Sometimes, I feel like I have about as much patience as the average 3 year old. Even thought I want to live a simple life (and am succeeding for the most part), some days it feels like I want so many things that I just can't have. It seems ironic that the simple life comes with its own set of wants, even though living simply should be steering me away from "superficial" desires.
Since we bought the Prairie Box, we have been living quite frugally overall. Aside from our front-loading HE washing machine, I can't think of any large items we've purchased brand new. Through craigslist and other secondhand venues, I've managed to find a barely used Trek bicycle, a great 1973 John Deere lawn tractor, mission-style dining set, and all of our large baby-related items, plus several pieces of antique furniture. Everything we've bought, we've made sure it is a quality item that will last for a long time. I buy clothes on ebay and from secondhand stores (though I do sneak in some new stuff now and then!). In our remodel, we're using salvaged items where possible, like woodwork and doors. And, we're retaining original features that other people might have just trashed, like repairing the plaster instead of replacing with drywall.
I don't regret any of these decisions or feel deprived in any way. I'm satisfied with our lifestyle and feel blessed to have as much as we do. Because we're not in debt up to our eyeballs, when we do need or want something, we can go out and buy it without feeling guilty. But my "simple life" wants aren't quite in the same league. We can't just run out and buy a perfectly maintained old farmhouse on 10 acres, complete with a vintage barn, pastures, a pond, and woods... I can't put 3 chickens and 2 goats on our little half-acre. With all the house work, plus preparing for a baby, I'll be lucky if the 4' by 8' garden bed gets put in.
The idea of the "perfect homestead" haunts me. It pops into my head whenever I'm frustrated with our neighbors, or a loud train rumbles by, or the church on the corner plays its fake bell music for 30 minutes every noon and evening. I daydream of sitting on my back porch, watching the sun rise, and not having a neighbor within sight. I think about how wonderful it would be to watch our children playing with the chickens or chasing frogs by our pond.
I browse the real estate listings, and it's somewhat reassuring to see that our perfect home isn't on the market yet. Some are close. Some make me jealous. But none are quite "right". I truly believe that God helped us to find the Prairie Box; I haven't yet found a house for the same price that is even close to as perfect as this one has been. It's our stepping stone. Through this house, we've learned what we want and need in a home. It's helped us to chose a lifestyle that's simpler and easier on the planet. It's taught me a lot about renovating and restoring an old home. These are all lessons we will take with us.
I believe that when the time is right, God will again provide us with our ideal home. I just wish I wasn't so impatient! In the meantime, though, I can still look out the windows and enjoy our little slice of almost-country life. I can learn more about gardening, canning, and animal husbandry. I can continue to un-remuddle our poor little house. And I can practice being happy with what I have, probably the most important thing I can learn...