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    Seven Quick Takes on Gluten Free Cake Mix, Coloring Books, the Giveaway WINNER and More!

    October 30, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    In light of our gluten free situation, you can imagine how excited I was when I saw these. I love to decorate cakes for my children’s birthdays, and I was sad to think that maybe that was going to be hard now because of the diet. But I was at Target and saw these babies on the shelf and I was so excited! I don’t usually bake my cakes from scratch — I just buy a box. True story.

    I haven’t tried these yet, but I was planning to make a cake for my mother-in-law, who is coming to visit shortly after her birthday. We’ll have a belated party and test drive one of these and see what we think.

    Keep you posted!

    :: 2 ::

    Want a sweet and simple gift idea for an elementary aged girl? Some people think the new adult coloring books are for adults, and I don’t want to contradict, but little girls love them! Or, at least, my girls do. And, honestly, I remember loving detailed coloring books at that age. Anyhow, my new favorite gift is a fancy adult coloring book and a pack of colored pencils, or some of them even use paper that allows for more interesting media, such as water colors.

    Here are some of our favorite coloring books:

    And don’t forget something to color with:


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:

    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2011:

    Why We Read Mythology

    Apparently I tackled the reading of mythology? I barely remember writing this post! Ha. It’s been so fun going through the archives and finding things I’d forgotten about.

    :: 5 ::

    The winner of the Your Morning Basket BIG Basket {aka “awesome prize”} is Amy Connors! Congratulations, Amy! I think you’re going to love this fantastic Circle Time resource — I know I do. Here’s what you’ll be receiving access to:

    For the rest of you, go check it out — and don’t forget to also be listening to the companion podcast! It has quickly become one of my favorites, and I never miss an episode.

    :: 6 ::

    I’ve decided what I’m doing for my 10th Blogoversary Celebration, and I’m so excited! At the very beginning of January, right when I’m done with my usual Christmastide blogging break, I’m going to run a huge, gigantic giveaway! There will be 10 days to enter to win 10 different awesome prizes — and I’ll be choosing 10 different winners. I’ll be announcing the prizes as we go along, but today I’ll just tell you about the first prize, which is The Sarah Mackenzie Package. Sarah will be giving one winner a signed copy of her fantabulous book Teaching from Rest, as well as a three-month membership to the Read Aloud Revival site.

    So basically, prize #1=

         Become a member!

    And that’s just the beginning! The beginning of January ought to be great fun. I’ll keep announcing prizes as they are confirmed.

    It’s a big deal to turn 10-years-old in the blogging world. Afterthoughts is, basically, the equivalent of a centenarian … possibly more! Methuselah? No matter. Come celebrate with me! ♥

    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: I just read your post from several years ago on Myth, Morality and the Imagination. I’ve been struggling with talking to my kids about morality, because it seems no matter what angle we approach it from, there is an element of “better than” or superiority in any explanation for why we have chosen differently from other people. Especially after reading your last paragraph there, in talking about how choosing good things, great things, rather than simply seeking to bad and evil things will leave us little time for any that is not worthy, I wonder how you have dealt with or would deal with this tension. How do we propel and motivate our children to reach for the worthy, without seeming to be judgmental toward those who are settling for the unworthy? 
      • Answer: The true answer to this question is that I don’t really know the answer to this question! I have found so far that, especially at certain ages, children tend to be little judgmental Pharisees, no matter what we do. This is probably because the vast majority of children aren’t able {yet} to think in nuance. At our house, we’ve just dealt with it issue by issue, as it has come up, with varying degrees of success. Lots of times, my answer is to remind my children that God put each set of parents in charge of their own children. So my job is to make the best decisions I can, not to judge the decisions others are making. I don’t think issues like homeschooling {or not} and celebrating Halloween {or not} should ever be treated as if they are in the same category as “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not murder” and so our children can learn that through conversations over time. It’s hard, because we all choose the things we choose because we think we’re right. Of course. But I don’t necessarily think this means we think others are wrong. For example, my best friend’s children go to private Christian school. I {obviously} homeschool. In both situations, the parents have chosen what we believe to be best for the family. It’s hard for children to understand that two different decisions could be right in two different situations; that one doesn’t have to be wrong and the other right. Being friends with people who choose differently than us can be a powerful thing in teaching our children in these areas, I think. Honestly, though, this is why I think I agree with Miss Mason that much of morality is best “caught” through literature. And then we muddle along, correcting our children’s {and our own} bad attitudes as we go.
    • Question: I’d love an index for your whole blog, or at least for the series you’ve written. I know you’ve got the category tags at the top, but there’s nowhere to see all the titles of your posts.
      • Answer: An index sounds really overwhelming to me, but a series index might actually be doable. That had never crossed my mind. Hayley and I have been slowly, when we have time, working through the posts and making sure they are properly tagged and easier to find. As I type, there are 2,144 of them! It may take another ten years for us to finish the project, but we’ll do what we can. 🙂

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  • Reply Carol October 31, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    I like your answer to the first question, too, Brandy. I was extremely idealistic when I had my first child which tended to make me a little judgemental towards others. Having close friends who were quite different to me, including some who didn’t homeschool either, certainly helped me develop more magnanimity! Re Literature playing a part in this – it’s helped me to take a step back & look at people’s actions and attitudes from a different angle than I might otherwise have done.
    I read that article you linked – I thought it was excellent. Thanks!

    • Reply Carol November 1, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      The article on Shame is the one I was referring to.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 1, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      I was extremely idealistic when I had my first child, too, Carol! Were you in your 20s then, by chance? I feel like the 20s are both good and bad because of the idealism we all tend to have then. It’s good to have ideals and start working them out, but it is a bit of a relief to get on the other side of them as we get older. Too much tension long term, otherwise, I think! 🙂

      • Reply Carol November 4, 2015 at 3:31 pm

        I must have been a hard case, Brandy. I had my first when I was 32.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel November 4, 2015 at 3:36 pm

          Ha! Oh my goodness you made me laugh so much, Carol! ♥

  • Reply Amy October 31, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Wow! Thanks Brandy! I’m so excited!

  • Reply Amber October 31, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I’ve been happy with the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free flour that they have at Costco (at least sometimes!). That’s what I’ve been using to make birthday cakes and the occasional treat to bring to a potluck.

    I am intrigued by those coloring books – I was looking at them at the craft store earlier this week. In the end I decided it would be a better activity for time in the future when my lap is not quite so attractive to my little ones. 🙂 But that is definitely a great gift idea!

    And I really like your answer to that first question in the last quick take – it is a tricky one!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 1, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      Amber, I must tell you that I secretly LOVE those coloring books for ME! Coloring can be so calming. 🙂

      I will have to check that out next time I’m at Costco. I’m totally still learning the ropes for baking. I don’t do it very often, which is both good and bad in this situation, I think…

  • Reply Sharron October 30, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Make sure you buy two mixes. I think this is the same brand. Tastes great, but on the small side.

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