Lantern Walk

We went on our first ever Martinmas Lantern walk the other day.  There really aren't words.  It was fun, beautiful, and despite it involving a lot of running, and one child giving me heart attack by disappearing for probably 45 seconds (which was an eternity for me), it is something we will do again!

I have found that as the years pass the more simple a gathering is the more meaningful it is.  You don't have to have a huge crowd or have every moment planned to make magic.  Letting the kids be free to run, to play, to have an adventure is really all you need to make memories. 

After walking through the park with our lanterns, don't worry they were battery powered candles, we went back to our friend's house and had warm apple cider and shortbread cookies.  Moms got to talk and the kids got to play and enjoy each other in the glowing lights of a beautiful windy autumnal night.

This time of year is really one that speaks to my heart.  I feel this year I am going to embrace the simplicity of the moment, enjoying the holidays with an open heart and a smaller to do list.  Making meaningful memories in the magic of joy and togetherness.

Here is to a simple and magical holiday for all of us!

Veteran's Day

Too much

I tend to get a bit emotional on Veteran's Day.  I come from a very long line of faithful soldiers and was lucky enough to marry a man who also served our country on foreign soil.  My grandfather fought in WWI, both of the grandfathers served in WWII along with at least 3 of my uncles, My father served in the Korean War, Tony's uncle in Vietnam, my brother in Grenada, my husband in Bosnia, my nephew in Afganistan.  Just writing that bring tears to my eyes.  I am so immensely proud of everything they have done for their country and for their families.  I cannot fully understand what it was like for them, but all I know is that every single one is my hero. 

Some of my heroes: Tony, my sister in law Cassi, my dad Floyd, my brother David, and my nephew Andrew

Thank you just doesn't seem like enough.

On Pumpkin Patches and Adult Children

She would not let me get many pictures, but I asked if I could get one to show dad her new color.  :)
 Just her hair.

We have been some busy bees here lately.  There have been lots of scouting activities which led me to be pretty much a solo mom for about a week at Halloween.  Basically the transmission went out on my husband's truck when he was about 4 hours from home.  It was not cool.

We had been having to bump back our trip to the pumpkin patch because of all the things going on and the plan was to go when he came home, but since he could not come home, I called in reinforcements and went to one of my favorite places here in the Rogue Valley: 7 Oaks Farm.  It has been a family favorite for years and we always have a great time. 

It was fun to get to bring along my local big kids and one very special man (he is now my kid now too) on this adventure.  Seeing my older kids doing those things that we did when they were little is such a blessing.  People can tell you over and over and over that your kids grow up so fast.  You can try to appreciate every moment, but I don't think you can, really.  It sneaks up on you.  One day you are holding them in your lap and the next you are looking into the eyes of a grown up person with all the love, adventures, and trials before them.  You know, those things that you wish you could still protect them from, the things that a band aid and a kiss just may not be enough to heal.  Yet, those are things that are going to make them unique and beautiful people on the inside, which is where it counts the most.  Adult children are amazing.  I am so thankful they will still go to the pumpkin patch with me.

Vegan (or not) Pancakes

Even though I am no longer vegan... oh yeah?  Didn't I tell you?  Well after a month of being vegan I started feeling really depressed, a few of my kids turned into rabid squirrels, and some of my kids were simply not eating at all.  I started thinking about how just because plant iron might be easier for me, it was not necessarily easier for my family.  Also, dairy products do not have iron in them but are packed with protein.  So really, a better choice for me than non-dairy products which do have iron.

But while on my journey with veganism, I did find a great recipe for pancakes!  This was hard because without eggs it was a bit of a challenge to make fluffy and yummy pancakes.  I found a few recipes but none were quite right, besides I make a lot more pancakes than your average family.  So if you are looking for a dairy free, egg free pancake recipe, let me share this one with you!  Hey and if you aren't worried about dairy, totally use buttermilk or regular milk in place of the almond milk.

Amy Caroline's Vegan Pancakes

5 cups flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 Teaspoon salt
5 cups almond milk
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup mapple syrup

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In another bowl combine all the wet ingredients and the slowly add to dry, whisking them together.  Not too much!  Then cook on a hot griddle till the wet top side begins to bubble a bit.  Flip and then cook another minute or so, till golden brown and delicious.

Smoother with whatever floats your little boat and enjoy!!  This recipe makes between 25-30 pancakes, so cut in half for a smaller crowd!

On My Needles

I have been a busy bee lately with my knitting.  Once we kind of get back into a routine with read-alouds, which are usually read aloud to us from my phone because I like to listen too, I get a lot of knitting done!  So I thought I would take a moment and share with you some of the stuff I have been working on!

This was actually done along time ago but I haven't gotten to enjoy it until just recently with the weather cooling off!  It is my Find You Fade Shawl by Andrea Mowry.  I made this with mostly Knit Picks Hawthorne Handpainted yarn.  I also used a color from Malbrigio, Madeline Tosh, and Maker's Haven.

This was a huge project and one I really loved.  I felt like a big grown up knitter working on this.  It is huge!

I am looking forward to wearing it more in the next months.

I also have been working on a lot of socks.  I am nowhere near my goal of 12 for the year, but c'est la vie!  I think I have 6 at the moment and considering before this January the total of socks I knit was 2 pair, I would say 6 is quite good.

These are probably my favorite.  They are the Home Grown Socks by Jessica Gore.  The yarn is by the incredibly talented homeschooling mom Amber over at Maker's Haven.  I absolutely love her yarns!

I also finished the Central Park Sock by Nina at the Knitting Expat.  These were a lot of fun!  The yarn is Down the Rabbit Hole by Fox and Fawn.  The yarn was really lovely and it was the first time I have ever bought anything from them.

As for the book in that picture.  Forget it.  It stunk.  I only got in a few chapters.  If you like listening to someone talk about how their tastes are too elevated now for the literature of Laura Ingalls Wilder, than go for it.  For me... eh, blech.

So that is some of the fun stuff I have finished.  I am currently working on a fun pair of vanilla socks with yarn from Knit Picks which I am afraid I do not have enough yarn to finish *eek*.  I am also starting to work on my annual Christmas hat extravaganza.  I am not sure I will get one done for everyone this year.  I feel like I should have started a long time ago.  Maybe some people will get theirs on the Epiphany.  Wish me luck!

Big 'Ol Biscuits

Today I wanted to share with you one of our absolute favorite recipes.  I haven;t eaten these in a few YEARS, mind you.  So when I made them last week, I was a little excited.  

Amy Caroline's Big 'Ol Biscuits

4 1/2 cups flour (you can use white, wheat or a mix)
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups shortening (or just butter)
3 Tablespoons butter
2 cups milk or buttermilk (you might need a little more than 2 cups if using buttermilk)

Mix the 4 first dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add shortening and butter and cut with pastry cutter till resembles small peas. Add milk or buttermilk. Dough should be wet and not soft.

Flour a cutting board well and lay out dough about ¾ inch thick.  Use a biscuit cutter or jar to cut them out.  You may need to grease the jar or cutter.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and place biscuits close together, this is key!  When they are close together they will rise higher.

Bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees F.

This recipe makes about 18 biscuits.

Butter your biscuits and pour liberally and enjoy!

Why I am Still Not an Unschooler

Despite my posts last week (here and here), I would still not say we are unschoolers.  I really love the idea behind all the great thinkers regarding this innovative way to educate (or not) our kids.  I really believe with my whole heart, that so much of what they say is 100% true.  Young kids really should be playing more than receiving formal education.

But the truth is, I also think kids need to be introduced to ideas and concepts that they may not necessarily discover on their own.  I am not a fan of kids sitting zombie-like in front of a screen all day.  I know most unschoolers say that kids grow out of that... but honestly, I would sit zombie-like in front of a screen all day if I didn't feel guilty about it!  So I am not really to keen on the whole do whatever you want all day and night.  I've said it before and I will say it again, NO is not a bad word.  It is good for kids to hear it.  They need to know to listen to you.  It could mean their life, and I am not over exaggerating.

So, while I love the philosophy, I am just not on board... all the way.  For us a simple school day is what works best.  If I give them license to do whatever they want, we all get sullen and cranky.  Not even talking about my kids here, I need routine.  It keeps me human.  Have a simple school day where they are introduced to new ideas and concepts is a good thing.  It keeps all our minds active and happy.

So the key is to try and retain balance.  I heard Father Mike Schmitz say once that you can never be balanced.  Balancing is a verb, one is always in the process of balancing.  So to expect that one day everything will be perfect and you will be able to never worry again about doing too much of this or that, it kind of counter-productive. 

Make sure your kids get a chance to experience their interests and play, even the older kids!  But, also, introduce them to concepts that will not only spark their interests but also introduce them to things they might never have thought of!  Go to park days and play dates, but also throw some history and writing in there.  Get a math page done! 

The number one regret of most retired homeschool moms is inconsistency.  Find a way to feed you and your children a life filled with experience: the adventures and the work around the table.  Bond over Winnie the Pooh and Jane Austen, over multiplication and phonics, but also over walks in the park, collecting autumnal leaves and dipping them in beeswax.

Worry less and love more.  It will all work out.
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