Friday, February 28, 2014

Paper Portraits: Happy Family Project 1

I know I've mentioned this before, but when you  live in a small space you have to really consider what you keep. Since there isn't much room, every item that you keep either needs to be useful (like underwear or a coffeepot), or really special. 

This one is really special...every time I see it I feel my soul get warm (even when I'm mad at my husband).  I love how his eyes look worried and mine look irritated...who knew we could capture ourselves so well, without even trying!

I had no idea how much I would love these when I came up with the idea...but I really do. 

This was a super simple project; craft paper, a cheap canvas (3 for $3), scissors, glue and Modge Podge.  The only "rule" was that you could only use paper.  No drawing, writing, etc.  All the details of the face, hair, background, etc were all cut or torn from the craft paper.  (I wouldn't use construction paper for this, it doesn't hold up as well)

This was Laurel's second portrait that she made, it
was in a childrens' art exhibit at the Main Street Gallery

Cut the pieces and glue them on to the canvas really well.  Once they are secure it's time to coat it in Modge Podge, but if the parts aren't glued on well the Modge Podge causes the pieces to bubble up.

Give it time to dry...and then instant masterpiece.  Hang and enjoy for years to come.  I loved that Jon (who never crafts) really had fun doing this with us. The kids made one too and we gifted them to Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas.  (Grandma and Grandpa made one as well, this project is good for all ages!)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Living on a boat is simply simple

Life on the boat is great.  That's the easiest way to describe it.  Not that living in such a small space doesn't have disadvantages, obviously it does.  But the advantages have been so amazing, so awesome and thankfully completely automatic.

Jon and I have been married for nearly 10 years...and for nearly 10 years we've said that we should simplify our lives, slow down, spend more quality time together and have more cool adventures.  But for ten years our house, jobs and lives got in the matter how many articles or books I read, and no matter how many times we talked about it, we simply couldn't make the change happen.  But when we took the big plunge and moved onto the boat, suddenly, with this big change we'd made all those things just happened...without even trying.

We should simplify, cut-down, downsize, organize...clean up.

Moving to the boat has forced that change, because 250 square feet simply isn't a lot of room.  (plus it only takes about 20 minutes to clean up when it is dirty) Obviously you can simplify without moving onto a boat or reducing your house size by 90%...but no matter how much stuff we got rid of we still had too much stuff!  We estimate that we got rid of 6,000 pounds of stuff. heard me right. We sold, donated and tossed nearly 6,000 pounds of stuff that we obviously didn't need. No wonder I could never keep our house clean!! Now we have 4 towels, 4 plates, 4 bowls...just the stuff we need... not the stuff we kept just in case an NBA allstar team came to stay with us. (seriously, we had like 15 towels...who needs that?)

When you only have 4 of everything,
even the 5 year old can do the dishes!

We should spend more quality time together

Between homeschooling, living in a boat and having no cable on the docks...again it's just automatically happened.  In our last house the kids became accustomed to going off to their own rooms to play.Now that they share a room, and it's right next to the living room, we are always near each other.   Plus, without the temptation of TV, we just don't have that crutch of "seeing what's on."  Now we read, play, craft, talk, cook...or just hang out.  We don't have to plan to spend time together like we used to.  It just happens.

We totally built this pantry...that never
happened before we simplified our lives!!

We should do more cool things. 

Living on the docks is it's own adventure.  Between drunks and fishermen and sea lions and's a regular party down here!  We've seen a raven decimate a rat, a dozen sea lions playing, a heron dive for food, crabs sneaking around the ocean floor...we even have a pet seal we like to call AquaRog, cause he looks like Roger (our dog).  Plus since we have less house cleaning and such to do, I find that we go out more.  We've done art classes and hikes, played on a frozen pond, collected specimens at the beach, we play chess and use our microscope...and thoroughly just enjoy our time.  Last night Laurel and Jon snuck out at midnight for an Aurora Borealis hunt.  I just don't think they would have done that before.

Having such a small space means only keeping those
things that are special to you, things that make you smile.
Cutting out the stuff that kept the house messy, and removing the time wasters like TV (and cleaning!) have made us focus on what's most important to us as a family.  It's also renewed our enthusiasm for the next adventure around the bend.  (Nope, not gonna talk about it's not time.)  But suffice it to say, as much life changing as we have done, we have BIG plans still on the horizon. 

We are living the life we wished for, and planning for more. 

Trust me, if we can do it, so can you.

The harbor at night, yes, it is that pretty.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

This is what homeschooling looks like...

You know that feeling that you're absolutely sure that you've chosen the right path in your life, and your heart is completely full? 

This is what it looks like for me.

This journal has been something we've been doing for a few months.  Sometimes it asks a question that you answer, and sometimes it's just free space to fill in.  I love being able to open up in a written format.  It allows me to explain something completely, and since she's reading it it gives her more time to process it.

This journal entry was based on an interaction that morning (similar to most mornings). When getting off the boat in the snow Laurel wants to have both of my hands to jump off. But some mornings I have a hand full of stuff...and she cries that she's too scared to jump...and I get frustrated and yell because she's making me late. But this day was special...I did NOT yell.  But I also did not cave.  She eventually jumped off holding on to one of my hands, and we talked about it on our morning walk through town to get Luke to school.  But she was still upset with me, even though I tried to explain my side.  So when it came time to journal my pen just started talking to her...and then she understood.  I don't think she understood my full meaning (about helping to teach her how to face the world bravely), but she understood that I always have her best interest at heart.  I love these little moments, especially since I don't think we would be having them if we hadn't decided to homeschool...and to a certain extent if we hadn't simplified our lives and moved onto the boat.

All I know is that more often than not my heart is really really full.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Learning to say yes

I am, by nature, a no-sayer. A sayer of no. One who says no when she should say yes. I am an expert at coming up with excuses for why I can't do something with you today.  And it's not you, it's me. I swear. I don't know if I've always been that way, but I can tell you I have been that way for as long as I can remember.

Since moving to Alaska, far from anyone we knew, we have had to make some changes.  But it didn't happen right away, in fact our first year of homeschooling involved a lot of staying home.  Out of every three invites from friends to join in their fun, I typically accepted one.  Truth is, I like being home with my kids.  But slowly I began to see what we were missing.  My friends here are so good at  saying yes.  Whether it's crafting or hiking or swimming or playing...they say YES.  And while it feels like I'm going against my nature sometimes....I am learning to say yes. 

It was hard for me at first, and I realized that in part it was because I felt I had too much to do before I could go out and play.  But now, since downsizing to the houseboat, there is just no excuse.
I feel like I have done more in the four months we've lived on the boat than I have in the two and a half years we've lived here! All in all, it's been pretty wonderful.  Letting go of the large house, the stuff, the classes, the time has freed us up in so many wonderful ways. 

We have learned to say yes when opportunities arise.  That might be the biggest change of all...and I'm just not sure that would be true if we hadn't made this huge step to simplify our lives.

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