Home found-Making life better one small step at a time

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

This month and a half was a big push to improving our lives.


It has been a busy busy busy month. Heck it has been a crazy busy quarter. We did finally get a home. We are in the middle of the city and are blessed with almost half an acre. We are still moving boxes from both homes and I am stuck with a problem on a website I am building as a business. I haven’t gotten sick yet, mainly I think because I have been getting enough sleep to overcome the exhaustion.

I have made good steps in improving my family relationships though, mainly with keeping my wife happy. I am still working on myself so I can improve and be a better husband

Being a flexible, resilient individual was something I realized in me many years ago. I didn’t fully realize how I could use it to make life better for the people most important to me. I will keep on going, I think this will lead to better things.

God bless y’all/

 


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.

HOMESCHOOL PROGRESS – Easy Peasy, McGuffey, Sketchup and ABCmouse

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

We have been homschooling my son for the past couple of months. Like most new homeschoolers we are trying to figure things out in terms of schedule and curriculum.


On a previous post, I talked about how my son was having issues at school because he could not control his tantrums. We went thru the allies exercise with his toys (read post here) but honestly I don’t think that worked. I feel it did not work because there was no real pressure between us. It did not matter if we were allies or not, he was still playing and having fun. Anyway back to his tantrums, he was having it in school and it was becoming more frequent (and intense) at home. I had a discussion with his teacher in hopes to improve the situation and we were working on it at home too.

Things got worse with that teacher and so, after much thought, we decided to pull him out of school and we started to homeschool him. It has been a couple of months since we started homeschool and I wanted to share some updates.


HOMESCHOOL STYLE

I would say we are still experimenting with the curriculum details but in general we are doing an eclectic style of teaching. I am leading this effort so I take it on me to do the more scheduled sessions. My main push for now is to make him comfortable with reading so we are focusing on that. If I can get him comfy with reading, he can pursue his own interests by reading on his own. As he reads, I am right beside him helping him when he needs it. He has not shown a lack of confidence reading, and when he cannot read a word he just asks. I make sure I am constructive in my instructions and do not show any frustrations. This is a conscious effort-never show frustration. Sometimes he is not focused because he wants to play or do something else. In that case, we pause and get it out of his system and then try to reschedule.

I plan to use the Easy Peasy curriculum as a guide and add stuff to it based on his interests.

For his reading, we are currently using the McGuffey primer so I can closely monitor his reading progress. He’d read while I sat beside him. He reads the pdf and if I want to make any notes I just add them on the pdf. The notes help me understand any difficulties he has.

homeschool reading mcguffey

On the side, we have a ton of easy to read books he can browse at leisure. This helps him exercise the basic skill we are picking up from the McGuffey primer. I recall coming home one night and mom was proudly sharing to me how my son read a whole book by himself. She was surprised at his progress.

We signed him up for ABC mouse recently. Sometimes I have to check on this because some of the things in it are not suited for his level. Sometimes he is just playing with the hamsters in the app. You can adjust the level of difficulty on it, and I think that’s something I have to set up in the next day or so. I plan to set it up so he can practice math and reading. It does help him learn computer skills and there are some great things on there. The other day, he was coloring pages on it and the way the app works is quite similar to Adobe Photoshop would do it. I would say that these type of “play” helps him get comfortable with software, figuring out where the tools and settings are and should translate to a skill of understanding apps as he grows older.

I want my son to develop a spatial understanding and understand the 3D digital world. I have no doubt that 3D will be a large part of the future and I want him to start learning about it. As part of this, he gets to play around in a free software called Sketchup. He loves Legos and he can pretty much do the same thing on Sketchup. At some point I plan on having him do a project which we can bring to the local library for 3D printing. Here is a picture of a recent building he did:

Sketchup Homeschool

I know the software so I am there to help troubleshoot it for him when he needs to. It is very easy to learn.


SCHEDULE AND TRACKING

So far schedule has been super flexible. I do not want my wife to feel pressured to homeschool him because when she does, she feels compelled to do a more rigid schedule like they had when she was younger. I would remind her that we are not boxing ourselves into the rigid schedule that government schools provide.

He gets casual reading and ABCmouse during the day with mom and then we do more focused time when I am there. Usually these are on weekends or on some weeknights.

We mark his progress in terms of units on a basic spreadsheet. A unit is simply a set amount of work or exercise with a goal. Maybe the goal was to read a book, complete some chores or answer some worksheets. This is for our reference only, it helps me track progress and make sure we are giving him enough material and time to develop and learn.


INCENTIVES

Mom came up with a smart idea and drew up this chart. We noticed how our son is incentivized with tracking his progress and competing with the rest of us. So, mom drew up a grid of squares and drew prizes on different parts of the grid. Everytime he completes a unit of homeschooling, he gets to color in a grid. As his units accumulate, he goes down the grid and can direct the grid to where he wants to. He gets the prize drawn in that grid. Some prizes include:

  • Picking a movie on Netflix/Amazon
  • 30mins of Ipad time
  • $1 to spend on anything he wants
  • A trip to Barnes and Noble

The more premium prizes are farther down the line of the grid to get to, so he understands that he needs to work to get there. So far his happiest was when he got to the grid for the ipad. He even volunteered to do extra units to get there.


CONCLUSION

We have a method going and are still developing it. I plan to finish strong so Mom can see how we can make this work while not killing ourselves pretending to be a government school and running that type of schedule. We want to teach our son the basics but also let him to build on his strengths, so as he gains new interests I will be there to give him the opportunity to pursue them. With future trends I am hoping he finds interests in robotics, science and engineering. At some point we will need to take on STEM subjects too-and those should be really fun for both of us-but for now we will keep building his basic reading skills.


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.

RESILIENT HOUSE- suburban homestead options 4 & 5 lost to cash buyers

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

Being a home owner of a house that lets us produce something gives us more options than just renting. We have more options and more opportunities by owning a home-we just have to find one that will allow the opportunities to happen and not hinder it. No HOAs, reasonable city regulations and some land.

This is a short update on 2 homes we bid on and both lost. Both properties had at least .25 acres and we lost both of them to cash buyers.

______________________________________________________________________

Checklist from the previous post:
Our approach is more of a suburban homestead solution. We’ll live in a suburb in the Dallas area, I can commute to work and grow some of our own food. So far, I have whittled down my requirements to the following:

  1. good solar orientation for growing food
  2. good solar orientation for cold weather
  3. freedom within local laws to have some livestock
  4. space in the yard to grow food (preferrably in the backyard)
  5. space in the yard to grow something for market/sale
  6. fireplace for heating
  7. brick exterior preferred
  8. parking for 2 cars to protect us from hail (which we are still dealing with in one vehicle)
  9. distance from any facility/farm that can cause health concerns or dangers
  10. not if a flood zone

House no.4

This house was perfect from both mine and my wife’s reqts except that it did not have a garage. Best condition of all homes we saw built around that time. Any updates to it were done with great care and with good quality work. The yard was perfect, the layout was perfect. We even met the owner on the day we left after seeing it and totally connected with them.

House no.5

We saw this house on a listing on a Friday, drove the neighborhood on Saturday and luckily was able to see the house later that same day. It was seriously outdated on the interiors and needed lots of cosmetic work. However the structure seemed solid. There was a comprehensive list of previous repairs and maintenance done on the house, contained in 2 binders we saw during the visit. The backyard was tiny, but if fenced off for privacy I can do some things there.

suburban homestead


We bid on house no. 4 and 5 last week. House no.4 was ideal, no.5  I could make it work based on some ideas we came up with for House no.3-the one in Sachse. Monday afternoon we lost both bids. We were informed that both homes picked cash buyers. We were put up as back up buyers on House no.4 but that was as close as we got.

On both homes we were outbid by cash buyers. I can imagine a few reasons for this:

  • Investors are buying up the best deals
  • These may be from families who are being relocated for work in TX by their companies
  • Homeowners who are using delayed financing, paying from their other assets initially

If investors are purchasing like crazy in this market, I hope I do not continue to be a renter for the next few years. I can only imagine how expensive the rents would be then, and in these neighborhoods, as years go by. It is tough to be competing with these investors in this market, but then it will be tougher if I remain as a renter in the next few years to come.

On families getting moved by their corporate companies, it just shows how much economic growth is coming to Texas. I am not an economic expert, but there has been a lot of coverage on the news about how companies are relocating to Texas that I do not need to be an economic expert to know this anyway. I have met some people who were moved here and I heard how sweet the deals were for them when it came to their companies helping them purchase a home.

We have lost a few bids on houses. I did not immediately realize the emotional toll this has on my family. I have encouraged my wife to not get too emotionally attached to a dream home until we win and move into it. Still, despite the ridiculous competition, I have strengthened resolve that we need to get into a home sooner than later. If we stay as renters, it will only be tougher to purchase a home later on. It will also be more expensive to remain as a renter.


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.

 

RESILIENT HOUSE- suburban homestead 3

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

Being a home owner of a house that lets us produce something gives us more options than just renting. We have more options and more opportunities by owning a home-we just have to find one that will allow the opportunities to happen and not hinder it. No HOAs, reasonable city regulations and some land.


We are still looking for a property in the Dallas area that is suitable for a suburban homestead approach. To summarize what I am looking for in general, here’s a quote from the last post:

Our approach is more of a suburban homestead solution. We’ll live in a suburb in the Dallas area, I can commute to work and grow some of our own food. So far, I have whittled down my requirements to the following:

  1. good solar orientation for growing food
  2. good solar orientation for cold weather
  3. freedom within local laws to have some livestock
  4. space in the yard to grow food (preferrably in the backyard)
  5. space in the yard to grow something for market/sale
  6. fireplace for heating
  7. brick exterior preferred
  8. parking for 2 cars to protect us from hail (which we are still dealing with in one vehicle)
  9. distance from any facility/farm that can cause health concerns or dangers
  10. not if a flood zone

I also use this great link from www.backyardchickens to do a quick check if the house I am looking at is in a city that allows chickens

http://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/3/Laws

After doing a quick check thru backyardchickens.com, if the city is okay with chickens, then I go and read the rest of the city’s regulations by searching these 2 keywords in Google – “municode” and the name of the city.

backyard chicken city regulations search

Doing this gives me a quick preview of the city laws and how laid back or how controlling the local regulations might be.

As an example, this week we ventured farther South of Dallas into Mesquite. Mesquite promotes itself as the “rodeo capital of Texas”. My wife explored several homes there which I mapped out from closest to furthest. She loved it and still raves about the great homes. However, that night after exploring the homes in that city, we did the search noted above and we learned that Mesquite does not allow chickens. You even need permits for horses in some cases. Honestly I found this hypocritical for a city that promotes itself as having freedom. So, just like that we crossed out hypocritical cowboy suburbs from our options.


HOUSE NO. 3

We were blessed to find multiple homes today that worked. We found one in Sachse and a few in Garland.

I will focus on a house we found in Sachse.

Suburban homestead 3

 

It has been really difficult finding a house which has at least 0.20 acres. After that frustrating day in Mesquite my wife zeroed in on several properties with the right lot size and found this house in Mesquite. It met most of the requirements above but the yard was in the wrong side of the house from growing something. The rear yard was facing east and was covered in trees. The front yard was a lawn facing the west side.If I was going to grow food and have chickens in this front yard it was going to take some work. Mainly because it would be too hot and the front yard because of the western sun and with chickens it may mean I need to make the coop more “attractive”.

 

Driving there I was glad to see several neighborhood houses that did not have a manicured front yard. Old cars parked on the front for repairs, unmanicured lawns- these are good signs for me as it means you can do what you want and the city will not bother you.

The house did not look that interesting on the outside. It was a real downer the first time I saw it with the front lawn eating up all the space.


INTERIORS

We went inside the house on Saturday-they had a scheduled open house period. The interiors was all done up. All we had to do was move in our stuff and I could get straight to working on my exterior improvements. The house price obviously reflected this, but the main benefits to me were obvious:

  • save time on improving the interiors ourselves
  • save time and get ahead on improving the exterior and I may get my garden up this season
  • all the new things installed are working and have warranties
  • wife is super happy about the house and this will keep her happy for a long time

The disadvantages for this are:

  • we pay for the big bump up in the house value due to the improvements which we can do ourselves (we also pay the interest on all of that)
  • we do not have any memories on doing the project
  • I will have to be creative with my exterior improvements
  • the rear yard still is not a great size and is not the greatest for solar orientation

We asked a ton of questions on this house while the agents were there. Got lots of answers too. I finally got to see the backyard as well during the day and looked for some spots for a potential garden. I ran a scenario in my head how we could make this work:

Given that the house is close to the price range we would pay for the other options we were willing to make offers on, I accepted the price. We would not be making money from this house when we sell it later-at least not as much money if we did the renovations ourselves.

My wife would love the home, and would keep her inspired and give her a feeling of contentment. She might get started on her hobbies as she gets inspired by the house. This would be great as life is amazing when your spouse is happy.

suburban homestead privacy bamboo
An example of bamboo screening for privacy

My wife suggested enclosing the front yard with bamboo. I liked the idea. This would take time and probably be about 2 years for there to be enough bamboo density for me to work with. Given that I will likely spend the 1st year just finding a spot for a long term garden, the 2 years should go by fast. I can focus on other projects til the bamboo is ready.


THE REAR YARD-MY SPACE FOR POTENTIAL PRODUCTION

The rear yard can hold my chickens. The ground is sparse. This is a sign that the yard does not get great sun-at least I think so. It is like my current house in Plano. This might not work for a garden. I did pick out a corner which had some good sun when we were there. The question was how long that sunlight would last through the day and throughout the year. I saw it in March, where would this shade be in August when it fries my garden?

suburban homestead
Sketch of a creek behind the rear yard

The rear yard is adjacent to a creek. I imagine this might have some bugs living in it andI can have my chicken coop right up against the fence. Any bugs wandering into the coop would add to my chicken’s diet. They would need to be in a coop in pretty much all the cities we looked at. This would also protect them from any animals coming from the creek. The creek was also in an easement-I would use this distance as part of the required clearance from the coop to the adjacent homes. I can make this work I thought.

The property has a line for natural gas. It’s not hooked up to the stove, but at least I will only need to extend plumbing to other appliances from the fireplace. Natural gas as a utility is a very resilient system and great for saving utility bills. You can connect them to a generator with some work, and they can provide you with good cheap heat even when you lose electricity.

The rear yard would also have space for a rain water storage solution and a great place for a small aquaponics set up. Both of these sound attractive to me because of previous failures growing in the ground.


CONCLUSION

The house was very attractive and turns out had already picked up 10 offers in that one Saturday. I imagine the competition was very high for it because of the interiors and because of the price for that house in that city.

Even though I had some ways planned out in my head on how to make the poor solar orientation and lot layout work for me, I think me and my wife both agree we should not offer on the house. We will put in our work and improve the interiors and we can pocket the savings and the profit. We also would have to raise the price high to compete with the other offers. This house is just a bit too hot for us to get. And, even if we offer high on it, the appraised value may not work for the seller of the house and us having to come up with the remaining balance.
The great thing though, is instead of just relying on finding a house with the correct lot layout, going thru this house made me realize I have quite a few options to make the lot work. I can be creative with my solutions and if I have enough land with no regulations hindering me I can still make it work. This is a valuable lesson learned which I am applying to the other homes we are still looking at.


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.

RESILIENT HOUSE 2-Suburban homestead 2

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

Being a home owner of a house that lets us produce something gives us more options than just renting. We have more options and more opportunities by owning a home-we just have to find one that will allow the opportunities to happen and not hinder it. No HOAs, reasonable city regulations and some land.


We have been looking for a house to purchase. This will be our first time to buy a home and we have been renting for years now. Living in NYC back then, buying real estate just was not an option for us-mainly due to cost. Since we moved to Texas, we realized how this is actually very attainable. We have been shopping for months and have been educating ourselves as owners and as investors (as selling the home in the future is always a possibility).

One of my main guidelines in this purchase-which is one of the biggest purchases in a family’s lifetime-is: can the home help me live a more resilient lifestyle?

By this I mean, rather than being just a property that consumes my resources, will this home actually produce for me?

This is a homesteading mindset-making a property produce for you instead of just consume. Moving it more in the direction of being an asset rather than just a liability.

With our current situation, I cannot force my family to moving to a full on acreage homestead to grow our own food and distance ourselves from a city. My wife and I have compromised and agreed that we will live within the city limits and find a place where she can still be close to areas of entertainment. We have multiple family visitors in a year and my wife likes to take them around the city. Also, she is not comfortable with the thought of isolation or distance from neighbors yet. I myself am not sure if I am capable of the workload of maintaining and utilizing that much space.

Our approach is more of a suburban homestead solution. We’ll live in a suburb in the Dallas area, I can commute to work and grow some of our own food. So far, I have whittled down my requirements to the following:

  1. good solar orientation for growing food
  2. good solar orientation for cold weather
  3. freedom within local laws to have some livestock
  4. space in the yard to grow food (preferrably in the backyard)
  5. space in the yard to grow something for market/sale
  6. fireplace for heating
  7. brick exterior preferred
  8. parking for 2 cars to protect us from hail (which we are still dealing with in one vehicle)
  9. distance from any facility/farm that can cause health concerns or dangers
  10. not if a flood zone

HOUSE NO. 2

We started to look at Garland more. It is about 30 minutes from Dallas and has great pricing on homes. Plus, the restrictions on parking on the street and owning livestock are much less than in Rowlett-which had House no. 1.

Almost every city will have their own set of regulations. If you want to check your city, you can search (name of city) and “municode”. It often has better search results than (name of city) and regulations. Here is my prospective city’s municode:

https://www.municode.com/library/ar/garland_county/codes/code_of_ordinances

You can have fun browsing the city regulations or you can also use great sites like BackyardChickens.com where they have a quick guide on local laws. They are updated (at least the city I looked at was).

http://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/3/Laws

I am planning to have chickens or rabbits in the yard, so checking this is important for me. With this house in this new city, we can have coops as long as they are 30’ away from the next house. This is much better than Rowlett’s 50’. I can also have 4 chickens instead of just 2. I imagine we will be looking at Garland more, as I am liking Rowlett less. Plus, as I mentioned in my last post for House No. 1, Rowlett had overreaching laws about parking trailers in the streets.

buying suburban homestead

House no. 2 had a great location. It was on a corner lot and had an L-shaped backyard. Lots of space for me to grow stuff and use for all kinds of things. Here’s an image of the property from Google Earth.

suburban homestead

The house is quite old, built in 1978. I imagine we will deal with asbestos and lead.

It has 3 bedrooms and 2bathrooms-what we wanted. And the layout of the rooms were focused on one side of the house. This makes it easier for security and protection for me and my kids. If I am every in a situation where there might be an intruder in the home, I have to cover only one hallway.The bedrooms are not insanely big, so we can heat them efficiently too.

It has a nice great living room with a corner fireplace. Nice vaulted ceilings-which will help keep it cool in the Texas summer. The heat hopefully will radiate nicely even with the ceiling height.

buying suburban homestead

Nice sized kitchen. This is good because it is space we can produce things in – going back to the house as being a producer instead of a consumer. I used to can meat. I can do that easier if we have space. I also can cook bulk meals better if we have a well laid out kitchen. Bulk meals save money if you can do it.

We have a 2 car garage which has great access from a major road at therear-not a one lane service road. One lane service roads are a problem if you end up having 2 cars on them at the same time-which is often the case. The house backs up to a main road, plus there is a wide strip of grass separating the house from the road. This gives me even more air and distance from adjacent houses.

buying suburban homestead

House no. 2 is on a corner lot. So I have the road and strip of green on the back, then on my side is another road which has a city park across it. This is ideal for me as that gives me distance from other homes, it’s one less nosy neighbor I may have to deal with and it is absolutely a source for insects, birds and squirrels. This is great from a permaculture perspective.

suburban homestead

The backyard has a nice covered patio with a concrete slab flooring-where I can set up a small garden and small workspace for me. On occasion I will work on something which needs to be outside,but not on the dirt. This may be a small carpentry project for example. I imagine I can do a lot of these and still be comfortable in this kind of set up. Plus, the layout allows access to the garage and to the kitchen. Highly ideal for tools, breaks and I can also see straight into the living room to keep an eye on my kids while working.

buying suburban homestead

It also has some good trees on the yard. I think these are just enough for shade to grow plants and not burn them. My son has dreamed of a tree house, I can build one for him here. It does not have great solar orientation for me, but given the shape and size of the yard I thought I had some flexibility to make it work for my goals.

We put an offer on the house. After much back and forth my wife and I agreed on offering a good amount above the asking price. We also offered to cover some paperwork typically covered by the owner.


Update: the house was posted on Friday afternoon and we went to see it that same afternoon. By Saturday evening we made an attractive offer on the house.

On Sunday afternoon we were told that we did not get the house. Our agent said that this may have been due to a cash buyer. We didn’t have details on what the accepted offer was. We told our broker that if the house comes back on the market that we wouldstill be interested. House no.2 offered us a lot of options and really got our imagination going. However, we did tell ourselves that if we do not get this house, thenitis justnot for us. We are okay with that,and we cannot offer more on the housebecause then we might end up underwater or in foreclosure later on. So today we are still looking for one.


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.

 

RESILIENT HOUSE 1-Selecting a house that can adapt some homesteading

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT

If the house needs to match the lifestyle, then the house must be able to accommodate our plans for becoming resilient.


We have been on the lookout for a home for a few months now and one of my main considerations is how the house can make us resilient for the future. By this I mean I look for  a few things for the house:

  1. PRICING-it must be easy for us to service the debt in the event of a job loss or if cost of living just rises
  2. LOT SIZE-I will have a garden for food so this is critical for me
  3. SOLAR ORIENTATION-must work well for growing a garden
  4. FIREPLACE-something I want so we have flexibility for heating
  5. LOCAL REGULATIONS-the city must not hinder me from having some form of livestock, be it chickens or rabbits. If there are too many regulations then that is a bad sign
  6. BRICK FACADE-This is in case of hail
  7. PROXIMITY TO GMO FARMS-obviously an issue but since we are likely going to be within the city suburb limits this should not be an issue
  8. PROXIMITY TO INDUSTRIAL FACILITIES-we’ve lived in areas close to manufacturing/industrial zones and my son has health issues with it. Plus, it’s just not a good idea.
  9. NOT IN A FLOODZONE-insurance and risks I do not want to pay for

The wife’s requirements added to these would be:

  1. Proximity to places that they frequent-these would be groceries, stores and places to keep the kids busy.
  2. Safe neighborhood

Some exclusions:

I doubt we will find a house that has a basement. They are not that common in my area so I will put this off to the side. If it so happens we have it, then that would be great and ideal.

Same thing goes for a 2nd story level, it’s common enough but not for my price range. It will not be a deciding factor for me.


THE LATEST HOUSE (MAR 5)

This last weekend we found a house that fits the above list.

resilient house front

The exterior is pretty normal which is great. I won’t go into the typical things you look for a house but will focus on my concerns relative to this blog. The front door does not pose any security issues more than the typical home does. I might want to add a cctv or light out there later. The main thing I looked at is that it has no weird angles or corners which would be a good place for criminals to hide in-at least nothing significantly worse than your typical house. I can deal with the bushes by interplanting them with some thorny bushes and cutting them lower. The corner by the front portion of the house, I might want to add a cctv to deal with it if I don’t want to bother looking out from the other windows every time I have to open the door.


SITE PLAN

 

resilient house

Here’s the site from above. I am not that happy to have all the lot square footage given to the front yard. I’d rather have that in the backyard  and then have a smaller front yard. The plan was to focus any gardening on the backyard, but in this case I might want to do it at the front too. I will need to check if the city has any laws on what you can do at your front yard.

It has a 2 car garage, which is great. In the event of hail I can pull both cars into the garage. This is a real concern for me as my car right now still has some hail damage. It happens, more regularly than some people might think.

I’ve got a side yard here as well which I can put to good use. Always good to have a couple of ways around the house. However, I do need to secure this. Currently it is a big opening for criminals to get in the house.


REAR YARD

resilient backyard gardening

The rear of the house shows promise too. it is not a great size, but it faces the right way for solar orientation.

What can I do with this backyard? Here are some ideas:

  1. grow a garden
  2. harvest solar power
  3. build a solar dehydrator
  4. build a fire pit and barbeque pit
  5. training space for airsoft
  6. grow some rabbits for meat
  7. grow chickens (the city has restrictions on this)
  8. Add a small shed for an outdoor workshop and storage

The fact that the rear fence is not made of wood and allows air and views in and out can also work to my advantage. Typically I would want lots of privacy at my backyard. However, this yard faces a huge empty lot for about a block. People will be driving by it to park their cars and pick up trash, but that should be about it. This might mean a cool breeze in the summer.


CITY REGULATIONS

The city website publishes it’s code and regulations online so I am making this part of my research for every house. I thought this city would be very laid back in terms of regulations but it turns out it has quite a few that I don’t like.

The city has restrictions on owning chickens. You can only have 2 and your coop has to be 50′ from your neighbor’s homes. I can check if the neighbors can sign a waiver and allow this in case we don’t meet the 50′.

There are some restrictions on rabbits too but they are not intrusive to me. It did not put a restriction on how many and the size of the hutch. It did require that the rabbit poop does not fall directly to the ground (which is stupid because rabbit poop makes for great compost without cooking). Not an issue, I can work with this.

The city also has restrictions on parking long term on the road in front of your house. THis becomes an issue if I decide to have a trailer of some sort. I would need to move this to my garage and then build a carport to protect the car from hail.


FUTURE PLANNED DEVELOPMENTS

How does one consider the city’s planned zoning changes and developments in regards to their home purchase? I checked deeper into the city’s plans for this house. Being that this city appealed to both me and my wife-which has been hard to find-it was worth the time to research further as to what the city has plans for. In this case I found quite a few things. It turns out that the home is pretty close to an area that the city is pushing to develop into apartments and commercial areas. I am just short of the development limits by a few blocks.

This can work in my favor. Long term I would not want this because I don’t want to have a house too close to an area full of apartments. I want to be neighbors with homeowners who are vested in the community and will have a longer stake in the area. Renters may not have that because they are still transient for the most part.

During the interim while the development is new, this would bring an influx of activity to the area. It will suck during construction periods because it will cause local traffic and destroy local roads. Once built, it will raise my property values and will make the area too crowded for me to want to stay-both will incentivize me to leave smiling.

Our plan is to stay in this home for abut 5 years, so perhaps this won’t be a big issue. Maybe it won’t even see zoning approval during our stay here. If we stick to our 5 year plan we will likely not even experience any of the construction going on. At least not in full swing.

This planned development will significantly change the areas character-which is something we currently like about it.

Right now, this planned development is just information I am keeping in my back pocket. I don’t have much use for it yet, but I can use it as we plan longer term goals. If we move to a different house in 5 years for example, maybe we can rent this out until the property values make sense to sell it.


CONCLUSION

This house (House no. 1 for this series) will work for our long term plans. I am praying that we can get this house and then I will just modify some of my plans so it works with any city regulations. I may not get my ideal home and location, but this is a healthy compromise so I get to do what I need and keep my family happy.

(UPDATE:

At the time of this post, this house is under contract with another family. They beat us to it by an afternoon. It was available in the morning, then by the time we had arranged for a 4pm appointment at lunch it was under contract. We will continue looking)


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.

Sickness = diet & lifestyle changes

Short personal post here. This week was a rough one filled with all sorts of minor ailments. I could not keep to my schedule and could barely meet my obligations at work due to it. Reminds me how the small things really affect us, but since they don’t make up these glorious stories in our lives we tend to forget them and deal with them preemptively. These inconveniences do happen and are pretty significant inconveniences at times. Read more “Sickness = diet & lifestyle changes”

Vlog: Keeping my wife happy AND working for a better future

HOW DOES THIS MAKE RESILIENT?

Keep the wife happy whenever you can. You have big plans and lots of work to do for our family, but sometimes we all just need to feel loved on and valued.


 


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.

AVOIDING FAKE NEWS – GETTING OFF THE ADDICTION

HOW DOES THIS MAKE RESILIENT?

Avoiding fake news will allow you to think for yourself and form your own opinions on the issues that actually affect you. You also gain time to invest in yourself and make your life and your family’s life much better.


What makes fake news fake? What does it mean for those who are already awake?

Fake news is not only stories that were marketed at you to gain money from clicks. It is not just the story you found on Facebook from someone’s blog which will later turn out to be false. This is not about “fake news” as a piece of inaccurate information. The internet is full of personal opinions, and as adults we should be able to spot those early on. Fake news in this article is means stories purveyed by major corporations staffed with highly educated journalists for the simple goal of shaping the public’s opinion. This is about avoiding that particular type of Fake news.

 

 

I used to be a CNN junkie. I felt l was being responsible and informed, a fully aware participant in civilized society. I knew the most crucial issues and lived my life in constant adjustment to what they said was “important”. If their hot topic was about a CDC report, then so was mine. If it was about a new law/regulation, then it was also my hot topic. My attention and opinions were controlled by this corporation that peddled information to it’s benefits. This was about 5 years ago now.

I am not sure how it got started but my awakening to the problem started around the time I saw how Ron Paul-then running for president-was being sidelined consistently in all the major news networks. It was a very coordinated effort in the view of a lot of Ron Paul supporters. I understand a lot of people are not Ron Paul supporters, but despite of who the candidate is, would you not be curious if there was an organized effort to vilify an individual across all networks who were supposedly operating independent from each other?

Around that time, there was also this very funny piece of video from Conan O’Brien. It was very funny-but later on was very disturbing.

When you look into it, these are all different TV networks across different political leanings. The videos were aired at around the same date, the words of each of these reporters on the streets were the same-almost word for word.

What does this have to do with fake news? Well, it means that this was a script. It was a script first manufactured in a news office, distributed down to staff who were then instructed to produce content/material to support it from the streets.

The content was then beamed to your TVs and fed to the “informed” citizen, and now he was insync with the important topics of the world-as defined and manufactured from the news office.

After this was made clear to me, the video became pretty disturbing. From then on, I realized multiple other examples of these. I would see the pattern from one source to the next, and you would have a sense that this was another piece of manipulated news you needed to keep yourself away from. I stayed away from mainstream media provided news and my exposure to them was limited to the elevator tv in my office building. Even then, I realized it when something was coming up-because they all had a pattern.


WHY SHOULD YOU AVOID FAKE NEWS:

The simple answer is: you should avoid fake news because it sculpts your mind by using inaccurate information designed to make you believe a predetermined agenda. If the goal is to make you believe that ebola is coming to your town in the next week-the focus will be to that end. If the goal is to make you believe the government will shut down on Tuesday unless the government officials agree on a budget increase-the news content will highlight all the day to day things that will ruin your life if the budget is not increased. If the goal is to make you hate Kanye West (or whoever else)-then the news material will be such.

If your sole source of information was what CNN said, then your opinions are completely under their control are they not? CNN or MSNBC or Fox or whomever, can make you agree/disagree, love/hate most things the way they want you to.

In a way, you have been brainwashed. You just didn’t know it yet. Your ability to think for yourself has been significantly handicapped. Until you detach yourself from their influence, and from their other brainwashed audience, you will be intellectually handicapped.

This may not be a big issue, because you were unaware of it anyway. Ignorance is bliss. But think about how this affects you, your family, your way of life. Your very way of life is dictated by your beliefs and opinions. You choose to eat at Mcdonalds because they now have salads and are working for your health. You maybe are also upset with immigrants because they will establish Sharia law in your town. Maybe you still think it was okay to assassinate a US citizen overseas because he was a terrorist after all. If your opinions were tilted to begin with, then your way of life is also affected by the fake news you had consumed.


A QUICK PERSONAL EXAMPLE

Say for example you grew up in a third world country like I did, in a city like Manila and you had a good childhood there. You had moved to the US and was able to live a pretty decent life. At some point you thought you would relocate back there or visit all the places you used to be in when you were growing up. However there is a slew of news about how the new president is creating a volatile nation, full of vigilantes and murder on the streets. You are advised that if you are an investor or planning to retire, do not put your money on any projects tied to that country, it is highly unstable and will lead to a dictatorship. CNN and other mainstream media companies will broadcast gory images, will popularize their chosen heroes and will vilify whoever does not work in their interest.

But hey you grew up there. You know folks from the place, you have contacts. You understand the local language. Because this is something worth digging into for yourself, you then choose to do your own research. You ask old contacts, or just check their facebook feeds-did anyone post something about violence? Watch the Youtube broadcast of the senate hearings-regardless of how painful they are to listen to. Did you pick up on the bias there from the lady leading the investigation? Why is the chairman feeding information to the witness and putting words into the witness’ mouth? Hey-why is CNN showing her in a good light after she lost her leadership position due to her obvious agenda and strong ties to the cartel being destroyed by the current administration?

You are now forming your own opinion. This took time and you had to endure some boring political discussion (without any commentaries from news anchors and reporters) but you saw the questioning procedures and hearings yourself. You heard the bias and saw the raw footage. You can continue following the story if you so desire, but by now you have stocked up on the backstory, gathered recent developments on the topic and are shaping your own perspective on the topic.


YOU CANNOT RESEARCH EVERYTHING

The problem in understanding the Manila story above-which I personally went thru-was that I had to invest time into it. I listened to the dang youtube raw footage while washing dishes. I spent time watching or reading about it during dinner and talked to my wife about it. We invested time into researching it because we could not just rely on what we were being fed thru international and local news sources.

This meant time from other things which we needed to do. Time away from a different, more pleasant conversation. Time away from a personal project. Less sleep maybe. If I want to research into something, I take time away from investing in myself and from building a better future. This simply means that I cannot research every topic that comes up. It is just not feasible to redirect my time, my resource on every topic that comes up. At some point, I will have to be very selective of what topic I want to tackle and find truth about.

You have to pick which topics are important to you if you want to vet them because you do not have the time to research them every time the fake news sources tell you it is critical.


EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST A DISTRACTION

Do you recall when the news was all focused on Ebola? That it was now in the US and it was very likely to spread?

Do you recall when the news was all about the Zika virus?

Whatever happened to those people and those pending dangers when the news stopped? The sickness is still there but why is mainstream media not paying attention anymore? What else was going on at the time that you might have spent better attention to? What were the real topics that could have affected your life-which you did not realize? What did those news topics distract you from?

You have to realize that the news that they said was the most critical thing you had to focus on-was absolutely noncritical after all. They do not apologize afterwards to say oops sorry we made it a bigger deal than it should have been. By the time their focus on the topic wanes, they have a new one ready to serve to you. These are all coordinated to shape your perceptions towards their agenda. It also, absolutely, keeps your attention focused on more important things. Which important things? You may never know which ones unless you go back and dig. They either kept you focused on one thing because they wanted you to think a certain way, OR they kept you from realizing what the real issues were. It’s like a battle or like a chess game, keeping your opponent distracted is in your favor.


AVOIDING FAKE NEWS

In general, I abstain from mainstream media sources. Their business is to make content designed to distract me. I do not waste my time reading their breaking news or their latest trends. If the topic is something of interest to me or affects me, I will find it on my own as I go about my day to day. For example, if I was researching on buying a property in a city-then I will end up reading on recent zoning changes in that city as they affect my area.

If the world is going to end, you will know about it anyway. It is better to live your day to day proactively, by going in the direction you want to go, rather than being reactionary to the issues that fake news say you should be limiting yourself to.

How to avoid fake news? It is really simple. Stop consuming it first. We are information junkies, and we want to get updates because we feel informed. But unless we redirect our focus, it will be directed for us. Here are some steps you can do right now to avoid fake news:

  1. First admit that you are an addict to information. Wanting information is not necessarily a bad thing, but we need to channel the desire for brain activity into learning.
  2. You then need to detach yourself from the source or reduce your consumption of fake news.
  3. Unfollow any social media sources from media companies. Mute them on Facebook. Trust me you will still hear about their breaking news thru your friends who are still consuming it. You cannot control what they consume but let’s take baby steps for now and focus on reducing your consumption of fake news.
  4. Unsubscribe from any news emails. If you need to, you can go to their site on a time of your choosing anyway. This detaches you slowly from the addiction.
  5. If you are used to consuming news around 6pm, watch Netflix instead. Pick a show that interests you and follow it. Or make a list of movies and watch it in parts or in whole during those times. This occupies that time of day when your brain is used to consuming some form of entertainment.
  6. If you consume news first thing in the morning, try to find another way to get your buzz. This is similar to the strategy above. Have coffee while reading on a topic you ARE interested in. Maybe you like cars, or maybe you are into DIY stuff. Read on those instead and gain knowledge and skills which will actually make you better than you were yesterday.
  7. Avoid discussions with folks who are still addicted. You cannot recover as an addict to information if you spend time around other addicts. You will be drawn in, and will feel “uninformed” and you will chase the same news they consumed. You may chase it trying to disprove them, but you will still spend time on a topic not of your choosing to begin with. This is hard if you are a sociable individual, but you can find other stories to discuss with your peers.

The second goal is to replace that desire to consume information with education about things that will improve your life. As humans we find pleasure in learning. We can be addicted to information. By choosing what information you consume, you are improving your life and leading it to the direction you want, rather than reacting to the big issues of the week which leave you like an empty shell 2 weeks later.

  1. Look for feeds on topics you are interested in and follow them on social media. Add one or 2 to your email (not too much or your mind will equate it to spam). Follow a good channel on Youtube on your chosen topic.
  2. If you are already good at your topic and hate the mediocre feeds available, maybe pick a milestone or take on a new project. Then, on those times you used to spend for consuming TV or news, spend them on this project/milestone.
  3. You can spend the time with your wife, preparing a better meal or having more in depth conversations with her. Or you can spend the time with your children and bonding with them or taking them to the next level of their interests.

If you do not know where to channel your time to, do not sweat it. The fact is, you now have time back. The time you used to spend consuming fake news or irrelevant news is now yours to invest in yourself. You can use it as you wish. You can try pretty much anything you want as long as you can find a way to do it. Perhaps you are 43 years old and have always wanted to learn skateboarding-well okay. Or maybe you always wanted to try fishing-watch some Youtube videos and treat it as a course til the season opens (this is what I am doing right now).

The key is-you just got back an invaluable resource (time) which you can spend on enriching yourself for your family-you now have time and focus. You did not get more time by becoming more efficient in consuming information. You gained time by not consuming unnecessary information.

So now you are not getting fake news which mislead your perception of the world. You also have more time to yourself which you can spend how you want-be it learning something new and invest in yourself, or researching on an issue which really does affect you. Just by avoiding fake news, you are all of a sudden a lot closer to being a free individual.


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.