Archive for the 'home' Category

moving day

It’s here! We’re leaving Wonderland today (and probably tomorrow too, in reality). We’ll set up camp in the spare room at the outlaws place for the first week or so while we prepare the shed for moving. The plasterboard is all done now so it’s well on the way to being a home, not a shed anymore!

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a renovator’s delight

We spent last weekend at the shed. We’re at the very begining of the renovation so there was lots of banging & bashing with hammers, which was SO MUCH FUN!

Looking in from the front door.

Looking left from the front door.

Inside the bedroom.

 

We pulled nails out of the beams & pulled shelves down, then when all the bashing & banging was done Bean pre-wired it all ready for the plasterers to come in with insulation & plasterboard this week.

I was Bean’s labourer for some of the time, I drilled massive holes in a couple of the jarrah beams with a very expensive drill. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used a drill before so it was a bit exciting to find myself drilling holes the size of a 10 cent piece through thick, hardwood.

Giving myself a shower of jarrah shavings!

I also got down with some nasty, nasty paint stripper & scraped a few layers of paint off the weather boards in the bedroom. It was a bit full on… actually it was a lot full on, the fumes were intense, but I wore a gas mask (most of the time) & had the window wide open for fresh air & the door closed so the sproggets weren’t exposed. It was satisfying to see the paint come away & give an idea of how it’ll look when it’s done.

We’re going to sand it back a bit more then seal it with ecolour polyclear (no VOC) to go with the distressed look. We’ll finish the door, ceiling & skirtings in that room with ecolour high gloss interior paint (also no VOC), so the distressed looking weather boards are framed with fresh, clean paint.

We’ve chosen our paint colours. Inspired by this post from SouleMama, we’re going with light green walls & a creamy white for the skirtings, shelves, window frames, door frames etc. The jarrah floors will be sanded back & oiled. The kitchen cabinets & bench top will be varnished (polyclear-ed) pine & the walls in the wet area will be covered with zincalume mini orb.

The plumber came Monday afternoon to tell us all the plumbing we have in mind could be done, & with more ease than we had initially thought. He’s also told us it’ll be a cinch to add a toilet there too. There’s not the room in the shed for a toilet (& we’re not keen on having a toilet right next to our pantry!) so we’ll build a little outhouse next to the shed. That will make us completely self sufficient, having no need to go to the bottom house at all, which means more privacy for the outlaws & more privacy for us :)

We probably won’t get much more done on the shed this coming weekend, since we’re moving our things from Wonderland to the outlaws place. We’ll be staying with the outlaws from this weekend until the shed is finished. Our timeline is a couple of weeks. We’ll be able to get a lot more done from here on in because we’ll be staying so close to the shed. Bean & I are planning night time renovations while the sproggets are asleep.

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I am NOT a housewife!

Over the last four years my role as a stay at home parent has been called into question countless times. Recently though I have been criticised for not being a good enough housewife because I expect my partner, a responsible adult, to do his fair share of the housework at the end of the day when he comes home from working outside the home.

I have 2 things to say about this, the first is not very nice so I won’t write it! The second, well…

I AM NOT A HOUSEWIFE!

In my role as a stay at home parent I have 2 young children depending on me all day. To list just a few of my duties, I dress them (or help them to dress themselves), change nappies & wipe bums, feed them, breastfeed one of them (giving of my physical body!), console them, answer their questions, play with them, take them out to socialise, read to them, sing to them, dance with them, pick up after them & ensure our home is a safe environment for them to be in.

Not only does Bean regularly get a full 8 hours sleep per night, compared to my average of 4-5 hours (due to me doing the bulk of the night time parenting with Babyman breastfeeding overnight), he also works a job with a set lunch break & smoko. Most days I don’t even go to the toilet without an audience! I work all day.

I do the food shopping for our whole family & I do it with the children in tow. I prepare at least 2 meals plus snacks each day for our children, I often get dinner ready also since Bean isn’t usually home until late of a weekday evening. I change 5-6 nappies per day & I do the bulk of our family’s laundry – including Bean’s laundry!

I can't credit this image to the original artist because no one else on the nerd has. If it's yours, do let me know.

Like Bean, I enjoy my job most of the time. Like Bean, I sometimes feel tired of my job because it’s physically & emotionally hard work. Like Bean. I sometimes want to swap roles, working out of the home seems very appealing some days.

I have temporarily given up my career to parent our children. This is a decision we are lucky enough to be able to make & we made it because it’s important to us that our children have a parent at home with them while they are young. Given that breastfeeding is also important to us, & I have the boobs, that job falls to me! As a result, while Bean’s earning capacity has increased, time spent out of paid employment has meant my earning capacity has decreased. That is a significant sacrifice to make for my family!

I have 2 children, not 3! Bean is an able-bodied, able-minded adult. If we did not live together he would be responsible for himself. Why assume that, since he lives with the owner-operator of a vagina, he no longer has to be responsible for himself?! Being a woman does not make me his slave. I am nothing to him but his equal.

Just as I am responsible for myself & responsible for providing for the needs of my dependent children, so is Bean. What is between our legs has no bearing on our responsibilities!

Our children are Bean’s children as much as they are mine. The fact that I care for them full time means Bean doesn’t have to worry about finding someone else to do it, nor does he worry about paying someone else to do it!

When I have furthered my study to bring my earning capacity in line with Bean’s & when our youngest child is no longer breastfeeding I intend to return to paid work. I’m really looking forward to it, actually. Eventually we will both work part time in paid employment & part time caring for our (unschooled) children.

As a student I will need to set aside time at the evenings & weekends to do my study. Being that Bean is their other parent, the children will spend that time with him. Neither of us view that as a chore, or an unfair expectation of him. His anatomy doesn’t disqualify him from being a good & involved parent.

While I am studying, then when I am working in paid employment, & Bean is caring for the children, as I do now, the housework & general household responsibilities will be divided as they are now – EQUALLY!

I am responsible for myself. He is responsible for himself. We are both responsible for our home, we are both responsible for our children & will continue to be until they are able to be responsible for themselves.

I am not a housewife, I am a woman*!

 

I originally published this with the last line reading,

“I am not a housewife, I’m a feminist!”

and another woman pointed out to me that being a feminist is a choice, but being a woman is not. She explained she thinks what I have described in my blog post should be reality for every woman simply because she’s a person, & that some men & women may read it & think something along the lines of,

“Well that’s your choice.”

So, I agreed & I have changed the post to reflect that.

Every stay at home parent deserves to have the work they do recognised for what it is, a job. Regardless of our sex or our gender, I believe no one in a partnership should be cleaning up after another able bodied, able minded adult as part of the role of stay at home parent!

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Planning

At the weekend we went to visit the outlaws & measure the shed so we could begin planning the shed-to-granny-flat conversion.

In previous jobs, and a little in his current job, Bean used AutoCAD a lot so we decided to draw a floor plan using AutoCAD. After Bean drew the basic plan we then worked out what furniture we’d be using in the shed & what would be put in storage (in a spare room in the main house). We measured the furniture we’d be using in the shed & Bean drew all of that in AutoCAD too. Once we had everything measured & drawn it was time to shift stuff around (virtually!). We played with all kinds of layouts, then 2 or 3 hours later we had a plan we’re happy with.

Bean has run it by his parents & they’re happy with it too. Awesome!

The total floor area of the shed is around 28m2 (just over 5m x just over 5.5m). The existing separate room in the shed is 7.8m2 (2.65m x 2.95m).¬† We’ve decided to increase our usable space by building a loft bed in the separate room. Under the loft bed will be The Bubble’s single bed & a space for the sproggets – a wardrobe for their clothes & shelves for their toys. By doing this, we’ve managed to create enough extra space for the washing machine & a shower(!) in the shed. Originally we thought we’d have to get a little garden tool shed for the washing machine to be outside, which won’t be necessary after all. Having a shower will be a total bonus. We were expecting to use the bathroom in the main house, which could increase stress because it’s not a child-friendly house & having a shower while wondering what dangerous things the sproggets are getting into is not terribly relaxing, nor is having a shower with the sproggets every time I want a wash!

As much as I’m proud of the loft idea & all that is made possible by having a loft bed, the kitchen is my very favourite part of the shed plan. We’ll be able to prepare most things we can prepare in any house kitchen with the exception of a massive roast (which we can probably cook in the hooded BBQ anyway…). We’ll have a sink with running water, our large fridge, 2 pantries, just over 3m of bench space with cupboards underneath plus a small island bench on casters, 3 or 4 roughly 2m long shelves along the wall, a pot rack hanging from the ceiling, the thermomix (which will actually be of use to us when we replace the broken blade), a gas camping stove, a bench top electric oven/grill, slow cooker & kettle. For the kitchen cupboards, since we lack the cabinet making skill & time to build them ourselves, we’re actually going to break my ikea-free ideals & buy ikea products. Not their kitchen products though, not only are they too expensive, I’m unsure of what chemicals they could be offgassing & would like to avoid VOCs. We’ll be using “ivar” cupboards, they’re solid pine – untreated & unfinished. They’re 80cm wide by 50cm deep & 83cm high. We’ll put them on blocks of timber from the salvage yard to raise them to a better kitchen bench height & we’ll screw a wooden bench top to the top of them. We’re hoping to get some milled, raw edge pine that we saw at the salvage yard for the bench tops, provided they’re not too expensive, our plan B is to use salvaged floor boards, plan C is to use pre-fab wooden bench tops from ikea or Bunnings (or other hardware store).

We won’t have a traditional dining table. Instead we’ll have the same set up for meals that we have already, the coffee table (which was once¬† a dining table anyway) next to the couch with the children’s little cane chairs. We still sit down & eat together, just not at a traditional dining table. That will work extra well in the shed, since we’re after furniture that can serve more than one function. The coffee table is a perfect height & size for children’s craft.

We’ll paint the interior of the shed with ecolour no-VOC paint in an as yet unchosen colour. Suggestions of funky wall colours most welcome :)

That’s just about all I can think to explain of the plan for now, so I’ll finish with a copy of the floor plan…

Click on the image to enlarge

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A (very) left field solution

We’re going to break the lease here at Wonderland.

It is a beautiful house, and it is a very impractical house.

The issue of safety is a huge one for us. We feel it’s just not safe enough for the sproggets here with the large, unfenced pond/lake so close to our doorstep. I’m having to be hyper aware of their every move in case they go outside without me noticing & it feels like I’m stifling them. The sproggets are frustrated by being trapped inside so much of the time & I feel frustrated with having become such a “No! Mumma”. I’m afraid to even use the toilet without inviting them in to be my audience in case they slake off again while I’m on the toilet. That’s how I know it takes Babyman just 30 seconds to get from our deck to the edge of the pond, it’s how long he was gone from my side while I used the toilet that day…

We’re also concerned for Dave’s safety, since he ate a rat bait at another house on this same property, a house he visits several times a day. He comes back from that house with various bits of compost & food scraps all the time & we’re concerned that if he eats another bait we may not realise it until serious damage has been done. There’s no fenced area we can keep him contained in, & it’s difficult not knowing where he is when he’s not in the area immediately surrounding our house. His training has slipped a bit since we’ve been here too, he’s forgotten that he’s not allowed inside because he’s being allowed into the other houses. He’s only 6 months old & consistency with training is crucial in this early stage particularly, since being here we’ve begun to lose status with him.

There are other things that make Wonderland unsuitable for our family at this time in our lives, which I’ll not go into now simply because that’d make this a lengthy & boring post, so I’ll just jump straight into explaining our (very) left field solution…

We’re going to move in to a shed.

Bean’s parents (the outlaws) have a reasonable sized shed at the top of their block, which will be easily insulated & gyprocked to convert it into a comfortable space to live. Their block is on a hill, & their backyard is in 3 levels.

At the very back there is a rear access gate, & space to park the kombis next to the shed. There is also a retired chook house which will take very little work to return to habitable condition for us to have some feathered friends again (BIG YAY!). Between the shed & the chook house are 6(?) empty garden beds just perfect to plant out with annual vegetables.

Stepping down from the top level takes you to a grassed area which is bordered with gardens. At one end of the grassed area is a mature Granny Smith apple tree & a mature pear tree.

Both of these garden areas will be easily fenced with inexpensive dog fencing, creating a secure yard for Dave & the sproggets. We can separate the top & second levels also, so Dave can be kept separate from the sproggets if I don’t want to directly supervise their play (I don’t leave the sproggets alone with dogs because I think they’re still too young for that).

The bottom level of the backyard is about 6ft below the second level, there is a large retaining wall between a courtyard & the second level which in effect separates the rear yard from the house.

We will have our fridge, pantry & gas camping stove in the shed plus the hooded BBQ outside meaning we can store & prepare food without using the kitchen in the outlaws’ house. When we are able to buy a new thermomix blade the thermomix will be back in action also & we’ll be even better equipped to prepare food in the shed. We’ll have water plumbed to the shed for handwashing & dishes, but we’ll have to use the bathroom in the main house for showers & baths. We’ll likely sort out some kind of composting toilet solution also, in time. Our washing machine only requires that cold water be plumbed to it so we’ll set up a smaller temporary garden shed to be our laundry. The water outlet can be directed to the base of the fruit trees & to the ornamental plants already in the gardens around the lawn using a grey water hose.

The shed is large enough to have a kitchen (there’s already internal walls separating a small room from the rest of the shed), our beds & a small lounge/dining area with our couch & coffee/dining table. We sit on cushions around a low table to eat dinner so that won’t change. It is a small space, but as long as it is a warm & dry space we will be fine living in it. With such a fantastic blank canvas for a productive garden I imagine we’ll be spending a lot of time in the garden anyway. We’re all happier out of doors.

The outlaws’ place is in town, easy walking distance to the beach & even easier walking distance to the town centre. It’s also a 5 minute walk to Bean’s workplace. We’ll be a lot less reliant on cars there, which is good from an environmenatl & an economical point of view. We’ll be more able to afford to drive across to Denmark (where we really want to be) once or twice a week also, since we won’t need to use our cars just to get in to Albany to go to the library, museum or shop.

The best part about it though is that we won’t be paying rent! If we are able to put the amount of rent we pay each week into our credit card & personal loan repayments we’ll be able to knock a huge chunk of debt off by the time Bean finishes his apprenticeship.

Finances have been worrying us a lot, so the motivation for our moving in to a shed is definitely financial.

It certainly won’t be perfect, there will likely be times I’ll resent it, but it is still a good solution to the problems we have with our current living & financial situation.

Besides, we’ve both lived for extended periods of time on forest blockade camps & I’ve also lived for months at a time in a kombi van so a shed with running water, insulation, electricity & even heating is luxury compared!

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Wonderland in pictures (continued)

Following on from this post, here is a photo of the kitchen at Wonderland.

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Finding treasures

Saturday morning just passed, Babyman spent some time with Bean which freed me up to fossick in a couple of op-shops with The Bubble.

The Bubble had never been op-shopping before and she LOVED it. We spent quite a while sorting through little zip-lock bags of buttons & I noticed how much she liked sorting things into groups. I suggested she might like to buy some marbles which she’s been sorting into groups almost constantly since she got them home. The Bubble also scored a glass with a multicoloured polka dot design, some patterned paper scissors for her craft box & a melamine bowl with an angel on it. She’s so pleased with her finds.

I’m also very pleased with my finds. I found:

  • a patchwork rug to throw on the floor of The Bubble’s room so the sproggets have something warmer than tiles to sit on when they play.
  • a crochet Granny square rug (awesome, because I can’t crochet!)
  • 3 sewing patterns including a pattern for puppets & cloth baby toys
  • 3 sewing books, one from the 70s that my Mum also has a copy of plus a quilting book & a general sewing crafts book
  • heaps of buttons to add to my jar, and
  • earthern ware. Lots of lovely earthern ware. 3 mini mugs, a little milk jug, a plate & a couple of cannisters.

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Wonderland in pictures

Finally…

Our loft bedroom, “The Cubby House”

The Bubble’s bed in The Cubby House

The view from The Cubby House

More views…

Pretty views, pretty stained glass & HUGE-bubble bubble wrap

Stained glass at the top of the stairs

More stained glass down the stairs

Stained glass & a view to the deck at the front of the bedroom building (now a glorified shed)

The Bubble’s other bed in her bed/play room – yes she has a quilt cover that matches ours

Loungeroom, right side

Loungeroom, left side

There are no pictures of the kitchen, because Bean forgot to take any. He was too busy making these…

Cane sugar free spiced biscuits

That’s the beautiful island bench they’re sitting on, I’ll get on his case about taking photos of the whole kitchen this weekend. Until then, enjoy the pic-heavy post after many wordy posts.

Update 23/5/2011: A picture of the kitchen can be found here.

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Downsizing Wonderland

In spite of how beautiful Wonderland is, I have been finding the practicalities of living between 2 buildings quite difficult.

The bedroom building has no wood fire or gas bayonet, so contrary to our sustainable ideals we end up using electricity to heat it. I know wood fires (& gas heaters too for that matter) aren’t very sustainable, a fire box would not necessarily be my heating method of choice in a home I owned, but an electric heater is even less sustainable!

We light a fire in the main house (kitchen, lounge, loft, office & one bedroom) which we benefit from for a short time of an evening, and then once the children are in bed Bean &/or I usually go to the lounge in the bedroom building so we can be close to our sleeping children. There are 2 doors & a deck between us if we stay in the main house while the children are in the bedroom building, which is just too far away for my comfort (or theirs).

Today I decided that in order to make Wonderland work for us I had to do some pretty radical furniture rearranging! I moved The Bubble’s bedroom/playroom into the large bedroom in the main house. That room has a nicer outlook & more natural light than her old room anyway so it will be more suitable for day time play. It also has tiles, rather than carpet so will be easier to clean & has the added bonus of not smelling like carpet cleaning chemicals like the bedroom building rooms do. I was able to move The Bubble’s bed on my own, but I had to wait for Bean to get home to move our bed…

We moved our bed up into the loft. That was very, very hard work! We also have a spare single bed in the loft in case The Bubble decides she wants to sleep with the rest of us. Even though moving out into her own bed in her own room was her choice, one she was happy with for a long time, she has recently felt a need to return to sleeping with, or near, us. I’m actually glad of this, I’ve missed having her near. She’s convinced she’s so big, but she’s really still small. She’s three, that is small. Three is small, challenging & beautiful.

The loft is very warm because it’s right above the fire place. One wall of the loft is windows looking out at the treetops, it’s pretty amazing. There is also a window in the ceiling of the loft, which means we can see the stars at night. They are so clear & bright out here where there is no light pollution.

The office will become my sewing room. It also has a window in the ceiling & the natural light is fantastic. It’s currently got a whole bunch of “sheddy” stuff & my bottles of herbal tinctures in it. We had originally planned for one of the rooms in the bedroom building to be my sewing room, so I could work close to where the sproggets sleep & play. The darker, cooler room we’d originally planned for my sewing room will be a much better herbal dispensary room, and the shed stuff will be much easier to arrange neatly in one of the other rooms in the bedroom building.

I found some mould on the wall in the built-in-robe in The Bubble’s new room. The wall is adjacent to the shower so obviously there is a leak. Our wonderful property manager (she really is wonderful) got onto the owner straight away. He’s actually coming to stay at the property (in another of the houses) for a few days from tomorrow afternoon, so it’s pretty good timing to have found a maintenance issue! He’ll have a look and decide what he wants to do from there. I’m sure it will be resolved quickly.

We’re finding money very tight, on an apprentice’s wage, so we’re considering finding someone to sublet a room in the bedroom building now that we’re not going to be living in it. We will use one or two rooms as storage, which will leave at least one bedroom & the lounge/foyer empty. Wonderland is an ideal space to share because the bathroom, toilet & laundry are separate to the main house & the bedroom building. Whoever is in the bedroom building would have space away from the chaos of family, until they want to use the kitchen. We’ll discuss it some more then perhaps put our feelers out…

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Tidy-freak

I’ve just finished tidying The Bubble’s room & the lounge/playroom in the bedroom building (remember that Wonderland is 2 buildings joined by a deck). Normally The Bubble & Babyman (to some extent) help me put the toys away in the baskets & on the shelves at the end of the day. I was going to let it slide tonight, I’m feeling lazy after a long day (The Sproggets woke early & only Babyman is asleep so far at 9.30pm!) but The Bubble was feeling uneasy about the toys on the floor, so asked me to pack them away for her.

I’ve noticed the toys get played with more readily when they’ve been packed away the night before. When all the trainset parts are in the trainset basket, the farm animals are in the farm animal basket, the blocks in the block basket, the playcloths in the playcloth basket etc. they’re ready to be pulled out one by one & be played with. When we wake to the mess from the day before, it seems to put us on the back foot. Mess is not the same as an unfinished project. There have been times when The Bubble has requested that we not pack up a particular game until tomorrow, because she’s not finished with it yet. Mess is the finished game that we walk away from before packing it away because something more exciting came up. Mess becomes more of a chore, the longer we leave it. When I leave mess, I feel a bit more hostile to it every time I walk past it, until I feel so hostile to it I start to wonder why it hasn’t just picked itself up so I don’t have to. I begrudge it for still being there. If I don’t tidy before I go to bed, I don’t sleep well. If I know I’m waking up to a sink full of dishes in the morning I’ll have a restless night, no matter how tired I am*. For this reason I’ve become one of those neat-freaks who puts things away as soon as I’m finished with them. I wasn’t always like this. My room was always untidy when I was a child. I was never very bothered about mess before having children myself actually. It’s almost as if the nesting instinct so many women experience during pregnancy just came one day and decided never to leave. It didn’t disappear once the first baby was born, and if anything it’s become even more settled within me since the second one.

I find that when my environment is disordered & untidy, I have trouble staying focussed & I often feel stressed or muddle-brained. I also observe the opposite of this, that when I’m feeling particularly depressed & in a slump, I don’t care for tidying up. My brain is feeling muddled, & so I make my otherwise ordered environment muddled also, so it matches how I’m feeling inside. I’m noticing similar in The Bubble. Babyman may be the same, but he’s still too young to really care much for his environment, he’s still quite focussed on what is right in front of him. He’s very good at living in the moment! Perhaps it’s just me? Perhaps The Bubble picks up on my inner chaos & makes it her own? I do think though, that she feels more centred when her home environment is ordered. She says she’s happy when her room is tidy & she takes pleasure in helping to pack things away into the right baskets. When she is having a rough day she will deliberately up-end toy baskets, not to play with the contents, just to make mess to walk away from.

Tonight, The Bubble now feels ready for sleep, assured that her tidy room awaits untidying tomorrow…

*Thankfully, dishes is really Bean’s domain & it’s rare for him to have to leave a sink full of dirty dishes for not having had time of a morning to do them before leaving for work.

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