Already?!?

Did Halloween sneak up on anybody else?  Wow… It felt like one minute we were swimming and bemoaning the start of school, and the next I was being asked to help with Halloween costumes!  It was a fun way to ease into our Monday, though… I helped one kid with a doll lunch box, another with some homemade pom poms for her costume, and this guy with his army tank.  (Xavy, I’m glad you still want to wear last year’s shark costume!)  Can’t wait to show you the final product… it turned out pretty cool; (especially for being “thrown together” the day before our co-op costume day!)

One thing I want to remember about this day is the heart of my little man.  Throughout the day, he kept saying, “Mom… I know I’ve already said this, but I just have to say thanks again for spending this time with me and helping me.”  ***sigh*** With that heart, I think I would buy you a real tank, dude!

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

For the most part, living in Southern California means I just get to pretend that it’s fall.  Of course, we still eat candy corn, adorn the house with pumpkins, and make fresh bread and soup — only we do it in tank tops and flip flops rather than cardigans and flannels.  (At least it cools off enough to open the windows at night!)

So far, I have made corn and potato chowder, chicken and wild rice soup, (my favorite), chili, and broccoli cheddar soup, (the kids’ favorite).  This time around, I actually found a wonderful broccoli cheddar recipe, so I wanted to document it here for days when it actually is cold and we actually need soup.  (The kids even commented, “This soup is really good this time!”)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets
  • 2 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 4 – 5 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion in hot butter until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots, and chicken stock; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Whisk 1/2 cup melted butter and flour together in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until flour loses it’s granular texture, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk if necessary to keep the flour from burning, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Gradually pour milk into flour mixture while whisking constantly. Stir chicken stock into milk mixture. Bring to a simmer; cook until flour taste is gone and mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir Cheddar cheese into vegetable mixture until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

OCFA Firefighter Picnic 2018

Xavy could have spent the entire day on the fish ride.  He rode it so much that I began to get dizzy for him!  The worker loved him, too, and continually asked him if he wanted to stay on.  Of course, he always said yes.

Free food.  Free games.  Ice cream. Soda. Candy.  Junk Food.  Rides. Fishing.  Boat Rides.  Prizes.  No lines.  No crowds. Safe.  Family and Friends. Face Painting.  Mini Golf.   Bounce Houses.  Balloons.  Clowns.  Petting Zoo.  Pumpkin Decorating. Live music.  What’s not to love?  Yet another wonderful time at the annual Firefighter’s Picnic.

My Artistic Bird Girl

This year, the girls and I added an online watercolor course to our curriculum.  Though most of the techniques were already familiar to the older girls due to their classical art class they have taken the past 4 years, it’s still been a fun bonding time for us.  Last Thursday, while I cleaned out the garden and picked our last bouquet of zinnias before the winds were predicted to return, Natalie joined me outside to practice her watercolors. Natalie has been my bird girl AND my artist since she was little.  It is so amazing to see her completely surpass me in art.   To be totally honest, I think all the girls are better than me at this medium.  I just love seeing what they do and hopefully with a few more of our lessons I will be able to do what they do!

Hike Day

Sometimes I don’t write in this little space for a week or two because life just happens and I don’t have a lot to write.  Then there are other times when I feel like I have so much to write, but I don’t know where to begin or how to compile my scatter-brained thoughts.  I think the latter is what has been happening these past few weeks…

I’ve been thinking a lot about our homeschooling journey, lately.  As with all journeys, there are different places that offer different views; some spectacular, some kind of boring, and others beautiful in their own way.

As I was pondering our homeschooling, it occurred to me that we have unintentionally broken our schooling into 4-5 year seasons.  My first season homeschooling was spent learning the basics, doing lots of arts and crafts, music, baking, and surviving with babies and toddlers.  I can still remember doing reading time on a bedroom floor while simultaneously building blocks with a toddler, or doing math under a play structure at the park while the other kids played in the sand.  These years were so precious, and offered a lot of freedom, but I started to feel as though we needed more structure.

The next 4 years we were part of a community that I loved, which offered wonderful content as well as great friends and a sense of purpose and structure that we had been lacking.  As with all things, it came with a few negatives such as losing some of the freedom I had so loved in the earlier days.  Honestly, I look back at both seasons with a lot of fondness.  One wasn’t necessarily “better” than the other — they both offered different things we needed at different times.

We are now entering yet another new season in homeschooling.  This year we joined a new community that is actually local to us, which offers me a lot more freedom and a few hours of free time.  Daniel’s job has also changed, allowing him to be home every night for our family dinners.  We have intentionally cut-back on some of the academics and extracurriculars to allow more freedom for hikes, field trips, reading together, and spontaneous activities.  (See pictures above of our first hike with our new community today!)

Again, this new season is not necessarily better than the last 2 seasons.  But, it is providing exactly what we need at this time in our journey — more rest, more freedom, and more freedom to rest!  I feel my joy and excitement for this journey being renewed and refreshed once again.

All that to say, change can be hard.  There is an adjustment period in everything.  But, it can also be so good.  There is not one “ideal” community or system out there, which is the beauty of homeschooling, really.  We are given the freedom to try, to experiment, to start over… sometimes daily!  And, that’s ok.  It is not the end-product we are after, but rather the process, the journey, and the relationships we are blessed to be a part of.  Each day is a gift, and as my children are getting older and I am seeing the days slipping away, I am more grateful for this gift, and want to be more intentional with our time together.

If you’re still reading this, thanks for listening to my ramblings!

P.S.  Who are those big kids in the pictures????

Fall Conundrum

It happens every fall…

I have grand plans to work on the garden and plant fall/ winter veggies…

Or, perhaps, I would try a “cover crop” to prepare my soil for spring…

Then along come these…

Zinnias that sprouted on their own from previous years of planting them…

And I look out my kitchen window, enjoying the color and the humming bird friends…

and the butterflies!  And… all my fall gardening plans go out the window, too…

My Kids are Weird

My kids are so weird!

We’ve done all the traditional apple breakfasts this week, (and still have more apples).  Apple pancakes– check!

Apple coffee cake — check!

Dutch baby with apple syrup — check!

Apple waffles — check!

Then I tried something new: Apple carrot cake breakfast cookies.  I was met with “Ews” and “Can I have cereal?”  (I told you my kids are WEIRD!  Except for Allison who happily enjoyed a cookie date with me — she’s now my favorite!)

Can I tell you, these cookies are awesome!?  Some day… some day they will come back home and beg me to make these.  And, I gladly will!

Here is the recipe:

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup oat flour or whole wheat flour*
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup grated carrot, chopped smaller if desired (2 medium carrots)**
  • 1 cup finely chopped (or grated) apple (1 medium), no need to peel

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.
  • In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together applesauce, honey (or maple syrup), egg and vanilla. Mix in the melted butter.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the grated carrot and apple.
  • Use a large scoop or measuring cup to drop 1/4-cup portions of dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Use your fingers to gently shape the cookies and flatten slightly, as they won’t flatten on their own during baking.
  • Bake 14-15 minutes, until set and lightly golden. (If baking more than one pan at a time, be sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time.)
  • Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Fall

We had the most beautiful fall weather this weekend.  Windows open.  Candles burning.  Apple baking.  And, a family walk to the horse stables.  Unfortunately, it also included lots of naps trying to combat this head cold.  It wasn’t in the plans.  (Sickness never is, is it?)  Here I am Tuesday and my weekend to-do list is still unchecked.  It kills me.  It feels like my beautiful weekend was “wasted.”  Yet, this morning when I opened my devotions, the first line read, “Be careful not to attach your sense of worth to your performance.”  BAM!  I am feeling much better today, though still not 100% and I am reminding myself that each day is a gift.  No, I did not get to enjoy a family hike or gardening in the cool morning fog, but I was blessed to sleep and just be with my family, which I am convinced is why I am feeling a bit better today.