Timeless Encouragement for Moms

When I look back on the many years of raising and homeschooling my kids, I’m grateful for those who encouraged me.

I didn’t get much encouragement at first, but I prayed for mentors, and before long God placed some amazing women in my life. (I highly recommend praying for mentors, by the way.) Most of them were women from my church, and a few were older homeschooling moms. Then there was one woman who I never met, but who was truly a blessing in my life, and that was Elisabeth Elliot.

You may have heard of her as the wife of Jim Elliot, one of the martyred missionaries made famous in Through Gates of Splendor
, or as the author of such books as Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control
or The Shaping of a Christian Family: How My Parents Nurtured My Faith
(one of my all-time favorites).

But she also had a daily radio show that I used to listen to. It was such a big help to me during those busy years. Her calm and Biblical assurances were also a great comfort to me.

So naturally I’m excited to announce that the vehicle through which she encouraged me, her daily radio show, is now being replayed for a new generation of women, and you can access it free on the Internet!

Just click HERE and prepare to be encouraged.

(By the way, Elisabeth Elliot is now well up in years and has age-related health issues that have limited her mobility. But she is lovingly cared for by her third husband Lars Gren. You can learn more about her current life here.)

The Commercialization of Homeschooling Hits a New Low

I just received an email from a prominent homeschooling website offering to video-review one of our products and put the review on their website.

How nice of them, right? No, because they’re charging money to do the review. A lot of money.

But the amount isn’t the point. Traditionally, reviews are never sold, because a reviewer can’t be considered unbiased if there’s money involved.

Of course, newspapers, magazines and television stations have always paid reviewers to do reviews (that’s how Siskel and Ebert became famous), but that’s different, because the creators of the products did not pay for the reviews. This is important! It’s how you know a review is an honest assessment, one person’s opinion, as opposed to a sales pitch.

When homeschooling took off in the 1980s, homeschooling magazines quickly sprang up and were soon filled with reviews of books and curriculum: the reviews were written by staff reviewers who were usually homeschooling parents. They shared valuable information and opinions. As a homeschooling mom, I appreciated these reviews when looking for books and curriculum for my children.

Since my husband and I became homeschool publishers in 2003, we’ve submitted our products for review to reputable publications and websites, and have gotten some great reviews which we used in our marketing. But we have never ONCE paid for a review. Paying for a review defeats the purpose of asking for an unbiased opinion.

Sadly, it looks like the commercialization of homeschooling has attracted some people with unethical business practices. So be warned: if you see a review of a homeschool-related product in a magazine or website, it may just be an ad in disguise.

How will you know whether a review is really a review or just an ad? Contact the source of the review and ask if they pay for reviews. Then you’ll have your answer.

If this practice becomes widespread, reviews will become meaningless, and should be called ads or (in the case of video reviews) infomercials.

Thoughts for a Bitter Homeschool Mom

Recently I saw the following comment on a forum where the topic was Common Core:

I pulled my youngest out of school when he came home and told me, with his sweet little lisp, that his teacher said “Africa was in Asia.”

He was in first grade.

Pull your kids OUT! If you think you’re in a “good” school district, think again. Similarly, if you think you’re in a good private school, think again. Please! Both parents don’t need to work — if necessary, downscale. One parent, usually the mother, can easily handle the education of the kids.

Fathers, please heed: As a woman, I destroyed my career for my kids. Any woman who has kids and takes the time to educate them — even if she hires tutors and spends her time driving the little cretins around to various “learning” activities — will sacrifice her future in ways you will never understand. As your career takes off, her career is plummeting. And its not as if she’ll be able to start again where she left off many years ago. It’s over for her. So, please, remember that when your harried wife plunges into despair as she spends her best years (40/50s) trying to rekindle her mind and work-life.

I was completely with the commenter in the first few paragraphs, but that last one blew me away. Wow! She sure sounds bitter and depressed.

And yet I can relate to her. While I’ve never thought of my children as “cretins” (that’s where I began seeing the bitterness in this comment), I understand the despair she feels. Because I’ve been there more than once since I retired from homeschooling three years ago.

If I could, I would remind this woman than homeschooling is not some minor commitment you make in addition to church and Neighborhood Watch and Zumba class. Homeschooling, when done well, will eat up your life. It’s a huge lifestyle choice that requires enormous dedication. And when you’re done homeschooling, the recipients of your efforts leave you (at least if you did it properly so that they’re equipped for independence).

It hurts on a personal level, no question. And it hurts your career aspirations, too. But wasn’t it obvious that the working world would not exactly be pounding on your door once you finished homeschooling? It should have occurred to you that the career thing was not going to be waiting for you during those 20 or 30 years you spent educating your kids.

That said, today we have far more options for work than we had 30 years ago, when I last worked full-time. Thanks to the Internet, you can work from home. You can start selling on eBay, create things and sell them on Etsy, or begin a freelance career in an area that interests you. You can offer your services as a babysitter or tutor and help the newest generation. If you don’t need an income, you can volunteer in your community.

Now that you’re free to spend your day as you see fit, you may become overwhelmed by all the choices you have. And that’s OK. It’s even OK to be bitter, for a little while. But don’t let it become a permanent emotion. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start figuring out who you are at this stage of your life.

Because you were wrong when you said, “It’s over for her.” It is not “over” for any retired homeschooling mom. Personally, I’m just getting (re)started!

 

My First Double-Slice Layer Cake Quilt

Yes, the name makes me hungry, but since I gave up white flour three years ago, I don’t eat cake, so I’ll content myself with making a layer cake quilt.

Layer cakes are packages of coordinating fabrics cut in 10-inch squares. I used squares from Connecting Threads and an instructional video from the Missouri Quilt Co. to make this quilt:

101_6806-2

It was fun to make, and quick! If I hadn’t been fighting illness this past month, it would have been done weeks ago. The backing fabric came from a thrift store, where I found a set of homemade curtains in fabric I adored. I ripped out the seams and sewed the two panels together, and for a few bucks I had my backing:

Here’s the video I used, in case you want to try your hand at this (warning, it’s addictive! I’m planning to make another one soon.)

Two Finished Projects

When I was homeschooling, I tried to make time for sewing, and sometimes I actually got some, thanks to my husband who watched the kids so I could sew uninterrupted. Back then, I promised myself that my post-homeschooling life would include plenty of sewing. And so it does!

Here’s what I made in July and August (machine-pieced, machine-quilted):

Stretched Stars

Stretched Stars

I also finished a project I began last fall, and worked on while watching DVDs with my husband in the evenings:

Embroidered pillow (downloadable pattern from www.connectingthreads.com)

Embroidered pillow (downloadable pattern from www.connectingthreads.com)

Both were fun projects. I have more quilts on the way but haven’t found a new hand-stitching project yet.