Wednesday, October 13, 2010


When our family decided to take the road less traveled, we knew that our income would be less than if we had continued on with our life centered on career goals and the demands of my husband's job and the self inflicted pressures of living in suburbia.

Selling what we create with our hands, eating and selling some from what we grow on our homestead, and the occasional odd job have given us enough income to eat well, have a simple shelter (home), be clothed, educate our children simply, and provide the occasional extra.

A concern that often creeps up, probably far too often, is the worry that we are not providing our children with all the tools that could enhance their gifts.  I think of the instruments for the musicians, art supplies for the artists, science kits for our scientist, and movie making equipment for the future director.

As the oldest boys are now nearing 15 and 17, they have been called on often by neighbors to do odd jobs such as stacking wood, raking, taking care of animals, etc.  In addition, they have been able to earn money helping us with our business as it has grown.   As a result, they are saving to buy themselves the tools they need to work toward their goals.

Thomas is an excellent keyboard player but he has always wanted to play drums.  While living in our off grid mobile home, a drum set was not an option.  However, in our home now we could make it work.  (I cringe a bit thinking of the noise, however.)

In the interim, while he saves, I was inspired by this temporary set up ~

Sorry for the blurry picture - He used the top of our oil lantern on his microphone stand, and I think you make out the rest - even the drum sticks are branches.
My hope is that his creativity and innovation will be carried with him throughout his life.

Warm wishes, Tonya


  1. Oh Tonya, this has warmed my heart. My boys, 15 & 12 are excellent pianists. But, like you, we have scaled down so much that purchasing a brand new piano is just out of the question. But, we have been able to have a small keyboard, not with a full set of keys like a piano, but it makes music nonetheless.

    Necessity is the mother of invention :-)

    Blessings to your day,


  2. Awww...very creative! I am glad you are teaching them to work hard and save for what they want. That's the best way to do it!

  3. Wonderful post Tonya. Sometimes I feel the same way--we live simply on a very small income and sometimes I feel like we are not giving our children enough. But you are right, not having things handed to you inspires creativity, as well as hard work!

    Actually I wrote a blog post about this very idea last week: (just delete it if it's not okay for me to post the link)

    I do think that there are real benefits for children and adults alike living without a lot of money. Our only problem is that we are not yet where you are--we are renting a house and don't have our land yet, nor any hope of getting any anytime soon. This is the only thing I want "some" money for--so we can really become self-sufficient.

  4. What a beautiful and loving post! I think your children are getting so much! I have a large family too and have a lot of the same worries. I just posted about this money/need subject today-jinx! It is wonderful your children are so innovative and that they work so well toward their dreams! Peace and thanks for posting this!

  5. This is beautiful, Tonya!
    I like you often worry whether we are providing our children with what they need to enhance their gifts as well. Look at the creativity and innovation you are teaching/giving to your children! And the work ethic, and the close family bonds, the love, the freedom, the security. . .the list goes on. They have all the tools they need to grow up to be happy, loving, peaceful, successful people!

  6. My father, who was 5 when WWII began, has so often talked about how little his family had, and the need for him to create what he wanted to have. From a Halloween costume, to musical instruments, etc. My dad became an engineer and grew up to be part of the first team to create the GPS system for naval battle ships. He has said over and over that his life's work was formed through his lack of having, and need to create.
    I think that we do not need give enough credit to not giving our children everything that they "need", and rather to letting them explore how to create what they desire on their own.
    This is a beautiful post, and such a great reminder.

  7. Tonya,
    I've been reading your blog for a while but don't think I've commented before. I LOVE this post. I think we all, as parents, I giving too much? Not enough? But I feel that children who are taught to be resourceful are much better off than children who aren't. Kids today often have just too much stuff. I was blasted on a knitting forum once for mentioning our family's idea of giftless birthdays! Not totally giftless but we give one or two gifts that our kids REALLY want as opposed to 20 presents that will soon be forgotten. They would have friends over or we'd go someplace (you know, experience vs. "things") but some people just don't get that.

  8. I, myself, am a drummer!

    I think your children have MORE opportunities than other children! If you look at those parents who can afford more things, the children don't appreciate it as much! I know when we are abe to provide something for our children, though we don't have the money to do bigger things a lot, our kids appreciate them, but not in the way that they appreciate and take care of the things that they bought with their OWN HARD EARNED MONEY. Plus, if they can't afford it right away, they WILL become creative and think up something just as wonderful, while they are waiting.

    I think a bucket as a drum sounds just as wonderful as an ACTUAL drum. And someday, who knows, he could make his own hand carved drum sticks and sell them!

    You are doing a HUGE SERVICE to your children! They are going to grow up and be a lot smarter and more resourceful than those conventionally taught and raised! I would trust a child, like yours, with bigger responsibilities than I would a child who has been given "more"... Keep up the good work. Your children will one day thank you!

  9. This is simply wonderful and wonderfully simple. Of course he'll succeed as a musician: he's got creativity, drive, resourcefulness, and a one-of-a-kind approach that guarantee it! My husband (a third generation drummer/percussionist) will LOVE this when I show it to him! How refreshing in this modern world of teens wanting/needing(?) only the newest and best of every gadget known to man...

  10. Thank you Tonya. I too often have these same thoughts about providing for our children. Home educating several children on one salary and stretching and being creative with what we have to meet needs. Thank you for the reminder. We too grew up with very little and I would say it has certainly benefited each of us. Your children are in a good place!

  11. You are giving your children the best tools possible -- the skill-set to pursue their dreams from a place of love.

  12. I think many homeschoolers wonder whether they are providing enough "things" for their children, however they already have so many extra things by being home - not necessarily material things.
    It's great they're at an age where they can earn a little bit themselves, it's great experience too.
    BTW, I finally got your parcel into the mail so you shouldn't have to wait too much longer!

  13. Oh this is so very timely! We have just begun our homeschool journey and there has been a little bit of worry on my part that we will not provide enough for our oldest. However, I remind myself of what exactly we want our children to value. And it seems your blog site is so aptly named...plain and joyful living indeed! What lucky children you have to experience such authentic living. It is so exciting to witness their journey as it unfolds for them, seeing where their creativity and ingenuity leads them.
    xo Jules

  14. This is such a reassuring post for me to see. Our income has dropped significantly since I went "back to work" after Matilda was born. I only work very part time on weekends, and am trying to get a small business up and running out of our home. This year we just can't afford all the extra classes, etc...
    I know that it is just all of this external pressure that makes me feel like I have to keep up with this pace of all the "extra" activities and "stuff" that comes along with them. When I see this post, I am reminded of the beauty of children, how simple life should be, and how if the passion is there they will find some way of persuing it!
    how wonderful
    thank you Tonya!
    xo maureen

  15. You are not alone in this. I think it actually good that we don't supply every need that comes along to our children. This gives them motivation to earn what they feel they want and desire. It's OK! It's good for them.

    My children want everything they see in catalogs! Too bad, I tell them they don't get everything they want. If they want it, they can earn it.

    As far as educational toys, if it truly is a need, pray about it. God will provide it! He promises to do so!

  16. Thank you for your post! We faced the dilemna of being able to provide everything for our children, but deciding on a simple lifestyle and not giving them everything they wanted. I don't think "stuff" makes kids happy. Quality time with parents and family and friends and a solid grounding in their faith is more important. I have a nephew who drummed on cardboard boxes for years and now plays very well and has been parts of bands that have made recordings. Where there's a will there's a way and it encourages lots of creativity.

  17. Sometimes, I feel this guilt, too.
    But then, I remember the parents who bought me every latest toy. And then ignored me.
    I loved my parents, and they weren't cruel or abusive, but they were wrapped up in each other and life, and I was a bit of an inconvenience.
    Never mind though, I had the latest dolls and battery operated whizz bang toys. Unlike all my friends.
    I would have settled for the time spent together, the chilly dawns and dusty midsummers, the fireside rambles and shared nosnsense I now try to give to my children.
    You're on the right track.

  18. I really admire what you are doing and have done for your family. Earning a drum set for himself is an incredible lesson and he'll appreciate it so much more than the kid who gets one and then doesn't even bother to play it because he is already onto the next "want".

  19. Hi Tonya,
    Let me start out by saying a big thank you for the heart you sent with your wonderful newsletter. I'm so enjoying both. I greatly appreciated this post. I have a drummer in the house and his sister traded many hours of working on a horse farm to get it for him as a gift. I believe your children will really appreciate the tools of their various crafts by working and purchasing these things themselves. Bartering has worked so well for us as has craigslist and free cycle. I love this photo of your son. He is a drummer from the inside out. Really the practicing isn't so bad and when they mix it up with other instruments it's really fun.

  20. Things are not that important, however, character is of the utmost importance. And you are giving that to your kids in aces. Be encouraged!

  21. Thank you, thank you for this post. We're in the planning stages of moving from out home in suburbia to a much smaller space - a boat. We're doing it knowing some things will be a trade off - but we're hoping to reap bigger rewards. Connectedness, warmth, family, simplicity. Things that far too often are vacant in so many fast paced suburban homes.