Settling In…

But not yet settled! It’s been just over 3 weeks since we purchased, transported, transformed (somewhat) and moved in to our new home. It ought to be long enough to be settled but starting a new (albeit part time) job a week after getting our home has stretched my attention and energy! As you know we did a marathon painting job, covering blood red and black paint with primer and then antique white with help from our neighbors, a Hispanic couple with three kids, whom I’ve come to treasure; and we had very nice oak-look vinyl floors installed in place of the stained and smelly carpet. I tore out the queen platform in the main bedroom – it was flimsy and the underbed storage, filled with insulation, was a nest for a colony of pincher bugs (earwigs). I had originally thought our new floor would be only in the small bedroom and living room but extended it to the back bedroom as well once the platform bed was removed.

Once the paint and floor were done we moved in very quickly, sleeping on the floor, a camping cot (from our tent days) and air beds for the first week or so. Then a friend offered us a set of bunk beds and a queen sized futon frame and we had beds! The bunk beds went into the small bedroom and pretty much took up the entire floor space. There’s about 2-feet along side the bunks, enough for the door to close. The older girls have this room to themselves and a fair amount of storage with the cupboards that lined the room above the beds.

We put the futon frame in the living room and added my queen foam mattress from the old trailer. A grey blue blanket picked up at a yard sale and a couple of matching pillows made it a comfortable sofa during the day and a bed for my son at night.

New Living Room

In the meantime my younger daughter and I slept in the larger bedroom on two twin-sized air beds (combined they were the size of a king sized bed and filled the entire room).  Aside from the difficulty of sleeping on, and getting up from, an airbed every night, there was no room for clothes or other belongings.  After a week or so of watching craigslist and visiting yardsales I gave up and purchased a new bed- actually 2 beds!  Yes, I’m sleeping on a bunk bed (for the first time in my life); a double on the bottom (mom) and a twin on top (my youngest daughter).  I had to give up my dream of having a room to myself once we realized just how small the bedrooms were!  As it is the bunk beds in ‘my’ room run the entire length of the room with only about 8-inches between the end of the bed and the door (incentive to lose weight).  There is approximately 28 inches of open space next to the bunk. I put the console table that we had at the end of my bed in the old trailer against the wall and have baskets filled with clothing and other possessions on it.  The closet is only 12-inches wide so it’s just as well I don’t have an extensive wardrobe at this point!  I am learning not to sit up in bed without rolling over to the edge – a few cracks on the skull have taught me that!  We have been using our twin sized air beds for mattresses and I’ve learned they are very noisy when you move around at night!

The best thing (to me) about our new house has been having a full sized refrigerator/freezer and a working oven.  We have already made brownies, cookies, summer veggies, pizza and much more!  We’ve retrieved our rice cooker from storage along with cupcake pans and cookies sheets and a friend gave me a small (4-cup) coffee maker for a house warming gift.  I’m going to get a little lucky bamboo plant at some point to put on the counter!

The new lighter/brighter kitchen!

We still have several areas that need attention.  There is no light in the bathroom or the back bedroom.  We need curtains for almost all windows (I did buy drapes for the sliding glass door in the living room). The closet (a double sized closet in the bathroom) and pantry need floors and shelves to be usable.  The bathroom and kitchen still need to be painted.  And because plumbing is my least favorite DIY project we have had clogged drains and an endlessly running toilet.  I bought a 20-foot long plumber’s snake that I could attach to my power drill and finally got the clog dealt with but I must do something about the toilet!  The flapper thingy in the tank never fit flush so it ran and ran and ran.  I bought a new flapper and attempted to fix it but unfortunately just made everything worse!  The old rubber flapper part came out easily but the hard plastic assembly was glued in tight and I couldn’t get it out so I couldn’t install the new flapper.  In removing the old one and trying to remove the plastic assembly bits were broken so I coudn’t put the the old one back either!  Now every time we flush we need to remove the tank lid, reach in and press the rubber flapper down against the hole!  I fear we will need a new tank at this point but it is going to have to wait.  Needless to say the kids aren’t always on top of the extra steps the toilet needs (and if we don’t do it the water runs and runs)!  We have neither heat nor AC.  This has not been an issue since we live in a fairly temperate area and have enjoyed moderate temperatures this summer but it might be chilly in the winter.

On the upside –  we have wall space!  I brought home several art pieces from storage and now have my nice ocean paintings in my bedroom.  We have a counter – room for the coffee maker and rice cooker!  We have an Internet connection – yes, I’ve splurged on an Internet cable connection ($29/mo) so that we can connect the computers and watch netflix movies.  We still don’t have cable tv or a land line phone (way too expensive) but I don’t feel we need those things.  We have a washer and dryer – so nice to be able to avoid spending 3 hours at the laundromat every weekend – but I’m a little concerned that our electric bill will be considerably more because of this.  I’m anxiously awaiting my first paycheck (a week from today) and hoping it will be enough for our increased rent and electric bill and the car registration and insurance due next month.

We are enjoying having a new home.  We think we might even be able to have a Thankgiving turkey (a small one) this year and we can even imagine having a Christmas tree (a small one)!

PS – response to comments:

Pets – our dogs are the best!  They are happy anywhere as long as they are with us.  They stick with us through thick and thin and even adapted to living in the tents and spending nights in our car back at the beginning of our saga.  They are fantastic watchdogs and very protective of us.  Our little cat has also been with us through a lot – she’s somewhat less adaptable than the dogs but manages to get through some pretty radical changes (such as being sent across the country to live with our friends and then returned to us) and she likes the high storage cupboards above the bunk bed!

DIY – I would like to just replace part of the toilet instead of the entire tank but the old mechanism is glued in so securely that I cannot get it out!  Perhaps I’ll take the tank off, take it out to the parking area and try and bash out the broken piece.  Naturally as soon as I start messing with it one of the kids just HAS to use it!  I did manage to rewire the lamp in the bedroom.  Originally there were two sconce style lamps on either side of the bed but they were both broken when we got the trailer.  I bought a replacement and installed it successfully but then discovered there was NO switch!  It was meant to be installed where there was a wall switch and there isn’t one in the bedroom.  So I removed it, returned it and bought one with a switch on the base of the lamp and rewired it.  So we have light in the bedroom. The bathroom is another story- we don’t have any electricity to the bathroom so we are using a camping lantern that runs on batteries.  It suffices for now but it is something I’d like to replace with really light (and a working electric socket) at some point.  With three girls in the family we really do need electricity in the bathroom!

Finances:  We don’t have any extra money!  I’m down to $11 in my purse and about $20 in the bank.  We didn’t mke much selling the old trailer and a good part of that went to register, fix up and furnish our new home.  And pay the additional rent. Registration fees for  $4k trailer come out to $330 and the floor, paint, bunk beds, mattresses, bedding, etc., added up. My friend sold her warehouse business so I’m no longer doing eBay (you may have noticed that the link is gone – that happened right before we bought the trailer). Amazon is no longer doing referral business with California residents (that link is also gone, thanks to all of you who shopped Amazon through the blog link) now that they are required to collect and pay taxes. My unemployment benefit is gone and my first paycheck will finally arrive next Friday so we are living very frugally right now – it’s back to grocery shopping at the 99 cent store!  As you might imagine I’m anxiously awaiting the paycheck, wondering how much of a hit taxes and deductions will be.  A 15 hour a week job isn’t much!  I worry that it’s not only not enough money-wise, but also not enough work-wise.  I have 3 months to bring in new projects if I’m to keep my job.  Sometimes I feel like I need 3 full-time months to be able do do that successfully!  More about job joys and stresses in another post!

Beds – I hadn’t thought about switching with my son.  The queen futon only works as a sofa- we cannot really open it into a bed as that would require moving the computer desk and coffee table and other furniture that lives in the small living room – and I’m not sure I’d be comfortable on it as a sofa.  I’d really like to get rid of the futon and replace it with a daybed with trundle.  That way it could be a sofa in the day and a bed (that doesn’t require being made and unmade every evening and morning) at night.  That’s a plan for the future though.

This entry was posted in DIY, frugal living, Job, moving, recession, single parent, tiny houses. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Settling In…

  1. Chele says:

    HI. I know I am a little late. On cheap furniture items, sometimes you can find items at colleges or university surplus department. They sell to the public.

  2. Barbara says:

    Since you are able to do your laundry inside now (yay!) one way to watch your electricity use is to check with your utility company and find out when they have the lowest rates . PG&E here in No. Cal is cheapest between 9pm and 7am and on weekends. That’s when we do most of our laundry.

    Hope your first check is good!

    • boxcarkids says:

      That’s a great idea! It’s been long enough that I didn’t even think of that. I feel like I’m doing a LOT more laundry (partly because we don’t have enough storage yet so clean clothes have no where to go and end up getting washed even if they don’t need to be) and partly because instead of doing 4 loads on the weekend in big machines I’m doing half a dozen loads throughout the week) so I do think about the electric bill!

      • boxcarkids says:

        BTW- it turns out because we live in a mobile home park we don’t get reduced rates in the evening – there’s one master meter that the utility reads and submeters that the park reads and it’s all just one rate. Oh well, at least I won’t worry about having a higher rate if I do laundry in the middle of the day!

  3. Heather says:

    Your post just made my day. I’m so glad to see that you’ve found a position and have more space, too. Your new digs look great! And my fingers are crossed that you’re able to pull in the new work needed for your job. I haven’t visited for awhile, but often think of you and the kids. I’m thrilled things are looking up!

  4. El says:

    To replace the internal parts in a toilet tank you need to remove the tank. The plastic pipe that sticks up in the middle is attached with a large plastic nut on the other side of the tank. The hidden side where it attaches to the toilet is where this is located. I’m asuming that you do need to remove these now as they broke. I hate doing plumbing too and had to learn this the hard way.

  5. Maryl says:

    About the futon – that’s why I said sometimes switch! BTW, we haven’t heard about the 5k business lately. Did you go through with it, and have your shin splints resolved?

    • boxcarkids says:

      After my chest pain scare I dropped back on exercise and then once school was out it became even more infrequent! I hope to resume this fall or – if all goes well with the job – even rejoin the YMCA.

  6. Nicole says:

    I really wish you would sign up for foodstamps!!!!!!! SNAP wants to help people like you and your children! Especially your children.

    • Maryl says:

      I’ll echo that sentiment on food assistance. Especially now that harvest season is upon us and farmers markets honor the cards where you could really get some wonderful produce and baked goods for your family and grow your stash of cash a bit. If you want, keep track of every cent of assistance you receive, and when times are better, donate that amount back to local food banks. Or give back in terms of volunteering at some point in the future.

  7. Jerry says:

    I don’t have a landline anymore and I haven’t had cable or satellite TV for seven years. Don’t need ’em, don’t miss ’em.

    If the job goes full time you can always get Netflix streaming for $8/month. And there’s tons of free stuff on Hulu.

  8. Maria de Miami says:

    I loved the photo with your dogs, they also look happy with the extra space.
    Thanks for posting! Good luck for everything!

  9. Jeannette says:

    How life can change for good for bad in a heartbeat, gla It’s been a long year or two for you and your family, glad you didn’t give up, that you didn’t listen to many of the negative comments made over the last year from some posters, glad that God does have a plan even when sometimes it’s not our plan

    You took lemons and made lemonade,, your children will look back someday and be ever so grateful for you being such a strong individual

    • Jeannette says:

      gosh one might think I was drunk when I typed the last comment, for whatever reason my laptop and I don’t get along, I certainly wasn’t writing glad it’s been a long year, I was writing Glad you have found a new home as it’s been a long year….

  10. snow says:

    You can get SE wireless motion sensor light from Amazon. It only costs $5.95. It operates on 3AA batteries and it is free installation. It advertised it will last 100,000 hours. I hope that helps.

  11. Kathy says:

    So glad you are settling in! I know the extra space goes a long way toward making it feel more like a home! How wonderful that you have an oven & refrigerator and can make real meals. A Thanksgiving turkey–yum! A little tree can make Christmas more joyful. A lot to be thankful for, and continued blessings to you!

  12. Maryl says:

    Keep taking those deep breaths and try to relax. I’m so glad you’ve got some good, helpful neighbors. Also thankful you aren’t caught in the heat wave – the Midwest is quite toasty at 90 very humid degrees today.

    Could you let your son sleep on the lower bunk sometimes and you take the futon so you can reward yourself with a little extra personal space? You may not have cable tv, but if you’ve got your computer in the living area, there’s enough free programming via Hulu and others of its ilk to give everybody some TV time. In regards to the toilet, if you didn’t damage the tank structure itself, then it’s just the guts that will need replacing. Take pictures of your little problem, take yourself and your camera to the home center and throw yourself on the mercy of the guy in the plumbing department. With a little luck, he’ll be able to steer you in the right direction.

  13. Maria says:

    Sounds to me like the usual ups and downs of moving to a new place–congrats!! Hope your new job is going well and that you and the children are happy as can be!

  14. Barbara says:

    Glad you’re a little more comfortable and can see good things in the future! Sending you warm thoughts.

  15. K says:

    Just wanted to say that I’m so happy for you. I’ve been reading a long time, hoping for it to turn out okay for all of you, and this new trailer and part time job is so exciting to read about.

    I don’t want to jinx it, but I am going to say a big YAY to you.

  16. Jynet says:

    Sounds like things are coming together! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the extra money will cover the extra expenses!

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