Why I’m Tempted to Cancel School

poor unsuspecting tourists

It’s hard to see what’s going on in this picture so let me explain.  All those people are tourists.  A couple on foot.  A couple stopped in their cars.  And they are all at that very moment being hustled by a couple of home-schooled kids hidden from my view by that tree.  After this series of shady transactions (shady, because I made them move their table out of the sun), I came down to get a close up of the culprits and their road side operation.

homeschooled hustlers

Those are 2 of my younger boys with a bunch of their junk that they’ve been selling to poor-unsuspecting tourists at exorbitant prices.  At ages 5 and 7 they’ve already learned that a tourist and his money are quickly parted and have made a hobby out of speeding along that process.

should know better

But it’s not just tourists.  The guy in this picture from the day before is a well-seasoned worker who should know better.  And yet he’ll fork over a buck for a couple cheapo used carabiners just because the kid selling it looks so cute sporting a gappy grin under his LA Kings Stanley Cup Champions hat that just screams “Winner!” (That shout-out’s for you, Uncle Jody).

People homeschool for different reasons.  We homeschool because 1. we believe in a Christ-centered education (whatever form that takes) 2. our boys believe they would truly wither away and die if someone made them sit at a desk all day and then top it off with homework.  In fact they are so convinced of this that when I asked them if they had lived during the time of the Industrial Revolution and had a choice between working in a dingy factory for very little pay or sitting in a classroom all day, they all took the cheap child factory labor option.  This tells me that just as much as they HATE the thought of sitting all day, they LOVE the thought of making a buck.  And isn’t this the basic motivation behind the traditional educational model?  You endure the torture of spending your entire child-hood and young-adult years sitting in class and doing homework when you’d rather just be playing with your toys in order that you can get into college, spend another 4+ years sitting in class and doing homework (and going into debt) in order to get a well-paying job so you can someday buy your own kids all those toys that you never had enough time playing with and they won’t either.

Education is really just a long, drawn-out route to making a buck.

That's Titus setting up his art display at a local gallery which earned him over $100.

That’s Titus setting up his art display at a local gallery which earned him over $100.

So if they’ve figured out how by-pass the process, shouldn’t I just roll with it?

So far, without us ever giving them a dime of “allowance” they are half-way to their corporate goal of buying a truck.  This, they figure will bring them instant income, as a truck is the necessary component to any-number of business ventures.  Just having one puts you in immediate demand to haul stuff for people, or here in Hawaii, because there happen to be no laws against it, you can even haul the actual people.  They have earned this combined fortune by  recycling all the beer cans the tourists leave behind, selling original artwork, doing jobs for over-paying grandparents, losing an inordinate amount of teeth (sometimes I think they pull them out just for the quarter under their pillow), renting their toys to the neighbor kids (I did put a stop to that one as soon as I found out about it), squirreling away all the ice-cream money the aunties send, unloading shopping carts for older folks at the grocery store (they are NEVER allowed to ask for recompense for this service but often receive it none-the-less), picking up trash at camp, and finally their latest venture of selling junk they didn’t pay for themselves from a table on the side of the road.  Zero manufacturing costs.  Zero overhead.  Zero labor, insurance costs or taxes.  100% profit.  An amazing business model that  didn’t take them 12 years of school plus a Master’s degree to come up with.

That's Joel up there.  He asked me when he came down how much I thought people might pay him to trim their coconut trees.

That’s Joel up there. He asked me when he came down how much I thought people might pay him to trim their coconut trees.

While I’m wasting my money on curriculum, they’re out there making it.

See why I’m tempted?


What Summer Taught Me

Some early apple-picking at one of my favorite California apple farms.  Miss that so much.

Some early apple-picking at one of my favorite California apple farms. Miss that so much.

Spending the summer back on the mainland reminded me of everything I gave up when we moved to Hawaii.  In fact, I was feeling so sorry for myself about it that I even made a list.  Indulge me here.  The whining only last through the first part.

1.  Friends and Family:  And not just any family.  Tom and I are both blessed to have the most amazingly supportive families anyone could ask for and on top of that we had a accumulated an incredibly dear set of friends.  Suddenly, we were limited to seeing these wonderful people only once a year.

2.  Fellowship:  Life on the mainland was RICH with the fellowship of mature Christian believers, folks we really looked up to and were blessed to learn from, families that we strove to emulate, that we shared LIFE in common with.  Here there just aren’t a lot of people at our same place in the Christian Walk.

3.  Finances:  Bargains to be exact.  Living on one salary is hard enough but trying to do it without decent thrift stores, garage sales, Grocery Outlets, and Dollar Trees in one of the most expensive states in the Union leaves NO money for the little extras that every girl (and boy) loves now and then.

4.  The Familiar:  To transplant this mountain girl into the tropics was to move me as far out of my comfort zone as possible.  I went from my beloved cabin in the woods to a third floor condo on the beach!  Talk about culture shock!

5.  Home:  Speaking of our cabin in the woods… Even though we never owned our own place I was always able to feather our nest with my own lovely things.  Except for a couple quilts, my collection of Madonna Inn anniversary glasses and my cast-iron aebelskiver pan, I had to leave all the things that made our house a home behind.

6.  Hobbies:  Most of the activities I enjoy most do not translate to island life–trout fishing, camping & hiking in the woods, road trips, garage sales, snow days, sitting by the fire with one of my old books, shopping at Trader Joe’s, fall… Oh how I miss fall.

7. Help:  When we moved to Hawaii we had 4 little boys ages 7,6,4 and 2 and they were finally all of an age where we could leave them overnight with Oma and Opa.  Tom and I had plenty of opportunity to get away by ourselves and should I need help on the homefront it was never more than a phone call away.  Here in Hawaii, with Tom at work, I am very much on my own.  And now we have Gideon, too!  And boy could I use some help!

That completes the whining section of this post and lest you be misled into thinking what a self-sacrificing soul I am, consider the one thing that enabled me to give it all up:  Naivety.  The only reason I was able to leave everything familiar behind and fly blindly w/ 4 little ones to this island I’d never stepped foot on before is because I thought we’d only be here for 9 months!  One school term was going to make for a great family adventure and then we’d be back on the mainland with lot’s of great island memories.  Ha!  Boy was I naive!  Clearly, the Lord needed more time than that to accomplish His plans for us here.  This season of learning has turned into 3 going on 4 years of summer.  Endless, endless summer.

Which brings me to what I’ve actually learned so far.

1.  God provides.  For every single item on my whine list above I can pinpoint abundant ways the Lord has provided for us, perhaps differently, but most certainly abundantly.

2.  God provides.  Yes.  I’ll say it again.  And again.  When Proverbs 31 describes the virtuous wife as one who “laughs at time to come,” I can totally relate.  Not because I’ve personally done all she does to prepare for the future but because I know the Lord’s doing whatever He needs to prepare me and my family.  I may still be completely naive about what lies ahead, but I can laugh because I KNOW that His faithful provision will be waiting when we get there.

3.  God provides.  And here I want to apply this knowledge to homeschool in particular.  If you are a homeschooling mom, you’ve already sacrificed a lot to be so.  You’ve probably given up a career or at least a second income and you’ve certainly given up every bit of personal time you have.  There is no “time off.”  You don’t have the luxury of mornings and afternoons to catch up on the housework, spend time at the gym or with friends over a cup of $5 coffee, or shopping just for the sake of shopping, or running errands ALONE.  There is no alone.  Ever.  And sometimes just that makes one feel pretty lonely.  But please know that for every sacrifice you make for the sake of your family the Lord is there to provide in abundance.  You may have given up your time alone, but think of the value of this time with your children.  There will be PLENTY of time alone in the future.  But for this season, this seemingly endless summer of life, you have TIME with them that cannot ever be replaced.  That time itself IS His provision.

As another school year begins, and you may be feeling overwhelmed by what lies ahead, remember the endless time with your children that can often weigh heavy upon us is His gift for this season.  He will sustain you.  He will provide and you need only to laugh at the time to come.





Who This Is

Hmmmm…full manger….Maybe such rustic terminology doesn’t exactly suit the resort-condo lifestyle we enjoy here on the Big Island of Hawaii.  But really no matter where you house five active little boys…it’s going to feel like living in a barn.  Or a zoo full of barn animals.  At least I’m sure that’s what it sounds like to the neighbors down stairs…bless their long-suffering souls.  So when I was searching for memory verses to go along with our study of zoology this year and stumbled across this gem in Proverbs 14, it hit me like a bail of hay.  “Where there are no oxen the manger is clean, but abundant crops come from the strength of the ox.”  Just think about it, Mamas, “Where there are no [children] the house is clean [and quiet], but ABUNDANT [living] comes by the strength of the [family].”  The mere presence of the noisy mess around me is a daily reminder of how rich I actually am.  As hard as I try, my manger is never quite clean, but praise the Lord, I am learning to delight in the fullness of it, to be thankful for the abundant life that is a condo full of boys…or a zoo full of barn animals…or a barn full of zoo animals.  Whatever.  This is my life.  My full, loud, messy manger.  And because I love it, I’m sharing it with you.
full manger