On a recent trip my 17 year old took her family as well as another family camping in the mountains of Mexico! 🏜
They did it just the same way she did it when she was in Arizona, no matches, no tents, no mattresses, no toilet paper, & no flashlights 🔥. She was determined to let her siblings know what ‘real’ camping looked like.
You might wonder exactly what someone packs if they want to go primitive. I’ll outline a week of supplies for 1 person. Next time you decide to go primitive, you’ll know exactly what to bring!
3 Cups Flour
3 Cups Rice
3 Cups Oatmeal
3 Cups Cornmeal
3 Cups of lentils
1 cup of beef buillion
100 drops of chlorine to purify the water you will be collecting OR enough water for you to drink/cook 10 cups of water a day
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup powdered Tang
2 cups Powdered Milk
1 Cup Powdered Cheese
1 Cup of raw macaroni
1 Cup powdered Butter
1 Cup dried fruits (raisins, figs, prunes)
5 TBS baking soda
5 TBS salt
1 Cup of dried nuts & Seeds
2 Tarps. 1 to hang over for your shelter & 1 to put underneath you
1 sleeping bag warm enough for the conditions
1 sharp knife, for carving, catching and cutting
1 Pair of extra warm dry clothes & underwear
3 pairs of underwear
1 extra pair of socks that are not wool
2 Bandanas (use for wounds, to keep the sun off, and to clean things)
1 Backpack or enough paracord to wrap your sleeping bag and tarps into their own backpack
2 canteens for water
Something to make fire with (if you are very talented you can make fire with nothing but a fire set, but I prefer a lighter)
A compass, GPS or tool for direction
A way to communicate. If there is service bring your cell phone, if not bring a 2 way radio. Being alone in the wilderness is not always safe and you will need a way to communicate in case things to bad.
I love to celebrate Easter! It’s by far my favorite holiday of the year. But sometimes with all the world around us advertising chocolate, candy and bunnies my kids forget why we celebrate Easter.
So every year, I do a few things that keep us focused.
1. Read the Easter story from the scriptures:
The Last Supper
Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-25, Luke 22:7-23
Judas Betrays Jesus
John 18:1-13, Luke 22:1-6, Luke 22:47-54, Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-50
Crucifixion of Jesus
Matthew 27:1-54, Mark 15:1-40, Luke 23:1-48, John 19:1-30
Resurrection of Jesus
Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20
2. Celebrate the Passover
On the Thursday before Good Friday our family gathers together with a few other families and have a passover meal. The meal is rich with symbolism and tells the story of Moses and Elijah and our Savior in a way that the kids can remember.
Here is a movie of this years passover meal:
3. Good Friday
Every Good Friday I wake up before the kids and take garbage bags to all the windows. I cover them and pull all the curtains and blinds. When the kids wake up the house is dark. Whenever we have guests and they ask ‘why are your windows dark?’ all my kids answer, ‘because without Jesus there is no light’. This easy and simple illustration costs no money, takes very little time, yet teaches a profound lesson. We leave our windows blacked out, even throughout the day until Easter Sunday.
4. Easter Sunday
Easter Sunday is our favorite day! When Easter Sunday arrives I take off the blinds and turn back on the lights. It reminds us that with Jesus there is light!
The kids wake up to the the bright, beautiful sunshine. The table is set with our best dishes and pictures of Jesus displayed around the home. We usually have a basket or gift for each child. I like to include a book about Jesus, and a few eggs filled with treats for them to eat. I always leave one egg empty to remind them that on Easter Sunday the tomb was empty because He Has Risen!
Thats it, I’d love to hear what your favorite traditions for celebrating the true meaning of Easter are! XOXO Becky Boo
Wanna Light the World with the funnest, most magical Christmas this year? We’ll show you how with our Christ- Centered Christmas Traditions!
The truth is I still can’t believe it’s December 1 and we have been home in Canada for 7 months already. The time goes by so quickly and so much happens it’s hard to imagine that we are already getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Christmas is our families favourite time of year. As soon as December hits we go all out doing our best to Light the World and celebrate Christmas.
We don’t give presents to each other under the Christmas tree, but we do try our best to make each Christmas magical and unforgettable for the entire family!
This is link to the easiest Christmas Nativity that you will ever find! Makes your picture perfect Nativity every time, with almost no work for the mom! www.nativityscript.com
Hey, Being a mom can be overwhelming at best! I have 7 adorable children who some days I love and some days I hate!
But I have learned some awesome techniques to help me LOVE being a mom and wife everyday. I’m going to give you my best tips here.
TAKE A VITAMIN SUPPLEMENT that REALLY works everyday ( I use Q-96- it’s super high in vitamin B which fights depression or SAMe which you can find at most health food stores, or Doterra Vitamins). It is my belief that EVERY mom need extra mental support! And by taking a vitamin that actually works for you it gives you the extra emotional support that you need to stay calm when you really feel like freaking out!
MAKE DECLARATIONS for yourself that you repeat to yourself out-loud EVERY DAY. (eg. I am awesome, These kids are going to grow up beautiful and sweet, I am beautiful, I am the best mom in the world for these kids) There is just TONS of science behind the power of positive thinking. I love these books especially:
As a Man Thinketh
Acres of Diamonds
Drawing on the Powers of Heaven
TAKE SOME TIME OUT FOR YOURSELF! (any smart husband will support this!) go out with some girls that you can talk to. It’s hard being at home and only talking to babies all day, while covered in poop and laundry and dishes. I have a couple sisters and couple close friends that I can call anytime and have a girl hangout session with in the evening. We all bring chocolate and then we just laugh and talk and cry and feel so much better afterwards. My husband is always happy when I come home from my girls nights out because I got to dump and it wasn’t on him! Plus it’s so nice hearing that other people also struggle with their marriages and children and money and health 🙂
4. DATE NIGHTS
HAVE A DATE NIGHT EVERY WEEK with your husband. Being connected to him is going to make you feel awesome. Sometimes we just go in our bedroom and lock the door. We watch a movie, or talk or play games, but the kids know it’s date night and we aren’t opening that door for anything!
If your husband travels away from home and it’s not feasible to have a date night once a week, don’t give up! Use this chance to have a date via social media. Text him, ask him questions, have good discussions or send him some spicy pictures (he won’t mind). There are so many ways to connect with our spouses today, and our teenagers know how to use them so why shouldn’t we?!
5. A SWAY A DAY KEEPS ANGER AWAY!SWAY WITH YOUR HUSBAND Everyday. Not everyone can dance, but EVERYONE can sway. Swaying is standing up and moving from side to side without moving your feet. Make a promise to sway with your husband every night, just for the length of one song. If you guys are crazy angry at each other just hold each others pinkies and sway them to the music. It has worked MIRACLES in my marriage! (I learned swaying from the Royalty And Romance seminar that I took with Kirk Duncan which was soooo awesome)
6. LET GO OF NEGATIVE EMOTIONS QUICKLY
PRACTICE LET-GO TECHNIQUES and use them anytime you are feeling angry, stressed out or mad. A let go technique is any technique that you use to dissolve or let go of negative emotions. We all have negative emotions, and if they are not managed properly than we get sick, physically as well as mentally. Everyone has different let go techniques. Here are a few:
Write out the things that are bothering you and Burn them
Use essential oils
All of these things are great things to do, but when you purposefully use them to help you manage your negative emotions they can literally work miracles in your life! So take walking for example. Rather than just going for a walk, go for a walk with the intention of letting go of your ‘yuck’. Go out somewhere that nobody can hear and yell your gross stuff out, then on the way back from your walk, allow yourself to say everything that you are grateful for. You will be AMAZED at the results!
There are countless letting go techniques that can be used to manage your negative emotions, don’t be shy, USE THEM, AND LET GO OF YOUR JUNK! Your kids and husband will be grateful and your own body will be grateful.
I’d love it if you wanted to share YOUR favorite let-go techniques with us 🙂
7. READ SOME SCRIPTURES- Everyday, even if it’s just a few verses. I went so many years without reading my scriptures consistently and since the I’ve started again I’ve been blown away by how much peace we have at home. I spend way less time on social media and way MORE time with God. I love it!
I’d love to know what you thought of my 7 tips for Being a Calm Mom and Rock-Star Wife! Give me your best tips and hang in there mom, it gets easier 🙂
The wave crashed up washing black sand and frothy sea foam onto my bare feet and with it came a little white shell. I bent down and picked it up. Inspecting it carefully, I turned it around and around and then tried to return it into the ocean where it belonged. Rather than throwing it back I found myself whispering ‘just one more’ and guiltily stuffing it into my pockets.
I laughed aloud at myself. Every. Single. Time. I saw a shell or a sparkly bit of sea-glass I felt compelled to pick it up. IT’s like I was remembering my childhood and hadn’t yet grown out of the habit of trying to keep pretty things. In fact my own collection of seashells which sat neglected on the countertop at home, was bigger than both my other sea collecting daughters pile. This obsession was becoming a problem and I’d have to stop soon!
My kids who were ahead me on our walk came running back with their hands full of large dirty and broken seashells that they had found at a burnt out fire-pit. They were the huge snail shells that the locals would catch when the tide was out and roast over the fire for dinner. I remembered clearly not too many nights ago when Eric and I had heard noises outside and gone with our flashlights and machetes to investigate.
We found a group of grown men squatted around a fire, laughing and joking. Eric and I were so entranced by their meal and methods had ended up staying and swapping stories until late into the night. When their rice was finally cooked in the heavy pot they had positioned overtop the fire, more men startled us both by seemingly appearing out of nowhere and throwing down their evenings haul. They had been out night diving and they had collected one small fish and 5 large snails. This would make the perfect meal they told us with a grin.
We sat for hours visiting and watching as they taught us all the best ways to prepare snails and fish and rice. And then sometime after 10pm when their meal was finally cooked they divided it all up equally amongst themselves and dug in with their hands. Juicy snail water dripping off their fingers and contented smiles on their messy faces they offered us some of the food, but we declined.
My mind jolted back to the present and I looked at the shells in the kids hands. They were ugly, brown, and burnt from the fire. But as I turned one around I saw a hint of mother of pearl. I Remembered back to my old childhood days on the islands when I would bring shells to my father and as if by some kind of voodoo he would transform them into something so breathtaking I was sure it had been made by magic or mermaids. There was mother of pearl in these shells, I was sure of it.
I excitedly told the kids that we were going to do a science experiment. I had seen a bottle of Muriatic acid in the old shipping container out back and was sure it would do the trick. They had no idea what I was planning but I bossed them around telling them to get bowls and gloves and glasses and shells and water. We set everything out on the table and filled up the first bowl with the strong acid. Careful not to splash we gently set the dirty shells into the clear liquid. Immediately it started to bubble attacking the impurities and eating away the calcium coating. Only minutes passed before their hidden treasure started to show itself. Layers of Calcium Carbonate which had taken years to create, quickly dissolved and in it’s place was an iridescent shimmery shell that looked incredibly more beautiful and valuable than anything the children had ever seen. They were mesmerised by the transformation and began asking so many questions. Where had it come from? Why was it covered up? How did I know it was there?
I was having a proud mamma moment at having successfully impressed my kids as well as nephews when I realized that God had his own message He was trying to tell me.
I excitedly told the kids that we were going to do a science experiment. I had seen a bottle of Muriatic acid in the old shipping container out back and hoped it would do the trick. They had no idea what I was planning but I bossed them around telling them to get bowls and gloves and glasses and shells and water. We set everything out on the table and filled up the first bowl with the strong acid. Careful not to splash we gently set the dirty shells into the clear liquid. Immediately it started to bubble attacking the impurities and eating away the calcium coating. Only minutes passed before their hidden treasure started to show itself. Layers of Calcium Carbonate which had taken years to create, quickly dissolved and in it’s place was an iridescent shimmery shell that looked incredibly more beautiful and valuable than anything the children had ever seen. They were mesmerised by the transformation and began asking so many questions. Where had it come from? Why was it covered up? How did I know it was there?
I was having a proud mamma moment at having successfully impressed my kids as well as nephews when I realized that God had his own message He was trying to tell me.
I grabbed my scriptures and started flipping the pages. I remembered reading about this somewhere. The book fell open to Joshua 3: 5
And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.
I read another scripture:
The Savior said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. “Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;“Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
The mother of pearl had always been inside that shell. It took a process that I am sure would have been painful to that shell if it had feelings to feel. But it was worth it! It’s light was shining. I want to be like that shell, broken and covered in sin and sorrow but humble enough to turn my life over to He who can heal. He who can make whole. He who can erase my sins and make me new again, even Jesus Christ.
Once a year the fields surrounding our house bust into vibrant colors of yellow, orange and green. We call it ‘Sunflower Sunday’ This magnificent display lasts for only a few days. The whole neighbourhood gets together and here’s what happens!
She chased after us, waving her arms and yelling out. We didn’t see the aging woman, and kept on driving. Minutes later the phone rang, and in a run of desperate Bislama, The woman, whose name I didn’t even know other than ‘Jennifer’s mom’ told us we had to turn around and come and talk to her. In Vanuatu, we had long ago learned that there is no better time for people than right now. Eric obediently turned the truck around and drive back to the place in the road that led to the older woman’s house. Smiles wrinkled their faces and with trembling hands her and her daughter presented Eric and I with a hand woven mat and a brightly coloured island dress. I held it close to my heart as kissed them both.
‘Thank you, thank you’ she whispered into my ear.
We were both crying as I pulled the neatly folded dress to my face and breathed in the smell of the fabric. I knew this was the last time I would see her in a very long time.
More hugs and kisses and we all waved goodbye for the last time. The first part of our adventure had come to a close, and in just a few hours we would be leaving this island home that we had grown to love so much.
When I got home, I carefully hung the island dress up and added it to the collection of dresses that had been ever expanding since our arrival over 13 months ago.
I remembered when we had first arrived in Vanuatu, how strange everything had looked. New smells, new colours, new foods and new fashions. Amongst those was the puffy sleeved, brightly coloured island dress. It seems there was only one dress pattern on the entire island and it was the island dress. Worn by little girls and grandmas alike, the island dress was by far the most popular item to own in ones closet.
The strangely fashioned article never really grew on me, and in the beginning, I didn’t understand the significance of the garment or the proud way the woman wore it.
But now here I was with my eighth island dress and I was finally beginning to see.
I remembered when I was given my first island dress by the mom of a boy that my kids had adopted into our home on dozens of occasions. He struggled with the pain of loss and addiction, and we had tried our best to wrap our love around him give him a place in our hearts. His mom, grateful for a family that loved her son, had lovingly made Eric and I matching island clothes for Christmas. With the traditional colors of their village- bright green and yellow, the dress was by far the most elaborate island dress that I had seen so far, with lace and frills on everything. I went into my bedroom and pulled the dress over my head, inspecting my reflection. I look oddly decorated and frumpy, but knowing how well I would fit in, and how happy it made other woman to see me dressed up, I wore it anyways.
When I came out of the bedroom, the young man took one look at me and said “Rebecca, can I tell you something? Right now you look so beautiful.’ Suddenly the strange image I was holding of myself in this dress melted away, and in it’s place was a warm feeling of love, a reflection of myself that was much more becoming than the one I normally think of myself with.
The second dress I owned came from one of the mammas of a tiny village far on the North end of the island. We had visited the village of Taka on a camping trip and fell in love with all the kids that spent long days and late nights at the beach or around the campfire with us. The grandmother of the village had told me that we were the first people to play with their kids that were not members of their own family. When the time came for us to finally leave, the mammas of the village had piled shell necklaces onto our heads and filled our truck with fresh fruits and woven mats. The village was so far away that we hadn’t visited it again for months, but when we did stop by unexpectedly, one of the mommas quickly sent her daughter to fetch a bag that was all wrapped up. She handed it to me through the truck window as we were leaving, and told me that she had been saving it for me. It was a lovely brightly colored tie dyed island dress.
The third was given to me by a barely there, wisp of a grandma, who we had met in Teaoma, a small village nearly 40 minutes away. We knew her grandchildren quite well and one time had dropped off some food for their family. She never knew if or when we would come back. But when we did two months later, she ran out, and cried as she hugged me tightly and gave me a lovely red island dress that she had been saving for me.
The fourth, fifth and sixth dresses were given to the little girls by a girl in church who whose grandma sewed island dresses and who had fallen in love with my curly haired, white faced little girls.
The seventh dress was given to us by the wife of one of our workers, after we visited their home late one Sunday night. And the now the last island dress, was being given to us by Jennifer and her mom.
Jennifer’s life has been hard. And as her husband tried to earn money working as a migrant worker in Australia, she coped with a brand new baby, as well as two other kids and all of this in a 10ftx10ft one room house.
I never found out why her 70 year old mom lived alone, but I did know that she sold pineapples and sweet coconut bread on the side of the road to earn money. Skinny dogs by the dozens chased skinny chickens in her yard and she wondered why the eggs weren’t as abundant as last year. But however she managed, she always did it with a big smile and a warm hug.
We would sing to Jennifer and her mom on warm Sunday afternoons. We would also fight over her beautiful baby girl, and my kids would beg me to adopt her after every visit.
Every time we left after a visit, Jennifers mom would fill up our arms with stalks of sugar cane, island pumpkins or flowers from her garden. We gave her a flashlight and umbrella once, and she wept as though we had given her the world.
Today, as I hung up the 8th island dress, I cried. I cried because I finally realized what made those unfashionable dresses so special, and it wasn’t the pattern of their fabrics or the lace trimming. Every dress I had been given was a symbol of 💕 love. In the kindest, most humble of ways, the woman in the island gave dresses and mats as a way of saying ‘I love you’, ‘thank you’, or ‘you are special’. And now with my very own collection of island dresses I was proud every time I wore one, knowing that it was a symbol of love from women who had become friends.
This Mothers Day I will remember the strong and beautiful woman that I have loved so much.
24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
25The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
26 The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
My freezing cold body sunk down into the hot water, and I sighed out all the stress of sleepless nights and long days of travel that come with flying and driving with babies.I was now taking the first hot bath I had had in over 1 year! It felt magnificent, and after I soaked, I dried off in a fluffy white towel, as I stood on a lovely bath mat, made of woven organic cotton and dyed various colors of blue. I couldn’t believe how clean, and white and beautiful everything was.
It was 1:52am but the entire family was still wide awake. We were wandering around in a daze looking at and touching things like we had never seen them before. None of us could sleep. I had already tried tucking myself between the crispy white sheets spread tightly across my master bedroom bed, but nothing was working. I felt out of place, in this spacious, lovely decorated, house that looked like it had come straight out of a magazine.
White walls, curtains over the windows, carpets, lamps, sparkling chandeliers, paintings, soap, a dishwasher, a fridge…I couldn’t believe they even made fridges that big! It was all so pretty, and so big, and so surprisingly unfamiliar.
We had left Vanuatu nearly 36 hours ago, and we had just arrived for our first night home in Canada. I tried so many times to fall asleep, but the silence all around me felt like a great big black blanket, that I wished I could throw off me. The familiar sights and sounds of our home in Vanuatu had kept me company for the last 13 months, and now I was missing them desperately.
Where were those noisy crickets and frogs that kept me awake at night? Where was the steady beat of the ocean surf, coming and going?There was no village music drifting through the warm tropical air, no whirring fans blowing off the mosquitos from our feet which stuck out of our damp sheets, or drunk men laughing outside, no dogs barking at every person that walked by all through the night.
I sighed, and cried, and prayed, reminded myself that God is the Master Planner and it’s He who knows all things and eventually my exhausted body succumbed to sleep.In the morning, I told Eric I thought we should hop back on the plane and go home. By home, I meant back to Vanuatu. He agreed immediately.Half of the kids said no, the other half said yes, but the bank account was the real thing that stopped us from turning around.
A couple hours later, real bacon was sizzling in the pan, filling up the house with an aroma we had only dreamed of.My daughter caught me drinking a bottle of maple syrup which had screamed my name when I discovered it in the fridge. Before long, my house was filled to bursting with the squeals of children who my heart had ached for this last year. When coming home, we had decided to keep it a surprise from everyone, just for the fun of appearing out of nowhere. The tears and amazed squeals from cousins was totally worth all the work it had been to keep our secret!
I had long visits, in a language I understood, with my best friends and sister, and I was reminded again of the real reason that I had missed Canada so much. It wasn’t the house, or the cars, the computers. It wasn’t even the strawberries, bacon or maple syrup, it was the people. The same thing that had stolen my heart in Vanuatu had my heart in Canada, and now I felt so unsettled, not knowing who I was or where I belonged.
I found my daughter holding back tears in the corner, and I wrapped my arms around her, and we cried together. Cried because we had left home, and cried because we had found home.
$22,000 USD is what it cost our family to fly to Vanuatu. Then we paid an additional $4500 in Visa fees to stay as long as we did. We both knew that if we were going to go back, it would take another monumental effort, a lot of hard work and a fair bit of faith. Faith was starting to come a bit easier to us nowadays, as living day to day really has a way of making you dependant on God and His goodness and wisdom, but we still struggled with it.
I sat on my best friends couch, giggling like little girls, and it felt as though we had never been separated. When she asked me why I had decided to come home, I tried to explain all the reasons that had made up this life changing decision, but my mind suddenly went blank. I honestly couldn’t remember why we had decided to come home. ‘To go to the dentist’, I lamely explained.
When I came home that day, I asked Eric to refresh my memory on all the reason why we had left paradise. He reminded me about our two daughters that had already left Vanuatu ahead of us, and about working- like that thing people do to earn money, and about my health, and about a dozen other reasons that sounded so convincing when I had booked the tickets a couple months, but that hardly seemed critical now.
I admit, I am afraid. I am afraid that I might be the same person I was when I left. I am afraid that I’ll get busy, and start caring more about things and less about people. I’m afraid that I won’t know how to minister to Gods children, because they are all around me in great big houses, with families that look so content. I am afraid that everything that happened on that tiny island will fade away, and with it all the love and adventure and memories will be gone.
Faith is the great healer of fear.I feel like a little child learning something for the first time. Falling again and again, unsure of how to go forward without all the pain of repeated failures. Faith is such a small word for such a big lesson, and I pray that God will send me an extra dose of it to navigate these next few months with my family.
‘I cry unto my God in faith and know that He will hear my cry’
The smell of cinnamon buns was wafting through the house and making everyone hungry. None of the girls that were bouncing around my kitchen had ever had a cinnamon bun before, so we were excited to share them. Early this morning, when my little girls went off to school, they asked me if it was okay if they brought some friends home to play. Being the awesome mom that I am and never wanted to miss a chance to win points with my kids I enthusiastically said “you bet”!
A few hours later piles of kids poured through my front door. This was not a few after school friends! I was pretty sure they had brought the entire school home with them! The girls were giggling as they took off their blue and yellow uniforms and folded them neatly across tables and chairs. It was too hot to keep the uniforms on and most the girls had a change of clothes with them. After quickly stripping their skirts they ran down to the ocean with both my daughters in tow and splashed and swam. The radio had sent out an extra large wave warning, so the girls thought that was the perfect invitation to go and play.
Squealing, and screaming and laughing could be heard over the crash of the giant, frothy waves. I went down to watch them and make sure everyone stayed safe, but who was I kidding? These kids could swim better and further and than I ever would be able to. Swimming was like breathing, and they had been doing it since they were tiny.
I headed home and a few minutes later, the group of girls came back too. They were all shivering and cold. My girls quickly offered them a hot shower (most of which none had ever had a hot shower before) and sometime before my gas tank had been completely emptied of it’s expensive liquid, the girls all tumbled out. They wrapped themselves up in every dry towel I had and began to play basketball outside.
I was fascinated by the large group, and sat staringout the window at them, not quite sure what to do. I had been expecting a few little girls to come home with mine and had made a little snack of cut up pineapple and watermelon for them to share but that was not going to do it!
I quickly thought up a plan, I’d do a cooking class. I told them all that today we were going to make cinnamon buns. They were delighted and threw the basketball through the hoop one last time before running inside. I tried to ignore the puddle of water all over the floor and the messy kitchen, telling myself that they wouldn’t notice either- so neither should I. I divided them into groups of 4 andtaught them how to make the tasty, sticky treat. I don’t speak Bislama very well, and they don’t speak English very well, but we did alright as I mimed and acted out exactly what steps happened next.
They stirred, and kneaded and rolled and sprinkled and cut until every pan I had was covered in cinnamon buns waiting to be cooked. Every girl there cooks on a fire in her village. None of them had stoves or ovens, so they were mesmerised by everything in the kitchen. Giggling each time I gave them an instruction or pulled out a new dish.
As the cinnamon buns cooked I told the girls it was time to clean up the messy kitchen. It had already been a disaster with dishes piled high in both sinks, before we had started and now it was even worse. Those girls only needed to be told once and they took their job very seriously. The counter was wiped about a hundred times, and each dish was washed, dried and within 20 minutes the kitchen was immaculate.
Little girls with frizzy black hair, and dark brown skin, sparkling white teeth and beautiful smiles were all being dropped off now that it was pitch black and drizzling with rain. I wondered if their parents even knew where they were today, or wondered what took them so long to come home from school, and I wonder what magic will happen in my house tomorrow!
Their yellow and blue uniforms lay folded on the bed and I shook my head wondering what I was thinking. I have been an avid homeschooler for the last 17 years. My oldest daughter went to one semester of high school in grade 12 but other than that, not a single one of my kids had ever set foot in a traditional school building. And now here I was and in the morning both my 9 and 11 year old would be going to school for the first time.
Their smiles, and absolute amazement when they asked if they could attend the local village school and I said yes,made everyone laugh in the family. We shopped for the matching uniforms together and filled their backpacks with pencils and paper. I’m not really sure why I said yes, but it felt like the right thing at the time.
At home in Canada there is a tremendous amount of pressure and shame if a mother enrolls her child in school and then takes them out early. The opposite is true here. Kids drop in and out of school as quickly as flies. If they can’t afford school one month they are out, and if they can the next, they are in. I’m sure it isn’t very helpful for their educational experience, but for my purposes it worked quite nicely. No upset teachers or frustrated principles. Pay $50, buy the a cute little uniform and voila they can go to school for as long or short as they want. Yes, this was going to do just nicely.
I explained to my friend over text, that I didn’t sign them up for school because homeschooling had disappointed me or because I was overwhelmed. Quite the opposite, actually. Our homeschool school house has been a diverse, exciting, and fun learning place for all my kids. I think that I signed them up because it feels like it would be a great homeschooling experience to go to a local village school.Isn’t it funny that I view ‘real’ school as part of my homeschooling experience? I’m laughing, that’s for sure.
When they finally got out the door to school, they were scared and excited. They arrived in time for classes to start and both got settled nicely in their classes. During the class the teacher, who rules with a stick and threats of the principles office, was extra nice to the two little girls, who of course, were the only white kids in the entire school.
Emma said that lots of kids didn’t have lunches so she shared hers. This was amusing I thought because I hadn’t sent her with a lunch, I was up with a sick baby all night and so the only thing I could find to shove in their backpacks was an apple and two cookies. She shared her lunch?
Frizzy haired, brown skinned girls and boys lined up to talk with the girls. Sarah and Emma had plenty of friends to spend every minute with, and Emma who is only 9 had little boys finish the homework that she was having trouble with, so that when she returned to her desk it had all been scribbled in for her 🙂 Priceless. Their first day of school was priceless. At lunch when the girls wanted to play the local game ‘butterfly’ they had at least 20 kids line up to play with them. I don’t think making friends will be a problem for these young ones.
There was a sad spot in the day when the boys in the class were talking too much and so as a punishment the teacher told them they missed going out for lunch or recess. About an hour after lunch, Emma the poor dear, who hadn’t had breakfast or lunch yet, just couldn’t bear the hunger any longer and began sobbing at her desk. When the teacher saw her crying she asked her what was wrong and after finding out that she was hungry and wasn’t used to skipping meals sent her outside to eat. The kindergarten teacher saw her going to eat by herself and left her entire class unattended while she joined Emma for a snack, and kept her company.
Once the two older girls heard about the little girls going to school they wanted to go too. Their friend down the road told them about a school that teaches 1/2 an hour of math and then your choice of: basketball, piano, sewing, cooking, fire dancing, weaving, story telling, drama, traditional dancing, beach volleyball, and art. It cost $1 for the year. I was sold- and suddenly not just 2 of my girls, but 4 of them were starting school for the first time!
Walking home will take them an hour, but they will be with lots of other children who are walking home too. And at nighttimes when they get home from school we do the ‘real’ learning, that they would have been doing during the daytime- exploring beaches, researching turtles, and swimming with the fish- oh and taking their college prep courses online.
Back at home, during the hot, humid day, I alternated between, sitting at home holding my 2 year old who was sick and chasing after my 4 year old who told me plainly “school’s garbage, I miss my sisters.” I agreed with him. It was no fun being without my kids today.
I think I can last for a few weeks, and then I am pretty sure it will be back to normal in our fun, busy school house. But until then, I think they will have a memorable, and spectacular experience going to school on this beautiful island, and I think it was the right thing to let them all go to school this month!