Monday, June 4, 2012

Our Story

Have you been reading Simple Little Home for a while, but still wonder who we really are and where we came from? Maybe you're new here and are curious about this crazy family who seems to make everything harder than it needs to be? (Smile.) Read on, friends, to find out how we got to this amazing place in life.

Garrett and I grew up in a conventional way. By that I mean we attended conventional schools, played sports, ate at McDonald's from time to time, and generally did what kids growing up in the 80's and 90's did. I loved Rainbow Bright, he loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we listened to The New Kids on the Block, and we wore parachute pants and fluorescent colors. Good times, to be sure.

Although we've known each other all our lives, we only began dating while I was in college, and we married the September after graduation. I worked just long enough in the insurance industry to determine that cubicles are the greatest form of torture known to man, and to vow that I would never sit in one again. I carried out a brief search for meaning in life, decided I was meant to be a humanitarian, and went to graduate school to earn my Master's in Education. I became a high school history teacher. While I was happy in the classroom for a few years, the convergence of becoming a mother who wanted more time with her baby, and the trend in public education toward lessened teacher autonomy and creativity caused me to reconsider our life plan.

Or was there a plan to reconsider?

Garrett had begun to work in sales by this point, logging lots of hours per week. I had begun teaching at an online university in addition to my public school teaching job, and we were suddenly lost in a pattern of earning money and spending it fast. We bought cars, a house, clothes and take out food. We had no time to do anything ourselves, and we began outsourcing even the most basic of tasks. Suddenly, and quite without thought, we became slaves to our paychecks- seeking ways to earn ever more money to maintain our lifestyle.

Worse yet, we were left feeling completely empty. Even when doing things and making new purchases that were supposed to make us feel good, we felt hollow and meaningless. The cycle perpetuated itself- we bought something new, discovered that it didn't make us feel good or peaceful, so we immediately started wanting the next thing. We wanted out. By this time we had two young children, lots of financial responsibility, and were surrounded by people making the same choices. We suspected this couldn't be only way to live life, (how could it be? It felt frenzied!) but we weren't sure what practical steps to take to get off the "treadmill."

It was about this time that Garrett heard of Dave Ramsey on the radio one day at work, and remembered a friend telling him about the program. After a few months of listening to Dave's show, Garrett brought the idea home. We completed Financial Peace University and began the oh-so-slow (and sometimes painful) process of getting ourselves out of the debt that was keeping us tied to our current lifestyle. We sold a car, ate at home, skipped vacations and DIYed our way through life, all the while throwing money at our remaining car loan, student loans, credit cards and mortgage.

As we made some positive headway financially, we began to establish specific priorities about spending time together as a family, being respectful stewards of our planet, and learning to be content with what we had (rather than constantly seeking to attain more). We read voraciously on topics which we'd never before prioritized: spirituality, strong marriage, green living, parenting in a peaceful and purposeful way. Meanwhile, I quit my daytime teaching job and opened a home daycare so that I could earn money while staying home with our children.

As we took each baby step toward a new lifestyle, we began to find peace and to enjoy our lives. Sure, we said "no" to all kinds of things- trips, outings, camps, new clothes, dinner dates with friends, and committee volunteer positions. Though we turned down things we would have loved to do/wear/buy, it was through this process that we balanced our priorities and regained our sense of family.

The transition has become addictive- each new freedom from an outside resource or long-held (but burdensome) personal belief only fueled the fire to grow more apart from the race of a life we'd been living. We successfully started raising chickens, which immediately interested us in keeping bees. Once we tasted our own honey we had to tap our maple trees, grow our own veggies, and try our hand at vermicomposting. We subscribed to Mother Earth News and found ourselves waiting at the end of the driveway for the mail delivery to bring us each new copy. We kept them all and read them often enough to make each and every issue dog-eared.

Our dreams truly began to take shape.

We discovered what we were meant to do with our lives: how we were supposed to live, and what we could do to positively impact the planet and the people living in it. We began to abandon the ways we'd always assumed we'd live in favor of making our own, informed choices about the best way for our family to make our way through life. (As a note, when I say that we were meant to live this way, I mean specifically our family. No judgement of families who choose other paths- we're all unique and must find our own "right" way to live.)

Today, we have three young children whom we homeschool and raise in a peaceful, slow way. ("Peaceful" is of course a relative term, as any parent of three young children will attest!) We still live in suburbia (someday soon we'd like to own a small farm), but we use the land we have to meet many of our own needs. We learn new skills veraciously and are deeply, completely grateful for our new life path.

We aren't experts. We didn't go to school to learn farming, cooking, or sewing. We didn't grow up in families which taught us these skills (or at least weren't open to learning them as youngsters- ahem). We didn't even benefit from job training. We're just two people, now with three kids, a dog, a cat, some bees, worms and chickens, developing our dream as we go. We're learning each day, reevaluating and redoing things as we learn better ways,  and sharing our experiences to support and inspire anyone else who might be on a similar journey.


30 comments:

  1. Apart from making me feel like a terrible person, this is AWESOME. ;) xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Terrible? And by terrible I assume you mean awesome? Someone who goes after the bad guys and helps to make our communities, even ones in big cities, safe and prosperous surly has a good handle on the important aspects of life. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. This gives me hope that my family can get there. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh and did I mention that I'm terribly jealous that you get to live in Maine?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad that you've found some encouragement from this post. We certainly aren't "there" yet, but its good to know that we're on a path that works for our hearts and our wallets. :) And yeah, we feel pretty lucky that we get to live in Maine too. :) Thanks for the visit!

      Delete
  5. Found you through Pinterest. I love your story. And we are lucky enough to live in Maine too. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maine just does something to improve your soul, doesn't it? I think everyone should at least try a visit. :)

      Delete
  6. I have decided to become a stay at home mom to my six month old son. Your blog inspires me that it is possible to live with a reduced income by being frugal and creative. Thanks for the much needed inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so welcome! I wish you all the best as you begin this new journey. It won't all be easy to be sure, but the rewards of connecting with your child and allowing your family to take center stage in your life is completely worth it.

      Delete
  7. My husband and I were both on the Dave Ramsey path when we met and became completely debt free before our 2nd anniversary - we celebrated with a fully paid for two week trip to Italy. Being debt free has opened up doors that we didn't think would ever be available. I became a "stay at home mom-to-be" and we are awaiting the arrival of our first child in November. We now have chickens and fruit trees; the garden in this South Texas heat was not so successful. We plan on homeschooling our little boy and any other children we are blessed with. The simple life is so much more rewarding! I applaud your efforts and wish you nothing but the best in your journey to "change your family tree". It won't always be easy, as I'm sure you know, but the end result and peace of mind that comes with it are worth every ounce of sacrifice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lisa, what an amazing story! What a huge blessing that you were both on the plan when you met! I couldn't have known what a difference having no credit card debt or car loans would make to the quality of our relationship and the quality of our dreams, and I imagine it must be even greater for someone beginning their journey as a parent knowing that your family has a secure future. Take care and I wish you all the best with the arrival of your little one, and all your future plans!

      Delete
  8. YOUR FAMILY LIFESTYLE GIVES ME HOPE FOR THE HUMAN RACE! That being said, I know you would love Hawaii and Hawaii would love you. When someone lives there, they over the years seem to mold into a very similar lifestyle. Back to basics in terms of organic foods, fresh fruits, easy living, and environmentally conscientious is the mode for most who live there. I hope you and your family are blessed to visit there and get to know some of the locals. Of course as tourists vacationing there, you might not get the full dose (as the tourism industry seems to glamorize and commercialize nature's beauty) but you will get bit by the paradise magic Hawaii radiates. By the way, you might find it cheaper than you might have thought to travel to Hawaii. For those who can catch a Southwest flight when tickets are on sale for $99 (one way) to San Francisco, CA or Portland, OR and then a Hawaiian Air ticket to Hawaii, again for $99 (one way) are able to fly round trip for $400. Once there, renting a vacation rental rather than a hotel room(s) runs at about half the cost of a hotel room (though some can be as much or more). Once there, the next big tickets are activities followed by food. A vacation rental allows for the vacationer to prepare their own meals (though some dining out is nice). in terms of activities, there are many which can be done for free or almost nothing such as a crater hike, swimming in turtle town (a favorite hangout for turtles on Maui, and much more. May white light shine upon you and your family. Sincerely, Jan

    ReplyDelete
  9. Emily,
    I loved reading this - although our stories are slightly different, all the same reasons have led us to our similar paths! Thanks for sharing.
    -Leigh

    ReplyDelete
  10. I found you through pinterest and as a young single mother balancing parenting a one year old and earning a degree I have found some mental clarity here. So grateful for the reminder to slow down and take a moment (or many!) to enjoy the blessings of children and the environment. Don't stop writing--we're depending on your wisdom ;]
    -Kylin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kylin,

      Thanks so much for the beautiful message. Life is never without challenges, but if we're living out our priorities then the challenges can come and go without really impacting our outlook, I think. Best of luck to you in school and your family life!

      Delete
  11. I found your blog also through Pinterest. I listened to the interview you did with Libsyn(?)around Thanksgiving. I laughed when I heard you say that most people had found you through your blog article pinned to Pinterest, called,"40 Ways to Keep a Toddler Busy"---which is exactly the article that led me to your blog and interview! :) I homeschool our four kids, and found great ideas through what you had to say. Our family is also, very slowly, making our way to the healthier eating lifestyle, but trying to figure out local, fresh, and organic options without breaking the bank can be a challenge! The want to is there, but there is a big difference between a $12 gallon of milk and a $5 gallon, especially with four kids. (we live in Canada, fyi) Anyway, thank you for your thoughts; they have given me some things to consider. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for the visit and comments. I'm so glad you liked the interview, even if it was done- at least in part- from my bedroom closet! :)

      I hear you on the cost of local, organic food. It can be very challenging to find reasonably priced items which offer the nutritional benefits you want to give your children- especially with a larger family. Stay tuned in January because as part of a series on New Year's Resolutions, I will be highlighting eating healthy and locally. I'm teaming up with a local grocery here in Maine and will be releasing one of our most frugal weekly menus. I hope that will help you to build your family's dreams of healthy, happy living! :) If you have specific questions I'm all ears because I'm writing the posts now-ish. :)

      Delete
  12. I really love your Pinterest boards!! Especially all your ideas for kids and recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love your story, thank you so much for sharing! I too am following Dave Ramsey's plan. It has changed our lives forever. Bit by bit we are finding our way, not the usual way. I'm interested to follow your family in the new year :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. A family after my own heart! Found you on Instagram and followed you here :-) Love your story and your message...Keep up the noble work! - Urbaculturist

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Emily!
    Thank God for Pinterest. Your homemade dish washing detergent brought you into my radar. I raised my three children in the 80's and 90's and I'm now a grandmother to five beautiful little ones.
    I was raised in a fishing village, my parents had chickens, a goat, one mama pig and a beautiful vegetable garden. Yet we're extremely poor. I had five siblings. Our goat was more of a pet and also our source for milk, our pig brought us income since we sold her offspring and kept one piglet for food. My Dad worked in sugar cane plantations as a laborer and my Mom was a dress maker. We ate a lot of fish, chicken, eggs and beans often and pork once or twice a year and beef rarely. As kids our lives were carefree but our parents worked very hard, day and night. Fast forward 50-60 years and you want desperately to go back to
    the life you once had as a kid. I have found that making it back is harder than making it forward. You don't have your youth and health to do it, but nevertheless is worth trying. My Mom practically cured everything by making teas and tisanes from the herbs in our back yard. She had a plant for everything. In the last few years I have made changes regarding how to live a more simple life, how to be healthier, recycling, helping our planet breathe, using God's Nature as my healer. 13 years ago I survived a stage 4 cancer with a diagnosis of one year,mostly because of my faith and strong will and partly my mother's influence with natural medicine. Like I said is very hard to go back but I'm inching my way there.
    Your blog it's so inspiring and I just feel, like I have just met a wonderful young person that really found the way to make it all better in this crazy world. keep up the good work.
    I'm very happy to say that my children are also doing the "simple and natural is better" kind of lifestyle. I applaud them, God bless them.

    I'm sorry I never meant to write this much.
    Have a wonderful day!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Good gravy you just explained the story of my family as well! Well take out Dave Ramsey and insert Gene Logsdon's book The Contrary Farmer. Love your blog. I actually read it instead of just look at pictures which is unusual for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, and thanks for the visit! I'm so grateful that you've found a place to get some ideas and inspiration, and I'm especially grateful that it's here! I think there are many folks in the world now who are seeking something deeper than the path they have been on- it's quite a community of people who are calling for change, one organic carrot and cloth diaper at a time! Best wishes to you!

      Delete
  17. I just stumbled upon your page from Pinterest while looking for a natural way to clean pet stains from my carpet and must say the more and more people I find online whose lives are in line similarly with mine and my family's, well its just refreshing. We too are slowly transitioning to a more healthy and simpler lifestyle. My husband began his vegetable garden this year, we got chickens and are anxiously awaiting our first eggs from them, my husband is trying to obtain bees for the new hive he built, we are working on paying down our debt and living with less and I love every second of it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I just stumbled upon your blog as I am sitting here planning for the week and was looking for some fresh ideas to row Katy and the Big Snow. As I read your story I chuckled as I think I could have written this same story for my own family right down to the daycare and 3 children. I am looking forward to reading more from your blog now that I have found it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Một căn hộ chung cư nằm ở giữa trung tâm thành phố với nội thất được thiết kế hiện đại, sang trọng mà vẫn toát lên vẻ ấm cúng gia đình là niềm mơ ước của mỗi chúng ta.

    thiết kế nhà hàng
    thiết kế căn hộ
    thiết kế phòng tắm
    thiết kế phòng trẻ em
    thiết kế lounge
    thiết kế nội thất phòng ngủ
    thiet ke nha
    thiet ke phong ngu
    thiết kế nhà ống, cung cap phu tung o to

    ReplyDelete
  20. My life became devastated when my husband sent me packing, after 8 years that we have been together. I was lost and helpless after trying so many ways to make my husband take me back. One day at work, i was absent minded not knowing that my boss was calling me, so he sat and asked me what its was all about i told him and he smiled and said that it was not a problem. I never understand what he meant by it wasn't a problem getting my husband back, he said he used a spell to get his wife back when she left him for another man and now they are together till date and at first i was shocked hearing such thing from my boss. He gave me an email address of the great spell caster who helped him get his wife back, i never believed this would work but i had no choice that to get in contact with the spell caster which i did, and he requested for my information and that of my husband to enable him cast the spell and i sent him the details, but after two days, my mom called me that my husband came pleading that he wants me back, i never believed it because it was just like a dream and i had to rush down to my mothers place and to my greatest surprise, my husband was kneeling before me pleading for forgiveness that he wants me and the kid back home, then i gave Happy a call regarding sudden change of my husband and he made it clear to me that my husband will love me till the end of the world, that he will never leave my sight. Now me and my husband is back together again and has started doing pleasant things he hasn't done before, he makes me happy and do what he is suppose to do as a man without nagging. Please if you need help of any kind, kindly contact Happy for help and you can reach him via email: happylovespell2@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete

 

Template by: Bright Sunshine Designs by Mary - Affordable Custom Blog Design © 2012
Graphic Images from iStockphoto.com