Want to know why living in a tiny house is magic?

Do you want to know why living in a tiny house camper is complete magic?

…Us too.  If you find out, please let us know.

Seriously though, we would not continue this lifestyle in our tiny shiny camper if we did not absolutely love it. Like I posted a few weeks back, it’s not always rainbows and unicorns as social media might have you believe, but we are so grateful for this amazing opportunity.

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Some of the most wonderful aspects of living in our Airstream Camper have been:

Flexibility: While living in an Airstream has not yet made me the most flexible person on the planet (cue the hysterical laughter), it has given our family the flexibility to live in many different places.

Lack of Clutter: Yes, we still have clutter and too much stuff. We have three boys, enough said. However, there is nowhere to hide it. So we are in a constant state of clearing out and simplifying. And that can be so refreshing.  Here is a glimpse of our camper this morning as soon as I cleaned.

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Convenience:  Wherever we go, our house is with us. So, we can’t forget anything unless we leave Birdie behind. One day we went to a petting zoo with friends and one of our children forgot their shoes. Barefoot with goats and sheep is not my favorite. But every other time, we’ve had everything we need :).

Cost of Living:   This part has been incredible. One of the major reasons why we wanted to downsize our life was to find a way to live for less. While we often sleep in Walmart parking lots, we buy a lot of our clothing from thrift stores and practice a minimalist lifestyle. Primarily, we spend money on experiences instead of things. Daniel has recently trimmed our monthly “lodging” budget from $900 down to $250. And while that may sound ridiculous, we’re finding ways to make it work.

Togetherness:  I don’t have my own room and neither does anyone else. We’re all in this together (thanks Zach Effron). While I do have a high need for quiet and my own time, I love being in a space where I have endless opportunities to connect with Daniel and the kids.

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I am sure you know that tiny house living is truly a booming trend. I mean who hasn’t heard of the HGTV shows, Tiny House Hunters and Tiny House, Big Living

We have met several really cool families on the road and it has been a lot of fun getting to know them. One of those families, that have 2 kids, is even downsizing to a Sprinter Van which totals roughly 120 square feet of living space.

Is tiny house-living something that you aspire to? Maybe not, but in case you are interested in the alternate lifestyle, check out this tiny house you can buy for just under $5,000 on Amazon.

Either way, I encourage you to do what works for you. Just live intentionally. Everyone is different and that is the beauty of humanity. Keep following your heart and live at your own pace. There is always a way to find your joy.

Love.

Homeschool MBA: watch out for these amazing little businessmen

As many of you know, we have been homeschooling the boys on the road. While I started out as the ‘teacher’ it didn’t take long until our acting ‘principal’, my dearest wife, supplanted me in this role. While some may contend, and rightfully so, that Bex is a far more gifted (and patient) teacher than yours truly, I am often left to wonder: Did the students (Matthew – grade 2, Josiah – pre-K and Toby – preschool) surpass their father’s intellect at a slightly faster rate than anticipated?  It is noteworthy to mention that I have maintained my honorary teaching status for a few critical subjects including recess, colors (art), health (potty training), numbers (math), and PE.

Which brings me to the newest course that I have been constructing for the boys: Entrepreneurship 101.  Back in the summer, after fending off multiple requests to buy a new Lego set, our MBA level course came to life.

“Hey Daddy, can we cook up some more of those cinnamon rolls”, Matty asked.

Professor responds, “Sorry bud, you guys are eating us out of camper and home. Kitchen is closed until lunch.”

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Grasshopper replies, “They’re not for us. I want to sell them to the people around the campsite.”

…Class in session.

Matthew, Josiah and I worked together to cook up the final package of rolls, which looked (and smelled) delicious as icing melted over top of their “product”. We stepped out of the camper with Toby joining us to complete the trio in what they fondly refer to as Three Brothers Bakery.

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We reviewed each brothers assignment. Matthew, with gooey treats strategically placed on the plate, carefully held with both hands, rehearsed his lines. Josiah, the money man. And Toby, seated on my shoulders, was ‘upper management’, smiling and waving to potential “customers” as the boys approached each campsite.

Boss Baby and I stood just far enough away to hear the interactions as the boys approached their first ‘prospect’.

Matthew softly asked, “Good morning. Would you like to buy a warm, fresh cinnamon roll?”

“How much do they cost?” the grey-haired lady replied.

“Uhmmm, 50 cents”, young Matty answered.

“I’ll take two please.”

After Josiah received payment, the boys sprinted back, almost spilling the other 6 rolls off the plate, and showed “the mini boss” the team’s very first George Washington.

While the boys were off to a great start they received friendly declines at the next 5 campsites. I asked my sons if they wanted to call it a day but perseverance won out as they decided to press on.

It took about 25 minutes, but the boys sold the remainder of their inventory (well they technically ate 3 but who can blame ’em;). The trio seemed to almost float back to our camper with glee and soon quarters danced with excitement on Josiah’s bed as los hermanos celebrated.

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And while they thought class had been dismissed their proud professor made his way back to their room with notebook and pencil in hand.

“So what did we learn today, gentlemen?” I asked.

Matthew and Josiah walked me through each sale, the total money they had collected and their respective part in cooking and distributing the product. We then worked through the numbers: cost of goods sold ($1.50), profit ($5.75) and their hourly earnings rate. Lastly, each of the brothers provided their feedback on how they felt everything went and if there was anything they could improve in the future, while Daddy furiously scribbled down their thoughts.

One of the ideas that surfaced was to find out what feedback the customers might have. After writing up a few surveys, Matthew strapped on his helmet, mounted his bike and rode the half-page forms back to each of the 5 campsites where purchases had occurred.

img_0526Since the opening of Three Bros. Bakery, the boys have sold product in 4 different states including Wyoming, Montana, Wisconsin, and New York, and have even ‘opened up’ an international office in Nova Scotia, Canada in August. Most recently, one of the boys received an A+ for his ingenuity by asking the following question,

“Daddy, do you think you could make some extra coffee in the morning that we could take around to sell with our rolls?”

At this point, I’m not sure who is more excited about learning, me or my students. But either way, we are having an absolute blast in this educational pursuit of excellence.

And while they haven’t yet nailed down their online sales platform without infringing on Insomnia Cookies business model, I believe the boys may just find a way to get a sweet cinnamon roll soon delivered to your doorstep.

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Here are a few of our favorite items to use while we bake:

 

Who Knew? Erasing Big Apple Stereotypes

Just after Labor Day, our family spent a week in the greatest city in the world, New York where it was a sweltering 97 degrees every day.

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I don’t know who the woman is in the picture above.  But, she looked as scorched as I felt.

sweltering.

sticky.

full swamp body at all times.

did I mention, hot.

We camped our Airstream at a national recreation site in Brooklyn, which just so happened to be the first airport built in New York, Floyd Bennett Field. It was pretty unique to park Birdie right on the runway overlooking New York Harbor. It made things moderately affordable to actually stay in New York, but it did take us about an hour to get into Manhattan each day.

Despite the distance and sweltering heat, we had an amazing time! I know a lot of us, myself included, have strong stereotypes about New Yorkers. I found that each one of those stereotypes I previously held has been completely demolished.  Seriously, people, New Yorkers are the best. The. Best. I did a little Google search on NYC and friendliness.  I was excited to read that we weren’t the only ones being surprised by the inhabitants of this incredible city.

Here are some moments that clinched NYC for one of the kindest cities we have visited thus far:

Tobias ran his head into a countertop at a newsstand. Within 30 seconds, we had an ice pack from the owner. He was so legitimately concerned about our 2-year-old son it felt as if we were family.

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Matthew left his backpack with a Gameboy in a visible pocket for about an hour on a park bench.  When we went back there was a woman sitting there guarding it. She saw Matthew leave it behind and wanted to keep it safe for him. How thoughtful was that?

One afternoon, we were walking near Time’s Square. We made it about 3 city blocks before we had to stop to cool down. I went to buy the boys some ice cream, but it was super expensive (bc New York). So I chose to buy one for the kids the share. Well, Tobias had a full tantrum over this. But just then, another New Yorker random act of kindness. The man who worked at the stand brought over another ice cream for Toby. He actually gave Tobias the ice cream that was his for that shift. On such a hot day, I was touched by this thoughtful gesture.

Ok, so we have raved about New Yorkers. But there are a few, who we love to hang with NYC or not. These folks were amazing hosts and let us stay with them in their Manhattan apartment for several nights.  It was an awesome sleepover party for us (sorry about our kids, loudness, and messes Col, Brandon, and Bo!)  They showed us so much about their life in New York and we loved every minute of it.

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One year on the road.

Exactly one year ago, the Haver Herd hit the road for what was meant to be a 12 month epic adventure to see the country, friends, family, serve others, and finally figure out where and what is next for us.

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These past 365 days have certainly provided no lack of excitement. But we find ourselves still searching for what and where is next.

Drum Roll…..

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We have decided to continue our camper journey for one more year. So get ready friends and family! We will be back! This week we’ll see my Aunt Suzy and Uncle Bob before heading to Scotland to visit with good friends who will be traveling from Nairobi, Kenya to meet us along with my Aunt Kristi and Uncle Jeff. When we return in August we’ll visit with more family members up north along with a great friend/yoga buddy of mine from college.

We have absolutely loved seeing so many of our favorite people all over the country and the world. Seriously: family and friends, you have been so supportive of us this past year. It’s been nice spending some real time with you, and doing life together. Many of you reading this blog have rearranged your schedules, adapted plans, taken days off of work, and traveled to new places, just to see us. We are so grateful for your flexibility and for the way you care.

Here’s to Year 2.

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Feeding 5000.

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Food is something that all of us interact with on a daily basis. Through our taste buds, in our thoughts, the wafting of dinner through the apartment.

Most of us reading this blog have plenty. In fact, many of us have too much food. Each year, American’s throw away 40% of the food they buy! However, there are so many in the world and in our communities, who don’t have enough and the level of disparity is hard to swallow.

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When Daniel spent the day as a homeless person last month, I expected him to come back with something. For the 12 hours he was in the city, no walker-byer offered him a single thing.  The one meal he received that day, he had to “work” to get.  He walked over 10 miles for a jar of peanut butter and an apple from a community food pantry. The amount of gratitude that both he, and I, felt from those items is immense. But what I am trying to say is, we may think that the homeless and the hungry are getting handouts left and right, I’m not so sure that is true.

Feeding the hungry is something that Daniel and I are both passionate about. We always try to have food on hand to give away, but have also been curious to learn more about what others are doing to help. So as we have traveled, we have tried to volunteer with organizations that are feeding people.

So far we have had the opportunity to work with 4 community gardens in Montreal, DC, Oregon, and Montana. First of all, I just love gardens and learning about how our food is created. Second, I love the mission to provide fresh vegetables for those in need. Two weeks ago in Eugene, Oregon, we were able to harvest about 50 pounds of Spinach for the local food bank.

Another effort in feeding the hungry that I recently learned more about is similar to gleaning or passing on extra food to the poor. In Vancouver, Kitchen on a Mission, connects people who have a vehicle to a shelter and restaurants with excess food. We picked up 70 pounds of bread and drove it across town to a men’s shelter.

While we haven’t yet achieved our feeding 5,000 goal for the year, we are gaining on it. To date we’ve served a meal to 1,852 human beings, in the following forms and fashions:

  • 192 at a church in Cincinnati, OH
  • 500 brown bag meals with the SOMsistahs in South Florida
  • 450 Thanksgiving Meals At Branches in Miami
  • 250 Thanksgiving meals packed on the Pan Handle of Florida
  • 123 with community gardens in Montreal, Great Falls, Wolf Trap, and Eugene
  • 181 homeless goodie bags given out all across the US and Canada
  • 70 Kitchen on a Mission in Vancouver
  • 86 meals delivered through Meals on Wheels in Montana

I would love to hear your stories and experiences with reducing food waste and feeding the hungry.  Please share with me in an email or in the comments section below.

Be well. LOVE.