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If your life feels like chaos, you may find some peace experiencing a bit of MY chaos — and my journey for peace, joy, and organization.

Welcome to my world . . . . we are a family of 9 living in a glorified garage, a.k.a., “the Shop”.

You know, those REALLY BIG Man Caves, often with higher ceilings to accommodate all the taller Boy Toys, as well as any other Boy Toys with wheels, the tools to tinker with them, and maybe even tools and stuff to play with wood, and that Hunting and Outdoors stuff as well.  A Guy’s dream.  [Not mine.]  But this is where we live.

Crazy?  yah.  I know.  But it really did make sense . . . . .

We were tired of Rentals that not only didn’t work for us, but REALLY didn’t work for us, especially after paying a small fortune for the privilege of living there and trying to make it work, all the while cleaning, keeping up the yard and paying the utility bills.  We actually owned a piece of property with a beautiful view and that’s why we were living in a This-is-really-not-working Rental.  All in the name of saving to build our DREAM HOME on that land.  Well, our realistic Dream Home, anyway.

We had 6 children, ages ranging from a baby to 12 yrs. old and decided to try moving to another rental home that would offer a better living situation.  It seemed like it would provide more for the same total money.  Only the utilities proved otherwise.  I had even called the utility companies to determine average bills for the previous year.  Maybe it was vacant much of that year because real costs were outrageous (we are sure there was little or no insulation in that house).  We weren’t excited to find & move to ANOTHER rental, assuming we would have to increase our housing budget by quite a bit to find something that we wouldn’t be hating.

*sigh*  What to do.

“We should just build our shop and live in that” (this is from my husband, Ben)

I was kind of speechless.  But not at the idea he was proposing . . . . .

Rewind about 3 & 1/2 years.  We were in Pennsylvania where we were coming to the end of 15 years schooling/training, and making plans to begin our life in Idaho.  We had a job waiting for us and even found some land to purchase and hopefully build a home.  We had made 2 trips previously and after spending about 10 days total driving around looking at homes and vacant lots, decided we did not want to renovate someone else’s home and still not come close to our Dream Home.  We wanted to build our home as close to our Dream Home as possible.  We were in the process of purchasing our lot and mourning the fact that it would be some time til we could think of starting to build.  I heard of a family living in their shop while their home was rebuilt after a fire.  I proposed that idea but Ben shot it down, stone cold.

Fast Forward back to where we were in the story . . . . I’m rather speechless and shocked.    I asked him why when he had said “no way” several years before . . . he thought I meant we live in it while we built our house–ourselves.  He took that to mean while HE built our home in his “spare” time!!

Yes, that sounds ludicrous to me–why would I expect that of him?  He also thought it was ludicrous, but in a different way, but made it clear there was no discussion.  Are we the only ones who have communication snafu’s?

So, we started plans to build our shop (otherwise more well known as a large, detached Garage), adding a level above similar to a “bonus room” above a normal attached garage so that we would have more room for bedrooms for all our kiddos.  Our plan was to try to have it done before our 1 year lease was up, even if it meant moving in winter–again.

Other than the above scenario mentioned by my sister,  I had not HEARD of anyone living in a shop.  Much less for as much as [*gasp*] 5 years (our best guesstimate) and with 6 kids!  We were rather reluctant to share our plans since we could imagine the responses we’d get.  Sure enough, we received some pretty funny and even bizarre comments and questions, which were only exacerbated by the fact that our little lot was about 20 miles out of town.  Such as:

“Are you really going to live in a Barn with all your kids?”

“You are going to have a bathroom in your shed . . . . or are you going to make Jen use an Outhouse?”

“I heard you were building a garage out in the middle of nowhere . . . Jen won’t actually live out there will she? . . . . in a garage?  I can’t be hearing right . . “

“You really gonna live out in the sticks?  Will you at least have running water?”

“Are you going to live in your camper in there til you build your house?”

Yea, we’re going to live in a camper for 5 years with 6 kids.  And no running water and no bathroom!  Ha Ha.  Yes, we did get those type of responses.  Before that year was up, we were surprised with one more addition to our family on the way.  This made it more interesting, making the count up to 9 people.  It was such a relief to me to feel strongly that was the last pregnancy.  I’ll admit I have been very tired and well, . . . worn out in about every way imaginable.  And we would most likely be moving in right at that bigger-than-a-lopsided-whale-stage of pregnancy.  Being Baby #7 that could be at 5 or six months gestation.  That makes for a fun moving transition!  Being our 8th move, I could hardly contain my excitement . . . . .

We have been here almost a year now and I still have “moving mess” to deal with, minor things we decided we’d “finish ourselves” that STILL are not done, and 7 kids–including a now squirmy baby on the verge of crawling and thus, getting into everything.  I hope you enjoy visiting as we adapt to living in our “garage” and attempt to make it feel like “HOME”, try to get our family organized, finish those “little things”, and make plans to make our Dream Home a reality down the road . . . . . . all while we have a normal, crazy, chaotic and [hopefully sometimes] fun life together . . . . .

For those of you considering such a seemingly bizarre idea, you are not alone–there are lots of people doing this sort of thing, they just don’t say much to the rest of the world.  We were amazed as we went through the process of planning and building, how many people had done something similar, were thinking about it, or knew someone who HAD done it.  Wow, I never would have guessed!  We gave a tour to a young family from church who were curious how we have made it work.  They have some land with a concrete pad to build a “shop”, hoping to use it to store materials and such as they slowly build their home themselves.  After hearing about our family, they wondered why they couldn’t do something similar with 3 kids if we could do it with 7 kids.  They have since revised their building plans and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!  Sometimes thinking outside the box and having the nerve to do something unconventional will help you realize your dreams someday . . . . . or even a little sooner.

Have you ever done something “crazy” that made sense and helped you get closer to your dreams (big or small)??  I hope our crazy life might inspire you to do just that.  Anything is possible . . . . . .

Come back for more of our crazy-ness and even pictures and see what we do to help us realize our dreams someday!

Jennifer