Nine in a Motor Home: Want to Talk About Road Rage?

I can tell the kind of day my husband had at work by what he watches on television when he gets home.  A good day at his office means he will watch a drama with me.  On a bad day, he needs to laugh.  So our evening holds a lineup of half-hour comedies which requires mental activity no more challenging than the 20 seconds it takes to sing the Big Bang Theory theme song.

On the beyond-bad days, the days on which he wonders why he became an attorney and I wonder how many extra crowns God will give me for living with an attorney, he watches reality TV.  Iron Chef America, Pawn Stars and The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross work for him on those days. He need not find the energy to laugh and all his mind has to do is remember to breathe.

He came home for lunch on a beyond-bad day this week and we watched Tiny House Nation on the FYI Network.  On Tiny House Nation, hosts John and Zack travel the country helping families design and construct mini-houses of 300 square feet, give or take a patio the size of a Twister mat.

We watched as John walked us through one of their mini homes.  (It was actually more of a shuffle.  If he had picked up his feet, I feel sure his head would have scraped the ceiling.)  The house was as cute as a smallish bug.  Zach welcomed us into a spotless, new room that had been professionally decorated with an eye towards creative storage and pleasing colors.  Even the basket of fruit by the sink matched the colors in the wallpaper . . . and took up half the counter space in the kitchen.  Over Zack’s head was a small bedroom balcony.  The bed was neatly made and adorned with cute, little pillows that drew your eye away from the closet which was just big enough to hold Barbie’s wardrobe.

My husband, who was having visions of quitting his job and selling everything that needs to be mowed, painted or super-glued, was enthralled with the mini house.  As the credits scrolled, he looked at me and asked, “How would you like to live in a mini house?”

Casey and Peter as we drove.  We all had a bit of road rage.

Casey and Peter as we drove. We all had a bit of road rage.

How would I like to live in a mini house?

Is the man crazy?

I have lived in a mini house.  I have lived in a mini house with him.  I have lived in a mini house with him, his parents and our five kids. As many as nine people in a 29 foot motor home, traveling across the country for weeks at a time, that’s the way we vacationed for 25 years.

Our mini house was not new or spotless and the fruit on our counter tended to attract ants.  We slept on everything that would lie flat: two in the bed in the back room, two in the bed over the cab, brothers together on the pulled-out couch, a daughter on the table, a son on the floor and the baby in a laundry basket beside the garbage can.

We did have an abundance of creative storage space.  We had clothes stored in every crevice with a door.  We kept shoes in the shower, toys in the oven and guitars on either side of the bed in the back room. To get our clothes from the closet, we either had to crawl across the bed or send our most agile child to traverse the room balanced on the edge of a guitar case.

Living in the motor home did bring about an unusual amount of closeness in our family.

We were a well choreographed unit when getting ready in the morning.  While one was doing what could only be done in the bathroom, the rest of us were adapting to what we had to work with.  The one of us who needed an electrical outlet to help with grooming, sat on the bed, curling iron held between the knees, feet resting on a guitar, and threw toiletries to those who called for them:  toothpaste to the one at the kitchen sink, hairbrush to the one primping before the reflection in the refrigerator door, deodorant to the one dressing in a prone position on the bed over the cab, baby wipes over the one tying shoes on the couch and into the hands of the one changing a diaper on the kitchen table.

I think, perhaps, that mini house is where we learned to hug so much.  We had no choice but to stand side by side.  We had to do something with our arms and hands.  They might as well have been wrapped around the one standing next to us.

I must admit, we had great fun in that motor home.  But, as the one in charge of preparing meals, finding clean underwear, retrieving stored items, breaking up sibling fights, and forcing children to take a bath . . . all while holding my tongue so my kids didn’t hear me vent inappropriately at the those d@#% guitar cases beside the bed, . . . I also experienced some high levels of stress.

Let me tell you what living in a mini house is like.

It always looks like a tornado rolled in the door . . . and then out again, realizing it could do no more damage than had already been done.

The bathroom always smells like urine. I am pretty sure that having grown accustomed to peeing together in larger bathrooms, the boys formed a line to pee around each other and into the mini latrine.

To get to the peanut butter, you have to unload the bread, chips, and cereal boxes, all the hostess crap you bought to keep your kids happy, the cans of healthy stuff that will never be eaten, and the chocolate you have hidden in back of the cabinet to get you through the day.

To get to the paper towel reserves, you have to move five people off the couch, wake the sleeping baby, lift the sofa seat, crawl into the storage compartment, and dig through pots and pans, grilling utensils, mosquito candles and mouse traps.

To change into your pajamas at the end of the day, you have to tie the bedroom door closed, crawl across the bed to pull the shades, hang upside down to pull your PJs from under the guitar cases, and make sure your kids don’t open the door and come face to naked face with emotional scarring.

Do I want to live in a mini house?

Not until senility sets in and I have no mind to lose.

But, I’m glad we took those trips when our kids were small.  They were wonderful vacations.  I would not have done them any other way. And, if I could tie the motor home back together with rubber bands and chewing gum strings, I would load up my much larger family and drive it one more time . . .

. . . to a lodge that would hold us all in stress-free comfort.


The campgrounds were always lots of fun.


Ben and Greg with the guitars.



Tessa in the laundry basket. Her bed for the trip.



Micah, Tessa and Ben on the bed in the back. Tessa traded beds a lot. No one wanted to sleep with her.

Peter and Tessa on the table bed.

On the road again.

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