Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fun Fridays- Alone, Yet Not Alone Review and Giveaway

Yes, you read it right!  We are going to have a little giveaway fun here at Family, Faith and Fridays!  I have been blessed to review some amazing books and such lately and now I get to pass the blessings on to several of you.  I hope you will join me each Friday in September and October for your chance to win some great products!

First up- A Historical Fiction book!

Can you imagine being kidnapped by Natives who barely speak your language?

Can you imagine walking for months to an unknown location, often while tied up?

Can you imagine not seeing your family for years?

These are only a few of the experiences of Barbara and Regina, two young sisters who really lived during the French and Indian War.  Alone, Yet Not Alone tells the true life story of these two resilient and faith driven sisters that were kidnapped during the Penn's Creek Massacre.  Separated from each other early on in the journey west, the story tells of Barbara's remarkable tale of survival- enduring miles of travel. learning a new language and years of loneliness.  But it also tells of her faith in God.  Through it all, she never gives up the hope of escaping and finding her sister and being reunited with her family.  She keeps the familiar hymn her mother often sang to them, "Alone, But Not Alone" in her heart and mind.

Often a heart wrenching and sit on the edge of your seat story, Alone, But Not Alone is written primarily for the tween/teen and older audience.  While written in a sensitive way, the murder of Barbara's family, the abuse and hatred the prisoners endured and the hair raising escape would probably be too much intensity for younger children.

Our family loves historical fiction however, and found this novel to be quite entertaining, while staying true to the historical facts of the time.

Excitingly, this book is being released as a movie September 27th, 2013.  You can watch the movie trailer here.   Additional movie information can be found at the website  Make sure you like the facebook page,, to keep updated on movie release information.

We are excited to be able to give away one copy of Alone, Yet Not Alone.  Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

See you back next week for another fun giveaway!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

5 Things She Learned at College & Why She's Going Back

Hello, my name is Ashton, and I am going back to college.  Because Mom is making me.  Just kidding, I chose to go back. =)  But what mom is making me do is share 5 things I learned there. (Because you are supposed to learn at college. Crazy, I know.)

1. Your label might change.  I went from being the most conservative person people knew to one of the most "liberal" people in my circle.  I find it kind of frightening and really funny.  I try not to scare people.  Mostly.

2. I was no longer the military kid that everyone hesitated to get to know because I might move.  At college, everyone comes from somewhere different and everyone is going to move on at some point.  So you make friends fast.

3. College is not a good place to practice your home-making skills.  Things I normally do like make: bread...

 Sew quilts...
 tea-dye lace,

and take pictures (like the ones above, minus the ones of me). Plus making hair gel gets hard, if not impossible to do while at college.  I'll be honest, I do some weird projects and I usually have several of them going on at one time.  I just cannot do that at college. And to be honest, that stinks because I would rather sew or clean or organize things than study. But...

4. Learning is more than just facts and books (although I do love books).  It is also about scheduling, prioritizing time, making time for friends and emails, and growing up and making decisions on my own.  Which also stinks sometimes, but it gets easier and easier. 

5. Last but not least, God does crazy things if you let Him.  I'm a Biblical Counseling major (in case you didn't know) and this past semester, God changed my life.  I had a class that required me to pick an area of my life in which to counsel myself.  I thought that it would be a good chance to practice some of the techniques I had been learning, you know, test them out and if I learned something along the way, hey, that was great.  What I didn't count on was God actually changing my heart and my life.  You should ask me about it sometime. 

Thanks for letting me share with you.
          Blessings, Ashton 

This post is linked with Amy, at Raising Arrows!

Linking up...


Monday, August 26, 2013

TOS Crew Review- Beauty in the Heart Bible Study

Have you heard about Doorposts?  How about the If-Then Chart?  Or maybe the Blessing Chart or Brother Offended Chart?  Those are some of the awesome parenting and character training resources they are best known for.  But now get ready to add another fabulous resource one to the list!
 photo BeautyCover_zpsd1ccc789.jpgDoorposts is now offering a lovely bible study Beauty in the Heart, A Study of Godly Beauty for Young Women, intended for girls ages 12 and up.  Using 9 chapters, and one for review, focusing on women of the Bible such as Sarah, Esther and Ruth, Beauty in the Heart is aimed on teaching modesty, true beauty, discretion and more in only 5-20 minutes a day.  Each chapter is broken into varying number of days, breaking it up into manageable pieces for up to two weeks of study per chapter.  
This is not just your ordinary quick Bible study though! Throughout each study, young girls are taught skills such as using a concordance, using different Bible translations, using Nave's Topical Bible, using free Bible study tools on the computer and how to use marginal notes. Each chapter alternates how the subject matter is taught with inductive study, verse study, character study, book study and word study.  At the end of the book you can also find an Alternate Questions section for young men, which replace any questions that were directly asked of girls in each chapter. 
How did we use this-
Because we encourage all of our children to have daily quiet time and Bible study, which differs from year to year in how it looks, we were excited to be able to try out the Beauty in the Heart study with our 15 year old daughter.  Each day she reads the section assigned and does the work on her own.  I have sneaked a peek of her work from time to time, but I want her to own it and not have mom hovering by, so I have tried to allow her some privacy.  We had the agreement that if she had any trouble or questions she would come to me and ask for help.  Because she is 15 she is use to working pretty independently anyway.

Our copy for review was comb binding.  Final copies will be offered in lay-flat paperback!
Her thoughts-
R here(;
I definitely enjoyed this study. I liked how it wasn't just a fill in the blank workbook; you had to work and pay attention to the passages for the answers. The questions really caused me to think. One of my favorite ways of studying is the Observe and the the Interpret methods that are taught. I'll use these methods again.

We have enjoyed and highly recommend this study for your young girls!  It is well written, well organized and spot on at speaking to the heart of young girls today, as well as offering Bible study skills that will serve them well for years to come.  With the philosophy of  "Our goal is to provide you with tools that make your job easier", how can you go wrong?!

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You can pre-order Beauty in the Heart for $14.00, as the printed books will begin shipping Aug 28th.  If you order now, you will also receive a free instant- downloadable copy of  the study. 
Doorposts also offers a new Bible Study for young men, Because You Are Strong.  You can read about it as well as more reviews on Beauty in the Heart by clicking on the banner below.

This post is linked up with Caroline at The Modest Mom!
modest mondays 3

Friday, August 23, 2013

TOS Crew Review- Legacy Documentaries

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Legacy Documentaries is a production company headed up by Dean Butler that is dedicated to the production of DVDs that "entertain, informs and shapes the lives of our viewers." (from the website)

I have no doubt that they have done just that in the videos Almanzo Wilder: Life Without Laura and Little House on the Prarie: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Produced by Dean Butler, the actor that played Almanzo in the TV series, these two DVDs suitable for all ages will offer hours of entertainment and take you back to the time of the pioneers where life was simpler in so many ways and yet would challenge many of us today.

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Can you close your eyes and see Laura and her sisters Mary, Carrie, and eventually Grace running through the fields to school or off to fish in the pond or chase after Nellie?  Yep, me too!  I grew up on the Little House series and secretly wanted to be Laura.  What an exciting life she lived!  I thought I knew all there was to know about her from that wonderful series, but let's face it, I am sure there was much still to learn.  Now you can have the opportunity to fill in all the gaps!  Little House on the Prarie: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, selling for $24.95, is a one hour documentary on the infamous Laura Ingalls Wilder.  This is an up close and personal story of her real life that I am sure will delight all of you Little House on The Prairie Fans!

And then there was Almanzo..."Manly".  Who did not have a crush on him?  I think as a child I could not decide whether to root that Laura marry him or hope that there was still a chance I would.   Here is an opportunity for you Almanzo fans to know even more about the DVD Almanzo Wilder: Life Without Laura which sells for $21.95.  Using original footage from the Wilder homestead as well as recreated scenes, this DVD offers a closer look inside the growing up days of Almanzo in New York.   Two well known historians help capture the excitement many of you will remember reading in Farmer Boy, Laura's second book written about a year in the life of Almanzo.  The original homestead has been restored and is open to the public and is now on my Bucket List of places to visit.

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Whether you are a fan that grew up wishing you were a part of this exciting pioneer family and want to pass on that love to your own children, or whether you want to be able to use these DVDs as a teaching tool to show your kids what the pioneering spirit was all about, I think these two DVDs are a worthwhile addition to your library!  In addition to these two amazing videos, you can also purchase Pa's Fiddle: The Music of America and an Almanzo picture, autographed by Dean Butler.


TOS Expo!

Don't forget that today is the last day of The Old Schoolhouse Expo!

I hope you have enjoyed getting to hear all of the amazing speakers.  Each one has a wealth of things to offer...whether you are new to homeschooling or a veteran in the trenches for years that just needs some new ideas or words of encouragement.

Don't forget that included in the price of your ticket are the recordings of all the speakers if you have not had a chance to hear all that you had hoped to!

Enjoy and Happy Homeschool 2013!

Fun Friday- Pizza Edition

I was going to bore you with a last pizza recipe from our family.  You know, the ones who like cheese. And, well, cheese.

But then I saw a friend post about Pizza Pretzel bites and decided I had to share that with you instead!  With her permission, of course!

Pizza Pretzels bites...can you think of anything that sounds like more fun?!!  And don't they look yummy! These little bite sized pizzas are perfect for our family nights...remember portability?!

Just hop on over to visit Jenn at Treasuring Life's Blessings and grab this recipe!  It is super easy and there is still time today to get it made for tonight!!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Headed in the other direction!

A day after returning from Minot, we got back on the same road, this time headed in the other direction. Once again the Lord blessed us by stationing some very close friends just 3 1/2 hours off to Omaha we went to drop my middle daughter off at one of her best friend's house.

don't hate me for this picture, Hannah ;) -riley

These are the same friends that:
-welcomed us to Minot 7 years ago and let me assume their lives.
-watched after my family when my hubby unexpectedly deployed to Africa for 7 months.
-became our best friends immediately.
-traveled with us, plus my mom, to Chicago on a train for days! (God bless her husband!)
-we vacationed with at Disney World.
-took my kids for an entire day at Disney while my hubby passed a kidney stone.
-on the spur of the moment met us at Great Wolf Lodge because it was close enough!

I have learned a lot from these special people, but the thing that has stuck the most is that


We love you Wammies!

"A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:17

Monday, August 19, 2013

Friends are Friends Forever

We have been blessed with friends all over to the United States thanks to our nomad military life.

Let me take a minute to say thank you to all of those friends, military and non-military alike.  You have been what has made our 21 years in the military a blessed 21 years!  But today, I especially thank those who have befriended us that are NOT military.  You see, military knows military.  We understand each other.  We know that when you move in next door you need to be friends FAST.  No time for formalities, thank you, we need to do coffee, dinners, vacations together NOW - before we move.  We get that and we make friends fast.

But for those not in the military, ummm, that is kind of foreign.  You are used to taking it slow.  You need sometimes years to bond.  And if you hear we might be leaving soon, well, let's face it, sometimes it is just easier to move on to someone else.

I know.  I have seen it.  I have lived it.

And THAT is why I treasure our non-military friends beyond words.  You invested in us no matter the costs.  No matter how long we were around.  And no matter how hard it might be.

And we love you for it.

And in return we try hard to remain a part of your lives.

Which is why I drove 7 hours north west of here to our old stomping grounds of Minot, North Dakota.  Yes, "why not, Minot."  We lived there about 5 years ago.

And found these two special gals and their sweet families that are forever friends with our oldest.

THANK YOU for hosting our crazy family for four days, feeding us, treating us to horse back riding, campfires, s'mores and four wheeling!  We had a blast and it warms my heart to see that in this forever changing world, some things like true friends will always stay the same!  You all are loved!

We also had the privilege of eating with another homeschool family that we adore and would you believe me if I told you I have NO pictures.  Yep. Epic fail on my part, but thank you B. family for a wonderful dinner.

And yes, we did manage to see two military families as well!  They are stuck with us.  Thank you W. Family and R. Family for a wonderful lunch and time of fellowship.  Hearing all the kids squealing and having fun is always a delight and a true testimony of how military kids can befriend anyone if given the chance.  After a trying and crazy move, the chance to just be with two military spouses who understand lightened my heart. Thank you girls!

So you see, we are checking off our bucket list still!  Hope to see you back on Wednesday as we travel the same highway but in the opposite direction!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Fun Friday- Pizza Edition

Still having pizza?  We are!  At least once a week for lunch and almost weekly for dinner as well.  Our favorite thing to do on Friday nights is have Family Night- complete with movie and a "fun food".  Usually fun foods equate to easy prep and easy tote-ability.  (Is that a word?)  In other words, can we easily carry it to the living room to eat?  IT is the one time I break the we-eat-at-the-kitchen-table-like-civilized-human-beings rule.

this recipe is pretty easy because it is mostly made up.  Sorry, no science here.  Partly because at some point I lost the recipe and secondly because, have I mentioned before, I have picky eaters.

So here it is

Cheeseburger Pizza

Brown 1 pound of hamburger meat.
Mix 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup mustard and 2-3 TBSP Worcestershire  sauce.  Spread on baked pizza dough.
Top with browned meat.
Top with cheese of your liking.
Bake additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
When done, top with lettuce (that's where we stop- boring I tell 'ya), pickles, tomato!


Before fixings!

Boring Lettuce!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

TOS CREW Review- Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom is an online reading program aimed at teaching children 4-10 years old how to read AND write up to a third grade level.  Using fun graphics, numerous activities and cute little books this program will challenge your child in several areas!   Using sequencing, motor skills, grammar, meaning, sounds and comprehension children can use this program independently as a complete reading program or as a supplement to the current program they are learning.  While it may be considered a game to a child, there is no fluff and stuff here!  Developed by Dr. Marion Blank, author of the book The Reading Remedy and director of the Light on Learning program at Columbia University, Reading Kingdom uses both phonics and whole language learning.

Reading Kingdom may sound a bit familiar to you as I had the privilege to review this program last year when my son was 5 and just learning to read.  The hardest part for him at the time was the placement test! He got frustrated quickly with not knowing the answers and it was a challenge to get him through that part. Once we did, however, he had a lot of success and enjoyed his daily time with it.

We were again offered the opportunity to have a 1 year subscription to Reading Kingdom, so I was excited to be able to see how far he had progressed after taking some time off.  Luckily for us, and for you, customer support for this company is amazing and a simple email allowed us to pick up right where we left off!  No placement test this time...yea us!

Reading Kingdom uses various activities to teach children word and sentence reading.  You can see from the example below that the choices are first offered.  In the picture below, the blank box on the bottom right side listed the word "some".  Once CJ clicked on it the word disappeared and then he had to type in the missing letters to make that word.   Then it proceeds on to the next word.  Once sentences are completed you can read the whole sentence or have it read to you as well.  After several parts of each level are mastered the program presents a book to be read using the words mastered.

When new words are introduced, it will ask the child to spell a word.  "Can you type the word walk?"  After the child tries and gets it incorrect then it teaches that words with various activities such as matching and filling in missing levels.  My son did get frustrated when he did n not know a word, but I just kept reassuring him that the whole point of the program was to learn new words, not know all they asked him about.  Yes, we tend to have a perfection issue here!

To help with motivation, once a certain number of points are earned, your child can "open" a new passport. While this seems a little silly to the adult in me, my son loves it and is always asking how many more points he needs.  He loves watching the little animated pictures come to life, and hey, if it works, bring it on!

One of the challenges we have found with this program has been using the keyboard.  It is one thing to be able to read words or even write them, but let's face it, keyboard skills are sometimes lacking in younger children.  The GREAT thing though is that this has pushed CJ to start to learn the keyboard.  In addition, if they type in a wrong letter a screen will pop up like the one below to show them where to find the letter they got wrong.  As a matter of fact there have been a few times where I realized my son was just waiting for that screen to pop up to help him.  Smart kid, huh?  Or does that count as sneaky?  You also have to make sure your child enters spaces between words as well as use proper capitalization and punctuation, but I actually like those being taught to enforce writing skills.

Another great thing about Reading Kingdom is that you can easily see where your student is on the progression of the program.  Every time you log in you see the below chart that shows how your student is doing and where they are in specifically. Each little icon means something different.

Reading & Writing Part 1
Intro Assessment 
Assessment to determine whether Seeing Sequences and/or Letter Land are required.
Seeing Sequences 
If the Skills Survey determined that Colby will benefit from learning visual sequencing skills Colby will be taught the Seeing Sequences format.
Letter Land 
If the Skills Survey determined that Colby will benefit from learning keyboarding skills Colby will be taught the Letter Land format.
Reading & Writing Part 2
Skills Survey 
Assessment to determine level at which to start reader.
Reading/Writing Level 1 
Reading and writing exercises for Level 1, including books 1-6.
Reading/Writing Level 2 
Reading and writing exercises for Level 2, including books 7-12.
Reading/Writing Level 3 
Reading and writing exercises for Level 3, including books 13-18.
Reading/Writing Level 4 
Reading and writing exercises for Level 4, including books 19-24.
Reading/Writing Level 5 
Reading and writing exercises for Level 5, including books 25-30.

Overall, we have been very happy with this program and I have seen great progression with CJ's reading as well as his overall confidence.  I also seen that since we have worked with this program daily he has been able to stay with it a little longer each time.

You can sign up for a 30 day free trail if it is something you would like to try out yourself.  After 30 free days you will pay $19.99 per month or $199.99 per year.