Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Life is a thing that complicates itself, I’ve noticed. It’s a constant battle we fight to gain and regain simplicity. You make a decision to take on something you think is inconsequential, then you turn around a while later to discover that one new thing has bred twenty new subsequent obligations that you never imagined or foresaw. 

One learns to be careful what one commits to.

Me and my family, we’re having to do this right now. We’re having to make decisions about some major stuff in our lives, and I think we’re heading in the right direction. We’re coming up on a major transition in our lives as I finally start to garner enough income from royalties and other earnings on my writing to be able to support us.

My oldest, for instance, is in the third grade now. We were able, through a lot of sacrifice and effort, to send him to a private school for years. But it’s proving to be too much strain, and believe it or not, it’s not mostly financial, though there is a monetary component to our decision to pull him out of school starting this fall. Mostly it’s the schedule that is influencing us, plus an honest desire to test drive home schooling.

But this is a great example of how decisions beget decisions. For instance, we used to have two vehicles; a car and an old truck. We sold the old truck in order to frugalize and simplify our lives a bit. And it’s true that our lives have changed since then, but it took a while to adapt to it. It makes the school run more of a major event, and I'm finding our lives sort of revolve around it a bit too much for my taste. It’s interesting for me to see how that decision has impacted my family. Overall it’s been positive, because I have had to take my bike on certain errands, or even walk. Having one car has forced us to simplify quite a lot. Once we got used to it we liked it. That’s not to say we won’t at some point have another vehicle. But for now, overall, it’s ideal to have just one, even with the school run issue.

Time will tell if our decision to home school my oldest will unnecessarily complicate our lives. I know there are pitfalls, but we’re going into it with our eyes open and we’re prepared. For now I’m hoping to turn more ordinary moments into educational possibilities. I’m wanting to head out to the desert for an evening with the telescope and stargaze; study astronomy. I’m wanting to transform camping trips into explorations in basic botany, geology, zoology. I’m wanting to recall scriptures as we gaze at mountains, go to the park and read poetry, apply multiplication tables to shopping trips, and so on. But I’m a naturally inquisitive person who enjoys sharing little insights with people, so perhaps I’m pre-wired to be more successful at home schooling my kids. I know this is not the case for everyone. And of course it’s also important to be in agreement with your spouse on stuff like this. That’s the most important consideration, actually.

Pulling back from the school-run schedule, the Monday through Friday slog of the rat race, I think will prove beneficial to me and my family. Now that I am bringing in enough money from my writing to support us, we don’t need to be tied to schedules and seasons as much. I see us taking more spontaneous trips. Vacations in September. Or February. Odd stuff like that. Mid-week camping trips. Family bike rides at 10 AM on a Tuesday just because we want to and we can. That kind of thing. I want to build a fort in the back yard for my boys and watch them play as I sit sipping lemonade on the back patio. I want to smoke a cigar over lunch. Ride my bike more. Read a book under the shade of a tree. Maybe even write one. I want to build a little dorm-style loft in my boys’ bedroom so they can have more space. If we put their mattresses up on the loft, the whole floor will be clear for them to play Legos, cars, watch the occasional movie on a rainy day, have more fun. And it will be easier to vacuum. See how that works? Genius.