Excuses, Excuses

by Katy on June 9, 2014 · 27 comments

You may have noticed that my blogging has been a bit sparse lately, and it’s due to a number of circumstances. My sons have been hogging the laptop for the end of school year homework crunch, which means I simply don’t have access for blogging. Also, I’ve been working uncharacteristically busy with the swirling vortex of life:

  • Readying my 16-year-old son for his month in Japan.
  • Helping out/visiting my parents who both had surgery over the past few weeks.
  • Readying the house for an old Japanese exchange student who’s going to be staying with us for a few weeks.
  • Planning special things for my 18-year-old high school graduate.
  • Attending graduation ceremonies and soccer tournaments.

Cooking, cleaning, cooking, working, sleeping, parenting, neighboring, erranding, daughtering, hosting. It’s a wonder my head doesn’t explode!

Of course, frugality and simple living weave themselves through my daily life, even if when I’m not writing about it. My older son is borrowing the single-use $59 cap and gown from the school instead of buying one, I packed up an afternoon of food into a recently purchased $1 garage-saled Coleman mini-cooler for a recent soccer tournament; and I continue to hang laundry on the clothesline, listen my library audiobooks and cook from scratch.

And when my son informed me that he needed a white dress shirt for his Japanese completion ceremony, we were able to locate a perfectly acceptable $4 Goodwill version. Even though this news came the afternoon of the event!

Breathe Katy, Breathe . . .

I will get through the next couple of weeks, and life will simplify again. Bit until then, I may be blogging a bit less.

P.S. I have come to the opinion that Jostens (the graduation supply company) is a predatory business. They have a monopoly on required graduation items and charge a unconscionable amount for their poor quality products. Just say no, people. Just say no.

P.P.S. My lack of blogging in recent day may or may not have something to do with the second season of Orange is The New Black being released on Friday.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon H. June 9, 2014 at 9:09 am

We rented our graduation gear, and I was happy to get rid of it. Josten’s is a racket, though.

I’m impressed that you have stayed connected to your Japanese foreign exchange student. I have not stayed in touch with my Belgian host families, because I’m a horrible correspondent. 🙂


Katy June 9, 2014 at 9:55 am

He’s been a college student in town over the past year, so it’s been easy.


Liz June 9, 2014 at 9:37 am

My nephew graduated from college early last month and opted not to walk the stage. The school required him to buy the cap and gown, and it was just too expensive. And really, the only thing that matters is the diploma.


Katy June 9, 2014 at 9:57 am

I chose to not buy a cap and gown for my graduation ceremony, which worked fine for the nursing school graduation. I didn’t even consider going to the enormous and anonymous general state university graduation though.


Markie June 9, 2014 at 10:06 am

I paid $80 for ds’s cap and gown for college graduation. Definately not worth it at all. The graduation was much more subduded than high school.

My niece, who graduated from the same college, was smart and called to explain she couldn’t afford the cap and gown. She got a donated one and had to return it afterwards. Her cost? $0.


Maureen June 9, 2014 at 10:14 am

My daughter’s school used Jostens also, but I don’t really think it’s them saying that things are necessary. I’m going to go with the school board and the PTA on that one. They are the ones that determine everything for the schools, don’t they? At my daughter’s school, they even dictated the drapes for the girls to wear and the suits for the boys. Luckily Jostens supplied those, but I had to driver her 15 miles to get her pictures taken during the summer because they didn’t do the senior pictures at school.


Katy June 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Jostens sends home a catalog about graduation supplies and multiple e-mails about deadlines. It took a lot of effort to figure out how to borrow a cap and gown, (posts on the school’s Facebook group, asking parents with older kids, calls to the school, a request on Freecycle, etc.) and there’s zero alternative vendor. They could charge less for their poor quality caps and gowns, but since there’s no competitor they can choose whatever price they want.


kris June 9, 2014 at 10:27 am

My daughter just graduated and although I have a perfectly lovely royal blue gown in the closet from my son’s graduation 2 years ago – the school decided to use White for the ladies this year. I had to pay to purchase it because we didn’t have an option to rent/loan. You can bet your bottom dollar that I will be saving it for my next daughter’s graduation (in 2 years). I will have to purchase a new hat because it rained (a lot) at graduation (which is outside) so the hat is all bent up. Oh and because they went with White (which is paper-thin btw), it was required they were a white dress underneath. Luckily my (not always so frugal) little darling found a perfectly lovely sundress at the Goodwill for $7.00. She earned points with that one, lol.
As for the lovely blue gown, I will be passing it down to one of my husband’s students that will graduate next year. I know his family doesn’t have a lot of money so I’ll be glad to pass it along.


Rb June 9, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Totally shocked by cost of having to purchase grad robes. For both HS and college ( major big ten school) all robes and hat were rentals. And have never heard of dress code in terms of colors for clothing worn. Yikes!


Rhonda June 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Totally agree about Jostens. We were not given the option to rent, and when I tried to use the older brothers we were told by school it was not acceptable because it might be a different “dye lot” . I should have insisted but it was upsetting to the kiddo. I wouldn’t mind if it was something good, but it’s cheap plastic crap that they charge an arm and a leg for, really annoying!


Bauunny June 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Yup….all the graduation paraphernalia is a racket for sure and it ends up as clutter, expensive clutter. We were lucky to have both kids use the “neighborhood” gown which I have since gifted to another family for their 2 high-schoolers. And the there are the grad parties…..we shared one with a friend and the second graduate agreed to have us finance a special trip at a date and destination to be named in the future. Wi win on that one.


Chris June 9, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Yeah, the cap and gown aren’t exactly “you can wear it again” items. Gave ours away on Craigslist to some lucky parents!


Madeline June 9, 2014 at 8:32 pm

I missed most of my graduations.. no gowns for me after 8th grade.. Nursing school: I had to hurry up and finish my semester early, take exams early,etc.cause my husband was already graduated from chiro school and we had to leave town in September for him to take on a new JOB = PAYCHECK!!!! 🙂 My nursing school class graduated in October, it was a very small class, my pals sent me my nursing pin and a picture of grad.day.. Life goes on….!!


Kristen June 10, 2014 at 3:48 am

This is one time homeschooling saves money. Ha. I won’t have to think about caps and gowns until college graduation.

You’d think they would just let you rent these. How many people actually want to keep theirs forever??


Linda M June 10, 2014 at 4:41 am

Congratulations! This is a very special time in your family’s life! Sounds like you are doing amazingly well to me!!! Sometimes we just have to cut ourselves some slack…no excuses needed! Just plain savor these very special and fleeting moments. And thank you for so generously sharing them with your reader/buds:)!


JD June 10, 2014 at 5:07 am

Having a senior in highschool can be very demanding. We had so many fundraisers for the senior trip that we had to work, because we sure weren’t going to pay for it all out of pocket. The cap and gown thing irritated me, too. A kid could get one free if he or she “qualified”, but that meant only the kids completely dependent on the state. Poorly paid working parents were forced to buy caps and gowns for high school, no rentals allowed, and in college, the rental was almost as much as the purchase price. Both of my kids chose to skip their college graduation ceremonies, for which I was grateful.
Back in the dark ages, when I was in high school, Jostens offered only yellow gold rings, but one year they offered one white gold ring that one girl paid extra (!) to get because she didn’t like yellow gold. She didn’t have it on her finger for three hours before it turned her finger green! Jostens was still in the school giving out rings, so our teacher let her leave class to go return it and demand a refund. I don’t remember if she got the full price back or not. And those cheesy invitations, for twice the price of ones I could have had printed myself…. don’t get me started. School boards get lazy and just choose them and make us deal with it, rather than let us look for alternatives. One thing my graduating high school class did was veto the idea of separate colored robes for honor students. First, it felt snobby, and second, hey, we were honor students after all — we weren’t dumb enough to pay extra for the “fancy” robes.


Heidi June 10, 2014 at 5:08 am

I too have been sucked in to the new season of OITNB – and it’s a good one. We are lucky enough that graduation caps and gowns are provided to us here (we live in Canada). The school owns them and hands them out to the graduates, to be handed back at the end of the day. Even university provided the gowns. It’s a much saner way of doing things.


Lisa June 10, 2014 at 8:06 am

OITNB provides many lessons in frugality!
I bought my MFA graduation gown and cap, because I wanted the degree hood to keep. But I passed the cap and gown down to a graduate in the class of 2014.


Katy June 10, 2014 at 9:11 am

They certainly “make it do.” You know, like shower slippers made from maxi-pads! 😉


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary June 10, 2014 at 9:36 am

I completely agree about the flimsy nature of the gowns and caps, but ours were only $29. I think the rental / dry cleaning cost would be about that much.

But the parties, dinners, events, pot lucks, etc. etc. are really starting to add up!


Laure June 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm

I agree regarding Jostens. Sounds like a possible opportunity for an Etsy store for a good sewer??


PoppyEcho June 10, 2014 at 9:14 pm

I’m glad I splurged for my own Netflix account in time to lock down the old price before they raised it, after I got kicked off my friends account, when they reduced the amount of people you could have on one account, especially when there’s ORANGE. Glad I threw away my garage sale aquired tv and never bought a flat screen. Life with almost no commercials is so much better. What a lot of time I wasted waiting commercials to end and watching sub par shows. Good add-free “tv” programs aren’t a waste of time at all, IMO. My frugal parents wouldn’t buy me a class ring (I think they were about $150 20 years ago) so I had to beg and beg to let me borrow the money from them to buy it. They were reluctant. But eventually I won. Took me about a year to pay it back and after maybe 2 or 3 I lost it. It was a cool ring though, I’m in two minds about whether I’d now regret buying it if I’d managed to hang on to it. Since I did lose it, I definitely regret it.


Chris June 11, 2014 at 10:10 am

Hi Katy,
Wondering if you would mind sharing some information on the exchange program that your son is participating in? My son has been asking about doing an exchange program in Japan, and I’m interested in one that is shorter than a year, or even a semester. One month sounds perfect. Is it an international program?


Katy June 12, 2014 at 8:13 pm

This program is a “Sapporo Summer Institute” that is specific to the public school program that he’s part of. Sorry, but it’s only for his classmates.



kathleen June 12, 2014 at 4:45 am

I’m going through serious withdraw here!


Barb Bailey June 12, 2014 at 11:19 am

OH your chant about grads,incoming & outgoing,readying everything just gave me pause to say I hear you & can appreciate. Thank goodness I am not going thru that …stay positive & breathe…every age is a stage! Congrats!


Pauline June 28, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Hi Katy, been reading your blog for sometime now. I was interested to read this post about graduation wear. My dd had her degree ceremony last year and like most of the other students chose her package (cap and gown hire/photos etc) from the prescribed company. We were rather disgusted with the quality ( fabric very poor and terrible stitching with very narrow seams down the front meant that the edges rolled out) and also that the gowns were very creased from carriage.

I discussed the matter with the company representative when we returned the items later in the day (rep wearing shabby suit and dirty necktie!) but was just told they arrive creased from being packaged up.

I think it cost about £70. When we returned home, dd wrote a letter to the dress hire company and was given a refund. Well, as I’d paid, I got the refund. Well done her!


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