It’s fixed…sort of

After 3 days of working on the house for 5-6 hours each day we have fixed the problem an the wall is now level again. We still have to replace the 34 tires we lost and concrete the bottom layer, but we should be ready to start filling tires again in the next week or so. This still puts us somewhat back on schedule!  I am feeling quite a bit better. Don’t get me wrong, it still totally sucks, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. 



I am very much looking forward to packing the tires once again. 

We also discovered a massive mud slide on the back end of the house. It goes up to the bottom of the third row of tires. We will have to dig some of the out, but it does save us some time on back filling there. 

Setbacks

To every project there are setbacks, and to every MAJOR project there are MAJOR setbacks. 

The monsoon of 2016/2017 has claimed a victim. We had to make a major decision going into the winter: Spend : $1000 to backfill the wall earlier than anticipated, meaning we would have to rent the backhoe 3 times instead of 2 (an extra $1000) or wait it out and hope or the best. We should have spent the extra $1000. 

The monsoon caused the bottom layer of tires to be completely flooded. The washed out some of the dirt which made the wall unstable. 


This caused one part of the wall to collapse. 



At this point we have lost almost 35 tires that’s not terrible and we think we can get this fixed before the end of February. 

If we had put in the water barrier and back filled the wall wouldn’t have collapsed. Advice for next time: spend the extra money. 

Restraint

The hardest thing about building the house is having restraint. Don’t get me wrong, restraint is a really good thing. Without restraint you can get yourself in a lot of trouble, or become a privileged asshole.  The ability to abstain from things you don’t necessarily have to have is important at times to keep yourself humble. 

However, the amount of restraint that C and I have shown over the past four years, and especially the past year, is enough to test anyone’s strength. While our kids are fortunate enough to have enough clothing from gifts and as hand me downs, C and I have restricted ourselves to the bare minimum. We each have enough outfits to last us about a week to a week and a half and I am often repairing socks, underwear, and especially pants until we are forced to replace them. 

We have been making a list of things we are purchasing once we are able to move into the house and have some spare funds. New clothing for both of us is high on that list. 

We will continue to show restraint once we move. We will continue to strive for a zero waste lifestyle, but there is a difference between sufficient restraint and depriving yourself of basic necessities. 

We are so close to being able to move we cannot fathom having to hold off because we were short on building funds which could have been prevented if we had waited to purchase other things. 

I honestly think that building this house will go down as the hardest thing we have ever done. 

I’m a better Christian because of Buddhism. 

One thing you may not know about me is that I was a Buddhist for 11 years. I won’t go into my conversion to Christianity today, maybe I will another day. Today I want to talk about how this has effected my Christianity. What brought me to Buddhism all those years ago was the idea of giving up the ego. To make myself uncomfortable in order to not make others uncomfortable. I found that I had become too focused on me and what others could do for me and I was miserable.  I began to truly love others regardless of who they are or what they have done. To love them because they are living beings and that my life was no greater or more important than any other living being. 

The best example of me as a Buddhist was with my vegetarianism. I was a vegetarian for religious reasons, because I could not cause the suffering of another living thing. However if I entered someone’s home and was offered food with meat I would eat it because turning down a meal was causing suffering to another person by upsetting them. 

When I converted I saw many of these same Ideas in the purity of Christianity. Giving up the things that make us comfortable and embracing the uncomfortable. 

I sometimes have to hold myself back from purging what little we do have. I keep saying that once we have enough in savings that we will give most of our excess away to help others. Although there is a part of me that says “why wait until you are comfortable” and we may not, although because I have a family I will have three months of bills in savings as a precaution (although that will equal about $3000 which is a lot less than most people). One of the things I look forward to in life is to live, even for a short period of time, with as close to nothing as I can get away with.  C and I at some point will hike the entire Appelacian Trail. This to me would be the closest I can come to having nothing. I want to pack as little as I can get away with in my pack and for months that will be all we have. I feel like in life The fewer things I can put in my pack the closer I feel to God. I’m not sure I would have gotten here without my Buddhist studies.  Why do we need all this stuff to be happy?

My question to you is: Is there something that you are holding onto so tightly that to give it up hurts?   Money is a good example. Not just to those who have it but also to those who don’t. We hold onto it so tightly that often times it hurts. Whether that is trying to obtain the biggest profit you can or holding on to what little you have to feel safe. What can it possibly do for you?  Are you fighting to become comfortable or are you resting in your comfort? Let that feeling go. Take a deep breath and let it go.  Become uncomfortable. Let God take care of it.  Embrace being uncomfortable. If we continue to put our comfort before everything else we will never grow. 

Snowed in

It snowed on Thursday. It snowed a pretty good amount. Probably 6-8 inches, which doesn’t seem like much except that when you live high on a hill with a mile long gravel driveway there is no getting out without 4 wheel drive. Thankfully we have one usable vehicle. A vehicle which C needs to use to get to work Friday- Monday. Which means that I am snowed in with 2 kids. 

We did not run to the grocery store on Wednesday, although in hind sight we should have stopped by the bank. When We sat down to figure out how we could make it until Sunday (the first day we had available to go grocery shopping) without having to do an emergency shopping trip we discovered we could actually go at least a week without needing anything. That was a pretty cool feeling, especially since we typically only spend 100 a week on groceries. The ultimate goal is to not have to worry about food for months. 

The worst part about being snowed in was the water situation. We did not think to fill the water tank before the temperature dropped. Saturday night the water ran out. It took us 12 hours to get the water pipes thawed and the water in the jug thawed (we also forgot to hook up the water heater). We finally got the water flowing again and the water pump in the house to catch.  Much cheering commenced!  We turned on the water and it flowed… And then stopped. Both of our water filters were clogged. Now we cannot use the water until C picks up new filters on his way home from work tomorrow. It’s a good thing I had milk to give the kids it’s been a long day. 

Captain Fantastic

We don’t get a chance to watch movies in the theater anymore. With 4 kids and the cost of tickets it’s just not something we feel is necessary. However, every week we take out 2-3 movies from the library (because they are free!) and watch them with a giant bowl of homemade popcorn when the kids go to sleep.  The library typically offers an unusual variety of films and it’s always interesting to see what we come up with for the week. This week we had the pleasure of watching a fairly new film called Captain Fantastic. 

The plot is something like this: there is a family of 7 living off the grid in the middle of the woods because they don’t believe that normal American society encourages people to thrive intellectually, and lends itself to people not being able to function in both normal and emergency situations. The mother has gone to a hospital while suffering from bipolar disorder. While there she kills herself. Her family (father, mother, sister) go against her will and have her buried. The kids convince the father to go on a mission to save their mother’s body. 

It is a phenomenal movie. One of the best we have seen. Our initial fear was that the family would be portrayed as crazy (as most times off grid families are portrayed this way). We were pleasantly surprised. Not only did they not portray them as crazy but they portrayed the typical American family as undereducated and coddling of their young. You are really meant to admire this guy and the way he raises his family, even though even his kids don’t always agree with his methods. 

There are several parts of the movie that really stuck with me. One of them was a dinner they had with his sister in law’s family.  The entire scene demonstrated the fear that most American families have for keeping complicated issues from their children.  Protecting them from subjects that are “disturbing”. We don’t do this and we are often looked at in the same way her family looked at them. Also it had the best line in the whole film, “How did you kill that chicken? With an axe or a knife?” 

I also really appreciated the movies portrayal of mental illness. The father was adamant that people did not say the mother was crazy. He talked about her illness in biological terms, talked about her sarotonin imbalances, and refused to allow people to hide her illness. Instead of allowing it to be said that “sometimes sick people die” he came back with exactly what was wrong with her and never blamed her. 

*spoilers*

The end of the movie was especially wonderful and thought provoking. The eldest son applied to and was accepted to all of the top colleges (Yale, MIT, etc) because he felt he wasn’t properly prepared for the real world. Granted he already knew a great deal of what was probably going to be taught to him and I was concerned that the writers would send him to college which would most likely be a terrible decision for him. People go to college to be integral members of a society he doesn’t belong to and doesn’t understand. Thankfully the writers came through for us yet again and instead sent him traveling the world to find his place. 

The second thing about the ending that was pretty amazing was the compromise the father came to for both his kids and the rest of the family. He moved them to an off grid lifestyle with less isolation. The kids were in school (but probably also continuing his style of homeschooling with that). It was very much like the lifestyle we are building. It reinforced my belief that we are doing the right thing for our kids.  We want our kids to know the world around them but we also want them to understand that it may not be the best way to live. 

 This is definitely a movie we are purchasing. 

Conquer fear with love

It’s Christmas so I went to church. It’s been a few months since I have been, mainly because Sunday mornings are one of the only times I have to work on the house without the kids. Now that it’s too cold to go out I decided to go back for a bit. I’m glad I went, although I usually am. 

I have really been struggling lately with the frustration I have for other people. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m an just prone to this frustration or if the heavy political atmosphere this year has led to it, probably it’s a bit of both. Either way I am finding it very hard to love other people who don’t see the world the way that I do.  I especially get frustrated with business owners who put the bottom line of the business above the love of their employees and clients. I tend to cut people off instead of loving them through what I view as a major flaw. 

Thanks to the sermon today I had an epiphany that I’m afraid. I am afraid to love people I don’t agree with. I am also afraid to tell the people I love that I disagree with them. Hate is so much easier than love. It’s so easy to say “I don’t agree with you so I’m done doing business with you”. Now don’t get me wrong, I think when you are talking about big business it’s the only way to get your point across and fully promote boycotting a business.  I am talking about small business. Business in the community where you know the owner. That’s what I’m talking about.

I surround myself with people who are like me and push away those who are not. Instead what I should be doing is loving them anyway. People who love and respect you are more likely to listen to you, even if they don’t agree, than people you just preach to. So instead of pushing people away I am going to try and have my “Time filled with loving actions”, even if those loving actions involve me saying “I love you but I don’t agree with xyz” and treating people the way I want to be treated, or how I expect people should be treated.  The best I can be is an example. 

What I REALLY want for Christmas…

I do have to say that I am a very unusual person.  I would say I’m probably a little like an extroverted Sheldon. I don’t really understand things that don’t have a practical purpose. 

Take Christmas for example:  I get Christmas, kind of. Of course I get the religious aspect of celebrating Christ’s birth on an arbitrary day chosen around a pagan holiday already celebrated. I get the good will towards people, be around people you love, stuff. I think it’s important all year round but it’s nice that it’s focused during a time when people aren’t getting as much sun and depression is rampant. I should look into if this actually has something to do with the need to feel better during a time of cold and shortened days….

 The thing that gets me is the consumerism. We get the kids and each other gifts but I don’t understand getting tons of stuff. I like to get the kids 2-4 practical gifts that they can use right away. Something they can enjoy for a while but nothing excessive we wouldn’t have been bought at some other time during the year. 

Which brings me to this: When family asks us what we want for Christmas I have a very hard time thinking of anything. We have no room for anything more in this house and we don’t need anything, except stuff for the new house. I tell people completely practical stuff to get because I don’t understand the need for anything else. As a joke I told my dad we needed a septic tank for the new house (because I am really only asking for memberships to places and stuff to build the house).  His response was “only if I can tell my friends I bought my daughter a box of poop.” And that “they hold no responsibility or liability for the usage or contents thereof” to which my response was “not unless you take us to dinner first”.  It looks like we have a septic tank coming. I couldn’t be happier. 

Allergic reaction

It has now been almost 2 weeks since I have worked on the house. We were out of town, sick, then it was too cold, raining, and yesterday morning at 1:30am I woke to my first ever full body allergic reaction. 

I woke up and felt like I was going to be sick. I went in the bathroom an sat on the toilet waiting for something to come out of me in some way to make me feel better. Within seconds my hands started to itch real bad followed by my entire body. I proceeded to text C “don’t be alarmed but I’m having an allergic reaction. If it get worse I am calling J & S”. About 2 minutes later my tongue and throat start to swell. At which point I call J & S who we are renting from and tell them what is going on. They come up to the house with Benadryl, and have called an ambulance. J drives me to the end of the driveway to meet the ambulance while S stays with the kids. While we were waiting for the ambulance I start to swell so badly that my it hurts to the point of tears to swallow. The ambulance gets there and puts me in the back. We discuss what is going on and they ask if I want to go with them. I tell them yes (because in afraid my throat will swell shut on the 30 minute drive to the hospital). Then I think about it and say “wait, is it silly to go with you?  Am I overreacting?”  They medic responds “ma’am, you are having a pretty serious allergic reaction. You should probably come with us”. It made me feel better. I often feel like I am overreacting about medical stuff.  

I get a shot of epinephrine, Benadryl, and at the hospital they give me a giant dose of steroids. 

We have no clue what caused it. I haven’t had anything unusual. After the holidays I am making an appointment to see an allergist. I also have Benadryl and an epi pen I have to carry with me.  I feel like a ticking time bomb. This is fun (can you sense the sarcasm?). 

My arch nemesis… So we meet again

Here we are again… The winter. We have reached temperatures of below freezing an once again must utilize the wood burnin stove. 


I am afraid to jinx it, but it seems as though this year is not as hard to start and keep a fire going as it was last year. I have so far only had one cursing fit at it and it has been almost two weeks. Hopefully this year will not be as tough as last year. It will hopefully be the last year we have to use it too.