We've been so busy the last few months. I have a confession. Sitting on my counter is a large pumpkin we bought in mid-October with some vague plans to carve this cute scarecrow design we saw on the Better Homes & Gardens website. We never did. We were going to take it to a Fall Festival on October 27th, but the weather was so bad, we skipped it.

Now I'm wondering if I should just try to cook it. I've heard cooking pumpkins this large isn't a good idea, but then I've had other people tell me they do it all the time. I guess I don't have much to lose, and if it works.... mmmm... pumpkin bread and pumpkin cookies and pumpkin soup.
I had a conversation with someone some time ago discussing whether or not "people cook any more." Her theory was generally not. I countered that I know plenty of people who do, but she then dismissed that (rightfully?) as some sort of quaint and quirky aspect of homeschooling.

When I wanted to teach my children the basics of cooking, I went about it the way I do everything else. I sought out free resources online and through the library and began twice-weekly cooking lessons. Now they can handle dinner when I'm pressed for time.

My feeling on the matter is that *everyone* should learn how to cook. We don't all have to be four-star chefs, but we should all know how to put together several different, decent meals. If nothing else, it's a money-saver. Dining out or relying strictly on convenience foods will drain your budget big-time. Beyond that, it can be a matter of health as well. Cooking a wholesome meal is much better for you and your family than a stop-off at the drive-thru.

Too bad there's no CLEP for Cooking & Nutrition! Maybe that would spur more young people on to learning. :)
It's a sad fact that in today's job market, it's quite common that the first person to see your resume or job application isn't a person at all, but rather a computer program designed to scan for key words like "bachelor's." If you don't have the proper words, you never even make it through the first round. That's a pretty scary thought. It makes me wonder how many companies have missed the chance to hire really good, strong, dedicated workers because the software doesn't know a great employee from a poor one.

I read an article once that talked about how most jobs are actually filled through "informal" means, rather than the formal process of answering an advertisement, going through an interview (or even more than one) and then receiving an offer. Most jobs, apparently, are acquired through word-of-mouth need or cold-call approaches. In the first case, it really is a matter of who you know over what you know. Someone at Company X knows a position is about to be open and lets you know while simultaneously recommending you to the company for the job. In the second case, it's about recognizing a need in a business or company, often before the company itself sees that need. For instance, you have website programming and graphic design skills, so you approach someone with a badly designed website and offer to create them a new one, in exchange for goods, services, or monetary remuneration.

What this all says to me is we need to be mindful of making sure our kids learn the value of several things. The first is networking, and I do NOT mean getting the most friends on Facebook to help you with Farmville! This is building relationships with professionals who can provide mentoring and recommendations. 

The second is developing the confidence and skills to approach people while actively seeking a job. Even if the initial job application process is computer or digital based, it doesn't hurt to get dressed nicely and go visit a manager or hiring agent in person, to put a "face" to the name. While the conversation may only last a few minutes - introducing yourself to the manager and explaining your keen interest in being employed with his company -  it is something that likely will stay with him as he evaluates all the prospects. (This is especially true if you follow this up with a thank you letter for his time.)

Third, is considering job opportunities where they aren't always readily apparent, as with the example of the website redesign above. This could even grow into a new business, if done right. While being self-employed has inherent risks, it also has many great benefits. 

In all, we want to be sure that we aren't only helping our children with the nuts-and-bolts part of their educations. Who fought the War of 1812? What's the chemical formula for methane? We also want to be sure they have the skills necessary to support themselves in the adult world.