College Advice from a Ph.D.

In Thriving in the 21st Century, I described how to assess whether or not your teen is “college material.” In this video, a man who holds a Ph.D. and has taught at several universities explains just how crucial it is that parents ask the right questions before sending their sons or daughters to college. This is well worth watching:
 

 

Happy 2016!

I spent much of the last part of 2015 working on two quilts that were Christmas gifts (photos to come). I managed to finish them in time but I must have been crazy to put myself under such a deadline. There were several interruptions, including emergency surgery on one of my kids (she’s OK now, thank God), the purchase of a car and a broken part on my sewing machine.

The Christmas season was full of surprises, the best of them being the announcement by our daughter and son-in-law that they’re expecting their first child this summer. We are very excited about this wonderful news! This will be our third grandchild; we were blessed to spend some time over the holidays with our first two bright and gorgeous grandchildren, and they are a delight :) We Skype with them every week and love it, but there’s nothing like being there in person.

The holidays gave me an opportunity to reconnect with some old friends, which is always nice. Some were also homeschooling parents, so we have much to talk about. I continue to find it interesting that some of their kids are doing very well as adults while others continue to find their way. I mean this in terms of their faith lives, not their work or personal lives, as all seem gainfully employed and/or busy raising their own children. These things are also true of my own children. It appears to me that homeschooling creates wonderful family lives and good educational experiences, but cannot create an adult who handles everything perfectly, no matter what the speakers at homeschool conventions may tell you! That said, it’s a privilege to watch our adult children navigate the world with all of its joys and challenges.

In 2016, I hope to update Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers with additional projects and information. We also have a couple of eBooks in the pipeline at Cardamom that will hopefully be published this year. And of course, there will be more quilts….and a new baby to love!

Wishing you a blessed 2016,
Barb

September is…..

I can feel it in the air: it’s a little cooler in the mornings and evenings, and the bright green of the trees is starting to fade to yellow. Fall isn’t far away, and it’s back-to-school time.

Like most people, I went to school as a child, so I grew up thinking September was the time for a fresh start each year. Even after I graduated from college and began working, September was the time when everyone was back in the office after their summer vacations, ready to start work on the new sales campaigns and catalogs.

Once I had children, all of whom I homeschooled, September was still back-to-school time, even if we’d been homeschooling all summer, because the neighborhood kids went back to school and our subdivision became very quiet during the day.

Now my youngest is in his 20s, and it’s been several years since we finished homeschooling. I’d like September to become just another month. But the sign out front of the neighborhood school says “Welcome back!” and the stores are filled with displays of school supplies on sale. There’s no escaping it: even if we’re not back to school, the rest of the world is.

Blast from the Past: Frugal Tools: Sewing Machines

 

In Stitches by Susan Eby Glass
In Stitches

Being able to use a sewing machine is such a gift. I learned to sew at the age of 12, and I can’t even imagine how much money it has saved me over my lifetime. I’ve made my own clothes as well as clothes for others. I have no idea how many window treatments I’ve made over the years.

Being a quilter, I’ve made dozens of quilt tops, including many that went to poor families in other countries after the ladies at my church and I added batting and backing to them, so I don’t even know where they are now.

It frustrates me when someone says, “I wish I could sew, but I can’t.” That’s just an excuse. Sewing is as easy as driving, and a lot safer.

Once you know how to use a sewing machine, you can save all sorts of money. We live in a society where most people pitch things and buy new instead of fixing what they have, but I think taking care of what you have is going to come back into style by necessity before much longer.

Think about your bath towels. You know how one side will come loose and get stringy? And then the strings get caught in the washer, which makes the situation worse? If you have a sewing machine, you can hem that side as soon as it starts to come apart so that your towels stay nice and you don’t have to replace them. All that takes is a straight seam…no big deal. But it saves money, because new towels aren’t cheap (at least they aren’t if you like them nice and thick like we do!)

What about hems that come apart on shirts or dresses? It’ll take longer to set up your machine than to sew a hem back up. My son is short, and even the shortest men’s jeans are long on him, so eventually the hems become frayed. My daughter can trim them and sew them pretty quickly on her sewing machine (a job that would take too long by hand and wouldn’t hold up nearly as well either).

Sometimes I use my sewing machine to make one thing into another. A while back I was out shopping and saw a set of three linen dishtowels on clearance for $4. One of the towels was striped, and the other two were in a coordinating print that really caught my eye. I have a pillow at home that had faded quite a bit, and I decided I’d like a new pillow out of those dishtowels, which I bought. I made a nice pillow cover out of the two matching ones, and use the striped one in my kitchen. My newly recovered pillow looks so pretty! Not bad for approximately $2.66 plus tax, and it’s very sturdy because dishtowels are made to get a lot of use.

I’m carrying on the “remaking” tradition from my grandmother, who was a single mom of four small children during the Great Depression. People sometimes gave her hand-me-downs, and she found that when she was given coats, they were women’s coats, not children’s coats, perhaps because the children had worn out their coats while the women took care of theirs.

In any case, she needed coats for her growing children much more than she needed coats for herself, so she accepted every woman’s coat she was offered, cut apart the pieces, and then laid out pattern pieces for kids’ coats on the cut-up coat pieces. She cut them out and sewed them together. In this way, her kids were always kept warm in nice, “new” coats and the only cost to her was her time.

(Once you’ve remade things a few times, it’s funny how you look at everything with an eye to how you could use it to make something. My grandma never did shake the remaking habit. By the time she was a great-grandma, she had begun buying up all the 1970s polyester pants she could find at garage sales and thrift stores. She cut them into strips and wove them into braided rugs. Let me tell you, they are indestructible. We have two that she made for us in the 1980s and they’re still holding up well.)

(Originally posted 1/28/09.)