Big Family, Little House | Guest Post by Karla Porter

One of my favorite books growing up was Little House in the Big Woods. I loved the images that my mind’s eye visualized of the Ingalls’ sweet small home.

From the comfort of my own bed and bedroom, it was easy to romanticize the idea of everyone in a one room home, baking and cooking over the fire in the huge fireplace, and later bundled under layers of blankets in the dead of winter to stay warm.

Laura made it sound so sweet and wonderful. I don’t recall a single argument or shouting match being mentioned.

I would love to know Ma and Pa’s secret for keeping the peace.

Small spaces can be difficult and bring out issues that may not otherwise occur in a larger space.

The fact is, by today’s standards, we live in the same sort of space.

Oh, we may be spoiled by our HVAC, indoor plumbing and other modern conveniences, but our living space is quite similar in size to the Ingalls.

Last year I wrote a post briefly addressing our living situation. At that time, I had planned on writing a series addressing some of how we make our small space work, but if I’m honest, I got caught up in a touch of embarrassment and fear.



We live in a two bedroom home, with 4 children.

Wait! Isn’t your blog called “Living the Life Fantastic”?! What’s so freaking fantastic about that??

We have no choice at this point. Randy purchased the home to flip, right before the housing market crashed and before he knew he’d have a family. We are underwater in this housing market. (Ironically, the house was 3 [very tiny] bedrooms, and he converted it to 2 shortly before we met)

We plan on making interior changes and building on in the near future, but for now, this is what we have.



Some days it’s difficult. Most days, it’s an amazing blessing.

Our children have bonded in such a way that I had thought I could only wish for. They are ‘besties’, and I firmly believe that this sharing of space has taught them more about sharing and respect than I ever could have, left to my own devices, in any other situation.

I am grateful for this time.

And with so many wishing they had a home at all, I am unbelievably grateful for this tiny space we inhabit.



Karla Porter (soon-to-be Archer) is a mama to 4 littles, a technophile, a writer, idea generator, and a graphic designer. Her life can be pretty messy and chaotic, but never boring. She takes “being odd” as a compliment. She’s always danced to a different beat, rather than dancing to the beat everyone else is dancing to. It’s not always graceful. Or flowing… Her mama and daddy always knew she was strong-willed. Prior to joining forces with Randy, Karla ran Fruition Designs, an online graphic design boutique. She created the original Mommy Cards, which were featured on parenting sites all over the internet. Originally specializing in print design, her leap into the blog world in 2005 made the decision to take on web design an easy one. She and her 4 littles have recently relocated to Birmingham, AL, where they are Living the Life Fantastic with Randy.

About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.


  1. Jen says:

    Thanks for the post, Karla. My husband and two boys just moved in November of last year from a 3 bedroom farm house with ample room to run, to a 2 bedroom apartment with a tiny living room and even tinier kitchen. We had to have a special table made so all of us could eat in the kitchen. There are days I definitely miss the running space. Despite that, and not being able to have many people over at the same time, I kind of wish we could purchase this apartment. We were spending so much money on our house, we couldn’t afford the many repairs it started needing or to update it. Our apartment seems so nice on the inside compared to our old house. And our new living space made us get rid of so much stuff. It’s so nice to HAVE to declutter. And clean up happens so much faster in small spaces. The best part is how close we all have become. Just like your children, my 3 year old and almost 5 year old are best friends. They had separate rooms at our old house, but they love rooming together now. It’s like a sleepover every night! Home truly is where your heart is. While it was very hard to leave the first home we ever purchased, the home where we brought our babies home and witnessed all their firsts, I think I may cry even harder when we have to leave this place to move to the burden…yes, the burden, of another home someday. I love the simplicity of small spaces. In a way, occupying smaller spaces really makes you prioritize what is important. My dream home would now look a lot more like the apartment. Oh, and Ma and Pa Ingalls’ secret to keeping the peace?…Instead of saying “go play in the traffic,” they sent their kids out to go play on the prairie! What bigger living space do you need compared to that?! 🙂

    • Hi Jen!

      I am totally hooked on smaller homes now. Yes, there are moments when I wish I had enough corners to send them all to, but they are always followed with the reminder of how bonded we all are! I can’t imagine a big cavernous house anymore.

      We are having to build a special table for all of us as well 🙂 Would love to see what y’all had designed.

  2. EV says:

    You are absolutely right. I think 25% of the world population is suffering from the same problem… but still they are living in their little homes…Anyway Thanks for talking about on important topic!! Cheers…

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