Things I Wish I knew Before Moving Into My House With My Child.

Its official, been here in our tiny house for 6 full months. Would I change my mind if I knew then what I know now ? Absolutely not. There is definitely some things I did not know or would had done differently. We live in Maine so that means we get to enjoy all four seasons, including winter. We were prepared for winter for the most part but there is a few things I will be doing different next winter. I have skirting around the house but next year I will change the skirting from plywood to insulation board. Though we haven’t had a lot of problems with freezing pipes as I do have heating tapes on the water pipes, I did have a drain pipe freeze and back up. Some of that might had been from not having the front of the house fully enclosed on the bottom and I keep the water dripping when the temperature drops below 20 degrees so there was ice build up in the pipe. As far as staying warm and any other cold weather concerns we are in pretty good shape.
When we were preparing to move into the tiny house I planned on the space I would have for our cloths and toys. I bought four big pretty cloth baskets, two for Noah, two for me. One would hold our pants, the other our shirts. I also bought four smaller cloth baskets, two a piece. One for socks and the other for underwear. What ever I could not fit in those baskets was sold at a yard sale before we moved. I did make an allowance for seasonal cloths and items that would be stored in plastic totes with the snap closers under the house. As for Noah’s toys, that was a hard one for me, I really had to buckle down and stand my ground with my decision and keep focused on the benefits and freedom living in a tiny house would afford us. I went through all his toys until I was able to fit the remaining toys in a large trunk , the rest went on the yard sale. This really was the hardest part for me. Moving into a tiny house takes commitment.

My tiny house has two lofts, one in the front of the house and the other in the back. There was a 30 gallon hot water heater in the front loft, in order to be able to use that space for Noah to sleep in I had to make a tough decision about the water heater. I had to decide if I would go with an on demand water heater or a 10 gallon water heater that would fit under the sink. In the end I chose the 10 gallon. With the 10 gallon we are able have just enough hot water for dishes, but there is definitely no enjoying long hot showers, ten minutes is about the max. I may revisit the on demand hot water heater in the future but really we are not complaining.
I think one of the biggest things I would change if I could had is I would have done all the interior work before I moved in. Everytime I do work on the inside of the house the whole house and everything in it gets covered in saw dust. There are a lot of projects that will need to wait for spring to be completed just because of that reason. Then of course life happens happens and I injured my shoulder so other projects will have to wait until I recover.
In the ended I don’t regret for one second making the decision to go tiny. As a matter of fact all the “stuff” I struggled so hard to get rid of we don’t even miss. Our tiny house has simplified our lives and changed what we value. We snuggle more and clean less, we play more and my relationship with my little guy is stronger than ever. Yes people do come to visit and are surprised how comfortable they are when they are here… many people have walked in my little piece of heaven a skeptic and walked out a believer. If you are reading this because you are considering a tiny home please feel free to comment or ask any questions in the comments below. Thank you for stopping by !!

Tiny House On The Spectrum-The Story

Up until this point The Tiny House The Spectrum Blog has been almost like a social page for me, like Facebook or Twitter. I’m realizing that we have drawn some attention so I’m feeling like I need to tighten up my rambling a bit.
I want to really break this down, I am writing this blog for 3 major reasons.

1. Autism awareness (Not sugar coated)
2. Poverty education (Not sugar coated
3. Tiny House living (Also not sugar coated)

For us these things go seamlessly hand and hand together. When Noah was 3 his father left us, he was our source of income and I was Noah’s only care taker, he was still in the process of being diagnosed so we had no support services. We went from poor to extreme poverty over night. Noah and I ended up in a shelter, as matter of fact it was a shelter I had volunteered and staffed for several years before Noah was born. Being on the other side and being a consumer in the same shelter was very difficult, but within that I was gifted in really understanding the truth about poverty. Accessing resources was HARD, I found that many had so many rules and regulations and took so long to qualify for that it made my situation feel even more hopeless. On top of that after working as a respected professional for a good part of my adult life suddenly I was perceived as less intelligent, I felt I had been stripped of my integrity and the only thing that had changed about me as a person is now I was impoverished.
After leaving the shelter I was able to get a subsidized apartment a diagnosis and support services for Noah, it seemed that things were looking up. My next step was to get back to work, but here was the problem…going back to work would cause us to loose our subsidy and possible the healthcare that paid for Noah’s services. We would be right back to where we started. I knew I had to figure it out because there was no way on earth I was going to stay on welfare my whole life even if I would be justified in doing so, I did not want those limits on our lives. I was terrified but I did it anyway. That is where the Tiny house came in. I started researching how to build a tiny house, I thought “if I could just do it myself I could build Noah and I house we could afford even if we didn’t have the subsidy AND Noah would always have a place to live even after I’m gone”. My Pinterest was stacked full off tiny house plans, I was obsessed ! I got a job and started squirreling away every dime I could, the following month I lost my subsidy and now had to pay the full price for the apartment we lived in at almost 1,000 dollars a month, it seemed I had gambled and lost after childcare and car repairs, we almost lost the apartment. I began to search for a small one bedroom apartment for Noah and I. In the search for the apartment I saw my Tiny house. I told the owner our story(Jay) and he agreed to finance it for us( God must have whispered in his ear). It made so much more sense to have a house I could pay off and own in 2 short years than to dump money into an apartment that would never be ours or to take out a mortgage on a home that would never be paid off at my age,leaving Noah with nothing. So here we are in our tiny house ! My dream is to help other people in challenging situations achieve the freedom of home ownership as well. I continue to research and take steps into the future in making a tiny house community possible.
Living in a tiny home with a kiddo with autism is not only doable for me but more comfortable for him. He prefers to be tucked in as opposed to flaying around into the universe of a bigger space, he feels safe here. Financial and emotionally this was really the best choice I could have made.
Advocating for my son, for autism, for those living in poverty, for the tiny house movement not only make sense to me but is socially, economically a responsible thing to do. We have smaller footprint for so many reasons even outside the obvious. Advocating for these things is really advocating for ourselves and others in the same boat. So there it is “The Tiny House On The Spectrum Story ” Thank you all for visiting us ! Rebecca and Noah.

House Keeping With Your Special Needs Child ! Theres No Maid HERE !!

So I’m cruising on Facebook and see this post on one of my Autism mommy groups written by a mother of 6 and how she is able to keep her home clean and organized. The comments under the post were mostly by furious exhausted autism mommys as they did not feel the post was even relevant to them and guess what, they are probably right ! House keeping and having a child and some more than one child with special needs brings house keeping to a whole different level. When my adult children were small(there were 6 of them)my house was a hot mess ALL the time ! Now I just have my 6 year old with autism and I have to tell you he can make 3 times the mess of all my children in half the time BUT my house is NOT a mess, not anymore anyway. I finally have this figured out after 35 years of raising kids. For me the question is not “how to clean a house with a VERY active 6 year old on the spectrum” its more “how not to get stuck cleaning your life away ! I have better things to do with my life than clean, so take it from an old pro, this IS how you can STOP cleaning SO much. Though my focus is mostly for families with kiddos with special needs this would also work for any family with small children.

TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THE TOYS ! :

Face it we love our kiddos and we want to get them their hearts desire but I’m going to be honest with you if you have a kiddo with autism and special interest they are probably only playing with a few of those toys, the other toys are more than likely just contributing to the billion things in this world that are over stimulating to them and triggering behaviors. Keep the few toys they are actually playing with and put the rest away. When I say put them away I mean, make them inaccessible even if you have to lock them up. I watch my lil mr and when he starts getting bored with those toys, I will go to the BIG toy box and exchange the toys in his little toy box. My guys has been playing with the same 4 super heros for the last week without complaint and seems waaay more content in not having to spred ALL the toys he owns out in front of him. The bonus is when he does exchange his toys its like Christmas everytime.

SPECIAL BOXES:

Make some of your childs toys work for you:

I have 2 boxes I keep up out of reach, one with games, one with art supplies, playdough and playdough toys. These are “special boxes. They only come out when I can sit and play with him and he earns them with accomplishing expectations(like cleaning up after himself). I really make these times special and give him my undivided attention when playing with these “special boxes BUT when we are done he helps me clean them up and they get put away.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS HAVE A MOTIVATOR:

We always have to clean up what we are doing before we can do something else, its just the way it is. With a kid with special needs if you want him to clean up ALL his toys you have to make that something he manage and be successful at and you always have to have a prize at the end. Some kiddos just need a kiss others need a prize box, the best thing you can do to get your kiddo more independent is to find out what motivates him and set him up to succeed. If that means you have to pick up 2 toys with him hand over hand and the reward is a M&M then do it.

KEEP A SCHEDUAL:

As we all know our kiddos work the best when they able to predict what is going to happen next. With my guy he plays with toys for 20 minutes in the morning, I set a timer,the timer goes off, he picks them up (his 4 super heros) and is motivated to do so by the next step on his schedule which is eating breakfast and watching one of his favorite shows, other wise we would get stuck on picking up the toys for the majority of the morning. I try to keep that carrot dangling in front of him all day, he does something hard and gains something good. Build in things that motivate him on the other side of things that are difficult for him and put it on the schedule until it becomes a habit. When he just does it automatically then build in something else.

The bottom line to not having a messy house is to not have the stuff readily available to mess it up with. Do nothing for your kiddo that he can do himself, don’t take that from him even if that means doing it with him hand over hand in the beginning…in the end he will be more confident and you will both have less chaos if you both know and follow through on the expectations. Always do things in the same order ” first get dressed, then put clothes in the dirty laundry” ect. this will help him become more independent and establish a habit.

Find out what your kiddo CAN do, what YOU can do to help him achieve those things and resolve that it WILL happen, if it takes a week or a year, fight for his independence and yours. Build in motivators in the areas you see him struggling.

For me when I decided we were moving into our tiny house I also had to take a long hard look at what we REALLY needed, it was tough but in the end it was a huge weight off my shoulders to have less stuff to be responsible for. Face it we parents of kiddos with special needs have a lot on our plates…it does become easier if we have fewer plates to clean. Less stuff and working hard at establishing good habits has been key for us and though we aren’t always successful we are a long way from where we were !

I hope these few tips have helped, I have many more where those came from so feel free to ask and to comment on things that have worked for your family. We all need to support each other because the job we have can be hard. I look forward to hearing from you all !!

Tiny House- Big Life !

Sitting here snug in this tiny house in Maine, the temperature outside is -1 degree, inside an easy 70. This place super easy to heat and right now I am feeling very thankful for that. Everything is not ideal but really is it ever for anyone? The forecast for this weekend predicts a whopper of a storm with a possibility of 20 or more inches of snow ! This will be the big test for this tiny house and for our endurance here. I heat with a electric fire place and I’m really thinking we might be in trouble if the power goes out. I think that might be the case for a lot of people not just us. With this in mind I’ve been thinking of alternative heat sources. I’m not really crazy about heating with gas in such a small space, wood isn’t a good option either as Noah has asthma. A heat pump or pellet stove would still leave us without heat if there was a power outage. At minimum I do see a generator in our future. Watching the monster storm on the horizon knowing that my little mr is completely depending on me to keep him safe and warm is a little unnerving. The last several weeks have me a little unnerved, being out of work with this shoulder injury has taken a toll on my finances and my personal endurance, the lack of sleep, the pain is wearing on me. I just keep taking one step at a time and thinking of the blessing in the here and now, so far its is working. God has a way of putting just the right people in my life at just the right time, this time is no different. Though we have and will continue to face challenges we have also been gifted so much joy, adventures and beauty in the last few weeks. If I were to just sit here and keep my eyes, my heart looking up I would be so much more confident in HIS ability to provide for us, he always does. If I could just keep looking up I could let go of this fear because I know he has never let us down. I find proof in what I see… let me share with you my hope.

Beautiful Frozen waterfalls
Noah found Bigfoot Foot Prints !
Tiny ice shelves
Mr Moody Blue !!
That smile !! That joy !!

This is what keeps things in perspective, these moments in time that we would just miss if we spend our time not believing in miracles. These are the miracles, this is what I am working for, these very moments. They are here inspite of hardship, the lesson is to see them, stay in them, not to miss them worrying.

The NEWS

The news, I do my level best not to watch it but its like one of those ridiculous series that are so shockingly offensive you just can’t seem to take your eyes off of it. I watch in suspense and disgust with my mouth hanging open barely blinking, shaking my head. Is this real ? Is this reality T.V ? Do we even know ? Five more years is all I need to get my tiny paid for and on a piece of property, all mine, no payment. I just need five stinking more years before the world looses its freaking mind. No I’m not a dooms dayer or survivalist .My original reason for buying a tiny house and wanting to be off grid was for financial security, piece of mind and to have a home to leave to Noah so I know he will always have a place to live. Seems like this tiny house may come in more handy than I had originally thought at this rate. At this point in time it seems I really have to look for the solids in my life.

Here are 10 things that I am absolutely sure of:

1.God is real
2.Nothing happens without his permission
3.The Earth is round
4.It is stinking cold tonight
5.Voice to txt is not the easiest way to write a blog
6.Chocolate is good
7.Coffee is necessary
8.Not everyone will love you
9. That might just be a blessing.
10.Tomorrow is not promised, so try to do what is RIGHT today.

AND the BONUS thing I am absolutely sure of is:

11 (Bonus) I am a honest but uniquely human mess and I’m ok with that 🙂

I’m again thinking about being creative in my existence, thinking about how to live my best with the least Finances. My goal is to get my over all month to month cost of living down to 600 month and it is very doable in the long term in my situation but its taken a lot of planning. In all actuality there are millions of Americans doing this already, many living on even less, they are those living under the poverty guidelines. Just a bit of food for thought, a single mom of only one child working a minimum wage job brings home maybe 375. a week after taxes, she will pay 100-150 dollars a week in childcare and most government programs do not count childcare cost when determining eligibility so she can receive extra help. So she has to be away from her child, and then not be able to even provide for their basic needs with a 40 hour a week job. Think about it.. the minimum wage in my area is 11hr, the average rent is 800-1200 plus utilities a month… now imagine a single mom of 3. I am putting my money where my mouth is in realizing I need to learn HOW to do this and then show others, I’m on the right track… so face it the sooner we get off the consumerism train and jump on the train to independence in providing for ourselves through lowering our cost of living ,giving ourselves more freedom in choosing what defines the quality of our lives the better off we are all going to be both financially and the more stabile we will be as people, neighbors and communities. I don’t want to work 40 hours a week or more for Armani, Gucci or 30  year mortgages. Instead I would rather invest that time and money back into  building up our families and our communities. That would mean as a collective whole we would have to thinking in terms “us” and not “me”. The bottom line, and we all know it is there is no Government or nonprofit agency that is going to do that for us. We ARE going to have to do it together. Sink or swim. So start saving, start doing and lets make this real. Its not utopian, this is the way people have been humaning for centuries. We grew our own food, we built our own homes and raised our own kids. Our advantage now is we have better technology and understanding of how to do this in so many ways then we have had at in anytime in history, Just google it if you don’t believe me ! I look forward to your ideas and feedback .

Thank you all for sticking with me, I’m still on the mend so I’m not able to be here as much but I’m working hard to get back !

Night all !

Go Ahead !! Do It ! Whats Your Mess Today ??

The last month here at the tiny house has been happening at warp speed, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. I was sitting here tonight watching Noah spinning around in circles, a Marvel character in each hand, scripting lines from the movie “Spider man” and teared up because that’s what happens to us autism parents sometimes, we just tear up because there is this wall between us and our kiddos that sometimes just seems impossible to hurdle. Really I just wanted to snuggle him and he just wanted to spin in circles and script, he didn’t want to be touched. Scripting is a big part of our lives, he hears or see something that impacts him and he mirrors it back, sometimes it’s entire movies,even in other languages other times its a phrase that shocked him, lately its been “shut the fuck up”, a phrase that he heard from another kid at school that has infiltrated his until now innocent scripts. Do you know what I want to hear ? I want to hear how my son feels about something, anything and know that it was his thought or idea I want to know what he thinks Warp speed I say !! The good bad and ugly. I’m writing this from so many lenses right now. I am a professional that hasn’t been able to work due to a shoulder injury. I am the sole supporter that doesn’t know where the next paycheck is coming from. I’m a church member who just found out her pastor has died. I’m a tiny house owner who has stepped outside of the normal to attain the dream of the stability of home ownership. I am a Christian who flails around in her walk. A mom that works hard to do her best for her children and often fails miserable more than succeeds. I’m a single woman who hasn’t given up on love but is terrified all at the same time. I’m a blogger who writes all this personal stuff about our lives for everyone to see simply in hopes that being a mess, being human will some how be the excepted norm so we no longer have to hide our messes, so maybe we will start to feel more alike than different and do our messes together. No one should have to bear the weight of the world on their shoulder out of fear of rejection or shame. I saw a post on Facebook yesterday that really ticked me off. The lady who wrote it was shaming mothers with ASD children for “complaining” about their children. It made me furious !! When a mother who is probably isolated due to the behavioral barriers of her child reaches out on social media to either find support of find a place to vent I applaud her because I know she hasn’t given up the fight, she’s looking for what she needs to do this another day. This lady would nail me to the cross !! As Ive said before, lets do this mess together ! As for me and my blog, if you want to jump on here and post what your struggling with today, you just go ahead and go for it, type away. You are welcome here with your messy self ! 🙂