Friday, February 19, 2016

Tiny Houses

It’s cold. Really. Freakin. Cold.

Elise and I have spent some time in cold weather—she grew up in Eastern Oregon and Washington States and I spent four years living in Colorado—but the Band of Hannas is not currently set up to deal well with the cold. Our blood is thin. We’ve lived in South Florida, Brazil, and India too long.  

It warmed slightly following Snowzilla, but this week, again, threatened freezing weather. However, the only thing worse than a weather report forecasting two plus feet of snow is a weather report forecasting snow that doesn’t materialize…or even worse…turns to rain. That happened last week. 

One to four inches were forecast to fall on Monday night, leaving me to dream of a snowy morning. I woke several times in the middle of the night and convinced myself the white street light coming through the slats of the vertical blinds was reflecting off a shimmering blanket of new snow. Washington doesn’t handle snow well, so a delayed open or early release would have been inevitable.

Pete entered our room, like clockwork, at six. I whispered to him, “Pete hand me my phone.”

I checked the Operating Status, and we were open. Alas, it didn’t snow.

I pulled myself out of bed, made a quick pot of coffee, and dragged myself to the shower.

Worse, the adrenaline rush of moving into a new house, receiving our shipments, and unpacking has worn off. We are, perhaps, still in ‘settling-in’ mode, but it is time, too, to start falling into a routine. We’ve done so, slowly, but having to do so means fighting winter and the cold. Which has been hard to do.

We don’t have any pictures on the walls of our home and there is a giant glass coffee table still sitting in the middle of the living room. Despite these landmarks showing obvious lack of progress, routine has been slowly insinuating itself into our lives. Elise and I are inundated at the end of each day, swept under by a tide of forms, slips, notices, and emails from three different schools. Such is the price, I suppose, of having kids in some of the highest-achieving elementary schools in the country. I was recently informed that we may need to buy a new iPad, because the iPad we own is not compatible with the math software Sam needs to install in order to complete his arithmetic homework. Elise told me he is incredibly stressed out because he is behind in Spanish, among other subjects. I know I’m hard on him, but I didn’t take Spanish until eighth grade and I thought that was early. We’re desperately trying to keep up with the Joneses in academic achievement …if nothing else.

A few weeks ago, Peter came home bragging that he got to stand in front of a green screen. Last night, I got to see the fruit of his labors, a Presidents’ Day book. Each student in his class was photographed in front of the White House South Lawn and asked what they would do if elected President. Answers ranged from “Help the Universe” to “Be kind and nice”. If elected President of the United States, Peter G. Hanna would “Give People Soap”. I like his thinking.

We finally bought a couch. It’s not the one Elise wanted, and she recently told me she quote-unquote “hated it”, but at least we have a place to sit down and stretch out now. Trying to decide which couch to buy was daunting, and I did not want to pay a delivery charge. I don’t think of myself as cheap, but perhaps on this one point I could have gotten off my wallet a little more. I measured and re-measured the interior of our car to see if a couch would fit in the back with one half of both rows of seats folded down (the seats on the other half would stay up for kids and car seats).

I took the tape measure out to the car, then—after several minutes crawling around the back seat—returned to give Elise my report…it was going to be close. We went for it. I finally concluded, “Well, if we get down there and buy something, we’re not going to leave it there.” I thought by sheer force of optimistic thought, I could somehow will the couch to fit in our car.

Sadly, physics doesn’t work that way, and the truth of the matter is, we did almost have to leave the couch sitting on the loading ramp at Ikea. As it turned out I drove back alone, leaving Elise and the kids at Ikea. I got stuck in traffic on the way back (car fire. Not mine) and didn’t make it back to Ikea to pick them up for two hours. They had ice cream, hung out in the kids’ play place, and contemplated almost having to eat a second meal at the Ikea cafeteria…not necessarily a bad thing. It took all day, as it turned out but at least we have a couch!

After having been off of work for two months, there has been some adjustment. I miss the kids. I think about them all day long and can’t wait to get home, but then when I do get home it seems as though all they do for the remainder of the evening is fight, cry, scream, and generally not listen to a thing I say unless I say it four times, each time louder and increasingly threatening than the last. I know I catch them at their worst just as they catch me at mine. We’re all tired, hungry, and stressed out. I have a palpable anxious reaction to bath time; I can feel my heart rate quicken and my temper shorten at the mere sound of water filling the bath. I can’t catch my breath. It’s like a Pavlovian reaction, because bath time has become like Mixed Martial Arts with three tiny, naked, slippery bodies in a trough. I don’t think this is like me. I’m usually calm in the center of maelstrom, a rounded pebble as the din of daily life washes peacefully over me.

At Elise’s urging, I’ve started reading to them again before they go to bed. Both Sam and Pete can read. Clementine likes to look at picture books. At some point when we left India, I got out of the habit of reading to them before they go to bed. They seemed content reading to themselves until they got sleepy or lights out. I need to start doing this again. It benefits me and them. It’s a way of pulling back to earth after the firefight in the tub.

Inarguably, my favorite time of day comes at the very end, when the kids are asleep, tucked snuggly in their beds. Elise and I don’t watch TV, per se, but we have recently been indulging in Season 2 of Tiny House Hunters on the iPad and dreaming of our own tiny house someday. I don’t know what our allure is to tiny living. We have three kids and a basement full of stuff. But somedays, even a tiny house seems too big. Somedays, Elise and I just want a camper trailer we can pull behind our car and just drift back and forth from coast to coast and over the mountains. Likely, we’re not very good at settling down, and though we are falling into a routine, we are also daydreaming of our next adventure. 

1 comment:

Troy Fleming said...

I love your little picture at the top. It looks like it should be in a story book. I have been thinking about painting a mural on my baby's wall but I was not sure what style I should go with. I really like that style and how relaxed and simplistic it looks, yet fun and unique in a way.

Troy Fleming @ Don Mills Builders