Wow, month three has flown by!

Tomas and I have been busy with work, school, fun winter outings, and helping friends move-by-bike. On the home front, the initial shock of dealing with water usage, toilet duties, and small house challenges have started to blend more into the background and feel more like routine. The unexpected initial costs of new-home madness have also died down (no more $1500 powermovers to purchase). Tomas and I have found our sanctuaries and places in (and outside of) the home and we are looking to the future and how we can make our home better.

So, what have we learned this past month?

Look to the future: We’ve sought the talented help of our friends at Portland Alternative Dwelling (PAD) and their connections and are making arrangements to hire contractors to fix the immediate and easier things that need attention. This would include the floors, the wood finish, the uneven seams and seals, the hammer/nail marks, and trim (to name a few of the issues). Later on we’ll tackle the harder jobs of maybe re-doing cabinetry and replacing the tub set-up.

This is just a place where we live: I’ve been focusing a lot on personal growth through this challenging experience. It has been especially tough for me to let go of the house I had wanted this to be, and accept it for what it is: a place where we live. I had emotionally invested in the picture in my mind of what I wanted: a finished, beautiful, and thoughtful tiny home based on those that I’ve seen around town, pictures I’ve seen online, and the tiny homes some of my friends live in.

I had looked at this house as the epitome of our housing, and thought we would be done after this process. But this space where we live will give us the experience to understand better what we need in a future home. We take comfort in knowing that we will continue to make improvements and alterations to make our home more aesthetically pleasing, functional, and “fit” us better. We also see it as a good starting home and a good way to save up money for something we like better (and maybe would build and design ourselves) later down the line.

Couplehood in the tiny home: As far as how tiny house living has affected Tomas’s and my relationship so far (and it has surely brought on a fair amount of challenges!); I think we have triumphed. Dealing with the trauma of a difficult build process and facing the challenges of living in a smaller space has helped us grow and understand more about ourselves, our needs, values, and beliefs as individuals and as a couple.

We have a good balance of needs and our personalities mesh really well. We thought pretty hard on this subject before deciding to move into a tiny house; small space, but BIG commitment. We’re respectful to each other’s space, needs, sleep habits, hobbies, and quirks. We also both have a lot going on outside the home and have our own interests, friends, and projects. These are things that I think are important to any relationship regardless of living space.

What’s for dinner: We’ve been cooking more than we ever have before as a couple. Quesadillas, pollo asado, greens, and soups have been a favorite. I’ve learned Tomas is a great pancake chef. 😉  We’re also good at compromising kitchen duties, when one cooks, the other does the cleaning up. We both value a clean home and keeping things tidy is important to us. We’re also happy to say we’ve been gas-leak free for the past four weeks (what a relief!).

House hiccups: We had a couple of hiccups this month, including the below freezing days in Portland which froze our water supply to the house. At first, we patiently waited for the temperatures to rise, but once we realized the temps stubbornly continued stay below 0°C we turned to the “drip” method. We let our tap drip ever so slightly which kept the water flowing when we needed it. Luckily we live in a pretty mild climate; I suspect we would have to change many of our system set-ups if we lived in a place that has harsher winters.

Kitty cat: One of the more challenging aspects of our living arrangement this month has been living with the cat. Before the house was delivered, I had not wanted the litter box inside the house. I dreamed of an elaborate tunnel type of cat door coming from the window to a cat-outhouse with a Benji-specific RFID collar reader cat door which would only allow him access to the facilities. But because of the positioning of our house in the driveway, and other constraints this set-up wasn’t feasible.

When we first installed the cat door and shelves to allow him access to the outdoors, he used it pretty frequently and he was using the bathroom outside. Since the weather turned fouler this winter, he has not been going to the bathroom outside and we have been losing sleep, woken up in the middle of the night for his litter box habits. Not a pleasant way to wake up. I adore my 14-year old furball and have hope that things will improve come spring, once it’s more pleasant for him outside playing and pottying. If this is the worst of our problems, I think we’re doing pretty well.

Happy: We’re still happy we live in smaller space. Things have improved if only because of changing our perception of our situation (I’m finding an acceptance of some of the imperfections at least). We continue to learn and that’s one of the more valuable results of overcoming challenges. We reorganize frequently and talk about the things that are working and those that aren’t. We continue to live our lives biking, working, reading, and having friends over (we had the most people over in the tiny home this past month -7!). The house continues to be a place where we live.

In the past two weeks, I have heard from a couple of different people that I am kind of unconventional. It’s funny, I have never looked at myself that way, everything seems so “normal” from my point of view.

Much love, and more to come.