Tiny House Conference 2015

What a great event!  We just got back from the Tiny House Conference last night, we took a few days after to do a small vacation to the coast, Hazel learned what ‘the ocean’ is, when you ask her where the ocean was she would point to it, not that it isn’t around if you ask her she just looks and looks for it!

So the conference, there were just over 400 people that came, at least 6 tiny houses at various stages and of various styles, lots of builders, bloggers and awesome attendees!  It was broken into a couple tracks so there were two presentations going at a time, you picked which ones you wanted and went to those.  James spoke on how to use Sketchup on the first day using our plans as an example, I spoke on advanced building techniques (which are really basic building techniques for a tiny house) on the second day.  I feel like my session was well attended and there were several people from the Tiny House People group in there, that made me feel LOTS less nervous, thanks for that! :)

The main questions seem to be Q: ‘where can I see the sessions if i didn’t go?’, A: currently it is an in-person event only. Q: ‘Why can’t there be things like this on the east coast?’ A: It was last year and it will be again next year, prepare yourself!  There were people who traveled from Australia and Iceland though so if it’s worth it it’s worth it!  My number one question that I asked attendees is Q: ‘Was it worth the cost?’ Nearly every single person asked had a very enthusiastic ‘YES!’ to that question, so there is that.  I am not actually involved in the event at all other than being lucky enough to be asked to speak so hopefully o one feels obligated to tell me it’s worth it :).  I know I had a blast!

For those of you who missed out, I bet there is not a speaker there that doesn’t go over the information they covered at length on their own website, if you look you can find all of that information for free, you just miss the interactive component and getting to ask direct questions and get direct answers :).  James and I plan to ‘redo’ our sessions in a YouTube video so there are at least two sessions you’ll be able to catch soon!

As for the rest of the trip it was great, we weren’t sure how Hazel would do on the drive, James had to sit in back with her for a bit of it but she did pretty great overall and slept a lot of the 9 hours.  When we got to town we of course hit Ikea first thing and filled up my car! ha!  I got some cool new lights for the kids’ room, and some clothes hangers, I think I saved a lot of space if they will work and may actually not have to put in a dresser, we will see.  Since I got all that I officially have everything I need to build the addon!  Which is underway, I have removed the deck already!

From Ikea we settled in for the conference and I got to meet so many idols of mine.  My favorite part was having a gal (an attendee) ask Steve Weissmann (the owner of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company) to take her picture with me.  He was a very good sport about it.  I loved it because he has been such a big influence, it’s like having someone ask your idol to take your picture with you… it made me laugh :).

When everything died down a bit James and I drove to the coast to show Hazel the other ocean.  We stayed on the beach a couple days and the weather was gorgeous.  We had one of those ‘off’ days the first day where we couldn’t get in sync with one and other so it was a bit tense but we found our rhythm by the evening and it got to be the relaxing vacation it should have been!  We both need our own time which is hard to do in a small car!  The tiny house is easy to find our own space in!  Once we reset all was well though and Hazel had an absolute blast playing on the beach.  She is at the point where she is trying out different laughs.  She would intentionally face plant right in he sand and get up laughing SO hard only to do it again!  It was hilarious!  She got to take a bath in a full sized bathtub which was pretty stinking cool in her opinion!  She couldn’t wait to do it again the next night! On the last day we drove to Bend, OR and she got to go swimming for the first time in the hotel pool.  She was leery at first but then would just throw herself at us!  She’s not a great swimmer but she sure has fun :)

We are very grateful to have had so much fun, thanks Ryan for all the hard work you put into such a great event!  Next year it’s back on the east side of the country, how many of you are planning on making it??

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What’s the Point?

I was just told that ‘I missed the whole point of tiny houses’.  This was in a comment that had the settings such that I couldn’t even reply if I wanted to… so instead of venting back at them about how much I hate when people start off with ‘the point’ of the tiny house (when really they should be saying ‘THEIR point’), I did a little reflection on MY point of the tiny house… here is what I came up with!

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I absolutely still ‘hit’ my point when I started this tiny house journey.  Not only that, I have nearly hit my goal of designing, building AND living tiny for two years. Life changes over time and missions change along with that life get’s more meaning and there are different ‘points’ to consider and work toward.  Sure, over the time I’ve been on this journey my life has changed, I’ll get to that in a second.  Initially, when I starter this I thought it would be hard, it’s not.  I thought maybe it would be gross [composting toilet yuck!], it’s not.  Initially, ‘the point’, for me, was to learn about construction [check], it was to learn hands on experience about more sustainable methods like composting waste [check], radiant floors [check], green roofs [this one I have yet to learn about because I have yet to plant it!], and living in a more compact space [check].  My point was to design my own house [check], to provide a great and loving home to a sweet Great Dane [check].

Along with all of those things there were plenty of challenges.  My life is not one dimensional, we all look for community and partnerships.  Dating while building a tiny house was hard.  Not only because time was limited but it was this really weird thing that made a lot of people uncomfortable.  It was more common than not to be on a first date and know that it was an only date.  The goals just don’t line up with most people, that is great though, no time wasted!  But when you meet someone and it just clicks because they think what you are doing is awesome, it feels good!  And when you think their goals are the bees knees too, checkmate!  Dating was tough but also it made things so much clearer to cut through all the BS, lay your lifestyle out on the line and have it be embraced and lifted by another… eventually.  The tiny house simplified dating [cool ‘point’ I didn’t expect].   The process eventually lead me to meeting a great life partner.  We decided to start a family (some of you who read early posts may read that in the design phase I was well aware that the family starting and the tiny living may overlap and I made considerations for that in the design!).   This change offered an opportunity for new purposes.  At each major life change, subconsciously, I think we all reevaluate our directions.  For me, and now ‘us’, tiny continues to make sense.  We have so shame or fear in switching directions, in fact the thought often sounds tranquil compared to some of the reviews of our life we read!

Once you are living tiny and you realize that all those things that you thought would be hard or challenging aren’t really hard or challenging, you just have a home that is yours, if you’re lucky, a place to park it [which I didn’t have until near completion, then a lot of options opened up!], money coming in and less going out… we are achieving all of ‘our points’, why change the game now!?

Oh, that growing family thing… right.  That DOES change ‘the point’, quite a bit.  Instead of the tiny house being a way to spend less and save more,  it becomes a way to provide a better life for myself and my family, to spend more TIME together.

I’ve been accused of trying to ‘fit my life in this little box’ when I feel completely opposite from that.  I am very grateful I decided to build ‘this little box’ when I did, it wouldn’t have made sense at any other point, or maybe it just seems like it would have been harder…  Since we have this little box, James and I decided that we wanted to keep using it to better all of our lives.  We want to be debt free [check], we decided we wanted a family [check and check], we decided that we want to spend time with them instead of working on other people’s projects, unless we WANT to work on those other projects [check].  We decided that we never want to live in an over-sized (for us) little box again [ongoing but check!].  The tiny house allows me to live off of a very meager blogging wage (I make money at this from those little ads on this page, feel free to ignore them, I do! (: ) and stay home to enjoy watching my little one(s) grow bigger.  I get to teach them new tricks and just be there for them when they need me, I consider that a HUGE ‘point’ to my tiny house [check].  We decided to stay here after our family grew because we WANT to be here, because it is the best thing for me, James and our family.  No, we won’t be here forever, the kids will eventually want their own space and stop beings so clingy (I LOVE every moment of their clinginess!),  I have always wanted a little sun room for painting, James and I both have the passion to build more alternative dwellings… Tiny is a stepping stone for us to make our life better, that is OUR point.  The fact that our house is an asset that pays us back instead of a liability, taking money every month is just the cherry on top!

Our next goals and more of the reasons we are planning to continue living tiny are:

  • Our kids need US, not things, not trips, not anything but us and our attention, I want them to have that.  When they are ready to explore the world more and be exposed to other situations we will put them in those situations, right now, they want to know they have security in their family, parents that love them, time to do silly things like spend 30 minutes at the park practicing going up and down curbs… our tiny house and lack of a mortgage provides that time for us to give them just that.
  • We want to save cash for our next projects.  We never want to be dependent on banks again.  In order to get out of the rat race you have to do things differently.  even though I don’t work a ‘real’ day job anymore and I stay home to be with Hazel, James continues to run his online businesses and contract pretty much full time with firms so that as a family our income has not decreased, just our expenses.  This allows us to save for our next adventures to be paid in cash.   “There are two ways to get rich, make more or spend less”
  • We would like to be location independent and not be tied to one spot via a standard job so that we can travel the world with our kids and expose them to different lifestyles an cultures.

In the words of Dave Ramsey “If you want to live like no one else, you have to live like no one else”.  This lifestyle is not hard but building it takes effort and intention, if I had not started when I did I don’t know that I would have the gumption or the time to dedicate to it now.  I am grateful and lucky to have followed my gut when I did because it really is opening the doors to the life that we want to live.  We are not fitting our life into this little box nor are we ‘missing the point’!  This little box [I may officially have a name for my house!] is helping us to build the life we want.  Tiny houses can open possibilities to live the life YOU want to live.  THAT is ‘the point’, to do what YOU want.

Moral of the story, everyone has a different ‘point’ to deciding to go tiny, if it makes sense in your life is only up to you.  So does it?  What doors will living tiny open in your life?

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‘remarkable’ is relative! :)