houses the most furniture and sees the most day to day use.  A computer workstation for school and fun, the tv and gaming systems, seating for 5 for our family time and Izzy’s dog crate so she doesn’t chew on everything in site when we are watching her.  I’m very grateful for the double opening french doors that open to a small patio, I keep the doors open whenever weather permits and it definitely helps hold off the onset of claustrophobia when I’m feeling trapped.

This is our chill out spot, our family time space and the only space that one can really spread out when needed.

This is our chill out spot, our family time space and the only space that one can really spread out when needed.

Bedroom/Bath – Unlike the Master, there is a small hall with closet between this bedroom and bath so we again have great extra storage.  This room/bath serves myself and the younger two.  We share the closet and bath.  Little Gymnast and I share the bedroom while Princess sleeps in her “private room” in the Dining Room.  And my favorite, my office and a recliner for my “alone” time are in the bedroom.  There is very little walking space, but we’ve been willing to sacrifice that to get the purposes and privacy everyone needs.

It’s definitely not been the “minimalist dream” I had when we started down this road.  We still have too much “stuff.”  We are getting closer though.  And I’ve never been so glad to here…”Mom, I don’t need this anymore.” As I happily grab whatever they offer to be swiftly donated or thrown away.    I long for the day when everything has a place and stays in its place when not in use.

Tiny Spaces: Sleep Arrangements

So it’s now been 6 weeks since we down sized from 1800 square feet to 900 square feet.  It’s been quite an adjustment for us all.  I knew it would take some adjustment especially in light of the fact that so much of the space is multi-use.  We’ve rearranged not just the furniture but entire rooms and their functionality three times already.  And I say, with my fingers crossed, that I think we’ve about got it.  This is the beginning of a series I’m going to write on how nine of us, 1 adult, 2 teenagers and 2 almost pre-teens along with 3 dogs and a cat, share our space…for work, for play, for sleep and for school.

Today we are going to focus on sleep.  How in the world with 2 bedrooms does all nine of us sleep!  Back in the 1980’s the Family Bed (want more info: article from NY Times explaining the pros and cons of this) and over the years it’s kind of evolved into what I call the “granola family phenom.”  You know those families, they live close to the earth, eat natural, don’t subscribe to TV, have varying politics and faith practices and just generally put a lot of emphasis on the child’s needs.  Okay, so maybe I just described our family to a small degree.  But the point is that my younger two, my birth children have always been just as comfortable sleeping with me as they have on their own.  We never had what we called a “family bed” as they have always had their own rooms/beds, but we have always had regular “sleep overs” either for special occasional or just because they wanted to sleep with me.  It goes a bit harder as they got older and as recently as this move, my daughter no longer expresses a desire for “sleepovers.”

So with that in mind, when we started planning for this move, I decided to bring my king size bed and one twin bed into our shared room.  That way my youngest would sleep with me and then my daughter would have her own bed but in the same room.  That was the plan at least.  I also brought an extra mattress that we could have stored under another bed or against a wall etc.  My thought was that perhaps my son would get to the place where he no longer wanted to sleep in the same bed or we might have guests.  Either way, that didn’t work out.  Not only has my daughter outgrown her desire to share a bed, she didn’t want to share the room either.  So what are you doing to do when you have a two bedroom apartment and one of those rooms is full of teenage boys?

Well, you multi-purpose a room!  So now, our extra mattress is stored under one of the teen’s bed, and her “bedroom” is the dining room.  During the day, we have a card table and chairs set up for eating, schoolwork, crafts and games.  At night, the card table is moved over to the living space (because we are too lazy to fold it up) and her mattress is laid down from leaning against the wall.  And voila, she has her own bedroom…the only single in the house!

The twins share a room and bathroom, which the others dare not enter because let’s face it teenage boys and their living habits are GROSS!

And before I close out…I’m sure you are wondering where our beloved animals are living.  India the cat shares a room with the twins; everything she needs is there and she rarely leaves the space.  Mene the tiny dog LOVES the tiny space.  He is perfectly content to stay cuddled up on someones lap or in the bed under the covers except for a couple of daily excursions to the dog park to take care of business.  He’d probably be more content if we just let him go out the door potty and come back in, but we continue to force socialization on him.  Milo the giant lap dog and Izzy the snuggler love having free roam, especially since they are now allowed on the beds (see picture below, aren’t they cute?)  Milo always sleeps with Little Gymnast and I while Izzy is confined to a crate at night because she still hasn’t realized that chewing up everything in site is not the way to make mommy happy.

Milo and Izzy enjoying laying on Mom's bed while they wait patiently to go outside!

Milo and Izzy enjoying laying on Mom’s bed while they wait patiently to go outside!

Planning the Future

Anyone who knows me, knows that I live by my calendar…well, actually my dozen or so calendars.  I have one for me, one for each kid, one for each client and then a couple for activities the kids are involved in.  I own it, if it’s not on a calendar, I will probably forget about it.  So this limbo we are in on the homefront has really thrown me for a loop.

To catch you up if you haven’t seen the series on the other sites I blog on, we moved out of our smallish, newer home to a very small apartment (think 5 people, 4 animals going from 1800 sq ft with a large yard to 900 sq ft with no yard.)  We spent a couple of weeks getting it ready to put it on the market.  And then it was under contract within a week.  Now we wait for it to close…with baited breathe.

The end goal of this was to be able to build a larger, cheaper home to accommodate not only us, but additional foster kids.  And to that end, I have spent a great amount of time over the last year researching cheap but quality housing options, settling on a steel frame building, radiant heat, etc. In my head, I have much of the layout and requirements down.  The problem comes with the reality of land availability, financial capital and timing just don’t equal what I have in my head.

Then the other day, I heard a segment on the local Christian radio about seeking God’s will on the desires of your heart.  And boy, it hit home.  This ‘idea’ has been in my heart for the better part of two years now, since the option to adopt the twins became a reality.  I knew then, we needed more space.  I knew then, that to support additional kids, I needed to cut costs or make more money.  And now we are at that reality….

And I have to admit, that I am not certain of God’s will in my plan.  I always felt that He was leading me toward this, but let’s be honest.  This life has been exceptionally hard…on all of us.  So here we are at the end of our commitment to our home with it selling within a couple of weeks and the cusp of the next step and I have no idea what to do.

This does not fit neatly on my calendars…at all!!!  So here I am today, opening myself completely to God’s will because here’s what I know…I can’t but He can.  No holds barred, where He leads, my family will follow…I just need a clear picture.  Please join me in seeking His will for my life, my families life and the future.

Made a Different Choice

There’s so many thoughts that go through my head that I can’t say for fear of hurting someone else. There’s so much anger and unfairness that I just want to blow up sometimes. And sometimes I think, have I made the biggest mistake of my life? Have I sacrificed everything for someone who can’t pull their head out of their world to not just accept it but to learn from it.
I don’t need accolades, I don’t even need thank yous, I would just like you to look around and do enough outside of yourself to prevent harm to others. Tonight there was a selfish act, an act of forgetfulness because someone was so caught up in their stupid world that they didn’t take care of every day business around our home. And now an innocent party pays the price.
And all you can do is say…I didn’t know, it’s not my fault. Tonight, right now, I wish I had made a different choice. And never before have I said those words although I’ve certainly had opportunity to think them. But for tonight, I’m saying them…I love you, I want the best for you, but I certainly wish I had made a different choice.