Nia Peeples wrote a household manual for her Celebrity Wife Swap experience. Here's what she had to say about her home, her life and her family:
WELCOME TO OUR HOME!
Welcome to our doublewide trailer in paradise! We believe it takes a village to raise a child and live our lives with an open door policy. I hope that you aren’t a very private person because we live in a very social community! Our family consists of my husband Sam and our two children, Christopher (23) and Sienna (14).
About five years ago our family was faced with a series of challenges: We lost four very close family members in span of a year and a half and on top of that our 5,000 square foot home in Agoura burnt down. In the midst of all this loss, we learned the benefits of simply letting go. While reconstructing our Agoura home we bought a tiny mobile home in Malibu. This process of embracing change was such a blessing that we decided to downsize and live in the trailer full time. We got rid of most of our material belongings -- there was simply no room for it. We have no air conditioner and no heater. It’s a little crowded and we don’t have a large landscaped property but our front yard is the expansive Pacific and our backyard, the magnificent Santa Monica Mountains. These and the time we spend together are our real riches. Last year we even agreed on a no new things policy. We went the entire year without buying anything new.
We are a very active family and love to travel, surf, bike, camp, and climb together. Our doors are always open for friends -- we don’t even have a key to our house -- and family to pop by whether from down the street or half way across the globe and we make sure we have everything we need to keep our guests happy -- including 8 bikes and over 20 surfboards. Our philosophy is that the simple things in life are what bring you the most joy. We spend our time playing, cooking, playing music, reading and writing. This healthy lifestyle permeates every aspect of our lives, especially our diet. We are very aware of the food we put into our bodies.
Sam and I work together around the house but as Mom my technique is to ask everyone to contribute where they feel most effective then I fill in the gaps. We both love to cook -- Sam certainly knows his way around the kitchen. However, most of the handy-man work falls to me, since Sam is no weaverbird.
Sam and I are both writers. In fact Sam was an editor at Surfing magazine when we first met back in 1987. I had just starred in the Hollywood surf movie “North Shore” and Sam contacted my publicist, setting up a phony interview that eventually turned into a date and later a lifestyle. Sam is currently a documentary filmmaker. Along with my role on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars I’m currently working on a book and write for my website and CocoEco Magazine.
Though we both work a lot, we make sure to make time to play every day. Sam is a champion surfer and paddler and very fit. He paddles, surfs, rides his bike, lifts weights and jumps rope daily -- and I usually join him.
Sienna (14) is a wonderful young woman; beautiful, witty and very observant. She loves the band One Direction, and specifically Louis. She is very mature for her age and likes the freedom to make her own choices. One thing we definitely need to work on with her is staying on task and creating a schedule that serves her, rather than pushing things off to the last minute. School work can be a struggle, especially when Sam is coaxing her to go down to the beach or on a bike ride, putting her homework off until later. She’s applying for an international school next year and is taking French in preparation. She has to pass her French test in order to make it into the program, so we are trying to keep her motivated toward that goal.
School is a priority but Sam and I both believe that life outside the classroom is just as important. We don’t hesitate to take Sienna out of school to travel with us to Bali, Italy, or Germany or wherever. In fact in April, if my shooting schedule allows, I will be bringing Sienna to Christmas Island to work with Mending Kids International on bringing life saving operations to children.
Christopher is 23 and a gifted singer/songwriter/musician. He doesn’t live at home anymore, but he comes around a lot, mostly for the free food and to do his laundry. Though he lives on his own we are still very close and we speak on the phone up to three times a day.
We are not what you’d characterize as a “pet family.” We tried with an American Lab that we rescued, but the house was too small for him and he was afraid of the other dogs in our neighborhood, so we found him a new home. Sienna and I miss him very much -- we’re even contemplating getting a cat to fill the void.
Sam is stepdad to both my children but has been with them since they were little, and is a very dedicated father. Sam is always looking out for both of them at every turn. He shares 100% of the parental responsibilities for Sienna -- she has always called him “Dad.”
COOKING & EATING HABITS
I do most of the cooking around the house, but Sam is always eager to pitch in and is a great cook. When I’m working late it is not uncommon for Sam to have dinner waiting for me when I walk in the door.
We are very conscious of what we put in our bodies and eat as much clean organic, and whole food as possible. We have an organic produce service that drops off everything we need for the week on Fridays. You’ll never see us at a fast food restaurant or drinking soda or any junk food in the house. Sienna and I are on a gluten- and dairy-free regimen, enjoying the creative challenges of coming up with a healthy, delicious menu. This is no political or moral choice -- we just feel better this way.
CLEANING & CHORES
We gave up our housekeeper -- how would Sienna learn to manage a household if someone was always cleaning for her? None of us are very sloppy but an 1100 square foot home clutters very quickly and I have to keep everyone in line on their chores. We used to have a chore chart but with two other Type-A personalities in the house it was quickly ignored. Sam’s aversion to authority is more than occasionally a source of stress.
Since we split the cooking responsibilities, our general rule is whoever doesn’t cook does the cleanup. Sienna, naturally, resents this, as a typical teenager is prone to do.
Sienna is in charge of the recycling, emptying the dishwasher and sweeping. She is also responsible for keeping her room clean and making her bed. Our success rate in having her actually do her chores is about typical for parents with a teen in the house.
I am up every day at 6am. The first thing I do is prepare lemon water for the family using three lemons and ¾ tablespoon of Stevia in a pitcher of alkaline water. We take our supplements and then drink breakfast shakes that I make using the following: almond milk, almond butter, flaxseeds, banana, apple, red chard, spinach, beet greens, kale, 1 tbsp. organic maple syrup, ice and frozen blueberries. Then I make Sienna’s lunch and snack for school which is normally arugula with a drizzle of organic virgin olive oil, two pumps of liquid amino acids. pepper, shaved parmesan and whatever meat we have left over in the house on top along with a handful of almonds or cashews and some fresh fruit. To drink I’ll send her with a bottle of water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup.
Sienna will have breakfast while I have coffee or tea and then clean up the kitchen before I drive Sienna to school. On Mondays and Wednesdays we leave at 6:50am and every other day at 7:30am. I will be home by 7:15 or 8am depending on the day and have a kale shake of my own or more tea to start my day.
Every day I try to take a little quiet time to set my intentions and contemplate all I have to be grateful for. I light some candles, listen to the water in my fountain, breathe deeply and still my mind. I then write all I have to be grateful for in my journal. You’ll love the energy in my office. The only thing left to bring into the space is recording equipment so I can begin writing music again. I let all of that go after the fire.
Sam waits until he hears me take Sienna off to school and then he heads down to the water to check the waves and plan his day. Around 8:30am Sam and I will have breakfast. Normally he eats cereal, a protein-fruit smoothie, peanut butter toast, bacon, and orange juice. Don’t try to talk to him while he eats. He’s an avid reader and this, for him, is part of HIS ritual and meditation. After he eats you’ll either find him writing or in the water depending on the tide.
I work out for at least an hour every day. I like to mix it up to keep it interesting. Sometimes I do martial arts or a workout class, but my favorite things to do are going on a hike with friends, paddle, tandem biking, or tandem surfing with Sam. Sam and I love doing things together, especially when it’s outside.
Sienna is out of school at 3pm every day except for Fridays when she is out at 12:35pm. I pick her up and bring her home. Often times we’ll make a pit stop at the beach. My favorite part of this little ritual isn’t so much the exercise as it is the time it gives us to talk. Sienna really opens up and shares what’s happening in her sometimes private little teen life when we walk or run on the beach.
On Fridays, Sienna and I take a Hawaiian dance class together. I grew up hula dancing so it’s a real treat for me to share this with my daughter.
We believe more in self-discipline, which I believe is invaluable. When it comes to raising Sienna, Sam might call me the tough disciplinarian, but I see myself more as a guidance counselor and Sam as the summer camp counselor. While Sam believes going outside to play is always the best choice, even if it means blowing off homework, I believe it’s best for her to keep her long term goals in sight by completing her homework first. Only she can truly measure the value and the cost of those decisions. That being said, we aren’t the best at establishing consequences.
While I don’t do a lot of disciplining, I do A LOT of reminding, which Sienna might call nagging. We’re both stubborn but at least we’re both aware of it. So when things get heated between us we’ve made a pact to stop the spiraling negativity by playing a game of ‘patty cake’ until one of us cracks. It’s impossible not to laugh and always lightens the mood. Whoever is last to drop the issue has to put money in our “bitch jar.”
We thought when we moved into our tiny little trailer that the houseguests would stop but boy, were we ever wrong! People are constantly coming in and out of the house and they tend to stay, regardless of the lack of space. The neighbors are quite used to seeing us pack 11 people onto our golf cart and roll down to the beach. Luckily we have a tent for guests in the back and a bed built over the deep freezer in the laundry room.
Malibu is a very social community and we have lots of family get-togethers. Everyone usually brings a dish and a musical instrument -- Chris loves to perform and sometimes Sam will even sit in with his harmonica. These gatherings, so full of life and laughter, comprise the bulk of our social life. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Enjoy your time in paradise!