We Were Tired of Living in a House

I don’t know if you can tell by looking at these photos, but there was quite a bit of arguing as my boys began building their first tree house.  Jonny and I thought they’d have to quit before they really began.  But with just a little intervention on our part, they have a start (and no one was hurt.)

These photos very much remind me of my favorite childhood picture book, We Were Tired of Living in a House.  Sadly, it is out of print (but there are still used copies floating around.)  Doris Burn’s illustrations are some of the best.  I must have spent hours as a little girl, studying each of the outdoor homes the children create for themselves in the story.  Thankfully, Andrew Henry’s Meadow, both written and illustrated by Doris Burn, is still in print.  Just as a day spent creating a home in a tree is, these stories are full of the magic of childhood.


  1. I’m drooling over your copy of “We were Tired…” My favorite book as well! I’ve never been able to find a copy, though…well, not within the budget! Hold on to it dearly, it is a treasure!

    I have that book running through my head so frequently with my own children’s experiences.

  2. These pictures are fantastic! Even knowing that the boys struggled to get this started, I see a beauty revealed in the images. I think sometimes we miss the beauty in the moment, but can see it with more clarity once an image is downloaded onto a computer and we have the chance to really study the photo.

    The vine swinging and woods walking make me think of the ways my kids are becoming familiar with our new woods…and that tree house…oh I see one in their future!

  3. Andrew Henry’s Meadow is my all-time favorite kids book from my childhood and I still have our original copy! Didn’t even think to look if she’d written more. Excited to check them out. 🙂

  4. Love, Love, Love these two books. They were part of the Weekly Reader Book Club that my family was signed up for in the early 70’s. There is a third Doris Burns we had that is almost MORE of a favorite: “The Summerfolk”. HIGHLY recommended for that fantastical, accidental Waldorf kind of book.

    thanks for the post!

  5. wonderfull !

  6. Sometimes I get tired of living in a house too. I really want to try a yurt but no ones buying that just yet. Awesome progress looks like its being made though. Yay for parents letting them try!

  7. What a fantastic project for the boys! I know a son of mine (and all my nephews) would totally love a chance to have a go — but none of them live in an area with appropriate trees and/or lack of HOA rules. This will make wonderful memories for your boys! I hope the girls get to make their own when they are bigger, too. When I was a kid, I always wanted a tree house. Had to settle for making a fort in the attic with my friends — still pretty cool, and lots of fun times!

    I now want to find that book…

    As an aside, I bet you could use some more space. Once again, hats off to you. My measly 3 are making my head spin today.

  8. I LOVE that book! I was so fortunate to come across a copy at a thrift shop. Oh such bliss to find a piece of my childhood that I can share with my kids.

  9. Ok, Bea (I think it’s her!) on the left side of the top photo is CRACKING me up. 🙂

  10. lovely!

  11. Oh how exciting and yes, they have gotten off to a good start. It’s always best when the kids can actually work on it on their own with a little guidance from us parents, I think they’ll appreciate more so than if we as parents did all the work for them. In the past few weeks we’ve had many tree house resources pile into our home. We’ll have to add your recommendations as well. Thank you!

  12. My neighbor and I built a tree house back in the day. Such fond memories. A few years ago, when my boys were younger, I took them to the very spot. I was able to find the three trees where our house had been built. I looked up and found the nails where the tree house had been attached to the trees. And, there between a couple of nails was a small sliver of wood. It was all that remained from what had been built something like twenty five years earlier. It was almost a spiritual moment for me to see that small token. 🙂 As always, love the pics.

  13. We LOVE those 2 books — my son has spent hours pouring over Andrew Henry’s Meadow! My favorite picture book as a child was Hide and Seek Fog by Henry Tresselt — Roger Duvoisin’s illustrations are so captivating!

  14. linda gaylord says:

    We were tired of living in a house was one of my favorite books as a child that managed to survive my two kids and was able to be passed down to my grandsons.you are lucky to have your own copy,too.

  15. My absolute favourite photos………pure family life with all its joys and hurdles.

  16. Love your kids, makes me nostalgic – we did this kind of stuff too 🙂 x

  17. I continue to be blown away by how good your kids’ childhoods will be.

  18. Awesome pictures! Curious about your husband’s t-shirt. Looks interesting!

  19. Oh it all looks like so much fun! I grew up with two brothers who fought and argued all the time
    and yet they are the best of friends…you can’t separate them!

  20. how precious – that book looks amazing!

  21. How very funny to see your post! We just discovered Doris Burn’s books and ordered all three this very week! A friend of ours had them and my children pounced upon them – what magical illustrations. And sometimes, I’m just tired of living in a house, ya know? 🙂

  22. Looks like huge amounts of fun!

  23. That is so awesome! I want a treehouse! I love the branches the branches the kids are swinging on! We used to have a tire swing when I was younger and it was awesome.

  24. Oh! We have “We Were Tired of Living In a House”! Found it thrifting. And it is a favorite around here. I will check out the other one you listed as well.

  25. I love this Ginny! Our children have built so many tree houses, some very unsafe that we had to “help” a bit with too – but I just know it is sooo good for them.

  26. Tonja Pizzo says:

    You have such a beautiful family. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  27. Andrew Henry’s Meadow was my favorite childhood book! So happy to share it with my own children and have them love it just as much as I did. Glad they still sell copies of this classic. That other book looks fantastic too! I may have to see if our library system has an old copy 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  28. Andrew Henry’s Meadow is the best book ever!!!! My daughter has always said that if she has a boy she will name him Andrew Henry. We are Tired of Living in a House looks great also but I have never seen it. Now I will be on the look out for it to add to my collection. Your kids look like they are having so much fun and that will be a great tree house.

  29. “We Were Tired of Living in a House” is one of our favorite books! I was lucky enough to find a good copy at a thrift store. My kids have always wanted a tree house, but none of our trees is the tree-house kind – you know, those fast growing trees that are planted all over the west – elm, cottonwood and Tree of Paradise. None of them are very strong and they have multi-trunks. Nice for shade, but not much else. A half a mile away are some ancient, beautiful blue and valley oaks, but the ones on our land were cut a century ago for the railroad and to provide beams for Los Angeles homes. My kids would gladly move for some decent tree-house trees, or the next best thing – a cave.

  30. Your children are amazing!

  31. It looks like lots of fun.

  32. Awesome! Keep those boys busy (and outdoors)!

  33. so much fun!!! We have no trees in our little yard so I totally appreciate your forest!

  34. how fun! So glad you all live in the country where you can have such wonderful adventures. Blessings on your day!

  35. Love love love Andrew Henry’s Meadow! I’m the bird lady!

  36. Truly, Ginny, your photography is becoming more and more magnificent.

  37. How fun!!! They are making memories! Going to look up Doris Burns books now. 🙂

  38. I just found Andrew Henry’s Meadow at a thrift store this summer and we have been loving it! Finding these old jems has become a favorite past time of mine. I’ll look for Skorpen’s book next.

  39. Well I could not tell there was any arguing, looked like nothing but loads of fun and games. So nice to see a family playing outside and making something from nothing! Hope you all have lots of fun in the tree house.

  40. Looks like loads of fun. I wouldn’t mind taking a turn on the vine myself. Have a great day. Heather

  41. Oh my goodness gracious! I rarely comment here, but I had to because I love that book!!! I grew up listening to my grandma read it at her house, and just very recently she gifted it to me to share with my kids. The pictures are amazing!!! Thank you so much for linking to Doris Burns’ other book. I’ve never heard of that one and I can’t wait to check it out!!

  42. It looks so much fun – I think I would have heart failure watching Little Son going up so high! Its hard as a Mumu to not show that really you would like to keep them in your arms forever out of harm isn’t it. Are they going to build a tree house with walls and a roof? Lily. xxx

  43. Looked up Andrew Henry’s Meadow and it reminds me of my oldest son to the T. This book will be perfect for his birthday next month. Great recommendation.

  44. You are an inspiration! Thank you for your family’s sharing your beautiful journey.


  45. Jonny’s smile and the kids’ expression in that second to last picture is priceless.

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