I can tell you right now, I LOVED what I learned from this home tour. It’s like nothing I’ve really seen — although it did remind me a tiny bit of my adventurous friends at Blue Lily! — and it will most likely open your eyes to a way of living with kids you may never have considered. At least, it did for me.
Laura has a thoughtfulness and humility that just drew me right in, and I hope you feel the same way. She makes such a positive, community-strong case for her unique way of living as it applies to her and her family, so-much-so that it prompted me to stop and consider the housing trends and plans we’ve all been following as a society. Could I ever live in a Vandura with six kids? Probably not. But there’s so much more to this tour than that fact. So much more. You’ll see.
Hi everyone! I’m Laura. Our family is comprised of me, my partner Jeff, and our 21-month old son Henry. We are full-time musicians who play in the indie pop band Ok Vancouver Ok. We spend up to half of each year on tour driving, flying, and taking trains around the world to play concerts.
When we are not on the road we call Vancouver, Canada home. I was born and raised in this beautiful city and feel excited to watch Henry grow up here. In addition to being in a band, I work as an assistant and contributor for the award-winning Eco-parenting website The Green Mama. In between drumming and breastfeeding, I am toiling away on my laptop trying to research environmentally conscious alternatives to the often toxic trappings of parenthood.
An unconventional fact about our life is that we live in a roomy 1982 GMC Vandura that we have converted into a tiny home on wheels. We bought it on Valentine’s day last year and gut renovated it right away. The van had already been stripped of its original interior and had an after-market raised roof and cool vertical windows. The previous owners were unable to finish the renovation they had planned, and sold it to us in pretty rough shape. It was a rusty, moldy, blank slate. For 1200 Canadian dollars we figured we could gamble on it, and with some time and TLC our investment paid off.
Vans aren’t built to live in; they have little to no insulation and are filled with synthetic materials like plastic and foam. This is an indoor air quality nightmare! Our first order of business was to detoxify, insulate, and build out the interior with wood. We also laid down a new floor and built a raised platform in the back.
For me, the height of the bed platform is crucial to van-dwelling success. It needs to be high enough from the floor to provide ample storage beneath — this is where our clothes, kitchen supplies, spare tire, camping equipment, and musical instruments live — but enough headroom above so that you can sit comfortably on the bed. We were able to get the van organized for living in only a few weeks thanks to the help of my father, who happens to be a carpenter with lots of expertise and tools.
Our van doesn’t have many things that traditional homes do. We don’t have a kitchen, electricity, a shower, a toilet, running water, storage, or heat. This means that we need to take more effort to accomplish daily tasks. Some issues, like washing clothes have a simple solution like a laundromat. Other problems, like going pee at 4:00 am, need to have more creative solutions. People are often astonished that we exist without WiFi or a place to recharge our electronics more than the fact that we live in Canada with no heat! (Don’t worry, Vancouver has a mild climate like Seattle and rarely experiences freezing weather!)
Our family eats a plant-based diet with lots of raw elements, so refrigeration and cooking isn’t as much of a concern as it would be with a more animal intensive eating plan. In the winter we can keep fresh food on hand in our cool Canadian climate for a few days, and in the summer we tend to only buy what we will eat for the day. We get to try lots of great restaurants around the world when we are traveling, and have become pros at eating out with a toddler. (Go at non-peak times, order as soon as you sit down, pay before your food comes, and get the heck out of there as soon as you are done!)
Sometimes we need to get very innovative with our home-cooked meals. I have found myself making organic nut butter with my Vitamix in a gas station restroom, or pre-soaking grains on a long haul drive so we can have sprouted quinoa for dinner in the green room. My Julienne peeler is my most coveted tool; zucchini noodles in a flash!
Living in the van and traveling a lot has the unexpected advantage of helping me be really diligent with toilet learning and elimination communication. Not dealing with diapers and accidents is really incentivized when you don’t have access to laundry! I am proud to say that at 21 months, Henry is nearly out of his cloth diapers and has no problems asking to go poo in a punk bar in Berlin or on the side of the Interstate in California.
We began living in our first van long before Henry was on the scene. It was 2010. We camperized our Ford Windstar Minivan to go on a seven-month music tour around North America. We removed the bench seats to make space for our instruments and amplifiers, and built a platform we could use as a makeshift bed.
When we returned to Vancouver after our trip, the housing market had shifted because of the 2010 Winter Olympics, development, and demand. We had the hardest time finding a new rental — let alone an affordable rental — so we just kept on living in the van. Since then we have renovated three vans and never looked back!
It is hard for me to discern if we fell into our lifestyle, chose to live this way, or were forced due to the extreme housing crisis our region is facing. I think many will agree our lives are a complicated mixture of circumstance and choice. When faced with limited affordable housing stock, I chose to embrace living in a less conventional way. The tradeoff of living in our van has allowed us to stay close to family and friends, have less hours spent at work and more time available to be with our son, keep pursuing our careers and passions, travel the world, and save money for Henry’s future.
Living in a van has also instilled more empathy in us for those who are currently marginalized with regards to housing. Vancouver has a large visibly homeless population concentrated in a single neighborhood. There is constant dialogue about this issue and its resolution.
Outwardly I appear to be traditionally housed and am therefore privy to conversations about ‘homeless people’ that make me feel ill. When people say that they hate rainy days because ‘the homeless loiter in cafe’s and make it smell bad’ my response is often sobering.
I think that we need to rethink The North American Dream we have been fed. It is not sustainable emotionally or environmentally to all strive for single family homes in the suburbs. The notion that success is reached when every family member has their own bedroom, in suite laundry, many bathrooms, and a big yard with an emerald green lawn is simply outdated. My take is that we are on the verge of a new reality and there are many examples of alternate norms around the world that we can look to. Extended families living in one home, dwelling in one-room buildings, having public baths, and not using electricity are all totally acceptable in other cultures. Why is it so hard to adopt some of these ideas in our own?
It’s also worth stating that this is not my dream home. Ideally I would be living in a cabin-like home I built out of trees I felled myself on a gorgeous island in the Pacific Northwest. I would be growing all sorts of heirloom vegetables and homeschooling my pack of smart and spunky offspring. We’d have a big happy dog and an orchard. Living in our Vandura is a stepping stone on the long path of our life, and for right now it has been a magical moment.
Last year we were away for seven months on tour. We got to drive from coast to coast across Canada. All the way down to Los Angeles and over to Europe. When we travel, we are accompanied by our amazing bassist. She is an important part of Henry’s life and an indispensable asset to our modern family. Sometimes I wonder how I would be able to survive each day without having a ‘second mama’ on hand?!
When we are on tour, every day looks different. We usually wake up and hit the road right away to make our way to the next city. We plan our path so we don’t have to drive more than five hours a day so that Henry doesn’t have to endure long durations strapped into a car seat. We stop often to let him go to the bathroom and stretch his legs. We eat lots of snacks and listen to music and talk and do crafts.
When we arrive in the new city for the show it’s usually lots of looking at maps — we don’t have GPS or smart phones — and trying to sort out parking. We load in and sound check around dinner time each day. This can be stressful. Everyone is weary from the drive and then there’s the task of getting to the gig, then we have to meet new people and old friends, carry heavy equipment, liaise with the sound person and other performers, and set up everything to make a great concert later that evening. Then we eat dinner and get psyched for the night.
Henry usually goes to bed between 8:00 and 10:00 pm. In North America, we bring a nanny with us. Lots of the venues are 21+ or unsuitable for children so we need to have someone there who can take care of him and put him to sleep while we work. But in Europe there are different laws and we are actually able to bring Henry into all of the shows.
On this past tour I would strap him onto my back in an Ergo carrier with his sound silencing headphones and he would sleep through our concerts! I found it is actually easier for me to have him right there with me. I can hear his heartbeat and he can hear mine. We both feel calm and contented knowing each other is happy. It has also made me an excellent and adaptable drummer!
After the show is over we go to bed! This is usually arranged by the person who booked us. Our accommodation is anything from living room floors to apartments atop the venue to bed and breakfasts to swanky hotels. After living in a van with no amenities, a couch with a toilet down the hall feels pretty deluxe! On our days off I would always elect to go camping versus staying in a hotel. We don’t sleep in the van very often when we are on tour. On long tours we try to play shows every day for a few weeks and then take some time off in a favorite city or in a place where we have friends or relatives to visit.
Touring is actually a tricky way to get to know a place! We are usually driving during business hours and miss out on daylight, museums, and attractions. We only see the night life and get glimpses into certain enclaves. Taking days off lets us experience the other side of the cities we play.
When we are back in Vancouver, our days have a much more predictable rhythm. Each day ends up revolving around the seasons. In the summer our baths usually happen in bodies of water. In the winter we tend to go to bed earlier, just like the sun. We take advantage of public amenities like swimming pools, the library, community centre craft drop-ins, and free events. I do my freelance writing from cafes. We enjoy a slow pace, and have more money and time to give to local businesses and events.
I make our van feel like home with beautiful bedding, strategic minimalism, and lots of plants!
Since over 50% of our living space is a bed, I make sure that it is cozy and beautiful. I have hand quilted many blankets since becoming a van dweller. I love the methodical and tedious nature of collecting little scraps of fabric from thrift stores and giving them new life by stitching them together. A queen sized blanket can take me months to complete. It is the perfect electricity-free hobby.
Minimalism is also key for living in a very small space. I have found out that I actually don’t like objects as much as I thought I did! I feel most at home when everything is streamlined and in its place. This can be tricky with a toddler. I am ruthless about passing on items we no longer need. Sometimes it feels like we are giving Henry’s toys, books, and too-small shoes away the second he outgrows them.
Let’s just say The Marie Kondo movement was not an a-ha moment for us! We’ve been living that truth for years. My whole wardrobe fits into a suitcase and nothing needs ironing or special washing.
Having plants inside the space helps purify the indoor air and makes it feel like a real home! It’s also fun to drive around with a potted plant on the dash. Makes me smile every time.
The only thing I truly miss from a life indoors is the ease of entertaining. I love to cook and bake and feed everyone I love. Having long meals with great wine and tasty snacks is something that we can achieve in the summer at beaches and parks, but in the winter it is hard to invite people over.
I also miss having my own garden. The wait lists for community plots in Vancouver are insane! And our touring schedule usually means that we are out of town for either planting, tending, or harvest. One day when I ‘retire’ I will have the garden of my dreams.
Our house doesn’t feel too small for us. The van is like our bedroom and the rest of the world is just a very long hallway away. We get to spend so much more time experiencing people, places, and things!
We feel really blessed to spend our days in Vancouver parked in a diverse and open-minded neighborhood close to the city centre. Our neighbors (both those that live in traditional houses and those that live in vans) are so welcoming and accommodating of our somewhat unique housing strategy. We also have a great extended network of bands, promoters, artists, and fans all around the world.
We currently live within driving distance of Henry’s four grandparents and three great-grandparents. We couldn’t ask for more intergenerational support. It is so wonderful to give him the gift of their involvement in his life.
It can be alienating and isolating to be a new mom. Everything is unfamiliar and it seems that the world wasn’t designed for crying newborns, leaky breasts, and diaper blowouts. A simple trip to the market becomes the event of the day and many mothers end up inside their homes, alone. Being a mom who is traveling with her baby and living in very small space means that I am always out and about, confronting society with my breast milk covered reality. I have found some amazing solidarity and community in this circumstance.
I see living in a van at this stage in Henry’s life as a decision that comes with both positives and negatives. That being said, I can’t think of a version of my life that wouldn’t come without some concessions. Right now I am taking each day as it comes. Our debt-free, freelance situation has left us able to evolve. I don’t worry too much about how living in a van will impact Henry as he grows because I am confident that we will reshape our lifestyle to meet his needs.
Just as parents switch schools when they find out about their child’s new learning challenges, I am ready to make necessary adjustments to give Henry the best life. My maternal Grandmother lost her husband when her kids were very young. I always keep her advice to live in the moment and not take things for granted with me. I feel grateful to have a partner with me that feels the same way and I am excited that we are building this life together.
When I found out I was pregnant I was…you guessed it…on tour! We were in Switzerland when I finally took a pregnancy test, but I had known in my heart for a few weeks that I was most likely expecting. I even bought folic acid at a chemist in Serbia and began taking them just in case. I knew that I would have to seriously reorganize my priorities and rearrange my plans to accommodate this new being. And I began to realize that it wouldn’t be as simple as setting up a crib in the guest bedroom. I became acutely aware of the fact that I had no idea who this person would end up being and therefore couldn’t really plan for what was to come.
I often joke it’s like choosing a roommate for the next 18 years (at least) without even bothering to interview them. Would the baby be fussy? Shy? Outgoing? Big? Small? Would he or she have a physical challenge? Would my labour be complicated?! What about breastfeeding?! I surrendered all my expectations and opened up to the possibility that this could be the end of my life on the road. I was totally ready to become this baby’s mom through all the ups, downs, and transformations.
Lucky for us, Henry has been a happy healthy baby from day one. I was playing concerts right up until my due date and began again a few months after he was born. He is very outgoing, social, and adaptable. He LOVES the drums and singing into the microphone. At 21 months, he is now able to tell the difference between certain cables and instruments. He is a treat to watch at shows. He is so authentic in his joy! I hope he maintains his enthusiasm forever. So far he seems to have no issues with our lifestyle, and on the contrary manages to thrive in our somewhat unconventional tour schedule.
I know that I can’t expect him to vividly remember all of the amazing moments and places he has seen in his first 21 months of life. But everything I have read on the topic of parenting has stressed that although kids don’t remember exact details from the first three years of life, the experiences in this window shape who they are forever. I want Henry to remember that I loved never having to spend a day apart from one another. I want him to know that home isn’t a building, but rather the feeling of being safe and supported by people that love you. I want him to keep his open heart, mind, and free spirit.
I am not sure what I hope he remembers about me as a mother. In a way, I hope he sees a side of me that I don’t even know about! I have an image of myself as a strong and confident artist who is trying to fill the mom-shaped hole in my music community. I would love to have him shatter my notion of myself with a surprising answer. I believe that children are here to teach us just as much as we are meant to teach them.
I wish that someone had told me that these is no right way to mother. I am just 21 months into my lifelong adventure as a parent and I have already received my fair share of condemnation and criticism. I have also found myself turning the tables to judge other parents.
By standing on a stage night after night, I am putting myself in a position to be photographed, videotaped, and critiqued. There is rampant sexism in the entertainment industry and I had been desensitized to people forgetting to focus on my musical abilities in favor of commenting on my weight, outfit, hairstyle, and personality. However, I was unprepared for how bringing Henry into my life and my work would open the door for criticism on my ability to parent and raise a healthy child.
In a digital age where it is so easy to comment on others’ lives, I am trying to reflect on the power of words and the homogenized face of normalcy perpetuated by the media. There are so many diverse and wonderful ways to be an excellent parent. I want to hear a chorus of strong radical mamas speaking openly about success and failures. We need to end the erasure of the ‘unconventional’ narrative. I wish that someone had told me sooner that the only way to achieve this is to be authentic and share with one another.
Where do I start? First, I’d like to thank Laura for her fresh perspective. It was glorious. Second, this: “On this past tour I would strap him onto my back in an Ergo carrier with his sound silencing headphones and he would sleep through our concerts! I found it is actually easier for me to have him right there with me. I can hear his heartbeat and he can hear mine. We both feel calm and contented knowing each other is happy.” Talk about bringing your baby to work! Again, pretty glorious, right?
There’s almost too much to love in this one. But I can’t forget to mention her hopes that her Henry will shatter her notion of herself with a surprising answer. I had never really considered this concept, have you? It’s kind of life-changing.
P.S. – Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me know! We love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! I should also mention, I have a goal to bring more diverse points of view to Design Mom this year. So if you don’t see yourself or your community reflected here, let’s make it happen — send in your details, or recommend a friend! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.
117 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Laura House”
Loved this peek into your life, Laura. I’m such a sentimentalist, and your homemade quilts are singing my song. What a sweet reminder these will be one day of this special stage of your life.
I enjoyed this post, Gabrielle. I admit I was a little stunned at first (and while it’s embarrassing to admit, I was also a little put off) with Laura’s lifestyle because it’s so different from my own, but after thinking about it more I really admire her and her husband for doing so much to create a life they feel is the best fit for them and their child. They clearly love their son very much and it’s clear they put a lot of purpose and intent into how they can best support all of their passions while making sure they are providing great learning opportunities for him. While I wouldn’t want to live in a van, the fact they do and seem to enjoy it while having so much appreciation for the things the majority of us just take for granted is quite inspiring. It reminds me of when my husband and I were poor, recently graduated from college and bought an old house that was not in living condition and we had to do a gut renovation. We had to save up to buy a refrigerator from the scratch-and-dent store and in the meantime had a beverage cooler on our front porch we used to store food. When we finally got that fridge you would have thought we had won the lottery; we appreciated it so much. Laura’s appreciation for simple things reminds me of that feeling, and it is a great way to approach life. Thank you, Laura, for trusting the DesignMom readers so much to share such an intimate look at your family and lifestyle when you know it is different from the majority. That isn’t an easy thing and I admire your ability to be vulnerable and share your experiences with all of us. It looks like you’ve created quite a lovely life for your family!
“home isn’t a building, but rather the feeling of being safe and supported by people that love you. ”
Beautiful, beautiful words – you have so got this! You absolutely understand what is important.
I also live in Vancouver but in a tiny apartment with my husband + as we are waiting (via adoption) to grow our family, we plan on hanging on to our tiny space for as long as we can – it has everything we need after all. Your story has given me even more determination to ignore those who think we’d be mad to add a baby to our 1 bed space. A very inspiring and I wish your family all the luck in this continued adventure!
And we wish you luck with your adoption process. I know it can be a lot of waiting and guessing and hoping. Vancouver is a little city, say hi to me if you spot me at the farmers market or something ! <3
Lisa, you will be so absolutely fine with a child in one bedroom. My fave memories are of cozying up with my babies in my bedroom. And even when they moved onto their own bedrooms they kept coming back at night…for years! ;)
We had a large dog and a cat in our one-bedroom when we were younger and people would even comment on that. But it was ideal for a dog because we were forced to walk her constantly.
It’s sad that Vancouver is soooo expensive…even worse than Toronto!
I know lots of families living in 2 bedroom spaces to elect to all sleep in the one room (be it co-sleeping, multiple beds, giant giagantor multi-matress franken beds… ) and then use the other room creatively as an office, wardrobe room, guest room, play room or den! Live your bliss!
There are also lots of creative people using walk-in-closets like CHAMPIONS :) do your thing!
@Lisa, you’ll do great in a one-bedroom apartment!
My husband, our 14-year-old daughter, and I have done this her entire life. We initially shared the bedroom with her, but when she was 6 we moved out to the living room. That’s how it’s been ever since. Sometimes I’d love a door to close, but generally I think living in such a small place has contributed to our closeness as a family.
Good luck with your adoption!
People always talk about kids needing routine and predictability but if you can get them used to being flexible and adaptable isn’t that so much better and doesn’t it so much better prepare them for our unpredictable world. I am positive that these years of Henry’s life will be amazing for his development and world view.
Massive support and kudos to Laura for sharing her story here. I don’t think I could do it, but I totally respect her decisions about how to live life and be a parent. What an amazing childhood for H to look back on. He will be a well- loved and well- grounded child of the world.
Found this to be a fascinating way of life. To each his own! I had a question for Laura, if she is keeping track here… How do basic hygiene practices play into living in your van? I realize that laundry can be solved easily by a laundromat, but how does one find a place to shower/ bathe the baby?
As a musician I think all this music must be great for Henry. Music is math, it’s counting and rhythms, physical and emotional expression, it’s dance and movement… Every child should be heavily exposed to music!
When we are on tour we are always provided accommodations with bathing facilities, although not all places have bath tubs, especially overseas. So Henry is quite adept at toddler showering. He is also very happy having a bubble bath in the kitchen sink.
As a teenager and throughout university I was a swimming instructor and lifeguard. This history has led me to love all water, including public pools! In the winter I often try to tack my showers onto my time spent at the yoga studio, pool, or fitness club. There are also free showers at community centres throughout Vancouver. In the summer we try to hit the beach, or river, or water park as much as we can. A city splash pad isn’t the place to soap up and deep condition but it makes for a nice pre-dinner rinse and some fun. We’ve tested out some pretty luxe public baths. My favourites being in Budapest.
We also get invited to shower in the homes of friends and family. When we get the invite to attend a bbq or dinner party we often get asked to show up early or stay late, use the bath, and help prepare for the guests or do some cleaning up. This started out feeling very weird to me, and now has become more normalized.
There have also been ‘bird baths’ in the van when necessity requires. I think it is also worth noting that my skin and hair type really doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. I know that some of us who have dyed hair, blemishes, or other skin issues need to have more time, space, and privacy to keep things looking and feeling good. I am lucky to have such a care free routine.
I love this so much! You are giving Henry so much more than a “home”, you are giving him some amazing experiences. His little brain must be making so many amazing connections.
As a musician and mother of four, I sincerely invite you to stay with us when you are in the Seattle area. I am encouraging my kids to pursue music and we recently acquired (in addition to the other instruments we play) our first used drum kit and electric guitar. You can stay with us in exchange for music lessons!
It’s so wonderful when women speak their truths. So brave. So inspirational. It makes others feel not so alone and critical of themselves. Thank you for this real story, both of you. It’s simply marvelous.
I loved this tour! It made me think and opened my eyes to new possibilities and ways of living. Like she said there are a million ways to be a mom and so we each need to do it our way. I went to a hear some wonderful women speak last night and one of them said “Do what you love and are passionate about and don’t neglect who God made. You are the exact mom you kids need so don’t deprive them of you.” This is exactly what this mom is doing. She is authentic and true to who she is and that’s awesome! I’d totally love to meet her some day if she ever does a show in Utah. Way to go Laura!
I LOVE UTAH! It is so gorgeous and fresh and wonderful there. The mountains! The valleys! The flats! The people! Can’t wait to go back and bring my little Henry :)
Laura – Kudos to you for having the guts to open your heart so willingly to DM’s readers. And, thank you for your post. It is very rare that a post makes so many people really examine their own belief systems about parenting, need vs. want, and our imaginings for the futures of our children.
I grew up moving from city to city with my 2 sisters and my single mom. We often moved due to my mother’s job relocations. As a child, I hated not having roots and having to leave friends and make new connections over and over. I also very much missed my mom, who I didn’t often see due to her long work hours. We were very poor, but I think I didn’t miss the “things” so much as I missed having time with my mom.
As a child, I vowed to live and raise my children in a stable home and not move around because I thought that was the source of my sadness. As an adult, I realize that most of my childhood sadness came from the fact that as much as my mom loved us, she was unable to spend time with us or connect with us in the way that we needed because she had to work to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and me and my sisters clothed.
My mother is a gypsy at heart. Had she had the option, I have no doubt that she would have chosen a lifestyle similar to yours – at least when we were young. Had we had more time with her, I think our childhoods would have been different. I think I still would not have minded the absence of “things,” and would have instead remembered the time with my mother.
All this to say, follow your heart. You are giving your time and love to your child. That is more important than giving him his own room.
Wow. This post was amazing. And reading all the comments has been eye-opening, too! Thanks guys. I’m learning.
Laura, you can come and park in my driveway anytime! I live in a lovely but modest home in Virginia and love learning about all the possible ways to carve out a life for yourself and family. A great example for my kids to learn that there are unconventional ways to live and one size fits all does not work for everyone. Being able to adapt to unexpected circumstances in the most positive way is a gift that not many people have. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
I’m so glad I had a chance to read this post! Laura has a beautiful writing voice and I truly loved seeing into this peephole of her life.
YES YES YES. My favorite “Living with Kids” post yet. Laura, I identify so much with your critiques of the North American dream. So much respect for your intentionality, flexibility, and willingness to scrutinize “the norm”. Power to you, sister.
I loved your story! When we first got married over 40 years ago we put $50 down on a sailboat with the intentions of living aboard. Always thought that we would travel and when kids came along they would go with us too. Well as life throws you a curve every now and then, you learn to just go with it. Thinking that children were not happening we purchased our vessel of choice, a 22 footer full keeled boat, and sat back to contemplate our dream. Fast forward to almost getting it paid off and you guessed it. Twins! then another is fast secession. Well… being a stay at home mom is absolutely the best if you get the chance. And every chance we got was on the boat. Most of their childhood memories are on or around the water.
Yes they are all grown now and we are so grateful that we’ve been able to share our dreams and shared our tiny ‘boat’ space with them. I am sure this has also helped shape them into the young ladies that they have become. Also at one point we even got an old VW camper van and had the best time with that as well!!!
For inspriation have you heard of the Zapp’s. The family that traveled from Argentina to Alaska and had each of their four children along the way? While traveling and living in an antique 1928 car? Check them out. They are still living the dream. (Plaid Zebra)
Again, I enjoyed your stories.
Wow. This was fascinating. Reading though the article and the comments my thoughts are:
1. I have to learn to judge less. (Or not at all… how about that?!)
2. Having “less” doesn’t automatically equal authentic.
3. Having “more” doesn’t automatically equal inauthentic.
4. I’m picking the wrong public restrooms to use.
5. I haven’t been to a good concert in a while.
A very interesting read! Laura, your lifestyle reminds me of a six-week camping trip my family took when I was 11. We drove our ’94 Dodge Caravan from Florida, all the way out to Yellowstone, and then looped south through Utah, Colorado, etc. We camped in National or State Parks the entire time. It was one of the most formative experiences of my life and my brother and I still talk about our adventures “Out West.” I know Henry will look back on this simple lifestyle with fond memories! :)
Wow–to this post and the incredibly varied conversation in the comments! I only have one thing to say: I don’t always read the Living with Kids posts and think “I would make exactly the same choices this family has”, but I don’t feel that it is really my business to comment on how I might choose differently. The thought of leaving in a van makes me practically hyperventilate, but Laura seems to be handling it with care and thoughtfulness and her child is clearly loved and cherished and provided for. There are, tragically, many precious children in the world being neglected, abused, starved, enslaved, ignored, and harmed. Let’s not criticize parents who are doing their best to surround their child with love and meet his needs. I have made lots of mistakes as a parent and I’m still making them, I’m sure (I’m not saying Laura is making mistakes, but that I think we all do and I want to be more careful myself about the judgments I make of other parents). I hope people who love me can help me grow in those areas, but if it were me it would hurt to have people who don’t even know me critiquing my parenting on the Internet. I think Laura is courageous to share her unconventional life, and I admire her grace in responding to criticism and questions–and I think she has great answers to a lot of these questions!
Let’s be kind to each other, mamas. The world can be a painful place and parenting is hard. Let’s be on the same side.
Wow wow wow. This was a breath of fresh air. This was my favourite bit: “I want to hear a chorus of strong radical mamas speaking openly about success and failures. We need to end the erasure of the ‘unconventional’ narrative. I wish that someone had told me sooner that the only way to achieve this is to be authentic and share with one another.”
Gave me a little tear in my eye. Thank you being so honest and vulnerable while at the same time celebrating your choice and embracing your circumstance! We definitely aren’t living as “unconventionally” as you, but the little ways that we are, at least as compared to the community I’m used to — two small kids apartment dwelling, no foreseeable garden or yard, one income on contract in a city in Europe (i am Canadian) with no idea where we will go when it runs out in a year… Usually when I read these I feel out of place with my transience, like — there is no foreseeable answer to “how did this home come to be yours?” In our near future, but this time I just felt celebrated and affirmed in our happy family existence. Thanks! Xox
Thank you Laura for sharing about your life and thanks to Gabrielle for choosing a home tour that is very different from so many others I’ve read on other lifestyle blogs. So refreshing to see someone else truly living an alternative lifestyle and making it work so beautifully. Laura I love how you said you “actually don’t love objects as much as you thought” you did. I definitely feel that way but it’s hard to force myself to pare down at home. We’ve never lived like you do for any extended period of time but over the years my two kids and and I have tagged along on some of my husband’s conferences and lived in a hotel room for a week. With two kids under two on some trips I didn’t want to eat out or waste money on room service all for every meal so I had to get creative with feeding them. Buying fresh and keeping it simple was the way to go. I admire you doing it as much as you do. Enjoy your lovely adventures!
This is my own personal hell. Good for Laura, not for me! ;)
“I wish that someone had told me sooner that the only way to achieve this is to be authentic and share with one another.”
This. I burst into tears here. Although I would not choose to live this way, I admire the author for her grace and vulnerability. Sharing one’s lifestyle choices on the Internet is an extremely brave thing to do. Kudos to the author for her courage, poise, and originality.
Great, great perspective. Wonderful lifestyle and I admire you for finding a way to make your work and family life blend in a way that benefits everyone.