Wednesday, November 22, 2017

When Worry Takes Hold

I would like to say that worry is not a part of our lives her at Family, Faith and Fridays, but that would not be true.  For years I teased my friends, "Why should I stop worrying?  It's what I do best!"  I have since corrected my ways- mostly!  I also have a daughter that was a worrier for years but after a few years of Biblical counseling classes she fixed her thinking and is free of that burden.

Now I have a 10 year old that is a worrier.  I am not sure if it is an adoption thing or just a personality thing, but none the less, we see it more often than I like.  Things like change, new situations, and sometimes even for seemingly no reason at all, he can make himself sick with worry if we do not watch him closely and intervene.  It is something we are monitoring, trying to teach him coping skills and right thinking.

All that to say, when I recently saw a friend talking about the book When Worry Take Hold, I was intrigued.  Anything we can use to help our kiddo  is great and the fact that it is a book is a bonus!

When Worry Takes Hold, written by Liz Haske, is a 30 page hardback back illustrated by InSong Nam. (You can also get it in paperback, but you know by now I am a sucker for a hardback book!)  The book is about a little girl named Maya that one day allows worry to enter her life.  With each new day and each new situation, her worry grows larger until she feels consumed by it.  Luckily for her, a teacher taught her a coping mechanism called calm breathing, to help her find her courage.

-One of the things that I love about this book is that it addresses that Maya made the choice to replace worry with courage by way of calm breathing.  It wasn't that she never worried again, but that she greeted it and then moved on.  Then she realized that she didn't meet each new thing with "what if", but instead replaced it with right thinking.

"I know you will get us there safely."

-The second thing I love about this book are the illustrations of worry.  It is like a whispy thought cloud seen over Maya's head at the beginning of the book.  You will also notice that the pages in the beginning are darker and more subdued.  As she finds her courage, the worry becomes smaller and lighter and then not visible at all in the pictures, which in turn have also become lighter and brighter.  The mood of the book changes as the mood of Maya and her family changes as well.

-The other thing that struck me was the reaction of the parents on the book.  "Her parents' smiles faded as they began worrying about her Worry."  This was a great conversation starter in our home about how our worry and fear can affect others as well.  I think it is also a good reminder to a child that they are not alone in their worry, and that the key is how we then handle it.

-And another one- the reminder that worry doesn't ever go completely away and that sometimes it is there to keep us safe, but that ..."courage was just a deep breath away."  I cannot think of many people who do not need to hear that at least several times in their lives.

-Finally, at the end of the book is a great how-to page on how to find your courage like Maya that explains in simple terms how to take a calming breath.  We practiced together after reading the book and now I simply remind Colby about it when he is beginning to walk the worry line.

Are our fears and worries gone?  No, of course not.  But I can tell you this book has been a God-send!  It has remained on my living room table for a week now and been read multiple times a day, together, but mostly alone by my son.  I think he has found comfort in the words, acceptance in the fact that he is not alone, and courage through the simple breathing technique. 

Empowering kids to work through their feelings is a must, and I think Liz has done a beautiful job in doing so


Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Menu with a Turkey

Welcome to a holiday week!  Thanksgiving is upon us and we are taking the week off of school to relax and reboot our family.  Sometimes parents and kids all need a break.  We will be minus Riley this year again, but she is joyfully flying to her grandparents' house this week to also enjoy some down time.  We are looking forward to having her home in December, right before her birthday!  She will be 20, oh my!  That is a separate post altogether!

So on to our menu for the week- notice there will be turkey!  Gobble gobble.  You will see its reappearance in a few meals next week as well, since I buy large and freeze in handy 2 cup portions to use for other meals.  Saves time and money!

Monday- Orange honey Glazed chicken  (yes, I know this was from last week, but we ended up going out and it never got cooked so I am trying again this week.  If you are looking for something different, pop some chicken breasts in the crock pot and add your favorite sauce.  Serve over rice!

Tuesday- Salisbury Steak with wine sauce

Wednesday- Egg Roll in a bowl

Thursday- Thanksgiving Meal- Just for fun here is what we eat:
  • turkey
  • mashed potato casserole (recipe below)
  • green bean casserole
  • cranberry sauce
  • rolls
  • gravy
  • stuffing
  • and of course, pies!  Can't forget the pies!
It is simple but we love it!  Family time needs to be more about the family and less about the food!  Do what your family loves and don't worry about the rest.

Friday- Thanksgiving leftovers

Saturday- Sloppy Joes

Sunday- Turkey and rice soup

So funny story- I LOVE mashed potatoes.  Like REALLY love them.  As in often ate them for a meal in college.  Just them.  (hey, it's what poor starving college students do, right? Except I was never starving!) Anyway,  I always loved to use Thanksgiving as an excuse to make them in large amounts.  One year we needed to make for a crowd so my mom and I made them quite ahead of time and set them aside.  By the time we got around to serving them, they had turned into a bowl of starchy mess.  Absolutely horrible, though it did provide a good laugh later.  Since that time, because sometimes we feed larger crowds and I prefer to be in the kitchen before people come, not while they are with us, I started making the mashed potato casserole, recipe below.  I make it (or two or three) the day before and pop it in the oven an hour before we eat. Saves time, and is just as yummy!

I pray your family has a beautiful Thanksgiving!  I am grateful for many things, including YOU!


Mashed Potato Casserole


  • 5 lbs. potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1- 8 oz block cream cheese
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1-2 tsp garlic salt
  • butter


  1. Peel and cook potatoes until done
  2. Beat potatoes, adding the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth
  3. Add garlic salt and mix well
  4. Pour into a 9x13 pan and dot with butter.  You can sprinkle with paprika if desired
  5. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes


This can be made a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to cook.  You may need to add 15 minutes of baking time.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Friday, November 17, 2017

Homeschooling Through the Holidays

It's that time of year again!  The holidays are drawing near and the excitement is growing.  When you homeschool, that often means distracted kiddos and derailed lesson plans.  Let's face it, there is something about cold temps, warm fires, snow, and all things Christmas that can just pull at our attention.  Not to mention decorations to put up and big feasts to plan, right?

So how does one manage to actually get school done in these crazy, but exciting times?  Here are a few ideas for you!

Unit Studies! I admit these are not my forte, but the few times we have tried them I have not been disappointed.  There are so many out there, especially over the holidays, that make learning fun while concentrating on seasonal subjects.

Use what you have! Want to do math?  Count candy canes.  Need to get that art project in?  Make Christmas cards for your friends!  How about History?  Study Saint Nicolas or the very first Christmas!  Reading?  That's an easy one!  Grab a seasonal book and snuggle in for reading time.

Make learning fun!  When kids are distracted, learning gets a bit more challenging.  During these busy times it often helps to add a little something different to your schedule.  Put their spelling words into a word search or simply change locations of your "school room" for a few days.  Shaking things up can often keep kids more motivated.

Cooking Day- Save an afternoon or two and let your kids spend some time baking with you.  Measuring flour can surely count as math and following a recipe can be included in our home ec. lesson plans.

Jammies Day- We all know that the "homeschoolers do school in their jammies all day" concept is a myth for most of us.  But why not interrupt your regularly scheduled day to put on your jammies, grab a cup of hot chocolate and a plate of cookies and school by the fire?  Or at least on the couch!  Your kids will love it and you might even decide jammies for school are not such a bad idea after all.

Embrace the Crazy!- Take some time off of school and just enjoy the season with your kids.  Watch Christmas movies together, string popcorn, and sing songs.  School will always get done, but the season is short and your time with your kids is even shorter.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What Are We Doing with the Turkey?

Every year at Thanksgiving I buy a BIG turkey!  A big one.  Regardless of how many we are feeding.  Some years our house has been full and other times it is just a quiet celebration with our family.  But regardless of the numbers, I still get a BIG turkey!

Why, you ask?

Because I love using the left overs for other meals.  Actually, sometimes those meals are better  than the actual Thanksgiving Day meal, in my opinion!

So what do we make with all that turkey?

  • Meal 1- Sliced turkey leftovers.  You need to have the Thanksgiving meal at least twice, right?!

  • Meal 2- Turkey Sandwiches on rolls (at the boys request, not just sandwich bread)

  • Meal 3- Turkey Rice Soup (you knew there was a soup coming, right?)  We found a great recipe for this soup in a little soup cookbook on the book clearance aisle years ago and it is still a favorite.

  • Meal 4- Turkey Enchiladas  This is a good one to freeze for later!

  • Meal 5- Turkey Divan  An old standby, but good way to get broccoli into your kids!

  • Meal 6- Turkey Alfredo

So yes, be looking for these meals on the menu plan after Thanksgiving, and don't worry, I do not have them all in a row!

Usually the Saturday after Thanksgiving I take all the meat off the bone and freeze it in 2 cup portions for easy grab and go use in recipes later!

I would challenge you to see how many meals you can get out of one turkey- you might be pleasantly surprised!

What do YOU do with leftover turkey?


Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Menu and Printable Soup Recipe

It's Monday AGAIN!  Why does it always seem to come out of the blue?  This weekend has been busy and I feel like a need a rest from my weekend!  Like that will happen, right?

So here ya go, friends!  Enjoy!

Monday- Parmesan Crusted Chicken in Cream Sauce (this is new to us- I will let you know!)

Tuesday- Turkey Meatloaf (a family favorite!)

Wednesday- Roast and Potatoes

Thursday- Out to eat with out of town friends!

Friday- Hamburgers

Saturday- B-B-Q Chicken

Sunday-Beef Noodle Soup

Pretty simple, as always!

So let me tell you about the soup!  When we lived in North Dakota one of my dearest friends and I got the idea to have "Fun Fridays" together.  I have shared this before.  Each Friday one of us would make muffins for both families for breakfast and one would make soup for lunch for both families.  We had soup together after we did school with the kids.  Then the following week we would swap who made what.  It was about a year of blessings and beautiful memories and still brings a smile to my face whenever I think about it.

There is just something about soup that warms your soul.  Maybe it was just that it was shared with beloved friends.

Anyway, we tried a lot of soups that year, this just being one that the kids liked best so we kept it in our rotation.  Simple and yet yummy!


Beef Noodle Soup


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 can (46 oz) V8 juice
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix (we use our homemade mix)
  • 1 pkg. beef ramen noodles
  • 1- 16 oz. bag frozen mixed veggies


  1. Cook beef, drain.
  2. Stir in V8 juice, soup mix,  seasoning pack, and veggies.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 6 minutes.
  4. Return to boil, stir in noodles and cook for 3 minutes.
Created using The Recipes Generator


Friday, November 10, 2017

Blogging On

Welcome friends!  As you may have noticed by now, Family, Faith and Fridays is a conglomerate of subjects- from homeschooling, to reviews, to modesty, meal plans and raising kids, to random thoughts from my head.

Some call it a Lifestyle Blog.

Some just call it craziness and are along for the ride.

Either way, I am glad you are here and I appreciate that you stick with us.

Gotta be honest here for a minute.  When I began blogging several years ago I wrote every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Every. Single. One.  I must have had a lot to say I guess.  Then as my kids got older, I found myself with less spare time to write and with less to write as life, well, things that just were not public knowledge to protect the privacy of growing and maturing young adults.

But, quite frankly, it put me into a panic when I skipped a day because I was afraid I would lose my readership.

And maybe I did some days.

My intention was never to make money off this blog (I do not) or be a power blogger (I am not).  My intentions were to share my heart, help homeschooling mommas like me, and occasionally inspire or relate to some of you.

When you are the writer behind a blog it is hard to measure those things.  Is success a number?  Is it how many people viewed your blog in any given day or how many followers you have or even how many people leave comments?

The jury is still out on that!

Recently, I have contemplated shutting this blog down for various reasons.


Then I put up a post like Refined, and I stop in my tracks.

There are people out there still reading this blog.  And they are people just like me that need a little encouragement and need to know they are not alone.

Know how I know that?  For every comment you see on my posts on our FB page, I received twice that many in my personal email or messages.  People who reach out with a simple thanks or personal story and remind me that we all need cheerleaders in our lives.

So for now, I am sticking around!  After all, I have some cheering to do!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Thinking Like an Architect

One of the things I am quickly seeing as my children grow up and head to college, is that there is no lack for things they could do or be when they "grow up".  Unfortunately, I am also seeing that sometimes our knowledge of those actual things is what is really lacking.

In a determination to level the playing field a bit, I have begun to try to help expose my almost 16 year old to as many different things that I can via school courses.  My recent endeavor lined up easily in the form of a review from Innovators Tribe and their Thinking Like an Architect program.  Not only did I know my son would be semi interested in the program, I figured I might also get him to make a house plan for me in the process.  A win win situation, don't you think?  Since we received a two year subscription good for the whole family, we have plenty of time to work through the program and go back and review when we need to.
Thinking Like an Architect is a self paced, online course taught by Mr. Wayne Kroeplin. Recommended for grades 6-12th, each online lesson is fairly short and therefore easy to watch.  Mr. K, as he refers to himself to the students, walks you through numerous slides, most often with him in the side bar actually talking to you.  At the end of most lessons there is a project of some sort to help solidify the lesson being taught, including things like researching types of architecture and making a power point presentation with the information gather, to of course, creating blue prints of a house.

Luckily for you, when you register for the class Thinking Like an Architect you will also be given access to the 3D software program to help you with that process.

Lessons include-
Lesson 1- What is Architecture?
Lesson 2- History of Architect
Lesson 3- Form and Function
Lesson 4- What's an Architect?
Lesson 5- Tools of an Architect
Lesson 6- Architecture and Math
Lesson 7- How to Read and Architect Scale
Lesson 8- Drawing, Sketching and Blueprints
Lesson 9- How to Create a Simple Blueprint
Lesson 10- Create a Home Blueprint
Lesson 11- Floor Plans
Lesson 12- C.A.D.
Lesson 13- Learn "Home Designer" Tutorials
Activity- Design your dream house
Activity- Dream house (model)

Once a lesson is completed it will show a green check mark next to it for easy reference.

How we used this program-

Salem, currently a sophomore, did this program one to two times a week, depending on our schedule and the extra activity assigned.  If a presentation was assigned, he would work on that an additional day or two.  Each lesson can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, also depending on the assignment for that day.  I admit I watched often, because it is a a subject I am interested in and as we get closer to the design process I have asked that he include me when he watches the lessons.  I need to tell him my design desires for my dream house, after all. ;)

Things we loved-
  • Customer Support- Let me just tell you Wayne is a gem!  I had a snafu with receiving the architect software, my issue, not theirs, and Wayne patiently worked with me until I got it and was able to download it.  A company that responds right away and in a polite fashion wins me over every time.

  • Fun without being silly- In the world that we live in today, we often seem to want to hold kids' attention by silly entertainment.  I love that though this program does have fun and is light hearted, talking directly to the student, it is not dumbed down.
  • Included software- What a bonus!  The program just wouldn't be the same without the chance to try your new skills in a real life program.  WE haven't gotten quite that far yet, but we can't wait to try.
  •  Video links- I love that when additional things were explained or shown, like "how well do you have to draw to be an architect", direct links were included for the student to access.  It makes it easier as well as safer use of the internet to have those links.
  •  Because each course requires at least 30 hours of work total, you can use it to fulfill a 1/4 credit hour on your child's transcript.  If you use the projects for each lesson as a jumping point, I have no doubt you could expand those hours and create a semester credit.  We will!
  • Extra Activities- Well, these I loved more than Salem, of course.  I especially loved that a few required a power point presentation, a media tool that Salem has not used before.  While that took a bit more time to learn, it was a skill worth learning!
  • Also included is unit journal to print off that has a few questions to answer for each lesson.  If your student is doing this program entirely on their own this a quick and easy way to make sure they are getting the basic ideas down.

What Salem had to say- "Despite my initial reservations, I am really enjoying this program so far.  I like that it is more detailed than just 'what is an architect' and that it teaches you how to design a building."

Do we like Thinking Like an Architect?  Yes, we do!  And would highly recommend it to you and your 6th-12th graders!  It is a fun way to learn about a new career possibility and stretch your designing creativity.  Can't wait to show you my dream house some day!

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, November 6, 2017

Monday Menu

Welcome back to another Monday Menu!  We are glad you are here.

Remember, this is what my family is actually eating for the week and are planned with kids in mind.  Simplicity is the key, you will not find many fancy things here.  For years I tried to keep up with the Joneses and then I realized there was no reason to try to impress anyone, especially my own family, with dinner.  It is more about sustenance and family time, and less about fancy ingredients and meals no one likes.

So this week, here is what we have cooking-

Monday- Orange- honey Teriyaki Chicken

Tuesday- Scalloped ham and potatoes (slow cooker)

Wednesday- Chicken Lo Mein

Thursday- Chicken in Wine sauce- (slow cooker)

Friday- Out to eat

Saturday- Farmer's casserole

Sunday- Cheeseburger Soup

Let's talk savings for a minutes before I give you a recipe from last week's meal plan.

  • You may notice that often we plan chicken meals twice a week.  (I know, this week is three)  The reason for this is simple.  I buy a large package of chicken from the commissary (you can find them at Sam's Club as well) and then immediately bring it home and slice each breast in half and then freeze those in portions that fit our family.  One, it saves money and two, it gives you a more reasonable sized chicken breast that is also faster and easier to cook.  So in theory, each large pack of chicken I buy feeds us for four meals.  
  • I also found THE deal of the year recently when I bought an entire 10 pound bag of diced ham for $10.  (Notice the scalloped ham and potatoes and the framers casserole in the menu!)  I freeze the ham in two cup servings and then use in simple casseroles, for breakfast meals, and even in fried rice!  It will last us for a long time and saves a HUGE amount of money as well!
  • Be on the lookout for your local sales and stock up on meat when you see it at good prices.  Then plan your menu around what you have in the freezer.  Make sure you freeze things in family-sized portions to make it easier to pull out and use. 
  • You will also notice that we have started doing soups or sandwiches for most Sundays.  Easy for me who needs a break, and cost effective because let's face it, most soups are pretty inexpensive to make.  It's a win win, especially in the fall and winter seasons. 
Ok, so there are my helpful hints for the week.  You are welcome! ;)  And here is your recipe for the week- better get out there soon before it is too cold to grill out!


Honey Chicken Skewers


  • 1/2 Cup Ketchup
  • 3 TBSP honey
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine ketchup, honey, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper.
  2. Marinate chicken in sauce.
  3. Put chicken on skewers and cook on grill 6-8 minutes, basting with sauce.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Month of Thankfulness

I do not want too much time in this month to go by before I mention thankfulness.

It is after all, the month to spotlight that theme, right?  While I fully believe that we should teach our children (and ourselves) the many lessons of thankfulness, I must admit that it often gets buried beneath the piles of schoolwork and laundry if I am not careful.  Therefore- I am thankful for a month to highlight THANKFULNESS!

Here's how we are doing it!

Thankful mirror!- Each day we will decide as a family one thing we are thankful for, write it on a construction paper leaf and post it on our big mirror in our living room for all to see.  Yes, you can make a tree or put them on your door or what ever location you choose, just make sure you put it where all can see!

Read scripture!- Do you know how many scriptures there are that talk of thankfulness?  What a great theme to use as memories verses for the month of November! Here are just a few, but there are so many more you can find!
  • Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18)
  •  So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Col. 2:6-7)
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col. 3:16)
  • Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! (1 Chron. 16:34)
  • I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High. (Psalm 7:17)
  • I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. (Psalm 86:12)
  • Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! (Psalm 100:4)
Study the first Thanksgiving!- Whether you read a book, google the info, or use a specific unit study, November is a great time to read about the very first Thanksgiving and remember how thankful we should be to the brave souls of the past who came to this country and paved a way for us!

Write notes of thanks!- Let's face it, snail mail and beautiful letter writing is almost a thing of old.  Sad, but true.  This month we are writing a note of thanks to someone in our lives each week to thank them for who they are.

What about you?  What are some ways you are showing Thankfulness this month?


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Is Your Dad a Pirate- Book Review and Giveaway

I am a sucker for a man in uniform.  After all, I have been married to one for 25 years.  Some send their husbands off with a kiss to an office.  I send mine away with a kiss and a prayer, often to secret locations around the world.  And while none of us are promised tomorrow, it seems the life of the military are even a bit more precarious and uncertain.

Just ask the many spouses and families of wounded or killed service men and women.  The numbers are staggering.

Those number make a book like Is Your Dad a Pirate? even more precious and needed in today's world!

Is Your Dad a Pirate?, written by Tara McClary Reeves, is a 32 page hard back book that explores how one family handles the curiosity of strangers when the man of the house returns home from battle wounded.  Taken from the life experience of Tara when her father was wounded as a Marine Corp Lieutenant, this book will touch you and open your eyes to the life of the military family.

You will also probably need to grad a tissue, just be forewarned.

Told from a young child's perspective, one can feel the pride she feels for her father, as well as the fear she felt when he went away to fight.  It talks of prayers and feelings of excitement of a future reunion.  It also talks of the fear and anguish of a phone call telling of an injury.

But Is Your Dad a Pirate tells mostly of the courage of a family.

Of the response to the question- "How did you lose your eye and arm?"

And the mom's answer- "He gave them in service to our country."

Don't you love it?!  A sweet and simple answer to an honest question from a child.  No ugliness, no embarrassment, no judgment.  But a lesson to both the child of the man injured and to the child who asked the question.  Later when the question was asked again, it was the dad's own child who answered, and you will love her answer even more!

I am honored to have this beautifully illustrated book on my bookshelf.  It reminds us of the heroes who fight for our freedom every day and of the families that support them daily.  It is a reminder to us all that the freedom we enjoy often comes with a price.

Oh that we would continue to teach our children and our children's children about that price and the special people behind it!

I have an extra copy of Is Your Dad a Pirate to bless one of my readers with!  Just leave me a comment here on the blog and a random winner will be chosen next Friday!


Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday Menu wth NEW printable recipe!!

Happy Monday, my friends!  We are back in town and ready to cook again!  And yes, thanks to the encouragement of a new friend, Lanie, and the help of an old blogging friend Kemi, I have finally managed to put a recipe in a printable form for YOU!!  My plan is to feature one recipe each week- first one up is from last week- pulled pork.

You also might notice that things get pretty simple by the end of this week, as my hero husband will be out of town and well, when he is not around to feed, the kids and I go simple.  Welcome to my real life and true confessions! ;)

So this week's plan is-

Monday- Honey glazed chicken thighs (grill)

Tuesday- OUT TO EAT

Wednesday- Breakfast! ( pancakes, bacon and fruit)

Thursday- Spaghetti

Friday- Nachos

Saturday- Ham

Sunday- Potato soup

YES!  We are going out to eat on Tuesday!  We don't typically do that during the week, but this is a yearly tradition.  We do not participate in Halloween, so each year the family tradition to go out to eat Chinese food instead.  It gets us out of the house so we do not feel like we are hiding, and it is just a fun thing we have come to look forward to as a family. 

Hey, it's the silly things you do together that your kids will remember!  Ask me how I know!!
Have a blessed week- make it a great one!


Pulled Pork


  • 1 3-4 lb. pork roast
  • 1 can French onion soup
  • 1 Cup ketchup
  • 1/2 Cup cider vinegar
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar


  1. Place roast in slow cooker.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients and our over roast.
  3. Cover and cook 4-5 hours on high, or 8-10 hours on low.
  4. Shred pork and cook an additional 10-20 minutes.


We serve this on buns,  plain, or even on baked potatoes!

Created using The Recipes Generator

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Riley Fix!

It's like a Stitch Fix, but even better! ;)


This past weekend we got to take a quick road trip and visit our girlie in Mississippi.  I think I have mentioned it before, but it is a 13 hour drive one way.  13 hours!  In the car.  5 of us!

Salem said we spent 2/3rds of our "vacation" in the car.  We told him he needed to learn the difference between a vacation and a road trip!

Though Colby thought it was a pretty good time!  Find that boy water and he is happy!  I need a pool IN my house.  Seriously, I do!!

So here's how it played out-

Thursday- Leave at 2, stay in St. Louis for the night.
Friday- Arrive in MS at 3.  Grab the girl, check into the hotel, grab a bite to eat and have her back at the theater at 5:30 to get ready for her show.  She and her sister arrive back at the hotel way late and the rest of us are already in bed asleep.

Riley time- 2 1/2 hours.

Saturday- Eat breakfast with the boys while the girls sleep in, drag them out of bed at 10.  Take Riley to the theater again for her matinee at 12:30.

Pick her back up at 5:00, grab dinner and take her back for the night show at 6:30.  Back at hotel around 11, and chat for a few minutes and head to bed.

hair up to accommodate wig for show!

Riley time- 4 hours.

Sunday- Make everyone go to breakfast together at 10. Drop Riley off at dorm at 12:30 and head back to St. Louis.  7 hours in the pouring rain.  Fun times.

Riley time- 2 1/2 hours.

Monday- Drive home in monsoon winds.  Fun times again.

Final tally- 
Driving time- 23 plus hours in the car.
Riley time- 9 hours.
Cost- More than a Stitch Fix!!

Of course, it was absolutely worth it! But it was absolutely an exhausting whirlwind!

The show, Into the Woods, was amazing and, as always, the cast and crew did an amazing job!  It is always fun to get to see our girlie with her friends doing what she loves.  It is the only reason I allow her to be so far away! ;)  And for the record, the boys have already been told they will pick a college within a 5 or 6 hour radius of WHEREVER I am.

As a bonus, we got to visit with Ashton's oldest and dear friend of 20 years!  Yes, these two have been buddies for a long time.  Luckily she and her husband and sweet new baby live close to Riley so we get to sneak in visits occasionally and Clarke and I got to pretend to be grandparents for a few hours.  Such sweetness.

Overall, a good time.  While I wish she was closer, I know that God has Riley right where she needs to be, growing and learning.  She has dear friends, loves her major, and is doing well on her own.  So I will keep smiling, praying a lot, and counting down the weeks until Christmas!


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Can We Teach Purity?

Purity and modesty are something we have talked about quite a bit here on Family, Faith and Fridays.  Most of you who know our family personally know we are pretty conservative, especially when it comes to relationships and dating.  As the years have gone by though, and several of our kiddos are grown and out of our house, we are continually reevaluating and adjusting our beliefs and standards.  Adjusting, not lowering, I promise!  So when we were given the opportunity to review Abby Ludvigson's video program, Sex by Design with the Homeschool Review Crew we jumped at the chance.

Let me make this clear right off the bat- this is NOT a sex education program.  Trust me, I would not touch that with a ten foot pole.  It is however a program designed to get your teens thinking about purity and what that means from a Biblical worldview.

What Is Sex by Design then?
This video and book series is taught by Abby Ludvigson who works with The Navigators,  a urban missionary group out of Colorado, to teach and equip young people to wait for God's best for them.  Single until the age of 34, Abby has lived what she has taught.  As a former teacher, her dynamic personality and teaching style are sure to capture even the most reluctant teen.  

Abby provides a 7 part video series to watch with your teen.  Topics include-
  • Plan Ahead: Living Pure in a Sex-Saturated Culture
  • Counting the Cost: Every Decision has a Price Tag
  • Dating: Doing Relationships God's Way
  • Sex: God's Purpose and Plan
  • Modesty: God Cares What I Wear
  • Pornography: Its Deception & Steps to Get Out or Stay Out
  • Secondary Virginity- Running Back to God

Also included is the teen guide book and a parent edition.  These almost 200 page books have chapters that correspond with each lesson.  Each lesson begins with the Film Outline section and is a place with fill in the blank sections to be answered while watching the video.  That section ends with scripture reference and Truth Statements.  Consider those the main points of the lesson.

Next you will find the Follow Up section that includes discussion questions.  Don't worry parents- the parent guide has answers for you to be looking for and ideas of topics to talk about and also includes a script of the video.  The next section is called Personalize It.  Here is where your teen can write in notes and answer questions Abby asks, as well as get ideas for further study or other assignments she gives.

The final section, Apply It is where the rubber hits the road, asking your teen to make the topic their own, beginning with starting a journal to their future spouse.  Those journals are what Abby presented to her now husband, Greg, on their wedding night.  There are also activity suggestions and book recommendations.

Sprinkled throughout each section of each chapter in the margins are icons that point them to the Online Resource Guide.

The Online Resource Guide is on Abby's website and gives you access to related articles and more for each lesson by leading Christian authors and speakers.  Books are listed, articles are linked, and downloads are available for you to print, as well as video clips for you and your teen to watch.

Also included in the student book is a short Bible study to go along with each chapter.

So how have we used this and what do we think? 
When we first got this program I spent some time looking through the parent guide, reading the intro from Abby and the 8 page section Getting the Most From This Series.  This section tells the who, what, and why of the program as well as provides a chart of a "helicopter view" of the program as a whole.  I then watched the first video by myself to get a feel for things.  Since that time, my 15 year old son has been watching one lesson a week by himself and then we come together to talk about what he has seen, questions he has answered in the workbook,  and discuss any topics he or I feel need to be addressed. 

On the day he watches the video he also downloads any assignments, such as the purity pledge in Lesson 1.  In advance of his watching the lesson, I print off any articles from the Online Resource tab that I want him to read so he can do so sometime during the week at his own leisure.  We have also made note of several books Abby mentions that we would like to order. 

I have also since sent the video links to my college daughter to watch because I think they offer a lot of good information. The information is certainly not new to her at age 19, but I think it is a good reminder for older teens as well.

Let's face it, no program is going to change a persons' life in an instant, especially a teen.  BUT, I do believe that the more we talk about sensitive subjects and the more open we are, the more likely our teens are to hear us out and consider our advice.  Plus let's face it, sometimes the same advice we as parents would give comes easier from the mouth of someone else.

For us, this has given my son and I a starting point for some good conversations.  I know many would want to watch the videos together, but by choosing to allow him to watch them alone first I feel it has given him room to think and process first before being plowed over by mom.  Not that I ever plow over my kids, right?!

Why do I love this program?
  • Abby is honest and forthright while being sensitive to the subject.
  • This is not a "gory details" program, but one based on Biblical Worldview.
  • This is a faith based program.
  • The videos are in short 15- 25 minute segments keeping it from being overwhelming.
  • It is strategy based, giving kids not just goals to make, but ideas for how to obtain them.
  • It is multifaceted approach will capture the interest the various types of learners from auditory to visual!
  • The included Bible Study allows your child to dive into the subject at an even deeper level.

Sex by Design is designed to make your teens think for themselves, to make plans for purity before they are in the situations that require action, and then gives them the Biblical "whys" for those decisions.  It approaches sensitive subjects with respect and opens the doors for family discussion.  It is a program every family with teems needs in their arsenal.

After all, purity is a war worth the fight! 

Sex by Design {Abby Ludvigson Review}
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Weave Your Word in Me- Bible Study for TWEENS Review

Bible and Bible study are a big part of our lives.  From the time the kids are little, we read the Bible to them, we study it together as a family nightly, and we encourage them to study and have personal Bible time on their own.  It's the "on their own" part that we find to be the hardest transition.  It is rather easy to impart Bible knowledge to someone when they are young, but to get them to dive into it on their own, well, that can be a challenge.  Especially at the picky age of TWEENS!

When I was introduced to the new Bible Study made especially for the Tween ages from Kid Niche Christian Books called Weave Your Word in Me-- Part 1, I was quite curious.  We have found studies in the past for older children that we are happy with, but that hard to reach tween age is different!  Yay for Homeschool Review Crew and the chance to review this new program!

Weave Your Word in Me, by Susan Case Bonner, is a 36 lesson Bible Study written around the Lord's Prayer and is meant for 4th-6th grade students.  It comes with a full color title page, and hole punched pages ready to be put into a three ring binder.  The Bible study guide can be purchased in 6 different translations and an answer key is located at the end of the study pages for easy and quick reference.

The study is further broken down into two parts- Part 1 (the one we reviewed) which covers God the Father and God the Son, and Part 2 which covers What God Wants and God the Holy Spirit. The table of contents is color coded and includes the theme for each unit, references which verse of the prayer, My Whole Self Before You is being studied.  The prayer, which is included in the first pages for you is a rhythmical prayer modeled after the Lord's Prayer.

Each individual lesson is 1-3 pages in length and includes colorful pictures to hold a young person's interest without crossing the line into being babyish.  The verse of the poem being studied is written in color in a box on the side of each page to help them remember what it is they are focusing their learning on.

Lessons begin with Bible reading and fill in the blank answers and other activities from the reading, as well as more in depth questions to get your child thinking. The lesson ends with a prayer that has blanks in it for your child to complete and then they can read as their own personal prayer to God.

In addition, there is an extra activity guide on the web site that has even more things to do.  From personal stories from the author to web links, to activities like stained glasses painting, this section will thrill the hands on children in your life or the ones that just want to dig in a little further.

What do we think?
Quite simply, I like it- a lot!  This is a beautiful product, well designed and well organized.  It is visually pleasing which I think is one easy way to either win over, or lose, a tween. While the information being studied is by no means simple, it is presented in a student-friendly way and does not require so much work they will consider it drudgery.

I love that the study focuses on God's Word, requiring the child look up various passages to be able to fill in the blanks, but also asks more in-depth questions like "what do you think?"  Other question forms include matching, true/false and putting events in the correct order.

I would have to say my favorite part of the study is actually the prayer at the end of each lesson.  At this particular age of tweens, they are just beginning to become more shy with their peers and even family, and more careful with their words, for fear of how they will sound or be perceived.  Teaching prayer is one of the times that we have seen this in particular in our house, and teaching a child HOW to pray can be tricky.  Providing a basic framework for each prayer and allowing a child to fill in with their particulars I think is an ingenious way to model what prayer looks like in a gentle, non-threatening way.

So, you may say, you do not have a tween currently, Michele! You are right!  Being the Product Manager of the Homeschool Review Crew has its privileges and I am thrilled that we could be blessed by a copy of this study regardless.  That being said, CJ and I, age 10 (him, not me!) did do a few weeks of this study together to check it out.  He is a Bible whiz and loves to look up verses, so we walked through a few lessons together.  Here is what I found-

With a little help, he could most certainly keep up, but he wasn't at the deep self-examination stage yet.  He did say he liked how it looked and what was being studied and liked having a study that seemed more “grown up “ from his current ones.  

I think in a few years, when we have hit that tween stage, he will be more than ready to conquer this study on his own!

And after all, isn't that what we want?  To be able to transition from parent-led study to child-led study?  I think Weave Your Word in Me-- Part 1 is perfect for that!

Weave Your Word in Me {Kid Niche Christian Books Reviews}
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