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Home management tips

Renee Ellison's tools for effectively managing your home--including finance and domestic skills..

Overcoming personal management challenges

Friday, 27. November 2015 by Renee Ellison


How to crawl out of feeling overwhelmed by any personal challenge

We’ve all heard about the power of setting goals, but not so much about applying those principles to anything small that repeatedly personally trips us up.  We’ve thought about goals as something you do when you set out to swim the English Channel or triple one’s income, but not about cleaning house and sorting down that mess in the garage or basement, or losing weight or getting out of debt or trying to juice for better health, or overcoming negative depressive self-talk. 

Just for fun, let’s revisit goal setting as a mad scientist would.  Let’s get down to the cellular level to discover how to make its principles work for us, right now, with any challenge, no matter how big or small.  By doing so, this time, we won’t be numbered with those who make unrealistic goals in January and quickly forget them by February.  By understanding the exact progression of the steps, we’ll crawl out of our personal holes by the dozens!  Victory is just around the corner; in fact, you’ll find it at the end of this list!

1.  Write down your goal. This takes your vague sigh/wish out of grey matter/brain fog and sets up a citadel in lead on your paper. There is something powerful about seeing your little “impossibility” in writing.  Writing becomes a bridge across your Rubicon.  It begins to go to work, “rat-a-tat-tatting” on your subconscious. 

What you write must be specific and measurable.  It’s like eating a steak: you don’t stuff the whole thing into your mouth at once.  You bite off little pieces and digest them well.  Phrases like “I want to overcome alcoholism,” “I want to clean my house,” “I want to get in shape and be Miss America,” “I want to get out of debt,” or “I want to say only positive things to myself” won’t work.  Start hacking and whittling at your large idea, then rummage through the shavings and pick up one little piece to tackle aggressively.

So let’s take the above examples and re-write them in this newer, smaller, more powerful way.
• I will go to an AA meeting.
• I will sort my bedroom drawers, beginning with the small dresser.
• I will make a green salad tomorrow morning—or right now.
• I will not spend money on perming my hair this month, nor on eating out.

2. Now to further gain power over your goal, rewrite your goal on a 3X5 card—as a fait accompli.  At the outset, re-word your goal as already accomplished—completed before you’ve done one thing to bring it to pass!
• I no longer drink
• I have all my drawers completely sorted down
• I am slimmer by 15 pounds.
• I say 5 encouraging things to myself a day.
• I have paid off $100 of my debt.

3.  Visualize your goal. 
Now affix your 3X5 card to your morning mirror.
Re-read it every day, aloud.  This engages the auditory memory trigger in your brain.

Also, post for yourself a picture of someone who has already achieved it or of the visual end results.  This takes your goal into the visual imprinting eye-gate of your brain.

Continuing the examples above with this third step:
• Post a magazine or website’s picture of a clean room.
• Post a picture of a health guru.

Got it?  Your written goal sits next to a picture of your written goal, and you hear yourself repeating it each morning, verbally.  This solidly embeds your goal into both hemispheres of the brain and into your emotions.

4.  Next, write down your obstacles toward achieving your goal.
If there weren’t obstacles, you would have already achieved it!  This step is what most of us missed when we wrote down a goal and attempted to attain it in the past.

“I don’t make a salad because the kitchen is too cold in the morning and the vegetables and lettuce are too cold and the faucet water is too cold, and I don’t keep the right combination of vegetables in the fridge to even make a salad, and I don’t like the taste.”

5.  Now write how you will overcome each obstacle.
• I’ll put a little radiator heater in the kitchen to warm it up quickly.
• I’ll pick a salad recipe, make a list and shop for the exact ingredients for my salad and I’ll purchase them as my first priority not my last priority.
• I’ll prep all the veggies the night before and put them in little containers.
• I’ll make a salad dressing that tastes good that helps me get the salad down.
• I’ll remove all the ingredients from the fridge when I first get up before making my bed and getting dressed so that when I assemble them they are warmer to the touch.
• I’ll make a salad large enough to last two days instead of one.

6.  Next, decide on a time and a place for each goal.
• I will go to an AA meeting Monday at 3 at town hall.
• I will sort my drawers for 15 min. every night at 8 p.m.
• I’ll prep my vegetables at 7 each evening.
• I’ll exercise around my city block, and do so at 5 each evening.
• I’ll try to go one hour countering every negative thought with a positive one.

7.  Keep records.
Document your current status toward achieving each of your goals.  You do this by keeping a record of what you actually did today.  Then determine, did that dive-bomb your efforts or did it help them?  What will you do to get a better grip on the objective tomorrow?  If you are in debt and your goal is to resolve that problem, keep a record of all of your receipts so that you can log them in and tabulate them by the end of the month to see where your money actually went.

8.  Decide on a reward for yourself for when it is achieved.
Your reward doesn’t have to be huge or expensive.  It can be doing something—like hiking in a new area, or even just having an entire bowl of large strawberries—more than you usually allow yourself!  Tell someone about your victories or record them in a private journal.

9.  On the heels of such success you might want to start in again with another goal?!  What will that be?

In closing: remember to review seeing and saying your goal each day.  Be your own best coach.

(For more on this topic, download the e-book on Goal Setting and Time Management, or the Kindle book on Conquering Self-induced Stress.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Organizing your home school materials

Monday, 26. October 2015 by Renee Ellison


For much more on this topic, read our booklet/e-book/Kindle book, Razor Sharp Teaching Tips for Homeschool Moms.  It is loaded with practical proven ideas.

Meanwhile, here are some of the general organizational principles for getting your homeschooling shipshape:

(1.) Begin with labeled containers.  No matter how tight the budget is for a family, containers are a must.  Start on some level, using any sort of container—even with just cardboard boxes you bring home from the grocery store and store under the beds.  You always start conquering organizational chaos by organizing in containers.  The principle?  Everything has a place, and there’s a place for everything.

(2.) Visual clarity.  You can see it at a glance.

(3.) Easy grabability.  No stuff is stored behind other stuff unless it is duplicates of the same thing; there’s no digging for anything).

(4.) Like things with like things, and back-ups for frequently consumed items.  Ideally, you want to have on stock two or more of everything you commonly use, so you never run out of anything.  If you do this, you will seldom if ever have to do emergency shopping for food or school supplies.  When you get down to the last one, you note it on your shopping list so you remember to re-stock that back-up second thing on your shelves.

Organizing your school stuff:

In addition to arranging picture books by size, if you have some early readers of various sorts, arrange those by level of difficulty so that you escort the child through all of them progressively.

Arrange everything so that your family members (including your husband whenever he’s taking over the homeschooling when you’re not available) don’t have to ask you where anything is.  They will know by looking.  Localize all of your school stuff near where it will actually be used, on shelves either under a counter eating area or flanked along a wall next to your main projects/schooling table.  Build long shelves at waist height, using 8-12” deep boards held up on each end by bricks cinderblocks—free from somewhere—and then group all your supplies (like things with like, down to minutiae—i.e., no pencils in with the markers).  Separate out everything into its own container.  Group all of your school books and workbooks together.  Top it all off with a large wall map of the world, a large map of your country, a large clock, a large calendar—all on the wall in that area—and each child’s large homeschool to-do checklists.

Set your young children’s flashcards in little white plastic baskets (3 for a dollar? cheapo at Walmart—either in their kitchen container area or the general container area).  Their size is 5 inches by 6 inches by 2 inches.  These let your flash cards breathe and flop backwards and forwards with some air and finger room in there, as opposed to using tight 3X5” metal/plastic index card boxes.  Stick a card upright for a marker to separate each type of flashcards, and label each division of cards on this upright card.

‏Summary: general organizational principle:
Your overall organization principle is arrange your stuff so that anything you do repetitively, you want to do optimally.  In other words, spend as much time as necessary up front on getting it organized exactly right, so that you will have to spend no time organizing it later smile

Filed Under: Home management tips

Intentional family camping

Thursday, 15. October 2015 by Renee Ellison


Years ago, Dr. James Dobson did research to identify what people thought were the most effective activities to bind a family together.  At the top of the list, after having a strong faith, came family CAMPING, with not even a close second.  Apparently, camping embodied the bulk of people’s fondest memories.  Children LOVE to be squished into tight places WITH their parents, in ever-new “on the edge” surroundings, a unified force against the elements!

To make camping a success and not a fiasco, one must become at least moderately intentional about PREPARING to have a good experience.  That means thinking through a fair number of details ahead of time.

So, whether you have camped before but want to improve your efforts at camping or you are brand new to its challenges, here is a bit of practical hand-holding to help you boost the experience into the list of “fun things we did as a family”—and not a blackout bad memory!

To begin with, you want to think of CONTAINERS.  The first container you’ll have to consider is your major overall container of how you will transport all of the stuff.  Determine whether that will be your car trunk, a rack on top of your car, the back compartments in an SUV, the open back of a truck, or a small trailer that you pull behind your vehicle (which means you’ll have to get a trailer hitch, too).  The finished size of that space, established by you ahead of time, determines how MUCH stuff and what weight and size of things you can take with you—because it all has to FIT.  Some people with SUV’s like to put columns of plastic drawers in the back so that when they open up the back of the van they have an instant tailgate kitchen already organized and ready to go.  Others like to construct wooden shelves in a small trailer so that all of their boxed stuff is neatly labeled and easily grabbed whenever they’re camping.

The first two big items to consider are your sleeping tent and a kitchen tent (if you want one).  After hours and hours of research we have three suggestions of real winners for tents for FAMILY camping (not hardcore lightweight back-backer single guys : )  Those guys can survive with a nylon tepee tent—which only weighs 24 pounds and only involves staking the sides, setting one lightweight pole up into the middle of the inside of the tent, and presto they are done.  No floor, of course, on this unit.

Sleeping tent
Cabela’s Big Horn III and Cabela’s Alaknak tents provide oceans of space for a family.  (The Big Horn has no internal poles to deal with—providing a large dome-like interior atmosphere.)

The Kodiak tent is a light weight canvas tent (canvas breathes better than nylon) and is super easy to put up for a single mom with children, or a single widow.  It has a sealed in floor for those who are squeamish about night crawlers, spiders, snakes, etc. gaining entrance into one’s tent withOUT a floor.

And, finally, a Davis tent—which may be the ultimate in large canvas tents.  It weighs a lot, but once constructed feels like a real house.  It is ideal if you are staying in one spot for a long time.  Hunters love them.  They can also be four season tents with the ability to add a stove.

Kitchen tent
Why would you want a kitchen tent?  Because if ANY inclement weather appears, it can immediately shut down your cooking efforts indefinitely.  Menacing weather of high winds, rain (with its attendant mud afterwards), hail, tornadoes, dust storms, etc. quickly drives you back into your car or sleeping tent until it blows over—which could last anywhere from a half hour to all afternoon or evening to several days!  If you want to keep your paper plates, chairs, and utensils from blowing all over the mountains you’ll have to provide some secure kitchen space.  An E-Z-Up shelter with tarps for sides will help in this endeavor, securely anchored with super strong tent pegs and taut ropes tied through ALL of the grommets on the tarp walls.  Or some outdoor tent gazebo which has both screened walls and tarp walls that can rapidly be let-down or unfurled when a storm approaches.  Or another canvas tent with no floor.  If you pick a tent gazebo with ONLY screened walls the weather will march right into it and either lift it up in the air and hurl it into the nearby lake or collapse it all over your stuff.  Obviously for your kitchen enclosure there is no need for flooring other than the dirt.  You don’t WANT flooring, other than dirt, so that people can troop in and out of it to eat without taking the time to remove shoes.

Be sure that you lock away all perishable food each time you leave your camp site and each evening after dinner.  You don’t want food smells attracting unwanted animals.

For both your sleeping tent and kitchen tent, look for used deals on Craigslist or E-Bay.  Some people start out with great expectations, but then sell their gear with dashed expectations not too long afterwards!

Selecting your campsite
Pick a place higher up rather than lower down—so that if any torrential rains come you won’t be flooded out, as the water pools down below.  If you find yourself with a lower spot as your only possibility, be sure to dig a small trench around the base of your tent—to collect and divert water should that become necessary during a downpour while you are sleeping some night.

If you pick a place higher up, make sure it is not all the way up on top of a hill.  You want your tent site tucked in closely a ways down from the extreme top edge, so that you don’t catch sudden winds that tend to blow on mountain tops.
Preparing your tent’s foundation
Give time to making a smooth foundation for under your tent, before setting it up.  Bring a shovel and rake along to get rid of any unwanted stones or fallen branches and twigs so that they don’t poke holes through the floor of your tent.  Bring along a rubber mallet for pounding in your tent stakes.

After each trip, hose down your tents and thoroughly dry them in the sun.  If your gear is stored dirty, its lifespan will be shortened.  If you pack wet gear, it may become moldy.  Then fold up and keep all of your camping gear packed and ready to go in ONE area of your garage, trailer, or other storage area.

Sleeping bags
Your next most important purchase is DOWN sleeping bags.  The deeper temperatures the bag is tagged for, below zero, the better.  Then you want a thin self-inflating 3 or 4 inch air mattress underneath (there’s nothing worse than having to inflate your air mattress by some manual means when you are already exhausted from putting up your tent).

Exped Down mats are the luxury liner warmest mats—but you have to inflate them.  There are several other easier models that work fine, obtainable from REI, for instance.  But if warmth is a higher priority, then go with the Exped mat.  For added insurance, purchase a thin exercise mat to put below your air mattress in case the air goes out of your air mattress in the middle of the night (and check for deflation before you go to bed, each night, top them off with some more air, if some was lost in the last 24 hours—this is a miserable job to do in the middle of the night, so tend to it BEFORE going to bed).  The exercise mat ensures that you won’t be sleeping directly on the cold ground.

If you are the kind of person that just can’t get warm—bring along a polyester warm blanket to further cut the air on top of your sleeping bag for when you first go to sleep.  Your body will warm up in the night and you can toss this extra layer off later.

Keep in mind that when coolers are full of ice and food they become super heavy.  So opt for several smaller coolers instead.  In addition to being lighter, this allows you to even categorize the types of foods via each cooler.  Put cheeses and yogurts in one, pre-cooked dinners in another, drinks in another, cut up veggies and fruit bowl contents in another, etc.  The 28-qt. Coleman Extreme is ideal for this; it is built to retain the coldness longer.

Ice solutions
If you freeze your water bottles WITH water in them—either your own concoctions of bottle and ice or the large six packs of pre-bottled water—tossed around in the cooler individually, you double-whammy your space—because you can drink them as they defrost. 

You can buy several half-gallon cardboard containers of juice or rice milk, and freeze these with the liquid IN them.  Because these become blocks of ice, they last far longer—and again you can drink them when they’re unfrozen.

Another way to keep the cold ice coming is to cram ONE cooler completely full of ice packs (no food at all in this cooler).  Each ice pack will keep all the other ice packs cold for a week!!!  Remove one ice pack a day to put into your food cooler and you’ll not have to return to town so often to refurbish your ice.
Food choices
Pre-cook as many meals as will fit in your cooler.  It is wonderful to be able to open and dump dinner in a pot and have it hot and ready in five minutes.  Often there is no time or WAY to cut up the ingredients for dinner right there on the scene.  And you may be too exhausted from just mere survival which takes more energy than at home—or long day hikes, hauling water, etc.  For additional quick meals bring along dehydrated soups and canned food (don’t forget a can opener) as well as bars and supplements and super food powders. 

Cooking utensils
Keep a duplicate set of all cooking utensils that you will be using so that you don’t have to ransack your house trying to remember what to take each time you go camping.  Have all of these things already packed, for camping use only, and keep them packed for easy quick retrieval for fast getaways. 

Cooking burner
A simple lightweight Coleman one-burner Powerpack stove may be all that you need.  This is a large 3 inch burner which runs on a propane canister and takes both small and large pans.  It has a metal frame to keep pans from slipping off while stirring.  Heat your tea or coffee or hot water first, and then set aside and heat your main meal in a separate pan, within mere minutes of each other.  Purchase a butane lighter-stick to make lighting this stove far easier than using tiny matches, and burning your fingers.

An American Camper propane heater delivers 10 hours of marvelous heat with each can of propane fuel.  This is far easier than bringing along a wood-burning stove for short trips in the fall.

In addition to flashlights which only yield light directly ahead of you, purchase several LANTERNS that will give you light in all directions.  You need two or three.  One for your kitchen area, one for your tent, and one outside the entrance of your tent, if coming home to the tent in the dark.  Have BOTH battery operated and SOLAR operated versions of each of these so that if you run out of the other, you always have the opposite fuel for backup.  Goal Zero makes good solar equipment—an excellent source of renewable free energy. 

Solar oven
(This item is totally optional).  American Solar Cookers are FREE heat source ovens.  Some enjoy them so much that they use them every day in their regular non-camping life as well.

Keep in mind that even if you bought the most LUXURY editions of all camping equipment it would total far less money than any RV purchase—or hotel bills.  Nowadays, hotels have become so expensive for families that the popular phrase “spend a night, not a fortune” is on the lips of many travelers as they seek less expensive alternatives.

For further reading on this topic, download our Survival Planning for Simpletons e-book (also available as a Kindle book, and in print).

Filed Under: Home management tips

Escorting your elderly parents through their final chapter

Sunday, 20. September 2015 by Todd Ellison


If you have elderly parents, here, to help you shepherd them through their last days, is a compilation of helpful quotes from Atul Gawande’s excellent book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

Many of us need help in even just opening a discussion with our aging parents about the important issues facing them in their final stages.  As Gary Smalley has noted in Making Love Last Forever, experts have found that death and sex are two of the most difficult things to discuss.

Although Dr. Gawande doesn’t write from a Judeo-Christian perspective, he (aHarvard Medical School surgeon and professor) is effective at front running some thoughts on the complex issues that face the elderly.  You as a believer can read these management strategies within the context of our faith in the resurrection—adding the very real hopes and eternal realities for your parents which are absent from this book’s presentation.   

“Being mortal is about the struggle to cope with the constraints of our biology, with the limits set by genes and cells and flesh and bone [and, we would add, the personal and loving sovereignty of Almighty God].  Medical science has given us remarkable power to push against those limits…  But again and again, I have seen the damage we in medicine do when we fail to acknowledge that such power is finite and always will be.

“We’ve been wrong about what our job is in medicine.  We think our job is to ensure health and survival.  But really it is larger than that.  It is to enable well-being.  And well-being is about the reasons one wishes to be alive.  Those reasons matter not just at the end of life, or when debility comes, but all along the way.  Whenever serious sickness or injury strikes and your body or mind breaks down, the vital questions are the same:
• What is your understanding of the situation and its potential outcomes?
• What are your fears and what are your hopes?
• What are the trade-offs you are willing to make and not willing to make?
• And what is the course of action that best serves this understanding?”  (p. 259)

This is a good way to think, at this juncture in life: “living for the best possible day today instead of sacrificing time now for time later.” (p. 229)

Dr. Gawande has come to believe that “whatever we can offer [a person who is in this situation], our interventions, and the risks and sacrifices they entail, are justified only if they serve the larger aims of a person’s life.  When we [medical staff] forget that, the suffering we inflict can be barbaric.  When we remember it the good we do can be breathtaking.” (p. 260)

“At least two kinds of courage are required in aging and sickness.  The first is the courage to confront the reality of mortality—the courage to seek out the truth of what is to be feared and what is to be hoped.  Such courage is difficult enough.  We have many reasons to shrink from it.  But even more daunting is the second kind of courage—the courage to act on the truth we find.  The problems is that the wise course is so frequently unclear.  For a long while, I thought that this was simply because of uncertainty.  When it is hard to know what will happen, it is hard to know what to do.  But the challenge, I’ve come to see, is more fundamental than that.  One has to decide whether one’s fears or one’s hopes are what should matter most.” (p. 232)

Dr. Gawande observes that the default setting of the medical establishment has been “You took the most aggressive treatment available.”  On the other hand, “This [new] business of deliberating on your options—of figuring out your priorities and working with a doctor [him not as the Dictator or even as the Information-provider, but as a collaborator in interpreting the data and trying to fathom the unknowns] to match your treatment to them—[is] exhausting and complicate, particularly when you [aren’t able to ]...parse the unknowns and ambiguities.  The pressure remains all in one direction, toward doing more, because the only mistake clinicians seem to fear is doing too little.  Most have no appreciation that equally terrible mistakes are possible in the other direction—that doing too much could be no less devastating to a person’s life.” (p. 220)

Dr. Gawande summaries a study Daniel Kahneman reported in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, that found that there are two ways to evaluate experiences: how we apprehend them sequentially as they’re happening, and how we think of them afterwards.  How we think about the afterwards, sticks with us a lot longer, and what we tend to recall are the most intense periods and the very last period of the experience.  [Thus, how an experience—including a person’s life—ends, is crucial.]  Kahneman called it the Peak-End rule.  A key point here (pp. 238-239), is that “We have purposes larger than ourselves.  Unlike your experiencing self—which is absorbed in the moment—your remembering self is attempting to recognize not only the peaks of joy and valleys of misery but also how the story works out as a whole.  That is profoundly affected by how things ultimately turn out.  ...  in stories, endings matter.” (pages 236-238)

“I am leery of suggesting the idea that endings are controllable.  No one ever really has control.  Physics and biology and accident have their way in our lives.  But the point is that we are not helpless either.  Courage is the strength to recognize both realities.  We have room to act, to shape our stories, though as time goes on it is within narrower and narrower confines.  A few conclusions become clear when we understand this: that our most cruel failure in how we treat the sick and aged is the failure to recognize that they have priorities beyond merely being safe and living longer; that the chance to shape one’s story is essential to sustaining meaning in life; that we have the opportunity to refashion our institutions, our culture, and our conversations in ways that transform the possibilities for the last chapters of everyone’s lives.” (p. 243)

“Technological society has forgotten what scholars call the `dying role’ and its importance to people as life approaches its end.  People want to share memories, pass on wisdoms and keepsakes, settle relationships, establish their legacies, make peace with God, and ensure that those who are left behind will be okay.  They want to end their stories on their own terms [we would say, on the terms God dictates for them].  This role is…among life’s most important, for both the dying and those left behind.” (p. 249)

Filed Under: Home management tips

Why the KEY issue with the elderly is avoiding falls

Tuesday, 14. July 2015 by Renee Ellison


With over ten thousand baby-boomers entering the retirement ranks per day, the care of THEIR elderly parents becomes their nearly full-time second job. This is an eyes-open bit of insight for all.  Take your confidence off from your elderly parents’ dubious bone-strengthening drugs (they don’t work anyway) and put your energy into ensuring that they AVOID the falls in the first place.  How?  Exercise your elderly parent; tighter muscles make for less falls.  And fall-proof the home.

Recent studies are telling us that one in three seniors, age 65 and older, fall each year.  70 percent of the trauma calls in the region where I live are for elderly people who have sustained a broken hip or head injury.  And that doesn’t even include the numbers of people who have fallen and, while not injured, can’t get up without help; our local district saw a 26 percent increase in those calls during the first quarter of 2015.

My 96-year old aunt has fallen perhaps ten times in her old age—most of that in the last six years—and each time the aftermath was a veritable nightmare.  The reason? besides the obvious results of 1) having physically harmed herself and 2) having entered the engulfing quagmire of expense and management of those time-consuming emergency hospital bills, is that, not only does the elderly parent have to cope with the injury but now, with even less personal resourcefulness, they have to cope with the greatly exacerbated decline in overall health because of the injury.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers seniors falling a public-health problem that is “largely preventable,” it says in its Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries program. An injury from a senior’s fall can have long-term effects, such as disability, dependence on others and reduced quality of life, the CDC said.  Loss of muscle tone and balance; vision problems; medication interactions; bad lighting; and hazards in the home top the list of causes of this problem.

Elderly persons who have suffered from a fall cease to exercise.  This means congestion may set in throughout the body, especially in the colon, due to poor circulation.  Digestion suffers.  Lungs and heart suffer.  Muscle-tone deteriorates severely and rapidly, making the person prone to more falls.  Thus, the health challenges are compounded.  Amy Allen, executive director of the Southwest Regional Emergency and Trauma Advisory Council, observed that “Seniors worry so much about falling, they restrict themselves from moving, which makes it worse and stops them from doing daily things, like going for the mail.”  [Source]

All of this translates to double the work for the caretaker—adding to the already overwhelming load of total care of another adult human being.  The “adult” part matters, because the person’s “will” is interposed in everything, unlike what a caretaker of a baby experiences.  This accelerates the caretaker’s burnout.  The conclusion?  Minimize the likelihood of falls happening in the first place.  Guard this preventative territory like a patrolling alley dog.

Fall-proof EVERYTHING, including the elderly person’s environment and routines.  No throw rugs, anywhere.  Cork on the bathroom floor, if you have to.  TWO grip bars in the bathtub.  A portable plastic seat set there, in the tub to pull forward, nearer the faucet when in use.  A long loose hose on the tub faucet.  (No water coming from above, which can disorient the elderly and cause them to lose their balance.)  How to bathe them?  Either you or they, scrub up the top of the body, WHILE they sit, rinse.  Scrub the lower half, while they sit, rinse.  To do the crotch area, have your parent rise only a few inches, so that if they fall their body weight goes right back onto the plastic seat.  Never allow them to stand fully upright where the weight changes forward, WHILE showering/bathing.

Wash hair, as a separate task, in the kitchen, later.  Lean their body up against the kitchen sink.  Install a tall faucet there, if you don’t have one.  This fully leaning position, anchoring their weight against the lower cupboard, holds them clear up to their waist.  Do all of this even WHILE THEY ARE “STRONG” and in relatively good vigor, but OLDER.  They will resist, but you insist smile

When walking them outdoors, assist them over all curbs, even if they are fully capable of managing them themselves; don’t leave it to chance.  Our 3D eyesight grows foggier and foggier as we age.

Furthermore, exercise them daily with whatever part of their body still moves.  When health is far gone, exercise their appendages while their back (thus backbone) is fully supported, lying flat on the bed.  But before that hour, walk them all you can, before the disabilities multiply.

If you’ll guard their fall potential, this will translate to an easier job for you.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Parental perspectives on the complexities of living with grown unmarried children

Monday, 18. May 2015 by Renee Ellison


Living with grown children is not the same ball game as raising small children.  An entirely different set of “parenting” skills is needed to make this further chapter successful and happy for all involved.  Furthermore, it requires different parenting for different personalities.  You will live differently with the conscientious young adult than you do with the lazy one. 

Homeschooling families in this generation are doing something that the secular culture has largely abandoned for several generations now: godly grown children are voluntarily choosing to continue to live with their parents until marriage, and their parents are in agreement about this.  Many believing families are opting to do this for spiritual reasons, because they see this pattern in the Bible, with good results.  Abraham chose a mate for his grown son Isaac when Isaac was well advanced in years, deep into adulthood, still living at home.  The lives of Ruth and Esther are set in stark contrast to the loud wandering, worldly woman spoken of in Proverbs who is seldom at home.  When Dinah left home to see what the daughters of the land were doing in Shechem, she left the protection afforded by a godly home and got into terrible trouble. 

The advantages of this living arrangement with adult children are many, both relationally and financially.  This arrangement spares the single adult from the severe temptations of shack-up situations and possible mincing forays into homosexuality—or the appearance of evil through the set-up of supposedly “platonic” guy-girl roommate relationships, and from any number of additional devastatingly dysfunctional roommate situations whenever someone lives with anyone who is not part of one’s extended family. 

In addition, living with one’s parents until one is married provides an opportunity for the young adult to amass an economic nest egg that will make a huge financial difference for them.  Earning money while living under their parents’ roof with minimal expenses may even afford them the possibility of paying for a house or land with cash and never having to pay rent.  Having disciplined goals during these transition years affords the young adult the possibility of further unimaginable savings over a lifetime, and relieves a young marriage of many financial stresses.  (Many houses bought with mortgages end up costing three times as much over the lifetime of the mortgage.  This money is siphoned from the earnings of each person; it is given over to a bank instead of building his or her own estate.) 

However, as with any relational set-up, there are pitfalls and blind spots that must be avoided for this arrangement to work well.  For this living arrangement to be successful it must be done with mature relational savvy on the part of the parents, otherwise the experience can result in lifetime scarring, destroyed relationships, adult tensions galore, and lifelong regrets for all parties of those lifetime relationships.  [Note: because of the limitations of the English language, we will refer to the grown single child as “he”, but this applies just as much to a daughter as to a son, albeit in a slightly different manner, given the different biblical standards for men providing for themselves and their families.]

Motivational speakers for years now have identified what makes people continue to produce and live invigorated lives.  People tend to stay in marriages, businesses and living situations where they continue to grow.  An affirming positive loving atmosphere will keep a person in such a relationship.  If this climate is not present, the tendency (or at least the lure) is to jump ship.

The key shift in parents’ thinking with regard to sharing their home with grown children has to be the realization that they are launching their young adult’s life, doing everything possible to gladden and enrich that emerging life, rather than viewing him as an appendage and a support for their own lives.  In other words, the parents must learn to do life by themselves, while also finding ways to procure advantages for their son’s life.  This involves choosing to carry their own load, even though the adult son continues to live in their home.  Conversely, if parents are leaning upon their grown child, using him, micromanaging him, demanding of him, and/or shaming him into doing their bidding or adopting their perspectives on everything, they will find an unexpected kickback that they may regret as time passes.

Many adult children grow to be quite capable in a variety of areas and thus can potentially become a real boost to their parents’ lives.  This is fine, so long as it is volunteered by the emerging adult as he thinks of it, rather than his parents extracting it from him.  Otherwise, he may grow to feel “used.”  Many parents unknowingly take advantage of their grown children’s capabilities (without compensating them for them, i.e. liberally and gladly paying them or returning some trade in the rent agreement, etc.) for their own parental benefit, and this may become increasingly oppressive for the young adult.

If the parents are using their adult son for their own benefit, he may at first turn away from them inwardly, and as time progresses may turn away bitterly in actuality and finally may eventually bolt because the relationship has become irreparable.  Parents’ relational salvation with their grown children is to think long-term and big picture.  What do you want your grown child to think of you when you at last rest in your grave?  Does he perceive the relationship as enlarging and enriching for himself?  Does he flock to be with you?  If given a choice, is he drawn to you, or do you observe him avoiding you, living in tension because of you, skirting interfacing with you over any matter?  These are alarms and bells and whistles that will only intensify, if you do not reverse them.  You are fashioning your own reputation with him.  What is that reputation?  Are you, perhaps, winning the battle (his compliance for the moment) but losing the war of winning his lifetime permanent affection for you?  These are deep waters.

As with any adult living situation, clean lines must be drawn and understood by both sides.  Clean lines must be drawn regarding finances and regarding responsibilities.  Otherwise, the grown child will find himself buried in a jungle of implied expectations, both expressed and naggingly felt.  He may sink into depression and hopelessness, wanting to escape but not knowing how.  No adult can stand doing another adult’s bidding unendingly.  All such relationships end in destruction.  Expectations kill relationships, unless the expectations are clearly stated, are reciprocal, and are mutually advantageous.  Living in a continual win/win situation with your adult child will tie him in loving bonds with you for a lifetime.  Is home a place he loves to be?  Strive to see your life together through his eyes.

When living with a conscientious young adult instead of correcting him broadside, try some humor.  Also, strive to posit your opinions in questions instead of edicts, fashioning your sentences more like this:  “Might you find this way more advantageous to yourself?”  Tell them that you are available to pray with them, if they should want that at any time for direction, and to clarify certain ambiguities for them.  Brainstorm with them.  Get other mature adults to brainstorm with them.  Encourage them that in a multitude of counselors there is victory, as it says in Proverbs.  This has an entirely different feel than ordering them around as adults. 

All of this is advice for living with conscientious adult children.  If, conversely, you live with a lazy, irresponsible adult child, you must put the screws to them to enforce specific expectations, in order for him to have the privilege of continuing to benefit from the advantages of living at home.  Otherwise he must learn by having his cheek on the pavement of some street somewhere.  Draw the expectations firmly, and perhaps do so on paper, together, not signing anything as a formal contract, but providing “paper” objectivity upon what you both are coming to agree to together.  After that, the young adult, by then crossing those agreed upon ideas, willfully puts himself out of the home.  It was not you that did it, but he.  The aimless young adult must be made to draw up his own goals and ambitions.  He must be growing old skills and learning new skills by apprenticing with others further along in those fields or studying.  He must be drawing income from somewhere, or he can’t live at home.  This living situation is to advance him in life, not to coddle him by providing hours for more sports and video games and other entertainments.

For young unmarried gals it is best to define their life as a full complete single life now, and the probability of a full married life later.  They are to live equally well in both conditions, steadily making a difference in God’s kingdom.  Get them out of the “waiting game.”  Get them fulfilled now with both meaningful income-producing work and kingdom work.  No one does well with a sloppy, ill-defined, meaning to life.  Get them fulfilled working steadily year round with meaning; there should be no intermittent dragging months.  See to it that they wake up to a day with purpose, continually.

So, what do clean lines in living arrangements look like?
Separate your finances and financial obligations from his or hers.  Does your son/daughter pay rent?  Or, does he/she work for that rent for you by doing specifically X, Y, and Z, or by working for someone else to earn that rent?  This area alone will destroy a relationship if not clearly spelled out.  His/her obligation to you (as regards paying a fixed amount for rent) cannot be unending and open-ended; it has to be settled by fixed tasks or established payment amounts, where there is a measurable end to them and the young adult is freed from any further parental expectations.  Are the household’s meal preparation and cleanup responsibilities clearly delineated?  Who is responsible for what?  Do you give each other space, if so desired, by leaving the kitchen when he or she enters; or vice versa?  Are both of you working at what you would both have to do full-time if you were living in two separate households?  Meal planning and preparations are a given in every living situation, at least some of the time.

Does the emerging adult have some space all to himself?  Does he have the potential of privacy?  Does he clearly own his own things and have his own bank account?

Your grown child needs space that can be organized by his own design and kept neatly or in a mess, given his personality—just as married couples have with each other.  If all space is shared, the relationship will collapse.  Private property is one of the first gifts even God gives to His bride (children) by allotting land by tribe to the children of Israel.

Do you give your grown child his own time, and opportunity to do his own home-based business(es)  or to work for others without being clobbered by your own random, unexpected sudden requests, to get you out of a bind, that claim his time for your own ends?  Are you frequently invading his time?  Even if you see him doing nothing, that is his right if his bills are paid.  Further, have you determined to make it financially advantageous to him to live with you, or are you eager for his financial contribution only for your own sake?  A grown adult knows his parents’ motives.  He observes them when you are not on dress parade.

Often remind yourself that if he were married and out of your home, he would ipso facto be using his time as he sees fit and thinking his thoughts as he thinks them, just as you did when you reached adult autonomy.  Just as you do not have access to your married children 24/7, it is not your right to have such access to the unmarried, even though he is still in your own home.  Adulthood is adulthood, and that includes having a separate psyche—even a private diary and private letters, just as you have.  If you did not finish the job of raising him during his growing years when you were authorized by God to do it, (and who of us parents ever does finish it?) you have to make your peace with the fact that that your “formation” job assignment has ended.  Your grown son will never be perfect; he will never totally “arrive”—just as you and your spouse haven’t, even yet.  You have to shift gears, from constant correction to living with forgiveness and adapting to all the uncomfortable, unpolished behaviors of any adult human being.  Other factors (we learn from experiences, too) and influences from other people now will have their say, not the least of which is God’s input, Himself, directly into his adult soul. 

Make sure that your grown at-home son/daughter knows that you are building his kingdom and not your own, and you will find that his heart will be with you to the end.  If you do not do this kind of self-sacrifice and adaptation when he becomes an adult, he may flee at his earliest chance.  Home has to continually be the best place on earth or another will be found, at any cost, if even only in the section of the heart that privately “longs” for such a place, substituting someone else in his/her affections.  Build relational capital with your grown children for a lifetime, by never losing sight of the prospect of the last ten years of your own life.  What have you relationally earned from your son by being as supportive and loving as possible?  That may even involve joining the “zipped-lip” club that many seniors have found they had to join ahead of you.  You have a chance to create a heaven on earth for your offspring as long as you live. 

See our booklets/e-books Daughters in Waiting and Young Men Preparing for Marriage for further details.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Relating to a dysfunctional husband

Friday, 24. April 2015 by Renee Ellison


When we express extreme anguish over a spouse’s disappointing or even bad behavior, the underling belief we have—which we don’t know that we have—is that our personal anguish will somehow touch the other person.  However, if the person lacks the ability to have empathy (a clinical condition; can’t conjure it up, can’t imagine it, lacks the ability to produce it) we have to look at that condition as if a piece of that other person’s DNA is missing, and change our own behaviors in relation to that immovable situation.  It is like dealing with any other handicap in any other person: the person can’t walk because they can’t.  They are in a wheelchair.  Likewise, we must view this emotional disorder as a mental wheelchair.

Our illusion is that if we could just explain it better, if he were to read the right material or get under the influence of the right person, this could be fixed.  Chances are that these hopes are ill-founded if it wasn’t fixed after reading the first book or having the first discussion.  Habit can clobber sane rationality/courage any day, if we one is dealing with a lifetime chronic situation.

Therefore, when we personally have anguish we need to come to see that we are wasting our own emotional capital, only ruining our own day.  It wears us out, but does nothing to the other person.  He may be having a fine day—oblivious to us.  When we figure out that this is in fact the dynamic we are living with, our wise, better course would be to conserve our own emotional energy via self-talk that goes something like this: “This isn’t fazing him a bit, so why should it faze me?” and get busy doing something very engaging that you love to do on you own.  Simply learn to unhook from the cause of the devastation.  Don’t GO there.  If HE is not feeling anything, why should YOU be?  If you remain a victim of chronic dashed expectations, you will forever be miserable.  If someone’s devious or underhanded behavior always takes our breath away, we will always be reeling.  If, on the other hand, we note the underhanded behavior and unhook, check-out, and expect it, then we can move past it and have a life of our own.

It might be quite life-giving to learn how to live in the moment better.  When things are going well, act like the big picture is good.  Pretend.  For your own sake, enjoy all of the gusto you can get out of the relationship while it is going well.  It would be similar to relating to someone who has periodic memory loss and doesn’t even know who you are.  You would simply learn to relate to him (or her) fully for those moments when his memory returns and he does know who you are.  Aim to obtain from the relationship your own momentary joys—and unhook from the rest.  Die to any and all expectations that it will ever be otherwise.  Live a life beside him for all of those moments when it is obvious that he is not in the relationship and doesn’t have a clue about how to get there.  Carve out of life your own quiet joys next to him.  This will revive your own emotional reserves and give you zest for living life wherever there is life—with other relationships and pursuits, for example.  And of course you always have a secret cathedraled life with God that you can retreat to for the most trustworthy, satisfying nurture a human being could ever want.  Go there and mental healing will ever flow.

Remember that the goal of this life is not personal happiness.  It is wanting to be conformed to the image of Christ, no matter what it takes.  It is submitting to whatever surgery is necessary to take on yet more of His nature.  We have this promise: “When we see Him, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2).  Saddle up.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Water resourcefulness at home

Monday, 16. March 2015 by Todd Ellison


Did you know, water was the one of the very first things the Almighty created?  Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  In the original Hebrew, heavens, literally, is “that which is water.”  Water represents life, and God is the author of life.  Water is the primary element astronomers are looking for as their craft probe for life on far-off planets and asteroids in outer space.  There is no life if there is no water.  (This is true spiritually, too.  If living water isn’t flowing into us on a regular basis, our spirits suffer, wither and eventually die.  The Savior cried out at one of the festival gatherings in Jerusalem, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”  The Apostle John on Patmos quoted him in Revelation as saying “To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”  However, the focus of this post is on the practical aspect of being good stewards of H2O.)

If an adequate supply of good, clean water is a scarce and/or costly commodity where you live, there are a number of ways to reduce your consumption. Most of them go against the grain of the rich lifestyle of the typical American—in comparison with that of most of the people on Earth.  Nonetheless, you may want to try some of these tips, because (1) there may come a time when you must survive on a very small supply of water, (2) using these strategies can be an eye-opener into the state of your health, (3) you may save money that you can better use for other ends [our City just doubled the rates for its “customers”), (4) this will give you a bit of empathy for the billions in the world who do not have access to even the basics of potable water, and (5) doing this will increase your appreciation for the Heavenly Father’s gracious, ample and timely provision of our needs.

Use biodegradable laundry detergent, use less than you think you should, and send the used wash- and rinse-water onto your lawn, especially around your trees. If you have hard water, try using Rockin Green ( is a possible source; if you haven’t been a customer of theirs yet, please email us to recommend you to them, and we’ll each get a $10 credit toward a future order; this is a good way of thanking us for the advice we offer you on this website—try using Coupon Code Bamboo for an additional 10% off); they have a kind (Hard Rock Motley Clean) that works great with hard water—and you use less than a tablespoon of the powder in a full load of wash.  ( is another source for Rockin Green.)  Then, when you know you’re not polluting your water supply or your plants, you can direct the wash- and -rinse water outdoors instead of adding it to the load of the sewer system.  Pull your washing machine out from the wall toward you enough for you to reach the black hose that makes a turn down into your sewer system, and attach a hose to it or simple aim it into some 3-gallon buckets when the cycle is dumping water.  You can use that water to wash and rinse your cars.  If you find your rinse water coming out with a lot of soapy bubbles, you may be using too much detergent.  The downside of that, in addition to the waste, is that you’re probably wearing soap next to your skin when you put on those clothes.  Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so that’s not a good idea.  (The best thing to wear next to your skin is unbleached, undyed natural organic linen, which has some of the highest healing frequencies of any fabric; you can order that, in yards of fabric or made up into items for you, from  Also, in terms of laundry: not everything you wear needs to be washed after a single use.  It is not a crime to wear the same shirt and pants for several days if they’re not dirty or smelly!  You can probably wash your towels once a week; bed linens, even less often, unless someone’s been sick.

Likewise, after you’ve washed your dishes (using the plastic-tub method Renee recommends—one for soapy water and one for rinse water, if you have a double sink in your kitchen), pour out your gray water onto your lawn.  This, of course, is assuming you’re using biodegradable natural dish soap too.  A good thing about the tub method is, you know just how much water you’re consuming, and you’re not sending good hot water down the drain (that could have been used for further rinses and for other purposes after the rinsing, too).  Also, your sink will last longer and you will have less breakage if you are inserting a tub into your sink when it’s time to wash the dishes.

To further conserve water, plant trees—not just any kind of trees, but ones that are suited for your environment.  If you’re in a dry climate, avoid a tree that needs a lot of water.  Once you get the right trees situated around your house (on the southern and western sides of your house if you’re in the northern hemisphere, and away from underground pipes and septic systems (because the roots will seek water in them and will clog them) and not too close to your house (because they can damage it when branches break off or the tree falls).  Having the welcome shade of trees in the right place in the hot time of the year can actually increase the amount of moisture in the air around where you live.  With shade, you’ll need a lot less water to keep your grass green than if it’s baking at full exposure to the summer sun—especially if your grass is a drought-tolerant type such as Wildflower Farm’s Eco-Lawn Grass Seed.  And, when you do irrigation your lawn, do it in the dawn and dusk hours (not in the middle of the day when so much more will evaporate) and water less frequently but more deeply so the roots grown deep.

Also, surround your trees, plants and garden areas with a thick layer of organic mulch (we get wood chips free from the City after they prune trees around town).  This reduces evaporation of moisture, nourishes the soil, increases the capacity of the soil to retain moisture, and inhibits weed growth (or at least makes it easier to pull weeds, because their roots aren’t as deeply entrenched).  You’ll need to replenish the mulch annually or every two years, because it breaks down and makes rich loamy soil.

Catch your roof drain water in barrels for reuse in your yard.

Speaking of septic systems: guys can urinate into a jug.  (By the way this is Todd, Renee’s husband, writing the blog this time!)  Urine is sterile.  Choose a gallon jug that is see-through and that has a good tight-fitting lid, 2” in diameter.  If you empty out and rinse out the jug regularly, it won’t be smelly.  Set your personal jug in a discrete area of your bathroom.  Assuming that you’re living on property that has land, not an apartment in a concrete jungle, pour it out along the base of your trees—if you’re eating well, it probably contains good nutrients and minerals.  Plus, it may deter deer and other wildlife from encroaching on your yard and chewing your plants and trees.  Do the math, and you’ll realize how much water you’re saving.  Even the highest efficiency toilets use up to 1.28 gallons per flush; some of the older toilets use more than 3 GPF.  According to, “More than 45% of water use in the average American home occurs in the bathroom, with nearly 27% being used by toilets.”  A dozen flushes a day adds up to thousands of gallons per year per person and is far more than is necessary (if you’re a male).  Plus, you will be able to observe the state of your health by seeing the color of your urine.  It should be amber colored.  If it is dark, you probably aren’t drinking enough water.  The rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces of water every day.

[For a recent report on one aspect of this—the first urine recycling pilot program in the US—read—“Pioneers of ‘pee-cycling’ tout urine’s value.”]

As for the remainder of your use of toilet water, reduce the water volume in the toilet tank by setting weighted plastic bottles or a float booster in your toilet tank. explains (step 6 of their water conservation tips) how to do it and how to make sure you have enough water flowing to do an effective flush.

Another way to greatly reduce your use of water in the bathroom—and also to cut down on heating the water—is to attach a flexible hose spray head to your shower head.  You hold it in one hand and only turn it on when you’re actually needing water. states that “a four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.”  If you stand in a flat bucket, or plug the drain so you can scoop out the used water, you can flush the toilet with the water.  And, take a shower rather than a bath, except for occasions when you want to soak in Epsom salts or something like that; why sit in dirty water rather than have it do your ablution and run off?

Likewise, turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth, as soon as you’ve wet your brush.  Also, dentists recommend dry brushing every so often, because it gives the brush a better grip on your gums and your teeth.

Do you see a theme in these suggestions?  You’re reducing the volume of water that is leaving your property through the sewer pipe.  And, in many cases, you are getting double use out of your water.

Have you noticed in various areas of life, that the Heavenly Father provides just what you need, when you’re in His will and are acting responsibly?  Good stewardship of His wondrous gift of water—distilled from the oceans and dropped as rain and snow on the land for our use bit by bit—is a means for us as believers to express our gratefulness for His daily provision.

Got you interested? has about 200 tips for saving water.

Do you have water-saving water-reusing tips to share?  Send them to us as a Comment!

Filed Under: Home management tips

Response to the current “Tiny House” discussion

Thursday, 19. February 2015 by Renee Ellison


Everyone, simply everyone, has to conquer the housing issue in their life.  The sooner we homeschooling parents can ground our high schoolers with this immutable reality, the better.  Housing is like gravity: the need for it doesn’t go away even if we attempt to wish it away, or try to avoid facing it indefinitely.  Having an early strong financial goal of conquering this fixed need in our lives will help clobber the temptation to spend money on trivia (a tendency that can go on for several decades), or to waste money on rent, and will help to marshal our stray hours into a compelling purpose to get this “over with”.  Unbeknownst to most of the public discussion on this topic, it can be gotten “over with”—if we play our early years wisely.

Just the other day there was an article in World Net Daily that said, “How an emerging adult spends the first ten LABOR years of their lives will determine the rest of their lives.”  Conquering the housing/land problem early in life gives a person freedoms down the road that are unimaginable to him when he is still youngWhere we conquer obtaining this housing/land package is always important, but it’s not the most important thing initially; one can always swap/rent/improve/sell/trade up that starter position.  It is when one doesn’t work at building the starter nest-egg—that is what can sink someone into mortgage debt for the rest of life.  The root of the word mortgage is morgue—i.e. death.  A mortgage is an agreement with death.  The vast majority of our culture makes this covenant with death, which many often enter cavalierly as they eagerly sign their first mortgage, not realizing the full extent of what they are doing.

Now some thoughts regarding the current public discussion about tiny houses:
The sheer number of books and YouTube videos touting the glories of a tiny house indicate that the trend is mushrooming.  The Tiny House movement may be an over-reaction to our culture’s run-away materialism, and is certainly nothing new. The elderly have been downsizing for decades.  Let’s examine more closely what it belies.  Is it not evidence perhaps that the capacity to live is shrinking?  One simply doesn’t need more spacious housing if one’s productivity is slowing down, if one’s engagements are falling off, if one’s social life is drying up (visitors come less often), and/or if “taking dominion” over life’s possibilities and family building is not the goal.  Young adults could go about it the other way—building a large metal shed and then tucking a warm livable space into a corner of it—so that there is no limit on one’s endeavors.  In a warehouse, expansion possibilities exist from the get-go; there is no ceiling upon who one can become and what one can do.  Entrepreneurialism is fast becoming a smarter option than lifetime-debtor-slavery to colleges.  The excitement in living is to actually DO something.  To actually do anything, and to be home-centric in doing it—loving your own environment instead of living like a vagabond all over town—one needs space.

A tiny house works great for a single person who largely conducts business somewhere else and only needs a YMCA or youth hostel-type cot for the night.  The minute you put two people in such an arrangement, however—let alone one’s first squalling baby—all bets are off for its long range workability.  Tight living quarters will eventually (if not on the first day) create more stress for two humans—though flocks of animals seem to be able to handle it okay.

Therefore, might we be starting off the discussion about housing on the weaker end of the stick?  Let’s face it: a person can live in anythingIs not the more significant consideration the land on which the home rests?  This is something it seems we’ve forgotten, but something the pioneers heading west totally grasped.  We might need to re-discover this in our modern lives.  “If I can just get me a plot of land” was the insatiable appetite of the young in the early days of the development of any country.

One could build the most fabulous tiny house imaginable, but if the land issue wasn’t settled beforehand, perplexities will assertively present themselves the day after it is finished as to where to set it.  Here is the problem: if a person lives on someone else’s land (ostensibly for “free”) they’ll trade financial woes for relational woes.  Sure-shootin’.  They’ll walk around under constant guilt/anxiety about the hour when the relationship may go south—the love tires, grows weary, impatient, the landlords suddenly change, or the landlord’s plans change (e.g. he just lost HIS job, has to move to take care of HIS parents), and any number of unforeseeable variables.  Anxieties without number can begin to mount about all of the surrounding housing/living details: parked cars, the condition of the grounds immediately around the tiny house, the volume of the music, the use of drugs and alcohol, and whose responsibility it is to shovel the snow or repair the broken fence.  The responsibility fog/load gets murky in a hurry.  When one’s living situation hinges on the benevolence of someone else (one’s garage “free-land-lord”, or “free” driveway benefactor) one’s anxieties don’t go away.  Such a person trades mortgage anxieties for interpersonal anxieties and finds that he still is not free.

To be truly free, one could restructure the discussion to look for the land first.  Secure the plot, first, even if it is on the backside of a remote village.  And while beginning the search, look for one thing in particular—a good supply of good clean water.  Is its source secure?  Is the well or the supply infrastructure already secure?  Don’t settle for the hope of having water, or the maybe of having a future water infrastructure “coming to the area”.  Is the water polluted?  How polluted?  Before you plop down your first nickel, be sure of your water situation (and, additionally, make sure that the land is not built over a mine-shaft, a uranium deposit or an area where an oil rig may show up and start drilling).  In other words, don’t mince questions over what is underneath the land.  Nothing, however, is as important as the water issue.  Under an EMP attack, surely nothing else matters as much.  So disregard the gorgeous housing magazines and keep your head on.  You can’t drink a view.

Then build your tiny house—erect your tent—buy your RV; you can upgrade through the years.  By the way, in most cases, the only difference between an RV and your tiny house is looks, mobility (a tiny house is not intended for frequent movement, whereas an RV could move to a different slot each night) and the depth of your passion to control the configuration of the layout.  Die to your perfectionisms and you can save yourself a chapter of having to become a construction manager—a career/field most people know nothing about, will spend inordinate hours brooding over, and still wind up with mistakes and oops common to newbies in any field—to say nothing of having to wear a hammer on your belt for double the time you had planned upon.

The truly winning strategy to be financially free for a lifetime, in terms of your housing?  Start with where—and then, downstream, think through your what.  For more on this topic, read our 10 Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary People Who Got Free of House Debt and Sure Financial Steps for Beginners.

Picture source (and for more information): Cozy Tiny House.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Entrepreneurialism vs. entitlement

Wednesday, 11. February 2015 by Renee Ellison


Our society has raised a generation of entitlement thinkers.  Children want something for nothing, and they grow into adults who want something for nothing.  In the American ghetto, sadly, we now have three generations who have sat around their family dinner table talking about their welfare checks.  Meanwhile, quietly, immigrants both now and from yesteryear rolled up their sleeves and got to work and worked themselves out of the American ghetto in one generation.  The immigrants slept on the floor in the back of their shops and now own the buildings that house those same shops…while their American counterparts continued a life of poverty and grew their entitlement mentality.

Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, a British psychologist who worked in the ghettos of the U.K., says that often “poverty is what we carry around between our two ears.”  It breeds itself in our thought life.  See his eye-opening book: Life at the Bottom.

As a nation, we are “hand-out-foolish.”  Think of how our country could be improved if we required commensurate work for every welfare check we handed out.  We could say as a nation, “Yes, you can have money: there will always be money for the individual who will give us work in exchange.”  How ‘bout that for a policy?!

Recipients of government benefits could improve our country’s roads, spotlessly clean bathrooms in all of our government buildings, plant trees, pick up trash along roads, pick weeds, do maintenance repairs on old equipment, etc, etc.

Here is the problem.  Entitlement programs work until you run out of taxpayers.  Then you have a disaster on your hands.

A few years ago, outraged college students took over their college president’s office because they wanted future students of The Cooper Union to continue receiving a free education.  The impasse lasted 65 days.  The institution was over-extended and in debt by $17 million through a series of poor decisions.  The ideology was unsustainable in the real world.  Free means someone hidden is footing the bill.  Nothing is ever free.  The president and the professors should have walked off their jobs, turned the lights out, and left the students with the bills, but they didn’t, because their own entitlement mentality got the best of them (the president thought there was nothing unconscionable about receiving a salary of nearly $800,000 and getting free use of an elegant townhome in New York).  Their fragile inflated salaries, fabricated out of cotton candy dynamics, were at stake.  While the fountain of illusion still flowed they wanted to be there to fill up their jugs.  And so the impasse remained an impasse.

By the way, US college student loan debt has surpassed a trillion dollars.  To put that into graspable terms: if a business started at the time of the birth of Christ, and was open every day since, and accrued debt at the rate of one million dollars per day, it would be 700 years from now before that business would have a debt of one trillion dollars.

Whatever happened to the biblical mandate, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat”?  Squeeze our current ideology, thoroughly wring it out for all its worth, and eventually we’ll be plunged back into the 19th century.  Someone has to work to make the raw materials, ship the raw materials, make them into salable products, retail them, etc.  If we lie down on the job anywhere along the line (as we’ve now done in our society) we’ll derail for good.

The root of this entitlement problem is that most youth (and much of the adult general population) of today have never run a business.  Start with entrepreneurial training of your children and you can turn this ship around, at least for your family.  It begins with the lemonade stand.  Teach your children that they never get to keep the whole dollar.  They have to work to get the dollar to begin with, but then they have to pay for their supplies before they walk home with profits.  Tell them before they set up the stand that you will be asking for money out of their profits to replenish your supplies—that they will be paying you for the paper cups, the sugar, and the lemons.  Teach them what economies are all about by encouraging them to have realistic experiences with small businesses of their own.  Then compliment them, inspire them, give them enlarging tips and opportunities, and you’ll have done your part to grow some business muscle in our nation.

Entitlement or entrepreneurialism?  Take your pick and live with your outcomes.  For a further impassioned discussion of this matter listen to Renee’s half-hour radio program on Sunday, 2/15/15 at 10:00 RMST on Messianic Lamb Radio or return to this site to hear the archived program at any time afterwards.

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