Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Imagine-...The Great Flood- Book Review

In light of all of the hurricanes lately, flooding has been a popular topic of conversation in our house.  How can that happen?  What would we do?  Are we safe?  I have a 10 year old after all.  All of this talk eventually brings us back to the greatest flood of all, the Great Flood in the Bible!  So you can imagine my excitement when I was able to link one of our latest Homeschool Review Crew's reviews,  Imagine... The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing, to some of those discussions.

Imagine... The Great Flood is a 110 page paperback book written by Matt Koceich.   Written for kids ages 8-12, this Christian fiction book seeks to bring The Great Flood to life, seen in the eyes of a young boy, Corey.  The book opens with 10 year old Corey walking with his mom and his dog, Molly.  As a storm approaches Corey and his mom begin a discussion about their upcoming move, one which Corey is obviously unhappy about.  Things quickly turn as Corey falls and hits his head...and wakes up in a different time and place.

The book then tells of young Corey's adventures as he witnesses first hand the events leading up to The Great Flood.  After meeting one of Noah's sons he helps him load animals on the ark, encounters friends who betray him, and comes across several enemies who threaten his very existence.  After much adventure, the books ends with Corey returning to the real world, moving, making friends, and most of all, realizing the depth of God's love for him.

Our thoughts and experiences-

Like most review books that come our way, I asked my son, 10 years old, to try to read this on his own.  He had NO problem doing so and read it in two sittings over a two day period.  A few days later I sat down and read it in about an hour.  It's a cute book.  The main character, Corey, is likeable and realistic.  He is concerned about his upcoming move- something my son can easily relate to as we are a military family who moves often.

I would definitely call this a Christian fiction book rather than an historical fiction, focused mostly on entertainment.  While it holds loosely to the story of Noah's Ark from the Bible, it is not altogether theologically sound.  There is mention of animals waiting to be gathered rather than coming to the ark on their own and there is mention of Nephilim, which are set on stopping Noah and his family.

Imagine...The Great Flood does teach several great truths though, which I really appreciated.  Such things like-
  • The Lord is our shield.
  • Rely on God.  He never changes.
  • God is a promise keeper.
So while I would not allow my child to build their Bible knowledge on this book alone, I think it is a book worth reading.  I would encourage you to use this fun adventure as a way to jump start a conversation with your children about what the Bible really says about the flood and then the lessons we can learn from it.

Reading time

All in all, I liked this book.  I have come to appreciate any book that is Bible focused rather than world focused.  One that is void of controversial modern day issues, snarky attitudes, and questionable language.  That alone makes me value and appreciate books written for kids, with kids AND the truth of the Bible in mind.

From Colby- "I like this book because it is about the Flood and the Flood is one of my favorite things in the Bible.  They did a very good job describing the Flood as powerful.  I thought the funniest thing in the book was when they described the Nephilim as the hulk minus the green.  That made me laugh!"

And this quote is one of my favorite!!

Noah and his family had no idea where they were going, but they knew the One who was calling. p.29

Such a beautiful reminder, and maybe now my new battle cry for this God loving, military moving family of six!

Imagine... The Great Flood by Matt Koceich is the first in a series.  The second book, Imagine... The Ten Plagues is due out in March 2018.  Colby can't wait for that one!

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Menu is Back!

Well, obviously I am friends with a lot of people who like food!  Or maybe just need some inspiration.  But either way our first Monday Menu was such a hit, that we have decided to keep it up for a while!

Remember, my goal is simple meals that most people (my kids!) will eat.  I am not including sides because we buy veggies and such around sales, so I just typically grab what I have around and add a salad.  Yes, we eat a lot of salads!

Oh, and yes, the Butter Chicken recipe was quite good!  You can find it at Keto Connect.  My family approved and they are pretty picky Indian food kids.  We would never have said we liked Indian food until our friends bought an Indian food restaurant and grocery store in Brookings, SD.  If you are ever driving through there, look up Flavor!  You will be glad you did.  Tell them I sent you and have an extra bite for me!

This week-

Monday- Chicken Noodle Casserole  (I will put a whole chicken in the crockpot and use half for this meal and half for Thursday's meal!)

Tuesday- B-B-Q Meatballs

Wednesday- Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Thursday- Chicken Tetrazzini

Friday- Pork Roast

Saturday- Pulled Pork Sandwiches (using left over pork from Friday)

Sunday- Broccoli-Cheese Soup

A few notes- Yes, I used a whole chicken to do two meals and a pork roast to make 2 others.  It's all about saving money folks!

Yes, I tend to do a lot of soups on Sunday.  We often go out to eat with friends after church, so it is easy to pop soup in the crock pot for later and it is a lighter meal after a bigger lunch.  

And because I love you - a recipe for you!  It is one of our favorites and is on the menu for next week so I thought I would give you a heads up on the ingredients if you want to join us.  My mom made this all through my childhood and it makes me smile every time I make it.

Beef Stroganoff

2 TBSP Butter

2 TBSP Flour
2 C Water
3 Beef Bouillon cubes
2 TBSP Tomato Paste
Sprinkle of garlic powder
4 C of diced cooked beef tips
1 C Mushrooms
1/4 C Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper

Melt butter, stir in flour and cook over low for 3 minutes.  

Stir in water and add bouillon cubes.  
Cook, stirring, until thickened.  
Add tomato paste, garlic powder, beef, mushrooms, salt and pepper.  
Mix well.  
Stir in sour cream, heat well.
Serve over noodles.

That's it!  I usually pop the beef in the crockpot in the morning so it is ready to use when I start dinner to save time!

Happy planning and eating, my friends!

See ya back next week!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Gamenight with Chara Games- Unauthorized Homeschool Review Crew Review

UNAUTHORIZEDWe are always excited when we hear from Chara Games! We have had the privilege of reviewing their board game Commissioned, and it is still a family favorite.  We also love their first card game, 3 Seeds, which is for 2-5 players.  So yes, we were excited to try out and review their newest addition, Unauthorized.

Unauthorized is described as a "30 minutes social deduction game."  Unlike so many "group" games, it  is intended for 6-12 players, making it truly a group game, not just a "couple of people" game.  It is intended to be played by ages 12 plus, but we have found we can lower that with a little help and some patience.

The goal of Unauthorized is to either grow, or stamp out the church.  Each player has special qualities that that can ultimately help them sway the other players to their side.  Yes, sides change throughout the game!  Twelve role cards, or characters, are included and tell the way they can influence the other players.  The Experience cards determine the players' loyalty.  How the cards are played and traded will determine whether the church or the state wins.  As with other Chara Games and in line with their purpose, the game is intended to show the plight of the underground churches and their ever present uncertainty and instability in the real world.

Our experiences-

Unauthorized is a somewhat tricky game for us to play a family.  Though we are a family of 6, one or more of us is often not home, especially now that our second daughter is back at college.  Luckily, our oldest has a group of game loving friends, so she snuck off with it one night for them to play.  I will let her speak for herself-

I had a chance to play Unauthorized with a group of friends and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you have a larger group of people. The downside to so many games is that you can only pay with 2-6 players, so having a game that you can pull out for larger groups is awesome! I played with a group of pretty serious gamers, and we all agreed we would play again! (Serious praise from people who play new games all the time!) It only took us, (well, a few of us Alpha gamers ((code for us bossy gaming friends))) about 10 minutes to read the instructions and get the cards passed out. Basically, each player is handed a role card and is loyal to either the church or the state. While a few players have fixed allegiance, most change depending on what other cards they are holding. When we first got started it seemed like the Church was going to win by a landslide, and we were a little concerned that the game was skewed. A few rounds later and it had totally turned, and the state ended up winning, much to our surprise! So no, it isn’t skewed toward the church, and, just like in real life, sometimes the bad guys win a round from our human perspective. ;) I’m actually really looking forward to having another big group over so we can play again!

And yes, we did finally manage to get a group together and play here at home as well.  Our group was multi-generational, but I love that!  It proved that yes, Unauthorized appeals to many ages and can be played by even slightly younger ages with a little guidance.

A few notes from me-
-Watch the instructional video!  Really, just do it!
- Be patient.  The first time playing you will be just trying to get it figured out.  A few times later you will feel more secure in your understanding, promise.
- Strategy wise, it is probably better to stick with the recommended age range.
-Finding games to play with more than 6 people is hard, so we are thrilled to have this one in our home.  When friends come over, they are doomed, I mean sure to get sucked into our madness.
- I am NOT a strategy game gal.  I like them, really I do, but I think some minds are just wired that way.  Mine is clearly not.  I always have fun playing, but let's just say you do not want me on your side.  When I play, I was on the side of the state.  The state lost.  Just saying.

As always, I would recommend this, or any game by Chara Games.  Patrick and his wife Katherine have a heart for God and want to make games that create discussions about Him, possibly by people who would otherwise never have those discussions.  They hope to create joy in the Christian games they develop and make them relateable to persons of all faith and backgrounds. And, this is just a quality game, and lots of fun!

Instructional Video 

Unauthorized {Chara Games Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, September 11, 2017

Introducing- Monday Menu

Now that 34 weeks of Clean is done, I have been looking for something to consistently post for a while.  Continual sickness here at home has limited my writing time, but hey, I do have to plan to eat, right?

So here's the plan- 

I will post our proposed menu for the week, knowing it can always change.  In other words, if you like what you see and want to show up for dinner, call first!  I may have opted for something else! ;)

For the most part, side dishes will not be mentioned.  That is one area I tend to be more flexible on.  I grab veggies out of the fridge I got on sale for the week, and we eat salads A LOT!

For now I am steering clear of recipes, but may start to feature one a week if the interest is there.  Let me know what you think!

You will not find leftovers listed here often.  Not because we do not have them, but because we usually eat them for lunch.  Because we homeschool and are not big bread people due to our oldest being gluten free for so long, sandwiches rarely happen, left overs do!

This is to hold me accountable and maybe help a few of you out at the same time.  While I do not expect everyone to love what we eat, I know that sometimes just a few ideas or even reminders of long-lost favorites can be helpful.

DO NOT expect fancy.  I am not a fancy person.  I feed a family of 6, four of which are kids or young adults.  Several are more picky than others and some are in and out a lot.  My goal is not to impress them, but to just feed them.  If you are looking for complicated meals you are in the wrong place.  Family friendly it is!

Here we go!

MONDAY-  Baked Ziti (thanks to a wonderful friend who blessed us this week!)

TUESDAY- Butter Chicken (new recipe, I will let you know how it goes!)

WEDNESDAY- Baked Pork Chops


FRIDAY-  Grilled Chicken

SATURDAY- Breakfast for dinner (probably pancakes and bacon and fruit!)

SUNDAY- Chicken Corn Chowder (crockpot)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sick Some?

(Long winded today, but stick with me 'til the end!)

Oh my word, that seems to be the story of our lives these days!  Honestly, there was a time when this family was rarely sick.  Most of us struggle with seasonal allergies, but on a whole, we have remained fairly healthy through the years.  At least a few months could go by between illnesses.

These days, not so much.  Honestly, I am starting to wake up and pray that just a day would go by with no illnesses.  And while I KNOW that there are people who are suffering far greater than we are, as I used to tell our deployed friends who wanted to compare the number of months a spouse was gone, it really doesn't matter.  When you are in it, it stinks. No matter what it is or for how long.

Right now,  it stinks here.  Just saying!

I have had a lot of unexplained back and side pain and various other weird symptoms.  Basically pain of some sort almost every day for quite a while now.  In trying to find answers, doctors found a large gall stone, so I had my gall bladder removed. Problem solved, they said.

It was NOT a fun surgery.  While the surgery was deemed a success, I had a hard time recovering and it wasn't until week 5 that I felt somewhat human again. 

I had one "healthy" week.  Then my sweet son shared his camp crud with me and I was back in the bed for 8 days.  NOT fun! 

And, problem NOT solved.  Despite my gall bladder being gone, I am battling pain in my back and shoulder and under my rib cage still, some days worse than others.  And as long as we are whining, my digestive system has not been right since my surgery- a problem I was NOT having previously, thank you very much.  Makes going out anywhere an adventure to say the least.  And to top it off, for the first time in my life I am struggling with anxiety.  (can't imagine why- haha) NOT fun times.

And now...

My oldest son ended up in an urgent care twice in 3 days very sick and with a 103 temp, to be diagnosed with mono.  Yep mono.  This is my life.  Actually, I am thankful for mono, because at one point they were talking about meningitis and spinal taps and I about had a heart attack.

The good news is that unless you drink or eat after him, or he licks you (highly unlikely), he is not contagious.  Bad news is he is a 15 year old boy who is battling headaches and exhaustion and the steroids he was put on make him a crabby critter!

Deal with that when you are in constant pain! ;)

I am pretty sure the remaining three people in this house would like to not be.

And that brings me to this- I am asking for prayer.  For healing, but more than that- for my attitude.  Quite frankly it stinks right now.  After months of struggling, I am about ready to throw in the towel. 

Ha!  Like that is a choice.  So the choice I have is to trust God in ALL things.  And praise Him in ALL things.

So I am reading this little book again, starting yesterday.  Again, because yes, I have read it before.  I am a slow learner.  A dear lady from our church in South Dakota gave it to me a few years ago when my husband was unexpectedly deployed. 

I needed it then.

I need it now!

Join me in praising God today! 

"My heart rejoices in you, Lord, for You are my strong shelter in times of trouble and danger and stress..." (p.41)


*quick side note- yes, we eat healthy food, take supplements, use oils, and more.  Trust me, we are doing everything we can thing of! ;)